Archive for the ‘eating’ Category

Young Voices

Robin

‘Birdcage of my soul’ was an unlikely song to hear Robin singing, but They Might be Giants‘ craziness was part of the repertoire of over 20 songs that he learnt to take part in a Young Voices concert at the MEN Arena. There was an African chant, folk-tunes and hymns as well. Hundreds, maybe thousands of school kids took part, filling much of the arena. It has put Robin in the unusual position of having performed at Manchester’s two major music venues: MEN Arena and the Bridgewater Hall.

Gabe

Seven weeks after Christmas, Gabe and L got their present from me: a trip to London to see a National Theatre production of This House at the Garrick on Charing Cross Road. I had taken a chance that Gabe would enjoy the subject-matter – 1970s parliamentary politics. It turned out to be good guess as he was fully engaged by the tales of the two main parties’s whips offices, in the days of slim or no majority governments. The play was fast-paced – clearly influenced by TV production – amusing and full of swearing. All three factors probably played towards Gabe’s enjoyment.

Eliza

Eliza has been pondering and testing the notion of becoming a vegetarian. It seems to be part of her growing awareness of societal ills. Like many people in her situation, she has to overcome her partiality for meat – in particular chicken, but also sausages. Unlike many, though, the major barrier is that Eliza doesn’t like a lot of vegetarian staples. He compromise is that she has given up meat, apart from chicken and fish.

In the trenches

Gabe

Gabe went away in the early hours of Thursday before half-term holiday. The school history trip to the Belgian battlefields of the Great War had been over-subscribed and Gabe too late to express interest. But a couple of weeks before departure he took up a vacated place.

Trenches (real and simulated), cemeteries, chapels and the towns the war plagued were visited. Each student had a local soldier to research before departure and search for some marker of their death when in Belgium. Gabe found the site of the mass grave of 35,000 German casualties the most affecting. It was, he confirmed, the best school trip he has had.

Robin

Robin was picked for Sale’s under 12 team in the indoor winter cricket league. The step-up in intensity, particularly in the field, energised him. He coped well, bowling strongly and batting reliably, pushing singles to share the strike with the skipper, only swinging hard at deliveries aimed at his legs that he could shovel square. While his teammates batted, he hung on the edge of his group, likely as not returning to me to sit on my lap: an endearing mix of young affection and physical prowess.

Eliza

choc towerOn her desk is built a chocolate tower. Weeks after Christmas and barely touched are chocolate reindeer, a selection box, Lindor, a bar of chocolate, a chocolate Santa and a tub of Heroes. That same ration barely saw Robin and Gabe into 2016. Eliza is unlikely to finish hers before Easter. It’s a sugary monument to her self-control and her understanding of the value of a pleasure deferred.

Big school

Eliza

Eliza has started at secondary school. She has settled quickly, showing no particular anxiety, other than one: getting lost. She walks to school with Gabe, less for safety and company, than just to make sure she knew the way in her early weeks. She was concerned about finding her way around the school with its oddment of buildings and long corridors. Gabe says he has seen her looking lost, studying the map given to new girls and boys. He has even helped her find the classroom she sought. 

On a day L was working late, Eliza gladly accepted the task of meeting Robin out of school. “Ok” we said, “describe your route from your new school to your old school.”

“Well, to start with, I’d turn right.”

“No! It’s the other way!”

Gabe

Gabe has started his GCSE courses and with that has come a novelty: homework. This staple of schools is referred to at the grammar school as ‘extension studies’, as it doesn’t have to be done at home. And Gabe has always taken advantage of this, finishing extension studies in class or in breaks so his home time remains free of schoolwork. But something has changed this year and now we see him regularly at the computer with his books out. 

Robin

Robin has chosen to move from packed lunch to school dinners. From the security of ham sandwich nearly every school day for three or four years, he has put himself at the mercy of the lunch menu. So far, two days into this trial, he has eaten a baked potato with cheese and chicken in a sauce. They sound like modest choices but actually represent dramatic broadening of his dietary palette. 

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.

Loom bands and Lord’s

Eliza

It began with bracelets, which became increasingly ornate and has moved onto animal key rings. Eliza has embraced the loom band craze, without progressing to whole outfits made of the tiny, coloured rubber bands. She has a plastic frame on which the bands are stretched and arrayed in complex patterns. YouTube provides the source of guidance on how to combine and twist the bands. It’s a healthy pastime, except for the tips of
Eliza’s fingers that get pinched sore by the taut bands.

Gabe

Gabe came with me to Saturday of the Lord’s Test, where we met Grandad and spent the day together. The day was hot and sticky and Gabe worried over visible sweat marks on his shirt. He had overdosed on pizza and coke at a party the night before and felt delicate. This was his diet during the day: croissant, coke, crisps, chips (with too much salt and ketchup), hot chocolate, grapes, slice of pizza (rejected after a bite) and then toast when we got home. But he sat patiently through the day, including a very slow afternoon session.

Robin

Robin’s desire for back garden football has altered. He still wants to play. But rather than shooting with me in goal, he wants to play one-bounce where we work together to exchange the ball with it hitting the ground no more than once between our touches. It’s fun working co-operatively and he gets to practice his skills and control.

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.

6-a-side party

Robin had his wish for a football party. Ten friends, Gabe and birthday boy ran themselves into a red-cheeked state before tucking into hot dog, pizza, nuggets and chips as a prelude to the football pitch sponge cake baked by L. Robin had reacted badly to defeat at his football training four days earlier, but my worries were misplaced, as although his team took a beating he stayed happy and fulfilled.

Gabe’s presence was at Robin’s request. Gabe and I had several conversations about what would be acceptable in a match with boys four years younger, although not all very much smaller. He played his part well and earnt compliments from parents who saw him smiling and laughing throughout the game.

For me there was the pleasure of seeing the two boys, teammates, combining – each setting up goals for the other.

Meanwhile, Eliza and her friend E, older sister of one of Robin’s pals, sat in the cafe, chatting happily, drawing fantasy animals such as the Rasta Owl.