I waved my eldest off to school on Monday. He was a bit down about it and actually burst into tears when he realised on Sunday that he’d miscounted the number of sleeps and had to go to school the very next day. He in Year 2 now so is well versed in the whole term/holiday thing but he had a serious bout of Post-Christmas Blues. I had a bit of that bitter-sweet feeling myself as I kissed him goodbye, although by then he’d shaken it off and was excited about seeing all his friends, so he ran in without a backward glance.
The house is far from quiet without him and I feel relieved to get back into some sort of routine but I do find I miss my H when he is at school. This is something pretty surprising to me, even now. You see, I was completely desperate for him to start going to school. I literally couldn’t wait to get him out of the house. I had assumed I would hate school holidays and count down to them with a sense of dread.
To explain this, I have to give you a bit of background on our H. You see, he was a Demon Baby who turned into the sort of unbearable pre-schooler that would put anyone with any sense off having more kids (clearly, I have very little sense). I know it is pretty common for people to say one of their kids was horrendous, and it is all relative, but believe me when I say he managed to shock even the most seasoned parents. He cried a lot but it wasn’t just crying, it was ear-piercing screaming. Unlike most new babies, including his mostly happy siblings, this rarely stopped even when picked up and comforted. He just loathed being a baby and intended to make sure we were aware of this fact. From 4pm to 8pm every day this crying ramped up a gear to a never ending intense wail. Walking up and down singing Three Little Monkeys on a loop (I used to start at 30 monkeys) helped a bit, but only temporarily, and woe betide you if you stopped bouncing or singing.
H unleashed his first tantrum at just nine months old. From that point on, he lay on the floor kicking and screaming if you did anything that he wasn’t entirely keen on. I called my Health Visitor for advice – a fusty old girl who had been dealing with neurotic new Mums for decades – who dismissed it over the phone, saying he was far too young to be having tantrums. When she came to see me and he went into a rage while she was there, she rapidly ate her words, wished me luck and scuttled out the door. That’s when I realised I was really in trouble.
By the age of three, he was throwing approximately six killer tantrums a day (yes, I counted and averaged). Each one involved either a bedroom time out or leaving wherever we happened to be. There was literally no other option as he became a screaming bundle of rage. We stopped going to anything you had to pay for as we were rarely anywhere longer than half an hour. I had well meaning advice from all quarters and I trawled books and websites for tips but nothing seemed to work. One particularly useless theory was that you give them a bedroom time out, going in every 3 minutes to ask if they want to calm down and come downstairs again. We did this one day for four hours straight. Seriously. Each time I went in, he just screamed in my face. These weren’t my happiest days, especially since I also had a baby M to look after by now.
By four, the killer tantrums were still very much in force although slightly less frequent, perhaps two or three on a good day. I hung all my hopes on school routine helping and at least giving us less time together, so I could spend some time with my little girl, without everything revolving around my screaming H-monster.
I don’t know what happened, and it certainly wasn’t overnight, but something began to change. Whether it was starting school or just H maturing I couldn’t say but one day, not so long ago, my husband and I turned to each other and realised we no longer had a demon for a son. Our H had turned into a polite, kind, gentle and sensitive little soul who I actually look forward to spending time with.
Don’t get me wrong: H is no angel and he still has his moments. He is a glass-half-full type of fella, highly emotional and melodramatic, and still prone to the odd tantrum, even at age six. But school holidays are not to be entirely feared. They are noisy and full of rows but they are also a time when all the kids can be together and I can spend some time with my boy, who gets closer to being a little man every day.
H took me right to brink and I sometimes doubted I’d survive him. But I have, and he was worth all the pain and misery in the end.
And I’m looking forward to Half Term.