This week I’ve decided that the Microbe’s slow and stealthy slippage into junk food habits must cease. Over Sunday lunch I informed him that, from now on, there’s going to be a marked increase in fruit and vegetable consumption – and the next time he asks for “something sweet” he is getting a banana. He took it on the chin.
I, meanwhile, am eating a Cadbury’s Cream Egg for breakfast. Hypocrisy, thy name is mother.
Today, for the fourth year running, I sent him off as a fox for World Book Day. We managed to get two years’ nursery mileage out of the Fox in Socks outfit before transitioning to Fantastic Mr Fox. (What’s next – The Animals of Farthing Wood?)
Imagine the jubilation when we arrived at school to discover that one of his most beloved besties was also foxed up á la Roald Dahl. I strongly suspect the Microbe’s influence in this. The other boy’s mother told me that, upon seeing his fox mask, he shouted “Wow, James is going to love it!”
Suffice to say the boy has form when it comes to infecting his nearest and dearest with his animal obsessions. They usually start out with perfectly normal small boy obsessions, like Spiderman and monster trucks until… by slow and steady degrees, James’s inner circle find themselves engaged in daily role play as tapirs and aardvarks, bewildering their parents with demands for facts about aye-ayes.
Funny little creatures, small boys. I’ve hosted a fair few playdates lately and have found it quite fascinating to witness the way that they interact with one another. In particular, I overhear an awful lot of this sort of thing:
“Why is your toy/bedroom/house so small?”
“I’ve got more than you”
“Mine’s bigger than yours”
“I’m faster than you”
“I’ve got one of those too but mine is better”
“Why have you only got one? I’ve got twenty!”
“Where are your toys? Is this all you’ve got?”
I mentioned this to G once and he said “Welcome to the Y chromosome.”
One child, in particular (lets call him Freddie) made me chuckle as I was walking him home from school…
“Freddie, your mummy told me that you like to make things. Is that right?”
“Well, so does James, and I’ve got something fun for you two to do together when we get home”
“I’ve already got that”
“Er… what have you got?”
“Whatever it is that you’ve got for us.”
Strangely enough, the Microbe appears to be somewhat immune to all of this. I do worry about him sometimes, being so often on the receiving end of materialistic oneupmanship. Living, as we do, in bankerville, he’s never going to be able to hold his own on that score. But, so far, it seems to be water off a duck’s back. I am led to conclude that, if he has a Y chromosome, it is very much a lower case one.
Over the last few weeks we’ve been reading a lot of Enid Blyton at bedtime. Oh, beloved author of my childhood. G is reading his way through The Enchanted Wood series and I’m doing likewise with The Wishing Chair.
I shall say it here and now – Enid remains as brilliant and undiminished as ever. There have been minor amendments to the books to suit modern sensibilities. For example, Fanny and Dick are now Frannie and Rick, Dame Slap is Dame Snap and I assume they’ve been stripped of any dubious racist bits that escaped my notice as a child. However the essence of the stories remains unchanged and it all comes flooding back as you read.
For me, Ms Blyton has the distinction of being the first author (give or take a bit of Dahl) to have entirely captivated the boybot wth stories that do not involve any animals. This is a hell of a feat in itself.
But, even more than this, I’d forgotten how humorous the books are. When it’s G’s turn to read I hear the boybot hooting with laughter from his bedroom at the comic scenes in which The Saucepan Man mishears whatever’s being said to him. Similarly, I had him laughing out loud the other night at a piece of wordplay that was just perfectly pitched to a 4 year old, in which the children utter the words “Goodness knows where” only to discover that such a land actually exists …and that they have to go and visit someone called Goodness in order to find out where it is.
As for learning to read, the boybot is nothing if not inconsistent. Mostly he groans and huffs and eyerolls when I sit him down and tell him that it’s time to read one of his school books. He’ll read them under duress but the endless fidgeting and subject-changing drives me mad. Admittedly, some of them are tiresomely worthy and kitchen sink-like. (Biff and Kipper, I’m looking at you).
Hence it can seem as though he really doesn’t enjoy reading at all. But then he’ll surprise me by picking up a book at home, unprompted, and reading pages from it – or reading out any mundane words that he sees dotted around the house, such as the smallprint on a bag-for-life. Each to their own.
Well I suppose that’s enough of a ramble. Not least because I can no longer type through the girlbot’s assault on my nostrils. Urgent pant action required…