Emily and Phoebe

Saturday, January 26, 2008


What's this I found in Phoebe's bag? It seems to be a scroll of some kind...

Friday, January 25, 2008

No one for tennis

Emily is cross with me because I have said that she can't go to tennis today. (Her lessons take place outdoors, so whether she can go or not really depends on the weather and today it is blowing a gale. Plus it rained this morning and the temperature is plummeting towards zero.)

I have made all the obvious arguments (you can't play tennis in the wind, the court will be waterlogged, no one else will be going when it's this cold) but she is determined to see this as some kind of plot against her.

"Why can't we ever do what I want to do? It's not fair!"

I sympathise, I really do. It's rotten being young and having all your decisions being made for you. I beckon her over to the window. "Look love!" I say, pointing outside at a tree being pushed over at a 45 degree angles by the wind (a pretty weedy tree, it's true, but I think it makes my point nicely). "No one could play in that wind - it would send the ball all over the place. I know you're disappointed, but it's winter and you're bound to miss a few lessons at this time of year."

You would think by now that I'd be able to predict my daughter's likely reactions to my attempts to explain my decisions, wouldn't you? (And it's true that I do sometimes have a tendency to tease her when I shouldn't, which possibly doesn't help matters.) But this time I really was expecting that this would calm her down. Instead, it seems to have the opposite effect. Whereas I was expecting a slightly disappointed "Yeah, I s'pose you're right, Dad," what I actually get is the sort of sound I imagine you'd get if you creep up on a large sleeping bear and poked it with a sharp stick.

Honestly, I wonder why I bother sometimes. Perhaps it would just be easier to take her to tennis, leave her there and return an hour and a half later to observe the shivering, semi-frozen outcome. Would that count as cruel and unusual punishment or would it teach her an important lesson? I ponder this for a little while until I realise that Emily has stormed out of the room.

"Where are you going, darling?"

"Nowhere! You've ruined my life!!!"*

Hmmm. I'm beginning to think that taking her to tennis may not be such a bad idea after all...

* Good to see at least that she's inherited her mother's gift for understatement.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Moving in mysterious ways

Phoebe's class is off to church on Friday, when they will all be taking holy communion - with the exception of Phoebe herself, that is, because she's a bit off colour at the moment and we don't want her passing on (or catching) anything via the communion goblet. Truth to tell, she doesn't doesn't seem much bothered whether she goes or not.

Emily, on the other hand, is most upset. "She has to take communion, Dad. She can't not take it!"
I explain that usually it wouldn't be a problem, but because it's possible to catch germs when you share a cup or mug with someone, then it's probably not a good idea.

"But you can't catch germs from the communion goblet," she immediately retorts. "And if you're ill, it'll make you better!"

Now this is a view in which Emily is not alone. Plenty of grown-ups who should really know better claim to believe in the healing properties of communion wine. The way they tell it, it's a kind of Lemsip Max, curing all manner of coughs and colds (and probably botulism and bubonic plague too).

Now I do understand that Emily considers herself to be a great expert on matters of religion (and me to be extraordinarily ignorant, it goes without saying) but I really don't think I can allow this to pass without putting forward the opposite point of view in a calm and considered manner.

"What utter nonsense!" I splutter.

OK, so calm and considered rather escaped me on that occasion and unsurprisingly, she doesn't immediately concede that I might have a point. Nor, though, does she lose her temper (as I probably deserve). Instead, she responds with martyred dignity. "Dad, that's not fair. I don't tell you that it's wrong of you not to go to church, and you shouldn't tell me that what I believe is rubbish."

Is there anything more maddening than being put in your place by your own children? Obviously I have to backtrack a little.

"You're right, my love. That was wrong of me. But I promise you, taking communion won't make you better if you're ill."

"Yes it will, and I've got proof."

This should be good. I raise a sceptical eyebrow.

"One time I had a tummy ache and then I went to church and drank the holy wine and afterwards I felt better. That proves it."

"Well not really, darling. I once had a tummy ache and then I ate a banana and felt better. And I don't think God had anything to do with that!" (As I write this, I can see how people who don't know me so well might imagine a slight trace of sarcasm lacing that last remark. I promise, though, that there was none at all. Really.)

The infallability of my argument silences her for a few moments.


Oh good grief, what now?

"...God blessed the banana so that you'd get better!"

To which I find there is really no answer at all...

Monday, January 21, 2008


Emily is learning to play the recorder at school. Judging by the look of her pyjamas, she also has imminent plans to travel to the city of Hamelin to rid the city of rats...
All together now, "Hamelin town's in Brunswick, by famous Hanover city..."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Phoebe and I have an hour to kill before we have to collect Emily from school. We'd usually go to the playground, but it's been raining and everything is going to be horribly muddy.

"I know, Dad! Let's go exploring!"

"What a good idea my darling! We'll go exploring like Dora! You can be Dora the Explorer!"

She looks at me with scorn "Don't be silly, Daddy. I'm not Dora. [What? Are we over the Dora craze already?] I'm Scooby Doo!" She bounds off delightedly and shouts over her shoulder: "And you're shaggy!"

Well, a little unkempt maybe, but I don't think there's any need to... Oh, right. Shaggy. OK, well. given the alternatives, I suppose I can live with that...

(And in the meantime, I get to wondering if there's any way of persuading Phoebe to eat something nutritious - a falafel or a lentil croquette, say - by persuading her that it's a Scooby Snack. Probably not.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

All is explained!

The girls want to be firefighters!

So the red clothes, black wellingtons and training programme are all in aid of them joining the fire brigade!

Good for them! I approve of this sort of public-spirited ambition and I shall do everything I can to nurture it. First of all I shall buy them some fireman costumes (these will also do for carnival this year, so that's two birds with one stone) and then I shall help develop their "fire safety awareness". Once or twice a week I shall set small containable blazes in various locations around their bedroom (waste paper basket, toy cupboard, bed etc.) and then time them to see how quickly they can bring them under control.

Hurrah! I am the best daddy ever!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I find a carefully written piece of paper:

1. Jog around the room 5 times
2. Jog up and down the stairs 10 times
3. Jog along the hall 10 times and jump

That explains the jogging.

But why?

Something tells me it won't be long before I find out...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I am working at the computer when Emily and Phoebe come jogging into the office, one behind the other. They make a turn behind my chair and leave. "One!" barks Emily in sergeant-majorly fashion. The sound of footsteps disappears.

Two minutes later they enter the room again and perform the same mini-circuit (in a space of about 2 square feet, forcing me to squeeze forwards out of their way). I notice as I turn to watch them leave the room that they are wearing wellington boots. "Two!" squeaks Phoebe.

When they return for a third time, I turn my chair to watch them. They are both dressed in red.

What is going on?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Angels with naughty faces

To all our family and friends, with love and best wishes for 2008 from Paul, Nevi, Emily and Phoebe.

(I know that only one of these angels has a naughty face, but that would have spoiled the title. And no prizes at all for guessing which angel was made by Emily and which by Phoebe...)