My Girl

When I was pregnant in 2008 and told my close friends that I was having a girl, most, if not all, erupted in the “Hm! You will meet your match!” sentiment. I have no idea why. Indeed when Mam’zelle was born there was a different feeling that I got as opposed to when I had my son almost three years prior. My mind churned with all the things I needed her to know about life and living in the world as a girl/woman. I wish I could have just opened up her head and poured all the wisdom and knowledge inside so she could be prepared for what’s out there.

As she grew into her own person, she became very unlike myself in many ways. As a child I was mild-mannered, afraid to rock the boat or break the rules, played quietly with my dolls and could spend hours to a day in a book. She always had a retort, did not like to read, she moved about indignantly when she was upset, was impatient with schoolwork and deliberate when she did stuff to get in trouble. This was unnerving to me and especially infuriating to my mother as my younger sister and I were not like this (and of course naturally, my parenting skills came into question).

I have largely guided my daughter within her own convictions to ensure that even with her personality, she must get the value systems correct even if I have to drill it into her even more so than I had to do with my son. So with things like honesty, compassion and patience, there is greater need for the sitting and the talking. I have long accepted that although it is indeed more work, it is necessary work. I try my utmost not to compare but there are weak moments where as a parent I think the familiar ‘why can’t you behave like your brother/sister?!’ If you are a parent of children with different personalities and you tell me this thought has never crossed your  mind, your pants are on fire.

More and more these days, I look at Mam’zelle and honestly, if  I was worried that seeing our differences would lead to difficulties, recognizing some of our similarities is downright terrifying. She’s nine now and sometimes I see a lot of my childhood/adolescent insecurities in her. Physically my daughter is like me, a thick girl with thick legs and a large posterior which she’s very conscious of, especially as she does swimming and ballet. (In my youth, countless were the times I was told to ‘tuck in the butt!’ while I was at the barre).  She doesn’t like not knowing something even if it’s something she should not know as yet. When she’s doing something she’s unsure of, there’s an anxiety that shadows her face, her palms sweat and her hands shake. She wants to know that everybody around her is happy with her and sometimes loses herself to make sure that this happens. All of these are familiar to me and there are times when I want to tell her DON’T DO THAT!/DON’T FEEL LIKE THAT! but I know deep down that each of us has to grow as we learn, including her.

A couple of years ago she got really sick and at a particular point I was helpless. It was the absolute lowest point of my existence and I desperately cried out to God that if He pulled her through, I would raise her to be a dynamic one and I would fiercely protect her with all my being until He was ready to call her home. I am more protective of her since then and I’m completely OK with that.  I drag her everywhere and let her know about the sacredness of female relationships even in the face of male-female relationships. She knows when she can be vocal and is learning about when she has to dial it back a bit to silence according to the situation. I impress upon her that her existence is vital and her place in the world is secure and even if I am not there to guide her, she must be sensible enough to know how to position herself. Conventional wisdom dictates that you don’t help the butterfly out of the cocoon, the struggle is what makes it strong enough to fly right?

I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter and my mission is to make sure that I take her from a happy, carefree, strong girl to a spirited, compassionate young woman and thankfully, my girl is well on her way.

Bless up

TMIDM

 

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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:

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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

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

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!!!!!

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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

YOLO

Some children these days seem not to be taught how to be responsible for their actions. They exist with a sense of deniability and YOLOness that prompts them to be so capricious and carefree that there is almost no thought to their actions far less their consequences. By children I mean young teenagers, the ones in secondary school who should be focusing on getting their education who to my mind are still children as they  are under eighteen.

 

 

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I say this mainly out of frustration because I’ve endured a day where the new 11-13 year olds seem to be under the impression that they are ‘running tings’ in the school. The behaviour is so appalling and outright boldfaced that I wonder if their primary school teachers were happy to see them go. Parents have been called to the school left, right and centre and it continues tomorrow. Most parents are in agreement that the children need to settle down and get on with their work. They yell at them about ‘makin dem shame’, give warnings and threats and keep massive leather belts in their bags but the youth themselves are in such a headspace where they don’t care….in the mean time, I am tired. I just want to teach and go home, not deal with repeated discipline issues from children who should know better because they are old enough to know right from wrong.

