Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A Houseful of Redheads,

Spot the difference......
It's about 30 years.

Top one is my niece, bottom is my sister circa 1979. And here they all are arriving yesterday!!!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

How To Create A Delinquent

A list of rules for parents wishing to turn their children into juvenile delinquents,
handed out in leaflet form by the Police Department of Houston Texas (allegedly).

1. Begin in infancy to give your child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad language, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute.

3. Never give him any spiritual guidance. Wait until he's 18 and then let him decide for himself.

4. Avoid the use of the word 'wrong'. It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for trespass/nuisance/vandalism/stealing etc, that the world is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around: books, shoes, clothes, toys, puzzles, empty booze bottles etc. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing responsibility onto others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on, watch any subject on television, dvd or internet, ensure he cleans his teeth and develops hygiene habits but let his mind feed on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in front of your child; this way he will not be too shocked when later on his own social groups break up.

8. Give your child all the pocket money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as you had them?

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every sensual and carnal desire is granted. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.

10. Take his part against neighbours, teachers, policemen and his pals. After all, they are prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into REAL trouble, make excuses for yourself saying,
"I could never do anything with him."

12. Prepare for a life of upset and sadness; you will probably have it.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Christmas In Pictures

the Tree on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas table. Just the four of us this year. No kids. Except that the Small Boy and his Mum arrived at 2.40pm, twenty minutes early, about 10 minutes after we'd sat down to eat! He naturally wanted to immediately share his present list with us, complete with demonstrations of his new nerf gun. Great for the digestion.

Remains of the day.

Mum and Dad after about ten attempts to get them both smiling, with their eyes open and exposed correctly (ooo-er). Worse than kids!

Waiting to open presents. It was a pleasant 30C.

Is that a photo of my husband smiling????????? Mum and I were the only ones to wear our Santa hats. Boys are no fun at all!Opening presents. Ignore the date. The camera was still on English time :-)

Dazed by the excess....

One of my favourite presents. My lovely dad, obviously tired of the old monitor from 2000 (yup, it's that old) on my computer which he uses to check his emails when he comes around, gave a me a 19" flat screen monitor! Now to clear off my desk sufficiently to get it all hooked up.

My other favourite present. This one came from Himself and made me well up. I am going to enjoy using these coupons. :-D

The day finished up with a visit to The Bestie and Mumford's place where we sat around a brazier drinking champagne and chatting until the wee small hours. A couple of my lovely presents there included the dvd of 'Sweet Charity' from the Bestie's Mum and Dad and the first season of 'Stargate:sg1' on dvd from the Bestie and Mumf. I am a sucker for a sci-fi series!

Today, Boxing Day, has been hot, hot, hot and we spent the morning down at the yacht club setting up for Registration tomorrow when all the interstate boats arrive and have to be measured, weighed and approved for racing, which starts on Sunday. On Monday the Baby Angel returns and on Tuesday my Baby Sister and her kids arrive! All this in between manning the desk each morning before the races and getting the preparations for the Presentation Dinner finalised.

Never a dull moment!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with families and friends.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Their Children's Hell Will Slowly Go By

Although this blog has degenerated into a litany of my inability to inspire budding mathematicians, the woes of step parenting and the occasional limerick, its original purpose was as a forum to discuss the issue of assertive parenting: The Flaming Sword.

To reiterate: parenting is work; it is the most important work you will ever do. It is only vaguely different to basic army training where you, the parent are the sergeant major and the children are the unruly troops. Remember 'An Officer and A Gentleman'? 'Private Benjamin'? 'Top Gun'? Remember the hideous, unfeeling drill sergeants? Remember how the recruits/troops resented them until the graduation ceremony where they grudgingly admitted they wouldn't have made it without them?

Kind of like parenting.

Children come to us with no life experience. They come to us trusting that we will care for them, provide for them and protect them and all too often parents let them down. With the best intentions in the world of course.

"But I want bed time to be a calm and pleasant experience for us all (key words). I'd rather not fight with him about brushing his teeth. He can always do them in the morning."
Well, explain to your 10 year old why they are having to sit through injections and drilling and even extractions because you didn't protect them from their own inexperience in the area of dental hygiene. That was your job. You were the parent.

