Sapphire's school had a special assembly last week to commemorate the following events:
- Australian Book Week
- International studies - what country each class is studying
- School citizenship awards
- Academic merit certificates
- The official opening of their brand new gymnasium and
- Grandparents' Day
Apparently parents had to come too, at least according to Sapphire, who insisted that Love Chunks or I accompany my parents. My boss, Queen B, was more than happy to let me have the morning off (I think the fact that I've worn a track through our brand new carpet from my office to the kitchen might have had something to do with it) so along I went.
Whilst Sapph's class might have been studying the Netherlands ("They are really famous for Poppies, Mum!"), she opted to wear her Singapore air hostess outfit. "Mum it's from overseas and you're allowed to wear whatever country you like." Oh, fair enough I guess, and anything was preferable to having my seven year old roll her eyes at me.
Grandma, Grandpa, Sapphire and I entered her classroom where we were joined by a host of other parents/grandies and kids all decked out in costumes. Lucinda came over shyly, dressed in a large white shirt and a groovy hat. "Hi Lu, are you from Holland?"
"Oh, of course you are. That was going to be my next guess." Sapphire rolled her eyes for the second time that morning.
Two hours later and the walls of the gymnasium were pressing down on me, threatening to knock me out. How long was this school assembly going to go on for? The usual comparisons between children and the elderly were all too obvious: it took an hour for each class to fill excitedly in, sit down, keep still and be constantly shooed off and reminded by teachers to make room for the next class. It is a constant feature of humanity, isn't it - no-one moves to the far end of the bus/room/hall/row, causing a slow-moving, frustrating log jam that only moves in slow, inch-long shuffles.
For the first hour I was amused by the costumes in the crowd. The year sixes were studying Ireland which would have been fairly easy for parents to help organise a costume for. Lots of green netball skirts, silky soccer tops and showbag hats. One girl, however, was wearing two oval pieces of cardboard sprinkled with dots. She was a potato. Of course.
The winner of the 'most considerate classmate' made a rather imposing (but miniscule) figure as he clambered up the dias in his Darth Vader costume. Perhaps the Death Star was included as an overseas country in his estimation. Alternatively, there were a few spidermans, supermans (complete with inbuilt muscle padding) and many glittery fairies - clearly indicating that some outfits were chosen using the parallel universe reasoning.
Two hours of seeing kids awkardly get to their feet, clamber through their class mates and up to the stage before receiving their award, pausing to slowly and loudly say "THANK YOU" into the principal's microphone and find a spot on the dais before the next award recipient was read out had my Dad wonder aloud, "Geez, there are more kids with awards than there are sitting down watching them!" The tired folk around us muttered in agreement and I admired everyone's restraint in not screaming out "Hurry this UP for CHRISSAKES!"
Sapphire remained in the audience, her blonde bob a rather easy little head to identify, and it was not without a fair chunk of pride that I noted that she did a reasonable job of looking straight ahead and keeping still. Far better than I could manage. The librarian, labouring with a nasal infection, personality by-pass and any discernible communication skills, droned on about the book award winners, removing any shred of interest in the literature for the cross-legged children and suffering adults in the audience. I shifted from one foot to the other, cursing my ability to run or walk for ages but not stand still for longer than five minutes before my back started to complain. The gym was getting stuffy and the air was rapidly being filled with morning breath, hot socks and sly farts.
"Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me please....." I just had to get out before I fell over and caused my daughter more embarassment than a mere roll of the eyes could cover. Ten minutes of apologetically rubbing my rack up against the backs of strangers finally found me outside, gulping down the chilly air with great relief. "Hey MillyMoo," whispered another mother, hurriedly stepping on her cigarette butt. "Are you going to stay for their recorder solos?"
"Errhm, I don't think I'll able to manage that. Gotta get back to work or there'll be hell to pay, you know how it is....." Thank god for Mum and Dad - they were welcome to stand through an ear shattering rendition of 'Hot Cross Buns' (in August) ; I'd rather wait in the classroom wiping yesterday's anzac biscuit mixture from the kids' plastic chairs.