Plane awful

“Sorry but can you please get that little girl to stop screaming?”
Master Nine and I looked at each other in horror.
The voice floated over the back fence and landed on me like a lead weight.
“It’s not a girl, it’s a two-year-old boy,” I called back stiffly.
She (and therefore I) was referring to Lil Fatty, who was on the trampoline with his big brother.
Santa’s gift had been both a source of pleasure and pain, granting Learner Dad and I free time to get things done but also causing fights between the boys.
On this day, in this week of this month, Lil Fatty was probably about halfway through an excruciating screaming phase.
They were piercing, relentless and awful.
They were almost always emitted in the vicinity of Master Nine.
And, if I were my neighbour, I’d be going nuts too.
“I’m doing my best,” I said sadly.
I heard her back door bang shut.
Master Nine just stared at me.
Lil Fatty kept bouncing and babbling, unfazed.
I carried Fairy Floss back inside, put her on the floor, and went and cried on my bed.
I’d felt the sadness in my neighbour’s voice too.
She’d hated doing that.
So why did she?
It reminded me of the time friends flew in from interstate and complained about a crying baby on the plane.
“I don’t know why its mother didn’t do anything,” one said.
I’d had Master Nine by then.
I knew that mother would have eaten an air hostess if it would have made her baby stop crying.
I know this because recently Learner Dad made a huge sacrifice himself.
He actually abandoned a flight because of a screaming Lil Fatty.
Petrified from the moment he’d stepped on to the tarmac, our two-year-old had stood on his seat (35E), pointing frantically at the door through which he’d embarked, and screamed.
I couldn’t bend him in half to put on his seatbelt.
A traumatized Master Nine was crying and Fairy Floss was arching her back in fury.
Amidst it all, Learner Dad’s eyes found mine and he stunned me with: “I’m going to take him off.”
Within seconds, I knew he was doing the right thing.
Passengers who’d been shifting obviously and deliberately, passengers who’d been shaking their heads at us, watched amazed as my brave husband and terrified toddler walked back down the stairs (which had to be driven back in) and across the tarmac.
The lady in front of us, who’d made a show of blocking her ears during the chaos, suddenly doused me with sympathy.
They all did.
“Oh, you should have kept trying, he would have calmed down.”
“Poor little darling, he would have been fine.”
“I can’t believe they let him leave. They could have taken him to the cockpit or something.”
I felt shaky.
And vomity.
At the time, it was a very big deal.
But I’ve buried it at the bottom of this post lest people think our tot a true terror(ist?).
A naughty brat who had a tantrum so big it delayed the plane an hour.
He’s not.
He wasn’t.
He was just scared.
Inconsolably so.
For now, apart from the occasional still-loud squeals of joy, Lil Fatty’s screams have abated.
Embarrassed that day on the trampoline, Master Nine has laid off on the teasing.
And, a late talker, Lil Fatty is finally replacing sounds with words.
I’ve been told I’ll laugh at the plane story one day.
By his 18th birthday, I’m sure I might smile.
But I’ll always think of some of those people on that plane – and my neighbour – with a tinge of sadness.
For parenting is like handling little explosives.
You can wire them so they’re as safe as can be.
But when expert detonators – siblings – and unknown detonators – in this case, aeroplanes – come in to play, they just explode.
And you can jump on your little bomb, take as much of the physical and psychological trauma as possible.
But you can’t stop it happening.
People who haven’t had kids would do well to know that.
And people who have would do well to remember.

The heart of the matter

“How can Mummy love my brother or sister when she says she loves me with all her heart?” Master Seven asked his Nanna before Li’l Fatty was born.
I must admit, it worried me too.
I’ve said it before: pre-Li’l Fatty, Master Seven was my world.
How could anyone else possibly come close?
So my infatuation with Li’l Fatty came as quite a surprise.
But, although equal in weight, my love for both my baby boys has been different.
From the moment I knew he was in my belly, my feelings for Master Seven were intense, fierce, based on the wonder and awe of giving life to a person, and watching him unfold before your eyes.
It was a love I’d never felt before.
I smiled, laughed and cried my way through his pregnancy, overwhelmed by my feelings for something I couldn’t yet see.
After he was born, I’d kiss every inch of his soft skin.
Including his bum.
Especially his bum.
I kept every toy that made him smile, even if only once.
I spent ludicrous amounts on professional photos and framed them by the dozen.
I hovered with a video camera while he was playing, bathing, sleeping.
And played them back that night.
Over and over again.
Sometimes I cried with happiness just looking at him.
Just thinking about him.
And at the the same time, I was scared to death something would happen to him.
So I was prepared for that intensity of feeling when Li’l Fatty came along.
But my love for him comes in a far more relaxed package.
I know more about what to expect, what to cherish and what to ignore.
I’m not weighed down by routine because I know it’ll sort itself out.
I’m not fixated on sterilisation because I know I breed them tough.
And I don’t try to remember every single thing he does.
Because I know I won’t.
So I’m just enjoying the ride.
Rather than cry, Li’l Fatty usually makes me laugh.
I do smother him in kisses too though.
But forget the bum – it’s the nape of his insanely soft neck that gets me.
Sometimes, when Master Seven channels the green-eyed monster, I remind him that, as a baby, he didn’t have to share me with anyone.
Li’l Fatty will never get the exclusive first-time love Master Seven was privy to.
But he’ll always get just as much.
That’s why, when I heard Nanna’s answer to Master Seven’s question: “How can Mummy love my brother when she says she loves me with all her heart?” I knew she’d nailed it.
“Her heart just doubles in size,” she said.
And that it has.