Archive for the ‘fainjin’ Category

A good week

February 23, 2015

“Come on kids! Shoes on, find your hats, we’re going to the zoo with your uncle & aunt & cousin!”

Fainjin looked vaguely surprised. “Are you coming too, Mum?”

“Yes!” I said, “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

He came & wrapped his arms around me. “Well… I thought you might stay home and have a rest, or do some sewing… maybe work on your memory quilt from our trip…”

My heart melted. “Do you think I need a rest, then?”

He snuggled closer. “Yes, probably, ‘cos you do a lot.”

This was after he had got up rather early but made a conscious choice to play with a quiet jigsaw rather than rattle through the Lego. He had also dried the dishes with no protest at all, had a great ukulele lesson, and had worked hard at school all week – this last backed up by his very reliable best friend, who keeps an eye out for him.

I’m making a deliberate effort to emphasise consideration for others with the kids this year. I hadn’t meant me, just people in general – but it’s nice to have some of it rub off!

© UpsideBackwards 2015.


Being watched

March 20, 2014

Fainjin proudly showed me a page in one of his exercise books.  The class had been asked to write down things they love.

Fainjin had drawn a big heart, and put his words in and around it.  I saw Lego, dragons, robots, ice cream… no big surprises there!

“What’s this one?” I asked, pointing to where he’d written “Guses”.

“Jesus!” he said.  “And God’s there too,” he pointed.

“Oh, of course, silly me.”

He leant in close and confided, “I had to put those guys in, in case they might get mad or something.”

I was slightly shocked, and amused.  “No, Fainjin, that’s not what happens!”

But he interrupted me, looking over his shoulder, and whispered, “Mum! They’re everywhere!”

Possibly a religious-education failure right there.

Fainjin loves...

Fainjin loves…

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Proper maths

February 19, 2014

Fainjin has the start-of-year blues.  “School’s so boring!” he complained.  “Everything’s boring!”

“What exactly is boring about it?” I asked.


“It can’t all be boring.  Is lunchtime boring?  Playtime?”

“No…” he admitted reluctantly.  “Maths is boring.  It’s not even proper maths!”

Ah. This takes me back.  When I was at primary school, it was the fashion to teach everything in terms of set theory (at least, that’s how I remember it).  At the start of every year we would go over the definition of a set, the members of a set, the empty set, union, intersection, cardinality and so on.  It was interesting the first time.  Every first day of school after that I would stomp into the house and my mother would ask, “How was school?” and I would snarl back, “We did sets. AGAIN.”

“What’s proper maths, then?”

“Like, plus and equals and stuff! Take aways!” the poor boy was pining for sums.

“And what are you doing instead?”

“I don’t even know.”  So I took a look at his maths book and discovered they’re doing statistics.  How many siblings each classmate has, people’s favourite animals, favourite sports and so on – things that can be counted and expressed in bar graphs.  It is maths, and it’s also really good for the kids (and teacher) to get to know each other, since they’ve come from several different Year 2 classes last year.

I had a word to the teacher and he promised to help Fainjin find something “proper” to do too.  Meanwhile, I’ve been bribing him to school with the promise of extra addition and subtraction worksheets to do at home or at lunchtime.

Rather like I used to bribe his sister with grammar worksheets!

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

God’s Garden

January 30, 2014

Fainjin and Babess often have very interesting conversations with each other, apparently completely forgetting I am there (or, more likely, dismissing my presence as irrelevant).

Today Babess was talking about plants.  She was in a silly mood at the end of a long day, and said something exuberant about “plants in heaven!”

Fainjin quickly nixed her idea.  “There are no plants in heaven.”

I was intrigued as to how he’d arrived at this idea, but I’ve learned to just keep listening.

“There are no plants in heaven at all.  Except for bean stalks.  Bean stalks grow all the way up, and like, God… or Jesus… has just baby ones growing out of their ground.”

Babess looked at him.  “Baby ones in heaven?”

“Noooo, ‘cos they grow big, up from the ground to the clouds, where heaven is, and just little bits stick up in heaven to be plants in heaven.”

Babess nodded.  This made perfect sense to her.

Now, what to say next time they baulk at eating their vegetables?

© UpsideBackwards 2014.


January 3, 2014

It’s Fainjin’s birthday today.  He woke up early, and for the first time remembered to “sneak” around the house as he got up and dressed.  Every other morning he has bounded out of bed sometime between 5:30 and 6am, landing like a ton of bricks, and thundered through the house to the loo, only to thunder back again a few minutes later and apparently bounce off every single wall on his way.

The Dad was up first, and wished him a happy birthday, telling him he was seven now.  “I’m not seven yet, Dad,” he was informed.  “I’m still six.  I’m turning seven today.”  I suppose he’s technically correct – he wasn’t born until late afternoon…

We’d held his birthday party last month, before school ended.  We’ve found in the past that lots of people are away at this time of year, and even the ones who aren’t tend to lose track of the days.  They say yes they’ll come to the party, then the day after ring and apologise because they’ve realised they missed it.  Much easier all round to hold the party during the school term.

