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:

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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:

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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:

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(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

 

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

Corona Thoughts

While in COVID-19 self isolation this evening I slipped into a funk. I spent a shorter time than usual on social media today but this evening I saw a post being shared. It was an amendment to the Public Health Ordinance here in Trinidad and Tobago forbidding public congregation until the 31st of July.

Screenshot_20200319-204716_Word Admittedly at first I was amused in the sense of ‘look at where we reach because Trinis too harden* and can’t do what they’re supposed to do!’ Then I considered how many times I sat to eat or drink in a public space: the mall food court, KFC, TGIFridays, Eddie Hart grounds, the doubles man…to think that this is now an illegal offence is troubling. It’s as though that move concretized the whole thing for me (and it didn’t help that I just finished season 3 of the Handmaid’s Tale).

We are really in a crisis. This is a state of limbo which I hate like most states of limbo. My brain works itself into overdrive. When I considered the amount of money people would lose in this singular industry, particularly people with children, even children in exam classes, it prompted deep thought and a deep shift in perspective for me. Negative vibes came out to play.

So when I feel a hint of anxiety which has the possibility of increasing, in order to ground myself and keep it in check, one of the things I do is to read random stuff (real random things eh like anyone who saw my Google history would probably write me a referral to a special place)😔. I happened upon this article which made the spirit settle a bit and I’m sharing it here so maybe it can help ground someone else. Sometimes you have to see things as they are rather than what your well-intentioned visions were, reality may be easier to accept. I’m working on it.

Read it here⬇️

Psychology Today

Blessings to you

TMIDM

*harden=stubborn

Swimming in the S.E.A. – Part 2 (One virus shall rule them all)

I’m usually the person who tries to examine all possibilities and outcomes of situations and decisions (which is ridiculous since we mere mortals are never in control🙄) but I hate surprises and usually operate from a viewpoint of ‘hope for the best but expect the worst’. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, since my Mam’zelle is so different from my son I have been unable to pin her down with the S.E.A. exam, his progress was predictable, hers was a gypsy rollercoaster. Eventually she became steady and I finally became settled. As the days passed, more and more my load felt lighter and lighter, my daughter felt less and less stressed and we were both on the same page of being ready for the S.E.A. exam to come (and go😒).  I booked a surprise mini-vacay to the sister-isle on April 3rd just for the both of us and  I was reallllly looking forward to those memories: sun, sea, sips, spa-time and silliness……

Then came the Coronavirus.

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Out of all the negative predictions I could have thought up to possibly interrupt the smooth running of her exam I did NOT foresee a global pandemic. At first I wasn’t so concerned as I expected COVID-19 to reach Trinidad, but this past week wrapped up with nationals panic-buying groceries, my house perpetually smelling like Lysol, multiple television addresses, closing of schools for a week and heightened speculation on social media that would make your head spin. This was coupled with no immediate word about the exam and of course further speculation from anxious parents and teachers. What finally triggered me was hearing schools closing in St. Lucia until after Easter, Jamaica closing schools and soon to make a decision about their own exams and then news that the Caribbean Examinations Council office in Jamaica closing with the May/June exams in the air.😳

In the wake of this virus taking over there is a pressing need to take all the necessary precautions but sadly it’s now brought two sets of anxieties for me to manage: high-stakes exam preparation and worldwide crisis. I asked Mam’zelle what she would prefer, for the exam to be moved up or postponed. She replied instantly ‘Moved up! It’s time for me to relax!’. I wholeheartedly agreed although now even the vacation is up in the air because you know….life….sigh….😔

So the waiting game continues as we start this week at home with the exam initially carded for two weeks away. Revision is planned, online sessions are prepared, leisure time is scheduled at home and of course, hands are being washed. I am hoping and praying for some semblance of normalcy even in the face of this absurdity that 2020 continues to dole out.

Blessings and be safe out there!

TMIDM

 

 

 

About Corona

Image result for corona beer virus meme

Sigh…..Let Corona live!

About the Coronavirus…

Like a greedy reptile I have bitten, swallowed, digested and regurgitated information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) because I like to be informed. My cleaning supplies and immunity meds are locked and loaded. I didn’t hold hands or offer anyone a sign of physical peace in church Sunday (hella awkward😬). I’m keeping my germs to myself.

