Category Archives: School

Axis of Imperial aka learning about Gallon land

Who does not love a good story about Queens, Princes, Princesses and many many cats?

My son has recently completed CRCT testing. What is CRCT testing I hear you ask? Great question, let me copy and paste something from the internet for you. Thank you as always Wikipedia.

The Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) are a set of tests administered at public schools in the state of Georgia that are designed to test the knowledge of first through eighth graders in reading, English/language arts, and mathematics, and third through eighth graders additionally in science and social studies.*

The thing is this, for Fifth grade, you MUST pass two of the exams administered Reading and Math (oh look I’ve gone all local and used no ‘s’ on the end there) to move into middle school.

The teachers don’t expect parents to spend a lot of time on these as it is based on work they cover during the year. However there are some, do at home pre-tests that I had to assist in administering.

It was then, looking over a Maths pre-test, I discovered the horrors of the imperial system. Seriously, for someone born and raised on the metric system, which really, just makes sense with its whole 1 to 100 or 1000 stuff and move the decimal place backwards and forwards – the imperial system is a house of horrors.

I would have preferred option e

I would have preferred option e, in fact I may have added it myself

I spent the next few weeks moaning and ranting to anyone who wanted to listen (and many who did not) about the ridiculousness of it all. Who uses this system I asked? Turns out there are three world powerhouses still married to the British Imperial System and none of them are Britain. The USA, Liberia and Myanmar, or as I prefer to call them, the Axis of Imperial. Although to be fair Britain still partially uses it – which kind of makes sense ’cause they invented it and all.  Apparently it’s used for very important things such as sizing for beer and cider glasses but schools, government and most sane other people use the metric system for the whole measuring thing.

Then I began to rethink. Was I just being old, crotchety and closed minded? Did I need to be more open and embracing of a system or cultural norm of a country I am living in? I asked my son about it, he explained it to me, and I discovered a magical place called Gallon Land.

Gallon Land can be seen in this VERY amateur video as described by me. There is a giant G, Queens and a lot of cats – complete with poor commentary and shaky screen.

I still don’t love gallons, quarts and fluid ounces, but I don’t know how many more years we will live in one of the Axis of Imperial countries so I’m just going to suck it up for now. As long as no one asks me to embrace fahrenheit I think I’ll make it.

* The Georgia Department of Education website has a note to say that due to budget restraints there is no testing of first and second graders in Spring 2013 (we’ll assume they were saving website update funds and apply that to Spring 2014 as well)

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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.

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.

A stands for …..

It had to happen didn’t it? Come up with the longest blog title in the world – then include something about continents with starting with ‘A’, some day, at some point its going to bite you.

Australasia (remember we went old school there and didn’t reference the now taught Oceania), Asia, Africa & now introducing America (North). I think that can sneak in as a legitimate A continent.

Atlanta definitely starts with an A – and in two short weeks (yesterday) that is where the small people and I will be heading to via Dubai and New York to start our new life as Australians in Atlanta – or more specifically Cobb County expats. The husband already has himself a social security card and is working on his accent, sourcing moonshine and loving living in a country where they actually like Australians (not that he doesn’t miss his near and dear South African friends too).

The Third Culture Kids will have another reference point, likely move from one slightly horrifying accent to another – and their mother will have access to a shop that sells Vegemite, Freddo frogs and meat pies! It was not a prerequisite that we move to a suburb with an Australian bakery but handy that its worked out that way.

Leaving Durban and 320 days of sunshine a year is a tough call – so I had to first investigate what it meant to swap the balmy days and bright blue skies with ocean views, endless options of South African Sauvignon Blanc and ‘African’ time for.

Initially it seems a bit of a mixed bag.  Atlanta has 185 days of sunshine on average per year – so I’m down an ocean (have never lived away from the ocean except for a stint at University and a year on a farm in Germany) and 135 days of sunshine.

On the plus side its got the world’s busiest passenger airport and is the 7th most visited city in the US so I am thinking we have got to get more visitors there than we ever got here.

