Michael is not a great believer in metaphor and he does not like inaccuracy.
When he hurts himself, I will often say “my poor baby” and through his sobs, Michael will say furiously “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy”. Somebody at Montessori school has sold him the line that, “juice makes me small and water makes me big” and he will now only drink water in the hopes of growing up big and strong. In fact, he doesn’t really like sweet things and when his brother and sister get a biscuit, he always has a cracker instead as he doesn’t like biscuits. Isn’t this odd?
Michael is morbidly anxious that the family may be split up and always insists that when we go out we stick together like glue.
This morning, Daniel, as always, woke up first. As I lifted him out of the cot (maybe for their 18th birthdays, they’ll get beds) I said “Up, up, up with a fish”. And Michael said from some distance under the duvet, “My brother is not a fish.”Michael also likes to say “actually” all the time. I fear he may have picked that up from me, actually.
Michael’s hair is finally starting to grow back after having been shaved off in September. I remember shortly after his scalping I got the train to Cork with the children and the lady opposite asked, “Are they twins?” To which I said yes. “And the little boy is a cousin?” I explained that the boys were the twins and the little girl their big sister. “Oh,” she said “it’s just that his hair was so different, I didn’t think that they could be in the same family”.
Daniel howled this evening from the moment his sister taunted him by singing the wrong song until almost an hour later when we finally wrestled him into bed, having wrestled him out of his clothes, into the bath, into a towel and into his pyjamas. We are exhausted. He is very strong and has an enormous capacity for misery, poor mite.
He is also an outstanding mimic with a great memory. To hear him doing Peter and the Wolf from start to finish is enough to bring a warm glow to any middle class parent’s heart.
The Princess was awarded “Gaeilgeoir na seachtaine” (Irish speaker of the week) at school today. We are unclear whether this is in recognition of her Irish prowess or because her name was drawn out of a hat. We are, nevertheless, proud and she has some crayons and paints for her pains.She has just departed for bed in a state of high excitement as Saint Nicolas (who comes to Belgian children on the night of the 5th) may come to us as honorary Belgians. We have carefully left out shoes for him to fill with sweets, beer and biscuits (there was some concern that we have no speculoos, but he will just have to manage) and a carrot for his donkey, just in case. I have told her that he only comes when children are asleep. She pointed out to me that the boys were already asleep and it would be most unfair of him not to come under these circumstances. I beat a hasty retreat uttering dire but unsustainable warnings of what would happen, if she failed to drop off.
The Princess has started ballet on Saturday mornings. I did ballet for 7 years. For 6 of those 7 years I wore white tights, a white polo neck, black ballet shoes and my hair in a net. In my seventh year, I graduated to peach shoes and a leotard. For her first lesson last week the Princess wore the required gear, namely: white tights (some things never change), a blue leotard, peach shoes, a blue cross-over cardigan thingy and a blue filmy skirt (not a tutu, that would just be too much). Did I mention that I walked to school barefoot as well?