Posts Tagged ‘grandparents’

Historical haircut


Eliza has had her hair cut for the first time in over three years. It ends her quest to grow it down to her bottom and came as she gave way to frustration at how tangled it got and the time she had to spend brushing it to keep it tidy. Taken by L to a hairdresser for the occasion, she also seemed to enjoy the attention. It now ends below her shoulders, long enough still for a pony tail.


When Robin and I spend time together, conversation from his side has a distinctive pattern. Every sentence, every phrase, often repeated, begins with an urgently stated ‘Daddy’. I might hear my name a dozen times in a minute. It’s humbling to be addressed so intensively, as though my being there needs to be articulated over and over.


Gabe fitted three days of multi-sports camp, a football match, football training and a cricket match into the first part of his half-term holiday. Buoyed by this organised exercise, he and Robin played competitive, fun-filled football in the garden at home and on our visit to the grandparents. The games were rough, even dirty, but accompanied by lots of laughter and pleasure in their own and each other’s play.



Good elf

Gabe and Eliza

It’s a school tradition for year three pupils to write letters to Santa, which get intercepted on their route to Lapland, and are read and responded to by year six. Eliza’s letter was passed to Gabe. He told me he had it and that she hadn’t been honest, claiming as evidence that she had been good that she made a cup of tea for Mummy every morning, always helped Daddy in the garden, etc.

Gabe drafted a response in the guise of one of Santa’s elves. He swallowed his indignation at Eliza’s exaggerated claims of virtue, limiting himself to replying that Santa found it hard to believe everything she wrote. To further the deception he had a girl in his class handwrite the letter that was returned to Eliza.


Nan and Grandad spent a weekend of Christmas preparations with us: buying and decorating a fir tree, Halle carol concert and a day of child-minding involving wii games and chip shop lunch. When they left, Robin fought back tears. He had been anticipating their stay – perhaps as a sign of Christmas approaching – and was so sad when it was time for them to go.


Grandma took us to a pick-your-own farm near Cupar. Wet weather had been followed by a day or two of hot sun. The fruit was at its peak.  All three children were eager participants. Gabe wanted reassurance that each raspberry he picked met the standard. He wouldn’t eat a raspberry or strawberry – a mixture of a need for hygiene and a concern it wasn’t allowed as they hadn’t been paid for. Robin picked and ate. Eliza was persuaded to try a raspberry and found it favourable. Better than sweets she agreed.

Back at home our plum tree’s crop was ready. Eliza and Robin, both drawn by the ladder, came with me to the end of the garden to pick. Each was to climb the ladder, pick three, then descend to allow the other a turn. So heavy was the crop that three had to be raised to ten if we were to complete the picking. Anyway, turn-taking on the ladder was made unnecessary by Robin’s scaling of the tree, which Eliza quickly emulated. As with Gabe and the raspberries, both children needed to be reassured that each of the plums they picked was ‘a good one’. Interest in picking didn’t evolve into interest in eating as both decided they didn’t like the taste of the plums they had picked.

The schoolboy wizard

Harry Potter has shot to fame in our family. For years he was barely acknowledged. Gabe was given one of the novels for a present two or so years ago, but wouldn’t read it as a memory of scary scenes in a film seen with cousins when he was about six deterred him. Then lacking anything to read, and refusing to borrow from the library, he tested it and was hooked. Then came the films, drawing in Eliza and Robin to the cult. To begin with, Robin had trouble following the films and complained there was too much talking and not enough fighting. But he watched the films to and from Scotland in the car, as well as catching a couple of the series while staying with grandparents in St Andrews.

Gabe, meanwhile, is eating up the books, revelling in their lengthening as the series progresses. He reads the books while watching television, in the car and wanted me to read to him while he showered. Eliza, too, has tried reading one of the books, but not yet had the staying power for a whole novel.

A third cultural manifestation of Harry Potter emerged during our holiday in Scotland. In our caravan, but most intensively, under a tree in a field beside Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Eliza and Robin have developed a magic game, based upon HP. Robin plays a number of characters, including Harry. Eliza is also one of the characters and seems to drive the narrative, played out under the tree, and on a fallen branch through long grass.

Too babyish


Robin has been refusing to have a bedtime story. He won’t chose, or have chosen, a book from the three shelves crammed with books in his room. Old favourites – Dinosaurs love underpants, What people do all day, Emergency vehicles – are eschewed. New departures are refused. His complaint is that the books are too babyish. But when offered something from Eliza’s library, he complains it is too girlish. L took the kids to the library. Gabe found him books and read them to him. He only agreed to taking away a single book. I am concerned this may be the first indications of a laddish rejection of learning.


Eliza ran to her room to show Crystal to Nan and Grandad. She screeched and wailed when she found Crystal curled and motionless in her cage. Crystal moved a little and Nan’s explanation of hibernation gathered a little traction. We kept Crystal warm but after a second night pronounced her dead. Eliza coped, probably helped by Crystal’s gradual demise while we pursued the idea of hibernation. L agreed with Eliza that we would wait until the spring to decide whether to introduce a third hamster into our family.


Gabe excelled in our tobagganing expedition with Nan and Grandad. He pushed himself first and most frequently down the short, steep slopes. He also went with Eliza to see her friend who was playing the woods and asked if she would like to play with us on our part of the slope.

Long weekend

The half-term holiday ended with a long weekend in St Andrews. Under cloudless blue skies Eliza, Robin and I ventured out to the long, narrow strip of woodland up the hill from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Eliza and Robin reprised a game from earlier visits when they ran through the woods, trying to beat me to the top. My route followed a path, while they picked their way through the trees and bushes. They were scratched and tripped and Eliza’s sophisticated swirly bun hair-do kept snagging on twigs. Out of the woods and along a path I spotted an eagle in a field. The kids struggled to spot it. Eliza stood on a wall, flapping her arms to be a ‘little birdie’ to attract the eagle’s attention and startled herself when the eagle turned and flapped its wings.

We visited the St Andrews pool during Acqua Run. An inflatable pontoon half the length of the pool supported an inflatable assault course. Gabe led the kids onto it and was the first to complete it without falling off. Robin, the smallest of all the kids attempting the course, revelled in the challenge, repeating the acqua run over and over again, needing to be escorted back from the deep-end of the pool where he landed from the slide at the end of the course.

One afternoon was spent with Freya, uncle, aunt, great uncle and great aunt: halloween costumes, frolics and races in the garden (notably, the bloodshot eye-ball and spoon race). Great uncle A conjured a plastic eye-ball from his hand. Standing inches away, Robin’s jaw dropped and he swivelled with an enchanted look of astonishment, providing deep fulfilment to the conjurer.


The children loved the converted farm and its amenities. We were the noisiest family in the pool, swimming daily with Nan and Grandad. The apogee of our frantic fun was the game where Gabe, Eliza and Robin took turns to leap from the side to kick, catch, punch or head a ball thrown across them. By the end of the week, Robin was swimming a length and Eliza two; and each of them had progressed with some sort of dive.

The second most popular draw were the goats. Eliza and Robin fed them with our leftovers and with the leaves of a hazel tree that Nan had guided them towards as good goat food.

no butts

We had two days on Banham beach, across the Avon estuary from Burgh Island. Paddling, sand castles and rock scrambling were successful occupations. Robin annexed a big hole in the beach and with help dug it deeper. It became the ‘Great Hole of Robin’, which he jumped into, almost disappearing, and then with the others leaped across it.

beach ball