Read your boy
Your boy, he's seven now (eight in twelve days, as he would want you to know) and is a fiercely kind, sensitive, clever little soul, a little dramatic and will definitely be prone to the man flu, but very loving, a loyal friend and has a sense of justice and right and wrong, way beyond his years. This is the boy who will wake you up in the middle of the night to tell you his worries about his friend being bullied or the list of friends he needs to buy birthday presents for. This is the boy who will tell his little sister he loves her and that's she's 'cool' for a five year old when he thinks no one is listening. This is the boy who will say, entirely without influence, that his favourite thing on holiday is spending time with his family, not the pool or the ice team or the pony ride. You didn't realise, earlier today, did you, that these words might eventually describe your boy, your beautiful, headstrong, passionate boy?
You left your friend's house with him strapped into his car seat, blowing raspberries onto his hand, oblivious to everything that had just happened. After silently driving home, you reversed into the drive and broke down. Hot tears of shame, of bewilderment and of despair that your little force of nature didn't behave quite like other children. As you pulled your boy away once more from your friend's child, she said it. She uttered those words that you dared not say out loud or even think quietly to yourself. Hitter. Handful. Bully.
Instead of taking a deep breath and rationally reminding her that he was only two - that two year old kids are just feeling their way through the world via the next snack and nap, that two year old kids are a work in progress when it comes to socialising - you bundled up your boy and politely made excuses to leave.
She was wrong. She didn't intentionally mean to hurt you or make you retreat from taking your boy to playgroups or other friend's houses, or make you more anxious about the judgemental looks and hushed comments of other people. Of course she didn't, but she was still wrong. But she has also made you a better parent. You will find you don’t need to bother with the books, just read your boy. Read how he looks at the world, at others, at you and you will finally GET IT. You will finally understand the love that all the books talk about, that elusive feeling you couldn’t feel, see or touch when you were so lost in the fug of postnatal depression.
You don't realise it now, but your boy at two is just a ball of potential energy storing up enthusiasm, passion and spirit for the kinetic little being he is now. You will marvel at his memory, the depth of feeling he has for things, friends, his family, the ability to understand the emotions of others and his fearlessness for trying new things. He will teach you about your own flaws but he will teach you more about unconditional love than you could ever comprehend before. Greater still, he will be the first to open up to you the real meaning of a family.
He will exhaust you with his incessant questions, the ranking of EVERYTHING from football players to types of icecream and he will exasperate you with his clumsiness and selective hearing, but if, like him, I were to rank the top five things you have to look forward to in the next few years, they would be:
1. Listening to him making his sister roar with laughter, and the strong bond that develops between them
2. The life-giving hug you get first thing every morning without fail
3. His sense of, and love for, his whole family
4. His boundless enthusiasm and willingness to give anything a go
5. Getting the headteacher’s award (twice) for being a good role model in school
So just hang in there, don’t stop what you’re doing but just KNOW it’s going to be ok. He needs you to be that parent right now, the one who worries about him, the one wonders about the right places to go, the right things to do and say, without really knowing how it’s going to work out.
But it will.