Monday, March 18, 2013

My Harriet

Lately there have been a lot of posts about Ted.  And we have had Harriet, the quiet achiever, ploughing along in the background of this blog narrative.

Well today I had reason to stop and take pride in the wonderful person she has become.  I was walking down the steps at school when I saw her teacher.  He mentioned that he had just finished having a discussion with the second teacher for her class, Miss Williams, with whom he had been discussing Harriet.  Apparently Miss Williams had only just before exclaimed that she was eager to "meet the parents who created such an amazing child".  He asked me if I was free right then because Miss Williams was outside on pick-up duty.
Well of course I was.And when I went out I just had to hug her on introduction - probably not the most professional thing I could have done but hey, she obviously thought Harriet was five shades of fantastic and I already knew about Miss Williams, because Harriet had drawn up this card for her the other night:

She had written it up quietly, on her own, in the playroom, and then leaned it against her bag to remind her to pick it up the following morning.  I hadn't even looked in it or had any idea what it was for, until just before I went to bed I spied it there on the floor.  Upon picking it up and reading it I was overcome with what a mature, thoughtful and touching card this was.  Miss Williams had obviously struck a chord with Harriet (which I already knew) but her phrasing and calm approach to it all made my heart swell.  

Miss Williams as genuinely interested in how we parented in our house, saying she had never come across a child quite like her before, so interested in the underlying meaning of issues and topics of discussion.  She is also the extension creative writing course teacher and she told me how she can't believe that Harriet was in Year One last year; that her writing is on par with many of her Year Five students.  Apparently the opening sentence of her current story is a real cracker (when I got home and asked Harriet if she could remember it, she rattled off "Tutankhamen was lying in his coffin when he awoke with a shout" - love it) and here we all were at home worrying about whether she'd get into the class or not.  Concerns alleviated!


And yep, I'm just spouting off a lovefest bragpost about Harriet.  But you know what?  After all the stressed out, high maintenance stuff I've posted over the years it seems only fair that I celebrate when she demonstrates just how great she is as well.  On the weekend just gone I had numerous comments about how adults have enjoyed her company (no fewer than three separate adults told me this in the space of 48hrs) and how gentle she's been in the company of much younger children.

She has also entered the much-anticipated stage of mature discussion.  On Saturday evening after catching up with some friends and their 'newborn' (6wks old is still really little, c'mon!), Harriet, Ted, James and I walked around the parks at Balmain over to Ballast Point and back again. 

On the walk Harriet held her own while discussing indigenous culture and British colonialism ("Why isn't there a day where we can say sorry to Aboriginal people about what happened?").  Indigenous culture is her latest HSIE topic and her school has close ties to the local indigenous communities.  They've had a local elder come in to talk about how indigenous people have a connection to the land, how they used the land to sustain them without overusing the natural resources, and talked about indigenous artists.


The art is the domain of the aforementioned Miss Williams.  She mentioned last week on Friday, in a half joking manner, that the children's 'homework' was to go to the Art Gallery and see a certain artwork.  Come Monday and she couldn't believe it when about half the class came up to her to say that they had, indeed, gone to see it!  Ah yes, that's the kind of nerdy family unit that sends their child to this school.  Bunch of left-wing inner city intelligentsia, terrible stuff.

But our trip to the Art Gallery was our first Mama/Harriet outing in a long while.  We got to walk through a Pro-Life rally, which elicited a lot of discussion; we ate lunch sprawled over the grass in the Domain, luxuriating in the warmth of a strong autumn sun; we watched the speakers corner and talked about their topics (obesity, peak oil); walked back through Hyde Park past the St Patrick's Day celebrations and met back up with James and Ted.  It was a beautiful afternoon with my gorgeous, intelligent, warm, sweet, engaging daughter. 

We also loved it when Harriet filled out the song selection area of her disco envelope.  Each of the children going to the disco get to choose five songs that they'd like to hear.  The playlist is compiled from the songs with the highest number of votes of course.  Harriet's list?  Well, I don't think she's going to jump up and down with the excitement of hearing one of her own, to put it mildly.  If they get one other vote for even one of these votes I'll be amazed.  But goddamn if that songlist is not one of the the cutest thing I've ever seen.  We have struck her with the accursed 'love of unknown music' stick, despite the first four of those being relatively well known amongst our own group of friends (and The Beatles, well, they're the general exception to obscurity). 

Harriet is still a funny, silly, crazy seven-and-a-half-year-old.  She gets in ice fights at parties (see above photo from Saturday), fights with Ted, rejects the cake on her plate at parties (it's always "too sweet"), sings songs at the top of her voice in a language she makes up then and there, plays protracted games with her dolls, creates shops and schools and cafes.

We have even had our own music class for the past two weeks running.  Here Ted is awaiting further instruction, while Harriet lays out the instruments (piano and violin drawn on blocks of wood with chalk, a drum and 'clapsticks' aka chopsticks) and pages inscribed with music for us to play under her direction.


It has been the weekend of Harriet.  She has impressed me, entertained me and soothed me.  She is everything one could want in a child.  She's mine and I love her with everything I have.

 And no you can't have her, not even on loan, not even for a little bit.

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