THE SAMOAN MOTHER: White Sunday (a.k.a Lotu Tamaiti)

Ugggh..uunnnggaaaah..effff.  That’s me groaning right now.  Every second Sunday of October, every fri…..kken….year. It’s that time of the year when the majority of Samoan parents pull out their hair trying to help their kids learn their tauloto (memory verse).

I can’t remember a time when I HAVEN’T been an active participant in Lotu Tamaiti festivities.  It started with me reciting my tauloto every year for most of my early years – I stand in a long line facing my dreaded parents who await with proud-slash-murderous anticipation to hear the one line of bible verse that I had been memorising for the past 2 weeks.  Then in my teen years, I take part in some dodgy-cheesily-written tala (play) that re-enacts a bible story – all in Samoan, so at that time in my life with my limited gagana, these plays were like silent films to me lol.  Then I was rescued by the faifeau (minister) who told me to plonk myself behind the organ and play all the songs every year.  Music saved me from having to summon up ugly cries during those dramatic moments in character (fist pump!).

So the normal progression in Samoan life is that you spend every year of your childhood dreading your 5 seconds of fame on stage, wearing some itchy lacey-frilly white dress with matching stockings/shoes; your hair in the tightest french plait that you get a migraine halfway through service, and have to endure an epic 2 hour programme (sometimes 3hrs). Then in your teen years, you have to convince your mother that you DON’T need a frilly dress with the big bow at the back so please can we just get a normal puletasi – which she gives in LATER on in your teen years (yep). AND THEN..you grow up, leave the house, send your kids to your parents every lotu tamaiti season so they can happily get their grandkids prepared for the day and you don’t have to really be part of the rehearsals/service – you just attend as a member of the ‘audience’.

I must’ve missed the memo on that smooth progression from participant-to-audience-member.  Because once I got plonked behind that organ, I’ve been sitting there ever since.  Also, I live in a different country than my parents so not only do I have to prepare the music for the Sunday School kids to learn, rehearse and perform – I then have to help my own kids learn their tauloto.  Then there’s the crazy search for white outfits.  And then I have to make sure my white outfit is ready because I’m part of the Sunday School for this occasion (I don’t have an emoji to describe my thoughts on this paragraph…).

But THIS year I have reason to celebrate!!! My youngest child Osty (6yo) is starting to get the hang of reading  Samoan like his older siblings.  So you know what that means? I only have to write his tauloto up on the whiteboard and then he stands in front of it, reads and memorises his verse without me having to sit with him every day to teach it phonetically.  A.k.a: I’m freeeeeeeeeeeee!

This is a small victory for me and it’s all thanks to the support my children get  from being part of the EFKS church and Sunday School and also the Saturday morning gagana-Samoa language classes at the Polynesian Kids Community Language School here in Melbourne.  So from now on, every lotu tamaiti season, I will enjoy some peaceful early October days and not have to pull anyone’s hair out (mine or my kids, or anyone who happens to be visiting us at the time).   Happy Lotu Tamaiti season to all Samoans worldwide 🙂 and to all the parents who are helping their kids prepare for the big day…good luck and please go easy on the frilly dresses.

Manuia xx

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