Six word Saturday: on being allowed a weekend sleep-in

The boy-child's first soccer team. Photo: Tony Gray 2004

The boy-child’s first soccer team and the beginning of early-start Saturday’s. Photo: Tony Gray 2004

No more early morning soccer games

This post was written both as a contribution to Six Word Saturday, and as part of my “countdown” to my son’s sixteenth birthday.

You will find the previous countdown posts here:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/on-raising-children-and-not-getting-enough-sleep/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/back-to-school-for-the-last-time/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wordless-wednesday-remembering-birthdays-past-and-counting-down-to-a-big-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition-on-being-reminded-how-far-we-have-travelled/

… and some other Six Word Saturday’s here:

Six Word Saturday

http://restlessjo.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/six-word-saturday-97/

http://bookmammalmusings.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/six-word-saturday-12514/

http://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/six-word-saturday-its-just-a-moment-in-time/

http://elainemcnulty.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/six-word-saturday-foxes/

http://whenwordsescape.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/six-word-saturday-12514/

On raising children and not getting enough sleep

A few hours old and sleeping peacefully. Not a trick much repeated in the boy-child's first year. Photo: Su Leslie 1998

A few hours old and sleeping peacefully. A trick not much repeated in the boy-child’s first year. Photo: Su Leslie 1998

School’s started in earnest for the boy-child and with it the dreaded early mornings. Today was the first in months the alarm has gone off before it’s properly light outside.

I have to say – I really wasn’t ready to get up!

The infant boy-child was a terrible sleeper; managing 2-3 hours at a time during the nights of his first year, and hardly sleeping at all during the days. After a while, just the sound of his cries were enough to cause physical anxiety in both the Big T and me; a sensation which lasted for years afterwards.

Today, the alarm clock did much the same thing – that harbinger of six o’clock rising and, worse, the onset of autumn and then winter.

When the boy-child woke during those first nights, we used to put the Counting Crows album August and Everything After on the CD player and turn the volume up. Strangely, it helped calm the baby, and even now does the same for me.

Today was definitely a Counting Crows morning.

This post was written as part of my “countdown” to my son’s 16th birthday:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/back-to-school-for-the-last-time/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wordless-wednesday-remembering-birthdays-past-and-counting-down-to-a-big-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition-on-being-reminded-how-far-we-have-travelled/

Phoneography Challenge: still life with fancy lettuce

Still life with fancy lettuce. Photo: Tom Gray, 2014. Taken on iPhone4, edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

Still life with fancy lettuce. Photo: Tom Gray, 2014. Taken on iPhone4, edited with Aviary Ultimate Photo Editor.

I’ve been so busy preparing the house to go on the market and organising the boy-child for his return to school that I’ve hardly been out – let alone out taking photos. And this was actually the boy-child’s shot – just taken on my phone.

He saw this sign at our nearest fruit shop yesterday and couldn’t resist photographing it.

It took me a while to understand the depth of his amazement at the term “fancy lettuce.” I’m used to the fact that our closest fruit shops are in a part of Auckland that was, until a couple of years ago, pretty much rural. They are what’s left of a series of old market gardens, opened at a time when New Zealand was a simpler place – and certainly not the consumer paradise it is now.

When I was a kid,  grocery stores sold four types of cheese – Mild, Medium, Tasty and Colby. They were all versions of Cheddar, except possibly Colby and I’m still not sure what that is. Bread came in “brown” and “white”, and as far as I can remember there was only one variety of lettuce – Iceberg  – although in the absence of alternatives, we just called it “lettuce.”

I’m not sure when local market-gardeners diversified and started growing other varieties, but it doesn’t surprise me when these are subsumed under the term “fancy.” It’s such an old-school Kiwi-ism.

The boy-child has grown up in much more sophisticated time. He knows his ciabatta from his sour dough and could easily pick out Romaine, Rocket and Lollo Rosso in a lettuce line-up. So for him, the notion of “fancy” lettuce was just very, very funny. In fact, he’s still laughing.