I think that the powers that be have become so ‘child-centred’ that they have lost sight of the fact that as they progress in age, children (teenagers) ought not to be babied and coddled into a sense of dependency,expectancy and entitlement. How is it right for society for young adults not to feel ownership to the development to their country and to feel as if they are entitled to everything? In addition to this, there have been years and years of government handouts to compound this. Now,  don’t get me wrong. I absolutely agree with the rights of the child and their right to be protected and the role of the government and the educators in this. I absolutely agree with providing relevant resources and technologies particularly to children who are in low-income families which is the vast majority at my school. But should I have to TELL you not to put porn on your laptop? Or not to fight over girls? Or not to eat the meat out of the boxed lunch and fling the rest of the food in the bin? Steups…..Sometimes my role of ‘in loco parentis’ is one that I would prefer not to accept because I need to preserve my energies for my own gremz but then again, I am the one who signed the paper right? Sigh…..

TMIDM

Vegetation….

vacation-for-teachers

 

This is no lie…….

It’s been a week since school has closed, two weeks since preparing for graduation and submitting end of term stuff and three weeks since praying for school to close. Here I am thankfully. I have been vegetating for the past week, resting to the point where Mam’zelle has to check on me every so often  to make sure I’m not comatose. The good thing is that I will get up early and ensure place is tidy and meals are prepared, so by 11 o clock, I’m laying on my bed doing absolutely nothing to the complete best of my ability. This morning my husband was annoyed because I was under covers while he had to haul ass to work…..in the pouring rain…..while the room was so cozy…tut tut….:D

So while vegetating, I’ve managed to get up to date on Orange is the New Black (Netflix is like the new HBO!!!), movies I’ve had stored and finally watched, finished two books and setting up myself nicely to complete the Game of Thrones epic. I’ve been checking in on social media primarily for the World Cup games ESPECIALLY as my team made it to the final (ARGENTINAAAA!!!) and spending countless hours on my favourite apps and games without feeling any guilt whatsoever….in the meantime the gremz could watch tv and play video games to the heart’s content.

Now, it’s only been a week and in the absence of me sending them to vacation camp this is how it went down and it will likely continue into next week. Why? Because I owe it to myself. I’ve been bitching and complaining to myself and coworkers willing to hear about how much I just want to be off the road and just home by myself doing nothing guiltlessly and them days have finally come! The ‘by myself’ part…not so much.

vacation

Now at a glance there are so many Facebook pages and websites specifically catering to moms with children at home, screaming about 10 million summer camps to choose from!, activities for the kids!, take them here, there and everywhere!….ahm…..no……it’s too damn early, check me towards the end of July please. The gremz have more than enough physical space, toys, books, craft stuff, options on tv and games to keep them company and if they need a referee I’m available as far as my lungs can carry. Does this make me the lazy mom? Absolutely! Give me that crown I’ll wear it! Why?

Society has a tendency to judge me and those like me based on how well I balance raising functional children (home) and ensuring that I produce functional adults (work). At some point this human being needs a break, so if I choose not to conform to what I should be doing since I should be damn-grateful-I-have-two-months-free-vacation, so be it. I choose not to go anywhere! I choose NOT to be up and down on the road from home to summer camp! I choose to laugh when I see a spider-web forming in the side mirror of my car! I choose to lay in bed and have the gremz sit and talk nonsense for an hour or so! Give me wi-fi or give me sleep!

However if I do choose to leave the confines of my castle, it needs to be kid-free, involve some percentage of alcohol and if necessary, football games ad nauseum. That’s my vacation therapy at least until I get cabin-fever in a few weeks and then maybe I’ll conform to the ‘norm’ ;D

Bless up

TMIDM

Working Mother’s Guilt

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I picked up my children from school today.

 

It might sound weird but this is a HUGE deal because it happens once in a blue moon. I work approximately 30 km from home, I live in the east, work in the south-east Trinidad and I need to get to work at 8:15 en punto. (“Late minutes” are a big deal for teachers). So today I left work on bank time, decided to give grandma a rest and picked up my children unknowing to them. 

Needless to say they were shocked but oh gosh is the reaction that warmed my heart…Mam’zelle squealed Mummyyyy!!! and ran to me with a big hug then ran back to tell her friends that I was her mummy, telling these poor girl children my WHOLE name by title oui, like I was a stranger! She was so proud, it was as though she got a new toy that came out first on the market, yelling Bye Miss! and grabbing my hand like I was on parade. Now granted if I were to pick her up every day, this probably wouldn’t be the usual reception but still…I was nearly moved to tears!….so she got a sno-cone for her efforts…:D.

