reconnecting after school

February 3, 2013

family life

5-52 2013 - 1

We live a ten  minute stroll from school. It quite often takes us a half hour or more to walk home.

I’m blessed to have a job that allows me to pick-up my children from school four days of the week. I’m so very mindful of reconnecting with my children at the end of the school day. Whilst mornings and evenings can be rushed, I like the afternoons to be in slow motion. ‘Walking with’ and taking time is so very important.

The boys like to connect with their friends after school. they play handball or soccer in the school courtyard. I never hurry them. Sometimes I’m able to catch up with other parents or have a chat with the teacher-librarian. The boys like to run around the school oval enjoying the space to themselves.

The eldest boy does parkour on the seats, railings, fences, and walls. I admire his balance and nimbleness as I wince and catch myself saying “be careful”, to which he says “Always am Mum” with a wry smile.  Whenever we are out and I can’t see him, I just look up, he’s the kid walking along the top of the soccer goals, or up a tree or a lightpost.

We walk home slowly. The boys can talk about their day, or not.

The youngest boy likes to pick the flowers that are spilling out onto the footpath from people’s gardens, “for you Mum”. My middle boy, the live-in-his-head boy whom I have to frequently remind that he needs four hugs per day for survival, slips his hand into mine and we hold hands as we walk.

I’m frequently carrying their school bags as they run back and forth playing games on the footpath. The first one to the next letter box “gets the cake”, a pretend game that one of them made up years ago. They hide in bushes to scare me as I walk past, the bushes wiggling and giggling as I approach. We say g’day to other people in the neighbourhood, people walking their dogs or watering their gardens.

We walk in the heat and the rain. This week it rained and the boys and a friend floated leaves and sticks on the water flowing in the gutters. Two boys refused the umbrella I offered them because they wanted to get wet. The youngest opening his mouth to catch raindrops on his tongue as he walked.

This time is like a great big sigh. I’m always amazed at how much life the boys can squeeze out of the walk home from school.

And when we finally get home we have afternoon tea together to connect at a deeper level. Sometimes this time is heavy and silent, sometimes it’s so chattery it makes my head spin. I hold whatever space they need.

And then they go off, on their separate ways or together, for more play or to do homework, for an hour or more, before we have to get ready for soccer training, kung fu, or futsal.

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Penrith has a farmers market once per month. We’d never been, so on this rainy and cold Saturday (14 degrees celsius in summer!) we went down to have a look. When I saw the carrots I was taken back to my childhood and my heart was a-flutter – dirty carrots with the tops on them. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Kalamatta olive sourdough. Fruit spelt bread. Saltbush lamb. Simple food that feeds the soul and the body. We went home and I made bruschetta for lunch to my children’s delight. Then for dinner, we had saltbush lamb, kipfler potatoes, dutch carrots, jap pumpkin, and green beans. The boys declared it was the “best dinner we’ve ever had”. The boys who normally despise shopping are keen to go to the next farmer’s market. They loved the personal nature of the market, being able to talk to the stallholders about their product, and the food was so much tastier.

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About hakea

groupworker, parent educator, therapist, mother of three boys.

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8 Comments on “reconnecting after school”

  1. Artful abuela Says:

    dinner sounded yummy and time spent with your children… priceless!

    Reply

    • hakea Says:

      Hi AA

      Now I want to get a raised garden bed so I can grow carrots and potatoes too. But what I’m really hankering to do is get some trombone gramma seeds to make gramma pie just like my Nanna used to make. When I mention gramma pie no-one knows what I’m talking about.

      Reply

  2. Geoff Ferguson Says:

    Thanks for sharing those precious times with us. OK, what is gramma pie?
    Geoff

    Reply

    • hakea Says:

      Hi Geoff

      Trombone gramma is a type of pumpkin, but the flesh is really orange. My Nan made the best gramma pie (but I’ve never actually tasted gramma pie made by anyone else). It was a sweet pie, and I suspect she put a little sweetened condensed milk in it. She was a country cook (Inverell NSW). I never thought to get her recipe but there are a few recipes on the internet. Here is one http://www.recipelover.com.au/recipe.asp?id=1608, but my Nan never put sultanas in it.

      My grandparents also loved sarsparilla soft drink. Another northern NSW tradition.

      Reply

  3. Hazel M. Wheeler Says:

    Ah, what a sweet moment! We also walk to school, rain or shine… it is such a gift to live so close and to get that time together. Before school, it’s a time to talk about the day and what it will bring, Kiddo’s opinions on the matter— before he goes off to chase his friends round the playground. After school, it’s a time for his imagination to let loose on me: all his adventures and stories pour forth, sometimes right up to the front door of home. We notice the different signs of the season, too; ice on the ground or a hummingbird with its weird electronic tweets and trills. Our witch hazel has just bloomed and the crocuses are finally emerging– I think we’d miss these little treats in a car, eh??

    You are creating something rich with your boys, something they will always remember. Can I say, it’s so satisfying to read posts like this. The farmers market too….perhaps one day years from now your boys will see those same dirty carrots with tops on and say to themselves “there was that day, so long ago, when we went to the Farmer’s Market”… Memories are the best gifts. Thanks for this!

    Carrots are splendidly easy to grow, by the way.
    (oh, and sarsparilla soda? so tasty!)

    Reply

    • hakea Says:

      Hi Hazel

      We don’t get to do the walk to school very often. We have to drive past the school to go to work and it’s too much of a rush in the morning. But, I leave work five minutes early so I can park at home and walk up to school. I was running late this afternoon, so I drove straight to school. The boys wanted to know why we weren’t walking. I didn’t rush them and we were still the last family out of the school. Yes, you do miss so much driving.

      The Farmers Market is going to be a regular outing, the boys enjoyed it so much. We are already trying to figure out how we can attend the Farmers Market and get three boys to their soccer games on a Saturday (renamed Soccerday). I used to grow carrots when I was a kid, but now I have three cheeky canines who think it is their life’s purpose to disturb anything I try to grow, so I want to get a corrugated iron raised garden bed that are very trendy (in Australia) these days.

      As always, thank you for your heart-felt comments.

      Reply

  4. An Everyday Story Says:

    Your boys truly will remember these moments with such love when they are older. Such a special time and you retell it so beautifully. Something as simple as walking home can be stressful or life-giving like you have decided to make it here.

    We adore the famers’ markets too. Jack and I spend this time together. I love watching him look over all the produce asking about this and that. He chats with the honey lady every week and always gets free apples from the apple lady. It’s so lovely.

    Reply

  5. hakea Says:

    Hi Kate

    Good to see you.

    I’ve always walked them home from school and it’s my favourite part of the day. I feel sad for the folks who can’t pick up their kids or who rush off home.

    You’re lucky to have a farmers market every week. We’re hooked. I’m packing the raw vegies into our lunchboxes for school and work. Sublime!

    Reply

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