That the brothers rough-and-tumble and fight and compete we had expected, it is the moments of tremendous tenderness and affection that take you by surprise.
Daniël now has just enough language for Matthijs to hold a conversation with him, sort of. Dialogue while in the bath together: Matthijs: “Are you a nice Daniëlmonster?” (everthing is monsters right now)
Matthijs “then are you a MEAN Daniëlmonster!?”
Matthijs (pause for deep thought) “Then are you a Papamonster?”.
I was standing close by and concluded that Matthijs classified me a neither a reliably good, or bad thing. Unfortunately Daniël was answering “nah” to everything that evening…
Sometimes they achieve (descend to..?) cuteness: Matthijs had Daniël’s baby dolly in bed with him and told me that it was asleep and that he would make sure that it was not distubed.
Daniël is starting with the most utterly essential words: “‘ood, ‘asta, ‘rink” and starts using them at high volume if supper is 15 miliseconds later than his atomic-clock stomach has decided it should be. Another major word is “‘ine” which serves as a (initially) friendly reminder that everything in the whole world (and in particular anything YOU happen to have in your hand) belongs to him. Both boys eat like horses and have taken a sudden liking to boiled eggs – Matthijs even likes the outside: it knocked me for six the first time I came back from the kitchen and found him crunching up the last bit of shell.
Daniël is brilliant at jigsaws and anything involving shapes. Naturally sibling rivalry (male-male) has kicked in and Matthijs has dived back into jigsaws in order to preserve his technological lead. The latest results are that Matthijs has conquered 48 pieces, but that Daniël is quietly confident on 9 and is moving up to 16. Daniël is also good at telling us that he has a dirty nappy (“‘oop”) fetches the changing mat, puts it on the table and climbs up on it. Matthijs used to deny it fiercely until the poop started rising up around his ears.
It is plain to us that a great deal goes on Daniël’s little round skull: he points to the plastic Tyrannosaurus in the collection of plastic herbivores and says that it is “notty” indicating the sharp teeth (biting is a big crime in our household).
On Wednesday the 12th the playschool had it’s annual outing, that was unfortunately rained out and thus took place in the gym. Though this was tough on the teachers, it was fun for Marjolein to observe how M & D worked in a crowd. Matthijs is now one of the oldest in his class and takes control of games whenever he gets the chance, modifying them to his own advantage. Daniël participates in some things, but also goes off and does his own thing. All in all a good time for both.
Then it was Father’s Day. I was not expecting anything at all and waddled downstairs late thinking that the entire family had been abducted by aliens, only to be fiercely shooed upstairs and into bed. There I was regaled with espresso, bacon, eggs, kippers, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, toast and marmelade. Marjolein held back on the black pudding and baked beans for fear of me never getting out of bed again but it was a lovely surprise, especially with my two beloved sons crawling all over me. I have decided that Father’s Day is not just a commercial opportunity to sell more ties and socks but a great chance for us active fathers to get thoroughly coddled.
Matthijs started asking how the baby got into Marjolein’s tummy, at length and Marjolein, being a stickler for accuracy ended up establishing that mummys have eggs and daddys have sperm and that when you put them togther (including details on how that occurs) you get babies. Matthijs then wanted to know if HE had sperm and how he made them and so on, which involved a short description of puberty. His comment on being told that he would get hair on his arms and legs “then I can shave my arms and legs”. Naturally my first thought is that men that shave their arms and legs are less likely to have babies… He ended up by saying that when he was a big man he could help mummy have another baby, at which point Marjolein bowed out with the traditional parent-at-end-of tether “we’ll see”. Roll on Mr Freud.
Matthijs is starting to classify people as friends (or not). When introduced to a somewhat timid child of his age from the neighbourhood he immediately cried “He’s my best friend of all the world!“. At which the victim started shouting “No noooooooooo!”. Matthijs Noyce, charm terrorist…
Every child in Haarlem got called up for Meningitis C innoculations this month. We were dreading finding ourselves in huge queues of stone-faced parents and hysterical children, but it went swimmingly. It was a little strange walking over the the local sports hall in a convoy of strollers and tricyles, but it was (of course) impeccably organised and structured (the Dutch make Germans look positively bohemian in this regard, but don’t ever say that to them) and after getting forms A, D and XQ stamped and signed at sequential desks the kiddos got very competently stabbed by a friendly nurse. Neither of them took a blind bit of notice, though both had been told that it would hurt a little and that it was OK to cry. I must admit to being macho enough to be a bit proud of our little soldiers. Matthijs had already stated that he did not intend to cry but reserved the right to say “Ow”. The event that did catch their interest was the ice-lolly afterwards. This caused Matthijs at a later date to tell Marjolein that he would like to go to the doctor for another injection. Hmmmm
Daniël’s missing tooth has resurfaced, lodged high up in his gums. Marjolein was guilt stricken that we had not looked properly but I remember going over that area carefully just after the accident with a cotton bud full of disinfectant and there was nothing to be seen. It has just worked it’s way out again. The dentist says that it will be fine where it is for the time being and that he will look at it at the next checkup.
Matthijs is VERY ready for school. He is currently running both “acting grown-up and eager to please” and rebellion and manipulation in short, exasperating episodes. He needs a good solid workload and a class full of new relationships to soak up his energy. Marjolein is holding up amazingly well, despite having serious belly. Falco is quite a tai-bo expert and seems to be able to whack her in three different places at once. If he is that active inside the belly…
This month, thanks to a sub from my mother, we took delivery of our new (2nd hand) MPV: a VW Sharan. Given that Falco is in the offing and the other two are not getting any smaller we need serious transport: finally I can satisfy my childhood wish to drive a big red bus. It practically saved our lives on its first outing: we drove it down to Belgium to visit friends for the weekend and got stuck in four hours of traffic-jams under a blazing sun. Thanks to lots of room, comfortable seats, a quiet engine and airco we ended up frazzled but not desperate. It is nice to have a vehicle which has been designed with the idea that the back seat will be full of irresponsible monsters, who need to be fed, watered and entertained. Our Belgian friends were celebrating their youngest son’s first communion. They had hired the local football-ground and in between rounds of fabulous food (they are a professional and a skilled amateur chef) I was forced to play football: Marjolein had an excuse. Matthijs and Daniël joined in with great enthusiasm, adding considerable randomness to an already unstructured game. Any ball in any position was fair game and Matthijs even scored with a ball from a completely different game. The festivities were crowned by a traditional “ice-lamb” which has a capsule of raspberry jam in it’s neck so that it “bleeds” when the child “slaughters” it. Bizarre.
The bathroom is in the faith and perseverence stage: it looks like a bomb hit is and then stayed around to drill huge holes. Each time the men depart I go and look and they have made a new hole. It will turn out right, it will, it will (clicks heels together – there is no place like home Toto).Fortunately the contractor installed an emergency shower on the top floor, so we can at least keep clean. The shower-cabinet is actually quite useful for the boys: you can stuff them in and close the door, rather like a washing machine. It avoids all that “lets soak daddy with our waterpistols” stuff.