And just after the swimming award we have been issued with a Primary Ballet exam notice…
Now Georgia has not always been very keen on going to ballet.
Although she is a natural dancer with a completely natural sense of rhythm, she has on many occasions moaned and groaned (yes there has even been tears) about going to ballet.
However, once she’s in, she loves it, and she comes out asking to come back again. (You know the saying, children know what they want not what they need?)
So anyway, realising she has to do these Ballet exams, her first reaction is.
G: No, I don’t want to do them
Me: Are you sure? You’ll get a certificate just like the one for swimming…
G: Really ? (her eyes opening wide, at the thought)
Me: Yeah sure.
G: Oh, OK then.
So there we are….Primary Ballet exam – bring it on!!!
Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve started reflecting a little bit more about what I remember from my ‘growing up’ years and how Georgia’s experiences are.
The phrase ‘Hard Reading-ers’ that Georgia dropped in to conversation yesterday morning, just before school, made me reflect about how and when I first realised that academic achievement was or rather had to be an important goal. I actually remember the exact moment the realisation occurred.
It was in Standard 3, I was nine, I was walking up wooden steps in the ‘old’ block of my primary school, Convent Pulau Tikus, Penang, Malaysia. It wasn’t as if, prior to that, I didn’t know about results and Report Books or that I did not know we had tests to take. I suppose prior to that, it never bothered me, luckily I suppose, because good results came fairly easily. Perhaps because, thankfully, my parents didn’t quite make an issue out of it.
Anyway, I digress (this is a blog about Parenting Georgia!) what I wondered really was, how aware she was of what she was capable of (in terms of academics), and whether this had any bearing on the things or work she had done in school.
She has never felt the need to tell me about what other children are doing in school, or in particular how able they are in their learning, but what I have noticed is that several of her little friends have commented on her reading books, and they have asked, how come she gets different, (harder) ones.
Clearly (or it seems clear to me) from these types of comments, they are quite aware of how they are compared with their peers (self-comparisons?), although I have never noticed this with Georgia, I do wonder why? Yet, perhaps it’s because we do so much with her that it’s a given, the work from school is going to be easy, and our conversations on her school experience focus mainly on the social aspects of it. Who did you sit with at lunch time? What games did you play? Learning questions, are always secondary or maybe even tertiary :).
I wonder if someone will come along and point out, that my realisation of results and academics equate to a ‘loss of childhood’. I am most certain that was not the case though, as the thing that struck me most was, all it did was ignite a hugely competitive fire, I HAD to have straight As, bar Art, PE and Chinese.
Do you remember your first important realisations? Have they affected you or the way you parent?
This morning as we were getting ready for school, we had this conversation.
G: James said that all the Hard Readingers have to go to the front.
Me: What is Hard Readingers? And where is ‘front’?
G: Hard Readingers are the people who read hard books, loh (Hokkien accent). We have to go to the front at Assembly.
So apparently, Georgia is a Hard Readinger. I suppose if they knew, she would also be a Hard Math-er, Hard Cello-er, Hard Writer (that one’s correct ;)) and we would be Hard Demanders!
If the saying ‘You are what you read’ is true, and a large part of me firmly believes so, I am seriously worried about the reading books that are being sent home from school; Georgia’s school and I imagine hundreds of other schools around the country.
If I digress a bit, and generalise an awful lot, and very much through an immigrant’s eyes, Britain and the British are well known as a country of ‘moaners’. They admit it themselves, everything and anything is always ‘dark and gloom’.
In fact, I have a lovely lovely sweet neighbour who is a lovely chap except everytime I’ve ever spoken to him, he complains about something, or other, usually the weather, which he has absolutely no control over! Nothing is ever right.
Anyway, back to those dreaded reading books. Georgia’s reading books from school are from the Oxford Reading Tree series. They’ve been around a while, I gather and I suppose in itself, from an educational perspective, they are fairly well written with step-wise developments on words with progressively more words per page.
What I just can’t get over are the stories and how depressingly negative they are! Bif, Chip and Kipper along with Wilf and Wilma, are on the whole pretty interesting characters (well, as interesting as pen-drawn characters can get). But the things they get up to and the conversations they have though are enough to make me want to slit my wrists! (No kidding!)
Take for example, the latest story Georgia brought home. It’s called At the Seaside.
The words of the story go like this:
The family went on holiday. Wilf and Wilma went, too.
The hotel had burned down. ‘Sorry’ said the man.
