Once upon a time, I had a tiny baby. He slept a lot (just not when I wanted him to), he stayed where I put him when I lay him down, and his only form of communication was to wail at me when I wasn’t doing something he wanted quickly enough or in the right way.
That tiny baby has been replaced by a little man. His mop of blonde hair is unruly and in need of a cut, but I’m having trouble getting myself into the mode of getting rid of his baby curls. He doesn’t walk, he runs. He climbs EVERYWHERE. As someone who is terrified of heights, this really doesn’t bode well for me, as the need to chase him up heights that make my stomach churn is growing ever greater. He has a personal love for flinging himself off the sofa, leaving me eternally with my heart in my mouth, the number for the local A&E on speed-dial. He’s got my brother’s daring attitude – said brother is one of the most accident prone people I’ve ever met, so you’ll excuse my overly anxious demeanour when he’s flinging himself from a height.
He will talk to anyone. He spends his days waving at random strangers in the shopping centre close to our house, shouting “Bye Bye” and “Oh No!” in an overly dramatic voice. He knows what he wants, most of the time, and even when he doesn’t, he knows he wants it now. He’s not a fussy eater, as long as it is on my plate he’s game, his own not so much. He knows his own mind and needs me less and less each day.
We have dance parties to Taylor Swift and jump up and down in leaves with wellies on. He’s even starting to become semi-decent company, now that he’s added more words to his repertoire. Every fire engine is roared at “Nee-naw”, and if I’m not going fast enough with the buggy he starts beeping and trying to power forward by himself. Time waits for no man, and this man certainly isn’t waiting around.
Today in the playground was a demonstration of just how much has changed in such a short space of time. He took it upon himself to make it up the tall ladder and go down the slide. It’s not something I would have said was meant for kids his age, probably a little older, but he was determined. Heart in mouth, I watched him figure out the easiest way to clamber up the steps without falling. He didn’t stop. He was focused on getting to the top. He reached the top step and looked out upon his kingdom, it’s a long way down when you’re not yet three foot tall. I willed him not to topple from the height. He steadied himself, got into a sitting position and wiggled both legs out from under him and propelled himself down the slide, grinning, thrilled with his feat of independence. I laughed and cheered him on (and got the camera out) as he went to do it again, more confident this time.
He was a big boy now, no need for Mammy to lift him up onto the slide or climb up with him. It’s not so long ago that he needed me for everything, just a couple of blinks, but now he’s ready to take on the world.
I should really start that college fund, or invest in Bernard’s Watch to soak up all of this time while I can. And stop blinking, because I might miss something big.
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