You are a study in contrasts Duncan. One moment you’re a kid, seeming ready for school, for independent adventure, for anything – even taking Dad golfing for father’s day. But then the next day you’re at the driving range wearing your superhero cape, and I love that you’re still full of magic and possibility. I hope that no one tells you about ‘cool’ for a long time…
Actually, a superhero cape and wellie boots at the driving range also highlights your independence – you get yourself ready for things these days which is amazing. I’m loving that four year olds put their own socks on and even if your version of appropriate isn’t quite the same as mine (we’ve had fights over when it’s appropriate to wear long johns – answer – under clothing when it’s cold), it’s a big help for me that I can let you get dressed on your own if you’re in the mood.
One of the things that makes you Duncan (instead of any four year old who rides bikes, likes dirt and diggers, and can be more than a handful sometimes) is how much you love having your friends around. You really value them and care about your classmates. When I ask who you like in your class you always stretch your hands wide and say everyone and even though I know there’s a few favourites, you do make a point of trying to get along with everyone and you simple refuse to allow some people to not be friendly with you. What a brilliant life skill, I hope you never lose it. It’s an ability to be both sensitive and thick skinned all at once – you’re a special boy.
You also love to try new things and concentrate on physical challenges – check out the tongue. It’s made an appearance at the school sports day sack race, the church picnic races, golfing, and almost everything except swimming (where you spend most of your time underwater since you don’t actually know how to swim but don’t bother to worry about it). You’re an outdoor boy, and a boy who loves to move. At your request, you’re starting Yoga Bugs next week – first choice over swimming and football – and I hope you love it, and I love watching you try all these things!
Or at least a holiday for us part of the time – and a holiday for Michelle all the time. We’ve had Michelle visiting for the past two weeks and since the first and second times she was here we dragged her all around the countryside, this time we’ve had a quieter trip. With one of us having to work every day (yes, I even had a couple days of work!) we took turns taking the boys swimming, doing the school run, and just hanging out in the garden. But there were some highlights…
Michelle and I took the boys hiking (or mountain biking if you’re Duncan) at Clune Woods and had a picnic at a stone circle – the second stone circle picnic of the holiday. Duncan was very proud of his mountain biking, hurling himself down steep slopes while I slipped and scraped down beside him trying to make sure he stayed upright. This is definitely the age to master biking – before common sense and fear come into the picture.
And no trip would be complete without the beach, although it was freezing, I was starving (the cafe I’d planned on getting food from was closed), and the playground was overrun by a school sports day.
We also managed to go to the Scotland’s Gardens Scheme open day at Dunecht House, which, although raining (or perhaps because it was raining), was magical. The boys brought their explorer kits (Duncan’s was a birthday gift while Fraser’s was hastily assembled from a tin box and a magnifying glass) and we all ‘explored’ the flamboyant colours of the rhododendrons, contrasted by the grey and gloomy skies. The colours on these days are either washed, or super saturated, and our little camera can’t handle the contrast – I’m disappointed that the pictures do nothing to capture the magic! (house photo by Michelle).
Along with a busy birthday party, the time flew, but fortunately there was still lots of time for coffee in the garden – Fraser’s favourite.
Fraser, you are my sweet, gleeful, cuddly monkey and this past year has seen you grow from a toddler to a child with a quick mind and a bubbly personality. I’m constantly surprised at how much you can do and how much you seem to learn things on your own, either by copying your brother or figuring it out yourself. You can ride a balance bike, count three items, and have memorized your numbers to six. You initiate conversation with us, real discussions that suggest you’ll be very good at parties where you don’t know people. For example today we’ve talked about (at your initiation) the weather, your toys, and going for a walk. You’ve also told me how much you like playgroup, soup, bread, and Fireman Sam (who you’ve never seen).
I think for your second birthday I should tell you things that I love about you:
1) your infectious giggles, especially when we’re all being silly together. As your brother says, we’re a very silly family but I sometimes wonder if we’d be half as fun if you didn’t enjoy it so much.
2) your ability to listen quietly to stories and the cuddles we have then
3) and your inability to sit still the other 95% of the time
4) the fact that you’re 100% different to your brother so that this time around has been a completely new experience. I love that the two of you are so wonderful and perfect in your own ways.
5) the way you and your brother are a team – I hope it lasts for life.
6) the way you ask for songs at bedtime and how you’ll hold my hand while I sing to you.
7) the way you’re the spitting image of your dad sometimes.
8) the fact that like your brother, you’re an outdoors child.
9) and everything else about you, from your head to your toes. Especially just after a bath when you’re not covered in sand and mud!
Things you say/yell (with glee) that made us smile on your birthday:
To the friend at the door who asked: “Fraser, how old are you?”
“Tractor Ted!! Gruffalo” (why bother with my age when we can talk about my presents!)
To Duncan watching TV:
“Let’s play cars!!!”
Every time I start to post about how lovely my kids are or how much fun we’re having, they start turning into hooligans, on par with Max. Dragging furniture across the wood floors (scratch-screech), climbing and falling, fighting and destroying. We love the book but sometimes I wonder if it’s rubbing off on them… And parenting requires 100% of my attention far too much of time.
I’ve had a couple days of work last week, in an office with adults while Cory had the boys at home and it was (guilt-inducing) heavenly. My work schedule is completely irratic at this point and rare enough that Cory can cover the childcare. I’m really missing using the analytic part of my brain and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to increase the amount of work I do over the next year. And of course this makes me feel guilty, because I’d love to be the mother who’s completely happy staying home but …
And I’ve avoided writing about this on here because it brings up a lot of contentious issues. I do believe that nursery-based childcare is wrong for my boys and don’t regret quitting work last year at all. When I look at them and talk to them it’s a non-issue – my old job didn’t pay enough to afford a nanny (as an employer there’s added costs for NI contributions etc) and they are the most important things in our world. It’s too easy to say that I need to work and that they’ll be fine, we need to make sure they are fine and be prepared to make changes if they’re not. I’m the only person I know who’s given up work to make sure her kids were happy. It makes me feel rather lonely sometimes.