Daniel was 15 on September 27. As usual, the birthday post is late.
He seems to me very tall and big now and he has a very deep voice and he’s started to shave. It’s only when I see him with groups of his school mates that I realise that he is about average dimensions. At home, he can sometimes seem very grown up.
He really enjoys listening to music and took some piano lessons in between this year’s various lock downs. His uncle had a spare keyboard and it is installed in his bedroom for practice. He has a fantastic ear for music and, indeed, for accents. He does a great Donald Trump but, happily, that’s a skill he may need to use less in the future.
He is still my sportiest child. This year, he had training in the back garden during lock down. We all made an effort but some of us more than others.
The other day he came in after having run 10km. I was suitably impressed. He is so fit. And he’ll give any game a go.
When we go out on the bikes now, I really hold him back. I don’t mind him passing me on the hills, really, but it’s the speed and effortlessness with which he does it that is faintly depressing.
He’s still playing for the A team in the GAA club and he absolutely loves it. He paid the ultimate price for his enthusiasm, killing a front tooth. Here he is, after his root canal, looking pretty cheery, in fairness.
He also likes basketball.
This summer he started to really enjoy going to the beach.
He used to hate it but this year something clicked and he started to love swimming in the sea and he became my reliable companion at the beach. We got into freezing waters nationwide.
He’s started playing more chess of late and he and his brother play online even though they live in the same house and we have a chess board. They are both very fond of a card game called “Magic: The Gathering”. It’s a licence to print money but they do play for hours and hours.
He also enjoys playing on the x-box and plays Minecraft and Overwatch with his friends which has been a godsend in these Covid times.
He has learnt that for his parents, if he wants to communicate by electronic means, email is a good way to do so. He regards this as strange but is willing to make the extra effort and also to read whatsapp messages.
He still doesn’t read much and insofar as he goes in for reading, it tends to be science/factual stuff rather than fiction although he does like manga cartoons. It can be hard to keep him stocked with these as he finishes them in no time.
He’s academic and does well at school. He didn’t get a chance to shine in the Junior Cert because it was cancelled due to Covid but he didn’t mind. He found it really hard when school went online only and he is much more settled now he’s back in real rather than virtual school.
Last Easter he was supposed to be in France but, obviously, couldn’t go. This summer he was supposed to be doing a course in Engineering for three weeks. He did it last year and loved it but it went online for a week this summer and he had enough of online and didn’t go. This year, he’s in Transition Year and his schedule is flexible. So he started doing an extra physics course one day a week. It started off with everyone on campus (all the young physics enthusiasts) but after a couple of weeks had to move online. It’s not half as much fun as really meeting with people with similar interests and a whole day online is long. I’m hoping next term might be better for him.
He’s still doing a weekly French conversation class and his comprehension and French accent are pretty good although written French is a bit of a mystery. He is nonetheless a resource for his classmates when they are up to give French presentations.
He spends a lot more time in his room these days. He is still very friendly with his brother though.
They get on really well and have loads of interests in common.
He finds his sister very annoying a lot of the time but a couple of weeks ago he got stuck on a physics question and she came and helped him out (frankly, his parents are absolutely useless) and it was lovely to see the two of them getting on so well and working together.
I love this picture of them before dinner out; we were all starving and ratty and Daniel was trying to spread joy and happiness.
He likes meeting his cousins who live across the city although, for obvious reasons, we haven’t seen much of them this year. His other cousin went back to London a year ago. So not a huge amount of interaction since then as she’s only 3.
He continues to be very fond of the cat. Fonder than he is of the rest of us sometimes as we are all quite annoying.
He has become a much less picky eater and this is wonderful. He’s really willing to try new things. I rejoice. He’s also got quite good at cooking and has made pizza for us all reasonably regularly. He makes his own pizza dough which I still couldn’t do, let alone being able to do it at 15.
He is reasonably tidy and dutifully partook in the cleaning rota earlier in the year. He learnt a lot from that, I have to say. These lessons will stand him in good stead. I was delighted when he offered to hoover the house recently because it needed it. It did.
He can be very kind and obliging. Here, he is, dutifully helping me decorate the tree last Christmas.
And here he is, helping out at the barbecue when the inevitable summer rain hit.
This has been a tough year for us all in different ways but I think Daniel really missed the structure of sport and school earlier in the year. And even though we are back in level 5 lockdown, he can now do training and he’s back at school, even if he’s all masked up and a lot of activites are restricted. He seems a lot happier with some kind of escape for all his energy.
Just in September he started volunteering in a charity shop and I was really impressed by his commitment and his ability to make friends with his co-workers. He actually learnt a lot during his short time there – including how to work a cash register and just how much stuff gets donated to charity shops, “Mum, they really don’t need any extra stuff from you,” he assured me. Crushing.
Overall, I think things are ok for him at the moment but I feel he’s missed out on a lot this year. He doesn’t seem particularly put out but I am so glad that this vaccine is coming.
He’s a really good and obliging child and, in life, things do seem to broadly go his way; he’s clever, he has friends and school is relatively easy for him. His family love him but we are, of course, a source of some frustration and mortification to him and it may be a number of years before we stop driving him crazy. Particularly his mother who as recently as this morning gave him a hug and kissed him while he was playing an online game with his friends with audio on his headphones on.