Yes, an accurate way to describe my two sons on a bad day, but also the way I feel about them growing up on a good one. Despite regularly indulging in fantasies of all the things we will do once our children are ‘old enough’, often involving the purchase of a Tuscan farmhouse with lettings potential surrounded by its own vineyard, it pains me and my husband that they are growing. I take a lot of photos of them, but I also find myself constantly trying to freeze in my mind’s eye the way they look and talk now. With Bigger Boy becoming more contemplative by the day and Littler Boy adding dozens of words per week to his vocabulary, they don’t stay the same for long.
The boys don’t have such worries about growing up, of course. They are thirsty for new experiences and knowledge, and Bigger looks forward to ‘when I am bigger’ and the things he will be able to do then (mostly things he’s not allowed to do now but look attractive because Mummy and Daddy do it, like drinking wine and watching TV in the evening). He went through an interesting stage where he didn’t realise he was getting older, and thought he might even be getting younger. (‘When I am a baby, I will sleep in a cot.’) I found this slightly alarming, but it makes sense: he can’t remember being a baby, but other people do appear to be babies, so one day he will experience it and be aware of it. Then he went through a stage where he knew he would get older but he thought his younger brother would stay the age he was; he envisaged a teenage Bigger helping me with a baby Littler. (What kind of crime could condemn me to a lifetime of a child aged eighteen months? I didn’t question Bigger on this, as his philosophical ponderings are not yet sufficiently advanced.)
Now Bigger is starting to understand that not only will he get older, but there will also be another generation after him, and another after that. ‘When I am a Daddy, my children will read the books that I do and play with the toys I do.’ I suspect he means the very same toys and books, as he asked the other day if we would be keeping his bed for his children. The incredible amounts of storage space we will require aside, it is touching that he is aware of his future and his children’s. I did have to explain, though, that his children would not be people who currently exist; he had some of his friends in London earmarked as future offspring. Not wanting to enter into a discussion on the possibilities of reincarnation, I told him that his children would be new people, unique. ‘Ah…’ he said, ‘I see. I wonder who I will make?’
Littler Boy, meanwhile, did not have much to contribute to the discussion. He is living for the moment. ‘I’m little,’ he said.