Friday, 9 March 2012

Seven

At 10am on 9th March 2005, Monkey was born with the yank of some forceps. He made a grand entrance, covering me, the doctor, half the room and himself in poo as he came out; a fact he finds very funny, being a boy of the age that truly appreciates toilet humour.

He needed a clean before being handed to me. Not that I cared, I was exhausted and didn't feel that elation that many new mums experience. Instead, I was relieved it was all finally over as his birth had been a stop-start labour running over several days, involving trips back and forth to maternity units and antenatal clinics, most of them fruitless.


Having a first child is a massive change of lifestyle, more so when you are 40 when it happens. Monkey was not a settled baby for a good while which didn't help. I was never depressed but it was a struggle. Normal life had stopped and I didn't know where it had gone, or if it would ever come back. Actually, I knew it would and sometimes I would count down the days. Wishing my life away was probably not my best move ever but that was how it was and it got me through it.

The adjustment was made and Monkey settled down. Normal life didn't return but I felt more in control. And suddenly, one day, I decided I wanted Monkey to have a sibling and Missy Woo was the result, but that's a story for another day.

I is both a truism and a cliché that parenthood has not been easy. Anyone that says it is easy is almost definitely lying or has a naturally angelic child. Monkey is not an angel; in fact, sometimes he's a devil. He can make me proud and yet within a few minutes, he can make anger rise in me and I despair of him. He challenges me, he pushes me, he wants to get his own way and will do anything to get it, even though he knows he won't be successful and it'll have the opposite effect.

He seems to save his worst for me, which drives me nuts as it can make for an explosive home life sometimes. Part of me puts up with that because when he has to be good, he is. School think he is an angel. And there, he is. Ever since he walked through the doors as a pupil for the first time in September 2009, he's loved it. He's been quick to learn, he is stubborn enough to be a trier and doesn't give up. At the risk of sounding like a boastful parent, his teacher told me he came top of his class at a really tough reading test just before half term and only got one question wrong.

He's a typical little boy of his time. He loves football, both to watch and to play. He likes nothing better than to go out and ride his bike. He develops obsessions with things - like with Pointless, where footballers come from, maps and atlases. And flags. Only a 7 year old boy could recognise all the flags of the world and name the country they represent within seconds, even ones of places he's barely heard of, but he knows all the names. Give him a DS and he could lose himself in it for hours but he could just as easily lose interest after 10 minutes and go and do something else.

He does a brilliant job of being a big brother to Missy Woo. When they were at nursery, if she cried, they would take her to him, he would give her a hug and it would be OK. I get the impression that he doesn't play with her much in the school playground and yet, when Missy Woo fell over and hurt herself recently, he was there for her and looked after her. Having a younger sibling seems to be a blessing and a curse to him, which is how it should be but I love how close they are, even when that closeness causes problems - like chattering their heads off instead of sleeping whenever they share a room on holiday.

He can be a real contradiction, a mini-Jekyll and Hyde. But for all the frustration, he makes me really proud, even if it is sometimes a fleeting moment before he reverts to his strident out-of-school persona. One thing is for sure - if you had asked me at 10:01am on 9th March 2005 what I wanted him to be like by the time he turned 7, the answer I would have given has been exceeded by the reality. (Apart from the angry bits, but I'll let those lie).

Before he went to bed tonight, Monkey said to me "I've really enjoyed being six you know, Mummy. And I'm looking forward to being seven very much." Which is how it should be when you're that age, and it made me smile and nearly bring a tear to my eye all at the same time.

Happy Birthday, Monkey.
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