April, May, June…the children love chanting the months. Sometimes we do it in French: Janvier, Février, Mars...Luna likes to identify whose birthday is in each month and whose birthday is next and whose is after that and so on.She got a magnetic calendar for Christmas and knows enough letters to find ‘Monday’ with an ‘M’ and enough about order to push ‘Sunday’ up to yesterday and swap the ‘7’ for an ‘8’ for the date.
Willow remembers events much longer ago than I thought he would, telling me “we went on an aeroplane yesterday” (Last Easter). “Yesterday” and “Tomorrow” usefully sum up the past and the future. He used to tell us daily, “I’m a big boy,” but, I suspect he knows the truth that at two-and-a half, he is not big, unless compared with someone who is…well…less than ninety centimetres tall, and he seems to have moved on to “I’m growing! I’m growing all the time!” which is more accurate. But he doesn’t want to be a child – he wants to be big.
Nevertheless, while they’re desperate to move on, ironically, they force us to live in the present, even if only for short bursts of time when, if our attention is, even for a moment, anywhere else, World War Three will break out just next to the sofa, by the train track.
And when we remember to, we try to live in the present at other times too, the good times. I find this most possible on a sunny day, in parkland, jogging along to keep up with them on their bikes.
“It’s so peaceful here. Look at the swans on the lake, they’re so peaceful.”
“But we’re not peaceful, mummy.”
“No, but that’s okay.”
This evening, I showed Luna the diary I am starting to write this year: the fountain pen that I am writing it with, and one week of January all complete. “February!” she chants, “March!...” I want the children to see me writing – handwriting with a beautiful pen, not just tip tap on the keyboard. And I don’t want to forget this present. This passing present which Luna is chanting away and Willow is wishing away and which I am frantically writing down as if that will somehow make it stay.