Have merSEA!

Well my Son-son is 11, in standard five in primary school and about to write the big Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam this Thursday. According to Trini culture and lore, this is the most important exam of a student’s life, destined to make you or break you depending on which secondary school you are headed when the results come in. Parents cry, teachers lose hair and the children drill mathematical formulae, grammatical exercises and seemingly endless compositions up until the dreaded day that they aim to get their first choice out of four. Cue ominous voice:

may_the_fourth_be_with_you_by_themooken-da1apux

http://themooken.deviantart.com/art/May-the-fourth-be-with-you-606841449

Knowing that he is prone to anxiety, I laid all the pressure on Son-son on standard four and eased off the valve considerably. As the date draws near, I think I am more anxious than he is. However my anxiety stems from the fact that I am completely FED UP! of the preparation for the exam. I’m so thankful that his teacher is so meticulous, another parent told me some time ago that he has a ‘system’ to churn out boys to perform at the SEA exam. But at this point if I see YET ANOTHER quasi difficult poem, I will scream. I think a couple of nights ago was the last straw.  He came and said he read the poem and didn’t understand it. So I took a look. This is a poem called Children’s Song by R.S. Thomas which he had to read and answer about ten questions:

We live in our own world,
A world that is too small
For you to stoop and enter
Even on hands and knees,
The adult subterfuge.
And though you probe and pry
With analytic eye,
And eavesdrop all our talk
With an amused look,
You cannot find the centre
Where we dance, where we play,
Where life is still asleep
Under the closed flower,
Under the smooth shell
Of eggs in the cupped nest
That mock the faded blue
Of your remoter heaven.
 
Ronald Stuart Thomas
Dafuq is subterfuge??? ‘Remoter heaven’??? My poor child!
I mean honestly, I get the gist of the poem, but I think it’s a bit much for an 11 year old to find extra deep metaphorical meaning in a high stakes exam. I understand that the poem is usually the difficult part of the exam but have mercy, this or any poem like it reads like stress! The questions that followed were even worse.
So these last few days I haven’t been harping on him at all partly because I think he’s reached his zenith and partly because again…me…fed up…. He had practice tests for the past two Saturdays and beyond that I gave him a free pass to the TV and the games on his tab. Of course everything was done in moderation so he also had to clean inside my car and do his regular chores as well. I don’t want this SEA pressure to fold him in even before the exam.
Thursday morning I plan to wake him up, act as normally as possible and not make a big deal about it. On our way there, he may get a Bruno Mars karaoke session, lame jokes in the car and I’ll kick him out with a hug and a ‘good luck dude’! If I get the butterflies, they’re going to remain in stasis at the very least until he’s out of my sight. I hope I don’t wig out. This SEA can’t drown us both.
Bless up
TMIDM

Leave de people zaboca!

My neighbour has a huge avocado tree.

 

Zaboca
“Avocado = Zaboca”

From the beginning of the zaboca season I have been peering out my louvres watching with anticipation as like the years before this, many a fruit lean over on my side of the fence. In this age of Facebook Tasty videos and Pinterest recipes, I eagerly began to concoct many uses for said zaboca when they land on my kitchen counter.

And so it came to pass that the fruit on my side became full. My mother came to visit, reminded me that when the skin looks dull you pick it,  then proceeded to make her way off with one. My husband was repeatedly harassed to pick the high ones. My older sister appeared, did her thing and promised to return. Meanwhile I had zaboca wrapped in newspaper and with gremlinz disliking and husband eating when he felt like it, I eventually enjoyed with bake, pelau, toast, tuna and even by itself. I considered it a luxury. A zaboca is at least $20 anywhere you go yuh know!

Anyway enter my 7-year old Mam’zelle…..

One random afternoon: “Mummy, you know that pear thing?…….I think you should stop stealing it…:”. Me: “‘scuse???”.

What followed was a confirmation that it was indeed the zaboca she was talking about, that I shouldn’t steal it because it’s not mine and that the tree isn’t growing on my side so I mustn’t take it. You can well imagine the mix of emotions, from ‘ay ay, just so?’ (*confusion), to ‘papa!’ (*pride), to ‘daiz not true’ (*denial) to ‘oh gorm ariite nah’ (*shame/resignation). To be honest I wasn’t feeling too shame nah! 😀 but obviously I knew what she was saying. I keep talking to her and Son-son about these things and it is refreshing to know that the repetitiveness and the preaching about morals and values stick. I just didn’t expect it to backfire on me! Ha ha! Lesson learnt.

