Archive for the ‘appearance’ Category

Sunburn

Eliza

Eliza’s final week of the school year is ‘activity week’. On Monday, she went to Chester Zoo. Her choice of clothes – very short shorts and bare-shouldered top – unsettled me, perhaps causing me to forget to insist she wore suncream. She came home with sunburnt shoulders.

On Tuesday, Eliza went on another trip. The weather was again set fair. Eliza was wearing the same outfit and asked that I put some suncream on her shoulders. I refused, requiring her to wear something that covered her shoulders. She objected, I insisted, we compromised on her wearing something over the top of her skimpy top. I wandered away, she left the house, I wondered whether she had really taken another top with her. Anyway, her shoulders didn’t seem to get burnt again.

Gabe

We gave Gabe one week of indulgence and laziness after his exams before insisting that he use his long summer break productively. Having rejected any suggestions that would mean getting outside the house – finding a job, volunteering, getting fit – he was faced with doing chores around the house.

Each day, he is given a short list of chores (e.g. cleaning up the kitchen, vacuuming rooms). Invariably, he has not done them when L or I get back from work. Any that he does do are completed hurriedly. Having received his allowance for July, it is his August allowance that is under threat. This, though, isn’t having any notable motivating effect on him, as he continues to spend his days lying about, listening to music and watching YouTube videos.

Robin

Robin’s end of year report was very complimentary. His SATs results were all well above the standard set for his age. He took a lot of pride in these results, which we hope will set him up for the new school in September.

His induction day at the High School had not gone very well. He was quiet and surly that evening. The problem was that the boy who had joined his football team last season and whose behaviour had caused problems for the rest of the team and the coaches was there as well and was in Robin’s group throughout the induction day. With Robin’s blessing, I spoke to the school. I have been assured that Robin will be kept apart from the boy in form group and lessons.

Braces (at last)

Eliza

“When are you 14?” asked the Greek orthodontist.

“November,” Eliza replied.

“Well, we had better get on with it,” concluded the orthodontist.

Eliza gave a look that said, ‘FINALLY!’. This is either her third or fourth orthodontist appointment in between which she has been batted back and forth, without anything being done to correct her crooked front teeth. But this time there is urgency and action. It takes under 10 seconds for the orthodontist to affirm that the wonkiness of her upper incisors qualifies for NHS care. By the time we have returned to the reception desk, a further appointment has been requested – for the following day.

Eliza is back at the surgery in not much more than 24 hours. This time, she leaves with braces across her four upper front teeth. The braces will stay for six months, re-aligning those teeth. After that, she will wear upper and lower jaw plates for up to two years.

Robin

As a cricketer Robin has shown more as a natural bowler than batsman. This season, his bowling has gone a little backwards, without, until this week, his batting compensating. In fact, despite often being requested to play twice a week – for his age group and the age group above – Robin has been a reluctant cricketer. But on Monday, he rediscovered his joy in the game, by making his first ever score of 25, which is the retirement score in under 11 cricket. He hit several fours, including one that he described as going back over the bowler and bouncing on the boundary rope.

Gabe

Gabe finished his GCSE exams, but chose not to go out to celebrate. Instead he came back home and in the evening was still in his school uniform, which he’ll never need to wear again. He reported feeling no great release from finishing his exams. His thoughts have turned instead to the results, which are almost two whole months away.

Coming out of her shell

Eliza

At Eliza’s first secondary school parents evening, L heard a series of compliments for her progress and good nature. Several teachers noted that she began term very quietly, but was now coming out of her shell. Another (ignorant it seems Napoleon and many other eminent people of limited size) contrasted her physical size and that of her personality. The comment about ‘coming out her shell’ recalls her early days at junior school, where, in a class with many children from the year above, Eliza grew in confidence and flourished with the academic challenge. 

Robin

Robin is still the first in the family to wake. Nowadays he will lie in bed until he hears someone else roused. But at weekends, when we might be in bed past 7am, or if he wakes in the night, perhaps from a bad dream, he’ll come looking for us. ‘Baby Putin’ we call him, as he is bare-chested. But it’s not aggressive nationalism we’re met with, but urgent requests to go downstairs for breakfast, or perhaps a hug. 

Gabe

Gabe is genuinely motivated by music GCSE. He talks seriously and keenly about the subject matter. He has begun composing a piece for the piano. He listens to classical music, alongside modern tunes on his Spotify playlist. And he has set himself the target of learning to play Beethoven’s Midnight Sonata and Für Elise on the piano. 

