Austria

We are here again, the little town in a long valley between tall mountains, surrounded by geraniums and cow-bells and cable cars. It is always an effort to get here but now we are here we are unwinding fast and enjoying the uncharacteristically extraordinary weather. Herbert and Moni couldn’t join us this year as Herbert had a stroke a few weeks ago. He’s doing really well and physically fine, so maybe they’ll be able to come next year. My parents and grandparents join us in a few days but for the moment we are enjoying the rare treat of a few days just for us. We are both exhausted – it has been a heavy year – so sunshine and mountains are doing us good. Michael has been flying but my mother instincts are keeping me on the ground.

I hadn’t realised quite how much Felix has grown up till we took him to the swimming pool yesterday. Last year he refused to go in the big pool, and we haven’t been in a swimming pool since, but this time he didn’t want us to help him at all and tried to swim off on his own! So we bought him some floating devices today and will see how he goes with those later. I just held him a little and he kicked his legs and splashed his arms, and pretty much swam along! Then he’d scramble out and get into the splash-pool, wriggling and jumping and crawling around, in his words ‘kicking and splashing and kicking and splashing!’ He’d touch the bottom with his hands and kick his legs. He didn’t even mind it when his face went underwater. I was utterly shocked. He also got his own back and with great glee ‘washed mummy’s hair’, tipping water all over my head and my face.

Earlier in the day he even went on the toboggan down the mountainside with Michael. I didn’t think he’d be up to it, but offered to take him on my lap, after we’d waited in the queue at the top of the mountain for at least twenty minutes. He absolutely refused and wanted to go in his own toboggan, so I took off on my own, leaving Michael to deal with the melt-down. As I zoomed down the mountain, I thought, what were we thinking, there’s no way the little guy would cope with this. At the bottom, I waited in the sun, expecting to see them coming down in the cable car, but fifteen minutes later the two of them arrived by toboggan! I was so proud of both of them. Apparently Felix loved going ‘really fast!’ and Michael had to explain that sometimes they needed to brake.

After all those achievements we were a bit too relaxed in the playground on the way home, and he had quite a fall, gaining a bloody nose and a fat lip. I felt terrible, but luckily he got off quite lightly and is fine now. Negotiating the balance of when to protect and when to let go is already a difficult thing.

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