‘I don’t love you, Mummy.’
‘That dress is ugly, Mummy.’
‘My dinner is disgusting, Mummy.’
‘I don’t want any more of this horrible juice.’
Last week, I spent a couple of nights down in London, continuing our flat-hunt. DorkySon stayed up in Edinburgh with my Mum, and by all accounts had a brilliant time. She texted me a picture of him on the first day, sitting on a bench, smiling and clutching an ice cream, and a picture on the second day of him sitting in the big red tractor at Gorgie City Farm, waving brightly at the camera. There is no one on earth he loves more than DorkyGranny – they are incredibly close – and I knew he would be absolutely fine.
But I don’t spend nights away from DorkySon that often – this was only the fourth or fifth time ever – so it always takes a bit of readjustment when I return. And this was by far the most difficult time ever. I’d brought him back a wee George Pig keyring that I spotted in a shop and thought he’d like.
‘It’s rubbish,’ he said, walking over to the bin and dropping it in.
Where had my sweet wee boy gone? It was as though I’d just skipped ahead fourteen years and was living with a short, angry teenager. He kept coming up to me as though he wanted a cuddle, and then swerving, pushing me away at the last minute.
It was a new thing for DorkySon to be deliberately mean – that’s just not his nature – so it hurt. But I also recognised myself in him. My parents separated when I was eight and, although I would never have seen it in myself at the time, I can admit now that I used to be completely horrible to both of them at changeover times, when I was switching from one house to the other. It was as thought I thought I would miss them less and find it easier to go if I fell out with them first.
DorkySon is doing brilliantly during a very unsettled time. He has had all manner of new people coming to his house, his belongings are being given away or packed into boxes around him, and his Mummy keeps disappearing for days at a time to ‘find a new house’.
I can at least try and articulate everything that’s in my head – all those mixed feelings of excitement and anticipation and nervousness – but even so I’m pretty tense and crabby and tired. It is no wonder that he has been feeling a little off too, and it’s expressing itself in a negative way. I take it as a compliment that I am the person he trusts enough to let off some steam with.
DorkyDad says that when he looks at me and DorkySon we are so close you couldn’t slide a sheet of paper between us. It is true. We love each other fiercely. Sometimes we are all tangled up in a mess of laughing and cuddles, other times we are pressing our foreheads against each other, locked eyes, trying to out-stubborn each other. ‘No,’ we say to each other. ‘No, no, no, no, NO.’
I had always imagined that I would be the calm parent, compromising, breaking up arguments, providing the necessary voice of reason. Not so. DorkyDad is the diffuser, the diplomat, and the joker who comes into the room to distract us both from whatever nonsense argument we are engaged in.
Anyway, it has taken a few days, but we are back to normal. DorkySon has returned to his usual, joyful self. When I threw on a scabby old fleece to drop him off at nursery yesterday, he said ‘You look beautiful in pink, Mummy’. Today I fixed one of his broken trucks with a dab of superglue, and he said ‘It’s great to have such a clever Mummy.’ And tonight, when I tucked him into bed, he smiled up at me and said ‘I love you so much.’
His language skills, his sense of humour, and his crazy wee brain are all developing so quickly, right now. He sings all day, and then lies in his cot before he falls asleep and recites as many letters of the alphabet as he can remember. He loves jokes about sausages and bananas. Yesterday he was very disappointed when he found a shoehorn in the wardrobe and it didn’t go ‘beep beep’ as all good horns should. He has discovered the word ‘why’, which is every bit as bad as I had been warned about. When we walk along the street he can identify a dozen different makes of car by looking at their badges (his favourites are Volkswagens and Mercedes, I’m not sure why). Today, in the space of a few hours, he asked me if it was winter yet, called me to the window to look at the sunrise, and greeted the rep from our removal company by saying ‘Hello man, I like your red tie!’
I wish I could bottle his laughter, and gift it to people to make them smile.