So what did I say? Well I tried to worm my way out of it and told her that the neighbours didn’t mind, we have an understanding over the years. I wouldn’t feel any which way if I saw my neighbours picking mangoes from my ginormous tree, it’s not like I can get them across there anyway. She said I must still go across with my bag and ask. I compared it to the plum tree that drops plums all over. She defended and said the zaboca didn’t ‘drop’ and that I was picking it. “But it on my siiiiiide!!” I protested. She said that it didn’t make it right and when I picked them I was supposed to put it back over the fence…..(fat chance of that happening…..$20 for one eh!!). I did relent and say that I would stop picking them (but I’m taking them when they fall!).

I guess I never stepped back to visualise how it would look to her but I’m super glad that she’s so observant and capable of making independent conclusions. I must be doing something right even though in her eyes I wasn’t perfect at that moment. I’m glad she was able to call me out on it too but she was always fearless and defiant in her own way which can be admittedly frustrating at times.

In the mean time anyone fancy some guacamole for dinner with me tonight?

Bless up

TMIDM

As The World Turns

 

*dusts off cobwebs again…….

So much has changed that I had to actually go back to the About Me section of my blog and switch up a few things…most notably that I’m no longer dreadlocked, no longer a student and now a Trini Mom in the Middle of THREE children! My world is still spinning on its axis though.earth-spinning-rotating-animation-25

I cut my locks simply because they were getting too long and I felt like I needed something new with my hair. It’s so strange how people react when you cut your hair, I cut it Christmas last year and people STILL ask me “why I cut it” and “if I’m growing it back”. I get that locks is an “investment”, to some it’s a spiritual thing, to others a statement. To me it was just my hairstyle, not a measure of my blackness or a way to fall into a trend. I cut it, if I feel like it, I’ll grow it back, meanwhile the Earth still turns.

 

hair
I am not my hairrr…

I finished my Postgraduate Diploma in Education (yayyyyyy!!!!) which took up ALL of my spare time. I couldn’t even spare time to blog, the guilt was too much! It  was such an INTENSE programme crammed into less than a year that there were times I felt as though I was losing my mind. Sleepless nights, split personalities, loss of brain function…the works…And in the middle of essays, research, teaching in other schools and sitting through three-hour long evening sessions, I still had to pretend to adult: routine to uphold, two gremlinz to see about, household to maintain and of course my job to do. I’m done my life is back to normal, the world is still turning and I’m so glad I got out in one piece…..well maybe not ONE piece…….

bb
New gremlin!

So there is some talk that the DipEd would impact your personal life in various ways. I’ve heard of marriages, mental breakdowns, divorces and pregnancies. I found out I was pregnant in the middle of the programme which initially was very difficult for me to deal with as I had ZERO intentions of having another baby. I eventually got over the shock and simply went with the flow. To be a little more honest I didn’t really “feel” pregnant until my programme was done. I guess I dealt with it by putting it on the back burner, let my brain compartmentalise in order to function…..

This Trini Mom in D Middle of it all has had it to deal with over the past year or so. Hopefully within it all I can continue doing a better job in documenting it here. In the meantime, life spins on.

Bless up

TMIDM

TIME

Jeezanages…….

It sure has been a while hasn’t it? Ah too shame but you know what they say, Sometimes life gets in the way of having fun…..

Now I think Time is the most powerful force on the planet. I doh even know if Time is a force but it’s clearly pretty important and damn near priceless because we are all using it, some wasting it, racing against it, begging for more of it, wishing we could go back in it, wondering where it went and trying to spend the remainder of it the best we could.

I am in a persistent race with time simply because I value it so much so I don’t like to waste it at all. I am hustling every single day and at the end of each day I still beat up about what I should have done or what I could have slipped in. Then I plan for the next day and the cycle continues. Some people (read: my husband) get annoyed by this but it is simply the way I am wired. I hate leaving home late, I am always strategizing the distance and time to and from places, trips to run errands, workouts at the gym. Imagine I haven’t gone to the new Chaguaramas boardwalk yet because I seriously dread the outcoming traffic and I won’t even be the one driving! One of my closest friends suggested “Parang on the Boardwalk!” And as much as I’m a Christmas baby and I love anything Christmas-related and not to mention FREE!, my response was “Do you have a boat?”

