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At the ophthalmologist

31 October, 2007 at 1:17 am by belgianwaffle

Hard to spell and even harder to say. Hardest of all to spend two hours there on a rainy evening with two tired parents and two tired boys. The boys, understandably, disapproved of the people putting drops in their eyes and shining bright lights into their pupils to examine the backs of their retinas.

Predictably, Daniel was stoic and Michael was furious. He pointed at the assistant who dispensed the drops and yelled “mechante lady”. During the actual examination with the bright light he yelled, shut his eyes and cried. Daniel just squeezed my hand as he lay down on the large leather couch. Poor Daniel, he is getting glasses and a patch for two hours a day. And a check-up in 6 weeks, doubtless involving more drops. Michael is to come back in 6 months to have a pale optic nerve inspected further. I really hope that the meek inherit the earth because other advantages seem to be pretty much non-existent.

When we got home, someone had parked in front of the garage so we had to ferry the boys in, across the road in the rain. On arrival, however, things improved. The Princess was in great form having had a day of indulgence from the royal grandparents who are nobly pitching in to help us out over mid-term. They also had dinner ready for us…and it was still hot.

Also, this is funny:

Russian president Vladimir Putin has suggested setting up a Russian-funded institute in Brussels or another European capital to keep an eye on human rights issues in Europe. 

Non sequiter

30 October, 2007 at 12:26 am by belgianwaffle

We went swimming with the family on Saturday. All the children love the pool but the boys are very reluctant to leave. We had to wrestle them out and carry them screaming to the family changing room. We attempted to get dry, stay dry, get changed, change nappies and dress children, find liga and wring out togs in the narrow confines of the changing room.

Mr. Waffle: Stay on the towel or you will get wet.
Daniel: Wet, wet!
Michael: Bottle.
Me: One minute, one minute, hand me a nappy there please. Princess (holding up bag of silica gel that came with her new goggles): What is this for?
Me: Michael, stop that.  Stop it, now! Um, it’s to keep the inside of the googles packet dry.
Princess: Why?
Mr. Waffle: Michael get your socks out of the puddle.
Me: Where are Daniel’s shoes?
Princess: But why?  Why does it need to be kept dry?
Me: I’m not sure, sweetheart.
Daniel: Sock, wet.
Princess: But how does it work?
Me: Not really sure, sweetheart.
Daniel: Two sock wet.
Michael (howling): Daniel bold.
Daniel (clutching head): Michael bold.
Mr. Waffle (through gritted teeth): Where is that boy’s bottle?
Princess: Mummy, I don’t think I believe in God.

Further notes on progress

27 October, 2007 at 9:56 pm by belgianwaffle

Introduction

Like his big brother, Michael was two on the 27th of September (he was born 25 minutes after Daniel). He is a Mummy’s boy. He loves his Mama. He will always give a (generally snotty) kiss when asked. He also loves his doudous and now will only go to bed if he has his doudou (t-shirt belonging to his father), his nounours (a teddy bear wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of the Brussels police service – it is difficult to imagine a less cuddly body of men and women though my husband points out that some of them are round and others are furry) and a bottle clutched between his teeth.

Appearance

He is a slight wiry little fellow and has the most hair of any of my children. Of all of them, I feel that he is the one who looks most like me though they all look very like their father.

Character Traits

Despite this apparent softness, he is as tough as nails and will never cry, if we are cross with him. He regards all efforts to criticise or amend his conduct with deep hostility. He loves sticking his finger up his nose, a habit as unsightly as it is unsanitary. The other day, I again remonstrated with him and removed the offending finger. He looked at me balefully, held up two fingers and stuck one up each nostril. Today I was absolutely furious with him because he would not keep on his t-shirt and went howling about the house saying “tummy, tummy”. I lost my temper and pulled off his t-shirt. I think that this is the first time I’ve lost my temper with him and he was shocked and appalled. He ran into the hall and found his father and grabbed him while pointing tearfully (unusual that) and furiously (much more common) at me. “Mama, méchante!” he said with considerable bitterness. Ah yes, a whole year of being 2, I can’t wait.  I now have only one child with whom I have never lost my temper.  No prizes for guessing who that might be.

When his brother or sister is sad then he will run to get a doudou to comfort him or her, unless he is the cause of the chagrin, in which case he will run around the room crowing with delight.

