Oh the responsibilities Daniel bears on his young shoulders. He worries about all of us. He worries most about Michael though. Daniel is prudent, his brother is reckless. This is hard on Daniel. He is only 20 minutes older than Michael but he still acts like the responsible older brother.
He continues to be the sporty child and is out training two nights a week with matches every weekend. He is fit as a fiddle and is never happier than when tossing something (ideally a ball but a pencil or a balloon or just about anything will do) in the air. He would like to take up additional sports: tennis, soccer, rugby but the schedule is already pretty full with hurling and football and he may have to hold off on the additional sports until he can get there himself. He has been to Lansdowne Road, Croke Park and Dalymount to watch matches. He supports Arsenal. He is a true sporting enthusiast. It’s a mystery to us. It’s a pity that our only sporty child is the one who wears glasses. I have, however, invested a fortune in sports goggles and he gets good use out of them.
He’s a good cyclist and good in traffic which is a comfort. He is a bit faster than me and his brother and I can see him sailing ahead in traffic on the way into school and although my heart misgives me, he has never actually done anything to really scare me. He can be slow to set off as he considers all his options so I have taken to saying “Go, go, go!” to him at traffic lights which he is not loving.
He is able at school and likes facts which is a great help to anyone making his way through school. He also loves to read which is handy. His teacher is wonderful this year but he is very capable of getting on with a less than wonderful teacher, putting his head down and learning himself. He did not like his teacher last year but he managed and was reasonably happy. He loves school because he has lots of friends but also because he knows the rules of engagement and he is good at meeting expectations. Towards the end of the summer holidays he is always quite keen to get back to school.
He is very kind to other children particularly younger children. I see him in the playground helping them down when they have ventured too far on the ropes. He is nearly too old for playgrounds; he does not love them like he used to although we still go a bit. I will miss seeing the look of sheer delight he used to have when running to a playground.
He is very fond of some computer game involving the Trojan wars about which he now has considerable expertise. This also goes for fantasy games involving plastic figurines which he likes to play with his brother. He is also a big fan of Fifa 15 which he gets to play on Saturday mornings. When I emerge from bed, he is downstairs in front of the tv with the curtains drawn dressed in his match gear, playing his little heart out. He will have been at this since at least eight as he usually has to head off for his Saturday match by 9.30 at the latest. His kind aunt and uncle gave him an x-box live subscription for his birthday. This has not been an unmixed blessing as he is finding the live opposition a bit harder to manage than the computer. However, he is surprisingly sanguine about this. I say surprisingly as he is a child who hates to lose. Board games and card games can be torture. But the impact of the GAA has been positive and he is developing a certain battle hardiness when they lose games. His sister put it well though, she said that we are all like raw wood when we are born and over the years we build up layers of polish which allow us to ignore losing and care less but he hasn’t got very much varnish yet. Poor Daniel. It is hard to care so much. I think he would very much like it to be otherwise.
He loves his brother and mostly they get on very well. He and his sister are very much alike and consequently enjoy a much more fractious relationship. They both want to be king of the castle but Daniel has a sneaking regard for her and her opinion which is a distinct weakness in his defences.
He still understands French reasonably well but his spoken French is pretty limited although his accent is good (lucky him). His Irish is coming along though. In English, he is really good at speaking clearly and pronouncing his words properly. He can articulate his words in a way that is quite unusual for an Irish person. He didn’t get that from me; all my words end in a soft “sh” sound (money my parents paid for elocution lessons? Down the drain clearly). He did some prayers of the faithful at mass last Sunday and I was struck by how well he read in front of the congregation. He was nervous, I know because he told me, but he didn’t seem nervous up on the altar and he was really clear.
He is great at helping around the house. He is well able to do useful tasks and not too inclined to wriggle out of them. His room is pretty much always tidy. Worth repeating, no? His room is pretty much always tidy. It fills my heart with joy. On the minus side, he seems incapable of putting his runners anywhere other than where he takes them off and I am constantly falling over them in the hall, on the landing and all over downstairs. There is no malice, it’s just a higher item on my priority list than it is on his.
I am a constant source of embarrassment to him in public and with his friends, if I’m not singing, I am hugging him or otherwise doing mortifying things. I was pleasantly surprised when I came back from Cork recently to have him rush down the stairs to give me a hug notwithstanding the fact that he had a friend staying. When his friend suggested that they might go back upstairs to continue playing, Daniel said, “I’d like to stay and talk to my Mum for a while because she’s been away and I’ve missed her.” I was so touched. Sometimes, he seems so independent and self contained that I forget that he is only just 10.
While he is willing to eat most sweet treats, his savoury diet leaves a great deal to be desired. He essentially lives on bread, porridge and Yorkshire pudding (although this evening he ate a lamb chop and I nearly expired from happiness). I am slightly sick of Yorkshire puddings but I think Daniel will never tire of them. And, if he did, what a catastrophe that would be.
Notwithstanding the outrages he has to put up with from his family, he is a happy child and enjoys life. He has a big smile and we often see it. He finds his parents’ jokes hilarious. Like many things, I suppose we should enjoy this while it lasts. It is wonderful to see your children growing up but sometimes, you wish it would happen a little bit more slowly.