My biggest man is flying the coup. Next week he starts National School and will take one little step out into the big world, where he will fend for himself for just a few hours a day.
This Summer I’ve been trying to get him ready for school. We’ve been practicing putting on shoes and coats. We’ve been trying (badly) to leave the thumb-sucking til bedtime. We’ve been making a real effort to stop saying ‘Jesus’ and calling people plonkers. We’ve been reversing years of ‘mummy wipe my bum’ in favour of congratulating the child for leaving the bathroom with half a bog roll up his bum, just delighted that he put it there himself. We’ve been to the uniform shop, the shoe shop and the book shop. The shoes are being broken in, the bag is packed, the boy is excited.
He’s well and truly ready for this adventure to begin. I am well and truly ready for this adventure to begin. At five he’s got more energy and questions that anyone I’ve ever met. When I first met his teacher I balked at the fact she’s about 11. Now I’m just delighted she’ll have the energy to keep up with him.
He’s louder than a herd of stampeding elephants and doesn’t know there is any volume below shouting. He doesn’t know how to walk not run, how to eat without wearing his food or how to do a poo without stripping off everything below the waist. He has a strange ability to hear a conversation two rooms away whilst remaining utterly unable to hear me asking him to pick up the Lego from half a meter away. He is a daydreamer with his head in the clouds and his thumb in his mouth.
He’s the kind of child who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. He gets that from his father. He’s fond of singing ‘Care bears, care, care bears’ at top volume in the middle of Aldi. He frequently gives out that his nipples can’t make milk to feed Woodie. He hasn’t the foggiest notion about the nonsense of ‘boy’ things and ‘girl’ things. He’s a mixture of kind and clueless. He thinks it’s hilarious that we don’t know the names of countries on other planets. He can explain, to a fairly good level of detail, how the rainwater evaporates to become clouds, which in turn produces rain. He traps worms in jars and hides them so he’ll have a pet. He cries at the sad part of a movie, a story or a song. He has a strange ability to remember absolutely every half-cocked answer he was given since the age of two. He starts the day talking and goes to sleep much the same. He gets that from his mother.
He adores his little sister Yoda, nearly as much as she adores him. With less than two years between them, they are partners in crime, peas in a pod, wonderful pains in the arse. They play, they fight, they battle, they run (endlessly) and they watch out for each other. He winds her up and she pulls his hair.
But these days he’s faster than her. His legs are pure lean muscle, she has the lovely pudge of a toddler. She shouts down the road for him to wait for her. He comes back, laps her and heads off again. She tries to tell him complicated, fantastic stories, always judging by his reaction whether she is funny or cool, but she mispronounces a word or forgets what she was trying to impress him with. He always notices and teases her about being a baby.
But then, out of the blue, he puts his arm around her when they’re walking down the road. He tells her he’s going to buy her a monkey and she laughs her dirty laugh of a 60-a-day smoker. A laugh she spares only for him.
I’ll miss my little man. He’s my beautiful boy, my buddy, my everything. But I won’t be the most heartbroken woman at the schoolgate next Monday morning. I think his sister will hold that title, even if she doesn’t know it. It’s his day and we’ll send him off with all the fuss he deserves. But then I’ll bring her home and give her a mug of hot chocolate and the biggest croissant. Because when your little heart breaks that’s just what you need.