Back to School in this here 2020 – Part 2 (Keeping it all the way together)

The second week of remote learning for my gremlinz has just ended as has my first week of teaching using remote learning while managing my gremlinz at the same time. What have I learnt over this past gruelling week? As a member of the teacherati who is also a parent, the following:

  1. Bathe early. As soon as you get up, pray/meditate, brush your teeth and hop straight into the shower. Pray/meditate/brush your teeth in the shower even! Do not lull yourself into a false sense of security thinking you will have breakfast ready for yourself and others and then go take a bath and begin on time. Nope. When that first notification comes in, you’ve already lost. Operate like you are literally going to work or you will be in your nightie until 3 p.m.
  2. Do NOT plan your week. Plan your day. You can have a general idea of how the week is going to go, what your children have to do and that the tasks are all on the schedule but try not to exhaust yourself holding on to the minute by minute play that you have written in your calendar/planner/journal. For the past two weeks since remote learning started, I’ve been a boss on Monday and Tuesday and then a disappointing failure on Wednesday because my schedule went off the rails for one reason or another (one of those reasons was me staring into space after a double Google Meet wondering how the rassss I’m going to make it to December but I digress). Take each day as it comes and at the end of each day, map out what’s going to happen the next day. Leave room for disappointment and frustration. Be gentle with yourself in the evening.
  3. You know what you DO need to plan on a weekly basis though? Food. Have your meals sorted out for every single day, Monday to Friday. If your gremlinz are like mine, although they are ‘in school’ they are not operating with ‘school stomach’. Make sure you have stuff in the fridge or frozen and ready to pop out and heat up. This is a sanity-saver and it avoids your children having to lunch on digestive, cheese, Vienna sausage and ‘just add water’ mauby when you were really responsible for providing a balanced meal but was just too drained to bother (possibly a true story).
Image taken from The Washington Post

4. I’ve glad I’ve honed my multi-tasking skills. At one point during an online session I was in  a live class, messaging my form class on my student phone (because I realize that ‘Miss wha’ subject we have now?’ or ‘Miss, sir ain’t open the live yet, what to do?’ is really their way of staying connected with me), trying to update an online ‘WE NEED THIS NOW!’ attendance register on my personal phone, appeasing my son who was quarrelling because wifi went down on his device and trying to finish some cold ass coffee while making sure that my toddler handled ALL the play doh colours to keep him occupied (such a thing has never happened, one colour at a time yo). Maranatha became my safe word.

5. You will feel to mash up your device and never want to see a screen again. I don’t think I have ever gotten this much notifications in my life…….ever…….My thumb joints were literally hurting after the first day, it was the strangest feeling. I wanted to kick back at the end of the day but I did NOT want to watch tv or a movie or read my Kindle. That was most frustrating to me, so I did a spa night….on a Monday….

6. You will feel guilt and wonder if you are short-changing your own children. Sigh…….Gremlin 1 is pretty independent with Form 4 study but there were times he came to me with a query and I had no choice but to beg him for 10 minutes grace. Gremlin 2 is still on post-SEA break but wants work to do, so I made up a simple schedule for her except I have to give her the work which I forgot to do a couple of days. She whined. Gremlin 3 has a set preschool timetable as well which I have not been able to stick to and I begged the principal for two weeks escape from live circle time and reading until I get my groove. So I work with him off-schedule. That guilt hits like a ton of bricks when I’m reflecting in the evening. I swear I’ll do better next week.

7. Find your happy place. Very often when I needed a reset when there used to be a physical separation of work and home, I tended to drop in to bar or grocery, buy a beastly cold Stag or cake and sit in my car while I mentally changed my hat from teacher to parent. Now that there isn’t that physical separation or even a spot where I could sit and tour out, everything is overlapped, home is school, school is home, that’s life. The end. My bedroom (with some minor upgrades) is now my primary space to unfold the overlap so I’m not feeling a despairing need to escape my own home. Your happy place is wherever or whatever you determine it to be….and you need it…..

Last, but not least,

8. Find your happy people. You need someone to commiserate with, to rely on, to listen to you, to cuss with, to cry to, to stay in silence with, to drink with, to laugh with, to discuss you mental state with……It is a struggle and there were times when I felt I was going crazy (December Lord?!?!). I was checking in with a friend all the way in the Middle East and in the midst of the voicenotes back and forth I realized I was crying. Unbeknownst to me I needed that release. This journey isn’t to be trod on alone. Check in with your people and check in with yourself!

