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.