Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ali: boy to man

It's Ali's 18th birthday today! Following hot on the heels of his brother, I somehow don't think he'd appreciate the same kind of birthday treat I recently gave to his sister. But.. well, what's the harm in a few photos between friends? ;-)

He was a Solstice baby, born after what the doctors euphemistically called a 'trial of labour' - meaning: they didn't expect him to be born normally and were standing ready with the scissors to extract him the other way. No pressure, then! But he proved the experts wrong then and this set the pattern for the rest of his childhood.

We went to playgrounds, but he climbed on the tops of the swings, and the climbing frame roofs and up trees and on high walls. At school, he argued with the government's brand new Numeracy and Literacy Hours, putting himself (at 9 years old) on hunger strike until they would agree to give him some more interesting work. They tried to tempt him with all kinds of food, but nothing would induce him to eat. So they locked him in the library with his 'Numeracy and Literacy' work until he climbed out of the window and set off home.

The school gave up trying to forcibly shoehorn him into its round holes then - they phoned me with the suggestion that home education might be a better option for him. I'd thought so as well, for ages. It was Ali who had wanted to stay at school, to try to win the Numeracy and Literacy battle. At home, he got into Pokémon, but then found he couldn't read the Japanese characters on some of the cards he had. So he set about teaching himself Japanese, which he can now read, write and speak quite well. After that he did a bit of German and some Russian, then got into Internet coding languages. But honestly, he lost me at the Japanese, never mind the rest of it.

The thing about Ali is that he taught me how to parent in a different way. With Tom, it was OK for me to say: "NO. Don't do that," but Ali insisted on thinking everything through for himself. He had to know why he shouldn't do something, and to agree with the explanation before he complied. He saw power struggles as welcome challenges against which he would not be beaten. He made me think, and be creative. He has always forced my respect for him, and then returned it.

As the middle of the three teenagers he's the peacemaker, as you'd expect. The arbitrator. But sometimes he's the agitator too, as the mood takes him. He goes his own way. He refuses to be labelled and, just when you think you've got the measure of him, he surprises you with something you didn't expect. Always has and probably always will. He lives with integrity. He's dazzlingly intelligent and eloquent, and we all love him to bits.

That was the boy. Here's the man:

Happy birthday Al xxx


Blogger Dani said...

Happy birthday to Ali!

10:22 pm, June 22, 2008  
Blogger Elaine said...

Happy Birthday Ali ! gosh Gill 18! where do the years go?

11:30 pm, June 22, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Dani :-)

I know Elaine! It's a shock to me too. I'm still 17 in my head.

6:18 am, June 23, 2008  
Blogger Allie said...

Some lovely photos there. Hope he had a great day.

9:09 am, June 23, 2008  
Blogger ruth said...

Happy Birthday Ali :)

7:24 pm, June 23, 2008  
Blogger Minnie said...

Happy Birthday Ali:o))

They grow up before you know it, don't they?

7:26 pm, June 23, 2008  
Blogger Crunchy said...

Happy Birthday Ali xxxx

7:02 pm, June 25, 2008  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks all :-)

8:41 am, June 26, 2008  
Blogger Mrs Darcy said...

Only just read this. What a lovely post about Ali. I'm sure he had a great day :-)

ps I feel about 19 in my head and wonder if I'll ever grow up lol!

10:27 am, July 11, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home