This week started with mid-term holidays and the inescapable silliness of carnival and is ending with another long weekend during which we’ll be celebrating someone’s ninth birthday.
First things first. Carnival. As you might already know, I’ve never been a fan of these five days of forced merriment. However, this year was different. Maia and her schoolmates participated in the dance show put up by various schools on the island and their school’s star performer was none other than their headmaster. In case you don’t already know who this trailblazer is, I’ll help you draw a mental picture which might help you understand why he’s such a star. The (unofficial) name he gave to his school is The Happy School. He’s the happiest, most enthusiastic, energetic and charismatic headmaster I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Not only is he the living embodiment of all those qualities, his enthusiasm is so infectious that all the students, their teachers and even the parents hang on to his every word. I don’t think I’ve ever seen children have so much pride and love for their school. And Maia and her friends were lucky enough to dance alongside him. Notwithstanding the damp cold, it was a stellar weekend for all involved.
Carnival also brings with it various parties, the first of which was the school party where students go to school wearing whatever costume they want. What Maia wanted to go dressed as was Queen Elsa (we’re going through a bit of a Frozen craze round here) but after two weeks of looking online for said costume, it became pretty clear that all Disney stores and eBay sellers had already been wiped clean of age 9 Queen Elsa gowns. Desperation (on my part) ensued. Maia has outgrown most of the dresses in her dress-up box and no other princess was as cool as Elsa (get the pun?). I even suggested she dress up as Olaf. Surprisingly, she considered my suggestion for a couple of seconds and then decided she’d rather be a geisha. The idea to dress up as a geisha came to her because I’ve got a kimono at my parents’ house which she likes to wear when playing. Except, when the day of the party came, I realised I had brought home the wrong kimono. The one she slung on that morning was one we had bought her five years ago in Paris, the same costume she wore to the school carnival party of 2009. The sash didn’t quite button up across her belly and it was a few inches shorter than I remembered it, but she still wore it to school and wouldn’t take it off all day. Moral of the story? Sometimes, a lot of hours trawling online shops (not to mention the Euros involved) can be spared if one’s open to recycling and reusing old costumes.
Today is her last day as an eight-year-old. I am so proud of the person she is growing up to be. She’s not perfect, like none of us are, but to me she is perfectly imperfect. I love her with every fibre of my being and she knows it.
When asked how she wanted to celebrate her ninth birthday, she spent a whole week weighing different options. At first we were going to have a party. Then she decided against that. Instead, she wanted a small picnic like we did two years ago. Since the weather forecast keeps threatening rain, we decided to shelf that idea too and, instead, I asked her to imagine her ideal day so that we might approximate it as much as we could. First on the list was a guided tour of her uncle’s factory. I don’t know how I had never noticed it before but she’s very interested in his job and yesterday confessed she wanted to be like him when she grew up. I guess choosing him to be one of her godparents was a good choice. So, today we spent over an hour being guided around a factory that processes most of these islands’ tomatoes. She was overwhelmed but wants to know even more. Go Uncle Chris (and I’d look out for my job if I were you)!
Tomorrow she will wake up a nine-year-old and some other wishes will be granted. My only wish is that time would slow down just a little bit.