If there is one important lesson that Eric and I have learned this year, it is that the ‘Terrible Twos’ do not stop when a child reaches the age of three. If anything, Joseph has gotten worse – his age-two stubbornness and refusal to listen to reason remain, compounded now with a refusal to apologise for anything, and a bedtime stubbornness that sometimes means it takes hours to get him to sleep. Naturally, if he wakes up at any point during the night, he storms into our bed kicking and screaming, and shouts “I want daddy out!” if I should dare to remain sleeping in my own bed rather than moving to his.
And so he remains true to form tonight. It’s 10:30 on New Years’ Eve, a time when for many 20-somethings, the evening is just getting started in a buzzing pub or nightclub.
Not for the poor sods with children; not for us.
Joseph’s woken up indignant with rage five times and counting. Eric has set up camp in his room, laptop and all, so she can tell him to go back to bed again before he escapes his bedroom and – seeing us awake – decides that he can be awake too. I sit alone in the living-room, in silence, wondering whether to medicate my stress-induced headache with paracetamol or Laphroaig.
We had plans for the evening – a bad film for us to mock, a Skype call to the party with all our old friends that we wish we were at, a happy blog post, a glass to toast in the new year and all the promise it brings. Now, there hardly seems a lot of point.
I see ourselves now, becoming the old grumpy parents that we never thought we’d be – not because we decided that’s what we wanted in the end, but because that’s what life conspires to make us.
If I get one wish for the new year (and I make this fully in the knowledge of how this one turned out a year later) it is that I have at least enough energy to defy the continual abrasion of life; enough that it buffs me to a shine rather than wearing me down to nothing.
And for any of you who fear the same, I wish it just as strongly. Become shiny, you strange internet-pebbles.
Happy New Year.