Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grand-Dad we love you

Yes, we've been "on holiday".

That meant going to Devon to visit mum-in-law.

It's funny how when we tell some friends this fact they sort of "pooh pooh" the whole idea and say, "O! We thought you'd been away!"

Yeah, we'd been away. Away from home. Enough to have to ask a neighbour to make sure our bins were pulled out to the perimeter of our drive and that they were returned to their usual positions while we were "away".

Son enjoyed it. He enjoyed being able to sleep in his 'lion' sleeping bag put on top of a duvet that has been folded over to sandwich four pillows, on the floor, at the bottom of our bed.

For all his shortcomings, son takes the greatest pleasure in the simplest of treats: like being able to eat a meal in front of the TV, etc.

Staying in the same room as Mum and Dad while on holiday is another of such treats. To be able to use his 'lion' sleeping bag, sleeping on his 'lion' pillow, my! Christmas had come early.

Well, that, and be given a couple of new sets of Lego for attaining his Orchestra badge at school.

He'd also been asking about, late, Grand-Dad.

One day we did something unusual: we actually went to a tourist attraction near mum-in-law. (We often visit at times when these attractions are closed.) We passed the cemetery that Grand-Dad is buried.

I suggested that we stopped by on the way home, to avoid having to drive out all this way again, to see if we could find Grand-Dad's grave stone.

And we did.

But of course the cemetery had become much more 'populated' since he was buried. We had not been for nearly eight years -- since the time he was interred, in fact.

So out of the car ... husband said "it's probably in this direction" ... "I know there is an engraving of a rose somewhere" ... and we searched.

We told son to look for "P---- T--------" and split up.

Then a voice rang out, "Dad! What's Grand-Dad's full name?"

Dad shouted back. I turned to look.

A little face lit up with excitement and a long limb stretched out with a pointing finger, "I found him!"

I remember when Grand-Dad died my sister-in-law tried very hard to protect her son (our nephew) from the reality of death, speaking of it in euphemisms.

And there we were, our son, about the same age that that nephew was when Grand-Dad died so, so suddenly, engaging with the process of death through this visit.

So this is also for Grand-Dad, we miss you so very much. You were the best father-in-law I could wish for. And I wish you could be around to see this grandson of yours.

We didn't even have a chance to tell you we were expecting him when you died on that day of the solar eclipse. Now he is nearly eight, and guess what? I think he has inherited your great sense of humour.

He is not at all like your sporty self, but definitely has traits inherited directly from Grand-Dad.

We miss you!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boy done good

The highlight of the term for some, not all: the school cross-country.

Got to the grounds just in time for son's race to start. As I noted elsewhere the Form I and Form IIs had to do two laps of, I don't know, about 250m, perhaps. Not quite cross-country, but a resonable distance for seven and eight-year-olds.

In this instance they were competing against the Form IIs (age eight-plus) some of whom were very nearly ten years old (if they turned nine early in the school year).

Son came in 13th, a very pleasing result as far as I am concerned.

On Thursday when we studied the results it turned out that he came in 13th in a field of 41 (with perhaps six or seven being absent from illness). He was about 7th in the whole of Form I and third in his half (class) of Form I (the more athletic ones seem to be in the other class), in a time of 5 minutes 55 seconds (or is it 5.55 minutes?).

This is pretty good going for a boy who does not usually excel in sport.

Thursday was the day he had been waiting for for the whole term.

Early morning rehearsal for fun choir, piano lesson, Mass, lunch, and then end-of-term concert followed by headmaster's assembly. He plays his first concert with the school orchestra and he expects to get his orchestra badge to go on his lapel.

And he did.

The other boy who was getting his badge was a Form VI boy about to leave the school (and orchestra), and who took this long to get his badge because his attendance and punctuality were always not up to scratch.

When this senior boy vacates his chair, son will be the only clarinettist. He prefers to call himself the 'lead clarinettist', but goes on to say, "However, it will be nicer if I did have someone to lead!"

The good news is his best friend has just started clarinet lessons, and another boy from his Form will begin next term. In due course this Form would have three clarinettists and I look forward to their playing some nice clarinet music together.

He also got his term grades and again has done excellently. There is plenty of room for improvement (C's in Religious Studies, PE and Swimming). Honestly I cannot understand how he could be given C's in a subject he was not tested in, and PE and Swimming which he continues to make steady progress in, but is still not as good as the other stronger more athletic boys in class.

Still, as a parent, I am happy to see A's in English, Maths, Technology, French, Art and Music, rather than in PE and Swimming.

Perhaps most pleasing of all is the confirmation from the form teacher that he is certainly much calmer now, and contributes more to class discussion, compared to the situation last term.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt -- not

Son told me at pick-up he didn't take part in the Easter Egg Hunt. He had lost his £1 coin and couldn't take part. (The boys pay £1 to take part, get some mini-eggs or win a big prize if they found the 'big egg' sticker.)

He had been really looking forward to this, so a great disappointment indeed.

I felt guilty as I came home in time for me to get down to the school if I needed to. But I knew they had enough help and I wanted son to cope on his own.

And this happened.

Better news is he has completed his swimming test. He thinks he passed.

Evening: mum of boy who has allergies phoned to say she was a bit disappointed that her son did not win a big Easter Egg despite having found the 'big egg' sticker. I do not know the details.

I had taken trouble to procure and convey to the new chairman a fruit bar that we know this boy is allowed to eat. The mums helping might have just been cautious in not handing over an egg he had duly won. I don't know.

Mum of boy expressed that her boy was deprived of feeling the 'sense of elation' of winning because the prize egg was not given him.

I stopped her to say: my son did not even have the pleasure of taking part because he lost his £1 coin and was apparently in tears.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Music-Ally (Part 2)

Last weekend we decided to swop CD players between the study and son's room.

His CD player has gone a bit wonky because he had a tendency of leaving it on 'Pause' overnight or something like that. The DAB radio works fine, so we could not possibly throw it out.

He got my Amstrad instead which I had not used for a long time, and discovered a tape player. He didn't have a clue how to work it.

Put in a tape -- bought at an Arts Festival in Singapore c 1990 -- and son decided that he likes the musical style of Cantabile as well.

Bought a few more CDs of this group.

Delighted that my son shares my interest in this type of music.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Trunk Aid

This is not about saving elephants.

Last week was a tough week for son. He had music lessons on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The last one was to make up a lesson missed because of the teacher's performing schedule.

That meant having to miss a swimming lesson which he was not happy about. We packed the swim gear any way just in case there was a no-show and he could have an earlier slot.

Pick-up time: "I missed swimming but you have to wash the gear any way because J used it."


"J forgot his bag so I loaned him my kit."

It transpired that they just whispered amongst themselves and agreed on the loan and the teacher didn't know till after the event. I don't think J's mum is even aware of that, to date.

We talked about this in the evening and I said that was a very kind and grown-up thing to do. He was afraid that I might be angry with him because that meant I had more washing to do.

Well, I wasn't. I was chuffed that my son is learning to be less selfish and is able to think about being helpful to another person.

The fact that J is about the same size helps!


Haven't we all gone through that experience? Teacher picks two captains who are asked to pick their team members.

O, the shame of being the last to be picked!

Son has come home from school moaning about even how his best friend wouldn't pick him for a football team. Gosh! Was my young man cross with that.

At the end of the last half-term -- for some reason I haven't yet recorded this -- he came back one day to say J picked him first for a quiz at music class. The other captain A wanted him too but was too late. Of course, my son answered correctly the question that brought them victory.

The following day, they continued with a quiz, but this time A was allowed to choose first, and my son was first to be picked. Again he answered the question that stopped his team from losing. (The teams drew.)

So I had a happy boy who, because he is quite hopeless at football doesn't ever get picked, was picked first twice in two days for a music quiz which his friends know he would be good at.

Fact is I told him this ages ago that his friends will soon know who is good at what and would pick accordingly. He didn't believe me.

Perhaps most significantly I asked who was the last one to be picked. My son didn't remember. To him it was not important who was the last to be picked.

The boys, despite being just seven or eight, only wanted to win and would pick what they hope will be a winning team. They still live in a "me-first" world.

But of course the last one to be picked would no doubt go home to moan about being the last to be picked. It is no consolation, I imagine, to these children if we told them the other children would not remember who was the last to be picked.