Michael is dangermouse. He likes to abandon his family and play with the big children. He likes to climb. He would run under cars, if he could. He thinks “careful” means please climb on the table and jump from it on to the couch.

He is immensely sociable and from when he was very young would smile ingratiatingly at strangers. In the park he likes to run off and play with other children and never gives a backward glance to his family. This is good practice for when he is a teenager, I suppose.

Communication Skills

His vocabulary is unsophisticated but not ineffective. “Sleep, asleep” he says hopping into our bed pulling the covers around him and clutching his array of doudous. This is a boy who would love to get out of his sleeping bag and cot and into his own bed. Unfortunately, since his father and I place no dependence of his staying quietly in bed the way his sister did when she transferred out of her cot, this is a desire that is unlikely to be fulfilled for some time yet. When his nose runs, he says imperiously to his parents “nose, nose!”.

He is very polite and as he sits down for dinner he will say, before chucking it around the room “thank you, Mummy, thank you Daddy”.

He adores talking on the phone and will say to my mother “Hello Nana” which they both seem to enjoy. He often picks up the phone and has imaginary conversations with his grandfather.

Leisure and Culture

He loves to run and to walk on the street, a pleasure he rarely enjoys as trying to stop him and his brother tossing themselves under a bus is a task that requires two parents and a well behaved sister.

He loves balls. He once caught sight of a ball on the street and wept for absolutely ages when he was not allowed to play with it. He loves kicking balls and is quite good at it. He knows no greater pleasure than trying to tackle me while with deft and fancy footwork I pass him.

He likes to be read to and is particularly fond of “Slinky Malinki” by Lynley Dodd (whom my genius husband guessed might be from New Zealand by looking at the illustrations in her books). He is also taken with the tale of “PJ Funnybunny” who having considered a number of options (spoiler alert) decides he wants to be a bunny after all. As we turn each page he identifies all the animals PJ tries becoming. Since it’s an American book, the animals PJ goes to live with are not very familiar to me and it is mildly amusing to see my small son pointing at a picture of a very odd looking animal which I have never seen before saying authoritatively “possum!”.

Dining

He eats most foods but doesn’t like sweet things. We think he may be the reincarnation of a 50 year old man who died of a heart attack. He once insisted on tasting his father’s wine. We allowed him to, sure that he would spit it out. He loved it and demanded more. Actually there is form for this in my family. My brother who was four at the time got drunk by finishing off the sherry (it was the 1970s) that guests had left in their glasses at my sister’s christening. My parents were actively concerned about him as he rolled on the floor giggling helplessly until they caught a whiff of his boozy breath. I digress. One day we were having mustard with our sausages. Michael demanded some and when we watched to see how he would react, we were amazed to see him cast aside the sausage and start tucking into the mustard with his spoon. He also eats pesto by the spoonful. If he were allowed, he would eat mountains of salt.

Conclusion

Michael is Thursday’s child – he has far to go. Assuming that he makes it to three. He is extremely charming, yet lethal, particularly, if crossed. Maybe he will grow up to be a spy.

And to celebrate his survival of another year, here is a slideshow covering 12 months of my darling, daring boy.

Notes on progress

26 October, 2007 at 10:47 pm by belgianwaffle

Celebrations

Daniel was two on 27 September and though he had to share a birthday with his brother, he will get a belated blog entry all to himself. The effects of the birthday party still linger. Every time he sees balloons he begins to sing “Happ Birthday Daniel and Michael” and I’m pretty sure that it’s a bit unclear to him why the celebrations have ended. The birthday party itself was attended by two sets of twins in addition to the birthday boys. That’s a lot of small people and I haven’t even touched on the other children. He loved it.

Relations with parents

Daniel is a Daddy’s boy. I try to worm my way into his affections and he is quite fond of me but I come a very poor second to his beloved Papa. While he will willingly embrace his father, the only times I can regularly get a kiss from him are the mornings his father takes him to the creche.  On those mornings he will stand in the hall with his chubby little arms outstretched and say kindly “big kiss, Mummy”.