There are 65 streets with the name Peachtree in them – that’s got to be a bonus when I am negotiating the other side of the road driving with two screaming kids in the back. Wherever I am trying to go will always surely be ‘near Peachtree’. Perhaps that can be a good car game – Kids, listen for the proximity alarms on Mummy’s car and any streets that are called Peachtree.

Atlanta is the home base for the fourth largest number of Fortune 500 companies including my absolute favourite – Coca Cola!

It also has Home Depot, UPS, CNN and AT&T. I am looking forward then to excellent internet access for my online shopping which will no doubt be couriered to me in a timely fashion while I am catching up on the latest news. Things are looking up!

The moving process has not been without its hiccups, you can see I am already using American spelling – although I have asked the school if my kids can retain their ‘ou’ words I am not too optimistic of that outcome although I absolutely draw the line at ‘mom’ – and I have a handy stack of posts to come when regular wifi access once again makes itself available.

For now – this brief introduction to our new American home and to let you know we’re off to be brave in the land of the free, or free in the land of the brave – I’ll get back to you on that. Watch this space.

Labels, a video game a movie and summer holidays

For a couple of months last year my then 8yo son had an obsession with inventing a new video game. He expected to be able to dictate to me over my shoulder for a few hours on our home computer and ‘voila!’ we would have a brand new highly functioning, multi level, multi platform video game to distribute to the market at large. Then he wanted to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest child to create a video game.

A few things came out of that process – firstly,  now I understand what all the ‘created by’ credits are on the television shows I watch. They are the people that walk around the room spouting the ideas that everyone else writes down, puts into scripts and and and and …. that eventually ends up as a finished product. Look in the future for ‘created by’ credits from said son.

The second was, after googling ‘how to create video games’, walking him through the process of story boarding, character and plot development and creation. I thought that as he has quite a capacity for understanding things this would help him realise that it wasn’t going to take a day or so – it would take significantly longer (even more so if he was relying on his mother to be the game coder).  We did progress slowly through the process – one day I came home to find him directing his father on the story board side – stretching his power point skills significantly and not yet meeting with approval from the ‘creative’.

It was relentless, at school pick up he would want to run through things in the car on the way home, after homework time when he had his one hour of his chosen electronic device he would throw ideas at me as he was walking around playing, at the dinner table, at bath and bed time. All ideas for his game, I would gently continue to remind him of the full process as he was reminding me to call video game distributors to discuss terms. It became too much for him when he thought I was trying to talk him out of it, which to be honest I probably was. What I thought I was doing was setting realistic expectations for him.

‘You’re just trying to crush all my dreams’

Not what a parent wants to hear –  and not when said with such emotion and despair.  Parenting is a precarious process for which there are really no guidebooks, training or licensing. Hands up who now regrets not having a year or two of child psychology thrown into their post school education?  I bet I’m not the only one.

He is a fan of dramatic words and phrases

When teaching him how to ride a bike ‘This is a ridiculous vehicle, you are trying to kill me, I am your only son and you obviously don’t want one’

Christmas morning  2011 at 5.15am ‘Mum, there is no way I can make it to 7am, the anticipatory excitement is killing me’

A new chocolate ‘Have one of these, your taste buds with explode with astonishment’

And later – same chocolates ‘I’m exploring my teeth for some tasty toffee morsels’

Our son turned 9 years old yesterday and has a diagnosis of Aspergers and ADHD.  While we’re talking labels he is also a TCK (Third Culture Kid)  meaning every few years we pack him up and move him to a new country, he’s on his third one right now.

The fact that he has these labels is partly helpful and partly difficult and sometimes confronting, like when his diagnosis had to be included on the medical forms that were submitted as part of our recent visa extension application.

Not long ago on Twitter I read something that resonated with me “High functioning autism means your deficits are ignored & low functioning means your assets are ignored”

In many ways he is like any other little 9 year old boy and for those that meet him casually and from time to time may not see anything ‘different’ about him. In fact I am sure that some of my family and friends often think I am overstating the issues when I talk about him.

