Just look at their expressions. I think this is one of my favourite pictures because this is how I want it to be: he so fierce and protective, she so proud and secure to be in her brother's embrace.
I worry about him constantly. I listen to how well his peers communicate, how children even younger than him hold conversations that make sense. I read about mums who are talking about the big issues with their four year olds, and compare it to the remedial conversations we have. His talking has come on so much in the last year, but so much that he says just doesn't make any sense. Heading down to the soft play centre yesterday, he kept asking what colour it is. I said that I guess it is yellow, because it has a yellow sign and the mats are yellow. But still he asks, he asks a dozen times until I'm not sure I've gotten the answer right, that I didn't understand what he wanted to know. And then, 'Is it going to get bigger?' I told him I don't understand his question, that it won't get bigger, it is what it is. But still he asks, a dozen times, and I worry.
Once at the soft play, there were two little girls (also four) playing together in the ball pit. Jamie is automatically familiar with people and joined in the game they were playing, which was fine for a time until they decided they didn't want to play with him. 'Let's get away from this boy,' one said. 'Yes, we don't want to play with him'. They scuttled off with Jamie in pursuit. 'Come on, Maia, the girls are going this way!' But Maia knows when people are being mean, and she sat and pouted in a defiant way. He continued pursuing them, trying to engage with them. I got him to come out and take a drink and the girls came out too to complain to their carer that he wouldn't leave them alone, that he pushed in front of them, that they didn't want to play with him. All four went back in, the girls openly mean, Jamie oblivious, Maia mostly impervious. Coming down the slide, one of the girls pinched Maia's back and at the bottom she stood in front of the girl, said 'No!' and pushed her in the chest. I know I shouldn't be proud of this, but I was. And I don't worry about her, she can take care of herself. Steven says it's better that Jamie doesn't realise when people are mean to him, that it won't hurt him if he doesn't know, but I'm not sure.
I told Steven how much I worry about him. Steven says that he heard on the radio about how all the most important stuff in child development happens in the first three years and maybe we just didn't do a good enough job. I almost got out of the car because this upsets me so much, not only because those first three years were spent with me, but because I've read those studies too. I remember just after his third birthday crying so hard to my therapist that those precious three years were over and I'd got it so wrong, that the damage was done and I screwed up an actual person, forever. That he'll struggle in life because I didn't do a good enough job. Late at night I hear him pad down the hall and climb into bed next to me. He curls around my head, he strokes my hair, he holds on to my ear and breathes into my neck likes he wishes he can become part of me again. I kind of wish it too.