My preschooler had his very first playdate without me on Saturday. He looked so grown up, backpack on, holding his friend's hand as they followed her mother across the parking lot towards the Aquarium. I'll admit it, I sniffled - just a bit.
With the older boy enjoying his first playdate without me, the younger boy got to spend his first full morning with me.
He's a fun kid - I already knew that - but after spending a whole morning with just him? He's a fun kid!
We started the morning off with a slow browse through a thrift store. He was very excited when I let him walk instead of wearing him like I usually do. He chattered away as I browsed the books, occasionally taking a few sly steps down the aisle, grinning cheekily as he got further and further away from me. He pushed every button he could find in the toy aisle, calling me over to reach things that caught his attention on the higher shelves. We left half an hour later, a few dollars poorer and three books richer.
Next we stopped at a cute little coffee shop I've been wanting to check out for a while. (Laughing Bean Coffee Co, for the locals reading. I highly recommend this place - delicious food and drinks, excellent service, and a really fun atmosphere. As a bonus, they have a highchair available, something my favourite local tea shop is sadly missing.) We shared a cinnamon bun before heading to the mall, chai tea latte to go, so he could stretch his legs at the play center.
After he'd played for a while, we wandered through the mall. I picked up some streamers, balloons, and candles for the older boy's birthday on Saturday. I also picked up - gasp! - a few shirts for me! This was a rare treat indeed. There was a rather interesting moment in the change room, involving a loudly ringing cell phone, a toddler trying to escape under the door, and a distinct lack of a shirt, but the moment passed and all was well again. Plus, new shirts, so all-in-all it was definitely worth it.
After receiving the call to let me know the older boy was on his way back home, we headed back home ourselves. The little guy was so worn out from our morning that he fell asleep before we'd even gotten out of the parking lot.
Those four solid hours together gave me a renewed appreciation for the unique and fun individual he is. He has preferences and desires along with the ability to make them known - without shrieking! He listens and responds when I ask him a question. He picks up new concepts at a startling rate. He is silly one moment and sweet the next. He gives the best hugs and the sloppiest kisses. He's his own little person!
Little things, obvious things, and yet too often these are the very things that get hidden behind his older brother's bigger, louder, more exuberant personality. More often than not, if I'm going out with only one of them, it's with the older one while the younger is napping. It's the older one I've viewed as needing it more - he doesn't get the focused attention he did pre-brother, he's old enough to be excited by the prospect of special time with Mommy or Daddy, he [insert all the other reasons I've been giving myself here].
But that morning together was such a special time with my younger son; it's clear to me now that I need to make sure I get one-on-one time with each of my sweet boys. I've been so worried since his birth that he would get the raw end of the deal as the second child - all the hand-me-downs he receives, all his accomplishments that have already been achieved by his brother, fewer presents because what does he really need that his brother hasn't already been given in years past? - and yet somehow I've still allowed myself to ignore this important part of our relationship.
He's not just "the baby" anymore. He's our little boy, this unique individual forming his own unique relationship with each of us, and he needs those special times of undivided attention with us just as much as his older brother does.
I didn't think I could love anyone as much as my first son, until this little man came along and proved me wrong. He is absolutely delightful.
Two sweet and silly boys. I am a blessed mother indeed.