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 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


Hulk Coconut mornings

Every Monday-to-Friday at exactly 8.00-8.30am I turn into the Hulk.

No matter how elegantly I ascend from my lush king-size bed…and float to my bathroom to get myself beautiful for the day…then tell myself in the mirror that I am totally awesome and today is gonna be an awesome day – the minute I walk into the kitchen and realise that my kids are ‘behind’ with their school morning prep, I start hearing the piano music from the Hulk TV program in my mind…then my lungs start to expand while I start to breathe deeply…then out come the 10 questions…

“Why aren’t you in your uniform?  How long do you need to stare in the mirror for hmmmm?  Who dropped this piece of bread on the floor?  Didn’t I tell you to get your uniform ready last night?  Do you want me to come over there and pull your socks up hmmmm? Oh really? So it’s my job to get notices out of your bag? What…did..I…tell…you…about leaving food in your bag overnight?  Son, I swear if I look in your room for your lost folder and find it, you are gonna regret asking me to help let me ask you one…more…time – where is your english folder?”

And just like that..they rush around getting their shit together while I stand there, hands on my hips doing the Jake Heke big-eyes thing at the pub.  I swear – they MUST do this to me on purpose!

So…same routine as always, last week, we’re in the car and I’m reversing out of the garage – still continuing my Hulk mother series of “This is why you need to….Did’nt  I tell you last night that….How many times do you need me to …..”  and then SMASH, my driver’s side mirror hit the garage wall.  This is mostly due to the fact that I was still ranting to my lucky-to-be-alive children that I forgot to look while reversing – I was mesmerised by their massive eyes looking back at me while I delivered my final statement. I get out, sellotape my mirror together and drive off.

You know what the amazing thing is?  When we’re at their school, I’m like “okay bye my babies, have a great day at school, I love you” – smiling sweetly at them…a completely different woman from the 30 minutes before.  My babies smile back at me, even hug me before they run off, but Im pretty sure they spend most of their school day wondering how they got to be stuck with a mother like me.

Moral of my story (other than to reveal my psycho side to you all) – my Hulk coconut mornings must now come to an end.  Obviously.  (Plus it was expensive to replace my mirror).




Ia manuia xx

Update on the life of The Lost Coconut

Well helloooo there.  Here’s a quick update on what I got up to in 2013 (for my 10 readers who are interested).

1.  I started this blog

For the past 2 years I have been reading blogs on academic life, how to write a thesis etc, my personal fave is The Thesis Whisperer (she is most awesome!).  I also read blogs by other Samoans who are inspiring – my faves are Fagogo mai Samoa,….aue! and the ladies where I get my TV updates (since I don’t watch it) at Jawkward LOL, and where I catch up with my hamo dishes via Samoa Food.  So one day I decided to create my own blog via WordPress and coming up with the name ‘The Lost Coconut’ cost me a good 30 seconds of my life.  It aptly describes the way I felt (and sometimes still feel today) when I left my pacific-friendly hometown in South Auckland, NZ to live in a not-so-pacific-friendly Melbourne, Australia.

2. My community choir ‘The Melbourne Samoan Choir’ (MSC) enjoyed a few performances in 2013.

I formed MSC early 2012 so that a few friends and I could get together and just sing good old Samoan songs for anyone who wanted to listen.   Having a choir like this gives us the opportunity to perform Samoan music outside of church.   Our 2013 performances included: MSC at the Famous Spielgtent 2013, The St Piers Festival (St Kilda) and The Melbourne Choral Eistedfodd (CBD).  Have a gawk at our facebook page if you like:

3.  I graduated TWICE in 2013

Not once – twice!  The first grad (in May) was for the Bachelor of Music degree I completed in 2012 which I posted about earlier: My Graduation.  The second grad (in Dec) was for the Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree I studied and completed in 2013.  My uni experience, as I posted earlier,was a very lonesome one – no other Pacific Islanders in sight – (see Where the Samoans at?) except for the young Cook Island girl who works at the uni campus.  Anyway, I finished my honours year successfully (First Class Honours wassup!).

4.  My son turned 5 and graduated from Daycare

All up, I have paid for 8 years of full-time daycare (Mon-Fri) for my daughter (now 10) and then my son straight after she graduated.  I can’t tell you how AWESOME it feels not to have a daycare bill to pay anymore wooohooooo! I …. am ….. fffffrrrreeeeeeeee!

5.  I wrote my first thesis / dissertation.

Leading up to my honours year I had prepared myself for thesis-writing by reading about the process, getting schooled-up on my academic writing, reading blogs of other academics and their experiences.  So I thought I was ready for the challenge.  Come submission time (Oct/Nov) I was a zombie…sitting for hours at my desk, eating breakfast at dinner time and dinner at breakfast time – I had lost sense of time (and ahem… my kids say).  While I anticipated that the honours year was like a world away from the B.Music I had finished, I was not prepared for the back and forth “final” draft emails between my supervisor (the expert) and I (the clueless student)…I thought that when I submitted my final draft to her to have a look over, then that was it.  One moment that stood out for me was when my supervisor patiently told me that after a full-stop, you only hit the ‘space’ button once (instead of twice which I was taught in high school in the mid-90s).  Let’s just say that at that moment in time, I felt like I had been cheated. All this time I had no idea that someone out there in the ‘word processing world’ would even dare to change the ‘2 spaces after a full-stop’ rule (the nerve).  Three months later and I am still in shock and I may not even get over it.

So this is just a quick snapshot of some of the stuff I got up to last year, alternating with my role as faipese for my church Northcote EFKS in Victoria, Australia, mother to the 3 animals that live at my house and wife to the their master leader.  I didn’t really get to have a break in December due to a few events that I participated in but I will take a seat right now and breathe a massive sigh of relief that 2013 is over… that I can do it all over again in 2014 eh!

Lost Coconut signing out….for lunch.

Ia manuia xx