Emily and Phoebe

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tooth Fairy

Emily: Daddy? Phoebe says that the tooth fairy doesn't exist and that it's you who puts the money under my pillow when I lose a tooth. She says it's not fairy money and that it's Daddy money, and that she can tell the difference. Daddy, is that true?

Me: She's just teasing you, darling. Phoebe's much too little to understand about grown-up things like the Tooth Fairy.

Emily [Relieved] That's what I thought. Thank you Daddy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


There is not enough room on the bus for us all to sit down, so I tell Emily to hold on tight to me while I lift Phoebe up to sit on the special area reserved for luggage. She reclines in regal fashion on Emily's backpack, provoking an instant jealous reaction.

"How come I'm not allowed up there Dad? I want to go up there."

"I'm sorry darling, but we need to leave room for people to put their bags there. This space is really only for bags."

"But Phoebe's not a bag!"

This is the point where I should have said something to mollify Emily and flatter Phoebe, and not, under any circumstances, introduce the word ratbag to the conversation unless I wanted all hell to break loose...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Greeks love children, and will do almost anything to accommodate them (and their parents).

Which is why I'm planning to drag the girls off to the bank with me now, hoping that their presence will get me promoted to the front of the (inevitably) very long queue.


That was my evil genius laugh, in case anyone was wondering...

And yes, I am well aware how terribly sad it is that the full extent of my evil geniusness lies in my jumping the queue at the bank. It is sadder still that this will assuredly be the highlight of my day. And saddest of all that I feel the need to share this with you all...

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Emily is complaining that all the boys at school want to sit next to her: "I'm just too damned attractive. It's a blessing and a curse, you know..."

(This statement is guaranteed 100% irony-free)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

National Independence Day...

is coming up on March 25th, when we* will all be celebrating the throwing-off of the Turkish yoke!**

In preparation, at Phoebe's kindergarten, a woman with a drum is teaching the tinies how to march in a straight line while they swing their arms in miltary fashion and salute the flag. They have also been instructed*** that there is to be no talking in the ranks...

* Possibly not including Greek Muslims (i.e. ethnic Turks)
** Is this what one does with a yoke? I'm not sure. I know what to do with a yolk, of course, but yokes are another matter entirely...
*** Bellowed at, actually

Monday, March 19, 2007


Emily is full of get-rich-quick schemes to supplement the meagre one euro a week I give her as pocket money. Most of these would probably be described by an impartial observer as "scams", but Emily is convinced they represent great opportunities offering unparalelled value for money. One idea was to scrape the paint off the outside of pencils and sell it as gold dust (I've no idea how many gullible classmates she fleeced with that one), and then she moved on to board games, where I suspect she priced herself out of the market by asking fifty cents for what was to all intents and purposes a piece of paper with squares drawn on it.

Her latest money-making wheeze is to make a game for Playstation.

Emily: Daddy, I'm going to make a game for Playstation.

Me: [Doubtfully] Really darling? I'm not sure that's possible.

Emily: Yes it is, Dad. I'm going to make it with my friend Constantinos and we're going to sell it for twenty euros and it's going to have lots of skeletons fighting soldiers and lots of people have already said they want it!

This is a tricky one. I can see how excited she is, and she clearly wants me to tell her what a good idea it is - but on the other hand I don't want her to be disappointed (there's clearly no way I can let her go away with the idea that this might be possible). And I'm also afraid she's going to start taking deposits for advance orders. So I have to try and let her down gently.

