First day of school. We do this every year. Here's last year:
The previous ones are lurking somewhere, but I can't unearth them for the moment. Shame. It's interesting to see even these two pictures together, though. They don't seem to have changed much, do they? Fingers has grown more than Lashes, which I would never have predicted. Fingers never eats. He lives on fresh air and the odd biscuit. I think he sucks nourishment out of our brains while we sleep. But how large are these children? Seven. And five. How did that happen? I can leave the room for whole minutes at a time without inviting an unspeakable cataclysm. They can play chess. Ride bikes. It's hard to get used to.
They are extremely complice at the moment. The French word works better, somehow. I mean, yes, they are co-conspirators, in all sorts of acts of terror and destruction. My shower gel has been filled with luminous pink slime, the dog has black marker on his ear, and they have drawn all over each other's faces with green felt tip, and that's just in the last hour. But complice is more positive. There must be an English word, dammit. This happens when you spend your life talking foreign. They are allies. Something. Can anyone work out the word I'm looking for? I can't.
Anyway. They have been thrown together by the holidays and although they still wind each other up constantly and wearyingly, I get a sense that secretly they rather enjoy each other's company. It's odd, this sense of having created something - that relationship - that entirely takes on a life of its own. In an odd sense, it takes the pressure off slightly. They each have another defining relationship in their lives other than their parents. Maybe this is what we meant when we said, so wrong-headedly, that we would have children close together in age 'so they could play together'. That phrase comes back to haunt you a few million times as you referee indignant disputes about one particular square of Lego identical in all respects to every other square of Lego, but mysteriously essential to both. 'Play together' is perhaps inchoate parental shorthand for 'dilute our pernicious influence on each of them'. I think in this respect, it works.
I didn't have this kind of sibling. Mine are ten years bigger and smaller than me respectively, too big a gap to wish constantly and sincerely for their death, whilst being closer to them than anyone else, which is what I sense with these two. I have all the characteristics, all the flaws, of an only child. It makes the whole thing more compelling for me to watch.
I like this picture, taken in our Newman Street flat. Fingers was 2 days old, I think. There's this odd, complex set of emotions on Lashes's face. Every time I look at it I see something different. What's going on in there? It's a mixture of amusement, and anxiety and fascination and alienation, and god only knows what.
This is in Paris.
We spent pretty much every waking second together, the three of us. It was a total nightmare, but also a peculiar privilege. It has to have been the most aimless, bizarre, fraught year of my life. The CFO was working crazy hours, and I was constantly coming up against the impossibility of reconciling a two year old and a tiny shrimp of a baby. I thought I was going insane most of the time. But I do think it built something, somehow. We got to know each other, properly. Our weaknesses, and our flashpoints, and the things that made us all laugh. I don't regret it, horrible though it often was.
And here we are now. And here's a photo of the three of us, even though I only have one leg and four tits and if one of the hags from Rigby and Peller saw me, they'd send round an assasin, I'm putting it in anyway, because we've made it this far. And they've made something all their own, a relationship that I can admire, and envy, and on occasion go frothingly insane dealing with.
This post might have made sense if the gentlemen in question weren't milling about, squabbling noisily. But I'm very glad they are.