thought overload

Posts tagged ‘Queensland’

Rainy days reconsidered

I have always dreaded rainy days. They make me miserable and I feel trapped. The January floods of 2011 even gave me  a reason to fear them.

Today, rainy days have been given a facelift via my children who are complete and utter nutters and my family as a whole, who are extremely supportive. I’m so very grateful and proud.

I set up my laptop this afternoon in the family area, among all the chaos and noise, to get a bird’s-eye view of the hilarity that was unfolding. My line of sight directed to the upstairs hallway and storage cupboard . The dress-ups are located in there. Rather than pull the box out, The Princess stepped inside and all I could see was a hand extending from the open door to Master 6, who was attempting to don all manner of clothing items. Considering the day’s entertainment began with Master 6 in nothing but boxer shorts, a pink maiden’s headdress and a fake beard, I knew it was going to be a cracker of a day. I watched him as he looked down at me giggling uncontrollably, looking like a fractured fairytale version of one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs. He attempted to drag the rest of the princess costume over his head, losing the beard and the headdress. It was like watching a butterfly emerging from a cocoon on video, except with someone continually pressing reverse, fast forward and pause. There was dancing and singing  including a final fashion parade. The Princess wearing a left over witches costume from Halloween and Master 6 as The Princess, complete with ‘fake boobs’ he described as really ‘soft and squishy’. No gender stereotyping here thank you very much. The Princess then chased Master 6 through the house demanding that he give her back her boobs (socks). I am so very glad that no neighbours decided to visit at that time, although I did notice there was a bag of cookies left by the front door from the elderly next-door neighbour who did not knock. Oh dear, I figure, he’s lived next door to us for this long that nothing should surprise him.

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingre...

(Image via Wikipedia) A bit like these...only...gone.

The ‘bag’ of cookies turned out to be several bags of home-made cookies; peanut butter, chocolate chip, jam drops, almond/coffee and Anzacs. I would have taken a photo of this lot sitting on the couch eating from their individual bags but the cookies didn’t last long enough. The memory is also sweeter in my mind. I looked at Master 6 incredulously who had almost devoured his bag while in full Princess regalia and he said, ‘What’s so funny?’ Indeed.

Bieber managed to appear at the most opportune time – he smelled food. The Princess and her father made Potato Scallops for lunch as I read out a recipe I found online, switching back and forth between it and study. They were really good and much appreciated on this dismal day. I even got ice cream in a waffle cone. I don’t know, some days the food just appears at my desk.Bieber made me a coffee before he disappeared back upstairs to his land of ’12 year old boy’.

Master 6, finally de-Princessed, decided he would sit on top of me and not next to me. I love a 6 years old’s lack of spatial awareness which is still developing and will one day make sure he doesn’t sit ANYWHERE near me. The boy looked rather Dr Octagonapusish attached to wires and metal which I realised was actually earphones and Bieber’s mobile phone. This, and the fact he was riveted to a show on TV meant he sat on me. The phone? Probably a bribe from Bieber to get peace and quiet.

Red has been away visiting his girlfriend all weekend up in North Queensland. On his arrival he did text me. Did I really not text back ALL weekend? Yep. Terrible mother. This is the text I received from his this evening:

Umm well seeing you don’t even miss me I have decided to join the monastery up here…You and the rest of the family will always be in my mind. But I seek enlightenment now…’

The Princess intercepted this text and came downstairs to tell me that Red was not coming back, he’d joined a monastery. Huh? This is my text back to Red:

‘I thought that I would practise being a NAM (new age mother) where my progeny are free to spread their wings without my constant over-shadowing. That, and the fact that my iPhone is not my own (read: The Princess monopolises it). I got your message that you are safe and that’s all that matters to me. The knowledge of where you are is enough to satisfy even my most outrageous parenting concerns. The Princess filtered your text before I read it thus: Red isn’t coming home, he’s joined the monastery. Good luck with that. Your lovely mother xxx

This is the text I got back (from the girlfriend):

‘I love you mummy xxx Also, I kept your son safe from the scaries 🙂

Not from the scaries here though. I love these.

The Queensland summer provides plenty of these shots

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You’re not making me go to Summer School

No clever title.

No clever pun.

