There are some moments in my children's lives when I would like to press the pause button so I could savour them for just that little bit longer. That moment when your newborn baby first opens his eyes, and his unfocussed gaze gradually fixes on yours and that first spark of true love is ignited. The slick of massage oil over a tiny tummy tight with its fill of milk, the glorious smiles and giggles when your baby discovers the joy of splashing in the bath, the thrill as your baby hauls himself up to take his first step. All of these moments I wanted to grasp and freeze in amber so I could take them out and marvel at them when my children are grown.
My oldest son had a playdate the other day with a friend we hadn't seen in several months. Last time I'd gone to pick him up they had been sitting on the carpet playing Hungry Hippos, two little boys who were still soft with the last vestiges of toddler fat, their faces round with baby fat and their school uniforms looking like they'd been borrowed from an older brother.
This time they sat, side by side on the sofa, Wii controls waving frantically to continue some onscreen intergalactic battle. They was no trace of those overgrown toddlers, instead these were unmistakably little boys. The planes of their faces had grown more distinct, their bodies elongated so school trousers flapped at their ankles. Shirts were untucked and ties askew. Instead of seeing in them the babies they once were I could see the teenagers they will become.
I love to watch my babies grow into boys, and in time I will love to discover the men they will become, but sometimes I wish they would do it a little more slowly. That those days of wobbly steps and sticky cuddles, when nothing was more fun than a trip to the swings or an afternoon spent grinding playdoh into the carpet, would last a little bit longer. My babies have gone from crib to climbing the stairs at warp speed and I am not happy.
When I went on to have my third/fourth bite at the baby cherry, I was determined not to miss a thing, but naturally life got in the way and as I was working, eating, sleeping, looking after their brothers the twins have inexorably grown up. Like all parents I can hardly believe that the babies that lay, light as air in my arms, sleepy with the shock of entering the big wide world and swallowed by their tiny babygros, are now on the verge of walking, munching on toast and pizza and articulating their first words.
And I know, again as any parent does, how soon these two will be slouched on the couch, game controller in hand and school trousers grown to small from one week to the next. If my parents are to be believed this doesn't slow down as they still recall the little girl who they tucked into the cab of their lorry with a jam jar of milk and a jam sandwich, and now she is a mother of four boys of her own.
Time is far from an absolute concept, I recall that when I was waiting from one birthday to the next as a little child, a year seemed to take forever, now they sweep by in the blink of an eye. I think I need a Sky+ control for my real time life, so I could pause the best bits, and replay them endlessly, while swiftly fast forwarding all the boring painful bits like so many corny ads. Now that's something for my budding scientist of a son to invent.