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Archive for April, 2011

A Game of Two Halves

26 April, 2011 at 10:01 pm by belgianwaffle

The teacher sent me a note saying that Michael has no interest in learning to read and when called upon to attempt reading, guesses words and makes no real attempt to work them out. I went to talk to her and dutifully promised to work on his reading over the Easter holidays (has this happened? alas no but a small reprehensible part of me feels that he’ll read when he’s ready and no point in torturing him). “On the plus side,” said she, “he’s the fastest in the class at maths, whenever I give them a sheet, he’s first up with the answers and always right.” I have to say that Michael has hidden his light under a bushel – this came as a complete, and clearly welcome, surprise. And I happen to know that he’s the youngest in the class by 20 minutes. Mr. Waffle suggests that a career without much writing might suit him, civil engineering perhaps?

Hmm

25 April, 2011 at 8:46 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel and I were listening to Umberto Tozzi, an Italian, singing his most famous number [Gloria] in Spanish. “That’s not English,” said my son sagely. “I know what language it is, it’s Irish!”

I corrected his misapprehension. A couple of days later, Daniel asked me, “Mummy, what was that song again, the one we were singing together in Japanese?”

Outing

24 April, 2011 at 9:59 pm by belgianwaffle

On Saturday we went for an outing to the site of the Battle of the Boyne. Despite Mr. Waffle’s dubiety this proved a very successful expedition with an interesting exhibition, many cannons and some lovely parkland. And, as Michael pointed out to me, in great excitement, a map. The exhibition was very carefully done to reflect what is usually tactfully referred to as “both traditions”. It was underlined that Irishmen fought on both sides. There was no triumphalism and only sign of the unfortunate outcome for Irish catholics was a copy of this act without a great deal of further comment:
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The children were delighted by the interactive displays and the adults were interested. The occasion was only marred by an all too accurate description of the failed charge of the Jacobite cavalry. This led to the Princess moaning for the rest of the afternoon: “They killed the horses, they killed the innocent horses.” Pointing out that, as the battle took place some 320 years ago, the horses were long dead was of no comfort to herself. Even a picnic in the park in glorious sunshine was only a slight distraction from the nastiness of battle and the infinitely superior regime pertaining for horses in Narnia.
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After lunch we took ourselves off to the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey at Mellifont. The visitor centre was closed and I feared that we might not be able to get to the site itself but it was open and we saw it at its best. There were few other visitors and the weather was beautiful. The children occupied themselves filling their hats with gravel and we were able to lie on the grass admiring the surroundings and imagining the cloisters.
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At about 5 in the afternoon when we returned home, I had to go into town to pick up some things. Town was hot and heaving with people, most of them sweaty, red-faced, disgruntled children in buggies. I finished my errands in ten minutes and flew home borne up on the wings of smugness as I reflected on our glorious day in the country. I am sure that this is very bad but I’m past caring.

Trouble in Paradise

19 April, 2011 at 9:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Background: It is the Easter holidays. Mr. Waffle is minding the children every morning this week. As you know, regular lengthy exposure to small children can lead to tetchiness. I have been sailing into work early unencumbered by anything in particular, having made no sandwiches, dressed no one, given no one breakfast and driven no one to school. In the evenings, I return all sweetness and light.

I overheard this exchange from the kitchen this evening.

Daniel: I wish we had two Mummies.
Michael: Well, I don’t.
Daniel: Why not?
Michael: Because then we’d have to have two grumpy Daddies as well.

A Future in Policing?

13 April, 2011 at 11:16 pm by belgianwaffle

When I came home the other evening the boys were working hard on sheets of paper. They explained that they were working to foil burglars. First, they had written their names and crossed them out so that the burglars would not know that they lived here. Then, Daniel had written, “I hate you” to show that they were not welcome. Then the boys decided that this approach would not fool the hardened criminals whom they were trying to put off. So, one of them [my guess is Daniel on Michael’s instruction] wrote “Toys 1,025 4 Free” (actually 4 rfee but let us not quibble). Their plan was to stick this notice, which they had photocopied a number of times on the printer, up on various toyshops. Then, as they earnestly explained to me, the burglars would go into the toyshops and be caught by “the cops” in a sting operation.

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Language

13 April, 2011 at 10:59 pm by belgianwaffle

I asked the children recently whether they thought I spoke better Irish or French. Instantly, all three said “Irish, of course!” I was surprised. I can read well in French, I have been known to draft work texts in French and I speak it well enough to say anything I want to say, within reason. Alas, I have none of these skills in Irish (although I did have an excruciating work conversation in Irish on the phone during the week the memory of which makes me blush). Of course, the difference is that my Irish accent is, understandably, fine (although purists may point out that I have city Irish much further from the real thing than its country cousin) but my French accent is clearly foreign.

Curse you, Jacqueline Wilson

12 April, 2011 at 11:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Her: In my Jacqueline Wilson book, it says there is no Santa, it’s just your parents. It’s true, isn’t it?
Me: Pathetic strangled noise followed by equivocal reply.

On consultation with my loving husband, I discovered that she had put the same question to him and he had replied that Jacqueline Wilson writes fiction and everything in her books is fictional. Which was very clever but too late for me.

Eight

11 April, 2011 at 10:47 pm by belgianwaffle

Tomorrow my daughter will be eight. It seems extraordinary.