People have said to me

‘Won’t he grow out of it?’ – Umm no

‘But he looks fine’ – Yes he does

‘He’s so handsome, he will be alright’. – I can never disagree with the handsome part, I am his mother after all, but being handsome won’t help him suddenly discover an understanding of when to stop talking about his favourite video games or stop the pacing and arm twisting while walking on his toes that relaxes him when his mind is racing.

Even in our parenting we often impose NT (neurotypical – luckily there are labels for the rest of us too) solutions to behavioral issues that most likely require a different approach, because sometimes its hard for us too, to know what to do. In these cases parent and child are often bewildered as to what has happened and what not to do in the future and sometimes we end up right back where we started. We’re all learning together.

2011 was such a big year for him, he made amazing progress at school in both his written work and his social skills, mostly due to the amazing teacher’s assistant that worked with him each morning. He now has friends in his class and just last week had his first sleep over at a school friend’s house, whose parents we don’t know very well. It was a success *cue sigh of relief*

During the recent summer break (7 weeks) my mother told me to try and enjoy the school holidays rather than resent them. As a former full time worker moved to full time parenting with the last country change, school holidays and I are still coming to terms with each other.  I decided to try to take her advice and embrace rather than rail against each day as it came – I had a mixed bag but I worked hard on not crushing dreams.

Samurai versus Zombies - Level 1

We reinstated the video game development, we are only up to Level 1 (apparently there will be 10) but all characters have been developed by the creator himself after we watched some you tube videos together on how to use the tool we found to make a simple game. Time has given a perspective that allows him to see we cannot get from a to z in a day or two.

We are also in post production on a horror movie, which he created and scripted and included in the cast his sister WAFYO (the world’s angriest five year old – more on her another time). We just need to find the right scary music as its an old style movie – music and no words. It didn’t all follow the original plan as we had to change the cast at the last minute but most of the key players were involved and I was very happy to be mentioned more than once (unrequested) in the credits page.

The film credits page - some names deleted to protect those actors who are underage starring in horror films

18 months ago the school wanted him to move to a keyboard because he wasn’t progressing with his writing, now he is writing for fun.

After recently watching an episode of Top Gear with a hypnotist on it, our next assignment is to study hypnosis, the list of things he intends to get people to do is intriguing to say the least – tips anyone?

Where I admit my husband is not that bad

I am slowly getting the idea why my husband was so keen on the move to South Africa – he is looking for kudos in the husband and father stakes.  Every time I talk to people (usually women) – particularly locals about his contribution at home, they all say to me – Oh a South African man would never do that. I can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing – but I am going with good. 

He often says that I spend all my time trashing him to my friends and they all think badly of him because of my influence but I can assure him this is just not the case – and I will say so publicly here and now. See – here!! (Of course any right to future trashing is a given so not saying its never going to happen)

Moving countries along with everything else also actually stress tests your relationship with your ‘life partner’ (as we say in our house).  Firstly because you don’t have any friends – so no-one to talk to except each other, and when you are the stay at home one and the only other conversation is with smalls and deals with what they will and won’t eat, what they will and won’t do, if a song is actually called ‘Fishing for Cheeses’ (I suspect the title has something to do with Jesus but Miss 3 won’t have a bar of that) and extensive discussions of who is your favourite Mario Party character (Princess Peach for me) – its nice to talk to another adult.  So when they are around the conversation really does flow, or you chase your ‘just got home and a bit tired from a long day at work’ husband around the house with tidbits from your day and seeking information about his.

