Love in the time of colouring

It’s that most wonderful time of year again. The birds are returning from their credit crunch beating winter break. The trees and plants are showing signs of new growth and despite the recent cold snap our thoughts turn to bright spring days with the promise of a long hot summer to come.
Okay, maybe we won’t get a summer again this year and maybe the birds will decide to stay on their sun loungers rather than return to doom and gloom, recession filled Ireland.
The eternal optimist in me says not to worry, that all will be well and we will be as tanned as our continental cousins by the time September rolls around.
I also spent many years doing the Lotto in lieu of paying into a pension so it’s probably best not to set too much store by what I say.
There is one thing that is for certain however.
You can smell it in the air and see it in the frisky behaviour of the animal world, ourselves included.
Love is all around.
Valentine’s day is past and just as every adult’s thoughts turned to love, so did the thoughts of one blonde five year old boy.
Yes, my boy is in love.
He came home last week and announced that he was in love and that he was going to marry the girl.
Happy as I was with his sense of commitment and responsibility I felt it was my duty as a father to ask a few questions before paying out for a lavish wedding reception.
Who is this girl?
Does she feel the same way?
Where will you both live after the wedding?
To spare the blushes of the girl’s family I won’t name her but suffice it to say that they met at school and she definitely feels the same way because when Leon told her that he loves her she put her hands over her mouth and giggled.
Would that it were so straightforward for grown ups.
They have been keeping their love secret from their teacher by restricting their shows of affection to tickling each others hands under the table during the rainy day DVD.
Leon feels that she can move in with us after the wedding but that will mean getting another bed for his room. When I asked him how he was going to support his new bride he told me that it wasn’t a problem because I apparently have plenty of money (News to me).
While I have been observing this whole situation with a great deal of humour there is one person in my house whose not as laid back about it.
My beautiful wife has turned into an Irish Mammy overnight.
Daddies and their daughters, Mammies and their sons. It will never change.
It’s not in anything she says but there is a distinct air of disapproval emanating from her whenever I bring up the topic with Leon to brighten up the dinner table. It’s nothing I can put my finger on just a subtle pursing of the lips and a readiness to change the subject to anything else, even bodily noises, a heretofore taboo subject at meals.
Rationally, she knows that this is just a small boy mimicking the actions of adults but I think this has given her a glimpse into the future when her little boy becomes a man and wants to spend time with a woman other than her.
I can completely relate. I have always said that if I had a daughter I would buy a shotgun on the day she hit puberty and would spend my time slowly and menacingly cleaning it whenever a boy came to visit. I would be the quintessential overprotective dad with the number of the local convent on speed dial just in case.
Thankfully, I have two boys so I can relish this latest chapter in my son’s life just as I am sure my wife would if Leon were a girl.
As it stands I am just delighted to be able to wind her up over dinner and then have a sanctioned conversation about f*rting for dessert.
There is, however, one major snag to the eternal bliss and happily ever after which I am sure Leon is envisaging..
This relationship, like all the great loves of history and literature is not all plain sailing.
In much the same way as the Montagues and the Capulets ensured the ultimate unfortunate demise of the star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet the colours red and yellow may well spell the end for these pint sized partners.
Let me explain.
Leon’s class is divided into four tables, Glas, Bui, Dearg and Gorm or Green, Yellow, Red and Blue for our non Gaelic speaking readers.
These four tables are locked in a never-ending struggle for ultimate dominion in “The Frog Race” or to put it more simply:
Leon’s teacher has hit upon the genius idea of a chart divided into the four groups with each one being given a frog. Good behaviour by the table means the frog goes up the chart while bad behaviour means the frog does not.
On Friday the winners of the frog race are announced and the ultimate prize of one sweet per child is awarded. This is a battle more hotly contested than the last American presidential election and therein lies the problem.
Leon is a stalwart supporter of his table Bui while she is a cornerstone of his bitter rivals, Dearg.
Can their relationship survive a close run race?
Will either use their influence to sabotage the other?
I don’t think this fledgling relationship can stand the pressure.
Leon already has a phobia of all things pink due to their feminine connotations and I believe that one look at his beloved’s smug face as she enjoys that well earned sweet the next time Dearg wins the Frog Race will be too much for him. It will, I have no doubt, push him into the iron clad belief that all boys have, which is that girls are at best “Gross”.
The reverse is also true.
Should Bui prevail I think the sight of Leon contentedly munching his prize with all the open mouthed relish of a five year old will be too much for this girl and her realisation that boys are made of frogs, snails and puppy dog’s tails will rise to the fore.
This will last in both of them until the hormonally charged lunacy which is adolescence raises it’s pimply head and starts the whole mess off again. By then a lot of the cuteness will have worn off.
I think my wife and I will be ready then. Better prepared and armed with talk of birds and bees and tracker mortgages. Her dad will probably have bought his shotgun by then too so we can all relax.

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