An obsession with trucks and tractors and trains and buses that baffles and charms us in equal measure. A love of Bananaphone, of Down by the Bay, and, perhaps more surprisingly, of Ellie Goulding’s Anything Could Happen and The Flaming Lips’ The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.
He hasn’t met a puddle he doesn’t like to splash in, a dog or cat he doesn’t love to point out, a stone he doesn’t want to hear go “plop” into the sea. Says a cheery “hello day!” and excitedly tugs at the bedroom curtains as Ben and I blearily stare at the clock, praying it’s closer to 6am than to 5am. Breakfast is porridge and berries, or yoghurt and granola or scrambled eggs and a smoothie, all words he can now miraculously say.
These days, Ben and I find ourselves constantly looking at each other over his head, delighting in his delight, his unabashed excitement and love of the world. Is there anyone more in the moment than a toddler? In my most mindful of meditation sessions I’ll never be close to being as present as Ari is every minute of every day.
We kicked off the month celebrating his second birthday with a visit to my mum’s in Cork for cake and treats (and trucks!) with his cousins. He slept most of the way there and back, so now keeps asking for us to go to “Nana’s house”, not realising it’s almost three hours away. My mum and sis threw him a gorgeous circus-themed party, complete with candy floss, popcorn, bubbles and a toddler-friendly piñata (instead of bashing it to oblivion, you take turns pulling a string until the treats pop out).
We then returned to Galway and celebrated his actual birth day with two visiting friends and their almost two year old kiddo. Cue visits to the aquarium, an insanely giddy train ride, and – by some miracle – matching pram naps which allowed us parents to peacefully tuck into takeaway Dough Bros pizzas in Eyre Square. We rounded the fun-filled week off with a toddler-free double date night in Kai (followed by cheese and cocktails at The Universal), some trips to the beach and, finally, a visit to the gorgeous Bridgit’s Garden.
If I stop and think about how quickly he is growing, how little of the baby there is left in him, I get close to tears so I try not to. Instead, I try to relish in his growth, and share his happiness at his newfound abilities – his “squeezy” hugs, his two-footed hops off the pavement, how he whispers “slowly, slowly” to himself as he carefully carries a something from the kitchen to the living room, how his Ts come out as Fs (making us peal with laughter every time he points out the “dump truck” toy in our neighbour’s garden), how he excitedly recaps little bits to his day to Ben before he falls asleep.
And yes, houses are messy, the laundry pile is endless, there is never enough sleep, there is always a dishwasher to fill or empty, snacks to make, tiny socks to pick up. Weaning is impossible, and emotions (his and ours) can run high at any point really.
But at the end of another exhausted day, the lows don’t come close to the highs and Ben and I nearly always end the night chatting about what new thing Ari did, said or discovered. It’s such a treat to get to see the world through his eyes and get to hold his hand as he explores it.