A lot to unpack yes but we are living in the strangest times ever. Normalcy as we knew it is gone and we are all trying to adapt in the best way that we can. Be patient with yourself and others!

Blessings!

TMIDM

Back to School in this here 2020 – Part 1 (Red pill vs Blue pill)

Why is it that life piles everything on you on a Wednesday? Did we proclaim it Hump Day so much that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy? A mountain top that symbolizes struggle? This is why on a Thursday we need to throwback yunno, there’s nothing like some good old memories to set the mind right.

Anywho………

Relatedly…..allyuhhhh, this online learning/remote learning/distance learning/homeschooling/school in 2020/pandemic ‘new normal’ is a whoooooooooole NO! (Disclaimer: yes I know it’s the safest bet as we are still in the middle of a pandemic and no, I would neither want to be working at school nor send my gremlinz to school. My anxiety would thrive.)

That being stated…………..

(🗣 send Merlot please!)

Yesterday as I entered my sixth straight hour staring at my laptop screen, my eyes convulsed and it was ole mas with the synapses between my eyeballs and my brain. With my work not nearly finished I wondered how this was going to work between now and December. Ah ketching meh tail to add some attendance sheets, make sure my online classroom is tamper-proof, re-do a scheme of work for the term, not a single lesson plan in sight, curate my teaching content and to throw in the mix my students changing phone numbers like underwear when I’m trying to contact them and parents are asking me about (demanding) laptops, ‘if the work could do on a cell phone’, when they could collect the printing packages, why ‘allyuh’ not answering the phone in school, why I ask the child mother for her email when the child don’t live with the mother anymore……😐

In them midst of the melee I also thought about the little primary school children. Some of the bigger secondary school ones are accustomed to zoning out and probably don’t have to be online all day to get their work done but the babies that have to sit in a chair….and stare….and their teachers!!! Sigh…….

I consider myself a functional techie and always longed for education in Trinidad and Tobago to accept online pedagogy as an option in the teaching and learning process. To some extent it is heading there, many related professional development courses were (and still are) being offered and frankly I was blissfully looking forward to making my teaching life easier (blue pill). However, this launch from a cannon into the deep end is NYAT what I fully anticipated and I can’t swim even though I took a life preserver…..

Red pill…

I start teaching next week and I was most thankful for the extra time. I knew that the planning process for this term would be heavy but as I entered that sixth hour with the brain-eye drama escalating I wondered about my life choices (starting primarily with the battle between wine and coffee but to be clear it is sacrilegious to pit the two against each other). I closed my laptop and damn near cried in frustration.😭😭😭😭

This morning I woke up with my brain in the clouds after going to bed late and a rough night’s sleep. I was then I realized I was on top struggle mountain and needed to consider my descent. My plans for today itemized in my journal for myself and my gremlinz went through the window and I christened it ‘bare minimum day’ to save myself. Breakfast? Peanut butter sandwiches all around. Zoom meeting at 9? Camera off and turned that into a podcast. Preschool? I coloured that apple like a 4 year old. Older gremlinz? Allyuh fix up, yuh know the work. Lunch? Called on my mom (“Please cook for me!” (#ahbeg). My work finally resumed with resolve at 5 p.m. today after a mini-flood in my living room (long, very maddening story), two tablets, some Limacol and a nap. I’m not seeing cloudy and the effects of the red pill are clear but I swear I’ll do even better tomorrow.🤞🏾🙏🏾

To my teacherati, please save yourself when you need to and make it your ‘new normal’. This road is going to be long. To my teacherati who are also parents, look out for Part 2….

Blessings,

TMIDM

Swimming in the S.E.A. (Part 7) – Land!

I can’t believe we are FINALLY at the end! I woke up this morning and I legit got tears in my eyes when I prayed and reflected on the journey that Mam’zelle took to FINALLY get to this moment. It was really a tumble of a ride filled ease, elation, frustration and back to ease which made me think of literally being out at sea. When I started this series it was really an outlet to express my thoughts as an ‘S.E.A. parent’ the second time around (which turned out to be the harder time around given the joy that 2020 has been thus far🙄. For a recap of my past ‘Swimming in the S.E.A.’ posts see below, iz plenty, so yuh could come back and check it):

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Incidentally this post is Part 7 and as sevens tend to symbolize, now we rest.

