Do you ever feel like life has just shifted up a gear and suddenly everything is just whizzing by? Since Ben has come along, I swear Max has changed into a little boy right before my eyes. I’ve missed all those little changes and all of a sudden he’s all little boy and there’s nothing remotely toddler-like about him.
It hit me full in the face this week when we visited a local soft play that I’ve been meaning to take him to for ages. Like most sane people, I’m not normally a fan of soft play. It’s just something that you sometimes have to endure on a rainy day, when the memory of the previous awfulness has faded and you think “surely it can’t be that bad!” before realising the huge error of your ways 2 minutes after crossing the threshold. Max has never been confident enough to explore on his own, so I’ve always been that Mum trailing after their toddler, enviously eyeing up the mums who are sat in the cafe area with a nice hot coffee. It’s for that reason that I haven’t taken him for a long time – after practically getting stuck in the mangle while I was pregnant I decided it would be best to give it a miss for a while!
But this time was different. He walked through the doors and was so keen to start exploring straight away – he was off! All of the things that he’s been hesitant to do before, he was throwing himself at! He was climbing over and under things, jumping off things, sliding down the big slides on his mat, and, the biggest thing of all for me, he was making friends. It struck me all of a sudden how confident he seemed, how sociable, and what a lovely, considerate little boy he’s become.
I expected Max’s confidence to take a bit of a knock when Ben came along, but actually, I think it’s done the opposite. He loves having a little brother, and it’s revealed a really caring side to him that seems far beyond his years. He’s really sensitive to Ben’s emotions, and will bring him his dummy or his comforter, or just try to cheer him up if he’s upset. The other day he sang him a song in the car and my heart just about burst. Watching him at soft play it was the same – he was always aware of where other children were playing, always waited until it was clear before going down the slide, and he would try to comfort other children when they were upset.
He’s also a little professor, and is absolutely fascinated by how things work. He loves a puzzle, or an experiment, and will try to explain it all to me (and I’m not going to lie – I don’t have a scientific brain, so sometimes it’s all new to me!) I think he’s destined to be an engineer, although he currently has his sights set on bin lorry man (I hate to break it to him that it’s perhaps not the ideal job for someone who doesn’t like getting messy!)
Of course, he still has those epic tantrums, but they only seem to come now when he’s tired, and it’s much much easier to calm him down. Could we finally be heading out of tantrum territory? (Although I’m dreading the stage when the backchat starts, which I’m well aware is right around the corner!)
I’m not quite sure what happened to that little baby who wouldn’t be put down, who would cry if I moved more than a metre away, who never left my side when we were at the park, or at baby groups. I remember pondering on all those comments about how he needed to be more independent – now it seems silly that I ever even considered them. They all do things in their own time, and I love that he feels secure enough to go off and explore on his own now.
I have to admit that I’ve had concerns about Max being behind his peers in many ways in the past, but all of a sudden it feels like he’s taken a giant leap and he’s exactly where he should be – and I’m so proud of the little boy that’s emerged.