Saturday, December 06, 2008

then what...?

Well as Lucy asked....!

The 'then what?' has turned into a job working with 18mths-3yr olds at the centre where I did my under 2's practicum. It's great starting work in a centre where I know the staff, many of the kids, know my way around, feel comfortable with the philosophy and feel part of the team right from the start. I feel like I've really landed on my feet.

At the moment I'm doing 2 days a week until the Christmas break and then hopefully by the time that's over I'll have my new work permit sorted so I can do 4 days a week. If not I'll stick to 2 until it comes through. The usual seasonal shut-down will no doubt impact on how fast my new visa/permit can get processed so I'm hoping the university get their act together soon and provide me with my graduation letter as I can't procede without it. Oh the joys of online systems, I've had all my grades back (and passed!) but they aren't 'on the system' yet... hey ho. Just as well my current visa lasts 'til the end of March!

I've spent my two days at work this week being called 'mummy' - something I've been getting used to this year as several little ones often use it regardless as to who they are addressing. A conversation over at Clare's the other night raised an interesting point about different cultural perspectives on terms such as aunty, whaea, teacher, grandma etc - Clare had been reading an article which explained that the indigenous perspective (South Pacific? I've forgotten quite where now... but it could as easily be here) was that naming the relationship between people was far more important than the actual names. This fitted in with what one of the mums had said to me this week, that her boy (aged 2) tends to call anyone he feels safe with 'mummy'.

It was quite a leap of perspective for me having got so used to the Quaker use names not 'titles' idea and having in the past been quite convinced that I'd be 'Anna' to everyone and not 'Aunty' (by blood/marriage or friendship) and certainly not Miss/Ms/Mrs. These to me were equated with hierarchy and inequality, not surprising coming from Britain - re-reading Jane Austen recently was a reminder that to be a Mrs was far superior then to being a Miss, and being Aunt.... was indicative of ones place in the family pecking order.

Yet it has to be said, over the last year or so I've found myself using whaea (for older women) far more comfortably than I ever used Aunty and wishing that there was some term that could explain the close relationship that I have with children who technically (to me) in a pakeha sense I'm not Aunty to but in all others I may as well be. Despite growing up in an area where female friends of parents were often Aunty it was never part of our family practice and somehow I still can't quite let go of that term meaning a formal family relationship even though these days it would make sense to just use it!

So for those out there who have considered themselves to be my Aunty or Uncle and who may have been saddened by me dropping that part of their name some years back I'm sorry, I never thought about what it might mean to you in terms of acknowledging our relationship. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to using it in the UK but I guess if I can answer to 'mummy' I can allow myself to be aunty too!