Littleboy 1 had a friend round to play today. This boy is clearly someone he looks up to at preschool, as he's always quoting him and has been begging to have him over for a playdate for weeks. But, while the friend was here, the differences between the two boys really surprised me. Although the same age, the friend has an older brother and seemed light years away from Littleboy 1 in manner, interests and general maturity. Friend was a sweet boy and well-behaved. But he struck me as much older than his nearly-five years.
The three boys rushed upstairs, where Littleboy 1 was determined to show his friend his collection of Thomas the Tank Engine trains. But his friend looked clearly bored by this, and although he was able to name the trains had an expression on his face that clearly said: "This is baby stuff and I outgrew it years ago...". He certainly didn't want to look at Littleboy 1's Richard Scarry counting books with him and he also looked horrified when Littleboy 1 enthusiastically showed him a Dora the Explorer book which he is rather enamoured with - Dora was clearly just for girls.
Instead he wanted to tell the boys all about Ghostbusters, which he'd clearly seen a few times, and said was 'really scary'. Now, I love Ghostbusters, but I remember watching it at the cinema at age 11 and finding parts of it distinctly terrifying. Littleboy 1 cowers under the sofa at anything even vaguely spooky, and I really couldn't imagine him liking it at all. "Don't worry," said his friend. "It's rated PG. You can watch it at my house when we have a sleepover.."
"You have sleepovers?" I asked him. (He was a little vague in the answer, so I wonder whether it was just his brother). Then I mentioned that we had some brownies downstairs for them to eat. "Do you like brownies?" asked Littleboy 1 eagerly. "Y_E_S" he replied, spelling the letters out like a bored teenager.
To encourage him, I asked him what other films he liked - mentioning that the boys love Madagascar and Finding Nemo. He looked distinctly unimpressed and said he liked Power Rangers better....
I was beginning to wonder whether perhaps I had babied Littleboy 1 too much; he's only allowed to watch preschoolers' TV and seems quite happy with games designed for little kids, which is perhaps not surprising considering his best friend is his three year old brother. But then I remembered: what it's like to be the older child. I, too, had friends at school with older siblings and they always knew SO MUCH MORE than me. They'd all been to the cinema to watch ET when I was still on Pinocchio. They knew naughty words like willy long before I ever did; they were into Michael Jackson and David Bowie when I was still listening to Disney long playing records. I always felt naive compared to these friends and somewhat out of the loop, because by the time I'd discovered these things for myself they'd always moved on.
Compared to his friend, Littleboy 1 seemed such an innocent baby. And I love that, I really do. But I do wonder what it will be like when he starts proper school in September. Peer pressure will undoubtedly mean that he wants to leave Thomas behind and exchange his Lego farm animals for Nintendo. I hope he doesn't feel left out, but equally I hope there is not too much pressure to grow up too quickly. And most of all I hope that, at four, Littleboy 2 doesn't become the worldy-wise younger sibling......