Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Minor no more

Gabe

Gabe’s 18th birthday passed quietly. L and I had talked about having a party – for his friends, family and those of our friends who have known him well. Gabe could not be convinced and was short-tempered when finally dismissing the idea.

And so we had pizza at home. ‘How about going out for a pint?’ I suggested. ‘No thanks. There’ll be plenty of time for that after exams,’ replied the responsible adult.

Robin

Amongst Robin’s dislikes is wearing socks in the house. The need to jettison them happens fairly randomly, but if there is a pattern it focuses on the living room, where odd socks can often be found pushed down the sides of the armchair.

Eliza

A full social life, regular weekend work, gym twice weekly – these are the things I associate with Eliza. I was surprised then how glowing her teachers’ comments were at parents evening. The competition for her to take their subjects at A Level is already hotting up.

When, I asked her, are you doing your school work? In her bedroom, she replied, in the evening – presumably quite late.

Birthday walk

Most years, I have insisted on the family walking in the countryside as my birthday treat. It has provoked bad temper and resentment. As this year was a special birthday, I had three days walking, at which the kids only had to join for one day.

Eliza and Robin

Amongst the 30 walkers who set out on Saturday morning were Eliza and Robin’s friends E & A, also brother and sister.  They entertained each other throughout the hilly walk to the pub and the flat, canalside return. As the adults trudged through the afternoon, weighed down by lunch and beer, in the unseasonal hot weather (which made me very grateful for the summer hat that Eliza had given me as a birthday present), Robin and A covered much more distance than was needed, by running back and forward along the canal.

In the evening, these four had a table to themselves in the room set aside for our dinner. But the walk had taken its toll, as the two boys fell asleep on the sofas in the bar area, while we dined slowly.

Gabe

Gabe has in prior years been the least reconciled to my birthday walk, but rose to this occasion. He puffed hard as we followed the hilly trail in the bright morning sunshine, asking regularly how much further to the pub for lunch. But he kept up a good pace, staying with me as I hurried to reach the pub in time for the other guests’ arrival. On the return, he walked with Malc, L and me joining in our contented chat. In the evening, he milled and mixed with my friends who stayed for dinner.

A highlight of three wonderful days’ outdoors, was Gabe’s decision to walk again with five friends and me on Sunday. We were back into the hills and there was rain as we set off. But he was at his sociable, mature best. Towards the end of the walk, he conceded that he was so tired as to feel in a daze, but he saw the trip through without complaint.

 

Inflatabirthday

Robin

Robin’s birthday came and so did his agonisingly chosen guests – three from his new school, two from his old. They had an hour at Inflatanation – bouncing in a warehouse of inflated shapes. Two mobile phones were lost and both found. At home, sitting down for tea, without the outlet of physical activity, some awkwardness returned, but fortunately new friend T is garrulous and kept the chatter going. Robin was happy with his birthday, signing off with a sleepover for old friend A. A week later, and Robin has invited his first school friend, M, home after school, and they had a kickabout in the garden.

Eliza

Eliza’s school PE class was set a challenge: do as many sit-ups as you can, keeping time with a ticking clock. Eliza stopped in the 80s, but could have continued. She was conscious that the rest of the class, all having given up, were looking at her. Her legs were a bit wobbly afterwards, she conceded.

Gabe

Gabe has been making slow progress with his 5,000 word extended essay (aka EPQ), on 60s music and social change, which is due for submission in March. He asked me to read the first 1,500 words. He is stuck trying to unpick what was a cause of social change and what was an example of social change. Access to abortion, he points out, was a social change and created social change. ‘Spot on’, I reply. But he wants certainty and clarity not real world ambiguity.

Turntable present

Gabe

Gabe’s birthday fell in the midst of his GCSE language oral exams and in peak revision period. He opted, as last year, for a quiet birthday. His main present, which we bought on an outing to the Trafford Centre, was a turntable. An object of desire for this 16 year old eager to place his beloved Beatles’ sound under the added scrutiny of vinyl. He has not been disappointed. 

Robin

Robin has completed his year 6 SATs. These tests, for which there has been an ominous build-up at school, have made him more anxious than I would have expected, given they hold no significance for him. Walking to school on the morning of a SAT, he has been frisky, a few minutes of energy and daftness traded for the serious stuff coming later that day. He reports that each test went well, some were easy. He’s looking forward now to a relaxed final summer of primary school. 

Eliza

Eliza, having dropped her phone in the toilet, has a new phone. It is Gabe’s old iPhone and there is a dispute brewing about who owes whom what for her to take on its possession. But even with a new phone, with no competition for the TV, on a sunny Sunday morning, Eliza admitted to missing Robin who had not yet returned from a sleepover. 

