Archive for the ‘helper’ Category

Ireland

Robin

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.

Eliza

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.

Gabe

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.

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Ring-bearer

Eliza

The invitation came in contemporary style – by snapchat – and on the day before Cousin I’s wedding. Would Eliza act as ring-bearer? There was mention of the symbolism of Eliza fulfilling this role at the same location where Cousin I had been Eliza’s Mum’s bridesmaid. Eliza saw the message on the way out of school. She was thrilled and nervous.

She was handed the rings shortly before the wedding and went to leave the house without them, before being reminded. At the ceremony, she sat away from us, in the second row. She looked, I thought, a little twitchy amongst unfamiliar people and experiencing an unfamiliar rite. But she stood and delivered the rings on time – slender, angular, stylish, a girl not quite in or out of her place.

Gabe

Gabe endured the wedding with a heavy cold. He barely slept the night in the hotel when we arrived in London. But he kept going through the day and long into the evening, asking gently when we might be returning to the hotel. And as we drove around Richmond in the hired van, he made his contribution to the celebrations with a jaunty playlist.

Robin

Through the early weeks of January, L and I have tried to nail down a party for Robin’s birthday. Still anxious about friends at his new school and those who have gone to other schools, this has tested him. He came up with names and an event was agreed. But he hesitated over asking anyone but his best friend, A – presumably fearing being turned down. With barely a week to go, he asked his three school friends, managed to get a parent’s contact number, and got positive responses.

 

Piano teacher

Gabe

Gabe has started giving piano lessons to the six or seven year old daughter of a local family. An initial try-out session was well-received and the young girl has 30 minutes tuition each Monday, for which Gabe is paid £5. Word has got around and an enquiry from the mother of another young primary school girl has arrived. Gabe is dismissive – “she can’t remember anything I’ve taught her” – but L assures me he is very gentle and doesn’t intimidate his pupil.

Robin

Robin’s first half-term at secondary school continues to be rocky. He received the invitation to have hot chocolate with the head teacher, but dropped his cup and spilled the drink in her office. He was picked for the school football team, but was played at left-back. He has made a couple of friends, although they only share a handful of classes. He’s more aware of the world, and terrified of what he hears about the news.

Eliza

Eliza, when not at school, is mostly ‘doing her own thing’. At home, she watches US TV series on Netflix, or pores over her phone in her room. But she’s just as likely to be out, visiting friends, going to a cafe in town, or in the park.

Flight time birthday

Robin

As a birthday treat, we took Robin to the Trafford Park free-fall centre. Twice, for 60 seconds, he stepped into a wind tower, assisted by an instructor and was suspended in the air as if he had jumped from an aeroplane thousands of feet above the ground. He was fearless and enthralled.

Two days later, for his party, he was again airborne. This time at JumpNation, the trampoline centre, with a group of five friends, plus Eliza and her best friend.

The birthday week is over now, and his feet are back on the ground.

Eliza

Back in the summer, on Father’s Day, Eliza presented me with a special cheque book, filled with vouchers. She reminded me recently that I hadn’t used them. I remembered today and tore out the ‘clean my shoes’ voucher. She looked irritated at my choice of timing, but when I came back from cricket practice this afternoon, my work boots were waiting at the front door, clean and shiny, with a note on them: “Happy?”

Gabe

Gabe’s musical interests are diverging. On the one hand, there’s classical. On the other, he’s interested in indie music, preferring Radio X to Capital; on a third hand he’s consuming and performing the Beatles. Imagine is his favourite piano piece and gets played most days at a variety of tempos and sometimes with members of the family singing Lennon’s words at his shoulder.

Baby-sitter

Over the years, L & I have called on friends (other Mums), teenage girls and visiting family members to babysit the kids while we have an evening out. The teenage girls have now either gone to university or have busy lives of their own to lead on a Friday or Saturday night. But when they have been available, it has begun to seem inappropriate and embarrassing for Gabe to be babysat by someone he may see in the school yard. 

We have just started a new era, where Gabe is in charge. For the first evening, L & I were having dinner five minutes drive away. A few weeks later, we had an anniversary meal in a restaurant 15 minutes taxi ride away. Our concerns were two-fold: 1) what if Gabe were spooked by a noise, or someone knocking at the door? 2) what would happen if Eliza and Robin defied his authority, or needled him as they often do. Neither of those situations occurred. When we got home, Eliza and Robin were in bed asleep and Gabe untroubled watching TV. 

We asked Eliza the next morning how things had been. “Fine” she said. Gabe had stayed in his room on his X-box while she and Robin watched TV. He had come downstairs once to ask if they were ok, then went back upstairs again. A very relaxed babysitter. 

Little Chef

Robin

Robin was at a loose end. The weather was wet. Football in the park in the morning hadn’t absorbed enough energy. “Read to Mummy while she’s making tea,” I suggested to no great approval.

Half-an-hour later, and he was standing on a chair at the stove, stirring the ‘rosetta’ (risotto) with a fixed stare and holding L’s hand. He had turned from reluctant assistant to insisting to be allowed to do everything. Over the meal, he announced that he would be making Sunday’s tea as well. And he did: vegetable pasta bake. He even got to slice the cauliflower (under close supervision). This time, he ate some of his creation.

Eliza

Eliza got out of bed and found me in Gabe’s room. Hiccups were stopping her from sleeping. I suggested she hold her breath. Tried, but hadn’t worked, she explained. “Well,” I said quietly “some people say you can get rid of hiccups if you get a FRIGHT!!!!” raising my arms and pretending to lunge at her. “Why did you do that?” she squealed. Then, after a few seconds: “I’ve stopped hiccupping.”

Gabe

Two weeks from the end of the Advanced coaching course run by Cheshire Cricket Board, I received an email to confirm that Gabe was invited to join the North District squad for a further ten weeks of coaching. Gabe was surprised and pleased, though did acknowledge that his batting was improving with the advanced course and his bowling was faster.