I spend a lot of time worrying about my youngest. As the third child she surely has the rawest deal of the lot. Practically everything she owns is a hand me down, she never had the amount of quality time with me that the other 2 enjoyed (although it could be argued that this is a good thing) and I feel like she’s always had to wait, for the older, more articulate siblings to have their requests granted first – simply because I haven’t sometimes the energy to explain ‘why’ they have to wait. There’s never a time when we’re not waiting for one sibling to be collected from a party, or another to finish a swimming lesson… a massively guilty part of me thinks my youngest girl is just constantly waiting for ‘her turn’.
I also worry because she’s tricky to manage. She’s feistier than her siblings, something a year ago, I’d never have believed possible: she screams at a pitch that could boil blood, she stands confidently in her highchair waiting for everyone to look at her and proclaims in a distinctive and inexplicably Scottish voice “SIT DOOOWN”. She blows raspberries when she’s told no, she shouts “Herrrow!”at strangers in the supermarket and then screams in horror – as though they are trying to kidnap her – if they reply. She throws food at her brother, she pulls her sister’s hair, and she can get up the stairs in a nanosecond when someone leaves the safety gate ajar…
But today I sat and watched her for a while. Sat on the sofa, as 1) I can’t get my legs to function today after completing a half marathon on Sunday (another day, I’ll tell you about that) and 2) I was waiting for a toilet roll cupboard to be collected (don’t ask) it suddenly dawned on me that this one will be ok.
- She’s resourceful. She finds entertainment wherever she goes. I don’t think my eldest has ever had to sit through a half hour swimming lesson in tropical conditions, where all the fun of the pool is within grasp but oh-so-forbidden. Give this girl a few rice cakes and a buggy harness to clip and unclip and she’s away.
- She’ll eat anything, granted, today it was cat biscuits…but still!
- She’s fearless – she terrifies me. This little one climbs anything and everything regardless of the fact that it’s a steep Victorian staircase or a play-gym climbing frame for children 3 years older than her – she will attack it. I’ve had a snippy ‘tutting’ from a mum in a soft play centre for letting her ‘That baby can barely walk and she’s at the top!’ I heard her mumble to her husband. Yes, she is. And look how well she’s doing it. Believe me, if she wasn’t happy, everyone in here would know about it. Which leads me to…
- This girl knows what she wants. In 2014, I think it is more necessary than ever for little girls to know they can do what the boys do, run faster, shout louder, read more, swim and dance longer. She doesn’t always do this in the most civilised of manners, but we’ll get there.
- She is free. I think I walked around bent double after my son for 6 months when he started walking. Ready to catch him or bat down any hazard in his way ready to harm him. Whilst that made him protected and safe – it also made him wary. Our youngest will walk into any room at 14 months and conquer it, in a way that I couldn’t at 31 years old.
- She’s got her own gang. Wherever she goes, chances are her brother and sister have been before her, she’s already got friends, she’s already seen what to do and she’s itching to try for herself.
As I write this she’s expertly negotiating with her sister, negotiating the command of a wheely trike, expertly, because her sister has no idea she’s just been manipulated into giving it up. There was no snatching, no hitting, no screaming (for a change) just heartfelt monosyllabic exchange and noise that translated as “Go on, giz a go sis.” And away she goes, grinning from ear. This one will move mountains in her own way – you mark my words.