I think I’m after catching lockdown syndrome, a strange condition, where you start to enjoy being cooped up with your children all day. It’s basically Stockholm syndrome, but you fall for your kids rather than a bunch of terrorists. I know, I know, they actually are terrorists, but we’ll leave that for another day. Because this week I’m weak for my two. Mainly because of cycling, Netflakes and a Greek vase.
Our daughter basically demanded to be taught how to cycle last year. Her mother took her up to Ballyphehane Park (I’m not trusted with the big jobs) and two hours later I was sent a video of my then six-year-old cycling into the distance.
Her brother had a more relaxed attitude towards learning, which could be summarised in the word ‘no’. Last Saturday, he changed his mind. Back up to the park, two hours later the video arrived, we have a new cyclist in the family. The following day, I brought him and his sister up for another go. We spent an hour in the flower garden bit by Tory Top Road, watching him trying and trying, until eventually he went the whole way around. There’s something very soothing about watching a child learning to cycle, particularly when your wife has done the hard bit. I stood videoing him in the sunshine, going round and round, and remembered my Dad teaching me in Kinsale, and the cheering when I finally managed to go a few yards by myself. It only happens once, that’s the magic.
I remember when we did Keats’s poem, Ode on A Grecian Urn, in school. Our teacher told us that it was about beauty, while also telling us that studying a poem for an exam was one sure way to wreck anything beautiful about it. He wasn’t wrong there. It’s hard to appreciate anything when you’re wondering if it’s going to come up in an exam. And then the other day, our daughter was sent a little art project by her own teacher, which was to draw and colour in a Grecian urn. She scribbled away at it on the table and I drifted away for a little me time, looking at my phone. A few minutes later a Grecian urn was pushed under my nose. It was beautiful.
I don’t know, it was something about the colours she chose that reflected her crazy little hippy soul. It was the truth about her. And as Keats will tell you, truth is beauty.
The kids are finally shedding the last of their baby words. Of all their mispronunciations, my favourites were cinemat and Netlakes, instead of cinema and Netflix. I loved when they said these words, I loved using them myself, it was like we had our own little language in the house, just like every family does. Anyway, the kids are done. It’s cinema and Netflix now - they roar at us if we try and them to use the old form as if we’re trying to stop them from growing up, which we probably are.
The start of the lockdown was a breeze, the sun shone and our trampoline basically looked after the kids for a few hours every day. Then the birds which frequent our back garden decided to start using it as a toilet. They stand at the top of the net and poop down on to the trampoline. There seem to be a lot more birds around now we humans have taken a break from trying to kill the planet. The result is a very messy trampoline every morning. I’ve power-hosed it a few times, but by the time it dries, another feathered fecker has used it as the jacks. There is no point shouting at one when he’s perched up there, it just scares the poop out of him. I’m struggling for a solution. If you think of one, let me know.