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Archive for June, 2017

Re-think

30 June, 2017 at 10:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: The boys will be able to cycle to school in September when they start secondary school.
Her: Are you expecting the three of us to cycle in together like high-vis ducklings?
Me: Um, yes.
Her: No.

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29 June, 2017 at 10:02 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself was in Paris back in April – she had a wonderful time and the pressure is really on for us as E, her exchange, comes to Dublin in July. The trip was really good for her French as was demonstrated the other night: herself, myself and Mr. Waffle went out for dinner as the boys were away and she was about to go away, the French waitress could not understand a single thing I ordered from the (largely French) menu, on the other hand, she understood every word my daughter uttered and, at the end, was moved to say, “What a perfect accent.” If you have any exposure to French people, you will know that one of the things they are resolutely, and depressingly, unimpressed by is a foreigner’s ability to speak French. My work here is done.

We were talking about the Paris trip and herself mentioned that in every shop they went into they had to open their bags for inspection. I remember going to Belfast in the 90s and experiencing the bag checking thing, if you’d told me my daughter would have the same thing in Paris 25 years later, I would have been very surprised indeed; it’s all a bit “what are we bequeathing to our children?” isn’t it?

End of the School Year – Round-up

28 June, 2017 at 9:00 pm by belgianwaffle

It seems that we have been celebrating the end of the school year for a while. As the boys are in 6th class, there’s a lot going on. We had their confirmation on June 9. I wasn’t able to move my neck but otherwise it all went well. My sister was able to join us from Cork and Mr. Waffle’s parents came and we went to Milano’s afterwards which is Daniel and Michael’s favourite restaurant in the world. Their aunt and uncle gave them mobile phones for the occasion and they were ecstatic.

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They also cleaned up on the cash front from indulgent relatives. The spiritual aspect was satisfactory also although no Irish speaking bishop was found and the priest who kindly performed the ceremony didn’t believe in rushing matters. I went up with Daniel as his sponsor and he took Patrick as his confirmation name. “Lovely,” I thought. As I stood there waiting to go up to the bishop, I reaslised that I had no idea what name Michael had taken. I had been pushing Edward but took my eye off the ball. “What did you take?” I asked anxiously afterwards. “Jack,” he said smugly. “There is no St. Jack,” I said. I suppose it’s a variation of John. My sister who was his sponsor was surprised also. He keeps us on our toes.

As part of their ongoing leaving primary school extravaganza, they had an overnight trip with their class in Wicklow. I was a little concerned about that, but I needn’t have been, they had a wonderful time. Packing was a challenge though.

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Then they went to the National Acquatic Centre for the day.

They had the feis as well where both of them sang songs in Irish; I was very proud of them – it’s hard to get up and sing in front of a crowd.

And the other day they brought home their final primary school reports where their wonderful teacher had written some really lovely things about them both.

Today was primary school graduation (insert reactionary comment re when I was young you only graduated from college etc.). There was a nice ceremony at which both boys spoke and Daniel also sang. Then all of the children went en masse to the cinema and a couple of parents shepherded them there including me. I am a shadow of my former self. I’m sad to be ending my association with the school; it was such a nice, happy place for my children.

Meanwhile, herself finished school at the end of June and has spent every waking minute since with her extended group of friends. She is so autonomous now. A bunch of them went to the beach; to town; to the cinema; they walk around the park; they go to each other’s houses; she loves Penney’s (Primark to those from outside the jurisdiction) and spends many happy hours there. When she went to the beach, I forgot to remind her not to drown. It turns out she was on top of that piece of advice. She feels very grown-up and sophisticated – much more so than I was at the same age. I am admiring and it is lovely to see her enjoying herself.

She did very well in the school awards but this information had to be dragged from her. Her school report was excellent except for science. Sadly, science teaching this year has been a struggle with the teacher taking several months off. This story is a fascinating one and involves ultimate cage fighting. Do you think I am making this up? Anyhow, I think it is understandable that the students did not excel as finding a replacement mid-year was quite the challenge. New science teacher next year, anyhow. You will be pleased to hear that she did well in her mathematics examination, well you would be, if you had been involved in the frantic hunt for missing log tables the night before involving, inter alia, approaching the neighbour’s children. As she said to me, “You say summer examinations are really only a point in time assessment, it’s much more important how you developed throughout the year; don’t make me sit this examination, stay true to your principles.” Happily the log tables turned up before my principles had to be put to the test. On Sunday she went off for a three week residential camp. She hugged us goodbye as she propelled us out the door; she seemed so capable and independent. It is strange to be at home without her. This year seems to have flown. I remember 14 being hard, but I think she’s doing alright.

Our Days are Numbered

27 June, 2017 at 10:25 pm by belgianwaffle

The boys are finishing primary school tomorrow. All this year, I have been conscious as we walked in each morning that this was our last year. We started walking to school in November 2013 and we’ve walked almost every morning since then. It is often the highlight of my day. We walk through two small pretty parks and we talk. We know the cycle of every pedestrian light on the route; which ones are slow which ones are speedy. Herself walked with us until she started secondary school in September 2015. I used to love to chat to her. In one of the parks, the boys would run through it and she and I would walk around it talking of important matters now lost in time. I was so sad when she went to secondary school and I no longer talked to her on that morning school walk.

The boys and I developed our own routine though. They run to the first park while I cycle. I ring my bell as I pass them and they run more quickly.  Michael bows in a superior manner as I dismount on arrival in the park; Daniel is above this usually, though sometimes he joins in. The park is so beautiful at this time of year. I often think of that line from the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem “I caught this morning morning’s minion, kingdom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding”. The light through the trees reminds me of it though, to clarify, I have never seen a falcon in our Dublin park.

