When I found out I was pregnant I made a mental list of all the things I would need to do before baby numero due arrived. Apart from spending as much quality time with J as possible, making him less dependent on me was high on my list. I was determined not to have 2 kids in nappies and I really wanted him to be better at feeding himself (or at least more willing to). Then I had an attack of mummy guilt - not only would I be shaking up his tiny world and inflicting a sibling upon him, I was also planning on hurrying him up on the whole growing up thing. I asked myself, was it really fair to expect him to give up his bottles and dummies simply because they were an inconvenience to me?! I decided I wasn't going to do anything drastic while I was working and chose to leave toilet training and dinnertime battles off the agenda for a few months. Partly because I wanted to be able to give those issues my full attention but also because I wanted to delay the inevitable just as much as I imagined my son did.
Then a remarkable thing happened. In just a few short months J has gone from putting two words together to making sentences and "talking" about concepts like friends and colours, and would you believe it, he also chats away in Cantonese... His memory is outstanding and he has started to make choices and clearly express what he wants, and really clearly express what he doesn't want. Just last week he showed the first signs of an imagination as he hopped in a toy car and waved goodbye, telling me with great delight that he was going to Mui Wo. He has a great sense of humour and he tells us when he's "shy" or "scared". The very fact that he understands what what those words mean astounds me. He even takes himself off to his little time-out corner when he knows he's been naughty, I mean, how do I discipline a kid that does that? This morning he told me he needed to do a wee and motioned for me to help him to sit on the toilet (nothing came of it but I was still pretty darn impressed by his initiative!). In other words, without very much input from me at all, my little boy is growing up. And very quickly too.
I admit there was that initial thought that perhaps I might have some work to do to encourage my little man to be more independent, but not a great deal of what has happened lately was the result of a conscious choice on my part. We wanted to capitalise on his self-awareness so when he started telling us he needed a nappy change, we bought a potty and we talked about what it was for, but we haven't exactly been proactively teaching him how to use it. I tried pretty hard to enforce some manners on the kid but everything beyond "please" and "thank you" he learned on his own. Maybe I'm not giving us enough credit. I'm sure we've done something right at some point to lead our child to this newfound independence and verbal ability, but to be completely honest, I'm not really sure what.
Despite my son's obvious prodigiousness, there will need to be some active changes made over the coming months, purely for my own convenience. Once the baby arrives I won't have time to cut each piece of J's toast into 2x2cm squares and he may need to learn how to eat a whole banana (as opposed to having it peeled and sliced for him), but I figured since he's practically toilet-trained himself I'll let him keep the bottles and dummies for now. He may very well decide next month that he doesn't need them anymore (a long-shot at best) as he seems determined to grow up with or without my encouragement. It's a bittersweet mixture of overwhelming pride and sadness, watching my baby turn into a boy, but I'm beyond thrilled that I'm about to do it all again. Does that mean I'm growing up too?