I’ll be seeing you

One year ago, I was worried I would forget so much about the Little Mister as he changed. I wanted to keep the moment he rolled over, the day he started walking and the first words he started using, etched in my memory forever. So I started this blog, in order to help me remember.

Reading back over the year’s posts, I feel like I have kept a record of all I wanted to jot down in order to not forget. It’s been lovely reading back over how my world changed. And it’s been lovely remembering how the Little Mister was at five months, and how in one short year he has changed so much.

Today, this little light of my life is a bundle of energy. He runs everywhere, fast and happily and excitedly. He loves to play toys. He loves being outside. He loves dogs so much I wonder he has room in his heart for much else. He loves his family. He calls out to me, ‘mummy, mummy, mummy’, in his baby voice that makes my heart melt. He’s still not bothered really about food, unless you offer him his favourite Indian sweet, which he can ask for most articulately, ‘tiki’, he pleads at least a few times a day.

In two months when our lives change, I trust he will adjust to life as a big brother without too much drama. He is ready, I think, to be a little bit bigger, a little bit more grown up, and a little bit more independent. He is my little boy, but he is also his own little person too.

Just like the Little Mister has grown up, so has this blog. Which is why I’m taking a little time away from it. I’ll keep blogging, in the usual places, and at a new personal blog, where life won’t just be about the Little Mister. It’ll still be about children, parenthood, mummydom, life as I know it – but there will also be a little bit more about the world around me too. Please take a look, follow me and keep reading – you’ll find me here, at Mummy Says…

I’ll still come back and see Hello Little Mister – just maybe a little less regularly. Thanks for reading 🙂

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When nothing matters more than being here

The story behind today’s terror attack is still being written. The news is still being made. We don’t know everything yet, but on a street in London, a man lies dead.

He is a son, he was a once a child, he would have brought love and laughter and brightness into the world.

This news as it becomes known is hurting those who hear it. It knocks the breath from me. Is it because I am now a parent? I moved back to this city for my child. Partly for a better life.

What we don’t know tonight, as we go to sleep in our quiet and leafy London suburb, is why. We don’t know the extent of it or what it may be. We are calling it a terror attack.

In September 2001, when this city was sent home from work after the towers across the ocean fell, I rushed home to my parents. In July 2005, living in Taiwan, I called them in a broken voice from a public phone box while London panicked and people died on its streets.

Tonight, I lay my child gently in his cot after holding him tighter and holding on to him for longer than I had last night. I had just heard the words: terror attack.

I had pressed his body to mine and let him rest his head on my shoulder. I stroked his hair and felt his breathing slow. When he slept, I stood for a while and watched. There was nothing to rush away for. My sixteen-month-old boy – this is your world.

I have been reminded tonight of what is important. There is nothing more important than truly being present in the life of my child. I do not mean being here in body to put him to bed each night. I mean being here completely, to listen, to watch, to care, and to love. I mean him knowing that I am here, always. There is nothing more important than seeing him happy. There is nothing more important than showing him the best of this world.

He will learn of the grief and despair. He will come to know the anger and hurt and heartache. He will discover the unjustness and the ugliness. But while he is too young to know that evil exists, there is nothing more important than me being here.

It’s time to talk

No longer content with just walking, the Little Mister has taken to running. He runs through the house to get to the next toy he has decided to play with and he hurtles towards me for cuddles. His bare feet thud purposefully along the wooden floor, and often his arms are outstretched in the direction of his next target. Outside, he wears his first shoes. They are brown leather with two velcro straps across the top. I know we will keep them forever.

Now that walking is well and truly mastered – it’s already been about six weeks since he stopped crawling – talking seems to be his next goal. His first word, ‘bird’, is still a favourite, and so is the indiscriminately used ‘daddy’, but other new sounds are also entering his vocabulary. The Little Mister can say “bubble” if you ask him to repeat it. His daddy taught him it, and given that his daddy often uses the word as a nickname for his little Charlie, it could get quite confusing.

He tries to copy the words we use, although he has varying degrees of success with this feat. He can say duck, which I of course think is adorable. And from time to time there are other words too. Thank you is ‘ta’, and he says it freely and often when handed food or toys. This we will encourage, and it is refreshing to see at least one of my attempts at good parenting has made an impact.

Most of what the Little Mister says, however, is completely unintelligible to me. He has learnt many new phonics, and he repeats them constantly. He walks, or runs, around the house saying “doe doe doe doe doe”, using intonation to suggest he is forming complete sentences. He gets animated when he is trying to make us understand what he is saying, raising his voice and uttering the sounds faster and faster.

