Matthew is almost four and is testing, testing, testing and pushing every boundary, every wall, every godforsaken button his wily little mind can find.
I love him. I do. But God help me, there are days when I wonder who has entered my son's body, because my wee, sweetpea leprechaun is behaving like an IMP, and not in a good way.
He was fine this morning. Delightful, even. But then he had a nap and I'm not sure what happened while he slumbered but it was like a completely different child emerged from his bed. Sure he LOOKED like my fire-haired lovey, wore the same Curious George underpants (backwards, as he now insists on dressing himself) and adorable, sleepy look.
And then he opened his mouth and out came a sassy-mouthed, attitude-tossing, dirty look-throwing, petulant BOY.
Bedtime came....and went. He was hungry, thirsty, had to pee, had to poo, had a sore leg, itchy mosquito bites AND he'd lost Lamby somewhere in the vast expanse of queen-sized sheets.
Finally, finally, as I hovered over the toilet with my clearly exhausted, yet gamely smart-mouthed son, who'd so been SO desperate to poo yet again, he'd removed his Pull-Up and pj bottoms whilst sliding down the stairs, I sort of lost it.
"Matthew," I said sternly, fixing him with my best, never-before-failed glare, "you had BETTER have a poo in there, or you'll be in BIG trouble!" And squeezed him leg a little harder than necessary, to press my point home.
"Oh, I have a poo, Mummy. Watch!" And didn't he scrunch up his adorably-freckled nose and close his eyes, straining so hard to push out a poop he tooted?
"See?" Such glee. Such pride.
"I see no poo, Matthew." Another icy glare.
"It was a little poop, Mummy. But it was so little, it already went down the hole."
Mummy: 0 Matthew: 345,078, 021
The evening's performance ended shortly thereafter, with much crying and gnashing of teeth and wails and not all of it from Matthew.
Half an hour passed and I scrubbed furiously at the dishes in the sink, mad at myself, mad at Matthew, tired, frustrated, let down, ashamed....standard fare, really. And then I heard a plaintive"Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmyyyy!" from the room at the top of the stairs. DAMN IT!
Grim-faced, resigned, I trudged up and sank to the bed, sighing, "What now, Matthew?"
He was sleeping soundly, one lean arm wrapped around Lamby. Achingly still and calm.
But just beyond him, on the other side of the bed, head barely visible...stood Luke. Crying. He'd been searching for me, seeking comfort and snuggles and I was so busy being pissed off, I hadn't even heard him.
He's sleeping now, too. But something tells me that my dreams will not be restful ones, this night. This parenting business is so wonderful. Except for the moments like these.
The ones that hurt my very heart and soul.