And off he goes

His favourite pastimes are chasing pigeons, raiding cupboards and eating bagels.

At lunch-time, he ignores what everyone else is having and goes his own way, even if that’s Ready Brek with fives spoons.

M Readybrek

At dinner-time, he gets up from the table and walks off to play with toys. I bring him back and he looks up at me with a confused expression. As if to say, “I don’t get it – why are you putting me back here?” before getting up and walking off again.

He has taken to dressing himself every morning, and has a good eye for coordination, but then at breakfast asks, “Is it night-time now?” Just when I think he’s getting sense, I realise he hasn’t an ounce.

He loves baking – grabbing the step stool as soon as he hears there might be some ingredients to throw together. His two big sisters are often too busy to bake, but he never misses a chance. Sometimes he goes rogue – racing to tip a big lump of margarine into the beaten eggs, just because it’s too irresistible not too. I get cross and tell him we have to follow the recipe. He hugs me and says sorry, then “Can you forgive me?” Of course I can.


He loves cooking too, chopping peppers with a butter knife and insisting on peeling carrots. His favourite place is up at the counter with me, apron on, ready to work.

Except when his favourite place is down on the floor playing with My Little Pony, or the doll house, or his train set. Or the Barbies, making up games where “bad Barbie” is clobbering all the other Barbies over the head.

He has no awareness of norms and rules. He asks for cake for breakfast and is perturbed when the answer is no. He insists on making his own porridge, and says “It wasn’t me, it was the porridge,” when it all goes wrong.

Porridge spill - office mum

At bedtime, he sometimes goes down with just two stories. But other times he says he’s not going to bed, and arrives back downstairs. “I watch TV with you now,” he explains to us, with no doubt in his mind that this is anything other than a reasonable statement at nine o’clock at night.

When he finally goes to sleep, it’s always with his beloved red dodie – woe betide the frantic parent who can’t find the red one, because no other one will do.

Sometimes when I check on him as I go to bed, I find that he has put trousers on over his pyjamas, for no apparent reason. Just notions. He has lots of notions.

And the next morning, when he patters in, he climbs into my bed, lies all the way across me, and says, “Mummy, you is boo-tee-ful, I need to sleep on your heart.”

Boy - office mum

And on Monday, he starts preschool. The child who, unlike his sisters, has never been to crèche, will be staying behind when I walk back out the door.

The child who does nothing I say will be expected to do what the teacher asks him to do.

The child who thinks you can have cake for breakfast will have to eat what everyone else eats.

The child who never sits down for meals will have to sit at a table with other kids.

The child who plays whatever he wants to play whenever he wants to play will have to follow a curriculum.

The child who wanders happily around his house all day will go somewhere new.

I don’t know if he’s ready. But I know for sure that I’m not ready. Because he’s still small, and because I like hanging out with him, and because I only got four months at home with him, and because he’s my last baby.

This is it. Into the system he goes – only for three hours each morning – but it’s the start of a fifteen year schedule that’s longer than his childhood. He doesn’t understand that, but I do. And that’s why every time I think about it, my eyes fill up and my throat gets tight. I’ll miss my fabulous baker boy. Off he goes.


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30 thoughts on “And off he goes”

  1. Oh you have me sniffling now. My middle boy goes into his pre-school year here in two weeks and it makes me so glad that I still have a year at home with my little one.
    Good luck to your little fella. He sounds pretty laid back so he’ll probably adjust well. As for you, look forward to hearing him regale his tales from pre-school each day. I’m sure there’ll be some laughs.
    Total off topic here but is that a window seat I spotted in your kitchen? Love it!
    Fionnuala recently posted…A Post-Holiday Thank YouMy Profile

    1. that’s the lovely thing – if one goes to pre-school it usually means some one-on-one time with another – enjoy the year ahead Fionnuala!

  2. You’re going to need a double pack of tissues. Best of luck, your beautiful boy will be fine but I hope you have someone arranged to mind you, because it sounds like you are going to need it. I may have had something in my eye while reading this, especially when I read “I sleep on your heart”
    Naomi Lavelle recently posted…How to make lavender ice creamMy Profile

    1. I am going to need all the tissues!
      He told me the other day that he was going to sleep on my heart and then my squishy tummy – thanks 🙂

  3. You’ve set me off too!!! Tomorrow is the first day of school ever for us. He sounds like a great little character.

    1. Yes, I think he’ll be fine. Well, I don’t know… We’ve never left him anywhere – not even with family. But hopefully he’ll take it in his stride. Best of luck to your little-big guy too!

  4. Naomi, we’ll all need the tissues!!!!!! ‘Sleeping on your heart’ is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard from adult or child.

    1. He has been saying it for the last year or so – he is a very snuggly child. He also likes squishing my tummy, which is less wonderful 🙂

  5. The tears……., my heart hurts for you. He sounds like an absolute pet with his “sleep on your heart”

  6. This is beautifully written and I feel like i’m reading my own 3 year old baby. He has 2 bigger brothers who went to crèche full time by the time they were 1; and he has no sense; doesn’t know his colours or shapes, even his own age (he can’t even count to 10). He’s too busy doing other things: digging up my garden, playing with his huge train selection, and dusting (or thinking he is). He has a fixation about my dustpan and the hoover. Last September, I tried him in a small Montessori for a few hours a week (he was 2 year and 7 month) and it was awful. He who had never left my side was unconsolable. He couldn’t grasp why I would suddenly leave him in a room full of stranger kids and stranger minders. And after 3 days, I took him home and told him he was not going back there. We were not ready. And he, who in the past would have been happy to be in the garden on his own while I’d be in the kitchen looking through the window, would suddenly not leave my sight. He would only sleep in my bed, and I couldn’t go and empty the bin outside without him being in flood of tears. Anyway, we worked on this; and we eventually found a crèche with a lovely teacher and he eventually went there 3 morning a week; and the teacher couldn’t go anywhere without him or he’ll be hysterical. He lived on her hip; and at home, he would ring her and talk to her on his plastic telephone. So next week, I and he are a bit more ready…We hope.

  7. I read this yesterday and it has stayed with me. It’s so hard to let them go. I loved the way you wrote it and the photos added so much.
    Best of luck Monday but as Jill says he’ll rule the roost there in no time.
    tric recently posted…Good writing news.My Profile

    1. Thanks Tric and thanks for linking to your post, and yay for all of them and their milestones – little and big!

  8. Oh dear, I have that lump in my throat reading this, he is so gorgeous, this post is so gorgeous. He will get on great, have so much fun.
    My fairy is starting playschool next week, she’s only going two mornings this year but I’ve still tried to avoid thinking about it, I’ll miss her terribly those mornings.
    Nicola Naessens recently posted…Fairy CakesMy Profile

  9. Aw I’m welling up!!! my little man starts on Monday too… another first in his expanding exciting world and another string cut.

    1. That’s interesting – I like that idea. And considering how much he loves arts and crafts and how little we do (lots of art, no chance of craft ever) this could be great for him.

    1. Thanks Fiona! I can’t wait to hear his stories about what he does there – this is a whole new territory!

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