Emily and Phoebe

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Emily: Dad, I want to get messy today.

Me: You're pretty messy already, darling. What do you expect this to involve?

Emily: Not messy, Messi! He's a footballer! And I need him for my album!

Oh, right. The girls have started collecting football cards or stickers or something.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


The other day, Phoebe was watching a TV programme called Kitchen Nightmares, starring sweary chef Gordon Ramsey.

Now, inevitably, she has shocked Emily by using Chef Ramsey's favourite Anglo-Saxon epithet.

"Phoebe, don't say that word! Say..." she pauses while her computer-like memory scans every episode of Friends for an inoffensive alternative "... darn instead!"

Friday, January 15, 2010


We are walking to school and find ourselves being observed by a stern looking old woman dressed in black. I give her a friendly smile and she shakes her head sorrowfully. "Poor little thing!" she mumbles. I stop and look around to see who she could be talking about. "The little one!" she admonishes me, indicating Phoebe.

"Um, yes, probably," I venture. I'm not sure what she's getting at, but by the way she's fixing me with her glittering eye I suspect this could be a long and tedious encounter. Since the school bell is about to ring, I think it's best if we're on our way.

"It's a shame! A crying shame!" she yodels.

"Well, yes, perhaps," I offer, perplexed.

"Her bag! Look how heavy it is."

"Ah, right, yes. With you now. Yes, you're right. It is heavy. Very heavy. It's the books, you see."

"Books!" she exclaims scornfully.

"Yes, books. You know, for the lessons. We're going to school." For emphasis, I flap my hand in the direction of the large building with the word SCHOOL written on the outside. I really think she might be a few pence short of the full shilling.

"She shouldn't be carrying it!" she thunders. This is getting alarming now. I decide the best policy is to agree with her and hotfoot it out of there.

"You're quite right, of course. She's much too little and it's a big heavy bag, but it's the same for all the children, you know. Τι να κάνουμέ; Anyway, we have to go now. Nice meeting you!" I give her a cheery wave and hurriedly steer the girls off in the direction of the school. I look over my shoulder and see her still glaring at us.

"Well that was a bit odd!" I say. "Still, she was quite right to be concerned, I suppose. Phoebe's bag really is too heavy for her. It must be at least five kilos!"

"Dad," Emily says gently, "she meant that you should be carrying Phoebe's bag - like all the parents do for the little children!"

"Do they?" I look around and notice, it is true, quite a number of mums and dads (not to mention some quite frail looking grandparents) struggling under the weight of some very large school bags.


Sunday, January 10, 2010


At art class on Friday the girls had to draw a picture of their left hand holding a toy. Emily didn't have time to finish hers so she brought it home to colour in. I was so impressed I took a photo of it. She herself didn't actually think it was anything special because she copied it from real life "and that's not really art, Daddy"...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Spelling test

Phoebe is very good at getting her homework out of the way. Quite often on a Friday afternoon she will sit down and make a start on a worksheet so that her weekend is as free as possible. Similarly, she rattled through all the work her teacher had set her for the Christmas holidays on the very first day, and had a lovely two weeks of not worrying about school. Until now. She has just come to me in a panic because tomorrow is the first day back at school and the one piece of homework she didn't get out of the way two weeks ago was to learn some words for a spelling test (very sensibly, she had left it until today so that the words would be fresh in her mind tomorrow). However, although she knows that has a spelling test, she can't remember what words she has to learn. She has called her friend George, who told her something, but she didn't really understand too well what he meant, and when we tried calling him back there was no reply.

We have looked through her language book and found a sentence in bold in the last reading text they looked at last term, which usually indicates something to be copied and learnt for spelling. She is worried that there might be something else she has forgotten, though, and the later it gets the more she is fretting and she has become quite tearful.

I decide to help her put things in perspective.

"Darling, let's suppose that you haven't learnt the right words and that you get to school tomorrow and you get zero on the spelling test. What's the worst thing that can possibly happen?" I smile encouragingly.

Her eyes widen, aghast at a possibility that had clearly not previously occurred to her.

"The worst that can happen? I will be completely humiliated in front of the whole class." She commences a new round of wailing.

It seems I may not have handled that one as well as I might...