Saturday: The young lad, the dog and I were sitting watching a documentary about how Japanese snow monkeys struggle to exist on the edge of endurance when he hit me with one of his sixty-four million dollar questions.
'Why is badminton called badminton?' he asked. I did what I usually do when I'm stumped and protruded my bottom lip, while I tried to think of a reply that wouldn't see me lose face. 'It's very late for big questions like that,' I grumbled, 'I'll tell you in the morning.' With that, I announced it was time for bed. He then asked me for a piggy-back up the stairs.
As he mounted my creaking spine, he hit me with another humdinger. 'Why is a piggy-back called a piggy-back?' he chirped. I looked at the dog to see if he could help me out; his expression was as blank as my own. And then, just as we were about to leave the sitting room, an advert for a charity supporting children in Africa came on, appealing to people to think of the less fortunate in the run-up to Christmas. That's when the young lad hit me with the most difficult question of the lot, 'Why doesn't Santa bring presents to the children in Africa?'
I knew that thanks to the fountain of knowledge that is the internet, I would have the answers to the badminton and piggy-back questions by morning.
The poser about Father Christmas and his selective generosity would need a lot more consideration.
Sunday: From what the mammies of girls in their early teens tell me, the success of cinema-sensation 'The Hunger Games' has led to bow and arrows being number one on the 'all I want for Christmas' list. One approving matriarch tells me that the 'athletic and fit' character Jennifer Lawrence portrays in the box-office smash 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' is just the type of role model she wants Junior to look up to; a poster girl that showcases the merits of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Though she was a little more concerned when Junior also asked for an apple to put on her little brother's head.
Having missed it on Friday night, our winter flu-riddled clan caught the Late Late Toy Show this afternoon and the young lad hailed the 'brilliance' of presenter Ryan Tubridy who, in fairness, sparkled among the 231 kids that graced the stage of the Montrose spectacular. 'I like him because he acts the part,' the young lad gushed, and Tubs certainly didn't look out of place as Bert the chimney sweep in the show's opening act.
The Toy Show, which has been running on RTE since the mid-70s, traditionally turns up one or two kids that capture the hearts of the nation. The young fellow from the west of Ireland who was left speechless by the arrival of soccer star Robbie Keane stole this year's show. There were a few daddies left even more speechless upon the arrival of Mrs Keane; if Mrs Claus wore a rig-out like that around the workshop then I don't think Santa would get very much work done at all. Or his elves.
The cup-flicking girls were fabulous too, and the kid rockers that were blasting out ACDC's Highway to Hell – not the most predictable of festive choices. The young lad sat headbanging through their performance, telling us that he 'loves that music' and my mind fast-forwarded to angst-riddled teenage years with long-sleeved black tops and knotted greasy hair that regularly needs sand-blasting. Hats off to Tubridy, a very good year for the Toy Show.
Monday: For the past 11 months, trying to get the young lad and younger lad out of bed is like trying to prise a lump of fresh meat from the jaws of a crocodile. This morning, however, as I gently shook them into consciousness, two sets of eyes popped open and they scooted past me into the kitchen, where their Advent calendars awaited. It's a pity the countdown to January 25 won't be quite as appealing.