I’ve never been that interested in posting regular updates of any sort.
I tend to find that as soon as I commit to any regular, themed content, my creativity suffers and my urge to write takes a nosedive.
In the early years of this blog, one of the things I used to enjoy writing was regular milestone updates for Arlo. There would usually be one a month, and I did similar, although less frequent, for Rory during his baby months.
I love that I have this record of their early years. I used to go into the minutest detail of Arlo’s likes and habits in any particular month, and reading these posts back is like transporting myself right back to that time again, remembering things I haven’t thought about in years. But, for whatever reason, posting regimented updates and going into lots of detail about my children’s personalities just hasn’t been floating my boat recently.
Since Arlo started school, I have definitely felt a bit of a shift in how I want to go about writing about him. He is older now, and will soon want a say in how he is talked about and what is shared, and the crux of it is that I don’t really feel it is MY story to share anymore.
Whilst the baby days are mostly about me as a mum, it can be tricky to know how to write about the important bits of being a five year old, without skewing the experience to fit MY interpretation of events, or just simply giving away a bit too much of his personality to all who stumble upon this space.
My children’s stories are starting to feel more like theirs than mine to tell, and so I only write when it feels natural. But, that being said, sometimes I still feel like writing about my children, sometimes I know exactly what to say, and I feel the words compelled to flow.
Life is about to change. I can’t picture it yet, but when our baby number three arrives, I won’t be able to imagine what it was like before. THIS moment in time, THIS life as we know it, where our two-child dynamic is such a normal part of our daily life, will forever feel transient when I look back – strange and incomplete: A snapshot of life with my children before another baby sibling joins us.
In half a year you will be six. You are JUST past the exact date of your half birthday, and don’t you know it. Dates and numbers are your ‘thing’, any conversation about ages or when exactly the seasons change is bound to capture your interest.
Your favourite past time when we are in the car is to count how high the door numbers go up to on any given road. On our regular London routes, you know exactly which roads have the record-breaking highest house number, and you beg me to drive you down “the longest road in the UK”, or any suburban road in America, so you can find a road with even bigger house numbers.
Your brain is always whurring. Despite my best efforts to encourage you to switch off when you are lying in your bed at bedtime, this is the moment when you will choose to ask the big questions: “How can we be sure that there is no end to space?” And as soon as you wake up in the morning, pad into our bedroom and squeeze yourself between Dada and I, it starts again: “Let me tell you ALL the times in the day…”
BBC Dinosaur documentaries are your favourite thing to watch. There are only a handful of Walking with Dinosaurs episodes on Netflix, but you are happy to watch them over and over again. You teach me things: “An ophthalmosaurus is a sea reptile isnt it?” “Umm, I’m not sure, I don’t know that dinosaur”, “Well, it’s a type of Ichthyosaur, and you know THOSE are sea reptiles, don’t you?”
We measure everything in dinosaur lengths these days. On the school run: “I can see my friend ahead, He’s about….a diplodocus away”. Or, one of my favourite recent conversations: “Arlo, we are going to see our new doors today, they are so big, 3 metres wide so about the same size as a….Utahraptor”. “Well, Utahraptor is up to 7 metres so actually it’s more like Ornethelestes at 2 metres with a lying down labrador in front”.
This year has been your very first year at school. I had heard that children start reception and come out at the other end of the year knowing how to read and write. I knew that, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how overnight this transformation would be with you. You have astounded Dada and I with the rate at which you picked up reading and writing. Going from nothing, to being able to handle most words independently within the space of a week or two. You memorise any trickier words easily, which I think has helped your swift reading acceleration. I often forget you can read most things now, and get little surprises when you announce things like “Mama, that sign says ‘Eat Cake’, haha!”
You absolutely love school and we have been so proud of the way you have adjusted. You are a very straight-talking kind of guy, so when I ask you how school was and your answer is a VERY enthusiastic “Oh, it was EXCELLENT”, I know you are being completely honest rather than trying to please me, and I the frequency at which I receive these responses from you makes me very happy indeed.
It has been a somewhat bittersweet year for me, as although I have taken great pleasure in watching you become ever more independent, learn new things, and make new friendships, I miss my time with you. The weekends pass far too quickly, and I often wish you were at home during the week so we could do more things together, like we used to.
You continue to be such a loving big brother to Rory. You are helpful and very patient with him, often very generously giving in to him rather than entering into a battle over a certain toy. If you had it your way, you would cuddle Rory every chance you got, often inventing clever games which are really just a ruse to get Rory to give you a cuddle. But you know that sometimes Rory doesn’t want to cuddle, and you have to wait until he allows it.
