And Then There Was One

imageHaving spent the summer with a houseful of three noisy kids, things have changed a lot around here recently. We’ve gone from three to one and it all feels rather strange.

Yes, T and I are home alone since M started school and it is taking a bit of getting used to. It has been a long while since I had just one preschooler at home and I’d forgotten what it was like. In a way, it almost feels like a day off at times. It is just so refreshing only having to keep an eye on one little runner in the park. We can switch to T’s pace for the first time in his little life and he simply loves being able to wander through the day, stopping to examine every acorn and flower, without annoying the older ones or rushing to their social engagements. T has kindly started napping again too, after a nap-free summer, so having an hour off in the afternoon while he kips is just heavenly.

But I have to admit that I’d not really appreciated how much T’s siblings keep him entertained, especially M who is so sweet and inclusive when playing, letting her little brother join in even if he is like a bull in a china shop. Suddenly, it is just the two of us and I’m afraid Mummy is proving to be rather a disappointing substitute for his fun-packed sister.

imageWhilst T will play by himself when the mood takes him, I can see him looking at me and waiting for the action to begin as soon as we get home after the morning school run. He moans and complains at the prospect of spending any time inside with boring old Mummy, so we end up heading out to pretty much anywhere just to shut him up.

I feel much more pressure to do interesting toddler activities than I have done for years. Hell, I even revisited a toddler group (see Toddler Groups: A Survivor’s Story), which was definitely a step too far.

All this coincides with a ramping up of the Terrible Twos. Killer tantrums are still rare – he is never going to rival his big brother at this age, who was simply horiffic – but he is definitely getting into the swing of it all a bit more. The answer to every question is “no”, naturally, but those nos are getting considerably more forceful and prone to lead to screaming meltdowns. It seems that no matter how often you go through the Terrible Twos as a parent, they still have the power to surprise you when then land with a thump. Oh yes, I suddenly remember them in technicolor.

The other problem is that all this together time is feeding T’s Mummy obsession. Limpet boy and I have been joined at the hip for many months now but he is really stepping it up a gear, now that he has me all to himself. He actually tries to pull the other kids off the sofa now if they dare to sit next to me. I can’t sit down without him clambering all over me, clinging onto my neck and suffocating me. He pushes and pulls me, like a cushion, until he has me in optimum hold and then grips me like a boa constrictor. He only releases the grip slightly to explore my face, attempting to stuff sticky fingers up my nose and into my mouth. It feels like he is trying to posess me, climb back in and become one person again.

Yes, I know I’m going to told off for moaning about this one, that I should be grateful to have such a lovely cuddly boy and that I’ll be sorry when he grows out of it. I get told that a lot, mostly by parents of much older children, natch. But we aren’t talking nice cosy cuddles, here. The boy screams if I dare to get up to, you know, carry on with normal life. He kicks off if I so much as move my arms from around his warm little body. He hugs me so hard and endlessly that I feel totally drained by him, like he is sucking the life out of me.

And it is getting worse. All this time together is exacerbating his possessive behaviour no end. He follows me around the house whining “cuddle cuddle cuddle” until I relent. I am getting next to nothing done and having to endure far more CBeebies than is natural for a woman in her 30s.

imageBut I can’t begrudge him too much. He is a third child after all, used to being short changed on Mummy’s time, and now it is his turn. Sure, it is inconvenient to have a toddler sized scarf round your neck, one that is prone to turning into a screaming banshee at the drop of a hat. But I am enjoying at least some of this unadulterated toddler time, without a pregnancy or a new baby in the mix this time round. And the more kids you have, the greater your grasp of time: it all passes soon enough, so the hard times are not worth crying over.

And T doesn’t really make me cry, even at his worst. I wish I could say the same of his older siblings at this age. He is my third, my last toddle, and nothing he can do is new to me, or worth getting deeply upset over. So no tears this time.

Instead, he makes me laugh. It is easy to forgive his misdemeanours when he has such a disarming smile and a flare for performance. Even his tantrums have such a large dose of melodrama thrown in that it is hard not to smile sometimes. I didn’t smile when he screamed his way up and back to school this morning, but most of his meltdowns are brief and delightfully over-acted.

There are two years ahead for T and me now, before I wave him off to school too. Some days that feels like a long time, other days I think it will go in the blink of an eye. I wont be beating myself up for not enjoying every moment. Who can honestly say they would? But I think we’ll muddle through pretty well, my little limpet boy and me. image

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