So they grow up so quickly. Isn’t that true? As I write this, Daniel is in the last day ever that he will be aged the grand old age of four – for we are celebrating his fifth birthday tomorrow. I’ve just been looking through some old photographs, and it is amazing how they grow.
They grow of course not only in height but in mind too. And as the mind expands so does their world. So I love teaching our boys new things – it’s setting them on their way to navigate this world of ours on their own when we hope they’ll go out there and not get lost, and it always reminds me to look at our wonderful world with eyes of open-eyed wonder.
Here, below, is an excerpt from a book I wrote called * relentlessly me *, essentially about the value of family and friendship. Daniel was three and eager to learn about the difference between boys and girls…
I’m on the double mattress on the floor in Daniel’s room, the one we’ve put in there so Debs or I can get some sleep when Darley kicks off in the night. It’s the boys’ bedtime. Daniel’s in his bed, but about as tired as someone after ten double espressos. I’m trying to get him to sleep after cleaning his teeth. In the five minutes since I turned the light off Daniel has asked at least ten million questions. I’m really sleepy; he is not. I get him from his bed and cuddle him next to me in the dark, hoping he’ll fall asleep this way.
“Is Blue the cat a boy or girl, Daddy?”
He had really taken to his auntie’s two cats Blue and Red when we’d visited recently.
“A boy,” I answer sleepily.
“A boy. Because Blue has a willy.”
“That’s right. All boys have willies. That’s why they’re boys.”
“And girls don’t.”
We’ve been through all this a few times before, he’s a good learner. I am getting better at being a patient person.
“So she’s a boy.”
“No, you say he’s a boy. Or she’s a girl.”
“So she’s a girl?”
“No, he’s a boy.”
“She’s a boy.”
“No, it’s he’s a boy, or she’s a girl.”
“Is she a girl?”
“She is a girl is what you’d say. But Blue is a boy. So he’s a boy.”
There’s some silence, perhaps 20 seconds. I can hear his breathing. I think it’s getting deeper, he’s getting sleepy… he is asleep I think.
And then from the darkness: “What about Arthur the cat?”
We’d not long ago fed Arthur the cat for neighbours who were on holiday. They live in a thatched cottage that’s mentioned in the Domesday Book.
“Arthur’s a boy.”
“So she’s a boy, Daddy.”
I look over. It’s too dark for me to see if he’s having a laugh with me. He’s always had a fantastic sense of humour, an amazing one for his age. I put my head back down. I could sleep right then.
“He’s a boy, Daniel.”
“Arthur’s a boy. Has he a willy then?”
“Yes. That’s why he’s a boy.”
“What about Colin?”
“You know he’s a boy dog.”
“But he hasn’t got a willy.”
“Yes he has.”
“No Daddy. He has only got a bump.”
“I really think you should go to sleep now. It’s late.”
“So he’s a girl then.”
“And what about Red? Is she a boy?”
“Please sleep now…”
I think I must have fallen asleep with Daniel still asking me questions about gender identification. When I stir several minutes later, he is asleep next to me, gently holding my hand with his soft warm little fingers.
More of this on parenting and the extraordinary value of family and friendships is in the book *relentlessly me*, kindly rated highly by bestselling authors Peter James and Marcia Willett – plus Debs says you should all read it. Please do and let me know what you think, at least by checking out the free chapter samples here: tinyurl.com/cf2dtz6