Interrogation at…Target?

I had the most bizarre dream last night. Bizarre enough that it’s brought me out of blogging retirement.

So we were all in our lounge, just sitting around, when Caleb notices a postie out front. He asked ‘Is this for me???’ excitedly as if he was expecting something to be delivered. I told him we’d wait & see. The postie left his little scooter at our front door.

Then the postie started bringing all these dark green things, in clear plastic wrapping, out of his big green tank on the road, and putting them on the ground in front of our house. This is strange, I think. Still they don’t come to the door to tell us what’s going on.

Then we’re in my mom’s house, and the tank is out behind the house, and Darrin & Chuckie are still in bed. I asked Caleb if he’d put the bins out, because it was Tuesday morning, and he said he hadn’t. So I went down the hall, through a bunch of doors, and got the bins and took them down my mom’s gravel driveway to the road. Only there was temporary fencing that you see in Australia along one edge of the driveway. So I had to make sure the bins weren’t too close to that, and not blocking the driveway either.

The male postie is now a female who’s come into the house to tell me that they need to take me out to the van to interrogate me, and it’ll only take an hour. Okay, I thought. So I wrote a note with a red pen to leave on Darrin’s computer so he’d know where I went. I was trying to rush so I had to scribble out what I started writing and start over. The woman from the van has also been picking up stuff alongside the furniture as if she’s going to be bringing something on a sack truck through the room with my sleeping family.

So then I went out to the tank-turned-van, and Caleb followed me. I got in, and Caleb was playing around the back door of the van. The guys working in the van were joking around with each other. One of them said he had $5, as in betting another guy something. We laughed. Then the woman who’d come into the house was sitting in the driver’s seat (somehow she was sitting on the right-hand side to drive, but I was sitting on her right and seeing her from that direction). And the engine started to go. And then she and I were suddenly both sitting at the BACK of the van, and the van drove off. Someone asked the woman with me if Caleb had come with us. She said no, but two other kids are in the back. One of them was my friend Louise’s youngest daughter.

So…then I asked the woman where we were going, and how long would it take? She said ‘Are you having a mental break?’ as if to say it was stupid to even ask. But then she said ‘Okay,’ and as we drove up Cascade Avenue in River Falls, she started cutting spirals through a Target ad in the newspaper. So I got the hint that we were going to Target.

We apparently got to Target, but it didn’t look at all like Target. It looked more like the Salvation Army op shop in the middle of Salisbury. And Chuckie was there running around, and ran past one of the doors to the storage area, and I ran after him thinking he was going in there. But he didn’t. Instead he ran up to the front, where my mom was looking around. And then Dorothy walked in (my friend Renee’s mom – they’ve been friends almost as long as we have). And she gave me a hug and said she thought it was great that I was there (visiting my mom). And then I FINALLY combed my hair back into a ponytail because it had been bothering me for ages.

And I was in my pajamas the whole time, wondering if I was dreaming, but thinking I couldn’t possibly be.

So then later, I was in my mom’s dining room with Darrin, discussing the whole experience. He said, ‘Well, it’s been a week and we haven’t heard from any police, so it must not have been that important.’ And I found the note I’d written him on the dining room table, proving that it wasn’t all a dream.

Well we know how THAT turned out….

A big long ramble about how and why we’ve chosen home schooling.

Hi.

I’m back after almost a year of hiatus. Long story that I won’t go into here.

But anyway, Caleb just had his sixth birthday. In Australia, that’s mandatory school age. Even though he could have been going to reception/prep (equivalent of American Kindergarten) for the last year anyway. So now we have to officially make a decision regarding how he’s going to be formally educated.

Let’s go back in time a bit. I have, shall we say, Issues. I won’t go into it here, but if you’ve met me, you know what I’m talking about. These issues made me a prime target for bullying when I was in school. So when I first heard about home schooling, when some of the other kids from church were home schooled, the idea really appealed to me. And still does.

On the other side of the world, Darrin was top of his class, but doing so much work ahead of time in math that by the end of the week, he didn’t have anything to do but go play on his school’s one computer. Time well spent, as it turned out (given where we met). He showed he was fully capable of learning on his own when it was something that interested him.

One day when we lived back at Glynde, I found some information online about unschooling. I really liked the philosophy behind it – that if you give your kids the resources and opportunities to follow their interests, learning will naturally come from that. And it does. What have we been doing for the first six years of Caleb’s life, anyway? He learned to roll over, crawl, sit, stand, walk, run, all from his own motivation. Because HE wanted to. We noticed he likes trains, so we bought him books about trains, wooden train tracks, found Thomas episodes for him to watch, and Darrin used to walk down to the train line with him at rush hour so they could watch all the trains going past.

And then suddenly, when a kid turns 5 or 6, they stop being able to learn on their own and have to be taught how? I don’t think so.

