Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Slow-Eater and the Bundle-Dropper

This afternoon we had the first parent teacher interviews for the year. The kids have only been at school for 4 weeks, so the interviews are more a chance for teachers to find out parental concerns/goals than an in-depth feedback session on what the kids are achieving.

I didn't quite have a grasp on this when Climber started school so I was ridiculously excited about attending my first ever parent teacher interview. Ridiculously. I'm talking butterflies before I walked in. I couldn't wait to hear what the teacher thought of my darling. I was therefore ridiculously crestfallen when the only piece of personal feedback I received about Climber was that he was a slow eater. And you know, granted, he is a slow eater but at the close of that interview I swear I saw Climber's magnificent school career crumbling before my eyes.

PT interviews_7767

Anyway, I don't know if it's the fact that this is my first year with female teachers rather than males, but I received a lot better feedback than that whole Slow Eating Thing. Which, I guess, is not hard. But still! Climber is in the top maths group, he is allegedly kind and empathetic towards his teacher and so far not succumbing to his tendency to be distracted by chair legs or fluff on the carpet, and actually buckling down really well and getting on with his work. She also said that he was incredibly mature for his age. Go Climber. Although, he and his best friend will probably still need to be separated inside the classroom for their own good, the teacher agreed almost too enthusiastically when I said semi-jokingly that they were pathetic together. As for Cherub, his adorable prep teacher nodded wholeheartedly at me when I said I had no concerns for him. She said he was very articulate, had lots of friends and was happy and confident. Which is pretty much what they said of him at kinder. Go Cherub. Surprisingly, she did not comment on his eating speed at all. (He's quite slow as well, you know you wanted to know that.)

PT interviews_7774

My major concern for Cherub is how tired he is. Our school's plan for integrating the Preps is to finish their school-day one hour earlier, at 2.30pm, for the first month. This is good for him but a nuisance for me because I have to pick up the older child at 3.30pm every day. The two of us go to a cafe for an hour usually, but twice a week I put Cherub into the free after-care service. I was hoping this would help to gently break him into the longer days. Apparently not. Even the bliss of having a single pick-up has been almost not worth it, because Cherub just drops-his-bundle and loses-his-plot on those days and is by turn whiney, snappy or in floods of tears. Not helped by the fact that Climber dawdles hopelessly, always the last out after the bell. So although next week my life may seem easier on the pick-up side of things -everyone finishes at 3.30 as of Monday- I am wondering if actually life is going to be even worse. I'll be packing lots of tissues just in case. I'm sure he'll get used to it before too long, but meantime, what about my sanity, hmm?


Until he does, I'll be here, mentally reminding myself to count to 10. And intoning speak nicely to each other repeatedly. (If they could speak nicely to me as well, that would be good.) I am officially at the oh what now? stage (thinking it, not saying it) when Cherub breaks down, sad to say. I sympathise and all but the sheer number of plot-losses have put me there, what can you do? All these spats and tiffs and meltdowns wear a parent out. It's as if we're on an emotional tightrope and I'm the umbrella. Or something. Actually, it's like living in a houseful of premenstrual women and heaven help the lot of us when my hormones come to the party.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chin up.

It was a National Day of Mourning for the Victorian Bushfires victims and survivors yesterday. I made the decision to sit down and watch the telecast, because for the past two weeks I've felt as if I've worn a cloak of sadness. And I thought maybe the best way to lift it from my shoulders was to have a bloody good cry. Two things prevented me completely indulging myself here: one was that the service itself had a strong focus on hope and help and recovery. Then just as we got to the emotional bit at the end (stirring songs overlaid with poignant images, a guaranteed way to get me to break down), my children decided to have a small and pointless spat. (Cherub said something, Climber shushed him and then Cherub kept complaining that Climber hadn't shushed him politely. In case you were wondering.) So much for my big self-indulgent sob-fest, but maybe that's what families are good for; keeping you from your own worst indulgences. At least my family is safe and housed and fed and with me, even if they occasionally annoy me.

Two things really - I mean really- touched me during the service. The first was an incredible image of a road and burnt out trees. Such was the destruction that the landscape looks like a black-and-white photograph; blackened trees and grey ash-coloured ground. In the middle of the picture walks a lone CFA member, in his bright yellow uniform, looking like a beacon of hope in that bleak environment. It took my breath away and made me weep. I wish I could find the original, but this one gives you the idea:

The other bit was seeing the crowd standing during the songs, holding hands and swaying to the music. So daggy yet somehow so primal, so comforting and ultimately so beautiful.

It was a good service, full of good words and thoughts, and I felt better for watching it. I hope it helps the people who were hit hardest too.


Book-ending our paying bushfire respects was a cafe breakfast in the morning with my sister who was visiting from Canberra, and a family bike-ride in the afternoon.


Because life goes on.

bike ride_7746

My bike got a puncture on the trip back but we had the redoubtable Mister Fixit on hand to repair it and get us on our way home again. It seemed vaguely symbolic of the whole day.

puncture repair_7764

Monday, February 16, 2009


I haven't felt able to commit to a blog post about any one thing but I thought I would record some of the stuff happening round here.

1. I made jam for the first time ever, and it has turned out well. The lady across the road gave us a big bag each of peaches and yellow plums, under the mistaken impression that a household with 2 young children in it would have no trouble knocking off a grand supply of stone fruit. Ha! Welcome to Chez Fixit where fruit is viewed with suspicion by the younger generation. However, I did my best. I offered it to the household at large and told them how delicious it was whilst eating as much as I could... but, in the end, I had to do something quickly before the absolutely fantastic produce rotted. Cue some research for lazy ways to make jam.

