Sunday, 3 December 2006


As part of our commitment to ensure the kids have more fun than their friends (as a way of making them enjoy being different rather than wishing they were allowed to conform to their peer group) we encourage them to discover and pursue hobbies and activities which they enjoy.

Ant is very keen on climbing and sailing, and is an Explorer Scout. She was recently revising for her mock GCSE French aural at the top of the pine tree in our back garden, swaying in the wind some thirty or forty feet up, bellowing out French phrases - on the basis that if she could do it clinging to a tree for dear life, it would be easy in exam conditions. Building things (tree-houses, aerial runways, dens) is another of her interests.

Bernie loves animals, so takes Goldie for walks and goes horse-riding regularly. She's also a keen ice-skater, though the nearest rink is some way away, so we don't get to go that often. She has a keen sense of humour and is a good mimic, so can normally have the last word on anything by some apt quotation (in character) from one of the many movies she has off by heart.

Charlie is a moderately keen (would like to be fair-weather) footballer, but is happiest curled up with a book. He reads anything and everything - when younger he would curl up with Asterix or Tintin books in French, sounding out the words to himself, and just enjoying the noise they made, as well as the picture stories. If someone is in the loo for hours on end, it will be Charlie sat there reading! He also is the family practical joker.

Dom has yet to discover her real interests; she enjoys most things, especially her ballet classes and playing with her brother and sisters. She does a lot of craft activities and loves stories in books, on tape, read aloud...

They are all very keen on music, too - playing rather than listening. Cookery is another favourite all round, particularly if large quantities of chocolate are involved. Also dressing up: we have a large dressing up box full of the most outrageous assortment of clothes and accessories; these are used for shows which the kids design and produce together on the least provocation. They also emerge spontaneously: quite often Charlie and Dom will be seen running round the garden in Chinese pyjamas and helmets, or fairy wings and long red boots or other incongruous combinations.

One of the important aspects of this is our taking an active interest in their hobbies, and getting them to take them seriously (not in the sense of being joyless, but in the sense of turning up when committed, and reading round the subject etc.)

As a result, they rather pity their school friends whose idea of a good time is to hang around the shopping centre...

Their friends tend to enjoy coming round, as there's always something going on - often like nothing they ever experience at home.

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