My heart sank for a little while recently, when, in the middle of reading my two-year-old his bedtime story, in marches the Bigger Boy announcing that he has a surprise for his little brother.
“Here, you can have Rusty Bear. I don’t need him because I’m a big boy now – I’m nearly four”.
“What? Are you sure?”, I asked.
“Yes mummy. I am too big for teddies. Sam can have him now”.
“But what about Affie?”, I asked, (Affie is a small toy rabbit which has been around since he was a few months old).
“Sam can have her too”.
I was genuinely stunned. Offering to give up his teddies is the equivalent of him offering to give up one of his limbs he is so dependant on them.
I felt a lump rise in my throat as I finished the story and put the Small Boy to bed. I wasn’t ready for my little boy to make such assertions about not needing his teddies. For the last three years and ten months of his life, those two teddies have been his constant companion. The last things to be asked for as lights go out at bedtime, retrieved from down the side of the bed in the middle of the night and the first things to be asked for in the morning. They have been on our best holidays, attended family weddings, helped to look after him in hospital, been the only things that can stop tears after a nasty fall and have been washed and hung out to dry more times than I care to remember.
Just as I was getting really nostalgic about all this, my ever-so-grown-up boy had a minor incident resulting in a cut lip and plenty of tears. As I was in the process of calming him down, Daddy came home and took over.
Still mildly traumatised by the fact that the teddies had been side-lined, I went downstairs to cook dinner. A little while later, Daddy came downstairs.
“Is he OK”?, I asked.
“He’s fine”, he said, “A tiny bit of blood but he asked for his teddies and he’s calmed down and gone to sleep.”
I smiled. Turns out he was not quite ready to grow up after all.