In the excitement and exhaustion of two new babies arriving, I have barely written about my amusing, rambunctious, beloved toddlers in over a month. And actually, I barely documented their summer before that. So as the golden weather draws to a close, here is my summary of the little adventures that my boys have enjoyed over the last few months.
At the beginning of the summer, if we’re calling June the start of summer, the boys were twenty months old.
They had dance parties. Their vocabularies expanded and then exploded, we went from ‘we should probably watch what we say because I think they can understand us’ to ‘we need to watch what we say because they are repeating it’! Their pronunciation is becoming clearer, although they still have ‘their’ words, words that we treasure and will be sad when they outgrow: Yaya, Kiki, Satsas. They call us ‘MumMEE’and Balthazar in particular is keen to identify both of us as ‘mummy’, rushing to touch one of us and then the other as though we need reassurance that we are both his mummy, that the role can be shared.
They applied their own suncream. And then we rubbed it in.
Laughing, they splashed in the paddling pool and kicked up great showers of water.
On the weekends we often ate breakfast in the garden: them, barely-dressed and barefoot, us, hollow-eyed and clutching mugs of hot chocolate. We watched them play and wondered how they could be so full of life so early in the morning.
They fell in love with The Hungry Caterpiller, Charlie and Lola, Green Eggs and Ham. They showed us EVERYTHING in those books. And then they requested that we read them again.
All summer they stomped about the house in pairs of our shoes. At some point they realised that they could wear my dresses as well. They were the most glamorous toddlers in SE London.
Our little boys ran wild. They picnicked. Some nights they went to bed with their toes black with dirt.
On hot days, they plunged face-first into great slices of watermelon, juice streaming down their chins.
Every day was an adventure.
They wore cloaks made from hand-knitted blankets and walked across carpets sprinkled with stars. They were masters of a castle, until they tore it down.
Kirsty wasn’t chuffed to be vacuuming myriads of small silver stars weeks later but I thought that it was worth it.
We blew up helium balloons. They took them to the garden and let them go. As they watched them float up into the sky they asked mournfully for ‘more, more’. There were no more, so they cried.
Every time a bus drove past the house, they pointed it out to us. Then a car, then a bike. They love vehicles.
The school behind our house had some building work over the summer. Mondays to Fridays, a digger was parked behind our garden. Balthazar was mesmerised for thirty minutes at a time. Every morning, we looked through the window adjacent to the stairs to see whether the digger was there.
They learned to tantrum. And to slam doors. Again and again and again. Once or twice a finger was caught and there were tears.
In fact, there were often tears.
But laughter too.
A little while after they learned the joy of the slammed door, they learned to open them. Then they learned to turn the key in the lock. That was a fun discovery, for all involved. There is nothing quite like that heart-stopping moment when you hear your child howling on the wrong side of the front door. Whoops.
When the girls were born, Balthazar and Lysander doubled in size overnight and their little hands and feet suddenly seemed enormous (and oh – so destructive!). They loved those babies, fiercely.
They learned to hurl themselves, head-first, out of their cots. We would hear the sound of footsteps overhead, of laughter, and make our way upstairs to find them seated on the windowsill. So we gave up on the idea of naps and ordered toddler beds. Why bother fighting it?
We gave them little tasks: put these things in the bin, bring us our shoes, unpack this shopping. The latter worked well until they started taking snack breaks in the middle of it. So much for ‘no refined sugar until school’. The little toads motored through a whole packet of Haribo Giant Strawberries before we started to wonder where our grocery-fetchers had gone.
Look at that hair! We didn’t trim it once, all summer.
Look at those faces.
They took baths that swallowed up whole evenings. Sometimes they even ate their dinner in there. Just like their mother, they are water babies through and through.
For such small people they generated a remarkable amount of mess.
They loved. They were loved.
It was an excellent summer.