Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Growing up

It's been two weeks of half-term break and I am thrilled to see/feel how our son has 'matured'.

Last Friday we took him to a Thai restaurant. He was very well behaved, all things considered, and was most fascinated by the naked flame on our table.

Then he's learned to say things like, "O! Why are you wearing THAT?"

"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?"

"I've never seen it before. You look very nice in it."

From little things like taking his crockery back to the kitchen to making his bed without being told (though he sometimes forgets), he seems to be more in charge of himself.

There are still the signs of frustration when he is not able to cope with some things in life, but he's getting better all the time.

We often forget: he is only seven.

Any way, today (Wednesday) he came home asking me to write a note to his music teacher to say he does wish to perform on the clarinet for the children in the Junior School. On Thursday he discussed this with the teacher and decided that he would play Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender".

He's not actually played this even for his clarinet tutor. So I think he is a very brave boy.

Piano exams around the corner. His sight-reading is still not brilliant but is improving. His exam pieces however seem to be 'over-practised'. He gets them wrong when we know he could get them right. So I am not hard on him when he does not bother to practise.

I am a bad mother!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Colour Badge - Boy Done Good

Last day of school yesterday before the start of a two-week half-term break.

I edged away from a conversation between two new parents, one of whom was asking about a Maths tutor for her son.

Then another mum approached the group of mothers I was with and asked if Thursday's maths homework was a bit of a struggle. She said she took a very long time to explain the intricacies of the different mathematical concepts to her son. Another said they took 40 minutes to complete it.

One of the mums said to me, "Obviously, your son must have completed it without any problems."

Well, he didn't.

I now know why my son had a worried look on his face when I picked him up on Thursday. They had been warned that Maths homework was supposed to be quite difficult, so it's OK if they did not complete the second part.

Even before he got his shoes off my son whipped out his worksheet and sitting at the bottom of the stairs, we read through it.

It was history of the Romans in Britain combined with maths. So questions like "If he started out with one legion and eight joined him each day, how many did he have when he arrived at Londinium?" (Answer: 25)

And "When the Roman army finally faced the Celtic army, the Celtic women fought beside their husbands. They were all killed with the Celtic army. If one in every two Celtic soldiers had a wife, what fraction of the Celtic army in its final battle was women?" (Answer: 1/3)

They had to add several numbers together, including the denominator (3) from that last question to arrive at a final 'check number'.

My son got the fraction wrong, so his answers did not tally with the 'check number'. But he duly went back to try to think through the question.

Fearing that he would go into one of his shouting rages, I offered to explain it to him.

"No, no, no, I must work this out myself."

He tried using a number (100) to work out the fraction. I suggested he didn't.

"No, don't interrupt me! I must do this myself!"

Then, "One -third. The answer is one-third."

Ironically this was the first piece of homework he found "enjoyable" this half-term. It made him think, and though he initially got the answers wrong, he was not afraid to go back to it and when the pieces fell into place he was a very happy boy.

Any way, there we were waiting for our boys when my son approached, grinning ear to ear, "Have you noticed something different about me?"

He was wearing a little round blue badge on his lapel. A colour! He has been awarded a colour!

"This is for hard work. We get to wear it for the rest of the term. If we keep up with the good work, we get to keep wearing it."

Then he let on that he was given the wrong colour at Assembly. The badge should reflect his house colour. Of course he didn't know this at first. Anyway a teacher spotted the mistake and he was given the correct colour by the end of the day. Only one other boy (his best mate) in his class was awarded a colour.

He also came home with his 'grade card'. 'A1' in French and Music amongst other very good grades.

Boy done good!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Winning Goal

Yes, when he should be sleeping, son slipped downstairs to say, while they were playing football at PE today, he managed to score the winning goal. Well done!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


After several attempts to see the Headmaster, son finally had his Blue Card validated. He is very pleased.

The senior French teacher also sent two of her senior boys to son's class and 'marched' him and his best mate (who was also awarded a Blue Card for French) to her own class to listen to their demonstration, to ensure that they were of a sufficiently high standard to deserve the Blue Card.

Well, looks like they passed the test. The Form VI boys applauded their efforts, I was told. Later on when son was finishing his Prep in 'Late Class' because I was helping to set up the hall for a PTA event, the head boy (whose mother was helping me) said to son that his French was really very good.

Yesterday we were told that his French teacher had asked him and his mate to coach the other boys so that they could also get those Blue Cards. However, the other boys chose to play football instead of going to these two for extra coaching at play-time. I'm not surprised.

Son has also been immensely helpful as we prepared for Quiz Night last Saturday. Dad had to work most of Saturday despite a cold and when he got home, it was not fair to expect him to attend Quiz Night.

Son was distraught over his B Minor scale (left hand) in the morning. He lost it. So did I, as I was feeling a bit stressed out about the Quiz Night arrangements. We talked. He went back to the piano, and then he got it, that B Minor.

It's always like that, it seems. It has to become so very bad before he lets himself have a chance to succeed. Weird.

Played a football match yesterday. (We only discovered in the morning that they were doing this.) He was in good spirits and positive (they lost again). Supposed to play another match this afternoon, but it was rained off.

Instead we made it to the school wind and brass concert, featuring the boys (and guests) who play various wind and brass instruments (and drums, too). There were no clarinets. Son was not invited to play this year (he's only had four lessons), but we like to think that this time next year he might be playing something really bluesy at this concert. He likes blues.

I'm tired. (See other blog)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Being obtuse again

At prayers last night I said we should pray for another mum who is in hospital.

Then we talked about medical conditions being chronic or acute. (He knows Dad has a chronic disease.)

His cheeky face lit up, "So are there obtuse diseases?"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Deja vu and carte bleue

Son and mates played another match today. It was an 'away' game at a school unfamiliar to us parents so most of the boys were bussed back to school.

It was a dismal day, weather-wise. They lost all the games. But surprisingly my son was chirpy. He seemed to have enjoyed the match even though they hadn't won.

It was a very positive spirit and I congratulated him on that.

What disturbed me was his accounts of how a classmate has 'threatened' him with words like, "I will take you to the park and whack you hard," etc. There was talk of blood and all that. This classmate also demanded to have all the money from my son's piggy bank if my son does not want him at our house before his best friend gets there.

Huh? Pardon?

It was not even that my son was being bullied. He didn't let any of this bother him, he claimed. But I was very disturbed that a fellow seven-year-old could use such language and think such violent thoughts. Clearly there was no way he was going to carry this out, but still ....

My son said that his classmate was probably feeling (and he acted this out: a crying baby). This other young man was probably a little jealous of someone else being invited to our house, and not him.

"But you can't get people to become your friend by threatening them," I said.

My son was not even bothered. He seemed to have learned to stick up for himself. Good for him.

But the big question is: do I approach the parent of this other boy to alert him of these thoughts that are being expressed by his son?

The other news is son has got his first 'Blue Card'. The school has a system of rewarding good effort, results, behaviour, etc with points for the House. They earn a House point here, and a House point there, and at the end of every term, the biggest cheer at end-of-term assembly is for the winning House.

My son is an avid earner of House points. The Blue Card is worth a whole dix points. Today he and his best friend were awarded the first Blue Cards for the Form for their ability in speaking French. These cards have then to be validated by the Headmaster.

Son is looking forward to seeing the Headmaster soon to show him the Carte Bleue and to demonstrate his fluency in saying:

Good morning, Mr B.

[Mr B answers.] How are you?

I am fine, thank you. And you?

[Mr B to answer.]

My name is ----. I am seven years old. I live in ------ in England. The name of my school is ---- ----. Etc, etc.

Can't wait to hear what he has to say about this experience.