After Friday's class, I enjoyed going out for a couple of drinks with a couple of classmates (we were later joined by our instructor and intern) and dinner with a classmate, before I walked back up to the hostel for a short amount of quiet time before my brother picked me up, so I opted to postpone that day's post and roll it all in to this one!
Friday's class felt really intense, but seemed to go by very quickly. We talked a bit about potential next steps in the training process, then did an exercise where we were paired up with partners, given wet washcloths, and instructed to wash each other's hands -- first disrespectfully, then respectfully. It was challenging to do the disrespectful handwashing on either side of the equation; when my partner washed my hands, I wanted to cooperate but couldn't. Her movements were too fast and random for me to do anything at all helpful to the process. When I washed my partner's hands, I had to consciously go against my own inclinations. The respectful handwashing was much easier and more comfortable. We watched some videos from the Pikler Institute in Budapest, and one of the things that jumped out at me was the sudden disconnect when a child's caregiver was particularly task-oriented rather than relationship-oriented during a diaper changing/bathing/dressing routine. It stood out rather sharply in contrast to the other caregivers in the video, all of whom made a point of spending those important routine times in concert with their charges, talking them through the routines, inviting them to participate (but not insisting on it), playing along with the silly little games a bit, enjoying each other's company, and setting firm but gentle boundaries when it was time to get down to business. It makes me wonder how often I have caused discord in my relationships with the children in my care in my haste to just get through those routine tasks with them.
As I mentioned, my brother picked me up Friday night and we checked in to his hotel in Thousand Oaks, where I enjoyed sleeping in a queen-sized bed, sleeping in, and lingering in a private shower with a private dry area to dress in afterwards! The hostel is really great for a hostel, but I really do appreciate non-communal showers. Saturday we went to a nice sandwich-type shop where they make their bread on site, and had sandwiches and salads for "brunch" before taking a scenic drive through the hills to get to the Santa Monica pier. It was really interesting to see how many people were rod-fishing off the beach into the ocean, and off the pier as well. There were street performers and artists everywhere, and we walked down the path along the beach all the way to Venice Beach and back again. Some of the "street vendors" were very amusing and creative in their offerings -- ranging from live music (including a performance from a lady who appears to have bought a baby grand piano instead of a house) to actual physical artwork (of varying qualities and talents) to a booth that offered "Questionable Advice from a Homeless Satanist (It's Not Free)" and a guy skateboarding around with a sign promising "Jokes: 25 cents". There was a separate bike path that was in constant use, and bike rentals were available, including tandem bikes. It was sunny and warm, but not oppressively so. We walked a total of 16km (according to the not-so-accurate activity tracking app on my phone), and I managed to get a blister just above the callous on my big toe (right where the sock seam rubs). Thankfully it hasn't actually burst yet.
We went out for Mexican food for supper, and then went to a luxury theatre to watch the Star Wars movie (it seems very much like what I imagine the Cineplex VIP theatre to be, based on the advertising). It was sure nice to put my feet up after all that walking! I stayed at the hotel with my brother on Saturday night again, and again slept in and luxuriated in the private shower. We went to a Peruvian sandwich shop for brunch, and enjoyed sitting outside to eat, though the ants seemed to enjoy our presence as well. I discovered that the red squirrels down here are MASSIVE compared to the ones in the Edmonton area (but not as huge as the grey squirrels in the Vancouver area). We drove an interesting route through the hills, got lost (ending up in Beverly Hills at one point, stuck behind those "celebrity home tours" vans that kept stopping in the middle of the road to point out some famous person's house) and unlost, and found our way to Griffin Park (which was insanely busy -- no surprise on a long weekend, I suppose). We drove near the Hollywood sign, but didn't care enough about the photo op to try to find parking and fight through the crowds there. We did luck out and find parking at the Griffin Observatory, where we discovered that it's really smoggy in LA (you can see where there are the shadows of the city skyline, but it's mostly obscured by all the smog) and that apparently the observatory is a popular place to go on a weekend with little kids who are too young and disinterested to really enjoy the experience, much to the dismay of the adults who brought them and wish to control their behaviour. There are a couple of chunks of the Bruderheim Meteorite in their meteorite display, by the way. We had planned to go out for sushi for dinner that night, and the place that my brother found sounded cool -- and turned out to be super fancy! It was at the top of a hill, and valet parking only. The sushi was delicious (though the waitress thought we ought to order other things that they're "known for" because "you can get sushi anywhere, really"), and the eggnog bread pudding with rum and raisin ice cream was also delicious. The restaurant had a great view of the city, though there were a lot of distant floating lights whose buildings were completely obscured by the smog. After dinner, it was back to the hostel for me, and early to bed (though not early to sleep; my roommates went out at about midnight, and came back sometime after 2am).
This morning, I got to walk up the hill to Franklin (instead of down to Melrose) to meet up with my classmates and the intern who gave us a ride to Sherman Oaks, where we observed a parent-infant guidance class consisting of five extremely busy toddlers (all right around their second birthdays) and their parents. It was really interesting to see some of the theory in action there, though today seemed to be sort of an off day for the group, with a lot of limit-testing, peer "aggression", and general keeping the adults on their toes! We walked over to Trader Joe's to pick up some lunch while the other half of our class observed a class of younger infants (9 to 11 months), and then we took turns setting up the room for different age groups. The room setup was really fun, and took a lot of careful consideration. I especially enjoyed the older toddler setup, as I was thinking of the children in the infant/toddler room at work the whole time! Tomorrow, we will observe another parent-infant guidance class with a different facilitator, and have time to type up our observations from both days.
It's hard to believe that in just 5 days my United States adventure will come to an end! I'm looking forward to the rest of this week, but I also want to savour it, lest it pass too quickly. And with that, it's time for me to get some sleep!