Now October is the month of the year where I always think about Time, it’s my reflection month. My two gremlinz go up a year, Mamzelle on Thursday, Son-son exactly one week after and this year he is entering double digits!!! The big 1-0! (Cue ensuing staring into space trying to recall all memorable moments and frantic watching of baby pictures from now until next week…..) These days I casually observe them even more, I look at how he’s almost my height and she’s getting thick in the legs like me. I listen to them as they watch TV and enter into this university-level discussion about why pirates are fake, or why Flow trying to teach people Spanish in smart. I watch her storming his room and sleeping on his bed every…..single…..night and as frustrated as I am about this, (dis chile doh like to sleep a full night on her own bed at allll!!!) clearly neither of them seem to mind. In time to come that will change so maybe I should just cool it.

I try to remember what my freedom was like before I had the gremz and sometimes come up short. I know I went out and partied a lot but I can’t recall what I used to do in my spare alone time. I tend to study what the future would be like once they grow up and buss out God spare life. These days I’m starting to envision them in secondary school and wondering what their career specialties will be, my version of putting it out there in the universe I guess. I remember once I was in a deep reverie about them having their own children and their own lives and then I would be old and then die and they would have to put flowers on my grave in Lapeyrouse and I wouldn’t be around to watch them anymore and to tell them that I only want lilies and not dem cosquelle chrysanthemums that always appear on coffins in these wide-ass bouquets which I hate. I won’t lie, I shed actual tears during this stream of consciousness that happened only in my mind with my obsession about time. It didn’t help that I also had PMS.

Although October makes me stop and think, there’s no sense in me telling myself that I will slow down to smell the roses, this only happens when I’m on vacation. I keeps it real but neither will I ‘sleep when ah dead’ either. Life is about maintaining balance I suppose and I am certain I’m not the only one who feels the same. In the meantime I’m living and the clock is ticking.

WWW.TRUTHFORLIFE.ORG

Bless up

TMIDM

Allow me this rant…

Last week Son-son was in a fight. This is the first time in his whole 5-year primary school career that he has ever been in a physical fight so I was understandably stunned.  He didn’t start the fight but he was in it, and by in it, I mean he was punched and kicked twice by one boy while he lost his footing and fell to the floor. Now thankfully he was not bruised and no bones were broken but I quickly grew to rage as I saw his face swollen, imagined the visual and realized that there was nothing I could have done about it at the time as school was already dismissed.

He’s fine and the matter is settled now with the school but I think in all what really ticked me off was this expressed sentiment by a few that my son couldn’t have defended himself or that he ‘does take licks easy’ and that he’s too ‘sorf’ (soft). “He didn’t know to hit that boy some tap?” Now there was a point in time where it was just my son and I and since then my family has grown but there has always been this idea by some that because he grew up with me in his younger days, he was too ‘up under me’, too sensitive and not ‘tough’ or ‘fearless’ enough.

I don’t know why people don’t understand that my son is not a fighter and that is perfectly OK. He does not like conflict, he does not engage in it and does not want to be caught up in it and that is perfectly OK. He does not like karate and that is OK. He is not devoid of physical activity because he is always on-the-go, sweaty, smelly and speaks excitedly at break-need speed. He is normal, functioning and intelligent. When the time comes he will be able to defend himself wisely and nobody will have to teach him how to throw a punch or to block and that is what it is. I always thank God that he has never been the subject of the bullying that is so rampant in Trinidad and Tobago’s primary schools these days and this was a random, wild incident by a peer who temporarily lost his mind it would seem.

I asked him why he didn’t defend himself, he replied that all he was thinking in the quick time that it happened was that he didn’t want to be expelled from school. He suffered as a result of it but after the fact that answer worked for me especially as I see the result of the tit-for-tat school scuffles bleeding into the secondary school system. I’m raising my son to be a thinker not a fighter and the pure fact of the matter is that the thinkers, the ones who see consequence before action, are the ones who succeed in this life. Plain talk.

Bless up

TMIDM

No words for this…

“Look I smoking weed!”

