Monday, 26 November 2012

A Whale Of A Time

One of the great things about a kindergarten is the trips.  Every term, our little ones get to go somewhere exciting, and normally, the teachers require parent helpers to go along and make sure everyone stays on the right side of the law.  It is a time filled with over-excited kids, crammed onto buses with long-suffering parents, screeching and laughing and generally causing havoc and mayhem.  And this term, the excursion to the local marine reserve coincided with an almost total eclipse of the sun.  The excitement knew no bounds.  

On the bus, the boys and I put together a rudimentary pinhole camera which I patched together with some receipts and an old paperclip which I found in my handbag (see It's all in the bag...). The boys were fascinated as we tracked the position of the moon and the sun by using the camera, and shivered as the air got colder and the daylight turned to a weird twilight.

Then we got to the marine reserve and the leaders of the troupe advised us that, as parents, there was a job for us to do that only we could do.  Expecting it to be something about safety, none of us was prepared to be handed a hat in the shape of an extremely unattractive sea creature and told to put it on and not take it off for the whole trip around the reserve.  Mine was an especially unattractive specimen of crab, with long pincers that dangled around my ears.  Not my finest moment.

The twins were absolutely fascinated by the touch pool.  One of them picked up a large shell, and then dropped it just as quickly as a huge hermit crab emerged with an angry glint in his beady eye.  However, the hermit crab took one look at the crab on my head (ever so much larger and nastier-looking) and decided to make a bid for freedom. He scuttled back into the pool over the boys' hands, causing great consternation, upon which they promptly asked to be able to hold him again.

But what made the biggest impression by far was the octopus.  I have always heard that an octopus can squeeze through a hole as big as its own eyeball, and here we saw that it is true - the octopus flowed through the most minuscule of holes as though it was being poured through like water.  The boys were fascinated to learn that the mommy octopus stays with her eggs once she has laid them, never eating or going away until they hatch, and in the process gets very thin and sick and sometimes even dies.

They were very upset by this story, especially seeing the small clusters of eggs on the sides of the octopus tank.  "It's okay," I explained, "the people at the marine reserve will feed her and make sure that she doesn't get hungry".

As we walked back to the bus at the end of a wonderful day, Sam spoke his thoughts freely: "If you were thin and sick, Mama, I would feed you so that you didn't die!" he said.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Making tracks...

There are a lot of firsts in life.  The first smile.  The first word.  The first steps.  And then there are the firsts that are a bit further removed.  The first boat ride.  The first bike ride.  And the first train ride.

Living in a city where there is so much emphasis placed on sustainable transport, etc. I have to ask the question: how is it possible that the boys are four and a half and have never been on a train before?  It's a question I have actually asked a few times over their lives, but somehow we have never managed to make it as far as actually getting on the train before this time. It took the great-uncle coming out from South Africa to finally get us as far as the train station.  And what excitement there was (actually, I think it might have been the great-uncle that was the most excited, but I digress).

Making it to the station in time to actually catch the train was the greatest of feats.  Normally, even allowing for the extra fifteen minutes it takes to strap everyone into the car, I am routinely late for everything by about half an hour.  However, miracle of miracles, we were actually early for the train.  Which is how we by mistake managed to catch the wrong train and end up taking the fast train all the way, arriving in about three point two minutes.  As far as train journeys went, it could have been more exciting.  Not to mention the fact that we were in a carriage full of businessmen on their daily commute.  I can't help but wonder if their trip was made more exciting by the little voice piping up loudly as we went under each and every electric pylon (about three thousand in total on that trip): "We go under, we go under, we go under.." etc., ad infinitum.

As we got out, the kids were already begging to be allowed to go back on again.  Luckily we had the return journey still to come.  After our time at the water park, we had to run all the way back to catch the return train, this time at least making it onto the right one.  And this time, all the way home, the little voice piping up: "Are we there yet?"

You just can't win!