I have a variety of sources that range from the World Health Organisation, CARPHA, the Ministry of Health, ‘reputable’ news houses like BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, tabloids, Anderson Cooper, satire websites, late night talk shows and plain old memes on Facebook. There are times when I feel overexposed and my scrolling finger has considerable work to do and other times when I’m truly vested, posting and sharing and that’s what I call balance.

What I’m not worried about is how this will affect the children as thank goodness COVID-19 seems to discriminate by age. However, not to be taken for granted I have been talking with (yapping/warning) my gremlinz and my students about properly washing their hands at school, ‘dabbing’ into a cough or a sneeze, taking their vitamins and using available soap and water for half a minute or using hand sanitizer where applicable.

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And with all of that my teen son still caught the cold at the pool (Rhinovirus eh! There’s a difference!🧏🏾‍♀️). He fell into a small state of paranoia but I told him if he still clocks a normal temperature, he’s ok but no school as apparently you can’t even cough without people around you going crazy. I don’t even want my own students coughing around me, my evil eye will be activated instantly and parents will be called. I’m your teacher and I care for your well-being but kindly go home please.

I’m expecting the COVID-19 to hit Trinidad and if so, a rush of panic buying much like what caused the shortage of N95 facemasks and hand sanitizers on the market. (Ya’ll…..come on….🙄). If perchance we escape this even after thousands of foreigners descended on our shores two weeks ago for Carnival, GOD IS INDEED A TRINI and we shall look forward to Carnival 2021 mercifully. In the meantime, stock up and if there is a call for social distancing and self-quarantine, ensure that each of your children will be adequately entertained. Pay your cable bill, make sure your wifi is legit, put a data plan on your phone, buy new crayons or coloured pencils  and ensure your snack cupboard and your store of patience is ready.

Meanwhile some guidelines from CARPHA:

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Blessings,

TMIDM

 

 

Swimming in the S.E.A. (Part 1)

A couple of weeks ago I received a document from Mam’zelle’s teacher to pick secondary schools as choices for her to be placed after writing the S.E.A. exam (not sure what the S.E.A. exam is? See my previous post here). I took the document home, folded it and put it on my dresser. It has remained there to this day.

I am anxious about this exam and nervous for Mam’zelle to write it. My first Son-son did it already and I was nowhere near as nervous then as I am now and that’s mainly because they are two different children. She is not as excited about schoolwork and does it grudgingly at times. Other times she shoots fireworks from her fingers. I think also because she is a girl and the world works differently for females, that this also influences how I feel. Make no mistake though, other than the (light/heavy) encouragement from me or the hubby, I make it a concerted effort not to display said anxiety. There is no perfection there as sometimes I let it slip but often when I feel it coming on because she can’t remember a particular spelling or mathematical formula, I step away to vent to my husband or I log on to Facebook to commiserate with other parents who feel the same as a result of this dreaded exam.

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Illustration by Shrikrishna-Patkar (www.hindustantimes.com)

I know I’ve reached that part of the S.E.A. ride where it’s pedal to the metal but I’m really praying for this ride to slow down and stop. I can’t imagine having to wait until May so for that alone, I thank God it was moved to March (although it remains high stakes for a shorter period of time). A couple of weeks ago there was a meeting held for the parents of the standard five girls and I was really glad that my feelings were shared even though I didn’t speak to anybody. The taut body language in the room spoke volumes. In all the years I have attended meetings in that school, I have NEVER seen so many parents (especially the dads….kudos!!) turn out for one year group. There was a lot of nervous energy in the room that no amount of ice breakers, talks and presentations could allay. As a matter of fact, after one of the members of staff did her presentation on how placement occurs, the tension rose and I left because I felt like I needed to breathe.

Since then, I have done my part in remaining in close contact with her teacher, making sure she is physically, mentally and spiritually fed and staying abreast of the conversation about S.E.A. on the networks with other parents which can also drive you crazy if you don’t scroll quickly and limit the amount of comments you read. Examples of Math sums, Language exercises and Creative Writing prompts are posted at various times throughout the day from parents who need help and teachers who want to help. It’s as though everyone is trying to make sure that all 14 million possibilities for this exam are considered in all the three subject areas and coupled with questions, concerns and venting about the exam process, it can become very overwhelming.

