Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Three teens


Robin turned 13. On Friday he went to a film and had a Nando’s with four school friends. This event exhausted him – at the time and in preparation as he agonised over whether and what to do. The choice of film he handed to his friends (a superhero action pic), concerned that they wouldn’t be interested in his preference (dog makes its way home) at some cost to his own enjoyment.

Saturday he spent with his primary school friend A. The following day, his birthday, the two boys and I cycled around Tatton Park, through mud and a fierce gale. In the evening, the five of us went to Pizza Hut, then home for cake and trifle, before finally opening presents.


Eliza most closely fulfils the teenager stereotype: bedroom or out-and-about, pushing boundaries, vivacious. When the first snow of the winter fell, she opted not to cross the threshold of school, realising that if she did she would have to stay all day, despite there not being lessons. She went to the park instead.

She has been to two gigs in one week, including one without adult attendance – she and her friend were dropped and collected from the door. It was, unsurprisingly, the best concert: small venue, band within touching distance. She tried getting on stage, she reports, until a security man headed her way.


Gabe remains bound tightly to his room, tv and his studies; cautious and serious. But there may be some loosening. He is completing essays without agonising and demanding assistance, perhaps liberated by ‘the offer‘. He went to the cinema with two school friends, has another party in his diary and reported when we discussed our family holiday that friends (whom he refused to name) had invited him to interrail in Central Europe this summer, although he has no intention of joining them – or divulging anything of interest to us about his social circle.

Atypical teen


Two colleagues have season tickets for City in the family stand. They qualify for tickets there because they take their nephew. This 14 year old is in a full-on teen awkward spell, which includes not wanting to go to football matches. Hence, I was asked if Gabe would like to go with them. Gabe accepted.

And so there have been rave reviews of what a fine chap Gabe is. He was great company, happy to chat, a pleasure to be with, would he like to come again?

Indeed Gabe has been very good company in recent weeks, all through Christmas and into the New Year. Much has changed and will be changing for him at this time. But one factor was that he broke his mobile phone before Christmas by knocking it into the toilet. He had to wait for Christmas to accumulate the funds to replace it, which he did by upgrading to an iPhone. I shared this observation with him. He agreed that he would spend less time on his phone. That would make him an atypical teen.


Eliza has a cause: the French spelling bee. The paper on which the words she must learn are printed is crumpled with use. ‘Test me!’ she implores and delights in remembering the French words, and even more in spelling them with the letters in French: double-vay; y-grec, etc.


Our sodden winter turned cold for a weekend. On a walk by a canal the kids bounced stones along the iced surface, listening to the ethereal plimp noise made by the skimming, skidding stones. Then tried to hurl stones through the ice.

Even better, it snowed the following night. Robin was awake at 7am and by 7.30 had sized up the conditions. ‘Come to my room’ he begged, wanting us to open the curtains and behold a snowy garden. He woke Eliza, dressed, gulped some breakfast and then was out in the garden. For 45 minutes, there were snowballs and a snowman. He came in for more breakfast and soon after that the melt was happening.


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.

Double gold


Eliza’s gym class had an end of term competition. Eliza was in a group of 5 – the youngest girls. She was last to perform the floor routine, which involved cartwheel, forward roll, splits, crab and lifting herself off the ground from a seated position. She was precise and sharp, managing to perform every exercise and smooth transitions between them. She won enthusiastic applause from the audience of families. Eliza’s second discipline was a vault, which was across the hall from where we sat. The judges gave her gold for the floor routine, silver for the vault and joint gold for the overall competition. Each award required a trip to the podium – twice to receive a medal. She looked too skinny and scared to smile. Her pleasure seemed to come afterwards, knowing how well she had done and showing her medals to us and her friends when less exposed than when in front of a crowd.


Gabe asked to make lunch for everyone: toasted cheese sandwiches. He buttered the bread, arranged the cheese slices and, with a little help, handled the sandwich toaster. Eliza wanted a normal cheese sandwich, which he also made. She complained that there was too much butter. Gabe apologised. L and I stopped him, wanting him to see that making meals is work that should be accepted gratefully by others.


This week’s freezing weather has gradually broken down Robin’s resistance to warm clothing. First went the shorts. Then came gloves and zipping up his coat. Finally, he has worn his hat. He is no keener on snow now than he was during the great freeze in January.

The big freeze


With schools closed by the snow, Gabe and I joined his friends and their families at the town’s only slope in Priory Gardens. Gabe took turns with a friend’s plastic sledge, boldly carrying on after rolling out of the sledge and cautiously choosing which slope to descend.


Robin took a carrot to the Broad Road Rec where we met up with friends building giant snowmen. The carrot was to have been a snowman’s nose. But it wasn’t to be as Robin, copying a game invented earlier in the day with Eliza, buried the carrot for others to find. Nobody could find it and Robin had forgotten where he had buried it.


The three children and I went to Walkden Gardens, where the snow was relatively untouched, five days after the last fall. We began with a snowball fight where I chased the kids through the deep snow, all of us running in boots. Eliza flitted through the snow, faster than I, stopping to make snowballs, and without tiring.

Christmas 2009

The snow

Heavy snow fell in our neighbourhood on the Sunday before Christmas. It was probably the first time in Robin’s life that snow had fallen at home and stuck. The four of us went to the park and played for an hour until the cold drove us home. Eliza was expert at rolling the snow ball to grow it to the size of a snowman’s belly and then another for his head. Gabe lobbed snow balls and volleyed juicy snow footballs that I served up to him. Robin charged with snow ball in hand and ground it into my back and bottom. We all played tig and laughed.


Gabe was most pleased with FIFA 10 for his nintendo DS and a tin of Match Attax cards. L also bought him ‘Rush Hour’ – a spatial awareness puzzle, that engrossed Grandma when we went to St Andrews.

Eliza had asked Father Christmas for a bedside table. When she saw the size of her empty stocking on Christmas Eve, she was downhearted, realising that Santa wouldn’t fulfil that wish. Such was the focus on the presents under the tree, that none of the kids on Christmas morning had noticed the sheet covering objects in the fireplace next to the tree. After all the presents had been opened, L pointed out the sheet to Eliza. She pulled it off and found the present from us of a bedside table and book case.

Robin’s favourite presents were a second light sabre (red – for the baddie) and sword and shield from Auntie BS. Robin and I had an epic light sabre battle in the kitchen before Christmas lunch. I spun and leapt, but couldn’t avoid getting my hands clattered by the blue light sabre.

In the frenzy of present opening, L pointed the kids to a present for the three of them. Working as a threesome they somehow managed to share the unwrapping of what was clearly a DVD and almost as clearly Ice Age 3. But when the paper was torn off, Gabe looked up at us, ‘Sopranos?’ L had wrapped the wrong DVD.

beware the baddie