Archive for October, 2012

Development Centre

    Robin

Robin attended his first Burnley FC development centre two days after the invitation. He was anxious not to be late and nervous on arrival. The training session focused on close ball skills, passing and moving into space. The games were played without goals. Robin was at the edge of the action to begin with, but soon his distinctive slight crouch and acceleration was seen as he hunted the ball. He seemed to me to do well and enjoyed it. Looking at him since – in his pyjamas in the morning, playing with his young cousin – I question how sensible it is for a six year old to be training in a professional club.

    Gabe

Amazon has helped me track down a series of football stories that enthralled me as a child: Michael Hardcastle’s Mark Fox series. I introduced the first book to Gabe cautiously, not sure he would want to read something that had been important to me. He was reluctant at first, but was quickly won over by the story of a young, talented player. We’ve discussed how the match descriptions are vivid and realistic and the story around the play doesn’t pander to simple morals but conveys the complex relationships with team mates, family and friends of a motivated, obsessed teenager.

    Eliza

Eliza has been caught talking in her sleep. “I’m the best, I’m the best”, Gabe heard her mutter while the three kids share a bedroom on our half-term holiday visit to grandparents in St Andrews.

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Scouted and sprouted

Robin

At Robin’s midweek football practice, a man I didn’t know introduced himself and addressed me by my first name. He was the scout from Burnley FC that I had been told had asked about Robin. The scout invited Robin to the club’s development centre, to play and see what he and I think of it. And so we shall.

At about the same time, L was speaking to Robin’s teacher at parent’s evening. According to their testing, Robin’s reading age has improved by 18 months in six weeks and is now nearly two years above his physical age. There were many other compliments towards his ability and attitude.

Eliza

Eliza has adapted the pocket animal game she plays with Robin into a version of Top Trumps as each animal is assessed on criteria such as running, smell and ‘indangered’. With Robin, she made up the numbers as they went along. She then created little cards, with sketches of the animals and their scores, which we played with at Robin’s football practice.

Gabe

Out in town, L suggested to Gabe that he could do some research on the Eurocamp website for a holiday next year in Italy. The idea grabbed him and he nagged to go home immediately to start. When back at home, he reviewed seven camps in the region that interests us, recording their features and made his recommendations.

Outward Bound

    Gabe

Gabe has returned safely and excited from two nights away with school at an outdoor activity centre in Wales. He climbed, crossed obstacle courses, fenced, told ghost stories at night and didn’t wash at all. Stories bubble out of him on his first evening back at home.

    Eliza

On the mornings I take Eliza and Robin to school, we all get distracted and have to leave home in a rush. I try to set a brisk pace to make sure we don’t arrive late. Last week Eliza hobbled with a sore foot from gymnastics and this week she was simply tired. “Daddy, you pull me like a suitcase,” she said, not annoyed, just commenting.

    Robin

Robin seems to have inherited my ability to fall asleep readily. He usually sleeps within minutes of being bade good night. Sometimes he’ll have his request for L or I to stay in bed with him for a little while acceded to. Tonight was typical. He took my hand and within 10 breaths was unconscious.

Stream of Robin-ness

Robin

Robin writes. He writes on paper or on a phone. He writes stories, but most often he writes about football or our family. He writes without hesitation; without fear of making a mistake or a misspelling. His letters are clear with exaggerated loops. He writes that “Mummy wants lots of hugs and cises” and “Daddy is rearly cool”.

Gabe

My recollection of a series of football stories, name and author forgotten, that so engrossed me as a child that I read them over and over again prompted me to research. Michael Hardcastle’s Mark Fox books seemed the only candidate. I ordered First Goal and my research was rewarded. I offered it to Gabe who was non-commital. I began reading it to Robin, but I could see he was finding it difficult to follow.

When Gabe next complained of having nothing to read I suggested he try the book, acknowledging he would find it old-fashioned. He finished it in one night, before I could read any of it with him, as I had hoped to do. He has asked for the others in the series, which are on order.

Eliza

Eliza stood up in the bath and struck a pose, “like those ladies in the pictures”. “Which pictures?” I enquired, wondering what this may reveal. “You know, the ones in churches.”