The Princess has spoken and I almost missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

One of my units this semester is Multiliteracies (Birth -5 years). Studying this subject has caused me to reflect on my past teaching and my current parenting philosophy and what Ruth Shagoury (2009, p. 59) refers to as ‘teachable moments’.

The idea behind it and the plan

The Princess was booked in for summer school at the end of last school term. Nothing major, The Princess has a little trouble understanding some maths rules and needs more time to explore them.  Mainstream schooling doesn’t always allow for this.  We had decided together to take the online option that was offered.  Now that I am studying and considering what happened last year (January floods) and the heat that is our Queensland summer gift, we thought it would be the way to go.

What actually happened

At 9.30 am last Monday, I get a phone call from the Principal of Summer School. Yes. I forgot. Actually, I forgot the date and was wondering why our online package hadn’t arrived. Oh, I’m sorry but online isn’t an option. Huh? We decided to start The Princess the very next day and she could catch up on what she missed easily. Excuse me? Oh, and you won’t need to bring anything, morning tea and drinks are provided for the small break of 15 minutes mid-morning. Sorted. Oh dear.

The next few hours resulted in The Princess stomping through the house. Tears and tantrums turned to dishes noisily being unstacked from the dishwasher. The vacuum cleaner roaring away upstairs. Articles of clothing being tossed across my line of vision somewhere in the vicinity of the downstairs laundry. Back and forth she went. Cleaning spray and a cloth in hand busily scrubbing every surface within an inch of its life. Chairs scraped on the floor. All accompanied by hrrumphs and sighs.

Princess, you don’t have to clean the house. You do have to go to summer school. I don’t want to go to summer school, I hate it. You’ve never been. I want to do it online. You can’t do it online, they’re not doing it. But my friend is doing it online. Why should I have to go to summer school, it’s the school holidays. On and on it went.

Two hours passed. Can I go to K’s house? Sure, be back in two hours. Have fun. Off The Princess trotted to her friend’s house across the road.

The Princess roars through the door at 4pm, excitedly asking if she can stay over at K’s house. No honey. You have summer school in the morning and you need an early night. I want to stay at K’s house but I can’t because of DUMB summer school.

Insert two hours of tears. I never knew you could make so much noise feeding a cat. Apparently there are several ways for opening a tin of cat food and putting this with biscuits in a feed bowl that can make an enormous amount of noise. Add to this doors and cupboards slamming, dirty dishes thrown in to the sink from a distance and plenty of exaggerated groans and you have yourself a party.

Half an hour later, I realised the house was silent. I was concerned by what may lay ahead. I knew that assignment #2 was not going anywhere right at this moment and put down my books. No Princess. As I attempted to shut down my laptop, a small maths grid book was slid under my nose. There, in all it’s glory was a full page of maths sums. All neatly written in red pen. All correct. When all else had failed to grab my attention, convey her implicit feelings and render the required result, The Princess had produced a note. The message inside was unmistakeable and I almost missed it.

Later that evening before dinner, I overheard The Princess tell Master 6 that he had better do his homework or he’d wind up in summer school too. In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the horror, The Princess dragged out her old Year 6 maths books and busily started working through them again, employing the aide of Bieber and Red the maths whizzes in our home. I knew I had to approach this carefully. I had seen this before.

After dinner, The Princess and I sat down for a quiet moment. I softly asked her why she didn’t want to go to summer school. The answer suprised me. It had nothing to do with her giving up her freedom in the holidays. It had nothing to do with missing out on a sleep over. It had nothing to do with waking up early to walk the 2.5 km to school in the heat. It didn’t even have to do with her feeling ‘stupid’ (which was my biggest concern). No, the answer was simply this: I don’t know why you can’t teach me Mum.

A ‘teachable moment’.

Shagoury (2009) reminds us that, as educators and parents, we must be careful not to miss these little moments with children. It’s hard to always understand the meaning behind everything that children do but, we can try. Knowing the child, their background, their interests and strengths is just part of the equation. Asking questions, taking quiet moments out in a busy, hectic day,listening and observing are the ingredients for ‘teachable moments’. These opportunities serve us well on two levels. We learn so much by really listening to children and expanding on what they tell us. These little insights are ‘miracle windows’. We also learn a lot about ourselves and the way we teach.

