Son 3 is the magical age of 5, just on the verge of turning into a miniature person with his own preferences, ideas and friendships.
Being Five there is a simple rhythm to your life, your school days are all the same, no nasty exams or tests, you just turn up and see what has been laid on for the day. You don’t need (and can’t use a watch), your days are punctuated by play times and lunch. At the end of the day (well, 3.30pm), you have a play date or watch TV. These rhythmic days roll up into school terms that ebb and flow with the seasons. Birthday parties, School fairs, Sports Day. All come and go, year after year. Being Five you will have forgotten what the last event was like, so all these events seem fresh and exciting when they come around.
Although I had my two older sons very close together, Son 3 didn’t pop along until more than 10 years later. Being an older (and now unemployed!) Mum, and having such a large age gap, has made this age more enjoyable and yet more poignant for me.
Short of someone appearing on Dragon’s Den with a ‘Grow Your Own Baby’ kit, I know that Son 3 is my last child. After 30 years of potential motherhood it is over for me. I can’t remember the last time anyone even asked me if we were ‘planning to have any more’ kids. When I had an X-ray recently the radiologist didn’t even bother asking me if I might be pregnant. Ouch.
The downside of also having a couple of teenagers around is that I know exactly what comes next…
In two years time I will banished from bath time and no longer be allowed to see him naked. Shortly after that play dates will start being replaced with arguments about homework, and in just four years time we will be starting to fret about entrance exams to secondary school. In six years time after that all hugs, cuddles and physical contact will be ruled as ‘sick’ and will be outlawed. And then, finally, the jewel in the crown… the worst year of all…15, when all boys hate their Mums. I was reassured to read somewhere that this last stage is a biological necessity — that all boys are pre-programmed to turn against their mothers at this age to avoid them falling in love with someone in their own gene pool. Because this makes sense to me, I can just about live with it.
So, I relish every minute with my little man who is Being Five. My day doesn’t start without our ‘snuggle’ and I greedily take up kisses that are freely offered whenever I ask. He wants to be a Scientist, a Palaeontologist and a Robot-maker and yet he is also happy to run around naked and pretend to be a chicken.
When we walk home from school he puts his school bag between his teeth, hitches up his arms and runs home like a T-Rex.
I am actively encouraged to blow raspberries on his tummy and to tickle him, and I accept every invitation gratefully.
Until now he seemed to be oblivious that I might be older than the average Mum, but he is starting to notice little things. This morning during our snuggle he tickled me under the chin. I lay there with my eyes closed and an inane grin on my face, enjoying the moment, until he said
‘Mum….Why does your skin hang down under your chin like that?’