I can honestly say that I have never been one of those parents who express regret about the passing of time. It has given me great joy to see my baby turn into a toddler, and my toddler turn into a preschooler.
I want DorkySon to grow up. I want him to become more confident and independent of me, to do things on his own without my help.
Perhaps it has been easier because he is naturally a quiet and fairly reserved boy, and I am more used to giving him gentle, encouraging nudges to try new things, rather than trying to hold him back from activities that he’s not yet ready for.
That said; all his big developmental stages have started on his say-so rather than mine. He indicated very clearly that he wanted to stop breastfeeding at 9 months. He decided when he was ready to start using a potty, and when he wanted the bars taken off his cot.
The next big thing on the horizon is probably going to be dropping his nap. I feel incredibly lucky to have a three year old who still reliably takes an hour’s nap after lunch every day, but I am very aware that this time next year DorkySon will have started school, and it won’t be possible to keep that going.
I’m hopeful – that like everything else – he will make the decision to phase it out fairly naturally, without us having to make a big deal out of it. And with that in mind, I savour the nap related loveliness every day.
Not the hour of quiet – although that is excellent and precious – but the half hour or so afterwards when he is waking up, and still needs me to help him do that.
The quiet cuddles we used to have in bed every morning stopped a long time ago. DorkySon is now so eager to get on with the day that he will run through to our room and only stay long enough to guzzle down some milk, before tearing off into the living room to start one of his traffic jams, or build something out of Lego, or just to sit on the sofa watching Postman Pat.
Naps are different though.
He still needs coaxing out of a nap.
About 3pm, or maybe 3.30, I’ll hear his bedroom door creaking open, before he ambles slowly through to the bathroom for a wee. Then he’ll appear in the doorway to the living room, usually without pants on, messy haired and scowling.
Without saying anything, he’ll walk across to the sofa, climb up, and curl into a tight little bundle on my lap. He might grunt a little, or yawn, but he still won’t say anything. For a good ten or fifteen minutes he’ll sit there, sooking on his thumb with gusto, and peering up at me with those enormous blue peepers. Gosh, I wonder sometimes what he is thinking.
It’s the one time of day he stays still long enough for me to really look at him; to notice how much longer his legs are getting, to see how defined his muscles are becoming, to wonder how he got so many nicks and bumps and bruises. I love the soft, blonde down that grows on his shins, the cosy creases in his neck that I can still bury my nose in. Post-naptime, he’ll accept my kisses without pulling away, and he occasionally takes his hand away from his mouth to offer me some ‘thumb pie’.
As the minutes pass, I will slowly start to see the spark of mischief return to his expression. He’ll start to wiggle around a little. A smile will start to play at the corners of his mouth.
And then, inevitably, with a final loud yawn he will shift along the sofa, extend one of those elegant limbs in my direction and stick his foot in my face.
“Smell this Mummy,” he’ll say. “It’s PIS-gusting.”
I will sigh, and smile, and he will laugh loudly before jumping off the sofa.
The baby has gone again and the boy has returned.
As it should be.