Yesterday I learned the meaning of another Aussie phrase: Curriculum Day.
Curriculum Day is a day in which school/childcare shuts down for the benefit of teachers. In our case we were told it is used for teachers' training. Regardless, it is also a day in which us parents are held hostage to a society that is generally indifferent to work/life balance concerns. In other words, us parents are forced to take a day off work. And in other words, Australian society firmly expects the mother to stay at home and look after the child rather than have a life of her own. Surely replacement carers can be found to look after the children while the core crew goes on training?
Last year I was staying home one day a week with my son. Given that this year I am back to full time work I used the opportunity so politely offered by Curriculum Day to have a midweek adventure with my son. It was less than four months ago since the last time I spent a midweek [non holiday] day with him, but what a difference those months make!
Last time around our three year old was still having regular afternoon sleeps, which meant that the day's activities had to be planned around the sleep. By now these sleeps are an extra rather than mandatory; although the child definitely turns into a monster when deprived of his sleep, a short nap in the car is all it takes. Longer naps actually hurt as they drive his night time sleep routine berserk.
With that in mind we made our way to Scienceworks, otherwise known as the science museum. The intention was to take our son to his first ever planetarium show but that turned out a disappointment: during the week they only have shows for organized school trips or shows aimed at adults in the afternoon. Not only that, their main exhibition area was closed off in preparation for upcoming attractions. Still, we had great fun.
From the shorter than expected Scienceworks escapade we drove to nearby Williamstown where we had ourselves a Nandos meal. Again, the recent months accrued under my son's belt made a difference. Sure, he is still in need of constant surveillance and frequent tours of the public toilet, but we did share a nice meal. That meal was topped off by Italian ice cream: we sat opposite one another, eating our desserts while scanning the lovely docks/water/city views outside. For all intents and purposes, I was having ice cream with a boy rather than a toddler.
Taking advantage of the sunny weather we took for a stroll by the boats, scanned the parked battleship and played around the pretend battleship that is the local park's playground. Tired but happy, we made our way home.
Now compare that experience to the races I used to have last year when taking my son to the same museum. We had to leave home early enough to be at the museum's gates when it opened in order to have ourselves an hour or so of action before we had to rush home for the sleep; any delays and my son would fall asleep in the car, which would mean he won't want to sleep upon arrival at home, which would mean the rest of the day turns into a horror show. On the other hand, spending a fully active day with him proved quite a tiring affair: working around afternoon sleeps is hard, but at least you get some time for yourself.
The main conclusion I draw from this whole affair is this. Children's habits change as they grow, but one thing remains constant: their demand for parental attention. In other words, once a parent, always a slave. There's your curriculum day's training worth!