Physical Aspect

Daniel is a very solid child. I find this odd as he eats almost nothing. He does, however, enjoy a number of bottles every night so this keeps him going. My advice to dieters would be to stay away from the full fat milk. He has enormous dimply knees that I can never look at without smiling. He has the softest blondest hair and pale, pale skin. He has a very endearing way of running. He sticks out his elbows and wiggles them about while trotting along solidly saying in great excitement “I run, je cours”. He also has a squint, poor mite. We are taking him to the doctor on Monday and I see a patch and glasses in his future.

Interacting with others

He is a quite a good talker and really tries to communicate. He gets cross when we don’t understand him and says the offending word repeatedly. He has learnt from his sister that, if your parents don’t understand, it is best to shout at them. He and the Princess both rejoice in penetrating voices and they often scream in high pitched harmony for the hell of it. Their parents do not enjoy this.

He isn’t bad with strangers though, over the Summer, I took him to see an old friend of my mother’s and although she was very taken with the way he would peep out at her from my shoulder and say “I shy”, I was a little surprised.

He is an empathic little fellow and more than either of the other two worries when anyone is sad. His face will take on a look of concern and he will waddle over to the weeping sibling (or whoever it is) and offer a big kiss (unless, it’s me, of course, then he just offers a stiff upper lip) . On the other hand, when he is cross, he is furious. Carrying him somewhere he doesn’t want to go is like wrestling with a kangaroo. He has this trick of arching his back and flailing his limbs so that his (considerable) weight puts you off balance. I don’t think he realises that this will make him land on the floor one day – he just knows that it makes him harder to transport, and that’s the main thing.

His sister has two Doggies (Home Doggy and Travel Doggy – regular readers will know the latter is a – very expensive – spare because the thought of losing Home Doggy is frankly too terrifying, even now that she’s four and half). Until very recently, Daniel and Michael were never so dependent on a toy/blanket/whatever you want to call it. In bed, they will cuddle up to an old T-shirt, but any T-shirt will do. However, in the last few weeks Michael has become very attached to a teddy bear which he also takes to bed (with a T-shirt and a bottle). Sometimes he won’t let of of any of these treasures, so getting him into his pyjamas can be tricky. And Daniel ? Just a T-shirt, thanks. He’ll even give this to Michael, if Michael is upset.

Daniel is very good at sharing, which is just as well. When you ask him to share, even a favourite toy, he will. He may say no a couple of times but eventually he will hand over whatever it is with a small sigh.

Quirks

Daniel is the only one of my children who has inherited what my parents and siblings describe as my mania for tidiness. I would say that everything is relative. My father always says that my grandmother was very tidy and always throwing things out. My parents live their lives in reaction and nothing has been thrown out of their home. Ever. “We are not part of the throwaway generation” my mother informs me severely. My brother went to a science museum in Manchester and he saw our electric fire. Whenever I go home my parents tease me by doing this deeply irritating thing, whenever they can’t find something, they ask me whether I have thrown it out. The most unlikely things “there was a cheque there for 500 euros, did you throw it out?”. I digress. Poor Daniel is obsessively tidy. He cannot sit down to eat unless everything has been put away. This is an instinct I have every sympathy with but sometimes I wish he would just sit down and eat his dinner. When he has put things away, he straightens up the boxes and beams with pleasure and pride.

Up to now Daniel and his brother have shared a wardrobe. I notice though that there are now a number of items that Daniel regards as Michael’s. “Michael’s pyjamas” he says firmly, if I try to put on the ones with the frog pattern. “Bear” he says pointing to his tummy, indicating that his pyjamas are the ones with the bear.

The arts

Ever since he was very small, he has loved books. He is still very happy to sit turning the pages of a book he likes. He is fond of T’choupi, the world’s dullest mole and thanks to the efforts of his sister over the years we must have about 20 different tales of the home life of the mole. Paradise.

Ideally, I think Daniel would like to watch more “Postman Pat” on the television but we are cruel and heartless and don’t let him. Sometimes he sits in front of the television hopefully just praying that someone will turn it on.

He loves songs; two songs to be precise. All summer long we had to listen to “Gugusse” and attempts to try other songs were not welcomed. Now, everywhere we travel we are accompanied to the cheerful strains of “Il était un petit navire”. My sister gave him a phone that you can record on and I have sung a couple of lines from the boat song. He wanders around the house beaming with it pressed against his ear until his brother, suspecting it may be more entertaining than his own identical phone whips it from him.

Conclusion

Even though he was born on a Tuesday, my elder son is really Friday’s child – loving and giving.