I know that for me, personally, the things that I wanted to learn, and learned through my own efforts, are the things that have stuck with me the most. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting are just a few things that I mostly taught myself. (Okay, so I learned a bit of sewing when I was a kid that my mom taught me, and in home ec, but I wasn’t really that interested till I was an adult – and then I learned by doing it, watching YouTube videos, asking for advice, and reading tutorials online.) And reading! I was reading before I set foot in a school building.

So now we have Caleb at six years old, and I’ve been doing paperwork this week to formalise our homeschooling intentions. In South Australia, kids first have to be enrolled in a school, THEN you have to do paperwork to get an exemption for the purpose of home education. And they’re legally required to be in school past the age of six, as in attending school. It’s all a bit backwards if you ask me. Apparently SA is one of the strictest states regarding homeschooling. Parents in most other states just have to fill out a form and send it in, and that’s it. SA? Nope. They make it all complicated. Six pages of forms. Six. Questions about your entire curriculum plan. Eight key learning areas to account for. And they ask you to ‘describe the learning area.’ I know one friend was tempted to write ‘four walls, roof, cold AND hot running water’ as her description because it seemed so silly.

It all seems a bit much – especially since something like cooking can fall under ALL EIGHT depending on what type of cooking it is! English (reading recipes), mathematics (addition/subtraction/fractions), science (seriously, cooking is one huge chemistry experiment), society & environment/SOSE (growing your own food), health & physical education (healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods and what they do in our bodies), design & technology (the official category home ec falls under in a school setting), the arts (cake decorating), languages other than English/LOTE (a unit study on another country). Phew!

Now about Caleb. If you know anything about Myers Briggs personality profiles, he’s an ENTJ. He likes to be around people. Darrin & I are introverts (INTP & ISTJ respectively). We don’t cope so well with Caleb’s extroversion. He’ll talk to anyone. Anyone. He walks up to complete strangers, just because they’re in the same shop (or train or bus or whatever) and tells them his whole life story. ‘My name is Caleb and this is my brother, his actual name is Ethan but we call him Chuckie.’ For two introverts, who answer only when spoken to, or when we have a good reason, this is WAY out of our comfort zone.

What else does a little ENTJ like to do? They like to tell people How It Is. And that’s that. And once something has happened one way, they expect it to happen that way for the rest of eternity. So because one time we made popcorn and watched Chicken Run, now every time we make popcorn, Caleb wants to watch Chicken Run. He also went through a stage at around age 2-3 of telling us that we were going the wrong way when we drove a different route home than we did going TO the place we were at. Because to him, it had to be That Way and only That Way.

And the NT likes technology, math, science, and is fiercely independent. Autonomous. Flatly refuses to do something till he thinks he’s competent enough, then blitzes it in a weekend. Or less.

As a baby, he was pretty predictable. He always had his nap at the same time each day, and to bed at the same time each night (after the newborn stage wore off anyway). Apparently he’s one of those kids who likes routine. So while unschooling is still a great philosophy in my opinion, I think a little bit of structure wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing in his case. And so we’ve made the decision to get some actual school books and sit down with him for about an hour a day to do school work. We can be flexible about the time if we have other stuff going on, but for the most part, I think we’ll try to stick to a certain time each day.

And the great thing is, if what we do doesn’t work, we can change it. We don’t have to wait till the end of the year and hope he gets a better teacher next year. If it’s too much structure, or not enough, we can adjust as we need to. We can send him to school later if we want to, or he wants to. It’s not a tattoo.

And he’s excited about the idea of doing work in school books, so yay! Now we just have to keep at it.

Public Transportation for Dummies

I need to get my rant on! All my previous public transportation rants have been aimed at the system. This one’s at the users. Funny how your perspective changes when you have insider information. Not that I don’t think the system still has problems – it certainly does, but some of the users just beggar belief.

