Category Archives: East Cobb Expat

Snowmaggedon – Tales from the ‘hood

The snow event-  pretty if at home

The snow event- pretty if at home

If you don’t know about our little ‘snow event’ in the ATL  (formerly known as Hotlanta-  new name pending)  you must be living under a rock. Or not residing  in America, although I know it has hit the news internationally as several Aussie friends have posted screen shots from the local news to my Facebook wall.

There will be many stories written,  because there are so many to tell. It was  almost the perfect clusterf#ck*.

Picture this

Atlanta a city of endless suburban sprawl, 6 million residents, no public transport system to suburbia, no winterization of roads or cars (because it NEVER** snows) , sends EVERYONE – schools, businesses and government employees, home the same 30 minute time slot on a road system that already has one of the worst reputations in the country, experiences snow that drops 2-3 inches everywhere in below freezing conditions and pretty much turns immediately to ice on the roadways.

The result – mayhem, that included too many car accidents to count, children stranded overnight on school busses and in schools, people sheltering in service stations, supermarkets, cars and homes of friends and strangers, commutes of up to 18 hours and many abandoned vehicles, giving the producers of the Walking Dead and anyone planning on filming the next post apocalyptic movie some free perfectly staged shots.

When the lady slammed into the back of my car after failing to stop on ice that was barely there, a mere 20 minutes after it had started snowing and 200 metres from home (after I had taken a cheeky trip to the supermarket less than a mile away to stock up for Snowpocalypse) I called my husband perched in his office watching car accidents happen out the window and told him to not come home. Stay in the office overnight, we didn’t need two damaged cars, or worse.

It was then that our neighbourhood sprang into action. Our ‘hood that I often make fun of for it’s Home Owners Association rules and regulations, welcome cookies and being more manicured than Wisteria Lane amongst other things is really a genuine caring community that dived head first into assistance mode.

There are many amazing stories from all over Atlanta, these are a few from our ‘hood.

At least 20 people stopped to offer assistance to the young lady and myself who were perched in our cars precariously close to the neighborhood entrance. After being able to get off the main road, her car was unable to be driven – cue neighbours walking down the hill and pushing her car deep into our ‘hood for safety purposes.

Gee, you’ve got a lot of friends she said.

Just a lot of super friendly, helpful neighbours I replied.

One of the car pushers insisted on waiting with me, until the Police had established due to a State of Emergency they wouldn’t be coming and we had concluded Insurance company reporting and other formalities. Thank you again Adam.

Just a little bit later when it became clear the hill outside our enclave was becoming impassable they went out by foot to help push cars and offer assistance to weary drivers deciding it was too late, dark and icy to get home.

Other’s with 4×4’s were heading out into the night to rescue those abandoning cars and bringing them home over the icy roads.

Our neighbourhood clubhouse, generally the location of birthday parties, book

Food arriving by the minute at the clubhouse

Food arriving by the minute at the clubhouse

club and Bunko nights was thrown open to keep stranded motorists warm, dry and safe.  There was a constant stream of people arriving with sleeping bags, blankets, food, drinks and toiletries to make those inside comfortable for the duration.

When it appeared there may be excess people to couches they just started taking them to their houses – total strangers, come on over. It was happening all over Atlanta, quite amazing.

The next morning people were quickly out to the road to find anyone newly stuck or who may have arrived later and direct them inside for bathroom relief, steaming coffee and breakfast casseroles.***

One woman had high heels on and didn’t want to leave the car for fear of slipping on the ice. No problem, the guy hiked home and took a pair of his wife’s flats back to the car and escorted her safely down the hill. S is now down a pair of shoes but to a great cause!

Abandoned vehicles on the road outside the 'hood

Abandoned vehicles on the hill outside the ‘hood

I was out taking photos and an acquaintance was walking past checking on her husband’s car. We had just heard one of our neighbours, with three under 5 and a husband away was nearly out of formula for her baby, she offered as it was on her way, to go and check if the supermarket was open and buy the formula (if not much left) and put it behind the counter or bring it back. For someone she didn’t even know.

