One of my biggest worries about Eva starting school, other than of course how Eva herself would cope, was how Megan would react to losing her best friend, the mastermind behind all of their plans and the big sister she adores, for the most part of each day.
Since the day that Megan was born the girls have had a bond like no other, a mutual understanding that, while Eva was the eldest, Megan was absolutely the boss and their closeness eclipsed any of the sibling bonds within our family.
When Harry came along I worried about how he would feel growing up alongside the girls, how although he would always have his big brother, the ten year age gap would prevent them from sharing experiences in the same way, and ultimately he would always feel like a spare part when it came to the girls. And I suppose in some ways these last two years, he has. While the girls went to nursery together Harry stayed at home with me, and while the girls lost themselves in a world of imagination, Harry was more than happy to create his own fun. Don’t get me wrong, the bond the four of the children share is wonderful in so many different ways, but if the girls had the choice they would always choose each other.
And so, these last two weeks since Eva started school, I have watched with baited breath to see how the dynamics of our family would change with Megan and Harry having only each other for six and a half hours each day. And the one thing that was instantly apparent was that there was a whole new battle for the title of The Boss, and unlike Eva, Harry was in no way prepared to relinquish that power!
Sharing a due date just one year apart, being born in the same hospital, in the same room, and spending the same first few weeks in neonatal, their stories started out very similarily. With just twelve months and four days between them, they remember no life without the other, have very much grown up in quick succession and, in that way, it should come as no surprise that the two of them are probably the most alike out of any of my children.
Where as Lewis has always been old enough to know better, and Eva is extremely submissive, not to mention highly emotional, Megan and Harry have the same short fuse, a tendency to want to get their own way and their stubbornness knows no limits. They are both competitive by nature, if Megan sings a song then Harry will sing it louder, and neither of them goes down without a fight. Harry knows exactly how to press Megans buttons, and vice versa, and I was fully prepared to be refereeing countless arguments, breaking up fights and despairing of how we will ever survive this coming year until Megan joins Eva at school.
The reality has actually been completely different. Somehow over the course of the last two weeks Meggy and Harry have called a truce and joined forces so that no longer are they tormenting each other, they are simply tormenting me.
Spurred on by the encouragement of his big sister, Harry has taken great pleasure in running rings around me, cheered on by the cries of, “Hazman! Hazman!” as Megan laughs and pumps her fists in the air. And fuelled on by the new found admiration of her little brother, Megan has delighted in being as mischievous as possible, showing off to her audience as she has pushed me to my limits, throwing her head back and laughing as she and Harry congratulate each other on another mission accomplished.
And yet somewhere in between all of their mischief, it has actually been really lovely to see the way in which Megan has turned to Harry for the affection she has missed from Eva. Her need to have someone to snuggle up to on the sofa, to hold her hand when we’re out and about, to kiss and cuddle and tell, at least ten times a day, “I love you one billion.”
It has been heart-warming to watch them with their little heads together, playing a game without the need to throttle each other every two minutes, to hear them whisper in hushed tones and have proper conversations, Harry suddenly transforming, from the tiny baby I still believed him to be, into a fully fledged little boy.
And in the same way that Eva and Megan did, from November, Harry will join Megan at nursery, just two mornings a week at first, and the two of them will run down that same path, hand in hand, disappear into nursery and I will get that same familiar feeling of never wanting these days to end.
Because the sad thing is that nothing lasts forever, the family dynamics will continue to change, and before we know it Megan will be ready to join Eva at “big school” and my little Harry will be left with no-one at home but myself. And I’m sure that there will be times over the coming years when the children drift apart and come together, when the girls revert back to their twin like mentality, when Harry and Lewis forge a completely new bond over a love of Fifa, when Eva and Harry or Megan and Lewis, or none of them whatsoever, share moments together that are special just to them.
And probably one of my favourite parts of being a parent is watching them grow, seeing them evolve, enjoying the sibling bonds as they swap and change, and that’s more reason than ever why it’s so important to enjoy every moment for what it is in the here and now. And right now, today, is Meggy and Harrys time. Siblings, best friends and new found partners in crime.