Dirty Dancing

We don’t get out as much as a family as I’d like us to. I remember the early days of parenting. We loved dressing up our first born and going out together on little adventures. We loved swanning around together, high off our new family status.

I guess something has been lost in the years since because our second is six weeks old – and today was the first time we *properly* went out as a family.

We stopped going out as much as a family for a few reasons, but mainly it was money and needing to rest. My husband often picks up whatever extra work he can on the weekend and then when he’s not working he takes one of the boys or both of the boys out so I can sleep. If he’s exhausted from working I do the same. We had started to work in shifts, it was great for sleep and rest, each of us getting a bit of “me” time, but it’s not so great for family life. We were getting to be like ships in the errrm…day.

A few weeks ago I took my two and half year old to the Island Bay Festival. My husband had a well deserved few hours rest at home watching the Cricket World Cup (which is my idea of Hell). I raced around with the kids. The MC at the festival announced there would be a dance competition. The toddler, upon hearing the word “dance”, sprinted to the stage and began throwing shapes as only he can. He won the prize for “most memorable dancer”. It was a family pass to a Capital E National Arts Festival Show: Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients.

We decided we would go as a family – It being our firstborn’s first show and all. This morning he woke up with his usual morning mantra “Hello Mama! I’m Eddie!” but then afterward came the SHOW SHOW SHOW SHOW chant that continued unabated for the next five hours, basically until we entered Shed 6 at 11.30am.

The excitement reached fever pitch then. He began shaking all over like some kind of hypothermic chihuahua. On the stage there was piles of “dirt” – coffee beans, cloves, cinnamon, leaves, that kind of thing. In the middle of the stage was a dancer in white and brown with cinnamon sticks balanced on her arms. Well, he could not contain himself. “DIRTY! SHE GOT DIRTY ON HER ARMS!” As the lights went down he started to emit a low-level squeee that continued for the first five minutes of the performance.

There were five very talented dancers from the Java Dance Company – they danced in the coffee beans and cloves and cinnamon and made music by slapping their arms and legs and big wine barrels, and two of them also played the cello, violin, and mandolin. There was a lot of clapping which is basically Eddie’s favourite thing to do after dancing. When they brought out a marching drum it was like he had reached some kind of next level of toddler heaven. He went really quiet and I thought he might be transcending space and time or something.

Then the dancers threw tomatoes at each other. To our toddler this was the funniest thing he had ever seen ever. EVER. As if that wasn’t enough, three of the dancers climbed into a wine barrel full of water. “They in the bath when they dirty dancing!!” he cried. He looked like he might actually cry from witnessing something so incredible. A bath! On a stage! With people dancing in it! The audience of kids were losing their minds at this point.

Mr Boganette and I kept laughing at his thrilled reaction, but as well as the joy of seeing him so happy, we also really enjoyed the show (there was mad chemistry between two of the dancers, a nice extra for parents who haven’t had sex in forever because their kids never sleep).

Just as my little whānau were reaching peak warm fuzziness, the show ended. At 40 minutes it was just the right length for an under-five. Most of the kids in the audience rushed the stage to touch and smell the “dirt” and meet the dancers.

Our tiny dancer declared “I like dat” which is truly his highest praise. It feels like all we usually hear is “I don like dat” so it felt like a small miracle to hear that he could like something. Feeling really chuffed and swoony all over, we decided to have a treat by taking a walk around the harbour. We didn’t know the Waka Ama was on, so that was an added bonus. It was so fun to watch that we decided we would get a kebab each to keep our lovely day going. Our boy, in true toddler fashion, refused to eat any of our kebab, or his healthy snacks that we’d brought with us, so we let him have mini donuts – because fuck it.

As we sat watching the waka action and eating our yummy treats a covers band playing at the park started wailing Paranoid. Then Under My Wheels which Eddie recognised and started screeching “Wheel song! Wheel song!” He started headbanging with a mini donut in each hand.

It was then that I realised that actually, we HAVE to do this more often. It might be a hassle to get out with the kids, we might be broke, we might be tired – but as cheesy as it sounds, reconnecting as a whānau has to be a priority. I find it so easy to put having quality time together in the too hard basket. I keep saying that because we are a chilled out family, and we express our love for each other often, and don’t really fight, we don’t need to be ‘doing stuff’ all the time. I think though, I didn’t realise that we are actually practically never doing stuff at all.

Today really made me realise that going out together, with no distractions, just a fun activity or two, maybe a treat – is just really life-affirming. And important.

In the car on the way home our little one said “Eddie’s happy. Daddy’s happy. Mama’s happy. Widdle Baby Wonnie is happy”. If that isn’t a call to action for my partner and I – well, I don’t know what is.

