Thursday, 14 June 2012
A boy will always need his mum!
It was the brightness around the rim of the door that first drew my attention. The landing light, comprising three 100-watt bulbs, had abruptly clicked on sending intrusive white lasers into the darkness of my bedroom. Raising my head a couple of inches from the pillow I squinted to my right at the luminous digital clock on the bedside table; it was 1.05 a.m. and I had been asleep for over two hours. I glanced to my left where Mrs Jones lay, snoring rhythmically, while no doubt dreaming of a steamy liaison with Brad Pitt on the set of the film we had earlier watched, Meet Joe Black. I mused at the lightness of my slumber, in stark contrast to 30 years ago when as a young man I could sleep through the decibels of my mother’s vacuum cleaner as she cleaned around my bed in the middle of the afternoon.
Still holding the duvet under my chin, I strained to hear the nature of the disturbance on the other side of the bedroom door. I could detect faint whimpers, mixed with the occasional expletive. The baritone nature of the noises confirmed that the source was my 21-year-old son. Maybe he was having one of his occasional migraine headaches? Or had he had an i-Phone spat with his girlfriend? Curiosity finally outweighed my inertia, and I got out of bed to investigate.
Ryan was standing on the landing, staring intently into the full-length mirror on the wall, prodding his face with his forefinger. Over 6-feet tall and weighing 13-stone, clad only in silk boxer-shorts, his face red and with droplets of sweat on his brow, he resembled someone who had done 10 rounds with Rocky Marciano.
“It’s driving me crazy” he said, once he’d noticed my presence.
“What’s the problem?” I asked, trying to instil some fatherly concern into my voice.
“There’s a friggin’ eye-lash in my eye. I can see the little bastard but I can’t shift it.”
I peered into his face. Sure enough there it was, a black lash about a half a centimetre long, still attached to his eye-lid but the other end buried in the aqueous mass of his eye-ball. My first reaction was to do what comes naturally to a 53-year old man in the depth of night and in close proximity to the bathroom – I went for a pee. My second reaction was equally instinctive, a response I have demonstrated many times before when one of our children is in pain – I went to rouse Mrs Jones.
As many men will know, waking a sleeping woman is a risky business. Indeed, it can seriously damage your health unless the reason is a house-fire or that one of her babies is in distress. I explained the nature of the current crisis and, once she had recovered from the disappointment of finding that the man mumbling to her in her sleep was me rather than Brad, she heroically swung into action. Armed with an eye-bath, a magnifying glass and two cotton-buds, Mrs Jones marched Ryan into the bathroom. I watched admiringly as she hung Ryan’s head over the sink, instructed him to hold the magnifying glass at the required angle, and doused his eye with a constant stream of warm water while stroking the target lash with the cotton-bud. I was in awe but, not wanting to crowd them, I (thoughtfully) went back to bed.
From the refuge of the bedroom, I could just make out the dialogue between my wife and son as the lash-extraction procedure continued for 20 minutes. Mrs Jones issuing firm but caring instructions, while Ryan responded with whines and the occasional expletive. Then it went quiet. I heard the bathroom door open and as Ryan returned to his room I heard him utter two words, delivered with absolute sincerity and gratitude.
Moments later, Mrs Jones appeared at the foot of our bed, struggling to contain a self-satisfied smile. “A boy will always need his mum!” she proclaimed.
Begrudgingly, I had to agree. Stifling a pang of envy, I turned over and tried to get back to sleep.