Recollections: Buddy the Younger

I used to catch the 7:10 bus. There was no need to get this obscenely early bus to school when we only lived one suburb and train ride away but it was a habit I got in to early and one that stayed for the entirety of high school.

Six years.

7:10.

The bus driver’s name was Les but every one called him Harry, as in Harry Butler. In the Wild. Of course you never said this to his face, that would cause such instant rage in him that he’d kick you off the bus. And possibly give you a shove with his boot, just to help you down the stairs.

There was three of us who religiously caught that bus. Me, Alexis and the younger of the two Buddy brothers. You can totally see where this is heading can’t you. Alexis went to the same school as me but was a couple of years ahead of me. She was a complete brainiac who was quite the left wing feminist. She was scary and funny and while she lived just a few blocks away, when she finished school we never saw each other again. Just like that.

Buddy Brother the Younger was my high school crush. Yep. Just him. The whole time. He lived even closer to me than Alexis – probably about six houses down the street so we got on at the same stop. It took four years to work through the stages of secret glances, to staring longingly at the back of his head to smiling at each other to, breathe, saying hello.

He had blonde hair and every Friday wore his Army Cadets uniform. He was also in the pipe band so you could, on weekends, hear bagpipes drifting on the air down the street.

For reasons I do not know one day we said hi AT THE BUS STOP (as opposed to once on the bus) and then, THEN, sat in seats next to each other and SPOKE.TO.EACH.OTHER., not just on the bus but onto the station AND onto the train.

OH my stomach was in knots and all a flutter all at the same time. I walked from the station down to school with a big goofy grin on my face. He spoke to me! We laughed! He likes me.

And then I went to the bathroom. As I washed my hands I looked up into the mirror, goofy smiling all the way.

And there it was.

A white ring of Amway Glister toothpaste around my mouth. The whole way. Some sort of perverse albino minstrel act. My reaction was one you can only expect from a 15 year old girl, vomit and tears.

I never really spoke to him again, not like that day.

Damn you Amway, damn you to hell.

 

Onward!

end of year shenanigans

I have felt that I had nothing to say here for the last few weeks but in just having a quick email with Blackbird I realised there is so much to tell.

 

I have three boys home today. Oscar finished his school year on Tuesday, Jasper is home after being up all night vomitting – on the last day of the school year no less, and Grover is home early as today was the kindy concert and an early home-time.

 

I need to tell you all about Oscar’s School of Awesome Presentation Day.

Well I cried at the first entertainment item – a photo montage to a song about (the school) being a place where God is. Then every student came up on stage and collected their certificate of achievement for the year. Even the boy crying because of the noise and crowd in the room. I think nearly every adult in the room was crying as he came down off the stage (with much help and praise and support and love from teachers to get him through everything before that and after) with his fingers in his ears, crying ‘I’m too scared, Julie can you help me’. OH MY LORD was there crying all around. One, for the love of this child, two for the fact he had done it! He’d done it!, three for the fact he could VERBALISE how he was feeling and that he needed help. I tell you, SCHOOL.OF.AWESOME.

 

Then there was another musical item – this time with two students singing Enrique Iglesias’s I Like It and the Eddie’s Entertainers (aka student dance group) performing a routine to it. The male student did all the rapping, WORD PERFECT, the female student the singing. AWESOME.

 

Also – can you imagine just how much better Presentation Days would be at all school presentation days with these sorts of things – minimal talking, quick presentations, lots of entertainment.

 

The next musical interlude was a montage of the 60th birthday celebrations and blessing of the sacred place made in the grounds during the year – a beautiful, serene space for students which was instigated and completed by the grounds keeper off his own volition.

 

Then, THEN, there was the solo. A Year 9 (or maybe 10) student singing Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. I tell you what, that kid knew how to work the microphone. It all started with a rallying ‘are you ready to rock and roll!?!’, included a ‘this is where I BREAK OUT’ which led into what can only be termed an impressive air guitar solo and ended with a ‘you’ve been an awesome audience today’.

 

I swear to GOD this school could not be MORE AWESOME.

 

*****

Felix is currently enjoying the annual school picnic on his last day of primary school. Monday was the Year 6 Farewell dinner which is hosted by the Year 5s and involves dancing, a sit-down dinner, a very loving and funny roast by the teachers, presenting each of the students with a funny award.

It is such a privilege being a part of this child’s life, being witness to his life and the man he will become. This year there have been moments when it has taken my breath away. Such an awesome kid.

*****

Yesterday I did nearly *all* the Christmas shopping. Four gifts to go. Not bad for a 3.5 hour effort hey. No wonder I was shattered last night.

 

So you see, there has been news, there has been stuff happening after all!

 

ONWARD!

 

 

 

the school open day – aka some things never change and then they do

I ADORE our local government primary school. ADORE. A.D.O.R.E.

Oscar was in a mainstream class there for four years. He was included, he was engaged, he was safe and he was loved. When he started high school this year two of his classmates rang to see how he was settling in and two others asked me on Facebook which was, quite frankly, unsettling* but I appreciate the sentiment.

We moved Felix from the school we had sent him to (to have some of his own space and to not be defined by his special needs sibling) and on.his.first.day as he walked from where they lined up to the assembly hall he whispered to me, ‘it’s really good’. I mean COME ON – they’ve gotta work harder to win over a (then) fourth grader surely.

Jasper started this year and apart from the LUDICROUS expectations on kindy kids (and their teachers) he took to it like a duck to water. I mean seriously people, I remember when kindy was about colouring in, painting, craft, learning pencil grip, which colour rod represented what number, craft, how to tie your laces, about 30 sight words and basically trying not to pee your pants. Oh, and craft. Jasper was up to 30 sight words by Week 2. After an ASSESSMENT the week BEFORE school started. Last term his beautiful (and incredibly good) teacher expressed her concern he wasn’t reading at the stage she thought he’d be at. I – of course – initially panicked and then told my head “HE’S FIVE”. FFS.

Grover will start there in 2013. If he lives that long. Or he hasn’t been sent to juvie hall.

It’s a small school – only 300 kids. There is a very strong sense of community. A remarkably talented and diverse and dedicated teaching body. A zero acceptance policy on bullying (that is followed through thoroughly). It has a very strong pro-inclusion policy for kids with additional needs. It has an amazing environmental program which includes water tanks, solar panels, several vegetable gardens, a massive worm farm and now, well now it has a chook house.

Today was it’s annual open day – you know the drill – you sit in the hall, craning your neck to see your kid (not mine) perform in the band, or recorder group or choir. You listen to the band play a medley of Queen songs with someone slightly off beat, a clarinet a bit flat, a saxophone squeak and a drummer too loud (is there any other sort). Then the choir sings a medley of Peter Allen tunes and you try to count the girls who do drama. And dance. You know, the overly-animated ones with their hair really pulled back off their face. So you can really see how much they understand the song through their facial movements. Then there’s a presentation by which time your arse has atrophied to the seat and you’ve lost count of the number of protesting smaller siblings that have been dragged from proceeding only to wail louder and stronger from just outside the door. Good times.

My recollection of Open Day at our school was the world record attempt to mount more artwork in a room than the walls could sustain, to show mum our workbooks and then do exactly the above. With my hair pulled back nice and tight. So you could see just how much this song meant to me.

But I can not imagine my primary school ever having a chook house, or the whole school doing the chicken dance to celebrate:

 

God I love this school.

ONWARD!

* I have recently discovered teenagers read this which is both alarming and hilarious. I mean, what on earth can a mother of four boys say that is interesting let alone entertaining to a teenager? And also – the swearing. Whoops.

End of an era

In two days time an era for this family will come to an end. A major chapter in Oscar’s life will finish as a whole new exciting one begins.

Starting school for a child with additional needs is a monumental undertaking. We started a good 18 months out from when it would finally happen. We desperately wanted him in a wonderful program offered by a specialist special needs primary school in a satellite class at a school literally a few blocks from our home. An anxious wait ended beautifully with two fabulous years in a program called Start Right. Indeed.

And yet, we had barely drawn breath and relaxed with that decision that the whole process had to start again with finding the best school for Oscar to then transition to. Unbelievably that school ended up being our local public primary school. He started there in Year 2, aged 8. (and look at how dinky and cute Felix was on his first day of school too!)

To say this school has gone above and beyond is an understatement. This school has treasured Oscar. They have seen him as ‘just’ another student in his year group all the while making the adjustments and allowances so many schools and anti-integration voices say are impossible. He has had the same opportunities and experiences as his peers plus more. He has been taught, loved and celebrated just as any child should be. They have regularly taken my breath away with their can-do attitude and soothed my worried heart through their zero-tolerance approach to bullying and their capacity to celebrate Oscar’s achievements as the Everest they sometimes are for our boy.

Tonight was Oscar’s Year 6 Farewell Dinner. This is a wonderful evening at the school, where the Year 5 and Year 6 students get all dressed up and have a good time.

I had been marvelling how unsentimental I’d been feeling about Oscar finishing primary school. I had put it down to the fact that Felix will still be there and Jasper is starting there next year. And then this happened:

Oscar’s Year 6 Farewell Dinner presentation from Kim at allconsuming on Vimeo.

I think it was the cheering that did it. Or maybe how he bounded up there. Who knows but once that happened I was a blubbering mess. Through the tears and snot and breaking voice I managed to get the teachers and Aides of Awesome who have taught Oscar at the school:

Our life? Full of wonderful people.

20 years

(Update on previous post: I’ve taken it down because the friend I was referring to was concerned it may somehow get back to the person and situation I was talking about. If you have no idea what I am talking about then just move on, if you do – I am reworking the post to not reference them at all but to be a general post about dealing with the difficult.)

So this weekend just gone saw 94 or so of my old classmates reunite to mark the 20 years that have passed.

It was an absolute blast.

I’ve been trying to nail why it was so exhilarating and fun and I think it is pretty simple: 5 and 10 year reunions are subconsciously competitive and all about affirmation – the career is taking off, there is a ring on the finger (or not), there are families underway (or not). By 20 years you just don’t care about that shite anymore. You’re more comfortable in your skin. Good stuff has happened, bad stuff has occurred and look! you’re still standing! Squeee!

But something far more tremendous and lovely came from it all – reconnecting with friends you never intended to lose contact with in the first place.

The other week a couple of us got together for lunch, before that I had spent those few days with K and her family. I don’t know why or what it is, but those high school years can clearly have such a massive impact on who you are that the friendships you form them can withstand years of silence to pick themselves back up as if it had only been a couple of days.

Chef does not talk about his school days. He does not keep in touch with anyone he went to school with. He hated school and was happy to see the back of it. I think that is so so sad. (It does not bother him in the slightest. Apparently.)


I on the other hand feel absolutely blessed to still have friends from school and to have re-established  contact with some of those friends this year. I realise now and appreciate just how valuable those relationships are and am just so stoked they are back in my life.

Onward!