What do you say on Valentine’s Day when your child does this?

This Valentine's was a new one...

Lifesaver In Leather Box in front of DVD player... Fine, melodramatic, but these made my day, you'll see why soon...

Rockstar and I often tape things to Kings' desk so he'll see treasured art and craft Rockstar brings home from school during the week, whatever time he leaves for work (often before 7) or comes home (half the time past 10 or 11), or if he's been gone all week.

This V-day was the same with gifts, Rockstar had spent some time picking a card with flashing lights and I scored a textured navy silk Hermes tie (mummy friend got us hooked - her son loves the cute animal prints on the ties, but it's possible we will now end up snapping up virtually every staid black or blue tie in the store over the next few celebrations) that hadn't been on display, I'd had the salesgirl root around for the only one they had in stock.

That was the evening of February 13th, and Kings keeps going "Hey I didn't get anything yet, IT'S NOT VALENTINE'S DAY YET" (but we'd usually only see him (if at all) at the very end of the day, so...)

My response is, "Don't send me flowers ok, I'm not working anymore.." this is because Kings fairly often ordered flowers for clients in the past (yes he has clients who go in the Bloomberg chatroom and bemoan the awkwardness of having to go order flowers - there are men who will just always hate flowers - no dear readers, none of them are your husbands, and then Kings would do several guys' orders all at once and feel bad/ strange ordering for everyone else and send something to me at my office as well.) After the first year that happened, I would hitch a ride too - I used to send flowers to a girl who worked for me some 6 years ago, we are still friends today - until the day she warned us Kings' name was appearing on the receipt and Kings freaked out about his clients' wives/ girlfriends finding out he was the one ordering all their flowers haha

Because we were watching Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie's Tourist on DVD while Rockstar slept...

So anyway I figured I'm out doing school run and errands after, and I already can't wear half my rings and most of my metal-strap watches and am therefore not feeling like getting anything from Links (which is where he wanted to go) so I tell Kings since he hasn't gotten anything, don't, I'll look for something... Eventually... And then yesterday I didn't because Rockstar was fighting off a cold..

Then I get a little huffy with Rockstar, which is what this post is all about. See now, the Rockstar and I had gone V-day shopping together for Kings, but it doesn't quite occur to my son to do something for me (which makes me feel taken for granted by my 4yr old <sheepish>). After school he shows me a couple of heart shapes and goes "This big one is for Daddy. And I couldn't do two big ones. So here's yours. And you have to share yours with Grandmum." 

Don't get me wrong. This was still FINE. It then stopped being fine when over the next 90 minutes Rockstar asks me a gadzillion times "Why do you like it so much, Mum?" Which we both know is code for him fishing for compliments. I initially repeatedly go "Because you made it all by yourself, because it was so thoughtful," and so on, but ok come on. I'm supposed to share the little heart and heap praise every few minutes and he doesn't make Kings do all that this time, or any of the last umpteen times, we decorate Daddy's desk and stuff. By the end of the day, my snuffly 4 year old demanding still more praise for this one little thoughtful thing he'd done for me was starting to grate on my nerves. After his long hot steam bath (to clear stuffed-up nose) he also requests I massage him for 20-30 minutes til he dozes off. No complaints there, I'd do it any day, but given the non-event V-Day of running errands, encountering rude, queue-cutting Mainland tourists and then Rockstar providing the proverbial straw, this pregnant (read: Fat!) old camel's back is about to go.

"You give tough love, you get it back," my girlfriend sounds amused on the chat. It's true, I'm a proverbial "mother of a boy" - Rockstar falls down, he picks himself up unaided. He starts a bawling tantrum, he's still got to pull himself together and explain with proper words what's bothering him. (Well how else will anyone know what he wants if he can't tell us what he wants? Though I'm no boy and my mum still raised me that way too - I remember her telling me she walked out of the gym during some of my taekwondo fights when I was getting kicked in the head/face, so she wouldn't even be tempted to fuss.. )

I have girlfriends whose sons will say the sweetest, mushiest things to them, look for beading stations everywhere they go in order to make little trinkets for them. Even one girlfriend's son who is quieter, and awarded a valentine to some chim jellyfish species he calls his pet at home looked contrite and got all huggy. I can only be a little wistful. Once, a friend broke her toe and her 4yr old would look at the cast and burst into tears, "I feel so bad for you, Mummy."

Uh, y-eah. N-ot the Rockstar. He's an I'm Busy, You're Busy, And We All Fall Down Sometime, Mum kind of child. Even when he caught my already-swollen-from-sports-injury fingers in the car window. "It doesn't hurt that much.." That last was in response to my shrieking "ROLL THE WINDOW BACK DO-OOWN!!!" at him. 

