Like father, like daughter


As the children grow and fill out their personalities, I find Eliza is closest to me in her motivations and preoccupations. Here are two silly examples – but telling for me.

When having a bath, Eliza lets her legs sink gradually to create two shrinking dry spots on her knee caps which, inevitably, tantalisingly, become tiny before being immersed.

In the kitchen, Eliza was trying to reach into a cupboard, but I was leaning across her destination, peering into the microwave.

“Sorry,” I explained, “I’m trying to see if my porridge can last the whole two minutes without bubbling over.”

“Oh, that’s OK” she said, stepping back and waiting, recognising that my little obsession deserved time and space.


Gabe scored 85% in the second of his three science tests this year. He was disappointed – with the result and with his position relative to friends he feels he should be out-performing. “I think I’ll have to revise more”, he conceded in a rare acknowledgement that working harder has a part to play.


Robin has struggled with arithmetic. This became plain to us with difficulties he was having learning the times tables. L and I decided we should help with extra practice at home. His teacher gave me a website address and we registered for Robin to place mental maths races against children from across the world. The game scenario backfired. Robin was keener on beating the opponent than getting a good score for himself. Despite trying to frame to activity in terms of personal best scores, Robin sought victories, or became disheartened.

We moved on to more traditional verbal tests. Robin progressed, through successful completion of tests at school, to the eight times table. For two weeks in succession at school, Robin could answer just five of the 20 questions set, with our preparation at home not counting for much at school. He seems not to have an affinity for the patterns in numbers, or a framework for retaining a sum that he’s just learnt.


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