Speed Dating

PREFACE: I wrote this several months ago… I missed the last lot of parent teacher interviews completely. Just dropped the ball due to … life… This blog post harks back to more mindful and organised times. Enjoy.

welcome written on blackboard

I’ve just been speed dating. That’s what I call the highly organised event that is High School parent teacher interviews. In my efforts to be more present and mindful in my day to day I have enjoyed the act of observing without judgement. Nights like these give me ample opportunity. I see the body language of teenagers who have been dragged to attend the interview, with a parent on each side and a teacher across the table. Some appear engaged and enthused about the process …quite possibly the same emotions they exhibit in class each day. Others looked like they would rather be anywhere else than in that chair at that time. Walking in to the hall I saw a boy, tall like a man but in the school uniform, stop dead at the door and lean against the wall. “Come on” the older male with him said. “Nope” the boy replied. Easy enough for me to breeze past with both kids at home with their Dad. Solo mission for me tonight.

I see parents juggling children too young to be left at home, bags full of snacks and books and games. I politely refuse the lovely year six boys who are doing the rounds of the crowd with a platter of cake stall goods to sell. I have already purchased a gluten free brownie and spent hours last night putting together Mug cake mix in nicely labelled jars. By 10.30pm I was thinking I should have just handed over $50 and been done with it. Did we have cake stalls at high school parent teacher nights when I was at school? I don’t quite remember but I doubt we did.

I have a giggle to myself at the commonality between this years maths teacher and last years,  with shared body language and expressions. .Not surprising that they both had the same things to say about my humanities loving daughter. I nod my head. Yes I will have her try harder and pay more attention to algebra.

Again I am amazed by the vitality and strength of Mrs N ..who says she will move heaven and earth to get through to my son, and I believe her.

A bell rings every ten minutes to signal the end of a round of interviews and the beginning of the next one. Parents stand on the thresh-hold clutching maps which show the location of each teacher in the college hall. The bell rings and it’s a very ordered and polite push forward to the desks while those who have finished attempt to swim against the stream and find their way out of the hall. The patience and darting eyes of the  teachers when they have the parent who “stays too late” while the next parent is waiting for their turn. I watch them politely trying to wrap up conversations that probably could and should keep going if time would allow.

I see the nervous energy of a parent new to the format, accustomed to the informal nature of primary school meetings. This year has meant a new, hands off approach where she is not quite sure how her son spends his days.

As for me, new mindful me. I try not to take comments about my children too much to heart. I appreciate that they are growing, evolving people with strengths and weaknesses like all of us. I remember that their worth is not in their grades. I am heartened to hear a science teacher proclaim that positive social interactions are just as important for 13 year olds as anything else at school and I am thankful that my daughter has a wonderful, supportive and quirky group of friends. I am encouraged by the Maths teacher who is willing to employ any method necessary for my son to show what he knows and understands. I am thankful for a school ( known for it’s academic achievements) that really is interested in nurturing the whole student.

My kids are healthy, interesting, curious, mouthy, crazy, frustrating and flawed. I’m hanging on as they hurtle towards adulthood.

 

Be content

I’ve just begun listening to the Slow Your Home podcast series by Brooke McLarey. I think Brooke  started this podcast in 2015 and I’m up to episode 7. I’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn. I was particularly inspired this morning by her chat with Cybele Masterman who writes Blah Blah Magazine. Among other things they talked about purposeful living and the desire to be content ..over the desire to be happy, and finding the moments of joy in each day. I think for me being content means taking the time to appreciate where I am and what I’m doing at any given moment. So much of life since my children were born has been spent in a bit of a blur. I have a tendency to hurtle from one activity to the next. My pride in my ability to multitask can often mean that I don’t give any one thing my full attention.

My goal is to be present. When I’m talking to a family member, when I’m working at a task. That’s going to take some (a lot) of self control but I’m hoping that with practice it will become part of me.

We spent almost a month travelling and trekking in the Gokyo Valley in the Everest region of Nepal in December 2016 and it was a wonderful reminder of what it means to be in the moment. With few distractions the act of trekking was purposeful and meaningful. My purpose for each day was to get to the destination, and enjoy the challenge, the company and the environment around me. It narrowed down my priorities. It was less important to check my hair in a mirror and more important to make sure we had filtered enough water for the day. I kept a journal which I plan to share here at some point. One day towards the end of the trek I wrote a list of things I had learnt. All were insights were gained through experience and reflection during the long walking days where I had the luxury of time to notice.

Things I have learnt

  • Hiking poles are invaluable. You need two and you need to have them at the correct height.
  • Take the Diamox (altitude medication)
  • Squat toilets are actually pretty good and very efficient
  • Nepalis work hard. The people of the Khumbu are kind and strong..and they like a laugh
  • You don’t need as much toilet paper as you think
  • You don’t need to look in the mirror every day. You really don’t.
  • Taking the no-shampoo challenge is easy while trekking
  • There is no limit to the amount of tea you can drink in a day
  • You can climb any hill one step at a timeP1000498
  • Stopping for a slow food lunch is good for the body and the soul
  • I am stronger in body and spirit than I first believed.
  • My kids are incredibly resilient -there have been a few “Are we scarring them for life?” moments
  • You can measure how cold the night was by the thickness and quantity of the ice in the “flush bucket” next to the toilet.
  • Squat toilets lined with yak dung smell pretty good
  • 10 year old boys get the baby discount when shopping
  • Don’t count on being able to clean your face for days on end.

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All photo credits to Rob, Miya and Toby Saunders. I was too busy putting one foot in front of the other to take photos. That’s on my list for the next trek!

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