Honest School Notes #8

Dear Office,

I’m happy to say that this note isn’t about being late to school, because we were on time for school today! Well, so close.We would totally  have been there before the bell  if Peanut had not had to run back along the road to get her public speaking notes. That’s actually what I’m writing about today.

It’s about the speeches and the homework.  The way I help the kids do their homework is to set up our Study School on the big table and then I hover about helping if they ask me, but otherwise leave them to it. (Usually I am too busy to helicopter over them because I am leaking salty tears as I play Mums and Dads with my three year old for the fourth straight hour. )

Third-grader Peanuts speech, entitled ‘The Making Of Me’, was supposed  to be about her values and beliefs. We sat and had a lovely talk about what she thought about the world, I helped her brainstorm some ideas, and then I left her to it. A while later she said she was ready to do her speech for me.

‘I was made when my mum and dad had sexual intercourse!’ she opened with. ‘The sperm met the egg and decided ‘should we make a boy or a girl? Should she be beautiful or ugly?’

‘That’s the joke to start things off, ‘ she told me in an aside. I nodded mutely. There is very little controlling Peanut’s ideas when they get started. She went swiftly into a Communist rant.

‘I believe in fairness in business. Like, a banana cost 9 cents, but the manufacturer makes, likes, six cents and the farmer makes, like …something different, or the shop might…wait. The banana is thirty cents, but they don’t…wait. They should all make, like six cents!’

Peanut trailed off and looked back at her notes. ‘Fairness in business!’

She moved on.

‘I believe in respect. Like respect for yourself means not being all ‘you did that so bad, you idiot! And then…’ She mimed shooting herself in the head and stuck her tongue out in a dead face.

‘You should have respect for people with disabilities and people with religons, ‘ she said.’Don’t be all…’ She screwed up her face and  put on a funny voice. ‘You’ve got a religon, ew! That’s disgusting!’

She then spent a long time, for no reason, and against my advice, outlining the plot of her novel A Bushwalk Into Books which shamelessly plagiarises, one by one, Harry Potter, The Faraway Tree, Nim’s Island and Tintin.

Meanwhile, 6 year old T-Bone’s homework requires him to use his spelling words in different sentences. So far they have all involved death, zombies or trauma. For example: ‘I was in the road and a car hit me I am dead. Ow my leg. I am a zombie now I can walk and talk.’

In short Office, I had very little to do with this homework. Please don’t call in the psychologists.I’m pretty sure that this is normal. I mean, what’s ‘normal’ right?? It’s all relative, right?

Right? Ha ha!

Right?

Yours,

Ms McIntosh

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

Honest School Notes #5

Honest School Notes #6

Honest School Notes #7

 

 

 

3 Inspirational Articles To Start The Week

Australia’s oldest man knits jumpers for penguins.

 

This Tasmanian woman recycles Bratz dolls into proper little people. She is adorable, and the dolls are too.

Finally, a week in Florida’s sexiest retirement village, where 100, 000 people live in a sort of rebublican-tinged utopian wonderland, all owned by a reclusive billionaire called The Deveoper. Folks may be old at The Villages , but they sure are bold. Keith is off to Florida for work soon, and so I shall get him to pick up some brochures for our retirement files. Me, I like the Mamma Mia brunches where the ladies get together to have a dance, and as for Keith, I think he could really get into the hyper-competitive Pickleball league, a cross between Ping Pong and tennis.

All of the possibilities get me to daydreaming about what sort of retiree I’d be if I lived here. The marketing department is aware of this sensation; they have a sales video online called “Permanent Vacation.” I price real estate. I spend hours at night perusing the activities bulletin. In this fantasy every day begins with a bike ride or lap swimming and then tennis. I’d spend my afternoons kayaking or learning golf or playing H-O-R-S-E with a rotating cast of old sonsofbitches who like drinking Coors more than shooting hoops. I’d partake in Pilates and competitive dragon boat racing. I’d carve out time for some occasional indoor activities — maybe join the “Wanna Be Writers” group or take a woodworking class.

It’s not all Pilates and Pickleball though, The writer describes a group of older ladies dancing to Blurred Lines who look at him like a ‘well-marbled steak’. Also, there are many tales of geri-action.

A waitress tells me about key parties at an Italian restaurant on Sumter Landing: “Golf cart keys get put in a fishbowl in the middle of the table, wives wait in the parking lot for their mystery dates.” I’m told about a prostitution ring that has recently been broken up. Orgies are said to be a regular occurrence. I am warned about women prowling around bars indiscriminately offering oral sex. There is reportedly a black market for Viagra. One of Bob’s buddies confesses to watching a couple fuck in a golf cart on a dead-end street. I’m told that sticking a loofah on your cart antenna signifies you’re into swinging. So does wearing a crimson button. According to multiple people, wearing gold shoes or letting your shirt tag stick out in the back signals you’re on the prowl. I hear a story about a scorned woman painting “YOU FUCKING PRICK YOU GAVE ME HERPES!” in red letters on her lover’s garage door. Recently, a married 68-year-old woman became a folk hero after getting arrested with a 49-year-old man for having sex in the square at Lake Sumter Landing. The cops brought her to jail and a Villages restaurant named a drink after her — Sex on the Square. It involves whipped cream and a cherry.

A long-form article, this one. You might want to settle in with a nice warm cardi and a Pina Colada.

We spent lots of  last week learning this French tongue twister, courtesy of my boyfriend Stephen Fry in his Fry Chronicles. It translates as ‘Dido dined, they say, off the enormous back of an enormous turkey’; and in Fronch, it goes ‘Dido dina, dit-on, du dos dodu d’un dodu dindon.’ It’s taken me a few day, but I’ve got it.

We are hoping to spend 2017 living in France.  (Excitement all round.) I may come home from the supermarket with eight large watermelons, but I have one tongue-twister under my belt. Last things first, as they say.

Happy week ahead, my cabbages! May the road rise to meet you, and the wind be at your back. May we all, this week, feel as vital and gorgeous as the young Liz Taylor and James Dean – pictured here just months before his death –  and remember that we don’t know how long we have the remarkable possibilities of life before us. Let’s embrace them, comrades! Let’s go and eat off the enormous back of that enormous turkey!

Elisabeth Taylor and James Dean on the set of Giant, 1956

ps - I’m thinking of starting a series on marriage. Email me if you have, or know, somebody with an interesting one – long, short, unusual or notable in some way. I’d love to hear from you.

An Explanation For That Dress That Broke The Internet

This dress broke the internet today. Some people see it as white and gold (me), some as blue and black (Keith.)

WHAT?

The WHAT?

It even upset Tay Tay, who tweeted ‘I don’t understand this odd dress debate and I feel like it’s a trick somehow. I’m confused and scared. PS it’s OBVIOUSLY BLUE AND BLACK.’

Here’s a great explanation from Associate Professor Andrew Metha from the Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences at the University of Melbourne:

 “This is a great illusion, and I’m not surprised to learn it is going viral.

I suspect that the in-office and over-dinner-table arguments taking place all over the world right now are caused by each of us making a different set of (internal, unconscious) assumptions about the visual scene we are shown.

The first thing to assume is the nature of the illuminant under which the photograph was taken: was this in full sun, under clouds, or maybe indoors lit by incandescent lights?  Each of these conditions have a very different spectral profile – that is, the amount of different wavelengths of light.  This issue is something our brains have to deal with all the time as we move indoors and out through different environments. Vision scientists and psychologists have coined the phrase ‘colour constancy’ to describe the phenomenon by which an apple, for instance, retains its colour (perhaps red) under such widely different lighting conditions, even though the actual distribution of photon energies raining onto our retinas in each case can be very different.  Exactly how we do this is still a matter that is hotly debated at vision science conferences, and all sorts of crazy and not-so-crazy schemes have been proposed as to how we “discount the illuminant’, even going back over 150 years to Helmholtz!

The second assumption we make is the nature of the reflection from the material.  Some materials, like satin or taffeta silk, are naturally very shiny and have what we call ‘specular’ or ‘glossy’ reflection properties – like light bouncing off a mirror.  Other materials are diffusely reflective, like matt felt or t-shirt cotton.  How we ultimately perceive the dress photo, particularly the darker parts (gold or black) will depend on what type of material we assume this part of the dress is made of.  There is not enough information in the photo to be sure, and so we unconsciously decide this material has a reflection behaviour in one way or another, along a continuum from shiny to matt.  The result of this unconscious assumption profoundly, and unexpectedly, affects how we ultimately interpret the colour of the dress.

I’ve polled about 7 of my colleagues now – the blues are winning here. It is such an interesting phenomenon, and it’s got us who love thinking about colour vision all puzzled.

And I am not certain the perceptual/psychological arguments given above are the whole story. In addition I wonder if there are some internal physiological differences going on amongst us, such as the relative proportion of L (long-wave sensitive, or red), M(middle-wave sensitive, green) and S (short-wave sensitive, cones) photoreceptor types in each of our eyes, that this is revealing?  I am hedging for the former, but my mind remains open…”

So even the scientist is saying that our perception of what colour the dress is might be some kind of social construct? IS NOTHING REAL? I’m still spun out, and I love it. Happy weekending my little cabbages. May your dresses take you on interesting adventures, no matter what colour they are.

x

The Sweet Still Moments of Marriage

Fred Van Schagen, Paris, 1954

 

What is it?

I wake up, with that inexplicable, magical mother’s alarm clock, and switch on the bedside light to stare blinkily at a sleeping Pudding in the bed next to me. I don’t  remember her getting in, and as I watch her sleeping,  she makes a yelping sound and throws up, copiously, on my pillow.

Oh.

Kay.

Here we go. The gastro zone.

Keith! I call to the lounge room, where he’s still up, working on his algorythms. ‘Bowl!’

He knows what that means (dad of three), and he moves fast. We strip the bed, change Pudding and move our little field hospital to the lounge-room. We tuck the little sweaty, floppy one up with towels and cushions, and settle in together. Every twenty minutes or so, Pudding mutters ‘I feel sick’, and we sit her up, rub her back and murmur sweet nothings as she vomits.

Keith takes the bowl and washes it out. I wipe down Pudding’s hands and face with paper towels and warm water. All the while we wait for the call from the big kids room.  This little radio-play usually gets worse before it gets better.

I put on a load of washing and change Pudding’s little bed, and we scrub our hands with hot water and soap every fifteen minutes. Keith plays the piano for us as I tuck Pudding in close. He plays his gentlest classical pieces, and I read to Pudding from the book Raggedy Andy and The Hobby Horse. For a long period, Pudding and I half-sleep between the rising and falling crescendos of her sickness,  while Keith’s music fills the room. It’s very peaceful.

The vomiting slows and we try to tuck her into our bed but we’ve jumped the gun – Pudding throws up in the doorway. We change her clothes again, put another load in the machine, return to the MASH unit on the couch. Tucked between us, Pudding is limp and quiet as she listens to Keith make up a long, rambling story, and I read a cookbook on my lap. At some point, we all three fall asleep.

Sometime after 3am, we make it back to the big bed, relieved that the other kids have slept through, and pass out like the zombie dead. At 7am Pudding is bright and perky. ‘Make my dretfast! she demands, and haggard and achy, I comply.

It’s been years now that Keith and I have been engaged in these routines. The heart of our life together is with our three children, and when one of them is sick, everything else fades away. There’s a beauty to it, a simplicity. They need us, all the everyday stuff drops away, and it is in these moments that marriage is so beautiful.

(Spew n all.)

Time keeps on ticking. The bottle of  hand sanitizer is still on the arm of the couch, Monday has already raced away with the week, and life rushes forward, forward, forward. But  much as I would have loved to stay asleep at midnight last Friday, and save my little buddy from her pain and discomfort,  I feel the beauty and the romance of that quiet room, caring for a sick little one and listening to Keith play piano, and I cherish the sweetness of the memory.

Raising Girls: The Eight Year Old Edition

(photo source)

I have an eight-year old daughter, and I am, at times, finding parenting a rocky path lately.

My eight-year old Peanut is brilliant, funny, theatrical and I love her with the burning heat of a thousand suns. But lately, I have found myself in a battle of the  ’Come back here! Do not make that face at me! What did you just say?’ kind. I know it’s a two-step that mothers and daughters always engage in, but it’s really exhausting, and it’s upsetting to me that it feels like our relationship has become filled with a lot of drama.

I just want a quiet life, as Humphrey B. Bear said.

And yet, it’s a tough one. I am determined to stand my ground on the certain level of respect and positivity I want the kids to bring to their home. There are five of us living here, and any one of us can raise or sink the collective mood of the home with our words and behaviour. The sulkiness and moodiness (S & M) factor has been rising around our place lately, and while I have compassion for it, and I try and bring tenderness to my dealing with it, it’s driving me fully crackers.

I read about some new research lately that describes ‘adrenal puberty’ or the surge of hormones that are the prelude to the physical changes we expect to start at age eleven or so. Adrenal puberty can mark  a new phase of development affecting identity and emotional steadiness for girls.

…scientists are now focussing on an earlier hormonal surge that happens at about eight years of age, which they believe has significant implications for children’s social and emotional well-being and also sets the stage for the main event of physical puberty a few years later.

Known as adrenarche or adrenal puberty, it has no obvious external traits – it does not, in its early stages, cause any physical changes in a child – but the hormones involved affect how children relate to their families, teachers and peers. Researchers now believe that it is a more significant time in a child’s development than previously thought, which in turn may force us to rethink not only how we raise children, but also how we educate them.

Dr. Lisa Mundy of the Childhood To Adolescence Transition Study says that in the years preceding physical puberty, there is significant work going on for children in terms of their grappling with identity and ‘social connectedness’. ‘This is a huge time of change, because they’re gearing up for secondary school and there’s obviously a lot of worries and concerns about that,” she says. “There’s obviously a lot going on at a biological level as well. Their relationships with their peers, changing relationships with their families, their school, and all of this is happening at a time when their biology is really changing.”

Specifically, they see this process happening at around age eight for girls.

Have compassion for Peanut, I tell myself. And have compassion for yourself – while Peanut is learning how to be eight in the world – managing friendships, processing complicated information, surfing the changes – I am learning how to be the parent of an eight-year-old. Searching for reserves of patience, practicing the art of kindness. We’re both figuring it out as we go along.

I’m trying to lower my expectations in many ways (she’s my eldest, she definitely cops the most of the parental gaze), and above all, to relax about it all. Life with two daughters will hold some shrieking meltdowns, right? This is inevitable. Also, I’ve timed my menopause to coincide nicely with Peanut’s puberty so we’ll get it all out of the way over a couple of high-octane years. Keith might want to book his round-the-world cruise now, to get those early-bird discounts…

In fact, Keith is very good at calming my occasional stress meltdowns about it all. It’s a long game, he reminds me. It’s all fine. They are who they are, and everything’s OK. You’re a great Mum, she’s a great kid. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. I also like to remind myself of that comforting fact that children will give us a million chances to do better. 

My plan is to spend some time focusing on the stuff that Peanut and I like to do together (baking, sewing, reading, watching Operation Ouch) and  to get some lovely calm togetherness in the bank to draw on when I feel like the ‘Get back here! What did you just say to me?’ is taking over. I love this little firecracker of mine. Just as long as she stops taking that tone with me.

Are you currently, or have you raised an eight-year old? Got any tips/Xanax prescription pads for me?

ps – A wonderful list from the amazing website A Mighty Girl that lists books about friendship for those little ones navigating the sometimes choppy waters of school social life.

Hot Tip: Watch Out For Mums At The School Gate Giving Advice

Yesterday at school pick up I got to chatting with a mum beside me. She had a son in kindy and was new to the school. I tried to fill her in on a few things.

She was not rocking the usual ‘shagged-through-a-hedge-backwards’ style seen at the gate of our beachside school. No, she was what I like to call a ‘ritzy boiler’ – full makeup, actual shoes, etc. In conversation I was likely gazing at her slightly open-mouthed in the manner of a four year old girl. ‘Pretty lady…’

She had to race off to the shops to pick up blue shorts for sports uniform tomorrow, she told me. No! I stopped her immediately. They don’t need blue shorts! Grey ones are fine. Just their school shorts, sports shirt and runners. Are you sure, she checked? We’ve come from a private school where they were very strict about the uniforms…

‘Well, you’re not at private school anymore, love!’ I said in my best Kath and Kim voice, which of course, since she didn’t know me, sounded like just my voice. (That’s happened to me so many times, I should just stop doing the Kath and Kim voice, but it’s like a tic now. It just comes out of its own accord.)

Sports day this morning. As I watched all the little boys file past, I noticed that they were all…wearing…blue…shorts. Except for my T-Bone, wo waved happily as he ran past in his grey ones. Oh, right, I thought. They wear blue shorts for sport.

Who knew?

I’ve only been at the school for three years, after all.

Now I’ll have to have some weird awkward conversation with the new Mum who thinks she’s met Rizzo, the bad influence and possible mental case. Le sigh. I’ll never get that first impression back again…

What ho! Another week o’term down, comrades! Have a nice rest this weekend. We’ve got a first karate lesson this afternoon, a lamb roast with Mum tonight and some interpretive dancing at a 50th birthday party to do tomorrow. I might also be popping off to Best and Less to buy some blue shorts and taking a good hard look at myself (insert Kath and Kim voice here. You know you want to.)

Death by 1000 Paper Cuts: School Forms

(photo source)

This writing below is from the archives, but it sadly remains true this week. This term we’re juggling Girl Guides, drama, karate and school band. Keith is teaching the kids piano himself, lucky kids. But all these activities mean….FORMS. So many forms. And I am not good at effective and efficient administration. My skills lie in cheap gags, slapstick and scrambled eggs.

Bloddy ell.

As a single person I was hopeless at looking after my own finances. Paperwork was always lost, and bills were always paid late. Periodically I would enthusiastically begin new ‘systems’ to manage the admin of my life. This bit was very enjoyable: notebooks, highlighters, Post-Its, steely resolve. This time! This time!  Within days the system would collapse.

And here I am now, the custodian of three small children. Suddenly I have to keep track of the most enormous amount of administration. There are school reading diaries and fundraising documents and fees. There are permission slips and vaccination schedules and sports registrations. It is like a tsunami of paperwork and it all makes me want to shout ‘Excuse me! I think there has been a terrible mistake! You have mistaken me for another kind of mother!’

I do occasionally (okay, frequently) forget the school lunch and/or the school hat and/or the lunch-order, but I have never forgotten to pick the actual child up from school yet. I think that’s pretty good. But where are the prizes for that, I wonder?  Who raised the bar so bloody high that it became expected for school mums to all be super-organised PA’s for our demanding child- bosses? Was it always this way? Did my lengthy, indulgent, enjoyable pre-parenthood years just give me a false picture about what being a proper adult really entailed?

In lots of ways, motherhood has asked me to step up and be better. More patient. More compassionate. Less uptight about defecating in front of an audience. Able to juggle hot-button questions like ‘Is God real, Mum? Like Santa?’ even before I have had my pint of morning coffee. And as I enter the kids-at-school years, motherhood is asking me to get my act together and stop behaving like a secretary on my final warning.  Motherhood is requesting, in fact, that I become a grown-up.

Somebody call the waahmbulance!

There is a theory that I like that says that bad habits can’t be ‘undone’; just over-ridden and replaced by good ones. The brain sets in place the neural pathway of any habitual behaviour, and each time you do the naughty thing, you reinforce and strengthen it. The only way to build new habits is to practice and practice until you create an alternative, equally strong neural pathway. I have spent my adult life reacting to paperwork by putting my fingers in my ears and saying ‘lalalalala!’ and my brain has become very used to that strategy.  But now it’s time to stop.  And once I get started, there are other bad behaviours to address.

I will replace my flat-white addiction with organic green tea. I will replace fruit-and-nut chocolate with kale smoothies. I will stop averting my eyes from the kitchen floor and wash the kitchen floor. I will catch up on my yoga exercises instead of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. First things first: the administration.  Step One: stop putting school paperwork on the floor of the car to gently compost with the takeaway coffee cups and lonely sultanas.  Step Two: Create a new system. This will need equipment!  Step 3: Buy highlighters, notebooks and post-it notes. Step 4: Definitely stick to system this time. Definitely.

How are you going with the forms? Gott in Himmel, the FORMS!

We’re Going To Need A Bigger Bed

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, January 2014

Small children do not have the deep and passionate attachment to their beds that we adults do. (Especially, we adult parents of those small children, who get to spend much less quality time with our soft, inviting beds than we would like.) Nope, kids resist going to bed, they are up and out of it at the crack of dawn, and they prefer to sleep, whenever possible, in somebody else’s bed. And the best bed of all is that big, warm, comfy one occupied by Mum and Dad.

Every night one, two or all three of our children end up in the parental bed. Before that they call out once or twice for assistance with nightmares or lost blankets. Also, we’re night training two of them which, when successful, means midnight toilet runs, and when unsuccessful, requires midnight sheet-changing. Sometimes twice. Sometimes three times. Sometimes four. Up and down the hall Keith and I stagger, using the complex and nuanced turn-taking system known as ‘marriage’.

The kids sneak into our bed like stealth ninjas in order to bypass the ‘not before the sun is up’ rule. Sometimes they wee in our bed too, for a change of pace. On the upside, there’s probably a delightful warm waterfall aspect to my dreams, initially, but by the time I wake up, it’s an awfully cold puddle.

The children arrange themselves in torturous poses and although they only weigh twenty kilos, they may as well be made of lead for all the difficulty we have moving them from positions like The Starfish and The Diagonal Spasming Pony-Kicker. Many mornings, I wake wedged into a corner, neck forced into an unnatural curve,  circulation cut off by the dead weight resting on my legs, a cold, wet patch underneath me and a toddler poking me in the eye. ‘Dretfast,’ she says. ‘Get up and make my dretfast Mama.’

The kids see me as a walking pantry and start demanding food as soon as their eyes open, but they see Keith and start making him play games. They sit on him and try and get him do the one where he turns into an angry woman if they pull his ears. This is all well and good, but when we’ve been up half the night holding little bottoms over toilets and encouraging action with ‘Pssssssssssssssss’ like second-rate Play School presenters, it’s hard to drag our middle-aged carcasses out of bed, opening up the short-order kitchen and the improvisational theatre.

And yet. Complaints aside, the loveliness of having the family all in one bed outweighs the crappy parts, many times over. Kids have no sense of personal space from Mum and Dad, and they are filled with pure and intense love, which expresses itself in warm, unbridled affection. It is like a warm bath for the spirit to have a small person, frisky and loving as a puppy, wind their perfect, smooth, warm little limbs around you and say ‘I love you so, so much Mummy.’ Even if they do follow that up with ‘Now get me my dretfast.’ There’s only one solution that I can see: we’re going to need a bigger bed.

Everyday Heartbreaks

1. Losing your new summer shorts just before getting your legs waxed and finding them again 3 weeks later, thus missing the only period of the summer in which you could have walked around proudly  like ‘woman’ rather than ‘yeti’.

2. Folding and putting away the towering pile of laundry from the couch and admiring the stark, pristine beauty of that rarely-seen piece of furniture before bringing in a new load and starting the cycle all over again, like that moment never happened.

3. Having lunch with your family in the strong sunshine and feeling OK about your middle aged face when your daughter asks ‘Mum, are you growing a beard?’

Scattered amongst the myriad joys of life on the homestead come these nuggets of heartbreak, and from these nuggety nuggets we grow strong and resilient, hearty of character, and wise,  comrades!

Shine on, you hairy, shambolic, filthy diamonds.

 

Morning Routines, School Lunch Inspo and Memories of My First Starting School

It feels like a long time (but only three years)  since I wrote the following about my first little chickadee starting school:

Peanut has been counting down the sleeps until school starts for the last fortnight. We’ve been freezing lunches. Constructing charts for morning routines. And I have been trying to not pay too much attention to the little knot of panic that seems to have taken up residence somewhere between my chest and my throat.

These last few weeks, we’ve been living the final moments of the intimate bubble in which I’ve spent the last five years. A private little domestic world of babies and breastfeeding, toddlers and tantrums and toilet-training. Of wearing a track between the stove and the washing machine. Long days of baby illnesses and endless nights of broken sleep. My time spent almost entirely within these walls. This warm and wonderful and infuriating and precious place.

This nest.

Sweet firstborn Peanut is our first chick to flee. For five years, this little girl of mine has been my whole world. I have cooked for her, washed her clothes, nursed her flu’s and soothed her worries. All, I realise now, somehow preparing her for this next chapter. The part where she trots off into the yonder without me. Those beautiful little arms and legs that I have cuddled too many times to count have somehow, sneakily, grown so big that this morning they marched my little one into school. Marched her into kindy without a backwards glance at her teary, trembly mama, who stood clutching the next-biggest child just a little too tightly. All day I have been feeling ever-so-slightly sick.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire, said Yeats. I love this. I’m so happy for Peanut to enter a learning environment, to light that fire, to start forging her own path. I am. I feel proud of this kind, funny, interesting and clever daughter of mine and I can’t wait to see what kind of mark she will make upon the world. But within me is a battle. I long to send Peanut forth to fight (and win! please, god) her battles, and at the same time I long to wrap her in my arms, pack her in my handbag and shield her from all the pain that life, and the schoolyard, can bring.

I guess the wrapping and the packing and the shielding will have to happen, from now on, outside the hours of nine and three, except for the love that I can somehow squirrel to Ivy through the medium of her lunchbox.

With slight shame, I think about the research I did on home-schooling. Three years into school, the summer holidays nearly drive me nuts, so I would never have coped with full-time education.

Do you have a child starting school tomorrow? I’ve got one going into Year 3, one into Year 1, and my littlest is going to be two days a week at day-care this year. I have lots of plans for the year ahead. It will be busy – I hope wonderfully so. My aim is to keep on top of my health, so that I can keep the show on the road with joy in my heart, like a Mormon wife (but without the magic underpants. Google it.

You’ll be glad you did.)

Karate, drama, Girl Guides, soccer, rugby, book-writing, coffee, yoga, family dinners, singing, books, baths, chocolate-making and  canoeing trips. It should be a great year.

If you have a little starting tomorrow, good luck! After the tears dried, we absolutely loved being part of a school community and it has been a huge source of joy and fun in our lives ever since.

For school morning inspo: morning routines from a couple of masters.

For lunchbox inspo: school lunches from around the world (all images from tripbase.com.)

Japan.

USA

Korea

France

Good luck, comrades! Deep breaths. May the games begin.