Friday, December 14, 2007

Second last Christmas concert ever...

One more to go.... one more to go!!!!

Yes, last night was the annual primary school Christmas concert, which in these mad days of political correctness is officially known by the mealy-mouthed title of 'Celebration Concert' instead. (Gee guys, what exactly are we celebrating? What's that you say? Christmas? Then lets just call it a Christmas concert, shall we? I'm pretty sure the other denominations won't mind.)

Rant over. Back to business. The running around before we got there was horrendous. I raced home from work to pick up Jordan for his last piano lesson with his teacher ever. He's been learning with Vicki for 4 years, but she's finishing her music degree this year and her plans are very uncertain next year, so he's had to take up piano at school next year. (He passed the audition a few days ago. I was so relieved.) Seeing as it was their last ever lesson, she brought out some Rachmaninoff and they played one of the concertos from 'Shine' together. They both had so much fun. I'd cancelled Brennan's guitar lesson because of the Christm (sorry) Celebration concert, so I was able to sit there for an hour and fifteen knitting the afghan (will that thing never end?) and enjoying the music. At the end he gave her a card and a present from Phuket, they hugged, she got teary... it was all good.

Then the hell began. There was no time to cook anything for dinner between the arrival home and the concert, and I had no cash in my wallet. That morning Connor had sidled up to me with that cute expression youngest children wear when they know they're going to ask something that will cause panic in their parent. Basically: Grade 6 bomber jackets need to be ordered at $48 a pop. These jackets are individually printed every year with each grade 6ers name on the back, so they're special to the kids. Fair enough. The money was due today. He informs me of this at 8.09am. The kid was born under a lucky star. I had $48.60 in cash. Which leaves precious little to spend at the fish and chip shop. I had to think of a place that takes credit cards and will be quick. The concert starts at 6.30, and I was driving home at 6.03 with no plan for dinner.

$25 later I leave the 'Red Rooster' drive through with 4 quarter chicken and chips packs. That's a lot of money to spend on chips and a few drumsticks. I drive home. We have 10 minutes to eat, scrub up and be out the door. We walk in. Brennan and Connor are blissfully playing the Eyetoy with a sublime indifference to such mundane things as the time. Shoes and socks are off... I commented sweetly and tactfully about how I felt, considering it was their fault we were racing around like crazy.

So now we're eating a very expensive take out meal with no time to savour it.
"Just stuff it in!" I bellow as Connor delicately picks up his hunk of chicken and nibbles at it.
"Can I eat this meal with braces on?" Brennan asks.
"Swallow it whole if you have to," I shriek. "Just hurry up!!"

Connor lost his shoes and was racing around looking for them. Brennan was in the bathroom picking chicken out of his braces. Jordan had given up and was waiting in the car. I shovel them all into the car, drive to the school, which at 6.38 had cars parked all around for about 23 suburbs in every direction, dropped them off at the school gate, then drove streets away until I could find a park. Grabbed my bag with my wallet and patchwork supplies (did I forget to mention that I had a quilting class that starts at 7.30 later that night?) and hot footed it to the school oval. Half way there I realised I'd forgotten to bring the car blanket to sit on, but it was too late.

Went to the oval. The concert had already started and some very short cute looking kids were playing instruments very badly. All the kids were decked out in Santa hats, so it was hard to locate any one child in particular. I went over to the side of the oval where the grade 5s and 6ers were sitting (they were the tall Santa-hatted kids), located Brennan whose glasses made it easier to spot him and waved at him to show him where I was sitting. He showed Connor, Mum turned up with a bottle of Merlot, two plastic wine glasses and a corkscrew, and I could finally relax.

Once the wine glass was in my hand, I quite enjoyed the evening. We happened to be sitting near some parents I knew, so we were all comparing notes on how many more of these we had to endure, and having fun catching up on how everyone was going. Mum made the comment that this one was better than any of the others, and I think she was right. The younger grades still had rows of kids standing up mechanically singing to karaoke Christmas songs, but the older grades actually had a bit of choreography happening. The grade 6ers were really entertaining with their rap singers popping out from behind traditional carol singers. The weather was warm, there were no flies to bother us, the oval wasn't too prickly under the old derriere, we could recognise both boys up on stage when they were performing so we could beam fondly at them and cheer loudly when they'd finished, Mum stalked the kids when they were sitting with their mates so she could take their photos, Jordan found some old friends from when he was there last year and disappeared, so all in all it was a good night.

The current grade 5s are delivering speeches at school so the kids can vote on who will be the next school and house captains. Connor gave his speech yesterday and one of the Mums told me that her son said that Connor's was the best speech and he definitely had his vote. That was really nice to hear. Jordan was school captain last year, and at first Connor was a bit nervous about trying for a position of responsibility because of all the speeches a school captain has to make. He has gradually come around to the idea after I told him that he was just like me... we love being in the limelight and making people laugh, and a good way to be confident is to get used to talking in front of people. (After all, that's what teaching boils down to... all you're doing is performing to your captive audiences day after day after day....)