Suitable rest pic

So in this final countdown I have to again resurrect my Oscar-winning performance as ‘cool, at-ease parent who cannot help but feel nervous now but cannot transfer said anxiety onto the child’. Now generally Mam’zelle was not nervous and really showed maturity and resilience particularly as COVID-19 put a screeching pause on……well…..life. I think it is largely due to her personality which is very ‘matter-of-fact’ and her relationship with her older brother to whom she relates as though they are peers. This morning though she woke up asking random math questions ‘to make sure’ and ‘casually’ wondered which school she would pass for. I suppose this is natural but I still elevated my performance of reassuring her (in a Viola Davis kinda of way) even though I knew she still felt some reservations (i.e. nervousness) and me, worse yet.

To say that I am relieved that this exam will soon be over is an understatement. I have bitched about it on my personal profile as well as in parent networks on social media. The use of this high stakes exam as placement for 11 year olds while setting the mindset that it is the be all and end all of their school careers, is archaic and plain stupid. It is time that in this 21st century (Anno Covidi as one of my close friends terms it), the powers that be in Education strongly consider a working alternative because S.E.A. ain’t it. COVID-19 come and mash up de whole dance only to reveal that there was no Plan B. That alone speaks volumes.

To all the parents out there breathing a sigh of relief, cheers to you🥂 particularly those whose children and families had to be put into 14-day quarantine as a result of attending classes and possibly contracting the virus. Hugs to those of you who still feel some reservations in sending out your children tomorrow🤗. It’s bad enough to have had to deal with the postponement of the stupid exam but the realness of the pandemic is still a clear and present danger.

I thank all of Mam’zelle’s cheerleaders, her teacher (who deserves the largest award fathomable and a week at the spa if Covid wasn’t so blasted fass) and also online support communities who allowed me to vent and commiserated with kind words, emojis and funny gifs.

I pray for us all as we clear this hurdle tomorrow, pick up our bundles and go home to truly exhale with games, music, food or whatever put in place other than the traditional…… Our children have been through it and they truly deserve it!🥳

Blessings!

TMIDM

ABOUT RACISM

I did not want to get too deep into this post-election racist trope currently underway in Trinidad and Tobago as I have been very particular about how my mental health is affected in this age of COVID-19. However just to add two of my very best shillings:

ONE

Racism is taught. Nobody was born a racist. All the thought-processes, stereotypes, judgements and discriminatory mindsets one may have against a particular race or races is as a direct result of INFLUENCE whether by friends, family or clan. When faced with this one may choose to go along with the flow because it is the comfortable, safe thing to do based on his current reality and experiences, or one may choose to re-examine his own personal stance and row against the tide based on his current reality and experiences. This may take a moment or it may take a lifetime (or two).

TWO

Our diversity is a blessing and a curse. I am a Trinidadian with African ancestry, socially determined as black and which is what I identify as and VERY proudly so. Yet, my life would not be the wholesome entity it is if it were not impacted by people of other ancestries. Because of the callalloo* that is Trinidad, my reality has allowed me to meet individuals from ‘Trini Whites’ to ‘Indians’, some remained as acquaintances, others becoming friends and even besties. I have experienced racism in this country but I am not stupid enough to paint an entire people with a broad brush. You know how many experiences I will miss and lessons I won’t learn if I keep that kind of mindset, especially when it comes to understanding why people are the way they are ? I’m a bit of a globalist. I am more so a strong, black Trinidadian woman and part of my strength lies in the fact that I am not threatened by the solid presence of any other race in the mix. Life is too short and variety is the spice of said life. (Besides, have you ever met a mind-blowingly, gorgeous dougla**? I have.)

ONE EXTRA SHILLING

This elections have people stupid.

Our political system isn’t racist. Racism fuels our political system. The system THRIVES on the fact that there is historical divisiveness which it can muddy up in order to satisfy its agenda (the march to power nah). It’s like the imagery of the puppeteer jangling the strings so he can make his money. So how will the change come if you truly want it? It’s pretty straightforward. Mindset. Unhook dem strings and stop being a racist asshole. It’s not a good look for you and it’s not a good look for the country you claim to love.

Blessings

TMIDM

*Callalloo is a dish often used as a metaphor to describe Trinidad and Tobago as there are many elements in the mix

**A dougla is the term used to describe a mixed person who has one ‘Indian’ parent and one ‘African’ parent.

Swimming in the S.E.A. (Part 6) – What de ass??

