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Age of Empires with a 4 year old

Friday 1st February 2002


Am I keeping this diary with such thoroughness because it is all I can do as a writer when I’m looking after the kids?

Do Diaryland

New sites, try templates, cut and paste HTML, after two years away from coding I’m tempted to create my own site. Experiment.

Joined by TBT

I am just getting into the swing of things coding HTML for a new Diaryland Template. He wants to play ‘Age of Empires’ (that is what he is now doing, on my knee).

Labelling the House

Instead of getting some breakfast down them, or getting ready for school, TBT has joined Zozo in writing labels and sticking them on things around the house. Last night I had noticed one of these as I came to bed, it was on the stairs. I asked Darlingest what was meant by ‘20-US’, the label of the sofa. That was it, she said, ‘Sofus’ with an ‘s’ written the wrong way round and a capital ‘U’. They are busy sticking labels on the walls, Zozo writes them, one for her and one for TBT. For a laugh I suggest I should have one too that says ‘Daddy’. Zozo writes the thing and sticks it to my forehead. I have to indulge them, I take it off a few minutes later and get a ticking off. I’m asked again in the car and have to turn around to show them it. By the time I reach Lewes the thing is as familiar to my face as glasses or a cap.

What is it about the school run?

Whatever we do or say, nine times out of ten it has its upsets. Today all went swimmingly, no road works into Lewes, not even any traffic build up in Southover, in fact we are early. Perhaps this was the problem? It gave us a few minutes to kill. I then make the suggestion, because we have time on our hands, that I should take TBT first. An idea, That was all. They’d both have to agree. Of course what happens is that Zozo becomes adamant that TBT WILL be taken to nursery first and TBT is equally adamant that he won’t. There is more drama in the average school run then anyone in business might experience in a week. I have Zozo standing her ground, refusing to go anywhere while TBT runs off. Who do I keep an eye on? The youngest. TBT will get into a panic if he can’t see me (or so I think). I won’t argue with Zozo and tell her as much. I follow TBT. Zozo goes from teh outer gate to the inner gate in front of Western Road and Southover. I look over my shoulder once to see that she is stubbornly refusing to follow. By now TBT is out of sight. I chase after him. He goes into the Mouse House, a kids ‘Wendy House’ near reception. I leave him there to go for Zozo who is walking along the path with another child and parent. She isn’t happy. The mother tells me as much. I can see that. Returning to the playground as the bell rings I find TBT has gone. I need to get Zozo into class. I tell her that I will leave her in the classroom to look for TBT. I share my panic with Julie. He isn’t in the Mouse House, or at reception, in Zozo’s classroom or in the corridor. I run round to his nursery in case he had made his way there. No joy. Back to school. He has been found. I should have guessed. He’s joined reception. Julie found him. He’s happy. He has a plastic hammer in his hand and feels quiet at home. Zozo is not so content, she needs a cuddle. It has to be a quick one. She is tearful. I return to reception to sign Zozo in for Dance Club this afternoon.

I then have to make a swift return to the classroom to pick up TBT’s back-pack. I’m told that ‘Today she will be alright’ as if some magic spell will be cast that I know nothing of. On getting to nursery he is pleased as punch for some reason, more than happy to be left. Ben, another three year old, comes over to say he has an umbrella. TBT says there’s going to be a storm. I leave the two boys to play, announcing as I leave that I’ll be no. 2 or no. 3 when I come to collect him.

Old Needlemaker’s Café

Go through the first two chapters of JTW. Much to expand. Wander around some of the shops. End up looking for H G Wells in a second hand book shop, racks of Ladybird Books catch my eye. I’m after a particular one, Anthony knows what it is. Starts with Neanderthal Man in a cave, passes through Roman Briton, William the Conqueror, the Golden Hynde and a house in the Fire of London. It isn’t there, for £10 though I come away with ‘Our Land in the Making’ that has a Time Chart from the formation of Earth to Norman Britain, a special 1988 Edition on the ‘Spanish Armada’, ‘Addition Made Easy’, ‘The Story of the First Queen Elizabeth’, and ‘William The Conqueror’, I then indulge the children with a copy of ‘The Story of the Cowboy’ for TBT and ‘Ballet’ for Zozo.

Back to nursery

I am deliberately the third into the church hall where a handful of kids, including TBT have a few hours of nursery. No more charging across the room, instead they just walk over to us calmly. I have a note in TBT’s book saying ‘Well done, it seems to be working’. I feel proud as punch, as if I’ve just received an ‘A’ grade.

Swim – Newhaven Pool

New games with TBT

The pool is ours within twenty minutes. TBT and I play a plethora of games, all designed to get him closer to that moment when he floats away and finds he is swimming.

The games include:

– Chasing me while he hops along the bottom of the pool hands outstretched trying to loop them around my neck. Legs either side to catch him should he slip. He is rewarded frequently by catching me and having an impromptu cuddle. Back and forth indulgently nine times.

– Up and down the ramp (disabled access) with a flat float or woggle.

– Chasing after my goggles when they are tossed across the pool.

– Jumping across to the side from my knees.

-Doing ‘Thunderbirds are go’ on his own (this is a backstroke to you and me).

We also had fun dancing along to the aqua-aerobics class that is taking place in the main pool.

We complete a survey on getting out. TBT circles the smiley aces in questionnaire.

On getting home we play ‘Age of Empires’ for a couple of hours.

Letter from America

Brilliant ‘Letter from America’ from Alistair Cooke on the Geneva Convention (all four of them) and the absurd response of the British Press to those being held in Cuba. I have to sit in the car and listen to it through. I’ll record it on the replay on Sunday.

The First World War

Catch reading of ‘Goodbye to All of that’ by Robert Graves being read by John Le Carre.

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