Me: That sounds ever so exciting my love, but it's not so easy to write a Playstation game, you know. You need to have a very big computer and work for a big company and then you have to put the game onto a floppy disk - well, more like a CD, in fact, or a DVD actually - well no, in fact it's more like a CD-Rom, I suppose-

Emily: [Cutting me off sharply as she realises how far out of my depth I am] Dad, you just don't understand. We have modern technology nowadays. We're not still living in 1979 [i.e. when homo erectus first walked the Earth...]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In the park

Phoebe is not in much of a mood for running around and playing today, so we find a bench and sit together swaying gently along to Bob Dylan's Modern Times (sharing the i-pod with one ear bud each), while we watch Emily playing football. It is an idyllic moment of almost perfect happiness, spoiled only by my realisation that impressive though Mr Zimmerman's latest album undoubtedly is, his voice is at times indistinguishable from that of Grampa Simpson.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Emily is doing her homework. "Daddy, I'm not sure I understand this exercise. Can you help me, please?" I take a look at the example. "A hat made of wool is a woollen hat." (Blue is for Greek.)

"OK, my love, this looks quite straightforward. Let's have a go at the first question. 'A house made of stones is a ...' what?"

"A... stone house?"

"Excellent, my love! Well done!"

"I'm still not sure I understand it though, Dad."

Phoebe pipes up: "Come on Emily, it's easy! Like this: eyes made of wood are wooden eyes!"

"Oh yes! Thank you Phoebe! Now I understand!"

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I have not given Phoebe as many cornflakes as she would like for breakfast this morning, and am immediately (and loudly) dubbed an idiot. I am about to respond with a mild request that she not be rude, when Emily, in rhetorical mode, leaps to my defence.

"An idiot? Some idiot! An idiot that gets you breakfast! An idiot that takes you to school! An idiot that cooks you lunch! An idiot that washes your hair! An idiot that wipes your bottom [sadly, this is true]."

I'm quite grateful, but I can't help feeling that this vociferousness on my behalf is a way Emily has discovered of repeatedly calling me an idiot while seeming to do the opposite.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Phoebe still has a heavy cold and now a cough too, so I've decided to keep her at home today. It's not that she's particularly ill (she doesn't have a temperature or anything). I just feel sorry for the teachers who'll have to deal with the buckets of snot she's producing...

Monday, March 05, 2007


Emily finishes school each day at about 12.25, and we usually go to the park for 20 minutes afterwards so she can play with her friends before heading for home. Most of the time she plays football, but today she went off exploring with her friends first, and at 12.45, when I wanted to leave, they were only just choosing teams.

"Come on Emily, it's time to go!" I shout over to her.
"Oh please, Dad, just five more minutes," she begs.
"I'm sorry my love, we have to get back so I can start cooking your lunch."
"Perfect! You never let me do anything."

Something tells me she's not happy with my decision, so I decide to rationalise it for her.

"Well, darling, I think I do let you do things. But here's an idea: tomorrow I really won't let you do anything you want to, and then you'll have something to compare today to. How about that?"

Emily emits a strange strangulated noise. "Right! I'm not going to talk to you for the rest of the day." I respond by doing my happy dance (wiggling my bottom from side to side while pretending to play the maracas and rhythmically chanting "A-ha cha cha, a-ha cha cha, a-ha cha cha) and predictably enough, Emily is less pleased than ever. Having promised not to speak to me though, she is left with no choice but to remain silent. And indeed she does so, marching homewards with a grim expression on her face as she successfully ignores my inane drivel.

At the time of writing she has yet speak! Watch this space for further news on Emily's Trappist tendencies.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Puppet show

This year, the local council has been organising theatre shows for young kids at the town hall, and today it's my turn to take them to see a puppet extravaganza called "Nikos and the Wolf".

The whole thing is performed by two young women, one of them very pretty, and is full of inventive puppetry and performances that would undoubtedly work in a smaller space such as a classroom in front of a quiet and appreciative audience. Unfortunately, the performers don't seem to have the skills necessary for playing to a hall full of raucous five-year-olds: there is even infant heckling at one point, which they are quite unable to deal with, and Pretty Puppeteer looks on the verge of tears.

