Tag Archives: Two

On losing Two, and trying not to be sad about it

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Second birthday. The cheeks have it.

He is on the verge of being three. Hanging onto Two by his fingertips. You can see Three coming in those long skinny legs, the bony bottom in little underpants. Three is in his self-awareness, the jokes with a random punchline, the sentences with multiple clauses. There are Threeish days he wants books with more words than pictures, and days he wants me to pull stories out of my head. I can smell it on the days he sleeps till 7.30 instead of 6am, and doesn’t want a nap because it’s obvious he doesn’t need one.

You’d think this would be good news. It is, it really is. Two has been a marvellous, multicoloured fire-storm. I have sensed for a long time that he and I are very similar, and I’ve butted heads with Two so often we have bruises. I can see the seeds of logic in Three. There’s the unremarkable everyday use of the toilet coming (!!!), and the point at which he can get himself a seventh glass of water. I can see, very VERY distantly on the horizon, a day in which he can put on his own socks.

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But oh, there is sweetness here I am not ready to give up. Two, with his chubby cheeks and flannel Thomas pyjamas. The process of watching him pull words from the air, awestruck with the discovery that things have names, and mispronounce them hilariously. Not ever again in his life will he forget how to say ‘porridge’. He won’t ever need my hand again to go down the stairs. That was Two’s thing, and Two has almost gone.

Three goes to nursery in September. We’re still waiting for the confirmation letter to arrive, but it should come any day. He’ll be someone else’s for five mornings a week, and he is so excited to go. Me, I’ve spent these sunny weeks holding onto Two with both hands: picnics, day trips, library books, lots of mornings jumping off walls and poking things with sticks, as much time as I can wangle with him wedged on my lap. For these last few golden weeks he is all mine, all day, and this life I make for him is the only one he knows. It was never going to last, and it shouldn’t, either. But I will close my eyes and breathe in Two for every minute I still have him.

Three is coming, lovely boy, and just wait till you see what you’ll find there.

Three is coming.

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His mother called him ‘WILD THING’

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What follows: your weekly note about toddlers.

I haven’t written about Henry much, lately. It’s not because he’s going through a bit of a capital-P Phase – though he is – and I only want to write about the good stuff. I think this clingy, angry thing he’s been trying on has its roots in insecurity and growing pains, and – I don’t know, I suppose I feel he needs his tender parts covered until he feels more like himself. So he’s been a supporting player here for a little while.

He’s still here, though, so I thought I’d write down a few toddlerisms for posterity.

This is the Henriest Henry face there ever was. If you were to bottle up the essence of Henry, this face would be on the sticker.

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His grammarisms are always the best part of my day.

‘Mummy, this da-longs to you, yes?’

‘Look, Mummy, I covered in licker!’ (He means ‘glitter’, and this is never a thing you want to hear when you can’t see him.)

‘I not very well, I have a tummy-head’.

‘Look how smart I are!’ (Drying his hair with a hairdryer.)

(To Siri, on the iPad): ‘HELLO. HELLO. I NEED TO SPEAK TO TIMOTHY’.

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The other day, mid-toilet break, he told me to close the door ‘uzzerwise someone see me in my wee house’. He likes the idea of things having their own houses. This is actually the least embarrassing thing he’s said loudly in a public toilet. Others in the top five include [looking under the cubicle wall]: ‘I can see someone! LADY, I CAN SEE YOUR SHOES’, and, of course, various encouragements to his own anatomy and mine, which we will not reproduce here.

He’s experimenting with ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’ at the minute – who knows where he got them from – and finds this so terribly noteworthy that he delivers them both in double forte. It’s like a trombone blast at the end of every sentence: ‘I got you a cheese-apple, DAAAAAD. Coming, DAAAAD’. (What is a cheese-apple?)

He narrates to himself when he’s feeling fancy. ‘I going this way, said Henry. Let’s open the door, said Henry’. I could make the fact that he’s apparently the star player in his own life into some metaphor or other, but let’s just comment instead that he’s still well on track for drama school.

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A little while ago he got very passionate about the alphabet, and learned half the letters. Now – hello, two-year-old – he’s gone off it and will only identify P and K, for which he still has a sentimental attachment.

Winnie the Pooh. Oh my twelve-times-a-day. The other day I caught him with his hand in our jar of honey, and that clean-up is not nearly so pleasant in real life, FYI.

