An old friend of mine was in Dublin briefly. I met him on Sunday. We went for a walk in the Park which was pleasant. Alas, it did not stop there. Because he is a brother (religious, not related) and he expressed an interest, I thought that I would have him to dinner and we would eat at the same time as the children. I would never do this to anyone else. I think, I felt because he was in a religious order, he needed more exposure to small children and he would enjoy it. WHY would I think that?
So, it started off auspiciously enough, the boys played boardgames with the guest, the Princess read her book and ignored him but was not actively disagreeable. After a particularly contentious game of snap/beggar my neighbour when Daniel swept the cards from the table and collapsed sobbing and red faced on the floor, Mr. Waffle thought it would be better to turn on the television to calm the troops. Because we live in one room, this meant that my friend had to watch Elmo too. He was polite, but I suspect that this was not what he was used to in the lofty circles in which he moves in Rome. Certainly, the Princess shushing him was toe-curlingly ghastly.
Dinner was just dreadful. The children were all quite excited by the guest. They manifested this by shouting over him. Daniel, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, spent much of dinner leaning back on his chair and howling like a wolf. Earlier in the day they had seen this video and it made a profound impression on them. The first time they performed it, it was mildly amusing but by the 25th any entertainment value had pretty much evaporated.
Our friend was, as becomes an American and a religious man, polite about his welcome and saintly with our children. You can read his, frankly, untruthful account of his visit here. In fact, the only truthful thing he said is what he said when we apologised for the children’s “high-spirited” behaviour: “Don’t worry, it strengthens my vocation.”
I tried to upload to youtube a taster of what he faced. It wouldn’t work. You would have to imagine it over dinner and louder. Much louder. And I couldn’t quite face showing you where the paint has been knocked off the wall behind the couch by the children standing on their heads and kicking it.
*For the religious: Mark 10:14, not Matthew 5:3 or Matthew 5:10 although, if the matter were put to them, the children themselves would unhesitatngly plump for Matthew 5:10.