Archive for November, 2012



A few weeks into his secondary school career, Gabe brought home a letter stating he had been selected for a special class to help pupils develop resilience. It rang true as a need and L & I said we’d contact the teacher to find out more. We forgot. The night before the first class, Gabe’s behaviour – great upset and agonizing – reinforced why he may have been chosen. He went along to the class, which he pronounced rubbish.

Talking to him about why he was selected, gave the stage to another side of his character. It was because of a questionnaire he’d completed (verified as true), in which he’d been too modest: saying he was bad at things he knows he’s good at (unverified, but possibly true, too).

L struck a deal that Gabe should go to three classes before deciding whether to continue. Those classes have now been and gone. It’s still rubbish. He gave the example of the class being asked to choose an animal to represent themselves. He chose homo sapiens. His initial torment at being picked for this class has turned to disdain for the childish way he’s treated there.


At the gym club competition, Eliza completed four disciplines. Her floor routine, once she had got underway and stopped looking lost on the large mat, went beautifully. Her vault was over in a flash. On the uneven bars she performed three fluent practices, but on the effort that was marked she lost her swing on the lower bar and had to restart. The rest was fine, but her face showed she was fighting the disappointment as she went away from the apparatus.

In practice on the beam, she was clearly still affected, but gathered herself in competition, to complete a cartwheel safely, slipping once.

She was being marked in a group of three. For bars, beam and vault she was second or third. ‘You must be jealous,’ the red-haired girl said to her spitefully. But her floor routine won her a medal with a score so far ahead of the other two that she came equal first with her friend for the overall award and six months with the trophy.


Robin is continuing to wake early. On the mornings he doesn’t disturb L or me, he is full of creative energy: writing stories, drawing pictures and designing his own match-attax card.

Sleep-over – home and away


Eliza chose her birthday party to be an afternoon, evening, night and morning with her two best friends. They visited a craft cafe to make pots, ate ice cream and then back at home, watched tv and two videos, before the serious stuff of chatting in bed took hold. A word from L at 12.30am and they quietened down and slept until.. 7am when they soon had energy for indoor kickstone and spying on the rest of us.


Gabe was invited to a sleep-over at his friend’s house the same night. The day before he mentioned that they would be playing Call of Duty, an 18 rated game. Not so fast, I said. Gabe was upset when L and I set our terms. he said there would be nothing for him to do there if he wasn’t allowed to play. The next day I called his host’s mother and said that he wasn’t allowed to play the game. She consulted with her son and called back saying, a little archly, they would find something ‘within the rules’.

He wasn’t effusive about the sleepover the next day. We seem to have found a fracture with some of our peers over their willingness (and our refusal) to let pre-teen children play violent video games. I wonder if Gabe mentioned to me the plan because of his discomfort with it.


Robin followed L into the loo and said it smelt of her. By which he meant it smelled of washing. Explaining more, he said I smell of rice – as I always make it; Eliza smells of ‘in my pockets’ – as she’s always playing with them; and Gabe smells of sweat – as he’s always playing football.

Champions League

Gabe and Robin

Connections at the junior school presented us with free tickets for Manchester City v Ajax. Gabe, for the first time in the five years since he sat with his hands over his ears throughout a game at the City of Manchester Stadium, was keen to go. Robin wanted to make his first visit – and probably watch a game all the way through for the first time.
Both were nervous about arriving on time and having found our seats ahead of kick-off, Gabe wouldn’t move. Situated at ground level by the corner flag, we found that seats were superfluous as everyone stood. This could have been a problem being in the second row, but we swapped for ‘seats’ next to the aisle and the boys watched the game from there.

City fell two behind, before a hooked volley by Yaya Toure from the penalty area in front of us began the City fight back. To our left, the Dutch fans kept up a drum-driven din and provocation of the City fans. The boys were both absorbed and Robin characteristically stayed silent when the opportunity for making noise was so great. City equalised, dominated with neat football, had two goals disallowed for off-side and a penalty appeal denied. The game was drawn and we left happier than most of the home fans – happy with the experience of going together to the game.

Lucklaw Hill

We climbed Lucklaw Hill together. Gabe had asked if we could climb a hill and the other two came willingly. That surprised me; their good-spirited walking delighted and astonished me.

Taking the steepest route up, all three were excited by the views across Fife all the way to St Andrews. At the summit, Eliza wanted to be lifted onto the trig point for a photo to show L. They ate a mini-roll each in blasting wind. They ran together down a gentle slope to the wooded route of our descent, where Gabe led them on a another run.

There was no bad temper just a little anxiety. Gabe’s was whether we were allowed to walk where I led them. Eliza showed concern that we might fall from the steep slope into the quarry. Robin worried that a golden eagle may swoop and carry him away.

Back up the hill they dashed when I shouted ‘deer’ in time to see the bright white bottoms of the dark haired deer. Eliza sent Robin running away down a field clapping so she could test whether light travelled faster than sound. When I saw an eagle below us we crept down the hill to the road and followed the bird as it flew into the next field. For 15 minutes, they took turns to stare through my binoculars at a muddy field. I judged it better to allow them that than to contradict their opinion that they were observing the eagle. Then back to the car, with our lungs full of fresh air and ears empty of moans.