Happy birthday, my fabulous little boy.  And here, to celebrate is a slide show demonstrating how big you’ve got since last September.

Wading into deep waters

24 October, 2007 at 10:12 pm by belgianwaffle

I reread “Praxis” by Fay Weldon recently. I didn’t realise I was rereading until I got to nearly the end and it came flooding back. I read a lot of Fay Weldon in my 20s and was inspired by the injustices she identified. But this time I found it dated. I feel that the battles have moved on. No one in the Western world would seriously suggest to a college student that she would be better off dropping out of college and getting married. Plenty of people, however, would suggest to a college educated woman that she would be better off dropping out of the workforce and staying home minding her children. I suppose that this is progress.

Then the latest Mavis Cheek is also about 70s feminists and consciousness raising and I’m tired of having my consciousness raised in this particular way. Maybe I need some new books.

If you haven’t read Praxis, let me ruin it for you. Praxis is jailed for suffocating a new baby with Down’s syndrome. Her (let us say, so that I can spare you the tortuous details of the plot) daughter refuses to have the relevant tests and this child is born very badly handicapped and with, Praxis believes, every prospect of blighting the daughter’s life, so Praxis takes matters into her own hands and suffocates the new born baby. Is this worse than having an abortion at four months? The geepeemama has this to say about abortion and down’s syndrome:

“It brings back what is probably my most poignant memory to date – the time when, as a junior obstetrician, I had to take away the 22-week-old baby with Down’s after a medical termination. After I’d fished him out of the bedpan (parents refusing to look) I held him in the sluice and cried and cried and told him “I would have had you”.

Does aborting foetuses with disabilities say something about our attitude to people with disabilities?

I see that the British are approaching the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act with 200,000 terminations a year, 6,000 of them from Ireland.  I am from a country that has no legislation on abortion. Following much tortuous discussion and angry debate, no political party has had the nerve to produce anything like legislation. There is a constitutional protection to the right to life. The pro-life groups who were many and vociferous insisted that this was not sufficient to prevent abortion in Ireland. In retrospect this was foolish of them. In 1983 the Constitution was amended to acknowledge the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother. And there the matter rested to the chagrin of the, then smallish, pro-choice lobby and to the delight of the pro-lifers. Then, there was a particularly unpleasant case. A young girl was raped by a family friend and she became pregnant. Her parents notified the police. Because of the constitutional right to life of the unborn child, there was a doubt as to whether this girl could travel to England for an abortion (a very common Irish solution to an Irish problem). There followed a court case which convulsed the nation and, in due course, in 1992, the constitution was amended to provide that the right to life of the unborn would not limit freedom to travel between Ireland and another state and nor would it limit freedom to obtain or make available information relating to services lawfully available in another state. That is our entire legislative provision. It would appear that the 1983 amendment gives the right to an abortion when the life of the mother is at risk, including, where she threatens suicide. Even, in these extreme conditions, our politicians have been reluctant to put a toe in these particularly stormy waters (if I may mix my metaphors): abortion is not available in Ireland and we continue to export this problem abroad, largely to godless England. The problem has resurfaced recently in the Miss D case. As one commentator pointed out, we have a whole alphabet to cover the abortion issue.

I live in a country which allows abortion. I know this because the then, very catholic, king abdicated for a day for the law to go through. They have a very robust attitude to abortion in Belgium – if something is wrong, have an abortion and try again. Who am I to condemn other people’s choices in heartbreaking situations? But yet, the older I get, the more I worry about abortion.

Would I want to force anyone to stay pregnant? No, I don’t think so. When I see a 24 week old baby surviving, clinging on to life, do I believe that terminations at 24 weeks are a problem? I think I’m beginning to. Where do you draw the line? Is every sperm sacred? Is the morning after pill alright? Is eight weeks fine? Oh to enjoy the certainty of the pro-life movement. No matter how extreme the case, whatever the crime, whatever the health of the foetus, whatever the age of the mother, even the morning after pill is absolutely forbidden. Or indeed the certainty of the pro-choice movement. I just don’t know what’s right. Trumping the rights of a bunch of cells over those of a vulnerable abused teenager must be wrong. Musn’t it? When do cells become a baby? Is viability a valid cut off point? They say hard cases make bad law, do they make bad morals also?

