Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Sleep Over.


Scott slept over last night.

Both Jack and Scott have been driving their parents crazy about it since it was planned. Scott had been with his grandmother all day. When they got home from their activity Scott started asking when his mother was coming to get him. This carried on for a couple of hour before Jane, Scott's mother, arrived. They explained that he'd been asking for her and they didn't know what was wrong. Communication isn't one of Scott's strengths. Jane called for Scott interested to hear about what was wrong, when Scott ran up to her he asked, Are we going to Jack's now?

Jack had been asking about Scott's arrival for days. Every day we'd had constant, Is Scott coming to stay today? When I wake up in the morning will Scott be here? Is Scott coming after this day? Strangely, the day that Scott was actually due to arrive he was pretty quiet about the subject.

After Scott arrived Jack started started his trademarked toy tour. Scott has been over to our house a number of times and has seen the toys, it's real easy to tell what Scott is thinking by the expression on his face. He wasn't impressed.

Jack is a gracious host, patient and accomodating. He went to length in making sure Scott was entertained and felt comfortable.

Scott, I have a bed but it's not big enough for both of us. So we're going to be sleeping in the spare room which is really big. Now I know you're afraid of the dark so don't worry, I'll be with you and I've got a torch.

They first spent time comparing who'd been excited about the sleep over for the longest. Jack won with having been excited since he was last in America. Jack tried to initiate a game of hide and seek but Scott didn't go for it. So finally Jack settled with instructing him how to play Bakugan. Each conversation seemed to end up in name calling. You look like a head, well you look like a shoulder, you look like a arm, you look like a bum etc... etc... Neither are very good at name calling.

Overall they mostly played with Jack's extensive Ben10 collection. Scott's only recently become aware of Ben10 and was very interested to watch the shows and see all the aliens that he'd not yet heard about. Jack showed of and gave a details description of each alien and even helped narrate one of the episodes.

Bedtime was simple enough, they took a bath that was fill with more toys than water then Helen handled Scott and I handled Jack as we got them into their jammies. They agreed on a story and both cuddled up to Helen for the reading, clutching their chosen Ben10 figures.

The giggled and chatted upstairs. They did eventually get to sleep. It was a couple hours past bed time but it was surprisingly easy. After a couple of quick discussions they eventually just, went to sleep...

The only hitch that we had was at 3am whem Scott woke up and didn't know where he was. He called for mommy until Helen was able to wake him up enough to remind him where he was. After about 30 minutes he was asleep again.

Reading The Gruffalo at bedtime.
In the morning there was breakfast and more Ben10 then Scott left after lunch.

Both boys are exhausted but agreed that they'd had a really good time and are eager to plan the next sleep over.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

No Best Friend


Jack was off school today so he spent the day with Helen. They planned to do all the usual things, lunch at McDonalds and then off to the soft play area. Early in the morning Helen received word that many of the children from Jack's school were going to the same soft play area but in the morning rather than the afternoon. This presented a slight problem for Helen, she had other things planned for the morning. None of them were set in concrete so she put it to Jack, would he like to go to the play place in the morning with the kids from school, or in the afternoon as usual.
Jack's first condition was that he wanted to go when Phoebe was going, so Helen go in touch with Phoebe's parents and discovered that Phoebe wasn't going this time. So it was put to Jack again, go with those from School, or potentially on his own. Jack's response was truly heartbreaking.

I don't want to go with the kids from school. None of them will want to play with me.

Knowing that Phoebe now wasn't going and that Scott was ill Jack was more than likely to be on his own. He still preferred to go in the afternoon in anticipation that he would be spending the time playing by himself anyway. Visions of Jack at school playing by himself all day shot through Helen's mind. She was going to have to speak to Mrs. Smith. What would she even say? Jack has occasionally mentioned when a regular playmate would start favoring another over him but usually someone else came along shortly after. It's never really occurred to us how this might have made him feel. We hear more from Jack about what he eats and with whom he plays than what he actually do at school, or how he feels about it. After a bit of gentle probing Helen got a little more information. By the end of the conversation Jack was sobbing inconsolably.

Each of the children at Jack's school have a best friend. Amberleigh has Sophie, Mia has Alfie and so on. Jack doesn't have a best friend. For a while he had Izzy but she's not able to go anymore. He has no trouble getting the kids to play with him but it's always him and them. If he decides to play with something else, the decision is his alone. He's aware of this and it makes him very sad. The bottom line is our son feels alone in parts of his world and there's not a lot that we can do about it. Sadly it will remain this way until a best friend appears.

