My baby is five. His birthday was three weeks ago today, and I’m only just getting around to saying anything about it now because that’s how second children work.
I worry about this kid, but in a completely different way than I worry about his brother (about whom my concerns tend towards extreme sports or jail). I worry that other people can’t see how incredible he is, or that he’ll get passed over or not noticed at preschool because he’s so self-contained and low fuss.
That makes it sound like he’s shy or quiet, which for a long time we thought he might be – but it turns out he’s neither. Once he’s comfortable, he’s a tempest of action and wild stories. He’s the centre of all the action in his little squad of boys and an absolute chatterbox at home. He’s figured out how to provoke his brother into an absolute frenzy using nothing but a few well-placed words, and he gets deep and abiding satisfaction from doing it.
He’s a real little dude – always running and shouting and making a mess. But he’s also still my little clingy koala and an absolute mummy’s boy. Drop-offs are still hard for him every morning, and his favourite phrase is still “I want to be with YOU, Mummy”. He needs a back scratch and a face rub and a foot rub and all his stuffies and a thousand kisses to get to sleep, and he’d still vastly prefer it if I carried him everywhere.
He’s stopped telling outrageous lies, mostly, but he’s still playing with language – he makes up his own words for things, or will spend a week replacing all his nouns with the word “cucumber”. He also has a very well-defined sense of drama that he chooses to employ in just the strangest possible ways. A couple of weeks ago I came home and he’d replaced my bedside lamp with his bunny lamp and put my lamp in his room. When I asked him why, he glared at me and said, “I will NEVER tell you”. And so far he has not.
He’s my little emotional manifestor, so he always has his own stuff going on. (Personality sun in the gate of aloneness; design sun/earth in the gates of skills and focus. (Interestingly, because our birthdays are exactly 9 months apart (yes, I know), I’m the reverse.)) He’s very self-contained, and can play quietly on his own for hours at a time when he’s in the mood (home sick the other day, he asked me to go and work in a different room because he needed “some time alone”).
The flip side of that is that he struggles intensely with the Monday to Friday routine, and is always an exhausted mess by the holidays. One of our parenting challenges with him is going to be working out how to help him navigate knowing when he needs time out or a rest, and helping him get it.
Our other challenge is that he knows exactly how cute he is, and he plays up being the baby to avoid getting in trouble and to get his own way (which is also, annoyingly, really cute because mostly his own way is cuddles). He is acutely, painfully delicious and I can never get enough of his little face and his sweaty little hands and his giant feet and his bony knees and his soft tummy. It’s shocking that he’s already five, but also he’s more interesting and more fun all the time, so I guess I have to forgive him for getting so big.
He’ll always be my baby though… possibly literally, since there’s a real risk I’ll still be carrying him into school when he’s 12.