Archive for the ‘kindness’ Category

Pass mark missed 

Robin

The postman arrived minutes before Robin and I were due to leave for his football match. L gathered the letters and took them into the study. She opened them, “He’s not passed. Shall we tell him now?” We did. He nodded, seemed to expect and accept it. 

He was quiet in the car. From across the pitch he looked preoccupied as the team warmed up. With the match underway, he had a distraction. “He seems ok,” I whispered back at home. 

But that afternoon, he sobbed and sobbed with L. Upset, embarrassed not to be following in his brother and sister’s wake to the Grammar school. 

Monday, back to school and facing his classmates, some who had achieved the pass mark, most hadn’t. He stayed close to L in the playground. Vulnerable, as he hasn’t been seen for years. Late in the afternoon, his teacher called. He had been crying at lunchtime: Gabe & Eliza said he was stupid (what he imagined or feared, rather than what was actually said, I believe). 

Within a few days, he’s steadier. We’re thinking about which school to opt for. His priorities are existing friends, ease of getting to school, the layout of the dinner hall and the look of the uniform. L & I are looking more at which school will engage and stretch him, but not discounting travel to school. We decide this week. 

Gabe & Eliza

Both are on notice to treat Robin gently; not to make off-hand remarks about the schools we must consider, which could easily sway him. They seem to be managing this. “I gave him a hug when the programme got scarey for him,” Eliza explained when I made my case to her for being kind to him. 

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Sleepless in Sale

A strict 7am curfew was in place for Christmas morning. That interdiction applied only to waking L and me, and to opening their stockings. The kids had their own plans.

Eliza says she woke at 1am, shortly after Santa’s visit, and barring a 3o minute doze, didn’t sleep again until morning. Robin woke just after 3am and went into Gabe’s room to wake him up. Gabe shooed him away. I was awake around 5am and heard voices in Eliza’s room. But despite their wakefulness, they kept to the terms of the curfew.

Eliza had floated the idea that presents shouldn’t be opened in a rush on Christmas morning, but gradually during the day. Gabe was non-committal; Robin speechless. Eliza had dropped the notion by the time Christmas Day came.

Favoured presents for the boys included football boots, tickets for a City match and a new, bigger goal for the garden. Eliza had a hair-styling device, winter boots and Cluedo.

This year, more than in the past, the kids were intent on giving presents to L & I – and our reactions. With their time and money, I received a calendar and model for my office as well as snacks I’ll treat myself with this holiday.

50:50

Faced with Gabe having his ‘worst birthday ever’, L took Baejae to our local vet, a second such visit in three days. Similar outcome, barring some good advice on adminstering medicine and a numerical prognosis – 50:50. The certain uncertainty assuaged Gabe and he returned to birthday mood.

Gabe was very pleased with his camera, European Championships replica football (a ball-a-birthday, but this time he hasn’t asserted that it’s a “real replica”), cricket bag and chocolate cake.

Bank Holiday Monday was spent as Gabe’s day of family celebration. He directed us on a walk to the Mersey where he goes cross-country running with school. We ran along the river and then around the Water Park. Later we went ten-pin bowling. Oddly, the birthday boy was off-form. Eliza’s zig-zagging bowls kept producing spares. Robin was very serious, putting competition ahead of enjoyment . L sprung from the pack to win the tournament.

Gabe’s party awaits at the end of the week, by which time we’ll know whether Baejae is in the surviving or declining cohort of gerbils with infected sebaceous glands.

Good elf

Gabe and Eliza

It’s a school tradition for year three pupils to write letters to Santa, which get intercepted on their route to Lapland, and are read and responded to by year six. Eliza’s letter was passed to Gabe. He told me he had it and that she hadn’t been honest, claiming as evidence that she had been good that she made a cup of tea for Mummy every morning, always helped Daddy in the garden, etc.

Gabe drafted a response in the guise of one of Santa’s elves. He swallowed his indignation at Eliza’s exaggerated claims of virtue, limiting himself to replying that Santa found it hard to believe everything she wrote. To further the deception he had a girl in his class handwrite the letter that was returned to Eliza.

Robin

Nan and Grandad spent a weekend of Christmas preparations with us: buying and decorating a fir tree, Halle carol concert and a day of child-minding involving wii games and chip shop lunch. When they left, Robin fought back tears. He had been anticipating their stay – perhaps as a sign of Christmas approaching – and was so sad when it was time for them to go.

Masseur

Robin

On a warm, sunny day at school, Robin began a massage service. Starting with a massage for one of Eliza’s friends, the customers began to roll-up. They were positioned on benches on the field, and given the choice of karate or smooth. Most opted for karate. Eliza confirmed the popularity of Robin’s venture, claiming unreliably that maybe 100 pupils received the treatment.

Eliza

Eliza likes to French kiss. It’s not the tongue tickling adult version, but either a lingering lip kiss or the continental embrace of friendship, with kisses exchanged on cheeks.

Gabe

Gabe held L to a promise to play tennis last weekend, despite the wet weather. Gabe took an early 3-0 lead in the first set. At his insistence they played on through heavy rain, declining L’s offer to break while the worst of the weather passed. L fought back and had a 2 sets to love lead when she brought the match to an end. Gabe was angry at the result and that the match had not gone to five sets. Afterwards, he concluded that his weakness had been hitting too many shots that hit the white tape at the top of the net. His opponent didn’t recognise this analysis of the match.

Miss Green’s reading club

Eliza and Robin

As one of the class’s stronger readers, Eliza is part of her teacher’s reading club. On Friday, club members were asked to read to children in nursery or reception. Eliza chose reception class. It was arranged for her to read to Robin and two of his closest friends; H and A. Eliza read a story about a dog and a basket. The boys listened well and when the story was over, Robin clung to his big sister and wouldn’t let go.

Gabe

It is SATS week. Seemingly unhindered by his tiring weekend, Gabe has been performing well at his year five tests: maths x 3, reading comprehension, short and long writing and science. Yet, he had not been satisfied, up until Friday, when he finally got what he sought in the last maths test: full marks.

Lamb in the van and Coco

Lamb

Two workmen came to size up some work in the garden for a quote. While we spoke, a lamb cried from inside their van. They brought her into the garden, apologising that they had run out of nappies. Eliza and Robin tore out to see the orphan lamb, jabbing their hands forward in a nervous effort at stroking, following her around and shrieking with laughter when she weed on the step outside the living room.

Coco

Coco is Eliza’s new hamster. She is every bit as excited as she was with Sandy and Crystal. It’s an excitement that can quickly become upset, as it did when Coco nearly knawed her way out of the travel box in the car on the way back from the shop. Gabe’s reaction, while calmer, is more touching. He dearly wants Coco to survive longer than her two predecessors, saying he couldn’t bear another hamster to die quickly.