Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

Reading age of 16


L attended Robin’s parent evening, where the news was entirely positive, if tinged with regret about his eleven plus result. A computer print-out showed he exceeded some benchmark across the full range of maths and English measures. Another showed that his reading age had climbed two years in the three months to December and another two years since then, giving him a reading age of 16.


Gabe rarely leaves the house except for school and sporting engagements – playing or spectating. He has, though, been to a couple of parties recently and at those has drunk some alcohol. He’s not concealed the fact, nor dwelt on it, or thankfully, appeared to be any the worse for wear for it. I suspect he’s not liked it particularly, given how resistant he is to consuming any new flavours.

He did ask me ahead of the most recent party, if I could give him a bottle of something to take. Cider was his preference and so, for the first time, I bought my son a drink – not one that we shared together though. At the first mention of drinking, a couple of months ago, I had said to him that if he wanted to try beer, he should ask me. Before I had finished this attempt at responsible parenting, I realised how unappealing drinking with one’s Dad would be – the whole point was to take these early steps in the company of friends.


Eliza’s solution to a day at home without any major plans is to bake. By choice, she would always bake something sweet: cookies, cakes, millionaire shortbread. Today, with everyone else but me out at a Man City game, she decided to make pizza. We walked to the shops to buy the mozzarella and passata. She served the pizzas sequentially: L, Robin, Gabe, with her own coming last. By the time she reached her own, she had run out of mozzarella and sent me back to the shops to replenish.


Sights of Tuscany

The children might have settled for two whole weeks at the villa, but L & I led us away every second or third day to a Tuscan sight.

In Pisa and Florence we scaled tall buildings: the leaning tower and the domo. Robin was enthralled by the climbs and the sense of height. Eliza was anxious and needed a hand to be held (almost as much as I did) as we walked around the summit of both climbs. Gabe made it to the top of the Leaning Tower, briefly, but pulled out of the ascent of the domo before the section that took you up stairs cut into the arc of the lower level of the dome.

The children were more reluctant to appreciate the architecture from street-level – apart from in Pisa where the tower offered photographic opportunities. We managed an hour and a half in the Uffizi: Eliza most focused on the art; Gabe on historical and cultural facts; Robin under intense strain.

More popular was a day at a crowded water park. As a threesome, they queued for trips down slides, not demanding L or I participate.

But every trip out was tolerated knowing that it would bring a reward in the form of ice cream, coke and pizza.

All inclusive

A dominating feature of our Menorcan holiday was the all inclusive food and drink. Three meals a day and a changing menu of meats, vegetables, salads, breads and desserts for every meal. But for the kids, all inclusive produced particular, limited diets:

Gabe: croissant, chips and seconds/thirds of pizza

Eliza: croissant, melon and ice cream

Robin: croissant, chips and coca-cola (even at breakfast if not closely monitored).

Watching Robin dash around, L commented, “We’ll be in hospital this holiday.” She was right, but Eliza was the patient, banging her head falling from a fence. I called the doctor when she felt ill at midnight. The doctor came and calmly ordered an ambulance which drove Eliza and L across the island for an emergency brain scan. All was clear and they returned, exhausted after a night in hospital.

Approaching school holiday


Robin wasn’t just approaching school holiday, but leaving infant school. Amongst the calendar heavy with school events, Robin wore a judge’s wig in one assembly and read what going to junior school would mean for him in another: “I am looking forward to playing on the enormous field and seeing my sister.”


Eliza was in performance over-drive. On one day she had a school assembly, heats for the Junior School’s got Talent show and grade 1 violin exam. Each seemed to have gone well, with her splits to end her dance group’s piece being well received and a pass achieved in her exam.


Gabe’s last week was off-timetable, with a series of activities, the most popular of which was pizza making (although Gabe was scathing of the insufficiency of tomato paste). He was anxious with the pressure of choosing clothes to wear each day. This was most pronounced on the morning of a trip to Oulton Park. L talked him out of wearing heavy tracksuit bottoms on a baking day. But he rejected the shorts in his cupboard, opting at the last moment for football shorts, which then brought the dilemma of how to carry money and a phone.

393 and all that

Grammar School Central, our local selective school, held its entrance exam on Saturday – the third in Gabe’s autumn odyssey. This time his nerves were frayed, probably because this is the school he prefers and he sees the immediacy of the challenge if he is to achieve that goal. He showed some upset during the days running up to the exam and needed reassurance: that he should be confident, that if things didn’t go well he wasn’t letting anyone down.

Early on Saturday morning, L walked him across town. At the school, they joined the queue. Gabe became aware that he was rubbing his hands and asked L why he was doing it. ‘Is it helping you?’ she asked. ‘Yes’. ‘Then keep doing it.’ And then for L and me, three plus hours of detachment – a little like waiting for surgery to finish.

L picked him up and having wind of the publication of Grammar School West’s results, drove home, persuaded Gabe to stay in the car, unlocked the door and found the letter. Her plan to keep it secret if unfavourable was shelved. Gabe had sailed over the pass mark on his way to 393. Then quickly to a pizza lunch with friends and on to one of their homes to glory in the freedom from multiple choice tests and the baking October weather. Four examinees (and three little ones) burnt off their stress and frustration, and for Gabe maybe some elation, with an afternoon-long water fight with pistols, pool and slide.

Entrance exam


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.


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 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.