Archive for the ‘bed’ Category

Sleepless

Eliza

It’s the night before the exam and Eliza cannot sleep. She twitches and becomes upset. “What’s the time?” L stays with her, but one hour and then two pass since her bedtime. A cup of hot milky chocolate comes and goes. She’s befuddled; too tired to sleep. Eventually, she drifts off, with more than seven hours to go until she needs to be up, getting ready for the school entrance exam.

Eliza has prepared diligently for the entrance exams all through the summer holiday. Taking tests, learning parts of the maths curriculum not covered at school, getting faster and more accurate.

Robin

I used Eliza’s preparations to persuade Robin to spend 15 minutes per day, around half of the holiday, to work on his times tables. Grumpy and reluctant at first, he began to pick up speed and finally memorise the ‘multiplication facts’ as the book called them. He also did some non-verbal reasoning, usually while in the bath, which entertained him as a puzzles.

Today, at school, he applied his holiday efforts in a mental maths test. He did well, he assured me. He knew his six times table.

Gabe

Gabe slumped through the summer holiday: on the sofa, with TV on and tablet or phone in near constant use. I imagined his fitness draining away.

I was wrong. Back at school, he achieved his best ever bleep test score: 9.1.

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Ailments and remedies

Gabe had a stomach upset that lingered and hindered him for almost a week. At its peak he was too poorly for school. Inert during the day, he fretted and was unsettled at night. L and I each spent time with him in the middle of the night, leaving us tired and impressing on him that he needed to get himself back to sleep.

So, one night at the end of the week, woken by his bad stomach, Gabe went into Robin’s room, woke him up and told him to come back to his room to keep him company. Robin obeyed and spent the night in bed a reassuring presence for Gabe.

Robin explained that he thought Gabe had chosen him because he is such a good hugger.

Eliza had an ailment too: an infection of her left index finger, which went swollen and hard. As well as the pain, it left Eliza unable to play her musical instruments. The doctor offered to lance the swelling, but Eliza chose the foul tasting antibiotic instead. After a couple of days the swelling went prune-like, the outer layer of skin fell off and Eliza was back to recorder and violin.

Just the three at home

Gabe

With Eliza and Robin away at a sleepover from the mid-afternoon, Gabe had what he recognised to be the longest time alone with L and I since Eliza’s emergence ten years ago. He and I used the initial hours to go to the cricket nets on the last day before they are brought down for the winter. He gee’d me up to bowl, which I did as fast as I could, without troubling him. He then bowled quick and straight at me until it got too dark to carry on.

Back at home, Gabe and L watched ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ – unsuitable for younger siblings – and we ate together. But Gabe was unhappy at bedtime as he didn’t like being alone upstairs.

Eliza and Robin

Eliza and Robin stayed with their best friends, also brother and sister. Eliza and E made videos together. One, in which Eliza starred, was sent to L for us to view. Robin and A played football in the afternoon, evening and morning – getting up and playing in their pyjamas in the garden.

 

Night and day in Yorkshire

Daytime in our Yorkshire holiday home was a delight. The vast garden and tennis court were the scene of cricket, football, badminton, mini-Olympics and many variants of tennis. The three sitting rooms hosted games, computer-use, TV viewing and lounging. The kitchen had a food supply to match its size.

Nighttime in our seventeenth century home was less appealing for the kids, who shared one large room. Robin was the first to show. He wanted to go home. But Gabe found sleeping there the hardest. He was up until midnight and awake again at 4am. This continued, though less extreme, through the week.

Eliza had bagged herself a bed slightly different to the boys. Less appealing I thought. But half-way through the week, it became the object of desire, with Gabe complaining late one evening about Eliza monopolising it. Just as an intractable battle was welling up, Eliza soared above the others’ bickering, declaring decisively, “Right, you have it and keep it for the rest of the week.”

Chocolate Factory

The reality of family outings feels like five individuals’ interests can rarely be satisfied. The problem is actually subtler. It is possible to engage five individuals’ interests, but it is harder to have five people be positive about a plan for an outing. This is partly about preconceptions (Robin: “not another castle”) and partly about  a desire for control (Gabe: my way or the whine way).

A trip to my parents and Gabe’s imminent birthday gave an opportunity for an alternative approach: a surprise trip; or, a stubborn refusal on L’s or my part to share any information about where we would be spending Bank Holiday Monday until the road signs told their own story. As a tactic to quiet pre-trip moans it did the job. The begging to be told where we were going was far less irritating than the complaints about the choice. Given that the choice – Cadbury World – was relatively uncontroversial, we may have created more fuss than needed, but the experiment was worth it.

Cadbury World itself was forgettable, but engaged us for more than an hour. More popular was the motel we had stayed in the night before. Robin, buoyed by a lengthy kip in the car, wouldn’t sleep until 1am. He tried waking Gabe at midnight to announce his endurance. Down the corridor, L and Eliza were more peaceful. (Families of five or more are too rare to merit dedicated rooms or suites of rooms in budget hotel chains).

Robin found Gabe and me underwhelming company and rushed to be back with Eliza in the morning. After breakfast, Eliza and Robin accepted a challenge to move slowly back from the restaurant to the bedrooms (100m distant) by shuffling there on their bums. Gabe was enervated by this juvenile behaviour and, when L also joined in, he teetered on launching a violent reaction before rushing off ahead and away from his exasperating family.

We accumulated 18 chocolate bars on our factory tour but saw no umpa-lumpas.

 

 

Dream sequence

Eliza

A discussion of dreams while walking to school, led to an experiment. Eliza had been told that if two people are dreaming of the same place, they’ll see each other in their dream. A little like the familiar-looking spectators in the background to a Wii game we wondered. Eliza nominated McDonald’s as the location and we went to bed with that destination in mind. But the theory remains unproven as the next morning only Robin, more suggestible or less reliable, reported getting to the chosen place in his dreams.

Gabe

Gabe is in a high run of form on the football field. He has started to complement his silky midfield passing with a more physical presence – harrying and tackling opponents. He came to the fore in a cup semi-final, which his team won in nerve-wracking fashion.

Robin

Robin has followed brother and sister down the Harry Potter route. He has finished the first book in the series and is reluctant to read his school book club assignment as it diverts him from school wizardry.

The great cough

    Gabe

Gabe started coughing on Saturday. It’s Wednesday and he’s barely stopped. During the day it’s continuous, but settles down at night. By Monday, with no let up I took him to the doctor’s surgery. Gabe was concerned it was psychological (recognising that when he feels sick it often is) so relieved to hear he had a chest infection. I kept him off school, which meant he missed the French spelling bee contest in which he represented his class and hall. Unusually, he put some visible effort into preparing for it.

    Robin

L was away for a long weekend at her parents. Robin turned up next to me in bed around 6am on Saturday. “I don’t want you to feel lonely,” he explained.

    Eliza

Eliza was facing a weekend of football, more football and rugby. Gabe’s cough ruled out one of those events. A timely invite to go shopping with a friend, her friend’s mother and grandmother excused her another. She had lunch with her friend and was wearing make-up when I picked her up. She had a book bought for her by the grandmother. It featured a 13 year old dating a 17 year old boy. This is new territory. Eliza said she enjoyed it.