Four…

This time, four years ago, I was running around getting myself organised for the arrival of my baby boy. I had bought most of Woolies’ and Pick ‘n Pay’s online stock so that I wouldn’t need to leave the house for a few months while I tended to my new little bundle. I was storming around the house, cleaning and tidying everything in sight, and making sure that the tiny clothes and blankets were washed and ironed and ready to wrap up and protect my little tiny one. I had a manicure, pedicure, blow-dry and wax booked for the following morning. I was day-dreaming about spending two more child-free days, relaxing and having me-time.

Alex, however, had other plans for me.

At 9.30PM on Sunday the 21st of September 2008, my waters broke, and I was in labour, despite having a planned C-section booked for Tuesday the 23rd. My little guy arrived at 5 to midnight!

I simply cannot imagine my life without Alex in it, and although he has only been around for four short years, I feel like I have known him forever, that he has always been a part of me. This little person has taught me how to really love, and be loved, unconditionally.

I still remember holding him for the first time so clearly. How his eyes gazed into mine, as if he had been reunited with a long lost friend. How good his little damp body felt on my skin, and how his eyes bore into my soul, and how I loved him so deeply from the minute I saw him. It was the most precious moment of my life, but also the scariest. He was mine, and I had to look after him and nurture him, and make sure that no harm ever came to him, for the rest of my life. A momentous task by anyone’s standards… I so clearly remember the feelings of trepidation that something or someone would harm him. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve! When I look back to that day now, I cannot believe that four years have past, and that my sweet newborn is already a big-boy. (And how much he has grown and learned, and what a great little boy he has become.)

In the past four years, he has made me softer; more tolerant and more patient. I have cried happy tears in celebration of his first milestones: my heart swelled with pride as he took his first steps, as he uttered his first words, and as he said “I love you so much Mommy” for the first time.  I have been heart-broken when he has been sick, hurt or upset. I have been in awe of how quickly he grasps things, and how clever he seems to be! I have laughed till my sides have ached and tears are streaming down my cheeks. I have endured temper tantrums and meltdowns, whilst exercising self restraint and patience as he has pushed me to my limits.

But most of all, I have loved like I have never loved in all my life.

Happy birthday my little guy, I love you more than you will ever know.

<Birthday Ring at School with his swimming dolphin cupcakes>

Are you charismatic?

On Sunday afternoon we went for lunch at one of our usual spots:  a place where the waiters know Alex by name. We go there quite often mainly because Alex actually eats the pizza they make for him, and their other food is actually quite delicious too.

So Alex is running around, charming everyone, and discussing the “fancy cars” in the parking lot (there happened to be three Ferrari’s and a Maserati parked outside!) when Craig (whilst discussing how charismatic Alex is) says to him: “Alex, are you CHARISMATIC?” To which he replies, without even batting an eyelid: “No, I’m Alex Lawrence!”

(Very clever seeing as his sister’s name is Caris!)

My funny little guy!

Meltdown Cheese Sandwich

Alex is a terrible eater. There, I’ve said it. I am actually amazed at how he seems to have more energy than the Energizer Bunny, whilst living on a very sparse diet of fish fingers, the odd pea, strawberries, egg whites, chicken pieces, noodles, buttered toast, cheese sandwiches and milk. (He point-blank refuses to eat anything else.) And while it is said that no toddler will starve himself to death, I do worry about the amount of good food that this child actually consumes. I am also tired of fighting with him to eat.

So the other day when we got back from school, he says to me: “Mom, I’m hungry. I want a melted cheese sandwich with the stripes on the bread” (meaning a toasted cheese sandwich… our sandwich machine etches stripes into the toasted part). So naturally, I jump up, to go and make him a sandwich, thinking to myself, “Wow, Alex actually WANTS to eat something.”

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So I slice the cheese, put it between two pieces of (wholewheat) bread, and wait for it to toast. All the while, Alex keeps coming to check if his sandwich is ready. He is clearly starving. I cut the sandwich into 4 triangles (if it is cut any other way, he won’t eat it) and put it on his favourite Ligtning McQueen plate. When I think about it, feeding a toddler is somewhat like feeding a certified bloody lunatic!

He takes one look at his sandwich and screams “THAT’S NOT A CHEESE SANDWICH!” and runs out the room wailing.

Me: “Alex, come back here, of course it’s a cheese sandwich, you have these all the time.”

Alex: “IT’S NOT!” returning to the kitchen. Big crocodile tears welling in his eyes.

