This has been a weird week. The kids have been doing athletics courses (run by the council) at a stadium across town. Leo's ran from 9am to 10am, so we had to be out of the house by 8am every day from Monday to Friday. Pearl's course ran from 10.15 am to 3pm and so we had to go back across town to get her in the mid-afternoon. It made me realise how glad I am that we don't have to live like that all the time – it was tiring!
The athletics courses were quite good. Leo found the whole experience very exciting and we could usually hear him cackling away with mirth from the other side of the stadium! He was generally in a group with other six year olds, including a little girl he knows from capoeira. He joined in brilliantly and was wildly excited by the certificate he was given at the end of the week. Most of what he did was a bit like infant school sports day activities – bean bags on heads, throwing, running, hopping etc. But he was very pleased to have a go at 'hammer throwing' – a plastic thing with sand in!
Pearlie's course was altogether more demanding. I guess there were about ninety kids there – aged between eight and fifteen. Pearlie was so brave, going off each day, not knowing a soul, and giving everything a go. It was a pretty competitive atmosphere and the kids there were all sporty types, as they'd chosen a week of athletics! P got to try hammer, javelin, long jump, high jump and even pole-vaulting – as well as lots of running. She enjoyed it a lot and wants to do it again next year, maybe with a friend to keep her company. Pearlie's team won the over all competition, which ran on the Friday, so she was pleased. She got given a whole pile of free stuff – a bag, hat, t-shirt and sweat bands – courtesy of the sponsors, of course.
I found it very odd to be in such an overtly competitive and sporty environment – something I loathed as a child and teenager. The kids do active stuff (trampolining and capoeira) but neither of those are competitive really. Something about athletics freaks me out a bit – everything seems to be about winning.
Both kids were very tired by last night and Pearlie stropped off to her room when she realised that I had (stupidly) told Dani the outcome of the competition when she wanted to. Dani spent the evening frantically packing up camping gear for herself and P. They have left today for three days at an adventure camp, which hopefully P will manage to enjoy in spite of her tiredness. The original plan was for us all to go but after our last camping experience, and Leo's tiredness, we decided that L and I will spend this weekend at home. We might have persevered with the original plan but we also read that lots of the activities offered at the site are for over sevens only.
Dani and Pearlie have to negotiate an interesting journey home on Monday, using taxi, country bus, train and the Bluebell Steam Railway! I hope they make it ok. They are using a new tent which we got in the sale in Millets. They tested it out in the park, in the rain, the other day - so we know it should be ok!
Leo and I are having a relaxing weekend of tv, books, film and food. I can't say I'm sad about missing the abseiling, kayaking etc! We went to see Monster House today, which Leo enjoyed. I found that the style of animation and the speed of the swirling camera angles, made me feel quite sick! We've also watched a lot of Doctor Who. Leo was inspired to create a chained beast out of midi hama beads. It was fiddly to iron and I think the chains may fall off!
I must mention Leo's great enjoyment of the Edge Chronicles books. I have read him the complete Twig trilogy now. He is having a go at the Rook Barkwater trilogy– currently about five chapters in to 'The last of the sky pirates' – a dense and challenging read for a six year old. The books have really captured his imagination – coming out in his drawing, writing and conversation. He spent a whole bus journey mapping out his own fantasy land on his lap the other day! I am really enjoying the ones I am reading to him. I would never have chosen to read such a thing had it been up to me, so Leo has broadened my horizons there.
Leo's writing is interesting at the moment – here is an example for posterity.
This is from a book called 'Dark Death' by Leo Rogers, the spelling and punctuation (well, lack of!) is his own. It is written in printed letters, still a mixture of upper and lower case and with consistently backwards S.
There once was a island all bubley and throthey. Once the home of a family a family of peace now a shadow has awoken over its land casting a spell over all goods forever leading its future in your mind think of it that is how to travel there it was once alive now it is all bad. Your mision is to travel there and free it make it alive re=born with: maps giudes pictures
(The book then becomes a guide with pictures and labels
I am amazed at how accurate his spelling is these days and how clear it is that the language of the fantasy genre is appealing to him. He is slowly adopting punctuation too. It is interesting to me that he is throwing in colons (always question marks and often apostrophes too) and attempting hyphens (they come out as equals signs) but he has yet to get to grips with commas at all and often forgets full-stops.
I love his confidence and the way he owns every drawing or piece of writing he produces. If I ever have a moment of doubt about home ed I think about how much Leo is himself and how much he delights in all he can do. Everything he produces is entirely his own idea and often done without a word to us. I want to put this in so that it can serve as a reminder to me, on hard days, that autonomy works!
The other day Pearlie did a lovely drawing of an owl, using Leo's coloured pencils. P doesn't often draw, other than pattern and abstract art, but she seemed to enjoy it. I think she was very put-off by school art as they rushed in with the works of great artists (for her to copy) when she was four and had only just started doing representational drawing. I'll put up a picture of P's owl when I get the camera back from the campers!
This weekend is our fifteenth anniversary – shame we aren't together! I think we'll combine the celebration with my birthday next month and go out to our favourite restaurant. Can't really believe it was fifteen years ago we got together – even more astonishing to think that in fifteen years from now we'll have kids of twenty four and twenty one! It reminds me that we need to live in the moment as much as possible because tomorrow rushes at us and P and L won't be children for long.