An hour or so ago I stood in the doorway and waved as Pauline and Susanna drove off in the lashing rain – heading to Dublin, and planning to pick up some friends en route. Susanna is starting university life, which is very exciting for her. For the first time in 20 years Pauline and I will be living on our own, although Susanna will come home frequently.
I have been tidying my office and weeding my files this weekend. In a letter I wrote to Steve, a former colleague in England, dated 8 July 1996, I found this:
Sean is almost five years old now, and has finished his first year at school, which he loved from the first day. He can do a bit of writing, but hasn’t got the hang of reading yet. He’s very outgoing and likes virtually everybody he meets, and he seems to be very popular with other kids: he’s always had a certain charisma. He’s a perpetual enthusiast: on being given a hand-me-down football jersey the other day his reaction, typically, was ‘Great! Now I can be in a team!’
He’s good at swimming (with water wings) and drawing; he’s also very stubborn and can be exasperating. He often seems to provoke people deliberately in order to see how they’ll react, especially Susanna, but in general the two of them get on very well: she is just as stubborn and will stand her ground fearlessly. She will be three in November, and is a real little character with a good sense of humour and an initial shyness with people she doesn’t know that Sean never showed: she talks non-stop except when someone she doesn’t know well is present. I think people who see her only rarely don’t believe she can talk at all.
They’re both lovely kids, very good-natured and affectionate, and – however much they may annoy us at times – we’re very proud of them. As I write, they’re both asleep and Pauline is in the shed painting the ‘Buzz Lightyear’ costume that she and Sean made out of cardboard boxes for a fancy dress party at the ‘summer school’ he’s going to at the moment (the next day: Sean won a prize for his costume, much to his delight).