I can’t really even begin to explain how much you have changed over the last twelve months. For one thing your hair finally started to grow and by 20 months you had gorgeous curls at the nape of your neck. You have blossomed when it comes to your confidence with new places and people. You are still happiest by my side when we are at playgroups, but you warm up to people so much faster than you used to. You have the best “shy face” we have ever seen (a slightly cheeky-looking sideways smile) which you use when someone is a little too close for comfort.
You love books. Over the last few months you have enjoyed finding out what the ladybird heard, solving a monkey puzzle, spying out nursery rhyme characters (in a book you sadly no longer call something that sounds a lot like “itchy bum”), finding peace at last with Mr Bear and worrying about a ted who fell out of bed. You love to “read” a lot of these books to yourself, having memorised most of the words!
Speaking of memory, yours is incredible. Back in February, shortly after you broke your arm (for the first time) we took you to Surrey Docks Farm. Stepping out the back onto the banks of the Thames, I spotted Canary Wharf and pointed out to you where Popsey works. A month later (shortly after you had broken your arm for the second time) we went back. As soon as we stepped out onto the riverbank you waved and shouted “Hello Popsey!” You are constantly surprising us with the things you can recall.
And yes, you broke your arm twice this year. Actually you broke it twice within a month! You still talk now about Poorly Arm but you know it’s better now. I wonder if you will be able to remember it when you are older. You were so brave, barely crying, and being remarkably chipper about the nights in hospital. You won over all the nurses instantly – of course.
You have always loved to communicate so it came as no surprise when you started talking and rapidly expanded your vocabulary, your understanding of context and syntax and your grasp of social niceties. You have pretty much got please and thank you nailed. At the moment, if I ask you to do something that you don’t want to do, rather than say no and run away like some toddlers would (not mentioning any names!), you simply say, “I’m all right” even when I’ve tried to outwit you by giving you a choice.
“Claudie, would you like to wear the green nappy or the purple nappy?”
“I’m all right.”
“Claudie, would you like me to put you in your car seat or would you like to climb in yourself?”
“I’m all right. I’m all right.”
Unfortunately all your politeness doesn’t prevent the ensuing tantrum when I insist that in fact you do have to wear a nappy or you do have to go in the car seat, but I guess these are the terrible twos and I’m just trying to make them as un-terrible for you as I possibly can.
Despite your apparent shyness or caution in new situations, sometimes you surprise us all with your confidence. Leaving a train recently, you shouted out to the business men trying to get off behind the double buggy I was attempting to manoeuvre “Bye, people! Seeya later!”
You love to say seeya later. Recently, you have started pretend play and will often say to me, “Seeya later. I’m goin a shops.” You will often later say, “I’m back now” and we discuss what you bought (usually ice cream). We have tried to teach you “See you later, alligator” “In a while, crocodile” but so far the best we get is the hilarious “Seeya later, alligator-crocodile.”
You love to cook in your play kitchen. Usually porridge. You like us all to have a taste and like to make us cups of tea too. You used to be very into In the Night Garden and as a result have three Upsy Daisies who mostly live in your bed these days. You used to call Iggle Piggle “Bugger”, which amused us no end! You have started taking care of your dollies and teddies, cuddling them and giving them “milky” or feeding them your snacks. Sometimes you pretend to tandem breastfeed the two foam dress-up-babies that stick on the side of the bath. It’s so cute!
You really love to sing. Often, at Baby Bounce and Rhyme at the library you will cry for “more singing” after the half hour is up. You have quite a few songs in your repertoire now, although you are somewhat flummoxed by repeating lines at the end of songs and see it as an opportunity to just keep singing on a repetitive loop (Incey Wincey spider climbed up the water spout/Down came the rain and washed the spider out/Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain/Incey Wincey spider climbed up the water spout/Down came the… You get the picture)
You are such a delight to wake up to in the morning, even though I do sometimes wish you would manage just one whole night in your own bed (you slept for a solid 8 hours 25 minutes one night a few weeks ago so I shouldn’t really complain although that feat has yet to be repeated). As much as you can be quite a calm and “sensible” child – the kind who will walk hand in hand through a busy shopping centre and then sit calmly in a coffee shop (as long as provided with a babyccino and – if possible – a slice of cake thankyouverymuch!), you really do have your mad moments. You cavort around and jump and shout and laugh and are just a constant source of entertainment. Your smile could light up the night.
You aren’t afraid to let us know when you need us, which, I hope, is a testament to the fact that you can trust us to respond to your needs. You stop my breath every day and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have this gentle, crazy, chatty, inquisitive, beautiful child in my life. You are an inherently happy person and your joy infects all those around you. These few paragraphs just can’t do justice to the remarkable person you are turning out to be.
I love you more than you will ever know.