Sometime mid afternoon my husband arrived home from a night on the office floor, no couches there either, and transitioned directly into a snowball fight with the kids.

Spot the snowball

Spot the snowball

Later that day the same neighbour, now with a fed baby, accidentally locked herself out of the house while stepping out to check on her bigger boys and their snow activities. Cue operation house break. I now know a local B&E team that includes an antipodean 7 year old who can make the climb in the window if you need. Doing her heritage proud declared another cheeky bystander. (I do have a photo but I don’t want to give away the identities or the point of entry)

The day was winding down and we just had one guest left at the clubhouse who was waiting for her husband to pick her up. She told us his name was Leonardo Di Caprio. We felt it was unlikely there was more than one around. Further investigation  discovered that while she had been taking shelter with us during the day, she wasn’t really sure where she was from or where she should be going. Earlier conversations had been put down to extreme tiredness and disorientation from being overnight in her car. A group of ladies stayed with her for a little while and attempted to calmly get some more information that could lead us to calling someone who would be missing her. Sadly, we were unable to so we called for professional assistance and the excellent first responder teams arrived and took her to at least overnight safety in hospital.  I have been wondering about her all day. I hope she and her family have been reunited.

The end result of such an action packed 36 hour period  can surely only be a wine party at someone’s house, so when the Bus Mother’s WhatsApp group buzzed with such an invitation that included hot chocolate for the under 21’s we were quick to accept. About 10 bottles of wine, several bottles of beer later it was time for bed which I gratefully crawled into.

I was just having a warm and fuzzy feeling about our caring and sharing neighbourhood when they went and cancelled school again tomorrow.  Safety first I guess…….

*technical term for when many things go wrong at once

**never being once every two to three years where anything hits the ground and sticks

***so much more on the American love of casseroles later

Advertisements

Swim Team

Don’t do it!

Do it!

It’s awful, you will be SOOOO glad when its over!

It’s great, they will be soooo much better at it by the time its over!

Everyone gets a ribbon, no matter where they come!

The excessive exclamation marks are warranted because everyone I discussed it with had a strong opinion and they were all heartfelt.

I may have mentioned 77 days of summer vacation already. While Phineas and Ferb thought ‘their generation’ was the one deciding how to spend it, I can assure them that their parents also had to get out their thinking caps, their wallets and more cleverly their calendars – in about January.

Failing that, those of us that are less organised, not heading elsewhere for three months, new to the extremely lengthy summer holiday season for school age peoples of the USA, or ALL of the above, need to scramble to take the scraps of what’s left activity wise or enter those that accept enrollments when the ground has thawed and there are birds singing in the trees.

Swim team was one such activity. As an Aussie girl who wanted to see the swimming tradition passed to the next generation it seemed a great fit. Six weeks of 45mins a day per age group. Why couldn’t it go on all holidays I wondered? Why only six weeks?  Sounds great on paper, until the information that they train not all the same time but in a consecutive fashion. Read the fine print Nikki. Sadly too  late to fix the three and a half year age gap between Ms 6 (aka WASYO) and Mr 10.

Poolside daily 8.30-11am gets you these tan lines

Poolside daily 8.30-11am gets you these tan lines

Then there were the Swim Meets. A once a week reminder of the reason we were all there – a six hour extravaganza where all kids regardless of their abilities get the opportunity to swim a lap or two or four of our or another neighbhourhood pool with their parents and coaches cheering them onto victory – or just lap completion, whatever worked better for them. The theory is beautiful, the reality hot, humid, filled with volunteering pitfalls and swim parents* aplenty.

Heres the thing about swim meets – there are about 650** children from age 5-18 (most in the lower age groups) and their parents and coaches all packed onto the pool deck of a neighbourhood pool.  These pools are not Olympic swim meet certified, they are not designed for this kind of activity. Most of these kids / tweens and teens swim between three and six races EACH between 6pm and 10pm on a weeknight in summer.***

What the pool deck looks like during a swim meet - this one an 'away' meet when the away team gets the sunny side of the pool, lucky!

