Poor Ronan. He is suffering from a serious dose of Second Child Syndrome. A few days ago, I was talking to a mother with a little boy around his age. She proudly told me that her little boy was fourteen months old, and asked what age Ronan was. I, shamefully, was stumped. “He’s about a year and a half, I think. No, hang on. He can’t be. I’m pretty sure he’s younger. What do you get if you take March away from July?” Eventually I figured it out, but I did have to check this handy website to be sure of the exact details.
So, what has he been up to since we last heard from him, shortly before his first birthday? Quite a bit, although growing the usual complement of teeth has not been high on his agenda. According to conventional wisdom, babies should get their first teeth between five and seven months old, and, by their first birthday, they should have locked all of the incisors down and moved on to the molars. Ronan, however, was gummy for some considerable time. Even with his first birthday a few weeks off, he remained, like Nanny Ogg, firmly unident. At the time of writing, he still has only six teeth, though he seems to be trying very hard to force the next six out in a single go. I’m sure you can imagine how this affects his general disposition. Thank heavens he was fairly sunny to start off with…
He is noticeably more physical than his older brother. Although they both took their first steps at about the same age (roughly fourteen months), Eoin was reluctant to use his own legs, and tended to lobby loudly to be carried at every possible opportunity. Ronan, on the other hand, rapidly progressed to scrambling up the furniture, throwing himself over the back of the sofa, and climbing the stairs whenever he got a chance. Indeed, he developed such a passion for the stairs that, for a few weeks, climbing them was pretty much his favourite activity, and the one thing absolutely guaranteed to jolly him out of a spell of bad temper. Whenever tantrums threatened, all you had to do was open the stairgate and invite him to climb as high as he liked to be met with a huge, sunny smile. Eoin once remarked, laconically, that “those stairs are a great old friend for him”, which suggests that either I have the world’s most deadpan four-year-old boy, or that we quote far too much Father Ted around our children.
He’s interested in food. Very interested. Extremely, passionately interested. If you are in the kitchen for any length of time, it won’t be long before you find him clinging to your leg, making rather pathetic noises. He has, you see, realised you are in The Place Where The Food Comes From: he hasn’t eaten anything for at least twenty minutes, and can any growing boy reasonably be expected to survive like that? I’m beginning to wonder if he is part-labrador, or the spiritual heir of Winnie the Pooh. He is, inexplicably, the only blonde in a brown-haired family, after all.
Because his physical development seemed to be so much more rapid than his brother’s, we wondered if he’d lag behind Eoin verbally. It’s hard to judge accurately, as I was too slack a parent to write a detailed and dated list of every word either of my sons has said, but, while tidying some papers, I did manage to turn up a list of all the words Eoin could say at sixteen months. It’s funny to see how many similarities there are. Ronan’s first word was “raspberry”, while Eoin’s was “blackberry”; this is not surprising given their mutual love of soft fruit, but is a little spooky in view of the fact that Ronan is a Raspberry Pi baby. He can also say blackberry (naturally!), blueberry, there, flower, daisy, cat, goo-boy (good boy), Mum-mum-mum (Mummy), da-dee (which does not refer to his father, but, rather, is a general expression of approval), Da-da-da-da-dee (which actually does mean “Daddy”), and Meeee! (meaning “minion”. Please don’t judge us: Eoin watches the films, so Ronan is inevitably exposed to the little yellow guys). Eoin’s vocabulary covered a similar range, though he was evidently more interested in dogs than cats, and his animations of choice were Bagpuss and Abney and Teal. Ronan also has a number of words which he definitely understands, although he can’t yet say them, including Eoin, wave, clap, pat, toothbrush, stairs, bath, tea, pudding and garden. Once, shamefully, he tried to say McDonalds, but I think it’s best for all concerned if we just pretend that didn’t happen.
He loves fruit, cheese, the beach, taking all the pots out of the kitchen cupboards, his Geiriau Cant Cyntaf book, surreptitiously posting Harvey Margaret (his stinky toy rabbit) into the dustbin, chucking his bath toys into the shower with you when you are trying to wash your hair, “Sweet Child o’ Mine” (he’s moved on from “Piano Man”), and covering himself in earth while helping in the garden. He hates eating from his own plate when he could be eating from someone else’s, shampoo, or staying still for too long. His hair is never tidy, and I once found him trying to lick the toilet. He’s a lovely, crazy little ball of energy, and I wouldn’t be without him.