It's that time of year (December 1) when Jasmine's school make us all (parents and pupils, but if you have younger/older siblings please don't allow them to talk or run around or in anyway attempt to enjoy themselves as they will be a distraction and that is VERBOTEN) gather together in the school grounds to celebrate something, winter maybe? Being freezing cold certainly (-6 plus windchill = a feels like temp of -15, f*****g freezing in anybody's book).
The children have spent a couple of weeks making paper and glue lanterns at school which they then suspend from a short wooden stick and stick a lighted candle (none of this new fangled electricity allowed, oh no, we need the opportunity for ignition of complete lantern and possibly child to add to the frisson of excitement engendered by a walk through the snowy woods in the pitch black (apart from the flickering candles that is - if the force whatever Siberian gale doesn't blow then all out).
First we got a song or 2 (I don't know the words, although 1 did seem to be to the tune of 'Auld Lang Syne') then the children went off through the woods with minimal adults accompanying - not because we didn't want to (although actually, I really didn't want to, I'm in the woods often enough as it is with the dog & I prefer to be there when it's light and I can see where I'm walking, I find it safer that way) but because they don't want parents coming along with electric/battery torches and chattering to each other and spoiling the atmosphere for the children.
While the children stumbled through the woods trying to keep on their feet and to keep their candles alight we stood around in the playground making small talk and getting slowly sloshed on glühwein (I knew there was a good reason for going) then the children got back, there's more singing, but NO talking from the adults (on pain of death) and then we got to go indoors where each class put on an individual little show (happy face) - in Jas's case it's a fraction of a show we will see the whole of on the last day of term (when other family members can come along too*). At least the classrooms were warm.
Pity those parents with the misfortune to have 2 (or more) kids at the school - how do they manage to be in two differnt classrooms (quite possibly in 2 different buildings) at the same time in order to witness their little darling's performance and record it for posterity (or youtube)? That's when spouses come in very handy - if you can persuade them to leave the comfort of their centrally heated offices early...
Next year Jas will be in year 4, so I only have to revisit this experience (standing around in the freezing cold flirting with hypothermia whilst listening to kids singing) once more.
The event itself was almost eclipsed by my walk home, going past the house of the man who has security and gates and cameras, there were what appeared to be 2 security men outside his gate, busy conferring. Odd, I thought, not seen that before. Then I rounded the bend to our house and could see 2 cops on the junction ahead, pacing around. Really odd, I thought. As I was leaning out of the window, 5 minutes later, trying to see what the cops were up to, Ben rang from the other side of said junction, where he was babysitting, he also wanted to know what the cops were doing...it turned out they were just waiting for the truck with the road salt...I almost wish I hadn't found out now!
Roll on groundhog day 2011.
* that'll be you M&D & Ed!!