I remember being smaller and how tiresome it was when grown ups exclaimed wide-eyed on ‘how much I’d grown’. ‘Yes, I’ve grown’ I used to want to say, ‘and so have you’. Or maybe that’s just in hindsight.
This phenomenal transformation is at its most obvious in the first year of life. When he was a newborn my son was given a tiny, Tibetan hat by his globe-trotting godmother, which engulfed his grapefruit-size bonce completely. A mere 8 weeks later and it perched jauntily on the top of his massive, milk-fat head. Occasionally, after a really good post-prandial nap, I would go and gaze at him and HE WOULD HAVE GROWN. In two hours.
Breastfeeding is another benchmark of this process. In those early, primal, urgent days, his valiant efforts at latching on could be compared to me trying to suck on a beachball, his body curled frog-like into the crook of my arm. Six months later and I am hoisting an enormous child under my top, with teeth (top and bottom), legs dangling off my lap and the appetite of a calf.
Seven years go by, almost instantly and at the same time, very, very slowly.
He is now in Year 2, he chats on the loo, his latest lego creation is an alien spaceship with detachable, laser blasters. The upward trajectory of his body has been charted, inch by inch, on the back of the ‘cupboard-under-the-stairs’ door, along with his younger sister’s, and every now and then I get a nerdy desire to plot a graph, but have never had the time.
The practical result of all this ridiculous growing is that my children have gone through a vast amount of clothes, which once grown out of, went up into the loft. Unfortunately, our loft has the climate of a rainforest and has the habit of dripping all over whatever’s up there, so eventually the time came for all the bags to come back down again before the contents grew legs and cllimbed down themselves.
I knelt on the floor of the spare room and reverently took out the contents. Innumerable white vests with brown, circular stains round the neck, 300 pairs of sureally small socks, a white frilly top, skirt and nappy-knickers the size of a handkerchief and worn once. The Winnie-the-Pooh hoodie, with pink, yellow and orange stripes that I put Daniel in because it had a hood with ears. And with each item came an aching sensation of loss, because the babies that had fitted (however briefly) into these clothes were gone forever, recorded only on thousands of photos that clog up our hard drive.