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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 58 - Busier And Busier

…I had secretarial work to do for the Kindergarten Committee and this took a few days a week of my time. There was rugby in the weekends and this often meant whole team - lots of jerseys to wash plus muddy socks and white shorts for two which had to be scrubbed and bleached. But I took it in my stride…

With two rugby-playing sons and a lively daughter, Gayle Woodward finds that her life becomes ever busier. Then the Cub Pack needs more leaders…

To read Gayle's engaging family story from the beginning click on Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine in the menu on this page.

By the end of 1979 the new Kindergarten that we had worked so hard to get built, was opened. Karyn was able to begin in the afternoons when she was almost three and a half. This time she was able to control her aggressiveness and played beautifully although she liked to be always in charge.

I was elected to the Kindy committee and was cajoled into becoming Secretary. As I had been doing this for the past two years for the establishment committee it did not seem to be difficult.

Our first effort as a committee was the ever present need for fund raising. We sold calendars and had a Guy Fawkes evening in the kindy grounds to get fathers involved. My pièce de résistance was the idea that we hold a trikathon where the preschoolers would ride their trikes around a course in the Birchville School grounds. They would get sponsors and the more laps they rode around the course, the more money they would collect. Naturally, grandparents and mums and dads were all there to watch and we could have raffles running at the same time.

It was a great success and was, I believe, the first ever trikathon held in New Zealand. Nowadays they are a common fundraising idea in New Zealand, used by pre-school centres and in primary schools which have bikeathons.

Woody was promoted to Area Manager of the Wellington area, his first management position. He worked long hours and was still totally involved in his work, but in the weekends he began to have a more hands on role, with the boys in particular.

Jeff was changing, moving away from the family circle and spending all his free time with his friends. He stopped voluntarily showering every day and it became a battle to get him to wash his hair or actually clean himself when under the water instead of just standing there.

He rode his purple Chopper bike, flag waving with a group of other boys in a sort of happy, noisy gang. They competed with every activity they did. I found him to be quite alien and was puzzled as to where the happy little golden boy I had hugged had gone. Woody understood the changes and was on hand when Jeff began playing club rugby. At last there was something where he could be the expert.

One afternoon, when the three year old Karyn and I were sitting together in an armchair and I was reading to her, the front door burst open and Jeff and his mates crowded in. I wrote:


The winter that Mark turned seven he decided to play rugby along with his big brother. He proudly chose his new rugby boots and was kitted out with Upper Hutt Rugby Club shorts and socks. He was weighed and found to be heavier than the other boys his age but he was also taller. It was deemed to be OK for him to play in the smaller than he, seven year old team competition until he learned the basics of the game.

His first game was on a cold morning in April. There was crisp frost on the grass at the park and we had to keep stamping our feet as we stood on the sideline. Mark was given the ball which looked very big in his hands and told to take it to half way and kick off to get the game underway. He walked slowly to the half way line with a puzzled look on his face and stood there. “Come on Mark, kick it!” urged his coach, our friend Peter Stone.

Mark stood his ground, still looking puzzled. “Kick the ball!” Peter yelled.

“No,” said young Mark. “If I do, they will get the ball!” But he kicked and he was right, they did. The look of disgust he threw his coach had the parents on the sidelines in gales of laughter.

We got to see a thinking rugby player, a rare sight to see, then or today. He became a valued player as he learnt the rudiments of team play and would follow and support his fellow players, pouncing on loose ball and scoring tries time and time again.

Another memorable game for the beginner Mark was when his team was down on the scoreboard. The coach urged them to do more, try harder. He yelled, “Mark Woodward, pull your socks up!” Mark stopped in mid field, looked at his coach, pulled both socks up, and kept on running. Again he had the spectators in fits.

Jeff played rugby for Upper Hutt as well and he showed lightning speed as he ran the length of the fields to score runaway tries. He wanted to try athletics in the summer, when he noticed how he could beat most other boys in a running race.

My life was so busy. I was a mother helper for Mark’s class at the school and was rostered on to help at the Kindy when Karyn began to attend every morning. I had secretarial work to do for the Kindergarten Committee and this took a few days a week of my time. There was rugby in the weekends and this often meant whole team - lots of jerseys to wash plus muddy socks and white shorts for two which had to be scrubbed and bleached. But I took it in my stride.

I was enjoying my children and the myriad of activities with which I was involved because of them. Jeff was a Boy Scout and Mark had asked to begin Cubs in the same group. I found out when I tried to enrol Mark that they needed more leaders for the Cub Pack. I thought that Cubs might help him make more friends and thought about becoming a Cub Pack leader.

I voiced my desire to Woody and he was scornful. How could I do more when I was tired now and how would I ever be able to do all the housework, he wanted to know? That was like a red flag to a bull and it stiffened my resolve. A new challenge! I was off and running.

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