Archive for November, 2009

Who am I animal?

Robin

This 20 questions-style word game has been a favourite for years. Robin’s role has been limited to saying ‘yes’ to whichever animal is first guessed.. until this week. At bathtime, he participated fully, answering a whole slew of questions when it was his turn. The information we gleaned wasn’t too enlightening, but we had, we thought narrowed the beast down to one bigger than a rhino and smaller than a giraffe. Finally, our questions and guesses dried up and we had to give in. Robin was chuffed and chuckled as he revealed that he was.. a flower.

Gabe

L took Gabe to an assessment by a 12+ exam tutor. He came out with a reading age of almost 13, a spelling age of over 10 and close to 100% on the numeracy test. He was ‘top of the tree’. Meanwhile, three months into the school year, Gabe feels he had learnt nothing new apart from German and science. L & I went to see the teacher of his year 3/4 class to begin to pressure the school to move him into the year 4 class. Later on the same day as his tutor assessment, Gabe fussed for over an hour about doing some homework that he eventually completed in 15 minutes.

Eliza

Eliza has moved into her new room. The walls are painted blue, balanced with a pink lamp, lightshade and bean bag. Encouraged to use the move to clear out her old toys, Eliza is hedging: only taking certain items to the new room, but not wanting to bin the rest, which are left around the room that now belongs to Robin.

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Mastering language

Gabriel

A conversation reported to me by a friend driving four boys to football practice. A mispronounciation and giggles in the back of the car about hearing ‘gay’. Gabe steps in and explains that gay means two men who live together. His Dad’s best friend is gay. Two women who live together are called.. ‘What are they called?’ Gabe asks the adult in the car. Lesbians, the adult in the car clarifies, the conversation soaring way over the other boys’ heads.

Robin

Shopping with L in Monsoon, Robin saw some sparkly Christmas outfits: ‘Strictly dancing dresses, Mummy.’ Onto Laura Ashley: ‘Old people’s shop Mummy, don’t like it’.

Later that day, L took Robin to the fife concert at Gabe’s school. Robin objected to going and was placated with sweets. Sitting on the front row, when the music started, Robin clamped his hands to his ears. Periodically during the show, he turned to L, hands still in place, to bellow above the music and loud enough for him to hear with his ears covered, ‘Nother sweety, please’.

Eliza

Eliza’s spelling at school is moving beyond the green (phonetically predictable) words to the red. With precision, but not always accuracy, Eliza is applying this knowledge. On a card drawn for L and me, she wrote: To Mummy and Daddy, you are so nighce. Yesterday, she spelled out how she wanted to travel to Gabe’s football: by b-i-g-h-k.

Six

Eliza

Eliza turned six on Sunday. Seven friends came to her traditional party at home. It had been long-anticipated and so, predictably, couldn’t live up to expectations. For much of the party, Eliza looked worried, not having the control over her friends and the event that she had dreamt of. Smaller, paler and quieter than some of her friends, there was an edge to the party games and meal – would she be offended or upset? But it all worked out fine. Eliza may have been relieved when the friends left and she could open the presents with her close family.

the joy of six

Robin

A mark of Robin’s affection for an object is whether it gets taken to bed with him. Plastic animals, cars and power rangers have had that treatment. Often, there will be a thump in the night as the toy gets pushed off the mattress. This week’s favourites are even more unusual. There’s a cardboard box, decorated like a treasure chest, which contains books given to nursery kids to encourage their interest in reading. And there’s the whistle, shaped like a football, that Robin received at Eliza’s party. Over an hour after his bedtime and 40 minutes since he was last seen, we heard a single ‘peep’. And then to sleep.

Gabe

Yugiyos have been pushed aside by the more naturalistic Match Attax football cards. Gabe’s collection grows quickly with his pocket money and rewards for good behaviour. He also swaps cards, although not it seems his ‘swaps’ (i.e. doubles). The cards have their own hierarchy (Man of the Match, 100 Club, etc.) Playground lore also affords some cards with greater rarity value.

What shall I dream of?

Eliza

For months, Eliza’s bedtime routine has ended with this question and L or I searching for a response that meets Eliza’s needs. It has almost completely replaced a bedtime song, but not a story. Eliza usually rejects the first few suggestions, sometimes with shrill voice. Winners tend to be, dream about: riding a horse; so-and-so’s party; seeing your cousin; visiting grandparents. The effort to find an acceptable response is worth it: typically within minutes, Eliza is asleep, dreaming maybe, but probably not of the idea we’ve given her.

Gabe

Saturday morning, Gabe fussed and fussed about going to football: didn’t want to play matches, just practice; didn’t like being shouted at by the coach; didn’t like playing other teams; worried about getting hurt by metal studs; worried he was not good enough to play for the Jets; wanted to stop going to the club. At the front door, he suddenly felt ill. His mood lightened once we were in the car (I wish my moods were as easily switched). His head was definitely together in time for the match: he played a tight game, making tackles, interceptions, short passes, a long shot and one exhilirating run up the wing. The team won its first league game and the coach made him man of the match for doing the simple things so well. “A stormer” I overheard him say. Gabe has decided to stay at the club for the rest of the season.

Robin

Baby Ben and family visited for Bonfire Night. The two little ones were the keenest on the sparklers (the full extent of our engagement with explosives). Robin’s conduct was good through tea and into the garden with the sparklers. Then he tired and the prospect of bath with Ben brought out his animosity to the most harmless of playmates. “I hate Ben. I not want him here..”. He recovered a little when in the bath, squirting water, but had to be lifted out when he caught Ben in the face with a jet of bathwater.

Cousin Freya

our perfect cousin

Gabe

The children met their new cousin, 18 month old Freya for the second time this week on our visit to St Andrews. Gabe, Eliza and Robin behaved impeccably with her. Auntie S had some respite, as Freya was distracted and happy. Freya seemed to bond most with Gabe. Playing with a ball at home in Burntisland, she wanted to throw it at Gabe. Then at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in St Andrews, Freya chose Gabe to hold her hand and walk her around the house.

Eliza

At the St Andrews swimming pool, Eliza went down the flume alone for the first time. She plopped into the pool at the end of the slide, righted herself and then fluttered herself to the side. Tiny, skinny, pink, with trailing blonde hair, she reminds me of a daphnia or other insubstantial pond dweller. Her arms and legs flutter in the water and she drifts across the pool.

Robin

In one aspect, Robin is maladapted for swimming: he can’t close his mouth when he’s having fun. At the St Andrews pool, Robin joined the others jumping from the side. Gabe and Eliza were leaping over a noodle that I kept pushing further from the edge. Robin wanted to jump and be caught by me. Time and again he propelled himself from the edge into my arms, with his mouth wide open, teeth showing and eyes glinting. Every jump a great joy that he completed with a hug and chuckle.

Robin has remained binky-free – even during the long car journey to Scotland.