What the pool deck looks like during a swim meet – this one an ‘away’ meet when the away team gets the sunny side of the pool, lucky!

In summertime the temperature in Georgia peaks between 5-7pm. Just so you know, it is impossible to look any kind of reasonable at a swim meet and that’s before you start your three hour shift managing the 6 and under ‘bullpen’. The bullpen manager is responsible for ensuring that not one of the sugar fueled swimmers, did I mention the concession stand ‘Oh, they’re swimming they can have some treats’ (I’m guilty too),  leaves the proscribed location for the duration of the event, and gets the relevant swimmers to their relevant heats in reasonable time before they swim.

Before the first meet someone told me not to wear a dress or skirt, it was good advice – all the sweat ran straight into my shorts so at least I looked like I had an accident in my pants as opposed to it all running down my legs and looking like something else. Not kidding. I was not alone, every other volunteer parent, same thing. Someone should have tipped me off to wear a sweat band too. I am thinking of getting some printed for next year, or my head shaved, or both.****

Six weeks, five swim meets – six really if you count the washed out one that had to be continued after we waited for one hour and ten minutes in the pouring rain because you have to be out of the water for 30 minutes after each incidence of thunder.

We made it and we have the many many ribbons and one 9 & 10 Boys most improved medal to prove it. Yay us!

Swim team booty!

Swim team booty!

I also have the perfect crowd control item for my kids – if they misbehave I threaten to wear my ‘swim team pin’ (its a badge to me) in a public place, it came in my swim team photo pack, I had no idea but it works a charm.

Behaviour control badge

Behaviour control badge

See y’all next year, maybe….

* As part of my ongoing identification of new opportunities for reality television shows in the US – which there are MANY, I am currently working on a proposal for ‘Swim parents’. Please treat this accordingly as a copyright notice. My idea, thanks.

**OK its probably really only 100 but it FEELS like many many more

*** Even thought the swim meet starts at 6pm you have to be there by 4.30pm to enable warm ups, volunteer job distribution and ‘sugaring up’ of the kids in advance of the 6pm kick off.

**** Someone obviously had tipped my husband off as he was out of town for five of the six events – out of town completely.

Summertime

Summertime and the living is easy hot, humid and one very long school holiday break – or vacation as they say here in Hotlanta, USA.

There’s a 104 days of Summer Vacation,
And school comes along just to end it.
So the annual problem for our generation,
Is finding a good way to spend it.

So starts the Phineas and Ferb song that rattles around my head as I panic about the weeks ahead and how to fill them.

Thankfully there are not quite 104 days ONLY 77 phew.

Like maybe …
Building a rocket,
or fighting a mummy,
or climbing up the Eiffel Tower.

Discovering something that doesn’t exist,
or giving a monkey a shower.
Surfing tidal waves,
Creating nanobots,
Or locating Frankenstein’s brain.

Finding a dodo bird,
Painting a continent,
Or driving our sister insane.

In our house we only need one brother to drive one sister insane or the other way around as the case may be.

Come August 7th, which frankly although I may enjoy the first few weeks of the school holidays, I will be willing to arrive quickly with various fibres of my being, I will have a fifth grader and a first grader returning for their second American school year experience.

Between today and August 7th when they depart at 7.24am on the yellow school bus to resume their scholastic activities, they shall be known as a ‘rising 5th grader’ and a ‘rising 1st grader’. I only hope they rise to the occasion and get along for the intervening weeks.

Today is of course a whole lot more exciting if this is it – finito – you are done with the school years that the government and generally your parents think you should undertake for a basic level of educational instruction.  You will be a High School Graduate and good on you for all those years of undertaking learning with various levels of enthusiasm.

As with all things American I am finding this requires special celebratory activities. Not the least of which is widespread acknowledgement of your achievement of graduation by your micro community, the set of streets you live in, known in these parts as your neighbourhood.

