After having a second child - whom I love dearly, do not get me wrong - there have been moments where I have been nostalgic for one. There are clear benefits to having only one child. Over the last three days, I've come to realize that it isn't so much the number of children, but that age/stage/maturity of the child that matters most.
Clover left Saturday morning without looking back to spend a few days with her grandparents. When she was with her grandparents earlier in the month, Rocket did not miss her a bit. This time, however, he has been miserable without her, which means I have too. It's not like he goes into her room and weeps into her pillow. He doesn't miss her that way. Instead, his energy levels build up and up without his sister here to provoke, play with or fight with. This means he has spent his time bitching at me. I didn't realize how much energy goes into his tormenting of Clover. Without her around, he tried to focus on the dogs, but they can sleep through his antics, so he has turned to me instead, wanting to be held or else trying to provoke me by dumping the remaining sludge from my mocha on the ground (I told myself there are worse brown things to clean up from the carpet) or taking off my sunglasses, only to suddenly jam them in my eye, then laugh.
Rocket has grown a lot in the past few weeks too. Last time Clover was away, he was very happy to play on the floor with me and our one hour trips to the pool wiped him out. Every day he becomes more of a boy and his latest transformation has added a ceaseless desire to be outside at all moments possible. He points out the window, saying something between a grunt and "out." He does that even after coming inside after being out for a hour. Yesterday he heard a helicopter while he was inside and lost his mind because I denied him the pleasure of seeing the helicopter. But I knew what would have happened: we would have run out, he would have pointed at the helicopter in the sky, then he would have slithered down and tried to run away toward the dirt, rocks, grass, steps, suckering me into outside play.
We tried to go to dinner Saturday night, picking a family friendly chain where he could be loud and not be disturbing. My sister was there too and we all took turns holding him and walking him around. (This was still not enough to keep the 55 year old man at the table next to us from glaring anytime Rocket made a noise. The man was having an incredibly painful dinner with his probably 19 year old daughter. The parents are divorced and I'm guessing the girl is not so keen on her dad. Who is the sucky parent now, mister?!) The dinner was tiring and not fun. I miss Clover and her ability to sit still and remain quiet, even if it takes bribing her with dessert. I kept thinking of all the nice places we could go to dinner with Clover. Will I ever see those places again? My mother-in-law reminds me there was a time we felt uncomfortable eating out with Clover too; I only vaguely remember it, but I think it was a short period. I have a feeling Rocket's anti-restaurant phase will be longer.
This morning Rocket and I hit the park at 8:30 a.m. because he demanded to go out and I thought it would be the perfect time to let him set the agenda at the park as opposed to being forced to follow his sister around. Rocket is a social butterfly and the park was empty. He hated every second. I went down a slide with him once, which I never did with Clover. I always had time to walk her to the top, then run back down to the end of the slide to guide her down. I wasn't about to let go of Rocket's hand because he would surely dive off the platform head first, so down the slide we both went. We left the park when it was clear he didn't want to do anything without other kids around. We drove around town searching for a coffee house that I was told had a play area for kids, but I couldn't find it. We returned home only to have Rocket start throwing things around to entertain himself.
I miss Clover. I miss having a four year old. She is full of attitude, but she entertains herself. She wears shoes and holds my hand without me feeling like I am trying to break a wild horse. She goes to the library or to the store without trying to knock things down or throw things. I asked a friend with two boys when they become more tame in public. She said not before age three. Two more years?!
My little prince is yelling from his crib. I must go get him before he teaches himself to climb out. That trick is just around the corner, I'm sure.