Last week-end I was at a children's party with my boys, when someone who doesn't see them so often commented agasht at how much the eldest had grown, how he seemed no longer a young boy. I looked across the room and had similar thoughts and although he is still very much my boy, there are these changes. Some of those changes are visible in these photographs I found from the summer of 2013, some of them are not so clear from a picture. Like how he now sometimes sleeps in, after younger brother has got up and how he's learning to savour the rare lie-in. Like how at week-ends he will often get up with little brother and head downstairs and make breakfast for them both and I'll hear words coming from his mouth like 'let's be quiet and not argue so that mum and dad can have some peace and a lie-in'. Like how he talks about his future plans, learning to drive, playing guitar, travelling to places, food he will cook. Like how he asks me more and more questions about my life when I was his age and listens to my responses, really listens and often comes back to what I said some days later. Like how he carries out the chores I ask him to do with pride (mostly!) and a satisfied look on his face because he knows he's helping. That face! Like how when he's done something wrong, that same face carries the weight of it and speaks without words, and just that look alone tells of his urgency for resolve. And how, like me, it sometimes takes a little while to recognise the error of his ways and through furrowed brows and bolshy mouth shapes, comes deep regret and the sincerest of apologies and corrections. (This is not like me, not so much ...) Like how he looks forward to time with mum and dad when little brother has gone to bed. Like how he enjoys watching old episodes of 'The Wonder Years' on my VHS tapes, the same episodes that I watched when I was just a few years older than him. Like how, he gets it and we laugh and cringe at all the same bits. Like how he sings in harmony when we listen to Rainbow in the car and how he smiles with amusement when hubby & I debate who the better singer is: Dio or Bruce Dickinson? The answer is Bruce Dickinson by the way! Like how he asks questions like: was Livingstone a racist or was he a hero? and why does Gimli ask Gladriel for one lock of her hair? (Lord of the Rings). Like how when I look into his eyes, I squint and I can see the man he's going to be and I already feel proud, so very proud. But for now, for right now, I'm taking it all in, all the talking, all the questions, all the giggling and late night chats, all the companionship, just me and my boy.
I have been thinking too, of a couple of trips we did last year that I never got round to posting about here. They just happened to be those kind of trips that are spontaneous and that you have no expectations about, the kind of trips you take when you just want to head out so that you're not indoors all day. The kind of days that end up being something quite special, something simple but spectacular, the kind of days you talk about often, the kind that those boys of mine will often reminisce about and say 'remember when we went to …'. One of those days was a trip to Moseley Bog which is about a fifteen minute walk from our house. The eldest boy and I had just completed watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and he'd recently read The Hobbit for the first time and he was living deeply in the world of Tolkien and all that he created. So on a miserable rainy day, I suggested that we leave the car at home, throw on some wellies and waterproofs and head to The Bog.
After an adventure wading in water and bogginess, we headed to Sarehole Mill to have a look around. Despite the rain, the boys happily played with a mini watermill, pouring bucket after bucket of water and watching with fascination at how the wheel turned. They spent a lot longer than we thought they would playing there and eventually fingers turned cold and shrivelled and that was the perfect moment to head to the teashop. I'd previously enjoyed some of the best homemade cake at the teashop before and we weren't disappointed. I can thoroughly recommend the red velvet and chocolate fudge cake and hot chocolates and pots of tea to warm the cockles!
And finally to round off the trip, on the walk back home the eldest and I spotted a fish and chip shop. He gazed longingly into the shop and looked up at me and I said the words 'should we be crazy and get some chips to eat on the walk home?' It's such a pleasure when you can still please little ones so easily! This day was a happy one, we speak of it often, remembering and savouring every detail.
There was another perfect day. The day that my hubby asked us all to jump in the car for an impromptu day trip to Wales. It was already after 11am and I hadn't made sandwiches yet and we weren't setting out early to make the most of the day or any of those other things we'd normally do on a day trip. However, just as we started our journey the sun came out and shone on us the whole journey and the whole day long. We decided to take the quiet roads which made our journey a little longer but the views were beautiful! There was coffee drunk from our flask, stones thrown from great heights, stroking of young horses, climbing and walking and searching for ice cream. There was carrying out of family traditions, the one where you break off a rose thorn and stick it to your nose, just like Grandma Peppermint taught me. There was the feeling of the sun kissing the back of our necks as we looked out into the distance and talked together about the perfect day we were having.