In his case he is also trying to deal with a new job and all the issues that go with that –but try not to rub that in too much, as he knows that’s what I would prefer to be doing too.  I on the other hand am attempting to master the immediate area, hardware stores, dry cleaners, telephone connections, pool maintenance, which supermarkets stock what items (beginning to think there are no countries left where everything can be purchased in one spot), school runs, playdates, my golf swing and planning an exciting new destination for our Sunday family ‘day trips’.   I can tell you – if I were the one coming home from work I would probably not wanting to be discussing too many of those items – but every day even when he is traveling we have a mini ‘how was your day’ section where he empathises with my frustrations I’m sure in a way that isn’t that different to all other couples in the world.  Only for the first couple of months – we were the only people we had to talk to about anything and everything – usually in other places you would have let off some steam by covering some items during the day with other friends and maybe at work –anyway it can be all a bit full on and isn’t always calm and entirely friendly but we get there in the end.

So that’s just the same as everyone else – right? So there must be other things he does to make him a bit of a stand out – have I mentioned that school starts at 7.30am?  That means that lunch boxes either have to be done the night before or mighty early in the morning.  Every morning at 5.30 he gets up and makes the kids lunches – and bless him, every day he calls to see what they have eaten and what they have left and talks to them about why they didn’t eat something and adjusts accordingly. He cares about their lunches! Me, not so much – but I am more than happy for him to do so.  Although when he is away it’s a bit of a nightmare that I have to do them myself – OK there are only two but my kids don’t like the same food and its nearly as hard as deciding what is for dinner every day – I prefer only one meal decision a day.

After he makes their lunch, he gets them up and dressed, feeds them breakfast and generally gives them their vitamins (depends on how we are going for time) then I am required to get up – about 6.30am so he can shower and get out the door, but all I generally need to do is get dressed myself, put their bags in the car, shoes on (that can take up to 15 minutes of running around and I can’t imagine how much more when we get into winter and tying shoelaces) and get them in the car by 7.10am.

What a morning champion he is… I agree, he even offered to do a few school runs for me after he did one and found that I wasn’t lying about all the yummy mummies in their gym gear and perky breasts (he wants to run a survey to find the best surgeon just in case I change my mind) at the school drop off, but yet to follow through on that one.

If there is one thing I can’t stand more than doing the same puzzle 65 times or having to force feed my son pineapple (the only fruit he will knowingly eat) after the most wonderful and calm (NOT) homework session before he can do ‘anything at all fun’ after school its dinner (don’t mind cooking it – can’t stand the ‘not eating’ it process) and bath / shower time (enjoy it finishing as it means bed time is very close).   Unfortunately my wonderful morning husband is not too often home for this part of the day – likely the reason for his morning participation.  However when he is home – he does take the bath and shower time on (we have alternating days as one prefers bath and one shower – of course!). What a legend!  The screams and squeals are all carried on upstairs and if I go into the study and shut the door I can’t hear them at all – its totally blissful!!! 

So overall – he is pretty well housetrained for an Australian husband, and I gather slightly over trained for the South African version – remembering that neither of us has actually really had to do any of this for the last six years as the wonderful Gina was lunch maker and bather extraordinaire – so it may be that it’s a novelty for him at the moment, but I don’t think so – well I’m not going to start doing it anytime soon anyway so he’s going to have to stick with it.

Don’t get me wrong – he doesn’t love washing up, tidying up – still leaves his tie every night on a dining room chair when he takes it off, calls me and my friends ‘the slappers’ and can shut the door of the playroom and ignore the kids if there is essential sport on the television BUT he does deserve plenty of recognition for what he does do – so here it is! In fact right now he is at the gym and took the kids with him  – their first experience of the playroom there – long may it last. Good work Swart.  Of course he never reads this so he will never know – but I know !

Making new friends is hard, almost like being on a constant first date

It is hard to move to a new country. On top of the excitement and the new adventure side of it there is the cold hard reality of various items, for example not having a home phone for nearly three months and not knowing where to get those specific items that you could put your hand on at Kmart or IKEA ‘at home’.  As well there are practical but important things like, which will be my favourite new local sav blanc (no need to worry there, what a selection they have here in SA!) and what does the local chocolate taste like and which one will be your new favourite (Cadbury Whispers hands down)?  

