Posts Tagged ‘French’

Atypical teen


Two colleagues have season tickets for City in the family stand. They qualify for tickets there because they take their nephew. This 14 year old is in a full-on teen awkward spell, which includes not wanting to go to football matches. Hence, I was asked if Gabe would like to go with them. Gabe accepted.

And so there have been rave reviews of what a fine chap Gabe is. He was great company, happy to chat, a pleasure to be with, would he like to come again?

Indeed Gabe has been very good company in recent weeks, all through Christmas and into the New Year. Much has changed and will be changing for him at this time. But one factor was that he broke his mobile phone before Christmas by knocking it into the toilet. He had to wait for Christmas to accumulate the funds to replace it, which he did by upgrading to an iPhone. I shared this observation with him. He agreed that he would spend less time on his phone. That would make him an atypical teen.


Eliza has a cause: the French spelling bee. The paper on which the words she must learn are printed is crumpled with use. ‘Test me!’ she implores and delights in remembering the French words, and even more in spelling them with the letters in French: double-vay; y-grec, etc.


Our sodden winter turned cold for a weekend. On a walk by a canal the kids bounced stones along the iced surface, listening to the ethereal plimp noise made by the skimming, skidding stones. Then tried to hurl stones through the ice.

Even better, it snowed the following night. Robin was awake at 7am and by 7.30 had sized up the conditions. ‘Come to my room’ he begged, wanting us to open the curtains and behold a snowy garden. He woke Eliza, dressed, gulped some breakfast and then was out in the garden. For 45 minutes, there were snowballs and a snowman. He came in for more breakfast and soon after that the melt was happening.



Smith come dancing

Eliza announced there would be a dancing competition: her and me against L and Robin. She planned moves and nagged the rest of us to get practising. Our routine featured three lifts – which are I’m sure the reason she likes to dance with me – some dance steps (cha, cha, cha, waltz, etc) and lots of her doing gymnastics moves and me prancing about. L and Robin made good use of props, incorporating an American football and hula-hoop into their routine. There were no judges and we praised each others’ efforts.

A few days earlier, in a return to their deadly duo days, Eliza and Robin had worked on a routine together. This time Robin did the lifts and they performed synchronised forward rolls and cartwheels. They engage in this immersive play together less frequently, which makes it all the more cherishable.


I went to my first parents evening at the grammar school. From science to history, art to maths, Gabe’s teachers praised him for his attainment and his enthusiasm. The most gushing was the French teacher, who described him as being a step ahead of whatever was being taught and even at this stage, could clearly seem him as an A Level student. My final head-to-head was with the Technology (Cookery) teacher. Her comments were revealing. She identified that Gabe lacks the confidence to carry out activities unless given precise instructions. She cautioned that this inability to, as she put it, think in a third dimension, would harm his prospects in other studies as he got older. Although the least complimentary, it was also the most helpful comment of the evening.


Star of the term


Gabe’s strong start to his secondary school career was marked by his selection as his form’s ‘Star of the Term’. It’s not clear if this is earned by academic achievement, but Gabe has impressed with that as well as his sports. He has also been selected for a spelling bee in competition – in French. He’s keener for help practising his numbers, colours and greetings than he has been with anything he has ever had to learn.


Eliza has a new favourite author: Jacqueline Wilson. She reads her stories of abandoned children, drunken mothers and runaway fathers with the same relish and unsentimentality as she did Michael Morpurgo’s tales of world events separating loved ones from each other.


Robin has made his debut on the rugby field, attending a practice session at our local club. There was snow on the ground, but the coaches ran such an intense session of bulldog and tag rugby that the boys were taking off the layers their parents had insisted they wore. They finished the practice jogging single file, chanting to the club-house where they were supplied with orange squash and sausages in rolls. Robin wants more – of the rugby and sausages.