Archive for June, 2012

Dad, Dad, Dad


Gabe has decided to change what he calls L and I. Out goes ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ and in comes ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’. It’s a very conscious change and so one that he has some battles over with his subconscious. For a couple of weeks, the parental address has tended to go along the lines of “Daddy, oh, Dad, Dad.” He now seems to have mastered the change, but he seems to be missing the extra syllable so compensates with repetition of ‘Dad’ or ‘Mum’.


Robin’s volume is not in my control. Weekend mornings, despite urgent whispered requests for quiet, he shouts and laughs loudly. He hollers at us sat together around the dining table. Close proximity to us, when in the house, seems to lift not temper his volume. Out of the house, things are different. Walking to school, his head a couple of feet below mine, and tilted towards the ground, traffic rumbling to our right, I’ll hear a mumble I guess is directed at me. “Pardon, Robin, what’s that?” I ask two maybe three times, but too often end up nodding or grunting to indicate I agree with something I haven’t heard.


Conversations with each of the children can be perplexing as they progress erratically through what appear to me to be non sequiturs. Now they are a little older, questioned carefully, if I’m being patient, I can sometimes recreate the link. “A boy wore an infant school shirt to school and had to change it,” Eliza told me as I was preparing to say goodnight. I asked her to say it again, which confirmed I had heard correctly. Gently, I asked why she was telling me this. “Because you told me you had to change your suit before going to work,” she explained. And yes, there was a connection, but one I wasn’t attentive enough to perceive unassisted.

Cala Gogo

Week two of our holiday was spent on the coast between Barcelona and France. Unlike the children, L and I spent hours gazing from our caravan on a steep hill above the bay and the beach where we played.


Robin led the way in the second week of our Spanish holiday. He won the gecko spotting contest, although Gabe doubted many of Robin’s claims. He was the most gung-ho at the water park we visited: riding the rapids on a tyre countless times and he was the only one to complete the Splash Mountain roller-coaster twice. He fell to the back of the pack on the racing water-slide, at which Gabe was the most rapid.


Most evenings were spent playing cards: pairs, go fish, black two and pontoon. Gabe may have been the most successful, but Eliza had the edge at shuffling and dealing.

Before cards, we played football. Gabe and I had an epic penalty shoot-out and one night we joined a group of Anglo-Germans for a match. First the adults were defeated and then, to Gabe’s great pleasure, he and Robin beat an Anglo-German pair 5-2.

A Spain kit had been Gabe’s sought after holiday item. One was spotted in a market, but I sent him fleeing in embarassment when I tried to negotiate a price with a stallholder who insisted the prices were not for haggling. I was unsuccessful, so he went back and paid the asking price, muttering about my idiocy. Robin, too found a Spain kit. Both were no.6, creating our TwIniestas.


Eliza was busy on our beach. She collected worn glass fragments, which are to be used in some creative project back at home. She also claimed a formation of granite rocks as her club, which Robin and then L and I were allowed to join. She and Robin clambered over these rocks, 5m high, in bare feet.

We hired a kayak for paddling about the bay. I took each of the kids out in turn. Only with Eliza did we achieve some co-ordinated paddling and so went out to the buoys marking the extent of the bay safe for bathing.

Golden Coast

On our third year of Eurocamp holidays, we spend our first week on Spain’s Costa D’Orada.

Eliza turns anything solid into gym equipment, for chin-ups, swings, etc: the barrier around our decking, trees, cafe tables, arms of chairs and the beach serves as the location for her floor routine. Her cherished achievement is completing the monkey bars across one of the pools. None of the other kids on the whole park gets close.

Robin buzzes between activities. Exploring or drawing with Eliza; football and its many derivatives with Gabe; connect-4 with all-comers. With a friend called Katy, he and Eliza spend an afternoon collecting dead jellyfish and filling a trench in the sand with them.  He also has a new ability to occupy himself with an Astrosaurs book which he reads mumbling to himself after dinner and before breakfast.

Gabe’s holiday seems set to be a quest for objects of desire. A tour of Barcelona FC’s stadium ends in disappointment when the new shirt is out of his price range. Meals out are exercises in wringing from L & I concessions: another juice, dessert, another portion. Offers of other food show that both spirit and appetite are weak.

Gabe is at his sparkling best when competing. Toothy smile and happy banter when playing badminton outside the caravan. Chuckles and chat when playing football with Robin. Focus and fun practising goalkeeping on the beach.