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Archive for April, 2017

Unwanted Fame or the Wicked Flee where the Examiner Pursueth

30 April, 2017 at 3:44 pm by belgianwaffle

I am not in Cork this weekend but I have been for the last three which is a lot of Cork. My infirm relative quota is rising, unfortunately – more details in due course – and I have been pitching in. Related to this, Boots in Cork have been heroic. My aunt was totally on top of her medication but now, not so much. My brother swept all the medication on her desk into a bag and I took it to Boots in Wilton along with her prescription and they a) threw out all the out of date stuff b) blister packed three weeks’ worth of drugs and c) hung on to the extras (disturbing, I feel) to put in to her next prescription. I nearly hugged the pharmacist. I am not sure whether you can appreciate how obliging they were (Mr. Waffle who has heard this story three times, is still unclear) but it was a high point of my engagement with the health sector in recent weeks.

Of course, my pitching in in Cork means Mr. Waffle is solo parenting in Dublin and my children miss me, I assume, in the case of the teenager, and certainly in the case of her brothers. Mr. Waffle’s parents are not as well as they might be either and that brings its own complications.

When I go to Cork, it’s a bit stressful; lots of errands and logistics. I have pitched it thus to everyone. And this is true. Really. But last weekend, when I was there, I snuck out to the Crawford Gallery and saw their new exhibition (which is excellent, incidentally) and, I felt a bit guilty that I wasn’t constantly running so I just didn’t mention my illicit gallery break. I did tweet about the exhibition, safe in the knowledge that my family is indifferent to my tweeting and not among my 234 (gasp) followers. So I was not utterly delighted to get this email from my sister:

From: Her
To: Me

Tweets making headlines

@Belgianwaffle’s Tweet was featured in Irish Examiner

5 things to do this week
Stuck for cultural events this week? Des O’Driscoll has great suggestions for you, whether it’s tv or theatre you’re …

It’s not like it was a secret but it’s not like I was advertising my gallivanting either.

A Boy Who Knows His Mother

28 April, 2017 at 9:35 pm by belgianwaffle

I had to collect Daniel from GAA at 7 on Thursday night. I arrived home from work at 6.45 to be met by Mr. Waffle who immediately cycled off into the sunset to a school information night. I drove to the training grounds. I was a little late. No sign of my first born son. It gradually dawned on me that they must be training in the other grounds. I arrived there about 20 minutes later and my child was sitting patiently waiting for me at the side of the road. Our conversation went as follows.

Me: Were you waiting long?
Him: Yes.
Me: Were you worried?
Him: No. One of the trainers asked me whether I was alright when she was leaving. I said I was and not to worry because my Mum is always late. The trainer said that there was a lot of traffic but I said that you were late whether there was traffic or not.
Me: That is true.

Not My Finest Hour

23 April, 2017 at 6:18 pm by belgianwaffle

Of all the burning issues which you might think that I should really care about, it turns out that cycling is the one I’d die in a ditch for. I’m pretty surprised but as the discussion becomes more polarised, I find myself reading all kinds of things and snorting at the ignorance of people who disagree with me. I have become, perhaps annoyingly, evangelical about the joys of cycling; the exercise, the reliability, the handiness. I used to accept people parking in the cycle lanes and on the pavement as a fact of life but, increasingly, I am irritated by behaviour I used to ignore as inevitable. All this is to set the scene for the following little vignette.

One morning the boys and I were cycling to school. From our house to the nearby park, they cycled on the pavement [which is legal for children]. When we got to the short (very quiet) one way street leading to the park, there were vans blocking the pavement on either side of the road and I said to the boys to come off the pavement and cycle on the road but be very careful as it was one way against us. Out they came and a workman came across the road with a long pole which he was loading on to one of the vans and nearly took Daniel’s eye out. He immediately started shouting at me that it was a one-way street, which, of course, it was and he wasn’t checking both ways. We both got a shock although no damage was done. I was annoyed and I said, “We wouldn’t have been on the road if your vans hadn’t blocked both pavements”. We had a vigourous exchange of views for some time. When I caught up with the boys in the park, they were both a bit shocked. “Angry Mama,” said Michael, “why were you so mean to that man who was only trying to do his job?” I was a bit mortified. “How do you think I should have handled it?” I asked him. “I don’t know, I’m only 11” he said.