Birthday celebration: parts 1, 2 & 3

Eliza

Eliza became a teen two weeks ago, but has continued the celebrations. We had a family meal out on her birthday night. She had a visit to Manchester’s new trampoline centre and a sleepover with her best friend a few days later. Last Saturday she had a joint birthday meal and cinema trip with school friends. A further sleepover with school friends may yet occur.

The joint birthday event had a dramatic start. Lucy, whose birthday was also being celebrated, set her own hair on fire at the table in the restaurant by leaning too close to a small candle. L made ready to douse her in water, but Lucy’s Dad patted out the flames with his hands. He’s an anaesthetist and apparently quite used to doing this in theatre. Lucy, Eliza and their friends continued the evening, although Eliza did say the smell of burnt hair was horrible.

Robin

From YouTube clips, Robin has developed an interest in basketball and, more specifically, the NBA. He knows the names of a few of the stars and a few more of the teams. A primary school tournament has given him the chance to play competitively for the first time. Undefeated in their first afternoon’s games, his team qualified for the final. There they came out on top, completing a double of school football and basketball champions. Robin’s role was in defence, allowing him to take long-shots. ‘3-pointers,’ as he said, ‘even though they only count as 2 points.’

Gabe

Gabe has completed two important elements of his music GCSE: recorded performance and composition. His performance piece was Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. On the appointed day, he played the piece twice, while his music teacher recorded it for the examiner. Each rendition included one mistake, so he was given another chance, early in the morning the following week. I dropped him at school to make sure he was there in time. Ten minutes later, it was wrapped up, with a faultless performance recorded and sent to the examiner.

Quiet birthday

Gabe

All of the children’s birthdays are recorded here, with a note of the theme of the party or event. Gabe’s 15th was the quiet birthday. He had refused the option of a party, a meal out with friends, or a cinema trip. L had the idea of a visit to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. “No, thanks. Don’t want to spend my birthday in the car.” He was, he said, happy to have a quiet day. A meal at a pizza restaurant? No, pizza at home. 

And he was happy. A football match, the last of the season, in the morning. Then a quiet afternoon, cheerful and sociable with us all, pizza and presents. L and I briefly worried about some sort of social anxiety, but it’s more like a preference for no fuss and self-possession. 

Eliza

Eliza’s desire to have pets surfaced again. ‘Yes,’ we said to a question about gerbils and knowing how she stores and accumulates riches like a rodent, ‘you can buy them’. Bumble and Bianco, two small brothers, live in a cage in her room. She seems satisfied and her own brothers happy to have them around without the responsibility of looking after them. 

Robin

Robin’s team qualified for the cup final to play at Trafford United’s ground against the only team they didn’t defeat during the season. On a bright, sunny day, with a loud crowd around two sides of the pitch, the opposition took an early lead. Robin had the best chance to equalise in the first half, but missed. He saw little of the ball, with the other team’s defence outstanding. The second half continued with the other team missing chances. Robin was moved into attack and deep into the second half, screened a bouncing ball from a defender and as it dropped on the corner of the area, volleyed it past the keeper. His team clung on through full, then extra time. Robin took the first penalty and scored. After 4 penalties, the score was tied 2-2. Luke made a diving save and then took the final penalty, scored to win the final and man of the match. Robin revelled in the experience, particularly enjoying playing in front of a noisy crowd. 

Sleepover in the living room

Eliza

Eliza and four friends occupied our living room as her birthday treat – after a meal at an Italian restaurant. Mattresses, duvets and pillows stretched across the room’s floor. The girls watched a film or two, a bit of TV, and then settled down to a long night of chatting. That was continuing when L and I fell asleep around midnight. The party, Eliza confirmed, was a great success.

Gabe

Gifted and talented in five or six different subjects, according to a letter from school. Gabe was dismissive of maths and science and pleased that music had been added to his list this year. But history is his favourite subject.

Sitting on a table across the restaurant from Eliza and her friends at her party, Gabe engaged in passionate discussion about the origins and military tactics of the First and Second World Wars. It’s conduct I feel I should, but can’t quite, recall from my youth. He has confidence in his opinions – the sort of confidence that precedes an understanding of the historiography, let alone the original texts, of an era. And in between his declarations, he’s probing for more information, aware there’s material out there he doesn’t know.

Robin

Daddy blah, blah, blah. Daddy burble, burble, burble. Daddy, waah, waah, waah. Daddy rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. Daddy…

This is what Robin’s company sounds like to me. Urgent, frequent repetition of my name, followed by a mumble of questions or statements. Humbling to be forever on the tip of his tongue.

Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin

Robin

Robin’s birthday weekend coincided with an FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Watford. The underdogs were ahead 0-2 at half-time and Robin looked crushed. A rousing comeback from City and tea at McDonald’s provided the birthday boost.

On his birthday, Robin took calls from both sets of grandparents. Twice, in response to wishes of ‘Many happy returns!’ Robin responded, “Many happy returns!” to derision from siblings.

This post’s title is shared with that of a Burns poem, which came with the card from Grandma and Grandpa.

Eliza

Eliza came to her first football match. She brought her copy of Little Women, although that wasn’t in anticipation of boredom, but because L was taking photos of her for a school project, ‘Dangerous Reading’ – i.e. reading in unlikely places.

Eliza said she enjoyed the match and was on the edge of her seat – which accounted for why she didn’t see any of the six goals as everyone else was standing up while she sat down.

Gabe

Gabe’s TV preferences remain headed by football and other sport. The cartoon, Arthur, seems to be giving way (although he’ll watch it with the other two). Game shows are popular and rising favourites seem to be Escape to the Country and a soap opera about schools.

County nets

Gabe

Gabe has had his first visit to the advanced county cricket nets. He became increasingly anxious in the build up – that he wouldn’t be good enough, that he wouldn’t be wearing the right clothes. In the car on the way there he said he didn’t want to go and did he have to? But into the sports hall he went.

For two hours I had only fleeting glimpses of him through the glazed panel of a door, as the venue had no viewing facility. Out he came and I resisted the need to know how it went and asked if he was hungry, cold, tired. But within a couple of minutes, he said “That was fun,” and went on to talk about the shots he played, how he had swung the ball and how the coach had turned the net practice into a game.

Robin

Robin has made it into the school choir. After several weeks practice, he gave his first performance at a local church. L attended and found him sitting in the front row. He sang heartily but fidgeted and fiddled throughout the concert, not yet having that self-control expected of choristers – especially those in the front row.

Eliza

Eliza is counting down the days (eight, now) until her birthday. She found cause for a little regret this evening. No-one would believe she was ten, when next week she attains double-figures, she said, because she’s so small.

Go karts and Citeh

Gabe

We took Gabe and eight friends to an indoor go-kart circuit in the basement of a soon-to-be demolished factory for his birthday party. The karts, available to anyone over the age of eight, were the same as the ones adults with driving licenses and road sense use. L and I found ourselves the responsible adults without the ability to control the boys’ behaviour behind the wheel.

Only one lad had a head-on crash with a barrier – the most reckless of the group – and only one opted throughout for caution. They were really quite adept, so perhaps the transfer of wii and x-box skills was taking place. Gabe started cautiously, but built up speed, ending up with the third fastest average lap time, with which he was very satisfied.

The following day, City played QPR seeking a win for the Premiership title, with United poised to take advantage of any slip-up. Gabe watched the match on my iPad while he, Eliza and I played monopoly. In the opening 20 minutes of the second-half things began to go awry for City as they surrendered the lead and then fell behind. Gabe switched off the iPad unable to watch. We continued to play our game, but he was subdued. I was monitoring the game on my phone and let him know that City had equalised, but he didn’t want to watch. When my phone refreshed City had won and Gabe switched the iPad back on and wallowed in the celebrations. During his team’s historic half-hour, he had passed Go a few times, spent some time in jail, paid some fines and erected a few houses.

Robin

Walking to school, Robin complained of a sore head. I suggested a cup of water when we got to school. Leaving the junior school with him, I noticed a lump on his forehead and realised he’d banged himself. “How?” I asked. “Don’t want to say. It’s embarrassing.” Entering his playground, the lump more visible, I got him to explain. Out of my eyesight, he had walked, head down, into a wheelie bin on the pavement. Reluctantly, he followed me to the school office to get some first aid. Ice applied, the teacher asked how it had happened. “Robin will have to tell you”, I said, as I signed the accident form.

That evening, the bump was hurting when touched so I found the calpol bottle. Robin fiddled with the lid, but couldn’t open it. “It’s got a child-lock,” I told him. His response: “But how does it know I’m a child?”

Eliza

It’s test week at junior school. Gabe and his peers are doing Key Stage 2 SATs. In Eliza’s class, they are doing their annual assessment tests. A morning of tests and afternoon of play suits her well. Unusually, not a single complaint about having to go to school this week.

One afternoon was spent at chess club. Back at home, we played our first match. She caught me out with an audacious queen move, but I recovered and eventually wore her down with risk-averse attack.