Days are gently slipping by and at this moment Max is sitting in the garden, a bag of trains tipped into a pile on the grass, while he works out the mechanics of a fire engine's twisted hose. The blossom has turned brown and is being blown from the trees in little flurries of confetti. Only a minute ago, there was pink bursting out across the hawthorn and the flowers were bending the branches low with their weight. So it is already summer and to prove it, we have harvested, and eaten, the best of the broccoli from the garden.
Another marker of summertime are the plethora of events in the city called 'Kindergarten Night', where more experienced mothers give the greener ones, like me, a snapshot into the next stage of our lives. I am wide eyed with fear about the 'process' of tours and screenings and interviews and essays written about your child that are needed in order to scale the apparently impenetrable walls of private education. I'm left wondering if the public school system might not be better all round. But somehow you feel you should give private a shot, with state funding in crisis and all.
The key to all these interviews and essays is, quite obviously, to know your child. This will not require a PhD but somehow seems harder than it should be. I think I've resisted labels, Max is this or that. Things change after all. The truth is he dawdles when we walk anywhere and falls - no, he lies - on the ball when we attempt to play soccer. He's only really watched rugby matches with his father and in a sense he's right, there's generally a lot of lying on the ground. What he's missed, obviously, is the physical exertion beforehand. I'm not sure sport is his thing but it must be said, he is fiercely competitive. He wants to be first at breakfast, first out of the bath, first down the stairs, and he doesn't hide his frustration when he's not. He loves music and has done so ever since he could indicate he wanted 'zic on!' from his car seat. Does that make him musical? He does have a ukulele - but when I took him to a kinder music class recently he refused to come into the room and sat outside until I decided to abandon the idea and we all walked home. I'm obviously going to have to get a firmer grasp on all this come September. We will see how we fare.
In the meantime Oli is labeling everything, in a much simpler form: 'Os' for horse, 'Dar' for star and car and 'Dow' for cow. 'Dog' has a silent g. I'm pretty sure 'Bo' is milk but it's not always the case. But my favourite must be fish, he says it with a breathy sound that seems to summon up aquatic speed, 'whith' he says, repeating it three or four times as if to try and get a handle on this elusive, slippery creature. He becomes more adamantly independent every day but has just figured out if he stands right in front of me with arms in the air (the 'Arrest Me' position) he will generally get carried. It rare enough that he wants my help. In his highchair earlier he said 'Bo.'
'Do you want some milk?'
'You can see a boat?'
'You want a kiss?' It was a long shot but I thought I'd give it a go. He said nothing and I lingered too long, my nose in his hair, my lips on his warm temple.
Funny to think that one day I will miss carrying 27 chunky pounds of boy weight around, perched there, legs straddling my expanding tummy.