Discipline

21 October, 2007 at 8:22 pm by belgianwaffle

Princess: I don’t like C.  I don’t want her to collect me from school any more.

Me: Why not?

Her: I want someone who obeys me all the time.

Dealing with a closed mind

19 October, 2007 at 2:05 pm by belgianwaffle

Her:  I want the pink toothpaste.

Me: It tastes exactly the same as the blue toothpaste.

Her: Pink is for girls.

Me: No, it’s not, that’s just social conditioning.

Her: What’s social conditioning?

Me: Well, people say that pink is for girls and blue is for boys but it’s not true.  You just feel it’s true because you see lots of pink things for little girls and you hear it a lot.

Her: I don’t care; I like pink.

Three generations of annoyingly precocious children

18 October, 2007 at 9:35 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess irritates her teacher by answering before other children (as well she might, since they have to struggle with limited French in a way that she does not). I well remember when I was in fourth class (10) annoying my teacher by lecturing her on Samuel Johnson (who wouldn’t be annoyed?). I got a letter from my father the other day (letters from my father are always a thrill and it remains a matter of deep irritation that my sister gets more of them than I do – she points out that she writes more too) recounting something similar happening to him when he was young in the 1930s:

“I recalled when I was in St. Joseph’s (a fairly tough National school which drew a lot of its clientele from the Marsh – that is, from the flat of the city, places like Sheare’s street, Liberty street, the Main street, and so on). This area had mostly been depopulated by giving the people better housing in the suburbs – Ballyphehane, Gurranebraher, and so on, so that you would not be able to form a very good idea of the way it was when I was a child.

I was a goody-two-shoes sitting in the front of the class, when the Presentation brother in charge, a brother Alphonsus, set the class a problem in mathematics. I was then a precocious little b*st*rd who had also (like you) learned to read very early, and I tended to be a teacher’s pet, I think. At all events, I solved the problem easily and quickly (I am not so sure I could do it now) and called out the answer within a very short time.

At that time each teacher had a cane – a stick about a metre long and 1 or 2 centimetres thick – and the good brother called me to the front of the class, and gave me a good blow of the cane on my outstretched hand. This was then roughly the equivalent of what you told me about M. The zeitgeist today would find this sort of discipline offensive, but it was the norm then, although I think the brother over-reacted: he might have been hoping for a few minutes relaxation while the class struggled with the problem. This sort of discipline even had a theoretical pedagological justification. The unruly student was beaten, and when suffering the pain of the punishment he would be more amenable to words of advice and reproof about his behaviour. I am not necessarily defending this, but I didn’t offend in this way again”.

Quite.

Discussion of current affairs over dinner

16 October, 2007 at 8:34 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle: Did you see that Ming has resigned?

Me (long pause): Is he the leader of the military junta in Burma?

Mr. Waffle: No, the British Liberal Democrats. [Pause] As we’re Irish, do you think that we’re allowed to pronounce it Menzies?

Hideous, hideous, hideous

14 October, 2007 at 2:39 pm by belgianwaffle

Yesterday we decided to take the children to mini-Europe because that’s the kind of thing you end up doing when you have children. Don’t sneer.

We didn’t set out until 4.15 because Michael woke up late from his nap and the Princess didn’t want to go and we had to pack snacks and things were against us. The traffic was brutal and we limped across town very slowly, navigating our way to this distant location. Daniel and Michael kept demanding food and then chucking it into the boot and dropping things on the floor and screaming until they were retrieved. The Princess was too warm and had to take off her coat and couldn’t. We got lost. We had a higher proportion of squealing to a halt and irate parents leaning into the back seat than is usually a feature of our lives.

We finally arrived about 4.45. Last admissions were at 5. There was some kind of book fair on. There was no parking. We found parking. Admission was only via a number of flights of steps or a long detour (an ideal feature for an attraction seeking to entice small children). The clock was ticking. We took the steps. We harried the boys and herself up. We arrived at 5.05 to find, inevitably, that the bloody thing had closed.

