He’s our little charmer, our easy-going one. In a family of introverts, he’s our extrovert. So much so that Dr M and I often pause and look at each other and exclaim: ‘Where did he come from.’
Now E, she’s a carbon copy of us, so much so that we learn anew everyday about our own strengths and weaknesses just by observing and interacting with our own little mini-me. But W? With his tall, lithe, confidence. His unassailable joy. His ability to laugh loud and long at almost anything, anytime. If two year olds can be described as walking with a swagger, our W does. And when there’s a camera, he’ll look it straight down, smile bright and wide right into it: bullseye.
But even extroverts, I am discovering, need the support of others. Even the seemingly unflappable, need time to recharge their wings. Even the tough of the world have tender places.
Like last night, at the end of a long day. We’d dragged him half-way across Sydney and back. He’d spent nearly two hours in a park playing with strangers-becoming-friends, as we sought to escape the intense Sydney heat until the breeze came with evening. By bedtime he was dog-tired. He fell asleep quickly and heavily, as he often does, another sign of his ability to deal.
Until he woke.
It was around 3am, I know because I’d just been about feeding little J, also thirsty and twitchy after the day, and suffering with the ailments associated with growing teeth. I heard W cry out as I often do, ‘Marm, marm.’ Somehow he turns the simple Australian ‘mum’ into his own weird accented twist, something between British and American. ‘Marm!’ I tip-toe ran across the hall into E and W’s room. E slept splayed out on her little toddler bed, fan facing squarely on her, curly hair spread like fairy floss on her small pillow.
‘Marm,’ W sat up, his own thick hair curly and tossled. ‘Read me a story.’
W has two voices: one, his day voice, loud, and confident, at times like a gameshow announcer’s voice, marking off the moments with ceremony. Then there’s his other voice. His soft, mumbly, baby voice. His middle-of-the-night I need my parent voice.
It’s when he uses this voice I listen, even through the heavy blanket of my own tiredness.
I plucked his light, skinny frame out of his bed, his long, warm arms wrapping instantly around my neck, and I hastily grabbed a book from the kids’ bookshelves.
We settled down on Dr M and my bed, and he cuddled in close, and we read that book about bugs and minibeasts, and almost instantly the soothing rhythms and rhymes did their work on his troubled waking.
Only the reading and the snuggling worked so well he didn’t want to stop. Over 10 times through we read that book, waking baby J once more in the process.
I didn’t sleep much that early dawn, as outside the open window the native birds warbled their morning ode to summer-waking, but I did do this: I got to know my son better. Our little extrovert teaching me that even the bold of this world need to know they are loved.
© All photos in this post by Rob Viuya. You can follow Rob on Instagram at @rr_v