I recently came across this site in my web-travels, and I was greatly encourage to realise that so many Australians feel deeply ashamed of our government’s current (and actually, many previous) policies towards Asylum Seekers. Especially those who arrive by boat.
I don’t believe for one second that any of our so-called leaders would hesitate to use whatever means necessary to protect the lives of their families. Even if that meant hopping on an ‘illegal’ boat.
It is not illegal to seek asylum, and yet we are treating asylum seekers worse than we treat criminals. Locking someone up indefinitely, and not giving any information about the progress of their claim, is obviously going to cause that person significant distress. At least criminals, trialled and sentenced by a judge, know how long they will be locked up for. At least they know what waits for them afterwards.
Imagine being so desperate for a chance at a better life and risking everything to get there in an overcrowded, unseaworthy boat. Imagine surviving such a journey only to be locked up on the other side. Imagine spending months, even years, hoping that any day now you will be released and you will be able to start the process of bringing your family to safety. If they are still alive.
Imagine dreading, at the same time, that any day now, your claim will be rejected and you will be sent back to the exact situation you risked everything to escape.
We have been doing this to people for years, under both major parties. This is bad enough. This should have stopped already.
But it hasn’t stopped. And now the government thinks it doesn’t have to answer our questions about what exactly is happening, and why it hasn’t stopped. They don’t think we need to worry about breaking international laws, or violating basic human rights.
That is why these pictures make me so happy. Australians are trying to show Asylum Seekers that we do care. That they are welcome here. That we want this treatment to stop.
I hope Asylum Seekers somehow get the message, and that it brings them hope.
I hope the Australian Government gets the message, too.
1. I feel like I owe you an apology for getting all stressed and worried about you last year. For trying to work out what was ‘wrong’ with you. For perhaps having unrealistic expectations of your behaviour. Yes, you were sometimes wild and unruly. Yes, you often caused me alarm by running away and not listening. Yes, you would much rather play or run around than sit still and be told what to do. And actually, all of those things are still true now. But you have matured and settled so much in the last few months that I think all you really needed from me was time, patience and understanding. I feel I didn’t always give you these things because I was too busy worrying and comparing you to other kids. I guess that’s your unlucky lot for being the first. You get to bear the brunt of my anxiety about whether I’m doing a good enough job, how long whatever ‘phase’ you’re in will last, or whether what you’re doing is ‘normal’. I can’t promise I won’t ever worry about you again, but I can promise to try and let things be and give you a chance to just be you, in future. It’ll be okay.
2. Year 1 suits you! It’s business time at school and you have really stepped up to the plate. You are packing your own bag in the morning, getting yourself ready, sometimes even making yourself breakfast. The when we get to school, you take yourself to your classroom, get your things out independently and go inside. Of course, there have been occasional memory lapses, ie. the time you forgot that the bell meant stop playing on the play equipment and go to class… but overall you are doing great.
3. Your reading has improved also in just a few short weeks. I think it’s mostly because your confidence and willingness to try new words has grown. You see yourself as a ‘reader’ now and it’s making a huge difference. You even like trying to work out how some words are spelt. I think you will move along in leaps and bounds this year. And if you don’t, well that’s ok, too.
4. Socially, you also seemed to have matured. You have been talking about which friends you play with at lunch and there seem to be a few more in the group than there were before. You made me especially proud a couple of weeks ago when you told me that you divide your lunch time between two of your friends because one of them, your best friend, doesn’t like to play soccer, but you do. So you play soccer for half of lunch and spend the rest of lunch with him. You even told me that you have told this boy about your blankies (a big social taboo, according to you), and that you know he won’t tell anyone else because he’s your best friend. I hope you are right! It could be that you are a good judge of character, like your Dad.
5. You had your first game of soccer for the season last weekend and you really enjoyed yourself. We were a little doubtful about whether you would play this year, as you had a bit of a freak out on sign-up day. But you seem to have got over it and you had a great game.