I looked at my husband, he looked at me. Casually I asked her still facing front in the car, “what did you say dear?”.  She replied, “I smoking weed!” confirming what I thought I heard and wished I dreamt. Son-son who was having none of it retorted, “Do you even KNOW what weed is?”.  She replied matter-of-factly, “Youuu doh know what weed is? Hm!” I was shaking but not externally. I turned around and saw that she had taken one of the paper napkin rings from the restaurant we just left and had rolled it up positioning it between her index finger and thumb. I turned back around and took a deep breath, “Who told you about weed honey?” My daughter then detailed that her BFF told her about weed, her brother smokes it, it looks like dried leaves, you put it in a little paper, you roll it up and smoke it. When she was finished I turned back around looked her square in the eyes and I told her, “Listen to me, smoking weed is a very adult thing, it is not even for children to pretend to do. You know what happens when you get caught smoking weed? The police arrests you because weed my dear is illegal! You can go to JAIL!” Yes, I crescendoed to make my point and I know it worked because the fear in my voice transferred to her now very wide eyeballs. I told her to take the information to the BFF and let her know too to put a stop to THAT game. That’s the best I could have done, mission somewhat accomplished, obviously more explanations to come.

Why Lord do I have to inform my 6 year old about the dangers of smoking and weed? I’m in the middle of 6-year old matters! Spelling and dictation, girls’ drama, negotiations for increased pocket money, ballet… Sex is a big enough hurdle to cross with trepidation even at 6, drugs is something you think you would comfortably tackle in the teenage years! Never would I have imagined that this is something that I would have to explain to her at this age. Am I naïve? What was also scary about it is the casual manner in which she said it which was unnerving but I needed information and I guess she was innocent to it all. However, the words for a conversation with her about this haven’t even been formed properly in my head so I just gave her the basic answer, it’s not for children.

You have to be so careful as to what your children are exposed to but there are times when it cannot be avoided. Yes you can turn off the tv or switch the channel from Disney and their growing filth, but are you in the schoolyard or on the playground when the children are huddled in their little corners having their powwows? More and more I’m realizing that it is beyond critical to raise my gremz who are independent thinkers complete with the morals and values that will enable them to stand up when the occasion arises. I’m not always going to be around. But worse than that is that there are things that we as parents are going to have to fully explain to children at ages younger than intended simply because of the way the world is turning nowadays. Are you ready? I hope I will find the correct words…

Bless up
TMIDM

Resilience…

Some time ago I had to deal with a 16 year old student who seemed to be ‘tripping off’. He was walking around with a bandanna tied around his head shouting ‘why me boy?’, crying and ranting to himself. We finally got him sequestered in my office and attempted to get to the bottom of his outburst. To cut a 3hr story short, he couldn’t bear to see the ‘happiness’ of his classmates while he had to deal with a mother who neglected him, a father who ridiculed him, a brother who beat and accused him of stealing and forced him to leave home and a present life of hardship which forces him to choose between earning money to survive and going to school.

For a moment I didn’t know what to say, all I could do was listen because how does one extol the importance of attending school and getting a solid education when there is no support for the child to do so? (Maslow is perpetually on my mind). This is particularly in a rural area where education is secondary to making earnings and helping to support the family. The evidence of this is found by MANY parents of errant children saying to me: “Miss, ah go pull (he/she) outta school yuh know! Is bes’ (he/she) come and work garden with me because ah wasting money sending (he/she) to school’. It’s money over school not school as a means to earn money.

I’m not a psychologist neither a guidance counsellor but as a teacher, in the absence of same, sometimes the situation calls to wear the hat. To my mind, faced with what seemed like an impossible situation I thought to let him know that he need to keep resilient because the reality is that the world is not a magical place with fairy godmothers and rivers flowing with chocolate despite what tv and friends say. I told him that when you’re in a boat in the middle of a storm, you will never tell yourself to jump into the water, you would go to the bottom of the boat and hunker down. So sometimes when life is raining down on you and you can’t see your way, you have to hold on , be your strongest and wait for the storm to pass.

I don’t coddle my gremlinz but i’m not a Tiger Mother either. I think that’s it’s important to teach your children resilience, let them understand that life can be difficult and unfair with the possibility of becoming even more so. My gremlinz’ ‘problems’ and accompanying emotions are usually met with a straight face and the word: And?.  After this is the thrashing out, reasoning, advising and comforting or scolding if necessary. Yes it is totally human to react with despair, but it is even more human to choose to either be swallowed by the sea or to keep climbing on that surfboard.

Bless up

TMIDM

 

In loco…

are you my mother

NOPE.

