I was woken by a small nose pressing against mine and a voice belying the size of the individual it came from bellowing “let’s go downstairs Mum”. I could tell it was early because I was vaguely aware of a Grizzly shaped lump beside me and he usually leaves for work before I wake up. I ushered Little Bear back to his room and tucked him back in again. As my head re-touched the pillow, I heard a door open and various suspicious sounding noises. Experience told me never to ignore suspicious noises so I duly got up again, located the wandering Little Bear, noted the lack of trousers or nappy, replaced as necessary and tucked him in again.
A short doze later Big Bear stumbled sleepily in, indicating the official start of the day.
The morning routine progressed as usual. The boys ate their breakfast at the kitchen table. Big Bear finished first as always and got into his uniform. Little Bear absently fiddled with his new remote control car, taking a bite of cereal every now and then. He got up to watch Big Bear feed the cat, then to open a cupboard, then to fiddle with something on the counter. I said “sit down and eat your breakfast” at least 8 times.
Big Bear asked me to help him finish his new Lego model so I sat on the living room floor, eating my toast and finding him the pieces he needed whilst he worked on a tray. Little Bear wanted a tray too so I got him one. He was immediately distracted by his car and out of nowhere reversed it straight over Big Bear’s neatly organised Lego tray!
World War 3 Lego disaster overcome, the rest of the routine went without hitch. Before we knew it, we had taken Big Bear to school and were home and in the garden hanging out the washing. Little Bear found himself a Nerf gun to play with and promptly trapped a pinch of his finger in it. Finger freed he was tearful so I popped him in front of the TV and he proceeded to consume half his body weight in toast and pear.
After a few household chores we decided to head to the park. Little Bear took his RC car outside with him while I put a few things in the car. He must have felt warm because he tried to take his zipper off. However, he was still holding the remote control which quickly became stuck up his sleeve. Little Bear became very frustrated very quickly, throwing himself to the floor, crying and shouting. I freed the remote and shepherded him towards my car, distracting him with talk of the park. As he put his toy car into my car, he somehow banged his hand and once again erupted into angry tears. I picked him up to cuddle and console him but he didn’t want to be held and became more distressed.
It was not boding well for the trip but I figured I could always turn back if it was a complete disaster.
Little Bear had calmed by the time we reached the park and we had a lovely time. It was a clear sunny day and the park was abundant with colourful flowers and lush greenery. It was still fairly early and we had the entire place to ourselves. The squirrels were scuttling about quite freely and I think both Little Bear and I appreciated the peace.
We tried out the outside gym and I pushed him on the swing. To distract Little Bear from running and diving into a compost heap, I suggested we try his RC car at the skate park. Obviously 4 year old Little Bear and thirty-odd year old me are not the target clientele for a skate park but it’s great for a bit of intense sensory input. Little Bear had a whale of a time running up and down all the slopes and seeing if his car could do it too. I can’t hide the fact that I don’t like the steep ramps at all but Little Bear is very encouraging and holds my hand! After allowing him to drag me up a ramp, I perched on the top, enjoying the view, taking photos and trying not to envision Little Bear falling on his head.
A while later we wandered to see if the ice cream kiosk was open. It wasn’t, but I had emergency cookies in my bag so we sat on a sunny bench while he munched. After a bit he said “where are yours cookies Mum?” I said I wasn’t having any so he insisted on giving me one of his.
We tried the car on the crazy golf course then it was time to leave. Little Bear suddenly pretended he couldn’t hear me speaking and wouldn’t come. I counted to 3. He came but told me to “shut up”.
I weighed up whether a trip to the supermarket was wise. I knew Little Bear was a bit dysregulated but I also knew that we didn’t have much food. I decided to be brave – we would go to a smaller shop and I’d feed him first.
