This week my baby turned 4.
My angel, my only sunshine, my most wished for boy, who never shuts up, who can’t say ‘ambulance’ or ‘combine harvester’ properly, who climbs into bed with me without fail at dusk or dawn and closes his eyes with a smile on his face (If I can’t see her, she can’t see me – I think his reasoning goes), who has discovered the power of telling me that I’m “stupid” or that he doesn’t love me whenever he doesn’t get his own way – and also discovers that I just give him the ‘just one of them, mate’ looks and tell him I still love him anyway, who practises his stand up comedy routine on his soft toys when he thinks nobody else is listening, who tells me every day that he loves me with his little heart – and I reply that I love him with my big heart. Then we do that thing with our hands, the heart shape thing. His shape is little, my shape is big. It makes him smile. He likes to see it, the love.
I drove for hours to get hold of the last fucking Paw Patrol ‘Tracker’ toy in seemingly the entire world for his birthday. It’s a chihuahua in a khaki outfit who says “Soy todo oidos” when you press a button. I hate the thing but I want to spoil him; he’s my baby, my only baby. Post natal depression seemed to strip me of some of the nice moments I could’ve had in the early days. A clumsy splash of an iPhone into the loo two years later stripped me of few thousand photographs of those early days that I’ll never see again.
Now he is much more grown. His rabbit feet cost a fortune in shoes. His latest growth spurt sets him head and shoulders above boys one and sometimes two years older than him. The light picks out flecks of golden hair on his shins. His face is losing its chubbiness and he takes on a look of his Dad.
My baby is a real boy now.
The faster he grows the more I wish I could do it all again.
In another part of the country, a son is left outside in freezing temperatures. Whether as some sort of punishment or neglect, time will tell. It plays on my mind all week; how could they? How could she?
I wonder if he’d had an entirely horrible 7 years on this earth and never known true love or kindness. Or whether she was once like us, like me, but went too far. I wonder which is worse. I wonder if I could go too far, too.
I regret my Cross Mummy rendition at teatime when I told him that if he doesn’t tidy his toys away properly I will put them in a bin bag.
Am I even teaching him anything? Am I just threatening him?
I decide it can’t be very nice to have someone threaten to take away your most precious things. His most precious things are different to my most precious thing but that’s OK.
I don’t want to be like her, or others, who went too far. I don’t even want to be Cross Mummy.
So we have parties – plural – and cake for breakfast, we have highly sought-after Paw Patrol toys that he doesn’t truly appreciate. I spend money I haven’t really got just so I can tell him he had a nice childhood. After all, he likes to see it, the love.
We have cuddles in the dark before dawn. We hold hands in our slumber and I smell his hair.
He loves me with his little heart. And I love him with my big heart. Four years and forever.