Motherhood: recognising subtle changes

When you have 2 children – and I can only speak from my experience of a three year age gap – the more subtle developmental leaps of your eldest sometimes go unnoticed amongst the chaos a toddler creates on a daily basis.

Last weekend I finally got a chance to have a bit of a mummy-son bonding experience with my four year old.

Joe and Me July 2014

We were on one of our routine weekend stays with my parents. In the past, when the youngest has had his nap I have taken the opportunity of a quick jaunt into Kingston, which is just a short walk across the Thames, making the prospect of a Saturday shop too tempting to ignore!

I absolutely love a bit of (non-food) shopping but it became almost impossible when I had JJ. Even as a baby he seemed ridiculously unhappy the second I wheeled his pram into the clothing aisle of any kind of boutique, so I pretty much gave up this little pleasure. Recently, however, he has actually expressed an interest in accompanying me into this mecca of consumerism – he does, after all, have a small wish-list of his own and likes the idea of spending a little pocket money on a new car, train or bus for his ever-growing collection.

On Saturday, after a pretty dry, sunny week, the heavens opened on our drive over to my parents at which point I realised that I’d forgotten to pack not only the boys raincoats but also any kind of jumper or cardy for JJ (who tends to feel the cold even on warm days if there’s even the hint of a breeze). The uneasiness I felt in this knowledge gave me reason enough to suggest that he accompany me on a little spree, and, with the promise of some money to buy himself a ‘racing car’, we were off – umbrellas at the ready!

To cut a long story short we ended up with a hoody for him plus a t-shirt each for the boys from Primarni (bargain £8 the lot!), a hoody for EJ and shorts for JJ from H&M and then a Routemaster bus for JJ and an open-top sightseeing bus for EJ (hand picked for his brother – I told you he liked buses!).

As a treat (and because I am a member of the John Lewis marketing campaign, meaning I get a free coffee and cake each month!) I took JJ to the John Lewis cafe where we pigged out on fresh cream Victoria sponge and a chocolate muffin (off pops another button!). On the way out I spotted a really cute little asymmetrical striped tunic top on sale from Phase Eight and JJ happily accompanied me to the fitting room so I could try it on, offering his opinion and generally being really sweet.

I have to say he was really good company, really well behaved, held my hand, chatted, never once expressed boredom or made any unreasonable demands, and this made me realise how far we’ve come on this developmental journey. I realise this is a bit different to saying “I’m so proud of my child for writing a sentence or counting up to 100, or mastering a musical intrument” but what this says to me is that my little boy is excelling at sociability (which has also been highlighted to me by his preschool), and that is, in my book, a pretty key life skill. So whilst this all sounds pretty mundane and ordinary, it makes me feel proud of him.

Taught skills – the three Rs – he’ll master them in his own time and with people far more gifted at education than me – but learning how to be good company, away from the softplay and out in the wider world – that takes a bit of maturity, and I do believe I captured a glimpse of that last weekend and these ordinary moments have marked a subtle change in my big boy.

Secrets of the  Sandpit

12 thoughts on “Motherhood: recognising subtle changes

  1. I love these times too, where it’s not just about being an entertainer but you have the chance to get to talk with and get to know your little one as a person. Plus a few bargains thrown in…can’t be beaten 🙂

  2. My 4yo daughter is great company, and she loves nothing more than an outing with “just the girls”!! It was difficult getting that time when her baby brother arrived at the end of last year, but the past couple of months I’ve made a real effort to spend one on one time with her, especially as she started school in August and we won’t have the same opportunity after that.

    • Yes, JJ starts school this year too and I’m so aware of the fact that our precious time is running out 😦 It can be really hard to make that one on one time – I guess we know that we’ll be soon be getting one on one with the younger child though – that will be a first too! X

  3. Sociability is a brilliant thing that will give you many proud moments as the years go by and a special glow that academic achievements will never match.

    • I think that is true Denise. I also think that self-confidence is one of the most important life skills – people with self-confidence don’t seem to need to have lots of academic achievements because they have something that is magnetic and other people both in and out of work want to be around that kind of person.

      • Oh yeah!! I watched our headteacher do a presentation today and I thought, no way could I remember all that and then deliver it with such conviction. He didn’t start off with a very academic background, he is an ex-pro footballer turned PE teacher turned senior leader in a school. I can’t imagine ever developing that much self-confidence.

  4. What a gorgeous post Sam! I think our children just love spending time with us to be honest. When they get us one on one, they don’t care what we are doing! That always makes me feel a tad guilty and I vow to do it more often. Such special times.

    • Yes – you really forget what it’s like to be on your own with one child – and of course they become more interactive little people in their own right as they get older but you just don’t notice properly until you have a day like this! X

  5. When I spend one on one time with my children I always feel like I get to know them in a new way. Their personality shines through in a way that I don’t get to see when siblings are around. Such a special time with your son!

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