Daniel was 17 on September 27. As usual, the birthday post is late. But this year is a bit of a record – I’m not sure it’s ever been later.
Daniel continues to be more like a grown up in many ways, not least physically. He is constantly training. The GAA is a bit of a trial to me but he loves it and is still entirely committed.
I am feeling somewhat less nervous about his cycling career. He can cycle to training, into town, in the dark and I can stay relatively calm. Although when he rang me one morning after cycling into town, the first thing I said was, “Are you ok, did you get hurt on the bike?” He had not fallen off the bike, he had lost his key. Although he did have quite a bad fall on the road last summer where he cut up his elbows and hips. The problem is that, unlike his mother, he goes very fast and if you’re going fast and the bike slips in the wet, you will get hurt. I did not enjoy seeing him arrive home dripping in blood and tarmac. Still, no accidents since and the bike gives him a welcome degree of freedom. You can still see the marks on his elbow in this picture taken weeks after the accident.
He did a three week course in the summer on popular fiction and he made loads of friends there who he is in touch with and the GAA provides a ready made group of friends. I think he’s really beginning to find his feet and meeting people he knows all over the place – at open days, at grinds and at other exciting 6th year events. And not just people from school. I see his world getting bigger and bigger. It’s exciting.
He is much more willing to go on a mild family walk than he used to be without experiencing any enthusiasm for these outings. We have reached the stage where he pulls me up the mountain rather than the other way around. I wonder when that changed?
He went to Rome for a week in the summer and, although it was a bit mixed as an experience, I think it was really good for him. He learnt a lot including a number of Italian swear words which he trots out with great gusto from time to time. I was a bit worried about him flying alone but I need not have been.
He is still very interested in music and has a fantastic ear. This definitely came from his father’s side of the family. It helps with languages as well – he’s putting it to good use with those Italian swear words.
Heâ€™s still doing well at school, no thanks to school where teachers are disappearing by the new time. There are three on maternity leave; one on paternity leave and one has left to go to another school nearer her home. All fine but finding substitutes has not been easy. This means that he is doing physics classes on Saturday morning in town and over zoom on Tuesday afternoons. During timetabled physics class, he sits at the back of history class. It’s a bit of a disaster. He wants to study physics in college and he’s pretty good at it but it shouldn’t be this hard. Meanwhile, there is no substitute for the excellent maths teacher who has been on maternity leave since the start of the month. Alas.
I think he will get the marks he needs to do physics in college but it is not being made easy for him. Last year I was astonished at the parent teacher meeting when the Biology teacher said he was amazing at Biology. I completely forgot and she said the exact same thing this year. He never speaks about it and doesnâ€™t seem remotely interested which is weird right? I tentatively suggested he might like to think about putting it down as one of his options for college but he said, “No, not interested.” “How can you not be interested in something where you’re getting 100% in all the tests?” I asked. “It’s boring, the tests are really easy,” he offered. I’m baffled.
He is getting better at organising himself to get his school work done. He said to me that he wanted to do after school study in the school as it helped him to focus and it does seem to work for him although his brother and sister were never interested.
Heâ€™s still doing a weekly French conversation class at home and his comprehension and French accent are pretty good. The young man we have this year is a bit of a find and Dan is finding him very engaging.
He and his brother are still very friendly and they have loads of interests in common. As the years pass, they seem to get on better and better.
They hardly ever fight now.
There has been a big change in the family dynamic since his sister went off to England at the end of 2021. He gets on fine with her but I don’t get the sense that they are interacting regularly.
He shaved off all his hair over the summer for a bet. I was appalled.
But, you know, hair it grows back.
He continues to be exceptionally fond of the cat.
Daniel’s cooking has gone from strength to strength, it’s no bother to him to turn around a curry after school (he’s always starving) or make his own dough for pizza.
He is very helpful. You only ever have to ask him once to do something which is a really delightful characteristic.
He’s still very interested in clothes and we got him an Urban Outfitters voucher for his birthday which he received with every appearance of enthusiasm.
Overall, heâ€™s a really good child, obliging, kind, generous and funny. It’s very strange to think that this is his last year in school. But I guess that’s how it goes for parents: slow, slow, slow and then unbearably fast.