Posts Tagged ‘gymnastics’

I like coffee, I like tea

Gabe

For years, Gabe would only drink water. As a young teen, he began to drink coke – initially in the same manner that I would drink brandy – with little sips because of its overwhelming flavour. Now, at 17, he is venturing into caffeine-rich hot drinks. He wants to drink them as much because it’s time he did so, as because he wants the hit of caffeine, and certainly not because he likes the flavour. He had to be shown how to make cups of tea and coffee (GCSE Food Tech presumably passed over this essential kitchen knowledge). Each morning he blows and sips impatiently at his too hot, hot drink.

Robin

Robin has regained his appetite for playing football. Last season tailed off, with him frustrated and visibly lacking in the fitness to make an impact on matches. Since September, he has been playing two matches most weekends – one for his main team and one for the club’s second team. His stamina has recovered and he has scored and set-up goals. He is running and working hard and receiving rewards for his efforts.

Eliza

Much of the time, Eliza is impatient and tending towards rude in the company of the rest of us. The days of indulging Robin’s presence are long gone. She and Gabe may only occasionally suspend low level hostilities to exchange a word about a band. But there remain some times when the teen armour comes off. Several nights each week, Eliza and L lie in bed together watching a programme on L’s lap-top: Strictly, Doctors, Call the Midwife. And twice a week, one of us collects her from gymnastics and she bubbles, chats and jokes in the car home.

 

 

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Out of the door and back to school

Eliza

On school days, Eliza is first to leave, before 8am, each morning; and last to return; and first to go out again. Her social life involves up to four different groups of friends. She goes to gym, coaches gym and helps run gym parties. She does dance. And she goes to some gigs and wants to go to a lot more. When she’s at home, there’s a soft strumming from her bedroom as she continues to learn to play the acoustic guitar.

Gabe

On school days, Gabe is last to leave and often the first back home. In year 13, school hours seem less rigid. He is working hard but regularly needs help with composing his thoughts into writing. This was felt most acutely when up against a fictitious deadline for his University application personal statement. Both L and I were implored to give him ideas, help him word them and over again. Eventually, it was done, but with great dollops of self-doubt.

Robin

On school days, Robin heads out the door after one and before the other of his siblings. So far, it appears as though this year he is more settled at school. It may be because his classes have been streamed. It could be because he’s no longer in the most junior year. It might also be a change of attitude on his part – an openness to his fellow pupils, in place of his prior tendency to dismiss almost all as ‘annoying’, ‘weird’ or ‘idiots’.

Ireland

Robin

Robin and I joined his football team and their Dads on a weekend trip to central Ireland, via Dublin airport, where they took part in a competition.

Robin was anxious before and during the flight, grasping my hand. After some raucous play in our mid-refurbishment hotel annex, I persuaded him to bed. The next day, his team played four 40 minute matches, winning two (Robin scored and set up the goals in the first game), losing the final. Back at the hotel the boys and I went swimming. A loud face-off with some American boys ended peacefully. Later I again managed to persuade him to bed while some lads and dads continued partying.

Sunday started slowly: we arrived an hour late for the football match but still had time to burn before returning to the airport, where our flight was delayed three hours, intensifying Robin’s anxiety about flying. We were back in Manchester after 11pm.

Eliza

After several weeks of volunteering at gymnastics (ref: Duke of Edinburgh award) with a group of younger girls, Eliza was offered the chance for some paid employment. She has started helping out at the parties hosted by the gymnasium. The first few sessions were unpaid ‘try-outs’, which she passed and now earns c£4/hr (£8 per party). Last Sunday, she assisted at three back-to-back parties. She works with a shifting crew of gym people, meaning roles change and a fair amount of improvisation is needed to keep the party beneficiaries happy.

Gabe

We bought Gabe insurance to drive L’s car on his provisional licence. L was the first to take him out – to the local tram park and ride car park. He stalled the car and got frustrated with it not being the same as the car in which he has his lessons. By the third trip he had managed to start without stalling and seemed to be progressing. I asked him to pull into a parking bay. Slowly, he turned the car so it was between the lines, but kept going, up the kerb, over the shrub that borders one part of the car park from the next then down the kerb an into the next section. He was shaken, “not good, not good” he kept saying. We deduced he had forgotten to depress the clutch when trying to stop.

Dust

Gabe

Dust is Gabe’s enemy. Not the dust that L vacuums in large quantities from his bedroom floor when it is finally cleared of clothes and schoolwork. Not the dust that accumulates on his desk and shelves. It’s the dust that he sees on his records and despite diligent brushing (technique checked against a YouTube video) he can’t quite remove. It frustrates him, can make him angry with L or me for failing to show him how to remove it and even stops him playing his records.. for a while.

