This week I was trying to sort though some clothes in the boys room, not an easy task! As I was clearing I came across Mr. Zebra hidden away behind some socks. I took him out and gave him a shake listening to the rattle. He has been in our lives for nearly four years yet I remember so clearly buying him for Lucas. He was only a baby and I was looking for toys that might grab his attention. He really wasn’t interested in anything, he didn’t like his baby gym, the mobile on his cot held his interest for a very short space of time and all those marvellous sensory toys were hanging from his buggy neglected. He was a crier, I remember wondering what was wrong as he would cry so much. There wasn’t one time he didn’t wake up crying up to the age of about 18 months. It makes me laugh now but we didn’t have a clue! I realise that is just the way he was and a lot of it stopped as he got older and more independent.
So, looking for something that might distract him for a few seconds and stop the crying I bought the Lamaze Zebra. Looked pretty perfect to me for a baby toy – black and white, noisy and he’d be able to grip it. It turns out Lucas thought so too and he loved it. I remember how he would follow it with his eyes, smile at him and reach for him. As he got older he was chewed and thrown; he would purse his lips and go cross eyed in concentration trying to hold him. Mr Zebra had a permanent place in our change bag ready to be called into action for nappy changes. He came along with us to the doctors for the dreaded jabs and was frantically waved in front of him to try and distract him. Somewhere over the years he was put away with the baby toys and brought out again when we had the twins. He has been good to us over the years.
When I found him in the wardrobe I realised we don’t really have any use for him anymore as my boys are all past the stage of a little rattle toy. He could be added to the baby things that we send to charity shops or passed onto friends but actually I couldn’t quite bear to do that. He reminds me so much of Lucas and of the early days while I was still learning to be a Mother, making mistakes and doing the best I could. It reminds me that of all the masses of stuff that we had for Lucas this one little £7 toy was the only one he would bother with for months and months. It reminds me that this growing boy that I have bouncing around my house all day, chattering as we walk to school, asking me to stay for another five minutes while he goes to sleep was once a tiny newborn, my first baby. I remember Lucas waving it for the twins while we told him what a good big brother he was. I like to think that maybe when he is older he might find Mr Zebra hidden in a box and remember him fondly.
The age Lucas is now, right on the cusp of becoming a fully fledged boy, is such a amazing one. It has probably been the most challenging by far, he is constantly trying to make sense of things around him, controlling his emotions while trying to assert his independence. I have said before that I have never questioned my parenting more as I have done during this stage. He is stubborn, so so stubborn and everything is on his own terms But, he is also funny, his imagination flows over in everything he does, he feels deeply and loves the family around him, he is charming and cheeky all at once.
I don’t know where the years have gone; somehow I have a son who is nearly four and in a few short months will be starting full time education. I will miss him so much and the time with him now is so precious as it won’t ever be this way again. Even writing than makes my stomach flip. Soon someone else will see him for more of the day than I will and other people will influence him, will make him laugh and maybe even make him cry. Even now I see things changing when he wants to watch different things because his friends watch it and he is becoming part of a group that I can’t really be a part of. He’s always known his own mind and I wish more than anything that it stays that way. When I see him running to school and children shout his name I smile, he holds hands with his friends when they walk in the doors and he goes in without a backward glance. Trying to remember that tiny baby in my arms can sometimes be difficult so I think I’ll hold onto Mr Zebra for a little longer.