A great thing about living with boys is that, should you choose to be, you can be invisible. My husband and I spend most of our time communicating via WhatsApp and messaging. We love each other dearly, we send each other articles we’ve read and that we’ve liked, podcasts, images…we love each other through our screens.
My older boys, similarly, are on screens either conducting their own on-screen love affairs or playing games. Sometimes, conveniently, we forget that we are under the same roof, each enjoying our own on-screen time in our own chosen room.
I have to say the only one who still really loves me is my 10 year-old. He’s the only one who still looks at me and wants my attention and every now and again I have to give him a screen so he can lay off the questions and I can get my thoughts down. I know I’ll regret it one day, but I may not even live to one day so I’ll deal with it when I get there.
For now, we all live in a state of mutual love and disregard.
Which is probably how my husband, Big Boy number one, imagined the conversation would go one morning a few years back when he was telling me about a new acquaintance he had met on one of his recent trip abroad, while I was checking my e-mail, on-screen.
“He’s a great guy,” he said, “really bright, you’ll like him. I’ll arrange for you to meet him.”
“Uh-huh,” I replied, with little enthusiasm. I had enough boys in my life, I figured I could do without one more.
“He works for…I’ve got to reply to this e-mail now…very competent…did I arrange for boy number two to get picked up…a graduate of…”
“Uh-huh.” I’ve got to order my groceries.
“He’s planning a trip in the Mediterranean,” uh-huh, “on his sailboat.”
We are more like our dogs than we think.
My ears perked up.
At that time, probably after reading one self-help book or another, I had decided that I will try everything that remotely interested me and promptly took up sailing. I loved it, bought the requisite books and fancied myself a sailor despite my having only sailed a Laser 4, slowly. A mildly competent windsurfer would have beaten me at any race. Still, I had a certificate and I sailed boats, albeit small ones. Anyone with a sailboat was my friend.
I think it was my sudden enthusiasm that threw him off-guard.
“Oh wow!” I exclaimed. “This guy sounds amazing! I’ve got to meet him! You’ve got to introduce me!
Mike, I continued, this guy has to become our friend!”
Somehow I wasn’t so invisible anymore.
“Well,” said my husband, “he’s not that great.”
“What do you mean he’s not that great? Just a second ago he was a brilliant, interesting, bright guy, a sailor no less, and now that he’s caught my interest he’s not that great?”
“Well, he’s a bit of a geek.”
I reminded him that our eldest son was a bit of a geek and yet we still loved him.
“He’s not that kind of geek.”
“Well what kind of geek is he? Is there more than one kind?”
The answer was not forthcoming. The subject was promptly closed and I was never introduced to my would-be best friend. His subject would never come up again.
I asked my husband about him a couple of times since that conversation, but it was too late, I had become invisible again.