Archive for the ‘courage’ Category

100 great goals

Robin 

Every night, for months, Robin has chosen, before sleep and after L or I have read to him, to read from a book that describes 100 great goals. A short description of the action is leavened with some information about the scorer or the occasion. There’s also a diagram of the movement of players and ball on its way into the net.

When sleep is about to smother him, Robin tosses the book from his bed. In the morning, it lies on the floor, crumpled. Its hardback cover fell off weeks ago. Its binding can’t hold for long. But even if it does disintegrate it has lodged itself in Robin’s memory. He knows the goals and scorers by number (1 to 100). He can even recite some of the reports if given a scorer’s name or goal number. 

Eliza

‘My palm has five layers of skin left,’ Eliza explained on the way home from gymnastics. Intensive work on the bars in recent weeks has worn a tear in the skin of her hand. She has been practising a manoeuvre that involves a complete rotation on the higher bar. To achieve this safely while in the learning phase, her hands are bound to the bar. It’s from that friction that the skin on her palms is torn away.

Gabe 

The election result has been welcomed by Gabe. At school, Corbyn is a hero. Gabe is dissatisfied by my position that neither major party leader is a fit PM. ‘What have I got against Corbyn?’ I was asked often during the campaign, as well as, who are you going to vote for and why? On election night, he sat with Lou and I as the TV guests and presenters toyed with the unlikely exit poll. Around midnight, with four GCSE exams the next day, he conceded that is was time for bed. 


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Resurrection guinea pig

Eliza and Robin

The story of Easter was of Mr Skittles, the one-eyed guinea pig, and his grave illness. On Good Friday, he was found immobile in the hutch. No better after a couple of hours, Eliza, Robin and I took him to a Bank Holiday vets in Cheadle. A vet pulled his limbs, stretched him and scrutinised him. Trauma or brain injury, she suggested before injecting him with antibiotic and muscle relaxant. This set Mr Skittles gasping and he was rushed away to be given oxygen. ‘We should think about his future,’ the vet cautioned. Eliza and Robin understood.

With nothing pressing and the weather wet, we decided to give it an hour and we went to a cafe. The kids were subdued, but realistic. An hour later, prepared to say our farewells to a chronically sick guinea pig, we were back at the vets. ‘He seems a lot better’, we were told. Back home, we kept him in a box in the hall, fed him some red pepper and tried to give him water. Eliza took on the task of administering his antibiotic course.

I woke first the next morning and lifted the cover of the box to find him looking up at me. Back to the vets where they discharged him. By Easter Sunday he was back in the hutch with Dandelion – risen again.

Gabe

Gabe has joined the local gym. He has completed the induction, which has warned him against using the weights. He has been there twice – he rides the bike, runs, uses the rowing machine and the upper body exercise machines.

 

 

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’.

Activity holiday

Our Easter holiday featured over a dozen activities in four days at the PGL Adventure Holiday site in Shropshire, topped off with my annual birthday walk. What Eliza and Robin approached with relish and gusto, Gabe faced with hesitancy and clearly declared fear.

The most startling of the activities, the Big Swing, took place on day 2. Gabe opted out and was making similar noises about other activities. This was where the young, upbeat instructors stepped in, reassuring, coaxing him to participate. In the case of the wall-climb, they rebuffed his request to come down from half-way up the wall and convinced him, in a way I could not have done, to carry on climbing. He showed his determined side by crouching in the woods trying to light cotton wool with a spark long after anyone else would have conceded. And he managed it.

Eliza thrived – her balance and physical confidence unimpaired by the apparent (though not real) peril of the activities. She went furthest of the whole group in the kayak challenge – moving from sitting, to lying to standing to walking along the kayak.

Robin matched her, when away from the water. The swings, climbs, abseil and zip-wire were devoured. Our final challenge, the high ropes, did cause a wobble as he went out on the circuit then returned. But he went back for a second go and managed to complete the course.

Given Robin’s reticence on the high ropes, Gabe’s achievement of finally screwing up his courage and giving it a go, was even more impressive – though he didn’t like the congratulations it earned him. Meanwhile, Eliza swung around high ropes, trusting to her harness and unaffected by the height.

BMX party

One week after his birthday, so commandeering a two week celebration, Robin’s party took place at the National Cycling Centre. Arriving early, we went to view the indoor BMX track. The kids were struck by its size and nerves jangled.

Ten friends, Eliza and friend and Gabe got kitted up with elbow and leg pads, helmet, gloves and bike. They began with a short practice on the flat before being led onto the track. There were crashes and collisions, sweat and fatigue, but above all, they scared and thrilled themselves.

Foot-long hot-dogs and plate-wide burgers in the centre’s cafe completed a very satisfying party. Robin’s cake, made by L while suffering a migraine, was a football pitch, with rather wobbly touchline and off-centre goals.

Test match

Gabe

Gabe’s interest in cricket has grown this year: playing for club and school; going to the nets with friends; an obsession with kit; learning to score (and being paid to do so for the senior teams); helping me with some statistics; and now he’s been to his first match.

We saw the fourth day of the third test at Old Trafford. He was very nervous about getting there. He changed seats a couple of times to get a clear view. He made a few enquiries about what I might buy for him, but otherwise was content to watch and exchange comments on the game. The Barmy Army set about their chanting in the afternoon, which bothered us both. But once that died down, other him having a nagging concern about getting on the tram home, we both could have sat there until the evening. The weather closed in, though, and we left in the rain shortly after tea. Gabe put down a marker, he would like to go back and go to Lord’s.

Eliza and Robin

L took Eliza and Robin to the Manchester Climbing Centre, which is sited in an old church. Both scaled 20m high walls, before pushing off and floating back to the ground.

At home, Eliza scripted a play based around a female Harry Potter type character – Harriet. Robin played Dudley, with a football up his shirt and a midget Hagrid. When I saw the performance, Robin carried his script with him, Eliza memorised her words, directed the show and was chief stagehand.