Its been a full six months.
AND SUDDENLY... November. I got about 5 paragraphs written and wasn't able to get any further due to too many things being on. Now we're into the parts of spring that pretend to be summer before switching back to midwinter. So, now remashing what I wrote....
Its very difficult to not compare Kieran and Hamish together all the time - as a point of reference, Hamish is about all we have, so its hard not to. I have this niggle that it might become a habit and then become "why can't you be X like your brother"... a phrase I know will utter at some point, but I'd like to keep it to the important points rather than diluting its impact. "Why can't you not steal cars like your brother?" and similar situations, for instance.
It happens most often that we're trying to figure out if Kieran's behaviour is some sort of sign that he is about to melt into some sort of protoplasmic blob or explode, or if its just something Hamish did too and we'd forgotten about it. Going back and re-reading what I wrote then is a good prompt, but it also makes me feel guilty I am not doing the same for Kieran. I know all the practical reasons are valid, but I don't want an 8 year old to come up and say "why didn't I get all this stuff written about me?".
Kieran is much, much bigger now than when he was born, as is the fashion of young babies. He's lost the squishy potato look that newborns have, and went through looks around himself alertly, holding his head up and grinning randomly at things, and into sitting up for extended periods and whacking things. He was 6.5kg at the start of June, and 8kg (cf H:7.4kg) when measured at the paedatrician at the start of spring, and now is well past 9kg. He is starting to become a bit of a pain to carry around constantly, especially as he is now wanting to interact with the world a bit more. Most of his interacting involves lunging at things to grab them, and then either dragging them to his mouth or dragging his mouth to them. I think he's more solid across the shoulders than Hamish was; perhaps he'll end up a bit more nuggety. He's not got the super blonde hair - the darker hair fell out, but its come back in a light brown shade. Given that Kieran means small and dark, clearly our naming was prescient.
As well as all the fun during the pregnancy that led to intrusive test for Down's syndrome, there was also some slight concern about the size of his head. The head concerns continued after birth as well, with some worries that various skull plates were fusing together a bit early, and that his anterior fontenelle was a bit small. Given that the main diagnostic was that he has a long thin head - mysteriously, just like goldengrove - it was perhaps a little overcautious. A scan or two and a few paed appointments and the feeling now is that there's no problem. He just has a big, but long and thin head. (Oh, Kieran is also a CF carrier, which led to not one but two awesome sweat tests because the first one didn't work well enough).
For a while Kieran's expressions were fairly limited. He was angry, yelling and dribbling, or happy and dribbing, or faintly concerned about the state of the economy and dribbling. At about 6 months, he added "intently fascinated and wondering if I can eat that and dribbling" while the economy grew less worrying (tho that has more to do with a loss of the thin, tax-accountant-like comb-over). There's some more of a gradient between the extremes, but fundamentally they form the poles of his emotional world. At about the same point, he developed a very cute habit of grinning then looking away shyly. Cute, that is, unless you are the one that is holding him because that individual is either going to have dribble sprayed across them or get smacked in the nose with a rapidly moving baby head.
With a few more teeth appearing (last count somewhere around 6 or 7), Kieran's dribbling has slacked off from a constant stream to an ongoing drip. He's developed an insatiable hunger for all foods (see "gone up one kilogram in two months") at all times (compared to Hamish), and a keen interest in stealing any of your food (out of your mouth if necessary). Its become a bit of a competition between stopping him from cramming an entire banana into his mouth and biting your fingers off.
Hamish, on the other hand, remains diffident about food. He has a few foods that he will eat, and rarely adds to that list. He has a much longer list of foods he has tried and "don't like it". Even getting him to finish a meal of things he does like is problematic most nights. Bribes don't work - if he's bored with the concept of eating, he'll walk away from a meal rather than have icecream, for instance. Sauces don't work - he doesn't like any of them except lemon juice and maybe tartare sauce some days on calamari. Even with foods he does like (sausages, primarily), getting him to focus on the food and eat one sausage in under 30 minutes is a bit of a trial. I expect in the future for half of Hamish's food to end up in Kieran as Hamish runs off to play with lego 2 minutes into dinner and Kieran just grabs everything he can reach.
