Archive for March, 2012

Reveillé

    Gabe

In recent weeks, Gabe has got up in the morning, woken by his alarm, without prompting. He has come downstairs for breakfast dressed for school and completed his other preparations quickly. It’s a sudden change from years of moving slowly and reluctantly, slumping and fiddling, as if school could be resisted that way. With up to an hour freed each morning, Gabe spends it watching TV.

    Robin

Robin is usually up first in the morning. Hunger, boredom or some other need draws him out and about – into our bed or to wake Eliza. At breakfast he eats one and one-half or, if unsupervised two, bowls of cheerios and his own, special, soya milk, using his own blue-handled spoon. And he’s loud, singing and barking, unable to retain a warning to be quiet.

    Eliza

Eliza casts off her morning sleepiness, evident the moment she wakes, in minutes if not seconds. She is the least habit-bound in the morning. She’s easily distracted at breakfast and errs from getting dressed and ready for school into games with Robin and playing with the gerbils.

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Second skin

    Gabe

The demands of playing football outdoors through the winter are a little less severe on today’s young lads. A ‘skin’ is a tight polyester shirt worn underneath the football top, which seals in their body heat and insulates them from the cold and wind of the playing field. Gabe used to hunch and look so reluctant when playing in bad weather. In his skin, he no longer bows down to the conditions. After the game, L or I have to help him out of his skin, which clings to him. I pull a cuff, and he withdraws an arm, fighting the suction of the sleeve. More dramatic is taking his head through the collar. It catches his ears and pulls the flesh up his cheeks before, with a quiet pop, he is freed.

    Eliza

Eliza has moved to the books of Michael Morpurgo. She has just finished Private Peaceful. I’ve read extracts with her at bedtime, each of which has upset me: death of a father, saving a young child from a falling tree; a cruel Grandmother chasing away the animals looked after by a lad with learning disabilities; life amidst the mud, rats, lice and shells of a first world war trench. It ends, she told me this morning, with the execution of a young man for refusing to leave his younger brother, when injured in the war. ‘Did you find it a very sad book?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, but didn’t seem upset by these gritty, harsh tales.

    Robin

Robin wants to do what I do. I pruned the plum tree and broke the branches into sizes to fit into the ‘green’ bin. Robin insisted and persisted until I relented to be able to use the saw. Carefully and ever so slowly, he got to saw into a branch. Later, hanging new curtains in L and my bedroom, Robin appeared, eager to help. I placed him on the window sill, from where he could just manage to stretch up and hook the curtains onto the rail, with me marking him tight so he couldn’t fall and while holding up the curtain.

Degree of difficulty

Eliza

After months of performing more advanced gymnastics in the living room than at her gym club, Eliza was moved to a new class following some prompting by L. She went along for the first time tonight. The two hour class began with a lengthy conditioning session. Then onto bar, vault and rope. A far more physically demanding class, Eliza ached all over at the end. L said she looked enthralled and she did seem excited although said she was annoyed that she couldn’t do everything they practised.

Gabe

World Book Day was transformed by the junior school into a day to come to school dressed for sport. Gabe went as a cricketer. He came downstairs for breakfast in his whites and padded up for his cereal. Gloves and helmet went on for the trip to school. He stayed in the full kit all day at school, only taking his helmet off for lunch and recorder lesson.

Robin

In place of a bedtime story this week, Robin has opted for games of connect-4. He’s keeping in nick for an ongoing breaktime competition with his classmates. He explained today that his next game is four days away. Robin’s described how the matches attract an audience who whisper and chat about what the next move should be.

I’M NOT SHOUTING

Robin

Our first stop in London, down the road from Euston Station, was the British Library. Despite the kids being full of beans after two hours on the train, we directed them into the rare manuscripts gallery. ‘You have to make them do things like this,’ reasoned L.

Robin found a set of headphones beside a display of music manuscripts. ‘It’s not working’, he cried with his ears covered. ‘Stop shouting’ we hissed. ‘I’M NOT SHOUTING‘ he replied at a volume unsuited to the venue.

Gabe

A trip to London, taking in the Olympic Park for the Diving World Cup, was a source of anxiety for Gabe. A scene of past and potential future terrorism. He wanted not to travel by bus. At Euston we discussed the probability of a bomb on our bus. One in 1.2 billion we estimated – far less dangerous than crossing the road. The statistics swayed him, but he sat rigidly on the bus and wouldn’t go upstairs.

Eliza

We stayed with friends in London, whose daughter shares Eliza’s joy of climbing. On Hampstead Heath they clambered up and along the fallen trees. In the playground they swung back and forth across monkey bars, then set themselves tests of speed climbing up, over, down and swinging across the climbing frame.