Posts Tagged ‘bath time’

Like father, like daughter

Eliza

As the children grow and fill out their personalities, I find Eliza is closest to me in her motivations and preoccupations. Here are two silly examples – but telling for me.

When having a bath, Eliza lets her legs sink gradually to create two shrinking dry spots on her knee caps which, inevitably, tantalisingly, become tiny before being immersed.

In the kitchen, Eliza was trying to reach into a cupboard, but I was leaning across her destination, peering into the microwave.

“Sorry,” I explained, “I’m trying to see if my porridge can last the whole two minutes without bubbling over.”

“Oh, that’s OK” she said, stepping back and waiting, recognising that my little obsession deserved time and space.

Gabe

Gabe scored 85% in the second of his three science tests this year. He was disappointed – with the result and with his position relative to friends he feels he should be out-performing. “I think I’ll have to revise more”, he conceded in a rare acknowledgement that working harder has a part to play.

Robin

Robin has struggled with arithmetic. This became plain to us with difficulties he was having learning the times tables. L and I decided we should help with extra practice at home. His teacher gave me a website address and we registered for Robin to place mental maths races against children from across the world. The game scenario backfired. Robin was keener on beating the opponent than getting a good score for himself. Despite trying to frame to activity in terms of personal best scores, Robin sought victories, or became disheartened.

We moved on to more traditional verbal tests. Robin progressed, through successful completion of tests at school, to the eight times table. For two weeks in succession at school, Robin could answer just five of the 20 questions set, with our preparation at home not counting for much at school. He seems not to have an affinity for the patterns in numbers, or a framework for retaining a sum that he’s just learnt.

 

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Singing in the rain

Eliza and Robin

Once Infant pals, otter pups, these two spend less time together as one is drawn to football and the other to nail varnish and hair styles. But occasionally the sibling chemistry sizzles.

After school today, they were bubbly and hyper. In the wet garden, Robin demonstrated how he had sung and danced in the rain at school. Eliza joined in and soon they had choreographed moves to Singing in the Rain. I joined them under the dripping silver birch where we danced and sang until Eliza wanted to go somewhere dry where she could do the splits. They continued with a dance competition in the living room to Another One Bites the Dust. For the first time in ages they had a bath together, singing to their chosen YouTube videos.

Gabe

Gabe recently had a burst of interest in my blog and found Touchline Dad. He complimented me on it. At the weekend he asked me to help him set up his own blog. First titled ‘Goals ‘n’ balls’ it will comprise reports of his matches and debates about sports issues. We set it up together, he published the first post and the blog is renamed ‘NO BALL GAMES’.

Stream of Robin-ness

Robin

Robin writes. He writes on paper or on a phone. He writes stories, but most often he writes about football or our family. He writes without hesitation; without fear of making a mistake or a misspelling. His letters are clear with exaggerated loops. He writes that “Mummy wants lots of hugs and cises” and “Daddy is rearly cool”.

Gabe

My recollection of a series of football stories, name and author forgotten, that so engrossed me as a child that I read them over and over again prompted me to research. Michael Hardcastle’s Mark Fox books seemed the only candidate. I ordered First Goal and my research was rewarded. I offered it to Gabe who was non-commital. I began reading it to Robin, but I could see he was finding it difficult to follow.

When Gabe next complained of having nothing to read I suggested he try the book, acknowledging he would find it old-fashioned. He finished it in one night, before I could read any of it with him, as I had hoped to do. He has asked for the others in the series, which are on order.

Eliza

Eliza stood up in the bath and struck a pose, “like those ladies in the pictures”. “Which pictures?” I enquired, wondering what this may reveal. “You know, the ones in churches.”

Strawberry conditioner

Eliza

When Eliza washes her hair, she emerges from the bath with it in a tangled mass. The cure is hair conditioner and the promise of strawberry conditioner is the strongest incentive for Eliza to wash her hair. It comes as a spray from a red plastic bottle and infuses the bathroom with a sickly strawberry smell. Last time she washed her hair, there was no aroma, and it seemed barely effective at untangling her hair. But L persisted until frustrated she turned the bottle to read the label: sunscreen spray – picked up by mistake and with a close resemblance to the conditioner bottle. Eliza went back into the bath and washed her hair twice more. The next day her hair was lank and had absolutely no smell of strawberry.

