A bank holiday Monday was the last day of our (very!) long weekend. We’d booked in (with Lizzie K and Rosa) to see a 9am session of short films for kids at ACMI. I’d wondered whether we’d struggle to get into town so early, but as Maisie had woken bright-eyed at 5.30am asking whether the film was about to start, we had no trouble making it there on time (far too early, in fact!). It was Tommy’s first trip to the cinema and he didn’t want to sit down – he was a bit spooked by the dark auditorium and the closed doors. And what didn’t help was the security guard who came up and said that if we hadn’t taken our seats within 30 seconds we would be evicted (due to fire regulations). [I wrote to the venue afterwards noting that it was rather a heavy-handed approach given that the session was aimed at 2-year-old children, and suggesting that they could perhaps, in future, use a more child-friendly space, but they didn’t really get my point, they just responded by restating their fire regulations].
Happily, once the films had started, both kids were transported (despite their refrain of ‘can we go to the cafe now?’ after each one!). It was a really imaginative selection of very short, mainly wordless, films from all over the world, utilising many different animation techniques. The first was a stunningly beautiful and haunting tale of a tiny fox exploring a desert island and dreaming of a huge whale, which he finally encounters as a giant skeleton on the mirror sands. There was an amusing vignette about a ballerina wolf and a cheeky duck (which had all the kids giggling), one about a confused moose living a turbulent life in a snow globe, another about a greedy tiger cub, another about a handy hippo who builds a bird house. There were some ugly computer animations about aliens and fantastical lands, but one of them – a bizarre story about a young girl going up into the mountains for her yearly ‘head changing’ ceremony – made a great impression on Maisie!
After a chaotic post-film coffee/catch-up with Lizzie in the ACMI cafe (it was like herding cats), Maisie, Tommy and I hopped on to the 67 tram and ended up travelling all the way to the Booran Reserve – I hoped they would burn off some energy in the adventure playground. The place was stupidly busy as per usual – Maisie immediately disappeared and Tommy found a quiet spot and refused to move an inch. Luckily after a while it started to rain and I was able to locate Maisie in the thinning crowds, and make our escape!
We met our new neighbours on our return home – Emma and her two girls, aged 3 and 7. Maisie and Camille (the older girl) clicked immediately. They played gymnastics in the park and sat down and wrote stories together. It all seemed very nice – a friendship I’d definitely like to encourage! Tommy wasn’t quite so accommodating with Harriet – he doesn’t like anyone rearranging his toys!
It felt particularly exciting to be on my own at 9am on Tuesday after I’d dropped Tommy and Maisie off at kinder/school! I made the most of my precious hours off with an early film (my local cinema opens at 10am most days – how civilised!). It was ‘My cousin Rachel’, a classy adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier thriller with Rachel Weisz as a wonderful scheming widow (all smouldering dark-eyed glances in the guttering candlelight), set in lush Hardy-esque countryside. Afterwards I met Roni and Jules for an Elwood cafe lunch. We moaned about our kids, as we generally do, and felt better for it afterwards! I also enjoyed an unusual bagel sandwich of roasted mushrooms and cannellini bean hummus.
On Wednesday I was very surprised when my exercise class trainer called to say that I was the only person booked in to the morning’s session, and that he would be happy to come to me. So I had a full 50-minute one-to-one personal training session in the park across my road. As I panted through the endless squats and lunges I was relieved not to encounter anyone I knew in the park! The post-exercise soreness lasted several days longer than it usually does.
The weekend was broken up by a few play-dates, the first on Friday evening after school when Maisie, Tommy and I descended on Maisie’s friend Jasper’s house for a movie night. Only Maisie was too scared by all the movie options (all Disney kids films) so we made pizzas, waved sparklers and constructed glow-in-the-dark headbands instead (while Tommy bashed away at Jaspers miniature drum-kit). On Saturday we met up with Maisie’s friend Juno at the Melbourne Museum. We explored the new children’s galleries further.
Tommy enjoyed making patterns (see picture) and shining a giant torch which lit up a series of stuffed night-birds, frogs and crickets, each of which made it’s call when illuminated – a lovely exhibit! Maisie had planned her itinerary beforehand – and had even written it up – ‘we miot see the shioney rox’, ‘we miot see the rain forist’ with accompanying drawings. She and Juno did indeed see all these things! In the park outside the museum, the great elms were glowing golden with the last of their autumnal foliage. The tree shadows on the bright panels of the museum cladding were striking too.
On Sunday Gamelan DanAnda held an open house event. I was keen to be involved but with both kids in tow I wasn’t sure how useful I was going to be! Having managed the long 2-tram journey to Thornbury without incident, once we were stuck inside the gamelan studio, things got tricky, mainly due to Tommy just wanting to shout, poke about and run around (he’s not at the easiest age!).
The afternoon was a mix of performances and workshops. While we were performing the kids set up camp at my feet (i.e. on the stage). When they weren’t trying to bang the instruments, Tommy would utilise any silence to ask ‘is it all finished now?’! Maisie was very keen to take part in the workshop and she did pretty well with the rhythms, if not the technique. I had the extra challenge, while teaching her, of trying to manage Tommy on my lap, who was loudly pronouncing ‘gamelan is boring’! He did enjoy banging a small gong for a while, but was soon complaining of his arm being sore. Thankfully the whole event was pretty informal, so I don’t think my feral children ruined it too much (and we didn’t stay too long).