I have never considered myself a ‘baby person’. I have always been excited when my kids have embarked on new stages, eg, starting school, reading their first book, going on their first camp etc. My youngest started high school not quite two weeks ago and I thought I was totally fine with it. I was even joking to some of the other mothers last week that ‘we are on the home straight’. They all seemed to wish that they weren’t.
Fast forward to the weekend and I was sitting on our sun porch reading (a book where the main character was the mother of 2 young children) and happened to overhear a conversation between the little boy next door (about 3 years old) and his grandmother. She said to him “Goodbye, darling” and he replied by calling her darling too.
That night I had a really vivid dream in which my son was still so little that he had to hug me by putting his arms around my neck rather than in my body. My daughter was in it too – wearing the awful faux satin ‘party dress’ she used to love to wear absolutely everywhere.
Since then I have been feeling a bit wistful. I have grabbed the kids for sneaky hugs but they don’t melt into me like they used to. I also can’t hug the younger one in public. He and I went to the swimming pool on the weekend, half expecting to bump into other kids we knew. We didn’t and I realised after a while that it was a bit boring for him hanging out with just mum at the pool so, after a few laps and a half hearted water treading competition (that he let me win – because he is so lazy), we went home. He immediately dashed into the neighbour’s house to visit his ‘other family’ who were taking him to the movies. Meanwhile our older child was busy in her room doing year 11 homework so the house was quiet and peaceful while husband and I cooked and ironed for the week ahead.
That night, the kids and I stayed up and watched My Kitchen Rules together. Our excuse is that it gives us ideas for recipes (both kids enjoy cooking) but really, we mostly love the drama. My son has started cooking classes at high school and his project this term is to invent a new kind of pasta. Being an MKR tragic from way back, he has come up with the idea of chocolate dessert pasta. That can be our shared project some weekend soon.
I always find it hard to get back into blogging after a hiatus so this is a quick update post so I don’t feel like I am trying to pick up loose threads in my posts:
- brother in law is no longer staying with us – got the all clear after his cancer treatment and has gone back home. Family dramas still surfacing occasionally but fairly quiet at the moment.
- daughter still going quite well at school although feeling the pressure of added schoolwork and exams this year. Also being a bit challenging in terms of her attitude towards us (eg, I am so embarrassing for coming to the Lady Gaga concert with her – never mind that I am supplying her and her friends with free tickets!)
- son is cheerfully rambling along at school and with life in general. Husband seems to take it personally that son is so uninterested in things like homework and physical activity so this causes a bit of tension. Trying to break son’s sugar/screens/general slothfulness tendencies before high school next year. He is going to the public, arts high school rather than the strict private school that husband had in mind. He has had numerous warnings that he needs to actually work at high school or he might find himself somewhere much stricter. I am kind of optimistic that the school will really suit him and get him excited about learning and working as their teaching style meant to be very focussed on ‘creative thinking’. Unfortunately the very annoying friend he had at his previous school is also going to the same high school and will be in the same gifted class that son managed to get into (and yes, we were quietly amazed but pleased that son got into this class).
- husband obsessing over grand renovation plans which include building a ‘pavilion’ in our backyard and extending the house. I am not too fussed as I figure we can put up with the smallness of the house for a few years until children move out but can see husband’s point about enjoying some space now and then possibly using it for rental income (designing house so we can divide in two at some point). He has also promised that part of the renovation will include getting fencing put in so we can get a dog. (In the meantime, we have been volunteer dog walking at a local animal shelter when we can).
- as for me, I am actually enjoying work at the moment. Getting to focus almost solely on communications which I enjoy. Also have a new boss who provides a good buffer between me and ridiculous big boss. A new yoga and pilates studio has opened around the corner from our house so daughter and I have been going to that when we can. Also been quite busy with school things, eg, subject selection/career planning events for daughter, being the class parent at her school, driving around to various sporting events etc. I will probably get more involved in son’s school next year – first year of high school seems like a more important time to be getting involved/making presence felt especially as I really want things to work out for him at the local school. Other exciting news is that I am taking son to New Zealand in a few weeks (I took daughter to Indonesia at around the same age). Our main destination is Hobbiton on the north island and will be flying into Auckland, visiting the Waitomo caves, Rotorua, hot water beach at Coromandel and whatever else we can fit into our 8 days. Very excited!
I have started calling my 15 year old daughter Mrs Flappy Ears because of her new interest in listening in to adult conversations. She seems to be able to sense a juicy conversation from a mile off and will just happen to have some business in the room where the conversation is taking place so that she can get a good earful. I don’t quite trust her yet not to spout out what she has heard in the wrong setting or I would happily involve her in some of these conversations.
I have posted before about her decision to move to a Catholic school last year. As part of the admission process, she had to attend a meeting with the head of pastoral care at the school who wanted to check that she was happy to be educated in a Catholic environment (although there would be no pressure on her to convert to Catholicism). This would include studying religion and attending school masses. Daughter was quite okay with this. She had been attending optional scripture at her previous school (I think this was run by one of the more evangelical churches in the area which seemed to have an endless supply of handsome young men to teach scripture to impressionable teenage girls).