One of the hardest things about moving is making new friends, and I think it gets harder as you get older.  I have been trying to remember all the times I had to make new friends in my life – I am guessing it started in pre-school and primary school – not that I remember too much of it.  High school was a definite for me as I went to boarding school with not a soul from my primary school in sight.   That in turn (along with my HSC marks) may have then influenced my University decision to attend the same Uni as three of my fellow boarders (four in total made 25% of the group I had just lived with for the last six years).  But Uni and college life was a big bad world and I still had to make new friends – that is the first time I really remember the process, making nice with people and taking baby steps to see if you have things in common that may lead to friendship and aborting if it becomes obvious you don’t.  OK most of my friends were made down at the ‘Pink Pub’ I agree but I do remember meeting and discarding or being discarded by some people, for the better in all cases because you do have to draw a line somewhere on friendship.  You can’t be ‘besties’ with everyone or share yourself around every single different group in college – so you choose one or two groups and then go from there.

Then after Uni came the first overseas stint – I went to live and work in a tiny village in Germany, while it was quite different environment again, the whole friends thing was easy because 1. When you are living overseas especially in a small German village you are viewed as a novelty and pretty much everyone wants to be your friend 2. There were only about 30 people in the  + / – 20-year zone around my age so beggars can’t be choosers!

When I returned from my travels and settled down in Sydney to work I didn’t NEED to make any new friends. I had my Uni friends and a work environment always offers up one or two new buddies that you can form outside workplace friendship with.  If someone had just walked in and told me they had moved to Sydney, didn’t know a soul and were looking for mates I would have said – ‘Gosh, that sounds really tough. I hope that you find some.’ Seriously – that’s what I would have said when I was 23, what an ass.  But no – not so silly from someone living and working in their own hometown, where they feel totally at home and have enough friends to feel safe and secure because that is effectively what was said to me last week at a Grade 1 mothers dinner for my son’s class, and these ladies were well out of their 20’s despite their perky chests and creaseless brows I can tell you.  Obviously I may have just blown my chances of ever being friends with them so I can take some blame on from this point on  – and to be fair they haven’t all been down the surgery path (however it needs to be said there is absolutely no stigma to the fake boobs here – everyone is pretty loud and proud about it so I am actually not being too naughty in saying that).

Yes – basically what was said to me, paraphrased in a way that makes it more dramatic to include here was – ‘Durban is cliquey – if you’re only here for four or so years its unlikely you will make any friends.  Good luck’

NOT – Oh you live in MY STREET and our children are IN THE SAME CLASS – maybe we should organize a playdate or you could come over for a braai or a glass of wine…..none of that at all!  They didn’t even say it and not mean it –which I kinda respect. I know I can make an effort too – and I did with a couple of mums (although they say ‘mom’ here) whose children that I know my son is interested in being buddies with but tended to get the ‘that’s nice’ smile look so I gave up and started throwing random ridiculous comments into the conversation that will more or less have me branded from now on as ‘that strange Aussie’ – which they kind of already had me pegged as, because as one of them said to me – ‘Isn’t Australia just South Africa but without help?’

Didn’t they know what I had done prior to this dinner- the witty repartee I had pre-thought in case it was needed, the six wardrobe changes, the at least additional three minutes on make up application? Don’t they know that when you are trying to make new friends in a new country you constantly feel like you are on a first date? The worst thing about it is that – no one really notices or cares, which makes you feel like the whole date was a failure.

Don’t get me wrong – I have taken up their challenge and I will not leave this country without a screaming, howling group of locals who will mourn my departure to brighter shores – whenever that future event occurs.  I will make friends of the locals, perhaps these very same mothers – I will, in a few months time I’ll try again, maybe, in the next school year. I see the café on the school grounds is up for management – maybe I should take that on and hold all their latte’s hostage until they promise to be my friend. 

In the meantime I will stick to my newly found expat community, where I have actually made a few friends and am working on a few more – however it has its own quirks and issues and story for another time, maybe tomorrow.