I managed to park in a parent and child space but when we got out of the car I remembered that my bags were in the boot. I told Little Bear to stand on the chevrons between my car and the trolley park, where he would be safe. As I opened the boot, he kept wandering towards the road. I reminded him to stand where I had shown him and why. He growled at me. I crouched next to him and explained he would need to listen and be sensible at the shop. If he couldn’t stand where I put him, I would need to hold his hand the whole time and in the shop, he would need to ride in the trolley. There was more growling but he stayed pretty much where I asked for the few seconds it took me to get the bags. As we walked in I explained that I didn’t want him to be squished by a car – I didn’t want a flat Little Bear. He giggled at this and all was forgiven.
As we entered the shop, we passed the flowers. Little Bear said he wanted to buy me some. Not wanting to point out that he hadn’t yet reached financial independence and I would technically be buying them for myself, I let him choose some and gave him a big kiss.
On the way to the café we passed the chocolate bars. Little Bear wanted to choose a treat. I said he could but he would need to save it until after lunch. He picked two treats, one for himself, one for Big Bear. I parked the trolley outside of the café and told him to put the treats in it. He put one in and held the other. I explained we couldn’t take it in the café as we hadn’t paid for it. He put it into the trolley then tried to take the trolley into the café. I explained we couldn’t do this so he growled and said “idiot”. I tried to show him that everybody had left their trolleys there and no one would take his treat but it fell on deaf ears.
Little Bear stood against the stand of trays, growling and muttering to himself, little hands clenched into fists. A man lingered behind him, clearly wanting a tray but not knowing what to do. I passed him mine and stretched past Little Bear to retrieve another, irking Little Bear further. I crouched again to speak with him but he turned his back, saying “I’m not speaking to you, I’m not listening to you”. I reminded him that we had to be sensible and that if he couldn’t, I would need to hold on to him. He didn’t take the chance I gave him, so I took his hand and moved around to order, ignoring his protestations. I momentarily let go of him to pay. When I looked down to find his hand again, he was using it to wrestle an old lady’s walking stick from her!
I quickly extricated him and scanned the café for a wise place to sit. I spotted a seat in the corner where he could sit on the bench seat and I could sit beside him to stop him escaping.
A lady came over to ask if he would like some colouring to do. Little Bear answered “cheese”. I think he thought she was asking about his lunch.
We started doing some colouring together, which went well for a few seconds until Little Bear drew a purposeful black line along his fluffy white Snoopy pencil case. He ignored me when I tried to speak to him about it, so I took the pen from his hand. He shouted “shut up idiot” and bashed the wooden panel beside him. I was glad when the food arrived – I think he was over hungry.
Little Bear ate well but stood up to look over the panel every 3 seconds and tried to jump up and down on the bench. I said “sit down” lots of times.
When we’d nearly finished, an acquaintance of my Mum’s spotted me and came over to say hello. She said “wow! Is this the baby?! I can’t believe he’s so big! How old is he now?”. I could see the confusion crossing her face as it dawned on her that she hadn’t actually seen me pregnant and thought that my child was older. Little Bear took the opportunity of my diverted attention to crawl under the table and make off across the café. I excused myself without clearing up the confusion and retrieved Little Bear with a promise of his treat, which was still in the trolley where he had left it.
Happy with his Minstrels, Little Bear let me put him in the trolley. Knowing his sweets would only last for so long, I embarked on a spot of speed shopping. It was the kind of shopping where I was going to get home and wonder what we would actually eat for our meals.
We made it as far as the yoghurt aisle before Little Bear started trying to get out of the trolley. I reminded him of the rules – stay close to me and do “good listening”. If he couldn’t do this, he would need to sit back in the trolley again. There was quite a bit of running at full pelt up and down the aisles and me shouting his name, but generally he did come back and stayed within my sight. I had to stop a forwards roll near the checkouts which was at risk of upending an elderly man. I also had to monitor which items were being unceremoniously chucked into the trolley.
