With four children it is not always easy to give each of them the special mummy time that they need. There are times when one or the other does not ping on the mummy radar. James more so than the others. I sometimes think of him as my invisible child, his gentle personality dwarfed by the much larger ones of his three siblings. Sam, the teenager is clever and he knows it. Annie is boisterous and noisy, Alistair is riding the wave of cuteness.
Recently, James has started to step out of the shade of the other three, not necessarily in the best possible way. He has been naughty and rebellious, screaming and kicking and has on many occasions told me that he hates me. Luckily he loves me again after a few doors have been slammed and a few toys have been thrown, or when he is hungry. James is an amazing door slammer and it is only a matter of time before he manages to unhinge one of our old wooden doors! I wonder if we could harness this talent in any way?
There are moments when I find it tiring to be James' (or anybody else's) mum and I hate to admit that I have lost my temper more than once in the past few weeks.
When I returned from my "run" on Sunday morning (still feeling queasy from excessive partying the day before) I had the overwhelming desire to spend some time with James only. I noticed a while back that he enjoys gardening, in a very haphazard 6 year old way. He wants to plant some vegetables. Richard has dug the vegetable patch and prepared it for the seedlings but somehow we never got around to sewing any seeds. I suggested to James that he and I went to B&Q to buy a few vegetable seedlings. His little cheeky face lit up at the suggestion. We chose peas, artichokes and Brussels sprouts. James has never eaten artichoke but he talked me into buying some anyway. He also saw chilli plants that were full of little chillies and he wanted them, too. I suggested younger plants and helped him choose two varieties, Scotch Bonnet and Hungarian Hot Wax. At 98 pence each I thought they were a bargain and a good opportunity for him to look after two plants all by himself. The chillies are on the windowsill in our South facing living room.
When we got home I remembered that the annual orchid fair was on in the Botanic Gardens. James loves to cycle and the two of us cycled down the hill to the Kibble Palace for a spot of orchid admiring. He only had one fall when he was trying to bounce up a high curb and we practiced his on the road cycling along the quiet back roads. We admired the orchids and bought two, got some advice for an existing orchid problem and we also talked to a beekeeper for a good while. James spotted the bee queen in the glass covered hive. The cactus society usually has a plant sale during the orchid fair and James chose a little cactus to look after. The cacti are real bargains if you ever visit when the cactus society is selling, or showing! James' cactus has flower buds on.
Cycling back up the hill was a bit more of a challenge but we raced each other and I let him win. For once. His bike has no gears and he needs to push the pedals about five times for each of my own pushes.... He was exhausted and spent the rest of the day watching the telly. But there was no door slamming, no shouting or other manifestations of his angry little self for the entire day. He was shiny with happiness and even his ginger mop was a bit more ginger than usual.
It was a good day for both of us.