Mum-of-three Ger Renton talks about what it's like to parent your last child.
He’s my last one. I have known this since the doctor confirmed my pregnancy six years ago. His firsts are my lasts and sometimes his firsts are surprisingly my firsts too despite having two boys previous.
Parenthood is funny like that; no matter how many times we bring a new life into this world it can never prepare you for who that little person is going to be.
He’s a watcher.
He’s a questioner - some may even say an interrogator.
He’s a stunt man, fearless and motivated.
He’s the kid that makes people ask “Was he here before?”.
We held our breaths throughout the pregnancy and for three long weeks after he was born.
His older brothers are much older than him and perhaps that’s why he seems older than his years.
I may have spoiled him a little bit - his birth was traumatic and then we had to bring him in and out of hospital for blood tests. He was pricked by needles as soon as he entered this world in order to find out if he too had the same genetic syndrome his eldest brother has.
He did not have the genetic syndrome, he defined the odds - which pretty much gave me the green light to spoil him even more.
He’s a talker. He loves to ask me questions and when I don’t know the answer he hands me my phone and asks me to “give it a quick google” while assuring me the reasons for googling “then we will both know, isn’t that right mammy?”.
He can be seen as cheeky. He once told a whole room the ending to “Avengers Endgame” despite his brothers' protests. He then defended himself by telling them all “It’s been in the cinema for weeks, why haven’t you all seen it if you’re fans” - if my older sons had done that a few years back, I would have scolded them for it but with this kid, I felt he had a point and I found myself trying not to laugh.
I don’t know if it’s my age or if it’s my experience of his brothers but I am parenting him differently. I am parenting him as best as I can but also learning that my past parenting methods do not work with this kid.
There’s no ‘time-out’.
There’s no ‘bold corner’.
When I tried these he told me at the tender age of two that it wasn’t a good idea. He didn’t feel it was "working".
Because of his age and how well he was able to explain those feelings to me, I decided logic and reason with a bit of blackmail (come on, we all do it!) was probably the only way to teach this kid.
It mostly works but the older he gets the more logic and reason are being used against me.
“Clean your room then you can watch TV.”
“Yes mammy, that is no problem but for now, I am a little beat and feeling it, ya know? So I am wondering if I could watch one programme and then tidy?”
“No boo, room first then tv”
“Ok, mammy. Can I ask why? Why can’t I?”
Now, if I say because I said so, I know this is going to turn into a debate. So I say:
“Because boo, I believe you took some food up there and if that isn’t cleaned mice will come in and live in your room”
He stands opened mouthed. I can see he is searching his brain to see if I could be stretching the truth. He sighs, which means he can’t figure out if I’m being serious or not.
“I don’t think you’re serious (the word serious comes with a wonderful little lisp due to his missing front teeth) but mammy I will tidy it up so. Can I watch TV for a bit longer though because I didn’t 'debeat' (he means debate) you?”
There’s only 2.5 years between his older brothers and an 8.5 and 11.5 year gap between him and them respectively.
I am more patient.
I give him the chance to explore.
I am less mortified by him whispering loudly about the fact that someone in the lift just farted and he thinks he might die if the doors don’t open soon.
I thought when he came along that I was a dab hand at parenting and parenting boys especially, but the older he gets the more I realise that I am a dab hand at parenting each of my boys very, very differently.
I guess, parenting is not only different for each parent but the way we parent each child is often very different too.
It is something that I am currently muddling my way through.
What about you? Are your parenting your last child?