Archive for October, 2010

Parents evening

L had meetings with both Eliza’s and Robin’s teachers.


Eliza continues to prosper at school. Her new teacher speaks as highly of her attitude and progress as her previous teacher. Eliza’s reading age has been measured as 9 yrs 7 months – over 2.5 years above her breathing age.


Robin attracted praise for his attentiveness and willingness to learn. L was asked if he has a drum kit at home. “No”, she replied. “Well,” the teacher explained, “he has an amazing sense of rhythm.”

The following day, L had to sign the accident book on picking Robin up from school. The record stated, “Robin ran round and round in a circle, until he fell over and bumped his head on a tree.”


Gabe has invented a club, called something to do with lizards. Membership, rules, crest, meeting times and location, password protocol are all documented on an A4 sheet. The members – friends, parents and, to his great pleasure, Robin – are allocated roles: messenger, guard, ideas thinker, etc. It’s a hypothetical club, but intriguing enough for Eliza to invent her own. It’s not yet made it off the paper, something Gabe seemed to be conscious of when he asked me if I had made up clubs when I was his age; and, were they always really unsuccessful?



The children require persuading (threats, even) to have their baths and persuading (threats, even) to get out of the bath. Over a year ago, I tried to stagger bath time. It never caught on and so most nights the three of them loll around in the bath together, filling the tub with their pale bodies. They chat, sing, play, splash, push, argue, taunt, pinch, kick and wash.

Each of the children has his or her own distinctive drying routine when they are cajoled from the tub.


For most of his life, Gabe has requested a ‘bouncer-dryer’ once wrapped in a towel. L or I sit on the toilet lid with him on our laps and bump him up and down.


Eliza, less frequently and for a shorter period, has requested a ‘swinger-dryer’ from me. I pick her up, hold her like a baby, and pivot 90 degress clockwise, 180 back, 180 return and on. Eliza cackles, or shrieks, head and hair dangling downwards.


Robin accepts the towel around his shoulders and then rolls into a ball on the floor. There he stays until he’s kicked or he trips or is badgered up and into pyjamas.

Eat like a lion

the right kind of chops


Several weeks ago, Robin told L that he wanted to eat meat. L asked what he meant, as his limited diet does include ham and sausages. Robin explained that he wanted to eat like a lion. Cue an opportunity for me to see if he would join me so I was no longer the only eater of unprocessed red meat in the family.

I bought some lamb chops from our local butcher and grilled them for our tea. Robin’s response was swift. ‘Disgusting’. I encouraged him to try another morsel.
‘What are they?’
‘Lamb chops’.
‘But I wanted real chops, chop chops, not these.’


Eliza helped me prepare the mashed potato for this meal. She stood on a chair at the kitchen worktop and peeled the potatoes. I hovered around her, asking her to move her fingers away from the stroke of the peeler. On and on she peeled. I drifted from nervous to clock-watching. Five medium sized potatoes took Eliza 25 minutes to peel as she chipped away at their skin, eventually producing a very through job, and hundreds of flakes of potato skin for the compost.


Gabe asserts his seniority by coming downstairs after bath, usually to watch tv. It’s a status he adores, but one that he’s too nervous to take up if neither L nor I are downstairs. So when L is out and I have to put the other two to bed, Gabe feels the minutes wasting away as he waits in his room, or on the landing, or at my shoulder.

Last week, he found a way of speeding up his trip downstairs, as well as gaining my approval. While I read with Eliza, Gabe read a story to Robin, sang him a song and put him to bed. The ‘story’ comprised extracts from a children’s atlas. Gabe delightedly claimed to be angered by the atlas – it named an Eastern European country as Yugoslavia, despite being published in the last 10 years; and it identified the Nile as the world’s longest river, a title Gabe explained that has been handed to the Amazon after its source was discovered further into the South American continent.