This post was written for the weekly Phoneography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. You can see Sally’s post here, or check out some other entries:

http://pictograf.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/iphoneography-choice/

http://blogagaini.com/2014/01/27/phoneography-challenge-osel/

http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/phoneography-challenge-one-little-two-little-indians-travel/

http://completelydisappear.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/sharing-is-caring/

http://angelinem.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/phoneography-challenge-architecture-at-night/

http://streetsofsfphotos.com/2014/01/27/doors-4-12-photos/

http://steve-says.net/2014/01/27/on-the-shelf/

http://watchingthephotoreels.com/2014/01/27/the-lennon-eye/

http://piecesofstarlight.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/phoneography-pilgrimage-to-brookside-trail/

http://pilotfishblog.com/2014/01/27/phoneography-challenge-architecture/

http://decocraftsdigicrafts.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/iphoneography-challenge-architecture-2/

http://firebonnet.com/2014/01/27/phoneography-challenge-the-red-barn/

http://nwframeofmind.com/2014/01/27/iphoneography-monday-1-27-14/

http://amarnaik.com/2014/01/28/phoneography-challenge-nyc-madison-square-garden-penn-station-eagle/

http://irenewaters19.com/2014/01/28/phoneography-monday-challengers-choice-heatwave/

http://fontsandfrosting.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/phoneography-challenge-night-photography/

http://weliveinaflat.com/blog/phoneography-weekly-w-hotel-room/

http://19planets.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/shifting-angles-013-january-2014-haigahaibun/

http://gregurbano.com/2014/01/29/in-an-instagram/

Back to school for the last time

The boy-child is half way through ‘A’ Levels and, all going well, this will be his last year at school.

It was the first day of the year yesterday, and he came home buzzing about the new subjects he’s taking – History and Business Studies – and about his Chemistry class. Long may it last!

My son is blessed with an interest in learning and the ability to work well within the school system. As long as he is engaged in meaningful work, he thrives and succeeds.

Yet his school “career” has been a fun-fair ride – sometimes a merry-go-round and sometimes a trip through the House of Horrors!

The boy-child practicing a dance routine he'd learned at preschool. Photo: Su Leslie 2000

The boy-child practicing a dance routine he’d learned at preschool. Photo: Su Leslie 2000

His Montessori pre-school and the slightly alternative inner-city high school have definitely been the institutions in which he has best fitted and not only done his best work, but been happiest.

Always happy to mug for the camera, he became the poster boy for his first NZ nursery.

Always happy to mug for the camera, he became the poster boy for his first NZ nursery.

An early obsession with woodwork sadly hasn't translated into offering to build an extension on our house. Photo: Su Leslie 2001

An early obsession with woodwork sadly hasn’t translated into offering to build an extension on our house. Photo: Su Leslie 2001

Montessori, with its very child-centred philosophy of readiness to learn, was a perfect environment for an obsessive child who felt compelled to work at whatever task fascinated him until he had mastered it.

Under the care of a group of wonderful Montessori teachers he learned motor skills, social skills and how to read and write. With reading, he seemed to decide one day that it was a “big boy” thing to do, so he told his teacher he wanted to learn and – well that was that really. He was not quite four at the time, and he’s never looked back.

Photo: Su Leslie 2004

Photo: Su Leslie 2004

His time at the local primary school was socially good and academically wasted; one or two teachers were prepared to try and extend him, most would not or could not. Consequently he got to the end of his time there with a well-established reputation as “the class clown” – forever being sent to the principal.

School play: the boy-child going for the laughs as "Mr Mayor." Photo: Heike Gleisner-Micheel, 2007.

School play: the boy-child going for the laughs as “Mr Mayor.” Photo: Heike Gleisner-Micheel, 2007.

Three years at an old-fashioned private school were also a mixed bag; the work was challenging, but the school’s punitive culture didn’t sit well with my free spirit son – or his equally non-conformist mother!

So now we are nearing the end of an educational journey. I say “we” because it has been my journey too. Because the Big T travels so much, I’ve played the role of Educational Liaison Officer. I’ve done countless school and sports trips and camps, classroom helper, PTA, fund-raising, basketball coach and touch rugby manager –  and when circumstances have demanded it,  swept in like the Furies to protect my offspring.

Best friends from Junior Class. Doing their own thing now but mothers still catch up for coffee. Photo: Su Leslie 2003

Best friends from Junior Class. Doing their own thing now but mothers still catch up for coffee. Photo: Su Leslie 2003

I’ve also made some good friends from amongst the group of “school mums” and parents of the boy-child’s friends and treasure these friendships long after the kids have gone their own ways.

