Archive for January, 2014

Smith come dancing

Eliza announced there would be a dancing competition: her and me against L and Robin. She planned moves and nagged the rest of us to get practising. Our routine featured three lifts – which are I’m sure the reason she likes to dance with me – some dance steps (cha, cha, cha, waltz, etc) and lots of her doing gymnastics moves and me prancing about. L and Robin made good use of props, incorporating an American football and hula-hoop into their routine. There were no judges and we praised each others’ efforts.

A few days earlier, in a return to their deadly duo days, Eliza and Robin had worked on a routine together. This time Robin did the lifts and they performed synchronised forward rolls and cartwheels. They engage in this immersive play together less frequently, which makes it all the more cherishable.


I went to my first parents evening at the grammar school. From science to history, art to maths, Gabe’s teachers praised him for his attainment and his enthusiasm. The most gushing was the French teacher, who described him as being a step ahead of whatever was being taught and even at this stage, could clearly seem him as an A Level student. My final head-to-head was with the Technology (Cookery) teacher. Her comments were revealing. She identified that Gabe lacks the confidence to carry out activities unless given precise instructions. She cautioned that this inability to, as she put it, think in a third dimension, would harm his prospects in other studies as he got older. Although the least complimentary, it was also the most helpful comment of the evening.


Little Chef


Robin was at a loose end. The weather was wet. Football in the park in the morning hadn’t absorbed enough energy. “Read to Mummy while she’s making tea,” I suggested to no great approval.

Half-an-hour later, and he was standing on a chair at the stove, stirring the ‘rosetta’ (risotto) with a fixed stare and holding L’s hand. He had turned from reluctant assistant to insisting to be allowed to do everything. Over the meal, he announced that he would be making Sunday’s tea as well. And he did: vegetable pasta bake. He even got to slice the cauliflower (under close supervision). This time, he ate some of his creation.


Eliza got out of bed and found me in Gabe’s room. Hiccups were stopping her from sleeping. I suggested she hold her breath. Tried, but hadn’t worked, she explained. “Well,” I said quietly “some people say you can get rid of hiccups if you get a FRIGHT!!!!” raising my arms and pretending to lunge at her. “Why did you do that?” she squealed. Then, after a few seconds: “I’ve stopped hiccupping.”


Two weeks from the end of the Advanced coaching course run by Cheshire Cricket Board, I received an email to confirm that Gabe was invited to join the North District squad for a further ten weeks of coaching. Gabe was surprised and pleased, though did acknowledge that his batting was improving with the advanced course and his bowling was faster.

Six pack

Two wet weeks of the Christmas school holiday are nearly over. We’ve been at home, had a few visitors, but mostly just the five of us.


Robin noticed on Boxing Day that all his presents were for outdoor activities. He found an indoor pursuit to specialise in during the wet days. L has a large, weighted hula-hoop as an exercise aide. The kids have played with it occasionally, but Robin has mastered it. First he managed one minute; then five minutes. He announced he would do ten minutes, which he did and kept going and going for 25 minutes. Everyone else who tries winces at the discomfort, but he’s building an abdomen of rock.


Eliza is the most comfortable of the three with indoor activities. She received Cluedo for Christmas and won her second game, taking out her closest challenger with an assassination move before coasting to victory. Eliza has also been learning card tricks. She takes equal delight in developing a patter as she does with the illusion.

Eliza’s other enthusiasm has been Tutpup, an on-line maths and spelling competition. She has worked her way up the levels, racing competitors from across the world and reached 10th place on the global leader board this afternoon.


For Gabe, the holiday means time to play FIFA. With a new TV he can do this in his bedroom. Most efforts to get the kids out of the house are met with his ill-humour as they frustrate his efforts to dedicate the holiday to PS3.

But there is another side: when we have visitors, Gabe shows charm and sociability on a level I can only aspire to. Whether children his age or younger, or adults, he talks, engages in games and continues to project to the world his mature, positive self.