There was no cake, no candles and no presents, but we did pause briefly to note that our younger son Toby turned 1½ yesterday. At this point, I could trot out all the usual banal clichés such as “He grows up so fast” or “It only seems like yesterday …”, but let’s just accept that they are true and move on, shall we?
When Toby celebrated his first birthday, I wrote a post chronicling a year of change in the outside world and including a selection of 25 photos from his first year. I won’t be doing anything so grand here – other than the photo to the right which pretty much sums him up right now. But I thought I would capture three few random observations about his passage from 12 to 18 months. I won’t pretend that there is anything earth-shatteringly unique about any of these, but they are just parts of his personal journey.
1. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Or, at least, your brother?
With the best will in the world, it is impossible not to compare Toby to where his brother Isaac was at the same age. He was just over a month slower to start walking and his speech development has been a little slower – by 18 months Zac was so precociously advanced that he was already quoting the Complete Works of Shakespeare (well, something like that) – but as we are constantly reminding ourselves it is not a competition. These things are, in my opinion, best considered as milestones rather than benchmarks – you pass them, but you don’t measure them – but interestingly I seem to have a more detailed memory of what happened when with Zac than Heather does. Which is odd, given that I would normally forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on and the only time I can ever remember anything better than Heather is when it comes to pub quiz trivia.
Mind you, although he was slower to start walking than Zac was he is certainly making up for lost time. He walks both faster and further than his brother did at the same age. At Legoland last week he wanted to walk everywhere rather than be pushed around in his buggy, and yesterday he walked back from the shops with Heather, a distance of close to half a mile. The boy has stamina. He’ll be walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats next.
And speech-wise he’s at that cute phase where the sounds are just starting to come together. When he sees me with my laptop bag in the morning, he will invariably wave enthusiastically and shout “Bye-ba, da-dy!” at me. He isn’t yet showing signs of turning into the incessant chatterbox that his brother is, though. My ear-drums are thankful for that.
2. 1½ going on 3½
It has become increasingly obvious since Toby started walking that having an older brother he idolises (and who loves him back) means that he is desperate to do everything Isaac does. If Zac has a new toy, he wants to play with it. He has tried to ride Zac’s training bike. When we built Zac’s new bed last weekend – one of those mid-sleepers where you have to climb up three steps to get in – he was straight in there, climbing up steps which should have been too big for him and tucking himself in under the duvet with a self-satisfied cheer. If it’s good enough for Zac, it’s certainly good enough for him. And why not?
3. A boy’s boy
At 18 months, although Zac did enjoy a spot of rough-and-tumble (he still does), he was already showing signs of more artistic leanings and being in touch with his feminine side. He had already developed an incredible ear for music, and regular readers will recall that I have documented his love of dancing, singing, dressing up and all things pink elsewhere. Only recently has he developed any kind of sporting interest or prowess.
Toby, however, is a different kettle of fish. He is very much a boy’s boy, possessing a much more physical nature and a definite tendency towards being an adrenaline junkie. He will climb up anything. He will hurl himself down tall, fast and dark slides which boys twice his age (including his brother) regard with a degree of trepidation. And he has a mean upper cut, as Zac has discovered on occasion when sitting on him one time too many.
Simply put, he is utterly fearless. So while I suspect Zac – who we have at times christened ‘the health and safety inspector’ – is not the type to climb up trees because he knows that can be dangerous, his brother will be up there in a shot. I can just picture it now: Toby shinning up a tree and then tumbling out of it and breaking his arm, while Zac stands underneath with his hard hat saying “Don’t do that, Toby, It’s silly!” – something he already says with regularity – and cordoning off the area to guarantee the safety of bystanders. I’m not joking.
It’s been quite a six months, really, as Toby has grown to be more like his brother in some ways, and completely different in others.
And I guess there will also come a point when we stop celebrating half-birthdays. That day has yet to come, though. Happy half-birthday, Toby. It’s been six months to remember. Roll on the next six.