This blog is dedicated to Evie, our sweet, funny, feisty little pumpkin-pie who is now three.
We had Evie’s third birthday party last weekend. It was a festival of princesses and pink…. Lots of pink, which hurt the eyes a little but absolutely delighted her. There was cake, there was garlic bread, there were balloons and there was Minnie Mouse; everything Evie’s little heart could desire. Two little friends with their families joined us for the occasion, and we had some honorary adults present (her special Aunty Jillo, of course). It was simple, but it was magnificent. At one point we had all three princesses decked out in their sequins, satin and sparkly netting, mouths generously smudged with chocolate, bouncing up and down on the trampoline and shrieking at the tops of their voices. Isaac watched in awe and trepidation from the side.
Cake and party delirium aside, Evie’s birthday brought with it a bittersweet ache this year. I found myself realising that her adorable and clumsy toddler years have finally slipped away, and a beautiful, self-possessed little girl has emerged, one who seems impossibly grown-up at times, and yet is still full of the sweetness and silliness of toddlerhood. When I think of how just six months ago I felt like that phase would never end with all the conflicts, tantrums and the many, many times we seemed to be at loggerheads with each other, I find myself now wondering how it went so fast.
There are so many things that I have learnt through the last three years as a privileged care-giver to this marvellous (and sometimes impossible) little creature.
I have learnt the value of telling people you love, often, how you feel about them. At random times in the day Evie will pronounce, “Mommy, I love you.” And then go on about her business. It’s almost as though she is reminding me, or perhaps she senses something in my mood and feels I need to know. Sometimes it will be in a silence in the conversation that Simon and I are having in the car. We’ll all be still for a second, looking out the window, and Evie will pipe up, “Daddy, I love you.” The randomness and frequency of these outbursts has become somewhat of a laughing point in our family. There is no denying we have a very loving and expressive little girl.
She is so generous with her affection, too, always needing lots of hugs and kisses to make up if she gets in trouble, or coming over to plant a “mooch” on your arm or leg at random points in the day. She’ll pronounce, “Daddy I ‘mooch you,” as Simon is doing something in the kitchen, then flounce over and proudly plant a kiss on the back of his leg.
She loves to cuddle, or “wrestle”, which is really just cuddling disguised as wrestling (I suppose wrestling sounds less wimpy so one can preserve some dignity). Her favourite thing is to “wrestle” Simon, and I’ll often hear shrieks of laughter coming from the lounge. Essentially it is just an excuse to be close, and to experience meaningful physical contact (while punching the ribcage). I read something a few years ago that said how people needed a certain number of “meaningful touches” a day, something like seven. Evie reminds me how valuable it is to make sure that we hug lots and play lots and and get up in each other’s personal space. It’s not something that Londoners do very well. Unless you’re on the Tube at rush hour and you’re shoved up in someone’s armpit, there generally isn’t very much reason to have much physical contact with people.
Evie loves her friends, and talks about them all the time. She asks to pray at mealtimes or at bedtimes, and it will be a soft mumble interspersed with people’s names, like “Oscar” and “Liya-Jean” and “Kate”. Almost every day she will ask, “We going to [insert name of friend]’s house a-day?” She also LOVES to make “presents” for her friends. These usually consist of a complicated piece of artwork made with marker pen, stickers and cellotape, and shoved into a recycled gift bag. I have strict instructions about where to write their name, and am given a long diatribe about how this is Martha’s present or Pippa’s present and must not be lost.
This completely puts me to shame, as I have become more and more useless at staying in touch with my own very special friends in recent times. I may think about them often, but I cannot count how many times I have forgotten a birthday or neglected to call when I said I would. Friends are so important to me, and yet this does not reflect itself in my day-to-day reality at present. “Ah well,” I sigh to myself, “One day….One day I will be out of this craziness of nappies and cooking and cleaning and refereeing and helping and feeding and clothing….” Then I will call friends every week, send them cute cards and happy emails to say I am thinking of them, make them presents and see them for coffee. But for now, I can hardly remember how old my baby is (is he six months or seven months, I was horrified to realise??) or whether I put my keys in my bag, or even managing to keep in touch with people I see every Sunday!
But, I guess, this is another thing I need to learn from Evie – the complete absence of the burden of guilt and “should have’s” and “ought to’s”. She wakes up every day and it is a completely new day. There are no assumptions about what the day will bring, no hurts and worries from the day gone by. She is completely caught up in the present, and can only think of pleasant things that might be forthcoming (Whose house are we going to? Can I have a chocolate biscuit? Do I have swimming today? Will I have a party? Please can we make cupcakes?) It is simple, it is lovely and it is inspiring.
This will be my last blog for a while, as we are about to embark on a family holiday to the States for three weeks. And I have also realised, what with all the beautiful spring weather we have been having, and longer, sunnier days, more time should be spent doing outdoorsy things like gardening or walking or soaking up the sun. So I think blog-writing will be something to save for when the leaves start to turn and life gets colder and indoorsy again (which will happen soon enough). For now, I am going to take a leaf out of Evie’s book and fully immerse myself in what is happening now – and not miss a moment of the glories of an English summer.
Enjoy something simple today, and go find someone you love to wrestle.