That boy of mine hasn’t forced his way into this blog nearly as much as his sisters have. That’s just the way he is: easier going, not so in your face (those who know and love his sisters will be the first to admit they are Not Always Relaxing To Be Around…)
I felt guilty for a long time about the different kind of relationships I had with my children. It took me years to figure out that I could love them differently, but equally.
I was infatuated with his Big Sister from the moment I first set eyes on her, and she gazed right back into my eyes in that ancient newborn way. Maybe that’s a firstborn thing, who knows? And Big Girl grew up to be very like me, which makes for an intense relationship. When it’s good, it’s very very good, but when it’s bad…
That Boy was a poorly baby. He spent his first eighteen months in and out of hospital with bouts of pneumonia, and asthma crises. I found the children’s ward an odd place to be a parent. After a while, I didn’t feel I was necessary to my son any more. I was more distant from him; he was less demanding than his Big Sister. Our relationship mostly consisted of me checking he was still breathing, day and night (I still occasionally have to resist the urge to prod this one when he’s sleeping, just to be sure…)
I remember falling suddenly and overwhelmingly in love with him at his one-and-a-halfth birthday party. (He’s far too special for ordinary birthdays.) I don’t think I knew anything was missing before, but I remember how different it felt afterwards: like the technicolor moment in the Wizard of Oz.
I knew his Small Sister would be my last child. Three was enough; three was right. I’d always known that. Small Girl was born angry with the world, demanding to be adored, furious at being smallest, desperately determined to catch up.
That Boy isn’t like either of his sisters. He’s not competitive; he can’t be bribed or bullied. Depending on your point of view, that make him either very easy or impossibly difficult, a joy or a nightmare. I’ve heard both from those who’ve attempted to teach him.
He climbs mountains.
His most favourite thing to do is Just Thinking.
He almost certainly believes he can fly.
In his head, the world is like this- one long and complicated battle narrative incorporating all the different universes. If you’re really unfortunate, he’ll share it with you. I treasure the memory of last weekend’s HP/Grease crossover (You’re the wand that I want…)
A birthday card for grandpa, illustrating new ways to wage warfare on grey squirrels (grandpa’s a leetle obsessed on this one, and B likes to encourage him…)
For a child who’s every waking thought appears to be filled with warfare and weaponry, he’s surprisingly gentle and peaceful to live with.
It was brought to his attention at the end of last year that mummies are not immortal. Sometimes they die, even when they desperately want to live, even when their children need them very much indeed. Twice in less than two years was just too much, impossible to ignore. (And yes, I guess this was the same for all the kids in Chinley, but for some reason it hit this one harder than most, I think.)
This new knowledge frightened him. I knew this not from what he said (he’s not always a great talker, not about the stuff that matters), but from how he was. From seeing the fear in his eyes when he watched his friend and her mum, how he looked away because he couldn’t bear where his thoughts were leading. He was the hardest one to reassure, because he doesn’t ask the questions that are bothering him. Maybe he doesn’t even know what they are? (Perhaps he’s more like me than I thought…)
But for weeks, I’d wake in the night, and know he was awake too, standing there listening to check I was breathing. I’d make space for him in bed next to me, and as soon as the duvet was pulled over him, he’d go straight back to sleep, reassured, for the moment.
This may be why I have some confidence that my children could cope and thrive with us being apart. They’ve already had to face up to the possibility of worse truths, and come to some sort of terms with it. At the time, I just wanted to protect them, wished desperately they didn’t have to know about such harsh realities. But they’re strong enough. I know that now.