The teacher sent me a note saying that Michael has no interest in learning to read and when called upon to attempt reading, guesses words and makes no real attempt to work them out. I went to talk to her and dutifully promised to work on his reading over the Easter holidays (has this happened? alas no but a small reprehensible part of me feels that he’ll read when he’s ready and no point in torturing him). “On the plus side,” said she, “he’s the fastest in the class at maths, whenever I give them a sheet, he’s first up with the answers and always right.” I have to say that Michael has hidden his light under a bushel – this came as a complete, and clearly welcome, surprise. And I happen to know that he’s the youngest in the class by 20 minutes. Mr. Waffle suggests that a career without much writing might suit him, civil engineering perhaps?
Archives for April 2011
Daniel and I were listening to Umberto Tozzi, an Italian, singing his most famous number [Gloria] in Spanish. “That’s not English,” said my son sagely. “I know what language it is, it’s Irish!”
I corrected his misapprehension. A couple of days later, Daniel asked me, “Mummy, what was that song again, the one we were singing together in Japanese?”
On Saturday we went for an outing to the site of the Battle of the Boyne. Despite Mr. Waffle’s dubiety this proved a very successful expedition with an interesting exhibition, many cannons and some lovely parkland. And, as Michael pointed out to me, in great excitement, a map. The exhibition was very carefully done to reflect what is usually tactfully referred to as “both traditions”. It was underlined that Irishmen fought on both sides. There was no triumphalism and only sign of the unfortunate outcome for Irish catholics was a copy of this act without a great deal of further comment:
The children were delighted by the interactive displays and the adults were interested. The occasion was only marred by an all too accurate description of the failed charge of the Jacobite cavalry. This led to the Princess moaning for the rest of the afternoon: “They killed the horses, they killed the innocent horses.” Pointing out that, as the battle took place some 320 years ago, the horses were long dead was of no comfort to herself. Even a picnic in the park in glorious sunshine was only a slight distraction from the nastiness of battle and the infinitely superior regime pertaining for horses in Narnia.
After lunch we took ourselves off to the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey at Mellifont. The visitor centre was closed and I feared that we might not be able to get to the site itself but it was open and we saw it at its best. There were few other visitors and the weather was beautiful. The children occupied themselves filling their hats with gravel and we were able to lie on the grass admiring the surroundings and imagining the cloisters.
At about 5 in the afternoon when we returned home, I had to go into town to pick up some things. Town was hot and heaving with people, most of them sweaty, red-faced, disgruntled children in buggies. I finished my errands in ten minutes and flew home borne up on the wings of smugness as I reflected on our glorious day in the country. I am sure that this is very bad but I’m past caring.
Background: It is the Easter holidays. Mr. Waffle is minding the children every morning this week. As you know, regular lengthy exposure to small children can lead to tetchiness. I have been sailing into work early unencumbered by anything in particular, having made no sandwiches, dressed no one, given no one breakfast and driven no one to school. In the evenings, I return all sweetness and light.
I overheard this exchange from the kitchen this evening.
Daniel: I wish we had two Mummies.
Michael: Well, I don’t.
Daniel: Why not?
Michael: Because then we’d have to have two grumpy Daddies as well.
When I came home the other evening the boys were working hard on sheets of paper. They explained that they were working to foil burglars. First, they had written their names and crossed them out so that the burglars would not know that they lived here. Then, Daniel had written, “I hate you” to show that they were not welcome. Then the boys decided that this approach would not fool the hardened criminals whom they were trying to put off. So, one of them [my guess is Daniel on Michael’s instruction] wrote “Toys 1,025 4 Free” (actually 4 rfee but let us not quibble). Their plan was to stick this notice, which they had photocopied a number of times on the printer, up on various toyshops. Then, as they earnestly explained to me, the burglars would go into the toyshops and be caught by “the cops” in a sting operation.
I asked the children recently whether they thought I spoke better Irish or French. Instantly, all three said “Irish, of course!” I was surprised. I can read well in French, I have been known to draft work texts in French and I speak it well enough to say anything I want to say, within reason. Alas, I have none of these skills in Irish (although I did have an excruciating work conversation in Irish on the phone during the week the memory of which makes me blush). Of course, the difference is that my Irish accent is, understandably, fine (although purists may point out that I have city Irish much further from the real thing than its country cousin) but my French accent is clearly foreign.