On the 1st of November Daniel went into hospital for his ear operation. Marjolein took him in with an empty stomach at eight thirty in the morning and they spent a couple of hours getting processed and prepped. They were waiting for his turn in the operating theatre, the little girl in front of him had gone in five minutes ago, when the hospital was plunged into darkness.
There had been a problem with the electricity supply earlier on that morning, but then the auxiliary generator cut in. This time it did not and it was pitch dark. People ran about with torches moving patients back to the wards and Daniel got taken back to his room where there was some natural light. After a quarter of an hour the nurse came and said that all operations were suspended for the day: even if the power came back they now felt that they could not trust the auxiliary and could not take the risk that the power would go out during an op, which Marjolein heartily agreed with. If the blackout had happened just a little later then they would have been halfway through Daniel’s operation…
It was a great disappointment and something of a scare, but the hospital handled it well and even sent a big bunch of flowers two days later to apologise for the inconvenience. Daniel was very pleased that he got flowers for a change!
The operation finally went through on the 22nd and everything went very well. Daniel was very brave, did everything they asked (including breathing in the sleepy-gas) and was in the theatre for forty-five minutes. He was rather scared when he woke up because he could not see properly: that is a known temporary side-effect of the anaesthetic. Marjolein was able to reassure him and even before he could see again he was sitting on her lap and chatting away cheerfully to the nurses. I am enormously proud of him: no matter what happens Daniel stays himself and shows tremendous courage and resilience.
He was just as brave two day’s later when they took the sticking-plaster off his ear: that was rather painful, but instead of batting away the nurse’s hand he squeezed Marjolein’s fingers very tightly: impressive for a four-year old.
The less good news was that some of the growth, the cholesteatoma, had come back, so they used this operation to remove it. Because that created a wound inside the ear they could not put the hearing-bones back this time. He will have to go in again in six months for another try. In the meantime he is pretty much deaf on his right side.
The 11th of November was Saint Maarten here in the Netherlands. This is celebrated by bands of children going from door to door with lanterns singing “traditional” funny songs and getting sweets in return. This year was Falco’s first time. He did not think much of the singing and would not carry the lantern he made in playschool, but when he saw that sweets were available at the first door he made sure that he was in the front row when he got to the second door.
We were rather surprised that he did not want to sing: he sings in bed, when you take him for walks, in the bath and whenever else takes his fancy. He can actually give an understandable rendition of Old Macdonald and particularly relishes making the animal noises. He is also talking quite fluently: useful sentences like “Papa may-ay-av DRINK pleeeees” come tripping off his tongue.
My Uncle Chris, actually my father’s favourite cousin, came to visit us in the middle of the month. Though he is 84 he is a courageous traveller and still more courageous for braving the Noyce offspring. They were delighted to see him and made him feel very welcome. Added bonus for them was that we moved Chris into Falco’s room so he could sleep with one of his older brothers. Fierce competition for his favours ensued and was settled amicably by all the boys curling up together in Matthijs’ bed.
Chris also got a quickie course in Dutch culture because he arrived on Saint Maarten and was with us long enough to see the boys putting out their shoes for Saint Nicholas too. That’s the start of a very busy and exciting period for both the children and the parents that stretches from Saint Maarten, through Saint Nicholas (he hangs around for almost three weeks) and up until Christmas and New Year. They do not really calm down until second week of January.
Though the boys still believe in Saint Nicholas, Matthijs is starting to pick up clues. He saw wrapping-paper in the study and Marjolein improvised that it was to wrap a surprise present for his teacher. That seemed to work, but he noticed that the same paper was used for the present that was in his shoe three weeks later and concluded that we put the presents in the shoes, not Saint Nicholas. After consulting with other parents we decided to let sleeping dogs lie: when children really want to know, they come and ask. So far, Matthijs is not asking.
He is quick on the uptake in other ways too: when Marjolein said at dinner that they were her nicest sons he started laughing and replied that seeing as how they were her only sons they were also the naughtiest ones…
As you can see in the film, Daniel invented a drum-set for himself. The other two quickly joined in with enthusiasm. Falco liked it so much that he rebuilt the drum-set for himself the next day.
It was my birthday this month, I got a very nice watch and some books and music. We were a bit late sending invites and lots of people had decided to go on holiday/elsewhere/to the dentist for the occasion so it was a small group. Instead of the usual guest-children-dogs riot we had a civilised dinner party: I cooked coq-au-vin and it got eaten, so it can’t have been too poisonous. We even managed to talk to people, which we never manage to do in the dogs-children-riot setup.