I can barely follow the plot what with all the tinies screeching at one another, but if I'm not mistaken it involves a donkey (called Nikos) and a wolf. The wolf has a friend who is a fox. I am not sure why the fox does not appear in the title, as he appears no less important to the plot than the wolf. Perhaps foxes don't make for good box office. Anyway, the fox and the wolf try to eat the donkey, he tricks them, and they don't. Eat him, that is. And that's it. There is a boat trip at one point. I'm not sure why.

The whole thing lasts about twenty minutes, and the very sparse smattering of applause at the end gives the performers a clue that the five euros a head we've paid to get in does not represent great value for money. The less pretty puppeteer, clearly fearing a mini-riot, suggests that all the children might like to come to the front of the hall and play some games with the puppets. This the children do, but it soon becomes clear that there is a Lord of the Flies situation developing, and that fox, donkey and wolf will not feature meaningfully in any further performances unless swift action is not taken, so they are hastily withdrawn.

Phoebe meanwhile has decided that she doesn't want to join in the puppet sacrifice. This is mainly because she has a streaming cold and I have to be on hand to wipe her nose. I hoist her up onto my shoulders and she strokes my hair as we stand watching.

Pretty Puppeteer looks over in our direction and I give her an encouraging smile. She smiles back at me. The children are all pretending to row boats on the floor (linking fairly tenuously to the performance, I feel, but it is keeping them quiet). I point out Emily to Phoebe, who continues to stroke my hair.

Is it now my imagination, or is Pretty Puppeteer paying more attention to me and Phoebe than to the rapidly-tiring oarspersons at her feet? It seems not. Ignoring the incipient mutterings of mutiny, she is very definitely looking at us and smiling. In all modesty, I should say that this is not an entirely unusual occurrence. When I have the kids with me, attention from women who are, if not actually out of my league [reminder to self: you married one], then certainly very attractive, increases exponentially. (I suspect that this last statement may not, strictly speaking, be true. Can there be an exponential increase from zero to anything?) Anyway, Pretty Puppeteer is unusually attractive, and this is quite an unexpected ego boost, so despite my aching shoulders I'm quite happy to keep Phoebe up there stroking my hair.

After about five minutes the fun and games on the floor come to an end, and Emily saunters over to us. Pretty Puppeteer is again looking in my direction and is now smiling quite broadly. Laughing, almost. I take Phoebe down from my shoulders. "Daa-aad!" Emily's tone of voice makes it clear that I have done something embarrassing. "Why did you let Phoebe mess up your hair like that? It's sticking up like a clown's. And it looks like it's got- oh my god, urgghhh, it has - you've got Phoebe's snot in your hair." Ah. On reflection it seems possible that Pretty Puppeteer's attention may have more to do with the mess Phoebe was making of my hair than my deviilish good looks. I hurriedly flatten down my sticky quiff with my hand, which I am am then forced to wipe on my trousers. Pretty Puppeteer and Less Pretty Puppeteer are watching me. And laughing. Oh yes. Most definitely laughing. I wipe Phoebe's nose and we leave. Quickly.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Truth to tell, I'm not always as careful as I might be when it comes to using bad language around the kids. Partly this is a conscious decision - if they were going to school in England they'd be exposed to a wide range of swear words - far wider and more offensive than I habitually use, I'm sure. Also, I'm just not disciplined enough (or a good enough parent, probably) to censor myself or control my temper when the kids are about.

And most of the time it doesn't seem much of an issue. So I was a bit surprised the other day when a mild oath was greeted with shocked reproach by Emily: "Daddy, we're in the supermarket! You can't say 'Oh buggery' in here!"

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pinch, punch...

... first day of the month! Or, as we say here in Greece, kalo mina (good month).

On March 1st, celebrated in Greece as the first day of spring, it is traditional to tie a red and white thread around your child's wrist. Phoebe's (look closely, it's there) was done for her by her teacher at nursey school.
I'm not actually sure what the significance of this might be. Knowing Greece as I do, it probably has something to do with warding off the evil eye (an ever-present danger).