We are not supposed to wish their lives away, are we? We should enjoy every moment because blink, and you miss it. And before you know it they’ve grown up and flown the nest. And life is so short and we should cherish every day. And all that other stuff the old people always say. But fuck me, it’s so much easier now Stanley is a bit older (he’s eight). Sometimes it seems so much easier, I think I might actually be enjoying it.
Yes people, my name is Sarah, and I’m enjoying being a mum to my eight-year-old son. Not in a ‘gee, I just love my kids, they teach me something new about love every day’ kind of way. It’s an enjoyment born more out of relief than anything else, relief that he’s not a baby any more.
Because Stanley as a baby was hard work – unless you only like awake babies. If you like babies who never, ever go to sleep, if you are that kind of freak, then he was your baby. But if you do not only like awake babies, and prefer it when they sleep just very occasionally, then he was, as he would say now he’s eight, an epic fail. Not saying anyone else’s baby wasn’t hard work (I’ve stayed over at Alex’s enough times recently to know she too has one of those no-sleep babies on her hands. It’s no coincidence we are both mainlining Imedeen for the age 40-50 bracket these days), I am just saying I didn’t cope very well, as a person who needs to sleep pretty much every day. And then all those other years between baby and now, they were kind of exhausting too, with their nappies and their tantrums and their which-school-is-best stress-fest and all the hormonal mothers falling out everywhere – and his continuing natural aptitude for staying awake throughout the night.
So I’m kind of digging on this new eight-year-old vibe, man. Where he’s all like: ‘Mum, I’m eight now’ while rolling his eyes in a comedy pre-teen way, but still enough of a baby to sob the hot tears of injustice when his little sister pinches him. He’s confident enough to say ‘In your face, loser’ to me, but still scared enough of the dark to want to sleepover in my room occasionally (and he actually does sleep now, thanks to a gruelling athletic schedule. A parent remarked the other day, a little sanctimoniously I thought, that it ‘sounds exhausting.’ Yes my friend, that is the point.)
He can make up songs about his bum, that he thinks are so hilarious he can barely get the words out for laughing, but he still accidentally holds my hand when we’re walking down the street. The toys he engages with have streamlined from Trash Packs, Hex Bugs, Hot Wheels and all the other gotta-collect-em-all crap that caused an eyesore in my peripheral vision for years, to this:
and a bit of this:
Darling, it’s lovely! What is it?
He can get his own breakfast and turn on the TV, go next door to his friend’s house and pack his own bag for a sleepover, but he still wants a cuddle before bedtime. Basically, it’s great. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. All children should be eight.
Of course I’m painting a rosy picture, one that glosses over the strops and the mess and the defiance, the increasing propensity for telling massive whoppers, and the continual pushing of all the boundaries I occasionally decide to set, before realising it’s too much like hard work to keep them in place, or else forgetting them entirely. And there’s a sense of borrowed time, the dark spectre of the teenage years looms apocalyptically in the distance (the other thing the old people like to remind you: teens are hell. Thanks, old people. Anything else you want to piss all over?) So I know it’s a quiet before the storm, a short feet-up before the next big struggle. But for now, at this moment, as I write this post, I’m enjoying the boy.
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