Archive for July, 2011

Head Boy

Gabe

At the leavers’ assembly on the last day of term, the ‘jobs’ were handed out to the year 5 pupils. Gabe had expressed a hope to be football captain, though what he really wanted I can’t be sure. It does seem as though he wasn’t expecting the top job, as the music teacher had to prod him from his place amongst the recorder players to go to the stage for the handover from this year’s Head Boy. Duties are a little vague, but do include a lot of public speaking at school events and assemblies.

Eliza

Immediately school broke up for the summer, L and the kids headed to London, joining me, to visit friends. There Eliza met up with S, our friends’ seven year old daughter. There ensued extreme, competitive, co-operative, demonstration monkey bars in Hampstead Heath playground. S matched Eliza swing for swing and the two girls revelled in their common ability to traverse the playground, hanging by their hands.

Robin

It’s the holidays and Gabe sleeps in and Eliza reads to herself in the mornings. Robin heads to me when he wakes up. He cuddles for a few minutes, but is too awake to settle. Sometimes he tries to start a conversation. One morning this week he asked, “Daddy, why don’t you put your shoes away? It makes Mummy very cross.” Another morning, my day began with the challenge of understanding what lay behind the question, “Daddy, how did ants live in the First World War?’

Masseur

Robin

On a warm, sunny day at school, Robin began a massage service. Starting with a massage for one of Eliza’s friends, the customers began to roll-up. They were positioned on benches on the field, and given the choice of karate or smooth. Most opted for karate. Eliza confirmed the popularity of Robin’s venture, claiming unreliably that maybe 100 pupils received the treatment.

Eliza

Eliza likes to French kiss. It’s not the tongue tickling adult version, but either a lingering lip kiss or the continental embrace of friendship, with kisses exchanged on cheeks.

Gabe

Gabe held L to a promise to play tennis last weekend, despite the wet weather. Gabe took an early 3-0 lead in the first set. At his insistence they played on through heavy rain, declining L’s offer to break while the worst of the weather passed. L fought back and had a 2 sets to love lead when she brought the match to an end. Gabe was angry at the result and that the match had not gone to five sets. Afterwards, he concluded that his weakness had been hitting too many shots that hit the white tape at the top of the net. His opponent didn’t recognise this analysis of the match.

Signature hairdo

Eliza

Eliza’s race to grow hair down to her bum is being frustrated by the lengthening of her back. Anyway style, as much as length, is increasingly the focus. She likes plaits, top knot and French plait. She likes to avoid pony tails. She has developed her own signature hairdo, involving her hair being twisted and pinned on top of her head.

Gabe

Gabe made a goal-scoring debut for his new team, the Eagles, ending a two year drought without a goal. He followed it up with a second in his next match. He’s been played in central midfield, up front and at right back. He’s had the freedom to run with the ball and has used his passing ability to create space and chances for his teammates. Most important of all, he has been relaxed and playing with a smile on his face.

Robin

Robin devours apples, eating four between school and bedtime one day last week. He’s a very thorough eater. He knaws and sucks the apple right down to a slither of stalk and stringy core.

 

School visits

Gabe

Summer of year 5 and L & I take Gabe on visits to five secondary schools in two weeks. With L at All Boys Grammar South, Gabe frets at its serious academic air, won’t participate and pesters to be taken home. At Grammar North, he’s tight-lipped and anxious to keep moving, his warning to me not to talk to teachers futile. Outside, he regains his fluency and slams to school for trying to be too perfect. At Grammar West, we meet his friend R on the way in who tells us it’s a great school. Maybe freed by this approval, or simply because it is a great school, he relaxes enough to play keyboard in the music studio. For the understandable reasons of its distance from home and that his friends won’t be going there, Gabe isn’t keen. Then to Grammar Local for an over-crowded tour of its unimpressive estate. Gabe gushes – what a great school. It is, but his senses while looking around the schools haven’t been allowed to challenge his preconceptions. Finally, to Secondary Modern Local, and Gabe concludes he wants to go to a grammar school.

Eliza

I took the kids to Crocky Trail, a health and safety-free park featuring large rides made from decommissioned industrial machinery and a long trail that follows and crosses a muddy stream. While the boys ran ahead, Eliza paddled in the mud, traversed the stream on chain bridges and savoured the experience. But in quick succession, she was kicked on the hand, dumped by Robin from a wobbly barrel into a puddle and dived face-first into a roundabout. Upset and asking to go home, I assessed the degree of her discomfort with the ice cream test. A vanilla cone, with flake and raspberry sauce, was an effective remedy for a sore face.

Robin

Robin’s reception year report was full of positive comment from his teachers: ‘always motivated to explore new activities and resources.’ ‘contributes well to group discussions and is keen to share his broad general knowledge.’ ‘he has shown he can persevere with even the most challenging activities’. ‘He is always proud of his achievements.’ ‘Robin has excelled in phonics’. Across 13 dimensions of attainment, Robin scored 109 out of a maximum of 117.

Star-gazing

Robin

Robin’s antipathy towards books was short-lived. His current favourite at bedtime is an educational book on the solar system, the galaxy and beyond. While he has a focus on the present, the timescales and distances (apparently, the same thing) described in this book impress him and make him uneasy, even if they are beyond his, and my, comprehension. So he knows that Jupiter has 60 moons, some planets have no hard surfaces, lumps of rock speed through space, blue stars are the hottest and that at some point in the past it all began with a bang and at some point in the future it could all end in one.

Eliza

Just as a report warned parents not to push their children towards the books they had enjoyed when young, Eliza has had a phase of reading books written for L and my generation and those before us. Eliza has completed Enid Blyton’s Naughtiest Girl in the School series and has just finisted Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes. She has read and listened with an open mind, undeterred by unfamiliar dialogue, behaviours and objects featured in these books.

Gabe

Gabe’s intelligence is recorded and celebrated in these posts. Here are a couple of recent situations which remind us that he is inexperienced and can seem naive.

Gabe said to me that he would like to find out more about ancient China but there was little written about it. I said that I thought there were books – where had he looked? G: In the horrible histories.

Off school for a day while his teachers struck over the Government’s plans to reform teachers’ pensions, L asked him if he knew why they had gone on strike. He said that he wasn’t sure, but had discussed it with a classmate and had decided it was probably about healthy eating. Gabe had read as a word the acronym for his teachers’ union: NUT.

Class teacher’s comments

Teacher's class comments

Most talented

Eliza

Emboldened by L’s support, Eliza entered her school’s got talent competition today. She performed a gymnastics routine that included crab, kick over, splits and box splits. She was the first through the heats in her class and was one of 17 acts to go before the school this afternoon. Reports thereafter are sketchy, but the panel of judges comprising head teacher, governor and volunteer classroom assistant gave third place to two reception girls with hoola-hoops; second place to two year one singers; and first to Eliza the gymnast. She was awarded a big cup, which she held before the school, and has had to leave there as it can’t be brought home.

Robin

Robin competed too. He and two friends each told a joke – Robin’s being: “Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “Doctor”. “Doctor who?” ” You just said it!” Overwhelmed perhaps by the performance, and perhaps by his sister’s triumph, he became tearful while Eliza told L of her success.

Gabe

Tomorrow Gabe is due to complete his transfer to a new football team. The change keeps him within the same club but moving from the Jets, the top team for his age group, to the Eagles, the fourth team. The switch has come at his own initiative. A big decision, bravely and calmly taken. He’s realised he would prefer to play with his school friends, members of the Eagles. He is also conscious that he is not playing at the same high level as his Jets teammates. He has put enjoyment before kudos.