Posts Tagged ‘fears’

Entrance exam

Gabe

Two eleven plus entrance exams to local grammar schools down, one (or two) to go. Gabe’s month of proving his intellect through extreme multiple choice testing is in full flow. He began at grammar school west. There the streets were throttled with cars parked on pavements. L walked with Gabe up the road to the school. He walked quickly with fixed expression and was swept away from L into the school with around 1,000 other ten year olds. Three and one-half hours later, L picked him up. His sincere wish was that we didn’t ask him how it went and so, when we met at pizza hut for a celebratory lunch, we talked around the subject.

Then yesterday at grammar school south: the roads were choked and L and Gabe had to get out of the car and walk to arrive on time. All week, he has shown no sign of stress, only for the journey there to tense him, just as it certainly did L and me. Again, no clear line on how he has done, but he has appeared self-possessed. L treated him on Saturday to an afternoon of emotion and peril at the latest Harry Potter movie.

Robin

While Robin has eschewed crying for straightforward pain, he can be moved and scared to tears.  He fidgeted through most of a Lassie DVD, then became gripped when the dog disappeared, possibly dead. Two tears escaped and inched down his cheeks. L had to switch off an episode of Dr Who, which frightened him into sobs.

Eliza

Eliza harnessed Robin, with a long-scarf around his mid-riff. Holding the two ends, she sets him running, pulling her along on her roller blades, like a pony and trap.

 

Advertisements

Fear and courage on the Cote d’Azur

We were woken by a shock and awe thunderstorm at 1.45am in our stationary caravan in the South of France. Eliza came to find L and I. I went to see the boys in their room. Eliza followed as L’s wedding ring was too great a threat to her amidst the electric storm. All three kids were terrified. Eliza was shaking. Gabe wanted to know things we couldn’t answer – like when the onslaught would end. Robin alternated between peering captivated by the lightening flashes at the window, to cowering in his bed. Without stopping, the storm quietened enough for us to return to our beds after an hour. We woke before 8am, with it still rumbling around, and it continued until after lunchtime.

Gabe

Gabe ‘s greatest fear may be embarassment. He walked off the pitch, away from the game and disappeared after I upbraided in poor French a big lad, who had joined our game of football, for not passing to the little ones. Gabe walked across the campsite to L, complaining that I had humiliated him.

Eliza

Eliza squealed with fear when we announced our plan to take a boat trip. She was coaxed aboard and clung to L. All this changed when the boat cut its motors at the edge of the Agay Bay and we were invited downstairs to the glass bottom viewing area. There, with fish swimming on either side, Eliza and her brothers chased around to get the best views, particularly when a barracuda came spearing through the fish.

Sea legs

Robin

Robin was the first down the biggest slide in the pools. He skipped across rocks at the seaside. He played football amongst big boys and men, getting stuck in and at one point putting in a block tackle to stop a man’s shot, drawing gasps from players and the crowd, who may like me have expected to see a small, fractured ankle. But the first sight of the Grand Canyon of Verdun was too much and he needed a lot of consoling as we set out on the 25 mile drive along its southern rim.

Eat like a lion

the right kind of chops

Robin

Several weeks ago, Robin told L that he wanted to eat meat. L asked what he meant, as his limited diet does include ham and sausages. Robin explained that he wanted to eat like a lion. Cue an opportunity for me to see if he would join me so I was no longer the only eater of unprocessed red meat in the family.

I bought some lamb chops from our local butcher and grilled them for our tea. Robin’s response was swift. ‘Disgusting’. I encouraged him to try another morsel.
‘What are they?’
‘Lamb chops’.
‘But I wanted real chops, chop chops, not these.’

Eliza

Eliza helped me prepare the mashed potato for this meal. She stood on a chair at the kitchen worktop and peeled the potatoes. I hovered around her, asking her to move her fingers away from the stroke of the peeler. On and on she peeled. I drifted from nervous to clock-watching. Five medium sized potatoes took Eliza 25 minutes to peel as she chipped away at their skin, eventually producing a very through job, and hundreds of flakes of potato skin for the compost.

Gabe

Gabe asserts his seniority by coming downstairs after bath, usually to watch tv. It’s a status he adores, but one that he’s too nervous to take up if neither L nor I are downstairs. So when L is out and I have to put the other two to bed, Gabe feels the minutes wasting away as he waits in his room, or on the landing, or at my shoulder.

Last week, he found a way of speeding up his trip downstairs, as well as gaining my approval. While I read with Eliza, Gabe read a story to Robin, sang him a song and put him to bed. The ‘story’ comprised extracts from a children’s atlas. Gabe delightedly claimed to be angered by the atlas – it named an Eastern European country as Yugoslavia, despite being published in the last 10 years; and it identified the Nile as the world’s longest river, a title Gabe explained that has been handed to the Amazon after its source was discovered further into the South American continent.

Sleeping and not sleeping

Gabe

Gabe has entered a relatively harmonious patch: he no longer needs L or I to visit his room at 20 minute intervals or becomes frantic, despite repeated reassurances that sleep will come his way. He does nag to stay up, but has become content to go to bed, reading a book and listening to 5 live (football commentaries preferred). Once asleep, he stays that way until either early morning if there is something on tv he wants to watch, or he is woken up to get ready for school. A period of loud, sinus-scorching snoring, seems to have abated.

Eliza

Eliza often begs us, clinging to us, to stay in her room. But it is short-lived and soon after she will be asleep, perhaps after reading. Asleep, she curls up, usually with duvet pushed off her, often with a cuddly toy on her shoulder and her hair strewn across her pillow. In the middle of last night, I woke with her standing at my side. She had had a bad dream. She slipped into bed, a narrow boney body at my side. I dozed and woke sometime later and told her it was time to go back to her bed. She acquiesced, but with me walking her back across the landing to her room, tucking her in bed and tugging the curtain to let some pre-dawn light into her room.

Robin

Robin is the most active at night. Sometimes he rolls off his mattress onto the floor, without waking. If he wakes, as he did last night, inadequately covered by his duvet, he shouts for assistance – causing my third waking of the night. A quick straightening of the duvet and hug placated him.

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.

Bloody Mary

Eliza

Gabe had asked L about Bloody Mary and been told of Queen Mary’s vengeance against Protestants. Eliza overheard and squealed. Gabe related a playground tale that if you look into a mirror and say ‘Bloody Mary’ three times, she will leap out of the glass and kill you. Eliza sobbed, terrified. Her fear recurred at bedtime for the next two nights. Her wailing intensified if L or I offered to show her that the tale was nonsense. Only quiet, diversive talk calmed her for sleep.

Gabe

It is very rare for the question, ‘How was school today?’ to receive an enthusiastic positive response. The visit to school of the Zulu Nation dance troupe achieved it. Gabe showed me the dances and raved about the day – which had only left time for 1 and 1/2 lessons.

Robin

Robin took possession of a third light sabre. A pound shop triumph that lit up and emitted sounds of a sword being drawn from a scabbard and two sabres clashing. Robin played with the sabre continously taking it to bed with him, where the ‘ksshhh-ung’ could be heard after his light went out and then again before it was time to get up for breakfast. By tea time on day two the sound and light show had been exhausted.