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Friday last week was a momentous day – Ruby turned three!
The previous several weeks had been absolutely chock full of chatter about big sister Ava's birthday (chatter from Ava herself, who has become obsessed with the idea of birthdays generally – and they are, indeed, fantastic, are they not? Especially when you're so little).
Anyway, having a birthday all of her own seemed to come as a bit of a surprise to Ru. She was awake at her usual ungodly hour. In the dark, we brought her downstairs to the living room, put on a dim lamp and watched her blink, and rub her eyes, trying to focus on the 20 or so balloons I had blown up the night before. She looked confused.
"Happy birthday, darling!" I said.
Ru squinted at me, kissed my nose, and softly replied: "Happy birthday, mummy."
"No, Ru! It's YOUR birthday."
She looked at me for a second, and then a little light switched on in her head, and she gasped.
"Oh!" she said. And then: "Cake!"
And so began a day to remember. Cake at breakfast time, a stack of presents from her family which only she was allowed to open (much to Ava's disgruntlement), a ride on a train, a birthday lunch and a visit from her very best friend Zak. And then more cake.
I don't know about you, but on my children's birthdays, I feel compelled to look at pictures from last year, and the previous years, back to the day they were each born. It's fascinating isn't it, to see the changes that occur over three short years?
At 3.38pm on October 12, 2009, Ruby was swiped from my body. Shocked to suddenly find herself in a bright, surgically lit room, my beautiful 6lb 11oz bundle opened her blue eyes wide (really wide, I've never heard of another newborn doing it), and she actually turned her head and looked around the room. Thirsty to learn, already growing and changing from that very second.
Since that day, her eyes have got progressively wider, and bluer. She seems to become even more beautiful as time goes on. And in just the last year, well, she's achieved so much!
Perhaps most importantly to Ruby, she can now manage to keep up with her sister physically (and, occasionally, even put her in her place). She's learned the meaning of the words 'I love you' (and how to say them properly), and she's mastered holding a pencil in the right way, so she can draw snails (snails are endlessly fascinating in Ruby's book).
Now, Ru can count to 10 in Spanish! And she can do 'ballet' – although, admittedly, her interpretation of ballet looks more like breakdancing. Or a fit. She can make a sandwich (one which is edible), and she can just about get through the day without sleeping (although this poses a daily face-in-dinner risk come 6pm).
One thing that hasn't changed in the last year is Ruby's passion for olives, which she demonstrated during her birthday lunch by attempting to eat an entire bowl before the bread had even arrived.
Three. Three! Ruby being three sort of marks the start of a new phase for me. Despite the fact I cannot help still referring to my girls as 'the babies', they really aren't babies anymore. They sleep in beds, they use the loo, they feed themselves, they have social lives and they even make some of their own choices and decisions. They're proper little people.
And it all seems to have happened so quickly.
Well, as this column comes to its conclusion, I can look back and say that, although I had a Terrible Two two years running, not one bit of the last couple of years has been terrible.
Documenting an amazing period of our lives has been immensely enjoyable – not least because it's served, at times, as a sort of therapy. It's helped me see the funny side of things which might otherwise have made me cry (or wish to be swallowed by a hole in the ground). And I know from comments I've received, some of you have had similar experiences.
Naturally, some of it has left me open to rather harsh judgements from you lot regarding my parenting skills! But that comes with the territory – I never set out to demonstrate I'm a perfect mother. As the babies grow, so I learn – it's a constant process of evolution.
You'll be hearing more about Ruby and Ava on Parentdish in the future. In the meantime, thank you for reading Terrible Twos, we've had a blast!
You can catch up on previous Terrible Twos columns here.