Who knows what my son will choose to do next. He has no clear tertiary course in mind, and is unsure where his love of photography and film-making will take him. But he is very young and has a lifetime to think and explore and make good decisions abouth the paths to follow. And I have faith that he will do just that.

This post was written as part of my “countdown” to my son’s 16th birthday:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wordless-wednesday-remembering-birthdays-past-and-counting-down-to-a-big-one/

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition-on-being-reminded-how-far-we-have-travelled/

Wordless Wednesday: remembering birthdays past and counting down to a big one

Second birthday and new wheels from Grandma and Grandad. Freedom begins here!

For the boy-child’s second birthday, he got new wheels from Grandma and Grandad. Freedom begins here!

The boy-child will be sixteen in just under a month and I’ve decided to post a memory a day in the run-up. Mostly it’s because I want to enjoy those moments from our past, but I hope also that one day he will look back on my attempts to catalogue our journey together and know just how much he is loved.

Random moment of delight: two kids and their books

The boy-child and a friend happily "reading". Photo: Su Leslie 1999

The boy-child and a friend happily “reading”. Photo: Su Leslie 1999

Now both teenagers; these two are separated by half a world geographically, but remain connected by long-standing ties of friendship (their parents go back to university days), and an on-going love of reading.

And to me, books and kids (especially together) are the ultimate sources of delight.

This post was written in response to Meghan AKA Firebonnet’s “Random Moments of Delight” challenge. You can see Meghan’s latest post here.

Juxtaposition: on being reminded how far we have travelled

It is one month until the boy-child’s sixteenth birthday and I am beginning to find all around me, reminders of his route to this place – this symbolic jumping-off point to adulthood.

For various reasons (which I wrote about here), I recently opened the box of keepsakes, those “tokens’ of his life that I have squirreled away over the years. I found myself washed over by a huge wave of remembrance and nostalgia. The boy-child was around, but fairly uninterested in penguin-patterned onesies, Christening mugs and “Congratulation-on-the-birth-of-your-son cards.

He did however, consent to have this photo taken – his skateshoe-clad foot alongside the very first “hard” shoe he ever owned.

This post was written for the Daily Post weekly photo challenge and is also the first in my own “countdown” to the boy-child’s birthday.

Here are some other juxtapositions that I have enjoyed:

http://chrisbreebaart.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition-robben-island/

http://minkapix.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://inkhammer.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposution/

http://www.itchyfeetonthecheap.com/2014/01/26/travel-photo-of-the-week-lets-start-a-riot/

http://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition-bastets-pixelventures-surprise/

http://throughmylens365.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/weekly-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://calamityrae.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/whos-that-kitty-in-the-window-weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://mamasemptynest.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other-2/

http://cosmopolitaninthemaking.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://celiaintokyo.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://boundtoloveblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://artizenimages.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/juxtaposition/

http://shewritestospeak.com/2014/01/27/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

http://neophytephotographer.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition-take-2/

Juxtaposed sunrise

http://unclespikes.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition-iv/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

http://booksmusicandmovies.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/playing-with-a-pendant/

http://wahinewednesdays.com/2014/01/26/juxtaposition/

http://sfchapman.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/weekly-photo-challenge-juxtaposition/

On baby clothes and making memories

The first item of clothing I ever bought for the boy-child. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

The first item of clothing I ever bought for the boy-child. Photo: Su Leslie 2014

 “It contained so much feeling, this piece of fabric cut from the dress of the baby being handed over by its mother, for life.” — Mollie Oldfield The Secret Museum (p. 88)

The Secret Museum tells the story of sixty objects, held in museum collections but not on public display. Most, if not all, museums have large numbers of items or whole collections that are kept in storage; sometimes because the items are too fragile or valuable and sometimes because there is simply no space.

The Secret Museum, Molly Oldfield. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

The Secret Museum, Molly Oldfield. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

The book itself is a bit unsatisfying; there seems to be no particular logic to her choice of item – except perhaps an expedience of finding several things in the same location to save on the travel budget. And perhaps most frustratingly, there are only very few – generally quite small – photos of the objects alongside some childish illustrations.

