The Biscuit will be seven this week. Once she was only seven weeks. Let’s call her T to celebrate. Seven feels a big deal. Other years have passed with me thinking more of myself. A year, two years, five years ago today we still weren’t parents. I was five, seven, ten days overdue. I remember the feeling of being poised in free-fall, falling and yet not falling; and how, as the days went by, I felt less and less sure we would ever land. But this year, this year I think less about that. We have been parents forever, and it feels like her birthday is finally all about her.
She rolls her eyes at me. She tears out of school, just like Bella in Dogger. She reads until late in the evening, and then again when she wakes. She keeps a diary full of exclamation marks and cryptic remarks about how much fun she and her friends had at break-time. She still skips along when she’s happy. She is, in all essential ways, just as she always was. Last night in the bath she said, “I’m a bit sad to be leaving six, but I’m looking forward to seven.” Then she told me her theory of numbers: some are girls (2, 3, 4, 6) and and others she thinks are boys (1, 7, 9 and 10). “Well,” the Moose piped up from the toilet, “I’m four you know T and I’m a boy! So boys can be four.”
I can recommend seventeen months too. The Pip-Pop, like his big sister, is an early talker, an avid reader. Shirley Hughes’ Olly and Me series are his current favourites. He twists backwards and slides himself off the sofa to go and fetch another, then returns smiling triumphantly and holding his arms up to be lifted back onto my lap. “Ears!” he shrieks, grabbing mine. “No-o-o-o-!” pinching my nose. He sits in his highchair dropping bread onto the floor and smiling. “Brea- uh-oh. Uh-oh.” He’s pretty much irresistible. In the car on the way back from pre-school last week, the Moose taught him how to say ‘knock, knock’. Now his jokes are just as good as his big brother’s. (And at least shorter than his sister’s.)
Anyway, this just to mark the moment. And to remind myself how much easier it’s got in the last few months. There’s no sense now of the Pip-Pop being new. When I looked around the table at lunchtime on Saturday I saw three children, all making jokes, all joining in the conversation in their own way, all very much part of the gang. Just like the cat, the little ones go through phases of doing the same thing at the same time of day. This week, it’s all about the morning reading. As I prepare breakfast, T sits on the sofa, a brother on either side, and reads to them the books that I once read to her. My darling girl.