Category Archives: updates

Collectable

Maybe a blog post will help me collect my thoughts. They’re a bit scattered at the moment. They come under three main headings:

Physics

I don’t usually think much about physics, though I am grateful to it for providing my family’s income, but today there’s a big announcement from an NSF-funded collaboration called LIGO telling everyone that gravitational waves have been detected for the first time. I know a tiny bit about this because this is exactly my husband’s field, though he (sadly) didn’t work on this stuff himself. But we know lots of people who did, and it’s fun watching them have their long-awaited moment just now.

Skiing

At the start of 2015 I said that taking the kids skiing was something on my wishlist for the year, along with fixing our shower and going to New York. Well, miracles do happen and we fixed our shower up beautifully last August, and we went to NYC twice, and now, finally, we are about to go skiing. A few weeks ago I got all proactive and booked two nights at Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania, about two hours’ drive from here, as well as a private ski lesson for the kids with us in attendance, so we can start them off right. (B and I have both skied a little, though not for years.) I was delighted with myself for using a Friday off school to get the nights I wanted, and crossed my fingers that the weather would cooperate.

Well, there’s no snowstorm forecast for this weekend, so in that sense I suppose the weather didn’t entirely shaft us. But in other ways my timing was serendipitously awful. Both school districts (now that we’re in two) decided to have school this Friday after all, to start making up for the week that was missed due to snow, so now I have to take the kids out of school for it. (We won’t be the only ones absent, I’m sure.) Valentine’s parties that were meant to happen today will happen tomorrow instead, and they’ll miss them. Dash will miss his vision therapy session today, because we weren’t doing VT when I booked this. And Mabel was very annoyed about missing her ceramics class on Saturday morning, because she loves ceramics and she is suspicious of skiing, which she’s never tried.

Finally, the weather forecast is not for snow but for extremely cold temperatures on Saturday. I decided nobody would want to slide down a mountain on two planks in a possible high of about 14F (before windchill) – that’s minus 10 C at the warmest – so I cancelled the second night at the hotel and the second day of skiing. It will be cold tomorrow too, but hopefully not so cold that we don’t get in some more time on the slopes after the one-hour lesson is over.

And of course, B has to rush away from work early, today of all days, when they’re all congratulating themselves on what great sciencers they are and having cake and partying it up in their novelty physics ties and their socks and sandals.*

Silver lining: Mabel gets to go to ceramics after all. Here’s hoping it makes up for the dental appointment we have scheduled for Monday, when she gets yet another crown. Worst teeth ever.

Book

The final thing that’s got me not settling down to anything today is that I heard back from the agent I’d sent the new-and-improved version of my book to back in October. It had taken so long that I knew nothing wonderful was going to happen, so I wasn’t surprised when she said no, but it was a very nice no. Basically she said she likes it a lot but she can’t take it on right now because she’s too busy, and she gave me some suggestions of people I should send it to. She said nice things like “charming” and “delightful” and “I hope to see it in print some day soon.”

So do I, y’know.

So now I have to gird my loins and write a better 500-word synopsis and send it out again into the world, and a colder and less cosily familiar world at that. The realm of Irish publishing is very small – and it’s a very Irish book, so I think it has to start there – which means there aren’t that many options for places it can go, and I’ve exhausted all the personal contacts I have. I’m trying some UK agents too, but without luck so far.

So that’s where I am. Photos of smiling children on skis to come, I hope. Or news that we broke our legs.

 

* They don’t really wear socks with sandals. Hardly any of them do. I just like to tease him about it.

Ongoing

It’s been a busy week, but I think I’m getting the hang of things.

I effectively took September “off”, to see if I could be a famous novelist or something, but instead I just started knitting a lot. So I think I’ve decided that I can’t, and that’s okay. I’ll put it on the back burner for the time being. In the meantime, I have an actual paying copyediting job where I have committed to ten hours a week, and I’m keeping up with that.

I have this terror of committing to a certain amount of time, even though ten hours sounds eminently doable when, technically, I have six hours five days a week all to myself, making thirty. Surely I can assign a third of that to a particular thing. But you know how it is, someone gets sick or there’s a meeting or you have to go to Target for that one thing, and before you know it your day is gone.

(Not to mention housework. I don’t mention housework. It happens if it happens. So long as my kitchen is tidy enough to bake in, and the bathrooms not completely vile, I’m not all that bothered about housework.)