On this Universal Children’s Day 2014, I told three of my students that they were behaving like realllll jackasses and I put real stress on the ‘jackass’ as much as my Trini tongue could muster so that it sounded as caustic as I felt. I was also very loud, one of the usual tones used when I have to ‘dispense justice’. You know like long time when you used to see the F-word written in public transport but spelt with an ‘O’ instead of the ‘U’? That kinda enraged tone.

I recognise that children have rights. I recognise all 37 of those rights including the right to health, education, a good family and standard of living, play and protection from abuse. I recognise that without these rights children are doomed. What I don’t recognise or rather what I don’t ‘see’ with the human beings under the age of 18 that I encounter on a daily basis, is an acknowledgement and appreciation of these rights.

I don’t normally descend into the quasi-obscene but sometimes the shock value is absolutely necessary. I told them they were behaving like jackasses because a teacher was in class and they decided to pelt each other with paper, one of which struck the teacher on the forehead. What made it worse is that this is my form class, what made it even worse is that I am also the acting Dean, and the icing on this particular dessert is that these children know me and know the kinda shit I don’t stand for so why raise the beast with this horseplay nonsense especially if you don’t do it in when I am teaching?

You know there’s a saying that as a teacher you are in loco parentis which means you take the place of the parents with those under your charge. To be honest it’s not only a saying, it’s also a legal requirement. So sometimes I feel that if I am in loco of your parentis (and as a Spanish teacher this term is especially thrilling), I should act that way. SO! if your parentis feel like it is ok to play de ass in school, me, as your parentis (in loco) will greatly beg to differ and I will open my mouth to indicate such. So if my children whose rights I should respect, coming to school with no pen but combing hair and brushing shoes in class, I feel I should say what I need to say as I am in loco parentis. If my children, whose rights I should respect, are leaving their free textbooks home and writing all subjects in one notebook so their bags will be light, I feel I should say what I need to say to point out the error of their ways. If my children whose rights I should respect, do no homework and submit no assignments, yet somehow end up in bacchanal and fights, I feel I should do what I need to do to steer them in the right direction because clearly school is the wrong direction? Clearly you doh wanna be here? And this does not even begin to touch the surface of gambling, sex acts and narcotics on the school compound in other schools in this country. If I’m lying God strike me down. Thankfully it hasn’t reached there in my neck of the bush.

Now don’t get me wrong eh. Teaching is a vocation i.e. not something to be trifled with. This is why I could allow my emotion to shine forth in the way I feel will be effective. This is why I have to keep impressing upon these human beings under 18 that school is the only way out of the poverty that they are all desperately seeking to escape. But it only works if you put the work in. If I didn’t care, I would simply teach my subject for my particular period and the effort stops there. However, this feeling lasts up to the very point where I realize that my sanity is being endangered, in which case I draw the line and remember it’s only two humans that have passed through my vagina and I need to keep my atoms together for them and that third one that I share a bed with. At this point I stop being the inspirational ‘Lean on Me’ Morgan Freeman and become this guy:

Bless up

TMIDM

Each one teach one

Teach your girls how to make their beds, brush their hair, colour coordinate, make juice, clean their sneakers, take out the trash, write spectacular cursive, keep a journal, run with the wind, tell funny jokes, get lost in a book, speak their minds and have an opinion but know the facts. Teach them also how to distinguish car noises, minor plumbing fixes, good robots vs bad robots, different routes to get to one place and the value of screaming loudly.

Teach your boys how to make their beds with no wrinkles, use shampoo when necessary, fold t-shirts, tell the time, fix their shirt collars, wash dishes,  use Lego however they want, do minor electrical fixes, speak another language, see the magic in Science, follow their passion and listen. Teach them also how to care for an animal, fry an egg, iron, play with a girl and sing a love song.

These are not concrete but perhaps interchangeable and definitely random. Next stop….resilience…..

Bless up

TMIDM

 

Leave me alone!!!!!

165831_440826515930506_423469620999529_1672548_389691526_n

There is something to be said for children who wait until you reach in the bathroom to suddenly decide that they have problems that need to be sorted out.

New rule in my house for the gremlinz to follow that carries as much weight as no TV on weeknights Monday to Thursday and keeping your room tidy: DO NOT BOTHER ME when I’m in the bathroom! If there is the absence of fire or blood, in my mind there is the absence of the immediate necessity for my refereeing, detective or even basic listening skills and I could get at least five minutes, BY MYSELF TO BATHE MYSELF for crying out loud!!! I swear tonight I could have released the beast inside but thank God for the sanity that sometimes comes with a closed door.

TMIDM