InterExchange Working Abroad Ambassador Allie, Au Pair Australia
As I got off the plane, I met my family for the first time. That's not technically true, but I met my host mom and the kids I would be taking care of. My first thought was that my feelings of awkwardness about being tall were not going to go away anytime soon. I walked up and gave the mom (Amanda) a hug, once again feeling like a giant. It's cool though, being 6 feet tall you get used to it (although I quickly found out Australians as a general rule are not very tall, so clothes and shoes shopping are realllly fun).
After my initial surprise that my host mom was not in fact as tall as me (Skype interviews are not good when giving reference to height), I met the kids. They were not very interested in me upon first introductions. In fact, they took off running to the gift shop near by to look at cars instead. The kids ( ages 4 and 2) were adorable in person and I wasn't phased by their disinterest because I was so RELIEVED to finally be at my destination!
We drove around for a bit, I got my first view of gorgeous Adelaide, and then we swung back to the airport to pick up the dad (Mario). From there it was a fairly awkward, yet relaxed night. We had a glass of wine to toast my arrival, had some stilted conversation about Kansas over dinner ("it's in the middle of America;" "it's where the Wizard of Oz was filmed;" "we have tornadoes") and then I was off to bed.
The next day was pretty uneventful, but I got unpacked, explored around a little, and became a bit more familiar with the daily routine. Finally, the next morning I started work. My morning started with Leonardo yelling at me to "just go back home". If you are reading this and you think your kids are bad, just think of if this had been said to you on your first day of au pairing. Not exactly encouraging. Anyways, I tried not to let it get to me, and instead focused on getting him engaged right away. The first thing I did was make Oobleck (cornstarch and water). What kid do you know that doesn't like oobleck? Well Leonardo was no exception. He still had
reservations about me, but I made sure to keep the fun going. The next experiment of the day was food color milk. All you need is some milk, food coloring and dish soap. I let Leonardo put as many drops of food coloring (food paint as he calls it) into the milk and then we added just a drop of dish soap. The colors swirl together and make really cool designs.
The next day, the fun continued. Leonardo LOVES cars, but he is always racing them around and it's hard to get him to stop. This fact, paired with the fact that we had an empty milk jug laying around, combined to form the idea for a traffic light! He was so excited to be able to make this. We went to the store to buy the craft paper. I cut four pieces of black paper to size and glued them to the outside of the milk carton, then traced circles for Leonardo to cut out ( great practice for the left handed scissors).
It took a good part of the morning, but it kept him busy and the end product was fantastic to play with!
That afternoon, I got my first chance to experience Widow Park. It is just down the road from us and is an amazing park. It has swing-sets, a boat that you can bounce on the back of to simulate waves for the kiddos and a giant area for the tire swing. It's a nice gated off area so that the tire swing can't hit little ones in the face, although Stella really liked to test out that possibility while Leonardo was swinging.
Later that week, a friend dropped these delightful creatures by. Yubbys, as the Aussies call them—or crawdads—made an appearance into our lives thanks to a friend who lives out in the country. I have always been terrified of them, Leonardo and Stella were intrigued, and the dad wanted to cook them up. Needless to say, the kids won the argument and we have been keeping them as pets ever since. Their water has to be constantly changed, and we tried everything from carrots, to chicken, to minced meat for their diet.
Despite our care, they still tragically passed away. The kids have not noticed, nor have they given any thought to them since the first two days of ownership. Hopefully we will be able to dispose of them properly without the kids even noticing. However, if you are looking for something fun for your kids to do, I would highly recommend getting a yubby for a few days from the river. Just make sure you take it back before they die!
We finished off the week at another gorgeous park, where I met a fellow American friend named Amanda. She was quite nice, even though her mom did graduate from KU! The kids had a blast running around the park, and I was able to finally hear a familiar accent. It was a good end to a good week. Now I just need to get to exploring the area and to figure out how I am going to hold a Koala!