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Once a week, the older two children go down to the leisure centre to learn martial arts. Guppy has been keen to make sure that they have a good grounding of it, particularly since they have their own door to the bar.

Usually he'd take the little ones swimming at the same time, but literally just as they get in, he looks down and sees a spreading purple cloud.

"Brooklyn! Don't pee in the pool!" he hisses. But it's too late, the damage is done, and the lifeguard orders everyone out while the water gets cleaned. Guppy feels his cheeks burning as he takes the little ones to get changed again, and they go out to watch the martial arts class through the door.

Brooke finds this rather more interesting anyway, as she will be four in November and will get to join in. Guppy watches with her, with a sense of pride. It's difficult for Fry to deal with people touching him, but he's learned not to flinch, he's learned some controlled movements to move people away. As for Coral, she is the smallest in the class, but she's determined enough to make up for it, and she's fast.

He watches Brooke with interest, wondering whether she will surpass her siblings at martial arts when she joins up. Brooke is a big girl, and always has been; like him and Fry she is tall for her age, though Fry is skinny. Coral and Gil are both tiny ex-premmies, like Fran's sister. In fact, with Brooke following the top 10% for height and weight, and Coral the bottom 10%, Guppy has the feeling that Coral might be about to be overtaken in size fairly soon...

As he's busy contemplating that his kids would make quite a well-balanced team of superheroes, he realises he's lost track of the youngest, and looks around quickly for Gil. He hasn't gone far, he's gone over the corridor and is peeping in a different windowed door. Guppy gets up and looks through the top window.

It's a room full of little people, sitting in a circle, mostly wearing pink, doing some sort of moves to twinkly music, jumping and turning around and wiggling their toes and things. Gil, who has a pink jumper with bumble bees on*, is copying the moves, wiggling his toes and bouncing around.

Suddenly, one of the instructors, an excited lady with a German accent, appears at the doorway.

"Look at the kleines Mädchen!" she exclaims, beaming at Gil. "Would you like to join us? First session is free!"

"Oh, thanks." Guppy smiles. That will fill the time nicely until the older kids finish martial arts. "Can my older one come in too? She's three." he adds, indicating Brooklyn.

"Of course! Well this is the one and a half to threes, but it'll give you a taste. I'm Mrs Wolff." she shakes Guppy's hand briskly before ushering them in to her class.

Brooke looks less than impressed at the twinkling music, some of which is in German and some of which is classical. She towers over the other children and, after a while, starts doing an imitation of the moves she was watching in the other class in time to the music instead. Guppy grins at her, and she grins back. Perhaps martial dance will take on. In any case, she's behaving herself, which means he gets to help Gil, who really appears in his element.

Mrs Wolff laughs with him at the end of the session, as the other parents are packing up.

"I think your older girl would rather be with Kitamura-Sensei." she says. "But she is not yet four?"

"Not until November." Guppy says. "Kitamura-sensei says they aren't insured for under fours. I have to admit we never thought about dance, whether she was the type as it were..."

"All types and shapes can dance." Mrs Wolff says, with a shrug. "I am a big lady, and I dance. I had a student with one leg once, in my older class, she dances. Dance is inside you, liking it is much more important. But Brooke, she is too old for this class, it isn't interesting for her. She can try my older class if she likes, but I will not be offended if she does not.

She turns and looks down at Gil.

"Your kleines Mädchen, likes to dance I think. You should come again next week, Gill!"

Guppy agrees; it's important for his youngest to get some time to do things that he wants to do, and there's no reason why he has to do the same as the others. But as he goes to collect Fry and Coral, there's something at the back of his mind.

"Mädchen..." he says to himself. He's heard the word somewhere. He pauses and types it into his phone, and then grimaces.

He waits until he gets home to Fran, then with the kids out of the room, explains what happened.

"I didn't realise because of the German, but she called him a little girl, and I'm sure she heard his name as Gill. He has that pink jumper on, and you know girls and boys look so similar at his age..."

"So?" Fran shrugs. "Just correct her next week."

"But all the others were girls, I think it might have been a girls' troupe." Guppy says.

"If he wants to join toddler dance, he should be allowed." Fran says indignantly. "So if she says no I will be having Words."


[*With four children in the house, and Fran a big disbeliever in gender colours, clothing tended to pass down. The bumble bee jumper had been cousin Abby's, who passed on anything to Fry that he didn't find too bright to look at.
Gil liked anything pink, but also anything pastel or shimmery, which was fortunate, as he received quite a lot of it.]
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