GCSE Astronomy

Gabe

Gabe sat his GCSE Astronomy exam, which makes up over half of the marks. Revision for the exam seemed to be a process beyond his comprehension. He did none voluntarily and when forced to do some, wanted L or I to read a section of his notes, or textbook, and ask him questions. In the week ahead of the exam, his teacher pointed the class to an on-line resource, which finally seemed to engage Gabe in some self-directed revision. In his final assessment, he achieved a ‘A’ grade, so the limited and late revision doesn’t seem likely to make much difference.

Eliza

Eliza’s hair is falling out. It may be spring moulting, or hormones at work. She’s very conscious of it, and so are we as strands are found in our cars, in the dishwasher, on the living room carpet and in clothes removed from the dryer. She has so much hair that even this degree of shedding doesn’t affect her appearance.

Robin

As a baby, Robin had allergies to egg and less severely to dairy products. The only evidence of the latter, is discomfort he sometimes gets in his throat eating ice cream. But he has grown up drinking soya milk with his breakfast cereal – by the pint. Recently, we have put a stop to him glugging sweetened soya milk with sugary cereal. He opted for dairy milk instead of unsweetened soya milk and now has that by the pint with sugary cereal.

100 sit-ups

Gabe

Starting early in the month, Gabe began doing nightly sit-ups, increasing by five each time. He reached his target of 100 sit-ups, without a break, showing a determination in the face of pain. His overall goal is to develop a six-pack.

Robin

With his target in sight, Gabe decided that he would complement his daily dose of sit-ups with a timed plank. On the evening he reached his century, all five of us gathered in the living room for a family plank. L & I were the first to break, around the one minute mark. Gabe followed, his core already thoroughly exercised by sit-ups. Eliza reached three minutes and Robin went on and on. He seemed in such little discomfort I was suspicious his knees were touching the floor – they weren’t. Finally, at seven minutes he buckled.

Eliza

Eliza’s two most recent milk teeth to come out have done so in halves. The adult teeth underneath have pushed the milk teeth up and fractured them, leaving Eliza with a sharp half-tooth stuck to her gum. It’s taken up to a week for the second half to fall out.

Hair

Gabe

Over the last year, Gabe’s consciousness of his appearance has altered from concern with not looking a certain way (not wearing a coat, not wearing certain clothes) to a more positive interest in how he looks and what he wears.

At the beginning of the year he opted to go to a barber instead of having his hair clipped at home. He wanted frequent reassurance over which of the numbered grades of the clippers he should choose. From that episodic interest in his hair has developed, not a daily, but minute-by-minute focus. On school mornings, he will stand next to Eliza in L & my room in front of the mirrored cupboards. Eliza is styling, plaiting. Gabe is patting and pushing his hair. After a few minutes he’ll head downstairs where he stands in front of the hall mirror, performing the same minor adjustments to his hair. L reports that when he gets home from school he comes in the front door and stands at the hall mirror repeating the morning patting and coaxing of his hair.

Robin

Halfway through his second term of piano lessons, Robin has played his first performance to an audience. Two short pieces played to his classmates and parents at the junior school’s soiree afternoon. He said his hands were trembling with anxiety. L said she could see how nervous he was waiting his turn. He played both pieces well.

Eliza

Eliza’s after school violin lesson was moved back to accommodate her violin playing partner joining the school netball practice. Eliza decided to do the same and has been going to netball for the last few weeks. They practice passing, she says, as well as those things to stop passing.. ‘Interceptions?’ I suggest. ‘Yes, them’.

Fitness app

Gabe

Tied to his tablet, gaming or in constant communication with friends. But Gabe also has an app that amongst other things, predicts how tall he will grow. It has a fitness regime that he is trying to follow. The wider motivation is his interest in his appearance, itself driven by girls and girlfriend. More narrowly, he wants a six pack like Robin. He’s asked me to join him with the regime, which I hope to do.

Robin

Robin has a verbal habit that frustrates: “Daddy [Mummy] said I could..” he will assert when arguing he should be allowed to do something. What he is invariably referring back to is a conversation where he has raised something he wants and L or I has said, ‘No’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘we’ll see’, but Robin selectively remembers it as support for him getting what he wants.

Eliza

Eliza is practising hard for a gymnastics manoeuvre that involves a handstand entered through half a cartwheel, from which she does the splits and then lowers herself into a half-lever, and then to the ground. She’s achieved it a dozen times, but attempted it hundreds. These practices take place on grass. The real thing is to be done on a beam.