The first week of May there is always a big funfair in our neighbourhood, so on the first fine spring day we gathered up our beasts and went to the fair. Naturally it took them both a little while to get used to the hustle and bustle and the lights and music but they soon cottoned on.
They had a whale of a time, especially Matthijs who is now big enough to go on the safer rides alone. He particularly liked the monsters on the outside of the haunted house. The monsters inside did not impress him much, probably because he was hoping that something would make a serious attempt to eat us. He also drove a (small) dodgem car very competently indeed, tooling round the track as if he did it every day of his life, but laughing his head off too.
Matthijs had great fun riding the ponys and he and Daniel ended up with candyfloss. Amazingly enough Daniël does not like candyfloss…so his mother had to help him out ;-).
Both children are developing into wicked negociators: Daniël threatens, Matthijs weasels. A few days later Matthijs had been very naughty and so Marjolein warned him that he would not be allowed to go out to the kiddy farm if he carried on doing bad things. Naturally this threat had to be carried out (our book “Blackmail, Bribes and Threats, the Noyce method of child-care” comes out next month). Big tears, howls but then, after a moment of deep thought he came to Marjolein and said “But Mamma, Daniël hasn’t been naughty has he?”
Another time Marjolein had made him “take five” on a chair in the corner and he fetched an imaginary phone out of his pocket and called “Mr Fire” and said “there’s a very bad person here and that is Mamma and would you come and put her in the fire. See you later Mr.Fire”. Marjolein was quite shocked and told him that that was a horrid thing to say, because fire hurts a lot. He replied that is was red fire, not yellow fire. Red fire only hurt if you stayed in it a long time. The things that go on in that little head of his.
We also have the only little boy in the world who really truly likes salad and stridently demands his share of the asparagus. Daniël just ploughs throught he potatoes, eggs and ham like a normal child and will throw his vegetables across the room given half a chance. He hates crusts and is not much for fruit-juice either. Matthijs on the other hand will eat any kind of fruit with gusto.
Daniël went to the child clinic to get weighed and measured this month. At two years old he is now a chunky 12,7 kg and 85 centimeters. He is still shorter than average, but his weight is right on the median. He is not fat, but there is a square and sturdy look to Daniël that Matthijs no longer has. He is also sprouting canines now, so his set is almost complete. Practically every day I feel that he gets more expressive and interactive and his smile cannot possibly get any more charming. He has inherited Marjoleins little crinkles next to his eyes, which makes him inexpressibly jolly when he laughs.
As of the 13th of May he started playschool, in the same class as his brother. Marjolein took him in for a “tryout morning” a week in advance and he screamed the place down. Nevertheless when we took him in for real he toddled off without so much as a backward glance and took to it like a fish to water. When I went to fetch him on the following Friday he was quite put out and imperiously waved me away. Playschool has done wonders for his language (apparently scream-and-point works less well on teachers). He has started adding words quite rapidly and is consistently using English ones with me and Dutch ones with Marjolein. Main words are “‘es ‘eeeeese”, “‘attijs” and in Dutch “‘ouwt” (=stout=naughty) as in “‘attijs ‘eel ‘out” which is “Matthijs very naughty” and turns up when Matthijs is eating or drinking something that belongs to Daniël. This happens quite often as all food and drink of any kind apparently belongs to Daniël. If there is something he fancies he will not hesitate to come scuttling across the dinner table like a chubby tarantula and swipe if off your plate. Constant vigilance is required.
Marjolein’s parents were kind enough to babysit for an evening while we were out to dinner with friends. Having sucessfully conned them before, Matthijs put on his very best straight face and fetched the kitchen steps to get his Furby of the top of the tall cupboard. We had put it there after the poor creature had been driven into its latest bout of catatonia. When challenged by his grandfather he replied that he was just going to put new batteries in his Barbie and that Mama and Papa would be glad he did. Eddy, having learned by experience, called his bluff by picking up the phone and saying he was going to call us and check; whereupon Matthijs waved him away with a haughty gesture saying “no, grandpa, you don’t need to call”. Matthijs has perfected the art of bluff, lying through his teeth as in “Daniël did that Papa!” and wild flights of fancy such as “giant monsters came down from the clouds and ate the biscuits”
Kind friends of ours who house-and-childsat a weekend while we were at a party in Belgium did not quite fall for “Papa and Mama always let me eat my supper on the sofa and watch TV!”. They had a tough time with the monsters, particularly as “why?” was very much in fashion. Even the statement “look Mummy and Daddy are home!” got answered with “why?”. We think that Matthijs going to primary school in September will not be a moment too soon. He has a tremendous fund of mental and physical energy and needs to be given run for his money. It’s May and sunny and what is he drawing: Christmas trees and StNicholas!?
The dear child is also adept at giving Daddy the creeps. When I was putting him in his bath I tickled his round post-supper tummy and said “is that really Matthijs’ tummy then?” to which the chilling reply was “Of course it is Papa, otherwise there would be blood here and here”, tracing a line across his neck and his thighs. Frankenchild strikes again…
We did succeed in having a nice weekend away in Knokke (Belgium), just the 2.7 of us. Falco is very present, not only because Marjolein has a worldbeating belly but because he is apparently alternating between Tai-Bo and somersaults. That wears Marjolein down somewhat but we still managed to catch the World Press Photo exhibition (fabulous and horrific pictures) and an Erwin Olaf exhibit. This shored up our otherwise pitiful cultural level: exhibitions with kiddos is a liiiitle too exiting for me.
On 29th of May was National Steet Play Day and so Marjolein took the monsters to a local street that was closed for traffic and had lots of activities for children, sponsored by the local tradesmen. Though our beasts are a little young for most things this does not prevent them from taking part, often quite aggressively. Despite being a size smaller than most participants Matthijs skippyballed, got 13 whole points at shuffleboard (he could just see over the edge of the table) and won the egg-and-spoon (actually potato and spoon in the Netherlands…) against the only opponent who was happy if he could just keep the potato on the spoon (Daniël). His sack-racing form was so good that he was aaaalmost a competitor (they robbed me…). Unsurprisingly both our children are stars at eating cake without using their hands. Daniël loved the Punch and Judy and had to be physically restrained from climbing the puppet-theater and taking a squeaking-part. He settled for shouting “‘ello” and loud peals of laughter at random moments. They won’t forget the Noyce family in a hurry….