When I heard about Covid case #139 who caused two Pennywise outlets and a bank to shut down operations, my response was “What de ass?!? You couldn’t keep your tail home?! Ah whole week you sick and you moving normal, normal infecting people?!?”. I then heard about about the patient who was a minor, the child of a bank worker who caused another bank to shut down, rumour is the employee brought the child to work……what de ass??😳. Now today Trinidad has five more Covid cases, one of which is a child, an S.E.A. student whose parents sent him or her for THREE days KNOWING that this child was sick and had members in the family who were also sick😡😡😡

Context below:

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM TODAY’S MINISTRY OF HEALTH PRESS BRIEFING

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram: five latest COVID-19 cases are primary contacts of case #142.

  • 3 children among those 5 cases.
  • One child attended the Maraval RC school.
  • Pupils and staff at school to go into quarantine.

A sick child that was sent to school (for SEA prep) could now potentially affect 90 primary contacts and 200 secondary contacts.
All have now been placed on 14 day quarantine. (Express)

Dr. Parasram: If they had followed the guidelines which is to stay home when you are sick we would not be looking at 300 potential contacts.

I’ll say it for Dr. Parasram, WHAT DE ENTIRE ASS?!?!?

Now I am readily admitting that I am one of those parents who was relieved to hear that the exam was on August 20th with recap classes starting on July 20th. She needed collaborative space even with the social distancing and I was comfortable enough with her school’s (i.e. principal’s and teacher’s) Covid preventative measures. Again, I was ready for her just to do this stupid exam, get over with it and move on with her life. I may have mentioned this already……many times…….Notwithstanding, I also completely understood the argument against this position and the view by other parents to keep their children at home because…….you know Covid-19.

That being said….

What de ass you doing sending your child to school when you know fully well Covid running rampant in your household??????

What de ass is your excuse for being so damn selfish, not giving a shit about your child infecting other children AND teachers and OBVIOUSLY causing the school to shut down and create more anxiety and trauma for these poor children who have already been through it for the year?!?

What de ass people blaming teachers and principals for? For not ‘figuring out’ the child was sick and sending the child home? School administrators and educators are psychics? Doctors? Nurses? Healers? Mindbenders? Oracles? Witchdoctors? Telepaths? Obeahmen? Why don’t our nationals who are quick to cast aspersions HOLD THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND MINISTRIES ACCOUNTABLE for providing everything schools need to function ADEQUATELY?! Schools are running on fumes, raffles and donation sheets which the same school officials have to sort out for themselves by begging.

I can’t with this nonsense😒.

My nerves have been on edge as Covid local spread is being reported on daily basis and I have to reset my mental to begin to accept that Dr. KCR* may send his wayward children back into timeout because of bad behaviour. This I am absolutely NOT prepared for. However, I also have to forget that and pay attention to my daughter’s mental especially with the real possibility that the ‘summer school’ may be affected, the exam may be affected and there is no certainty with our current reality.

However in the middle of this assness, the show must go on. When I’m done, I expect a stage to thank the academy for the performance that is worthy of a statue.

Blessings

TMIDM

*Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

Swimming in the S.E.A. (Part 5) – Bacchanal

So the date is set. Thursday 20th August 2020 and to quote one very Euro 80s rock band, it’s the finalllll countdowwwwwn.

There was a sigh of relief as I, like all other S.E.A. parents was in this perpetual state of limbo and limbo, while it may seem dreamy and amazing, could very well break you in half. When I told Mam’zelle of the new date, she broke out into the Hallelujah chorus and I don’t blame her. She reached the state of ‘fed-upcy’ a loooooong time ago. If you are an S.E.A. parent like me, you would have also found yourself practising these same three subjects (Math, Grammar and Creative Writing) over and over with no clear finish line in sight. That would drive any human up a wall and I really feel it for all those hamsters in labs all over the world.

Covid body included

It took me a minute since the announcement of the date to this present point to write this blog post because I suffered information overload to the point where I was ready to sky (read: fling) my phone. It would absolutely NOT be the land of La Trinité if there was no bacchanal included in damn near everything. So the minute this was announced, the commentary was endless and in some cases, outright insane. (Some of us really need a social media break eh 🙄).

Anywho, let me preface this by saying one of the reasons why my blog is called Trini Mom in D Middle because that is the place where I very often find myself…Switzerland. I am a sucker for reason and balance (except where there is jackassery and the obvious is clear). So the argument of whether the date should have been in August because “some frustrated and burnt out and Covid basically gone” or in October because “some are left out, it was unfair and Covid still here”, landed me square in the middle. Honestly, I understood both sides because I was fed TF up since March and I hate this inherently STUPID exam but I also understand the plight of the academically and economically disadvantaged because I teach them daily in Secondary school. Hence the reason why I wasn’t caught up too much in the debate and made the honest commentary of being more concerned about the uniform fitting (which I am ELATED to announce that it does but still I need to get a belt 🙄. Homegirl was also haggling for new sneakers but the line was drawn and to quote myself, “You have a month to make it work, so ease meh up and doh drag yuh foot too much” 🤨).