My little Imp. You have blossomed this year. From your first hesitant steps just before your first birthday, you quickly were walking and then running, jumping, galloping and climbing. Oh how you love to climb! You will climb anything that will stay still long enough. Now, whilst you do it, you will often say to yourself “careful!” I imagine that’s because we’ve said it to you so many times. You are pretty much fearless and will attempt any physical activity without any thought as to whether or not you will be able to do it (usually you can, even when we suspect you might not be able to). You have incredible strength and love to dangle and swing from things, supporting your own body weight almost effortlessly with just your arms. You have mastered a forward roll, which is just incredible, and are always trying to find a new and challenging way of coming down the slide!
We have been on two holidays in the last year and I think it’s safe to say that on both occasions the beach was your favourite part. You love the sand and you love the waves. You want to run and jump and splash. This April, when you took your first trip abroad, to Mallorca, I was standing with you at the water’s edge and pointed out a big wave. You raised your hand and waved at the sea.
Your language has come on leaps and bounds over the last few short months, since our holiday when your favourite thing to say was your made up word: “dikki di di!” Around that time you also chose my name. You started calling me “Mama” and it stuck.
We should have known it would have been you who solved the problem of how to differentiate between your parents – both female, both called Laura – as you seem to have a real passion for problem-solving and an incredible interest in how things work. You often spend ages puzzling over a new toy, trying to make sense of it. Sometimes your investigations leave a path of destruction in their wake and I try not to mind too much.
You are Imogen the Destroyer – as we jokingly nicknamed you after one too many incidents of shredded toilet paper, ripped book pages and a very sorry looking HDMI cable – but you are also incredibly gentle. In face when I saw this image on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, I laughed out loud, because this is absolutely you.
You like to take things apart to get an idea of how they work, but you are also so affectionate. You like to dole out kisses when we are least expecting it, coming up beside one of us and planting a kiss on the back of a knee or an elbow. You kiss so softly, like you know it is a gentle, loving thing to do. When I carry you in the sling, you fall asleep stroking the back of my arm; at bed time you snuggle on our bed with Mummy and an array of cuddly toys, often finally drifting off stroking Mummy’s hand or arm. When you’re upset, I often don’t have to say anything, but just open up my arms to you and you come straight in, tucking your head under my chin and popping your thumb in your mouth. You love to snuggle, always asking to be wrapped up and tucked in a “bankelet” (you know there’s supposed to be an L in there somewhere!)
You love your sister. You want to be wherever she is. You were lost when she broke her arm and you had to spend a few days and nights apart. You are her little shadow at the moment, always wanting to be by her side. It’s been incredible to watch your relationship develop and the two of you genuinely play together and have conversations now, which Mummy and I love to listen to. You have an amazing amount of empathy; you always try to cuddle Claudie when she is crying, even if she’s angry crying and doesn’t want to be touched. You will remark on babies crying when we are out and about and tell me they need a cuddle. You are so compassionate.
You have a great sense of humour and a cheeky grin. You are stubborn and defiant but we love that you know your own mind. You are fiercely independent. You love books too – your favourite at the moment is one Auntie Jodie bought you. We have read it every night for at least the last month. (I may have skipped a page or two recently). Monkey and Me was another firm favourite for a while, so much so that you thought every monkey was MonkeyMe, including your monkey backpack.
Your favourite toy has consistently been the doll’s buggy we bought almost a year ago. You have only in the last few months started putting anything in it to push around, preferring previously to just charge up and down, crashing into anything in your way, causing Mummy and me to refer to it as your “battering pram”. You have always quite liked taking turns with Claudia to sit in it and be pushed around by the other one. You are both getting a bit big for that now and I suspect the buggy is on its last legs. We will, of course, replace it straight away. How could we not? (Thank goodness it’s cheap!)
Your favourite song is “pull clap clap clap”, otherwise known as ‘Wind the Bobbin Up’. You do a beautiful rendition of Twinkle Twinkle, very tunefully and you love singing at the library or at Twins’ Club. You have both gone off the Sleeping Bunnies song a bit recently, but we had lots of fun singing it at home when you first figured out the actions. You like to play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano and sing along with it very loudly.
You make me smile every day. My heart skips every time you lean over and unexpectedly press your lips to my shoulder or the spot behind my ear. Sometimes you are a whirlwind; sometimes a soft breeze. I love that you are as unpredictable as the weather. But I also love that I know which book you will want to read before bed, which side you want your milky from and which stuffed toys need to be lined up in our bed so you can snuggle off to sleep (often after a round of extremely energetic gymnastics off the headboard). I love how much you love to watch a butterfly, a ladybird, a bumblebee, a snail. I love your fascination with the world and the new ways you make me see things.
I love you so much, my little Imp. I love the way you curl up in my arms like you were made a perfect fit. I guess you were.
I can’t wait to see what amazing things this next year with you will bring.
I love you,