I’m still writing for Parent.ie, though our rate of output has slowed to a more manageable five posts a week. It’s a hobby for all of us, and the pressure of churning out three or four a day was a bit much. We took a break, and then we came back to it in a more relaxed way, and now it’s fun again. It’s a learning experience; but it was nice to have the site listed on the Blog Awards shortlist in two categories and finalist in one, even if we didn’t win anything this year.

I really function much better when I have some sort of schedule to ground me, even if it’s simply a toddler’s naptime habits. So the idea that now I can sit down and edit for two hours every day, whether it’s first thing in the morning or last thing before the school run, is good for me. And the work itself, though seemingly tedious, is strangely addictive and satisfying.

Much like the knitting, actually. At the time of writing I’ve made three pairs of mittens and am on my third hat. You’re supposed to knit a little square to see if your item will work out the right size for the pattern, given everyone’s different knitting tension, not to mention possible differences in yarn and needles. But so far I seem to be just knitting the thing with what I have, hoping it’ll fit someone, and then amending as needed for the next one.

Mabel in multicoloured knitted hat

Sundry updates

It’s one of those times when real life whizzes by faster than blog time, and I end up having to give you a list just to get things you need to know* out of the way.

*Need to know for full and complete appreciation of the blog, I mean.

So, without further ado, and in roughly chronological order, these things have happened:

– Mabel started school. So did Dash, of course, but this year Mabel’s the one with the big changes. I wrote a little bit about it here. She started last week, but after the long weekend of Labour Day, going back this morning was the roughest one yet. How long do I have to keep buying her bribes for? Until middle school, just?

Mabel in classroom

– The PTA book sale was a great success, in spite of a massive thunderstorm that rolled in on Sunday evening, shutting us down early and making some of our stock unusable. We had tarps to cover the tables, and put as many boxes as we could up there, but any boxes still under the tables that were in direct contact with the ground ended up sopping wet.

book sale under tents

– I may or may not have been a bookseller in a former life. But I should probably be one at some point in this one. I loved it. I loved the tetris-like challenge of “reshelving”, I loved remembering where I’d seen something that would go with this one, I loved seeing the droves of people buying so many books that they’d never find anywhere else, and by the third day I was talking to the books. Maybe that’s not a good thing, but they seemed to like it.

kids on ride at funfair

– I have Lyme disease, did I mention that? At least, I don’t actually have any symptoms, but I’m on antibiotics to make it go away. I had an odd fever with a stiff neck while we were in Italy and it was only when we got home that I decided, paranoidly, that maybe I had Lyme. I got checked rather than leave it to be a Thing I Obsess About In Bed At Night, and hey presto, I do. I never noticed the tick bite and have no visible rash. But we do live in a very high-Lyme area. My only lesson for you on that is: don’t be too paranoid, but do be just paranoid enough.

– We’re getting Dash tested for I don’t know what, a Learning Disability or something maybe, because vision therapy was great but it wasn’t the Ultimate Answer to his reading difficulties. The doctor I spoke to was trying to steer me in the direction of ADHD, but I honestly don’t think that’s it. I think he’s got some form of dyslexia. Or Overachieving Parent, it could be that. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, Third Grade seems Very Serious. Homework starts this week; I’ll see better how he’s keeping up when we get that.

Loft bed with desk underneath

– Or maybe I won’t, since he got a new bed and he’s going to do his homework in his bedroom now. Maybe I’ll just have to deal with Mabel’s homework. I’m really hoping that K homework is all drawing and stuff she likes to do.

All caught up now? Good.

(I’m making the photos big. If this has a terrible effect on your download times, tell me.)

Updatey things for a Friday

First of all, I’m sorry to inform you, if you didn’t already know, that Mabel and Dash are not my children’s real names. Maud is also not my real name. I’m very sorry if you feel betrayed in any way by this information, but it is on the About page, so I wasn’t intentionally keeping it from you. If you want to call your children Mabel and Dash, I’m delighted, but you should probably think about cutting me in on the royalties. (What do you mean, children don’t come with royalties? They should.)

Dinner at the table is going well. So long as I am proactive about turning the TV off at exactly 5.59, I have two eager diners sitting up and even demanding to be let set the table one minute later. Three, if their dad is home on time. Enthusiasm for tasting new foods has dimmed a little, but seriously, I’m just happy to have them sitting there seeing new foods being eaten by other people. We have actual dinnertime conversation, and I get to tell them not to talk with their mouths full, and it’s just like a real family.