6. We are once again tackling the inconvenience of homework. Your teachers expect 15 minutes a day of reading, sight words and other activities from your homework book. So, even though I don’t agree with homework, especially for kids your age, I find myself coaxing you into it. I’m happy to report that, so far, it hasn’t been too hard. But I know a time will probably come when the novelty wears off.
7. Last weekend the three of you spent some time riding out on the road in our cul-de-sac while I vacuumed and washed the car. It made me realise how independent you guys are becoming. I loved watching you zoom down the road on your bike, having fun with your friends from across the road, the way we used to as kids. I look forward to giving you more opportunities for this kind of play as you get older.
8. You told us last week that you would like to play electric guitar. It’s the first time you’ve ever expressed a desire to do something musical so I’m excited! You’re a pretty good singer, too so maybe you’ll be a guitarist/vocalist in a band one day? Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to live vicariously through you… maybe I should just take one step at a time and get you a small acoustic guitar for your birthday. Or ukulele?
9. You might be a cat person, like your Dad. I overheard you telling him the other day that you liked patting Elle (our cat), because she was more calming than Winston (dog). You said Winston tries to lick a lot but it’s not very relaxing. You liked that Elle doesn’t get that excited. It’s nice having this little insight into your personality, but I have to disagree just a bit. Cats have their moments but who doesn’t enjoy having a dog that loves you so much they just can’t keep still when they see you? I must have made a mistake somewhere, I haven’t raised you properly.
10. The other day, when I was busy cleaning the car, you made yourself and your sisters sandwiches for lunch and then apologised for not making me one because there was no bread. Gotta love a boy who makes lunch.
1. Prep is going well for you so far. You cried every morning for the first couple of weeks, but then your teacher started playing the Sound Waves song at goodbye time, and now you drop everything and dance!
2. You really are a gregarious little person. Bubbly and friendly, when we walk through playground on the way to school you wave and say hi to friends, teachers and parents. I love your confidence and willingness to be anyone’s friend.
3. You have one new friend in particular who you seem very attached to, and she to you. In the afternoons we sometimes stay at the play equipment so the two of you can play for longer. I admire how generous and unembarrassed the two of you are with each other. It seems like a solid, genuine friendship, even though you are both only 5.
4. We are still getting screamy tantrums from you quite regularly. I think some of it can be put down to tiredness after big days at school. But I do wish you weren’t quite so prepared to screech at us.
5. You have a very kind heart. We recently gave some blankets and toys to a Sudanese family who have just moved to our area after fleeing their country and spending the last 5 years in a refugee camp in Egypt. We all had a discussion about what that would feel like, and I can tell you really got it. You said you felt sad for them and wished they didn’t have to run away. It made you feel better that we were doing something small to help them set up their new home, and to make them feel welcome in our community.
6. You have had a big growth spurt in the last week or so. I can physically see that you’re suddenly taller. I keep wondering who those long legs belong to? My little Molly is growing up!
7. We had hoped that you might try rollerblading lessons this term for sport because you love rollerblading so much, and seem to have a natural talent for it. But on your first day, you put your foot down (wheels down?) and refused to have a go. I was pretty disappointed. I haven’t been able to work out where your apparent anxiety about it has come from; we’d been to the skate centre before and you had an absolute ball. Anyway, you’re now saying you’d rather do swimming, so we have you booked in starting this week. I guess we can always try rollerblading further down the track.
8. You have been a star getting ready for school in the morning since I implemented the ‘tick chart’ system (all you kids get yourselves ready, ticking off jobs as you go). You weren’t too bad to begin with, actually, but the visual aide helps you to organise yourself more efficiently and get more play time at the end.
9. Sometimes you are a little know-it-all, and it reminds me so much of me that I can’t help cringing just a little bit. At this age it is extremely cute, and I love hearing what you think about ‘taste bugs’, and why we should brush our teeth and look after our pets, etc. I just hope you don’t find out the hard way that your peers probably won’t appreciate all of your helpful advice.
