School Update

April 13, 2006 – 7:00 pm

In the past month or more I’ve been working hard on making sure William had a good experience at school. I talked to his teachers to make sure that they were keeping their eyes open for bullying (and to ensure that they knew I had very high standards for them and for the school). I got involved in the schoool board’s charter discussion, doing the bulk of the writing of the new vision and mission statements. And I spent a lot of time at the school.

Every interval (recess) and lunch time, I would be at the school with a frisbee or pack of cards. I got to see the kids, make a few friends among them (and the teachers), and to watch W. During that time, I also slept out with him in the tent at the school camp, and lead the kids in dodgeball games. The time at the camp seemed to help William a lot, and since then he’s been a lot more settled with his friends at school. We’ve made efforts to have some of them over, and they’ve got to know William as a real kid with parents and toys and not just as a new kid with a funny accent.

So, end result is that there’s no longer death talk and we’re a bit more upbeat. I haven’t felt the need to go to the school every day lately, and W has the bounce back in his step. It’s good that he’s come right–since my sister came back, there’s been a lot of contention for the three cars our collective families have, and it’s been difficult to get to Leigh. I’m hoping to get the car situation sorted (probably through the addition of a small second-hand car) so I can play cards with the kids during winter at lunchtime.

In other news, it’s feijoa season here. Feijoas are delicious tart sweet fruit. They have tough brown skins that mean they don’t rot the instant they hit the ground. Eating them is as simple as scooping out the insides with a teaspoon. They’re the perfect fruit. And we have hundreds of them. Only five small trees, but they produce … and produce … and produce. As Dad said, anyone with a feijoa tree starts the season with spoon in hand eagerly waiting for the first to drop, but two weeks in you’re carrying buckets of them around hoping to find strangers to give them to. But next season, you’ve got the spoon in hand again …

So Jenine took charge of the situation and decided that she (in her role of Pioneer Woman) would preserve them. So she’s been making feijoa jam for the last week. Every day. Sometimes as many as three or four batches a day. Each batch has to be small, because there’s a lot of simmering to boil off the water content and large batches would never get rid of all the water (same surface area, more volume). But still the feijoas come, a bag and a half a day. As she carried in two bags yesterday, she declared, “the feijoas are winning!”

We’ve taken to scooping out the insides and freezing them. Presumably there’ll come a day in the future when we can stand to see another feijoa (or boiling saucepan) again, and at that point we can figure out what to do with them.

Boiling’s not the only activity the stove has seen lately. Jenine’s been making bread, and when William asked me to bake something with him, we made scones. Actually, Raley and I made the scones, but we followed William’s directions (reading from the mandatory-issue-in-NZ-kitchens Edmonds Cookbook). William’s reading is nothing short of astounding. He spends 10-15 minutes a night just reading ahead in the Tintin comic, and he just powered through the recipe (even pronounced “knead” correctly!!!). This year’s teacher is really good with him, and has given him extra homework to help him drill his reading and writing. It’s paying off.

Not that his sister is a slouch. Jenine’s been playing Zoophonics with Raley, and she can now figure out (from first phonics principles) how to spell words like “swim” and “drop”. Of course, she’d be knackered by “knead”, but she is only four! And sharp as a tack with it. William told me today that he’d had something to eat at Grandpa’s, but couldn’t tell me what it was because Raley would get jealous. Raley said, “it’s okay, William, I know you had chocolate.” What?! Did you hear us? “No, I just figured it out in my head.” Oh yeah? What kind of chocolate? “Twix.” She has Holmesian powers of deduction.

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