It makes your day when Rory pays you attention and wants to play games with you. Rory makes you giggle as he can be a bit silly and breaks the rules in ways you would never allow yourself to do (putting his head in a bowl of spaghetti springs to mind).
When you realised we would be moving to a house with one more bedroom, you were a bit taken aback at the thought of not sharing a room with Rory. “I NEVER want to not share with Rory….Well, except maybe when we are old”. “Because you might have your own houses and families by then?” “No, because one of us might die before the other one”.
I could go on and on about my favourite comments that you’ve made. Every day, you come out with something that makes Dada and I look at each other and smile. We love the little insights into the way you see the world.
You have traveled the big brother road once before, so I have no difficulty imagining you with your soon-to-be new little sibling. You have been excited since the moment you found out. You LOVE babies. You are very interested in the practicalities of having a new baby, doing a far better job than either your dad or I at the moment – You are concerned that we haven’t yet got the baby clothes washed yet, you have worked out where we are going to keep all the things for the new baby, and you continually ask me, “Are you SURE you know where the sling is??”
You watch baby adverts with great interest, and as a result, I am constantly reminded that Pampers nappies are “two times drier. TWO TIMES DRIER Mama, did you hear that??”
We just know you are going to take on the role of biggest brother with pride, love, and responsibility.
You are our sunny, funny boy. Nothing is too serious, everything has the potential to be fun.
You are three next month, something that you have been looking forward to for a LONG time, mainly because of the cake guarantee.
Unlike Arlo, who has always been happy to go to anyone, and quite enjoys it, I have always been your favourite person. You like to be near to me, to follow me around, and to sleep right next to me (although you have been doing a great job of sleeping mostly in your own bed in recent months).
You were somewhat slow to start talking, but now you chatter away and have a great vocabulary. You still talk in a baby voice peppered with baby mispronunciations. I will miss it when that disappears.
Much as your attitude towards food (try anything once before you dismiss it), such is your general approach to life. You have less regimented passtimes than Arlo, so it would be easy to gloss over your interests, as you like so many things and not one particular thing obsessively.
When Dada and I were browsing a New York toy shop recently, we could immediately hone in on the specific things that Arlo would love, whereas with you, it was more a question of “Is there anything Rory WOULDN’T like?” I think your relaxed attitude will be a great bonus later in life, being open to many options is never a bad thing.
At this moment in time, you love your Thunderbirds and Paw Patrol toys, and music will always peak your interest.
You love to sing, and to dance. Your favourite song for quite some months now has been Justin Beiber’s Sorry, which you will happily listen to on repeat until someone else inevitably gets fed up and calls time on it. You drag me by the hand to join in with the singing sessions at stay and play, whereas Arlo will always be happiest doing his own thing in the furthest corner AWAY from the group activity.
Recently, you have had a thing for deciding your own nicknames – one week asking us to call you “Ror Patrol”, the next refusing to answer to anything other than “Mr Boss”. (“But RORY, you are ONLY two years old!” said Arlo, falling about with laughter.)
You have been at preschool for almost a full school year now. Your teachers constantly tell me that you are delightful, happy and affectionate. I think as you are one of the younger ones and still babyish in many ways, they enjoy giving you cuddles. You are well loved by everyone that knows you.
When we first told you about your new baby sibling in mama’s tummy, I wasn’t sure how much you understood. However, several months have passed since then, and it is clear that you have a very good grasp of the concept. It was you who gave this baby his/her nickname as you were adamant that he/she should be called “Cookies” every time we asked you. You frequently point out to me where Baby Cookies will go when he/she is here: “That’s Baby Cookies’ room”, “Baby Cookies will sit next to me in the baby seat of the trolley”, and you are currently obsessed with the baby seat in the swimming pool changing rooms: “Baby Cookies will sit in there and I will change his/her nappy!” You tell me that my tummy is getting bigger, and you give Baby Cookies lots of unprompted cuddles. I think that you understand a lot more than we thought, and I am excited to introduce you to your baby sibling.
That being said, your transition to becoming a big brother is something that I am apprehensive about. This is new for you. For almost three years, you have been my baby. Night and day, we have been close. As Arlo sleeps independently, and is happy to give over a lot of attention and help to you during the day, not forgetting all our one-on-one time when Arlo is at school, the fact is that you have never really had to share me in the way that you are about to experience.
However, it is also a very exciting time for you. You get to experience the big brother thing. Perhaps this new shared role will bring you and Arlo even closer than you already are. Another common denominator that you both share.
I took you both to soft play the other week during the Easter holidays, watching as you went around together for the whole two hour session, never breaking apart, always helping each other when you needed it, laughing together, both wanting to experience everything together.
Like little magnets, you gravitate to each other more than I think you both realise. It is a great pleasure to know that you will always have each other. You brothers really are a little team.