10. You are a bit of a scallywag at times lately, and don’t mind giving a loud ‘no!’ to most instructions. I think you do it just to be annoying because most times you go ahead and do what you’ve been asked anyway, you just need to be a little bit defiant first.
1. You love us to do ‘Round and round the garden’ with you, and ‘This little piggy’, only you make us substitute the teddy bear and the piggies for werewolves. “This little werewolf went to market, this little werewolf stayed home, this little werewolf had roast Neave, this little werewolf had none, and this little werewolf went Awooooooooooo all the way home!”
2. You still come into our bed in the very early hours of most mornings. And when you don’t come, I miss you.
3. Now that both your older siblings are at big school, you are going to have to learn to make your own friends. You like playing with other kids, but you tend to let Molly and Tiernan break the ice before you will join in and play with them. It will be interesting to see how you go.
4. So far, you have been enjoying our Mummy and Neavie days at home while the others are at school. However, yesterday you told me it was too quiet and you wanted Tiernan and Molly to be home with us. I felt bad for you but I think you will get used to it. I like the peace and quiet! But will admit to being slightly bored sometimes and not really sure what to do with you. You want to be entertained. I don’t always want to be entertaining. We’ll have to work it out between us.
5. In one of my more ‘entertaining’ moments, we invented a game where we are monsters and we hunt teddies to eat around the house. We sneak up on them quietly and then pounce at the last minute and gobble them up. Then we be cuddle monsters on the couch after our big lunch.
6. You like helping me in the garden. You put on your over-sized gloves and dig around in the dirt, and then you want to plant seeds so I tip some into your tiny hand and you pour them into the hole. Five minutes later you ask if they’re ready yet.
7. This week you went to Kindy two days for the first time since moving here. I thought you would take a while to get used to it but you actually seemed quite keen to go, and only freaked out just a little bit at drop off time. This is a really good thing!
8. I’m looking forward to you starting swimming lessons again in a few weeks. You recently made a breakthrough and you’re now able to propel yourself forward very well under water. Coming up for air is a problem for you though and we often have to pull you up so you can take a breath. It will be nice when we don’t have to worry about that!
9. I still can’t quite believe that this time next year, you might be at big school too. I’m very undecided about whether or not you should go next year, and whether or not I want you to. No decision needs to be made yet, but it won’t be long. You’re just so little. It would be nice to have you home for longer, but we both might get bored. I wonder if you will be ready in a year? We can only wait and see.
10. You have been quite independent about getting dressed for a long time now, but I love that you still put your sandals on the wrong feet every single time. You are very good natured about fixing it though when I point it out to you. You just sit down and get on with it.
So, Molly is at big school at last. We’re up to Day Three – the above photo was taken on Day One.
All is going well so far, although poor little Molly is finding it very overwhelming, and very exhausting. There have been lots of tears (hers, not mine), lots of ‘ feeling wobbly’ nerves, lots of ‘pep talks’, and lots of hugs with teachers aides at drop-off time. Poor sensitive little thing! I have to admit to being just a little bit surprised by all this, although deep down I knew it wouldn’t all be smooth sailing for her. She does have rather a flair for the dramatic. I am a little bit surprised that she’s the only one in her class to have cried every day so far, though. I wonder how long it will last? I’m not particularly worried about it, although it is a little heart breaking, having to prise her off me and walk away each day, while she cries that she just wants to be with me!
However, her teacher assures me that these episodes don’t last long, and that she is happy and participating well throughout the rest of the day. Plus, her face says it all at home time – happy, enthusiastic and brimming with news about what she did and who she played with.
