As a child photographer, I’m always telling my clients that the best thing about photographing their kids is that they get to stop time. For an hour or two, they can press the pause button on their adventure. They have a way to remember their kids in that moment – the way they smile, the colour of their hair, the long eyelashes. This time, it’s my turn to press pause.
On Friday 13th of November at a quarter to midnight, you were born. From the very moment I lifted you into my arms I was head over heels for you. You had dark brown hair, and big, deep blue eyes. You were immediately a lot louder, and a lot hungrier, than your big brother. Those two things are possibly related. But anyway, you are, and have always been, perfect. You completed our family just like buns complete burgers, tonic completes gin, and coffee completes life.
We had a rough start, but you quickly developed into a smiley baby with a filthy laugh. I won’t lie – once the screaming hungry newborn phase was over I breathed a massive sigh of relief. We started 2016 completely knackered, but by Spring we’d found our rhythm. Your dark brown hair had been swiftly replaced by a dirty blonde pixie ‘do, but your eyes remained enormous and blue. You idolised your brother George, and found the cat to be an endless source of hilarity. Your first food was a stick of cucumber, but you had no teeth and got a bit angry about it. Now you’re two, you still get incredibly angry at cucumber, but in a different way.
Look at you now. My big, beautiful, wide-eyed girl. You have your dad’s long legs and skinny fingers. In every other way you look exactly like me when I was a kid. When people tell me you look like me, I take it as the ultimate compliment – because you’re fab.
I know I’m utterly, unashamedly biased, but I think you might just be the cleverest, most fun just-2 year old in the world today. George was hilarious fun at your age too, but in such a different way. I don’t know if it’s because having a big brother means you’ve always had to compete, or if it’s something innate in your personality, but you have a sense of tenacity that he just didn’t have. This stubborn streak seems to be common among younger siblings – I should know, because I am one. Just this morning George moaned that he was tired, and you, ever competitive, piped up “No! I tired FIRST!”
And although I love your sweet little voice, your self-assuredness and your long, long fingers, the truth is that I love you so much I can’t even find the words to express it.
You love dogs. Wearing your wellies and going hunting for puddles. Singing the words to songs you’re not entirely sure of. You’d live on pasta if I let you. If I give you a chocolate biscuit you manage to eat only the chocolate off the top. You love your bed, and the army of teddies that inhabit it day and night. Your favourite book is Stick Man. You hide behind your hands every night when Daddy gets in from work, and shriek with joy when he finds you. You won’t hold my hand when we walk anywhere, because you love to run. Your favourite thing in the whole world is making everyone you meet draw itsy spiders in your colouring book.