Child Of The Week

Henry Hotdog is student of the week, this means that he gets to feel extra special at school this week. It also means that he makes all sorts of requests to his parents to bring things from home, I believe it is compulsory that these requests are made no more than two minutes before we need to get into the car for school in the morning.

As you know our working week is Sunday to Thursday, we got off to a flying start.

Sunday was “all about me” this is when you share 5 – 10 pictures of yourself with the class. The behind the scenes element of this activity is the mad dash that is made by your parents to print the photos using your home printer. Combine this with the realisation that the power is scheduled to be cut off, the printer has no paper, and you’ve just run out of coloured ink. To bring the difficulty level to a 9.9 you must then ask that the Sri Lanka photo be in your repertoire, this photo can only be found on your father’s laptop and he will be required to upgrade his version of iPhoto while tapping his fingers loudly on the keyboard muttering something about the office, a meeting, that he can’t remember ever being student of the week, and how long have you known about this?

Monday was the sharing sack. On Monday morning Henry Hotdog began to gather items from around the house, things like my phone, the keys, kitchen knives and the remote control – to show the class. When alternate suggestions were made nothing seemed good enough and all ideas were declined as “boring”, we then began to run out of time.

“C’mon sweetie, just choose something – how about the boomerang?”

His reaction resembled the suggestion that I take in my underwear. Horrified.

Finally he decided on a small cricket bat which was a christening present from Aunty Suzie, with the hope of a possible MCG membership. With heartfelt words and great sentiment the cricket bat had always been kept up high from the reach of little fingers.

“Where is it?’ he asked.

It turned out not to be in the first three cupboards I looked in. After I’d nearly fallen off of the chair while running my hand along the dusty tops of shelving I began to despair. The others were in the car waiting. Had we lost it in the move? The move.

“Check that one last box at the top of the stairs”

We drove to school, me covered in dust with a splinter – he happily clutching a bat.

Tuesday was his favourite book. We located it the night before. I proudly checked at bedtime.

“Do you have it?”

“Right here!” he grinned

Over breakfast I asked again.

“Right here!” he grinned.

As he exited the car at the school gates I asked again “The book?”

He stopped, gave a familiar look of panic, “Oh no!”

Wednesday, is a letter from the parents, or we could write a poem, or make a video – you know, no pressure.

I was given a short list of what I could not discuss, I agreed and then sat lost for words. The woman who writes thousands of words a day – suddenly had none. It was Henry Hotdog’s brief that left me wordless.

“You can’t write the stuff you write on your blog – it’s a different audience. You have to write for a bunch of eight year olds Mum, not old ladies.”

When did eight year olds begin talking about ‘audiences’ ‘genres’ and ‘finding their voice’?

I returned to the basics.

H is for Hotdog, the name your siblings called out as we drove you home from the hospital when you were a brand new baby. “Hello Henry Hotdog!” a little voice said as it peered into your newborn carseat. “Henry Hotdog! Let’s call him Henry Hotdog” said another. We made an entire song from that sentence, which I sang while rocking you to sleep.

E is for Edward a middle name you share with your Dad. You have two middle names, I’ll leave it up to you if you want to tell the other one.

N is for Nespresso, the machine you use to make the coffee that you hand deliver to my bed each morning. You are the master barista in the house.

R is for running, it gets you between bases when you play baseball on the weekends.

Y is for youngest, for you will always be the youngest in our family.

*I’ve left out a couple of initials for obvious reasons here on the blog

C is for curry. You love thai food, your favourite is a green chicken curry which you sneak on to the meal planner as often as possible.

E is for everything, which is what your Dad and I love about you. You were planned, hoped for, and very much wanted. Without you, we as a family were incomplete. When you arrived, it made sense, we were now exactly as we were always meant to be.

Naturally I wrote it at 11pm last night. I printed it out this morning, and searched for an envelope while bleary eyed and still in my pyjamas.

“Why does he get a week about him? I can’t remember that in grade three?” said his older brother.

“You had the wrong teacher, there’s only a couple of teachers who do it. I had it” said the second little traveller with a hint of torment in her voice.

I listened to an interview with Sarah Jessica Parker the other day. I hadn’t realised she was one of eight children, which she explained made the decision to have children of her own a tricky one. When you’ve never had your own dress, your own space, a room to yourself – the idea of sharing once again is not always enticing.

It’s very rare for my children to have their own shining moments. We sit as one at the table to eat, we drive to sport together, we go to the grocery store after school with each assigned a different item to find. Yesterday they bought new sneakers, each of them lined up, discussed their size, negotiated colour. I talked of the budget, why families with four children will never own top of the range Nike shoes. Each knows each others bathroom habits, shares an underwear drawer, no-one has ever had their own room. They even share their friends.

I forget to make eye contact, shout out ‘love you’ as they exit the car, look down at my phone at the wrong time and have moments when I worry about what they’ll remember. Will it be the time I sat on the bleachers, carried their musical instrument to the car, drove home to pick up the swimming bag. Or will it be the conference I was away for, the half finished assignment that had me in the library over a weekend, or the writing of the blog, the article, the piece for…

It occurred to me that maybe big families need to have child of the week. Where the spotlight comes to you for one day. A letter, a poem, a video, or at a smaller level – a compliment. We might try it next week.

What do you think? Fraught with danger? A great idea? Would you do it?

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