We're back from our trip to Japan. It was an amazing trip - invigorating, inspiring, and plain old fun. When I've had a chance to sort through my photos I'll tell you a bit more about what we did. I can't even begin to explain how weird it was to be away from the kids for that long. For the last three and a half years hardly a day has gone by that I haven't looked after my babies. The only other time I haven't been their primary carer for more than a few hours was when I hurt my neck, and then I was in severe pain and drugged to the eyeballs so I wasn't really in a position to objectively process the situation. For the first time in such a long time I only had to dress one person in the morning, brush one set of teeth and feed one person breakfast. So for the first time in such a long time I actually had time to take more than a cursory glance at myself in the mirror. I have to admit I was a bit shocked to finally notice how much I've let myself go. Seriously peeps, I have a gut. Though unsurprisingly, since I've returned home, the revelation that I should probably be taking better care of myself has once again been bumped to the bottom of my priorities list!
I'm guessing the kids found it equally strange to be away from us for a few days the very first time in their lives. It's been interesting seeing how they've dealt with it, allowing another little window into their growing personalities.
Turi gives himself to his emotions with complete physical abandon and no attempt at moderation. When he is sad or cross it is expressed as complete devastation as he launches his body face first to the floor and wails primally. When he hugs it is fiercely, throwing his full weight against you in order to get every inch of himself closer. He has a grin that splits his face in two and makes his eyes sparkle like the sun reflecting off a rippling sea.
So I guess when we got back from our trip I was aching for one of his aggressive hugs and to see his little face light up with excitement at our return. Instead, he made it abundantly clear that he was extremely put out by our apparent abandonment. He barely acknowledged my existence, avoiding my gaze and refusing to give more than a cursory cuddle before taking grandpa by the hand and leading him away into the other room to play games (without me). It took a good 24 hours for his sullen demeanour to begin to lift and be replaced with a sort of discontented, nervous clinging. At night he wakes frequently and calls for me to check I'm still here. His tantrums are frequent and often without obvious cause. He makes me work hard for every snuggle before he begins to drop his guard and relaxes into his old self.
Minty on the other hand appears to have coped with her 'holiday' with a resilience I didn't know she had. The only noticeable change is a new intense desire to protect Turi from harm. If she sees him walking a little too close to the road or heading for an exit unaccompanied she screams 'no Turi, NO!' and rushes to block his path. This protectiveness even extends to protecting him from emotional distress. If I reprimand him she is quick to step to his defence. During a particularly extreme tantrum I told Turi that he was becoming a 'terrible two', and Minty quickly piped up, 'he's not terrible. He's just nice. He's a nice two.'
I'm sure Turi will soon forget his angst but I'm hoping Minty will hang on to her role as ardent protector of her 'little bother'!
I really want to send out another big thanks to the grandparents, uncles and aunties who did such a fantastic job looking after the kids while we were gone. As you can see from these pictures (taken by uncle Ross) everyone went out of their way to make sure they had a great time while we were gone.