28 September 2008

How Homeschoolers Party

We have just had a combined foursome birthday party.  Naturally, this was a Costume party and was organised some time in advance. The local Hall was booked as it has a kitchen, dance floor, plenty of parking and a playground for the children and was quite inexpensive. Combining the birthdays of four children was a great excuse to get together.
By way of background this is how a typical homeschooling party works here. People are invited as families. All the family, parents, older and younger children, are all welcome. The concept of dropping the children off and going home is such a strange concept for us.  Each family brings a main meal and a dessert dish which is all served in the communal eating area at the appropriate times. Email is the key to maintain contact with the families spread across the country.
We had visitors from as far south as 8 hours away in Victoria, and North about 8 hours in Northern New South Wales and West about 6 hours away in central New South Wales. We estimated that there about 200 or so people in attendance. Some of the parents dressed up too, such as these fine parents reliving the glories of the 60's. Cool dude! They could even dance the part!
As families arrived the children quickly raced off to find others around their hight and the parents greeted each other with great smiles. All looked forward to this type of party.

The Children
A caller was hired to call bush dancing. Earlier dances were mostly for the younger children which meant simple steps and lots of screaming. This photo centres on Rose and Clare having a great time doing the "Kangaroo" dance which works like this: 
Everyone was in a circle with the child chosen as the Kangaroo in the middle. The music starts and the circle moves 8 steps right then 8 steps left and they rush in - yell - rush out and then in - yell - and out and the Kangaroo hops around and picks someone to be the next kangaroo and it goes around again. It ends up when the caller said he wanted 2, then 4, then 8, then 16 then everyone in the middle as Kangaroos. (If you click on the photo you will get a more detailed view of Rose throroughly enjoying the dance.)
Between dances they had a great time playing in the playground outside or just running around.

The Youth
The girls all greeted each other with the traditional "energy exchange" hug. You know the type - a squeal of delight, then quick hug with an air kiss or brush of cheeks. All girls do this and my theory is that it is a form of energy exchange.
The boys method of energy exchange is a gruff "Gedday" and then shake hands firmly, quickly followed by hands in pockets, a slight shuffle of the feet with "How're ya goin" and so on.
Once these traditional routines have been exchanged, the Youth mix in various mixed groups updating each other since they last met or chatted online. Once the dancing started in earnest, they all went into the hall (some "volunteered" by their parents) and began bush dancing.
The youth had a great collection of costumes, the girls mostly in flowing style dresses and boys in quite a variety of outfits from Ned Kelly, hobo, Zorro, Where's Wally, Soldier, James Bond, Bob the Bludger, a crusader with a real sword (the boys were impressed) and a motley collection of pirates.

The Adults
The parents were able to have conversations beyond sport and weather (although these too were covered). We discussed politics, religion, the saving of the world, the qualities of great priests and bishops, literature, Global "Warming" and how cold it has become and even occasionally mentioned curriculum and homeschooling methods. Basically it is socialisation for adults too.
The average number of children at this party is about 5 children. So that is roughly one adult to three children or so, aged from 2 months to 21 years old. Now you have to imagine how three dads talk at this type of party. There we were standing next to the playground - minding the children as it were - while the children frolicked all over the equipment and we randomly looked in their direction.
One child who I don't know walked right toward me and pointed his finger at my chest. "Can you get me a drink?" "Sure," I reply and break off the conversation and get him a drink from the drink urn which was too high for him.
Upon returning to the two other Dads, I catch on to where the conversation has turned and the child of one of the other dads asks him, "Where's Mum" "Over there," he replies pointing. Then the third dad is interrupted with another child. But this has all become so second nature our conversation continues merrily along. As we recall the conversation with our wives, these interruptions are not mentioned and our wives assume we had all the time to ourselves while they were continually interrupted with children.
(This last picture is of Martin pretending he has no broken leg when I really was watching him in the playground.)
The story of our children's costumes is detailed here.

1 comment:

patternnuts said...

Oh to have a party like that! :) It sounds like a wonderful time!