Posts Tagged ‘dancing’

15th birthday party


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 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’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.

Disco pyjama party


Eliza’s 10th birthday was celebrated with a disco onesie/pyjama party jointly with a friend. There were 16 girls and three boys. The disco was supplied by the friend’s Dad. The only dancing was a competition between two teams to make up and perform a routine, which they all did remarkably well given they had only 15 minutes to organise themselves. Games and a pizza-heavy tea filled the two hours. Back at home, Eliza opened her presents, which were predominantly beauty products of one sort or another.


Gabe brought home a letter from school telling us he is gifted and talented. The effect was dulled a little by the mass-produced format of the letter, a couple of paragraphs followed by a list of subjects with boxes ticked to indicate where gifts and talents lie. In Gabe’s case, he is highly regarded in Maths, Science, History and Modern Foreign Languages. The school commits to stretching him in those subjects.


Beside Robin’s bed are piles of books folded open with spines bent. These are the books that Robin has started, but lost interest in. There are lots of them. He’s a strong reader, but not always a committed one. I put this down in part to his eagerness, with older siblings as an example, to leave behind picture books, to read the books Gabe and Eliza enthuse about. But he struggles with them, occasionally forcing himself to read to the end, but often discarding the book. This week, though, he’s found a book he really likes and will, I think, finish: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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 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’.

Shifting alliances

Across a day at our Menorcan resort, Gabe, Eliza and Robin arrayed themselves with and against each other:

Finishing breakfast first, Eliza and Robin went off to the playground together for swings and gecko spotting.

Tennis for an hour at ten: all were in action, but Eliza and Robin continued their alliance across the net from Gabe who was in antagonistic mood, frustrated that he wasn’t getting a match against L or I and making snide remarks about their abilities.

Into the pool and all three played together for a blessed period of harmony – raiding each others’ inflatables and racing.

Before lunch, Gabe took exception to a family joke and threatened not to sit with us. Eliza and Robin practised handstands and collected tiny shells from the earth outside the apartment. Back to the pool, with Eliza and Robin racing each other with and without inflatables.

Mid-afternoon brought the resort football tournament. Robin and Gabe in tight formation found themselves on the same side – the skins – and scrapped, ran, tackled and shot for a sweaty half-hour. Their bonding continued with them reliving their best moments, “Did you see when I…”

Down the road to the waterpark: three together, until Robin broke away to try the more adventurous slides. He drew Eliza to him and eventually, anxiously, Gabe. When the slides closed, Gabe and Robin re-connected in the wave pool, with races and challenges.

Back to the resort pool, where Gabe and Robin continued their aqua-alliance into the evening. Feeding off each others’ boy antics they competed and collaborated in and underwater.

Straight from dinner, Gabe and Robin took the iPad to the resort’s wifi hotspot to stare at BBC Sport’s Euro football page refreshing too, too slowly with promised updates on the Barcelona match, leaving them to fill the blank minutes with football natter.

The resort’s evening ‘animation’ drew Eliza and Robin who, in a break in the show, accepted dares to run across the stage, which sent Gabe away to somewhere less embarrassing. But all three were active in the audience for the Strictly Come Dancing show that followed.

Hall party


We held Robin’s fifth birthday party in a large, traditional wooden-floored, community hall. He and nine lads keenly contested running, dancing and spinning games, while two girls clung to their mothers. The party-goers kept up the pace for two hours and remained good tempered and well-behaved throughout. Not a single tear of frustration, upset or anger was shed. Most of Robin’s presents were jigsaw and/or Star Wars themed, as they had been at his family birthday tea two nights earlier at Pizza Hut. In fact, Robin was irked at any presents that didn’t stick to this theme.


Eliza and her friend A provided my highlight of the party. They performed a dance routine to a tune they know from school ‘Wake up and shake up’. They sashayed from left to right, spun and kicked. Ten little boys competed with focus and fervour to match the older girls’ moves and win the prize.


The series of Gabe’s excellent school reports continued at L and my meeting with his class teacher. Mr R, gently camp and sporting knitwear, enthused over Gabe’s ability, speed of learning, attentiveness, general knowledge and openness to a challenge. He indulged himself, but even more, us, with a speculation about what Gabe could be in 20 years time: a chemist, a linguist, a mathemetician, anything. He was as surprised as every teacher has been when we’ve mentioned how overwrought Gabe can be about school, and homework in particular, and promised to speak to Gabe about this.

Got talent


Eliza entered her school’s talent contest with two friends. They performed their dance in the preliminary round and qualified for the final held in front of the school. One of her friends bottled the performance but the show went on with Eliza and her other friend, although details are sketchy.


Gabe chose to spend indoors the most part of a hot, sunny afternoon spent at a party at a friend’s house. The draw was a wii.


Robin continued his charm offensive on our close family and friends – revelling in Nan and Grandad’s visit. He walked hand-in-hand with them and chattered away without inhibition.

Chop, chop


Somewhere behind Hollywood films, comes me in the list of influences over Robin’s speech. ‘Chop, chop’, I say, to hurry the children along. Robin now says it to others and to himself, to give a sense of urgency to whatever he is doing.


Eliza has started attending an after-school club called Streetdancing. Inner City LA has come to our leafy Manchester suburb. Eliza explains that the music is fast; the children are arrayed in four lines to learn and execute moves; at the end of some dances the children strike a pose of their choice. Eliza’s poses are angular and involve pointing or crossing arms in front of her face.


Gabe is an excellent pupil who copes easily with all that is required of him in school lessons. He does, however, seem to have early onset writer’s block. Monday homework usually involves some open writing task. It drives Gabe into a frenzy of anxiety and frustration. The time he spends finally completing the writing is but a small proportion of the time he spends fretting about what he has been asked to do.