Archive for the ‘accident’ Category



Robin and I joined his football team and their Dads on a weekend trip to central Ireland, via Dublin airport, where they took part in a competition.

Robin was anxious before and during the flight, grasping my hand. After some raucous play in our mid-refurbishment hotel annex, I persuaded him to bed. The next day, his team played four 40 minute matches, winning two (Robin scored and set up the goals in the first game), losing the final. Back at the hotel the boys and I went swimming. A loud face-off with some American boys ended peacefully. Later I again managed to persuade him to bed while some lads and dads continued partying.

Sunday started slowly: we arrived an hour late for the football match but still had time to burn before returning to the airport, where our flight was delayed three hours, intensifying Robin’s anxiety about flying. We were back in Manchester after 11pm.


After several weeks of volunteering at gymnastics (ref: Duke of Edinburgh award) with a group of younger girls, Eliza was offered the chance for some paid employment. She has started helping out at the parties hosted by the gymnasium. The first few sessions were unpaid ‘try-outs’, which she passed and now earns c£4/hr (£8 per party). Last Sunday, she assisted at three back-to-back parties. She works with a shifting crew of gym people, meaning roles change and a fair amount of improvisation is needed to keep the party beneficiaries happy.


We bought Gabe insurance to drive L’s car on his provisional licence. L was the first to take him out – to the local tram park and ride car park. He stalled the car and got frustrated with it not being the same as the car in which he has his lessons. By the third trip he had managed to start without stalling and seemed to be progressing. I asked him to pull into a parking bay. Slowly, he turned the car so it was between the lines, but kept going, up the kerb, over the shrub that borders one part of the car park from the next then down the kerb an into the next section. He was shaken, “not good, not good” he kept saying. We deduced he had forgotten to depress the clutch when trying to stop.

Bordeaux week 1 – sleep, eat, rest

Gabe flew with us. For two days in the run-up to the holiday he had called L and my bluff and said he’d prefer to spend two weeks with his Grandpa than fly. As L and I made ready with compromises, he backed down. His aspiration for the holiday: sleep, eat, rest.

Mornings in the gite passed quickly. The kids rose late and lazed around the lounge with headphones and devices. To those activities they would return directly from finishing lunch. But some days we enforced trips: to Saintes, Bordeaux, Royan, the beach at St-Palais-sur-mer. These risked, and usually resulted in bad tempers, with frequency related to increasing age of child. The tempers could be assuaged with pizza lunch, or ice cream.

We went kayaking up a river that flowed gently into the Gironde. Robin and I had just established a good rhythm when a kayak occupied by two grey-haired men and a young woman capsized. Hampered by language and them being too heavy to haul onto our kayak, they spent ten minutes in the water holding onto their upturned vessel before they maneuvered to the bank, tipped the water out of their kayak, climbed back in and continued their trip.

Back at the gite, the pool and table-tennis prompted the most activity, particularly from Robin. We borrowed bikes and cycled on the narrow roads bordered with vines and sunflower fields. A couple of evenings, they joined in the rounders match run by the hosts’ children, involving the kids of the other gite and the French children staying with the owner.

Birthday celebration: parts 1, 2 & 3


Eliza became a teen two weeks ago, but has continued the celebrations. We had a family meal out on her birthday night. She had a visit to Manchester’s new trampoline centre and a sleepover with her best friend a few days later. Last Saturday she had a joint birthday meal and cinema trip with school friends. A further sleepover with school friends may yet occur.

The joint birthday event had a dramatic start. Lucy, whose birthday was also being celebrated, set her own hair on fire at the table in the restaurant by leaning too close to a small candle. L made ready to douse her in water, but Lucy’s Dad patted out the flames with his hands. He’s an anaesthetist and apparently quite used to doing this in theatre. Lucy, Eliza and their friends continued the evening, although Eliza did say the smell of burnt hair was horrible.


From YouTube clips, Robin has developed an interest in basketball and, more specifically, the NBA. He knows the names of a few of the stars and a few more of the teams. A primary school tournament has given him the chance to play competitively for the first time. Undefeated in their first afternoon’s games, his team qualified for the final. There they came out on top, completing a double of school football and basketball champions. Robin’s role was in defence, allowing him to take long-shots. ‘3-pointers,’ as he said, ‘even though they only count as 2 points.’


Gabe has completed two important elements of his music GCSE: recorded performance and composition. His performance piece was Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. On the appointed day, he played the piece twice, while his music teacher recorded it for the examiner. Each rendition included one mistake, so he was given another chance, early in the morning the following week. I dropped him at school to make sure he was there in time. Ten minutes later, it was wrapped up, with a faultless performance recorded and sent to the examiner.

Broken toe


Before school one morning, Robin attempted a Rabona kick of a small, polystyrene ball next to his bed. He misjudged and the outside of his right foot kicked the sharp corner of his bed. Badly bruised around his little toe and too sore to walk on I drove him to school, following some NHS direct advice on treatment of fractured toes. 