After a brief disappearance around a corner, I reminded Little Bear of the rules and told him to stand by the trolley while I chose some squash. I did not tell him to reverse the trolley at speed and slam it into another lady’s trolley which was stacked high with wine. But he obliged nonetheless.
Muttering apologies and avoiding eye contact, I was glad it was time to pay. I told Little Bear he would need to sit in the trolley again. He wasn’t too pleased about it but I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch him and pack the bags at the same time. He “helped” me by pelting the items onto the conveyor belt. Throughout the bag packing there was a chorus of “I want to get out”, intermittent crying and then “shut up” and “stupid mum” when I still wasn’t doing what he wanted.
By the time I had paid, I was a little sweaty and could feel the familiar ache of a full bladder. Knowing neither of us could cope with a trip back into the shop for the loo (too many germy things and alarm pulls Little Bear would want to touch), that would need to wait for home.
Once back, Little Bear had a rest in front of the TV while I put everything away. Then I sat with him and wrote a little whilst he tried to stick his cheesy feet up my nose.
Big Bear’s friend’s Mum knocked for us at school run time and Little Bear chatted with her. When I gave him a countdown then said it was time to go, Little Bear wouldn’t come. I counted to 3. Little Bear shouted “idiot” then stomped into the hall. When I knelt to put his shoes on he tried to bite my face.
I knew Little Bear was tired on the short walk to school as he kept lying down on the path or grass, so I carried him a little. We got Big Bear and wandered back. Just outside our house, Little Bear crossed right over the road without looking or asking. It is a quiet cul-de-sac and there were no cars but he does know the rules around roads. As I went to speak to him he growled and stamped. When I tried to speak, he spoke over me, saying “I’m not speaking to you, I’m not listening to you” then he threw his toy dragon into the road. I told him to sit on the bench. I confiscated the dragon.
I stayed close to Little Bear and every now and then asked him if he was ready to speak to me yet. At each of these intervals he said “shut up idiot” or “stupid”. I felt he was shattered and it was a rubbish welcome home for Big Bear so I picked him up and carried him to the sofa and turned on the TV. He wasn’t pleased and tried to hit me but I knew there would be no reasoning with him and safe containment would be a better idea.
A little while later, Big Bear’s friend came round and the bigger boys went to play in the back garden. Little Bear was desperate to join them and having calmed down and had a snack, I felt it was a risk just about worth taking. I went outside too, to keep an eye on proceedings. After a minute or so, Little Bear came over to speak to me and climbed on top of a garden ornament. I told him to get down. He didn’t, then promptly slipped and bashed him face on the fence. He was crying and screaming that I was mean. Somehow his lack of listening was now my fault. I suggested perhaps he needed to go back inside. Still desperate to join in, he immediately stopped crying and said he was fine.
The bigger boys were trying to play football. Little Bear kept running onto the pitch, trying to get them to play with water pistols. The bigger boys tried to include Little Bear by asking him to be “in net”. Little Bear would agree to it, stand in the right place then run out at a crucial moment. It was quite entertaining.
Little Bear then started trying to wrestle Big Bear’s friend. I could tell this was only going to end one way.
A few minutes later, someone kicked the ball and it hit Little Bear square in the face. It must have really hurt but he wouldn’t let me cuddle him. Cue more tears and shouting. Little Bear was blaming me and insulting the boys. I took this as a sign that he really did need to be resting and much to his consternation, took him back inside. He tried to scratch and hit me.
We had a surprisingly chilled out teatime, with both boys making the other laugh.
I gave Little Bear a bath and apart from trying to touch the towel radiator which is always hot, yet he always has to test, he got into his pyjamas without too much issue.
I tucked him into bed and we read Meg and Mog books. At lights out time, Little Bear kept grasping my head with his chunky little hands and whispering funny things into my ears. We took turns for a bit but I was getting him overexcited, so I smothered him with kisses, stroked his hair and left his room. I could hear gentle snoring within 5 minutes.