The toddler train has well and truly left the station, and our time in Babyville is merely a distant memory!
Life is ridiculously busy in our house these days. Hattie and Joe are in perpetual motion, and the newest fad is climbing everything that they can find. Our living room is gradually emptying of furniture as we attempt to minimise the risks of them falling to their death. When they first conquered the sofas Pat and I were all “NO! On your bottoms or on the floor”, but I soon realised that preventing them from standing up was completely futile, and particularly when I was trying to manage them single-handedly. When you’re trying to prevent one toddler from toppling off the sofa and the other one climbs up and runs the length of same sofa, laughing delightedly and looking over their shoulder to see if you’re noticing, you begin to realise the true meaning of the word ‘outnumbered’. With Joe, in particular, every time he clambers up onto the sofa – or indulges his new trick of climbing onto the coffee table ordinarily reserved for toys:
… he’s doing it solely for attention, and the more I fuss about it, the more he’s going to want to do it. So I’m now employing a different tactic, which is benign indifference to most mountaineering attempts. My hope is that the novelty will wear off before either child falls and splits their head open, and so far it seems to be working: since I tried this approach, the climbing has become an occasional thing, rather than an all-encompassing obsession. And let’s face it, all the vigilance in the world isn’t actually enough to prevent kids from taking the occasional tumble, is it?
Climbing aside, Hattie and Joe continue to be absolute delights. They are rapidly approaching the ‘wilful toddler’ stage, there’s no denying it, but hopefully we can all survive the next year or two with our senses of humour intact. And they are so sweet and funny when they’re not being raging despots. Hattie’s latest trick is to mimic absolutely everything she sees, including winking (which looks hilarious), and folding her arms. She’s also having very long and involved conversations with us, albeit in her own version of English. We’ve had a couple of recognisable words from her: ‘no’ (imagine my surprise), and ‘Joe’ (which is too cute for words).
Joe has his own version of ‘yes’, which sounds closest to ‘yup’, and which he uses whenever he’s asked a direct question (and particularly when he’s being offered food). Both kids are very enthusiastic head shakers and nodders now, and I’m making that work for me by encouraging them to communicate their preferences, particularly at meal times. They seem to really enjoy being able to confirm that yes, they’d like some milk now, or no, they don’t want another sandwich.
I’m also using this newfound communication with each of them to begin very early steps towards what will eventually (this time next year, probably) be toilet training. When either of them smells a bit whiffy, or has been recently sighted squatting somewhere and grunting, I’m asking them if they have a dirty nappy. From Hattie, in particular, I get very definite responses, and she’s correct nearly every time. I’m hoping that this means that she’s starting to recognise the sensation of having a pooey bottom.
We had our 15 month Plunket appointment on the 16th, and Anita, our lovely Plunket nurse, was delighted with their progress. She weighed them, and our tiddlers have definitely bloomed recently: Joe now weighs 10.48kg, and is 79.5cm tall, and Hattie weighs 9.7kg, and is 78.3cm tall. They do look very tall all of a sudden. The 16th was a big day for the two of them, as they also had their 15 month vaccinations. These aren’t much fun – a shot in each leg, and one in an arm – and Hattie went first and shrieked the clinic down after each injection. By the time that she’d received the third one she was in major meltdown mode, but I’d come prepared: thanks to some words of warning from fellow mothers of toddler twins, I’d brought some fragments of an Easter egg with me. I placed a tiny morsel on her tongue, and as soon as she tasted it the tears stopped. The exact same thing happened with Joe a couple of minutes later: an epic meltdown, swiftly followed by a chocolate-induced instant recovery. It was the first time that either of them had tasted proper chocolate, and I’m so glad that it had sufficient novelty value to work such magic!
One last note about Hattie: she has no fear. Seriously, it frightens me to watch her in public. I took her and Joe to the beach a couple of weeks ago, for a bit of a play, and she responded to her liberty by running headlong into the sea, cackling with delight. The tide had started to go out just before we got there, so the beach was quite sloped at the shore line, but she didn’t let uneven ground stop her: she hurtled onwards. I was paddling with Joe at the time, and saw – with some degree of terror – as Hattie plunged straight in to knee depth, and then looked to go deeper still (and I could see that she was going to be waist deep within another couple of steps, thanks to the slope of the beach). At that moment Joe sat down in the water unexpectedly, so I had to haul him back to his feet while simultaneously trying to catch Hattie. Before I could lay a hand on her, she was knocked by a tiny wave and went in face-first. I immediately plucked her out, coughing and spluttering, and although she wasn’t in the least bit upset, I was sure that this would dampen her enthusiasm a wee bit. I couldn’t have been more wrong: unless I had a hand on her, she spent the rest of our time at the beach trying to head straight back into the surf. Long story short: I can’t take them to the beach unaccompanied…
Sadly for Hattie, Joe, and Tristan and me we only have another few days with Pat and Richard visiting before they head back to Europe. The kids will be so sad to see Pat go – they’ve spent heaps of time with her since I started at university, and they love her so much. Hopefully she’ll be back for a good long visit next summer. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to help in the form of Julie, our French au pair! Julie arrives a couple of days after Pat and Richard leave, and ‘baptism of fire’ doesn’t really begin to describe the situation that she’ll soon find herself in, with two little dynamos keeping her busy for half of every weekday! She seems lovely, though, and I’m sure that we’ll all grow used to each other very quickly.
I really need to do some tidying up while Hattie and Joe are having their afternoon sleep, so here are a couple of extra shots, for your viewing pleasure.