My point with this is not that I think you have to eat dinner at the table too, or that you should do any of the things I do. It’s simply to encourage you by showing that change is possible, even if you think you’ve missed the boat because you didn’t institute whatever rule it was when they were born, or first eating solids, or turned four (five, six, seven…). If you don’t like the way things are, make a change. Or if you’re not ready for that, at least don’t despair, because when you are ready for it, you can do it.

We went to get Mabel’s American passport renewed yesterday. Previous passports (they have two each and the Irish baby one got renewed at 3 years) have been cause for photo-related hilarity and/or gnashing of teeth, but I was hopeful that this would be a straight shot. Mabel wasn’t great about holding her head up for the nice lady, but the nice lady was very canny and left the room while I wielded the camera, and I caught her in an accidental smile.

Mabel's photo

(We got to keep the second print. Which is nice because all the photos in my wallet were at least three years old.)

Vision therapy: further update

Dash has a vision therapy assessment this afternoon. I haven’t been talking about vision therapy much because I want to do a big reveal when it finishes up, but I’m tired of waiting, and frankly I’m excited about the way things are going.

At the start of the summer, Dash was seven and a bit and fresh out of first grade. He was reading a little above grade level, but it was a struggle and far more halting and laborious than it should have been. He was comfortably reading books like this:

Book with one or two sentences per page.

More tellingly, he never spontaneously read a road sign or a store name. He resisted reading anything we asked him to, though he faithfully did his 20 minutes of homework reading every night, eventually, when all other options had been exhausted. He would blink and say the words had gone blurry after a sentence or so, but he’d persevere. It was painful to listen to.

He began vision therapy in June – two half-hour sessions a week, with a few minutes of “homework” to do every morning and evening in between. It’s hard to explain what the therapy consists of – reading and pointing and following arrows and picking out highlighted text and finding letters in order and learning how to focus and unfocus his eyes as if he were doing one of those magic-eye pictures that I can never do. Games and puzzles and things on a computer.

We had a preliminary assessment after six weeks or so, and to be honest at that point I was still ambivalent about how things were going. I couldn’t see any change, really, in his homework reading. I felt at that point that the worst outcome would be if his reading improved a little, but nothing really changed much, and if we’d never know whether he’d just caught up late as he was going to do all along or if the therapy helped.

Less than a week later, something changed. He started reading the next level up and stormed through a level-three Ninjago book in a few nights. Words didn’t go blurry any more. He was reading paragraphs.

Now he’s reading text that looks like this:

Book with many lines of text on each page.

He’s on his third Magic Treehouse book. He’s still reading aloud, and only for his 20-minute mandated time, but if you’d told me when we started this that we’d have reached this point as soon as October, I’d have said all my hopes had come to fruition.

Today he was off school. We were talking about his reading and he said “…and when I’m finished all the Magic Treehouse books, I can read higher-level books and when I’m finished all of those I can start reading about real things.”

“You don’t have to wait till you’ve finished all the fiction in the library to read about facts, you know. We have a history book at home.”

So he did this:

Boy reading history book

He read two pages about World War II, asking me what things like N-a-z-i and C-z-e-c-h-o-s-l-…  and D-u-n-k-i-r-k spelled, and taking in every word even though his supporting background knowledge and geography are pretty hazy because it’s quite an advanced level book of world history.

His handwriting has improved to the point where he’s writing essays entitled “Why my writing is so neat.” He brought home a report card full of straight A’s last week. (This is his first letter-grade report card, so I can’t really compare it to previous ones, and I really don’t care and don’t want to put any pressure on him to stay a straight-A student, but that’s a different blogpost.) Last week at a birthday party he willingly read out the list of scavenger hunt items, even though they were in an unfamiliar cursive font.

At Wednesday’s session I got talking to another mother. Most of the kids I see at vision therapy are Dash’s age or a little older, but this woman’s son is in tenth grade, which makes him 15 or so. His deep voice sounds out of place beside my son’s piercing trill as they both do their separate exercises with their therapists, around the corner from where I sit and wait.

This mother said they’d spent thousands and tried everything trying to figure out what was going on with her son’s reading. He’d bring home A’s and B’s but his homework was taking seven hours a night. He’d had an IEP (individualized education plan; for children who need extra help while in mainstream schooling due to something like high-functioning autism or ADHD, maybe). Nothing had helped until they discovered vision therapy. She looked at me with hopeful weary eyes and told me we were blessed for finding this now, when Dash is seven, for saving ourselves all those years of struggle. I don’t doubt it.

