Autumn in Canterbury can be savory. Golden days where the mean burn of the sun is gone and the heat is welcome. Calm winds; blue skies. Grass has turned green again.
I’ve talked to Sally for years at a craft group we both frequent. We saw them in Murchison at a kayak club weekend. Her husband Nathan joined us for the Old Ghost Rd bike ride in January. But this was the first weekend trip we tried out as families. It’s a test of sorts: 1. Are kids compatible? 2. Are husbands compatible? 3. Are our ideas of what constitutes a fun activity compatible?
Check. Check. Check.
The woods part of the drive was very pretty–Lush west coast bush is completely different than beach forests of the east coast.
There are plenty of times–memorable times–when siblings go wrong (more about that below). But this is one lovely time when siblings went right. Naomi got stung by a bee while we were biking at the Halswell Quarry, and we had to turn around and come home. “You know,” I told Milo, as he complained about not getting to finish his ride, “your sister is TOUGH. There aren’t many four year olds who would bike home after getting stung by a bee.” He must have taken it in, because later I overheard him repeating this boast to Jeremiah. He also switched from “little sister got in the way of me doing what I wanted to do” mode to “caring big brother” mode, even reading his school book to her.
Other days, it can be more like this:
“It’s school crossing!” Naomi informed me.
I glanced out the window in time to see Milo run down the driveway with his friend Cameron on his heels. His mom and sister rounded the bend. This looked official. I opened the front door to field the inquiry.
Milo rushed at me: “Can Cameron come over this afternoon?” he demanded, before darting off on a circuit of the yard.
“The boys were hoping for a play date.” Clare stated the obvious. “Milo could come to our house.”
“We want to play in the tree fort,” Milo put in. Hum. There’s no tree fort on offer at Cameron’s house.
“Ah, yes….well, Cameron can stay here,” I offered.
A couple minutes later Milo came raring around the corner, brandishing Naomi’s new stickers in triumph above his head while she squealed in protest. “Milo! What are you doing? Give that back to Naomi! One…TWO…..! He threw the sticker sheet in her general direction, then stepped on her container of beads, spewing them down the hallway. “Milo! In your room!” I pointed menacingly and took a threatening step toward my son. He sprinted to his doorway and stood there, grinning. I gave him a few minutes, then went to talk things over.
“Milo, I won’t let you be a bully. In order to come out you have to say you’re sorry to Naomi for snatching her stickers, then you can pick up the beads and put them in this container.” I thrust a plastic jam jar into his hands. He tossed it on the floor. “Well, that’s what you have to do; say sorry to Naomi and pick up her beads.”
After several unsatisfactory attempts at a sorry I let a cursory attempt stand, reminded him about the beads, and retired to the living room.
“Naomi, I’m going to put your beads out the window,” I heard his gleeful voice taunt from the dining room. I ignored the threat. Often he’s just angling for attention. The noise crescendoed, and upon investigation I discovered beads in the weeds below the window. Incredible.
“Is he like this when he goes to your house?” I asked Cameron, shaking my head.
“No.” Cameron widened his eyes.
I thought of the studies of social structure with chimpanzees where dominant males tear around the group, chasing their comrades up trees, tossing sticks into the air, beating their chests and generally making a miserable racket.
That’s exactly what Milo has been doing this afternoon. Asserting his dominance on his home turf.
We’re no better than apes.
There comes a time when a procrastination mounts to such a weight of inertia that a project is stuck. Immovable.
That’s how the blog has been these past couple months. The longer I wait, the move behind I fall, and the less savory the project appears….Maybe this is what mounting credit card debt feels like?
This is my attempt to become unstuck.
- Over Christmas we did some cool trips. We drove to the west coast via Arthur’s pass, stopping at cave stream on the way. We spent some days at Okarito beach with the Pritchard family, then some more days at Lake Kanere in our new glamping tent. We did a couple nights at Spencer Park, just here in Christchurch. It was fun.
- In January I got out on some awesome weekend trips–St James Walkway in Lewis pass, and the Old Ghost Rd bike ride on the west coast.
- For Waitangi Day we went up to Golden Bay (at Pohara), camping, biking, fishing, playing.
And summer has been warm! I’ve enjoyed the evening bike rides at the local hill. Warm afternoons with the doors open. Wearing shorts. I don’t think there has been any summer we’ve spent in NZ so far where I’ve had more opportunity to wear shorts!
I do have fantastic pictures from these trips. But whether or not they get shared, at least now I can move on.
“Ooh, my accent isn’t really THAT bad, is it?”
Very probably it is.
But it’s not just the accent; it’s the whole attitude.
Every Friday afternoon Milo has soccer practice, and there’s an American dad who brings his son. I’ve never talked to him before, but this Friday the field was eerily quiet. Us lonely parents conferred and the word on the field was that Oaklands school gala was on–that’s why only 25% of the normal contingent of kids was present. Along with very few parents.
But despite the slim field, The American must talk.
(I know what that’s like.)
Thankfully, the American Dad glued himself to another dad, and the poor polite Kiwi was stuck mumbling “hum….ah….yes…um….uhuh…” for the whole hour. I got the interesting position of being able to listen in while not being an essential part of the conversation.
It wasn’t so pretty. Opinionated, yes. Loud, yes. Forceful; also yes. The snippets were full of “you kiwis this” and “us, that.” At one point I caught the American saying “You guys are catching up….you know….advertising, sport….”
Clearly he believes the American culture is superior.
I hereby resolve to cease and desist from comparing the American culture to the Kiwi culture. No one wants to hear that. Let alone the Kiwis!