Archive for January, 2018

Ring-bearer

Eliza

The invitation came in contemporary style – by snapchat – and on the day before Cousin I’s wedding. Would Eliza act as ring-bearer? There was mention of the symbolism of Eliza fulfilling this role at the same location where Cousin I had been Eliza’s Mum’s bridesmaid. Eliza saw the message on the way out of school. She was thrilled and nervous.

She was handed the rings shortly before the wedding and went to leave the house without them, before being reminded. At the ceremony, she sat away from us, in the second row. She looked, I thought, a little twitchy amongst unfamiliar people and experiencing an unfamiliar rite. But she stood and delivered the rings on time – slender, angular, stylish, a girl not quite in or out of her place.

Gabe

Gabe endured the wedding with a heavy cold. He barely slept the night in the hotel when we arrived in London. But he kept going through the day and long into the evening, asking gently when we might be returning to the hotel. And as we drove around Richmond in the hired van, he made his contribution to the celebrations with a jaunty playlist.

Robin

Through the early weeks of January, L and I have tried to nail down a party for Robin’s birthday. Still anxious about friends at his new school and those who have gone to other schools, this has tested him. He came up with names and an event was agreed. But he hesitated over asking anyone but his best friend, A – presumably fearing being turned down. With barely a week to go, he asked his three school friends, managed to get a parent’s contact number, and got positive responses.

 

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New Year’s Eve Quiz

The pinnacle of our New Year’s celebrations wasn’t the fireworks, Auld Lang Syne or Big Ben’s bongs. It was a quiz in five rounds.

The day’s build-up to the quiz included a game of squash for Gabe and me; a City match on TV; a trip to see Wonder at the cinema; and a dinner of pizza and curry.

We began quizzing mid-evening. Each of us had researched (or made up) questions on a different topic. The competition was keen, with only Robin’s interest wavering towards the end.

Round 1, posed by L, was on geography. Two rivers that run through Aberdeen? Standing in Paris, are you nearer Edinburgh or Rome? Which former state of the Soviet Union is last in the alphabet, etc.

Round 2, with Robin as quiz-master, concerned sport. Where was Bob Beamon’s long-jump record broken? How many countries were represented in gymnastics at the Rio Olympics.

Round 3, facilitated by Eliza, probed knowledge of popular culture. Marilyn Monroe’s real name? Which TV programme from the 1980s featuring a small rodent has been brought back in 2017?

Round 4, saw Gabe test our musical knowledge, with five second excerpts of songs for us to identify. The music ranged from Bill Haley to Ed Sheeran and Robert Wagner.

Round 5 was my cryptic family quiz and included: Who kept seeing violet [Violett]? Who came back to meet [meat] old acquaintances? Who went without insects in the ear for a month? Who gave up the chair for someone who wasn’t elderly, infirm or pregnant? (Answers: Robin, Eliza, Gabe, L)

We also talked about ambitions or resolutions for the New Year. Robin wants ‘to persistently get 4’s in English’ – his preferred school subject and equivalent to a grade C at GCSE while still in his first year of secondary school. Gabe wants to improve how he plays Chopin’s ‘Raindrop Prelude’ and progress to piano grade six. Eliza had already acknowledged wanting ‘to do more and spend less time on her phone in her room,’ as well as eat more fruit for breakfast.

We finished in time for midnight. Robin asked me to come upstairs with him as he didn’t like New Year’s celebrations, explaining that the countdown to New Year worried him that something bad would happen. With Gabe, we played some indoor cricket in Robin’s room, while Eliza and L watched Ed Sheeran on TV.

Christmas at home but not alone

We were at home from the end of school to the children’s return in the New Year. Eliza made a few breaks from the house – ‘going into town’ with school or gymnastics friends. Robin met up with his friend A and even came on a walk with L and me. Gabe went to a City game. We all went to a Christmas carol concert, a friends’ party and a pub to meet friends from out of town. There were also games of badminton, squash, football in the garden and, on one dry day, tennis.

At home, but not alone. We hosted three partly overlapping waves of visitors: grandparents, uncle, aunt and cousin, and Wirral friends. Gabe, Eliza and Robin each acted splendidly as hosts. Eliza, in particular, gave up her bedroom for much of the holiday without evident complaint.

On Christmas morning, we gathered in Robin’s room to open stockings. After the children opened theirs, we produced a fourth stocking for L. Each of us had contributed (Eliza with most imagination and commitment), following the pattern of their stocking contents to the point of a favourite fruit – in this case an avocado. It symbolised for me a very happy Christmas break, with L receiving a small return from the rest of us for all the work she put into the whole occasion.