Archives for November 2010
Michael said to me recently: Money is good but credit cards are gooder. With credit cards you can buy anything you want and you don’t have to pay any money.
I tried to put him right but he explained to me that he had seen credit cards in operation in the toy shops and knew that his approach worked. I fear that he may not realise what people are saying about this attitude.
In his defence, he is only five. I hope the subordinated bond holders will let him off with a stern talking to.
When I got home from work this evening, there was an envelope by my bed with the words “To Mummy” on it in the Princess’s handwriting. I gazed at it fondly and then I opened it, this is what it said:
“Micel is a cruel stuck-up idiotic prig and a loser but he’s ashamed to admit it. If you are going to deal with him anser here.”
Underneath there is a line for my comments. Poor Micel, he crosses his sister at his peril.
I had lunch with my friend R, the other day. He was just back from 6 weeks in Kabul. He spent almost all of that time in his hotel/office. When he left for a meeting, he went in an armoured vehicle. He was accompanied by another armoured vehicle, in case the first one exploded (though I don’t quite see how this would be useful to him) and a soft shell vehicle (what we would call, a car, I think) with four armed men. He said that he felt he was driving around shouting “target here, target here, kidnap me.” The only time he ever went out without armed support was the one time he was dropped to the wrong building. He rang the bodyguard people and they picked him up and dropped him to another wrong building. Realising that his actual destination was very nearby he decided to walk it. “Was he scared?” “Very scared.”
Not as scared though as the time he was at a meeting in the presidential compound and my friend’s bodyguard said, “We have to go now, there’s a suicide bomber outside.” He was the only non-Afghan in the building as it happened. I was a bit unclear about why the Afghans weren’t evacuated also, as was he, but he was not in a position to argue. When they got to the gate, the bodyguard told him to wait and went to get the armoured car. My friend did think, “Hey, a minute ago I was in a protected armoured building, now I’m standing at the gate, how is this better?” But all was well.
His most notable day was one when there were bombs in the morning, rats in his office in the afternoon and an earthquake in the middle of the night. In telling this story, he seemed equally shocked by each element which may, I think, show that he has been in war zones for too long. On his way back, he was stuck in Yerevan for five days [gasp of awe, if you can identify the country of which Yerevan is the capital without recourse to google]. Now, he is off to the Sudan for three months which should make a peaceful change after the rigours of Kabul. Since it’s all about me, me, me, I instantly asked whether we could stay in his house in Cork for Christmas as he will be in the Sudan and we could look after it for him. He very kindly said yes, tactfully not adverting to the fact that the last time we “looked after” his house we broke the washing machine. Good, good, good.
Daniel was five on the 27th of September. So let me record what he’s like at 5 a mere month or so after his birthday.
He is very competitive and he howls when he loses and kind of game, including “who’ll be first up the stairs to bed ?”. He is a perfectionist and very annoyed when things don’t go just right. You haven’t lived until you have seen him explain, severely, to a younger team mate why an own goal is not as good as one scored into the opposition’s net. Since he is also the loudest child you may ever have met, if you were within a one mile radius of the pitch, you would have heard him.
Part of this perfectionism means that he is very thorough at homework and anxious to do Michael’s also to help him ensure that he has it right. But Daniel actually enjoys his homework and is working hard at learning to read which is finally beginning to yield results.
He is short tempered and inclined to bash his siblings when things don’t go his way. Though he is always very contrite, if he hurts them.
He is brilliant at accents though not always familiar with their origins. The other evening he was, for his own obscure reasons, chatting with his siblings in a strong Liverpool accent. “What accent is that?” I asked. “Spanish,” he replied.
He is a fast runner and holds himself very upright at all times including when running which makes him look extremely cute. He has good ball sense and really enjoys Gaelic games on Saturday morning. The Kilkenny hurling coach is particularly serious about the game and as players (4 and 5 year olds, remember) were being doled out one Saturday, he said to me, “Give me the guy with the glasses” and took Danny off to be a member of the elite squad while Michael tipped around with boys who could not yet pick up a bean bag with their hurleys. If he could, Daniel would spend all his time kicking a ball to a grown-up.
Daniel loves jokes although he has a very limited understanding as to their nature. He can be quite serious and thoughtful but when he laughs it is very infectious. He seems to be able to make and keep friends which is a useful skill.
Whenever I read him a story, he always wants me to put my arm around him. He is a great child for hugs and is always willing to dole them out to his mother. He often says, “I love you, Mummy” and is not discouraged by his sister saying disapprovingly “This is horribly lovey-dovey.” He is aware of the world around him and comments on my appearance, new clothes and new things in the house. He always wants to get to the bottom of things and he tries to reason out what’s happening or how new information he has acquired fits into his existing stock of information sometimes with comical results but woe betide you, if he suspects you of laughing at him. He is also sensitive to others and how they might be feeling which I think is unusual in a small child.
He eats nothing savoury other than yorkshire pudding and gravy; bread and butter; broccoli; pizza; and fishfingers and ketchup. All forms of meat are anaethema to him.
And we love him.
A description of Michael at 5 and a little bit.
He is very relaxed about school work. He is brilliant at cards and inclined to let his siblings win, if they seem cranky. He has an excellent memory and will, disconcertingly, bring up things you have said many months ago and demand that they be delivered now. He has a will of iron and he never lets anything go. He has, alas, started to bite his nails.
If you empty a box of lego on the table and ask Michael to find the one millimetre piece you need which is the only one in the box, he will find it in seconds.
His father sometimes calls him “bat boy” as when he gets upset or indignant his voice rises several octaves and his words are on a frequency too high for human ears. He is the smallest of the children and it sometimes feels that he acts as a punch bag for his heftier siblings, so he has much to complain about. But he doesn’t stint. He almost never resorts to physical violence but whether that is due to virtue or naked self-interest is unclear.
The other night he asked me who he could marry and whether it would be a boy or a girl. He then decided that he would marry a boy in his class and instantly began to worry that this 6 year old might choose someone else. A modern twist on a classic dilemma.
Michael demands instant resolution of all of his problems. This can be tiresome as when he grabs your chin, twists your face around and says sternly, “Listen to me.” When he puts something down, he frowns ferociously at the people in the room and says, “Nobody touch this.” Fortunately this hectoring is offset by considerable charm. He loves to chat to new people and will always be the first to volunteer when volunteers are sought from a room full of people – even if everyone else is an adult. Shyness seems unknown to him. However, for all his love of new people, he is not at all keen on new places and, when away, he pines for home. He is ferociously attached to things and watches me like a hawk to make sure I throw nothing out. The other day he said to me, “STOP, don’t throw that out!” “Michael, it’s the paper bag that your lunchtime sandwich was in.” He replied coldly, “Get it out of the bin, I could use it.”
Michael eats nothing other than fish fingers; yorkshire pudding; pasta with spinach and ricotta inside; breakfast cereal; bread and jam; porridge, Knorr chicken noodle soup and crisps. He does not like sweets or chocolate. Which is odd, surely.
And we love him.