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Notes that Alex wrote seven years ago are further down the page
Years have passed too quickly, and our Alex is now the tallest member of the family and has just achieved his black belt in karate.
School is finished. I hope that next year we'll be looking at a uni student; Alex deferred university this year in order to concentrate fully on his karate training. Now he's teaching karate several nights each week, although he himself has said that the black belt, in reality, is just the first step on a long personal journey.
I have few pictures of Alex; since about age twelve he's been camera shy. I've plenty of scans of school certificates marked "high distinction", but that's hardly good fodder for a web page, so I'll just present odds and ends— a couple of his drawings and the occasional quick snap.
I'll start with my most precious save: a drawing that Alex made in Paintbrush when he was two and a half years old. Needless to say it was I who added a border and typed a title and date.
Alex took to computers like cats take to mice; he could never get enough and was ever searching for the next possibility. Would I be mean to report that at three-and-a-bit he twice crashed my computer; once by adding multitudinous goldfish bowls to a puzzle in "The Incredible Machine", and once by enfonting a Word document with a point size about a hundred times as big as the biggest offered?
Whatever, he quickly developed enough skills to capture an alert box and alter the text.
Alex quickly came to love the written word, as both a reader and a writer. At two and a half he was frustrated by staring hard at a page in a story book and finding that "It doesn't work!"
I showed him how to "make it work", starting—as was at that time considered old-fashioned and altogether the wrong way—with the sounds of letters and letter combinations. Soon we progressed to "The Young Australia Readers"—also out-dated and frowned upon—and within a short time he was reading independently, although he still loved his bedtime story from Mum.
Although he's always been happy to dispose of unwearable clothing and old video games, his books seem to be non-disposable. From Ladybirds through to Tolkien and beyond, any suggestion that some might be in excess meets with a quiet, "Mm".
When he was four, Alex wrote a letter to the "Green Guide", our newspaper's TV section, complaining that his favourite program had been set aside so that parliament could be broadcast. His mother thought the letter worth sending, it was published, and our local member, showing kindness and understanding, awarded him a Parliamentary Medal.
Alex's writing skills proceeded apace, and when he was ten years old he wrote "The Sea Dragon's Song".
The Sea Dragonís Song
The sea dragon was lonely.
When he sang, he was answered only by the indifferent gaze of the moon,
and when he twisted sinuously through the depths,
no dragons came to join him.
He sang to the silences of his sadness,
his loneliness, his despair,
all forged from the smithy of thousands of years of solitude.
He sang of his rejection by the fishes and the whales, his den so cold at night,
deep under the sea floor, in a swimming pool sized burrow that had been his home for many millennia.
He sang of his times when his songs had been answered,
and his longing for just this form of companionship.
He sang of his aching desire to be answered.
He sang until he could sing no more,
until his beautiful melodies became
harsh, guttural, croaking sounds.
He sang until the sun lifted, and then
he twisted down through the water,
through the kelp forest, and down the deep trench.
He raised himself to the surface,
and let loose one final, hopeless, guttural sound, and then stared at the dawn,
until the sun lit the sky, and he dove down to his burrow.
He slept through the day, and barely stirred through the whole time the sun was up.
He woke, and broke the surface of the water.
He sang to the moon, cold and indifferent though it was
he sang to the sky, as it looked down on all.
He sang, and was answered.
He sang to the female and she sang to him, and their voices mingled in a harmony more beautiful than any orchestra ever could even contemplate.
They sang to each other as they sliced through the water like long white knives.
They sang to the moon, not caring that it was cold and indifferent.
They sang to the silence, and their voices filled it with love and velvety warmth.
They sang, because so long had they been alone, hope had been nearly given up.
They sang, because they were there, and it could be done.
They twisted through the kelp forests,
intertwining with each other.
They sang for joy, for happiness.
They sang, for singing.
© Alex Pappas Thursday, 29 August 2002
Although as a little boy he enjoyed painting both at home and at school and used colour freely in computer pictures, when slightly older Alex spent more time with just a soft pencil. We saw monsters, dragons, aliens, princes and princesses and intricate, detailed maps.
Alex was very lucky in that his primary school strongly encouraged the interests of individual children and never held any child back because of his or her age. The school takes an active part in special science projects, including the national Solar Boat Challenge, which leads children to use both their knowledge and their creativity and also to consider better ways of producing energy.
Science theory is also very strong. The New South Wales Science Competition is looked forward to with pleasure and results are excellent. In his grade six year Alex and six of his fellow students achieved high distinctions.
Many others did almost as well, and the whole school community was well pleased.
Uncle Evan, himself an instructor, introduced Alex to karate lessons when he was eight years old. If my memory serves me well, the highpoint of those lessons was eating a pie with Uncle Evan before returning home. Uncle Evan went to Japan for a year and Alex's interest waned for a time, but became real and earnest at about the time he started high school
The picture on the right was taken during blue belt grading in September 2004. The karate school wisely makes an informed assessment of each student before a grading takes place and then recommends that she or he does present for grading or waits a little longer.
Karate is a fine activity, since it encourages the growth of the whole person; as well as developing skills germane to the art, the student is expected to exhibit compassion and fairness in daily life and to carry out everyday family tasks.
My name is Alexander Edward Pappas, and I am eleven years old—although in just two weeks I'll be turning twelve. I usually have my birthday the first or second day back at school. I was born in Box Hill Hospital, on the 30/1/1992. I am one hundred and forty-four centimetres tall and I weigh approximately forty kilograms.
The first of these two pictures was taken at the zoo when I was about eight. On Monday, 19/1/04, we went to the zoo and Dean took the second one.
I live in an outer eastern suburb of Melbourne, and go to a high school nearer to the center of the city. My school is a semi-formal school with a good history. This year I’ll be in Year Eight, in the accelerated program.
I enjoy maths, English, science, and sport (in small quantities). I don't like social studies, probably because I don't socialise much, except for with my friends Patrick, Michael, Eric, Andrew, Tim, Daniel, Brandon, Anthony and Luke. Luke is overseas right now. He’s been sending me some great postcards and we email each other a couple of times each week.
I live with my mum, grandma, sister, three cats, an Eastern Rosella called Polly, many finches and a quail, four canaries, a goldfish, numerous zebra fish and a leopard fish. My cats are bony old Toby, who can’t retract his claws fully anymore and therefor when he sits on you it can be prickly, fat Little, who was named so because he was little when Obby found him on Christmas Eve fifteen years ago. He was tiny then, but is now the biggest, and the dominant cat of the house; and Marmalade, who is less than a year old, but already hunting pigeons and mice (the pigeons against our will, the mice, not so much), and though he’s a loving cat, he doesn't know his own strength and often scratches us.
I see my Dad every weekend, and Dean, my mum’s partner, every Wednesday, and sometimes other days as well.
My hobbies are playing with my friend Luke, using my computer, and reading. I’ve read all of the “Disc World” books by Terry Pratchett, as well as “Only You Can Save Mankind”. I’ve enjoyed “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” but still haven’t read “The Silmarillion” by J. R. R. Tolkien.
My favourite animals are hawks and snakes.
My favourite colours are black and silver.
I am rather untidy and disorganised, and I lose lots of small
things like pens, pencils and erasers—and last year, my mobile phone. This year I’ll keep a tighter hold on things!
A couple of years ago I made a rough model car that can go four meters
twenty-five centimetres on wind.
If you'd like to see some of my photos, look here. You might like to read the poem I wrote about an imaginary tour of Egypt, too. Or you could look at some pictures of our pets and garden. Would you like to meet my sister? Her name is Jennifer.
Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you. My email address is here.
please use the links here.