I wrote about the boys’ age gap a few weeks ago and how (thankfully) despite it being bigger than we’d hoped and planned for (four and a half years, my eldest is 11 and my little man is 6 and a half) and bigger than the gap that most of my friends have between their kids, it’s worked out really well and the boys enjoy a beautifully close relationship. So much so that they share a room – they asked to – and spend a lot of their time together.
But ironically – why is it when you say something out load (or even bloody think it) the universe decides to poke you in the ass and mock you by ruining it – these past couple of weeks have been quite the bumpy ride, they’ve been squabbling a bit and we’re seeing a few fault lines start to appear.
And in the grand scheme of things and having seen my mates’ kids go to town on each other, it really hasn’t been a big deal, but it’s got me thinking about the fact that the boys are going to start needing more space very soon and that next year will bring massive changes. And I’m starting to feel a bit emotional about it.
My eldest is eleven and in year 6 – he’s a May baby so was 4.5 when he started – and starts high school next year. Henry will be going in to Year 2 and facing the prospect of the rest of his primary school career without his big brother and hero. He won’t be walking to school with him and walking home with him, won’t see him in the playground or get to play handball with him (when he’s allowed), won’t be able to proudly clap when he gets awards or cheer him on in school plays. A friend commented (after having the boys for us one weekend) that William’s such a lovely brother and so patient with him and also interestingly commented how dependent Henry is on him. And I can see how you might think that from the outside as Henry is his shadow; he mirrors his every move and doesn’t sit next to him but on him and is bereft when he has the audacity to go on a playdate or to a party without him. But I think that it’s less dependence and more hero worship as he just adores him – it goes both ways to be fair – which makes me so happy as an only child who always yearned for a brother or sister.
So, I think next year might be a bit tough at the beginning; it’s going to hit him hard and I’ve started to think about how we can tackle and even benefit from it:
Good old playdates. I’ve been pretty crap about these with both of my boys as up until William was in year 4, I worked in the city four days a week and he was in before and after school care. And since I’ve worked for myself (for the last three years) I’ve juggled my freelance business from home and haven’t wanted scores of kids trailing in and out whilst I’m trying to meet a deadline. And to be perfectly honest – and thank god for this is all I can say – they’ve been very happy with each other, so I haven’t felt the need to push it. However, now that my eldest will be lumbering off to high school with his mates and starting a whole new chapter of friendships, I want to make sure that my little man does the same. And I’m going to encourage that. I love that they are so close – and I want that bond to always be there – but William needs to spread his wings and have the space to do that. And Henry needs to be a 6-year-old, hang out with his little mates and find his groove at school without a devoted sibling in the shadows, always there to catch him when he falls.
I am the only girl in a house of boys – our two cats are even male – and am surrounded by soccer mad boys at that, so most nights are spent coordinating soccer practice and development squads. And I’m not sure if this is a common ‘first/only child’ thing but I feel like I spent so much time and energy cultivating William’s interests and trying different activities until he found his favourite but haven’t had the time and opportunity to do the same with Henry. And that is about to change my friend and I’m really looking forward to it! Soccer season comes to an end soon and I’m going to use that free night in the week and Sat morning to rejiggle his swimming lesson and incorporate more fun activities that we just haven’t had chance to prioritise. I see martial arts in our future!
Mummy & Henry time!
And finally, I’m going to really maximize the Henry and mummy alone time whilst William’s off doing his high school thing by prioritizing his homework and his reading but also just savouring our time together; I rarely get one on one time with the boys at the moment and I’m craving that. I’m even looking forward to the walk to and from school with him, just the two of us as I am fairly irrelevant at the minute; holding his school bag whilst he runs ahead with his big brother, chatting animatedly about the day, who did what to whom, Fortnite ‘skins’ and Clash Royale..! Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way but am secretly looking forward to getting a little slice of him back..
How have you managed the transition to high school and the kid/s that get left behind? Any tips?