So far, the school has been great. Daughter has made some great new friends and it doesn’t seem to matter at all that she is not Catholic as quite a few of the others aren’t either. We have been subjected to a few moans about long masses on hot days and about religion classes (no hot young men teaching them at this school!). I had to laugh the other day when she came home terribly indignant after being instructed by her (non hot) religion teacher to ‘read the Gospel of Luke for homework!’. My husband and I haven’t been too sympathetic and just said ‘Fancy a religious school expecting students to read the bible!’.
According to openbible.info, Luke did have a bit to say about private conversations which seem to fall down more on our daughter’s side, for example:
Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Perhaps if we could get her to see the value of having a handy bible quote for every occasion, she might not be so averse to learning religion at school. I always wished that I had more knowledge of Christianity when studying English Literature at university. The other good thing about the religion course at her school is that they also learn about other religions. For instance, the Rabbi from the Jewish school comes in and teaches them about Judaism and a few weeks ago, they travelled out to an Islamic school on the other side of Sydney where they spent time with girls from that school and engaged in lots of squealing and hugging and trying on of clothes (the Muslim girls taught the Catholic girls how to wear a headscarf before taking them on a tour of their mosque). I don’t think the girls got around to having any deep theological discussions but they did agree that both were subject to strict rules about things like dress/uniform, boys and imbibing of substances.
For the most part, daughter seems quite happy to go along with these restrictions for now and is not in a particular hurry to bust out and rebel (part from little things like wearing her jumper rather than her blazer on the bus ride home from school). For our part, we feel like it has bought us a bit of time, ie, when she left her old school, her friends there were already having mixed parties and probably just on the verge of adding things like alcohol to the mix. At the Catholic school, it is back to all girl affairs and everyone seems very well behaved. Living where we do, it is likely that she will be attending mixed parties with drugs and alcohol on offer in the next year or two. I kind of feel that any extra growing up she can do before facing all that is a bonus.
Sightseeing by becak (pedal rickshaw) during a trip to Indonesia a few years ago.
Pingback to challenge.
My little niece was born just over two weeks ago. I went down to meet her when she was 6 days old and she slept through our entire meeting! I am going down again with the kids in late April so hopefully she will be a bit more interested in her cousins than she was in her aunty. My brother might also be more awake then too. He could barely keep his eyes open on the day I visited as this little munchkin had only allowed them about 30 minutes of sleep the night before. I didn’t stay very long as I didn’t think they would want to waste precious sleep time sipping tea with me. I understand she is doing much better now, ie, saving some of her sleep for the night time hours. She is being bottle fed as I don’t think my brother’s partner was given very good support with breastfeeding at the hospital, ie, they encouraged comp feeding virtually from day 1 and then sent mother and baby home before the milk had even come in (this was after a caesarean too). Not the end of the world I suppose but I know that she did want to breastfeed. I didn’t say too much about it as not much I could do to provide support on a flying visit and didn’t want to come across as the interfering, all knowing sister in law.
Mum having the same dilemma, ie, wanting to help but not wanting to intrude as my brother can be quite prickly. For now she is helping by looking after their super annoying Jack Russell terrier at her house. She thinks they are quite keen not to come and pick him up but Mum is going to try and take him over to meet his new little sister this weekend. Maybe he will be less annoying once he has a permanent playmate on tap. He is just obsessed with balls and if you play with him for 10 minutes, he will never forget it and never leave you alone. He was like that with me when I was down, ie, I couldn’t even go to the toilet without him coming bounding in through the dog door (and yes, mum has a dog door in her toilet!) and looking at me hopefully. He will be good when I take the kids down to visit as they are happy to throw the ball for hours and totally wear him out.
Last night I went to an information night at my daughter’s (Catholic) school which was all about the volunteer program they have to participate in this year and also about their forthcoming school camp which sounds a bit like that tv show The Amazing Race. The whole camp will take place in Sydney but the girls will be set challenges to get around on public transport and visit different places, for instance, the Flemington food markets at 7 in the morning to buy items for a cook off and an Islamic school in the western suburbs (where they hang out with the students from there, learn how to put on a hijab etc). It sounds like it will be lots of fun. I suspect that the reason that the school has come up with this style of camp is that a lot of the teenagers where we live are quite sheltered and rarely venture out of what is a fairly privileged area of Sydney. They were saying at the information night that some girls who went on the camp last year had never even caught a train before. A couple of the parents were concerned about the fact that the girls were not allowed to carry their mobile phones and what would they do in the event they got lost or separated from their groups? It made me think of what my friends and I were like at that age, ie, whizzing all over Melbourne on public transport and delighting in the fact that adults had no idea where we were or what we were up to.
I don’t think the experience will be such a shock for my daughter as it will be for some of the other girls, ie, she has been forced out of her comfort zone by me on many an occasion (eg, our trip to Indonesia a few years ago and our regular jaunts out to odd parts of Sydney or to country NSW). She does still regard public transport with much more trepidation than I think is healthy though. And also, despite the fact that we only moved to this area when she was 10 and she has always attended public schools before last year, she does seem to regard the western suburbs with a bit of suspicion. I really hope that this camp gives her more of an appetite for adventure, ie, getting around Sydney is really not that much different to getting around any other big city in the world. At least here she will have the advantage of speaking the language and having her friends to support her. This is one of their camp spots:
Can it really get any better than this?