Friday, December 19, 2008

Look out Auckland! Here we come...


This week, I helped out as the Grade One’s from H’s school visited Auckland Zoo.
Now the trip was to have happened a week ago, but had to be cancelled on account of horizontal rain and high winds that day. (Horizontal rain – where the wind is so strong it whips it onto you and under umbrellas, soaking your clothes and lashing your face. All too common in Auckland).
This zoo day, the skies were fine, and we piled into the bus.
And then I had a revelation.
NZ buses/schools obviously don’t have the same safety laws as we do in Australia. The bus could have been the one I rode, many years ago, on the bus run to Kingaroy. There was no air-conditioning, no seatbelts, no loos, and wind whipped in through the open windows. And the driver was a maniac! (I mean that in a nice way – just that he was speedy, there were many bumps, and kids (and I) almost ended up on the floor on a few occasions).
And then there was the noise. The kids were hyped. “That’s my Daddy’s work!” screamed H. on one occasion, as we careered around a corner. Then “ooooh” as we went under an overpass. And much cheering and giggling as we caught up with, and dragged, another bus. And did I mention the singing?
But we got there in super-quick time.
In true Auckland style, the minute we pulled up outside the zoo, it started raining. Luckily I’d packed coats, umbrellas and the like, and we spent the next few hours taking them off and putting them back on – Auckland is like that. One minute it’s burning hot, the next it’s pouring down.
I had forgotten how demanding it is to supervise loads of kids, and don’t remember much of the zoo at all. I think it involved multiple toilet visits and carrying lots of bags.
Still, there were some funny moments. Like when they saw their first animal, still outside the zoo gates.
“Look a rooster” they shrieked, rushing towards the terrified creature. Later, inside the zoo, we were gazing at the lions, when one of the kids shouted: “Dad! Why are the lions dead?” (They were sleeping).
And when we saw the lemurs, the whole class started singing: “I like to move it, move it” from Madagascar.
I’d love to go back to the zoo on another occasion, when it’s less-rushed and I only have to keep my eyes on two kids!
In other news, the kids finished school for the year yesterday. I felt quite teary saying goodbye to their teachers, who were so lovely and talented. It feels like only a few months ago that we were saying goodbye to their teachers in Brisbane, who were so lovely and talented … hang on, it WAS only a few months ago!
We’ve been so blessed to find a similar-style school here, where the teachers are all gifted, enthusiastic, and clearly love their jobs.
The best thing is that C. is finally reading at the level of his peers. That’s a huge achievement, because he has a reading and writing disability, and when we arrived here a few months ago, he was still only at a Grade 1 level. With the help of the school’s magical reading recovery teacher, he is now reading Grade 3 level and finally picking up books at home, and, er, READING them! You can’t imagine how proud I am! (Now we just have to work on the hand-writing.)
We also had Husband’s work Christmas party – a posh affair at the Auckland City Hall, and a chance for Grown Up Time while our French babysitter entertained the kids. I even wore heels and didn't fall over once!
Poor Husband still has a couple of days left of work, while the kids and I are officially on holiday.
All I can say is Auckland better watch out!

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