Now of course the new date of S.E.A. (and for that matter, Coronavirus) is not the MAIN issue anymore. With the announcement came a parallel announcement that S.E.A. teachers and some school personnel will be paid a stipend from the 20th July to the date of the exam to facilitate readiness for the exam.

Allyuh! What we, the nation eh say about teachers, we forget to say because the commentary was downright vitriolic. Now in case you may be reading and have been one of those who have had bad experiences with teachers and thus may be quick to paint with an 8-inch, let me put my teacher hat on and remind you of the main facts:

  1. Teachers/TTUTA (teacher’s union) did NOT ask for the stipend. TTUTA agreed with the Ministry that the exam should have been held in October. The Ministry rock back with the August date and the stipend figure as a dangling carrot to get ONLY STANDARD FIVE teachers to come out during their holidays and threw TTUTA off balance.
  2. Teachers have legitimate (meaning: written in law) holidays, they don’t get paid over time, if they take no leave they don’t get incentives and I’m not the person to fully detail why this is so at this point.
  3. Teachers are grossly underpaid including the “good for nothing”, “greedy”, “lazy” “bloodsuckers” who “didn’t do one ass but cock up dey foot” since school closed. Teachers need to be upgraded (imagine working 13 years in one position when you have offered proof to your employer of completed study to advance based on recommendations from the same employer). Teachers need to be paid increments as they are working with devalued salaries and moreover, need to be positioned correctly on the scale.
  4. Nurses and other essential workers find this move to be grossly disadvantageous and unfair as teachers were not seen on the frontlines of Covid19 nor could they prove that they added an essential service to the nation (they do have a point EXCEPT for the view expressed by the first part of #3 above because I know of one case where a teacher was up until 2 o’clock crafting online lessons for her students to not do 🙄.
  5. Teachers feel like they are being publicly crucified because 1) they still received salaries during lockdown, 2) ONLY STANDARD FIVE! teachers will now receive a stipend but the paint from the 8-inch brush is now dry (even though they didn’t ask for the stipend), 3) even if they were to now continue their plight to be paid their just salary, they would get ZERO support from John Public and 4) Teachers are divided on the issue (‘we deserve it’ vs ‘don’t be a sell-out’).

All of this confirming the whole ‘divide and rule to get my way’ ideology. How very Trump! Well played government officials.

Colbert is never wrong

Meanwhile (parent hat on now) I can’t stand that teachers are being vilified and I hold to the view that public resentment of ‘blue collar’ workers usually rotates between teachers, police officers, doubles men and KFC employees when the cole slaw finish. We need a 15 minute attention grab from Gary or Watson and we need it expeditiously. Teacher morale is at an all time low and who feels it knows it. Now I am not quick to surrender to group think, I like facts and quite frankly all I am studying is my daughter. Now that there is a date, we just need to get there and move on with our lives. If for some reason teachers decide not to turn up out of principle, or some court matter delays the process or Madam Corona decides to swing back and say “ah was just resting my eyes but I’m back baybeeee”, her mental will be off and I just might forget about this whole S.E.A. drama and start the hunt for a private secondary school (not really eh, but it must be nice to have that option because the way my salary is set up……issa whoole no). The fact is this is all too much bacchanal for one inherently STUPID exam. But then again…where we living again 🤷🏾‍♀️?

Blessings

TMIDM

My Black Life Matters

(Longish post)

When I eventually looked at the time yesterday it was 5 o’ clock and I hadn’t taken a bath for the day. I had essentially spent my day in an hour and a half pre-school Zoom meeting, talking with my mom for another hour and a half, correcting SEA math with my daughter and being sucked into the #blackoutTuesday #BlackLivesMatter wormhole which made it a Tuesday like no other.

In Trinidad and Tobago there is an underlying racist undertone. This is historical. This is colonial. Our past into present is made up in a way where the elites or as they are called ‘the 1%’ who have historically had everything stacked in their favour are made up of ‘Trinidad whites’, ‘French creoles’ and Syrians.  These are the people with bank. These are the people who own the businesses, the co-operations and the conglomerates in industry from restaurants to pharmaceuticals, clothing to malls, sporting goods to coffee shops. These industries were built on and made money off of the backs of the 99%. I’m part of the 99% and I am black.

