Archive for January, 2016

Flight time birthday

Robin

As a birthday treat, we took Robin to the Trafford Park free-fall centre. Twice, for 60 seconds, he stepped into a wind tower, assisted by an instructor and was suspended in the air as if he had jumped from an aeroplane thousands of feet above the ground. He was fearless and enthralled.

Two days later, for his party, he was again airborne. This time at JumpNation, the trampoline centre, with a group of five friends, plus Eliza and her best friend.

The birthday week is over now, and his feet are back on the ground.

Eliza

Back in the summer, on Father’s Day, Eliza presented me with a special cheque book, filled with vouchers. She reminded me recently that I hadn’t used them. I remembered today and tore out the ‘clean my shoes’ voucher. She looked irritated at my choice of timing, but when I came back from cricket practice this afternoon, my work boots were waiting at the front door, clean and shiny, with a note on them: “Happy?”

Gabe

Gabe’s musical interests are diverging. On the one hand, there’s classical. On the other, he’s interested in indie music, preferring Radio X to Capital; on a third hand he’s consuming and performing the Beatles. Imagine is his favourite piano piece and gets played most days at a variety of tempos and sometimes with members of the family singing Lennon’s words at his shoulder.

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Atypical teen

Gabe

Two colleagues have season tickets for City in the family stand. They qualify for tickets there because they take their nephew. This 14 year old is in a full-on teen awkward spell, which includes not wanting to go to football matches. Hence, I was asked if Gabe would like to go with them. Gabe accepted.

And so there have been rave reviews of what a fine chap Gabe is. He was great company, happy to chat, a pleasure to be with, would he like to come again?

Indeed Gabe has been very good company in recent weeks, all through Christmas and into the New Year. Much has changed and will be changing for him at this time. But one factor was that he broke his mobile phone before Christmas by knocking it into the toilet. He had to wait for Christmas to accumulate the funds to replace it, which he did by upgrading to an iPhone. I shared this observation with him. He agreed that he would spend less time on his phone. That would make him an atypical teen.

Eliza

Eliza has a cause: the French spelling bee. The paper on which the words she must learn are printed is crumpled with use. ‘Test me!’ she implores and delights in remembering the French words, and even more in spelling them with the letters in French: double-vay; y-grec, etc.

Robin

Our sodden winter turned cold for a weekend. On a walk by a canal the kids bounced stones along the iced surface, listening to the ethereal plimp noise made by the skimming, skidding stones. Then tried to hurl stones through the ice.

Even better, it snowed the following night. Robin was awake at 7am and by 7.30 had sized up the conditions. ‘Come to my room’ he begged, wanting us to open the curtains and behold a snowy garden. He woke Eliza, dressed, gulped some breakfast and then was out in the garden. For 45 minutes, there were snowballs and a snowman. He came in for more breakfast and soon after that the melt was happening.

 

Long and short of Christmas

The kids longed for Christmas. Each school day they willed the term to end. Every morning they counted one fewer day until the big one. The allure and magic seems to have survived their getting older and wiser.

Gabe was the most organised about what he wanted, drawing up a long list, none of it extravagant, qualified with a note that he didn’t expect it all. Robin’s was shorter and more ambitious/ less likely to be fulfilled. Eliza the most indecisive.

Eliza also caused consternation, by repeatedly floating the idea that, after their stockings were opened on Christmas morning, no more presents should be opened until the afternoon. She gloried in her preference for deferred gratification and the pain it caused her brothers. She was out-voted.

There was a stronger onus on the presents they would buy for each other and L & me than there had been in the past. Eliza was the best organised, followed by Gabe and then Robin, who left things late. Gabe had a ruse for Robin. He made him a plain Christmas card and handed it to him as a present. He was going to wait to see Robin try to look grateful or disappointed, before handing him his real present. Humanely, on the day, he didn’t leave Robin much time to digest the plain card, before handing over the present.

On Christmas morning, we went to the local park, for a play while the rain held off. Eliza, Robin and I played frisbee across the big field. Robin tore after the disc pulling off amazing collections at full tilt. Eliza threw and caught the frisbee with new found alacrity.

Gabe led the indoor games: Apples and Apples (where he favoured sarcastic verbal connections) and cards, with contract whist a new favourite.

A couple of days after Christmas, family and friends from the Wirral, meant a happy household of 14. Robin’s trumpet playing was mentioned, a request made for a performance and without speaking he went to his trumpet case, took out the instrument, found his music and began to play. Facing away from his audience, he hit every note cleanly and clearly and left the room, again without speaking, to our applause.