Earlier this afternoon I stood in the doorway, hooks a-tentered, as I waved Pickle off. He was on his way to join a mayhem of 6-year old little monsters for a birthday party.
Parties have become a bit of a nightmare for Pickle. In his words, he ‘gets scared’. He categorically refuses to put his shoes on – the very same ones he loves to launch at me – and firmly anchors himself to the nearest floor, chair, step, person. There have been tantrums, but recently the tears and wobbly, protruding lip have taken over.
It didn’t start out this way. Parties were always previously an over-exciting event. It’s a relatively new behaviour that has crept up on him, and us. Over time, its intensity has become progressively worse. The initial fretful flare-up was just before the very first party that Pickle went to without me. OH was the ill-fated shepherd on that occasion. The fires of holy hell leapt up and burnt our unsuspecting plates of meat.
That particular (not-so-)merrymaking was a ten-pin bowling party. Pickle had been bowling once before on his debut outing with his paternal grandparents; an outing which ended in complete disaster. His behaviour was beyond control at that point in time. He ran off through a busy car park with two elderly dodderers and small Gherkin in tow. He refused to get into the car and hurled abuse – as well as his spade-sized shoes.
At the party, he refused to roll any balls. He was, however, happy enough to buzz around in his own self-contained microcosm of mayhem.
Every party since then has manifested itself in much the same way, with mounting apprehension in the moments leading up to it.
Today’s party was for a son of a close friend, who has been part of Pickle’s life from the very outset, and who is shortly to abandon us to start a new life a zing-zillion miles away in the depths of the countrified burbs; where witches perform infernal rituals and demon dogs dance at dusk. (You know who you are *glares with one evil eye).
Pickle didn’t bat an eyelid as his left for this party. He quietly asked why I wasn’t going along. I told him I had to go out, ducked, and waited for the usual feisty flip-out. Silence. I slowly opened my non-evil eye just in time to see him merrily skipping off towards the car. Result.
Maybe it’s the closeness of the relationship with my friend that has made the difference. Maybe it was the fact that Gherkin was going along with OH this time. Maybe Pickle finally realises there is no longer anything to fear from parties. Maybe being without me isn’t all that scary after all. *sulks briefly.
Who knows, who cares. I am just going to wallow in this mini-breakthrough.