Yesterday during my social media extended session while I was crawling through my feed and giving my views on Blackout Tuesday. I came across this picture:

Screenshot_20200603-190047_Facebook

I was in the middle of explaining (lightly roasting, pan searing if you will) someone as to why #alllivesmatter does not make any damn sense in these times because….well I’ll let the ‘first man’ explain:

Screenshot_20200601-230007_Samsung Internet

Anyway, my immediate reaction was “Whew Lord, nah man Dianne!” but as I was in the middle of my pan sear, I didn’t engage. I sent a message to one of my bonafide who then informed me she couldn’t find it. Lo and behold, there was a swift delete followed by an online uproar. Long story short, Dianne said she was ignorant of the meaning behind All Lives Matter and it was actually a ‘black girl who wrote it’. Sigh.

Of course it got better. Coming swiftly to Dianne’s defense was one of the aforementioned 1%, a Syrian with the surname Aboud who posted this:

Screenshot_20200603-192421_Facebook

(Check out the heart nah. Whew.)

Everything heated up after that and after unfollowing Dianne’s socials and getting comfortable with my despair that I had blessed her with my black coins three times and that I had done the same at a place where I once found happy solace, Starlite Pharmacy owned by Mr. Aboud, I sat and engaged in some serious thought.

I don’t live the YOLO life, but I am a believer in experiences and this is something that I heavily share with my gremlinz. In tandem with my family/domestic life which is CAREFULLY curated, I give my children every level of experience that is available to them and I make no bones about that. You could do what you want with your own money and nobody can stop you because of who you are. Again, IN ADDITION to that carefully curated domestic life I have ALSO stayed at great hotels bundled in white sheets and spent gross amounts of money on food with them from Buzo to Rizzoni’s to Texas De Brazil. I have giggled with my daughter at brunch at Dianne’s with my bonafides and have wandered the aisles of Starlite buying overpriced goods. I have gone on sushi dates with my son and I have randomly bought after-school Rituals chillers and Starbucks frappucinos. I have walked the length of West Mall with bags on my left and right arm. I have played mas with all the major players from Tribe, Lost Tribe, Yuma and Fantasy. I have spent serious coins on all kind of fetes over the years. I’ve eaten, drank and laughed with my husband, my gremlinz and my friends and this will forever be valuable to me.

Now why? Because I want to be ‘seen’ as a black woman in a wannabe ‘middle class’? Listen, I’m a St. Joseph Convent Port of Spain girl who lived in the East, with an East lifestyle and East friends. So while the ‘West’ was new and some things cool (including some people in the ‘White’/Syrian/French Creole bracket), acceptance by the ‘West’ was never a thing for me. However, nobody could tell me any damn thing about what not to do and my children must be exposed to every damn experience as far as I can do it, from turtle watching to lazing in a pool.  In my ‘worldliness’ and perhaps influenced by an updated education and financial status shared by my nearest and dearest, I was blind to the fact that even though there was a space created for my money by the 1%, there may not be a space created for my blackness. Again, acceptance was not an issue for me. This is Trinidad. 

Now here comes the consciousness that admittedly I did not share with my gremlinz. Even though they can do it, even though they can take part, even though their blackness most definitely CANNOT stop them from doing what they want, going where they want, and demanding what they want if the situation arises, they must also understand that there is power in NOT patronizing a place or a person just for the sake of a fun, cool or new experience. Additionally, according to one of my nearest, they must also understand that they have the power to cripple a business and indeed an economy simply by the withdrawal of their own black coins.

I have never firmly, actively, consciously boycotted anything except caraille (bitter gourd), melongene (eggplant) and vodka. Beyond that, most things are fair game but after soaking up all the argument and the rhetoric, I felt a change within myself as to where and to whom I give my money. This conclusion was based wholly and solely on the premise that many of the places are owned by people who do not like me simply because of the skin God blessed me with, but only care about how wide I skin my purse.  This black woman will change her own narrative and is actively researching, discovering and participating black-owned industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe it’s the current wave of protests in the U.S. or maybe it’s the vocal revelations of the MANY Trump fans in Trinidad who wish he ruled here as well (I know ‘ruled’ is too strong of a word in relation to him eh) but I’m over it. My black life doesn’t matter to you but it sure as fuck matters to me. So here’s to the new wave. Me and my coins, we’re good over here.

Blessings

TMIDM

 

Mother’s Day V.2020

This Mother’s Day sure hits different.

