Archive for the ‘odd behaviour’ Category

Fourteen

Eliza

A teacher training day fell on the day after Eliza’s birthday giving her the perfect opportunity for an evening birthday party at home. Seven or eight friends arrived – one girl as tall as I am. They sat and chatted in high-pitched voices, laughed, ate pizza, played with their phones, occasionally bust into song, accompanying something being played on someone’s phone. It was a great success.

Gabe

Gabe attended GCSE awards evening where he and his classmates collected their exam certificates. A local MP and school alumna gave the address. Gabe received a faculty award. It could only have been more unlikely had it been Food Tech. It turned out that the boy who lies around for hour after hour, shirks exercise and has left his GCSE courses much less fit than he started, won the PE award.

Robin

Robin, following Gabe’s lead, returns from school and keeps wearing his school uniform through the evening. Even when we’re going out, as we did tonight to Eliza’s gymnastics competition, he chooses to keep on his blazer, tie and trousers. When finally, it’s time to get ready for bed, the blazer comes off and is tossed to the floor. L & I are trying, without much impact, to instil in him the habit of removing his blazer and hanging it up.

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Sunburn

Eliza

Eliza’s final week of the school year is ‘activity week’. On Monday, she went to Chester Zoo. Her choice of clothes – very short shorts and bare-shouldered top – unsettled me, perhaps causing me to forget to insist she wore suncream. She came home with sunburnt shoulders.

On Tuesday, Eliza went on another trip. The weather was again set fair. Eliza was wearing the same outfit and asked that I put some suncream on her shoulders. I refused, requiring her to wear something that covered her shoulders. She objected, I insisted, we compromised on her wearing something over the top of her skimpy top. I wandered away, she left the house, I wondered whether she had really taken another top with her. Anyway, her shoulders didn’t seem to get burnt again.

Gabe

We gave Gabe one week of indulgence and laziness after his exams before insisting that he use his long summer break productively. Having rejected any suggestions that would mean getting outside the house – finding a job, volunteering, getting fit – he was faced with doing chores around the house.

Each day, he is given a short list of chores (e.g. cleaning up the kitchen, vacuuming rooms). Invariably, he has not done them when L or I get back from work. Any that he does do are completed hurriedly. Having received his allowance for July, it is his August allowance that is under threat. This, though, isn’t having any notable motivating effect on him, as he continues to spend his days lying about, listening to music and watching YouTube videos.

Robin

Robin’s end of year report was very complimentary. His SATs results were all well above the standard set for his age. He took a lot of pride in these results, which we hope will set him up for the new school in September.

His induction day at the High School had not gone very well. He was quiet and surly that evening. The problem was that the boy who had joined his football team last season and whose behaviour had caused problems for the rest of the team and the coaches was there as well and was in Robin’s group throughout the induction day. With Robin’s blessing, I spoke to the school. I have been assured that Robin will be kept apart from the boy in form group and lessons.

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. 


Servitude

Eliza

Frequently, Eliza will make her way from the kitchen to the dining table, sit down and then ask, “Can you get me some water?” Less often, she’ll climb the stairs to her bedroom, get into bed and ask, “Can you get my book from the living room?” This doesn’t feel like absentmindedness but a preference for having other people (L and I) do things for her. She likes to be waited upon; she gives the impression it is her entitlement. I try to give the impression that she’d be lucky; although that doesn’t deter her trying.

Gabe

Gabe is a little more self-sufficient than Eliza, except when it comes to getting around. Such is his antipathy towards walking anywhere that he asked to be woken early on Saturday morning so that I could give him a lift to the barbers on the way to Robin’s football match. I pulled the car up around the corner from his destination. “Can’t you park closer?” he asked. Then this morning, he was forced to walk to his own football match as L and I were elsewhere. “That’s not fair,” he declared, reduced to making the kind of complaint that was commonly heard from him 8 years ago by the injustice of having to make a short journey under his own steam.

Robin

Robin sent L and me to Coventry after school this week. We had erred, he believed, and he was furious, nearly in tears, but settling for a deep sulk and no communication. L sent me a text asking if I had paid the deposit for his school residential trip. ‘Can’t remember’, I answered honestly. It seemed that the rest of the class had received paperwork about the trip, but not Robin. I was sent to the school office the next morning to find out if the situation was recoverable, confident in the knowledge that the school had cashed a cheque that I had written.

In seconds the predicament was resolved: the paperwork was a receipt card for the payment and there was an innocent explanation for Robin not receiving his. “You must have been worrying all night,” the school secretary said to Robin, who nodded gravely.

Disorganised threesome

Gabe

Many school mornings become fraught around 8am when Gabe and Eliza are due to be leaving, but one or other, but usually Gabe is trying frantically to find something.. football socks… homework.. door-key. However, his most enervating practice is to state at 8pm on Monday that he needs ingredients for a food tech practical lesson the next day. His German tutor is due and so L and I are left to decide whether to send him to school without the materials for his GCSE class, or blink and go shopping for him. 

Eliza

Eliza conveys an impression of precision, yet there’s wooliness in there, too. Her violin went missing earlier this term. It had to be at home, she insisted, demanding search parties from the couch. Or it had to be in one of the cars. ‘Are you sure you’ve checked properly at school?’ L asked repeatedly. After two weeks, the instrument reappeared. It had been in a cupboard in th  music department. 

Robin

Robin’s disorganisation finds expression in a constant turnover of school PE kit and loss of letters home from school. He rarely ends a term with the same sports clothes he started with – losing, borrowing and acquiring as the terms goes on. The twenty minute walk home is enough time for important letters from school, with announcements of events and opportunities lost from (usually in the depths of) his school bag. Homework assignments also rarely make it back, meaning text appeals to other parents and a direct request to his teacher to publish the homework on the school website. 

Thingy

Robin

“When you talk you think people know what you’re thinking, but we don’t,” Eliza said to Robin. It was her reaction to the imprecision of a lot of Robin’s chat; the kind that seems to start two-thirds of the way through an explanation or question.

My reaction is a little different. “Thingy” is Robin’s crutch word, that he leans on when he hasn’t found the word he wants. I’m trying to ease that crutch away. My tactic is to assume and convey to him that I think he means “willy” whenever he says “thingy”. Don’t know if it will work, but it does make him laugh.

Eliza

Eliza had a camera for a Christmas present two or three years ago. She hasn’t really made as much use of it as we expected, although the images aren’t of a very good quality. This week, though, she’s been using it to make short animated stories, taking shots of inanimate objects moved slightly and then tabbing quickly through the shots. Her masterpiece involved L and I holding two soft toys (Flopsy the rabbit and Snowy the owl) in a series of poses as she directed us through Snowy being shot, then found and saved by Flopsy.

Gabe

A busy week for Gabe’s fears. A trip to London brought on agonies about being sick on the train. He wasn’t. Something said in class led to terror of the world being sucked into a black hole. Several rational, calm discussions with L and me seemed to make no difference. But the wikipedia article on black holes reduced the tension. And he wasn’t (sucked into a black hole).

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.