Monday, February 23, 2015

David is 8

In the Mount Pelee caldera
In the clouds on the Mount Pelee volcano
I am not sure how long I will be able to continue with these posts about the children. David (my nephew) is becoming fluent in reading and writing himself, and will soon feel misrepresented in my writing. They are both growing quickly. At eight, David is still enthusiastic about everything. He asks tons of questions and thinks his possibilities are limitless.

Last week David and Edward wrote their first stories and illustrated them themselves. David's first story is in German, and features a shark trying to eat a puffer fish, and pricking his nose in the process. The puffer fish escapes and continues to live happily in the coral reef. David loves books, but only when we read to him. Story writing seemed interesting for about five minutes. He also wrote that he will never ask children to learn to read. Edward, on the other hand, stated that in a few years he will write real books that people will want to read and not silly stories like he can write now. His story featured a 'crazy' pickup truck that hid underwater when a volcano erupted, and enthusiastically started exploring everything around him.

 In a recent conversation with Edward (who is 4), David explained his reasoning for doing extra math problems. Note that I doubt he knows what the Nobel prize is or how low the probability of winning  one is.

Tree climbing
David: "Edward, do you know why I do extra math problems?"
Ice skating
Edward: "To get good at math."
David: "No, to win the Nobel Prize some day."
David: "Edward, do you think I will win the Nobel Prize?"
Edward: "Of course you will,  David!".

Edward admires David and believes in him. We believe in him, too, but having someone close in age is important for both of them. Even though they are cousins, they were raised together and have a sibling-like relationship. They refuse to be separated and are willing to make sacrifices to be together. Even though Edward was looking forward to the trip to Israel, he gave it up when David had passport trouble and stayed home so that he could spend the Holidays with David.

A few days ago David and Edward were singing loudly while sitting in front of the house of a neighbour they wanted to play with:
In Fallanden

David: "Oh dear, Oh dear"
Edward: "Alexandra, I am here"
David: "I fear"
Edward: "Oh dear, do you hear?"
David: "Alexandra, we are here."

Kite flying
Alexandra did come to play with them, and paid no attention to their singing. Luckily nobody else made any comment either. We were in Martinique at the time, and people there are used to loud singing.

At nine, Alexandra was open and funny, and the children enjoyed playing with her.  She had an older sister. They both looked happy and their single-mom seemed to be working very hard to keep them so. However, Alexandra explained that her mother has a very easy life with two servants: herself and her sister. Edward and David have not complained about me to their friends yet, but the interaction with Alexandra helped me realize that they might do so as they struggle through their teenage years or even long before that.

At the plane museum in an old Helicopter
Flying the quadcopter
When we came back from Martinique, David was convinced the pilot was a little boy dressed in white.  After all David drives several kinds of toy helicopters, and he believes a plane could not be much harder to drive. He is interested in electronics. He and Edward can both build simple circuits with a toy set we have. They want to build their first robot in the next few months. It might actually be possible since there are many cheap tiny computers out there (e.g., my colleagues at work were excited by the Raspberry Pi), and Andy has the patience required to help them build it.  They dream of a robot than can recognize faces, and pinch various persons in the house. It is to be called the "pitzingardoino" (David's naming scheme).

In Zurich
David is fascinated by Peppa Pig and especially by the line "I am a beautiful swan. Oink! Oink!",
With a baby turtle in Greece
which he repeats over and over several times a day. Edward, of course, follows his lead. Real swans do make some kind of ugly noises that are almost pig-like. This is in part why they find the line so funny.

When my brother visits, and I open his computer, several Peppa Pig videos jump at me. I don't like to let Edward and David spend to much time on the computer. So I typically hide mine. It's bad for their eyesight to spend hours staring at a tiny screen, and I doubt they learn much from random Peppa Pig videos, but it does keep them quiet for long periods of times. 

Paddling our plastic kayak
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, David says he wants to become a doctor of stars  ... oh... and when asked how many children he wants to have, he gives a huge number. He starts with a hundred, and than moves on towards thousands of children that he imagines can all somehow be stacked up on top of each other like little LEGO pieces.  It is, of course, too early for him to actually know what he will do when he grows up, and when people question him he likes giving more extreme answers. My mom and I still hope he will some day become a doctor of people. That way even though he would not be able to create thousands of lives (unless he specializes in IVF), he would likely be able to help many thousands of people just by doing his job well like his grandmother did for 40+ years. But this is all theoretical. In the end, we want him to grow up happy, healthy, and strong enough to make his own choices.

Decorating the Xmas tree
Controlling a toy plane
In 10 years from now David will go to college. It's hard to imagine him as an adult or even as a teenager. He is still a little boy who cries/complains/growls easily, and needs plenty of hugs from grandma. My hugs are best when grandma is not around, but he does love and admire me, too, and he misses his mom. We would like it if he paid more attention to what we tell him, and if he would not have to be asked 10 different times every time he needs to do his homework or needs to get dressed. Also, it would be nice if he paid more attention in school, if he was overall more organized, and if he did not lose his swimming suit quite so often.  However, I am not ready to have him all grown up just yet. Time does seem to pass too quickly as it is.

I close with a quote from a modern adaptation of The Cat in the Hat that was sung this morning as I was waking up:

"It can be done. It can be done
Anything, anything under the Sun".

They sing thus when we go to the store, too. It does help me (especially in the job applications season) that they are so optimistic and full of life, and that my mother is with me to help me raise them. I hope David will be able to retain his optimism and at least some of his ambitions as he grows into a man. In the meantime, for the sake of the neighborhood I may consider investing in some music lessons for him and Edward.

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