From the day she was born, Eva has always been the easiest baby. She slept through the night from just a few weeks old, she weaned herself over night and teethed without the smallest amount of fuss. She looked positively angelic and she really and truly was.
“Isn’t she good!” people would comment, “What an easy baby!” they would remark, “Wait until the terrible twos hit!” said the cynics.
But as her second birthday came and went and we waited with baited breath for our little angel to grow devil horns, it never happened! Some of her first words were please, thank you and excuse me and even when Megan came along and she was no longer the baby, she was so loving and gentle that we couldn’t believe our luck.
“I’m a good girl!” became her favourite thing to say, and “Megan is a naughty girl!” she would tell us when Megan misbehaved. It was hilarious to see her standing over her little sister, one hand on her hip and the other wagging her finger in Megans face. “That is very naughty! You need to go to bed!!” she would say with a frown on her face.
It wasn’t just with Megan either, if we were out in public she would look on in horror at children who misbehaved, who screamed and shouted and made a scene. “What naughty children!” she would declare loudly as we would shush her and stifle our sniggers.
And then along came her third birthday and she grew into a proper little girl. Gone were her baby features and her funny little quirks. “Are you ready for nurserips” I asked one morning, for Evas mis-pronounciation for nursery had amused us all. “Mummy! I don’t say nurserips anymore” she told me sternly, “I say nursery!” And just like that I realised that my little girl was growing up.
So it came as a massive shock when two weeks ago, totally out of the blue, our sweet little Eva was replaced with an absolute terror!!!
The same child who used to sleep through until gone 8 every morning was creeping into our room in the early hours and demanding to get in our bed. If the tiredness didn’t come as a shock to the system then the repeated hits, kicks and eye gouging throughout the night most certainly did!!
And it doesn’t end there. Her patience with Megan has officially worn thin. Her gentle games of dolls and tea parties have been replaced with wielding sticks and talks of “Let’s battle!” and her loving tickles with cries of “Attack!!”.
“No!” no longer sends her into a panic at misbehaving and instead she simply smirks, or laughs, and continues doing whatever it is we have told her not to. Our own gentle scolds of “No” are drowned out by her own angry screams of “NO!!” and we find ourselves recoiling in shock at this defiant little girl who has replaced our angel!
There are times, when she looks at us with such distain, flicks her hair over her shoulder and tuts that I have to check we haven’t fast forwarded 12 years to her teenage self. The daily melt down over her clothes and shoes is exhausting enough, but her hair? Yesterday it took me SEVEN attempts at her pony tail before it was deemed good enough for “Elsa hair”. I was physically and mentally drained by the time we had finished!!
Meal times are now soul destroying battles where I desperately try and coax her to eat just a mouthful of a dish that previously she would have wolfed in seconds. Even serving it on the wrong plate can result in a full on melt down and God help us if we use the wrong cup!
And although we joke about this new found gremlin in our midsts, and it is probably just a phase that shall pass like all the others, it is actually really rather exhausting! Where as initially we hid our laughter at her frowny little face and her stampy feet, it very quickly goes from funny to hard work. I have found myself snapping at her, bribing her and today, during a full on melt down in Smyths toy store, feeling extremely embarrassed of her!!!
But then I watch her as she sleeps, with her face just a little less frowny, surrounded by all of the toys and books that she has demanded share her bed for the night, and my heart still bursts with love.
And I know that at 4am when I’m finally enjoying a much needed deep sleep, I shall feel a little hand tapping me on the shoulder and instead of feeling angry I shall move over, pull back the covers and allow her to climb in. And during the tirade of abuse that she launches on me as we lie there, I shall breathe in the scent of her hair and snuggle the warmth of her skin and I will cherish these moments.
For there will be a time in the not so distant future when the children no longer need those night time cuddles, when they would rather sit on an iPad than “battle” with their sister, when they are eating us out of house and home and we long for a time when they ate less. There will be a time when the children are no longer children at all, when we are out numbered by teenagers and remembering the days when our biggest problem was a three year olds tantrum.
Eva might be going through a “challenging” phase right now but she is, of course, as adorable as ever. And until this stage passes there is one little Dove who is enjoying every minute of it. “Naughty girl Eva!!” Megan scolds, with one hand on her hip, an angry finger wagging away and a very smug look on her face!!!