Friday, 29 June 2012

My last day of kindy

Stefan had his last day at kindy yesterday. It was both an exhilarating and sad day for me. I have always said that I love watching my babies grow. I love every new stage in their development and lives. I love the people they are becoming, so I am not really sad when they reach their milestones [as many other mums are with their babies]. I’m excited and proud. In fact I have been so excited about Stefan finishing kindy and embarking on his school career that I was taken aback when I found myself feeling quite sentimental about his last day. I wrote in a card to his teacher to thank her and it made me cry… just a little bit. Because it’s not just Stefan’s last day at kindy, but mine too. As I walked him out after his farewell presentation, it struck me that I would not return to this amazing place. This world of wonder and discovery and friendships and nurture. This world that helped shape my two boys.

There is a quote by Carl Jung on teachers that sums up how I feel, which I wrote in my card:

"An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."

I’m fussy about where my kids spend their time and who they spend it with. I am fortunate that my personal circumstances have allowed me to spend their formative years with them as a full-time, stay at home mum and I am grateful that I have not been forced to put them into childcare due to financial and/or marital struggles. I know there are lots of mums who have also chosen childcare for their kids and that’s ok with me too. It’s just not the way I roll. So, other than a brief stint at Montessori, the teachers at kindy were the first non-family people that I have entrusted my sons to… which was a bit difficult. When young children are left with other people they learn, not only what they are taught, but what they observe. What they hear. What they absorb from those people and from that environment. So I’m fussy about the environments that I leave my kids in and I will forever be thankful for our kindy experience.

Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, my sons adjusted immediately to their new environment. Their friendships with other children there were observed and encouraged so that Nathan’s closest friends 3 years later are the ones he met at kindy. These relationships were considered so important that they make up part of their kindy ‘report card’. Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, I learned that Stefan leads with his left leg when he hops and that he enjoys all ball sports. The fact that he is ‘fit and agile’ is as important on his report as his ‘ability to write his own name’ and ‘precise cutting with scissors’.  They let him know that everything he learns is important – not just the academic stuff. 

Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, Stefan knows that it’s ok to choose an activity less popular than the majority vote and is congratulated for his independent thinking. So he feels confident to stand apart from the crowd. Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, I felt supported in my decision to allow Nathan to start school earlier than he should have, based on their insight into his academic and emotional maturity that I would not have learned about him so quickly. Because of the amazing teachers at kindy, I have learned that, even away from mum’s watchful eye, my sons are kind, respectful, funny, confident, smart, creative, fit, capable and ready for what the world has in store in them.

I take my job as a mum seriously and I have the greatest respect for the teachers at kindy who do too. I take my hat off to everyone who touched my children’s hearts during the beginning of their educational journey. 

I couldn’t have prepared them better myself.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Let's Dance

OMA xx

I have often spoken about how my grandmother, Oma to me, Willy [short for Wilhelmina] to others, has influenced me. I have learned many, many things from her and she inspires me in so many ways, even now that she has passed. There is a moment in her life that defines her, for me. A moment that showed me and the world what she was about. I regularly draw on the strength of this moment when I feel that my own chips are down – and it gets me through. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Not long after Oma had undergone open heart surgery in her early seventies, she was called to quite a serious meeting with her doctors to discuss the results of some medical examinations they’d taken during their monitoring of her. Despite living here for over forty years, Oma retained a heavy accent which belied her firm and comprehensive grasp of the English language. Her doctors gravely explained that the results showed that she had a terminal and quite aggressive cancer called multiple myeloma. With sensitivity and resignation they advised her to get her affairs in order as they did not expect her to survive longer than twelve months. They explained how sick she would be and talked about the process of care she would require. Oma seemed to take this in and when given the opportunity to ask any questions of her doctors she asked only this “Can I still dance?” Her doctors had experienced this type of confusion and, perhaps, denial from many others before so asked if her daughter [my mum] could perhaps meet with them and her the following day so that they could explain it to her.