Mam’zelle is in lessons Monday to Friday and now Saturdays as well. The way I see it, if the help is offered to keep her brain busy then I’m completely ok with that. She enjoys working with her friends and she listens to her teacher sometimes more than me and I am completely ok with that as well. Any sign of burnout is met with shutdown and sleep and thankfully it hasn’t affected her other than the usual tweenage complaints about school. Of course balance is key so while we don’t have the time for her to be as physically active as she used to be, she is still partaking in one extra-curricular activity because you know….life…….

I am taking it day by day and will continue managing my emotions until the end of this S.E.A. nightmare. Hopefully when I finally get around to filling out that placement document, time will have sped up considerably. In the meantime let me organize breakfast on this goodly Saturday morning and ready myself to drop the child to school.

Blessings

TMIDM

The SEA cycle

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image courtesy giphy.com

The Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam roller-coaster ride is in full throttle and this year it seems like many more are aboard than ever before. For the benefit of the uninitiated, the SEA is an exam held in Trinidad and Tobago for the sole purpose of placing 10 to 13 year-olds in secondary schools. We don’t have the luxury of an education system where children move seamlessly from one grade to the next. Rather it is preferred to stress children out at this stage with a high stakes exam that society has deemed ‘the-most-important-ever-you-will-write-in-your-life-because-it-determines-your-singular-future’ and we as Trinbagonians hold dear all the emotional and cultural elements involved.

I refer to it as the SEA cycle because EVERY YEAR WITHOUT FAIL, these are the motions that parents, teachers and stakeholders go through (aloud and privately) and by stakeholders I mean the man on the street, people by the bar, cleaners on lunchbreak, people in the salon/barber shop, fass (nosy) neighbours and anybody with a keyboard and a social media account who has had a child or knew a child who wrote the exam.

Now since it is a cycle, naturally I could pick at any point to start but I think I will begin at the September term of standard 5, what was once nine but is now seven months before the exam since starting this year 2019, it was moved from May back to March.

The SEA cycle from September has you:

  1. Praying that the standard five year passes quickly.
  2. Hoping that the child doesn’t need extra textbooks in standard five because right now all they are supposed to be doing are practice tests so parents get to save money (yay!).
  3. Realizing that the extra money is to actually pay for the practice tests and a possible increase in lessons fees (dammit!)
  4. Examining and discussing secondary school choices with the fervour of a gambler studying the Play Whe* booklet.
  5. Going back and forth to pick four schools between teacher, spouse, granny, neighbour, work colleagues, priest, pundit and pastor.
  6. Perusing ALL Facebook comments to understand what the hell people talking about with ‘percentile’ and ‘composite score’.
  7. Finally choosing the four schools and in some unfortunate cases hoping that the child’s work will improve to match.
  8. Stockpiling Express, Newsday and Guardian newspapers and endlessly quarrelling about the mistakes on the answer key.
  9. Posting sums on Facebook for help because you and all don’t even understand what kinda high-falutin’ maths is this?
  10. Silently panicking because the child is ‘still’ scoring in the 80s for end-of-term tests.
  11. Ensuring that Christmas is still merry despite the drama with this exam.
  12. Welcoming the new year with a sole focus on the SEA countdown as a main priority and hardly anything else.
  13. Making sure the curriculum is fully covered by asking the child random process questions in Math, Language Arts and Creative Writing to keep them sharp at the same time,
  14. Running out of steam and letting the teachers do what they get paid to do and at the same time,
  15. Messaging the teacher (at random and sometimes ungodly hours) if they covered this topic, that topic and the third topic because teachers are supposed to be accessible and have patience……….
  16. Running out of practice test booklets as even though some are better than others, all were necessary.
  17. Wondering how involved the child should be for school sports…..because…..SEA…..yet,
  18. Wondering for your own self if to conduct a hermit vibes or a YOLO vibes for Carnival.
  19. Realizing that you have done all you could do and praying for the day of the exam to come and go because this stress is too much.
  20. Being fed-up of practice tests yourself.
  21. Feeling the stress but not showing the stress to the child because if the child senses you are stressed then that will make you more stressed and then you lose your ability to hide the stress properly (mini-cycle).
  22. Seeing the stress in the child anyhow and trying your best to strike a proper balance between ‘try one more question’ and ‘go and sleep, you need rest’.
  23. Googling ‘how to cope with exam anxiety’.
  24. Venting on supportive Facebook groups.
  25. Arguing with Facebook group members who won’t let you vent in peace about SEA because the Judging Amys are always there to serve.
  26. Waiting impatiently for the day of the exam.
  27. Not sleeping the night before the exam but making damn sure that the child sleeps free of nerves.
  28. Not eating the morning of the exam but pretending to and at the same time making sure the child is locked and loaded.
  29. Sending the child off to do the exam with a warm smile and a racing heart.
  30. Scouring Facebook for commentary while the exam is going on because you need more stress.
  31. Seeing people posting about the difficulty of the Math and the Creative Writing and praying again that your child conquered it.
  32. Breathing a sigh of relief when the exam is over and seeing your child look like a child once more but,
  33. Still asking which sum was difficult or if the report was easy or who was crying.
  34. Occasionally looking on social media for ANY mention of the day for results to release.
  35. Feeling the anxiety rise again but loving the graduation preparations that balance it out!
  36. Channeling Doctor Strange and creating all the possible outcomes of the results and your plans A to D of reactions to match.
  37. Realizing that some people are getting close and suddenly checking in because they want to have the front seat to know ‘what school your child pass for?’
  38. Realizing that waiting for results is exponentially worse than waiting for the exam.
  39. Being excited that the child passed for first, second, third or fourth choice.
  40. Not being excited that the child was zoned out and preparing to enact plan E if there is one while keeping it cool and keeping the child encouraged.
  41. Knowing that there are ‘good’ schools and there are ‘bad’ schools.
  42. Knowing that these two are relative to experience but accepting certain realities,
  43. Understanding that this is the way the system is set up which is the first step to knowing how to manoeuvre in it.
  44. Defending the good in ‘bad’ schools and the bad in ‘good’ schools.
  45. Listing a world of experiences in each circumstance to make the relevant justifications.
  46. Arguing about the Concordat^ and why we should have ‘prestige’ schools and how unfair it is’
  47. But knowing that given the chance……..
  48. Gearing up for the money game (registration fees, books, uniforms, private schools, tutors, re-sits)
  49. Gearing up for the next child to go through this all over again and realizing that the SEA is the most effective form of birth control there is, much like trying to get a child into primary school.
  50. Going back to the beginning of the cycle there when your next child is at the end of standard four for another ride on the roller coaster.

