My three

P

She talks about herself in the third person. ‘She’s too big to go in the pushchair,’ ‘she doesn’t want to go to school,’ ‘she wants a cuddle.’ She has tantrums, oh man, those tantrums that draw people who are practically-strangers to offer their help. Tantrums that – though I am technically stronger and could forcibly strap her into the pushchair, if I really really tried – make me practically-weep with gratitude, yes, please.

E

She is defying middle child syndrome by making herself known, I think. She draws and practices handwriting – swirly curly tails are her current thing – and is great, apart from when she is not. When she screams and screams until I think I am going to pass out. ‘I’ll have my own melodrama thanks E,’ tempts me. As does fleeing the house, asking, what the f did I do to my life? And then, I don’t know, I don’t go anywhere and she brushes my hair or requests another cuddle, please, please, and I’ll be glad, whatever the f it is I have done to my life.

H

We used to drag him from his secret places, climbed into toy chests, behind cupboard doors, screaming ‘no, I don’t want to go.’ We forced him into the swimming pool, aged three, chanting ‘wibble wobble jelly on a plate’ from the side of the pool as stern teachers tipped him off a big float into the water.

‘He must learn,’ we said. We dragged him to birthday parties where he would not do the thing. Go Karts, bouncy castles, bowling. Now he wants to go to it, whatever it is. Football and school and can other people come over all the time to play? Still, at bedtime, a kiss, cuddle, and a pat. 7 years and 51 weeks old.

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