Hattie and Joe are 17 months old – and has this advanced age brought with it newfound abilities to cooperate? They sat very willingly for their monthly photo. Indeed, as soon as they saw Malcolm the monkey they seemed to know what was going to happen.
While this was marvellously helpful and unexpected, it certainly isn’t characteristic at the moment: we have well and truly hit A Phase in which real toddler behaviour has emerged. It’s like living with two little drunks, actually: they are either riotously happy or absolutely desolate, and they can switch between those two states at eye-watering speed. When they’re happy our lives are full of laughter, smiles, fun times, kisses, and cuddles. When they’re sad, our lives are full of screaming, tears, flailing limbs, angry glares, and general mayhem. As you can imagine, dealing with this in stereo is fairly intense and knackering at times, but it’s such an obvious sign that they’re going through a massive developmental stage, so I’m taking the advice of those who have gone before me, like my lovely friend Emma (mother to 20 month old George and Elsie), and holding tight, as this stage will soon pass – and apparently I’ll end up with proper little toddlers at the end of it, able to listen to me, follow the occasional instruction, and everything! And even at its most tantrum-filled, this stage is quite amusing (and not laughing at some of the more outrageous melodramatic behaviour is actually the biggest challenge, in my experience).
Anyway, all that aside our little chickens are absolutely thriving! I’ve had to replace their wardrobes recently, as they’ve suddenly grown long limbs. Any suspicion that Hattie, in particular, might end up taking after the smaller women in our family (her Auntie Pip, her ‘big’ cousin Claire, or her sadly-deceased Great-Nanna Kathleen, for whom she has one of her middle names) has been allayed: she’s looking like she might inherit my height after all. This will be a problem when she wants to buy jeans in the future, but it will come in very handy when she goes to concerts.
Our vague concerns about the children’s speech development are also diminishing, as both Hattie and Joe are babbling away and increasingly saying proper words. Hattie, in particular, is becoming like a little parrot, repeating the last word of most of my sentences. Both children are hugely fond of “DADDY!!”, and on a trip to the supermarket today they jointly chanted it for about five minutes. “Mummy” doesn’t get as much of a look-in, and – curiously – when you ask Hattie to say “Mummy” she always smiles and replies “baby!”, which is adorable, but offers so many possible interpretations. Does she not quite realise that she and I are different people? Does she think that my name is actually ‘Baby’? Does she think we’re playing a game where we say who we are, and is responding accordingly after I’ve identified myself as Mummy? It’s such a shame that, by the time little kids have sufficient language skills to explain their funny quirks, they will have probably forgotten all about them.
In every other way Hattie and Joe are little big kids. They’re feeding themselves, running around, climbing like monkeys, and generally exploring the world around them with unwavering zeal. How can anybody not be happy, with a couple of merry little lunatics around? The best recent suggestion, which came from Emma, was to get a toddler slide for them to play on, so they could practise climbing and balancing (but not on the sofas and other furniture), and it’s been a godsend.
And I’m cautiously delighted to report that today has been amazing on the sleep front, for the first time in ages. Yesterday morning, when both Hattie and Joe were just about asleep on their feet straight after breakfast, I made an executive decision to re-institute the morning micro nap. It was a bid to prevent Joe, in particular, from being absolutely knackered when his main nap rolled around, as for several days he hasn’t managed to sleep past one 45 minute sleep cycle, and 45 minutes of sleep in a day is not enough for a busy little boy. However, after a 30 minute nap at 8am Joe managed to sleep for a full hour at 1pm, and Hattie slept for more than two hours (that girl loves her sleep). They both went to bed reasonably easily at 6.30pm yesterday, and slept until just after 5.30 this morning (which is still early, but is much better than the 4am starts we’ve been treated to recently – we have become hardcore about wake-up times and will no longer get them out of their cots until 6am). Today, Joe resisted the 8am nap and ended up sleeping on Julie’s lap instead – but he was SO fast asleep that it took a full five minutes to wake him up. We went to our fortnightly twin playgroup, and then both Hattie and Joe slept like angels for a full two hours. And this evening they went to bed at 6.30pm and didn’t make a peep. God, I love it when they sleep well!
Here are some recent photos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!