Northbridge held a family festival called O Day, a few weekends ago. It was possibly one of the best free family festivals I had been to – in terms of activities for school aged children.
There was a kooky looking vintage carousel with frozen horses that looked like they were in pain. I wasn’t too keen to sit on a horse, but my kids were in a very adventurous “Let’s try everything!” mood.
My toddler, at the last minute, was too scared to sit on a horse. So he sat inside a small plastic rabbit. I crouched next to him… and snapped some photos.
This is me, trying to look happy, while being INCREDIBLY DIZZY and suppressing THE URGE TO THROW UP. On a merry-go-round! Blergh!
My kids made monsters out of recycled materials (using a drill!), they made little clay vessels on a potters wheel (cool!), they painted landscapes in an indigenous style, scribbled some self portraits, did some crafty glue stuff, watched a man make huge balloon frogs, did a cupcake decorating activity, and went on a treasure hunt to find jigsaw puzzle magnets.
The best thing about the festival was that I felt so comfortable and confident to let my older kids (9 and 7) wander ahead of me and do activities for themselves, engaging with all the volunteers at each stall (who were all awesome).
Perhaps it’s because my bigger kids are getting older, they are getting better at talking to strangers and learning how to exchange money and goods with strangers (buying chips from a food stall) etc.
And perhaps I’m getting more relaxed and I’m prepared to stand back a whole lot more and let my kids work things out for themselves.
Having said that, I’ve been teaching my kids how to interact with strangers or people they meet.
Whether they are paying for items, or asking for information, or meeting someone for the first time. I’m coaching them to look people in the eye, talk clearly, use manners, smile, focus on what you’re doing (don’t get distracted or day dream!), and think about how to communicate your ideas clearly.
I was never really taught or coached about all this stuff as a young kid. I didn’t know how to “hold my own” until I was much older.
Growing up as an Asian kid, it was common that children weren’t supposed to speak until they were spoken to. In my day, Asian adults never talked to children like they were adults. Just wasn’t done.
Anyway, my kids were out and about all day, interacting and engaging with lots of different people in lots of different situations.
They were so independent and they held their own magnificently, I was so proud of them.
And I don’t want to push the idea too far, but when we arrived home, we placed my two big boy’s pottery creations on our kitchen counter and I was close to tearing up from seeing the beauty in the imperfections, the little fingerprints, the wonky edges, and the completely different forms… of two little, proud masterpieces.