Thud wanted to write down some family rules today. We all took it very seriously. All of us. Dead serious.
One of the bonuses of parenting is being able to take credit for your child when they do something good.
“Oh yes, did you notice that? Isn’t he amazing?? I made him myself. Why thank you, yes I *am* an incredible mother.”
The trouble with Thud is… I think… maybe… I can’t take credit for him. Because he’s BETTER than me.
Let me tell you a story (and this is just one example of many).
You’ve just arrived at karate, or swimming, or soccer, or playgroup and all the kids are buzzing around, excited to get going. Except for you.
You’re sitting on the floor with your hysterical child wrapped around your throat, refusing to join in. You’re trying to pry those little hands off your arms as you awkwardly unfold yourself into an almost upright position with an 18-kilogram weight hanging off your neck. You keep talking, whispering how everything’s going to be ok and how they’re going to have fun but they’re now wailing and kicking and EVERYONE is staring.
The other kids, their parents, the teachers or coaches: all staring. Any minute now, someone is going to come up to ‘help’ but it’s going to make everything worse.
The coach comes up to say hi and a little face digs into your stomach.
You smile politely and speak on behalf of your child because you want to look like you’re encouraging good manners but the tears have started to well in your own eyes because it shouldn’t be this HARD to have fun with your child.
My brave boy,
You started preschool today.
You thought your uniform was amazing because it’s the same colour as the ones your big cousins wear. You thought your hat was really quite fetching and you couldn’t wait to use your new lunchbox. We’ve been talking about preschool for what seems like months.
We’ve gone over every aspect of what your day would look like, we practiced eating lunch from your gazillion lunchboxes, we even practiced how to make friends – with daddy playing the role of ‘that sad kid in the corner who might like a friend’.
We did as much as we could to make the unknown known to you.
It wasn’t enough.
You raced into your room, you showed me every corner of it, you seemed excited, no … maybe just a little bit… terrified.
The moment I had to leave, you unravelled. Your fingers dug into my arms, your eyes grew wide with horror, I could feel your fear in my bones.
It was my second pregnancy and everything was going well, but as my belly grew, so did the ache in my heart.
As we swept along with the swell of preparations, I’d look back at the tiny heart-shaped face of my first-born, so blissfully unaware, and my heart would crack, ever so slightly. I missed him already.
We were excited to meet our baby girl, but as her due date crept closer, I felt an urgency to make memories with my firstborn. The sadness of knowing he’d never remember a time when it was just us overwhelmed me.
We’d spent two and a half years revolving around our little sun. He had no idea it could be any different. The attention, the time, the love: it was ALL for him. ALL the time.
I was utterly consumed with all the things my little boy was about to lose.
Wake up feeling refreshed because your children have both slept through the night. I mean, yours probably did. Not mine because my kids are broken. But according to the books and all the other mums online, all toddlers and preschoolers sleep through the night so you’ll probably feel like a million bucks. Just don’t talk to me about it or I will hurt you.
Turn on TV. You don’t even feel guilty anymore.
Breakfast. Your four-year-old would like a bowl of dry Rice Bubbles. You consider having the conversation about wet cereal again but honestly can’t be fucked, so you hand him the bowl and wish him dusty luck.
The 18-month-old wants what her big brother has. She wants it exactly how he has it. But no, on second thoughts that’s not nearly close enough, she needs the exact bowl he’s holding with the exact cereal he’s scooping into his mouth. She needs it NOW. She figures you’re not going to act fast enough (you never act fast enough) so she launches herself at the bowl in what will become a mega-hulk battle to the death over the green bowl.
You look at your firstborn and wonder, “did he get easier? Or did I not know what ‘difficult’ was until she came along?”
My friends, I must apologise for my absence. I’ve just been so busy with the new baby, you know? Being a big brother is tough. I mean, people don’t really tell you how hard it’s going to be, do they? It’s UNRELENTING. Mum and Dad have absolutely phoned it in to be honest. They’re all, “can you get me a nappy please?” and “can you pass the wipes?” and “what’s that in the baby’s mouth?”etc. etc. etc. I mean, FFS. Don’t worry guys, you just keep scrolling insta while I take care of the baby.
So while I’ve been raising this child, I’ve taken some notes on how you too can be a phenomenal big brother or sister:
I used to be an adult. An adult who had adult conversations about adult things using adult language.
Now I talk about poo. And penises. ALL DAY.
Phrases like, “don’t put your penis in that” come out of my mouth on the regular, I don’t even blink anymore. It feels normal.
And phrases like, “my poo has gone to sleep” come out of my toddler’s mouth. Because he’s a massive liar and we all know it.
“Mate, do you need to do a poo?”
“Are you sure? You look like you need to do a poo.”
“No, my poo has gone to sleep.”
“Are you sure it’s asleep? Maybe we should go and sit on the toilet and see if it wants to wake up.”
“No, my poo is watching TV.”
See? Almost exactly the same as discussing the budget deficit.
Before we graduated to poo and penises, we had to go through a few stages of speech development:
- First words