Growing Up Is Hard…On Me

Almost five years ago, our family was delighted with the arrival of a baby boy. This little man completed our family and as the youngest member, was instantly doted upon by everyone else.

The past few years have flown as we have journeyed through first teeth and first steps to first words and first days at preschool. In July, Small Boy will turn five and this September he will join his sister at big school. He is excited at the prospect and more than ready.

Like any other family, we like to look back at photos and reminisce about the memories they bring up. Like the time that Small Boy ate nothing but peas for three days or that time he chortled happily on a funfair ride that almost made his father cry. He has gone through so much growth and development over the past five years but it is a recent change that I am finding it hardest to wrap my head around most.

It was like Small Boy got up one morning and a switch had flicked in his head. Overnight he had become totally and utterly sports mad.

‘Ah yes’, you are thinking. ‘A young boy likes to kick a football’. Well Small Boy certainly likes to kick a football. Or a rugby ball. He also likes to kick a Gaelic football and wave a hurley about. INCESSENTLY.

To the extreme annoyance of his sister, Small Boy now prefers to watch sports rather than cartoons on TV. He enjoys rugby or football on the box but is equally happy watching cricket, ski jumping, cliff diving, curling or erm darts if there is nothing else on.

After preschool each day, Small Boy can be found on the green space in front of our house kicking a ball of some sort. If he was permitted, he would stay there until the sun went down. Or possibly much later. He plays ball with the other boys in the housing estate and is utterly fearless. I wince at his tackles as he reminds me of a Jack Russell dog in the middle of the bigger boys. I won’t even discuss the state of the knees of every pair of trousers he owns.

Small Boy is a big sports mad boy now. Going with Daddy to matches and discussing points and game plays. While I delight in his pleasure derived from sports, a small part of me is a little sad that my baby is growing up so quickly. Toys lie idle in the playroom, forgotten in favour of a ball as Cookie Monster t-shirts are cast aside in preference of team jerseys.

But at the end of every day comes bedtime. The protests to come in from a vital game on the green are many. The complaints as I scrub green grass stains from his knees and elbows are made in a tired and whiny voice. Pyjamas are put on reluctantly but come bedtime there are no objections. Snuggled up in his warm bed, Small Boy looks tiny. Under his arm is a pink stripy stuffed cat called Furry. Over his bed is a poster of Simon Zebo. His breathing is soft and snuffly as the star on his Glo clock winks cheekily at me. Suddenly I see him as he is. A boy of almost five. Changing every day. Becoming grown up in so many ways. But he is still a little boy who needs his cut knees kissed and who loves his cuddles at night. So, for now, he is still MY Small Boy.