Portraits of my kids as they are now

The younger one

I’ll start with the baby who’s suddenly not a baby.

He’s suddenly not a baby.

He’ll be two in a couple of months. TWO!

He has been an incessant delight. He is so sunny, so winsome, so charming, so innately wise and loving, he asks for so little and displays such gratitude at what he gets, he is cheeky but not toooooo cheeky, he is my curly headed angel child. I feel like Maria in the Sound of Music, “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good”, to get this child. It feels like he flourishes easily, and it is delightful to watch your child flourish without having to put too much effort in.

He calls his toes “piggies”, as in, “this little piggy went to market”. Whenever I wipe his fingers he says “piggies?”, toes too?

He says “lelow” for both “hello” and “yellow”, and when he wants my attention he waves and says “lelow, lelow, lelow mummy”, if I continue doing something else he comes right up and puts his face ten centimetres from mine and says “lelow? lelow? lelow?” – insistent, but patient too. When the kids are both making a big noise and I say shhhhhh, he starts rocking his head side to side and singing “la la la la” to the tune of “twinkle twinkle”, he knows it’s charming, and he knows it’s an approved alternative to shouting.

He also says “lelow” and waves whenever he sees the cat.

He is not quite yet weaned, and still very keen on breastfeeding, a bit too keen for my liking!

He doesn’t have as many words as his brother did at this age, but he communicates very effectively with the words he has. If he wants me to go somewhere he comes and takes my hand, and guides me there. It’s as though he’s realised that he can’t be heard over his brother, so he’d better come and sort it out. He is a quiet, calm, peaceful presence – pottering about, stacking duplo, brrmming trucks, pulling up dandelions in the garden.

He wants to like iceblocks, because they’re sweet and he can tell his brother thinks they’re a treat, but he takes forever to eat one and it mostly involves holding it out towards me and saying very solemnly, “cold”.

He prefers the slide to the swings. He is cautious and considered with play equipment, studiously figuring it out, then trying things confidently after he’s watched for long enough that he knows how it’s done. We’ve been taking them to the swimming pool a lot this summer (it’s FREE!), and after much watching he tried the floating inflatable obstacle course, and did it perfectly first time.

He loves to run, “munning! munning!”, tottle tottle tottle away. I remember at this age, his brother would rocket off heedlessly in any open space, but B is more cautious, running out a bit then running back to me, never wanting to be too far.

He likes to draw – and it’s never random scribbles, it’s always a looping circle, and when he’s done he’ll hand it to me and announce “moon!!”. Oh, it’s a beautiful moon my darling, you drew me another moon, I’ll add it to the collection of other moon drawings.

I’m not ready for this stage to be over.

The older one

I read through some of the back catalogue of this blog last night. It felt like visiting my big boy when he was younger. I remember when he was eighteen months or so, having such a clear image of his personality. Back then I thought he was super high energy, with a great sense of humour, very affectionate, stroppy, loved books and music, and needed plenty of engagement but could become overwhelmed easily too, especially with noise and unfamiliar people and confined space. He still is all those things, but coming up to four, it’s especially clear just how bright he is. I don’t want to hurry this stage, but I’m eager to show him the world, excited to see what he makes of it, interested to listen to his thoughts.

One of the nicest memories this year was taking him to see Moana on the big screen in te reo. He was blown away, and has been obsessed ever since. We go to Te Papa and he looks at the waka, he wants to know everything about the Pacific ocean. We’re intending to go to Rarotonga this winter for a week (a dream we’ve had since our first Wellington winter six years ago!), and I’m imagining us going to the waterfront in Ngatangiia, and looking out, and telling him that this is where the boats left that came all the way to Aotearoa. He loves the idea of sailing – and I tell him about his great-grandfather, my mum’s dad, who was a ship’s pilot and navigated all the way from Liverpool to Whangarei.

He is in his element when we’re out and about, all year I’ve made time on our Wednesdays for B to chill in the buggy while D and I walk and talk. Chat chat chat chat chat. He doesn’t ever keep his thoughts to himself yet, I hear it all. He has a mind that wants to grapple with complex ideas, and a body that wants to keep moving all the time. Walking and talking, walking and talking, going around the zoo – “mummy look the otters are playing with their otter penises”.

He loves having a little mission to do, and provides a constant commentary while he does it – today My Food Bag arrived and he unpacked the entire box, bringing me each item to put away with a little discussion “it’s a cucumber! That’s good! We needed a cucumber because my little brother really loves cucumber, it’s his favourite vegetable!… look, it’s spices, you like spices but I don’t like spices so much but maybe I will when I’m bigger!”.

Today Mr Daddy slept in, he had been up with B in the night attempting night weaning, and I took the kids to the Sunday market and then to Te Papa. My big boy helped choose the fruit, he was on board with the whole project, carefully examining the apricots “this one looks yummy!”, counting out the peaches, full of pride that he could do his little tasks well.

He’s such a perfectionist, if it’s not right he gets upset, wants to throw it all away. It’s strange, seeing some personality traits from myself in miniature. It makes me feel kinder towards myself, which I suppose is useful. He’s prone to intense emotions – and if he hasn’t had enough exercise, he’ll start to buzz about the room like an insect in a jar. He always ends up learning things the hard way because he doesn’t want to accept anything until he’s satisfied of the explanation, but then once he starts to understand he’ll keep musing on it, and he’ll help me teach his younger brother, “Mummy, he’s taking his arms out of his carseat straps again! We need to stop the car! We need to stop the car right now because if we crashed he might die!” I imagine him as a child who doesn’t want to rote learn his timetables, but instead wants to get five jars and put five beads in each jar and count the total number of beads. I hope he gets teachers who see this as a strength, a gift, and not a source of frustration.

He comes out with hugely insightful comments in his calmer moments “Mummy, when the people caught the giant squid by accident and they couldn’t save it and it had baby squid in eggs inside it, that makes me feel very sad that the squid died because those baby squid never got to be hatched and swim in the ocean not even for a little bit”.

He’s so loving. He talks about his family members all the time when they’re not around. His love for me is intense and almost overwhelming at times, “Mummy, I love you”, he says, about a dozen times a day. “Mummy, I just want to be with you all the time, except sometimes I also want to be with my friends, or with Nana”.

He’s developed some nice friendships this year, after a rocky start in the preschool room at creche. We saw one of his friends at the pools the other day, and they played together beautifully, showing each other how high they could jump at the shallow end of the pool, proper mates.

This is going to be his last year at creche. The last year of life as we know it.



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