Boy #2 is normally such a happy, contented little chap. He bumbles around, humming to himself, playing with his trains, following his brother from one end of the flat to the other, telling stories to his playmobil figurines.
But he was ill last week, and despite the fact that - apart from the remains of a nasty cough - he's now recovered, he's not been himself since. He's been tired, fretful, and not wanting to go anywhere. And this morning he cried all the way from dropping off his brother until we reached the nursery.
Now, Boy #1 I might have expected this from. He's always been a delicate flower, and even now might have the odd wobble on the way to school. But his younger brother? Usually as happy as the day is long (assuming things are going his way, but that's another story...).
As a mum, this is when you - or at least, I - start second guessing yourself.
Is he still ill? (Temperature; normal. Eyes; focussed. Breakfast; eaten. Brother; wound up.) No, not still ill.
Is he unhappy? Clearly. But why?
Me: "Use your words, Boy #2. What's the matter?"
Boy #2: "I. Don't. Want. To. Go!"
Me: "That, I know. But why?"
Boy #2: "Because I DON'T!"
Me: "What is it it that you don't like about school?"
Boy #2: "Nothing."
Me: "What do you like at school?"
Boy #2: "NOTHING!"
Me (casting about desperately for distraction): "Mr L is coming to nursery today! Lot's of dancing and singing, won't that be fun?"
Pause. He thinks about it.
Boy #2: "Well.... NO! Want. to. go. HOME!"
Me: "We can't go home, Boy #2, it's a school day."
Conversation starts over again, repeat to fade.
Now, I know it's the right thing for him to go to nursery. I know he enjoys it when he gets there. I know he's happy when I pick him up. But I just feel like such a heel, pushing him through this. And I waver. Maybe I should take him home? Maybe something terrible is going on that I know nothing about? (Rest assured; it's not. The nursery is faultless. This is tired mummy paranoia kicking in to the nth degree. Next I will be worrying that he is developing malaria or bilharzia, both of which are relatively new to my worry spectrum since we booked flights to Egypt and I made the mistake of reading the 'Dangers and Annoyances' section of the Lonely Planet guide).
Thankfully, I bumped into 2 other similarly conflicted mothers outside the school who, without being prompted, told me how tired their children were, how it was a struggle to get them out of bed in the morning, and how much everyone needs half term next week.
And there it was; a simple explanation which blew away all the worries. I was so grateful that it wasn't just Boy #2 that I almost hugged them right there on the street.
Now all I have to do is stop worrying about global warming and the recession, both of which are so far outside my control that even I have to accept my impact on them will be slight, and I'm sorted....