“Bah,” Joe moaned, “there’s only dark chocolate in the cupboard. I hate dark chocolate.” I tried to hold my serious face as I watched this six-year old screw his face up and stick his tongue out. His freckles stood out on his pale face, rapidly blending in as the blood rushed to his cheeks.
“Joe, you’re going to have to put up with it. That’s life; we can’t always have what we want, and sometimes we have to make do with second best.”
“Did you do that with Daddy?”
Just like that, the whole conversation changed. Children have a habit of doing things like that, I guess.
“What makes you say that, little one?”
His head went down, flaming hair staring me in the face, sullen. “Dunno.”
I picked him up under the arms and swung him over to the sofa. We plonked down, him all over me and I tickled him mercilessly. He always was ticklish, and a breathless minute later he was sat holding my arms away from him, still giggling. I moved him onto a more comfortable part of my legs.
“Your Daddy and I love each other very much, Joe. You know that, right?”
“Really, yeah? We just… sometimes adults don’t agree on everything, like you don’t with your friends, and-“
“He makes you cry when you argue.” He was so matter-of-fact about it, but things are so clear-cut when you’re a child, aren’t they?
“It’s important that you know we love each other, Joe. And you love us both, right?”
“I love you, Mum,” and he hugged me so tightly that I couldn’t speak, not even past the lump that had suddenly formed in my throat.