South London Photographer: My son has been learning that I’m an actual human being

I think Son No. 1 has realised, as every child eventually must, that his mother is sometimes not the all-knowing godlike creature he once imagined. To be honest, I think it’s been dawning on him slowly over the last 12 months or so but this week as we drove somewhere together he looked at me aghast.

My fingers sometimes, although really only occasionally, when I’m a bit tired or distracted, do this funny little dance on the steering wheel as the Satnav tells me to turn left or right. Up goes the right hand, and if you were quick enough you might notice it miming as if it were holding a pen, confirming in my mind that the Satnav means I need to turn in that direction, and most definitely not the other way because that would be quite wrong and I could end up adding another ten minutes or so to the journey – I imagine.  And then my left hand, if you looked fast enough, does another little movement forming the shape of an ‘L’ – imperceptibly because I don’t really need to do it because I know the difference between my left and my right because I’m middle aged, of course!

“You don’t know the difference between your left and your right!” he said.

“I do,” I said incredulously.

“I can’t believe I’m trapped in a car with someone who doesn’t know the difference between their left and their right!” he said.

Perhaps I should have taken that opportunity to tell him, actually we’re all flawed, a little or a lot crazy and that’s just how the world is, so get used to it! And, I could have added, no one knows as much as they pretend to know and mostly everybody is making it up one way or another as they go along, although to be fair most adults do know the difference between left and right and in fact my two year old, Son No. 3 already knows but you get my point. But why make it easy for him?

It’s taken me my whole life to realise that some people are just better at making it up than others; and anyway perhaps it’s best to discover all of that yourself, slowly over time otherwise the shock might be too much. He probably wouldn’t believe me anyway – a form of protective denial. Surely, he would think, someone in charge must know what he or she is doing. All those grown-up people doing important grown-up things like running the country and starting wars and making me go to school every single week day! (And he’d be so wrong on that count because there are some very long holidays.)

On the same journey he also gave me a good talking to about mates rates.

“You charge them WHAT?”

I’ve got to make him my manager; he’s far shrewder than I will ever be.

And he described how to envisage distances as I drove past another turning I was apparently meant to go down. I must say though, I’m sure that when the Satnav politely says, “turn left in 30 yards” it actually means “TURN LEFT NOW, NOW, NOW!!!” I mean if it weren’t so very ambiguous all the time then it wouldn’t need to keep saying “recalculating route” so regularly, would it now?

I remember becoming aware my own parents were actually human beings, although I didn’t realize just quite how human they were at the time – wow, that would have been a shocker at ten. It was an important moment. It was about the same time I kept thinking why don’t they put any clothes on? No! They weren’t nudists or anything. It was just at that time when you begin to comprehend that you have bits and they have bits and being fully clothed at all times is really best all round for everyone. Oh, my goodness, I’ve just realised, he’s been like that for ages. Has he known I wasn’t a godlike creature for ages too?

Whatever the truth, it’s good for these kiddies to get to grips with such things. With luck he will learn to accept the fact that his mother is flawed (quite considerably in fact), and then that other people are flawed and then when he finally understands just how flawed he is it should certainly make it easier for him to forgive himself for not being the genius, hilarious godlike male creature he currently pictures!

 

Here are some photographs of two adorable children who still have some way to go before the truths described above begin to become apparent.

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All images ©Sarah-Jane Field

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