This afternoon Jack went to the play place and played with Tom and little sister Amy. Jack and Tom get along well and aside from a hitting incident, Jack had a really great time and didn't want to come home.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Let It Snow.


Today it snowed. It was the best kind of snow in this country because it was unexpected enough that no body had the time to panic. So it was largely absent of the customary chaos.

In the sight of snow Jack mind is turned to one thing, snowball fight. The moment flakes appear in the sky Jack begins to calculate whether it will be enough for him to make a decent snowball.

I've spent a lot of time this winter educating him on the different types of snow and ice and he's now an expert at identifying each type, or whether or not a road is likely to be slippery and even how slippery. Of all the lessons I've given him this is the one he chose to learn.

A few weeks ago Jack wasn't a fan of the snow. Mostly because when it snows in England the resulting traffic means that we can't go anywhere. This year they've canceled the Ben10 truck tour which we had planned to attend which just added salt to the wound. He told me once that he was going to go live in America with Grandma because it doesn't snow there. He changed his mind when he later spoke to Grandma and found out about the 3 feet they'd had overnight.

On the way home from school Jack examined the falling flakes. They were big and fluffy, they were sticking, the air was relatively warm, the snow on the road or under foot was being compressed rather than turning to slush and there wasn't much ice. Jack knows from my teachings that all these signs make for perfect snowballs. So we geared up and went outside for a fight.

Jack is good in a snowball fight. He sneaks, hides and trash talks. You want some? I'm gonna bring you some pain! His snowballs, while poorly aimed, are well made and solid. If you turn your back you will, eventually, get hit and he's not opposed to shoving snow down your pants should you leave yourself vulnerable in such a way. He runs and screams and doesn't mind you fighting back. We'll fight until he starts to feel the water seep through his gloves or trousers.

Toward the end of this particular fight Jack suggested we make a snowman, this equated to me stacking giant snowballs whilst he pelted me with little ones. When he realized that we didn't have the necessary confectionery with which to make the eyes and nose and most importantly arms, he told me to just make it as tall as I could. We called it a snowtem pole and it was taller than me.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Participatory Cartoons


Jack has always liked the participation kid shows like Dora and Diego, they irritate the hell out of me, especially Diego.

When he was little he would just watch them, he didn't really get that the characters were supposed to be talking to him. The first time I really remember him speaking back to any of them must have been shortly before he was two, when prompted to say 'Swiper no Swiping' he grabbed for a cannon, shouted OPEN FIRE!, and blew the poor little fox away. As he got older and better at speaking, so his participation escalated.

Jack does get irritated, particularly with Dora, when he's made to repeat himself. One such occasion was at the beginning of a Dora episode when Dora asked his name, to which Jack replied Jack Morrey. Dora then said, "What was that?" Jack sighed impatiently, Jack Morrey! I told him to cut her a little slack, it's hard to hear on the other side of the TV. We'd just, the day before, spoken about how he shouldn't break open the TV because he wouldn't be able to then be a part of the cartoon, now Dora is talking to him and I'm playing along. Poor confused child.

There's another of these shows is called Little Einsteins. This is all musically themed stuff, there's lots of musical terms and information about composers etc, somehow they've worked in all into resolving some little problem, usually a rescue. They instruct him in dancing about and have him flap his arms to difference classical selections at different volumes and tempos. Music fuels their rocket you see... We watch this show as often as we can really, I can tolerate it and Jack always really loves it. So today when I saw that it was on I switched to it and we caught the last five minutes.

The episode revolved around rescuing one of the characters' pet melody, some weird little purple creature that spoke only in oboe sounds. Jack participated more actively than I've ever seen before. He danced about and chanted and flapped his arms very enthusiastically desperate to help rescue Melody. But alas, it was over in just a few minutes, Melody was rescued but we didn't have anything more to watch. Jack was disappointed that it was over so quickly.

As luck would have it, I found the show repeating on a plus channel very shortly after, so I asked Jack if he wanted to watch it again from the beginning. Yes Yes he said, so I called it up. We watched the show and Jack resumed dancing about and followed their instructions to the letter. However once the plot unfolded and became clear to him, he stopped participating all together and flopped himself on a chair. As the show neared the previously viewed last five minutes Jack looked at me and said, I'm not doing the actions because I've already rescued Melody once today. I couldn't help but smile. "So you're just going to leave her in the crevasse?" Yes, I already got her out and now she's just back in there again. She shouldn't have gone in there again.