Because of birthday parties I know my son’s friends more and when they see my hair they know I’m his mother (he told me  they recognise me by my hair, I dunno why! Dreadlocks so popular now! These boys so strange…) Anyway, so they ran and told him I came because allyuh hear nah…looking for a bald head lil boy in a courtyard of bald head lil boys running amok each wearing the same thing is to strain yuh eye….doh even bother. His reaction wasn’t much of a shock but his eyes opened wide because he simply wanted to know where his sno-cone was. I still got my hug in front de pardners and I felt like a bite-up shilling so he got a sno-cone reward as well. 😉

I felt so strange walking around with them in the grocery afterward, hearing their chatter, seeing them TOGETHER in their uniforms because it’s not something that happens every day. By the time I get to grandma’s they are usually dressed, fed and waiting so I felt a pang of guilt like wow, I’m missing out on this. As simple as it might seem, my children in their uniforms, fresh out their classrooms, interacting with their friends, talking about their day is a big deal because it’s a large part of their daily lives. They usually give me the run-down in the car on the way home but it’s not “in the moment” you know?

I began the justification to remind myself of the reason why this cannot happen every day: well birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, kids gotta eat and being in the middle, both mummy and daddy have to work. So this element of time is a definite sacrifice. Clearly I cannot drop my children to school six o clock in the morning and then pick them up at five in the evening, but I have seen it happen as I pass various primary schools on my way to work. I’m certain my guilt cannot compare to single parents in particular, who have their kids in school in the east but have to reach Port-of-Spain for eight am and must reach back to the school before the “afternoon curfew”. I am also definitely fortunate and thankful for the help of grandmas from since my gremlinz were born and I had to head out to work soon thereafter. However the guilt still persists somewhere in the back of my mind. I wonder if they see other mummies and wonder why I can’t pick them up too or when they have these half day events in school they wonder why I can’t attend. After a long day of teaching, scolding, listening to and dealing with other people’s children and their issues/challenges and then hopping into my car to zombify myself on the nation’s roads,  I have to have an extra store of energy for my gremlinz to ensure that I am present when they need me to be (although often times I am mentally absent because I am drained and husband more so).  It has to be done otherwise this guilt will continue to eat me alive.

Bless up.

TMIDM

 

 

Corporal punishment vs “corporeal abuse”?

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I have seen so many videos on Facebook and the like of children getting licks with titles like “Trini moms be like”… I have also seen so many videos of Trinidadian children wining, twerking, fighting, cussing and other inappropriate sexual behaviour on the ‘book as well. I don’t know what it was about this one in particular though.

If you’ve taken habitat under a rock for a few days or in foreign but can’t check in as often as you’d like, I’ve posted it on my page at https://www.facebook.com/trinimomindmiddle.com.

Well I’m really in the middle with this one. My first reaction on seeing the video was: wheyyyzzzz to get licks for almost six minutes is brutal. You know what is over five minutes of a cut-tail? Belt falling over and over? Not to mention you post it on line too? Nah boy….wicked…..despite the daughter’s infractions. Then while I was watching it I was feeling sorry for the mother because all I hearing when belt falling is her shame, pain and lack of emotional control.

I’ve read commentary ad nauseum and listened to colleagues commenting on it and I think I will remain on the fence. I don’t subscribe to casting judgement on the lady’s parenting skills or the child’s slackness. I don’t know the basis of either. Today I heard the mother complaining of the lack of a father-figure and the daughter issuing a mea culpa, so is extra sides to the story. However I have been a daughter taking risks to do what she wanted even with a very strict mother and I am a mother of a curious daughter needing protection in the age of selfies and instagramming your breakfast. As a human being I was/am comfortable having fulfilled/fulfilling both roles (although the former made my life drama-filled). Some of us subscribe to the view that it good fuh she, licks never kill we and we come out all right so we rattle off the tools: who get piece ah wood, pot spoon, slippers, guava whip, PVC pipe and to this day I will never own a cocoyea broom. Others lay the notion that this is pure abuse full stop and there are other ways in this 2014 to rid of such barbarism such as talking, counselling, parent skills workshops for that beast of a mother and Jesus rather than the leather.

My view is this: Nobody knows what is in the minds of the mother or the child. Nobody knows what will make this 12 year old reveal herself for the world to see and nobody knows what will drive a mother to apparent insanity to blaze her child and on top of that further the embarrassment by posting it online. Yet as Trinis we have all suddenly become child psychologists and even they don’t have all the answers. Yes I agree it is necessary to get to the root of the matter, but far be it from me to nail the mother or the daughter to a cross in the interim because you know what? Clearly EVERYBODY have issues here and they both in the wrong. I pray that they get to the bottom of their problems even under the harsh glare of an unforgiving (yet strangely forgetful) Trinbagonian public. I give this 9 days to blow over and then it’s on to the next one….

Bless up

TMIDM