A letter of gratitude to our still-at-home children
To Our Four Noise Makers,
Yes, you are noisy! Happily, joyfully, wonderfully noisy. Dad and I do often wish there was a little less noise for our own sanity but we recognise that the noise levels indicate happy, healthy children. We are looking forward to the day we visit you with YOUR children and you ask “Are kids EVER quiet?” We are going to enjoy that day a lot!
You have had so much to learn since June 3, 2011 and you have soaked up all that information like huge sponges.
Remember when you didn’t know there was a hot water tap and I did not know you didn’t know there was a hot water tap? It was the middle of winter and I found Miss O 1 shivering after getting out of the shower. We quickly got the hot water happening! It wasn’t until months later when a co-worker mentioned hot water just isn’t needed in West Africa. I can’t say I ever missed hot water when I was there, so NOW I understand. NOW we can’t get Mr O Jnr 1 & 2 out of the shower! What is it with teenage boys and showers?
Miss O 1, you still sometimes walk to the wrong side of the car, but I think perhaps that is just because you are now keen to get your “L” plates. Speaking of “L” plates, do you remember being surprised that Dad had a WOMAN to test his driving?
Mr O Jnr 1, do you remember being absolutely horrified that you had to say “please” and “thank you” to your sisters? Maybe even to your female teachers? Dad explained to you that in Australia the culture is to say ”please” and “thank you” all the time, even to the shop assistant giving you change. You thought this all very strange! As you now realise, it is just different: here you don’t bow to people, but you do say ”please” and “thank you”!
I will forever remember your horror when I QUIETLY threatened to just turn off the computer if you didn’t go to bed……. and then I just did it!
“Mum, that is not cool” you yelled.
“My job isn’t to be cool, it is to be Mum.”
Dad and I know sometimes you think we are “tough”, but it is our job to steer you along the path of life. Our job is not just about putting food in your mouths, clothes on your back and a roof over your heads. Our job is teach you to make good decisions in life, to make the right choices. Yes, that includes not wearing your jeans down around your bum, boys! Just because you see something here or on TV, does NOT make it cool.
Our job is to make sure you get enough sleep and eat GOOD foods even, Miss O 2, if they are GREEN!
Mr O 2, our budding computer whiz and cuddle king, who likes to curl up in the big bed when I leave for work: you have a lot of ability and you have recently learnt that EFFORT brings results and your maths have improved. To quote your favourite saying, “That’s what we’re talkin’ about!” It is no small feat to be recognised as a Sim City expert at school and be asked to help other classes use this teaching aid when you have only been here just over twelve months and had never used such learning tools before. Put that level of effort into ALL your learning and you will go far!
Miss O 2 has now taken your lead and got all her spelling words right twice in a row! This from someone who initially let her teacher think she only learnt English last year! Hmmmmmmmmmm Well done, young lady!
I know from experience you, Mr O Jnr 2, are a lateral thinker. Do you remember the hot water bottles? Kept those toes nice and toasty at night in the depths of winter? Then we got to the heat of summer and we wanted to cool down those same little toes, right? As much as I was horrified to find a hot water bottle cooling off in the FREEZER, I had to admire the thought process that put that hot water bottle there!
You all have dreams of having a nice house and a nice car and the latest clothes when you grow up: trust me, those things don’t fall out of the sky. There is an old saying, you reap what you sow. Sow effort now and you will reap the rewards later with well-paid jobs or a successful business. Sit around letting weeds grow in your brain and you will spend your adult life regretting you didn’t plant those seeds of effort.
Miss O 1, you really have been a wonder. I think sometimes you take on too much responsibility for your siblings at the expense of your own school work. When I stop and think about what you have been through and how you have strived to adapt to your new environment, including wearing that damn skirt
too so short, I am just so impressed with your efforts. I can’t believe how well your writing and composition have soared in twelve months. You’ve thrown yourself into social activities as if you’ve been here all your life.
Mr O Jnr 1, we do recognise that you have probably experienced the most cultural change that you didn’t necessarily see as positive, at least initially. You came from a society where being male and the oldest son carried with it a certain status that you have almost had to say good-bye to in Australia. We know your head spins every time Miss O 1 and I joke with you that “women run Australia!” Here you take turns to sit in the front seat of the car, something that would never have happened “back home”. Learning that here you have to EARN seniority has been strange for you. Sharing and equality isn’t so bad when you get used to it, is it? Apart, perhaps, from dishes duty. Yet YOU are the one who puts in EFFORT to get that kitchen sparkling! I admire you for that, Mr O Jnr 1. Why? Because to put effort into something you actually do not like doing shows you can be responsible and that will be a characteristic people will value in you all your life if you continue to develop it in all areas.
I remember when both you boys were shocked that men might COOK! Men? Cook? Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? When I pointed out most of the highest paid chefs in the world are men and you saw Master Chef, you decided to give it a try. Remember this picture? I hope the landlady never saw it – or perhaps that is why she put the rent up so much – she feared she might not have a house to rent!
Now Mr O Jnr 2 can cook a pretty good stir-fry and his egg concoctions are second to none! Mr O 1 is not quite so enamoured of cooking, but he would certainly manage to feed himself.
When I went to the laundromat to use the big driers because we had SO much washing and it was raining, Miss O 1 asked me, on my return with folded, dry washing, “Who folded the washing?”
I stared at her blankly: “I did, who else was going to?” In Nigeria there would have been someone to fold the washing in a situation like that. They may not get paid very much at all, but there would be someone. No, here the average person has to do those things themselves, unless they are a bit richer than we are! On the other hand, we don’t have to walk miles to get water here when the plumbing breaks down. Personally, I’m happy to fold the washing!
Dad and I understand that all of you have had to adapt to doing things here that you may not have had to do yourselves before. Kudos to you all, as generally speaking you’ve taken those responsibilities and run with them. Sure, you’ve had some learning along the way. Sure, one or other of you has grumbled from time to time, but show me a kid who doesn’t grumble from time to time: I’d be worried such a child was unwell.
Miss O 2, going to be 6ft tall we are sure, you take great pride in getting some things done beautifully. The bathroom vanity always sparkles after you have cleaned it. Drying the knives and forks you are not so keen on, we know. Look to your oldest brother’s example: whether you like doing something or not, put in the same effort. Take pride in achieving a great result!
If ever any of you think something is too hard, look at your father. Remember our visit to see the detention centre: you didn’t even like it from the outside! Look at what your father has achieved in the same time you have been here. You CAN do it!
As a parent, I personally think the biggest challenge for you guys is …… no, not even the cold! It is the fact electricity stays on and therefore TVs and computers and tablets and wi-fi is on 24/7. All this gadgetry just there to become addicted to! Very tempting, I know. Kids who are born around computers get addicted, let alone kids who find these great new toys in their own homes! Please don’t let these things take over your lives! Miss O 2 – are you reading this? The remote is not your best friend!
From me to all of you, THANK YOU for being great kids.
Sadly for you, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to go to bed on time tonight, by the way.