Vision therapy isn’t over yet, and today’s assessment is to get a better idea of how he’s doing and how much more he needs. But I am happy to report that things are looking good. No pun intended.

——————

To read more about Dash’s journey with vision therapy, see here or type “vision therapy” into my Search field. If you wonder whether vision therapy would benefit your child, read this very informative page and take a look at the checklist linked at the bottom. We found a qualified developmental optometrist in our area using this search. Feel free to e-mail me if you’ve any specific questions, though obviously I’m far from an expert.

Vision therapy update

Dash has been doing his vision therapy for a while now – a half-hour session twice a week, with “homework” every day. We have had letter charts and arrow charts and number stars taped to the walls, and he has been pointing or reading or dancing or whatever he’s meant to do, morning and evening. Sometimes getting him to do it is just like school homework all over again, but he does it, and we hope it’s helping.

He’ll have another assessment midway through, and I’ll be interested to see if the numbers have changed. One thing about this process that I like is that the results are measurable; we’re not just wondering if his reading has improved, and if so if it was going to do that anyway. Of the barrage of tests he did at the beginning, we were provided with a list showing the range an average 7-year-old’s results would fall into, and then where his results were. Those aspects where his were below that range are the things his therapy focuses on, and when he’s re-tested we should see the difference.

We have at least continued with his daily twenty minutes of reading through the summer, even if other plans to beat summer slide, like daily copying out of a morning message, never got off the ground despite my best intentions and his avowed cooperation. This morning he actually continued past the timer’s beeping so that he could finish all of Green Eggs and Ham. Admittedly, the plot twist was not unexpected, and he’s well able to read all the words; but because he knows it so well he was happy to keep going and – for the first time ever – I heard him read with expression instead of just stumbling over one word at a time. I don’t know if the vision therapy has anything to do with it, but I was pleased.

The optometrists had given us, with Dash’s report, a list of accommodations we could ask for at school, such as sitting closer to the front, not being asked to copy from the board (changing focus from far to near is a problem point), getting some extra time for reading or writing assignments, that sort of thing. I was called in for a meeting this week to discuss these, and I was very pleased with the way things went.

I met with his teacher for next year, the principal, the guidance counsellor, the head of special ed, the school psychologist (didn’t even know we had one) and one other person, and it was mostly just a great opportunity to tell these people – most of whom had not dealt with Dash before, though I bet they’d recognize his big grin – who my son is, what a great kid he is, how much he loves school, and what’s going on with his vison right now. They were all open to learning more about how they could help, and we had a great discussion. I left feeling really positive about the school and its staff, which is a lovely way to start the year off.

In a most amazing coincidence, Dash’s best friend, daughter of my best friend (known in these parts as Helen’s Mom), has some of the same vision problems. There are just two days in age between her and Dash, and though we don’t see her so often any more, we spent much of the toddler years together at playgroups and playdates and library storytimes and the like. Helen (not her real name) is also a bright kid struggling more than you might expect with reading, though she’s reading at or slightly above grade level. Our story was ringing so many bells with her mom that she got Helen tested too, and vision therapy is probably in their future.

Which makes us wonder whether there was something in the water at all those playdates. Or maybe it was the extended nursing. Dun dun dunnnnn. (THAT WAS A JOKE. I WAS JOKING. I SWEAR I WAS JOKING.)

Points of things

Sky, sea, land

Tomorrow is the first day of the last week of the summer holidays. Mabel doesn’t go back to school till after Labor Day, but Dash starts second grade on August 19th. The second-grade thing isn’t phasing me, but the fact that the summer is almost gone is a bit stunning. This year seems to be going faster than any one before. If this keeps up, by the time I’m in my eighties, I imagine days will fly by like seconds. No wonder my mother is confused.

I partly feel like I’m just getting back into the groove of our nice laid-back summer (after the disruptions of going away, two weeks of camp, and then BlogHer) but on the other hand I’m looking forward to a bit more peace and the opportunity to throw away some of all the crap that’s been piling up around here. Because apparently I can’t do that when the kids are in the house.

I went to Target on my own for an hour yesterday and realised why I like shopping: it gives me a chance to center myself and plan things, whether it’s figuring out what might help for organizing the house a little more (I bought an in-tray!) or deciding what I want to, um, invest in this autumn. (Found a dress I want as a shirt, decided to e-Bay a bag I never use and buy one I fell in love with in Marshall’s; also tried on boots, but that’s not relevant ahem as I was saying…)

I thought I’d missed my Dad’s birthday and blamed it on the fact that apparently now I only know it’s someone’s birthday when Facebook tells me about it, and my Dad (needless to say) is not on Facebook. But then I realised I just had no idea what the heck date it was in August, and I hadn’t missed it at all. So that’s good.

