A belated update on my younger son who was 11 on September 27, so not quite two months ago yet.
Michael has settled firmly down into the niche of youngest, adorable child. I understand that as he snuggles up to me, he often mouths “brownie points” at his brother and sister but I don’t care and, what’s more, he knows I don’t care. I find him very easy to be with and easy to get on with; obliging, pleasant and entertaining.
He is a total home bird and knows no greater happiness than to be left to hang around the house all day and not be forced out on some outing. Once he gets out he can be cheerful enough but it is the leaving home that he finds tiresome.
Picture from a particularly unsuccessful expedition which his parents forced him to go out on:
He has become obsessed with complex board games which go on for days and are utterly baffling to me. If let, he would spend all his time watching young men narrating how to play board games on youtube.
He still loves to read and his bedroom, the smallest in the house, as he will tell you with some bitterness, is crammed to the rafters with books from all ages.
He is as fond still as looking at old picture books as of reading the latest Percy Jackson or the telephone book sized Codex of some game involving 24 dice and innumerable expensive plastic figurines.
I caught him reading in the dark the other night. “You’ll ruin your eyesight,” I said. “That’s a myth actually,” he replied with all the dignity of someone caught reading when he should be sound asleep. His sister’s bedroom is strictly off limits to everyone in the house and boy do we know it. Michael has been caught sneaking in there to get out some of her more choice books. “Why don’t you wait until she gets home from school and ask to borrow them?” I ask despairingly as herself harangues me about her privacy. “Meh, can’t wait,” he says blithely. After a particularly painful recent discussion with his sister, I am hopeful that he will ask in future.
Michael is a born performer. They had a contest in school involving developing a pretend radio station interview and he won hands down. His teacher tells me that the other children chant his name and beg for him to do the reading out loud. I asked Michael about this and he said, “Now you know why I don’t like it when there are so many characters in a book. It’s exhausting to do different voices for all of them.”
He still loves scouts. This September he got made a seconder (a sixer is head of a little troop and a seconder is second in command). He was confident that this would come to pass but none the less very pleased when it actually did. He steadily refuses to join other clubs or societies, although his secondary school has a games club where his sister is already a member and I imagine he will join there when he starts next year, much to her chagrin.
He loves history and has finished off Civilisation V (history in the largest sense), is a massive fan of Horrible Histories and recently has spent a great deal of time looking at alternative histories on youtube. On the way home from his grandparents this evening we had a vigourous family discussion on what would have happened to the Home Rule Bill, if World War I had in fact been over by Christmas. Let me summarise for you, we don’t know, but everyone got very heated all the same. It beat our conversation about the Kardashians on the way out. Mildly amusing comment from Michael: “They’re real? That explains so much.”
He continues to be the peacemaker although his brother and sister maintain that he uses his charm to get away with murder and that they do much more around the house which does not entirely contribute to peace in our little household.
He has a wonderful teacher this year and is really enjoying school which is terrific.
He still does not love sports but they had a recent competition with another school and he got a medal for being best boy on his team and he was really filled with pride and delight and we were thrilled for him. He is a pretty competent cyclist now and we can cycle into town without me nearly losing my life.
He is sentimental and refuses to part with anything. In particular, he refuses to part with any of his old clothes and as he is growing many of his trousers are flapping around his ankles and lots of his tops reach only just below his elbows. It is economical but I would willingly pay for new clothes, if he would wear them. Michael has appeared over my shoulder and said, “I would, if they were not itchy.” It’s just so hard to determine what will be deemed itchy. Also, he continues to be extremely skinny and as he grows taller it’s hard to find trousers that can be sufficiently tightened at the waist and are sufficiently long in the leg. Of late, he has stopped wearing the hood of his hoodie up every minute of the day. As this has been replaced by wearing his coat with the hood up until dinner time, I am not sure it can be counted as an improvement.
He is soft-hearted. He is always kind and gentle with small children and very patient. We were watching the youtube clip on Jimmy Kimmel of parents telling children that they had eaten their Halloween sweets and Michael walked away because he didn’t want to watch as it was mean. Which, to be honest, it is. Though, kind of funny, if you are heartless, which Michael definitely is not.
He gets on well with his brother and sister and though they can definitely find him exasperating, they are not entirely immune to his charm. Also, he needs them for his board games as his parents are a dead loss. He continues to enjoy cards but would prefer if we went for slightly more challenging games that snap/beggar-my-neighbour. Sometimes, when I am feeling strong, we play 110 but I need to be in the whole of my health.
He continues to eat almost nothing. I’ve almost past trying at this stage. Thank God for cornflakes, milk, pizza, chips, ham, cod, yorkshire pudding and eggs. And I would like to apologise now about over-fishing.
Picture of Michael looking like a Victorian starving chimney sweep’s boy.
We walk into school most mornings with his brother. I love it when the three of us walk in together and I am all the more conscious of it because this is our last year as next year they start in secondary school. I will miss our walks very much. I always give Michael credit for starting us walking in in the first place due to his concerns about the environment (which still continue). It has been lovely for us all, I think.
As he gets older, he is less of a daredevil. Although he continues to be a demon on the bumpers and super speedy on ziplines, I can now let him cross the road with confidence which is a huge relief to me and to him.
All in all, he is wonderful to be with: kind, caring, funny and gentle. It is lovely to watch him growing up.