We spent some time at the Europe Village which was utterly hideous and boasted a number of fast food outlets, a big yoke with slides and ropes and a merry-go-round. They all had a go on the merry-go-round. Daniel was scared. Mr. Waffle took Daniel off. The Princess instantly wanted to go to the toilet. I took her into the Quick with a screaming Michael protesting vigourously. We went back to the play area. The Princess went into meltdown, screaming hysterically because I would not let her blow up a balloon she found on the ground. Daniel got hit on the head by a bigger child swinging on a pole. Michael stuck his tongue out at a larger child with a bicycle, the combatants were separated with injury to dignity only.

We went home, back up the steps, everyone howling, Princess demanding to be carried, boys risking death throwing themselves down the flights of concrete steps, hauling the buggy behind us. Everyone into the car; drove home (another 45 minutes) with everyone wailing to various degrees. Made dinner. Boys wouldn’t touch it. Put them to bed in a sulk (everyone).

How was your Saturday?

Incidentally, this afternoon, we all went for a walk in the woods and it was fabulous.  The Princess hunted mushrooms, the boys played with their footballs, the weather was wonderful and they all ate their dinner when we got home.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Happy anniversary

12 October, 2007 at 9:04 pm by belgianwaffle

My mother first saw my father in the staff common room. He sat behind his paper and ignored her. She thought poorly of him. He later confided that he was not so caught up in his paper as not to notice that there was a new member of staff with nice legs (not, alas, inherited). It was before feminism came to Cork but Mills and Boon was clearly alive and well.

They were not introduced until somewhat further into term.  My mother knew the college librarian (who had, if memory serves me, been the college chaperone when my mother was in college – a post which, alas, is no longer extant) and, when my father went to the librarian looking for help to translate some German articles he needed for a piece of research, she pointed him in the direction of my mother.

When my mother was at college, she had studied chemistry. She had also learnt German because in the 1950s, German was the language of science and then she had polished up her German by studying in Germany. In the late 1950s she won a DAAD scholarship to Germany. Ireland was poor and Germany’s economic miracle was miracling away. My mother’s professor said to her that she would probably see a lot of expensive equipment that they didn’t have in Cork, but, he continued, there was no need to tell everyone that and show us all up. She should keep her mouth shut and she would learn how everything worked in no time. This proved to be efficacious but, I can’t help feeling, slightly dangerous advice; suppose she had blown up the lab in Freiburg trying to keep Cork’s end up. Anyhow, she packed her trunk (literally, I wish we still had trunks) and off she went by boat and train to sample the delights of German chemistry and encounter her first automatic shop door (Bally, in Geneva, since you ask) and her first black person and attempt to learn Russian through German (an attempt which does not seem to have been at all successful). I digress.

German is, obviously, more the language of romance than you might think as, following the translation work, my father took my mother on a walk which she remembers with some bitterness as a stiff climb in inappropriate footware. She alleges that no sooner would she catch up to him than he, nicely rested, would jump up leaving her puffing along behind. It is not clear to me whether it was as a direct result of this my mother took my father riding. It was a new experience for him and not one he has chosen to repeat. He was thrown by Neddy and my mother was unfortunately unable to help him as she was incapacitated by what she has categorised as a nervous reaction but what my father described as hysterical laughter.

Despite these singularly inauspicious beginnings, they were brought together by the picnic. Until meeting my mother, the only kind of picnic my father knew was the ham sandwich and tea in a flask kind. My mother believed in furniture, cutlery, glasses, whole roast chickens, pate, salami and so on. [I know this because my childhood was blighted by elaborate three course picnics that went on for hours when all I really wanted was to have a cardboard ham sandwich and get on.] It was a match made in heaven.

My mother always said to me “get to know a man’s family before you marry him”. This, however, was advice which she only applied loosely to herself and, having first seen my father in October, 1966 she got engaged to him in June, 1967. At that point, she had met none of his relatives and she wasn’t there when he broke the news either.

Every Thursday, my father used to drop his mother to the Imperial Hotel to meet his Aunt Cecelia for tea. On this particular Thursday, just before he was to head off on a four week sailing holiday (when he would be uncontactable) he said to her as she got out of the car “I have a bit of news”. “Oh yes?” said my innocent grandmother who, I feel, cannot have in anyway anticipated what was to follow from her only son who, after all, had turned 42. “I’m engaged” he said and sped off. He didn’t tell any of the friends he went on holidays with either. My parents both pride themselves on their discretion [action/reaction – their elder daughter puts everything on the internet]. I might just take this opportunity to clarify that I (their eldest child) was born two years after their marriage and that there was nothing about either of them that the other’s family could take the slightest exception to and, in fact, they both got on very well with their in-laws when they finally met them. Mind you, years later a (Cork, obviously) boyfriend of mine asked me whether my mother was very rich. I replied regretfully that she was not. In fact, insofar as there was any money, it was my father’s – he had just saved up to buy a yacht when he met my mother and he married her and paid cash for their house instead. Why had he asked? Well his (Cork) family couldn’t quite understand why my father at his age would have married a Limerick woman for no particular reason.