The experiment

The  next day, The Princess went to summer school. She had resigned herself to the fact that she could at least  give it a go, in keeping with the family motto and then  return home and recount all the problems/issues/atrocities back to us in her utterly guilt-inducing and unshakeable explanation of why she shouldn’t go back. Here is her argument:

  • You took me to the wrong classroom
  • The teacher had to walk me to 4 different classrooms to find out where I was meant to be
  • If you just listened to me in the first place, Mum, we wouldn’t have been late
  • The work is ridiculous
  • You know that 15 minute break? NO FOOD
  • I walked around the school yard for 10 minutes by myself
  • I didn’t know ANYONE and nobody talked to me
  • The teacher really didn’t help me much, he was focusing on the other kids more than me
  • You never asked me if I even WANTED to go in the first place
  • You said I could do it online
  • You can still teach me yourself, you know

That last point was the kicker and she was right. There was so much more to The Princess not wanting to go to summer school. My time.

Amazingly, after it had been decided that she would not return in the morning (and that the Cowardly Mother was to be spared the shame making THE phone call to the summer school  Principal) all these little stories emerged of how she had a male teacher for the day and now ‘I’m not so worried about having a male teacher this year’. I found out that she was playing ‘Moshi Monsters on the computers in the air conditioning. The Princess also came home with a gift bag containing a ruler, and other stationery items. This little bag of goodies contained a bright, yellow sticker with the word FUNLAND with a crown over the ‘a’ (I know, the irony didn’t escape me either). The sticker has since been squarely slapped on to the front of the paper goodies bag and placed on my desk as a reminder of what I have done. You know the nobody-talked-to-me-scenario? Debunked! ‘Two boys talked to me and one was nice. One asked me if I’d had enough sleep because my eyes were all puffy. One told me not to drink out of the bubblers because it was all hot. I didn’t know what to say to the boy about my eyes’ (she had cried a lot the day before).  However, she did have plenty to say to me about her lack of provision for nourishment and water in the 3 hours she was there. I am a terrible mother. I needed to write this post. I have just read it out loud to The Princess as she sat near me, smiling with every word. This is why I am now sitting here, close to The Princess as she writes her own curriculum for summer school under my direction. Yes, I am the teacher.

P.S. There has now been yet another huge discussion about Home Schooling. The Princess begs me at least three times a year to Home School her (usually after holidays). Bieber firmly responded with a ‘No’ and wants to know why I always want to ruin his life. Master 6 emphatically responded ‘YES’! which resulted in a ‘high -five’  from The Princess. When I asked Red his thoughts, I got this :’Why does my opinion matter?’ (in a painfully whiny tone) which I translated to mean ‘Please stop talking to me and interrupting my gaming time… and ruining my life’.

In the middle of all this, my husband says to me ‘It’s up to you Bub’ and passes me a note , written on a used envelope:

I Love u c u r  m q t

I look at him in wonder. ‘I bet you can’t work out what it says’, he tells me.  The note, decoded reads:

I love you ’cause you are my cutie

Once again, all is right with the world.

Reference

Shagoury, R.E. (2009). Raising writers: Understanding and nurturing young children’s writing development. USA: Allyn & Bacon, Pearson

I would just love to put your family in Canada.

Image retrieved from queenslandbeaches.com

A conversation with my Canadian friend this morning delivered this unusual albeit hilariously funny snippet of banter:  “I would just love to put your family in Canada at the moment and see how you all fare” followed by an evil giggle. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore this friend and enjoy learning all about where she lives which is reciprocal I might add however, at the moment Edmonton, Alberta is experiencing -29 degrees c with some ridiculous  wind chill factor which I guess would make it about -39 degrees c and I live in Queensland, Australia.

Location of Queensland on Australia.

Image via Wikipedia

I have never had a white Christmas. We swelter, swim and eat seafood and salad not turkey and pudding at Christmas. I have only ever seen snow when I was in Orange, NSW and it was just  a poor excuse for snow, really. I have never been skiing. I have never travelled overseas. Yeah! Put the inexperienced Aussie chick in Canada in the middle of winter? I have an idea. Come here to sunny Queesnsland. Right now. Our summer. That will sort you out. Love ya K x

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