She is a great reader and a great talker. She has a terrific vocabulary. She doesn’t like ball sports but she likes walking and running. She still speaks French and her Irish is ok. Her handwriting is appalling. Her teacher describes it as like an extinct animal. However, she is a creative child and the house is full of diaries (usually abandoned after a frank description of the particular offence her parents have committed) and stories and art projects. She knows a lot of stuff – she loves National Geographic, Kids. We are training her up for University Challenge.
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She often gets hysterical at bedtime which is tiresome but really, the only time when she acts like a little girl so, faintly appealing also. Her brothers worship the ground she walks on and will do anything she asks. She mostly treats them with cruel indifference.

Socially, she still struggles a little bit, but she is getting better at staying friends. She is always quite good at hitting it off initially but when friends come to our house, she is quite liable to disappear to her room to read which is, obviously, not terrific. We had her birthday party on Sunday and she really enjoyed it. This is the first time I can say this unequivocally. My husband found it excruciating, not just because birthday parties are, but also because it was the weekend of the neighbourhood clean up. He sits on the residents’ committee (you are not surprised, I expect) and saw his fellow members, who are elderly, picking up carefully on our street. 80 year old T waved to him while holding a black plastic bag. However, stern duty in the form of supervising 13 little girls called, and I wouldn’t let him out.

The Princess is a great cook. I am really quite proud of how she has mastered cooking. The fact that the page of Nigella Lawson’s “How to Eat” that covers cake now looks like this is a small price to pay.
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Her baking skills are impressive. I close the kitchen door, she gets out the recipe book, she weighs and measures and mixes, calls me when it is time to put the cake in the oven and that is my only role. I hope eight will be the year she gets the hang of savoury food. Somewhat dismally, when I asked her what she would like for dinner as a special birthday treat, she instantly replied, “Domino’s Pizza”.

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She loves the cat. She also loves dogs and small animals; though not dead mice which the cat occasionally presents to her. In fact, she is pretty dubious about blood and gore generally and becoming dubious about spiders and worms. I love spiders – they’re cute little things and very light. Ideal pets for small children. I digress.

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She increasingly offers me hope that she will be a delightful adult. Happy birthday to the best girl in the world.

Cultural Differences

8 April, 2011 at 10:49 pm by belgianwaffle

When Mr. Waffle was in France recently, he found himself reading an article in some French mag with tips from female reporters. He says it was very odd, all about how to keep your hair looking good in a war zone (hairspray apparently). Does this happen in magazines in other countries? Discuss.

Feis Ceoil

6 April, 2011 at 9:59 pm by belgianwaffle

The school had a singing and recitation competition on Saturday. The boys were both very brave but failed to scoop any medals. Michael took this very hard. “I try and I try, but still I don’t win,” he sobbed as the kindly adjudicator mouthed “sorry” at me over his heaving shoulders. The same adjudicator proceeded to award his sister second place in her category which she regarded as no more than her due. If I were giving out medals, I would have given one to Daniel, I think, who did his impression of a child from the Connemara Gaeltacht.

In completely unrelated news, herself walked a neighbour’s child home this afternoon and came back carrying a bag full of swag. Apparently, every day when coming home she, the childminder and the boys, meet a nice lady who lives on the street. The Princess had informed the lady that her birthday was coming, as indeed she has informed everybody. The lady acted on this information and as the Princess was passing her house this afternoon, she came out with various offerings. Unfortunately, the Princess has inherited my sense of direction so she has no idea in which house exactly her benefactress lives nor is she aware of other useful identifiers like the lady’s name. She has composed a thank you letter to hand over next time she meets the lady in the street and that is the best we can do for the moment. Who says the big city is an unfriendly place?

Today’s Ludicrous Demand

6 April, 2011 at 12:11 am by belgianwaffle

As ever, delivered at 8.45 as we are walking out the door, “Mummy, I need a photograph of you for school.”

Another First Communion Story

5 April, 2011 at 12:08 am by belgianwaffle

This is one from a friend’s taxi driver. He was hired for the day of this little girl’s first communion which, apparently, is quite common. He drove her to the hairdresser, to the dressmaker, to the beautician for her nails and facial and then the child’s mother looked at her watch and said, “You know, we’re running late, we’ll go straight to lunch.” I suppose it might be apocryphal.

Health and Safety Notice Emailed to Lucky Employees

4 April, 2011 at 10:06 pm by belgianwaffle

It has come to our attention that there are a number of rats running around the grounds near the North gate entrance. We are contacting a pest control company to come on site to deal with this issue as a matter of urgency. In the meantime, staff are advised to be careful when walking around the grounds and in particular to ensure that entrances to buildings are kept closed to prevent any rats getting into the buildings.

Lovely.

A Tale of Love and Home Improvements

1 April, 2011 at 10:46 pm by belgianwaffle

We are getting new windows. I know, just as we are thinking of moving. Don’t be at me. They were scheduled to come early in the morning. I had a meeting first thing and my loving husband was on duty. Inevitably, as I sat in my meeting my phone rang.

Send text to unknown number: Am in mtg.
Have a thought, send follow-up text: Are you windows? If yes, call my husband.
Sit thinking that, if not windows, text will be unfortunate. Phone bleeps.
Message from windows: Sorry its R from [company]. alarming going off.wondering do u have code. cheers.
Reply: Sorry. No idea. We never use it. Try husband.
Message from windows: Cheers he’s here now.
Me to husband: Code might be in house file.
Husband to me: I was able to remember it from 2008. Glad you married me?
Me: Yes.


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