I want to do too.
This afternoon, Joseph wanted to go for something to eat when I picked him up from school. I reminded him of the last time we went to a restaurant after school when he wanted to go into this little Italian delicatessen nearby which does freshly made pasta with courgettes, peppers and a sprinkling of parmesan; he didn’t eat it!
This was surprising as he is usually a very good eater, willing to try most things - not on this occasion however. He literally licked the piece of pasta on the end of his fork, put it straight down and scrunched up his face!
Anyway, that was the comparison I made today but he was adamant; “I want to eat something”.
Living near Tooting, it may not have been the smartest choice to decide to amble along the high street until he saw something he liked the look of but that was what we did.
“There”, he announced, pointing very positively across to the other side of the road.
“Lahore restaurant? No way Poops, that food is very spicy; you won’t eat it, trust me”.
He then did this little break-dance which pre-empts a mini-fit heading your way.
So we go in.
And, to be fair to him, even the sight of the pre-cooked stuff didn’t put him off so we took a seat and ordered.
1 chicken biryani (his choice), 1 Aloo sag (spinach and potato – my choice), 1 plain naan bread and two sweet lassi’s to put out the impending fire. The waiter very kindly brought him over a complimentary poppadom which was received gratefully and which disappeared fairly quickly as it was “like a giant crisp”.
Our food arrived, I served us both and then I tucked in, hoping he would follow.
Again, to be fair to him, he did bite straight into a piece of chicken, rubbing his tummy exaggeratedly and smiling at me, followed by about zero point 6 of a second before the spices hit home!
Strike one, his face crumpled as his tongue announced the arrival of something rather warm; strike two as the aforementioned tongue ejects from head and gets held between thumb and forefinger as if this might cool things off; strike three, funny grunting noises aimed across the table at me just in case I hadn’t noticed that he might be in trouble.
I half want to laugh but don’t dare, so instead I remind him that his lassi drink will help out.
Cue much comedy drinking as I watch approximately half a litre of yoghurt drink disappear without him appearing to stop for breath.
In fact, he only stopped once to announce, “hot”, before resuming his aim in life at that precise moment of finishing his drink; we ordered him another right afterwards.
As with the pasta last week, I finished the meal.
Quite a funny episode I have to say.
Crikey, I rambled off a bit there, that wasn’t really what I wanted to write about at all. The bit I really wanted to tell you about was when we got home. Obviously, Joseph was hungry as he’d only eaten a poppadom so I did him one of his platters and served it to him in front of the TV so he could watch Power Rangers.
Annabel sees what he has and tries (unsuccessfully) to steal from his plate. This is shouted down so I put together a platter for her with exactly the same contents as Joseph’s.
We have this big old 'turn of the century' travelling trunk that we use as a table in front of the TV. Joseph sits at one corner on a little stool, so I pull up an even smaller stool at the other corner facing the TV and beckon Missy over. She sees what I am doing for her and she comes waddling over, quite pleased that she is getting the same treatment as Joseph and plonks herself down on the stool.
He’s got ham, she’s got ham, he’s got tomato, she’s got tomato, he’s got peeled cucumber, she’s got peeled cucumber, he’s got a stool, she’s got a stool, he’s looking straight at the television, she’s looking …….. over at him!!
It was the slightest of glances, almost out of the corner of her eye but I saw it and it made my heart squeeze ever so slightly.
Once again, it was one of those adoring gazes that a younger sibling saves purely for an older one.
It said, “look darling brother, I have the same as you. I’m eating a platter just like you. We’re together on a cold dark night, sitting side by side watching TV”.
Parents tell their older children how much their little brothers and sisters look up to them, how much they want to be like them, how much they love them.
Unfortunately, it isn’t until you have children of your own that you actually see that love in their eyes, in their actions towards their big brother or sister.
Tonight I saw it.
I hugged them both but he was annoyed as I was making him miss the Red Ranger kicking seven shades out of a particularly ugly extra terrestrial and she was annoyed because I was restricting her view of him.
In the words of the great Homer Simpson, “I have a habit of spoiling the moment”.
Way to go Dad.
I won’t give up though. I will try, however futile, to make Joseph see just how special he is to Annabel.
And if that fails, then thank the Lord for digital cameras for allowing me to preserve every precious moment I can possibly capture so I can say in years to come, "see, told you she loved you when she was only 1".
Right on sister, let me hear you say “YEAH”.