Gabe

Gabe remains one of the shortest and slightest children in his school year. Some of his friends have a headstart in height on him. He’s buoyed by the idea that growth comes in spurts and his is due. His Nan has supported this notion with stories of my diminutive stature at primary school – stories that don’t accord with my own memories. And so Gabe expects to reach my height as an adult. For the time being, his size can surprise. A visit from out of town from my friend P began with a trip to watch Robin’s football practice. As we approached the hall, P hailed the young lad he recognised practising his shots against a wall. “Well hello, Robin,” P exclaimed to Robin’s big brother.

Robin

Gabe asked why the Swede in the chemists joke was funny. L explained how someone who didn’t speak strong English may misinterpret the words ball and aerosol. Gabe laughed. Robin roared. Quickly he checked himself. He said he didn’t understand, but was going to laugh anyway, which he did with such passion that all five of us joined him in five minutes of hilarity.

 

Bathtime

The children require persuading (threats, even) to have their baths and persuading (threats, even) to get out of the bath. Over a year ago, I tried to stagger bath time. It never caught on and so most nights the three of them loll around in the bath together, filling the tub with their pale bodies. They chat, sing, play, splash, push, argue, taunt, pinch, kick and wash.

Each of the children has his or her own distinctive drying routine when they are cajoled from the tub.

Gabe

For most of his life, Gabe has requested a ‘bouncer-dryer’ once wrapped in a towel. L or I sit on the toilet lid with him on our laps and bump him up and down.

Eliza

Eliza, less frequently and for a shorter period, has requested a ‘swinger-dryer’ from me. I pick her up, hold her like a baby, and pivot 90 degress clockwise, 180 back, 180 return and on. Eliza cackles, or shrieks, head and hair dangling downwards.

Robin

Robin accepts the towel around his shoulders and then rolls into a ball on the floor. There he stays until he’s kicked or he trips or is badgered up and into pyjamas.

In loco parentis

L and I had a night away to celebrate her 40th birthday. It was only the second night that the three children have gone to bed and woken up without us; and there was one other occasion when Gabe still had no siblings. They seemed to cope well, with no dramas or misbehaviour. L’s parents did the looking-after.

Robin

Robin has found himself a warm spot, where he likes to sit in the bathroom, before or after his evening wash. He nudges his way into a nook created by the corner of the bath, the radiator and the washing basket.

Gabe

Gabe won’t be alone on the ground floor or first floor, even with other people in the house. If he has to get dressed while everyone else is in the kitchen, he cajoles Robin to go upstairs with him. L and I are trying not to indulge this fear, without managing to help Gabe deal with it.

Eliza

Despite Eliza’s gymnastic prowess, she hadn’t been able to do a cartwheel. But with some guidance from her gym teacher, and determined practice she has banished the imperfections from her kick, handstand and landing. She wheels back and forth across her bedroom, the living room, kitchen and around the goalposts at Conway Road park. If she has an audience, which she always encourages, she calls for marks out of 10. Eliza pushes again and again until she gets a 10 or the judge withdraws.

Sleep walking

Gabe

Last night Gabe sleep walked for the first time in months. It wasn’t the paniced dashing and thrashing around his room of 18 months ago. He went down and then upstairs, not seeming to notice L. L suggested he needed the loo. ‘No’, he said and went into the bathroom and did a wee in the toilet. Later I heard him grumbling. He seemed to wake when I went to his bedside. ‘Are you going to put it on TV, Daddy?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘it’s a dream’ and back to sleep he went.

Eliza

Eliza and Robin are the strongest pairing of the the three. They play together contentedly at length, with Eliza calling the shots and Robin eager to please. Last night, they played a game in the bath, giggling and splashing. They were skimming a plastic boat between themselves, trying to avoid being hit. Eliza was keeping score authoritatively.

Robin

Allergies must loom large for Robin. His allergy to egg is an ever-present consideration. He claimed a new allergy this week: to cats’ nipples.