So, the following appointment was attended by the same doctors, Oma and now my mum too. The doctors repeated their prognosis to my mum and explained that they felt Oma was not clear about the terminal nature of her cancer and they asked if mum could translate for them, to overcome what they believed to be a ‘language barrier’. Mum, who took the news a bit harder, did as she was asked and translated the entire conversation into the family’s mother tongue, Dutch, to my quiet but unwavering Oma. The story mum tells me is that Oma listened, nodded and then replied, in Dutch “I bloody heard them the first time they told me, I just want to know if I can still dance!!”

She took that news better than anyone I have ever known to this day. Yes, she understood she had cancer. Yes, she understood it was killing her. Yes, she understood she was dying. But… what she did that day is tell cancer to go and fuck itself. She was going to go out the way she wanted, despite cancer’s plans for her. She DID dance. Five nights a week she could be found twirling around in one of her gorgeous gowns. She could foxtrot, tango, waltz, samba and dip like a beauty queen. Once she BROKE HER HIP and didn’t tell anyone so that she could dance on Saturday night. She was a bit slower on the dance floor that night but she went. And she danced. Then she admitted herself to hospital on Sunday morning, smiling. She told me “It’s a miracle Tania. Even if I can’t walk all week – my legs can move on Saturday night”.

She danced her way through EIGHT YEARS more of her amazing life.

Take that cancer.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Before blogs there were diaries

Here's my first diary entry, from 12 year old Tania.

I have copied it verbatim [including spelling errors]. The bracketed text in blue are 40 year old Tania's 'special comments'.

Enjoy x

Tuesday 15 January 1985

Today I went to Ilka's to stay the night. I got there and we stuffed around a bit. [I haven't used 'stuffed around' for ages... may bring that out again] Then we set up the tent that we were to sleep in that night. We had curry for tea and white chocolate mousse for dessert.[that's a Facebook status update right there] Then Ilka found some sparklers and we lit them and went to stop cars on Bray Street. We got home and readied ourself for bed. [readied ourself? Even back then I thought someone would want to read my stuff.. maybe my English teacher] We sat in the tent, stuffing our faces with chocolate & chips and told each other about ex boyfriends etc.[ex boyfriends - plural - at the age of 12. Already making our mothers proud] We tried to get to sleep but couldn't so we decided to make obsene noises and pretend that I was the boy and she was the girl.[as you do] We finally did get to sleep but woke up more than several times in the night. I'm really glad I've got Ilka as a friend. I really love being with her. [to this very day]

I'm still a virgin - aren't you?

My first time

Today was Stefan’s first school transition visit. 

He was SO excited and fully prepared for whatever the morning threw at him and it got me thinking about the last time I did something for the first time. I came up with 3 of my most memorable virgin experiences…

Going out for dinner and a movie in Gold Class

This happened a few weeks ago. How have I never done this before? Seeing a movie in Gold Class was the worst thing I could do. I can never again watch another movie in the cinema again without spending the entire movie thinking ‘I wish I was in Gold Class’. In Gold Class you have your own personal host who takes your orders, brings you your drinks and comes and gets you when the movie starts to escort you to your own private chairs. Chairs which recline ALL THE WAY and have a table in between them to put your alcoholic beverage on. In Gold Class there’s no-one sitting next to you except for the person you came with which in my case was Mark. Oh, and there’s another first… I can finally say, that I lost my virginity with my husband ;) In Gold Class they bring you your dinner at the time you’ve ordered it for and you eat it in your reclining chair. Same goes for dessert and any drinks you may like. In Gold Class you feel special and it’s very easy to overlook the $70+ per head it cost for the experience. So now, dinner and a movie can all be wrapped up in two hours! I wish I hadn’t let all those Gold Class gift tickets expire over the years…

Wearing brand new gold shoes

I can’t get this first-time experience out of my head because my feet are still sore – and it was last month!! Seriously, wearing new shoes is like heaven and hell all at once. They looked SENSATIONAL and I felt like a goddess when I put them on. Skip to two hours later and I felt like a hag with arthritis and bunions. Granted, I still looked good… if I was sitting down!

