Monday, August 13, 2007

Day Camp Over

Thursday we discovered that he was playing hockey and volleyball as well at the camp. He thinks he's quite good at hockey.

I hope so. His paternal grandfather was an ace hockey player, it seemed (as well as being good at cricket and golf). He was offered a place at Cambridge on that basis and if he could get those A levels as well, and it was assumed that he would then become part of the Hockey team and then a 'Blue'.

Sadly Grandad was far too busy playing sport to get those A Levels he needed. (I imagine my husband's life would have been very different if father-in-law did get to Cambridge. As it is, it was a real blessing that he did not.)

I enjoyed playing hockey, too, while in school, when Miss Lim made us play all kinds of sport during PE.

On Friday son went dressed as a 'seismologist' -- someone who wears glasses -- and came back with a picture of a computer screen, the map of UK and concentric circles emanating from two cities. They had to go as the person they wanted to be 'when they grow up'.

Bradley apparently went dressed as a pirate. I am surprised that his parents let him. But Bradley also complained every time he was 'out' in a game, and broke the bumper of the go-cart, etc. Many of the girls wanted to be pop-stars and singers. Only one (other boy) wanted to be a scientist.

He's also been talking about the various techniques he's learned at football. Clearly his confidence has grown in that area, and we are very pleased.

The biggest surprise on Friday was when I rummaged in his bag and found a certificate: for being first at volleyball. Whatever that means. It does not matter.

But no more camp next year. Next year we will be spending most of the summer in Singapore, we hope. He would go to a 'camp' there to learn more about Singapore ways.

I hope.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Day Camp

This week started with a great deal of trepidation on my part. I had, months ago, signed son up for a week at activity camp.

With eight long weeks of school holiday and us not going abroad at all -- like most of his mates -- I thought it would be wise to break up the hols with a week doing some structured activities. Besides I really wanted to 'push' him outside of his comfort zone, force him to do something out of the ordinary.

It is difficult for son to do this. Unlike most children I know, he is quite happy to stay inside the house all day, all week.

But then he also goes, 'I'm bored. What can I do?' and keeps asking to play on the computer or on his PSP, or watch TV. Sometimes he would quietly read a book, and sometimes he would decide that we could do something together, but only sometimes. Much easier to build a complex Lego model than try to teach Mum the rules of Backgammon.

Being really pathetic at football, I also took the opportunity to sign him up for an hour of extra football coaching a day.

I have asked, and asked, I've lost count of the number of times, if he would like to do football lessons, like most of his classmates do.

The answer has been a consistent 'no'. Fine. I am not about to lose my lie-in on Saturday mornings to take him to football then. But he then comes home from school distraught that his mates have not picked him to play on their teams.

Any way, he was happy to go on Monday morning, probably quite excited about having to take a packed lunch. For children who get school meals, a packed lunch is a treat.

I had arranged for him to be picked up and dropped off, thinking that he would get a chance to travel in a mini-bus and get a chance to talk to other children. But he is the only one being picked up this week. Sigh.

After four week of having him with me 24/7, I started missing him badly by about 3pm. It was weird that the house was so quiet.

He looked happy enough when he was dropped off on in the late afternoon and said to his chauffeur that he would see her the next morning. He was also excited to tell us how a boy called 'Bradley' would keep shouting he was not out when he was out, etc.

He enjoyed his football and learned to make a straight pass. When too many children decided to play golf, he volunteered to give up his place and played tennis instead to keep the programme moving. When the others went swimming and Mum had not packed his trunks he played tennis with an instructor and did a very good back hand, surprising himself.

But would he go back on Tuesday morning? Tears. 'But I missed you!' (Lie.)

He would have to survive that week, I said. 'How am I to survive one week at camp?' he asked tearfully.

Somehow managed to get him dressed, packed his lunch, with a surprise, and he went off.

By the time he came home Camp was '10 out of 10'.

He had been go-carting (and 'Bradley broke the bumper of his cart!') and doing Archery, as well as managed to tackle a much older boy and gained possession of a ball. And on Friday they have to go dressed for the kind of work they want to do when they grow up.

'So I'll go in a checked shirt and glasses as all seismologists dress like that.'

OK, so he plans to be there on Friday.

'If Mum gave in this morning and said you could stay home, what would have happened?'

'Bored the whole day and missed doing all the fun activities.'

'Now you know why God gives us Mums and Dads to make children do things they don't like to do?'

So, at last, he's learned a little more of the wisdom of Mum's ways.

Today was another '10 out of 10'. There was swimming and golf (but the space was not large enough for his shots so he had to reign in his swings). AND he managed to stop a ball by Adam, his football instructor. He is pleased with himself.

Bedtime found him reading his 'Football Annual' to find out what position he is most suited to play.

I feel vindicated again. I am not a cruel mother after all.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

He's writing

The aim this summer holiday is to get our son comfortable and confident in his writing: both to accept the style of his own handwriting (very scratchy) and the process of putting his thoughts on paper.

It hasn't been easy so far.

Early July he started out very well, writing down thoughts and reports on what he had done in the day, using the 'loopy' joined-up writing he was taught at school. But the legibility soon deteriorated to a point by about Day Six that we had to re-strategize.

Leaving a line was difficult for him, so was leaving clear spaces between words. He refused to contemplate these options because he did not do this at school. Clearly the influence of his teacher on him was far too strong.

In the end, tears. He said he started feeling bad about his handwriting when they began doing joined-up. But he tried and he tried. (I remember one weekend when he completely refused to do his writing homework. He was taken out of class to do his piano, thus missing the handwriting practice session, and missed learning how to write a certain letter.)

Let's start again: no joined-up writing then. And we'll leave a line.

It was okay doing this for the next few days. But again by about Day Six under this new 'regime', tears.

He just could not bear to write his thoughts down any more.

It is not like he has no ideas. He comes up with the most fabulous stories over what he's done with his Lego constructions, for example, or his computer game, but would he write it down? No.

There is such a disconnect between what he is able to say and what he is able to write that I got really stressed out.

Has he a phobia for putting pen to paper? Does he need a psychologist to de-sensitize him?

Is there something different in the way he perceives the written word or the way he processes the physical writing process that makes writing too painful or too distressing?

I also learned that there is a different kind of joined-up writing taught at school, one that cuts out all the elaborate loops and retracing of letters. I bought a book to help him do this.

He's working through this book.

He's still reluctant to write down his thoughts and feelings.

But he has not given up learning this style of writing with their 'four joins'.

Some days his handwriting is better than other days, and he enjoys a 'web chat' with me on paper.

Maybe he just thinks writing something like a diary is meaningless. He's happy to write answers to specific questions, but writing 'free thinking' is difficult for him.

He also copies out poetry very well. He likes poetry and his efforts at copying poems have been quite remarkable by his standards.

So I'm hoping that perhaps this is another way to develop his confidence in writing.