I was seeing a house the other day and the estate agent made conversation with the boys.
Estate Agent: And how old are you?
Michael: We’re five.
Estate Agent, turning to Daniel: And how old are you?
Michael (more forcefully): We’re five.
EA: But how old is your brother? 6,7,8?
Michael: WE’RE FIVE.
Me: They’re twins.
And today, they are six.
But first, they were new born babies;
And then, they were crawling one year olds;
When they were two, we were busy;
They were three when they had their first birthday in Ireland;
Then, they were big boys of four who had started school;
And last year they were five and Michael wanted to be able to read.
So, this year, they are six.
Michael is the most charming person; delightful, endearing and entertaining. He also can be very cranky. “STOP kissing me,” he often hisses at me. Despite my telling him he would be able to read when he was five this hasn’t happened – he can read a little bit but he’s a long way from Tintin. He has outsourced the effort of reading to his brother. He eats about 5 things, he still bites his nails, alas, and he is as thin as a whippet. He is very generous and is usually willing to share. He is utterly indifferent to the views and opinions of others. He loves, loves, loves playing club penguin on the computer and is alarmingly good at puffle rescue [if you have to ask..]. He has an uncompetitive streak and is often happy to let things go. This can be a relief to his hard pressed parents. He has started saying “sh” more often than “s” (my ship, not my sip) following intervention from the speech therapist [possibly last free thing we will ever get in Ireland]. He is keen to trade and at bedtime is in and out to his sister’s room swapping toys. He hates all languages that are not English and is waging a rearguard action against them – though when he speaks of Asterix and Obelix he gives them the full French pronunciation, not knowing any better. He has become a better walker and it’s been quite a while since we have heard the plaintive cry of “Carry me, carry me.” He is a home bird and loves our house. He would spend all his time here, if he could. The prospect of moving, fills him with horror. Fortunately, for him, it doesn’t look like it’s getting any closer. He continues to be by far the best card player in the family and the best loser. Possibly, because it doesn’t arise very often. He has a great deal of joie de vivre and likes to chat to strangers. He doesn’t appear to have a shy bone in his body.
Daniel is very serious, except when he is hysterical with laughter. He likes to explain things in detail, the plots of books we haven’t read and television programmes we haven’t seen are particular favourites. He is very earnest about these things. Often, when you ask him a question – for example, what would you like for lunch? – he will think for a long time and reply with the plot of an episode of the Power Rangers. He gets very, very cross about injustices, real or perceived, and will howl the house down at the drop of a hat which is unfortunate but, I hope, just a phase. He is a terrific reader and loves reading. When not being forced to read aloud to his brother, he likes to take himself off with Tintin or Horrid Henry. He is the most musical of the children and can reliably produce a tune. He also has a very good ear for accents – Mr. Waffle says he is fluent in English, French and Dub. He speaks extremely clearly in all three. He is anxious to please and is always looking to see whether people are happy with what he has done. He has excellent hand writing and always colours between the lines. He is amenable to being kissed occasionally. He loves playing football, hurling and soccer and the trip to the GAA on Saturday mornings is the highlight of his week. He is horribly grumpy in the mornings except on Saturdays when he positively leaps out of bed, beaming. He is a good player and is very competitive which, funnily enough, makes him inclined to hang back in defence because no one else does and the goalie tends to be sitting on his hurl staring at the sky [his team mates are 6, remember]. For a while there, he used to say to us, when we distracted him from something, “you made me lose my focus.” This was slightly disastrous as we then laughed and he was furious with us. He is a picky eater but has yet to meet a sweet food he doesn’t like. He’s a fast runner and even though he’s a year younger than many of his classmates [he is the second youngest in the class, his brother is the youngest by 20 minutes], he can give them a serious run for their money. He is very clever and recently when asked who were better drivers gave this impeccable answer: “In general, it doesn’t matter but in this family it’s Daddy because he doesn’t have penalty points.” He seems to really need his glasses and they almost never come off. Sometimes before going to bed I go in and look at his little face without glasses and it is almost like looking at a stranger – partly because his face is in repose and it is always full of whatever emotion he is experiencing by day, but mostly because he is not wearing his glasses.
They are both, despite the bar on kissing in most circumstances, very affectionate, which is lovely. They are always delighted to see me, except when watching TV or playing on the computer, in which case, my presence is a matter of indifference to them. Ah, a mother’s lot. Still, I wouldn’t change it.