I was first introduced to the Star Wars movies when I was about six years old. For my brother and I, watching that first film was a moment of childhood nirvana, and for the next few years we pretty much lived and breathed that galaxy, collecting and playing with the toys. Two of my cousins were similarly obsessed (if not more so) and I have a vague recollection, of us driving down to the South of France, passing the time, taking it in turns to recite the script to Return of the Jedi.
Curiously, during this time I didn’t have a great many friends, but you can’t win them all.
A few months ago I decided that the time was ripe to share the franchise with Fraboo, after all she is a similar age to me when I was first introduced to them. Sadly things didn’t go quite as well as I’d anticipated. It might be that we started by watching a cartoon spin off (she prefers animated films to live action), or possibly that she is quite likely over exposed to movies and the like. Therefore it wasn’t a treat for her as it was for me, we didn’t have a TV when I was a kid you see.
Although I found this to be very distressing it was but a minor setback compared to what happened last week. As you may recall, my in laws are currently here in New Zealand, and it has become a tradition for Nanny, to make a Summer Pudding when she comes to stay. If you have never had this, most divine of desserts, you really don’t know what you are missing! I personally think that this particular offering is the pinnacle of mankind’s achievements, especially when made by my own or my spouse’s Mum. Unusually for me, this is no word of exaggeration (you see how easy to please I am).
Last week, Nanny revealed that she had made a Summer Pudding, and for the rest of the day, I behaved like a kid the day before Christmas! I was pretty excited. After we’d all eaten our dinner, without much ceremony (and tremendous humility), Nanny bought the Pudding to the table. It’s probably fair to say that I closely resembled one of Pavlov’s dogs, in fact I was drooling with such enthusiasm that my father-in-law who isn’t a terribly strong swimmer had donned a life jacket.
There was a quarter each, and I was hoping that my in laws, neither of whom have as voracious an appetite as me, would say that they would only like “a small slice” or even better “a tiny slither”. Unfortunately, Fraboo decided that she would now join the adults for a spot of dessert. I found myself in something of a dilemma. You see, Fraboo, although not quite as phobic as Boy-Boy is still rather reluctant to try new foods. To my mind we were onto a winner with Summer Pudding though as it is really sweet, an absolute necessity if it is to pass her lips. On the other hand, if she did like it, there would be less for me.
After a couple of seconds of frantic indecision, you (and my nutritionist) will be pleased to hear that I thought she would benefit more from a taste than I would. She however had different ideas, point blank refusing to give it a go. Having already sacrificed that particular morsel in my mind, I decided that she should try it, and so began to bribe her. I guaranteed that she would like it, and was so certain of this that I rashly told her that if she didn’t she could drive the car all of the following day. She duly tried it, and as you’ve probably already guessed, announced she hated it. The following day, we didn’t go out
This is odd as from a very early age I decided that I would not live vicariously through my children. Some of my friends at school were not particularly academically gifted, yet their parents had high expectations of them. Similarly there were kids who were not blessed with great athletic ability, yet they were the ones whose Dad’s were always at the sidelines whenever there was a sporting trial, “encouraging” their child using some quite colourful language.
A brief aside, I remember playing football (or soccer for those who don’t understand the true meaning of the word) when I was eighteen or so. On the pitch next to ours there was an under 13s game going on, and there were a few parents watching. One of the Dads (whose son was on the losing side), was becoming increasingly irate with the match and memorably shouted “THIS AIN’T KIDS FOOTBALL YOU KNOW!” This is just the type of man I never ever wanted to be. Anyway, I digress.
Now this might sound like I’m fishing for compliments but I swear I’m not. I am not really very good at much. In fact the only thing I am really significantly above average at is swimming. I love the water, and actually feel more at home in it than on land (like most whales), and it is my fervent desire that my children swim well. Up until recently, I have been doing a very poor job in taking my kids to the pool. This summer though we have been in and out of the water up and down the country like a family of amphibians. We’ve been to the swimming baths, thermal springs and in the sea, and what joy it’s been. It hasn’t escaped my attention that while the kids have become very confident in the water, their skills are lacking and this is a very dangerous combination.
With this in mind we have enrolled Fraboo in a local swim school. I took her along with some trepidation as I was expecting her not to listen, and to start having hysterics when told she had to put her head under the water. We had a little chat before her lesson and I told her to just try her best.
I watched her for the half hour lesson and was shocked! She listened attentively to all of the instructions she was given, and tried her very hardest to do exactly as she was told. There were several occasions when she was frightened and reluctant, but I could see her grit her teeth and try. I can honestly say that I have never been prouder of her! I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t sure she had it in her to behave like that and expected to have to have some stern words with her after the session. “This is costing us a lot of money etc.”
But this clearly wasn’t the case. I explained how proud of her I was and asked her why she didn’t do this at school. I was hoping for words like “I decided to do what you asked me to Dad.” I would have happily settled for “I really want to be a good swimmer.”
What I wasn’t expecting was “My teacher was very handsome”.