Iolanthe is very different to me. She has olive skin (at least half-half) so she doesn’t go brown quickly like Al and I do. She has to be in the sun for ages before she colours at all. She also loves singing and dancing and does both of these quite spontaneously making up words and tunes as she goes. She is much more extrovert than Al and I am, happily chatting to strangers. In the camping shop, she actually went and hugged the shop assistant behind the till once much to her delight.
When we went climbing at Far Peaks, Northleach, she was the one who went straight to the top and got her certificate on the first visit while Al had been anxious and didn’t get to the top till the second visit. She also climbs trees at bushcraft and recently got so far up one that I panicked and had to make her come down.
Both children love watching music videos on my computer – specially Irish dancing and Riverdance (having seen these live in Galway a couple of years ago) but Iolanthe in particular loves watching the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute with Diana Damrau. I think she will be a real diva. I anticipate dancing lessons soon then singing lessons when she is a bit older.
Despite all this she is quite a tomboy and happily plays with lego for ages or cars. When she draws, she often designs cars (which she learned from Al) though she does do a great line in queens and princesses. If she is unsettled, I ask her to design me a dress and she loves doing that but is lazy about colouring in – just uses a lead pencil. Quite professional and not at all childish!
Iolanthe’s speech has been late coming and even now she says ‘fark’ instead of ‘fork’ and is not always entirely intelligible. Her reading and writing is late too. But I haven’t wanted to put any pressure on with regard to this having seen how successful Finnish children are despite only beginning academic learning at the age of seven. Apparently playing is very important and it is not good to switch from playing to academic studies too early. By the time these lucky Finnish children reach university age, they have overtaken other European children despite having had such a beautifully unhurried childhood.
Although the speech has been late coming, the intellect is clearly very developed. I have never been able to get away with fobbing her off when she wants something – whatever excuses I try to make, she will come up with a solution that I can’t refute. She also knows where everything in the house is and will happily get a stool from the sitting room, drag it into the kitchen and show me (if I pretend we don’t have biscuits, for example) and has recently taken to helping herself to things. Al never did this and never noticed where anything was. Could it be a girl thing, is she my understudy? She certainly loves to clean (not that I do).