Harvest celebration reprise

You might remember last year’s Harvest Celebration. I sure do.

This year things went much more smoothly.

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My newly confident Emilie, bursting with Yr. 1 pride,  sung beautifully with her class in front of a sea of eager parents wielding iPhones and Samsungs and Blackberries, oh my!

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My harvest contribution. Green beans in a can. My kiddies wouldn’t eat them but there are some grateful kiddies out there who will. I constantly remind my children to be thankful for what we have, never take things forgranted, and to share with others.

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My lovely Emilie wore a red flower that I had crocheted for her hair. Such a pleasure to see her smiling and confident! A complete metamorphisis from last year’s nail biting and nose picking 4yr old.

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Very proud of my gorgeous girl,  growing up so fast!

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Farewell Tarquin

Today’s post was supposed to be titled “Tarquin goes to school”.

This is Tarquin.

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Last night, I gave my little owl friend a mini makeover. I added some stitches around his wings and repaired one googly eye that had popped off and rolled across the room. When I had finished he was looking very spiffy indeed!

This is Tarquin this morning.

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He was happily hanging out with his bookend owl buddies.

Then I had a not-so-bright idea.  Let’s send Tarquin to school.

I got him all ready to go,

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and off he went.

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Sadly, Tarquin never returned home. My forlorn five year old informed me after school that Tarquin had disappeared somewhere between the playground pirate ship and the dining hall.

I will admit that my bottom lip quivered.

I’d like to think that dear Tarq has gone travelling home in some other child’s bookbag and will have many great adventures…

In the meantime I can only say, farewell my friend.

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Ooops, she did it again

Hands up if you remember the Harvest Festival fiasco back in October? No? Well take a moment to refresh your memory here.

Today my darling daughter did a double whammy.

It was the school Christmas program and I was buzzing with excitement. I dropped Emilie to her class and headed back home to spruce up for the program’s 10.30am start. An hour later we arrived  at the school hall with bells on — only to be informed that it had started at 10am! I frantically checked my tickets and found, much to my dismay, that 10am it was indeed. We had missed almost the entire show!

Feeling particularly downtrodden and drowning in mommy guilt, we snuck into the hall nonetheless to catch a glimpse of the final song. We had spied Emilie and her class waiting in the outside corridor. She was chatting happily with her friends. I asked a fellow parent-friend how Emilie had performed in the earlier dance (which we missed) and he said that she’d been brilliant and bubbly. I was thrilled that she’d enjoyed herself, disappointed that I hadn’t seen it.

No worries, I thought. This would be our chance. The final number with the whole school singing and dancing. Surely this would make up for missing out on the first half of the show. We stood near the exit and watched as Emilie and her class filed into the hall neatly. They all lined up, with Emilie in the front row.  I grabbed my camera and grinned. This was it!

But suddenly…. Emilie’s face crumpled and she retreated into the crowd of her classmates. I could see her shoulders shaking and hear the unmistakable whine. She’d seen us!

And she wasn’t happy about it.

My kid cried like someone had stolen her favorite Barbie or ate the last gummy worm. No amount of smiling, winking, cajoling, blown kisses, waving, or thumbs up could settle her. We tried to duck our heads, to make ourselves less visible, but her wails only grew louder as her classmates’ cheerful chorus rang through hall.

Eventually her teacher plucked her from the crowd and carried her to the side. That was our exit cue. We didn’t so much as leave as we just got the hell out of there. And this time instead of feeling embarrassed, I felt completely distressed and perfectly perplexed.  As we approached the school gate I hesitated. I decided to wait to see if she was ok. The teacher approached, holding my distraught daughter by the hand. She shook her head and told me that Emilie had been just fine and she wasn’t sure why she was upset. She once again reassured me that “sometimes children get shy when their parents are around.”

Well I know shy. And this wasn’t it. This was 4 yr old teenage angst. This was “why-are-you-here-cramping-my-style” tears. The expression on Emilie’s face said it all.  I had a mammoth OMG moment as I realised that she hadn’t wanted us there. Well imagine that…

And if you think I’m exaggerating or misreading my kid — just wait til you hear what she had to say when I picked her up from school at the end of the day.

I will leave that for tomorrow’s post. In the meantime, enjoy the one photo I was able to snap of her before we hightailed it out of there.

And yes, she’s crying.

If you can’t say something nice… shut up

Today was dress down day at Emilie’s school. I had no idea.

This afternoon when I went to collect her, another mom (noticing Emilie wearing her school uniform) said to me in the most incredulous holier-than-thou tone:

“Oh you forgot it was dress down day? What’s wrong, got something on your mind?”