Sometimes, he is frustrated. He knows what he is saying, and he knows what we are saying, but he also knows we don’t understand him. He usually ends up making his wants known by pointing at something and shouting to us, “eh, eh, eh, eh, eh”.

I feel like the talking is going to click into place suddenly, and the Little Mister is going to love his new found skill. I’m preparing myself for the barrage of questions, the constant running commentary, and the enlightening conversations I will have with my one-year-old.

In the meantime, he continues to make his animal noises to impress me. He tells me that a monkey goes “ooh ooh ooh”, that a cow goes moo, a lion goes roar, and that a dog pants as if out of breath. With other babies, he talks incessantly once he has got over his initial shyness, and is seemingly convinced that they understand him.  Maybe they do. He is more animated with them than with adults, perhaps because of an affinity they share, or perhaps because they’re all talking to each other in a language we don’t understand.

I’m excited, of course, that as the Little Mister learns to talk, he will be able to tell me how he feels and what he wants, and talk about his day or what he has seen. It’s a big milestone along this journey of growing up – I don’t imagine it is too far away.

When three becomes four

Later this year, the Little Mister’s world is going to change forever. He’s going to become a big brother, and our little family of three will become four.

He won’t be quite 19 months yet, but suddenly, he will have a littler person than him making a big impact on his life. He will have a little sister.

We are immeasurably delighted that our little family will grow, but also wondering how the Little Mister will fare when everything changes. He is placid, calm, friendly, desperate to please and amuse. He is, at the moment, our everything – and he has never known life to be any different.

I wonder how he will react when he sees me cuddling a little baby – who I don’t give back to another mummy. I wonder how he will feel when he sees me kissing her, feeding her, and spending many a night-time hour with her. I wonder how he will feel when he starts nursery, and sees this little baby girl staying at home with his mummy – the one who cuddles him whenever he asks, who comes in the night, and who makes everything better with a kiss.

I imagine him cuddling her, and stroking her gently as he does with his soft toys. I imagine him being generous with his time and attention, and helping his mummy look after this new addition to our family. Later, I imagine him checking up on his little sister when she starts school. I imagine him looking out for her in the playground, and helping her climb the slide at the park.

One day, I imagine him giving her advice and not hesitating to help her when she needs him. I imagine him being the calm, serious, gentle older brother in her life who is always there when she doesn’t know where to turn. I imagine him loving her unconditionally and forever. And I imagine her knowing she couldn’t have ever wished for more in a big brother.

But first, will there be jealousy, confusion and tears? Probably. Will there be fights and tantrums and an entire little family feeling like they have reached the end of the line, with no answers left and nothing to make it all better? I expect so. Yet it will be the next part of our journey. We three will become four. Life will change, and once again, we will learn so much from the as yet unknown.

Old toys for an older baby

Our old life turned up on our doorstep this week. It came in 17 boxes which were unloaded from a big truck and stacked on our living room floor by three men. The boxes looked pristine and hardly like they had come off a container ship from the other side of the world.

It has been three months since we left New Zealand and life has changed dramatically. London is still cold. Our daily battles centre around whether you will be warm enough if I take you, wrapped up so that you can hardly bend your knees and elbows, to the park. Most days our activities are indoors. You are walking, but you still drop to your knees when you become unstable on the ground outside, so a snow covered park is not the easiest place for you to get around.

You were delighted by the boxes. We found your toys quickly and put them in one big box for you. You spent the afternoon unpacking it. Did you remember them? The toolbox you got for your birthday and loved, the shape sorter, the alphabet caterpillar, the rubbish truck with the balls which spin around…. you loved them all over again and spent the evening rediscovering them. I think, perhaps, they were familiar, and that was partly why you were so happy to see them.

One box is already in our wardrobe, I know you wont play with its contents. You’ve long outgrown the baby rattles and toys and barely gave them a glance when you saw them again. Even the toys you are playing with will soon be tossed aside and ignored, I imagine. You are growing up and toys designed for small people are not as much fun as the day-to-day objects you find in kitchen cupboards. Three months ago, these toys that have come off the ship were your world. Today, you seem too grown up for them.

I rotate your existing toys already. You have so many it seems like you could never play with them all at once. So every few weeks I bring a different batch into the lounge, swapping them with the others. You still play with the cars, making their wheels spin and driving them along the floor. The teddies get cuddles when you are tired and anything that makes music sees you standing up and swaying from side to side and dancing. Often, you sing along.