So it was great to hear that all of his hard work paid off and he delivered it well. He's the sort of kid who would do well in some sort of official role, but I don't know many of the other kids in his year level (I've always worked when he's been at school) so I have no idea if he's in with a chance or not. But at least his maiden speech was a success!

I left the kids and Mum at the end of the concert and zipped off to quilting class. I was an hour late and they'd locked the front of the shop, so I was banging on the door for a while till someone came to let me in. I learned how to put a million safety pins through all of the layers of quilt to hold it together. This lesson wasn't as much fun as last week, because most of the time I was all alone in the front of the shop working over a big table and pins, while everyone else was in the back talking and laughing. One thing I noticed was that everyone else's kids seem to go to private schools. Is quilting a hobby for the elite? I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be inadvertently bringing the tone of the quilting world down by teaching and educating my kids in the government system.....

So now my quilt is sandwiched together. My choice is now to either hand quilt it, or wait till after Christmas and use the walking foot (I thought that was what feet naturally do...) that Dad is buying Mum for Christmas for her sewing machine. I'm thinking I might do the latter. My goal is to finish 4 quilts by the end of the holidays and I'm guessing that hand quilting them would mean I'd be doing nothing else all summer. That'd be boring. But at least the quilt would be progressing. So I'm not sure yet. I'm worried if I have a pile of half-finished quilts stacked up that they'll end up not being done. Those readers who were witness to the Sudoku frenzy of 2005 will know that I focus heavily on new interests until I master them. Then I puddle along happily with them forever after.

oops. Look at the time! Got to go to work. Jordan's last day today. They're taking the year 7s to the zoo. The poor kids are going in full school uniform: black leather school shoes, ties and tucked-in white shirts in all their glory. It's only going to be 32 degrees Celsius. But they'll still have a great time.


Melanie said...

Well our pre-school goes all out in the other direction - no PC at all, we even have a nativity play! Which, even though I sit somewhere in the realm of agnostic/pagan/atheist/definitely-not-a-Christian, still makes me a little bit happy, because I like the story a lot more than I like the rampant commercialism that otherwise makes up Christmas... and because my son made a very cute Wise Man last night :) We enter the years of primary schooling next year for the first time, so it will be interesting to see what our (state) school does.

I think quilting might be primarily a hobby for those with more money and more time to spend on it, for the most part... so I guess private schooling does tend to go hand-in-hand with that.


Fairlie said...

Swallow it whole if you have to," I shriek. "Just hurry up!!"

That line just sums up those kind of evenings for me (which we seem to have quite often...) I so know what you were going through!

River said...

I agree with your little rant. In my not-so-humble opinion, I think that political correctness has gone waaaaay overboard. Far too many minority groups are being pandered to. What about the rest of us? Why should we have to give up or alter our traditions because a few newcomers don't like them or they don't fit in with their religious or traditional beliefs/customs? If we were to move to their countries, I bet they wouldn't be bending over backwards to make us feel "at home".
Re the quilting, I say wait and borrow the walking foot. The quilts will get finished much faster and you'll have time left over for the afghan...........

River said...

I don't want to make other nationalities and religions feel uncomfortable here and I certainly don't expect them to give up their own traditions and customs, I just mean that we shouldn't have to change so much. They can celebrate in their own ways and in our ways if they wish, or not, and we can celebrate in our own ways and in their ways if we wish. As long as the children in the homes are taught each country's traditions and history. Life could be richer for knowing and understanding the other side of things........Am I making any sense here? I don't want to alienate anyone.

Frogdancer said...

River, that's how I feel too. I'm the last person to feel any racism towards newbies... I'm an ESL teacher after all, so I see first hand the bravery it takes to make a new start in a totally different culture... but it's amazing that often we change things that the people we're supposed to be 'sensitive' to have no issue with. ("HO ho ho" being a prime example.)I was asking my year 11 ESLs how the celebrate Christmas. Most of them aren't Christian, but they still celebrate it as a family time; ringing relatives overseas and having a special dinner. I really like that. I don't know how it is in other countries, but here it seems as if we take the best from other cultures and amalgamate. (My kids are kangaruccis... half Italian and half Aussie, so I've done a bit of that myself!)
Oh well! Nothing wrong with a bit of live and let live.

Melanie: our kindergaten did that too, and it was lovely. All those shepherds with teetowels on their heads... my proud moment with Brennan was that he was a sheep!

Fairlie: I'm so glad it's not just me!!