Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Which Harriet Grows Up A Little More

 On Saturday just gone we drove up to the mountains to see our friends Scott and Damien who had bought a place there.  What we failed to realise was that it was also the Winter Magic festival in Katoomba.  I had that internal gasp and constriction of chest, but we bravely soldiered on up the mountain.  Suffice to say that we were in the car for around four hours on Saturday and that meant when the sun rose on Sunday, none of us wanted to venture inside the car again.

Unfortunately the children were at each other's throats and the walls were closing in before 9am, so we decided to hightail it out of the house and the children could ride to Steel Park (a very easy 2km walk away along a cycle path).  It didn't start well (let me just tell you up front it didn't end well either, the whole morning was a write off) - Ted decided he didn't want to ride his bike after we walked to the river, so I (very unhappily) turned home and dropped it off.  When I met up with the threesome again they were searching for a geocache under the railway bridge but it has been recently fenced off in certain sections and we think the cache was rendered inaccessible as a result.

Harriet then whinged, moaned, cried and tantrumed pretty much the whole way to Steel Park about how hard it was, how long it was, how impossible it was.  Ted insisted on riding atop Jimbo's shoulders which is no mean physical feat.  I ended up carrying Harriet's bike basket under my arm due to it being filled to within an inch of its life, which made the bike very tricky to steer (who knows when one might need to whip out three fairies, a large knitted doll, a Harry Potter book and many, many other items) that (of course) remained untouched for our whole excursion.  Can you hear me sighing from here?

We arrived at the park and the children stuck to us like limpets, because of course that was going to help the situation (note: wild sarcasm in use).  They bickered and fought and generally drove us crazy.  I laid on my back and desperately tried to find solace in the bare trees and blue sky above me.  No such luck.  I was almost immediately belly-bombed by Ted.  Which in turn made his leg fall into the middle of a game Harriet had set up.  Which caused another little upset.  Again with the sighing.

Finally we managed a reprieve of a kind, with Harriet off investigating various leaves and rocks but to be honest, I didn't really care or listen.  I just needed some time out.  What, you've discovered a new genus?  Tell me in an hour.

At some point, Harriet decided she wanted to busk.  You may remember that she has busked in the past - twice, but only outside our house and with great despair at the inability of passersby to give her any attention or (importantly) money.  This time she took her little bag, James placed a couple of coins on it and she went over to the playground to sing her little heart out.  Not one person looked at her. Now as fed up and tired as I was, I also really wanted her to succeed at this busking gig that she has tried a few times and always failed miserably at.  I placed her in a few different locations around the park to try and increase her foot traffic exposure, but no, there was no-one biting.  Ted, as you can see, thought he'd go over to help her out a little, but to no avail.  At one point she came up to me and said "Mama, no-one is stopping and everyone just looks at me like I'm an idiot and bad at singing".  Damn it, no-one destroys my child in such a way!  

So we had a gentle discussion about what buskers have that identify them as buskers - usually a sign, an obvious place to put the money (an instrument case or hat are often used, we decided), and standing in a position where they have a lot of people walking past.  We discussed what she needed to do in order to meet these criteria and buoyed by a plan of attack, she rode home to put it in place after lunch.  Funny how a little constructive thinking can help the despondent turn hopeful, huzzah!

So encouraged by this plan of attack she made the sign, found Ted's straw hat, found a rock to place on said sign to prevent it blowing away, wrote a songlist to keep her singing without stopping, and was now excited by the prospect.  We decided upon Newtown Town Hall as a good place to feature the new busking talent, and of we set.  Harriet set up her little hat, sign and started singing with gusto.

Busk (properly) and they shall come.

And come they did.

We stood on the outer edge of the Town Hall area and watched nervously for a few minutes.  She had many smiles and a few stopped to read her sign, but no-one with the all important money to clink into her hat.

And then...Then Harriet received her first dollar.  And the smile on her face said it all.  Gosh I could have cried, seeing that smile.  And then another...and another.  Twice she was given a five dollar note!  And within about twenty minutes, she decided to call it a day (it was getting quite chilly by this time too) and counted up her bounty.

She walked over to us with a huge grin, a grin that threatened to crack that delicious little singing face right open.  I gasped when I saw just how much cash she had collected in such a short period.  Turns out if you're looking to make a quick THIRTY FOUR DOLLARS, then it pays to be a singing six and three quarters year old.  Harriet was, to put it mildly, thrilled. 

 If you'd like to check out her songlist, then click on the photo - I do love how she wrote her Japanese songs in the Hiragana characters.

But the wonderful effect of real achievement on personality and confidence was still to come.  On the way home we needed petrol from the petrol station at the end of our street.  Ted associates this place with a fruit strap they sell, and he started demanding one from there almost as soon as we mentioned filling up.  Harriet jumped in and volunteered to buy it for him.  She walked down to the shop from our house on her own, as we drove the car around.  She went into the shop on her own to buy it.  She didn't buy one for herself.  She then came up to the car and asked for my keys so she could walk back up to the house and open it up on her own.

Those of you who know Harriet, may pick their jaws from the ground about now.  Yes, she was venturing out on her own. 

When we got home I looked up how much a busking license costs ($12) and then on Monday we went to the bank first to deposit her money, minus the cost of the busking license and the cost of a little Sylvanian Families figure that she had been eyeing off.  Even at the council desk Harriet astounded me with her maturity.  She stood at the counter (after I had filled out the form) on her own as Ted pulled me away to investigate a display all about space.  She paid with her own money without me there.  She had her photo taken for her card without me there.  She then completed the transaction without me there and walked over with her card.

It just goes to show how giving your child the tools to succeed and then seeing how they use them and the resulting success (or not) creates true, deep and meaningful change.  I won't be forgetting this milestone in a hurry.


Marieke B said...

What a beautiful post. And go Harriet! You know, you have such a way with words. I really could picture everything, clear as day. Hope she has a lot more success busking!

jay said...

wow, that is such a wonderful story. made even more wonderful by the trials and tribulations at the beginning. having known harriet for quite a few years that story made me well with pride, oh sweet thing. That first photo of ted in that pretty pickings dress is amazing, what a great advertisement. xx

Anonymous said...

A wonderful story about our darling made our day! It's a surprise when your child does things as though they are second nature when he or she has not done such things before. Perhaps the time when Harriet feels ready to fly alone to visit NanaGangpa is a little closer than we thought...maybe another year or so??!! Love to you 4. xxxx

Kimberley said...

As Marieke said up there ^, you have such a way with words.
You are a true story teller, both with your words & your images.
I really enjoyed this post.
What a wonderful milestone for dear Harri.