It can be tough being a third child. You so rarely receive your parents’ undivided attention and so much of life involves compromising and sharing time with your siblings. But not last week.
While the boys were in London for five days being spoiled rotten by their grandparents and uncle, Kara had the rare luxury of having both the house and her parents to herself. No need to shout over everyone else for attention at the breakfast table. No arguments over which TV programmes to put on. A two-to-one ratio instead of the usual two-between-three when it comes to bedtime stories.
Despite having a busy week at work, I made an effort to make it home early as often as I could to spend time with my daughter. Like many other three-year-olds, she’s going through a phase where her language and social skills are progressing in leaps and bounds pretty much week by week. It’s a stage in a child’s development which I find hugely rewarding and it really is a case of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it.
It doesn’t take much either. Coming home early meant I got to spend up to a couple of hours devoted to Kara each evening. She, Heather and I played games together. We cuddled on the sofa in front of the programmes she wanted to watch (although I will admit that Team Umizoomi unfailingly sends me to sleep almost instantly). We read bedtime stories to her without having the boys clamouring for attention.
It’s not much. But, actually, it is.
Isaac benefitted from having our undivided attention for two years before Toby came along. Toby has always had to split time with at least one sibling. Kara, however, has always been one of three – and the only girl to boot.
She did have the benefit of Heather taking a year’s maternity leave and Monday (Heather’s non-working day) is still a girls-only day while the boys are at school. But it’s rare for me to have serious one-to-one time with her. So last week was a real treat for me, even if we didn’t do anything special, because it’s doing those mundane, routine things that really forges our relationship.
Little kisses and cuddles. Laughing over photos I was taking of her or both of us. Marvelling at her new-found ability to string together full, complex sentences. (Every conversation is so earnest at this age, isn’t it?) The aggregation of all those tiny things is what makes our daughter daddy’s little princess, and what makes me, well, whatever I am to her. I’m not sure exactly what that is but I know from the way she leaps into my arms every day that it’s something good.
Sibling-free Kara-time may have been for one week only. But that bond is for life.