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All year long we look at the leaves. None in winter, coming out in stops and starts in spring, leafy green in summer, then turning and drifting into huge piles in the autumn. We know which trees lose their leaves earliest and come into leaf latest. We check them every school day. We know the men who tend to the parks. We know the postman and depending where he is on his route, we know whether we are early or late. We exchange views on the weather with him.

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We pass the house that has no front garden but an amazing and impressive range of climbing and window box plants. We compliment the owner on it, if we see her – she often tends the plants in the morning, watering and training them on climbing frames – and she compliments the children on their reading at Sunday mass.

Then we cross at the lights (slow and worth running for). Every morning I look right from the traffic lights at the Dublin mountains. “Look at the mountains,” I say. The children are indifferent. I get particularly excited if there is snow in the mountains. Herself says that if she ever writes a book about me, she will call it, “Is there snow in the mountains?” Sometimes we use the mountains to identify the points of the compass: the mountains are to the south so which way is this?

Then we go on to the next park. Sometimes we meet neighbours with children in the school on the way to this park; we pass their house every day. We call them the opposition and race them to school. When we started walking, their baby sister came in a buggy, now she’s walking into school wearing her uniform.

This next park is full of flowers. We know when the daffodils come – for my birthday in March, the tulips – for the Princess’s birthday in April and the red maple and ivy – for the boys’ birthday in September.

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In winter, the sun rises over the far side of the pond and sparkles on the water. Sometimes we see a heron. In December, there’s a Christmas tree.
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Just one year, it froze.

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Today it rained.

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After this park we are nearly there. We admire the stone owl as we leave the park and then we pass a beautiful old house covered in wisteria and ivy. For years we have been tracking the ivy’s progress as it engulfs the houses on either side and greedily makes its way towards second next door.

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At this point we usually meet other children walking or cycling or scooting to school and the boys chat to them or run with them while I talk to the parents. We all come together again at the world’s slowest traffic light. Any given morning, there’s a big gang of parents and children waiting patiently for the traffic lights to change and give us a chance to cross. Then I cycle the last bit downhill and wait for them with their bags at the school. Now they are so big, I leave them to wait outside the school door until it opens; when they were younger, I waited with them, but they are anxious to say goodbye now and get on with their days.

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And here’s another poem that comes into my head a lot at the moment: “And the days are not full enough/And the nights are not full enough/And life slips by like a field mouse/Not shaking the grass”

Ch Ch Changes

26 June, 2017 at 11:39 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel has new glasses:

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Herself has new hair:

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It’s all happening around here, I can tell you.  It’s like coming home to a house full of new people.

Sounds Unlikely

25 June, 2017 at 10:18 pm by belgianwaffle

My father was 92 in March and, all things considered, he is reasonably well. He does tend to get quite deaf though. It comes and goes a bit. When it comes, everything is turned to maximum volume. When I lived at home, I used to fall asleep to the sound of BBC radio 4 and, as I got older, and went to sleep later, to the sound of the world service. My father is a big fan and he always keeps the radio on all night. The last weekend I was in Cork, my father was very deaf. He had the radio on at maximum volume and I had to put my head under the pillow to try to get to sleep. “How do you stand it?” I asked my brother who lives at home. “Well,” he said, “it’s not all the time and you get used to it, but, I am worried that the students next door might complain about the noise.”

Digital Detox or Intimations of Mortality

24 June, 2017 at 10:18 pm by belgianwaffle

Did you know that my thumb started to get sore from reading things on my phone and constantly refreshing twitter and instagram? How embarrassing would it be if I gave myself arthritis from playing on my phone? So I cut back a bit. I was using my phone so much less that I went to Cork for the weekend without a charger and my phone died. I discovered that I am not ready to go entirely cold turkey either.

Then the night before the boys’ confirmation on June 9 (more details in a further post, something for you to look forward to), I was sitting peacefully on the sofa when my neck got stuck and was really, really sore. The day of the boys’ confirmation it was pretty painful and, aside from when they were in the church being confirmed, I had a heat pack on my neck the whole time. Woe, alas, alack. My neck got better but the pain spread to my back, so I went to visit a physiotherapist who suggested that basically, my problem was looking down at my phone the whole time. So further detoxing.

And then the computer died. We now have a new one, momentous day. So, with one thing and another, posting has been light. But now, with the new PC, I am back. Stay tuned.

However let me polish off my back related news in one post; Mr. Waffle slipped and fell down the stairs at work. He was spectacularly bruised and also completely immobile for ages. As he started to get better, he said to me, “I’m still sore, though, and it’s been a week since my fall. Am I old enough to say ‘my fall’ now?” I don’t think so but I suppose it’s only a question of time.

Superb Parenting

5 June, 2017 at 8:44 pm by belgianwaffle

I went in to wake Michael up the other morning. The first words out of his mouth as he awoke were, “Level up”. I think we might need to cut back on his computer time.

The Magic of Poetry

4 June, 2017 at 8:08 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle is fond of Yeats’s poem, In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz. He often quotes it, particularly in the summer, although it’s not a particularly summery poem overall. The other evening, Herself drifted in to us wearing her dressing gown at bedtime, “Ah,” said Mr. Waffle, “Two girls in silk kimonos, both/ Beautiful, one a gazelle.” “Huh,” said Herself, “What was the other, a badger?”


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