Thursday, 28 March 2013

Moot opinion

This morning's conversation:

Daddy today I'm going to play temple run 2 at school. Who should I be?

Are you sure you want me to answer? Whenever you ask me a question like this you always reject my answer.

I don't always.

You do Jack, every time.

Well I won't this time. Who should I be?

Be Guy Dangerous.

No what animal should I be?


What animal should I be in temple run 2.

Be the monkey thing then.

No the monkey chases me what other animal?

There aren't any other animals in temple run 2.

No I can be any animal from any where.

You said from temple run 2. You gave me bad information.

No it can be any animal.

Be a monkey then.

No the monkey chases me. I can't be a monkey too.

Be a spider then.

No a spider would get killed.

I don't know what you want me to say Jack.

I want you to choose an animal.

I did.

A different animal.

This is what I was talking about Jack, why don't you pick an animal that you want.

You know what? I will be Guy Dangerous like you said.

Whatever you want Jack.

No. Finlay can be Guy Dangerous I'll be his dog.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

1.2m ish

We spent last weekend at Alton Towers. We're annual pass holders so this is simply the first visit of the year. To mark the occasion we even stayed in the hotel to make sure that we could really take advantage of the pre-opening hour we're awarded as annual pass holders.

We went on a couple of rides that Jack has been to scared to go on in the past. As we came out of Hex Jack said to me, Daddy we beat the curse and I didn't even cry. Last time we rode Hex he hid, cried all the way through and I guess we didn't beat the curse. We also rode Duel, which he insisted he was up for but we still had to talk him into, "It's not scary Jack because they give you a laser gun, so when the monster jumps out, you just blast him". He loved it.

Jack is no longer interested in places like Storybook land and all the kiddie rides and he wasn't quite tall enough to go on any of the bigger rides. This became more of a problem as being the first day of the season, many of the rides that Jack could go on we not working. They seemed to be breaking down one by one as soon as we arrived. Jack really wanted to ride Sonic Spinball but when we got to it we found that it was a 1.2m ride, not 1.17m like we'd thought. So I suggested that we get Jack measured, we'd only measured him at home a few weeks before and he was about 1.18m tall. He had to be 1.2m to ride any the bigger rides, we knew it wasn't likely but I hoped that maybe he'd grown a little more since then and was hopefully tall enough that we could maybe fudge it a little by having him breath in deeply or spike his hair.

So we set out to find a staff member with one of those batons or a triangle. I don't trust those height boards, I never have, I'm convinced that they're all different and all wrong. After a surprisingly long search we found a staff member to give us an official measurement. 1.19 and maybe a bit, very close but definitely below the 1.2m line, not fudgeable without lifts or something...

Jack took the news well and fought back the tears by hitting a near by playground. While Helen and I discussed our options. We were nearly out of rides and it was only about 10:30 and it was freezing. We decided to stick it out and make our way back toward the 1.0m rides that we knew were working, but first we needed to get Jack a pair of gloved because it was arctic.

"Gloves." I said to Helen in a sudden flurry of inspiration. "That'd do it."
We purchased the gloves near at a shop near one of the 1.2m rides and rushed Jack off to a staff free location where he could 'try them on'.

With the new gloves 'on' we pushed Jack up to one of the measurement boards and took a look... This could work. My only concern now was that it was still close enough to leave us at the mercy of a staff member's discretion but we could always use Jack's cutes if it came to it so we took our show on the road. A helpful staff member guided us to a baggage kiosk on the 1.2m ride where they confirmed Jack's height as 1.22m. They then provided Jack with a wristband, officially stating to any other would-be measures that he was over 1.2m, AND because they were having to close the ride soon they pushed us straight through to the ride. At which Helen snuck the gloves onto Jack's hands.

So Jack rode Thirteen, his first real roller coaster at Alton Towers. He loved it and would have gone several times had it not broken down, while we were still on it. He also rode Sonic Spinball which he adored and it looking forward to going on it again. The wristband was great, Jack just flashed it at the staff and they didn't question.
Officially a big boy.

The one drawback to his newly acquired height was that at there are some little things that he still really likes, like Wobble World which has a maximum height restriction at 1.2m. It wasn't a problem today because we just made sure we went there last and took off the wristband but it will be a problem very soon. However the fact that this was possibly the last time he'd be able to go in there made him quite sad.

We're now looking forward to the rest of the season. This new height will open up a whole host of new experiences for Jack and bring some of the fun for Helen and I back as well. The knowledge of the write band will also serve us well for when we approach the 1.4m milestone.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The cutes.

A long time ago, I recommended to Jack that if he put his cutes on and asked nicely, the nice lady at McDonald's might give him a balloon. Since then his cutes have been the occasional secret weapon. Whenever he's got to ask for some good will he unsheathes the cutes to make sure that he's got the best chance. It works for all sort of things from getting free balloons and colouring tools at restaurants to manipulating instructors at swimming lessons.

