The oldest two are becoming more competitive by the day; an interesting phenomenon to watch, especially when you add the politics of gender to the conflict.
The six-year old, who is a precocious reader in the context of the school she attends, will read almost anything she can lay her hands on. (She gets her reading habits from me). Today I had a lingerie catalogue in the post, and barely had I thrown away the cellophane wrapper before she had put in her request to have a look after I'd finished.
'They look nice swimming costumes,' she observed. After a short conversation in which she appeared to doubt my sanity when I said the items in question were, in fact, undies and would not be acceptable at the Lido, she finally accepted Mummy's greater life experience.
She read the catalogue with inspirational enthusiasm, pointing out her favourite sets, bouncing with excitement when she found a page of pyjamas, and then showing me the swimwear at the back with the solicitousness of a saleswoman. Having sated herself, for now, she wanted to crow over her brother. She arranged a superior expression on her face, and turned to him.
'I'm afraid there's nothing in here for you,' she said, 'It's all girl's stuff. There's nothing you'd like.'
The four year old snatched it from her, and shook it open. 'Yes, there IS!' he said, and began to study the pictures of half-naked women, frowning with concentration.
The six year old looked across at me, stumped for a moment. Then a little half-smile appeared. 'He's not really reading,' she whispered to me, 'He's only looking at the pictures.'
I think he must get his reading habits from his Dad...