These are the main stages on the ups and the downs of SEA and I am quite certain that this list is not exhaustive just as I am certain that some of you may not have passed through all the stages. So in the heat of it while we get all riled up year after year, remember we have to come back down to go around again unless you want to try a different ride because this one so played out…..year…..after…..year. If that is the case remember, EVERYBODY has to get on board to demand a better ride, something new and different that caters to our children and that is less of a harrowing experience for all who are buckled in. 😉

Blessings!

TMIDM

 

*Play Whe is a popular betting game in Trinidad and Tobago. Each number is assigned a character and many people tend to look for signs in dreams and in daily activity to give them an idea what number to play. It is Chinese in origin. More info here: http://www.nlcbplaywhelotto.com/

^The Concordat in its simplest terms is that the Principals of denominational (‘prestige’)  schools are given the right to allocate 20% of its new intake based on religion and other factors. So once you can get your child on that list, you are good to go. Read more about that here: http://moe.gov.tt/portals/0/documents/notices/concordat_60.pdf

 

Whither the humanity?

humanity

plural humanities

1 :compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior or disposition :the quality or state of being humane  (marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration)

(Merriam Webster Online)

It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a Trinidadian right now because sad to say, I live among people who don’t deserve to live in this country, far less this on this planet as human beings.

With the grand exception of the Christmas into Carnival period which is like our yearly escape from reality/purge of bad vibes/one love fest, during the rest of the months we have seem to become a people without hope, descending into a despicable mentality fueled largely by selfishness, race, tribalism, spite, jealousy and greed. There I’ve said it. Harsh? (Where are the lies though?)

Dominica was an island that was largely green, an Eden of sorts, everywhere green with lush flora and fauna. When Hurricane Maria hit, the pictures that emerged were heart-breaking. Aerial shots showed houses with no roofs, broken trees, flood waters and brown earth. The island is completely ravaged, so much so that it brought the Prime Minister to tears on television.