I present to you the Class of 2013 High School graduates as seen on every street corner of our corner of East Cobb.*

Big community -all those babysitters heading off to college

Big community -all those babysitters heading off to college

Floodlit for the night time driving crowd

Floodlit for the night time driving crowd

IMG_3208

IMG_3207

Clever - listing high school and college grads on the same banner

Clever – listing high school and college grads on the same banner

Did Steven's parents forget to send in his name or just wanted to go big?

Did Steven’s parents forget to send in his name or just wanted to go big?

Some recycling for next year here and then an individual wall poster for the basement

Some recycling for next year here and then an individual wall poster for the basement

Simple - clever! Enviro friendly

Simple – clever, enviro friendly

Mixing it up

Mixing it up – different high schools and college grads

Questions

Is this America wide or just our little corner?

What happens if you don’t get into College – lots of focus seems to be on where to next? Don’t you wish just one said
Bar tending and surfing for a year
with accompanying picture of a long board or is that just me?

With the exception of a couple of clever recyclers, what happens to these banners after they are used? Do they get cut up and shared by all?

But you just can’t help get caught up in it all. As I left on my walk/run this morning I came across my neighbour decking her home with balloons to celebrate her high schooler’s graduation. Decorations in the colour of the college you will attend is apparently traditional. It was hard not to feel pleased and excited for her and all those thousands of dollars of college education coming her way.**

Georgia bulldog to be

Georgia bulldog to be

Then I went past our own school on my loop, car park was overflowing due to the Grade 5 graduation going on inside –

Reminder - not even a full day....

Reminder – not even a full day….

Last year of elementary school round these parts

Last year of elementary school round these parts

I guess I have 12 months to find out where to buy car crayons

See next photo

Speaks for itself

Speaks for itself

I guess I have 12 months to find out where to buy car crayons.

* These photos were taken from the road on my run this morning (except the night shot – taken on my walk Monday night to the supermarket) on main roads, I didn’t jump a fence, step in a garden or leave the footpath to take any of these.

** I asked her if I could take a photo to record the moment and she was happy for me to do so.

The other side of the world, the other side of the road

Recently, over twenty five years since I sat my first drivers license road test as a nervous 17 year old, I sat another one, this one on the other side of the road as a more nervous 40-ish type. They might call it the right side here, but as far as I am concerned from twenty five years and three countries of residence all requiring forward motion on the left hand side of the road – its the wrong side for me.

It turns out that eight months after I arrived here in the Peach State and four months before the cut off for driving in Georgia on an international license (thank you Hong Kong) I have achieved the equivalent of driving ambidexterity – in fact I am a little put out that my license doesn’t specifically state that.

Seems you can teach an old dog new tricks.

GeorgiaDL

Certain information has been covered for security purposes and to save you from my many chins –      NOT PRETTY

I am even more disturbed that it includes a section for height, weight and eye colour, well I don’t mind about the eyes and height.  I now understand and appreciate the many Facebook and Twitter New Year’s resolutions that in January that said something like ‘I resolve to weigh what it says on my drivers license’ . I took that as the OK to fudge a pound or two or you know twenty because I really am not used to the whole world of pounds. Have I mentioned I think the US should move to the metric system so we can work in numbers under 100 when we are discussing weight issues? If not, consider it done.

The wait was semi deliberate. Americans who move to Georgia have 30 days to get their new license, they of course don’t need to sit two tests – written and behind the wheel. They just front up with several piles of residence proving documents, wait their three hours in the DDS queue and then get their new shiny, peachy license. We had to provide relevant visas and documents in our possession, of course, plus some that were not in our possession, nor available to us on our current visas. Cue the American favourite – lawyers – correct we had to get lawyers involved to get our drivers licenses.

In the beginning of my driving journey here it was often tricky, a bit headachy and there were one or two moments with vocal small people trapped with me inside a moving vehicle when

  • I thought a driverless car was overtaking me
  • Wincing when making a left hand turn across traffic, even though in theory I can see all the oncoming traffic I still can’t shake the feeling that a car will t-bone me from behind in the left hand lane
  • A casual walk by of the the front passenger side of the vehicle just to check everything was OK, not at all because I thought it was the drivers side
  • Actually opening the front passenger door to get in to drive place something important in there before proceeding to drivers side
  • Getting into the passenger side, you know, just for the sake of it, to see what’s going on (just once)

That’s all before we talk about the centre / center suicide turning lane. This in theory is a turninglanebrilliant invention as a middle lane between the left and right hand side of the road that a car from EITHER SIDE of the road can enter while waiting to make a turn to a side road or driveway not at a major intersection. This ensures that traffic can continue to flow freely on both sides of the road and is not held up by a car waiting to turn on a busy road. However – it is possible to have a head on collision totally legally in the ‘turning’ lane. Some of these lanes are two lanes wide – you can imagine I try to avoid where possible.

So I thought it was prudent to wait a few months to familiarise myself with the local traffic ways before I took my own on the road testing. I was gratified that I was not discriminated against and the DDS also made me wait three hours after my pre-booked appointment time to conduct said testing.

Now I may no longer have my NSW drivers license but I have two current and valid drivers licenses and one has a picture of  a peach on it.

Bus stops, ANZAC biscuits and a new friend

When we arrived six months ago our neighbours showered us with gifts.  Giant chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, sidewalk chalk, colouring in books and pencils and a book about South Africa that was 20 years old (that gift from a neighbour who was cleaning out her basement and had misheard the part about us being Australian but having moved from South Africa).

This is the actual giant chocolate chip cookie we received

This is the actual giant chocolate chip cookie we received

You name it, they bought it to our door with their best wishes and curiosity about who exactly it was that was now in the house that had lain empty for so long.  In our special new ‘hood there is also an official welcoming committee chairperson; they bought a big hamper overflowing with supermarket items and vouchers for local restaurants.

I had my children write the thank you notes and return the door knocks as I was busy unpacking and arranging and being overwhelmed by a country move that was knocking the polish off my expat princess ways by actually having to do it all myself.

Even so, I was excited by the house for sale a few doors down; when it sold I was determined to be a first responder in the welcome cookie stakes. I didn’t know the current residents, they had not been door knockers at our house, but I didn’t wish them ill – just a speedy sale so I could bake for the new guys.

The house lay empty over the summer and the autumn/fall and some of the winter and then a couple of weeks ago there was moving trucks. Within a week one family had moved out another in.  I was excited, I must make those biscuits I thought. What kind? Should I do brownies? What might they like? Did they have kids? Are they going to be Paleo or GF people? That could be a problem. Then I kind of forgot, filed the thoughts in that place in my brain called ‘do that later’.

One morning last week after we had walked a full five houses to the school bus stop in 2 degrees and icy rain at 7.24am I was trudging home only to see the bus stop outside the new house, RIGHT AT THEIR DRIVEWAY. This did not make me happy. I was cold and wet and wondering why did they get a new bus stop and not us? I tossed the options; perhaps my cookie making would be better served to bring around Miss M the bus driver. Could I get my own bus stop I wondered?

It didn’t look good for their chances to experience my amateur and limited baking skills. First impressions count, forget the part where I hadn’t even met them yet.

The next morning I did meet them at the bus stop. Paula and her two lovely children, one in Kindergarten just like WASYO and one three year old. Turns out they had missed the bus and Miss M was doing them a solid and stopping to pick them up on the way.

We chatted all the way back to our house and then stood at the mail box for forty five minutes exchanging life histories; me in my pj’s (remembering its dark and cold at 7.20am when we leave the house so pj’s with some kind of cover up work well then, not so much at 8.30). They moved from New Jersey, she gave up her job to move with her husband’s work, she was not loving it so far, there had been tears. Relate, relate, relate. The cookies were definitely back on. I could have another friend in the street, a drop in, keep my kids kind of friend.

I was eager to help my new friend Paula immediately, so I shot off an email to our class mother at school to ask about the class parent for her son’s class; she didn’t have any email or phone contacts for other parents and her son wanted to set up play dates.  I copied her on the email to show my speedy action and thoughtfulness. I soon received two replies, our class mom was right on it and included contacts. Paula replied to say her name wasn’t Paula – it was Donna.

Tricky.

It made perfect sense of course because her email address did start with a d.

It was a set back but I wasn’t totally deterred, who doesn’t make a mistake with a name every once in a while? Right? I pushed on to the next project – the biscuits. I thought I could recover if we scored points there. I made ANZAC biscuits for the first time in my life, they weren’t terrible and so were deemed acceptable to pass onto Paula/Donna and family that afternoon after school.

Thank you, lovely, no allergies, no special dietary requirements – all looking good.

Had an email later to say that they were so good the three year old had been found in her closet after being AWOL, finishing a few extra above and beyond the ‘one before dinner’ she had been allowed. This perhaps should have produced a sense of foreboding but somehow did not.

The next morning at the bus stop Donna appeared – exhausted, she hadn’t slept all night because someone who had eaten all the cookies had been up all night vomiting and was now at home sleeping it off.

I am still hopeful, what do you think of my chances? Any tips for what not to do next?

Its just like tv

We were invited to a ‘cocktail evening’ the other night, a sometimes rare treat when you are the new kids in town. Friends of friends from Durban contacted us and we eagerly accepted their invitation to join them at their home for some drinks after 6pm.  When we arrived we found a small but multi cultural group; a french intern leaving after a year working here, a swiss couple new in town setting up a new branch of the company they work for, another American couple which included one real life Atlantan and our hosts. The genuine local offered to pose for photographs with us because it is so rare to meet someone born and raised here in Atlanta.

After the greetings and introductions were done one of the first questions asked was ‘How are y’all enjoying it here in the States?’ My response (after inwardly doing a little ‘he really said y’all’)  was  along the lines of – We are loving it so far, we grew up watching television shows about growing up in the American suburbs and now we are living the dream.

I always think Australians have a little window into both British and US culture through the television of the 70’s and 80’s on our tv screens and on more than one occasion in the past I have used that knowledge as a reference point to provide translation services in a three way conversation between citizens of those countries.

Moving on, after two wines and a champagne I was standing completely still in the backyard and simply fell over while talking to the charming Swiss lady who was five months pregnant, not drinking at all and possibly wondering what she had said that was able to blow me over. Its just my inbuilt ‘clumsy gene’ inherited from my mother’s side of the family and embarrasses me, my husband and my kids (even though they have it too) on a regular basis. After the stunned silence and everyone but my husband offering to help me up – which took a while as though I didn’t break the champagne glass, I did splash it into my eye so I couldn’t actually open it due to the stinging sensation (don’t recommend rinsing eyes in champagne), my other half finally appeared to haul me to my feet and said to our host ‘After we catalogue the injuries here you’ll be hearing from our lawyers’. There was a millisecond of silence before the hearty laughter. Phew. It just seemed like an ‘American’ thing to say and luckily everyone had a sense of humour. It may have been a had to be there moment but it moved the people on from the falling down part to a new conversation about litigious America, and the French intern’s hopes to find someone to sue in the next two weeks before she left town. Thank you husband.

Another thing we discussed which is just like the tv promised it would be are the mail boxes and the mail system here in suburbia.

First of all, every bill you receive comes with a return envelope for you to write a cheque (true story) and pop a stamp on the front and return.

The stamps, could you get any more ‘American’*? Or what us folks that didn’t grow up here think of as ‘American’.

Our mail box looks like this.  See the little red lever on the side?

You put the letters you want to send inside

Then put the lever up like this – the mailman TAKES THE MAIL from your mailbox and posts it.

So cool, too exciting and tres American, to us anyway.

After 9 years living in different countries with no actual stand alone mailbox I may be just excited to have one. If you ask WAFYO what her favourite thing is about our new house she always says the mailbox and she is not kidding. For me it makes it just like tv.

* American – to clarify is not a derogatory term, just a term used to describe something that really has no other way to refer to it, that we associate with the way we see American culture as an outsider. You may have to be not American to truly get it.

