Monthly Archives: August 2015

Levelling up

Arthur has been nothing if not a whirlwind the past few weeks. A fizzing ball of energy, constantly teetering on the very fine line between abject delight and total despair. It’s been utterly exhausting, and more than a little bit wonderful. More than anything though it’s been the starkest reminder yet that our little boy is growing up.


At first we put it down to the disarray that summer has brought to our routine. We’re not ones for keeping our lives in especially well-defined boxes, but over the past month or so our days have been a long way from ordinary. From falling asleep in fields under the stars to waking in unfamiliar rooms, from house guests to plane rides to throwing stones in the sea long after bedtime, summer has shaken us all up more than a little.

But, whilst that might all have something to do with it, it is clear now that our boy is morphing into a(nother) new creature. He is becoming more himself, staking out his independence, reaching for the next branch of the tree and grasping it tight with both of his strong, perfectly formed hands. He is levelling up.

I can hear it in his language. His words are becoming better and more numerous every day. He thinks, now, before he says something, the search for the most precise way to express what is on his mind etched on his face.

He remembers whole songs, whole stories, recounts them to himself or us with undisguised glee at what his mind is capable of.

His imagination too is growing like a weed. From it sprout the shoots of new stories, the ones he whispers to his toys and wakes up babbling to the night. Hidden in its leaves is fear, too. The sense that things might be hiding in the darkness, that the world is bigger than he ever thought possible.

Despite this, he is navigating that world with more confidence than ever. Suddenly he seems to have a new control over his body – the ability to run and jump and roll with terrifying assurance. He loves to balance, a metaphor perhaps for the instability of his new existence. He loves to dance, too – letting the rhythm infuse his bones and connect him to the music.

When he was tiny, we were guided through these developmental growth spurts by The Wonder Weeks. Sometimes what we read was scarily accurate, other times it could not have been wider from the mark, but it gave us a touchstone, a way to navigate through. Now, though, we are stumbling blind over this new terrain, constantly surprised by what our little man is capable of.

For him, I suppose, it was ever thus.

I cannot imagine how strange it must be to suddenly find yourself in possession of all of these superpowers. The rate at which he has hurtled through his thirty-one months on this planet so far is not unusual, but it is no less extraordinary for that.

And so I will allow him his tantrums, his clinginess and his night-waking. I will cherish his need to be clamped to my breast more often than I really find comfortable, his almost impossible desire to have both myself and Leigh at no further than arms reach at all times, his inability to choose between the myriad of options that lie before him at any given moment.

Time is never going to slow down to give us space to make sense of it all, so it is my job to keep up. And to remember that the one thing we can rely on is that time will pass, my baby will grow, and one day these days will be nothing but memories.

Best make them good ones.


Festivals in the rain

We have been to three festivals this summer, and all of them were accompanied by a generous dose of rain. It’s been a bit of a new experience for me – somehow, in my twenty years of festivalling, I have managed to avoid anything more than a few showers. In fact generally my festival memories exist in a blissful haze of summer sun, dry grass and being a bit too warm for comfort. Clearly that was never going to last.


I was a bit apprehensive as the weather forecast for the key weekends of this summer unfolded. I love festivals. Really I don’t think there is anywhere I would rather be than in a field with friends listening to music and drinking cider, stumbling upon weird and wonderful happenings as the days roll into nights and collapsing in a tent at the end of it all. Rain, mud and cold have absolutely no place in this vision, and I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to cope.

You know what though? It really wasn’t that bad. It was harder work for sure. And a bit less sociable. But there was something quite pleasingly symbolic about the perseverance, about the determination to have fun despite the universe’s best efforts. There was definitely a strong sense of camaraderie, and those moments where the sun peeped through the clouds or when music managed to whip damp crowds into a whirl of enthusiasm took on a whole new level of significance.

Sure, I wouldn’t have voluntarily trekked through miles of mud wearing an overexcited toddler or chased a flyaway gazebo through the campsite at four in the morning. I would rather not have covered my sparkly festival attire with waterproofs or kept said toddler entertained in the tent whilst the rain battered down outside. But actually, now that it’s over, I have a whole new range of festival memories to add to the pile.

And as for the toddler – to be honest he was in his element. What two year old wouldn’t want to splash through endless puddles, squelch in the mud and surf on rain soaked tables? In fact there’s a danger next summer, when the sun does return (are you listening, universe?), that there will be something fundamental missing from his festival experience…


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I’m sure he’ll cope though. And even if future festivals are drenched in rain rather than the sun I’ve bathed in over the years it’s good to know it won’t dampen our festival spirit.