“Marry in haste, repent at leisure” is another proverb of which my mother is fond. Again, it was for my benefit (before I married the current post holder, I hasten to add) as it didn’t really have any application to her. She and my father were married within 12 months of their first meeting and I don’t think either of them has regretted it for a moment in 40 years, 3 weeks and a day (this post is a little late). The only time I have seen my mother really annoyed with my father was when he wanted his washbag from the boot of the car which she had just carefully packed with camping gear.

My parents never fight. When I was young, I had two good friends and their parents always fought, it didn’t bother me but I thought that this was normal and my parents were a bit odd. When I grew up, I realised that, in fact, my friends’ parents had been very unhappily married and my parents were pretty standard. Now that I’m even more grown-up and happily married myself (but, you know, our lives though perfect etc. are not entirely argument free), I’m having third thoughts and wondering whether they are odd, after all.

A very happy belated anniversary to my happy parents.

Apparently, American lives have second acts after all

12 October, 2007 at 8:57 pm by belgianwaffle

Congratulations, Mr. Gore.

Procrastination is the thief of time

12 October, 2007 at 12:36 am by belgianwaffle

I have been busy this past week, breakfast and dinner meetings and much running about.  I have neglected my family.  I have neglected ringing my friend F to thank her for dinner last Tuesday and tell her I had a nightmare about her fridge.  I am haunted by its order and cleanliness.  And I have neglected my blog.  So, this evening, instead of doing anything useful (um, arguably, the blog is not useful), I allowed my poor husband to labour into the night on the computer and watched some television instead.  I got sucked into the vortex of “The Day after Tomorrow”.  May I make a recommendation?  Save yourselves; it’s very dull and cold in the eye of the storm but somehow compelling.  I’m easily compelled.  I’m off to bed with a hot water bottle.

Almost touched by greatness

4 October, 2007 at 9:45 pm by belgianwaffle

Yesterday, the Princess and I went to see Ratatouille. Paris looked delightful and I said to her that we might go there together one day. She seemed unmoved by the proffered treat but I was misty eyed at the thought of mother-daughter bonding. Maybe she was dubious about hygiene standards in the kitchens there.

Today, at lunch time, I sneaked off to a short film about Rubens in the gallery. On my way in I noticed a small fat man kissing the hand of a tall blond woman. She looked mildly familiar.  Once I got in, there was a speech welcoming Princess Mathilde (aha, that’s who she was, future queen of Belgium, assuming that there is a Belgium to be queen of) who, in many ways, sounded like the rest of the working mother brigade as the speaker referred to her younger son who was 2 today and her older son who was laid up with measles.

The film reminded me that when my daughter and I have our trip to Paris, we must see the Marie de Medici cycle in the Louvre. I really recommend clicking on the link, Marie de Medici had a busy life and capturing it in pictorial form required all of the painter’s genius.

I passed Mathilde again on the way out having her hand kissed by some other fat man and chatting amiably to the event organiser but it was all very peaceful. Given that Mathilde is Belgium’s answer to Princess Diana (except that she appears to be smarter, saner and somewhat plainer) I was expecting slightly more of a throng than two but apparently not.

Actually, little pitchers do have large ears

3 October, 2007 at 10:32 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: So, look, when the Grinch [seasonal] is saying something loudly it’s written in capital letters.  Can you read those letters?

Her: N-O-T

Me: And that spells nnnn…

Her: Can you please just read the story?

Me: Nnnnooottt.

Her: Look, I know that if I were in school in Ireland I would be learning to read and write now but I’m not in Ireland I’m in Belgium and can you just read the story?

Me (much chastened): OK.

In an effort to ensure that I will have less time to stoke my daughter’s paranoia, I have signed up to NaBloPoMo.  You should too.  You know you are strangely fascinated by the idea.


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