Back to School

We have had quite an adventure preparing for next Monday’s start of the 2012-2013 school year. Not much of it to do with difficulty in locating stationary supplies and deciphering code for each country’s special word for texta (South Africa – Koki / USA – Sharpies) although that has played a part.

When that school bus rolls away on Monday morning with the World’s Angriest Five Year Old (WAFYO ) and her brother on board I will breathe a long sigh of relief – its been an eye opening journey.

It was the WAFYO’s Five year old check up at the doctor. A return to school requirement and a new admission must do for those entering the USA / Georgia public school system.

Overseas vaccination records are not accepted by the school directly, they have to be reviewed and certified by a local doctor. I have two different immunisation books, three different schedules because of  the countries we have lived in so all in all I think its not a bad thing to re-evaluate their vaccination records and update accordingly.

Hep A is a must have for admission in Georgia, so they are both due a shot, that sounds fair. Almost immediately, disaster strikes, turns out WAFYO requires five needles to get back on track. The horror is beyond description – until I find a way to talk them down to four, silently thanking the best forgotten school holidays last winter when they were man and beast down for three weeks with the Chicken Pox.

Both also have to undergo a sight and hearing test and a dental exam, apparently standard fair for newcomers. *cough, mutter under breath*

The husband was responsible for taking the 9yo for his tests and check up the day our furniture was delivered to the house – shoulder deep in boxes I sent him off to the doctors with instructions on Hep A and to have ‘whatever needs doing to get the certificate to give to the school’.  Needless to say he came home proud of manning the Hep A shot situation but with no other requisite paperwork. Charming conversation between the happy couple and another visit booked.

But I digress, luckily the number of shots coming was a whispered negotiation between nurse and parent and WAFYO entered the ‘interrogation round’ blissfully unaware of her impending fate.

Individual questioning of the WAFYO by the doctor included –

Do you wear a seatbelt in the car?

Do you wear a helmet when you ride a bike?

Does your mum mom and dad put sunscreen on you when you go swimming? Have you seen the freckles on this kid’s face?

Are your parents ridiculously irresponsible and will you tell me about it?’ – that one might have been in my head, right after the loud cackling laughter imaging my GP in Durban asking me these same questions with any kind of straight face. After all it is Africa, frontier land where they frown on and make fun of the ‘nanny states’ and their overbearing rules and regulations.

How many pieces of fruit do you eat every day? How many vegetables do you have at dinner? Thank goodness this is the one that eats fruit and vegetables.

Now I’m going to talk to your mom about your BMI. That is correct – BMI 

The child is 5 years old, apparently her BMI is on the borderline between green and orange, being in the 97th percentile for height and the 95th for weight for age will apparently get you that. I take it that she’s 2% ahead of the game and move onto the next question.

Do you worry about her cholesterol? At this point I guess I am meant to say yes – but am scared of being caught out, so kind of mutter a bit and leave it to some kind of accent lost in translation moment and hopefully move on.

This is a five year old check up. In two months she turns six, I am going to have to wait a little longer than that and read up on cholesterol in mini people before I return for that Q & A.

The conversation then turned to needles and la la la that’s all I remember without activating some kind of kiddy / parent PTSD.

Unfortunately the doctor cannot do the dentist check required so I call three dental surgeries who of course have no appointments in the next two weeks before school starts.

Did I mention we can’t submit our enrollment paperwork before we have all the necessary checks?

In the end we are directed to the public health drop in clinic, an excellent service, which for $5 a kid will have a nurse shine a torch in each mouth and give them a certificate that allows them to enrol in school. Yay!

Today was the class list postings, there was popcorn and popsicles and PTA ladies in matching tight t-shirts with sparkly lettering.

Tomorrow is the meet and greet in the classrooms with their classmates and teachers.

Friday is the practice run on the school bus and Monday……. is THE BIG DAY.

It’s been a logistical roller coaster ride already and we haven’t made it through the front door yet.