I had NO idea Mother’s Day was today, only coming to this realization on Friday gone. I saw all the marketing on tv and social media but I just thought they were getting it in early to recoup Corona losses. I did wonder why my Boyo’s teacher was pushing us to do Mother’s Day craft with a silent expression of “I done getting right fed up of this Zoom thing every week, this woman doh know Mother’s Day is next week, wham tuh she boy?”🙄. That was a low day.😔

I don’t usually hold high expectations on Mother’s Day and I’m still not 100% sold on it. I suppose I’ve gotten used to it being like every other normal non-celebratory Sunday in my household and worse yet this year because of the ’rona? Out of sight, completely out of mind. I’m already grieving the losses that this ghetto AF 2020 has brought thus far: goals, extra finances, travel, some mental stability, my gremlinz being away from me at a certain point in the day (i.e. school) so I could breathe, exams that are on time and the ability to have the option to buy food. (If I get started on how fed up I am of cooking 1: I may sound ungrateful and insensitive and 2: I may not stop typing). Mother’s Day was nowhere near the radar.🤷🏾‍♀️

But thank God we’ve reached another year albeit ghetto AF.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this Covid 19 period has put my motherhood on coals as I try to keep it moving and at the same time keep it cool with my gremlinz. It is truly a delicate balancing act trying to keep some semblance of structure and routine and at the same time carefully manage emotions including my own. Some days have definitely been better than others. There are days when we are locked into the schoolwork, chores, lunch, playtime schedule. There are days when I let them watch tv all day, eat crap and bathe when they feel like it. A happy medium? Who knows but it works for me.😉

I can’t even begin to talk about the reaction to the Coronavirus in Trinidad and Tobago where it pertains to Education. Parents are berating teachers for not teaching their children anything (as though the word ‘parenting’ has ZERO inclusion of ‘teaching’ in any form or fashion) and teachers are complaining and complaining and complaining about not having enough, not being able to do enough and not being appreciated enough (just do what you can and no more and move on please). Some comments make me want to pelt my phone but my phone can be my lifeline, so I’ve perfected the art of the quick glance and scroll plus, mental stability and all that.

So on the point of mental stability, I hope all the mothers and the ‘mothers’ out there get what they want and do what they want on this solitary day for the very least. As usual I offer up those who have lost their mothers and those who have lost children, love and light to you all. For whatever it is worth to you, Happy Mother’s Day! Peace, love and blessings!!❤🌺🙏🏾

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TMIDM

Swimming in the S.E.A. (Part 4) – Thoughts and Prayers….

OK so far I have been rowing in the boat: Schools are closed, work with your children at home, avail yourselves of online material, school may open on the 20th April. I HIGHLY doubted the last one there so when they said they extended the stay-at-home orders until the 30th I wasn’t surprised. To be honest, based on my observation of what is going in other parts of the world with Covid-19, I wasn’t entirely surprised when the Ministry of Education signalled its intent to re-start in September but in both my roles as a parent and a teacher I would like to offer my thoughts and prayers in the interim.

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Let’s get it done Care Bears!

 

Random Thoughts (based on the Ministry’s press conference today):

I think that presser today gave me no information other than the fact that the Ministry of Education still continues to be out of touch with reality.

I think with all of those connections that the Minister announced at the beginning of his speech (I consulted with the King, the Queen, the Duke and the Duchess of Barbados, the Chancellor of UWI, the Earl of Derbyshire etc.), he forgot to mention one of the most important stakeholders (the actual teachers’ union)…..

I think the next 5 or 6 months are going to be really interesting in my home as I seek to ensure that my three children at three different levels are educated everyday because you know, online learning = no excuses, school must go on and all that. Send wine by the case please.

That being said, I don’t think I know what I’m expected to be rushing to teach online as September is going to be the third term’s work anyway. (I hate to be repetitive, am I teaching it again in September? Pleh.)

I think you cannot just expect all teachers at all levels to go from face to face learning to online learning like the flick of a switch. I can’t even make that switch after an argument with my husband. What are we? Robots? John Public is assured everything is up and running for teaching and learning like a horse bolting out the gate meanwhile teachers are like “I hadda pay for my own Zoom?”. (Stop making promises. They can backfire and set you up, like announcing a website and it crashing due to 10,000 sudden hits. Stop it).

I think I am fed up of the inescapable politicizing of Education.

I think teachers are the dog balls of society, filled with purpose but always taking a licking.

