On small steps with my biggest boy

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One of my clearest memories from having my firstborn was how utterly perplexed he seemed to be with the world in which he found himself.

Completely exhausted from labour, and terrified that I would fall asleep and suffocate him, I had put him in the little crib thing next to me and held my breath, expecting a roar of protest. Well the roar never came – and in fact, he continued to be the most placid baby I’d ever come across. But in place of the roar, was a little face looking around so confused, so worried almost, that I wished I could have popped him safely back inside me for a few more weeks till he felt ready to face us all.

That sense of not being in the right place has stayed with my biggest boy. Even in his happiest moments, he has never been completely carefree. He worries about all sorts of things – most of all about whether anyone likes him. Achingly like me as a child, he is desperate to fit in and be one of the gang, but doesn’t really know how to do it. When I watch him on the school yard in the mornings, I have sometimes felt physical pain in my gut for him as I see him approach groups only to be ignored – and then to start acting the fool to get attention, and of course isolating himself further. In the past I’ve been pretty pro-active about organising playdates for him, but over the last year or so – at his request – these have tapered off.

But just these last few weeks it feels as if there is a small, but significant change in the air. He seems more confident in himself, and his thoughts and feelings. He is definitely playing more with a wider group of friends in the playground, and in the last 2 weeks has had playdates with 2 different friends – at his instigation! – and has invited another friend to sleep over on the last day of term. He’s stayed off the ‘concern list’ all year at school, and his teacher said again at parents evening how far he has come this year.

None of that really matters to me – I would slay dragons for him as he is, however he is. But seeing him grow into himself a little, and become more comfortable in his own skin, is a lovely way to start the Spring, for all of us – but most of all for him. Looking forward to more small steps, my biggest boy! x

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