"Put on your shoes. Put on your shoes. Put on your shoes! Don't touch your brother. Hurry up, we're late! Where are your shoes? Mr. K, where are you going? The car is this way. Mr. G, you are in the front. Don't cry Mr. L, it was your turn yesterday and it will be your turn again tomorrow. Buckle up please. Mr. K, I will get you a straw in a minute. Please don't touch your brother. Don't even look at him. Roll your window back up please. I can't help you do up your coat while I am driving. Because it will make me crash. Remember that your lunch is in your bag and if you get too hot please take off your jumper. I've forgotten your spending money, oh well. You are so lucky that you get to visit the aquarium today!"
"You are lucky too Mom," Mr. L. "You have two lucky things, autism and twins."
I would say three lucky things, but he is absolutely correct.
Some people bring their own sunshine with them wherever they go. I live with two little men who do just that. They make me laugh every day and bring such joy and noise to our home. It feels like they were born not too long ago and yet here they are, on the cusp of turning six. How can this be?
When we moved to the UK Mr. G and Mr. L were only three years old. I joke and write a blog called, "Are we British?" all the while knowing in my heart that I am not British and never will be. I am maybe 40% on a good day. My partner barely breaks 30% even whilst eating a full English or downing a pint at the local. Last night we discussed at length the best toast and where to get it (quite British- we are partial to fruit toast with a generous slather of butter), but we also complain about and rebel against every rule and regulation we encounter. Mr. K will never be British because I'm quite certain he isn't Canadian either, but has created his own culture altogether and that's the way he likes it.
Mr. G and Mr. L though, they didn't have a chance.
"Mom, are you very cross with me?"
"I want fish and chips/ sausage and mash please." (this is what they order every single time- even when we are visiting Canada)
"Can I have some tea as well?" (really- and they will drink it)
"Are there any biscuits?"
"I'm nearly done."
"Can we go to Morrison's?"
"*Us are going to play in the garden."
"Where should we put our rubbish?"
"We have to get sorted."
"I'll put on my wellies."
"Can we leave a mince pie for Father Christmas?"
"I think I'm feeling poorly."
A few nights ago, Mr. G had a mild fever. I gave him some **Calpol and had him lay down. As he cuddled up in his bed, with a damp washcloth on his head (I don't actually know if this does anything, but my mom used to do this with me so I do it with my boys and they like it), he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said in the sweetest possible voice, "am I poorly now?" I replied that he was a little, but if he had a nice long sleep, he should be fine. He thought about this for a moment, and said, "My teacher always says, are you all right? Because she thinks that I am poorly." Ha! So he's not 100% British.
I am used to it now, but still the most off putting thing that is said to me every single day since moving here is, "are you all right?" I feel it suggests that something is wrong. I would only ask someone if they are all right if I was worried about them. "How are you?" feels much more manageable, even though we all lie and say that we are fine, or even good- if we are feeling brave enough to go off script. Saying that you are not all right is uncomfortable and not really what the person asking, "how are you?" was expecting. However, if someone asks you if you are all right in Canada, it means that they really want to know. If you answer with anything other than "All right. you?" in the UK, you will be greeted with confusion. Do you see the issue? It's all a trap and my five year old even knows it. My eight year old avoids small talk altogether, he might be the most ingenious of us all.
Walking to our local (pub), picking up fish and chips from the chippy, ordering take away curry, strolling along High Street, feeding the ducks at the park, parks with neat little fences around them, wearing uniforms to school, mild winters, rain, rain, and more rain, driving on the left side of the street, dogs literally everywhere, pantos, hot and cold taps, tea and cake, castles, handing out sweets or cake on your birthday, this is all that they know. I feel like Canada has become a sort of magical place to them in their mind. They don't really remember living there, but they know that they will move back when they are seven. A lot of what they think of Canada is from our visit to Edmonton, Alberta last August. I don't think that they realize how far away Edmonton and Ottawa are from each other (3450 km/2145 miles). They seem to think that the grandparents and aunties will all be close enough for supper dates and babysitting. Sadly, this is not the case, so it will not that big of an adjustment so far as having family around.
I'm forever grateful for my surprise twins after years of infertility. They were not planned but they were so wanted. After a difficult pregnancy with many complications, the fact that I have two healthy beautiful nearly six year old boys is still amazing to me. I've learned that being a twin might be the greatest thing in the world. Although, nearly every time a classmate approaches them they say, "are you L or G?" So that must get old. Mr. G and Mr. L feed each other's obsessions (sorry/not sorry world); space and the solar system, PJ Masks, Teen Titans, and math (yes they sit around and do math for HOURS). All these obsessions are intertwined with a rich imaginary world that they have created together. They're a bit rubbish at sports, but they try and have fun even when they come in last in every single race on sports day. They don't take things too seriously, they are absolutely amazing with Mr. K. They are patient and loving but will fight when needed (they are brothers). They are brave. They are kind and accepting of differences. I am so proud to be their Mom.
Mr. L was born two minutes earlier than Mr. G and takes on the older brother role quite a bit (those two minutes really matter I guess). He is serious and studious but can also be quite silly. He has a very strong internal compass and will follow it even when it clashes with rules or what a parent or teacher has told him to do (he is exactly like me in this way and luckily his compass is usually pretty steady- but also, I'm so sorry). He tries to keep his brothers in line and will even tell his dad what to do on occasion (his dad NEVER listens- to him or to me). He tells me often that he will love me forever, "even when I am a grandma." He wants to be a scientist when he grows up and have triplet girls, three autistic boys, and one hundred dogs. I told him that would be a lot of work, he didn't seem worried as he is going to have a wife AND a husband. His husband is going to be Mr. G. So he has not quite figured out everything even though he can do his times tables past twelve.
Mr. G definitely takes on the role of baby of the family and uses his adorableness to manipulate people. This tactic works the best on grandmas, we have found. He is sweet and social and extremely entertaining. He will do nearly anything for a laugh (heaven help us). If I let him, Mr. G would go through an entire package of computer paper every day. He is a talented artist, his drawings are beautiful and so expressive. Lately he has been writing his own comic books. "Owlette knocks on the door. Who is it? It's me. (suddenly someone is eating a pineapple)." He is also very musical and hums constantly. Once Mr. L said to him, "do you think you are singing in your head?" Mr G answered, "yes." Mr. L, "well you're not, we can all hear you." He can play the piano by ear, although I would prefer him to look at the notes a little more. Mr. G whines literally every time he is asked to do something. But then he does as he is asked... slowly and begrudgingly. My sister once said about Mr. G, "he lives his life on the outside," which is absolutely true. Nothing is hidden. It's all out to enjoy!
I wish these boys the happiest of sixth birthdays. We will be celebrating by handing out sweets at school and having a small birthday party. I'm so grateful for them and the lightness they bring to my days. I feel like I get to raise my own Weasley twins, which is both a dream come true and not for the faint of heart. And they are never allowed to read "The Deathly Hallows," ever. No twins should read it.
Now We Are Six
by, AA Milne
When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now
for ever and ever.
*The boys when referring to themselves as a group of two, us the pronoun "Us," and I haven't the heart to correct them because it's so sweet and they will grow up in five minutes anyway.
**Calpol is paracetamol for children, which is acetaminophen, which is Tylenol.