I am deeply, deeply sorry that DorkySon has learned at such a young age that he can say hurtful things. But I am so glad that all it takes to teach him that that’s not necessary is a couple of quiet days, reading books on the sofa with his Mum, remembering how much he is loved. And thank goodness I finally found the new house; next time I go away, he’ll be coming with me.
Sorry this was another very long post! The recommended length for a blog post is around 500 words, and this one was nearly 1000. Well done if you made it this far. If you’d like to keep up with me in a more concise way, then why not like my DorkyMum Facebook page for some shorter updates.
Brilliant post! Absolutely. Brilliant. Post.
About your child, your family, your struggles – but managed to read as Everyman and yet still retain the peculiarities that make up your son, you and your family. I loved the sentimentality without it being an overly mushy piece. Great writing. Thank you.
Ahh, you’ve made my day, thanks for the kind comment. Really glad you enjoyed it.
I loved the post too! Was completely taken in with the images you painted for me of your son and your family. I’m glad things are back to normal now. I’m leaving my daughter for the first time next week (for four nights!) and dreading it a little bit. Thankfully she can’t talk yet – but shows her disapproval of situations with a loud scream instead. I hope she settles back in as quickly as Dorky Son.
Good luck with your first time away – I hope you’ll be keeping busy and not worrying too much about her! Even if you get some big screams on your return I’m sure it won’t be long before you’re back in her good books and getting big hugs 🙂 xx
I try (and generally fail) to adhere to the 500 word rule as well, but this post didn’t feel long at all. Glad things got back to normal too, hope the move doesn’t stress you all out too much!
The average length of a blog post is 500 words? Heck I need to go on a word diet then. Some of mine are over 1000. Really enjoyed this post. Just shows though that after some quality time with Dorky Mummy he was singing and dancing again. Good insight about how you felt going from house to house with your parents.
Thanks for the thoughts and kind words. Blog rules were made to be broken, right? I think I probably use too many words and not enough pictures, but that’s just the way I roll. Yours never feel too long either… you just have to do your own thing 🙂
Yay for finding a new home! I’m sure it will be filled with love and laughter. Good luck with the move.
Ahh thanks lovely. Hope your return to work has gone smoothly xx
Great, gut-wrenching post! Mind and look me up when you get to london!
Definitely will do! Thanks for checking the blog out 🙂 xx
My mother often told the tale of when she and my dad went away for a few days escape when I was a toddler. When they came back I ignored them. I relented with my dad, but wouldn’t talk to my mum for ages. Naturally, she was devastated. My toddler self was just getting my own back on her for leaving me!
What is it with Dads getting off so much more lightly, eh?! Glad to hear it’s not just mine 🙂 x
Oh well then I’m screwed cos mine are always about 1500 words. You know what though? I didn’t even notice. Thats because it’s brilliantly written and told a story.
Thank you for sharing this. My son just turned 18 months and his new thing is slapping me in the face. He doesn’t do it to anyone else and yeah, daft or not, it hurts.
But actually now I see, it’s only cos he’s secure enough to do so.
(not cos he’s a bugger… Ahem)
Ohhh, I remember that slapping phase, it was awful. Human instinct when someone smacks you one is to smack them right back, which obviously isn’t an option when it’s your 18 month old! It too shall pass…
Thanks for coming over to read and comment, appreciate your kind words 🙂 xx
I’m sorry about the hard time that you are going through, but I would try not to worry too much about the infant insults. That’s a normal part of childhood, even for children who are not going through upheaval. My daughter and her friends often used to say they wanted another mummy, or that they love Daddy/the best friend/the Tesco lady more. They’re testing their powers – and our reaction. And they NEVER mean it. It’s in the nature of motherhood to feel guilty and insecure – we all do, a lot of the time. Good luck!
This is a really, really great post. I do sympathise and don’t think it’ll last. As Anna says, it sounds like he’s just testing to see what reaction he’ll get. He sounds like a lovely boy and your description of how you are together is just wonderful x
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