I just looked at her. Something on my MIND? Hmm, let me see. I wanted to say:

“Listen b*tch, I’m juggling a million balls at the moment. Between spending endless hours in class, mothering two small girls, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, playdates, two bouts of flu, and just trying to keep my general sanity, I’m gonna drop a damn ball. Pardon me for not living up to your perception of parental perfection!”

Instead, I said in my sweetest voice:

“You forgot last time. Guess that makes us even.”

Cow.

No sleep for the weary

“I don’t wanna go to school!”

This is the refrain that echos off our sleep silent walls each morning, with the slight variation of “I don’t wanna go to ballet” on Saturdays.

Pillows are clung to and the covers are pulled up over a reluctant, pouting head.

A four-year old’s finger pokes me in the eye.

“Don’t be ridiculous mom. If you don’t take me to class who will? It’s already seven-four-six…” She says the four and six separately for emphasis.

I groan a feeble “I’m coming” and roll back over. Emilie has been up with the roosters (not that we have any) and has already helped herself to 2 pots of yoghurt and a sloppily poured bowl of cereal. I, on the other hand, have been smashing and snoozing my alarm for the past hour.

Smash, snooze. Smash, snooze.

Emilie dresses herself expertly while I lay lethargic in my swaddle of blankets. I peer at her through half closed eyes, checking that she hasn’t put her blouse on backward or her tights on inside out.

“Don’t forget your shoes,” I mutter, my tongue slick with sleep.

“I’m already wearing them mother.” This kid takes independence to a whole new level.

I am eventually coaxed from the confines of my cocoon and dress with the zest of a zombie. The brisk 15 minute walk downhill in the crisp, cold morning air puts life in my legs and lungs.

By the time I have deposited my darling daughter at her classroom door and tackled the journey back uphill I am alert, fully awake and all hopes of returning home to salvage my slumber has evaporated like the morning dew.

I pray for Sunday…

The curious case of the Harvest Festival

Today I was a parent helper at Emilie’s school. I volunteered to help walk the children in her class to the local church for their annual Harvest Festival assembly. I also decided to use this as a perfect chance to spy on  observe Emilie in action at school. The day didn’t start out so well. I tried to engage Emilie and asked her to show me some of her work in class. She refused. Then during circle time she barely paid attention, didn’t join in the discussion or answer questions, and had to be told twice that it was her turn to go to the toilet. When it was time for free play she chose to play at the play-doh table, cutting little pieces of dough into smaller pieces.  Again I tried to ask her what she was up to (in that sing song “I’m really interested in what you’re doing” tone) but she was still reluctant. At least she told me she was “making cookies”. I was a little disappointed but I understood that perhaps she was just shy to have me there. I mean it isn’t every day you have your Mummy sitting in class with you!

The walk to the church was uneventful, but when we arrived the acting up began. Emilie wasn’t using her “listening ears” so to speak. She put her feet up on the back of the pews, scribbled on all the offering envelopes, and refused to stand during the hymns. Jesus wept! Yet all of this I could handle. I whispered sharp threats about confiscating her laptop and she settled down. For a little while.

Much to my surprise (and eventual dismay) Emilie’s class was due to perform a song! As I watched 60 four-year olds file up to the front of the church I said a silent prayer (how appropriate) that Emilie would cooperate. I watched nervously from a middle pew, ducking my head slightly to stay out of her sight as much as possible. The music began and 59 little voices rung through the sanctuary. Notice I said 59.  There was one child who stood completely mute. Instead of singing, she shoved her fingers in her mouth. Instead of doing the actions to the words, she put her fingers in her nose. And rubbed her eyes and hung her head and fidgeted. Who was that poor, awkward child? That little shy/nervous/downright defiant child? Yes, she belonged to me. My very own offspring. Emilie. I shrunk lower in my seat wanting to disappear. I searched for an escape route. There was none. I was trapped. Trapped to witness my child being the oddball, the socially inept. Kill me now.

Afterward her teacher came to me as perplexed as I was. She was sympathetic, I was mortified. I asked if Emilie had known the words to the song. She confirmed that she knew both the words and the actions very well indeed. I was confounded. And felt just awful. The teacher suggested that perhaps it was because Emilie knew I was watching her. A bit of stage fright. Fair enough, but if that really was the case it makes me feel even WORSE. It’s much easier to believe that she was simply being rude and deserves a week of time outs. But to suggest that she didn’t participate in her class song because of me, her Mummy, being there — well that just hurts. And makes me feel as though I just don’t have this parenting thing figured out just yet. Why was she afraid to do her best in front of me? And how can I help her? How can I fix this? This is my pitfall in parenting. Always trying to fix something. Make it right. I have so many fears of doing the wrong thing as a mom, I don’t even know when I’ve done something right. Or how to give myself credit for it…

Now I am heading out in a few minutes to collect Emilie from school. And I think we will have a lot to talk about tonight. Will keep you posted…