They looked at a new hotel. ‘Too expensive,’ said Mum.
They looked at an old hotel. ‘No, thank you,’ said Dad.
Every hotel was full. ‘Sorry!’ said everyone.
They had to go home. But the car broke down.
A farmer stopped his tractor. ‘Can I help?’ he said.
The farmer had a bus. ‘You can stay here,’ he said.
‘What a good holiday!’ said Wilf.
Copyrights OUP 1989
At least this book ends in a slightly more positive note, but really, surely it’s not necessary for children to have such a depressingly negative start. I must add, though, even in the books with slightly perkier or funnier stories, they typically end with ‘Oh no!’
Do you think these (infant and primary school) 5-year old’s reading books could have been a significant contributing factor to how ‘negative’ (again, gross generalisation here!) British society has become?
You know how it is, you try to do about 5 (gazillion!) things at once, limited by having only one pair of eyes. As Georgia was trying to get me to watch her attempt skating she half shouts at me
G: Mum, look at me!
Me: Ok (My eyes still glued to the browser on my phone! – Haven’t they said iPhones are evil?!)
G: Mum, look at me now!
Me: Mmmm…ok (not yet looking)
G: I tell you, PUT AWAY THAT PHONE, it is NOT IMPORTANT. It’s much more important to look at me, not at the phone!
Georgia came home with a homework sheet on Monday. In it, she was supposed to draw what she wanted to be or do when she grew up.
This was what she drew.
I know Obstetrician is a big word for a 5-year old’s vocabulary, but it’s very specific, she’s not interested in doctor-ing children, just babies, particularly helping mummies with their babies being born.
As we rushed back from school, to change in to a fabulous Belle princess outfit complete with tiara and dressy heels, foremost on Georgia’s mind was – are there going to be balloons at the party?
As I tried to distract her with the need to get ready, I also mentioned that we had discussed it before we confirmed our attendance that even if there were balloons, if she wanted to go, I would take her and if she wanted to leave we would.
And so it was, hindered by potentially globophobia (fear of balloons) or more likely the fear of balloons popping, ligyrophobia; pretty Princess Belle, sat pretty much glued to me, with her hands covering her ears the entire 30 minutes we were there at the party, while everyone else was running around with the balloons.
Georgia wasn’t always afraid of balloons, we actually had quite a fun time with a balloon drop on her 2nd birthday, which I think was also about the same time the fear developed, having heard balloons pop, up close.
Thinking about it further, it does seem to me, that we shall have to get some balloons to play with at home, if only to show Georgia gradually that, they really only make a loud noise and nothing much else.
Having said that, I’ve never been a big fan of balloons myself, I remember only touching balloons, or playing with them if they were blown up way less than the maximum, where the little ‘bump’ on the tip was still significantly visible, if only to convince myself that the balloon wasn’t stretched to breaking point.
How ‘transferable’ are our fears on to our children? Given that I no longer fear balloons popping, but did for quite a long while, although not after Georgia came along .
Have you had to deal with this or any other type of seemingly irrational fear, in yourself or your children? What has worked best?
Georgia has been trying and trying (top marks for persistence) to get us to give her some money for tuck (malaysian equivalent: canteen snacks). I’m at pains to do that, purely because it costs 40p for a snack which might otherwise cost 10p.
My take on that is that, if she needed a lesson in spending money, she could do it without ‘donating’ to the school.
Having said that, this morning, at 6.30am when her little voice piped out, “Please can I have tuck?” She was quite shocked, when I said “Yes”.
And then she tried a little bit more:
G: So you’ll give me money for tuck?
Me: Uh huh.
G: How about if you give me ALL your money?
Me: What would I do then? I need money too.
G: You can go and work and get some more money.
Me: How about if you start doing some work too, and then you can get some money too?
G: (thought for a while and then said) OK, I can work too.
Me: OK. You could draw and write some stories and we could sell those stories?
G: Oh no! … I want to just do work like you. Just e-mail and all that….
Ssshhh…the secret’s out now. I get paid to just email! 😉
When Georgia was 2, we joined a gymnastics class, now this wasn’t just a baby gym class, it was the real deal, a proper competing gym team. It was here that I first heard of ‘mouth’. Coach S, said to me, ‘Mouth – they start really young, especially girls, and it doesn’t stop!’.
I was confused ‘mouth’? I found out she meant was ‘answering back’, the instant, uncalled for spouting off. I didn’t believe it then, 5 – 6 year olds, answering back?! Little did I know… Read more »