Archive for the ‘socialising’ Category

Staycation

With L unable to travel, the kids have settled into a summer holiday at home.

Gabe got off to an early start, with his exams finishing in mid-June. He has occupied himself with reading, watching cricket (World Cup and Ashes), pub quiz trips with friends and organising book collections. He started with our own and the floor was strewn with paperbacks for a couple of weeks while he laboriously logged our library on a spreadsheet, before returning it to the shelves, categorised and neater than before. J, our friend’s retired mother, has engaged Gabe to do the same for her.

Since the end of school term, Gabe has also been socialising with Robin, reforging a fraternal relationship that had been distant. They have played table tennis, tennis, indoor and outdoor cricket, X-box and watched sports together on TV.

Eliza, of course, is the most active and industrious. She has worked ten of the first twelve days of the holiday, running gymnastics holiday club and parties. On the way there or back, she has met up with Joe, or visited other friends. “Where’s Eliza?” I ask when back from work. “Out,” I’m told with conviction but not precision.

Advertisements

Passing and failing

Gabe

On consecutive days, Gabe passed his latest piano exam (grade 6? 7?) and failed his driving test. He hadn’t thought he had done particularly well in the piano exam, but was awarded a distinction. This didn’t impress him: “It means nothing,” – a reference I think to his more meaningful exams this summer.

The driving test was going well until his dreaded roundabout, with four exits, three of which are bunched together in a little more than 90 degrees of the circle. He committed a major fault: entering the roundabout while another car was on it. He plans to re-take the exam in the summer.

Robin

Robin, accompanied by L, took a fear of flying course, culminating in a flight for the course participants. His interest in visiting places, and more immediately a football tour and school trip which both involve flights, had inspired him to confront his anxiety. Robin was responsive to the reassurance offered on the course and managed the flight – even coping with the take-off without holding L’s hand. Future flights, he thinks, will be easier as the plane won’t be packed with nervous people, sobbing as they climb the steps and tapping themselves in the approved manner to distract from their fear.

Eliza

J is a friend of one of Eliza’s gym group. First they went jogging together. Now, fairly frequently, they visit each others’ houses. “Are you and J going out together?” I asked (ie boy/girlfriend). “No.. not yet,” she replied. That was a few weeks ago. It looks to us as though they are. Eliza seems happy and level-headed about it.

Three teens

Robin

Robin turned 13. On Friday he went to a film and had a Nando’s with four school friends. This event exhausted him – at the time and in preparation as he agonised over whether and what to do. The choice of film he handed to his friends (a superhero action pic), concerned that they wouldn’t be interested in his preference (dog makes its way home) at some cost to his own enjoyment.

Saturday he spent with his primary school friend A. The following day, his birthday, the two boys and I cycled around Tatton Park, through mud and a fierce gale. In the evening, the five of us went to Pizza Hut, then home for cake and trifle, before finally opening presents.

Eliza

Eliza most closely fulfils the teenager stereotype: bedroom or out-and-about, pushing boundaries, vivacious. When the first snow of the winter fell, she opted not to cross the threshold of school, realising that if she did she would have to stay all day, despite there not being lessons. She went to the park instead.

She has been to two gigs in one week, including one without adult attendance – she and her friend were dropped and collected from the door. It was, unsurprisingly, the best concert: small venue, band within touching distance. She tried getting on stage, she reports, until a security man headed her way.

Gabe

Gabe remains bound tightly to his room, tv and his studies; cautious and serious. But there may be some loosening. He is completing essays without agonising and demanding assistance, perhaps liberated by ‘the offer‘. He went to the cinema with two school friends, has another party in his diary and reported when we discussed our family holiday that friends (whom he refused to name) had invited him to interrail in Central Europe this summer, although he has no intention of joining them – or divulging anything of interest to us about his social circle.

Oxford interview

Gabe

Gabe had two weeks notice that he was called for interview. He practiced at home and at school. L drove him and C – a girl in his year also applying to study history – to Oxford on Tuesday. He stayed until Friday evening, having had two interviews of about 35 minutes in total.

Gabe was in the throes of a heavy cold, which probably soured his mood. He was at his most dependent, texting regularly to ask what to do about all manner of day-to-day decisions he had to take. He stayed in his college room, shying away from meeting other candidates or students. He felt the first interview went well, with the second, which was a grilling about his chosen topic (causes of US Civil War), more demanding.

