Matthijs came home with a loose tooth because he had protected his friend R from classmate T and T had then thrown my son on the ground. He then said that R would only make playdates with him on Fridays so that the rest of the class would not know. Matthijs apparently gets teased because he is a nerd.
Marjolein asked him if he minded that much and he answered “No. Popularity sucks”. He explained that he would rather have a few good friends that liked him for himself. The popular kids have lots of hangers-on who are attempting to gain status by association, which is basically what is going on with R. R is trying to gain status by associating with T, but T regularly turns on him. Matthijs does not think that kind of “friendship” is worth having.
Matthijs gets teased by J and his cronies, because, Matthijs believes, they get status from oppressing nerds: “just like people in Ancient Rome oppressed others to gain status for themselves”, he said.
Marjolein asked if he would like to be more popular, slightly amazed because she thought he got on well with most of the children. He said no, because popularity sucks: you cannot trust the kinds of friends it makes you and you have to oppress others to stay on top. He did not want to do that because he knew how it felt. And he was ok because he had three good friends who liked him for himself. D used to be his friend but was too popular now: D knows everything about cars and Pokemons and they are a big hit now.
He does play with some of the girls in the class, but does not make playdates because they are not really friends. His best friend Jaro was “going steady” with a girl Matthijs had been sweet on for ages: but he was happy for Jaro, after all, he said, you should be happy that something good was happening for a friend.
It was one hell of a conversation, makes you proud and sad at the same time. Both Marjolein and I are all too familiar with being in the “out group”. Matthijs is picking up a lot of experience in a short time and has even managed to generate a little wisdom.
Daniel is thinking about relationships in a different way: when I installed “Dinosaur Zoo” on his PC and we were looking at how you can breed your dinosaurs to get new kinds he pointed at the screen and said “they do what you and Mama did once!” Looks like some of the “birds and the bees” talk stuck, but not all…
We were actually rather dinged up this month. I fell off a ladder and bruised a rib (really achy for aaaages) and Marjolein got rear-ended in the car and had a sore neck for a few days. The other party mashed his car pretty thoroughly and the big red bus has a dent in the rear hatch. Marjolein had to help the chap lift his car up so that he could retrieve his bumper, which was locked onto our towing hook.
That was the end of the holiday. The holiday itself was great. We did a lot of fixing up in the house in Noordwijk but also had time to go to the lake and swim, barbeque, bike to the coast and admire sandsculptures and wander around the local village with ice-creams and armfuls of DIY materials. The children would vanish off into the forest for hours on end and return to eat and drop into bed exhausted: ideally all in the same bed.
Daniel had his birthday party just after the holiday: he made very nice “crocodile head” invitations all by himself, with some conceptual input from Matthijs. Once again he wanted to go to the indoor playground.
Marjolein finally gave up on the basketball lessons for Daniel and Matthijs. They are too young to get engaged it seems. She is very much of the mind that if you are going to squeeze out three sons ONE of them at least will be a basketball player, or there is not justice in this vale of tears.
Second half of the month I took the kids down to Belgium to visit my mother alone as Marjolein had a weekend date with her friend Saskia. This got interrupted when she got a call that her friend Merel was having her baby: Marjolein had promised to help and Saskia dropped her off at the hospital in Amsterdam. I got back from Brussels just in time to ferry an exhausted Marjolein home. Mother and child were fine and so Falco’s friend T now has a baby sister.
We also had a major drama this month. After all kids were asleep and Marjolein and I were watching a film we heard one of our (three) firealarms go off in the attic. We dashed upstairs to find smoke in Daniel’s room. Marjolein took the kids downstairs, bodily carrying the still sleeping Falco and I scoured the room to find the cause. It was surprisingly difficult and I was starting to cough a lot from the smoke when I found that Daniel had taken his halogen desk light into his bed to do some sneaky reading. After he dozed off it had fallen over with the head of the lamp buried in a cushion. The intense heat of the halogen bulb was burning a hole in the cushion. The lamp was pretty much melted and the cushion was producing clouds of smoke.
We thanked God for (1) smoke alarms and (2) flame retardant fabrics. The cushion was smouldering, but any ordinary cloth would have caught fire, right next to Daniel’s head and the curtain in front of his wardrobe. The whole room could have gone up.
We have taken away the boys’ desk lamps and replaced all the halogen bulbs with TL saver bulbs. We were lucky, but we also made our own luck by hanging up smoke alarms. If you don’t have them, buy them: even if you never need them they are worth it.
The last pictures are of National Street-Play day. Lots of games and crafts for the toads and a fascinating demonstration by the bicycle police of how they can use bikes to overpower criminals: fast moves, acrobatics and “bike fighting”. Lets hope the boys don’t copy too much of it…