Friday, May 30, 2014

End of Term, Part 3

Another academic year has ended, Little A's first at the school he will attend for as long as we can afford to send him there.

Less than a month prior to the end of term, the school sent home uniforms for the children to wear. They had been coming to school in casual clothes until then, apart from a t-shirt they were encouraged but not required to wear on Wednesdays, so I don't think I was the only parent who worried about how to coax her child into the new uniform.

Little A has always been picky about fabrics, and has never yet tolerated denim jeans. He resists wearing sweaters and jackets (though this is likely because they are entirely unnecessary in our part of the world) and socks with his shoes.

Big A suggested he remain out of uniform for a week, so he would notice how he was the only one in school still wearing regular clothes. On photo day though, he had no other choice.

The people at school were clever, and allowed for one "rehearsal" day before the two photo days, and I managed to get Little A (crying and whining) into the school shirt for this day. The next day, he put on the trousers as well, to my delight, with minimal complaints, and wore them all day.

I didn't breathe a sigh of relief just yet, as my son has been known to tolerate things for a short term and then refuse them forevermore afterwards. But as the days passed, he put on his school uniform every day without a struggle for the last three weeks of classes. Fridays were kept as plain clothes days, to my delight. (Handwashing those two sets of trousers and shirts thrice a week to get them dry in time for the next day was always a little stressful.)

His official photos are now proudly on display at home, to remind him that come August he will need to don the uniform again every day. I only hope he hasn't outgrown the trousers by then. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bali High

Beach weekends - ahh, bliss. It's been a long time since I was in the presence of sun, sand, and surf together. The last time was when Little A was barely 3. Now I got lucky two weekends in a row.

A few weeks ago, Big A and I were invited by friends to spend a night at a members-only beach resort just 25 minutes away from the city by small plane. We'd visited the place when it was under construction but didn't like the payment package (it's a time share sort of deal) so we didn't have access to the place except by invitation. It was my first time to see the finished resort.

We spent just under 48 hours living the island life. All too soon, it was back to the daily grind. But only for another five days.

The day before we left for the private resort, Big A booked us a trip to Bali for the following weekend on the spur of the moment. We'd never been, and now was as good a time as any since resort prices were heavily discounted. I was busy with Little A's end of term coming up, plus the household chores that needed to be done since we would be gone two weekends in a row - groceries, paying bills, lots of laundry, and pre-cooking food for Little A and the Au Pair that could be easily heated while we were away. So I left the Bali itinerary entirely up to Big A, helped by a dear friend who'd recently spent a week there.

Bali was charming, and made me realise how far the Philippine beach resorts lagged behind, despite being so much better in terms of sand and marine life than their other Asian counterparts. We stayed in Seminyak, an area populated with one-storey boutiques and interesting open-air bars and restaurants. The cocktails were sublime.

While summer is drawing to a close in our part of the world, Little A's holidays are only beginning. With luck, we can squeeze another beach trip into the calendar before the rains come and the new academic year begins.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Market Day

Last week was Market Day at Little A's school. The students had spent several weeks of their arts and crafts time making things to sell - bookmarks, paperweights, rain sticks and trinket boxes. The culmination was to be a shopping day when parents were invited to purchase the merchandise.

Each child had a specific task - showing customers the product catalogue (we would remove a photo of the item/s we wanted and place it/them on a strip, or a virtual shopping basket), finding the correct items (think Jeff Bezos's Amazon warehouse on a minuscule scale, manned entirely by special needs staff), ringing up the sales (with the aid of a calculator), making change (using a fantastic maths chart) and bagging the purchases for delivery (via child-size shopping trolley) to the customers who waited across the room.

One mother described it perfectly when she said it was just like "shopping from an Argos catalogue." We were all delighted to see our children performing "real", functional tasks.

Little A was a bagger. I was amazed at how long he sat still, waiting for items to put in the brown paper sacks. Some of the items were a bit bulky and heavy, resulting in tears to the brown paper, but all ended well.

I know other schools have regular market days, when parents buy or bake and children sell the items for profit, without all the Argos-catalogue assistance. But given the challenges facing Little A and his peers, this was a special achievement for them, one they will now conduct yearly, and have every right to think of with pride.