The jam-making was very simple, I didn't even de-stone the fruit or peel it first. I just tossed it all in with sugar and some lemon juice and pips (I've been told not to use the pips next time as allegedly they give jam an almond flavour) and when it all broke down I just skimmed the stones and the skins out as I stirred. Then I cooked it till it set. The ease of the operation made me question why it has taken me so long to have a crack at jam-making, particularly given that my mother is an accomplished jam maker. I think maybe a dominant memory of her quince-jelly-making-procedure, involving inverted kitchen chairs and a big muslin strainer, had my sub-conscious bamboozled into assuming jam making was complicated. My four jars of peach and plum jam were outrageously simple to concoct and the result was good enough that I felt able to give one jar to my fruity benefactor over the road.

2. Our school had a dress-up day to raise funds for the bushfire appeal. They raised over $3,200. Here's my two in costumes. The suggested theme was uniforms (sporting, professional etc) but as soon as dressing up was mentioned Cherub set his heart on his Transformer costume and therefore here he is, my little Optimus Pwime.. err Prime.

3. A long-time tap student and friend asked me last week if I'd been to see Billy Elliott (the stage show) yet, and when I replied flippantly but truthfully that I couldn't afford musical theatre, she got straight on the phone to a contact in the biz and procured me a free ticket. So on Friday night I had the pleasure of A Night At The Theatre. It was very good and I'm so happy I got to see it. Highlights for me were seeing the little boy wobble -oh so discreetly- from dizziness as he came down from a prolonged aerial spin on a wire, and the way the little girls danced so dreadfully when actually they were all very competent little movers. The fun they were having with their terrible ballet delighted me.

If I'm ruthlessly honest I would say that the tap choreography didn't thrill me, and the big angry tap routine was not a patch on the magnificent one done by Jamie Bell in the film. Genevieve Lemon as Mrs Wilkinson was fantastic, even if I didn't believe for a minute that she could dance. And let's face it, I'm probably looking at that stuff from a different perspective than most of the audience.

4. Cherub has really settled in now, and the glimpses I've caught of him in the school grounds have shown me a completely happy little boy who is enjoying himself. He and I are still missing each other, but we're getting used to it. He had his first Assembly this morning. He'd been slightly concerned about this because he didn't think he'd be able to sing the Australia Song due to his not knowing the words, and was relieved to hear that the Preps were not expected to join in for that bit yet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have not been directly affected by the apocalyptic bushfires. I'm here in the safety of my home in the big city, dealing with all the usual life goes on crap. But like most of us in this situation I feel as if my guts are being rotted by the ongoing horror of it all. It gets worse every day. First it was the rising death toll, then we began to see the faces of those who perished and hear the stories of those who survived.

We gave money, but it doesn't feel like enough. I plan to hold off on grocery shopping till Friday because Coles Supermarkets will donate all profits from that day to the Bushfire Appeal. And we rang our doctor to see if Fixit and I, despite our various disorders, were eligible to give blood. We're not, of course, and really I knew we wouldn't be, but it just seemed to be the best thing I could give after money. That's how this disaster makes you feel; like you want to give your own insides to help.

Other wannabe blood-givers can register here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Next week will be easier

I'm feeling wrung out, it's been that kind of week. It started with sending the little boy off to school and ended with a record-breakingly hot day and awful bushfires. In the midst was the enormous emotional involvement of navigating Cherub through his first week as a schoolboy. Not to mention trying to get used to being on my own every day.

first day of school_7724

This was the face that greeted me at school pick-up time on Cherub's first two days of school. He's been happy to go to school in the morning, fine all during the day, but then he'd walk out the door at half past two, see me, and just crumple. His teacher assures me he's having a good time in the classroom. She says he puts up his hand and answers questions and joins in. Although one of the very few things he's actually told me was that he chose to sit out when the class played some basketball on his second day because he was so tired and he missed-ed me. The mental picture I had of him sitting forlornly in the shade made me feel like crying again.

Anyway. At the end of Day 3 he was droopy-but-not-crying and on the Friday he ran out and hugged me happily. Meantime he's been eating like a horse, extremely fragile under pressure and he kisses and tells me he loves me at at roughly 5-minute intervals. The Climber is being a very kind and caring big brother in the playground and took calm control when the Cherub had his first playground injury (nasty grazed forearm); first comforting him and then escorting him to the yard duty teacher with the first aid kit. Or as Cherub described her the person what was wearing a lallow coat and hadded a hostibal bag.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


You know my baby?


This one?


My bay-bee, my bubbsy boy?

cherub1 and buzzcar

He looks a bit more familiar with hair I suppose.


Oh, wait, that's not much hair. Try this one.


Yeah. Little long-haired baby boy. You know who I mean.


The one that suddenly grew longer and thinner overnight.

new swimmers_7459

My Cherub, that's the one.


He started school today.

I wouldn't believe it either, except the house is so quiet now.

Do you want a walk-through?

Okay. Well. There were a few tears in the car.

[Me, not him.]

When we got to the playground, he put his schoolbag down (proudly) in the same place Climber does and went off happily to play on the equipment. Then the bell went and we headed over towards his classroom. That was when things got a bit wobbly.

[Still me, not him.]


We all went into the classroom together, a first day treat. He put his schoolbag in his locker (another proud moment) and then sat down in front of the big pirate ship that had caught his eye. His friends soon joined him, and they started playing very happily. Meanwhile my friend Lucy (mother-of-Cherub's-Best-Friend) and I surreptitiously shared tissues and tried to keep it together. Look, nearly managed it!


We took a few family shots, and see, everybody is happy. That's not so hard now, is it?

Us&Cherub1st school_7669

Oh wait. W-a-i-t a minute.

my baby goes to school_7678

Pardon? How's the Cherub?

He was completely fine. Only one baby in this household today.