Speckly-Woo!, already a charming and spirited soul, with a series of 'one-liners' that belies her toddler status, takes her compliments with grace, and will name the twins at lightning speed when the inevitable question comes.
This is usually what happens. Strangers hesitate, catch your eye, stop, ask about the children and go about their business with a smile and, one assumes, hearts that have melted ever so slightly.
Of course, this is to be expected. When the girls are out on the town, they are all cleaned up, dressed in their finery and on their best behaviour. On the domestic front things go on that would, understandably, quicken the pace of the most reluctant passer-by.
Picture the scene. It's countdown to feeding time. Just minutes left on the clock and Mum is frantically combining a masterclass performance in puree with her well practiced bottle warming technique. She's willing the hands of time to speed up when twin number one starts to yell out a cry like Norman Wisdom being strangled. This is the cue for twin number two to out-mimic her sister. They swiftly settle into a pattern of alternating screaming and all else is drowned out as the darling twins become the queens of implacability.
At last the bottles are eagerly taken, other occupants of the room begin tilting their heads and stirring their ears with their fingers, to check that they haven't been struck deaf. Such is the impact of instant silence.
Watching them feed is a truly wonderful sight. But the intermittent grunts, contorted expressions and assorted tunes from nature's music-box all signify action taking place down below. Their Mum offers up a wry 'thank you' to both of them as they continue to fill their nappies in unison.
There are few words of comfort to offer a Mum operating in the front-line. There's no point in citing her good fortune over that of mothers to large families in days gone by. It would not only be irrelevant but it would be about as helpful as tripping over a freshly filled potty!
Frances Lillian, 1886-1967 (with the six eldest of her sixteen children)
However, I can't help but admire women like Frances, the younger sister of my great grandmother, who had sixteen to cope with.
© 2009, copyright Martin T. Hodges