This week, my seven year old Miniman was asked to take a picture of himself as a baby into school as part of a class project. Rummaging through old photos of the kids brought back lots of memories of those not-so-distant days, but also reminded me once again how quickly my little boys are growing up. I had a sudden surge of nostalgia for dolly ringed arms and little feet, along with a small sense of sadness that some of my memories from that period are actually quite hazy. Through the sleep smudged eyes of a mum with two toddlers, I didn’t always have the time or energy to fully absorb all the little details, and sadly the baby journals I was given when they were born were left with more than a few blank spaces. So these days, with my boys more grown, and a bit of time on my side, I keep a ‘happenings’ journal in the kitchen drawer to jot down any funny things they’ve said or anything interesting that’s happened. If I don’t do it fairly soon after the event/kid-ism/whatever it’s unlikely that I’ll remember, so I try not to focus too much on ‘good writing’ as much as just getting the memories down on paper.
The value of this little project is particularly evident in reflecting the world according to a seven year old. Young enough to want to hold your hand and kiss you goodbye at the school gates, yet old enough to engage in smart (and often hilarious) conversation, seven really is a very sweet age for kids. An age when any ordinary Wednesday has the potential to be the ‘BEST DAY EVER!’, and the worst thing anyone can say to you is ‘you’re tired’. An example of the wise-yet-innocent ideology of the seven year old made it’s way into my jotter last week, when Miniman #2 asked me if our family was either rich or poor, and I replied that we were neither really, but as we live comfortably, were probably somewhere in between. Considering this for a moment, he proposed his own view on the class system: ‘first there is poor, then there is in between, then there is rich, and then there is greedy’. It has occurred to me more than once that there may be some mileage in children ruling the world.
The emotional life of a seven year old is also engaging; and while the tantrums of a toddler can be frustrating, an older child’s emotional outbursts can be more than a little endearing. Miniman #2 recently burst into tears over what appeared to be nothing, and when questioned on what was wrong, replied ‘I don’t know, but whatever it is I don’t like it!’. Listening to his sometimes inarticulate language; his kid-isms, also makes me smile; for really, how much longer will he call someone’s hairstyle ‘circley’ or spell ‘happy’ with two e’s? Having a slightly older child who is equally sweet, but now a little more streetwise, makes me want to hang onto these last tendrils of early childhood for that bit longer, and undoubtedly I’ve babied my second child a little more than the first. But knowing what I know now about how quickly the ‘little feet’ moments pass, I’m pretty happy to have done so.
And back to the photos.. the Miniman eventually picked one of him round faced at a toddler group party eating a doughnut. It made him feel hungry, he said. It made me feel many things – most of all determined to keep reaching for the jotter sitting quietly in the kitchen drawer.