As I look ahead to Monkey turning 7 next month, I’m reminded of some new highs in October. My lovely, timid child is changing in so many ways, slowly coming out of his shell and joining in with activities. Towards the end of last month we celebrated Daddy P’s birthday with a weekend away in Bristol. For a boy who doesn’t like change too much, he does love a change of scenery, and staying on a hotel always goes down well.
I’d got lots of activities planned for the weekend, which I’ll be sharing in greater details in the coming weeks. But over that weekend there were a number of moments when Monkey tried something new, conquered fears and just had fun.
When we went to Portsmouth last year we had a bit of a struggle to persuade Monkey to venture onto HMS Victory. Once on, he was fine, but getting him on took quite some persuading. I’d had a chat with him before we left home, telling him that the weekend was all about his Daddy and doing special things for him. One of these special things was to go aboard SS Great Britain. Would he manage it? Well yes he would, and he loved every second, bar the ‘fake people’ that freaked him out a little.
Now, you need to remember that this is the boy who has only recently started to join in with things at school. The boy who struggles to answer questions when asked by strangers. Just because he’s shy. We were wandering around the top deck of the great ship, when I turned round to see this.
He’d decided to start scrubbing the deck. He was having a great time and taking it all very seriously. He even press ganged Daddy P into helping him, which you might have spotted on my Instagram feed whilst we were away. I was really quite taken aback. This was all very unlike Monkey, especially as there were other people around. But it was lovely to see.
Boats and Monkey have been a bit of a tricky thing over the last year or two. I’m not sure why. This is the boy, who after all, was brave enough to go on a pirate ship a few years ago. But recently it’s been a challenge. Getting him on a ship in dry dock has been hard enough, getting him on one that’s moving, on water! Tricky, and on the most part, impossible. But again, we played the Daddy P’s birthday card. We’d spotted the opportunity for Steam Tug rides around the harbour. Could we persuade Monkey to venture onto a little tug? He was a little nervous. But he conquered his fear and did it anyway. We were both really proud of him.
Of course, there’s always a balance. Meal times weren’t so great. Getting him to eat things out, that he’ll happily eat at home ……… But we did get him to eat something other than margarita pizza occasionally.
He loves open-topped bus trips so I knew he’d be fine with that, but we were joining a guided tour of the Clifton Suspension Bridge on one of the days. I wasn’t sure how long the tour lasted, but knew it might not be geared towards children. In fact, it was excellent and although Monkey wouldn’t say boo to a goose, let alone the tour guide. He took everything in and enjoyed himself, to the point that he joined in to help explain how suspension bridges work. He’d never have done that a few months ago.
New highs in October were ended for me with something rather wonderful. It’s no secret that I have a reluctant writer as a son. But that’s been improving recently too. I’ve seen it when I’ve helped out in school. He’s been a little more willing to write cards here, and Daddy P and I are always being set homework. You can tell he’s got teachers on all sides of his family!
We were staying at the Novotel Bristol Centre, and in our room Monkey found a little notepad and a pencil. The next thing I know, my son is writing, writing I tell you. Without being asked, just because he wanted to. The notes were lovely, the handwriting was small, small I tell you.
He wrote a number I won’t share here as they are just between him and us, lovely little mementos we will cherish. But he also wrote about our stay and about the hotel.
These few words were so unexpected, and so lovely. He was so proud of himself, to the point he told me he was taking them into school to show his teacher on Monday. I thought he’d forgotten and I couldn’t find the notes anywhere when we got home. When I queried it he told me, Mummy I’ve put them in my book bag all ready for school. His new highs in October earned him a House Point on Monday at school. A little thing, but boy was he proud of himself for it, and I’m hoping it’s the boost that might spur him on to being a more willing writer. I hope so.
Being 6 has been rather awesome really. My son is by no means perfect, but I’d much rather concentrate on the moments of wonder, the moments that make him the boy he is. From an early age Monkey set it in stone that he will do everything in his own time, sometimes I forget that, and worry and stress about him getting left behind, fearing that he’ll never catch up. But I should sit back more often. He learnt to crawl, he learnt to walk, he learnt to talk, he is learning to read, better every day, he is learning to write, better every day. My son is learning how to communicate with those around him, he’s learning to take a few more risks, face things and give things a try.
He went to the dentists for his normal check up on 31st October. For the first time ever he sat on the dentist’s chair without me. I told him that really he was getting just too big to sit on top of me, and he did it, no questions, he did it.
He still needs to work on opening up and acknowledging people. One of the boys from his year at school walked into the waiting room at the dentists and said hello to him straight away. Monkey hid behind me, that’s the norm. That’s work in practice. One day my son will walk into the playground, leave my side and start talking to the children I know he must talk to in school. On that day I’ll be a little sad that he’s one step closer to being a grown up, but I’ll be smiling inside, as that will be another hurdle jumped, as he navigates his way through life.
He ended October at Beavers, making smores. He told me the next morning that he didn’t want to join in at first, but then he looked at what everyone was doing and realised he’d already made them when we went to Conkers. So got right in there and joined in. I witnessed this myself when I arrived to pick him up, and he didn’t see me. He was happy, having fun. Not at the centre of things, not the loud one shouting about, but he was there, with a huge marshmallow grin.
I’d promised him we could do some trick or treating on the way home. He wanted to wear his wizards hat, and happily knocked on doors, but he’s still the most quietly spoken Wizard in Oxfordshire. But he had so much fun, he loved every moment. He didn’t need a bucket brimming full of treats, he collected a few and was then happy to head home.
New highs in October will stay in my mind for some time. I wonder what November will bring.
Edit: I wrote this post yesterday afternoon. Before we went to parents evening. Before we had wonderful news. I was going to come home and totally re-write this post. But I’m going to save parents evening for next week. I want these moments to stand on their own, they are all to be celebrated. Let’s just say that November has started with a bang and I’m a very proud Mummy right now