Archive for August, 2010

Do I have to (talk to Daddy)?

With L and the kids away with her parents in Scotland, I get to speak to each of the kids for about five minutes a day on the phone.


Robin is the most volatile: sometimes telling me he loves me so much and sometimes refusing to speak, even heard saying ” do I have to..”


Gabe can be matter-of-fact: it’s no big deal to be speaking to his Dad on the phone. His answers to my questions about what he has been doing are precise and he does nothing to prolong the conversation, drawn back to the game he’s playing or programme he’s watching.


Eliza makes the most sincere effort to answer my questions: listing the sequence of activities or places that have featured in her day; enumerating who of Mummy’s family is there; describing what lunch or tea comprised. This can take her an effort that surprises me and sometimes she struggles, but persists in trying to remember or to relate what has happened. She most reliably complains of missing me.

As the phone is passed between the kids, I find it unexpectedly difficult to work out who I’m talking to from the first exchanges. Until Gabe’s voice breaks, the voice tones are similar and with Robin’s improved language their levels of articulacy are converging.

Izzy the pony

first ride


For some time, Eliza has felt hard done by: she’s the one who loves horses, but her brothers are the ones who have ridden. L righted this wrong by booking pony rides for the kids on our Devon holiday. Our three, riding Izzy, Sparky and Tink were in a pony train of a dozen kids led for a 30 minute walk along a path and through woods from a riding stable. They loved the experience and for Eliza it lived on after we had left. Two weeks later, we went on a walk through local woods. Eliza imagined she was on Izzy and ran along the paths, not once asking to be carried or complaining of being tired.


One of the triggers of Gabe’s temper is him feeling embarrassed at the antics of his younger siblings, especially Robin. Driving along country roads, Gabe implored for the windows to be shut. He couldn’t bear passersby hearing Robin singing or shouting “widgy”.


Noticing my credit card was missing from my wallet at a petrol station, I called home to ask if L could find in the study where I last remember using it. She searched the desk while I held on the phone, but couldn’t see it. I cancelled the card. Within 30 minutes, I got a phone message that L had found Robin with the card. It wasn’t clear where or when he had found it. At home in the evening, I asked Robin if he had found it in the hall by the door – “yes” – or by the living room – “yes” – or in the study – “yes”.


The children loved the converted farm and its amenities. We were the noisiest family in the pool, swimming daily with Nan and Grandad. The apogee of our frantic fun was the game where Gabe, Eliza and Robin took turns to leap from the side to kick, catch, punch or head a ball thrown across them. By the end of the week, Robin was swimming a length and Eliza two; and each of them had progressed with some sort of dive.

The second most popular draw were the goats. Eliza and Robin fed them with our leftovers and with the leaves of a hazel tree that Nan had guided them towards as good goat food.

no butts

We had two days on Banham beach, across the Avon estuary from Burgh Island. Paddling, sand castles and rock scrambling were successful occupations. Robin annexed a big hole in the beach and with help dug it deeper. It became the ‘Great Hole of Robin’, which he jumped into, almost disappearing, and then with the others leaped across it.

beach ball