Somehow Hamish still continues to speed non-stop around the house and even grow. He's well over a spine-crushing 17kg and last time I measured him, he was 106cm tall. He's ridiculously long and thin, basically. Between this and his vocabulary, he often seems older than he is, and I forget that, oh I dunno, I can't leave him to do his own shopping or something. He has moments of extreme grownup lucidity, while still having emotional freakouts about being thwarted over the smallest things. It can be difficult to follow his mental processes sometimes as he reacts to internal stimuli that he can't articulate properly at times. Its really hard to not try and prompt him as he is trying to get thoughts out his mouth - and there are times when you just have to. There have been times when he's been trying to explain something to one parent and they're just missing a tiny bit of context that makes it all suddenly clear. Sometimes its a lack of shared experience, and sometimes its Hamish getting his phrasing backward - eg: "are there two words than mean 'paws'?" or "are there two words that mean 'well'?". What he means is "are there two different words that sound like 'paws'?" or "does 'well' have two different meanings?". Congratulations Hamish, you have grasped homophones and homographs. Sadly, the next step is puns.
At some point, Hamish worked out my name wasn't 'Dad' and started calling me 'Damien' instead (or more often "Daaaa-miiii-ennnn?"). Occasionally I am still Dad when he is really tired, or if he is talking with other people about me. This seems to be some sort of genetic trait, because I did the same to my parents, though a bit younger. Weirdly, goldengrove is still Mum - not sure why, whether it was the result of spelling my name out with him a lot (drawing comparisons between the letters in Hamish, Damien and Kieran).
Hamish seems to be on the verge of learning to read. He certainly loves books, and he's mastered most of the letters. I-spy is one of his favourite games, though there are often difficulties in explaining that sometimes what letter words start with doesn't make sense. Try coming up with an explanation for a four year old about why jam doesn't start with a g if giraffe does, or why cat and circle start with the same letter. Let's just not mention how vowels work with an Australian accent - when e, i, a, u and o can all have the same sound, it makes spelling a bit of a nightmare. Nonetheless, bed time always involves books and the current favourite is Diary of a Wombat, which he thinks is hilarious. I think its because a wombat chews through a door, and the concept that something a permanent as a door could be destroyed by an animal is unexpected. He certainly cackles like mad person whenever we get to that page.
Kieran is equally verbose. Even tho he is only at the stage of sounds, he is perfectly happy to 'talk' for over an hour at a time if someone is listening. The other morning he gaahed, maahed, nmmnmmed and similar for about 90 minutes. From 5.30am until 7.00am when I had to get up. He's been like this as soon as he discovered his voice, which was done the usual way of working out that he could scream like a banshee at will. This was more or less synchronous to working out that the pink things at the end of these long bits were his to control at will. Kieran spent at least two weeks turning his hands back and forth in front of his face in a stoned stupour - everyone had the same sort of "my hands are _enormous_ and they can touch everything except themselves" or "they call them fingers but you never see them fing - oh there they go" reaction to it.
Hamish is still a mega-fan of kinder, only having missed one day due to getting a pretty bad flu for a week or so. He races off in the morning to get there, drops his stuff and never looks back. If you poke him a bit you might get a "bye" while he's focussed on something else. Yet somehow when he gets home and you ask him what he did, the answer is "don't know." The event that sank in the most was bringing home one of the kinder's pet (soft toy) dogs, Milly. "I've been waiting!" Milly had to come with us to a variety of events and sleep on Hamish's bed. At the end of that week we made up a few pages of text and photos about Milly & Hamish's adventures - at 1am the night before kinder, wrestling with layouts, I realised I was starting to have flashbacks to setting the Arcanacon booklets out.