So cue CARICOM. Already there was a need to pour aid into the island of Barbuda, completely destroyed by Hurricane Irma weeks aback. Now as part of the Community there is need to rally behind Dominica as well. Trinidad’s Prime Minister said that Dominicans with friends and family here are welcome for six months with no hassle, we’re opening our borders to help our brothers in need, as good neighbours ought right?  Well thanks to social media, people’s petticoats started to show. These are actual comments from the keyboard warriors on public fora not to mention the private groups of which I’m a member (there are some HEARTLESS teachers out there, TRUST ME!):

“They will have the same rights as national……This is a political move to gain votes…..”

“Is mother Africa sending any aid to hurricane struck islands? Is she opening her home and her pot?”

“…he should open the door to the refugees in Bangladesh”

“just like how it have homeless an needy ppl here all alyuh who agree should take in one homeless Trini…and again I stress that charity begins at home. There is no reason not to help but don’t leave your own to suffer.”

Sigh, it was difficult to sift through the vitriol but I made it out alive. I will also return my new personal rule of not reading commentary after article posts. My brain cells are depending on me.

Whither the humanity Trinidad and Tobago???? 

Now it is notoriously hard to please a Trini eh but something as basic as this? The people island get mash up!!! No infrastructure, no services, no access to communication, in many cases no homes and bare food and you wanna tell me that if they have friends and family over here, people have a problem with them coming? People’s main concerns are about voter padding, “my child didn’t get into Fatima College so it’s not fair for Dominican children to go to school here” and suppose they will all our food and jobs??? Sipping on that Donald Trump tea? Give me a fucking break?  How difficult is it for people to see this rationale behind the decision??? Let me help you. When the day comes and  Trinidad gets fucked over by a mega-Hurricane or by a Mexico-quake (and remember, Karma is a bitch who likes to say, “hold my champagne”), whoever is the new American president (because, Trump 😒 ) or even the Canadian hottie prime minister could make an announcement, “hear what Trinis, once you have friends or family here in the US or Canada, you’re welcome for six months”. Lie to me and tell me you’re not going!!! I’ll wait!!!!…….

…………………….

……………………

Puh-leeze!

Some of us need to take stock of our lives, and I’m not even talking about our physical lives and our needs. I’m talking about our personal lives, our souls, because there is a cynical rot that it taking over that is affecting our present and will most definitely affect our future and I have Trinidadian children to raise and hopefully Trinidadian grandchildren to spoil! A lot of people don’t get that the core of most of the problems in Trinidad and Tobago stem from ourselves, what we hold personally dear, our value systems, our beliefs and notions about what it means to be a HUMAN Being, what we engender in our families and what we contribute to the society in which we live. Crime, crumbling institutions and systems, low productivity, political nonsense all generate from that. So if we as a nation are made up of individuals who measure along this lack of humanity, we are truly lost.

To all who have the courage to defend what it means to be a Trini, I applaud you. I am doing the same. I am blooming where I am planted, it is a philosophy I will continue to ascribe to and according to my vocation, it is one that I will continue to share with those who are to lead in the future. More individuals need to be doing the same instead of down-crying, blaming and stewing in the morass of ‘inhumanity’! That is the ONLY way that the Trinidad and Tobago that we all dream of can return to existence. Fix it!!

Bless up

TMIDM

P.S. There are many organizations taking donations of items but I’m putting here a list of things specifically requested by the Dominican government.  Every little bit of help will help. Give. What you put out into the universe always returns to you, sometimes doubly.

Can I breathe please? 

3a763df1eea27563354f7db6bf6c87b8--daily-mantra-inhale-exhale-tattooThese past couple of weeks have been a complete test on my ability to multitask and to do so with all the patience and grace that I could muster.   To say it passed in a blur would greatly understate how I feel at this present point in time. I was actually in the hair salon under a dryer when I started this post, that’s to tell you how possible it was to find a proper minute’s peace. And even now when I’m supposed to be shaking off the shackles of a secondary school term that left me 😥😥😥😥😥, I still feel like somebody owes me a five day for night stay somewhere sunny with a beach  and copious amounts of alcohol (any kind, not picky at this point).