That aside, there are some interesting stories of quite fascinating objects. Of them all, the one that touched me most was that of the collection of tokens kept by the Foundling Hospital. Oldfield describes them thus:

When a mother left her baby she was asked to leave a token which would link her to her child, in case one day she was able to come back to claim him or her. Very often, the mother had nothing to leave so a piece of fabric was cut out of her dress, or the baby’s (baby’s clothes were usually made from their mother’s old clothes). The mother kept a fragment, and a matching fragment was attached to the registration billet that was kept for each child. (pp. 90-91)

The billets were kept in books, now held in the London Metropolitan Archives. The Foundling Museum has kept one book (in storage), and also displays some of the more robust tokens “mostly objects and trinkets left by mothers that would not fit inside the books” (p. 91)

The Foundling Hospital first opened in 1741 and was established by Thomas and Eunice Coram, to provide a home and a future for some of the hundreds of babies born in London who might otherwise have been abandoned. On its first night, thirty babies were taken in – as many as the hospital could cope with. By midnight mothers were being turned away.

The history of the Foundling Hospital is fascinating. It was incredibly well supported by wealthy Londoners as well as by artists, musicians and writers. The first performance of Handel’s Messiah was in given the Hospital’s chapel, Charles Dickens and William Hogarth were active supporters and today the Foundling Museum still holds a collection of work donated by Hogarth and other artists of the time, including Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds.

The Foundling Hospital continued to provide institutional care to children until the 1950s and even nowadays is still an active charity supporting children’s causes; operating as the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children.

I couldn’t find a figure for how many children had been taken in by the Foundling Hospital over the course of its life, but Oldfield does say that between 1741 and 1760 16,282 children were admitted.

That’s 857 children a year – more than two a day.

She also says that of the sixteen thousand – only 152 were reclaimed by their mothers and that two thirds of the children admitted during the period died – usually from disease and malnutrition.

Oldfield describes the token belonging to one of the tiny minority re-united with his mother; a boy named Charles.

His mother, Sarah Bender, made a patchwork needle case from seven pieces of fabric, and on it she stitched a heart. Above the heart, created in red thread, she stitched the initials C (for Charles) and S (for Sarah). She cut the heart in two on 11 February 1767 when she handed Charles over, with his broken hearted token … (pp. 92-93)

At this point I was in tears.

I’ve written before (Earworm: moments of clarity and silly songs) about the post-natal depression I suffered after the boy-child’s birth and how, one night I snapped and was ready to take him back to the hospital and say “sorry, I’ve made a mistake.” I even got as far as thinking about what I’d pack for him – my version of a “token.”

What stopped me was realising that if I cared that much about what he should wear and the toy he should have with him, then I probably cared enough to persevere with being a mother.

The thing is – I had a choice. I was sleep-deprived and depressed – not homeless and hungry. Compared to the women who took their babies to the Foundling Hospital my feelings seem shallow and self-pitying. That’s not to downplay post-natal depression, just to put my sense of helplessness into a wider social and historical context.

Terry the Tiger: won by the Big T on the pier at Great Yarmouth, and a favourite of the boy-child. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

Terry the Tiger: won by the Big T on the pier at Great Yarmouth, and a favourite of the boy-child. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

I still have the first couple of tiny outfits we bought for the boy-child – and the stuffed tiger that slept in his cot with him at night. After I’d read Molly Oldfield’s account of the foundlings’ tokens, I felt the need to take these things out of their box and touch them again. It made me realise how much meaning we can invest in objects – a tiny onesie with cavorting penguins and a stripey tiger from the pier at Great Yarmouth. Out of context they are simply an item of baby’s clothing and a cheap toy. But to me they are tokens – of love and of remembrance.

Six word Saturday: Burns Supper

Portrait of Robert Burns, voted the Greatest Scot, by Scots, in 2009.

“Talking with the taxman about poetry”

And since I’ve pinched an album title from Billy Bragg for my Burns Night post, here’s a song that one great poet might approve of, from the other’s “difficult third album.”

You can find out more about Six word Saturday here or enjoy some other blogger’s posts on the theme:

http://genealogysisters.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/siw-word-saturday-time-to-start-planning-a-trip/

http://sandraconner.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/six-word-saturday-my-life-today-in-6-words-6/

http://whenwordsescape.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/six-word-saturday-11814/

Six Word Saturday

http://tasmanialainen.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/six-word-saturday-18-1-2014/

http://lingeringvisions.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/six-word-saturday-do-you-ever-think-of-me/