It would seem that Jack is happy to help rescue but if you get into the same trouble again, you're on your own.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Grizzly Spout


Jack and I spent an hour at the park for the first time in about 3 months. We've had a fair amount of snow and low temperatures this winter so we've generally avoided such outdoor activities. Jack has missed our trips out and jumped at the opportunity as soon as I mentioned it.

This morning went as usual, we spent 20 minutes on the swings, then went to the big slide, then the ropes, then back to the swing, then to the fire pole, then the swing the through the Grizzly Spout... back to the swings then to the zip line.

Jack briefly climbed through the tunnel. This is a wire frame tunnel that hangs about 5 feet in the air. Jack perfected climbing through it almost two years ago. It seems that today he has titled it The Grizzly Spout. I don't know where he's got the name from but it today he climbed very dramatically chanting.

The Grizzly Spout. Climbing into the Grizzly Spout.

He whispers the word spout every time. It just amused me.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Sing Songs

Though he won't openly admit it, Jack loves singing. When he thinks no one is listening, or is deeply submerged in a fantasy he will quite often break out into a little song summarizing whatever he happens to be doing at the time such as the Bakugan Jamboree. 'There's a Bakugan there and a Bakugan theeeeere, they're having a Bakugan jamboree.'

His songs don't always rhyme, but they're always pretty melodic. They often come complete with actions and sometimes a little dance. I try to record them but as soon as he sees me get my phone out he stops singing.

Jack has been learning a lot of songs at school, lately they've been to do with Christmas, or the school play. He's a little more open about singing these when there's an audience.

Anyway I thought I'd share one I've managed to get him to perform.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Makin Magic


Jack is no stranger to a magic show. They're a pretty common occurrence at any organised event at which there are expected to be children. They're always very low budget and usually consist of more talking than illusion. Saying that, usually they've got a few good store bought tricks and can keep the kids baffled and entertained.

Jack loves magic and is always up for watching a show. He sits with all the other kids and participates, desperate to be picked as a volunteer. This has yet to happen, despite me always willing it from the sidelines.

Jack tries lots of tactics in getting noticed, he'll start off by enthusiastically doing every little challenge that the magician has for them. When that doesn't work he'll resort to trying to out-do all the other kids. He'll try to shout louder, raise his hand higher, everything. Failing that he'll start getting creative. He'll first start to edge his was closer to the front, kneel instead of sit, instead of shouting louder he'll shout longer. He'll raise his hand before being asked, then keep it raised for a while after everyone else, just in case. With each magic show his tactics get a little bolder, I'll be interested to see what it will be that finally works.

I remember going to these shows and just begging to be picked and being so disappointed each time. What's funny is that after that fateful day comes and you finally get brought up in front of all those people, it swings the other way and you'll do anything now to get picked again. Jack is a good sport about it though, he's never complained about it. I reckon he just figures his day will come.

Jack is in the middle, striped shirt.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

My Little Girl.

Samantha at about 8 years old, at a Harry Potter Party.
Samantha turns 11.
To mark the occasion my parents dragged her out of school and took her to a nearby McDonalds to borrow their free wifi for a video phone call.
Jack has been looking forward to the call all day. So we got him in the back a little early so to be all ready for bed when the computer phone rang. Turns out they were about half and hour early, so we pulled Jack out of the tub and wrapped him in his Buzz Lightyear robe.
As soon as Samantha's face appeared on the screen Jack set to finding things to show her. He's speak to her a little bit, then wander off and come back with a toy. He'd play with that toy for a minute and tell her a little about it, then trundle off again to find another. We tried to get him to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her but he couldn't manage more than a semi-melodic mutter.
At the end of the call we negotiated the possibility of more calls involving Samantha and possibly even of Grandma or Samantha reading Jack a bedtime story over video conference, which would be very cool.

Samantha is a very thoughtful and sweet girl. Everyone who knows her remarks on her kindness and gentle manner, even her mother. She aspires to be a writer and has written a few short stories that I hope one day to read. She likes rock music and has been learning to play the guitar. She's got two younger sisters Austen and Justice and she loves them dearly.

This is the 3rd time I've spoken to Samantha in a little less than 10 years (excluding letters). My parents have worked hard to keep me updated on her current evens and sent me fairly regular photos but it's still hard for me knowing that she's out there growing up and living a life that I'm not a part of and more importantly, Jack. Hopefully over the coming years I will not be able to sum up everything I know about her in two sentences.

As time goes on I hope that Samantha and I will be able to build a relationship. I'm hoping that eventually she'll get access to a computer and we can communicate more regularly.