I am still waiting for the switch that says ‘ohhhh, THAT’S where my solid waste should go’. Since I can’t stop him soiling his pants every day, I decided to stop minding. It’s working pretty well.

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He has cleared every plate, three times a day, for four days in a row. Miracle. On the other hand, he also spent his past four nights learning how to climb into Teddy’s cot, necking half a bottle of gripe water – cue frantic medical Googling – and coating Teds head to foot in Sudocreme. Which is to say, he’s growing.

He almost doesn’t fit into my lap now.  But he still wants to, and his face still looks like he’s won the lottery when I turn up unexpectedly. So two-and-three-quarters, you’re welcome to stick around for a while yet.

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Mornings, revisited

Rach's Blog

I came across this post the other day, and felt like I was looking back at long-forgotten country. So here’s a continuation.

Dear self,

Here are some things that you should never forget (even when the skin on the back of your hands has gone baggy)

that you get the first hint of Boy 1 being awake when he thunders like a galloping elephant on the stairs

that Boy 2 is almost always beside you already, fuzzy head jammed into your armpit

that Tim does the breakfast routine unless you really have to – and this is now so ingrained that the other day Henry told you to go back to bed while Daddy made porridge, so SCORE ONE for you

that you get Henry in the bath every day by pretending his pirate bubble bath is talking to him

that your pirate accent is really no better, despite all this practice

that they spend twenty minutes trying to out-splash each other, and as Teddy has been gifted with thighs, he wins

that the real loser is you, since you start every day wet

that Henry will get dressed faster if you pretend you’re both racing cars

that your racing commentator accent is pretty dire as well, and who said parenthood involved so many accents anyway

that you never, ever in your life thought your bed would end up with so much pee in it

that you spend your getting-ready time having conversations with a boy who now likes having his hair combed and putting his socks on and brushing his teeth, so look, my dear, how things change

but that he still likes the taste of your perfume

so maybe they don’t change all that much.

Embrace the soakings, dear self, because they’ll be over before you can blink. And moisturise those hands.

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This is two

Quiet, quiet, quiet. Finally. It’s been a loud kind of day today, between Henry’s tantrumy morning, Edward’s colicky afternoon and an evening in which both of them really went for it.

It was Henry’s two-year-old review this afternoon. We went to the children’s centre on the back of a sneaky McDonald’s lunch (no-sleep nights bring forth chicken-nugget-and-chip lunches, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it), and I scrubbed him hard before we went in to get rid of the ketchup smell.

‘How’s his diet?’ they asked.

Um.

As we moved through the questions the old milestones floated in front of me: can he stack blocks, yes; does he use a dummy, no; does he run and climb, HA HA HA. I could see him at the other end of the playroom, buzzing in and out of my peripheral vision in his bright red jumper, making a cup o’ tea in the toy kitchen. He doesn’t even know what a cup o’ tea is, but he thinks it sounds exciting. They were pleased with his progress and so was I, but it was the sort of proud that stings a little. Heaven knows it’s hard to be two sometimes, but I think it’s harder to watch two in all its prickly perfection, and know that it’ll be packing up its red jumper to make room for someone else. They measured his height and told me he’ll probably be six feet tall in the end, I mean my goodness. I don’t want to know about six feet tall. Is that the next thing? The blocks are stacked, so on we go to joined-up writing and six feet tall? Urgh.

Then we came out, and he held my hand till he spotted the largest, muddiest puddle ever made for a kid in wellies. So he ran for it, cackling when I couldn’t catch him. Until he slipped flat and ended up bottom, jumper, new teddy bear and all in the mud. There wasn’t an inch of him that wasn’t slick with it. I picked him up to strip him down to his underwear before putting him in the car, and that was when the hailstorm started. Hail and mud and having your clothes removed in a school car park while yelling ‘I ALL WET’; oh yes, I thought: this is two. Phew.

Feeding sticks to ten confused and irritable swans: that’s two, as well.

Putting Thomas the Tank Engine in time-out, while wearing a handbag round your neck as a baby-carrier: that couldn’t be more two if it tried.

It’s definitely not going anywhere yet.

