We hit a milestone last Sunday: our first solo-child party. It wasn’t intentional: Hattie and Joe had been invited to their little friends Ben and Finn’s first birthday party, but when the day arrived Joe had a heavy cold. Snotty children are seldom welcomed as party-goers, but I had contemplated taking him anyway and just keeping him on my hip the whole time. However, that plan was scuppered when it became apparent that Joe, after having a poor night’s sleep, was suffering from an almighty dose of man flu, and that he wasn’t in a festive mood.
Undeterred, and eager to ensure that Hattie didn’t miss out, I parked poor grizzly Joe with his ever-willing Nanna for a couple of hours, and hit the party as a faux-singleton mum. After all, it would have been a crying shame to miss the opportunity to debut this pretty dress:
While I try very hard not to be one of those annoying twin mothers who pretend that people who have their children one at a time don’t know what parental struggles are like, I must admit that it was immeasurably easier to take just one child to a party. Hattie is such an explorer these days (and more on that topic to follow in the next blog post), and constant vigilance is required to prevent her from getting up to mischief, particularly at other people’s houses. Ordinarily, when managing both children by myself I spend a lot of time parking Joe temporarily while I race off to rescue Hattie from whatever new potential peril she’s uncovered. To date, this has worked reasonably well because Joe has tended to be an investigator, content to examine one toy and stay in one place. Recently, though, his increased mobility has meant that I have two roaming children to curtail, and Joe has upped the ante still further by becoming a fledgling mountaineer.
But that’s all by the by, as I didn’t have to worry about anyone but Hattiekins at the party. And it was such a nice experience! She had plenty of opportunity to wander around, playing with other babies and generally checking out the event, and because I only needed to keep an eye on her, I could give her more freedom than usual. Also nice: she and I managed to scoff a fair amount of party food (the BEST reason to go to children’s birthday parties, obviously).
Hattie also encountered helium-filled balloons for the first time, and she was filled with wonder:
When we returned home little Joe was already down for his afternoon nap, after a lovely morning spent snuggling up with Nanna, reading Dora stories. Apparently he was so tired that he fell asleep during a nappy change! I’m pleased to report that he was on much better form when he woke up later, and cheered up considerably when I gave him fairy bread as a treat later on (for non-Kiwis: fairy bread is bread and butter, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands – it’s compulsory party food for Kiwi kids, and their parents usually eat it pretty happily as well):
The party was probably only the second or third time that I’ve taken one of the children out voluntarily (discounting times when it’s been necessary, such as doctor’s visits). I remember taking Hattie to a baby shower when she was tiny and going through a demand feeding stage, and I’m fairly sure that I took Joe to the beach by himself at one point, when he was only a few weeks old. Generally, the two of them are always together, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that they took last Sunday’s short separation in their stride. Going forward (and I’m talking about the next few years, not the next few days), I’d like it if Tristan and I each spend individual time with both children, because I think that it’s good for us all to remember that they don’t have to just be a unit of two. I know some twin mums who send their kids to school on separate kindy days, for example, to ensure some one-on-one time with each child. As my academic commitments increase I’m not sure that this will be an option for us, but I’ll certainly look for ad hoc opportunities to hang out with Hattie and Joe separately as they get older.