My baby Maxi Minx is only 5, but she can be articulate beyond her years.
I patted her on the bum to urge her up the stairs faster. She turned on me and haughtily said, “Mummy, stop beating on my buttocks like they’re bongos”, as she tutted and rolled her eyes. My God, I have glimpsed the Future Teenage Maxi and, boy, was I withered!
The other day she caught me swearing at the computer. “Mummy, are you using Internet Exploder?” Yep, it sometimes feels that way, darling.
She cut her second adult tooth a week ago, too, and is furious wobbling the baby tooth it is slowly replacing. I guess
I the Tooth Fairy had better have a shiny gold coin handy… [edited to add: she yanked it out over lunch on Friday 24th – yesterday – and was delighted at the shiny brasso’d chocolate-and-comics token she received from the Tooth Fairy last night]
The Saturday before last I watched her for 2 hours at a party at the local soft play centre. No other parents stayed, and I asked her if she wanted me to stay or go. “Stay”, she repeatedly asserted. I knew The Boss would be having fun dining in town with Midi and Mini alone, like I had the day before. So stay I happily did. It was actually really lovely to just unobtrusively sit and observe my little girl. You don’t get much of a chance to do that in the daily whirl of keeping the little blighters safe, amused and out of harm, so lots took me by surprise.
I sometimes worry that she gravitates towards 11 and 12 year olds and appears to shun playing with kids her own age. So I was relieved that she was obviously friends with all the other kids at the party, playing noisily and happily with them. I watched her strong and lithe little body with new eyes, actually seeing how swimming is growing her some good leg muscles. I was proud as she was naturally very polite when served the birthday tea, saying please and thank you and making eye contact whenever she was spoken to. But the bit that made my heart swell was watching her happy smile re-emerge. The one that’s pure sunshine, lighting up those gold-flecked aqua eyes. She was a giggly, happy, smiley baby from when she was 3 days old, but she seemed to turn solemn and serious once she hit about 3. I worried about *her* fretfulness. But that Saturday I realised that it actually doesn’t take much to scratch below her stern surface to reach the Real Maxi underneath.
It was like a little bit of me reawakened as well, the bit that likes to make her children laugh just for the hell of it. So since then I’ve been making a conscious effort to make all 3 girls laugh every day. Some are easier to make laugh than others, eg Midi sniggers in her sleep. Looking back, on some days we seemed to spend most of the time giggling, other days we only managed once or twice (and that was when I tickled them). But the point was that I made a serious effort. I think we’ve all got stuck in a bit of a rut of it’s-4.30-so-Mummy-disappears-to-the-kitchen-to-cook, swear, shout-until-5.30-then-nags-us-till-we-eat-then-bed kind of life. So it’s been really lovely to sometimes just kick back and remember why I stopped work. It wasn’t to keep a spotless house or cook brilliantly – it was to give my daughters a better growing-up time than they’d maybe spend in a nursery. Don’t tell anyone, but this week I’ve even let them play with glitter and leave ripped up paper* all over the floor…
*They’re obsessed with ripped-up paper pieces. They’ll rip up any card or paper they can get their hands on. It’s confetti, money, entry-tickets, water, rain, dust to be hoovered, cake sprinkles, etc. etc. God help the innocent parent who unthinkingly hoovers it up…!