Posts Tagged ‘art’

A gallery, water-park and a Tudor house

The children’s interests have diverged, but I was even more conscious of the lack of pleasure they take in each other’s company. For the sake of harmony, I took three successive Fridays off work – each to spend with one of the kids at a place of their choice.

Eliza

Eliza was first and didn’t have strong views about what we should do. I suggested, with her GCSE art course looming, a visit to a gallery. We settled on Liverpool and my research took us to the Walker. Although she loves doing her own art, Eliza acknowledged she didn’t know much about the subject, or even what she liked. We wandered through the 20th Century gallery, pointing out what appealed to us (for me, a Freud portrait). Then we found some paper and pencils to take on the challenge of sketching jugs selected from a painting of a dozens of jugs in a loft.

The older paintings, other than the Impressionists, held less interest, so we went to the 2018 Moores Painting Prize Gallery. We looked really hard to find something we liked, but failed.

Eliza chose Nando’s for lunch, where she chattered and bubbled like the little girl she used to be.

Robin

I took Robin and his friend A, to a water-park. We lunched on Subways – 12 inches allowed – before entering the indoor park which by early afternoon was heaving with holiday children. We toured the pool, tried the lively lazy river, the simplest of slides and braved the outside pool, before dashing back inside.

After an hour, the boys decided to queue for one of the major slides. For the next two hours, they moved from queue to slide to queue, before returning for a waffle by which time we were almost the last to leave as the centre was being tidied up and closed. In the car on the way home, Robin dropped off to sleep.

Gabe

Gabe wanted to go somewhere historical, so complete has been his evolution into a serious student of history. I offered a couple of options, but then settled on Little Moreton Hall, the archetype of a Tudor mansion.

We walked the public areas of this odd, rambling but beautiful building. Gabe, unlike every other visit to somewhere of cultural interest, showed no impatience, content to wander, read and discuss. We took the guided tour, which answered our questions about who, when and how this hall had come about. I had expected Gabe to be unkind about the guide’s laboured jokes, but I was wrong. We had lunch in the tight, little restaurant with a curious menu – Gabe finding only a scone appealing.

 

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Gabe

Gabe has knowledge and scepticism in abundance. Yet belief in Father Christmas has survived well into his tenth year. Today he asked L whether Santa would bring something as expensive as a DS game. L said he probably wouldn’t. Suddenly Gabe’s knowledge burst in: how can Santa get over the copyright problem of making and giving DS games. Do parents give the presents, he suggested. L, suppressing laughter at the proto-lawyer’s concern for intellectual property, failed to apply the coup de grace and innocence was preserved.

Eliza

Eliza has written her letter to Santa:

Dear Father Christmas I would really like… a neclase that is the same as my other one but if there isnt the same one just one that is like it. And because I lost the ring that you gave me last time can I have a butterfly ring please. And can I have a few chocolates. And can I have a new cup for my lunch box. Love from Eliza

Eliza responded to Robin’s 25 metre badge by earning her 50 metre badge three days later.

Robin

Robin took the day off school. A temperature, a headache, but nothing very serious. While I managed my work emails, Robin sat in the kitchen drawing the Spanish football team. Eleven little figures, each with spiky hair, jazz hands, cylinder bodies and stick legs, distributed across three sheets of A4, playing under two suns; ten with red shirts and blue shorts and one all in green.

4-3-3 formation

Kingdom of Fife

Robin

Robin’s affection for his Grandpa and Grandma during our stay with them was deeply touching. Soon after arriving, he asked Grandpa to bend down, and then kissed him when his face came close. He pulled up his shirt to have his tummy tickled with Grandpa’s beard. He ran up to both grandparents to give them hugs and told Grandma she was the best grandma in the world. He sobbed when we drove away.

Gabe

Gabe was put out that Robin would be joining us for a game of football on the East Sands. With Gabe’s running impeded by a chest cough, Robin ran to fetch balls thumped across the sand. He passed and shot at Gabe’s prompting. For almost an hour we shared the simple pleasures of kicking, dribbling and running after a ball on damp sand. Gabe told me, by way of apology for his initial ill-temper: “I never knew I could have so much fun with Robin.”

Eliza

While the males played footie, Eliza immersed herself in beach art. Using a child’s plastic rake, she gently brushed and coaxed the sand into a large, lop-sided heart, beside which, in italic lettering she wrote ‘mummy’.

After nearly an hour on the beach, I lead the kids to the playground. Soon they had invented games for the hammock swing and rope roundabout, which unleashed an unselfconscious noise of shouts, giggles and whoops. The other families around the playground looked away from their kids to watch mine.

Bank Holiday Monday

Gabe

To Cheshire’s largest shopping village to find the trainers Gabe has been seeking. He is to pay half the cost as they are to supplement recently bought trainers which cause Gabe intense distress because they flash – a feature that is too babyish for an 8 year old club footballer. The trainers aren’t in stock (I wish I had shared with Gabe my own fatalistic approach to shopping before we left). But they turn out to be bright yellow. L plays a perfect Mum role and points at style-free blue trainers of the wrong brand and asks why these aren’t perfectly suitable. Gabe doesn’t have the words to explain and we leave without his booty.

Eliza

Eliza establishes before we arrive that she won’t have anything bought for her today. She’s a little moany and tired (except at the playground), so wants to be carried. She livens up in a kitchen-ware store where she displays unprecedented devilment: rattling cutlery, knocking it to the floor, picking up and banging pans. She’s in a happy zone and won’t respond to being warned and told off. We have to leave the shop and quickly previous low levels of energy are restored.

Robin

Robin is gaining confidence with pens. He presents me with a series of pictures – the first time he has drawn me. Each have large round eyes and few other features, making them look like images of skulls. Just one in the series has hair, a full crown of spikey hair.

Bead pictures

Eliza

Eliza is self-possessed and capable of lengthy periods of concentration. Often, she’ll draw at the orange table, or write cards, only needing us when she wants to show what she has completed. Last week, she lay on her bed reading a library book. Most engrossing of all are bead pictures. A dimpled plastic template sits on top of a coloured shape. Eliza places tiny plastic beads onto the dimples, gradually building the picture – a swirling heart, a colourful star or landscape. The end product can be fused together with an iron, but it’s the process that matters to Eliza as, like an angler returning the fish to the water, she clears the beads back into the pot when she’s finished and had the picture admired.

Robin

My return from work is often greeted with Robin tearing to meet me at the front-door. Sometimes shouting ‘Daddyyyy’, grabbing my legs, or nattering to me about tea, a game, a friend who has visited. One day last week, he anticipated my return. As I got closer to the door I could see his silhouette and then two sparkling eyes watching me through the letter box.

Gabe

Following one especially bad-tempered (on all sides) morning, L and I sat down with Gabe. I wanted to explain that it feels as though most of our conversation is nagging – to get him to get dressed, packed, tidied up, etc. We offered him a solution: he could take responsibility for getting himself ready for school in the mornings, or risk being taken in his pyjamas. The benefit would be that we would have more time for more enjoyable chats. L wrote him a reminder list of things he must do each morning. He has responded well and the few mornings since have passed without temper breakdowns.