My baby seems to have become grown up all of a sudden, and some of the change seems to have resulted from her first foray with the Ngahere Explorers, the group of oldest kids at Preschool who spend one day of each week exploring the natural world. Based on the German Waldkindergärten ("forest kindergarten") philosophy, two teachers take a small group of children go to Pukemokemoke bush reserve for the day where they play and learn in the bush.
Ember was a last-minute ring in on Thursday, and I wasn't entirely sure how she would go, not being a keen walker in general. However, away from the parentals she stepped up to the challenge, walked the whole way and had a fasntasic time.
She was telling me all about it on the way home, and some parts of the conversation were rather lovely/funny, so I've tried to capture as much as I remember!
Me: Did you have a good time being a Ngahere Explorer today?
Em: Yes, we goed on the bus, and I walked all the time. Teachers can't carry you.
Me: No, they can't. Who did you sit with on the bus?
Em: I sat with A and we talked all the way, but just quietly so we didn't distract the driver.
Me: That's good. And did you have a backpack on when you went walking? Or did you leave it in the bus?
Em: We had the backpacks on with our lunchboxes when we got to the hungry place. And some of the backpacks had whistles and I wanted a green whistle but I didn't get any whistle.
Me: Maybe the kids who have been explorers a few times get to have the whistles. What are the whistles for?
Em: In case there's a mergency. We saw lots of Tane Mahutas* and A was ripping the leaves and killing the Tane Mahutas. That's not kind is it Mummy?
Em: And we saw a nikau plant and Tim ripped the leaf but it was a dead one so he's allowed to do that. I'm not a plant of tree am I Mummy?
Em: Why is there a Niko plant and not an Ember plant?
Me: Well, it's not a Niko plant (Niko is a boy at Preschool), it's a nikau palm. Niko and nikau sound the same but they're spelled differently.
Em: Well Tim said it's a Niko plant. But there's no Ember plant.
Me: There might be, somewhere in the world.
Em: No there isn't, Tim told me.
Me: Ok then. (pause) Do you remember meeting Jeanie in my office today? She lives just by Pukemokemoke reserve, the place where you went today. Her family look after the bush reserve.
Em: I want to go to her house. Does she have toys there?
Me: No, I don't think so.
Em: Oh. That doesn't matter, I can just take my toys to her house. Why doesn't she have any toys?
Me: She doesn't have any kids.
Em: Why not?
Me: I don't know. Not everyone has kids.
Em: They have to!
Me: No they don't. Some people don't want to have kids.
Em: They should. They should just grow one in their tummies.
Me: Well, it's not quite that easy. Some people don't want to have kids. And some people can't grow babies in their tummies.
Em: They has to!
Me: Why does everyone have to have kids?
Em: Because they're so lovely!
Well that may be debatable, but I decided not to go into it! She certainly learned a lot from her first day as a Ngahere Explorer; I'm looking forward to hearing what she gets up to next.
* 'Tane Mahuta' (tar-nay mar-hoo-tah) means God of the Forest and usually refers to the biggest of New Zealand's native kauri trees. I'm not entirely sure in what context Ember meant it!