So today was a family day, with Nana and auntie and beloved cousins coming to help mark the occasion.  Presents were opened, jelly and cake and chippies consumed…

…and at some point during the day Fainjin turned seven.

© UpsideBackwards 2014.

Silly question, Dad!

December 17, 2013

Fainjin has modified his Lego Father Christmas, adding some talons from a Hero Factory set he has.  The Dad (who is usually quite bright) was puzzled, and asked why he’d done it.



Fainjin giggled with glee.  “Because he’s Santa CLAWS!”

Well, of course.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


Breakfast with more twittering

December 16, 2013

Breakfast conversation is often interesting in our house. There was the memorable morning when Pearl, then aged 7, asked, “Mum, what’s philosophy?” and just a few days ago Pearl and Fainjin were discussing Gorgons and the Minotaur.

This morning started much like any other. Fainjin began by telling me about a cartoon he had seen set in Egypt. He was describing the “Stinks with no nose” which I quickly worked out was the Sphinx. Then he said his class was reading about Ancient Egypt now  – they’re really working hard on mythology this term! I asked what he knows about Ancient Egypt, and he said, “Well, someone wanted the biggest pyramint but the servants had to build it.”

This is the kind of situation where I really love twitter. I happen to “know” someone via twitter who is an Egyptologist. We’ve never met. I knew she would find his pronunciation cute, and be chuffed that a 6yo was interested in Egypt, so I tweeted to her.

Before I knew it, I was passing information from her to both Pearl and Fainjin, and they were sending comments and questions back.  I was surprised at how much Egyptian mythology they both know – much more than I do! We learnt that “Ra sent his daughter to get rid of all the humans because they annoyed him, but changed his mind at the last minute…” and Pearl immediately said, “Oh, was that Sekhmet?” (it was) and Fainjin chimed in, “Yeah and then she turned into a lion!” (she did).

The kids found out lots of cool facts they hadn’t picked up in their own reading, and came up with all sorts of questions (like, was there an Egyptian god of snow & ice? – no, but Seth, god of chaos & anarchy, would probably look after that. (I reckon he has a hand in the kids’ bedrooms, too…)). It was much better than anything I could have dealt with on my own – there would have been an awful lot of “I don’t know” and “I haven’t had enough tea yet to even think about that”.

Now Pearl is wondering whether she can nominate Ancient Egypt as an “inquiry topic” for school next year, or perhaps as a “passion project” for her own research.

Thanks, @GrumpyYetAmusin – it was great fun having breakfast with you this morning!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


November 28, 2013

We have a busy rehearsal and performance schedule coming up this weekend.  And every performer knows, where there are rehearsals there is also lots of waiting around doing not-very-much.

I was talking about preparing my bag for this, with stories, games, and so on to entertain the large group of potentially-bored children.  Fainjin overheard me…

“Mum!  If you’re getting a story for my class, can it be a miff?”

“A miff?”


“I don’t think I know what that is.  What’s it about?”

“Uh, it’s like… a legend…”

“Oh! A myth!”

“Yes Mum!  M-Y-P-H.  Myph.  Like a legend.”

I spelt myth out for him and had him repeat it.  Then breakfast conversation moved on and he and Pearl started an argument about Medusa, the Minotaur, and the Gorgons.

Some mornings I really feel like I need a second cup of tea.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


October 16, 2013

Another breakfast conversation with Fainjin – they seem to be my main source of blog fodder at the moment!

I’d been talking about some medicine with Pearl, and used the word “tablet”.  About five minutes later, Fainjin said, “Mum, I’m confused about tablets.”

“Confused?  Why?”

He thought for a bit.  “Well, they can be different things.”

I saw what he was getting at.  “Do you mean like tablets that are medicine and tablets that are computers?”


“That’s just using the same word to mean two different things.  It’s a little bit confusing, but we do it in the English language all the time.  I wouldn’t worry too much.”

He considered that, then said, “OK”.  I was grateful he didn’t ask for another example, because I didn’t have one ready despite my assertion.  Feel free to leave a list of your favourites in the comments.

Then a few minutes later, he mused, “And some tablets are baby frogs.”

Pearl and I looked at him, and laughed.  “OK Fainjin, now you are confused!”

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Yi, Er, San…

October 15, 2013

At breakfast this morning (breakfast is often when the best conversations in our house take place), Fainjin said, “We did Chinese maths yesterday.”

“Chinese maths?  What does that mean?” I asked.

“We did maths in Chinese,” he said nonchalantly around a mouthful of toast.

I didn’t really believe him (you’d think I’d know better by now).  I asked him a few questions, and it turned out his class had had a relief teacher yesterday.

“Well, can you write down some Chinese maths for me then?” I asked.

So he did.  He wrote a sum, and some numbers.

1+2=3 10 4


This afternoon he brought home a worksheet he had done, too, with all the numbers on it and some more sums.

He really enjoyed this, and was so proud of himself!

He really enjoyed this, and was so proud of himself!

Colour me impressed!

It was also quite handy later on – to bribe him to dry the dinner dishes for me, I promised that he could watch a youtube tutorial on the numbers in Chinese.  It worked a treat.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

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