Archive for December, 2009

Choir boy

Gabe

Gabe’s first term in the school choir culminated with the Christmas concert. The choir sat on a stage to the right. Gabe was in the front-row, keeping the perfect posture, but looking slight and short, legs dangling and feet well above the floor. He looked anxious throughout, whether singing or waiting to sing. The choir sang beautifully and Gabe, despite his nerves about making some higher notes, enjoyed the concert. L shed a tear.

Robin

Robin left nursery in tears. Two of his friends had been given special rewards for their drawing, but Robin had received nothing. Kind words from L couldn’t console him until she offered him a reward if he behaved well until gym. Duly motivated, he behaved and was rewarded – with a bouncy ball, which he played with for the rest of the day.

On the last day of school, Robin left nursery with a prize for being gentle: for helping a girl hurt by his two prize-winning friends of earlier in the week.

Eliza

Cable TV has given us the ability to call-up recent programmes to watch whenever we choose. For Eliza, this almost always means, ‘Charlie and Lola’, a cartoon about a brother and his little sister. Eliza has watched every episode over and again. She’s charmed by the stories of ordinary infant schoolgirl activities (having new shoes, a friend getting glasses, wanting to play with a friend and also go to a party at the same time) and by Lola, who gets words wrong and amuses with naive redundancy (extremely very).

Creation myth

Robin

Driving home from his egg-free, swine flu inoculation, Robin chattered to L about where he had come from. At the heart of his story was the explanation that, before he was born, Robin lived in the sea. It was there that he saw L and chose her as his Mummy.

Eliza

Eliza’s make believe games tend to involve animals, baby animals or princesses. Invariably, they unfold in short episodes, rather than have any sustained narrative. Each episode, often only 30 seconds long, is preceded by Eliza asserting “pretend”, followed by a short explanation or order about what is going to happen. “Pretend… pretend… pretend..” punctuates the game.

Gabe

The school has agreed, unwillingly, to move Gabe to the year 4 class. Friday afternoon, after my brief conversation with the head-teacher, his current teacher, Miss B, asked Gabe if he wanted to change classes. Gabe explained to me in the evening that he had said that he didn’t want to – he hadn’t wanted to hurt her feelings.

Bead pictures

Eliza

Eliza is self-possessed and capable of lengthy periods of concentration. Often, she’ll draw at the orange table, or write cards, only needing us when she wants to show what she has completed. Last week, she lay on her bed reading a library book. Most engrossing of all are bead pictures. A dimpled plastic template sits on top of a coloured shape. Eliza places tiny plastic beads onto the dimples, gradually building the picture – a swirling heart, a colourful star or landscape. The end product can be fused together with an iron, but it’s the process that matters to Eliza as, like an angler returning the fish to the water, she clears the beads back into the pot when she’s finished and had the picture admired.

Robin

My return from work is often greeted with Robin tearing to meet me at the front-door. Sometimes shouting ‘Daddyyyy’, grabbing my legs, or nattering to me about tea, a game, a friend who has visited. One day last week, he anticipated my return. As I got closer to the door I could see his silhouette and then two sparkling eyes watching me through the letter box.

Gabe

Following one especially bad-tempered (on all sides) morning, L and I sat down with Gabe. I wanted to explain that it feels as though most of our conversation is nagging – to get him to get dressed, packed, tidied up, etc. We offered him a solution: he could take responsibility for getting himself ready for school in the mornings, or risk being taken in his pyjamas. The benefit would be that we would have more time for more enjoyable chats. L wrote him a reminder list of things he must do each morning. He has responded well and the few mornings since have passed without temper breakdowns.