How do I describe the Littlest One? The one who gets forgotten in the hurly burly of life, suddenly remembered and blamed at the same time for just being there?
He never seems to notice the guilt and exasperation, he just laughs as I snatch him up and swing him round onto my hip. He looks on delightedly as I struggle with school bags and shoes and keys and dogs. He’s thrust into the car every morning and largely ignored as The Boy and I chatter nineteen to the dozen about almost anything or else shout and growl at each other then sulk and listen to the radio in uncomfortable silence.
He’s left in the car as I take The Boy into his classroom a fluffy Jack Russell to guard him as some sort of sop to the fact he’s left behind.
He’s all sweetness and light, bubbles and blond curls. The largest blue eyes and SUCH a smile. But his brother is quicksilver, fearless with strangers, long lashed minstrel brown eyes and a puck-like sense of humour and merry laughter – when he wants.
The Littlest snatches his moments with me at bedtime while The Boy has TV privileges keeping him downstairs in the early evening. While we shop he holds out his rounded plump little arms for a crafty cuddle while his mercurial brother is self-importantly hunting down the Rice Krispies. In traffic queues we catch each other’s eyes in the driving mirror.
And everyday the stakes are raised as each grabs a bit of me for themselves. They try to outdo each other and are oblivious to the fact. One insists on eye spy at the table showing off his fledgling knowledge, the other boasts his dexterity look mama I use a spoon! One involves me in complicated jokes with no meaning the other starts to clamber out of his highchair. One helps me clear away the plates; the other makes a beeline for the dog’s water bowl.
We play peepbo at the table as I swap my attention from one to the other and while I am in deep discussion with The Boy I hold the Littlest one ‘s foot under the table just so he knows I love him too.