The last 10 days have been a trial of his patience. Staying in his classroom at break, missing out on football practice (although both matches have been cancelled), straining for other exercise but pulled back by a sore toe and a patch of discoloured skin on his foot. We’ve done workouts together, played twisty-twosty. When I took him ten-pin bowling with a friend, he slid and spun on the slick floor, burning off stocks of energy – but avoided dropping a ball on his foot. He wants to know when he can restart football, but he’s the one who will know when his foot is better. 

L asked him after school on the day of his injury if it had hurt and if he had cried. “Yes,” he confirmed it had hurt. “No” he hadn’t cried. Why not? Because he wanted to be brave like Daddy. 

Eliza and Gabe

Eliza and Gabe walk to school together – unwillingly on his part. They meet his friends at the end of our road and I imagine her buzzing around, trilling at them, who try to ignore, but getting annoyed. She reports they only talk about football and how tall they are. Gabe, so often late to leave, now uses her not being ready as an excuse to go without her. She’s often brushing her hair, humming to herself, when he shouts from downstairs that he’s leaving. We’ve had to institute an 8am deadline, before which he can’t leave without her, after which he doesn’t have to wait. Yesterday, I watched them head down the road: Gabe striding in front eyes forward, Eliza five metres behind, putting her bag on her back, trying to catch up. 

Piggy-back to the exam hall


With one day separating two of the school entrance exams, L organises a treat for Eliza. We all go to JumpNation – the warehouse with a trampoline floor and walls. The kids bound around, racing across the trampolines. Eliza completes somersaults and back-flips. Their faces turn pink and their hair damp with sweat. Then we look up from our tea to see Eliza being carried by a steward. She’s twisted her ankle and receives immediate, thorough first aid.

The next morning, what was to be the easiest exam to reach becomes the most difficult. I drive mother and daughter close to the school. L gives Eliza a piggy-back to the queue waiting to be let in and then gets dispensation to carry her all the way to the desk. How it has affected her exam performance, we don’t know.


Gabe is in the top maths set. At the end of last year they did some GCSE level papers. This year, he thinks, they may be heading higher. He does his homework at home – a new departure, perhaps signifying its difficulty. He asks me to help. Quadratic equations – we look at the examples. Without an explanation I don’t know how to approach them. Gabe remembers another technique and applies it. He’s successful with some, but doesn’t feed his answers back into the original equation to check. Were he to heed me, that would be something I could teach him.


Robin is annoyed that his new teacher is making him read books at a level below where he feels he reached at the end of last year. L and I emphasise the importance of reading them quickly if he wants to be issued more challenging books. The book he wants to read is an award winning account of Guardiola’s Barcelona, that he bought with his own money at Waterstone’s. It’s an adult read (by complexity, not subject matter), but he’s ploughing through it – preferring to be listener, but reading it to himself as well.



Walking to school one morning this week, L pointed out to Eliza that the only house on our street without a porch was our own. This delighted Eliza as she walked past the houses spotting the various porch designs.

Later that afternoon, L walked Eliza, Robin and his friend H home from school. On our street, Robin explained to H, with great sincerity, that only his house didn’t have a porch.


A phone call late on Friday evening: ‘Would Gabe be able to play for the Saturday 3rds?’ Gabe nodded his interest and so the next day he made his senior cricket debut – a little over a week short of his 13th birthday. He came into bat at the end of his team’s innings and faced the opposition’s fast bowler. He got off the mark with a clip to the legside, ran some extras hard and was run out off the final ball. In the field, he was given four overs, bowling well, if a little short. He enjoyed the experience but wished he could have contributed more.


Watching Gabe’s game, a stray Staffordshire bull terrier ran onto the ground. It charged around looking for a game. Robin cowered close to some adults. On one of its circuits the dog ran close to Robin, seemed to be trying to get past, but collided with his leg. Robin cried, I assumed out of fear and I took him into the pavilion. But his leg was sore and I iced it when we went home. It stayed painful the following day. Robin sat out a football party and was barely straightening the leg or putting weight on it. After a day at school, L took him to the minor injuries clinic, where a strained knee tendon was diagnosed. Two days later and the leg was fully operational again.

All inclusive

A dominating feature of our Menorcan holiday was the all inclusive food and drink. Three meals a day and a changing menu of meats, vegetables, salads, breads and desserts for every meal. But for the kids, all inclusive produced particular, limited diets:

Gabe: croissant, chips and seconds/thirds of pizza

Eliza: croissant, melon and ice cream

Robin: croissant, chips and coca-cola (even at breakfast if not closely monitored).

Watching Robin dash around, L commented, “We’ll be in hospital this holiday.” She was right, but Eliza was the patient, banging her head falling from a fence. I called the doctor when she felt ill at midnight. The doctor came and calmly ordered an ambulance which drove Eliza and L across the island for an emergency brain scan. All was clear and they returned, exhausted after a night in hospital.

