OUR CHILDREN are both experiencing growing pains.
Last week, Boy Wonder woke up in the early hours howling like a little wolf. My legs, my legs, he screamed at me. After soothing him, I rubbed his limbs up and down, as if I was a physio tending to a football player heading into extra-time. We went through the same agony for another two nights and during the day he complained that his arms hurt.
He’s a tall boy for his age, fuelled by growth spurts that can turn his trousers and t-shirts into hotpants and crop-tops. He turns five in September but I usually buy clothes designed for six and seven year-olds.
Meanwhile, Little Buddha is apparently small for her age but she also seems to have been undergoing a growth spurt. A fortnight ago, she started to lose her balance, crashing into furniture or just falling to the floor in an ungainly heap. Then one evening, she tripped and head-butted the hallway skirting board.
After the hospital paediatricians had quit their CSI-style cross-examination of the Duchess – ‘there’s a child hurt here, there must be something we can pin on you dear parent’ – one of them explained that her centre of gravity was shifting as she gains height. This had caused what was probably a broken nose.
In the space of a few days, both of our children had experienced their own version of growing pains.
Growing pains aren’t just physical, either.
Little Buddha is a happy child but she can show glimpses of the ‘terrible twos’ when she doesn’t get her own way. Last night, I told her off for something fairly minor. She stomped her feet, shouted ‘Goodbye’ and slammed her bedroom door in my face. I had visions of her teenage self to come.
At the moment, Boy Wonder is a cauldron of emotions and desires and injustices. The Fractious Fours. Some days, it’s a constant battle. I have to enter a state of zen before even contemplating asking him to get ready to go out. The attention-seeking is really annoying.
Sometimes he growls at me. Other times, he tells me he’s ‘not my best friend’. More often, he mimics me, laughs in my face, throws in a ‘Yes Sir!’ for good measure.
But on another day, he’ll share brilliantly with his little sister and tell us off if we even gently scold her for a misdemeanour. His inquisition can keep us entertained for hours and we’ve seen him help out younger kids at his nursery. He tells us that he loves us and cuddles us sweetly. His face lights up if we read him a story or play ‘dogcatcher’, ‘Africa’ or ‘Lion Knights’ with him.
We know the drill. He’s ‘pushing his boundaries’, asserting his independence. Little Buddha will do the same in the coming years. They’re good kids underneath it all. It’s probably why we always feel guilty about 10 minutes after the relief of getting them to bed evaporates. Some nights, as they sleep, we even miss them.
The Duchess and I have our rules. We do our best to be consistent. We’re putting in the hard graft now to teach them good behaviour. Which we hope will pay off come the almighty battles of the teenage years.
By then, we’ll both be in our mid-fifties and no doubt easily tired. More importantly, the way it’s going, Boy Wonder will be twice our size.