You are eighteen months old. There is no denying that you are toddlers now – indeed, you have quite the toddle on you! You have graduated in my mind from sweet, tumble-y puppies to adorably naughty monkeys, not quite human in your understanding but almost there, so close that it’s comical. You have minds of your own but for the most part you are still easily influenced, waving goodbye to undesirable objects as we take them away from you.
That said, you, Lysander, are prone to banging your head against the wall when you are displeased and you have quite the nip on you. And you, Balthazar, my sweet little Nenky, you rolled and thrashed across our new carpet the other day, howling your rage at – seemingly – nothing at all. What was that about?
Time has flown. I would say that, I suppose, given how little I see of you during the week. Every Saturday morning I am disconcerted by how much and how little you have changed, as though I have two paintings in my home and to fool me, every time I turn my back somebody adds a little something more to the picture – a depth, a shadow, a splash of brightness across the sky. You are still the same children but you are never the same and I can never quite pin it or you down.
I love that we have our own games. Your mummy has her own most special place in your hearts but you come to me on the weekend mornings, delighted to find a second mother languishing in bed desperately trying to eke out a few more minutes before unfurling from her nest of duvets. When we ask you where your mother is, you point at me if I am there, grinning as though we are sharing a joke where only we know the punchline. You are the only people in the world who know me as your mother, and that is special.
When you were six months old, we thought that we had the measure of your personalities. Balthazar, you were my little misanthrope – you howled when strangers spoke to you, your face crumpled if they tried to pinch your cheeks. So where has this toddler come from, who smiles and waves at strangers? Lysander, you were a tremendous flirt as a baby, you drew people in with your big blue eyes and that smile and you were never happier than when you were out and about, interacting with the world. And yet these days you are the quieter and more serious of my two, my studious baby. If I could pick a career for you based on your personality now I would say that you will be an engineer, you love to explore how things work, to take them apart and put them back together.
Kirsty, your mummy, is so glad that you are musical. I’m not sure whether it is usual for an eighteen-month-old to be able to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in tune, complete with the hand actions, but I know that your brother cannot do it. She wanted a child who is musical and I wanted a centaur child, so I feel rather chuffed, Balthazar, with your affinity with animals. You are Josephine-dog’s favourite twin because you are naturally gentle, sometimes you rest your hand on the back of her head just for a moment and the two of you are so companionable together that something inside my chest feels as though it is twisting. She isn’t young any more, or even middle-aged probably, and I so hope that she is still around when you are bigger and she can really benefit from your company. I hope that you love each other.
Balthazar, you love to name your body parts. People almost always laugh when we ask you where your brains are and you clutch at your head, which means that it is one of your favourite tricks. You are interested to know the name of everything, pointing and demanding ‘Dere!’ and ‘Dat!’.
You fall in love with toys sometimes and we can’t resist buying them for you there and then, just to watch you carry them home yourselves.
We have just moved to a house with a garden and you are happy to spend hours outside, digging in the woodchips and playing with your outdoor toys. You both think that you are being extraordinarily helpful in bringing us every stone that you find. We eat outside sometimes, picnic meals, and you wander off with your hands full of strawberries with the dog snuffling in behind in your wake. You like to throw food to her and then rage that she has eaten your snack, although you are still easily distracted.
You are my little boys. My sons. Even my difficult days are made the brighter for having you in it and I hope that you always know that, and that you are always glad to be a part of this family. Happy eighteen months, little loves.
*Little Green Radicals kindly sent the twins their clothes for their eighteen-month photoshoot. As they always do, they sent far too much to be featured in just one post and so we have a second to come. We also made a little behind-the-scenes video which you can view below: