Sunday, 26 November 2017

Characterisation through Rubik's Cubes

I owned one in the eighties (who didn't?) but was never interested enough to solve a Rubik's cube.

According to an official-sounding website : 'In 1974, a young Professor of architecture in Budapest named Erno Rubik created an object that was not supposed to be possible. His solid cube twisted and turned - and still it did not break or fall apart. With colourful stickers on its sides, the Cube got scrambled and thus emerged the first “Rubik’s Cube”. It took well over a month for Erno to work out the solution to his puzzle. Little did he expect that Rubik’s Cube would become the world’s best-selling toy ever. As a teacher, Erno was always looking for new, more exciting ways to present information, so he used the Cube’s first model to help him explain to his students about spatial relationships. Erno has always thought of the Cube primarily as an object of art, a mobile sculpture symbolizing stark contrasts of the human condition: bewildering problems and triumphant intelligence; simplicity and complexity; stability and dynamism; order and chaos.

Well, in our household it seems to illustrate not just stark contrasts in the human condition, but start contrasts in character.

Presented with a cube each, they have responded in very different ways.

Gilby has spent hours meticulously researching solutions. (I suspect that Father Christmas might even bring him a book on it.) He takes it in logical stages and is making good, if somewhat slow, progress. His eight-year-old mind wants to understand this thing.

Eddie has...ripped the stickers off and made the whole thing black so that it is perpetually 'solved'.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Running in Colour

'There is no such thing as fun for the whole family' is an epigram attributed to Jerry Seinfeld, and I am, ordinarily, inclined to agree.

Until, that is, a few weeks ago we took part in Brighton's Colour Run.

Getting ready (in pristine white t-shirts) was fun in the morning: I had kept the race packs hidden until the big day so it was a nice surprise for everyone to get their goodies over breakfast.

5km was short enough for Hearth-father and his dodgy hip, and for Eddie and his little legs, and enough of a challenge for Gertie and Gilby who, to give them their due, ran pretty much the whole race.

It helped that it was a gloriously sunny day, despite being near the end of September.

The race itself involves being squirted with dry paint and/or foam every kilometre or so. Not sure why this is such a laugh, but for some reason it is.

And the fun didn't end at the finish line. There was a kind of after-run party that felt like a festival with periodic colour bursts into the crowd and great music.

 Apologies that this post is more of a photo album, but there were some good ones!

There was even, and this was one of my most favourite parts of the day, an opportunity for a celebratory post-run beer on a roof-top terrace overlooking the beach. Not bad for late September!
(Admittedly this part was probably more fun for mum and dad, but hey.)

So, Jerry, take note: Everyone wants to sign up again for next year's run!

Currently reading: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Toothless Grin

Got the call from school. 

Not the neglectful 'you've forgotten to pick your child up' one that we sometimes get when clubs are cancelled at short notice. 

No, this time it was the 'your child's been hurt in an in incident' call. I'm not a fan of that word, 'incident'. 

The 'incident' this time was that Eddie had lost a tooth. Probably a frequent occurrence amongst Year 1 children anticipating visits from the tooth fairy. Except that the tooth in question hadn't even been wobbly. Eddie had been 'pushed into a bin' by another child (a five-year-old in reception class) and his front tooth had come out. It was his first one. He wasn't ready. It had an enormous root and I couldn't believe that something so enormous had come from such a small person.

The headteacher and other staff were mortified and apologetic. Should never have been allowed to happen. Lots of blood. The other boy has been severely sanctioned. Entirely unprovoked, etc. etc. 

(I was just pleased that it was, indeed, entirely unprovoked.)

The other tooth is also a bit wobbly, so Pirate Eddie may have to have a trip to the dentist.

Currently reading: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Saturday, 30 September 2017

What the Six-Year-Old Said to the Bishop

Last night was the induction mass for our new parish priest, presided over by the bishop, and Gertie and Gilby were asked to serve. (Dangerous in these daddy-long-legs infested days; nevertheless Gilby maintained concentration throughout the service.)

Eddie was (unusually for him) immaculately behaved. Whilst this had more to do with falling asleep right from the responsorial psalm all the way through to communion, than with any great triumph of will, it was worth the dead arm for some peace.

At the end of the service, the bishop shook hands with all of the congregation and thanked Gertie and Gilby profusely for their help. Eddie, wide-eyed and only just awake held out his tiny hand. The bishop, with a twinkle in his eye, looked back and forth between them. "Well," he said, "I think you must be the brother of young Gilbert and young Gertrude here! How do you think I know that?"

"Duh. Because of the eyes and the hair," came the unimpressed retort of the newly-six-year-old.

And the bishop wasn't the only one to be on the receiving end of this treatment. An unsuspecting member of the blue-rinse brigade had overheard that it had been Eddie's birthday. "Let me were...fifty!" she joked, affectionately.

"Don't be ridiculous. I was six, " came the dismissive, refusing-to-join-in-the-banter reply.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

When People Look Smudged

Life doesn't get much more exciting than the eve of your sixth birthday; hence this morning's 3.20 am wake-up, I suppose.  Similar happened a few Christmases ago, but this is the first time for a birthday.  I did managed to get Eddie to stay in bed until 6.30 am in the end, but it was a struggle.

Everything was 'epic' today: the crossbow 'which is my very best weapon, and always will be'; the Mister Maker drawers, the Yoda cushion, the Star Wars bedding. He particularly liked the fluttery notes that came from envelopes (thank you GAS and MGM if you are reading).

One of his favourite presents was a real, actual grown-up digital camera. He was a bit disappointed when his first few pictures came out 'smudged'. I love his language choices, I really do. Part of me is sorry that he has found the delete button already and the disastrous early photographs are not preserved for posterity (I have an album full of smudges).

In other news, Gilby appears to have developed a phobia of daddy-long legs.  Slightly problematic given their ubiquity right now.

Currently reading: Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

Friday, 22 September 2017

I Need A Bigger Bedtime

"I need a bigger bedtime," said Eddie, as I went in to wake him up for a second time for school this morning when he failed to appear at breakfast after the first call.

Yes, I thought, perceptive of you. But, on the other hand, at whatever point in the evening I decide to brace myself and mention the 'b' word, you embark on a sort of squawking performance which I have come to interpret as indicating a level of resistance to the proposal. You are also master of delaying tactics, able to draw out the whole process for a good hour or so. It is, in fact, a tad stressful, if am to be entirely honest.

Though a bigger bedtime would make all of us happier, I thought, longingly. My wine glass could be filled earlier, for one thing. Not to mention the fact that I myself could also do with a bigger bedtime, frankly.

Still, it's hard to believe that something as small and innocent-looking as this can be so noisy and ferocious before sleep, or so grumpy when it wakes up.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Making and Breaking

Eddie's sixth birthday party is fast approaching. Last year he had only just arrived in reception and didn't know anyone's names, so I panicked and invited the whole class. This year is much more sensible: three friends to a trampolining place - don't know much about it other than the fact that I have had to buy 'special socks' for them to bounce in. That's the party bag sorted, then.

But some of his friends' mums have contacted me to ask what Eddie might like as a gift.

This is quite tricky to answer. Eddie has two main hobbies: making things, and breaking things. By 'making', I mean that he is the most creative of the three. What he can do with a couple of cereal boxes, some toilet rolls and a roll of masking tape is quite astonishing. But he wouldn't be terrifically happy, I suspect, if he unwrapped a box full of recycling. He likes Lego, and insists on making the thing, then remaking it 8-10 times until he can do it without having to follow instructions; useful if I need to keep him busy for a couple of hours. But Lego is very expensive and I wouldn't want to suggest that people spent that kind of money on a birthday present for him.  His newest hobby is whittling, and he's desperate for his own whittling knife, but at six, it just doesn't seem entirely appropriate ask someone to buy him a knife.

By 'breaking' things I do mean smashing things up. He quite likes demolishing the junk models after he has made them, but also shooting, slashing, hitting, firing, blowing things up, throwing things: in short, weaponry. All types, medieval to modern. This is quite a difficult thing to word appropriately in an email or What's app message, and so I made light of it:

"We have bought him a crossbow! Don't tell social services! 😀😔😕😨😩" That sort of thing.

Unfortunately, one of the other mums in the group is, in fact, a social worker. Oh dear. Busted.

So, it transpires that I have indeed bought my son a crossbow for his sixth birthday and am contemplating getting him a knife. I can't help feeling that something has gone a teensy bit wrong with my parenting somewhere along the way.

Currently reading: Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.