Selling my first shirt

Many years ago, in a previous life, I had my own business. It was a concept I stole from Italy and Adelaide embraced its first men’s shirt and tie boutique. Setting it up was a huge feat including developing my own brand and sourcing European shirt and tie manufacturers. On the first day that I opened my doors, I sold 3 shirts to my first ever customer within the first hour of opening. It was nearly an $800 sale. I was SO excited that I nearly kissed him and as soon as he left the shop I danced a jig, fist pumped and, in lieu of the yet to be invented social media vehicles, I called everyone I knew to tell them! Such a great first time memory.

Let's get this straight...

5 things I won’t do as a Mum

I will not eat off my kids’ fork/spoon/finger. It makes me sick. They lie about washing their hands and when they do it means waving their disease covered fingers under a cold running tap. I’m surprised they’re not riddled with worms… but just in case they are – I don’t want to eat off their fork.

I will not let them win games. I don’t like bad sports so I don’t want to raise any.

I will not buy them alcohol when they are underage and I will not let them have sex under my roof under the guise of ‘at least I know where they’re doing it’. I know where they’ll do it, without having to condone it. They’ll lie their way into bars and have sex in the back seat of cars. Like their parents did.

I will not let them believe they are owed anything in this world, without earning it first.

I will never give them any reason to think that I don’t love them. Ever.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

A study of mums at school...

7 mothers you'll meet through your kids

So I’m entering my third year of being a school mum. When your kid starts school – it’s like your first day too. Who will you meet? Will they like you? Will you like them? It has been interesting to me, since becoming a mum, the network you become a part of. The kindergym mums, the swimming lesson mums, the kindy mums, the Montessori mums, the playgroup mums and so on. I found myself weeding and sorting and sometimes picking the best of a bad bunch to align myself with. Other times being overwhelmed at the really good selection of new friends. I have seen a recurring type of mum over the last 7 years. A few in fact. Do you recognize any of these?

The Desperado
This Mum has an annoying kid – and she knows it. None of the other kids want to play with hers so she’s desperate to make friends with you so you can hang out and she can bring along her annoying kid to your playdates. She injects herself into conversations with you and other mums and laughs a little too loud at all your jokes and tells stories about her kid that you know are actually dreams. I always end up being friends with this mum.

The Teacher’s Pet
That was her position when she was in school and she wants her kids to follow in her footsteps. She’s the one on every committee, at every excursion and working at every fundraiser. Her kid is the one hugging past and present teachers and bringing in homemade gifts. I treat them with the same disdain as I did from the back of the class when I was in school.

The Recently Separated
This poor mum is a wreck. She’s missing out on every event and feeling terrible about it. Her kid is always in the wrong uniform, or costume and missing out casual days because they fall on dad’s days and he ‘never f*cking remembers anything’.

The Perpetually Separated
This mum looks hot. All the time. Your partner probably knows her name and feels sorry for the rough time that she’s having bringing up Dick and Jane on her own. I try not to stand too close to her in my leggings, oversized jumper and bed-hair bun.

The Functioning Alcoholic
This mum talks about drinking every time you see her. She’s either nursing a hangover, planning afterschool drinks or on her way to a liquid lunch. She brings grown-up bubbles to every event she’s invited to… including morning tea. You know her husband’s a useless prick.

Who’s ever even seen this mum? She’s the one in the Mercedes Sports Car with tinted windows dropping her kid off at kiss and drop and picking them up from after school care. When you do see her, she’s on her phone negotiating a million dollar deal. I have CEO envy.

The Judgmental Bitch
This mum is standing in the playground watching your every move…and then blogging about it ;)