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 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 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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