Monday, October 4, 2010

Well, At Least The Car Is Back On The Road

Today really sorta started last night. All three kids have varying degrees of bronchitis at the moment. Younger Son is getting over it, but it's triggering his asthma, and he has the most exciting coughing spasms... vomited all over the Viking Neighbours trampoline on Sunday afternoon, what with all the sheer joy of bouncing around with his friends.

Elder Son, meanwhile, simply spends most of the night coughing, waking up, coughing, drifting off, coughing. And the Mau-Mau? Oh, you don't wanna know. Wet, rattly, lumpy stuff. Horrible.

None of 'em really seems very sick. They're all energetic and perky. They just have this filthy fucking cough. And it's not easy for a parent to sleep through that kind of thing. (As a matter of fact, when I finish typing this, I'm gonna go into the Mau-Mau's room and... just check, you know? 'Cos she hasn't coughed in a while, and that sort of worries me, though I know it shouldn't.)

So: it was a sad, tired and sorry family this morning. Nevertheless, we packed luncheons and girded loins, and I coaxed the stupid frikkin' Terracan into going down to the school in time for us to do our Von Trapp impression.

What am I talking about? Ah. The school has ramped up its music classes lately. And the Mau-Mau's teacher has heard that Nat and I play a bit. Oh, and so do both boys. So there was nothing for it but that we must turn up with all our instruments to do a bit of a demo for a few kids.

Okay. 'A few kids' turned out to be three classes of twenty or so. But to be fair, we didn't actually bring all our instruments. I forgot to bring down my orchestral flute, for example, so all I had was the Chinese dizi, the Apache flute, the Irish flute, the low whistle, the pennywhistle, the harp and the bodhran. Natalie, meanwhile, brought her fiddle, a mandolin, a ukelele(!) and a few spare fiddles. Younger Son had his violin, and Elder Son had his cello.

The boys aren't so schmick yet, so we played 'Frere Jacques' as a round, to show off all four of us playing together. Then Elder Son played one of his exam pieces, and Younger Son played something... then Natalie cranked out a couple of Irish pieces and I brought out the bodhran to keep time. And then, of course, I had to go through the whistles and the flutes and the harps, and frankly, they really should have given us more than half an hour, because the kids were fascinated, and hardly any of them really got to mess around with the instruments.

Anyway, once we were packed, I spent about twenty minutes swearing at the car before it started again. Then the Mau-Mau and I went home and had lunch. I let the car cool down in the driveway, but I positioned it nose-down, because I was tired of all the fucking around with the not-starting bullshit, and when it came time to leave, I just roll-started the sonofabitch. Wasn't entirely sure you could do that with a CRD fuel-injected turbo diesel engine - but it turns out it was no problem at all. And naturally, I didn't stop the fucker again until we were at the mechanics, in Launceston.

They kept the car for a few hours. Apparently changing a sensor is a bit of a production. In the meantime, the Mau-Mau and I did some shopping, went to a bookstore, picked up some T-shirt ink, had a bite to eat, priced some LED lighting for the kitchen, and then hung out at a playground in a park. By the time they gave us back the car, I calculated there was no way I could get home with the Mau-Mau and then back to sword training in time, so I dropped by my instructor's house to deliver my apologies. I feel like a bit of an idiot: I haven't actually been able to make more than the one session since we got back from Borneo -- but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, the moment I got home it was time to fire up the dinner cooking: 'Pepper Beef Soup', I'm calling tonight's effort. Super-thin sliced beef marinated in lime, fish sauce, palm sugar and oodles of black pepper; placed into large soup bowls with plenty of sliced veges and a splash of sesame oil. Pour boiling stock and noodles over the top to cook the meat, and serve. Yeah!

That's my Monday, right there. Oh - I also negotiated a change for Elder Son's education, much to the relief of his poor teacher. His story-writing and narrative English skills have come along at a rate which has sort of left her behind. Truthfully? The stories he's writing now are better than quite a few of the pieces I slush for Andromeda Spaceways, which is a bit of a worry.

I'm a bit dismayed that he enjoys writing so much. I mean - it's great, but it's a mug's game. The percentages are against you in a big way, and you lead a weird-ass, isolated life. But he's got the bug truly, and badly, and there's no fixing it. I know that for a fact, so the best I can do is help him develop it as far as his talent will let him go.

Which is where we're going. His school English will now consist of grammar, Greek and Latin derivations, and projects in expository or persuasive writing. Narrative, storytelling, poetry - the expressive and arty side of English - will be happening under the guidance of yours truly.

It isn't contrary to his public education. He's already so far ahead of the curriculum with that aspect of his work that they won't catch up with him for at least another six or seven years - probably longer. All that's happening is that he's getting specialist tuition in a particular aspect of English studies wherein he excels.

His teacher's very happy. She's truly excellent, but she was out of her depth on this particular topic, and - being an excellent teacher - only too happy to admit it.

So. There's something else I have to chase up, eh?

Never mind. Sleep is for the weak!


  1. Is there private school in the area? I don't know how it is in Oz but here private school has much smaller classes and therefore kids get more individual attention.

    Also we had advanced placement courses available, even a full math and science center for the very talented students.

    And for writing when my school ran out of options for me I was able to sign up for Ginny's class online, and that obviously changed my life.

    Are there online courses available for his writing? Why don't you have him start a blog for his stories? People can follow him and comment on his stories (positively of course) and he gets the thrill of feedback and more social interacting with his writing.

    Because like you said, writing can be very isolating and that's what makes blogging and the internet so fantastic.

  2. There's no private school in our rural area, Jen. And... well, I'll write about it in more detail soon - but last week at his behest, I set him some work from an adult course I created (and still run from time to time) on short-story writing. And his response to it was a little scary.

    Even I didn't know just how far along he was. His interests are still those of a kid his age, more or less, but his abilities in terms of narrative writing are waythefuck past that.

    I'd given some consideration to giving him a blog. It would have to be very carefully secured. He's only ten, after all. I know his mother won't like the idea - she's not really au fait with blogs as a concept.

    In the meantime - there's nobody else around with the qualifications to help him sharpen the skills of a storyteller. So, with the permission of his school and teachers and the boy himself, I'll take that one on board.

  3. In recent interviews for the longitudinal study that studies the weapon, the interviewer was flummoxed when he told her he writes at home--she wasn't given a code for writing that wasn't homework. So don't know that things are a whole lot different on the mainland.

  4. Hey its great he is passionate about something, even if writing is as you say "i a mug's game".

    I would trade 1000 lives of quiet desperation for one who can puruse something they love like writing even if it carries few opportunities for finacial reward.

  5. Throw me on the blog list, you know I play nice :)

  6. Thank you Bartski - and Jen, and Shaz, and Mr B. I do, in fact, agree with you, Barnes, about the pursuit of something that gives meaning to a life. I was just hoping the kid might find it in, say, professional golf. Or possibly political assassinations.

    I prob'ly will wind up helping him create a closed-list blog. It makes a degree of sense.