Two

Seven hundred and thirty

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Dear Henry,

Today is your birthday, and you are two. Tomorrow I will write one of those photo-heavy posts about what we did today, and how you shouted ‘WHOA’ every time the underground train set off, and roared at the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum, and used every cunning wile you could think of to make us let go of your hand so you could fly off and explore by yourself.

Tomorrow, that is. Tonight – because I don’t have very much left of your birthday, and you’ve been in bed for hours – I just want to write about you.

How can I stop you getting bigger if I don’t write you into a page? Your babyhood is close enough that I can still remember the smell on the top of your head, and your fierce little cry that was more like a shout. But you couldn’t have been further from that today. You wore skinny jeans and lace-up trainers, all the better to run away with. Your eyes were huge under that little-boy haircut; you kept turning back to check that we were keeping up, and just as excited as you.

You are always excited. Or furious. Or in some passion or other. Sometimes you want something without knowing what it is, and whine until I remind you to stop and use your words. I love watching you search for the right thing to say and pull it out with a flourish (‘please-a-haf, gink o’ dooce!’). You use words like a box of wonders. You talk all day, and repeat anything we ask if you think it’ll get you a laugh. You make me laugh a lot. You’ve got a good line in silly faces and exercise moves (Sarah taught you lunges), and can work a room better than either of us.

I sometimes call you Henny-Pen in public. I’m sorry about this. Also, sorry: I dress you with one eye always on button-up shirts and braces. You might never wear a shirt with a cartoon character on it. You might want to get your own fashion sense, sharpish, because at the minute you’re making do with mine.

Today I woke up early and thought about the day you were born (this is one of these sentimental things that will annoy you when you’re older). How I dressed and undressed you like you might break, and looked at you in your hospital crib without knowing what I was feeling. I assumed I would love you. I had no idea what a tidal wave that would be, how it would rebuild me entirely, leaving me new and bruised and tentative. It wasn’t always comfortable. It isn’t always now. But it became a part of me just as you did, and I could never argue with the rightness of it, or the rightness of you.

Two years, and ten thousand miles. You are my box of wonders, little boy. You may not always need my hand in the T-Rex room, or anywhere else. But it’ll be there if you want it, and if not, well. I’m glad I get to watch you run.

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Boy with balloons

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We started Henry’s unbirthday by giving him a haircut that broke my heart.

Unbirthday because his birthday is actually tomorrow. But we held a little family tea party for him on Saturday evening. He has no clue what a birthday is, but he knew he had new hair, and people kept giving him exciting things, and suddenly there seemed to be no restriction AT ALL on cake. Add in the bunch of helium balloons I let him jump around with for an hour, and this Saturday just sky-rocketed to the best one of his life. I watched him dance on the edge of two, with short boy’s hair and a giant smile, and felt like I couldn’t hold him still for a second. He has a bike now. We’re stuck into boyhood, and there’s no going back.

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I knew that with Teds in the house and my mama visiting I wouldn’t have much inclination for party planning. And so it proved. It took a whole two days just to decide what birthday cake to make him, and I didn’t get much further than that. I settled on a Hummingbird Bakery Hot Chocolate Cake in the end, adapted from their Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, mostly because Henry would lick up hot chocolate from the floor if you let him. (I don’t let him.) He also calls it ‘hot cocky’, which is not at all awkward, particularly when he’s asking for some of Daddy’s at the top of his voice.

Anyway.

It’s called a Hot Chocolate Cake because there’s hot chocolate powder in it, instead of cocoa. I can’t say it tasted overwhelmingly of hot chocolate, but it did have an interesting sort of malted flavour that went well with the chocolate frosting. It turned out to be the sort of frosting that doesn’t ever go smooth, so I textured it like wallpaper from the eighties and hoped the chocolate sprinkles would cover the rest. I rather liked it, in the end. I recycled bunting from his party last year, and we made a trip in the morning to pick up a bunch of balloons. We made miniature scones, which we ate with jam, cream and strawberries, and put out cheese and crackers and chopped up vegetables. We opened presents and ate, and that was all. By gum, it was lovely.

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I will write a happy birthday post when I have made my peace with this boy being two, which might be never, but I will try my best. More later; I have leftover birthday cake to eat. What else is 11pm for?

Most of these photos are courtesy of my father-in-law, who is much better at this sort of thing than I am. Thanks, Jeremy!

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