My wife let me have a bit of a lie-in today (until about 8am) and my ears worked fine as a result. I got to hang out with my three favourite people for the day. Though what Gemma Chan, Rebecca from Let’s Play and Andrea Corr were doing together in rural Hertfordshire I will never know.
I am joking of course.
Catie’s brother, Duncan, came over and we took the kids and the dog up the rec to play. Duncan had bought Phoebe a cricket set for her birthday and she enjoyed trying to bowl us out, but got frustrated when we cheatingly used the bat to hit the ball away from the wicket. She overcame this problem by standing as close to the wicket as possible and throwing from an angle that made it impossible to defend. Cricket has been going for centuries and no professional has ever found this loophole. But she got us out very quickly and hopefully will be signed up by England pretty soon as a result.
The kids are getting on well and Phoebe loves having a baby brother - though weirdly was put out when he was placed in a swing next to her today. Phoebe is gentle with him and likes to hug and stroke him, but there’s always the feeling that her intent might contain malevolence as she approaches. Catie remembers loving her brother as a baby too, though Duncan said he recognised the dread of potential violence. It’s an odd form of passive-aggression, where without speaking it is made known that the bigger child could crush the smaller, but is choosing not to. Not this time. Maybe next. “Ah, lovely Ernie,” it’d be a shame if anything happened to you.
These days at home are all the more enjoyable when I’ve been on tour (not that I have yet had many nights away). Back at home Phoebe and I did some colouring in, before playing our dice activity game (which she was loving, but then, just for the Hell of it, she threw all the cards on the floor, laughing).
I see a lot of myself in this headstrong little girl. She is currently obsessed with blowing raspberries and will do it for minutes if not hours on end, responding to every entreaty about it being rude, or only funny every now and again, by doing it more. Given that I spent approximately 50% of the time between the ages of 4 and 12 saying “Wee wee, poo poo, bottom” on a loop, I am on thin ice when I try to tell her to stop. Today I told her about a little boy who everyone said should stop saying rude words, but who didn’t stop and went on to become the 500th most successful comedian of his generation.
And to be fair to Phoebe, Ernie seems to find the raspberries unfailingly funny, even when they are right in his face and he is being sprayed with spittle. But to be fair that might just be Stockholm Syndrome or an attempt to stave off the inevitable violence that is coming his way.
I drove to the nearest town with some civilisation in it and got Catie and me a takeaway curry and some beers. The takeaway has become a rare thing indeed and a couple of large Cobra beers was a risk when it was my turn to look after Ernie. But I turned in exhausted and full at 9.30pm and he incredibly slept til 4am, had some milk and then slept for 2 more hours. So I had hit the jackpot of having taken my turn looking after him and getting probably 7 hours sleep. These are the victories of parenthood that are savoured more than any interaction with your children.