February 2014

It feels a bit like spring, at least a lot more than this time last year. We have crocuses and snowdrops. And, still, a lot of mud. The boys spent a remarkable amount of time over the February half-term, together with the boys next door, digging a very deep hole at the end of next door’s garden. It’s going to be an underground den, apparently. It’s already deep enough such that a boy who climbs into it comes out covered in mud from the shoulders down. The parents say to each other in resigned tones: it’s fresh air and exercise and, if not actually constructive, at least not overly destructive. And thank goodness for washing machines.

February’s cultural report:
– Cinema: The Lego Movie. Extremely funny. The boys now frequently sing “Everything is Awesome”. We were all very glad that there was a starring role for the little 1980s space lego man; thanks to Gavin’s childhood love of lego, we have a lot of those 1980s spacemen, most of them with broken helmets just like the one in the film.
– Books: Reading aloud to Peter I finally made it to the end of “Swallowdale” (I’d forgotten quite how long it was). Reading on his own, Peter has launched into his first proper independently-read no-pictures chapter book (“Christmas According To Humphrey”). He reads slowly, but follows the story well enough to empathise deeply with the characters; he comes downstairs looking sad when one of the children in the book has suffered a disappointment. Given his sensitivity to emotional tone, we’ll keep him on nice gentle ordinary-children-doing-ordinary-things books for a while, I think. Matthew is reading a very eclectic mixture of anything history-related (fact or fiction, but preferably fictionalised versions of actual events); detective stories from Secret Seven to bits of Sherlock Holmes [whom he wants to be for World Book Day. He has a magnifying glass. We will improvise a deerstalker, but might leave out the pipe, to fit the anti-smoking messages that the kids are already hearing at school. Peter wants to be Roger from Swallows & Amazons; hooray once again for books about ordinary kids].
– Music: Matthew’s trying to learn to play some Beatles songs on the piano. His piano teacher noticed that he knows the songs quite well. Since he’s been listening to them since age two, that’s not very surprising. Perhaps we ought to have a go at bringing his musical tastes more up to date sometime.
– Weird Popular Culture Stuff That Only Makes Sense To People Who Are Matthew’s And Peter’s Age: I think we have our first bona fide instance of this, viz. “Match Attax” cards. I think they’re the latest version of cigarette cards/ football stickers/ Cabbage Patch Kids cards/ other small items produced solely for kids to buy with their pocket money and swap with each other. They have footballers on them. That’s about all I can tell you. But they are suddenly extremely important to both boys, especially Matthew (they have lots of numbers on them); and the very long and earnest conversations about them are totally incomprehensible to us.

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