Dot writes: whenever I tried to make a list of Hugh’s words, back when that was a feasible enterprise, I’d always find I’d forgotten a couple. In the last post I gave an account of Frank’s vocabulary so far, but inevitably I’ve since remembered two I missed. So here they are for the record: no. 1 “Hi” (an important one, this: in fact he makes an “eye” sound that does for both “Hello” and “goodbye” and is accompanied by a big grin and a wave); no. 2 “tea” (this was one of Hugh’s first words as well).

I was going to write a gloomy post about the various possible ways in which the Irish universities may be about to make the jobs of Irish academics nastier; or alternatively an excitable post because we are going to our first house-viewing tomorrow evening; but is approximately two years since Frank was conceived, so I’m going to jot some notes about him instead. Frank is very lovely. Everyone finds him charming and the neighbouring old ladies remark on his gorgeous cheeky smile and the delight he takes in saying “no”. He likes to take books from the bookcase on the landing, throw them down the stairs, and then sharply wag his finger while exclaiming “no!” with great severity. He is a fiend for climbing on chairs and getting kitchen implements out of drawers. If I get up from my dining chair and he is loose he will immediately push my chair towards the counter. He also loves to play with pans; he requires not only a pan and a spoon but also the lid, and will continue to gesture to the cupboard and say “a-NUH, a-NUH” until it is provided. (“A-NUH” is his “give me that” noise.) He is clever with his hands and likes to put caps back onto pens or try to fit jigsaws together. He actually stacks the stacking cups. (Hugh only knocked them over – still does.)

He likes dogs and cats and approaches them boldly, even though most dogs are taller than him. He is surprisingly independent and can play for some time on his own; this has its worrying side as he is capable of quietly going off and committing great naughtiness without drawing attention to himself (again, in contrast to Hugh, whose whereabouts are always advertised by a series of loud noises and cries for parental attention). He loves to dance and jig to music and does so quite rhythmically. Sometimes he finds a book and solemnly looks through it, always choosing one of the board books specifically designed for babies. He still only has eight teeth.

He is pretty good about nappy changes but likes to be given a toy to play with (usually a soft toy rat from IKEA) which he repeatedly drops with a little exclamation of “uh-oh!”, meaning I am to pick it up again. If asked to lie down for a nappy change he will do so, though often on his front. Alternatively he’ll start to go upstairs to the changing table if we say “upstairs”. However, though conformable in some respects, he can be immensely stubborn. When thwarted (for example in his ambitions to fiddle with the kitchen implements) he is known to give a short scream of pure rage. He very much dislikes having his genital region washed and pushes my hand away if I approach it with a flannel in the bath (I now basically leave it to him and trust in the efficacy of warm soapy water). He sleeps through the night more often than not, but when he does wake he sometimes stays awake for an hour or more, which is awful. In our fuzzy sleepiness and to stop him disturbing Hugh we bring him into our bed, where he burbles happily and crawls about head-butting us.

Frank annoys Hugh by messing his games up or clambering over me when I’m reading Hugh a story, and Hugh is rather rough with Frank and tends to take toys off him, but in a rudimentary kind of way they are fond of each other; Hugh talks about his brother and includes him in his make-believe scenarios (“I’m the boy penguin and Frank is the baby penguin”) and Frank is entertained by Hugh. Earlier this evening, as they shared a bath, Hugh was blowing raspberries on Frank and Frank was giggling delightedly. I tell them they are my little monkeys. I am very lucky to have them; and today I contemplate in particular how lucky I am to have my beautiful, funny, cuddly little Frank.


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