It’s the last week of school and it’s well, not really. “School” as I used to know it, I mean.. More like a short week of fun-filled activities. It’s the height of summer in HK, and another byproduct of typhoon season is scorching heat (especially just before a typhoon hits it gets insanely hot) in the last few days before we break for the summer hols and school camp.
N-ot quite the same as the Malaysian/ Singaporean heat I grew up in (as a one-time police cadet I marched under the scorching Penang sun for about a year), HK summers bring full-on heat warnings. As in, try to stay indoors at the height of it and then we start hearing about someone’s Golden Retriever or Husky collapsing in the heat. There is a giant Lab we know on the Peak whose owners walk him (as in 2.8km) early in the morning or at night.
Rockstar, like Kings, has a tendency to low-grade fevers when out in the sun too long (which is not really that long), so we were pretty happy they were having Water Fun Day on the school playground instead of a full on school beach outing, at least with the periodic heat warnings. Some of my girlfriends briefly considered having one of our playdates on the beach instead (small group more flexi) but we still nixed it due to having to do everything way early to beat the heat (I couldn’t do that to Kings, he’s been out late nights for 3 weeks running). Ironically the beach would be more comfortable if it rained. Even more ironic – did anyone catch that I lived in Penang which is, yes, a hot beach resort island. (Somehow the heat here feels… different. Maybe it’s the pollution that traps the heat in? Hmmm..)
Rockstar’s been looking forward to this ever since he heard there was gonna be a Water Fun Day, there is an end of school year party that has barely made his radar yet because of this event. (Another reason I was secretly glad they didn’t have a school beach day – how would I ever get out of letting him go after he hears about it in school?)
So I get there while they’re just finishing setting up and as expected, there are maybe a half-doz paddling pools and boats (complete with the oars), some of which I learn are loans from other parents. Bet lotsa them are loans, I’ve never seen most of this stuff. And there are umpteen bins with various water-play activities.
Not so expected – there are also stations with for eg fish nets for the children to fish for ping pong balls, on which are printed numbers (which Rockstar enjoys because he loves both fishing and numbers and which I love because I believe some of his most effective learning will not come from sitting in a rigid classroom and having numbers drilled into him).
A deep blue bin yields some sparkle and all manner of sea creatures – pufferfish, seahorses, shrimp… Another has laminated leaves and various other flotsam and jetsam. Also bowls, plates, utensils for a tea party… Watering cans, sieves… Umpteen vessels and tools for getting yourself or someone else totally wet… And measuring jugs. Briefly, I consider a conversation about units of measurement (Rockstar measures out his own medication, reads me the temperature numbers – told him some numbers are meaningless without also the measurement unit – degrees celsius? mililitres?) but quickly forget it as all around me the party heats up and water starts to fly (I was in swimsuit under my tee and berms). I grab a squirting pufferfish to defend myself. We get to throw water, but any crazy running around in the wet by the kids, or more boisterous activity in the paddling pools, is cut down quickly by all the staff in attendance.
(Rockstar will later tell me he’s learned to call out “red choice!” or someone’s “not sharing/ pushing!” rather than simply shriek or push back… Apparently the last response he got was “Oh ok,” and the other child stopped. Anyway this is according to my 3.5 year old. But it’s neat. They should teach the folks in the dealing rooms this one.)
“Look out!” I look up to find some of the kids from the neighboring primary school watching the water festivities avidly. And then one of Rockstar’s classmates dumps more water on me.
One of the staff provided their car for a car wash station. (The car was already clean – but it got sponged/ wiped down repeatedly even as I poured water over it with a pink teapot). Curious fingers at one point had to be gently shooed away from unscrewing the top off the gas tank and maybe trying to fill it with paddling pool water, but after we explained how cars drink petrol and water would make the car sick they left it alone. (Uh, you’re seriously not supposed to put water in the gas tank right?)
And then the kids get little ice lollies in paper cups, and soon I get a pointed “I’ll see you later, Mum.” Sigh. I’ve been dismissed by the one, the only, the Rockstar.
In the beginning, Rockstar stares in trepidation at the water slide – climbing up, he doesn’t make it down and into the pool, despite much coaxing vacating his spot as other kids behind him clamor for a turn. Though we’ve been to water theme parks quite a few times and one of our development pools has a giant slide, he has a problem with the splash waiting for him at the end (after he went under at Wild Wild Wet.)
It’s like when he initially had a problem with barking dogs, the first time we brought him as a baby to JD’s training school. He still doesn’t like the more boisterous, loud dogs when they start going at each other, but at least he’ll clamber on a park bench, complain, and cover his ears now. I like some of that reservation and fear, it means he doesn’t tug-of-war with someone’s giant Rottweiler over a dogbone, but I didn’t want a little boy who say, cried all the time at barking dogs either…
So after a few more activities we return to the slide. This time he’s forgotten he’s been refusing water slides since he was about 2…
You can imagine my continued delight at getting to volunteer at his school. You know, they call us “volunteers,” and I guess it ups the adult-child ratio (erm, any cares?) but truth is we get so many more opportunities to understand what the school offers (very useful for cutting down the noise most parents are going to encounter at some point as parents will always talk to other parents), learn, and make the most of the Kindergarten for our kids.