Summer has always been birthday season in our house. First up is my ex-husband’s and, though we don’t really celebrate the dawn of a new year with him anymore, the big “Happy Birthday Daddy!” FaceTime always signals the beginning of a couple of months worth of presents, party poppers and, most importantly for my little Hux, CAKE.
Now a few months into his 6th year (or is it his 7th? This always confuses me…), Hux is a character and a half. He has an answer to everything, some cheekier than others, and is one of the smartest most hilarious little chaps I have ever met.
With zero funnier to him than farting (he is VERY proud he can make the sound with both his hand and his armpit), Hux has had a slightly tough couple of years school-wise. Truly a mummy’s boy – I went freelance when he was a baby so I was at home more with him in his early years than with Elfie – he found the transition from pre-school to ‘big boy school’ quite tricky. Put simply, this headstrong little boy doesn’t really like to be told what to do. I’ve no idea where he gets that from ;) And so having to sit down and listen at a prescribed time, needing to line up to get lunch, the newness of the school structure… it all hit him pretty hard.
Nothing terrible happened, at the time he just quite patently wasn’t very interested in learning. And, as a person who really doesn’t like to work hard at something unless I know it’s going to be a total success, I really empathised with him. He didn’t know how to read well, so why would he bother? He couldn’t decide which hand he wanted to write with, so he didn’t use either. He wasn’t emotionally ready for the challenges school would give him, and so he acted out.
My ex-husband and I got called in to a couple of crisis meetings at school, where I’d always tell them not to worry. I’d say I wasn’t going to force him into learning, wasn’t going to wrestle him into reading or writing if I felt he wasn’t ready for it. Better for him to be a slow starter, I thought, than put him off learning forever.
But this year, to everyone’s delight, he finally ‘got it’. After all that time promising that he’d come in to his own sooner or later I was finally able to say “I told you so” (not out loud, you understand) when Hux came home having cracked both fluent reading and writing in the space of a week. He wasn’t insolent, or untalented, or unable: he just needed time.
So for Hux, 5 was a special year. He got the school thing and, most importantly, he lost his first tooth. Happening only a couple of days before the big 6, he’d spent the last twelve months of his life watching his friends’ baby teeth disappear and hopefully wobbling each of his own. As it happened, you can’t force your teeth out, especially when you’re such a fan of brushing as he is, so the whole situation was an exercise in patience for him.
Hux possibly has the sweetest tooth of any child I’ve ever known, which shows absolutely no sign of abating in his slightly more advanced years. Given the option he’d eat cake, sweets, biscuits and ice cream, with a chaser of sugar cubes – always with traces of whichever treat he’s indulged in smeared around his chops. It makes my stomach ache just thinking about the amounts of sugar he’d ingest if I let him.
That’s not to say he doesn’t like savoury food, though. Macaroni cheese is an all-time favourite – despite him proclaiming in the next breath that he ‘doesn’t like cheese’ – as is anything to do with fruit, but only if it comes in a pouch and puree form. Cucumber is still the only vegetable he will reliably eat (though the tomato on his school tshirts tell a different story), and I’m hoping this is something we can work on in the next year.
This little man is unashamedly a mummy’s boy, and I am very much OK with that. Even now he clings to my leg when we go to school (“but what if I miss you too much today, mummy?”) and he loves nothing more than climbing into bed in the middle of the night for a big squeeze. That’s not to say he’s unconfident without me though: he’s a very happy, friendly and bouncy little boy. He just loves the mummy snuggles!
Huxley, you’ll always be my messy faced little boy, even when you’re thirty. Come to think of it, I hope you’ve learned to get more of your food in your mouth by that point, but I will always remember that a Nutella smear on each cheek (and some wiped on my tee-shirt) used to make me so very happy.