Me: “Yes it is, I took two pieces of bread, put cheese in the middle and toasted it. Like I always do”

Alex: “But that’s WHITE cheese, I want YELLOW CHEESE” … runs out the room screaming again.

Probably a good idea to point out that I recently bought white cheddar cheese. It was on special at Woolies, and as far as I can tell it tastes EXACTLY THE SAME as the yellow cheddar.

Me: “Alex, this cheese is white because there is no yellow colouring in it, but it tastes EXACTLY the same as white cheese”

Alex: “NO IT DOESN’T. I DON’T LIKE WHITE CHEESE” … Still crying loudly.

(And the conversation goes back and forth like this for a few more iterations, my blood temperature sky rocketing whilst trying to remain calm.)

Me: “How do you know that you don’t like it if you haven’t even tasted it!”

Alex: ” I don’t LIKE WHITE CHEESE!”

Me: “Ok, don’t eat it then.” I have had enough of this ridiculous conversation. I walk out of the kitchen.

So, eventually he stops crying, calms down and resumes playing with his cars. About twenty minutes pass, “Mom, I’m hungry…” (And I’m thinking, holy shit, not this discussion again!)

Me: “Your cheese sandwich is in the kitchen.” I go and fetch it, while trying to remain calm. “Just have a small bite, if you really don’t like it, I will make you something else.”

He takes the tiniest of bites, and then says “mommy, I LIKE white cheese” and proceeds to eat the rest of the sandwich.

Oh, my shattered nerves!

The innocence of childhood

The other day, I let Alex watch Toy Story 3 for the first time. He loves Toy Story 1 and 2, but I had always felt that the 3rd one was a little mature for a preschooler. Let’s face it: that pink bear is quite nasty. And the baby doll is very a little creepy at times. But I figured that seeing as he had been introduced the characters during the Disney on ice show, that it would be ok for him to watch. (And if I am perfectly honest, I could not bear to watch Cars or Cars 2 for the five-millionth time!)

So while Caris had her afternoon nap, Alex gathered up his Toy Story friends and we started watching the movie. (When we watch Cars, the Radiator Springs Gang and all the Racing Cars are gathered to re-enact movie scenes while he watches.) After some time, he looked at me with his blue eyes, wide and filled with such sadness, and asked me “Why doesn’t Andy want to play with his toys anymore?” I was quite taken aback.  So I explained, while fighting back the lump in my throat, that when children grow up, their interests change and they don’t play with toys anymore. He took a while to digest what I had said, and then responded,  “I will always want to play with my toys!” (… and continued playing with his Toy Story figurines, hardly paying much attention to the movie as he was so engrossed in his make-believe world.)  For me this perfectly illustrates how innocent children are, and how wonderful it is that they are happy to lose themselves in an imaginary world. And that they cannot imagine not playing!

I love the fact that Alex gets completely lost in his games, and how his toys, whether they are trains, sea creatures, cars or people, have conversations and interactions with each other. He becomes totally immersed in his own little world, and it is so cute to watch. I do not have many memories of my own early childhood, but I do remember how much I loved my Barbie dolls, and how for me, they were real. I can remember setting up bedrooms, kitchens and lounges for my doll families to live in; and how they had tea parties and luncheons, while sitting in their (very 70’s!) basket chairs. (…And how much I loved changing their outfits and shoes, of course!)

It is hard for me to imagine a time, when Alex will not be a child anymore, and how he will inevitably morph into a sulky, moody teenager, much like the teenage Andy in Toy Story. How his love of playing imaginary games with his toys will be replaced by going out with friends, and being interested in girls and the like. And sadly, time seems to be flying by so quickly; it’s hard to believe that he will already be four years old in two weeks time. It is a pity really, that childhood is such a small percentage of one’s overall lifespan. And how, when we are children, we do not really appreciate how golden this time is, or how wonderful it is to be able to disappear into one’s own imagination. (Before the responsibility of having homework, having to study, and ultimately having to earn a living kicks in.)

Just last night, while he and Gary were playing with the Toy Story Gang (Only because  his absolute favourite Radiator Springs Bunch was in the box of cars downstairs), I had to smile as he announced, “Quick everybody, HIDE! The BABIES are coming, and they will BREAK us!” because Caris had approached the bed, eager to join in on the fun.

Long may he play, and be immersed in that beautiful imagination … (and I hope that one day, when he has children of his own, he will lose himself once again, in imaginary games with his little ones.)

{Some grainy cell-phone pics of play-time}

{Trains, trains, everywhere…}

{Woody Rescuing Lighting with my shoe!}

{Play-time at Nanna’s house}

{This “Lightning” guy shows up EVERYWHERE}