Shortly after 1pm on Friday, the list was posted of students who had interviews at other colleges, or who needed to stay in case required for further interview. His name wasn’t included. The next we will hear will be in mid-January. “The longest month,” he said, although having not enjoyed his stay, he felt that the blow of a rejection will be softened.

Robin

The cold that inconvenienced Gabe probably came from Robin. It surfaced the week after the half-term break, keeping him off school for a couple of days, and has remained in the form of a barking cough for four weeks.

Eliza

Eliza’s coaching and party-running activities at gymnastics have seen her invited to two ‘grown-up’ Christmas parties. The first was at an Indian restaurant. Eliza didn’t want the embarrassment of ordering English food, but neither did she want anything spicy. Tandoori chicken was the solution.

15th birthday party

Eliza

Eliza’s 15th birthday party was changed at short-notice from Saturday to Friday to accommodate some of her friends, meaning that L was away and I was sole adult in charge. I had made stern warnings against alcohol, invited guests only and guests coming and going. 20 guests arrived, including one lad who was far taller than me.

Eliza’s friends were very noisy and really polite. They danced and chanted along to songs in the kitchen and the garden. I kept a low profile but at one point went into the kitchen where they were all holding up phones and dancing to a rap song with rude lyrics. Soon after 10pm I reminded Eliza that she should bring things to a close. An hour and three-quarters later, the last of her friends left. Eliza glowed with the fun of hosting a party.

Robin

Robin loathes being overheated in bed. He sleeps bare-chested to keep a tolerable temperature. Before bed-time, he lies on the floor, lest his body heat up the bed before it’s time for him to sleep. One evening, Gabe lay on Robin’s bed playing FIFA on Robin’s X-box. Robin was infuriated that Gabe had warmed up his bed.

Gabe

Gabe’s school week is evenly balanced between lessons and free periods. He uses his frees to study, read and do crosswords. When Gabe reported that he had completed three quick crosswords in a single free period, I challenged him to try a cryptic crossword. I showed him how they work and then we tried to solve one together. The twisted logic of the cryptic clue appealed. He has teamed up with L to solve more puzzles and is nearly ready to fly solo.

Half-term holiday

Gabe

With Oxford entrance exam looming, and the teachers piling the work on to their A level students, Gabe had almost an essay a day to write. He didn’t manage that, but at home and then later in the week in Scotland, he dedicated a lot of time to preparing for the Oxford History Aptitude Test and completing a US Civil War essay that he could submit to Oxford if he gets invited to interview.

Robin

Robin longed for the quiet release of the half-term holiday. But once there, he was out and about with school friends old and new. Some of these visits probably amounted to playing Fortnite alongside the same friends he would have sat in his room and played Fortnite with remotely. In Scotland, he was happiest seeing his aunt and cousin. He was the shock winner of not just a mini-golf tournament, but a card game, too.

Eliza

Eliza – non-stop socialising at home – slowed down and flopped around at Grandpa’s in Scotland. Hurried out of the door by my poor timekeeping, she arrived at North Queensferry in a bad mood for our boat-trip on the Forth. Seeing seals and being on the water on a calm, bright autumn day cheered her up. That evening she led the (younger) cousins in the pumpkin carving, then had a protracted sock wrestle with cousin F.

Out of the door and back to school

Eliza

On school days, Eliza is first to leave, before 8am, each morning; and last to return; and first to go out again. Her social life involves up to four different groups of friends. She goes to gym, coaches gym and helps run gym parties. She does dance. And she goes to some gigs and wants to go to a lot more. When she’s at home, there’s a soft strumming from her bedroom as she continues to learn to play the acoustic guitar.

Gabe

On school days, Gabe is last to leave and often the first back home. In year 13, school hours seem less rigid. He is working hard but regularly needs help with composing his thoughts into writing. This was felt most acutely when up against a fictitious deadline for his University application personal statement. Both L and I were implored to give him ideas, help him word them and over again. Eventually, it was done, but with great dollops of self-doubt.

Robin

On school days, Robin heads out the door after one and before the other of his siblings. So far, it appears as though this year he is more settled at school. It may be because his classes have been streamed. It could be because he’s no longer in the most junior year. It might also be a change of attitude on his part – an openness to his fellow pupils, in place of his prior tendency to dismiss almost all as ‘annoying’, ‘weird’ or ‘idiots’.