It’s doubtful we will be able to afford to see any more shows at the National Arts Festival (though I do think they’re really reasonably priced and heaps of them look AWESOME) but I am going to try to seek out things we can do as a family and try to actually do them.

So let me know what you do as a whānau so I can steal your ideas because my brain is mush from lack of sleep.

Also, Widdle Baby Wonnie slept through the whole show drums and all because of course he did. A sneeze at 3am wakes him up but 40 minutes of banging and screaming (Eddie’s) is a lullaby…Go figure.

15 Comments on “Dirty Dancing

  1. Your posts make me laugh and cry every time. Thank you for sharing your same struggles and connecting with mama’s all over the world.

    • Thank you for reading Jennifer! I’m so grateful to everyone who reads and comments – it makes me feel a little less isolated! X

  2. I’ve got a 9 week old and a 2.5 yo, and one of my friends sent a link to your first post to all us mums of newborns. I read it in a sleep deprived haze and was so happy to read my thoughts set down in writing! I’m checking your blog each day for new posts, please keep them coming! It’s something to look forward to after nights of hourly or two hourly feeds for the newborn and random night wakings for the toddler…just trying to survive for now!

    • I know that trying to survive feeling! Thank you so much for reading, I’m glad it struck a chord for you (kind of – because if it struck a chord it means you’re as exhausted as I am!!) I’m definitely going to try to keep blogging! x

  3. We went to a wedding in a cathedral a couple of weeks ago. The baby slept through everything yet wakes up if I even sniff in the middle of the night!

    • Haha they’re never awake when you want them to be my littlie slept through being handed around my office!

  4. We’re six months in with baby #1 and try to go on little adventures when we’re not too knackered. Sometimes it feels too much like hard work but we both feel way more connected (even if it’s just a fast, pre-bathtime burrito + margarita at the bar near our house). Plus, I find when you try to get out together, the sleep-deprived bumps in the road aren’t quite so, well, bumpy! When bubba was in the 6 week phase before his jabs, we used to take him to the beach and have fish’n’chips which was great. I’m regretting it now though because I am seriously porky hahah.
    Love your blog btw.

    • That’s so true about the bumps seeming less bumpy! I didn’t have my usual sense of dread before bed tonight! Fish and chips on the beach is a great idea.

  5. My kids are 5, 7, 9 and 11 now so it’s easier to be spontaneous and possible to travel much lighter. However, family outings have always been important to us. It’s a great way to escape the rut. Where we lived in Scotland, it was easy to just pop out and walk the canal or clamber around a ruined castle or play among standing stones or go for a ramble in a forest or a nature walk around a loch. All free and easy. Since we emigrated to America, we’ve had to investigate new places for family trips but we try to get out as a mob at least once over each weekend. We took out an annual membership to the Franklin Institute, a great science museum, so that’s become a great mainstay for us but we also go for wanders in state parks or go swimming at the YMCA and ever so often we go to the cinema. This year I want to explore the city more so that will be the focus of more of our family expeditions.

    • Playing in a ruined castle? Wow, that sounds amazing! I love our little city so maybe we will just explore more.

      • Yes. We lived in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland for 11 years so it was all ruined castles, abandoned villages, forests, lochs and islands. My kids treated it all like a playground for make believe.

  6. Family outings mostly revolve around eating- must be suckers for punishment cos out youngest (5 year old girl) is a painfully picky eater so not always easy – but when not subjecting ourselves to that we often go rock pooling /scrambling round the south coast (we’re in Welly too), paddling/boogie boarding at Lyall Bay, open day at the Island Bay marine education centre, botanic gardens cable car, park and duck feeding, visiting the big pet shop Animates in Kaiwharawhara or spca open day, school fairs and galas – and of course the fail safe Te Papa if I can face it again 😉

    • I love the marine education centre! And Animates is great isn’t it? The staff are so lovely, they always let Eddie pat the puppies and kittens. It’s great that it’s school fair season, the recent Newtown Festival was awesome too. Might see you at Te Papa!

  7. In 3 months I’ll no longer have children, I’ll have 3 adults. The are 22, 20, and 17. Being spaced so close together, I remember what a chore I found it to be when we’d go out. I also remember never regretting doing it and how it made my whole being smile when my youngest would declare it “the best day ever” on our way home from these adventures.

    I’m glad to read that you had a nice time out and I sincerely hope you get many more of them.

  8. We went for a rather ambitious day out in London with my three year old and five month old on the train. At times it was so stressful I thought I was going to explode but it was good to do it anyway.

    Very encouraging to read that it can be a bit more fun than our experience though!

    Enjoying the blog x