I spent all day thinking about it and what I should have done differently. If he had apologised, I would have immediately apologised myself but it was the fact that he was so aggressive and so self-righteous really got to me. I brought it up again at dinner. The boys had tired of the subject. “I’m reflecting on how I could have handled that better,” I said. “You’ve reflected already, now you’re dwelling,” said Dan.

I’m still dwelling. What should I have done?

Easter Round Up

19 April, 2017 at 8:06 pm by belgianwaffle

I took the boys to Cork for a couple of days before Easter. They spent a lot of time in front of the television although we did fit in the obligatory trip to Charles Fort in Kinsale. The needs of my elderly relatives are ever-expanding; my poor sister was out of commission [hold out for another post on this] and my brother was holding the fort with a ratio of 1:3 able bodied to infirm so I was there to try to even up the numbers. The boys absolutely loved it but I did feel a bit guilty as well as flattened from dealing with doctors and pharmacists and hospitals and the public health system and home help and finding the kind of chorizo my father likes. It gave me a whole new appreciation for my sister and brother; and I already appreciated them, really. So, not super relaxing.

We came back to Dublin on the Saturday before Easter as Daniel was scheduled to sing in the choir for the Easter vigil. It’s very beautiful. First the church is in darkness and then everyone in the church lights a candle. As we walked up to mass, Daniel reminisced fondly about how one of his fellow choristers managed to set his own eyebrows on fire the previous year. The service was indeed beautiful and particularly the music but it was very, very long. We eventually stumbled out at 10.50.

Before going home, the choristers all picked up an Easter egg. We were chatting to A, one of Daniel’s fellow choristers whose family is from India. A had already been on a three day retreat and was bracing himself for the Indian mass (Syro-Malabar for the intellectuals following along in the smart seats) the following day. Michael was horrified. Mr. Waffle almost asked A what religion he was. Then he remembered, oh no, of course, he is catholic, just much, much more devout than us. Our local church has an Indian and an African mass as well as other masses and it is unfortunate that in our patterns of worship we are (inadvertently, I assure you) replicating South African era apartheid conditions. Except for brave souls like young A and his family who cover several masses with unfailing devotion.

My parents-in-law came to us for lunch on Easter Sunday and we spoke to herself in France. She was holed up in the French exchange’s aunt’s château in Le Havre (location, location, location) along with 39 of the extended family and other exchanges including, a boy from Canada, a boy from Germany and two children from South Korea. I have still not got to the bottom of who in the extended French family is learning Korean. Games were facilitated by herself translating from French for the Canadian and the German (who spoke English) and the German translating for the South Koreans who spoke German but not much French or English. I confess myself utterly baffled by the set up. The Princess was very impressed by the four storey over basement château where she got lost several times and where the room for shoes was as big as her bedroom (which, you know, is a largish double). She also ate her own weight in chocolate and worked it all off on the trampoline.

On Monday, Mr. Waffle, the boys and I went into town for some organised fun. Some of this was pretty good. There was was graffiti:

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and art:

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and science:

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Then we went for lunch in town and all was well. We should have gone home then. Instead we went to Dublin Castle where Daniel saw a theatre thing he didn’t much care for and Michael wandered off to try the pottery making:

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Sadly, they then saw the printmaking and Michael, in particular, wanted to do it. The result was super and the people were really nice but, oh Lord, 40 minutes in a queue when everyone was getting tired and crabby was not a happy time.

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And then we had to cycle home which no one was particularly enthused about at that point. My mother’s motto is “Always leave when you’re enjoying yourself most”. My father always characterised this as rather puritanical but I think she has a point.

And then, yesterday, herself came home. We were very pleased to have her back. Her brothers are coping.

How was your own Easter?

14

17 April, 2017 at 8:22 pm by belgianwaffle

The Princess was 14 on April 12.

