Posts Tagged ‘gerbil’

School choice


Within hours of his eleven + result, Robin had decided he wanted to go to the local High School. L & I preferred the school a little further, a bus-ride, away. We collected recommendations from parents of older children. Both schools were heavily praised, but L & I had a sense that the more distant school was closer to what we wanted for Robin.

We sat down with Robin and L made a list of advantages and disadvantages of each. He was resolute, we tried to sound open-minded. We completed the exercise and agreed to give it some more thought.

Separately, L & I came to the conclusion that we couldn’t find evidence to support our hunch; certainly not evidence that overrode a lengthy bus journey, a 30 minute earlier start to the day and difficulties collecting him from after school activities. And so, Robin will be going to the local High School next September.


Bumble suffered a stroke and did not recover. Gabe asked if ‘the curse’ had struck again. It did feel a little like it had: three gerbils, three hamsters and two guinea pigs under Eliza’s affectionate care have perished. The pet cemetery in the front garden gets (a little) bigger.


Gabe was shocked at Trump’s victory. ‘Why doesn’t the rest of the world refuse to trade with America?’ he wanted to know, forgetting that the UK will soon be desperate for a trading partner. He is genuinely interested in politics and well-read for his age. As he reflected on the succession of dispiriting election results in the last 18 months,  assured him the 1980s had been similar with defeat after defeat for the progressive, left-leaning causes and candidates.


Elastic girl


Eliza can twist her hip and leg so her right foot ends up behind her right ear. She can lie on her front on the ground and jackknife her head and legs upwards so her toes meet her forehead. She can do one-handed cartwheels. She can do a walk-over: from a standing start, bend over backwards until her hands are on the floor, then kick her feet up so her legs wheel all the way over and push up with her hands as her feet land, leaving her standing up. And through the satisfaction and elation of exploring the potential of her body, Eliza practises these moves over and over again.


In recent weeks, Robin has been waking early – around 6am. He makes his way into L and my room and to my side of the bed. He climbs in and wraps himself around the top half of my body. He lies like that, breathing heavily, sometimes testing if my eyes are open. Very occasionally he’ll fall asleep. Most usually, I’ll walk him back to his room, or if he can keep quiet and awake, he’ll stay until I accompany him downstairs at the sound of my alarm or his complaints of hunger.


Gabe is the least confident of the kids with the gerbils. When they are let out to run around the shower room, Gabe perches on the toilet seat. He has Eliza pick up Romano for him and hold him briefly before putting him down. He’s frantic and high-pitched if they seem to be trying to escape their cage.


First came their home, the gerbilarium, a three storey wire and plastic cage. Gabe, Eliza and Robin sat around it, imagining how it would be inhabited. Over a week later, the gerbils came. Three eight week old brothers, bought from a different store of the Pets at Home chain that had supplied the unlucky Sandy. Gabe was particulary conflicted about this: he so wanted a gerbil, but so distrusted any store that had sold us Eliza’s short-lived hamsters.

Romano (light gold, with a white patch on his back), Bayjay (darker gold) and Silver, belonging respectively to Gabe, Eliza and Robin. Better than telly, said Eliza, about watching them skitter about the cage. After three days they were judged to be settled enough to be handled. We took the gerbilarium to the bathroom and placed it in the empty bath. First to emerge was Bayjay, who slithered and slid around Eliza and my hands before running circuits around the bath. Silver came next, nipping at fingers, too agitated for Robin to hold comfortably, driving him to tears. Romano stayed buried in the wood shavings. He debuted two days later, giving Gabe, the most nervous of pet owners, the thrill of a hold and stroke. Silver, still apt to lead with the teeth, made up a little with Robin. Eliza, with an air of experience, had a play with Bayjay.