Thursday, 13 September 2012

Birthday Cake, Trampoline Tantrums and City Road

KEY; Red = Open University Section  Blue = Everyday life

As I signed off Blogger yesterday, I was about to go to see William and Oliver for a couple of hours. I arrived at their house at 3.30pm and immediately I was ordered by them to close my eyes, and they led me by hand, stubbing toes and bumping into walls, into the Playroom. As I was allowed to open my eyes, I could see that Alison and Steve (their parents) had filled their fishtank with some new arrivals! I was introduced formally by William to Bop, Bonnie, Twinkle, Venga, Ceebie and the like, whilst Oliver was in the kitchen with Alison helping to make Steve's Birthday Cake.

During my introduction and a lengthy finger-chasing session with  the fish and William, I could hear Oliver crying and whinging in the kitchen with Alison, and he eventually emerged at the door frame, eyes red, with a bowl of cake (Cherry Bakewell- his favourite). I thought that perhaps Oliver had felt left out because I had immediately given all of my attention to William (which is a rare occurance, since due to his Autism he usually enjoys his own space), so I asked them whether they would like to go on the trampoline outside. They both jumped at the chance (no punn intended), and we were in the garden in no time.

As I unzipped the netting of the trampoline both boys were clambering at my legs, rushing to get up the ladder for a bounce. They were both playing nicely whilst I was chatting to Steve, who was catching up on a bit of gardening, about my Open University studies and the new High School where he has been working as part of his degree in a placement. He is a very nice man, and I admire him for doing what he is with his studying to get back into teaching again. Alison has told me that he usually stays at home and takes care of the boys whilst she works from home, but now the children are both not at home as much (William is in school, and Oliver in nursery), he is taking a top up course at the University of East Anglia (Norwich) so he can be a teacher again. He is very understanding of my studies as a result of this, and said that if the boys were just watching TV, then I could take a book along and read up on a few things for a while, which will no doubt be very helpful.

So, Steve was gardening, Alison was working and the boys were bouncing on the trampoline playing The Red Dinosaur game (No idea!). Oliver got fed up of this and wanted to play The Green Dinosaur Game (?!), but William was in NO way willing to play this game. So, Oliver, who I think was generally already in a grouchy mood and may have been tired from starting Nursery full time recently, began what started with a pout, and then developed into a full- blown Trampoline Tantrum Meltdown. Usually, if William and Oliver have a dispute I hardly have to intervene, as they are very loving boys that come to a truce very quickly, but today Oliver was having NONE of it. So, I suggested that we go inside and play with the fish or do a puzzle, or reading, or TV, or something... ANYTHING!

Oliver refused outright, but William got off the trampoline and for some reason, this enraged Oliver. He began to scream and shout even more, claiming through sobs and garbled cries that he wanted to get off the trampoline first! William was completely oblivious to this and was completely focused on the new task at hand (a trait of autism) and promptly began to march down the garden towards the house, completely ignoring his brother. This further angered Oliver, who was bawling after him "WILLYUM- GET BACK ON!! I WANT TO GET OFF FIRST!"

His demand was so absurd that I wanted to laugh, but managed to coax him off the trampoline in the end. He then began to stomp down the garden, towards the house in classic tantrum style; feet stamping as hard as possible, sobbing and whinging, with arms flailing in desparation, tiny chubby fists clenched in anger. Obviously as soon as he reached the house, he flew straight into Alisons' arms and blurted out William's OUTRAGEOUS act of leaving the trampoline first. Alison was on Skype to her boss, and so quickly consoled him and told him to go and play. After a little while and a quick read of The Cat in the Hat, the tensions between the brothers were resolved, and they were back to normal. PHEW!

We were then promptly called to the kitchen, where Steve's birthday cake awaited us, in its iced, jammy glory. We lit the candles and the boys blew them out after a verse of Happy Birthday, and we all tucked in. William has a very restriced diet and only eats rusks, porridge and certain yoghurts, so he didn't have a slice of cake, but Oliver did- without any icing or jam, of course (the boy doesn't know what he's missing out on!). Then he insisted on showing me how he eats a "nana". Alison handed him a banana and, with his chubby toddler fingers still covered in cake crumbs and dribble, he grappled with the fruit, trying to break the skin in order to peel it. After a breif struggle, he managed to break the skin, and proceeded to stuff the banana into his mouth like nothing had ever seen before. "He's still not worked out that he has to swallow before another mouthful goes in!" explained Steve, as he has to physically remove the "nana" from Oliver whilst he desperately tried to chew an incredible amount of it, some spilling out of his mouth, with his cheeks full to burst!

After the small celebration I left and returned home to study for the evening. I'm currently starting course DD101; Exploring the Social Sciences of my eventual Psychology BSc Degree (Hons)- all with the Open University. I recieved my study materials on Monday, and began studying on Tuesday. I've managed and hour and a half on Tuesday, as well as last night. The first two weeks of the course are designed to ease us in gently, I think, as we don't have to use a textbook, as such- we just have a documentary style DVD to watch and a "Learning Companion" to take notes from. Then, we have our first assessment due at the end of October (the course doesn't officially start until 6th October, but I'm getting ahead). The question is something along the lines of "Using what you have learned from the "Making Social Lives on City Road" DVD and "Learning Companion 1", Outline how material objects on City Road favour the lives of some people over others" (750 words). Now, this is only a short assessment at just 750 words, but it's still important, as it's the first one and I really want to make a good impression on my Tutor (who will mark it), and get back into the essay style of writing.

So far, I've watched the first couple of films on the DVD, one of which is an introduction to City Road, Cardiff. It is an urban road that is typical to many in the UK. The second film uses a local poet, Lloyd Robson, to narrate and engage in conversation with many of the locals about City Road- it's past and present. He talks to various shop owners, employees, policemen, an electric board employee, cafe owners and residents, new and old. A few themes are uncovered as we are introuced to the way in which Social Scientists observe and look at everyday life in a different way to ourselves. There are 4 main ways in which they observe;
Directly; by watching people's activites and talking to them
Differences over time; City Road is a different place in the day than it is at night e.g. Women in a cafe at lunch time have different experiences of City Road than those partygoers at night time.
Connections with other times and places; Immigration is obvious in City Road, as many of the shops are run by non-locals. The Car showrooms that dominated the street in the 1960s have been replaced by many takeaway restaurants and ethnic shops such as Sanna Silk Sari Shop and Xquisite Africa.
Relationships between people and the material objects; ie. signage, traffic, etc as well as other unseen things such as the electricity, water and other utility services.

These different observations were then tied in with 3 module wide questions;
How do we as Social Scientists know?; This is linked to the methods of observation above, and explains how Social Scientists go about their research.
How is Society being Made and Repaired?; This has many connections to City Road, as we saw it in the DVD. According to one of the Psychologists in the footage, society is being made and repaired constantly by immigration- something that many residents recognised as being a relatively new factor of City Road. However, in order for City Road to even come into existence, there must have been immigration in the first place, and then even more for it to have turned into the thriving place that it is today. In thise respect, Immigration is a factor that is constantly reparing and remaking society.

I haven't quite finished looking at this second Module- Wide question, and I have yet to start studying the last; How are inequalities and Differences produced? 

I aim to complete this last section in the next couple of days, and there will be an update very soon! I hope other OU students on the course DD101 will be able to look at this and find it helpful or reassuring, as I know that independent study can be quite daunting! Any questions you can find me on Facebook!

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