Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Big Mouth

Son got a House point for 'Technology' today.

It was for a 'Chinese lantern' he made. On it he had meticulously written 'Chinese characters'. On closer examination, it looked like he had alternated the writing of 'da(4)' (big) and 'ko(3)' ('mouth') on the sides of the lantern.

When I saw it I burst out laughing. "Do you know what you've written?"


"Big Mouth, Big Mouth, Mouth Big, Mouth Big."

"Those were the only characters we had to copy."

Of course, these are easy characters to copy (just three strokes if you wrote them correctly), and the shapes are so contrasting. You can understand why the Art and Technology teacher would have chosen those. From a distance, the well-spaced out characters do make a pretty pattern.

Any way, I said we should put up our Chinese lanterns for Chinese New Year next week. Son asked for one of these to take to school on Monday for Art Class.

I'm pleased that he's even showing some interest in Chinese culture.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hockey, no hockey

There was a match yesterday for the Under-9 A and B Teams. There was some confusion as some boys got the consent forms, but others didn't.

Son was not selected to play. He's in Football 'C' Team, and assumes that he is also 'C' in Hockey. The 'A' Team are mainly boys in the Form above him and a few really good younger boys. The 'C' Team are mainly boys from son's Form with a few Form II boys who are clearly not that great on the sports field.

Coming home from school yesterday son didn't seem at all disappointed that he was not chosen to play. It was a 'Home' match, but they were playing at grounds a short drive from 'Home'.

"Well," I said, "If you were not ill last Monday, you might have been selected to play today." It appeared that they played hockey the first time that Monday.

"But," I continued, "If you were playing hockey today, I would have had to rush you back to school for orchestra rehearsal. Or you might have to miss it altogether. So it worked out well."

He agreed.

A bit of excitement for us to know how he fared with a whole orchestra rehearsal.

At sectional practice he sits directly in front of the conductor. At whole rehearsals he is right at the back.

"Did it go OK?"

Mumble, mumble.

"But the second violins were rubbish."

There is only one other clarinet player, a Form VI boy, who'd leave the school at the end of the school year.

"Well, I'm really looking forward to playing first clarinet for the London Philharmonic Orchestra or something like that."

Perhaps not, I thought, but come next year, he'd be the most senior clarinettist in the orchestra, and he'd still only be eight.

What's the hurry?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Orchestra practice

We attended Vespers at school chapel together for the first time yesterday.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the incense, I must say.

In fact I started sniffing when I walked into the chapel. So sensitive is my olfactory radar. It calmed down after a while, thankfully.

Son sat next to me, but eventually shifted across the aisle to sit next to a mate.

It was an interesting experience. Son seems interested in joining the Chapel Choir (IF he gets invited and passes the audition), so there might be more of such services to attend.

At home he seemed excited about being told that next week orchestra rehearsal is on Monday. At Headmaster's Assembly a list of names were read out and these brass and woodwind players were told to be at whole orchestra rehearsal on Monday (after school) instead of sectional practice on Tuesday lunch-time.

I was pleased to note that he was listening so carefully at Assembly.

Son also asked if he could take part in a chess tournament. Of course the answer is 'yes'. I was surprised that he was interested and brave enough. So far he has only beaten one other person at chess: a boy one year older who was his role model while in Junior School.

The truth is we are finding it more and more difficult to beat him at chess. He is playing very well defensively. In due course he would play a more attacking game. But it's good that he is playing.

I asked him if he remembered his first game. He smiled and showed a sweeping movement with his arm. He had swept all the pieces off the board when he realized that he was losing. Not a very good sport, but he's grown up -- if only just a little -- since then.

Let's hope the chess tournament will be a good experience.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Four P's

One full week back at school and we all manage to take turns to fall ill.

First it was Daddy. Flat out for a day and then slow but steady recovery.

Then I copped it. It was a slow-onset sore throat into full-blown cold kind of thing and I'm still left with a tickly cough.

Son was straight into cold, fever and all that on Saturday evening. He seemed very well on Sunday, but the fever was back in the evening. So let him stay home on Monday, but made sure he was bored. Lest he gets the idea that staying home is more fun!!

