Last weeks of pregnancy

Fortunately for Marjolein this was a cool summer month: much better for the highly pregnant.

The saga of the bathroom continued: fortunately the contractor managed to place the temporary shower in the bathroom (fewer stairs for Marjolein) and we now have a bucket-sink on the top floor. Goodness knows when we will be able to get the damn thing finished…

On the first Friday we celebrated the birthday of one of Matthijs’ friends. Both he and Daniël behaved really well, especially considering that the day continued with a visit from Marjolein’s Australian relatives and the boys staying up late. Of course they were a bit wild the next day, but nothing exceptional.

On the following Saturday two of Marjolein’s Internet buddies turned up with a grown-up daughter and cleaned the entire house. It was wonderful: they hoovered and washed all the builders muck and dust away and the daughter kept track of our monsters. Definately a useful present.

Daniël is VERY goal-oriented: he ALWAYS has a plan. Matthijs had been scoring points on the basketball hoop my mother brought them, so Daniël had to have a go. Being rather too short to score from the ground he decided to artificially assist his “air time”.

He uses chairs for anything he cannot reach: we already caught him raiding our refrigerator for yoghurt-drink and he can climb into his kiddy swing all on his own.

Matthijs is expertimenting with jokes, often incomprehensibly. These are always followed by gales of HIS laughter, which is often enough to set Daniël going too. Sample Matthijs proto-joke:”There was a man with a flower on his head! HAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH etc.” Good joke eh?”

He is also experimenting with his “masculinity”. When challenged while carrying the torpedo-shaped tank of his water-pistol into the house he replied that he had to empty it into the toilet because it was full of pee… At which point you can only be thankful that he did not decide to reattach it to the waterpistol and start shooting. We were fairly repressive about that and argued strongly that he should ONLY pee in the toilet.

Matthijs is suddenly fascinated by letters, reading and writing. Though O, M and A are pretty accurate he is not quite sure to the others and makes up words (including the essential “MaMA”) made up of the few letters he knows with some strange fantasy-letters added in. Marjolein keeps hoping that he will concentrate more on reading, but his main drive is writing, as an extension of drawing, at which he is quite skilled. This month he drew faces with noses, eyes, ears and even hair. The strange looped patterns he used to make are gone, replaced by grids of neatly crossed lines and the occasional air-plane.

Half-way through the month the temperature soared and Marjolein fell entirely flat. The only way she could cope was if I took short days at work and took over the boys and the evening meal. That worked well, especially as they could at least play out in the garden with the water in their big “shell” sandbox. Playing with water, pouring it into and out of things gives Daniël endless pleasure and I often have to forcibly detach him from the kitchen sink, where he is doing his own strange version of “washing up”. Unfortunately giving him a washing basin and some cups works well until the moment that he decides that standing in it, shoes and all, would be even more fun.

Matthijs’ imagination is working overtime these days. When I (Tim) read him a bedtime story he goes and finds appropriate cuddly toys (we have a story with a big bear and a baby bear for example), hides under the edge of the bed and plays out the story with the toys. He is quite a skilled puppetteer and provides the bears with individual (squeaky) voices and appropriate actions.

He is also starting to try out a little role reversal and checking on the boundaries as regards criticism of parents. When I was having some difficulty comforting Falco, Matthijs piped up with “Papa, you’re not much good with babies are you?”.

Daniël has started throwing tremendous tantrums when he does not get what he wants, screaming (very loudly) and throwing himself to the ground. This does not get him anywhere with us (though it certainly wears us out) but recently, when I (Tim) was cooking in the kitchen, Matthijs came to me with his hands over his ears and said, desperately, “Papa, PLEASE give Daniël what he wants”. Though we do not approve Daniël manipulating Matthijs this way it has to be said that he needs a means of defending his interests against a larger and stronger sibling. It has also lead to Matthijs already developing some impressive “big brother” behaviour. Recently his Grandmother sent him a package of early reading and writing books from Britain with lots of exercises in recognising letters and starting to write them. Naturally Daniël swooped om the immediately. So Matthijs made a deal with him that though the books belonged to Matthijs, Daniël could read them. He even let Daniël hold them while they both read them. Satisfaction on both sides and Matthijs was then able to settle down with his exercise book and start filling them in, very neatly.

Matthijs playschool teachers say that he is getting bored at school and is more than ready for the infants-class. We all hope that the tighter discipline and more structured work will be good for him and will challenge him, though they will not be teaching reading and writing yet either. In the playschool he participates in fewer things and often spends a morning sitting and writing letters and at the breaktime he plays with his friends from the next class up.

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