It was Dad’s 72nd birthday on the 2nd and since he was very excited to have come through his recent surgery so well, he wanted to have a big family get together. It was a lower key trip than normal. I wasn’t a “tourist” in my home country like I normally am. I was there to see my Dad and help out at home where needed.
As usual I got to see a lot of my nieces and nephews. Watching them grow is one of the wonders of my life. The stages they go through, how their ability to communicate improves, what confuses them and especially how they interact with each other. I find it all fascinating.
I have a nephew who has the same name as me. When he was about two and half years old he still needed to be told who I was. This is Uncle Eoin. The next day he called me Uncle Sean. I explained I wasn’t Uncle Sean. Uncle Sean is Uncle Sean. I’m Uncle Eoin. I figured it might have been the first time he’d met someone with the same name as him and he was a bit confused.
On my previous visit at Easter 2015, I travelled with my partner Joro. Joro loves playing with the children, and was a big time hit with them all. When I arrived back home this time (only 5 weeks later), I walked into the living room and my two and half year old nephew Tadgh (Eoin’s younger brother) got excited and exclaimed “Joro!”. I felt bad that Joro wasn’t visiting this time and explained this to Tadgh, who looked a little confused but quickly got on to playing with the fire side set of poker, shovel and brush.
On Sunday night, Ted and Charlotte got to stay with Aine, Eoin and Tadgh, while their Mam and Dad had a night away. I was visiting Ullid and when I arrived the three boys were scrubbing away at toy stations, getting them ready for a toy sale. It was a sight to behold. They were very busy, but very un-co-ordinated. They were going over areas the others had covered. They were missing areas. They were going over areas they themselves had covered. But it was something new and exciting and they were having fun (plus helping Aunty Valerie).
After a tour of the garden by Uncle Colm, I was shown a parade of all the toy cars which Eoin and Tadgh possessed (they’d lined them up the whole length of the hallway) when Tadgh called me Joro again. I realised then, that when he had seen me on arrival and exclaimed “Joro!”, it was because he thought my name was Joro. I’m making an assumption here, but I think that just like his older brother at the same age, he didn’t realise that more than one person could have the same name, therefore I must be Joro. I gently reminded him, that I was Uncle Eoin, Joro was in London, but would visit the next time.
At about 8pm, the children were getting ready for bed. Since my nephews are all a little younger than my nieces (nephews, 4, 4 and 2), (nieces 7, 7, 7 and 5) the nieces sometimes get to stay up a little later. The girls were in their room and playing with 6 dolls. Dolls these days have become quite unconventional I notice. Not all like Cindy and Barbie any longer. One looked like an extra from Avatar – literally all bright green. Anyhow, the main problem with these dolls was that the hair on all of them was completely knotted.
The girls were struggling to fix this problem, so I started to help. Suddenly, Aine piped up, “It would be great to have the pink hairbrush”, but just as quickly a look off disappointment descended over her face as she remembered “Oh, but I can’t go down to the sun room any longer”. You see, my nieces are very well behaved children, and when they’re told they can’t do something they take it very literally. I thought I might be able to help here and offered to get the brush.
Aine then proceeded to describe where I should find it. “Do you know the sun room? Do you know where the blinds are behind the sofa? (Pause……change of tack). "Do you know the drawers where the nappies and the sudo cream are kept? Well there’s a box beside that with lots of things in it, and the pink hair brush is in there”. I followed her instructions and found the hair brush exactly where she described it. What amazed me was the ability of my niece to articulate these instructions so effectively. Were 7 year olds always like this? Anyhow, a bit of muscle power from me with the brush helped the hair combing.
Then I suggested a fancy dress parade for the six dolls. I got to be the judge (with Aunty Valerie as an audience member), and ultimately I had to decide between a doll who had hair a bit like the Duchess of Cambridge and another who certainly was more glamorous and had hair a bit like Panti Bliss. Naturally Panti won. The girls found the mention of “Panti” hilarious.
All fun and of course I look forward to my next visit to Ireland, especially to see what new amazements my nieces and nephews will present to me, just by being themselves.