Anyway, he's back at school and seems to be enjoying it. Second orchestra rehearsal yesterday (brass and woodwind section practice) and he complained about a squeaky clarinet (new reed) and sticky keys.

Working on his coping with (un)Predictability, Presentation, Politeness and something else ... ah! Prevention. He's been suffering red and sore skin around the lips because he licks his dry lips AND the area around them.

So we say we must now try to prevent that from happening by rubbing jelly on it. The skin behind his knees also tend to break out in spots and these need to be moisturized as well.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another badge in sight?

Son has been four days back at school. The most exciting thing so far was clarinet. Or rather the orchestra.

He had been talking for a long time about the orchestra. I wanted him to learn an instrument like the clarinet so that he could play in a band or orchestra. Son seems bent on playing in the orchestra just so to get another badge on his lapel.

The clarinet teacher was happy enough with the state of his new top front teeth for him to resume lessons. The director of music at school has also told me that he is required at section practice next Tuesday. So it is happening.

He was also happy with his school music lesson this week when they are doing scales and triads. Then on Wednesday they were off to watch Tintin at the Playhouse. Positive comments all round despite having to cope with rush-hour crowds on the Tube for the return journey.

Piano on Thursday, he was told by his teacher that nobody got a merit from the examiner they had because he was very strict on marking. All except the little boy who does not attend the same school (but presented at the school for convenience). He scored a 123, below his previous 127. But this chap (six years old and practises more than an hour every day) was supposed to have been good enough for a distinction.

That was quite a consolation for my son then. Any way he came home and jumped on the piano and played some of the new piece he'd been doing. Realized he needed the music, retrieved that, worked through the music and did marvellously. He even seemed to enjoy it. It's good to see him enjoying the challenge of learning a new piece instead of being bored with an exam piece.

Friday he was happy with Geography, his new favourite subject.

Not a bad week, although there were the same frustrations with him not responding to requests and orders, and his obsession with playing the computer and PSP.

He coped OK with my not turning up at usual time on Thursday and went to Late Class, finished his homework and read. There was torrential rain and I was drenched.

This next week will be interesting with orchestra practice, visit to the dentist, fellowship group, etc.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The knives are out!

In the last week my son learned to use a kitchen knife to cut up broccoli and carrots into bits suitable for cooking.

He also made himself a sandwich for lunch, twice.

This is the same boy who aspires to make me a cup of hot tea, but is not yet allowed to handle boiling water. (Can't think why as I think I was making tea for the whole family when I was his age. Hmm. Must re-think that one.)

He also decided that he does not wish to learn the piano any more because "piano practice is getting in the way of my life".

What was his life about then?

Playing the PSP, and the computer (usually Lego something or other).

We put our foot down. He must continue with his piano. He does not need to sit any more exams, but he must continue with the piano as he is good, and has the potential of being very good.

We just reduced further the time he is allowed on the computer and PSP (20 minutes a day, now restricted to weekends). And yes, if he complains any more, even the 90 minutes of TV a day would also go.

We try to run a 'democratic' system in the house, but sometimes it does not work. What if one day he decides that he does not wish to go to school? Or he does not wish to wash himself? Or he does not wish to eat?

God has given us parents to tell us what to do until we know what to do.

Meanwhile I rejoice that he is honing new skills with a kitchen knife.

Right now he is attempting his first Airfix model with his dad.

God, please grant me wisdom in dealing with this boy.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas -- Star Wars version

I just searched and there are other versions on the Net.

But what a surprise it was that on New Year's eve my son asked me for a piece of paper, and a few minutes later came back to sing the following to me. This is the same (I have only one) son who has been described by teachers as lacking in creativity and until recently refused to write anything on paper:
Twelve Days of Christmas (Star Wars version)

By LT 31/12/2007

Twelve x-wings crashing

Eleven y-wings turning

Ten Jawas jumping

Nine Rebels shooting

Eight b-wings looping

Seven good guys winning

Six ewoks dying

Five Clone Troopers

Four Wickets screaming

Three bad sith lords

Two count dooku

And a Jedi in a ghost form
I think he's done very well.