Saigon is not only six hours ahead of the UK in terms of time difference, but the school holidays are also shunted forward, finding me, slightly out of nowhere, packing off Florence and Martha today for Day 1 of the new term.
If nothing else, this post is to capture the fact that, once in a while, Daddy’s dressing of the girls does stand up to scrutiny (see photo above). Matching outfits, no less – thanks to Auntie Melly and Uncle Beans! No doubt by half term I’ll have slackened off and the tattoos will be back on, and their outfits clashing badly.
Anyway, eight weeks of summer holidays is now a thing of the past, and both the girls seem well ready for some proper school time.
As usual, each of them display such a wonderful propensity to get stuck into whatever activity is thrown at them on a daily basis, that it was no surprise they both bounded out of the apartment this morning.
Flo was positively glowing about the fact that this year she will be one of the oldest in the school (“what’s your name?” – “Florence” – “how old are you?” – “I’ll be five, in four and a half weeks time.”)
Martha – who would greet the news that we were about to embark on a one hundred mile hike over hot coals with the very same enthusiasm as if presented with a large scoop of chocolate ice cream – was less in the know about the difference between school and “summer camp” however she nonetheless ran with it, as she always does.
The summer holidays have flown past, but not so much that some of the subtle changes in the kids don’t go unnoticed.
In Martha’s case, vocabulary is the order of the day. Words, words, new words, and more words. She is a walking (running, stumbling, hurtling) stream-of-consciousness. Whilst each line of enquiry is repeated ten times, all are eventually accepted with a cheery and hearty “OK!”
She spots boats on the river outside my apartment, and planes on their incoming trajectory to the airport. Each sighting is accompanied with such gusto that it is as if she is seeing them for the first time.
Yesterday she was staring into the sky for a while before asking me “what’s that, Daddy?” pointing up to nothing in particular. “Clouds” was my best response, after failing to notice anything else out of the ordinary. After a few more seconds of contemplation she replied, “I saw them yesterday.”
With a few more years under her belt, Flo has just as many questions to consider on a daily basis, only ratcheted up a notch in terms of their curiosity. “Daddy…” she will begin, before the type of pause normally only to be found in a Beckett play. “Daaaaddy…” – “Ah-haaaaah” – “Daddy. How do cows make strawberry milk?”
These are special, special days – watching the way in which such curiosities manifest themselves. The Montessori teaching discipline, that the girls have always taken to so well, calls it the “absorbent mind”.
This is an apt description, and it’s truly mesmerizing to see the “sponge-like” senses and characteristics of the very young in action.
Special days indeed.