She wasn’t here, she was off on her French exchange in Paris. She’s only getting back tomorrow. It was her first birthday away from home. She seems to have had a lovely, lovely time. The French exchange’s mother is my friend who I lived with in Brussels for two years and who did more than anyone ever to improve my French by correcting me when I made mistakes (ideal French exchange mother material, you have to concede). Mr. Waffle and I attended my friend’s wedding in Normandy with herself, a 3 week old baby, in tow. So, we’ve known each other a long time and it is very pleasing to be exchanging our daughters. They pulled out all the stops and I am slightly dreading having their daughter E back in the summer as entertainment standards are high. Still we have a couple of months to plan.

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My daughter is a very independent 14 year old. She was away for a week at mid-term, away for 10 days now at Easter and is going away for three weeks in the summer. And she is on committees and teams and seems to be very engaged in all kinds of things. I rely on her school’s twitter account for details of her activities – she refers to it as a fifth columnist. When I did a traineeship in the European Commission nearly 25 years ago, there was a very bright, very competent, fiercely independent English girl who was one of our cohort. She was a friend of a friend and I remember my friend telling me that this girl had essentially left home at 15 winning scholarship after scholarship and entirely paying her own way for everything. It seemed, in some ways, a bit sad to me and the memory has stayed with me. Honestly, at one level, I feel that if herself had to leave home in the morning, she would be perfectly able to do so. I know the job of parents is to prepare children to live happy lives on their own but I’m a bit worried we may have peaked too early here.

School is going well for her. She’s always been very academic so that helps. But she has thrown herself into the “clubs and socs” end of things and is always staying late to do activities at school. As she cycles in and out, she’s very independent and we’ll often get a text message saying something like, “I’m not dead, I have just gone to [friend’s] house. Home later.” And that’s fine. She’s sensible and she’s reliable. And she seems to be doing fine socially though, of course, you can never really know.

She still reads everything and lots of it. Her interests are eclectic. She is fascinated by Jewish religious laws. She’s read a lot on this one. Apparently the rabbinical courts have turned their attention to what happens if a weasel takes bread from the house [the details on why this might be bad elude me] and she likes their attention to detail. She has me tormented on Catholicism and the rules which apply.  I have the shakiest grasp on this myself; this is not helped by her constantly trying to poke holes in my limited knowledge. I blame the internet for giving her the impression that the Catholic church is anti-science. The Church has many, many faults but that is not one of them.

She and her brothers are generally either at war or in a state of uneasy truce. I am hoping this will pass. They sometimes get on pretty well but that is mostly when they are jointly torturing Mr. Waffle and me and I am not sure that we are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for sibling harmony.

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Instagram and snapchat are her social media of choice. She can leave email lying ignored for days but a snapchat question generally gets a (laconic) response. Can I just say that I hate using snapchat and it leaves me feeling old and baffled. This is what I get for being over 25, I suppose. Last autumn my brother and sister bought her a snazzy new phone. Prior to this, she had only been able to access social media through the school iPad which was deeply unsatisfactory for reasons I didn’t entirely understand. Our rule had always been no electronic devices in the bedroom but we dropped the ball here and since she already had her iPad in her room (for homework and – not authorised – watching Netflix) we just let her take the phone there too. We were only brought to our senses by the shared outrage and indignation of her brothers who are only allowed 20 minutes computer time per day. We said her phone had to stay downstairs. We survived it.

She still loves animals. She loves our cat. She desperately wants a dog. She is even fearless with the neighbour’s hens.

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2016-06-05 09.33.28

She is a terrific cook. She continues to use her powers for good and makes a range of cakes and buns for local consumption. She also makes great risotto.

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Her room is a fastness and woe betide any family member who crosses its threshold. It was very tidy there for a while last summer under the influence of Marie Kondo but standards have slipped a bit since August 2016. Still reasonably good though as I have promised to just march in there and start tidying up, if it gets too messy.

 
I don’t want to tempt fate here but all in all, things are very good. She’s happy, she’s settled in school, she has friends, she has lots of interests and things are going her way. There was a while last year when she was, I think, a bit miserable (based on a reading of signs, omens, portents, not any actual information shared, you understand), but that seems to have passed. She and I go out together a bit, to the cinema or to cafés and it is pleasant. I feel like time is racing away. They always say that children grow up very fast but this has not been my experience to date. Now, suddenly though, it’s like the end of the race is in sight and I’m not sure I am ready to stop running.

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