Teeth – wobbly and crooked

All three kids are at the age of shedding milk teeth and growing the big ones. Yet months go by without any dental development. Then a month like this.


Gabe announced a wobbly tooth. Within days he could lift it with his tongue and feel the serrated edge of its underside. But it stayed put with a single strand of root for two weeks. Gabe was too squeamish to apply the definitive pull, put provided regular updates. Its time did arrive and there was much relief. A few days later, biting into an Easter goody, another tooth fell out, this one had not even been introduced as wobbly or made the subject of discussions about how long teeth take to fall out.


Robin chipped one of his front top teeth years ago. Playing football in the garden, he extracted it when volleying the ball he ducked his head, followed through with leg and foot, smashing his knee into his mouth. It has created a gap apparently the width of several teeth and gives him a rascally look that suits well.


Eliza has two front teeth too big for her mouth. Short on space they’re attempting a cross-over manoeuvre. It’s very clearly one of my genetic gifts to her.

Boys who read


Connect-4 has for weeks pushed reading aside, with a football book tolerated if L or I insist. Then Robin picked up and began reading one of the Astrosaurs series. We have read them to him before and they come with Gabe’s recommendation. But this reading is focused and outcome orientated. He updates me regularly on his page number. He read to himself in a whisper on the landing on Saturday when he woke before he was allowed downstairs. Now he’s finished his first book and started another. Yet, I’m not sure how much he understands.


Gabe’s bedtime reading has returned again to his hardback 2010 World Cup books. The challenge he sets me is to give him four teams he hasn’t read about in recent nights. An alternative is his book on the history of the Olympics. My role is to pick an olympiad for him to read about – one he hasn’t read in recent nights.


Baejae’s even-money bet was lost. Eliza was upset but seems to have a tough shell to protect her. L set aside an afternoon for some Baejae memory fixing, writing and drawing about him. Of the kids, Eliza continues to be the most consistently interested in the gerbils; for example, taking the lead in cleaning their cage before they went to stay with friends during our holiday.

Another gerbil drama has played out yesterday and today. L found Silver with a bloody tail. The cause is uncertain – fighting, the vet thought; our suspicion has fallen on a new neighbhour’s children who were alone with the gerbils for a few minutes. The vet presented two options, of which I selected surgery, to remove the tail-end where the skin had been torn off. This was performed successfully today. A groggy Silver was brought home with a one-third length tail.

Go karts and Citeh


We took Gabe and eight friends to an indoor go-kart circuit in the basement of a soon-to-be demolished factory for his birthday party. The karts, available to anyone over the age of eight, were the same as the ones adults with driving licenses and road sense use. L and I found ourselves the responsible adults without the ability to control the boys’ behaviour behind the wheel.

Only one lad had a head-on crash with a barrier – the most reckless of the group – and only one opted throughout for caution. They were really quite adept, so perhaps the transfer of wii and x-box skills was taking place. Gabe started cautiously, but built up speed, ending up with the third fastest average lap time, with which he was very satisfied.

The following day, City played QPR seeking a win for the Premiership title, with United poised to take advantage of any slip-up. Gabe watched the match on my iPad while he, Eliza and I played monopoly. In the opening 20 minutes of the second-half things began to go awry for City as they surrendered the lead and then fell behind. Gabe switched off the iPad unable to watch. We continued to play our game, but he was subdued. I was monitoring the game on my phone and let him know that City had equalised, but he didn’t want to watch. When my phone refreshed City had won and Gabe switched the iPad back on and wallowed in the celebrations. During his team’s historic half-hour, he had passed Go a few times, spent some time in jail, paid some fines and erected a few houses.


Walking to school, Robin complained of a sore head. I suggested a cup of water when we got to school. Leaving the junior school with him, I noticed a lump on his forehead and realised he’d banged himself. “How?” I asked. “Don’t want to say. It’s embarrassing.” Entering his playground, the lump more visible, I got him to explain. Out of my eyesight, he had walked, head down, into a wheelie bin on the pavement. Reluctantly, he followed me to the school office to get some first aid. Ice applied, the teacher asked how it had happened. “Robin will have to tell you”, I said, as I signed the accident form.

That evening, the bump was hurting when touched so I found the calpol bottle. Robin fiddled with the lid, but couldn’t open it. “It’s got a child-lock,” I told him. His response: “But how does it know I’m a child?”


It’s test week at junior school. Gabe and his peers are doing Key Stage 2 SATs. In Eliza’s class, they are doing their annual assessment tests. A morning of tests and afternoon of play suits her well. Unusually, not a single complaint about having to go to school this week.

One afternoon was spent at chess club. Back at home, we played our first match. She caught me out with an audacious queen move, but I recovered and eventually wore her down with risk-averse attack.