Thursday 26 September 2013

I'm having a moment...

It's going too fast.

I look at my boys - now 10 and approaching 8 - and I think this almost every day.  What with the whirlwind calendar of school, music lessons, sports fixtures, after school activities, social engagements and just - well - Life, the weeks whiz past and suddenly what was the chaos of the beginning of term at the end of August is now a well-worn routine.  The alarm bell rings on Monday mornings and before I know it, I'm cooking Sunday lunch, without having had a moment to stop and smell the roses in between.

And all the time, my boys are growing up.

A few days ago, in an uncharacteristic fit of organisation, which may or may not have been prompted by the fact that Husband was working from home and inspiring me to show a sense of industry (of the 'Jesus is coming.  Look busy' variety), I cleared out a set of drawers that have probably had the same stacks of papers in since we arrived in Moscow nearly 4 years ago.

My reward - apart from the sense of achievement that always results in moving annoying piles of paper Out Of The House - was to come across some school photographs taken of the boys when they were 3 and 5 , the autumn before we left London.  They look, quite frankly, adorable.  If I'm honest it was bit of a relief to discover that my memories of them at that age were truer than I had imagined; I can't be the only parent who, when they look back on photos of their babies, is a little disappointed to discover that actually they look pretty much the same as everyone else's babies at that age, with the same rubbed out bald patches from when their birth hair falls out around 2 - 3 months, the same flushed dry cheeks from teething, and the same patches of dribble around their collar, surely?  I mean, Boys #1 and #2 were lovely at that age, of course they were.  Just not the beauties that I imagined them to be at the time, if the photographic evidence is anything to go by...

But here, in the photos I found three days ago, they were practically perfect.  Clear-eyed, healthy, smooth skinned and reach-out-and-touch-me gorgeous.  Their open and trusting smiles for the camera warm my heart.  But time has moved on, and whilst they are still - in my eyes, anyway - heartbreakers in the making, they are growing up.

Boy #1, for example, doesn't need help with his homework anymore, and the fine down of dark hairs on his upper lip is becoming more evident.  He's getting taller, no longer one of the shortest in his class, and is even wearing trousers of the correct size rather than a year younger as he was doing until recently.  He's got a great sense of humour and a strong sense of ethics, is working well in school, and is addicted to reading in all it's forms (but particularly to anything from the 'Percy Jackson' or 'Harry Potter' series, which he will read - and then re-read - in bed, on the sofa, whilst laying the table and walking up and down stairs, given half a chance).  He shows a steely determination to take part in team sports, and has a confidence in his physical abilities that I never did at his age.  He's brave enough to face down bullies and to accept an apology from those who have wronged him, and is generous in his levels of forgiveness.

Boy #2 has a mostly iron-clad personality and a wicked sense of humour.  He's nobody's fool, and will not be forced into doing anything he doesn't want to.  At school he is showing increasing confidence in writing and that maths might be his thing, along with all the signs that in the next few weeks he will become a fully qualified bookworm like his older brother (although admittedly of the Asterix and Obelix variety, for the moment at least).  His love affair with all forms of transport continues, but nowadays instead of reading 'That's Not My Car', we've moved onto books about The Titanic and space travel.  He happily jumps on the trampoline and attends football and taekwondoe sessions with his brother, but when all's said and done he would much rather be upstairs in his room building lego creations.  We recently introduced him to field hockey, and were initially surprised by how much enjoys playing it, until we worked out that the stick provides him with a tool he can master, which fulfills a need in his engineering-inclined mind.

Why am I writing all this down?  Because I write less about the Boys these days - for good, privacy-based reasons - but it occurred to me that before I know it the next 4 years will have passed.  By that time Boy #1 will be 14 and Boy #2 nearly 12, and if the experiences of friends with teenaged boys are anything to go by, our levels of interaction may have changed considerably.  They will certainly need me less, and as much as the prospect of that saddens me, that will be as it should be.

Consequently I want to celebrate who they are now, so that when they need me to be less involved and stand more on the sidelines of their lives rather than to be intricately entangled in them - as they need me to be at the moment - I will be able to look back at what was, and remind myself of how our lives once were.  To remember when Boy #2 was unable to let me say goodbye to him in the school corridor without giving me 3 kisses and a hug, or when Boy #1 would still - just - let me hold his hand when we crossed a busy road.  To listen to echoes of the days when they still wanted me to read them stories at bedtime, or when they would still clamber onto my lap for a cuddle whilst watching Horrible Histories on tv.  To remember when 'Mama's pizza' was still their favourite meal, or when a burgeoning tantrum could be defused with the question 'Do you think your reaction to not being able to find that book/sweater/lego piece might be just a little bit over the top?' And when the sentence, during story time '... and a great big bear bottom sat down on the lid.'* would lead to gales of laughter and hiccups.

There's no doubt about it; it's going too fast.  But oh - what a ride...

*From 'It's the Bear!' by Jez Alborough


  1. I so get where you are coming from. I feel the same about my boys. I think it's particularly struck me coming back to London and realising that they are so different now from when we left. The weeks fly by so fast, and they are so busy, whereas those childhood days when they didn't have school every day seemed to meander along quite slowly.

    Lovely post.

  2. The tradition in the States is to have a year book and the Seniors (leavers) are heavily featured. We have been asked to give a baby photo of our Senior for the "guess who it is" competition later in the year. So yes, I have been delving through the archives recently myself - and boy, were they scrumptious.
    Have to tell you though - they don't really need you less when they're older. The ex-Queenager is on the phone daily with the latest drama. Yesterday she had her planner nicked from her work spot in the library, the day before it was something else....

  3. So you haven't yet reached the grunting phase...

  4. Completely hear you. I don't want another baby (oh Lord, no!), but I am feeling slightly emotional now that Lil L has started school and the Pea has turned one already. It does go too fast.

  5. I had to laugh about your need to appear industrious when your husband was working from home. I've done the exact same thing.

  6. I hear the wistful note in your writing, even as I hear how pleased you are with the men the Boys are becoming - and it sounds like they are becoming delightful ones. I will tell you, though, there are some wonderful things about watching your children become adults - and those teenage years are not nearly as scary as they sound. We have enjoyed every step of the journey - although #2, at 16 still has a bit to go.

  7. NVG - thankyou.

    EPM - what do they say, 'little kids, little problems'...?

    Iota - it's just a matter of time.

    MM, and I found time just seems to go MORE quickly as they get older.

    Shana - because normally all we do is sit around drinking coffee and eating chocolate, right?

    MsC, I AM enjoying it - it's just the knowing that I have to let them go that's looming on the horizon.


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