I might have a freelance editing job lined up for when the kids go back to school. You might not get so much blathering from over here if I find I’m actually working instead.

In the last week both kids have started swimming underwater, Mabel for the first time ever and Dash for the first time since a little last summer. My kids have never been those ones who don’t seem to notice whether they’re on top of the water or the water’s on top of them – they would always crane their necks to keep their faces out of the water, even with goggles on for extra protection. So to see them whooshing around underneath all of a sudden is pretty cool. I told Mabel I didn’t do that till I was twelve, and she was well chuffed.

Technically, I finished the 30-day shred yesterday. That is, it was the tenth day I’ve done the level-3 workout. However, I did take off about ten days in July when I was sick and then away, and almost another two weeks from BlogHer until yesterday, and I spent a few intervening days working back up to it by doing levels one and two a couple of times. I don’t feel any different, though it’s not as hard as it was at the start, so I must be at least a tiny bit fitter and stronger. Dash says I look taller, which has to be a good sign. The scales still say I’m a few pounds lighter even though at no point did I stop eating all the muffins I usually eat. I will try to keep going until I get totally bored or something else happens or they go back to school and I try running again.

Since we didn’t do anything today, here are some photos from last weekend, when we took in some history by going to Fort McHenry in Baltimore. A decisive battle of the War of 1812 took place in Baltimore Harbor, and as the poet Francis Scott Key watched to see which flag would be flying over the fort as dawn broke the following morning, he wrote what would become the lyrics of The Star Spangled Banner.

Stars and stripes over Fort McHenry
Teeny little flag up high; huge enormous flag down low
Three people walking the battlements
Walking the battlements

End of an Ergo

I’m giving you a little break so you can catch up on all my past posts, and all the other things going on around the Internet, whatever they may be. At least, apparently that’s what I’m doing. But in the meantime, a few bullets to get me out of this bloggy doldrum:

  • I dusted off and gussied up my resume (which mostly meant changing all the fonts so they looked less 2004 and more 2013 to my non-graphic-designer eye; maybe it just made the whole thing look different to me and therefore as if it must have new information even though it doesn’t, much) and sent it to someone who expressed an interest. So that was nice. I will now proceed to freak out about all the free time I don’t have even though nothing has happened yet.
  • We had visitors, which was lovely and gave my deeply ingrained Internet addiction a little break. I’m also re-reading the His Dark Materials trilogy, which is exciting enough to get me away from the computer from time to time.
  • I have given away, sorted out, and designated for donation the last of the baby clothes. Even more finally, I am selling the Ergo. (And the Moby, if anyone wants it.) I put them on a local mailing list yesterday afternoon and by 6pm I had three offers for the Ergo. I think it will be taken today. I used it daily for, I’d say, four years in total, and apart from some fading it’s in perfect condition, not a stitch out of place. Those things are built to last, and if you’re looking for a baby carrier I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Baby-wearing on a bus with an Ergo and a toddler
Oh, Ergo. The fun times we had.
  • By which I mean that the baby train has left and I am not on it and I’m finally fine with that. (Disclaimer here so that writing this sentence does not immediately cause me to accidentally conceive. We do not intend to procreate any further, that’s all.)
  • Bedtime has taken a turn for the worse. It’s not fun. I do not like chasing Mabel around the street in her nightgown after stories because she’s not tired (except she is, so much) and as a result her second-favourite Barbie is now reposing in the recycling bin. I suppose I’ll take it out, but it’s the first time I’ve actually been forced to take such a drastic step. Or lost my temper enough to go through with it, I suppose.
  • I hope it’s a phase, because the rest of my life isn’t looking much like a good time if it’s not.

Decimal

Dash couldn’t sleep last night, so he requested a notebook and a pencil and wrote a book. As you do. Then he fell asleep for a few minutes and dreamed that theives came in and stole his pages, and woke up in a fright. I had to lie down with him for aaages to get him back to sleep, and by then it was my bedtime and the 3:10 to Yuma is going to have to wait for another day. (Which is okay with me. It’s one of those “We should probably see it” films. Is it any good, really? Have you watched it?)