Kings on the other hand, away much more often, sometimes the entire work week, is Daddy. DadDY, whom we decorate desks for and email funny pictures to and call about achievements and milestones. DadDY, who goes off each day to an exciting (to the Rockstar) grownup job in ICC or regularly goes on cool plane rides to conduct "business trips". The Rockstar is extremely hungry to grow up. Grown up things fascinate him. Though occasionally DadDY is also entertaining to attempt to slip one by. "I don't eat hard-boiled eggs in my porridge, DadDY," (like hell he doesn't.) Me, always there at his beck and call, barking at him to finish his dinner or stop jumping on the sofa or quit being dragged around the living room floor by the dog, and go have his bath, I'm Mum <little wave>. The Rockstar brings the MumMY when he wants to emphasize something. Or is trying to be a little nicer.

So "Mum" is feeling taken for granted and a little sorry for herself,  even as she clears up the used bath, as Rockstar snores through a blocked nose on her bed, having had his massage when Kings, coming home later in the night with a box of roses from the Hyatt where he has just finished client drinks, saves the day.

"How did you know to still get flowers when I already reminded you not to?" Kings' flowers are a surprise, because I hadn't said anything about my valentine exchanges with our offspring yet. We've left off flowers before, to us they don't necessarily mean what couples traditionally take them to mean every year. This year, however..... Kings says only, "Tsk. When a girl says she doesn't want flowers....." "Oh, and check out those Swiss chocolates. My clients brought them from Europe, apparently they're real special..."

Rockstar wakes at 10.30pm (thought he might sleep through the night, as he's done before when fighting off a cold, so I'd fed him well after school - instead he's had a 3.5 hour nap) and curious, we watch his reaction as I say "well Daddy got me flowers..."

Without skipping a beat, "For Valentine's? Good, I made a card that can go with..." The Rockstar claps his hand over his forehead, turns to his father and laughs conspiratorially, "You know, Daddy, I have a card you can use with the flowers..." And "Mummy... I want dinner." Which he finishes in 20 minutes flat, then settles back in bed and slowly drifts off again til morning... That's one time I'm not sorry for the tough love.

Except in the morning, "But Mum. Which do you like better, my card or Daddy's flowers?" "You mean (this little pink paper heart I'm supposed to share, the only thing he's done for me for Valentine's -they had a bake sale in school for which I'd gone down to Great for large icing-decorated cookies for him to bring and exchange other snacks for, and he came away with cookies to bring home - which however he is determined to finish on his own. Rare, because he doesn't have a big sweet tooth)?" <firmly> "Yeah. And you have to share." And then he still wants to know if I like it better. Freud might write an essay on the question.

Rockstar scarfing one of the Swiss chocs before school this morning...

I come up with something non-committal along the lines of I love each gesture he and Kings have made and there is no comparison for being thoughtful. I leave out the bit about how thoughtful I think Rockstar might have been... I'm still a little stumped how I should've responded...

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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  • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

    Hi Aileen,

    Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! Frankly, I wouldn’t know what to say  if my child does this but I think you did great in your answer by saying ”
    there is no comparison for being thoughtful”.
    The way I look at it, Rockstar must care a lot about what you think – that’s why he kept asking you for compliments (or rather fishing for your compliments). He must be really happy when you repeat patiently about how much you like his little pink paper heart to his constant questions.

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      You’re very kind, Mun. Thanks, I was a little bummed about it… He’s affectionate, but has very strong opinions that I have to debate him over… And as for this v day thing, I was probably around him so much it didn’t occur to him – he didn’t even bother to eat his school v day cookies etc in the end, so I guess won’t think to offer me too 😛

      • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

        After thinking about it, since Rockstar is such an understanding child, perhaps when there is an opportunity, I think perhaps you could share with him your feelings about this – I don’t know what is the best way to do this but somehow I feel that he should know –  your feelings are important and need to be acknowledged and not be kept under wraps.

        I am just curious, did you ask him how come he allocated the big heart to his daddy instead of letting mommy and daddy share the same big heart (since he can’t do another big heart)?

      • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

        No I didn’t ask, it probably doesn’t occur to him bcos the dad is the one we always do stuff for, since he’s the one always away… Will mention, if we have future conversations about this..

      • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

        No I didn’t ask, it probably doesn’t occur to him bcos the dad is the one we always do stuff for, since he’s the one always away… Will mention, if we have future conversations about this..