But that's not my issue today.

"Oh, don't worry about them jumping on the sofa, it's only an old one, we don't mind," this from another friend as we came upon our respective two year old children trashing her lounge room. Sure. Let's not say a word. Let's not inform them that many, if not MOST people would be very unhappy about them using their best sofa as a trampoline, cause after all, at two, how do you discriminate between a sofa you can jump on and one you can't? They don't have that life experience. We do. We do not do them a service by withholding information about social norms
which could result in embarrassment, guilt and humiliation.

That's not what I want to talk about today either.

'Why do you buy your daughter a toy or a chocolate bar every time we leave the supermarket?' I asked my friend once (I wasn't being interfering, the problem was she also bought MY daughter one each time......)
"Well, " she looked around helplessly, searching for the words, "well, 'cause I love her so much and I want her to be ... happy."

Happy? Let me finish the sentence for you (because now I am being interfering), because you want her to love you back and you are unsure whether that would ever happen without the provision of bribes.

But even that's not my issue today.

Today I want to tell you a story about a lovely, lovely girl. Her age is indeterminate (late twenties, early thirties? who knows) but her kids are 4 and 6 and her mother must be slightly older than me. Her problem is that her two sweet children will not go to sleep.

She was tired, very tired. She works part time but long hours and she was on her own with the kids this night. They would NOT go down to sleep. She had tried everything. She had removed things, cuddled them, given 'drinks', read stories, put them back to bed and still they came out of their rooms and raced around the place in fair impersonations of whirling dervishes. Finally she admitted to me, she had the youngest one by the shoulders and was shouting into her face
Why.Won't.You.Go.To.Sleep? She was at the end of her tether.

I remember this feeling. I'm sure most of us do. It's perfectly normal. Your own exhaustion, the pressure of being everything to everybody, the seemingly malicious intent of our children to tip us over the sheer drop of sanity into the abyss of the demented shrieking harriden. The first thing any of us would do is reach for the phone.
"Mum, she's driving me crazy, she simply WON'T go to sleep!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

And so this lovely girl's mother jumped into the car and came around to her house. What a treasure. What a fantastically supportive mother to drop everything and help out her child as she struggled with the boot camp that is parenting.

Except that she took the children away to her house and put them to sleep there and the sweet and lovely girl smiled with relief in the knowledge that her children would go to sleep like angels for her mother.

What has gone wrong here?

The children have received a message. The message is this: Mummy is not really capable of putting us to bed, we have a lot of power over mummy. Grandma is another story. Grandma is strong and stern and safe and when she says bed she means bed. Which is a pretty good thing really cause come to think of it I'm pretty tired with all this running around after my bedtime...yawn.....

What could have happened.

There is nothing wrong with calling mum. There is not even anything wrong with mum coming around to give you moral support given daddy was not there but moral support goes like this.

Grandma could have:
  • watched the other child whilst mummy dealt with the more problematic one.
  • kept watch over a door while mummy put the second child to bed
  • told mummy she was doing fine, that she was a great mother and that she could get this done.
  • made cups of tea
  • made hot milk or read to the 'no longer sleep ready' children while mummy napped
  • offered another perspective
  • listened and reflected
  • hugged
Sometimes all it needs it for another face to appear around the door jamb to break you out of that desperate cycle of inability to cope.

Himself has been the devil's advocate in this story.
"You don't know what the circumstances were. You can't generalise. There may have been other things contributing...."

Perhaps. But I honestly can't think of anything other than a major health crisis which would have prevented those children going to sleep in their own beds that night. Please call me out here if you think I am being too harsh.

Our job as parents does not stop when our children have grown. It changes subtly but the tenets are still the same: don't be soft, force them to do the hard yards when they need to, encourage them (perhaps not exactly as a drill sergeant does : GET OVER THAT WALL YOU HORRIBLE LITTLE MAN :-) ......) , assure them that your love is unconditional and give them the benefit of your advice, but for the dear Lord's sake,
do NOT do it for them.

This will only lead to your child believing that they are not capable and how dare we do that to our children?

In my deepest, darkest hours when the Baby Angel was at her most difficult, and believe me she could be difficult,
my parents and my dear friends saved my sanity on many occasions, not by taking her away but by bringing us together.

"Teach your children well."
Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Let It Roll

From December 27th -January 3rd, our local sailing club will be hosting the National Championship series for NS14s.
(That's one of them in the left foreground.)
On Boxing Day we will be heading down to the beach to help 'set up' for the event.

Himself and No2 son have sailed in the Nationals twice in recent years, the first time doubling as our 'honeymoon' after we were married on December 17th. We set off on Boxing Day and drove to Lake Macquarie in NSW where we had a wonderful restful week (well, I did; they sailed everyday sometimes twice in a day!) in a gorgeous converted boathouse right on the water.

With the possible exception of having a teenage boy in the house with us, it was a perfect honeymoon. Himself got to sail to his heart's desire and I got to potter, read and socialise with other sailing spouses. A good time was had by all.

This year however, Himself is on 'The Committee'. He has worked hard all year gaining sponsorship for the event, using his many contacts to drum up raffle prizes and donations of cash and equipment. He has been involved in monthly meetings. He has artworked and produced all the print materials for the event including the race handbook which I had the misfortune of having to print on my little inkjet printer! At 20+ full colour pages per book and 50 books to be made, I went through several reams of paper and 4 colour ink cartridges not to mention having to take them into school in the holidays to use the electric heavy duty stapler! Fun.

Earlier this year when the first meeting was convened, I was unable to attend due to the Baby Angel's netball ( a pattern repeated for the rest of the year) and so I said blithely that if he wanted to put my name down for anything I was happy to help. He came home that night and announced that I was in charge of the Social Events.


I had envisaged helping on the registration desk or stuffing envelopes but the whole SOCIAL CALENDAR??????

After my initial panic it became clear that this was not the massive task it had initially appeared to be, not least because the Adelaide chapter of the Association is ridiculously laid back. Their idea of a 'good time' is a beer and a packet of crisps, a $1.00 raffle and a reasonably good handicap place after the race on a Saturday afternoon. They were lukewarm about suggestions of wine and cheese tasting after the races, fun quizzes or gourmet BBQs for the opening event. Basically it was up to me to book the club caterer for the dates required and to keep my head, and the prices, down.

Scratch the gourmet BBQ.

Of course in the burgeoning tsunami that was school this year, I have done very little more towards the organisation. I attended one meeting and it was intimated to me that everything was 'under control' and perhaps all I need do was find a few seashells to decorate tables on the night. My supposed 'helper' didn't contact me and I have let things slide.

So this week, with the onset of holidays and child free time, I approached people to see what had been organised.

Not a lot apparently. But that's OK. It's all fine. Everythings under control. See Mrs X, she's got it all sorted.

Table cloths? Oh I think the club are supplying them. Ask Mrs Y.

Nope. Club's not supplying them.



Yea, I think K is bringing her laptop and we'll feed it through the plasma TV usually reserved for showing sport. No picture. Just the music through the speakers.

Part of me feels really guilty about this. The other part thinks, why should I knock myself out when noone else seems bothered? But we had such a good time at the NSW Nationals and I know how hard the committee worked and what a good show they put on; I would hate South Australia to end up looking like hicks because the committee were more interested in whether the course had two sausages and a triangle or 2 loops and a sausage than whether the sailors and their families had a great overall experience.

Fortunately, the other day I had a brainwave. The Bestie and her Beloved, The Amazing Mumford are involved with a really good band who do R&B in Blues Brothers style. I have heard them twice at a pub and on both occasions they filled the dance floor. I felt they were just what we needed to give a bit of life to an otherwise flat and starchy event. There were only two problems.
1) Were they available?
2) How much did they charge, as it was pretty evident the committee was not freely putting its hand in its pocket for any aspect of the event.

Well, the Lord is smiling because:
a) they ARE available at short notice
b) the National Association, with whom Himself has links has volunteered to foot the bill
c) they are only charging us half price (mate's rates) for the gig

I am soooooooo excited!

Now to organise tablecloths.

Let It Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Some Of My Favourite People

Just because I love them.

And because my baby is away and won't be spending Christmas with me.

And because we haven't seen much of him around The Sword lately, and because I am so proud that he went sailing with his dad for the first time yesterday even though he was really scared...and did GREAT! He was a natural apparently!

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far....

I wrote this post the other night and didn't finish it. I also forgot about it! So here is a retrospective.....

It's 2am and I should be in bed but I've got things on my mind.

Tonight was our school's Presentation Night and it was kind of underwhelming. Funny, I mean, it had all the ingredients to be a great night; but instead I came out demoralised and with a greater understanding of what we're 'up against'.

To whit: Presentation nights are meant to be 'formal affairs', right? So what possessed an entire phalanx of parents and siblings to arrive with party hooters and tonsils worthy of the trombone section of the Sydney Symphony?????

As each unfortunate relative made the long walk across the stage for their obligatory handshake, a chorus of hooting and hollering broke out to rival the Grog Squad at a North Adelaide FC
Grand Final. Unfortunately for the next poor, lost soul, the deafening silence was humiliation personified.
Even after the Deputy Principal asked everyone to hold applause until the last of the group had been announced, these parents carried blithely onwards, their orgy of exhibitionism culminating in the words "CONGRATS CLASS OF 2008" being held up on cards like something from an Olympic Opening Ceremony or a Kindergarten class.

At the end of the day, if the parents won't do what the teaching staff ask, why are we surprised when the kids won't?

Friday, 19 December 2008

Sheepish Thanks

Many thanks to all of you who voted for my limerick. At last look we had it stitched up folks :-D

A Free Man was a bit put out by my methods but I have seen many people do this kind of thing before so it must be OK.

I will leave you to decide which Level of Kohlberg's Theories of Moral Development fits that reasoning :-)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Unashamed Begging

A Free Man has nominated me in his Christmas Limerick contest!
How exciting! I never win anything!

Now the idea was to write an Anti-Christmas limerick which I initially refused to do, writing instead this little ditty:

When planning your Christmas affaire
If you offer the Free Man a chair
Know, his tedious whinge
On our annual binge
Will dispel all goodwill, so beware!

Pretty good I thought. Clever use of rhyme. Good message.

But he will go on and on and eventually I had to admit that there are things about Christmas in Australia that I do not particularly enjoy so I submitted an entry which adhered to the rules.

There are 5 finalists to choose from and a stack of music to win so please, please, please dear and loyal readers, click on over to his post and VOTE for ME!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Birthday, Birthday Oh What Fun

Yesterday was my birthday. I have the dubious pleasure of being born exactly 10 days before Christmas. It is a crap time to have a birthday.


This year my birthday started a little early as Mum and Dad arrived from the UK last week for their annual summer down south. As if their presence wasn't present enough, Dad and I played out a scene first performed when I was 12 and oft repeated throughout my life.

Dad: I've got a new camera so, do you want this one?
Me: Yes. Please. Thank you.
Dad: Don't leave this one in a Wimpy Bar. (That's what happened to the first one he gave me)

In fact, I can think of only one camera I have owned which I bought myself and that is the one which took this slightly out of focus shot.

Yes folks, my Dad has given me a digital SLR! It only has one lens and is greatly inferior to the new one he has purchased but let's face it, it walks all over my Sony Cybershot 3.2 megapixel point and shoot. It walks all over it and then it sits down and rotates. Unfortunately, he has lost the cord which connects it to the computer for downloads. "That's OK," he says" You can just put the card in your card reader."

I don't have a card reader.

Consequently you will all have to wait for photos of quality to appear, right here at 'The Flaming Sword'. Knowing my photographic abilities, you will have to wait some time.

Next in the pre-birthday gift line-up came this present from the Baby Angel. She went off to Sydney on Sunday to spend Christmas with her Dad for the first time ever (more on that later) and as she was going to miss my birthday she gave me this before she left.

There is so much I want to say about this.

Here are the things I love about my daughter.


Here are the things she is good at.

Operating electronic devices.
Writing stories.
Taking responsibility.
Being independent.
(and this is just the tip of the iceberg)

Here are the areas where she is challenged.


I think when you have your children, especially same sex children, you expect them to inherit many of your character traits as well as your physical appearance. Thus it comes as a shock when they do not share your love of something. This is how it is with the BA and I.

I love craft; I sew, I knit, I embroider, I cross stitch, I hand paint things, I scrap book, I love craft (I rarely have time for it anymore but I love it nonetheless).
The BA does not like craft. We have many beautiful craft kits in the cupboard, given to her as a young girl when all girls received crafty presents for birthdays. We have T Shirt making kits, bead kits, flower fairy making kits, fimo, jewellery kits, foil art, collage kits. Who uses them?

Me. Usually for Sunday School (Kidzone) nowadays.

Then there's handwriting. Now this one I can kind of relate to. At school, when we did projects back in the seventies, girls always did the best titles and decoration. Remember bubble writing? Remember those fancy borders made of individually drawn flowers or butterflies or even, if the girl was particularly bright, related objects to the project so that a poster on indigenous people would have a carefully drawn border of boomerangs? Well, I was crap at those. I think my Mum introduced me to Letraset for this reason. Still, I was artistic and I had a sense of layout and placement on a page. Not so the BA.

It just isn't her thing. I mean, it's not that she isn't trying. She will spend hours on projects and her hand drawings are quite good.......but titles and lettering? Jaw droppingly bad. But look at the effort she has gone to! She has made me a card (craft remember), cut it all on the guillotine, stuck it together and written the most lovely message inside.

Dearest Mum! (I think the use of exclamation marks is also hereditary)

I think it must be hard having your
birthday so close to Christmas because

you might be afraid that people are too
busy or forget it! But I will never forget

my favourite person's birthday! I love you thiiiiiiis much *stretches arms as far as possible!* Luuuurve Baby Angel

In reasonably legible handwriting :-)

And here is my gift.

Is that not amazing? She made it in tech. It has a sliding lid and everything!
(there's that exclamation mark again)

It even has a message burned into the bottom.

To Mum, you're unbelievable! Happy Birthday! Love ****
So much writing on one box.
A present to be treasured for ever.

But wait. That's not all!
Because she is in Sydney and missing my birthday for the first time ever, her dad organised to send me these flowers from her.

And today I caught up with an old friend whom I've only seen twice in the last 30 years and she gave me these lovely flowers. There was also afternoon tea with another good friend I don't get to see often enough.

Finally, Mum and Dad took Himself and Myself out for dinner.

But wait.

There's more!

This morning, Himself reached down beside the bed and dropped a small, wrapped box onto my chest.
"Happy birthday," he said.Happy birthday indeed.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Boys and Sticks

As A Free Man has made reference to my theory on 'boys and sticks', I have pasted in an old entry from my bebo blog of yore.

You may remember my comments on the testosterone laden issue of young boys and sticks? To recap briefly, I am constantly amazed by the predisposition of young boys to absent mindedly pick up sticks and hit things with them, almost without seeming to know they are doing it!!! Objects for 'hitting' include trees, bushes, flowers, balls, walls, other sticks, other boys.........oh and any residue of campfire ashes within a 1km radius. It is uncanny how they find them! But I digress.

Here is evidence which confronted Himself and I as we mooned over the lovely ghost gum in our front yard recently.

Initially we thought the multiple lacerations to the trunk were caused by koalas as we had just been observing one in a neighbouring tree. Then we decided the shape of the indentation was too square to be made by something natural.

After a little close questioning it transpired that the two boys (Small Boy and his friend Two Doors Up) had taken rasps out of Dad's tool box to carve some knives (of course) and proceeded to 'hit the tree' with them, again!!!!!!! You know, sticks, rasps, whatever....

When queried they were unable to give any explanation as to why they had damaged the tree. Simple answer I believe...testosterone!!! They don't even know they're doing these things!

And also in reference to A Free Man's post, we had friends who withheld any weapon like toys from their little toddling lads. They never allowed them to watch videos with violence or fighting in them (only Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank Engine...you know the kind of thing) and yet, when at the age of two the boys were taken for a walk in the New Forest, they instinctively picked up sticks and began 'sword fighting' with them.

It's definitely in the genes.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Need Some Help?

Look at her one white whisker. I keep wanting to pluck it for symmetry.

Of late Morticia has developed dog like habits, one of which is following Himself around. Her favourite sleeping place of choice is either his office chair or his side of the bed. We think she's a nicotine addict getting a vicarious 'hit'.

She has also taken to giving herself a dirt bath in a bare patch of ground in the lawn. Must work though. Her coat is beautifully soft. :-D

Monday, 8 December 2008

Some Early Favourites From the History Exam

Q: What was The Iron Curtain?

A big metal curtain which blocks the sunlight, made of iron. Because this is a foolish idea, there was only ever one made thus dubbing it 'The' Iron Curtain.
Honestly: no idea.

(part of an essay on the Vietnam War))
Back at home, the public was getting anxious(? not sure..difficult to read). They wanted the soldiers back and were willing to fight for it. Ironic. They want peace so they'll fight for it. LOL

The Perils of Gardening

Off into the garden. It's a beautiful day; hat, sunscreen on arms, face, neck. Mustn't forget the neck! Now, have I forgotten anything? Yes, it appears I have.

And given that exactly the same thing happened last year (on a smaller scale...bad choice of T shirt yesterday) you would think I would learn!

But it wasn't even that hot yesterday! It was the length of time that was the culprit.

In my discomfort I was thinking about my childhood and my poor mother (remember sunscreen hadn't been invented yet) trying to keep me from this fate every day of every summer. It's no wonder she failed. I remember one vicious burn down in Victor Harbour in my teens, where lying on my sheets that night felt like lying on sandpaper.

So far I have only had one skin cancer removed, from the back of my index finger. I believe that one to be the result of a nasty burn when I was a year old. Mum, newly arrived from the UK, took me out for a nice walk after lunch on a mid-January day. She assiduously covered me in clothes from head to toe, not forgetting a hat [oh wicked parents of today who would send their children out without a hat, I frown on you!!! >:-( ] and popped me into a pusher complete with sunshade. But oh, the little hands clutching the front bar of the pusher....oh, oh, oh. They were fully exposed. Later that day they blistered.

So, doing a few sums, I can expect the skin cancers from my teens to start emerging within
the next ten years. Something to look forward to.

Mum and I with my sister in the offending pushchair

But something we ARE looking forward to is the arrival of Mum and Dad.......TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

* NB: I find the formatting in blogger impossible to manipulate. It looks one way in the 'create' window, another in the preview and invariably it is completely different on the screen. gggrrrrr
Any suggestions?

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Weather Report

"What's the forecast for today," I enquired idly as I rifled through my drawers attempting to select an appropriate garment for the day.
Himself rolled over in bed and murmured something.
"Oh, you're awake, do you know what the forecast was for today?"
He didn't even open an eye.

"Mm. 13 knots."

Not quite what I had in mind.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Merry Christmas Year 10

My babies left me today.

My little band of lovable, incompetent, trying teens completed their last assignment and are on their way to year 11 and five different mainstream teachers. But that is another story. Tonight I want to talk about today.

At the end of last semester, I accosted our Principal on the futility of making these kids sit exams. Being the wise man he is, he agreed to let me organise something else for them and so it was that I found myself meeting the gang at the appointed time today, to head off for our 'practical maths' assignment/exam.

The idea was this. Visit the local Foodland with a 'task' to replace the exam, have a coffee together at the local cafe and head back to school in time for the final assembly. They were all delighted with the idea of forgoing a formal exam, but of course during the lead up to the week they all informed me that they just wouldn't bother coming in for the final excursion! I worked really hard to convince them to come and finish the term off in a positive way. I was delighted today when 7 out of 8 met me at the office after recess (the 8th was on her way to Tasmania and so could be forgiven :-)

Of course, only two had organised themselves well enough to have their signed permission notes with them!

After 20 minutes of phoning parents to get oral permission for the excursion (made all the more entertaining by the non-english speaking nature of most of the parents!) and another 5 minutes of bickering because, well...because they do that, we were off. We missed the bus of course so we hoofed it 15 minutes down the road to the local supermarket and gathered out the front to announce the task.

In pairs, they were required to 'purchase' a list of 5 items and have the total come out as close to $50.00 as possible. The items were generic and sometimes specified a size/amount and sometimes didn't, which gave a bit of flexibility. Each pair had a different list, which meant they couldn't simply copy and of course I supplied calculators.

We entered the store.

I wish I could have taken photos and put them up here today folks. Not in the least because they're all pretty good lookin' kids! But seriously, they were so funny. And so serious. And so wonderful. They took to the task with gusto. Two worked alone, there was one pair and a particularly dysfunctional trio but they all hooked into it. They were in the meat department counting sausages, in the milk cabinet comparing the cost of 2 x 2 litres or one 4 litre container, incompetently of course but they were doing it!

But you're wondering about the beans. Up the top there. Had you forgotten them?
Let me tell you about the beans.

The dysfunctional trio had to 'buy' 3 kg of green beans. Now the idea was that they might compare the price of frozen versus fresh, prepacked versus loose etc and of course the magic '3 kg' meant there would have to be some multiplication. You would think.

I came upon the 'gang' as they were hefting an overly stuffed plastic bag full of green beans onto the fruit and veg dept scales.

Me: What are you doing?
Them: We're finding 3kg of beans.
Me; Uh-huh, why don't you just look at the price and...
Them: no hush, hush Mrs A, we are in control. We know what we're doing...

Therein followed much umming and ahhing (in the text books they call this 'discussion' and claim it to be a valid teaching tool. I hope they're right) as they discovered that they had 6kg of beans and had to start tipping them back onto the display. :-) *sigh* At least they had a valid lesson in 'weights and measures'!

Finally they had 3kg of beans in the scale.
Me: So, well done for measuring out 3kg of beans how much will these beans cost?

silence.....as they realise the scales do not give them a price........

Them : (suddenly cheerful again.) Don't worry Mrs A, it's ok. We can just multiply! How much
for one kilo?

If it wasn't me in stitches it was the rest of the bemused customers in the f&v section!

All in all though they did really well. One got within 4c of the $50.00 and the worst result was 99c over...so not too bad really! But it was fascinating to realise what they didn't know. They didn't know what 'margarine' was. They didn't know how to find the 'size' of an object ie they didn't recognise the significance of kg and gs on packaging. As usual they had trouble filling in the worksheet and keeping a running total.

We followed it all up with lunch at the cafe across the road ( we'd taken longer than I'd thought to do the task of course). It cost me a fortune but it was worth it. After initial bickering they all sat begrudgingly at the same table, they all had a soft drink and some chips or wedges and they all chatted amicably for about half an hour. Remarkable.

I found out more about some of the kids and heard a little more of their amazing stories. One lad, from Liberia, was telling me how his parents were 'lost' on the Ivory Coast. Of 4 siblings, he and his sister escaped to Australia and members of the family have been joining them here, as they have been found, ever since. His mother was located this year and has rejoined the family out here (tricky after 5 years...) but dad is still missing.

As I said goodbye to them at the end of the day, they thanked me, genuinely, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

"Be the Best you can be," I urged them, "Don't let anyone take you down the wrong road. I have great faith in you all!"

They laughed and waved cheerfully at me as they went off to assembly.

"Sure thing Mrs A, Merry Christmas"

Merry Christmas indeed Year 10. Thank you for one of the most entertaining and frustrating years of my life.

image credit

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Don't Blink: Everything Changes

Sometimes the world is changing even as you are looking at it and yet, somehow, maybe because you crave the status quo, you don't register the metamorphosis which is taking place under your nose.

Now I know, intellectually, that my Bestie is experiencing great change in her life. After a disappointing marriage, she has spent many years on her own and as she (like me) enters the twilight of her forties, she had all but given up hope of EVER meeting Mr Right.

To be honest, her requirements were tricky to fulfill. He had to be clever. She is VERY clever. He had to be funny. She loves to be entertained. He had to be secure around a strong woman. He had to be educated, cultural.....he had to appreciate her and her work.

Well (I'm sure you can hear this coming) she finally found him in the middle of the year! He is an entertainer, magician, juggler, comedian etc etc. He also works in film and television and cooks a mean lasagne. He has moved in.

All of this is more than fine and I KNOW he has moved in.....but.........I was still taken aback today as I phoned her to see if we were 'on' for the night. A male voice spoke forth from the answering machine. Male. On the answering machine.

The times they are a changing.

Wordless Wednesday: Old School Tie