The girls were away at a sleepover last night. It was just three of us: daddy, the boy, and me. It is a different feeling and experience, having only one child to look after, especially one so young. At three, the boy is fully conversational, able to use the bathroom on his own, able to voice what it is he needs/wants (although wiping remains an issue and I still have to remind myself that gwonna is pepperoni or pointing, to him, sometimes, is enough to indicate what he wants.)
I love him. He is hilarious and sweet and he yells and he jumps and he isn’t nearly as “sure, fine, take your time” as the girls were. All of a sudden he’s into Spiderman and Batman and Thor and punch, punch, lunge. All of a sudden he’s into trains, cars, trucks, bam! crash! splat!, Buzz Lightlight to the rescue. Yep, he’s still refusing to say Lightyear and I won’t correct him. Yet. Or ever. Seriously, who’s going to say my kid isn’t up to par developmentally just because he refuses to refer to a make believe character’s make believe name?
He is squarely in the “No” phase. No, he’s not going to stop that. No, he’s not going to “come here right now.” No, he’s not going to eat that banana he asked for after all, after just one bite. No, he didn’t just have a cup of juice, you didn’t just give him a cup of juice, he isn’t asking for a cup of juice after quickly drinking the cup of juice you just gave him. No, this is not yours, it’s his, as in the dreaded “mine.”
Mine. If there has ever been a word used by a child that encompasses all that it means to be entitled to all that the world has to offer, it is mine. Stop, it’s mine. No, it’s mine. Mine, mine, mine! I still hear this word from the girls and that’s what makes it so magical. It is undoubtedly a magical word. It can make sisters stop trying to take back something that belongs to them just because a small boy claims it as his own. It can make a small boy draw back and swing at a bigger girl’s knees with all his tiny might just because she took from him what is hers.
And then there are tears. We go through an awful lot of tissue. The boy is never far from tears.
Damn, would you stop crying over everything?
My precious baby, who did it, who do you need me to hurt, climb into my lap and let me pet you.
Ugggggggghhhhhhh you are so irritating with the whining, crying, inability to put your needs into actual words. No one understands all that you’re saying through the snot.
My precious tiniest boy, what is it that you need, what can I do, do you need more fruit snacks, let me make you cupcakes and not give any to those mean sisters who are being mean to you. Meanies.
I’m sort of conflicted about his crying is what I’m saying.
Do you want to know a turn on for me? Of course you do. It is my husband, ‘pon the floor with the boy, putting together a puzzle, giving occasional “good job” high-fives when he places one correctly (even though I am secretly annoyed because WHY’RE YOU SO SURPRISED HE’S DOING THE PUZZLE CORRECTLY?)
He asked for the girls so many times last night I started to feel bad for him. Once they returned early this afternoon he started kicking, punching, and following them around. Everything had returned to normal and I was, am, grateful. The difference in caring for one is remarkable. Throughout the day with all three of them here today, I kept recalling how easy it was to do what he needed. He needed water. He needed help with a game, then with the puzzle. He wanted to play with his toys. I played with him. He wanted to run through the house. I ran with him. He wanted to watch a movie. I never once told him to wait.
With all three of them here today, one needed her hair done, one needed help with homework, and he needed help in the bathroom. One couldn’t find her shoes, one was hungry, and he wanted to put together a puzzle. One had a headache, one couldn’t find her book, and he wanted to be held. Last night my arms were full with just him and I savored it; I clung to it, the ease of caring for just him, being able to meet his needs as he needed them met. There was no just a second, no in a minute, no WHEN I FINISH THE TWO HUNDRED SIXTY EIGHTH THING OF TODAY I’LL HELP YOU. And yet. I felt lost, incomplete. Tonight, even as they threw things at me that made no sense (because seriously seventh grade math teachers, your questions about perimeters only make me tell her to be sure she trusts her contractor to take appropriate measurements), it felt normal.
For us, having just one in the house is a remarkable, needed break. It’s also a reminder that we are a family of five. And I wouldn’t have it any other way (well, unless it meant we could be six. SHUT UP.)