Matthijs got his very first bicycle this month and can now outrun us…

We got Matthijs a very early birthday present this month: it seemed silly to wait until Winter to get him a bicycle. He still has trainer wheels for now, but he has a rare turn of speed and we have to sprint after him with the buggy. Daniel has inherited the tricycle, which he obviously coveted, though he cannot reach the pedals and his steering is pretty rocky. We push him around with the steering pole and to be fair he is being put in the driving seat four months earlier than Matthijs was. Naturally not being able to do immediately everything his big brother can do is very frustrating and he got pretty grumpy on his first ride.

The first half of this month was in any case a rough time with Daniel: he was short-tempered and tremendously difficult about food. You could really count his ribs and we were starting to get a bit concerned, though on his regular clinic visit the doctor said that he was growing normally. But then, in the middle of the month, he suddenly picked up, got a lot more cheerful and started tearing into his food with gusto. We reckon that the fact that his gums have settled down and his molars are fully emerged has a lot to do with it. He is certainly much keener on crusty and chewy foods than he used to be. Though his calory intake has gone up a lot it will probably be a while before his ribs disappear: he climbs like a monkey and you only have to turn away for a minute to find that he is standing proudly on top of some piece of furniture looking like King Kong’s baby brother.

His teeth must have bothered him a lot because he is now vocalising much more and making more word-sounds and he now looks into your eyes and actively starts a conversation. Unfortunately we have discovered a bulge that looks very like a hernia. Naturally it disappeared when we took him to the doctor. It is easy to push away and does not seem to discomfort him but we will be going to a specialist with him soon. If it is a hernia then he will almost certainly need surgery to repair it. We watching it very carefully because if the hernia becomes “strangulated” he will be in great pain and need hospital attention within hours. Happily that is extremely rare.

Daniel also climbs the slide in our square (terrifying!) and slides down. We hover over him, but try and let him find his own limits. Matthijs always slid down on his bottom, but Daniel carefully turns round, stretches out and slides down on his tummy, laughing up at you all the way.

With Matthijs being so fast on his bicycle, it is a very good thing that he is extremely careful about crossing roads and always waits for Mummy and Daddy to catch up and guide him across. Cars are living creatures to Matthijs and he carefully says sorry to one if he bumps into it and politely thanks cars that stop to let him cross. Tractors and bulldozers are even more interesting and get thoroughly examined. He is definately a little boy…though he is perfectly at home with a Daddy who cooks and irons (when pressed).

Marjolein extracted an excellent recipe for bubble-stuff from an Internet news-group this month and has mixed liters of the stuff. It produces large quantitites of very impressive bubbles and was a tremendous hit with Matthijs and indeed with the neighbour’s twelve-year-old daughter. When Matthijs is playing he often talks to an imaginary comrade who appears to be his (real) seven-year-old cousin Ramses. They have elaborate conversations in the car, “than-you ‘Amses, that ‘ery kind of you”. It is a strange choice because he does not see the real Ramses very often.

Matthis is just starting with “where does” and “what does” and we are waiting in fear for “why does”. The first two are often pretty difficult. “Where do flies live?” “Everywhere Matthijs.” He thought they lived in a “fly-nest”, ugh! “Where do lions poop?” “In Africa Matthijs…”

Marjolein and Matthijs:
” You’re the sweetest Mummy!”
” Thankyou, what a nice thing to say”
” You can have bite of my ice-cream…”
” Mmmm, thankyou”
” …on SUNDAY mamma!” Pause, doubtfully “is not Sunday ‘ay Mamma?”

Later, Marjolein, enthusiastically (cub-leader on stimulants) with her thumb up says “OK!” to Matthijs. Matthijs, very dry, “NO Mamma, is not o-kay, is your THUMB Mamma”. Collapse of stout party, game, set and match. I nearly died.

Marjolein heroically trucked the beasts out to a childrens farm this month and since then Daniel has been saying “aai aai” (stroke, stroke in Dutch) while stroking Jimmy. He also says “aa-beef” (if-you-please in Dutch), “ank-el” (thankyou in Dutch) and of course “amma”. I believe he says “ank-oo” to me but he is stymied by the absence of an English equivalent to “alsublieft”. I am of course eagerly awaiting “appa”.

The farm left Matthijs with the concept that creatures (including him) eat and consequently grow. He has since been checking whether Mamma and Pappa are still growing (since we DO eat). We have thus started working on the concept of children/young animals that grow and adults/big animals that do not. He is also grappling with the idea that Pappa was once a little boy and Mamma was a little girl and that we were once babies. He will sort it out. He always does. Matthijs also mysteriously waiting with the last chunky nappy of the day until well after he is in bed. Since he gets bad nappy-rash very easily we have to pull him out of bed and change him. Fortunately he has inherited his Mother’s talent for sleeping soundly and this process barely wakes him.

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