We’ve got to one of those funny moments when lots of toys seem to break at the same time. To Archie Bear, there are only 2 possible reactions to a broken toy. 1) ‘oh, it’s broken. I put it in the bin.’ 2) ‘six it mummy’ (in Archish ‘six’ = ‘fix’), accompanied by a trembling bottom lip and an oh-so-adorable trusting look up at me. Mummy will fix it, and if she can’t, Daddy will. I love that he has so much faith in me, even to fix something as broken as a snapped breadstick (my go to answer for this scenario is ‘eat the little bit Archie, then it won’t be broken anymore’ – this still works, and I’m dreading the day when it doesn’t…).
But sometimes he has even more faith in himself to do the impossible. Since he was 1, Archie Bear has been merrily pulling leaves off plants and then trying to put them back, crumbling breadsticks into powder as he tries to mash broken bits back together and refusing to believe that broken toys don’t just magically meld back together at a grownup’s command. But this week, as the inevitable again happened and we ended up sat next to each other inspecting a broken toy, assessing whether or not it was irreparably broken, he decided, with incredible confidence and belief in himself, that he would be able to fix what his mummy could not. It went a bit like this.
A – oh, it’s broken, six it mummy
M – I don’t think I can Archie, it’s snapped
A – six it, mummy!
M – I’m sorry sweetie-pie, sometimes when things break we can’t put them back together again. Shall we go put it in the bin?
A – no. I can six it.
Cue a few seconds of fumbling little fingers, an incredible amount of strength trying to physically push broken bits back together until they magically stuck, before the truth hit home. It was so sad, and I’m such an emotional wreck that I genuinely nearly cried myself. His shoulders sunk, his bottom lip wobbled with the promise of tears to come, and the belief he had had in himself, that he could do anything, could conquer anything, could mend any smashed, broken, squashed toy, had itself shattered into a million pieces.
One of the most wonderful things of being a parent is sharing in the elation a 3 year old feels when they achieve something for the first time, when they pronounce ‘binoculars’ correctly for the first time, draw a circle without help, or climb up the big kid climbing frame at the playground, after saying ‘I can’t do it!’ The pride I feel for my boys when they manage to do something they couldn’t before is so uplifting it’s like being inflated. And I know they feel the same too. We instinctively mirror the delight in their faces, showing them that we understand, that we are as ecstatic as they are, and I guess that happens the same the other way round too. When they actually do believe they can do it and then fail, we both feel deflated, and I can hardly bare it. I’m so annoyingly empathetic that I cry at adverts on TV, feel paralysed by guilt for not giving someone money or food on the street, and carry fictional characters’ grief and pain around with me if I’m reading a particularly sad book.
So imagine me, sat next to Archie Bear, watching him realise he can’t fix that toy (I can’t even remember what it was!), that he isn’t magically capable of doing anything and everything, and sharing every emotion he’s feeling like they were my own. It was very intense, and I feel needed a soundtrack akin to Watership Down (sorry if you have Bright Eyes stuck in your head now like I do). We had a cuddle, and a little chat about how things break and we have to say goodbye to them and put them in the bin, and then he moved on and forgot about it while I sat stupidly on the sofa, emotionally exhausted by just another tiny part of our day.
Being a parent is like being in an emotional washing machine which is strapped into the front seat of a rollercoaster. Please tell me it’s not just me rattling around in there???