Posts Tagged ‘reading’

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. 


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Calci

Two weeks holiday in a villa situated on a farm in a valley outside Pisa.

Robin

Robin inhabited the pool as much as he did the villa. He took every opportunity to be there and then stretched that opportunity to the maximum. Of a uniform depth, Robin could on tiptoes just stand with this face, tilted upwards, out of the water. Hour after hour he immersed himself. Gliding, twisting and spinning like an otter in the water – his favourite manoeuvre was a backwards turn under water. Then batting a ball around, or wrestling a lilo. And always diving or pitching himself back into the pool.

Gabe

Gabe was more taken by the charms of the villa. He lay on its sofas in the red-tiled living room for hours, particularly through the morning and early afternoon. He read To Kill a Mocking Bird and Harper Lee’s sequel in long spells of intense concentration. He surfed on his phone, listened to music and by the second week there was the Olympics, through the lens of Italian TV.

But he was more sociable than last year and when he came to the pool he orchestrated games – happily and unashamedly competitive.

Eliza

Eliza inhabited a middle ground: reading and playing on her phone at the villa, but more easily drawn to the pool than Gabe. There she sat on the side of the pool, often with a book as an excuse not to get in and face the shortlived cold shock. But once in the pool she joined in with Robin and they played together as they have done for nearly ten years. Eliza even took part in the one bounce games of footie beside the pool.

Having swum and splashed for a while, Eliza loved to lie on the red stone that surrounded the pool, soaking up rays from the sun and heat from below, leaving a damp body imprint on the stone that she would jump up from after a few minutes to admire.

GCSE options

Gabe

For weeks since the announcement of the GCSE options Gabe has pondered his selection and sought advice and a sounding board. The scope for choice was limited but Gabe did seem to consider every permutation. He quickly set himself against triple science, but there were voices at school telling him that a bright lad should do this, so he wavered. Music and history were two choices he stuck to throughout. A second modern language could only be taken outside of school hours. This Gabe also committed to – far more strongly than the school, who would review depending on take up. The mandatory technology had to be cookery as all the rest were too boring. The final choice oscillated between RE and Business Studies and sometimes triple science. 

We talked about finding an easy subject to counterbalance the work of an extra language. PE suddenly entered the picture. But what if the school won’t offer the second language, challenged L – that’s a lot of non-academic subjects. And so, with school’s approval we submitted alternate options, depending on the second language: PE with it; Business Studies without. 

Eliza

Eliza has up to seven books on the go at a time. One she reads on her kindle, another she reads herself at home (usually an old favourite), one she reads with L, one she reads with me. One or maybe two for different purposes at school and a seventh somewhere in the mix. 

Robin

Robin is a noisy blighter. From being summoned to bath until being coaxed into bed, he sings, squawks, repeats catch phrases in silly voices – all to himself unless he can find a companion. I wonder if the relative quietness of the rest of us oppresses him?

Battle lines

Gabe

Battle lines between older son and parents exist on these territories: food (diversity thereof), tidying room, doing homework, getting things ready for the next day, use of digital devices, putting dirty clothes in washing basket, general courtesy in conversation with family. There’s also a struggle over the timing of washing. It’s not that Gabe won’t wash, he’s increasingly self-conscious about his appearance and his use of deodorant is a threat to the ozone layer. He wants to shower in the morning. Most days this is fine and sensible. There are days, however, like this Tuesday, when he went from school football match to club football practice, when washing before bed is imperative. At least, that’s what I think. Battle line. Maybe I should retreat.

Eliza

Parents evening with a new teacher. The discussion begins at a low key, with the teacher explaining levels and targets. Suddenly she leaves the educational jargon: “Eliza is a dream to have in class.” She tells us how Eliza will be challenged to do a high level writing paper, how she leads her mixed ability table, helping them with maths and how she keeps out of all the trouble and name-calling in the playground.

Robin

Robin has tended and harvested a grievance since the start of term. He’s reading books at a lower level than he believes he was last year. He has to be persuaded to read from his allotted book and mumbles the words to indicate his annoyance. At parents evening, L raised this with his teacher who said she would move him straight on to the higher level books. At bedtime, I gave him this news. “What? You told her? No.” I wonder if the grievance was more important to him than reading books at the right level?

Rantin’, Rovin’ Robin

Robin

Robin’s birthday weekend coincided with an FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Watford. The underdogs were ahead 0-2 at half-time and Robin looked crushed. A rousing comeback from City and tea at McDonald’s provided the birthday boost.

On his birthday, Robin took calls from both sets of grandparents. Twice, in response to wishes of ‘Many happy returns!’ Robin responded, “Many happy returns!” to derision from siblings.

This post’s title is shared with that of a Burns poem, which came with the card from Grandma and Grandpa.

Eliza

Eliza came to her first football match. She brought her copy of Little Women, although that wasn’t in anticipation of boredom, but because L was taking photos of her for a school project, ‘Dangerous Reading’ – i.e. reading in unlikely places.

Eliza said she enjoyed the match and was on the edge of her seat – which accounted for why she didn’t see any of the six goals as everyone else was standing up while she sat down.

Gabe

Gabe’s TV preferences remain headed by football and other sport. The cartoon, Arthur, seems to be giving way (although he’ll watch it with the other two). Game shows are popular and rising favourites seem to be Escape to the Country and a soap opera about schools.

Disco pyjama party

Eliza

Eliza’s 10th birthday was celebrated with a disco onesie/pyjama party jointly with a friend. There were 16 girls and three boys. The disco was supplied by the friend’s Dad. The only dancing was a competition between two teams to make up and perform a routine, which they all did remarkably well given they had only 15 minutes to organise themselves. Games and a pizza-heavy tea filled the two hours. Back at home, Eliza opened her presents, which were predominantly beauty products of one sort or another.

Gabe

Gabe brought home a letter from school telling us he is gifted and talented. The effect was dulled a little by the mass-produced format of the letter, a couple of paragraphs followed by a list of subjects with boxes ticked to indicate where gifts and talents lie. In Gabe’s case, he is highly regarded in Maths, Science, History and Modern Foreign Languages. The school commits to stretching him in those subjects.

Robin

Beside Robin’s bed are piles of books folded open with spines bent. These are the books that Robin has started, but lost interest in. There are lots of them. He’s a strong reader, but not always a committed one. I put this down in part to his eagerness, with older siblings as an example, to leave behind picture books, to read the books Gabe and Eliza enthuse about. But he struggles with them, occasionally forcing himself to read to the end, but often discarding the book. This week, though, he’s found a book he really likes and will, I think, finish: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Dream sequence

Eliza

A discussion of dreams while walking to school, led to an experiment. Eliza had been told that if two people are dreaming of the same place, they’ll see each other in their dream. A little like the familiar-looking spectators in the background to a Wii game we wondered. Eliza nominated McDonald’s as the location and we went to bed with that destination in mind. But the theory remains unproven as the next morning only Robin, more suggestible or less reliable, reported getting to the chosen place in his dreams.

Gabe

Gabe is in a high run of form on the football field. He has started to complement his silky midfield passing with a more physical presence – harrying and tackling opponents. He came to the fore in a cup semi-final, which his team won in nerve-wracking fashion.

Robin

Robin has followed brother and sister down the Harry Potter route. He has finished the first book in the series and is reluctant to read his school book club assignment as it diverts him from school wizardry.