But really, your favourite toys are the plastic attachments to mum’s juicer. You also love the rotating corner cupboard full of tupperware which can keep you amused for an entire afternoon. And then the ultimate is your dustpan and brush set we bought for you last week. All day, you walk around sweeping the floor. It’s adorable. Another recent hit is a box of crayons. You love drawing and it amazes me that you can hold a crayon and use it to make lines on a page. You love watching us draw, of course your father is better than me, and as his animals come to life in front of you you look on in awe and happiness.

While you play, you constantly amaze me with how much you have learnt from watching us. You use the jug from the juicer and pretend to pour liquid into the measuring cups that it comes with. I don’t even remember when you would have seen us do this. You stack the Tupperware containers, match the lids to the bowls, and stir vigorously to show me you are busy cooking.

It seems like you understand every word we say. If we ask if you want a bath in the evening, you walk to the stairs and wait for us to open the gate. If I ask if you are tired you lie down on the floor with a teddy. You are constantly finding bits of fluff or other debris on the floor and bringing it to me. When I ask you to put it in the bin, off you go and do exactly as you are told.

In the last month, your comprehension has amazed me. It seems like you have gone from understanding a few simple words, to understanding most of the things I say to you. You can’t answer back, but by your actions you want to show me you understand.

You are talking more too. You can tell me the noises a monkey and a lion make. You can’t woof very well, but you can pant like a dog because your father taught you how. Daddy is still your favourite word, but nanny is also used, and so is yumyum when you are eating. (Which is still a never-ending battle….) If you drop something or fall, you say “oh dear” with the loveliest inflection you must have heard from us.

You still love your books, my grown up baby. You are learning the actions to your heads, shoulders, knees and toes book; and you try to show us you know how to move your arms round too for the wheels on the bus. You will sit enthralled for ages in the lap of anyone who reads you a story, but you don’t just want board books with pictures. You want us to tell you about our novels. You want us to read you the newspaper and supplements which you find around the lounge.

You are nearly fifteen months, and it is this month more than any that I think you have suddenly grown up. Not only are you walking everywhere, or sometimes running to the next adventure, but you seem to understand your world these days. It’s a joy to watch you figuring it all out and playing your part in it, Little Mister, it really is.

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And he said I love you

Tonight I fell in love again.

The Little Mister, for some reason, made a fuss about being in his cot. Everyone was tired, so, as a treat, Tony put him in the middle of our bed. He was quiet. I lay down next to him and he turned to me. He stroked the hair around my face. With the truly-baby-soft skin on his fingers, he stroked the side of my face in the same way that I stroke his.

Then, silently, he looked up at me and smiled. In the night-time half-light, I saw his happy, tired eyes, and his two bottom teeth. I fell in love with him again. At that moment, he was so grown up. He was a son comforting his tired mother. He was a child who cannot yet talk saying I love you. At that moment, there was nothing else but us.

 

A world away from a baby

A few video clips, each under a minute long, tonight reminded me of the Little Mister’s first week. I found them on mum’s laptop. I’d forgotten how tiny he was. I’d forgotten how he didn’t talk, or move much. And how his face was so puffy, but how his eyes were still moving, knowingly taking in the new world around him.

Milin is fourteen months old. He is a toddler and already a world away from a baby. Each day, I am stunned by how quickly he is growing up. Each day, he surprises me with how much he understands of what I tell him.

And Milin can also make himself understood too. He still loves pointing. His much-used pointing finger is thrust in the direction a hundred times a day of things he wants to show me. Usually it is a bus, or a bird braving winter, or something that looks like it isn’t a toy but could be fun. Most exciting of all though is pointing at a dog in the park or on the street, and Milin seems to live in eternal hope that the dog will come and play.

He knows where his toes are, where his nose is – and he can point mine out too. He can walk across the room, although he would rather crawl because it is faster and easier. He understands almost everything I tell him. If he is tired and I ask him if he wants to sleep, he lies face down on the floor to show me it’s time to get into his cot. He LOVES going outside more than anything. He loves making us laugh. He loves watching sport and claps his hand together as soon as it comes on the tele. He dances and sings as soon as music is turned on.

Only 14 months ago, this little boy was just a couple of days old. He has, of course, changed everything in that time. But many things are the same too. That we love him completely, and will do more so each day, I know will never change.

Little Mister 14 months

Little Mister 14 months