Monday, June 16, 2008

The End of the Year

Usually I love the cycle of my job. I love the new beginnings and fresh starts. I love sending the kids on prepared for the next year. But I hate the endings.

I am one who has a hard time at New Years and at my birthday every year when I deal with the question of what I've accomplished in the past year. I agonize over new resolutions and over whether I accomplished the ones from before. So the end of the school year is also rough.

This year I'm not moving to a different school, so I'm not leaving everyone I know. But it's also hard not having the end of year ceremony of saying good-bye. There are people leaving this school, but I'm not friends with any of them. Here am I at the end of a whole year without any close friends at all.

So it's reflection and resolution time. I have at least one more year commuting to Hong Kong. I haven't done so very well this year, though I have survived. I wonder what I can do to make it work next year. I have a summer to think about it - another reason I love my job.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Birthday Parties" or "Slow Descent into Hell"

While I was typing this blog's description for the seventh time yesterday trying to deal with Blogger's changing of the template, I realized that I haven't talked about life in the suburbs for a while. What's more quintessentially the role of a suburban mom than having a birthday party?

These are the birthday parties Kestrel has been to this year:
Science Magic (with entertainer and experiments)
Bowling (at an exclusive club)
Beads Galore (jewelry making at an Italian restaurant)
Adventure Zone (indoor play area with pizza)
Great Adventure Race (four hours all over the mountains ending at a Mexican restaurant)

So when Kestrel's birthday was coming up and she wanted to invite the whole class, I approached it with a bit of trepidation. It didn't help that she's been talking about it for six months. First we decided on something manageable - a beach party. Then I persuaded her that ten kids would be a lot more fun. But there are only two tables at the beach - if they're full we'd be serving food with kids kicking sand all over it. And more worryingly, it had rained for eight days straight - ten kids in our tiny apartment was, frankly, unimaginable.

But we had luck. It didn't rain in spite of the forecast. No one else was crazy enough to have a beach party, so we had the tables to ourselves. Kestrel and I picked up the kids and more adults at the ferry and then off to the beach where Granite was guarding the table and being eaten alive by little black gnats. Only two of the accompanying adults didn't come to the party. We had helpers or parents, or helpers and parents for almost every kid. The crowds stood around taking pictures and videos while the kids decorated wooden paddle boats with felt sails (our answer to a clown and pony show) and while they ate and fooled around. It was weird and awkward not knowing who was who and feeling like I needed to entertain them as well as the kids.

But the kids had fun. They ran around and played ball tag on the play equipment. Then they made boats and went swimming since the boats didn't sail too well. We had to drag them out for the Subway sandwiches, fruit and cake. Well, except for one kid who wouldn't stop digging in the sand for anything. And another kid who came an hour late, who hadn't RSVP'ed, who wouldn't speak to anyone for the first hour she was there, and who stayed an hour after the party was supposed to be over. Actually having the entire school class at our house in Turkey was a lot easier than this Hong Kong party. The kids in Turkey got along so much better and were much better at social interaction - unless Kestrel just invited some odd kids this year.

It turned out to be a pretty successful party. Glitter got all over the known world. One boy squirted mango juice all over another while they were at the table, but I didn't yell and it didn't get on anything but the other kid. And it didn't rain until Kestrel and I were walking home after that funny little girl and her mom finally left. After fifteen kids' birthday parties, you'd think it'd get easier and more fun. I wonder how many more I have to go?This picture is from the next day when the birthday girl got to learn to ride her first two-wheeler. That was the best part of the birthday, I thought.