Michael eats nothing at dinner. Now he says he can’t sleep at night. When we go into him he announces dolefully, “I have a hunger problem.” Tell me he’ll grow out of it.
Archives for April 2012
Michael: I don’t want those socks, they’re too small and prickly.
Me: OK, we’ll get you another pair. Maybe it’s time to retire these.
Michael: NO, no don’t retire them. My socks! My beautiful socks! Don’t throw them out.
Me: But Michael, they’re too small what do you need them for?
Michael: To look at in the drawer.
If it were up to Michael, nothing would ever leave the house.
“The Child that Books Built” by Francis Spufford [New Year’s Resolution]
This is an intellectual look back at reading in childhood and adolescence. It’s divided into four parts: the forest (stories for younger children – fairytales and picture books); the island (fantasy for the 7-12s) the town (books set in communities, again, for 7-12s) and the hole (books for adolescents with a strong focus on science fiction). I found this a bit underwhelming at first but I really started to enjoy it when he began to talk about books I had read as a child. Here’s a bit on Narnia:
So from the moment I first encountered “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” to when I was 11 or 12, the seven Chronicles of Narnia represented essence-of-book to me. They were the Platonic book of which other books were more or less imperfect shadows. For four or five years, I essentially read other books because I could not always be rereading the Narnia books.
He has a lot on Narnia and Little House on the Prairie which is fine by me but I wonder how engaging it would be to those less familiar with the books. I suppose it is aimed at people who were bookish children and it’s a rare bookish child who wouldn’t have read these.
He mixes up his reading with some limited information about his personal life and I’m not sure how well that works. I think he would have been better with more personal life or none at all.
“City of Thieves” by David Benioff
A book club book. Alas, it did not appeal. Though a mild page-turner it is pretty poorly written. It’s about a hunt for eggs during the siege of Leningrad in the second world war (though so much more than this, universal themes love, friendship etc – write your own blurb). They get their eggs. Yeah, I know, I’ve ruined it for you. My friend D, who is a country girl, tells me that hens are very fussy about laying eggs and she thinks that the chance of them not being off their eggs in war torn Russia in the middle of winter is nil.
“Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” by Alice Munro [New Year’s Resolution]
Famously beautiful short story writer writes beautifully. I prefer my stories with more zing and less quiet gloom but these are good stories.
“The Beautiful Changes” by Molly McCluskey [New Year’s Resolution]
I read this collection (a novella and a collection of short stories) at the same time as I was reading the Alice Munro collection and it didn’t do this author any favours. She covers much of the same territory as Alice Munro, small lives and tending towards the gloomy and she’s really very good but not as good as Ms. Munro.
“The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes
Clever. And very short. Something of a page-turner. But I was left a bit dissatisfied either a) that wasn’t much of a twist or b) I didn’t get it. You can see why neither of these options appeals.
“Carry Me Down” by M.J Hyland [New Year’s Resolution]
Nicely written somewhat disturbing account of an 11 year old boy who is teetering on the brink of insanity. Wouldn’t exactly rush back for a second dose but I can see its merit.
We have sown new grass in the back garden. It is growing very slowly. There are still large bands of brown earth. As I looked up the garden from the kitchen, I commented to Mr. Waffle, “It’s definitely greener over there at the end of the garden.” “Famously,” said he.
Me: When I was little, we had no computers.
Mr. Waffle: And there was no such thing as a DS.
Me: Or a mobile phone.
Michael: Did you have scissors?
Today is the Princess’s ninth birthday. I have to say, I am surprised. It seems only yesterday etc.
Her aversion to ball games seems to have solidified. She likes to walk and she likes to climb but she has no interest in running after anything that bounces. She used to like swimming but we haven’t been so much recently.
Her love of reading remains constant. Mind you, although she still speaks French she refuses point blank to do any reading in French. Otherwise, she reads what is to hand. The other day she arrived downstairs and announced to me, “I was reading Daddy’s Economist and there is an article about passwords and I am concerned that mine aren’t secure, particularly when, for example, the Monster High site allows you unlimited attempts.” Yes, I know, day and night they are out there trying to hack into her Monster High account.
She had a Monster High themed birthday party before the Easter holidays.
She found it all a bit tense, as did I. Don’t mock the afflicted.
But in the end it passed off alright although there was a stormy moment when doors were banged and tears were shed. Next year, we’re taking her to the cinema with some friends.
But my goodness she is getting big. She spent a week at my parents’ house in Cork over the Easter holidays every second of which she tried to spend watching television. She came back imitating a range of sarky American teenagers (Selena Gomez, I’m looking at you) and she seemed very grown-up. Mostly she looked at us like this:
She knows lots and lots of things. And she is not shy in coming forward with information at home though I understand that at school she is more reticent. She likes school and seems to be very settled in her class and comfortable in her surroundings. She bosses her brothers about unceasingly and mostly they knuckle under since, in compensation, she comes up with good games.
She is developing tastes like mine (reading, cake shops) and others which are completely different (Bruno Mars). A lot of the time I find her easy to be with; but sometimes everything I say annoys her and vice versa. This is where having two parents comes into its own. Sometimes it seems like she’s a teenager already. Which she loves.
She is a great arguer, she is a champion arguer. Take the following, for example:
“I understand that you hold me to a higher standard than the boys as I am older. As this is the case, why do I not also get greater rewards for my good behaviour?” She is constantly vigilant that she receives her due in all matters.
She can be very kind, even to her brothers. She is often obliging and helpful. She loves animals and is the only one of the children who is still interested in the cat. She is now very brave when it comes to petting strange dogs (including a huge doberman on a chain in France, which we found disquieting).
Today she was a heroine. We went for a long walk in the Wicklow hills. She thanked us for taking her. She admired the scenery. She galvanised her brothers not just to action but to enthusiasm. We all had a lovely, lovely time.
Until the very end when Michael stepped up to his knees in a pool of bog water and cried lustily for the 20 minutes it took him to squelch to the car. He was somewhat restored by soaking his feet in a bucket of warm water at his grandparents’ house while playing on the DS.
If she were to see this, the Princess would say that it is typical that a post about her birthday would include information about the boys. So I should conclude by saying that she is lovely, we love her very much and we are so lucky to have her. Happy birthday Princess. And here are some old photos, because that’s what you do on birthdays.