Just like me, she has a few slight problems with adjusting to school, and she has told me all about them, in tears, on the way to school… She doesn’t like sitting on her bottom all day, she thinks the other children don’t like her (which we ended up agreeing is not the case, especially after I pointed out how happy one girl in particular was to see her on her second day), she doesn’t like wearing her shoes all day, and she misses me. I am told my issues when starting school were having to sit up straight all day (I might have been exaggerating this slightly), and I also had difficulty wearing my shoes full time. So, we can clearly see who she gets it from.
Despite all of this, I am confident that Molly will soon settle in to school. Being so friendly and social, she can’t help but make friends quickly. Academically, I think she will have an easier time than Tiernan, simply because she is better able to sit and focus her attention for longer, and is already keen to start reading and writing. Being interested is really the first step, so she has the advantage there.
Speaking of Tiernan, he has started Year 1 with confidence, so far. He didn’t seem keen for the holidays to end, so I was a little worried that he would be difficult to motivate of a morning. However, he has done a great job getting himself ready for school for these first three days. Who knows how long it will last, but it’s a good start anyway.
Tiernan has two teachers this year. I met both on the first day and I came away with good first impressions of them. His teachers also gave each parent a ‘Parent Survival Kit’, complete with minties, chocolate and tea bags, so I am practically won over already! I just hope Year 1 isn’t too serious for Tiernan. He’s a kid who appreciates the funny things in life, and it would be a shame to smother that with too much work and not enough play.
Each afternoon after school so far, we have been staying back at the Year 1 playground (which is awesome), so the kids can let off steam after a big day. Tiernan has been tearing around on the oval for a good thirty minutes each time, so it’s obvious he’s got energy to burn. Much better to let him do it straight away than have it pent up for the car trip home! I feel this a good strategy for a more peaceful afternoon and evening. I must remember not to book any after school appointments for a while though.
Meanwhile, Neave will be at Kindy two days per week, starting next week, so she’s also in for a bit of a shock. She’s been going one day for the last few weeks, and for the second half of last year, but this will be new to her. Awesome news for me as I will get two kid-free days at home, until I start working again soon. Neave seems to be adjusting well to the Kindy room. Her teachers report she has been opening up even more without Molly around, so this is good news. I think the second day each week will actually help her feel more comfortable there, as she’ll have more time to settle in and less time in between visits.
I have very much been enjoying our quiet days at home together! Neave has been asking frequently when it is time to pick Tiernan and Molly up, so she misses them a bit, but she is very happy each morning when she learns that it is another Mummy and Neavie day at home! I think it won’t be too long until she starts to get bored, though, so I will have to give Playgroup a call next week, and get more motivated for things like walks and trips to the park. But it has been a nice easing-in period this week.
So, now we’re all up to date on the school front. Fingers crossed it’s a good year for us all :-)
The kids and I have just come back from our 12 day visit to the Blue Mountains and NSW South Coast. It was lovely, being home again, catching up with friends and family. We visited some of our favourite people and places, and in the process realised how much we’ve been missing them.
I just felt like sharing some photos I took on the first day of our stay in the Mountains. A few months ago, some serious bush fires threatened the area, with nearly 200 houses burning down. Our old suburb escaped unscathed, apart from some last-minute controlled burning conducted by the Firies, to help reduce the threat to homes near the bush. They burnt out a large area of bush that we used to live very close to, and that Tom’s parents still live right in. The kids and I went for a walk to the look out just to see how much it had all changed.
We returned to Tom’s parents’ house with black feet and mixed emotions. There was some sadness at the changes to ‘our’ bush, but also happiness and even pride at how quickly the bush springs back to life afterwards. The kids were fascinated to learn that fire is actually good for many trees and plants, as it clears out the undergrowth and even helps germinate seeds. I remember feeling the same way after witnessing similar bush fires in the area as a kid. It made me realise that this stuff is all part of growing up in the bush, and while I’m obviously devastated for those who were immediately affected by the fires, I’m also glad that my kids got to experience this event, from a safe distance. Hopefully this will help them to build a healthy respect for the environment in which we live.