Emily and Phoebe

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tough on mess. Tough on the causes of mess.

The girls have been warned. Anything not tidied away by 3.00 each day will be swept up into a large black plastic bin liner and put in the attic. They are, even as I type, "tidying"*.

*i.e. making plastic swords out of lego and stabbing one another.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Phoebe has just about learned to write her name in Greek but is nothing if not ambitious, and is determined to expand her repertoire of letters to include the other 19 of the Greek alphabet - and beyond.

Beyond? Well yes, because Phoebe has found that the traditional alphabet used by Greeks for thousands of years does not meet her particular expressive needs. So she's been making up new letters. And mixing them up with the old ones. To create a whole new system of writing!*

Strangely, the only one who can read these messages is her sister. Not even Phoebe herself can understand her heiroglyphics until the Sage Emily has examined them. As I discovered from the following conversation yesterday:

Phoebe: Emily, can you tell me what I've written here? [She hands her sister a piece of paper with some lines and shapes and a few letters painstakingly drawn on it and waits expectently while Emily pores over it.]

Emily: It seems to say... [She examines it more closely] "Phoebe is an annoying ratbag!"

Phoebe: [Disconsolately] But why? Last time it said "Phoebe is the most beautiful girl in the world!"

Emily: That was then, this is now. I can't help what you wrote.

Phoebe: I don't like writing...

* Which to the untutored eye might look like the random scribblings of a four-year old.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Phoebe's ultimatum

"Daddy, we have three choices. One you play with me. Two: you read to me. Or three: I don't love you!"

Monday, January 15, 2007


At some point on the way to school every morning, Phoebe suddenly says "Let's run dad!". Which is my cue to hold each child tightly by the hand, stretch out my arms, lean forward, and start accelerating forward, making my best aeroplane-taxiing-along-the-runway noise. When the time came this morning, however, I suddenly felt Emily let go of my left hand. I turned and raised an eyebrow.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

She shifted her weight from one foot to another. "It's the way you're running, Dad. The noise you're making. It's *embarrassing*!"

Ah. I've embarrassed her in public. What can I say? I suppose no words can describe the feeling. Except perhaps...


I can't say how much I've been looking forward to this day! I just never imagined it would come so soon! I suppose if I'd been more alert I would have read the signs better: the rolling of the eyes when I start to speak, the heavy sighs, pretending not to hear me, and so on. That all suggested that I was starting to become a bit of a burden, and I was quite content with the progress I was making, but I never in my wildest dreams expected so much so soon.

So now it's on with the thinking cap to see how I can make myself even more of a liability!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Marks & Santa

Emily: "Mummy, why does the chocolate that Father Christmas brought me say 'Marks & Spencer' on it?"

Nevi: "Ummm... I don't know. Perhaps he got a bit delayed this year and had to get some of his stuff from the shops?"

Emily [Staring wide-eyed in disbelief]: "But that's... that's impossible! Santa doesn't buy things from the shops!"

Nevi: "Doesn't he?"

Emily: "Of course not mummy, the elves make everything. [Duh!] So why does this say 'Marks & Spencer'?"

Nevi: [Weakly] "I don't know, darling."

Emily: "There's only one answer." [There is a look of gravity on her face. This is it. The end of innocence. Her childhood illusions shattered. I can hardly bear to listen.] "Father Christmas must go to Marks and Spencer's in the middle of the night when it's closed, and make drawings of all the things there, and then he shows them to the elves and they make them. It's obvious!"

Nevi [Audibly relieved]: "Obvious! Clever old Father Christmas. Who would've thought it?"


Emily is very proud of her drawing of me. "I started with your hair and that took ages and then I did the rest!" I agreed with her that the hair was particularly successful. Although as Nevi commented, "You needn't have spent so long on it. Daddy doesn't have nearly as much as that..."

Thursday, January 11, 2007


We are walking to school.

Or to be more precise, I am striding implacably* forwards, Emily is gamely trotting along beside me, and Phoebe is dangling martyr-like from my hand, clinging on grimly and emitting low moaning noises as she bounces with a dull thud off trees and parked cars.

She is not talking to me.

Me: "Don't you be giving me the silent treatment young lady. If you'd got dressed when I told you to, we'd already be at school and we wouldn't have to be racing along like this."
Phoebe: "I *did* get dressed when you told me to young lady!"
Me: "Oh really? Then who was that wasting time sitting on Emily's bed playing with SpongeBob and Patrick this morning."
Phoebe: "That was you young lady!"

This exchange could go on for some time. Luckily, Emily interjects: "Don't be silly Phoebe. If Daddy sat on the bed it would break!"


I'm not sure whether to be grateful for the support or resentful of the implication that I could do with shedding a few pounds....

* I'm not actually sure, strictly speaking, if this is a way in which one can stride

Monday, January 08, 2007


Things Emily was fretting about in bed last night that prevented her from falling asleep:

1) What had happened to her maths exercise book. She couldn't find it. (Problem resolved. Her friend Constantinos had it.)
2) Whether she had done all her homework. (It turned out she had.)
3) Whether her teacher would tell her off today. (He didn't.)
4) Whether I had left milk and cookies for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph. (I told her I had. Yes, I know, it's a little late to be worrying about such things, but this is Emily we're talking about. And anyway, it's not like Santa failed to appear or anything.)
5) Whether she would be able to stop worrying about all the above so that she could fall asleep.