The kinder tries to get parents to come along and help for a couple of sessions a term - I've done it twice and goldengrove has been there once (with Kieran, which was hard) - and I can report back that they just don't stop. There's outside time where I spent an hour pushing kids on the swings while I could hear Hamish and his bestie Angus being koalas in a nearby tree, and there's lots of arts and crafts time inside. Both of these suit Hamish - he is a big fan of arts and crafts. Even when he's watching tv it will often be "Mr Maker", a crafty tv show from the UK. Hilariously you can hear him using the same "explaining" tone of voice as the main character in the show when he then goes to cut, paste, fold, stick and bedazzle all his random bits of craft things.
Other semi-organised things like play group and mum's group are continuing, but after he turned 4, we enrolled Hamish in swimming lessons. He was keen on pools, but very shy about getting water in his face or his head wet, getting very upset until it was all dried off. Even washing his hair was an issue and always had been. Four weeks into the swimming lessons though, and he is still squealingly ecstatic to go each week. We're just taking him to the uni pool for 30 minutes a week, but his confidence is miles better - just as a diagnostic, he is happy to all but wash his own hair, laying back in the water and telling me he can't hear me because the water is in his ears. At the pool he is blowing bubbles, laying back and using a kickboard, and jumping off into deep water. Not sure what the missing piece was in this, but we're pretty happy with how its all going.
goldengrove once again girded her loins and along with tacomonkey, took both kids along to the Melbourne Show on Grand Final day. Hamish has always loved it, but I was a bit worried how things were going to go with Kieran as well. As it turned out, fine - Kieran crashed asleep amidst the madding crowd with nary a hassle and Hamish was a doll. They trained in, bought showbags, went on rides, got in a fire engine, charmed everyone passing, got free stuff, span around on any ride that went around, went in the funhouse (best thing - moving floors, climbing things, getting squashed, being up high!) and trained out successfully, even dodging the hail that stomped me and bjj_moves while we were house hunting. Hamish's discovery of slap bands made tacomonkey very happy, letting her relive the 90s without looking silly. He also discerned that chocolate covered licorice is an evil trick, leaving the deliciousness for me. We are still unpacking stuff from the show bags, and I am slowly nibbling my nougat away.
Birthdays! Thousands of them, cousins and friends and Hamish's birthday, which we decided to have at the neighbourhood house where he has playgroup. After that I am leaning more toward just going to an inside play centre, it will probably cost a similar amount and we won't have to set up, cook or clean up. It actually went well, but there was a large investment of time and effort from lots of people to make that happen. Hamish also went to the movies for Calum's birthday, which led to him dancing around and singing "polka dot afro!" for two days. Kieran tried to do a facedive off a table at Henry's birthday when his giant human head caused him to topple, and it was only because my conscious brain didn't have time to react that I actually caught him. Hamish was spending time hanging out with his Moore cousins on Fridays for a while, which he loves - hoping there'll be more chances when circumstances allow later.
He also flat out loves Kieran, and the fascination is mutual. Hamish constantly wants to be involved with him, or give him cuddles, or sharing (some) toys, while Kieran watches Hamish like a grinning hawk whenever they are in the same room. Ok, that's a bad metaphor. Like something that watches intently while grinning. Maybe a gargoyle. Anyway, we seems to have got lucky and - so far at least - the two of them get on just fine. This last week has seen them in the bath together and laughing like idiots - Hamish because he gets to have a bath with Kieran, and Kieran because Hamish is there and he gets to play with this freaky stuff that he can touch, but not grab. Watching a baby try and work out what water is is probably one of the highlights of raising kids. You can actually see him try and work out what is going on - "I can feel it on my hand, but *grab* nothing. hmm. Maybe the other hand. Nope.... hmmmm I can feel it..."
Other things! Steam train rides up the Glen Waverley line, growing, Hamish missing a vaccination night due to flu, growing, growing, ScienceWorks growing, mum's group bulk birthday, picnics, daylight savings havoc, sticking heads in at MURP infernal, travelling to Barham, shopping, growing, and probably more than I can remember over the 8 months or so.
Pictures, pictures and more pictures: