#992 Countdown to park days

I’m realising a lot of stuff lately.

Just as I started to mourn the end of kindergarten for baby girl, already from the end of term 3, so too did I come upon a realisation today while at the park with baby girl… at my parent’s park.

I’ve called it their park, or my park, for as long as I can remember. You can kind of do that, when you live next door to one.

I’ve been making fortnightly weekday visits to my parents’ house with baby girl for a while now. And while it’s been great, giving us that extra bit of quiet bonding time to catch up and make memories… soon it won’t be possible.

With the start of primary school for baby girl next year, these weekday visits will be no more. Sure, we will still visit, obviously on weekends, and sure, there will still be park days… but there is something about these quiet moments of reflection amongst family, that only occur when the neighbourhood is still… these are the days I will miss.

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#987 The stage she is at, 5.2

We walked on over to the table we were meant to be sitting at. We were at a family friend’s daughter’s Christening, and my eyes scanned over the empty chairs, trying to work out where the lot of us were sitting.

I counted in my head. ‘1 for sis, 1 for me, 1 for Hubbie… there’s that spare spot over there, but that’s for the old lady coming back…’

Where would baby girl sit?

I headed back to the table list at the entrance, to see that her name was not listed anywhere on our table. In fact it appeared on number 7, several tables away…

ON THE KIDS TABLE.

Dum da dum dum.

Crap. She wouldn’t sit down there, no way. She had been strongly encouraged (and I’m being diplomatic) to come inside in the first place, as she didn’t know many adults or kids there, and sure, although she was currently getting reacquainted with the kids she had played with VERY few times before, I couldn’t foresee her sitting down at a table with them, away from us, so far from her parents.

The table was tightly spaced as it was. Could she sit on my lap?

And so I wondered if it was going to be a LOOONNGGG afternoon.

But then, something happened. I told her that there was a special table, just for the kids, just as one of the girls her age called her over there. I thanked my lucky stars for her kindness, and got baby girl to sit down amongst a table full of kids that she rarely ever sees.

I put bread on her plate. Chips and calamari. I cut it up, with the 3 other Mums fussing over their own brood. I poured her some water. She watched everyone on the table. She started eating her bread. She stayed still, and me, being the overly-watchful Mum, stayed on, reluctant to leave in case walking off would result in a dramatic display of ‘MUM DON’T GO!’ –

and then it would be sit on Mum’s lap time.

But… she stayed. I reassured her of where I was sitting, just a short distance away.

I walked off. I watched as she ate. She looked over at our table and waved, even blowing kisses to us all… and although she made a few visits at times to give us hugs and kisses… she still went back to the kids table to sit and eat.

No drama. No fuss. No objections. Total maturity and complete willingness.

And in shock and surprise and happiness, I realised I was stressing over nothing.

My girl was growing up. She had this all down pat. Like she didn’t eat with a large group of kids 3 times a week at some place that was called, kindergarten? LOL. I was concerned she would whinge, go shy and retreat into herself and not come out.

But she was used to this. She was used to order when I wasn’t around. I saw that again as the ‘Magic Man’ came out to entertain the kids. She sat obediently on the floor, cross-legged beside all the others. She put her hand up to participate, calling “me me me!” and was then chosen to sit on a chair and pat a dove, stroking it so gently and happily.

You see, I don’t see this. I don’t see how she is at kinder. I don’t see the progress she is making. But in these moments, these events away when in company that isn’t our everyday kind, I become witness to her happy ways… thanking the magic man for her flower balloon… asking the other kids if she can join in with playing chasey… going back to her table to eat, and not complaining that she isn’t with us.

She spent the entire day running around with her new friends and having a ball, and came to us a couple of times, almost like a check in 😉

I am loving this stage, because not only do I get to see her develop and become, truly a big girl… but as she becomes independent, so too does my role, as her Mum.

And it is pretty cool. Getting to be there with her, for the fun stuff.

I can say happily, that I am really enjoying this stage. Sure the bed time routine is still hell at times…. but like all in Parenthood – BALANCE!

#974 Swimming up a level

It was strike of the ‘floater’ today.

You see, at baby girl’s swim school, there are the swimming teachers who can be found in the swimming pool lanes, teaching and guiding children through their pre-school and primary years as they learn the various techniques and skills required to swim independently on their own.

Then there are what I call, the ‘floaters.’

Most of them are also swim teachers. These ‘floaters’ wander around the indoor swim arena, from lane to lane, sussing out the kids within the classes and observing whether or not it is time they are tested.

A floater doesn’t pop up for a swim lesson on every occasion. I remember when a floater arrived at baby girl’s class many months ago, and I watched as suddenly one of the boys in the class was put to the test. He swam laps, practiced with his head underwater, and went up and down the lane repeatedly until they were content he was able enough to go up a level into another swimming class.

Well today, a floater arrived at baby girl’s swim lane. And I knew immediately, she was UP.

I had only observed 10 minutes earlier, how she was the tallest of the 3 in her class. Sure she is a tall gal, but I checked out the boy on one side of her, slightly shorter, perhaps half a year younger than her. Then the girl on her left, a good 18 months younger, and very new to the class. I wondered, ‘when would a floater arrive to push baby girl up a level?’

So when one did arrive, I knew who it was for.

I watched keenly as baby girl was put to the pace. Instead of the usual firm yet supportive encouragement by baby girl’s swim teacher, it was –

“Keep your head under water! Go go go, kick kick kick!”

THE HEAT WAS ON.

She swam with her head underwater, and that in itself appeared to be fine. Next she had to swim on her back, and here I watched as she went up once in the shorter lane…

The floater bent down to her and told her a few things, ending with a smile. I knew what she would be saying. Baby girl had to hold the floaties in her hand at her side, and not fan them out as she habitually did.

…so again she went, up the lane.

The boy was also swimming alongside her, so I was thinking “is he being tested too?”

Again, they sent baby girl up the lane on her back. I watched her as she kicked as hard as she could with all her might. Near the end she slowed down, but she never sunk down. She kept her back straight, held her arms as close as possible to her body, until her head touched the wall behind her.

I was so proud of her. No matter what eventuated, she had made a stellar effort. She hadn’t given up. She had risen to the challenge.

The swim teacher and the floater conferred with one another. I watched carefully, as they said some words to baby girl… there was smiling, a high five… then the swim teacher found me in the crowd and mouthed something while pointing up.

“What?” I mouthed back.

She pointed up again, and held up three fingers. “She’s moving up to level 3.”

:):):)

My heart soared with joy, and I immediately felt an emotional onslaught of tears coming on. I tried to hold them back.

“Get a grip SmikG. The floater will be here any second.”

I knew this because of all the times I had heard and seen other parents be visited by the floaters and be told their child was moving to a higher level. I had been privy to this once before too.

Sure enough, in a matter of minutes she was over and we were discussing new session times. I was overwhelmed with joy… my girl was growing up and every day it was hitting me harder. She was finishing kindergarten and heading into primary school next year. She was becoming more independent, choosing to do things on her own without help, and responding to challenges and succeeding (like yesterday’s post).

This was yet another thing to alert me to the fact that she was growing up. It was so beautiful, but there was a touch of bittersweet-ness to it. Because she would be needing me less and less, and be doing more and more on her own.

‘But that’s the whole point,’ I reassured myself in my head. ‘That’s what you want.’

It doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard.

I was so proud of her and her effort, and that more than anything, even more than her moving up a level, is what I am most grateful for today. ♥

 

#973 Taking to the pedal

My deep and heartfelt gratitude did not come from our family event outing, nor during the bonding we spent there, the down time at home, or that cheeky ice cream we squeezed in on the Main Street afterwards..

No. It came later on in the day, after much tiredness, frustration, raging emotions, and passionate tempers.

It came when baby girl hopped onto her bike.

She got her first bike after our first Christmas here in our Sea change location. She was almost 3 and a half, and was more than excited about riding a bike that had her fave character, Dora the Explorer plastered all over it.

But, it was HARD. She found the pedals difficult to circle. A couple of attempts here and there, and though we regularly went back to it at the start, the bike soon found its place in a corner of the garage, gathering dust, while baby girl still didn’t have a good grasp on how to ride it.

😦

As it happens often in life, doesn’t it? We buy something, and it just sits there, unused and unwanted. We think something will be a peace of cake, but it isn’t.

Baby girl had said she would ride her bike all the time… and we thought so too… but she didn’t.

It’s always been there in the back of her mind though.

Like the streamers peeking out from the handlebars in the corner of the garage, so too did bits and bursts of other bikes pop into baby girl’s mind, or in front of her eyes, reminding her that she did not ride a bike.

She had one. She didn’t ride one.

It’s been picking up momentum lately though. Kids from her kinder will ride to and from the pre-school. Littlies will ride past our house with their parents. She even watches Disney dolls riding bikes on youtube.

She would say “when can I ride my bike?”

And we would say “you need to practice honey.”

So today… we practiced.

Sure, it was hard at first. The whole motion of turning your legs in opposite directions in a circular motion, combined with steering the handle, and looking ahead, is a very multitasking job! We had to keep helping her with her feet, pushing them around, trying to steer her at the same time, reminding her to go “forwards, not backwards,” and “look ahead,” and “don’t go into the grass”…

She started to get it.

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Just a little bit of encouragement, praise for her getting it, and she was off and running! Or should I say riding! There are still quite a few stops and starts, riding into bushes of flowers, and random sudden brakes… but to see her so happy, riding along in glee, telling me “watch out Mum I’m coming!”…

It just clutched at my heart strings in the strongest way.

And it made this funny, interesting and mixed up day, the best one. 🙂

#967 Counting down the Kinder days

You may think I am being overly dramatic by already mourning the end of kindergarten for this year. It was only the first day of term 4 today.

But you see, weeks ago at the end of last term, I saw the future.

I saw a busy, 9am-3pm routine. A young girl starting primary school, and entering the domain of masses of school kids, trying to learn and not get overwhelmed by it all, making friends and working her way through “this thing called Life…”

Hold on I’m quoting Prince now. But seriously. I LOVE KINDERGARTEN.

It is so sweet, so simple. Me and a handful of other parents/grandparents drop off their brood… the car parking is easy. The trees are lush and commanding, secretive and tranquil.

The kids do such simple things. Things in general, are sooo simple.

Like today for instance.

Who can swing higher?

Can I jump off the slide early enough to avoid that bird poo?

Let’s put on sunscreen and our hats!

This is how we roll on our obstacle course…

and on and on the adorable activities go.

The kids call me “baby girl’s Mum.” Oh man I LOVE IT.

They hand me Batman dolls and ask me truly random questions, and I think it is just adorable they walk in to class and hand my girl a flower 🙂

And then at the end of the session, baby girl does her usual run up to me, as she did today… she runs off a short distance, before hurtling back towards me, and I drop her bag and spin her around at the very last moment.

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I love ALL of this, and yet I know in no time at all, it will be coming to an end.

It is the bittersweet part of growing up. Of experiencing the different stages and enjoying them while they last. I know there are amazing things she will experience, and I with her, as the years go on…

But it’s the naivety, the innocence, and the adoration as they look up at you, that I will miss the most.

Oh, wipe away my tears 😉

#943 Primary acceptance

I’ve been waiting for it, for weeks.

I’ve been thinking about it.

Bugging the kindergarten teachers with my random pop-up questions about it.

Trying to oh-so-casually investigate other kindergarten parents and their knowledge of it.

But today, in letter form, I finally got my answer:

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“She has been accepted!”

!!!

I am sooo happy. Grateful, YES.

(Insert heavy sobbing, heart-clutching, and animal-like wails, reminiscent of the Mother mammal when she realises her offspring is growing up ever more…)

#936 Life lessons at the park

Today while on the other side of town at my parents’ house, we went to the park. This isn’t the hardest thing to do, since the park is literally NEXT DOOR.

Watching baby girl climb, slide, swing and re-discover the playground, I came to a realisation.

Learning at the park, is a lot like learning in LIFE.

 

Sometimes you find yourself pondering, ‘what is the meaning of it all?’

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Other times you will be as high as a kite, like a Princess with her head in the clouds.

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Times can be tough. You will need to push on through the battles, and climb higher and higher, work harder and harder, until you have reached your break-through… the clearing.
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Moments will be scary. You will want to turn back, and you will question if you can get there. But you can’t look down. You must keep your eyes straight, and take things, step by step.

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And if you don’t give up, you will reap the benefits of celebration – throw your hands up in the air if you will!

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And because life is cyclical, and we are meant to stay grounded, these phases will happen all over again.

♥♥♥