Babies are born aliens. Squirming, transparent, unintelligible. They are born coated in slime, and they maintain that alien nature for months. Babies are not really human. Or at the very least, they’re not really people. I didn’t much love being a mother of two babies, at the same time.
It gets interesting after one year or so. They transition from aliens to goblins, or pixies or sprites – something archaic and mythical, something that exists and doesn’t exist, something that is still other than human. Those huge heads and stumpy bodies, making them seem like wicked dwarves – always with the archetypes. They are at once endearing and untrustworthy. They’re just like pixies of yore. As I watch them grow into the fully-fledged humans they will eventually become, I feel I’ll miss these little spirits terribly.
Felix and Max speak a language that is becoming English – but it’s not there yet. It’s coming quickly: last week, grammar seemed to descend on Max from on high: he woke up one morning, and said to me “Mummy where’s my dodo?” – a first ever grammatical sentence. He’s kept doing it since: “Mummy what you doing?” “Daddy gone shops.” I am shocked.
But there’s still a good portion of impenetrable babble. They speak to one another at length, often conspiratorially, and what they’re saying makes no sense. I don’t believe this is a twin language: it’s jargon, practice-language; but it’s very convincing to hear spoken. Then they laugh uproariously, and dance, wild tribal dances in praise of yoghurts, or Gran, or trousers. They are precious and solemn, and just impossibly cute: one day, just as we were about to leave Seoidin’s house, Max and Felix walked around the room carefully hugging each person there (6 adults and one child), before turning to each other and hugging each other. They are affectionate, abandoning a task halfway through in order to kiss their parents.
They’re also demonic. They sabotage our home for mischief: this week they squirted two juice cartons all over the living room; Max upended his yoghurt on the kitchen table, and his head. They write on walls, they hide important things (where’s my hairbrush,; where are my keys; where on earth are my shoes??) These actions keep us in our place. If we think as adults that we are in any sense in charge, they put us straight. We have no control. Think you can plan a family? Ha! We are twins, and we control you!
The tantrums don’t merit discussion. All two year olds have tantrums. And so do Max and Felix – Max more than Felix. We try to ignore them. When they snap out of them, it is as though they never happened.
As they develop language, it becomes increasingly clear that they won’t always be demonic sprites. Some day they’ll be straightforward boys, capable of discussion and negotiation. There’s a photo that Simon took which I love, of Felix holding an apple, his head big with a dirty funny grin on his face. I commissioned an illustration of the picture, and I was a little disappointed with the final product: a lovely image of a cute little boy, with none of the mischief in the grin. That gap between photo (which for me was the essence of Felix) and picture is the change that I expect from little goblin to boy. And excited I am about embracing Max and Felix finally as actual human beings, I’ll miss those two little sprites immensely, because I know they won’t ever come back.