We've told Jack that he might as well use his cutes while he's got em because as he gets older he'll have to rely more and more on charm and it's not as effective.

Yesterday we were leaving Jack with his Grandad for a couple hours and during their time together, they would possibly be passing out flyers in Stafford city centre. Jack was excited about the flyers and had even researched the subject while at school. Apparently teenage girls are the best at handing out flyers because they can look the coolest... Figured I'd leave that one be, but we did suggest that he perhaps get out the cutes to increase the hand out success rate against those cool looking teenagers.

Jack agreed, as it turns out he's been practicing his cutes and he was happy to demonstrate.

Jack didn't hand out any flyers in the end, so the innocent citizens of Stafford were spared.

Later that day Jack demonstrated the beta version of a new weapon he's been working on. The cools.

Wait there's more.

I think it's hilarious that he has more than one cute.

"The Cool." Build 1.1a.

I call this one, Mirrored Steel.

Subtle change to Red Mercury.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Smelly Sprinkles

Jack is difficult to trick. I've remarked on this before. He's naturally inquisitive and well, suspicious of anything you say to him. He's also difficult to tease, mostly because he has a tendency to take whatever your saying literally and he panics if you say it more than once.
These two aspects of his personally contradict each other and make for some good entertainment.

Today I picked him up from school. He's had a new stunt scooter over the weekend and I knew he'd want me to bring it to school so he can show it off and ride it home. I also noted that it was a very nice and warm day which meant that the ice cream man was likely to be strategically positioned outside the school. He couldn't have both purely for logistical reasons so I weighed the options and decided that I'd take some cash for ice cream.

As I walked to the school I planned out a clever little deception/tease. He would almost certainly ask why I didn't bring the scooter and I would give him some vague answer and drag it out until the ice cream truck was just about to come into view. Then I would make some remark about how he wasn't going to have two hands free to ride with and drag that out a bit. It was genius.

Jack came out of class and straight away said
You know you could have brought my scooter.
I know I thought about it but decided on something else.
The ice cream man is here.
... What makes you so sure?
Because you didn't bring my scooter because I would need one hand to hold my ice cream. Yaaay yay. Yaaaaay ice cream.
... I'd love to know why you think my not bringing your scooter means you're going to get ice cream. He might not even be there.
He is, I can smell the sprinkles.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Held Back

Jack's progress in his swimming lessons has been slow. He's just not a strong swimmer, he can move his arms and his legs but doing both together gives him problems.

He attends swimming lessons weekly and we go swimming as a family from time to time. So it's not like he doesn't get a lot of time in the water, he just didn't seem to get it. He's in the beginners class where the kids take turns being guided/pulled by the instructors across the short length of the pool.

He didn't get one of his badges some months ago and it seems to have had a snowball effect. At the time we weren't surprised because Jack just wasn't getting any better at swimming despite our best efforts. The reason given was that he needed to do more work on his back, but when asking what the meant no one could give any real answer. In swimming lessons they spend very very little time on back work so we felt a little short changed.

A few months ago, in true Jack style something just clicked and he was suddenly able to swim. He went from having to cling to us and demanding floats to swimming long lengths underwater.

So we eagerly waited the next swimming exam thing for Jack to show his stuff. The exam came and Jack did get a badge. We were very happy. Sure this badge meant that he'd finally be moving up.

The weeks went by and nothing changed, despite the new badge Jack remained in the beginners class while some of his friends were moved on. Jack started to get bored in the lessons and would start messing around between tasks. The next exams came around and Jack got another badge, and that was it. Many if the other kids in the class moved on but Jack stayed where he was. So we had a word with the boss and were told that Jack needed to pass his 5m swim before he could move on, this is the exam that he failed all the months ago. We immediately challenged and requested that someone test him. The boss obliged and Jack passed with flying colors and got another badge...

So another week went by and as I sat and watched Jack get bored an start to swim laps on his own during class I got a little annoyed. I thought about the last few months and noticed something. Because of that 5m fail all those months ago Jack has slipped though the cracks of this system and had effectively been forgotten about. Despite his having done all that he was required to do he was just behind enough that he would never really progress. I've seen this sort of thing a hundred times before. I dug down deep into my system manipulation library and made a very simple plan. I don't like to be the parent that's forever yelling at the poor instructors because I feel like my child getting a raw deal, I more of a strategist when it comes to that sort of thing.

When the boss appeared the following week I gave Jack a task.
He approached the boss and asked with hope in his eyes,
Now that I've done my 5m am I in the bigger class?
The response was exactly what I expected, "No Jack, not just yet."
I smiled politely at the boss as Jack came back with the response. No daddy, I'm still in the little kids class.
I made sure that we were still in view and earshot of the boss.
"Sorry Hun, they'll move your up when you're ready."
Ok. Jack sighed.
Excellent, now watch it go.

Ten minutes later one of the instructors approached me.
"I've been watching Jack and I want to bring him up into my class now."
"Oh, ok great."

Jack beamed at me as he was lead to the big kids class.