Spending three weeks travelling around Europe this summer gave us a concentrated time to be together as a five. It was one of the things that I think H and I were most looking forward to, a chance to really immerse ourselves in our sense of family. It was lovely to be that five, and it was very special too to watch our little trio getting ever closer.
Most of the time we were away there either weren’t other children around (Switzerland) or they didn’t really gel with any of them (France) and we travelled with very limited toys, but an ever increasing supply of French supermarket colouring books. The three of them had to be each other’s entertainment and when you’re camping in a four man tent you have to find a way to get along because there’s no where else to go. And I think I can safely say that over the course of that trip the girls became even closer friends. Which means of course that when they were getting along it was the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen, but that they’ve also really really mastered winding each other up, an activity identified by the piercing shrieks of the wounded party (“Mummy! Mummy!!!! She’s put her foot near me!!”) and the giggles (Elma) or hastily repressed smile (Kitty) of the provoker.
And for all that there were times when I really wished we’d installed a little soundproof screen between the front and back seats of the car, I’d so much rather it was this way than that they were politely indifferent to each other. The girls love each other fiercely, and sometimes a bit too much but it gives me hope that in the future they will settle down a little and simply be very great friends. Probably just in time for the teenage hormones to hit.
And then there’s Pip, still petted and adored as the baby of the family but now crawling at great speed, pulling up, cruising the furniture and definitely contemplating that all important first step. He’s climbing the stairs, and the footstool, and the little table that the tv sits on; so desperately wanting to be involved and to be playing with his sisters rather than merely being played with. And the tentative steps into their becoming a trio that were there last month seem to have only got firmer. They can and will all three snuggle up together for a story, or sit and build a tower together, and occasionally (just occasionally) Pip even lets his sisters’ Duplo constructions stay constructed for a little while before he tries to crawl all over them.
When I wrote my Siblings post last month we were on the brink of big change. Change for our family as a whole as H and I switch the going to work and staying at home roles, change for Pip and Elma as they move into a different group at playgroup and start to make friends all over again, and change for my little trio as Kitty took the biggest leap of all and headed to school. And while I think it will take a little while for the whirlwind to settle so we can see the impact of all this newness, I can see that, as I thought, Pip and Elma are starting to become firmer friends in their own right. When Kitty’s not around, Elma will still try to make him giggle, or tickle him as she’s seen Kitty do, even if sometimes he looks back at her with a complete “what are you doing!” expression.
But the sweetest thing in seeing Kitty take such a leap forward has been watching Pip and Elma scrabble to keep up, especially Elma. When they were both at nursery Elma wasn’t aware that Kitty was doing much more than she was, and when they were at home over the summer there wasn’t any gap between them. But now that’s not true, and yet I think Elma hasn’t quite grasped that. When Kit comes running out of school with one of her new friends, it’s Elma who goes running up to both of them, who looks forward to seeing Kitty’s friend as much as she does her sister, and one of the funniest sights of the last week has been Kitty and her friend scampering off down the pavement with Elma fleeing after them, desperately trying to keep up and so obviously longing to be included with the ‘big girls’, while Pip wiggles and squirms in the sling, wanting to be down and crawling too.
To their credit, Kitty and her new friend are incredible sweet; they both give Elma cuddles and kisses and hold her hand to cross the road and so far, touch wood, we haven’t had any “she’s my friend not yours”.
It’s going to be really interesting to see how this develops; to see whether Elma continues to think of herself as on an equal footing with Kitty, or whether as her relationship with Pip becomes stronger she claims her place in the middle of the family.
These pictures were taken at our last cricket picnic of the year, and it’s funny to see the little changes since one of our first cricket picnics. Pip has got so much bigger, and, as you can see, just a little bit faster!
Two little sisters, and their speedy brother too, in September:
This month I’m sending you to Lucy. Her little boy has just started school, her daughter, pre-school, and these might well be her very last Siblings photos of a duo, so they’re going to be very special pictures.