We’ve had two days of strong southerly rains in Christchurch, making me think with sympathy of the emperor penguin dads huddled in the dark on the antarctic ice, where the weather system originated. This morning a hard frost covered the garden but the sky itself was clear. NZ is a commonwealth country, and, God Bless the Queen, we had Monday off today.
When we were expecting Naomi, we didn’t find out by ultrasound if she was a girl or a boy. We had known Milo would be a boy, and the second time I wanted to experience what it was like to be surprised.
When the midwife handed her to me I had a quick peak at her nether regions. “A girl” was confirmed. I had believed that I didn’t really care if the second was a girl or a boy, but my first thought betrayed me. “A girl! I’m going to do HAIR!”
I’m from a family of 4 long-haired girls, and our close family friends had three more girls. Imagine the fantastic hair dos we came up with.
Since Naomi was a baby I’ve always braided her hair to keep the whispies under control, but we are just coming into the time where Naomi herself is liking fancy hair dos. Yay!
“When is my Kiwi Crate going to come?”
“I don’t know, Milo.”
“Dad got the email that it was coming three weeks ago–WHEN will it be here??”
“It’s really hard to tell, Milo.”
We had this exchange, verbatim, EVERY DAY, for the last three weeks.
Each day he’d come home from school, and ever-hopeful, and peer into letterbox….only to be disappointed. “When is my…….” “Don’t know…” “three weeks!….” “Grrr!”
Until today, when the long-awaited orange cardboard box finally arrived.
Building the kiwi crate project took precedent over afternoon snack, over rugby practice, over dinner….though sadly not over watching netflix.
Kiwi Crates are kits with a science theme. They come with all the pieces to make a project, and kid friendly instructions to follow. They can be built in the attention span of a child (short), and kits come for a couple different age ranges.
Milo has gotten some genuinely cool projects the last couple months involving electronics, hydraulics, and mechanics. He’s good at following the instructions and perseveres to get it right. An engineer in the making.
First came the “baby ballerinas,” in their long white snowman dresses, gleeful at the novelty of being on stage. There were the furious wavers, proudly making sure their parents were noticing them. There were the ones who stood chewing on the tulle on their dresses, twiddling their ballerina buns, poking their fingers into their nose, or staring absently out into the audience. When the leaping part of the song came they jumped enthusiastically, hair bobbing, faces grinning.
The levels paraded up in their christmas costumes, at least a dozen little girls in each. Red sequence gowns, reindeer, angels, snowmen, and Naomi’s group with their bright green dresses. The teacher, Miss Amelia, smiling relentlessly, gave us a whole new appreciation for the term “herding cats,” and for the level of coordination that it takes to make a dozen five year olds flutter gracefully in a circle, landing back on the line where they started.
I remember feeling quite nervous about being on stage as a young kid, during our annual school christmas concerts. Naomi didn’t exhibit an once of nervousness; she’s made of sterner stuff than I!
I imagine if every Tuesday was like this I’d get used to it and start to take it for granted….a tragedy of under-appreciation.
That won’t happen though, since in two weeks I’ll start working more days, trying out the five day work week until Christmas.
I’m excited about that too.
There are plenty of disadvantages to being the primary care giver for kids, but a few days ago even I had to admit that I had a pretty sweet deal.
It’s school holidays right now, the two week break between each quarter of the school year. It’s always a juggle with working parents, but this time some friends and I decided to take a day or two off, pack up the kids, and head into Rod Donald hut for an overnight.
It’s a hut that you have to book, so we took a gamble on the weather. Last time we walked in there it was wet and misty, but the hut has a nice cozy pot-belly stove and the walk is so short that we could bring luxury food and games; even a hut-bound overnight is fun. And these two friends happen to be English, where any weather is good weather, so I knew we’d be ok.
Failed attempt number 572:
Success at last:
School holidays end this weekend, and Naomi’s sojourn at school starts on Monday. The times: they are are a-changing.
Naomi turns 5 in a matter of weeks, and the Kiwis have this charming tradition of sending kids off to start school right on their 5th birthday. There are school visits once a week for three Tuesdays before The Birthday. Then they dress up in the school uniform and start regular attendance on their birthday, or there abouts.
Tuesdays are our normal Playcentre days, another charming Kiwi tradition in which we’ve partaken since Milo was a baby. Playcentre is a parent-run preschool with a philosophy that parents are the kids’ best teachers, and kids learn best by self-directed play. A little like Montessori with a messier twist.
There will be a leaving ceremony at her other preschool as well, the Montessori school where she attends while I work. That one won’t involve a feather cloak, but she’ll still find it memorable.
Naomi’s birthday is during the end-of-term school holidays, so her school visits started three weeks before the end of term. A school visit is 10-12, so we bring Milo at 8:30, then go home for a few minutes, then back to school.
The first school visit morning I wasn’t sure it was actually going to happen. She had started out wonderfully excited to don the new uniform, but I had scolded her for driving her bike too close to a parked car and scraping it with her handle, and when we got home she was cross and uncooperative. I offered to have her help me bake muffins. “I don’t like muffins!” Then would she like to grate carrots? “I don’t like carrots!” We can put one of the muffins in your school lunch. “I’m not going to school!” Ok, I said, feigning indifference, while wondering if I was really willing to let her skip out. Would you like to lick the batter? A nod. Then her sun came back out, all was well, and we traipsed back to school.
While the kids are adjusting to the classroom, the parents are taken away to the staff room for tea and a talk. The first week the talk had something to do with the reporting system, stuff I should have known having had Milo in the school for years now, but which I only vaguely recalled. Another parent asked me about the weekly sausage sizzle, but I was clueless since we have never purchased it for Milo. I felt more competent during the second week talk, revolving around feeding your kid for school–fruit break, morning tea, and lunch. Apparently little misunderstandings like eating your sandwich for morning tea can be enough to derail some littlies. Oh, and make sure they wear shoes they can do up themselves, and that they can get their own clothes down to toilet themselves. I spent the hour being thankful that my kids are pretty rugged when it comes to transitions. No credit to me, it’s just their confident personalities.