And then there’s the static electricity..

Eliza

Eliza returned home after seven days in hospital with appendicitis. Two days later she was back at school and then quickly into the Easter holiday. Today, ten days after leaving hospital, she did tentative, yet perfect cartwheels in the garden. She hasn’t re-started gymnastics, although she did attend her session as volunteer coach, but is beginning to test her body to decide when.

Robin

City fell three goals behind at Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final. Robin gurned and complained, then snapped at L when she tried to offer consolation. He held on until injury time, willing a goal from City that could give them a foothold in the tie. It didn’t come and he stormed out. He sat behind the mirror in L & my room, refusing to go to bed and saying he was humiliated by City’s performance. The next morning the mood had lifted.

Bedroom cricket

Gabe

Gabe and Robin invented the format during the summer holiday – a concession to activity when they were at their most idle. The three of us play (Eliza and L, on occasions, too) but more commonly now it’s Gabe and me. The playing area is the length of Robin’s bedroom. We use a windball and a size 2 bat. Most ingeniously, the stumps are a pair of jeans hung from mattress tipped on its side.

Robin’s carpet makes the game. It takes turn – Warne-like turn for the well-spun delivery. And, given that there is no straight-arm restriction on ‘bowling’ the game is all about turning the ball, or as a batsman, countering that turn. 

Robin

Returning home from work, it might be thirty minutes before Robin registers my presence and appears. Usually, he’s in the living room or his bedroom, interacting with his phone. Recently, I reminded him that when he was younger he would run to the hall when he heard me come in the door from work and hug my knees. “Really?” He said. “I’ll do that again.” True to his word, last week, one evening as I came in the front-door, Robin burst from the living room and hugged me. Possibly, a little ironically, but appreciated nonetheless. 

Eliza

Eliza hosted a sleepover of gymnastics friends. It followed a gymnastics evening, which may have raised hopes that the girls would be tired. We set up two single and a double mattress for the five friends to sleep on in the living room. The rest of the family went upstairs to bed. The girls’ chatter and laughter carried on. Around midnight, the first text from upstairs was sent to Eliza, instructing her to quieten her guests. More agitated texts followed as the hours passed. Eventually, after 3am there was silence in the house.

100 great goals

Robin 

Every night, for months, Robin has chosen, before sleep and after L or I have read to him, to read from a book that describes 100 great goals. A short description of the action is leavened with some information about the scorer or the occasion. There’s also a diagram of the movement of players and ball on its way into the net.

When sleep is about to smother him, Robin tosses the book from his bed. In the morning, it lies on the floor, crumpled. Its hardback cover fell off weeks ago. Its binding can’t hold for long. But even if it does disintegrate it has lodged itself in Robin’s memory. He knows the goals and scorers by number (1 to 100). He can even recite some of the reports if given a scorer’s name or goal number. 

Eliza

‘My palm has five layers of skin left,’ Eliza explained on the way home from gymnastics. Intensive work on the bars in recent weeks has worn a tear in the skin of her hand. She has been practising a manoeuvre that involves a complete rotation on the higher bar. To achieve this safely while in the learning phase, her hands are bound to the bar. It’s from that friction that the skin on her palms is torn away.

Gabe 

The election result has been welcomed by Gabe. At school, Corbyn is a hero. Gabe is dissatisfied by my position that neither major party leader is a fit PM. ‘What have I got against Corbyn?’ I was asked often during the campaign, as well as, who are you going to vote for and why? On election night, he sat with Lou and I as the TV guests and presenters toyed with the unlikely exit poll. Around midnight, with four GCSE exams the next day, he conceded that is was time for bed. 


Fitness app

Gabe

Tied to his tablet, gaming or in constant communication with friends. But Gabe also has an app that amongst other things, predicts how tall he will grow. It has a fitness regime that he is trying to follow. The wider motivation is his interest in his appearance, itself driven by girls and girlfriend. More narrowly, he wants a six pack like Robin. He’s asked me to join him with the regime, which I hope to do.

Robin

Robin has a verbal habit that frustrates: “Daddy [Mummy] said I could..” he will assert when arguing he should be allowed to do something. What he is invariably referring back to is a conversation where he has raised something he wants and L or I has said, ‘No’ or ‘maybe’ or ‘we’ll see’, but Robin selectively remembers it as support for him getting what he wants.

Eliza

Eliza is practising hard for a gymnastics manoeuvre that involves a handstand entered through half a cartwheel, from which she does the splits and then lowers herself into a half-lever, and then to the ground. She’s achieved it a dozen times, but attempted it hundreds. These practices take place on grass. The real thing is to be done on a beam.