Michael was 14 on September 27. As always, his birthday post is a bit late. He wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m sure.
He still loves to read. The other night, having finished “1984”, he was looking for “Animal Farm” (unfindable, truly our book shelving leaves a great deal to be desired) and I said, “I can see the cover in my mind’s eye, it’s an old edition, one of those penguin orange ones.” Michael started pulling out old editions and found a copy of “Faust”. “This will do,” he said. I urged caution but the next morning there he was sitting up in bed finishing volume 1. We haven’t got volume 2 and I am a bit unclear as to where volume 1 came from as neither his father nor I have ever read it. Michael pronounced it to be alright – a bit slow to start apparently – and he has no particular desire to continue on to volume two. I think he might enjoy Dickens beyond “A Christmas Carol” (perennial favourite) – now to see if any can be found.
He loves to watch youtube videos on his phone and he loves board games. Some of his friends share his enthusiasm but not as many as he would like and as these games often involve weeks of your life, he can find it hard to get takers. He is still doing drama although the older he gets the more the gender balance skews female. He is indifferent.
He is growing still and is now quite a bit taller than me and his sister but still a little shorter than his brother. He is very thin and, perhaps in consequence, feels the cold terribly. He still wears his coat around the house in winter and, although the house could be warmer, it’s not that cold. Triumphantly, the Aga in the kitchen means that he now takes off his coat at dinner. I am fighting an entirely unavailing battle to get him to hang up his coat under the stairs rather than slinging it over the banister. The rest of the family have yielded to what they regard as sheer lunacy on my part but Michael remains…resistant.
His diet is still far from perfect and quite limited but slowly it does seem to be expanding. I am delighted he is back on cornflakes and milk having abandoned them for some time in favour of bread and honey.
He still cycles in and out to school. This is pretty much his only form of exercise as he has, sadly, abandoned hockey and not taken up anything else instead – a very brief flirtation with golf having led nowhere. I discovered the other day that he is the only one of his siblings still cycling the approved (slightly longer but safer) route to school. He came off his bike the other day and wounded his knee and his dignity. I do worry about him on his bike but, at least he is on the quieter roads.
He and Daniel get on really well although occasionally they annoy each other. Michael is indifferent to public opinion but his brother is not. This makes singing in public something of a flashpoint; Michael will sing to himself walking down the street, Daniel does not love this. Michael and his sister interact relatively little as she has a full social life and a bedroom she likes to stay in but when they are together, they get on fine.
His favourite thing to do is stay at home in his pyjamas. My friend R called around unexpectedly while Mr. Waffle and I were out. Michael let him in and showed him the new kitchen. Upon our return, Michael said, “One of your friends called, I’m not sure which one, he had a bike.” On inquiry, R confirmed that it was he. “How,” I enquired “did you enjoy Michael’s dressing gown and pyjama look at 3 in the afternoon?” R replied, “It is the younger son of a German princeling vibe.” This filled Michael’s heart with joy as it is exactly the look he was going for.
He loves a romantic comedy and he and I sometimes sit down together and watch a Richard Curtis number on Netflix. He is a big Hugh Grant fan. What can I say?
He is doing fine at school – he is particularly good at English which he really enjoys. He’s good at memorising poetry which is handy. He continues to be terrified of his Irish teacher which is a bit of a problem. For a child who often appears absolutely indifferent to outer expectations and the views of others, he can get quite stressed and worried about school work and whether he has properly understood the teachers’ instructions. But generally, he seems on top of things. I would like him to do the academic course his brother and sister have done in the summer which they both say he would really enjoy. The entrance exam was on recently and I tried to encourage him to give it a go. “Are you crazy Mum, do an exam to spend three weeks of my summer holidays in school?” he said. I did not persuade him to give it a go. If it’s not this, it will have to be Irish college.
He is a wonderfully engaging public speaker and, even in domestic circles, when offering his opinion speaks in clear and authoritative tones. He is convincing even if he is wrong. I regard this as a great gift which will stand him in good stead but perhaps needs to be carefully deployed.
He no longer runs out to greet me when I get home from work; alas, I do miss that but I suppose it is inevitable. He continues, however, to be very good at charming me to get his way. To the chagrin of his siblings who declare it all an act, I find him utterly delightful and endlessly entertaining.
If you want to start with Dickens, might I suggest ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, it is almost exciting… for a Dickens? (And so much shorter than Bleak House!)
Conor Galvin says
Lovely pictures. And wow 14… !!!
Maybe suggest he try White’s ‘The Once And Future King’ if he hasn’t. A little off the usual lists these days…. but worth finding, I reckon.
Suzy, Conor, excellent suggestions, thank you. We’ll try them and see.