 

Random Prayers:

I pray that we all survive Covid-19 with our sensibilities intact because the way things going………(Dear Parent, why are you suggesting that S.E.A. students go to school in September out of uniform? Dear Parent, are you aware that I also have my own children to teach? Dear Parent, if teachers don’t get paid, we don’t eat and we die. Who’s going to teach your children?)

I pray that we all understand that not all schools are created or run equally. Please Lord help mankind to understand that Behind God Back Secondary School certainly cannot be expected to operate like Excelsior High College as the latter is well furnished with resources, multimedia, helpful teachers and brainy students while in the former, one has to walk with soap to school and students are zessing. #thereisnoequity  Stop it.

I pray that I am granted the superlative skills to cram three term’s work into two terms because I AM that teacher who gives VALUE for money paid via my salary and all that…..

I pray for owners of bookstores in July and August.

I pray that mankind understands that is not teachers who closed school and are lollygagging at home. Schools are closed because of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and we can’t go back to work because we might die.

I pray that my own laptop, wifi, created resources, credit card, personal cell phone, data plan etc keeps working well in sync because I give VALUE for my hard earned money.

I pray that those ICT skills I tried to adopt in my meager classroom, actually work this time around because those students are blessed with the best right?

Relatedly and honestly, I pray that my students who are under immense strain in unhappy, difficult homes and who look forward to daily refuge in school, can find the resilience somehow to make it through to September. It’s going to be a long road.

 Blessings

TMIDM

Swimming in the S.E.A (Treading Water)

When I wake up in the morning like many people, I usually take the time to pray and meditate before I jump start my day. This morning is different in that my mind is focused solely on my daughter. My emotions are all over the place and I’m finding it hard to clear my head and focus. You see today would have been the S.E.A. exam, the high-stakes test which would have defined my daughter’s graduation from one stage of her life to the next. She’s not alone. This morning approximately 19,000 children in Trinidad and Tobago are feeling a mix of emotions from relief to uncertainty to frustration to bewilderment.

Like many of the 19,000 parents and guardians I had plans. I was going to take the day off today, make sure she eats properly, do a sing-a-long car ride, pray with her before she went in and assure her that she got it in the bag, pray while the exam was going on, give her a big hug when she finished (and probably cry knowing that the months of hard work had finally led us to the end), eat at her favourite restaurant, laugh and play somewhere and then whisk her away to Tobago tomorrow for a mummy-daughter R&R weekend. Then COVID-19 pulled through and said you will do NONE of those things on this Thursday April 2nd 2020 Anno Domini.

This morning even as I type this, I consider life, control, plans and routine. Since the ‘Rona the routine has been to continue working (with reduced time) even though we do not know when the exam is going to be. This in itself is frustration (ask any hamster in a wheel) as my daughter was already getting tired of the constant drilling of Mathematics, Language Arts and Creative Writing and if you know anything about the Trinidad and Tobago education system you know that it is considers examinations first and education second. She was ready to move on with her life and had her heart set on a secondary school which offered a range of exciting things to study creatively beyond those three subjects. I’m torn as I know the appearance of the Coronavirus is completely out of our control (although the spread is). I understand that in life things happen that veer us completely off course from the path we are trodding. I understand and accept the adage: a man plans while God laughs. I get that while my mind does the Dr. Strange thing and anticipates all the million possibilities, there may be one I will miss which may be beyond my control. However, my humanity and my role as a mother makes me feel at this particular point in time that it is not fair.

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I think I should be allowed to feel that way for a bit even while pulling up my big girl panties and while encouraging my daughter to do the same. A brief scan of my social media this morning revealed posts with the general themes of  ‘today was supposed to be the day’, ‘grateful for life, some people didn’t live to see today’, ‘SEA not important in the grand scheme of things’ and ‘this too shall pass’. All of these emotions are important and necessary and I suppose designed to bring comfort and support during these strange-ass times but depending on how I feel I will pick one and then maybe revert to the next after all, I am human. My faith is hugely based on God being in total control, but God also made me human with a range of emotions that I am allowed to feel even while trusting Him to do what he has to do. He did the same with my daughter.

When she wakes up, I plan to gauge how she feels. I know like me she’s going to be unable to pinpoint an exact emotion, her head may be telling her one thing and her heart may be telling her the next and I know I shouldn’t force her one way or the next as today may be difficult.  The best I can do I suppose is to let her know that sometimes in life the ship can sail smoothly from one destination to the next. Other times it can take in water, you may make it to the shore, or you may be forced overboard but you have to keep treading even if you cry. It’s a very, very tiresome thing but it keeps you alive and that’s all that matters.