I did posts about each of the girls and their personalities some time ago and have meant to do one on Matthew but never quite got round to it until now, which probably sums up his experience really – we have good intentions but as the youngest he definitely does get forgotten about sometimes! Even when he was born, in a lot of ways our relationship was just quite functional and it felt like it took a long time to get to know him because everything else was so busy. He would get put in his bouncy chair or I’d attach him to me in the baby carrier while I got the girls dressed or made them lunch or played a game with them, and he was just ‘there’. I didn’t have the time to sit and coo at him or work out his sleeping patterns or gaze into his eyes while I fed him. He had to nap around school runs and play dates and be fed at the same time as I was reading someone else a story or sorting out an argument. We did have two mornings a week that were just me and Matthew while Alice went to preschool, but the rest of the time she was around too or we were fitting in school runs for Katie or whatever else was going on for the girls. Thankfully I didn’t experience post natal depression again like I did after having Alice, so I wasn’t worried that getting to know him was taking a while, and it was a lovely if slightly chaotic process.
It sounds so easy to say he had to nap around school runs and play dates, because I know from experience (Alice!) that not all babies do just slot in to the schedule but luckily for the most part Matthew did. Apart from the fact that he was a milk guzzling monster and took forever to sleep through the night he was a pretty easy going baby and for the most part he has always just got on with things and put up with having his schedule determined by whatever else might be going on.
Without meaning to compare the kids with each other, in a lot of ways Matthew is the middle ground between the girls. They are complete opposites in almost every way I can think of and don’t do very much together at all. Alice likes imaginary play whereas Katie likes practical things. Matthew will happily do both and will be playing games with Alice and then go and do some gardening with Katie and John. He’s pretty flexible and doesn’t seem too bothered that with two older sisters he never gets much of a say in what they’re going to do or what game they’re going to play, he just mucks in and gets on with it. The girls tend to play just with other girls and don’t like boys very much, whereas Matthew’s friends at both preschool and now school have so far been a mixture of both. Alice very much plays with stereotypically ‘girl’ toys. She’s very into dresses, dolls and mermaids and Matthew loves to play with her especially when they play with mermaids in the bath. He also loves tractors and screws and more typically ‘boy’ toys, jumps off things constantly and rides his bike like a maniac.
All my 3 have been huggers and although I still hug the girls or hold their hands etc, they’re too big now to come and sit on my lap or be picked up, whereas Matthew can still do that and I’m making the most of it before he grows too much as well. It’s such an automatic thing that you don’t notice until one day you suddenly realise you’re not doing it anymore. If I sit down with a cup of tea (yes! My kids are old enough that I’ve passed the stage of reheating the same cup of tea 5 times before I actually get to drink it or giving up and drinking it cold, wohoo!) more often than not Matthew will appear and worm his way onto my lap or snuggle up next to me and he’s very affectionate in general. He’ll come and give me a kiss or he’ll quite often just stroke my hair or stroke my arm or tell me he loves me. He’s never got the concept of someone saying “I love you” and the other person saying “I love you too.” He always dives straight in with “I love you too Mummy”.
At this point Matthew is 5 and he’s small and cute and he knows it. I just can’t imagine him growing up and getting hairy and smelly!! One of my friends is always saying she wants to adopt him and every time Matthew sees her he literally puckers his lips and flutters his eyes at her. He also knows exactly how to wind the girls up and can 100% take on the mantle of being the annoying little brother who then makes out that he’s so sweet and innocent and denies all knowledge of why the girls are cross with him.
Matthew loves a bit of toilet humour and his favourite toy ever is a joke poo! He has hours of fun throwing it around and thinks he’s hilarious when he sticks it next to our cat or leaves it on a chair that someone is going to sit on. He also sleeps with it under his pillow! We generally get an announcement when he’s gone for a poo and he’ll proudly take the credit for his burps and farts. He also loves a ‘wild wee’ and will take the chance to take aim and water a bush or a tree pretty much any time we go for a walk!
Matthew can be quite sensitive. He notices things and he’s a real charmer – he’ll comment if I’m wearing a new top or he’ll tell me he likes the earrings I’m wearing because they’re pretty. Last year when the girls were both at school we had Mummy and Matthew Thursdays where I didn’t work and he didn’t go to preschool, and at the time he would always let me know he liked our Thursdays and now he’s at school he still tells me he misses them. Last year our next door neighbours had a fire which was all very dramatic and we came home one day to find fire engines and police cars down our road with the lights flashing etc. I think people expected him to be excited about the emergency vehicles but he wasn’t really, he was quite tearful until he knew everyone was OK.
Having said that he’s also quite stoic and just gets on with things. He’s not a poorly child as such but he has been prodded and poked a fair few times for blood tests and skin prick tests etc, and the doctors and nurses always comment about how good he is and give him extra stickers. He doesn’t cry, he just sits and watches what they’re doing. He has asthma / viral wheeze (not entirely sure which or if they’re the same thing – basically he has had respiratory issues on a few occasions) which have resulted in hospital admissions for oxygen and nebulisers, and he uses daily preventative inhalers and takes a pill before bed each day which he does quite happily. He also has a severe peanut allergy. As he’s still young and his immune system is still developing he has yearly check ups to see if it’s stable or if it’s changed, which he does fine with. At the moment he has to carry epipens with him wherever he goes and isn’t allowed to eat food with peanuts or which say may contain peanuts on the packaging, but his last test suggested his allergy had improved so we’re waiting on the results from a follow up blood test and fingers crossed he’s cured himself!
Matthew is literally the tickliest child I’ve ever met. You just need to approach him with a wriggly finger and he’s in hysterics and I don’t think there’s an inch of his body that isn’t tickly. He also loves being tickled, which for the life of me I can’t understand as I hate it, so we spend lots of time tickling him while he squirms and can’t breath for laughing!
Matthew in 5 words – entertaining, energetic, loving, cute, noisy