  1. Be at the bus stop on time. Yeah, we all run late sometimes, but it’s how you handle being late more than the being late itself. If you’re running for the bus as it’s pulling up, and the bus stops for you, don’t then slow to a walk. The driver’s been nice enough to stop for you even though you aren’t technically AT the stop hailing the bus, so at least do him/her the courtesy of hurrying up (at least a brisk walk) so everyone else can get to where they’re going reasonably on time as well.
  2. Hail the bus. Come on, it’s not that hard to stick your arm out for a few seconds when you see your bus driving toward you. It avoids confusion all around if you just let the driver know you do actually want to catch the bus! Your driver is (probably) not psychic. Simply standing by the bus stop as the bus approaches does not constitute ‘hailing’ the bus. It just means you’re standing by a bus stop. Anybody can do that. And sitting on the bench talking on your phone just means you’re talking on your phone. How is the driver supposed to know you want to catch the bus if you just sit there? My own rule of thumb is to hail until I see the bus’s indicator start flashing. Only time you can get away with not hailing the bus? If you’re married to the bus driver and you’ve discussed earlier the potential for you and your kids to be out at a particular bus stop at that time. 😉 (But even then I think I still hail the bus, if only for Caleb’s sake because he’s still learning.)
  3. Have your ticket or money ready when you get on the bus. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to stand there at the driver’s seat digging through your handbag/pocket/wallet, counting out your money, realising you’re 10 cents short, and then go rummaging through another pocket for the rest of the change. Your bus driver is often trying desperately to keep to the timetable. Every second you stand there looking for your money or your ticket is another second you’re holding up everyone on the bus. And don’t try to pay the driver with a $50 note, because you just look like you’re trying to scam a free ride.
  4. Hang up your mobile phone when you’re purchasing your ticket and actually tell the driver which ticket you’re purchasing. Or you may just end up with the most expensive one on the list for failing to pay attention.
  5. If you throw up on the bus, don’t laugh about it and then use your mobile phone to post on Facebook that you threw up on the bus, and then announce to the whole bus that you just posted to Facebook that you threw up on the bus. Head. Bang. On. Desk.
  6. Don’t whine at the bus driver that the bus is an older one. Believe me, when given the choice, no driver picks the ones with stairs and crap air conditioning. They all hate them too – not only are they hideous to ride, they’re hideous to drive.
  7. Be aware of which buses are express services. And then don’t complain if you go to the bus stop, hail the (express) bus, and it doesn’t stop for you.
  8. When it’s time to get off the bus, do it expeditiously. (Yes, we watched Oscar this weekend.) Don’t sit there playing with your mobile phone and wait till the bus starts pulling away (after sitting at the interchange for up to a full minute) to jump up and say ‘Hey! I wanted to get off the bus!’ because that’ll just annoy everyone. If you’re lucky, the driver will only mutter under his/her breath. If you’re not…well, can’t say I didn’t warn you.
  9. Those signs on the back of buses that say to give way to the bus when it’s pulling away from a stop? OBEY THEM! Seriously, your little Nissan Micra (or whatever it is you drive) against an articulated bus? Who do you think is really going to come off best in that match? It won’t be you, I can guarantee it!
  10. Oh, and if you fail to give way to a bus (which in Australia you are legally obligated to do, by the way), you look like a complete idiot if you then honk your horn at the bus every time you go past it at another bus stop. Because you ARE a complete idiot who just can’t let it go.

Comments

Apologies to anyone who posted a legitimate comment between the blog move and today. Everything since the move has been deleted because there was too much spam to wade through (because I hadn’t set up the spam blocker yet). If you’ve commented since then, please try again and I’ll probably approve it. 🙂

I guess I should blog again sometime.

Since I just upgraded my WordPress, changed my theme, and moved my site all in the one day. Aside from that, here’s a few other updates.

Ethan is NOT dairy intolerant. His green poos were just the precursor to the whole family getting gastro one week. After he finished up with his (which included some very impressive projectile vomiting) they were normal baby poo colour again. Yay. He’s also getting very close to crawling. Puts everything in his mouth. Was 9.2 kilograms (about 20 pounds) last time we weighed him at 4 months old.

Caleb finally wrote his name for the first time the other day. Yay. He didn’t want to at first, but I asked if he wanted to write a C and he was happy with doing that, so I just asked about each letter after, and before he knew it, he had a name! He loves being a big brother so far, but I think he’s in for a shock when Chuckie starts crawling and grabbing his Lego.

Darrin had, or has, his one year bus driving anniversary about now. Yay. Several months ago, he was made a permanent employee, and has been working out of the Elizabeth depot 10 minutes away since July. Which is a lot easier on the budget and our collective sanity. He wants to use up some of his annual leave soon before they tell him he has to, so we’re pondering when, where, and how we’ll go with two kids for a week.

I have a pile of work to do for Little Para Pants that will actually earn me money! Yay! I’ve also registered my business name, another domain name (littleparapants.com.au), changed my bank account name to ‘trading as Little Para Pants’, and procrastinating looking for business insurance and accountants.

Who cut the cheese?

It’s starting to look as if Ethan has a dairy intolerance. I won’t go into all the gory details, but suffice to say the contents of his nappies aren’t looking quite normal anymore. So you know what that means when he’s breastfed. I have to give up dairy.

Trouble is, I don’t really know any other way of life! I grew up in Wisconsin, nicknamed America’s Dairyland. Every June was Dairy Month, and local shops often had specials on ice cream and other dairy products. If you lived in Wisconsin and didn’t like milk, or didn’t like dairy, you got funny looks from people. Not just that – some people (particularly dairy farmers) might even be offended.

And I love cheese. I would (almost) stake my life on the belief that there’s a type of cheese to go with every type of food out there. Even sweet stuff? Yes, especially sweet stuff! Cheesecake – need I say more?

So I’ll have to work out something to do with all this yogurt I just bought last week. Frozen blueberry yogurt popsicles for Caleb perhaps.

Tonight Caleb is spending the night at his nan’s house, so Darrin & I are having pizza. And then as of tomorrow, I’ll be dairy free to see if that sorts Ethan out. I hope it’s not as boring as I expect it to be!