Archive for November, 2013

Zit

Gabe

Amongst Gabe’s contemporaries, puberty is showing itself in grand growth spurts (height and foot size), yoyoing voices and deteriorating skin. Gabe remains small and slight, almost completely unsullied yet by the hormone assault – but not wholly so. A spot has erupted on his chin. It could have come and gone without mention, but he’s picked it and it sits splayed across the skin below his mouth. There’s so much more of this to come.

Eliza

The annual gymnastics club championship is the sole competitive focal point of Eliza’s year. She prepared assiduously for her floor routine, supplementing the twice weekly practice with time at home. Vault, beam and bars could only be rehearsed at the gym. On the night, a girl one year older was the outstanding gymnast in her class, but Eliza did well at bars, beam (completing a backward walkover) and vault (her least favourite discipline). And on the floor her practice paid off with a faultless display.

Yet, when the scores were read and medals awarded, she was placed for bars, vault and beam, but not for floor. She was ‘floored’ and upset, not really consoled by a third place overall.

Robin

Robin and his best friend, A, are in different classes at school this year. They play together every break and nag to be at each other’s houses after school. Being with A was part of Robin’s decision not to play with the under 9 football team, but to practise with his under 8 age group. Wherever they are, they play some variant of football, sliding, diving and shooting.

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Disco pyjama party

Eliza

Eliza’s 10th birthday was celebrated with a disco onesie/pyjama party jointly with a friend. There were 16 girls and three boys. The disco was supplied by the friend’s Dad. The only dancing was a competition between two teams to make up and perform a routine, which they all did remarkably well given they had only 15 minutes to organise themselves. Games and a pizza-heavy tea filled the two hours. Back at home, Eliza opened her presents, which were predominantly beauty products of one sort or another.

Gabe

Gabe brought home a letter from school telling us he is gifted and talented. The effect was dulled a little by the mass-produced format of the letter, a couple of paragraphs followed by a list of subjects with boxes ticked to indicate where gifts and talents lie. In Gabe’s case, he is highly regarded in Maths, Science, History and Modern Foreign Languages. The school commits to stretching him in those subjects.

Robin

Beside Robin’s bed are piles of books folded open with spines bent. These are the books that Robin has started, but lost interest in. There are lots of them. He’s a strong reader, but not always a committed one. I put this down in part to his eagerness, with older siblings as an example, to leave behind picture books, to read the books Gabe and Eliza enthuse about. But he struggles with them, occasionally forcing himself to read to the end, but often discarding the book. This week, though, he’s found a book he really likes and will, I think, finish: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Development Centre exit

Robin

Week-by-week, for a whole year, Robin has been going to the Burnley FC development centre. We’ve never known when it will end, but it’s felt like it must be around the corner for most of those 12 months. Perhaps not for Robin, for whom it’s become part of his routine.

The end came suddenly. A training session brought to a close five minutes early. All the under eight players and parents gathered together and told that the Club had decided that the centre was for younger boys only. So, a whole age group, rather than individual boys, were dropped.

Robin has seemed to cope with the reverse. But when L, who was away the weekend it happened, asked him about it a few days later, Robin said he couldn’t talk about it and sealed her lips.

Eliza

Eliza played three instruments and four pieces at this year’s school musical soiree. Solo on piano and violin, and in a group for two recorder tunes. Each time she performed well, her commitment to practice paying off.

Gabe

Gabe’s technology class this term has been cookery. Each fortnight he has brought home very tasty morsels, including a pasta dish and bakewell tarts. The biggest challenge may be getting the ingredients. Firstly, remembering to tell L or me what he needs. Secondly, measuring out the quantities and packing them for school. This comes with the instruction that it should be done unaided by adults. This week, he was annoyed that he was marked down for his slow cleaning up despite, he believed, doing more than anyone else.

County nets

Gabe

Gabe has had his first visit to the advanced county cricket nets. He became increasingly anxious in the build up – that he wouldn’t be good enough, that he wouldn’t be wearing the right clothes. In the car on the way there he said he didn’t want to go and did he have to? But into the sports hall he went.

For two hours I had only fleeting glimpses of him through the glazed panel of a door, as the venue had no viewing facility. Out he came and I resisted the need to know how it went and asked if he was hungry, cold, tired. But within a couple of minutes, he said “That was fun,” and went on to talk about the shots he played, how he had swung the ball and how the coach had turned the net practice into a game.

Robin

Robin has made it into the school choir. After several weeks practice, he gave his first performance at a local church. L attended and found him sitting in the front row. He sang heartily but fidgeted and fiddled throughout the concert, not yet having that self-control expected of choristers – especially those in the front row.

Eliza

Eliza is counting down the days (eight, now) until her birthday. She found cause for a little regret this evening. No-one would believe she was ten, when next week she attains double-figures, she said, because she’s so small.