‘Hey Mam? Remember when yesterday – yesterday – yesterday and yesterday we had no crèche?’

That’s how Rian counts days in the past and days in the future. Yesterday-yesterday-yesterday is his way of referring to last Sunday for example, if today is Thursday. And if today is Thursday, tomorrow-tomorrow-tomorrow is how he refers to next Sunday, or just a few days into the future as I don’t think he knows what Sunday is yet either.  I have to hand it to him, it’s a very effective way of saying what he wants to when he doesn’t quite know how to do it properly yet.

‘Yes Rian, I do remember. Was it fun?’

‘Oh Mam it was so much fun. Can we do it again?’

I have to stop and remember that he’s still only four. How does a four year old make sense of things? I often wonder this. He’s really getting into the stage of asking questions about how and why. Why do I go to work? Where is my work? Do I just work on my ‘puter’? That’s computer to you and me.

I tell him I get the train to work, which is in Dublin. I wonder what he thinks Dublin is. So far, he knows I work there, he knows his Aunt Sandra lives there, and he knows that she once ‘found’ a dinosaur egg there and brought it to him. She bought him one that you leave in a jug of water for days and it hatches into a dinosaur. ‘Where did you get it Sandra’?

‘I got it for you in Dublin, Rian’

I imagine him picturing a magical place full of ‘puters’,  where the streets have random dinosaur eggs where I work and Sandra lives in the middle of it all.

He knows I get the train to work, and yet, when I’m getting dressed to go to my exercise sessions he asks, ‘where are you going Mam?’

‘I’m going training Rian’


I watch his beautiful little face trying to work it all out and make sense of it. I can see how things could seem confusing to him but after a moment or two he accepts it.

‘Ok mam. Will Sandra be there?’

I can see how he figured that.

Some questions catch me off guard though, like – ‘Where does air come from?’

Shite. Can we not start off with something easy like ‘where do people come from?’ That I can answer at least even if it might get a bit awkward in places!

‘Ehhh well…. air comes from… everywhere really… in a way… sooo… oh hey did you know that cows have four tummies?’

‘Four? Why?!’

Crap. ‘Well, because when they eat the grass…. it moves from one tummy to the other…probably…before it turns to…. milk… hey will we go and watch a movie?’ A desperate attempt at saving myself.

Note to self, brush up on basic science. (Although I just googled ‘where does air come from’ to see just how basic it is and this is what it said: “Air comprises molecules of nitrogen (about 78 percent by volume), oxygen (about 21 percent by volume), water vapor (between 1 and 4 percent by volume near the surface of the earth) and other trace elements.” – don’t lie and tell me that’s what you would have said!)

The boys constantly show me new ways of looking at the most basic things. Even something like a walk through the woods throws up a million ‘why?’ questions and shows an amazing insight into how to view the world as simply as it presents itself.

Look Mam! Look at all the sticks!

I look. Yes there are a lot of sticks. But Rian looks and sees swords and magic wands, all the while imagining great adventures in his head.

Look Mam! I picked a flower for you!

He hands me a wilted weed.. to him it might as well be the nicest flower he’s ever seen.

We walk on and see if we can see ‘Zog’ in the tower ( a dragon from one of his books), Alex points at random things with excitement, we stop to hear Owl who we’re certain has just flown to his treetop house.

Alex, at only two years old, lives in a world full of wonder and imagination, already. A Buzz Lightyear superfan, he’s recently started walking along as if on a constant hunt for arch-enemy Zurg (I’ve seen the movies so many times now I actually know the exact scene he’s re-enacting: Toy Story 2 where the ‘real’ Buzz is in the air conditioning vent looking for Woody with the gang, he thinks he’s a real space ranger, and he raises his hand and shouts things like ‘Halt!’ before checking the coast is clear and waving the rest of them on). To Alex, he is Buzz, and we are the ‘gang’, carefully sneaking along an air vent hoping we don’t bump into our mortal enemies.

It’s amazing.

I’m two weeks now into my part time working life and honestly my only regret is not going for it sooner. Yes, things will be tighter from a financial point of view of course – after all it is a hefty 40% reduction in my monthly paycheck, but I really think I underestimated just how much Rian in particular wanted me home. Or maybe I didn’t given how much I have written about various types of guilt that I struggled with. In a weird way he’s almost clingier to me since the three day week has kicked in – if we’re eating dinner or lunch for example, he wants to sit on my lap or literally beside me, where our arms and plates have to be touching. Where once he’d be happy to play with his toys, or go and bounce on his trampoline, he wants me to go and play or bounce with him. Whatever he does, he’s insisting more that I do it with him.

Maybe it’s the age he’s at, or it’s just a novelty to have all this extra new time together, or maybe it’s something more, I can’t figure it out, but, I’m not going to argue. With Alex, my guilt was that I never got to spend proper time with him at the age he’s at now the way I did with Rian – I was on maternity leave with Alex when Rian was two – and now at least, I can make some of that up.

I know of course that someday I’ll mortify the life out of them and cuddles and kisses and snuggles will be a thing of the past…but (aahhh I can’t let myself think about that!) for now, I can’t wait for more questions that highlight just how little I actually know about how to see the world as they do.

Posted by:Jen Ryan

I'm Jen, 30-something, married, Mam of two little Munchkins, 2 dogs, Irish, red-haired and actual genius. (May not be true). I love Photography, cheesy stuff (including the music), fond of a cup of tea or two, although since the Munchkins arrived and taught me that sleep is for the weak, coffee is currently in top position.

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