The carbo hunter

We call Daniël the “Carbo Hunter” because he can engulf quantities of pasta and potatoes that would leave a Sumo wrestler gasping as long as you do not pollute them with anything that looks like a vegetable…

Matthijs likes food too and is surprisingly fond of tomatoes and cucumber, but he is also a typical little boy and will go a long way for a bag of sweeties. We keep a tight rein on the sweetie drawer and have strict rules about how much he can grab at birthdays parties but there is no holding his sweet tooth.

On Valtentines Day the playschool had got all the children to make a Valentine packet of sweeties for the “sweetest person you know”. Naturally this was supposed to be Mummy, but Matthijs decided that HE was the sweetest person he knew… So Marjolein got an empty package: she cannot complain too much, I have strong suspicions of where Matthijs’ sweet tooth comes from.

This said, both Matthijs and Daniël are generally very good about sharing and regularly pass each other extra sweeties and toys. This was recently a little inconvenient as we have a rule that people who eat up all their food can have TWO desserts. Matthijs having decided to get down from table and watch television had no dessert. But came back to the table and promptly received one from Daniël. They boys are actually very, very fond of each other and though they occasionally whack, soak, trip and bite each other they also cuddle and comfort each other too.

They do a lot of things together: painting and colouring, watching videos, running screaming through the house knocking the furniture flying…Much of this is because Daniël is utterly determined to do anything that Matthijs can do. He is therefore intensely interested in the new phenomenon of Matthijs going to the toilet. Matthijs is now completely potty-trained (though he has a nappy on at night) and goes to the toilet quite independently. This means that he now officially a “big boy” who gets to wear knickers instead of nappies and very proud of it he is.

This does lead to heated arguments when he says that he wants to drive the car or boil the macaroni or something else for which he is not yet quite ready and we say that he is “not big enough”.

Matthijs can now dress himself pretty handily, though trouser buttons and some zips are still a problem. That is quite a time-saver in the mornings, because you can now concentrate on forcing Daniël (scream, struggle) into his togs while Matthijs struggles into his. Naturally you sometimes turn round and find that Matthijs has chosen to wear his knickers on his head or has got his trousers on back-to-front or inside-out. This was particularly difficult with his favourite blue pyjamas, which is a one-piece garment with a single long diagonal zip from left ankle to the neck. I could not for the life of me work out why it looked so strange and would not close properly until I realised that he had rotated it one quarter and was wearing an arm and a leg as trousers. Since he can also put on his coat and wellingtons AND open the front door we now have to be careful that he does not suddenly decide to toddle off down the road to the playground on his own.

Matthijs’ language has gone up a notch in complexity and content. He can pretty much run a conversation now and produce reasonable responses to “what did you do today” and “what did you like the most about…” The capacity to argue is coupled with a strong competitive urge: he very often wants to be the first or the fastest and our car has to be the fastest and biggest etc.

February was also the month of the Winter Olympics and of course Marjolein was totally immersed in the skating. Naturally Matthijs picked up on this and wanted to take up every sport (including extreme snowboarding and five-man bobsled) that he saw. Since we live within spitting distance of a very large ice-rink Marjolein promised him that he could at least have skating lessons when he turned four. We both hope that he has inherited Marjolein’s attitude towards sport rather than mine. He seems to have both of our competitive streaks and plenty of enthusiasm. Marjolein is of course hoping for a fanatical basketball player: she has three chances of success.

Four will be quite a milestone for Matthijs: he will go to primary school, as many of his (older) friends already have. When I was talking to him about growing up and becoming a man and perhaps even a daddy himself, with a little boy of his own he replied that he would like that, but only after he had been to primary school, thank you very much.

Daniël will be at the playschool by then and they will overlap for a couple of months. We are very curious to see how that will work out. Daniël is keen to go: it is always very difficult to get him to leave again when we take Matthijs to school on Fridays. Daniël is still very focussed on everything Matthijs does and copies all behaviour, both good and bad. Naturally if what Matthijs is doing involves a specific toy this also causes a tug-of-war or, in the case of lap-space, a push-and-shove. It is however very entertaining to see them both racing around with their tiger and elephant hats on roaring and trumpeting at each other.

Daniël is acquiring language by stealth. Every now and then a new word appears, or gradually becomes comprehensible. “Bye bye, eye, mouwf, pappaaaaaaaa, mamaaaaaaa, a-tys” (work it out) and even “a-neel” and any number of animal noises are now available. His understanding of language is much, much further along and he comprehends statememts like, later, other side, in the cupboard etc. without difficulty.

Both boys are very fond of their grandmothers and smother (also batter, bludgeon and squash) them with love every chance they get. Though the ladies have become wary of babysitting through grim experience they still claim to enjoy visits. Marjolein’s mother was amazed when Matthijs explained a Dutch word she did not understand (“reus”, mispronounced) by giving her the English (“giant”) equivalent. It made us realise how commonplace bilingualism has become for us.

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