Samuel doesn’t have an active Daddy in his life so my brother has naturally become his main man. He absolutely adores him. He can’t yet pronounce Gareth so “Gaga” (the king of kings) it is, and my busy little prince worships the ground he walks on. To be honest I occasionally get a brief pang of the green eyed monster when I ask Sam if he has missed me and he says no but he IS missing his uncle. The worlds number one biggest fan spends his daytimes shouting for his beloved through the letterbox (just in case he happens to be randomly passing through the housing estate- Gareth lives 40 minutes away) and trying to ring him on the phone. Sam makes phone calls on everything from shoes to toasted crumpets but his imaginary telecommunications are almost always used to contact Gareth (the god of all gods).
They connect over things I just don’t really grasp. Like running people over with plastic ride on vehicles, throwing rocks over the garden fence and valeting a Renault Laguna (especially dusting the dashboard).
My brother sent me a video recording of Sam helping him get camping gear down a ladder. It snapped several of my heartstrings and twanged the rest thoroughly. On the video I can hear my brother saying “Ere y’ar Sam put this on’t floor” Sam clearly chuffed he has been given a proper job for once takes the camping lamp from him and unsteadily puts it down on the garage floor and very seriously says “thank you Gaga”. My brother then calls him a “good lad” and Sam does his on the spot stamp dance (reserved for top level excitement). They continue taking down other heavy equipment each time Sam says “thank you Gaga” in a deeper voice (as macho as he can muster with his squeaky toddler vocal cords).
I am thrilled to bits they have this clearly blossoming bond. My brother is immensely important to me and I am beyond proud of the man he has become. It is marvellous that Samuel (and Alice equally) will benefit from all the wonderful lessons and memories he will be able to gift them.
But for Sam as much as I like to think I can give my little lad everything he could ever need there are many areas I am lacking. The blend of my personality and hardwired instincts means I am occasionally more smother than mother. I can’t help it, if there is camping gear to be lifted down ladders Sam will be kept at a safe distance (wearing a hardhat, steel toe cap boots and three rolls of bubble wrap) and if his great grandma is bumbling down the hallway the ride on car immediately gets put away much to Sam’s dismay… but Gaga (the Great) just shouts “beep beep Grandma” and bumps on past. He shows Sam you can be a bit of a risk taker in life and not to be as pent up and hung up as I am about what might happen.
I can teach my boy how to shave his legs to smooth Venus perfection (well I could if I had time to prune the yetis) … but I won’t have a clue of the procedure on the morning he wakes up with Chewbacca on his chin. The only time I have been in the gents loos is when I was a young girl at a rugby match and I misread the door signs. I was very confused why it smelt utterly rank, and why the toilet was a long tray with little yellow pebbles in it. I gip now at the thought of it, but I inspected one of those lemony urinal freshening blocks quite closely while trying to calculate how I was meant to sit on the bizarre giant metal toilet.
I am pleased I might escape explaining urinal blocks to Sam and that I won’t have to use my shins in a beard management demonstration… but mostly I am immeasurably grateful that Gareth has stepped up to the task of a reliably regular Superman. There is something that feels very safe in knowing a bloke who has been one of the two most important males in my own life… will be taking that same honour in my son’s life also.