It’s almost impossible to believe that we’ve only known Rian for just five years..! When I look at him, almost every time, as his little face is animated with the story he’s telling me, or the deal he’s trying to negotiate with me: ‘Let’s make a deal, Mam, ‘k?? If I eat ALLLLL my dinner, you’ll let me watch three movies, yeah? Is that a deal?? ‘ ….as he goes into deep discussion I spend most of the time I just staring at him in wonder.
I think about the days before we knew we had him, all those years of trying to get pregnant and wondering about the future child we hoped so hard for. What would he or she be like? Would we ever get there? I think about the day they did the embryo transfer… seeing ‘Embryo One’ on the screen, so tiny, only visible through a microscope. I remember us sitting in that clinic, holding hands, almost afraid to look too long at the image, and definitely afraid to hope too much. Two weeks later, taking that pregnancy test, so petrified that it hadn’t worked I was almost too scared to look at the result.
But it was Rian…. and I zoom back to the current moment… ‘Are you listening Mam? Is that a deal? I really promise, I’ll eat all my dinner!’ And we decide to meet somewhere in the middle, because let’s face it, their movie time is my only break time, a chance to use the bathroom alone or have a cup of uninterrupted tea… he’d have had one movie anyway but at least now he might eat all his dinner too… Jen 1, kids 0!
The year between four and five has been the biggest leap from leaving babyhood altogether and moving into ‘little boy’ territory…. he’s so grown up and yet not grown up at all… he has opinions on everything and is not afraid to throw your own phrases back at you…for example, if I’m giving out to him for something he’ll tilt his head and ask ‘ now Mam, are they your ‘kind words’? Are they Mam?? ‘
You can’t argue with that really, can you.
From the moment he wakes up to the moment he closes his eyes to go asleep, it’s constant questions and negotiations. Honestly, it’s like he only converses in questions. We go from asking ‘what can I eat though?’ a million times a day to ‘What’s a video, Mam?’ (which made me die instantly of Old). If babies are physically tiring, then little kids are the mental equivalent. My head is a puddle of mush by the end of the day and let’s face it, it’s still quite physical running around after them, or running around the place with them in an effort to burn off the truckloads of energy!
This year, from four to five, has definitely brought the biggest changes in him I think, like starting school. I even surprised myself at just how emotional I found that one… it’s the Golden Gate Bridge of milestones in the road … so big and so unmissable, there’s no question of it being the end of babyhood! It’s something I underestimated for us both really, him getting settled into it and me too, just in a different way. Handing over yet more control of the main influences in his life.. first just us, then the childcare providers, and now his teacher. It’s great of course, but just different too. I’m so proud of him.
Yet, there are still little ways I see the baby version of him linger.. Sniffy, his trusted and beloved attachment toy is still very much there. Patiently and loyally waiting on Rian’s bed for him to come back to squeeze to sleep. Phew. Honestly I think I’m more attached to Sniffy than anyone else.. it just represents so much, and so many emotions have been poured into that little ball of stuffing!
Hands…. the feel of his little hand holding mine. Noticeably bigger of course, my own hand doesn’t wrap around as much of it as it used to.. but his little hand still has those babyish dimples at the knuckles, still soft and slightly pudgy to feel and place kisses into. Still clings to mine when we go for walks…. phew.
The purity… to see sheer joy on his face when he sees a ‘good stick’, when he hears his favourite song (incidentally, a close tie between Shotgun and Dance Monkey), still that pure innocence that kids have, of not noticing that older people try and contain their emotions more. His raw emotions.. excitement, happiness, fun… even anger, sadness, frustration.. they all come out in force no matter who is there or where we are. It’s what makes most of the magic possible, the innocence. The pure trust as they look up at you in wonder as you tell them something they’ve never heard before… like why the leaves are all falling off the trees, or why it gets dark outside, or even when we wonder together how a mermaid might go to the toilet..! On balance, we have a lot of toilet related conversations, I won’t lie, toilets are a huge source of fascination if you’re a little boy about to turn five!
When Rian was born, and with Alex too, I was told constantly ‘ you didn’t get a look in there, Jen’ by anyone who met us. They were right too, both boys seemed like ‘mini-me’ versions of their Dad, as lots of newborns tend to. Something primal apparently, but there you go. It didn’t bother me in the slightest who they did or didn’t look like… although it might have been nice to hear it every once in a while!
Gradually, with Rian at least, the narrative has started to change – ‘he looks like his dad but he’s cut out of you, Jen!’ and my heart just swells up at the thought of it. To think that this amazing little boy is anything like me… well, I honestly can’t think of a higher compliment.
Happy Birthday to you, our beautiful, kind, thoughtful, clever, funny, amazing Rian. We love you more than all the twinkly stars.