Anyway, this is his book, all three pages plus cover:

Cover page
 Ten is a Grat Nomber by [redacted]
First page
 My favorite nomber is 10. 10 is a good nomb[er] becus it is the first 2 nomberd nomber.
Second page
Nombers are grate but i’d say 10 is better out of them all. 1 to 100 is not all.
Third page
Nombers go on forever, but I stil think 10 is better.

I can’t wait for the next thrilling instalment. I think he displays a grasp of the concept of infinity and a general liking for digits that I find admirable, though I’m not sure why he says “better” all the time instead of “best.” I also note that his literary inclination is not towards fiction.

I told him how to spell “favorite” (the American way, to my chagrin) and to put another t in better, but the rest (as you can tell) is all his own work. He has the vaguest of understandings that I used to have a job in the outside world and of what it was, so he asked me, “And tomorrow, will you do that thing you used to do, in the library or wherever it was…?” He meant would I edit it. I said I would.

************

Some time after Christmas, homework stopped being the royal pain in the ass it had been. Mostly because I stopped caring so much, and therefore stopped bugging him to do it when I thought he should be doing it. He does his homework every night, usually not until Mabel has been taken upstairs to bed and is therefore no longer a distraction. It doesn’t take long. Then we go through his spelling words either orally or by typing them into SpellingCity.com and letting him take a test on the computer, which is a great attraction. And he does his twenty minutes’ reading with us at bedtime, before or after stories.

It’s all very low pressure and I’m fine with that. I can see that his writing has got neater, his punctuation is pretty good, and some weeks he gets 100 percent in his spelling test. His reading level has leapt from a 12 (on the DRA scale) at the beginning of the year to a 24 this month. (Which sounded spectacular to me until I heard that some other kid went from 12 to 40. What an overacheiver. Sheesh.) But things are moving in the right direction and nobody is stressed out, and that makes me happy.

So all in all, first grade turns out to have been just fine.

SuperDash

I’m sure it’s uncool to admit this, but I’m sort of totally besotted with my seven-year-old just now. Maybe it’s because I picked up a couple of new things for him at Target yesterday and he’s finally now wearing trousers that come past his ankles, along with a groovy navy hoodie, but he looks like a whole new – big – kid to me. A handsome, smart (in the good way), sensible (mostly), listening (sometimes), cool quirky individual with a personality all of his own.

He hums to himself and sings choruses of his own composing, he pitches and catches and bike-rides at high speeds, he reads and writes (albeit reluctantly), he loves math homework. I gave him a joke book for his birthday, as I had a hunch that if anything could get him reading it would be a bunch of cheesy, predictable, corny jokes – and indeed, he labours through each one, sometimes needs the punchline explained, and then appreciates the heck out of each and every old chestnut.

Have new coat, will wear

He won’t be kissed any more, and any goodnight kiss I might happen to land on him is quickly swiped off and sent back to me. But if I have to wake him up for school – I never thought the day would come, for my 5am two-year-old, but it has – I plant a good few smackers on his warm sleepy cheek and he grins through his dreams and can’t muster the energy to push me off. Hugs are still okay, even awake, and he’ll still surprisingly hold a hand.

He can’t see me with a camera without hamming it up to the nth degree, which is why I have a lot of photos of superhero poses and cheesy grins and not many of his bright handsome face looking the way it should. He’s lost and gained two bottom teeth, and the gap where he knocked out one top tooth in babyhood finally looks right, though the replacement isn’t poking through just yet. He looks like his father, like my mother’s brothers when they were young; not like me that I can see, but others can, they say. His eyes are blue, his shins are bruised, and he always seems to need a haircut.

He’s miraculous, hilarious, and totally irritating. He’s irrational, loud, stubborn, infuriating, and a pain in the neck, but his heart, I think, is in the right place. He plays gently with the younger kids, until he forgets and shows off. He adores and tolerates his rambunctious little sister and puts up with her nonsense and her imperious demands for the one corner of the sofa that everyone wants, and he knows exactly how to push her buttons until she screams and stomps off in high dudgeon.

He was an obsessive three-year-old, deeply devoted to Spider-Man and constantly wanting to make machines and have us build things for him out of cardboard. His obsessions have levelled off as his interests have expanded and his abilities have caught up with his imaginings, but he still devotes a lot of thought to inventions he’s planning and characters he’s inhabiting. He just has other outlets now, his own internal life and friends at school and things I’m not involved in, just as it should be. That’s what we’ve been preparing him for, after all.

I’m not saying he’s Done or anything, but he seems to be coming along quite nicely. And I like him a lot where he is right now.