So rather than give a blow by blow of what happened, I think I will just share my not really random thoughts/questions on these various events as they occurred. Nice? Here I go:

ON SON-SON’S GRADUATION

  1. These things should have tissues. I felt so old! Sniff! 😭 I couldn’t concentrate on all those programme items though I was too busy staring into space wondering where the time went. 🙁20170629_114016
  2. I get that schools have a limit to work with but they should really consider opening it up to three invites per graduand, modern families and all that.  There were a lot of visibly irritated “chile mudders” and “chile faddas” present.
  3. All of a sudden I noticed these 11 and 12 year olds standing up posing and talking like they already finished a year in secondary school. Again, whither goeth the time? 😮
  4. Are novelty photo booths a thing now? 🤔 They are everywhere!
  5. I’m glad the term ‘tea plate’ has evolved into a box of sweet AND savoury pastries AND a drink.
  6. What compares to a look of relief on a teacher’s face? (Biased? Yes!)

ON SECONDARY ENTRANCE ASSESSMENT (SEA) RESULTS

  1. This anxiety that I thought evaded me hit me square in the gut in July 4th. Nobody warned me  sufficiently. 😩
  2. Why do people find shit to complain about when they feel nervous, awkward or expect you to feel the same and concur? All ah we standing up in the hot sun. IIIIIIIIII doh feel like chatting about how hot the sun is…… 😐
  3. That anxiety again. I hope never to feel like that ever again. Even though I have two more to go. But by that time I think the novelty would disappear.
  4. Son-son did not pass for his first choice which reflected on his face in a way that only his mother would observe however, he was super stoked as he got placed in his second choice, a very good school where FIVE of his closest friends were also placed. Can’t complain about that.

ON FORM ONE REGISTRATION

  1. De journeyyyyyyyy now start
  2. I was so happy to observe that Form Six students were leading the programme for registration. I loved the culture of the school already.
  3. So I had to take out a five year insurance because my son wanted to do an extra-curricular sport activity. First I’d heard of it but better safe than sorry right? Plus it was only $100.
  4. Government issued textbooks were piled on but only when I got home did I notice the atrocious state of  one of the books. Moral: Take your time even though you feel overwhelmed.
  5. Secondary school is gonna be sweet.

ON MAM’ZELLE’S FIRST COMMUNION DAY

  1. The first communion ceremony, in spite of its great importance to any young Catholic girl, is also largely a pre-cursor to how you may envision your daughter on her wedding day. 20170630_0908351
  2. Mam’zelle looked really proud and big girl happy. I, on the other hand, stared into space……. 😭
  3. There’s a big difference between a boy’s and a girl’s first communion day. The difference lies in how extra parents are regarding how the child looks. (See 1. above).  With the girls I noticed more necks craning, eyes staring and eyebrows raising.
  4. I didn’t think that the girls actually ‘got’ what the rite was about, even though they got the basics. But like most of us who passed through it, eventually they will.

ON CONDUCTING AND MARKING END OF TERM EXAMS

  1. Why did we have end of term exams?
  2. The stress to create the perfect paper in the third term which would adequately cover what students did with a pinch of first and second term, was entirely too much.
  3. The stress to mark these papers also applies. Particularly when you KNOW you almost literally bled for your students and then you are faced with… 20170627_124852(The sad thing is that this was a national test that they got weeks earlier and I TOLD them that they would get a repeat of it for their exams rather than subject them to a new exam….so……sigh……..)
  4. People tend to say that the teacher influences the student. I wonder if they know that the reverse is also true? And not always in a positive light. Frustration is real. This term was bad. My nonchalance set in quick. I’m at pains to apologise.
  5. People also tend to say that teachers are lucky that the get vacations. I wonder if they know that most of us deem this much needed recovery period? Like post-trauma…. Salute to all of you who finished on a high note though! 👏

ON BOYO TURNING ONE

  1. Turning one year old is an important milestone!! This milestone however was not celebrated by anything resembling a party. Cake, ice cream, snacks only if you want.  I held firm to this with all my gremlinz. They. Will. Not. Remember. A. Thing. Let me underwhelm in peace.
  2. Smash cakes however are essential. Icing is awesome.
  3. My Boyo turned 1 a looooong time ago. We plebs are simply now catching up. 20133683_10154400439936706_179359571_o
  4. (Stare into space……. 😭)
  5. All babies of this generation are being led into world domination by Asahd Khaled, Beyonce’s twins and the genius soon to depart from Serena Williams. I’m noticing that my Boyo along with his peers are operating on an entirely different level. Look out 😐

ON MOVING

  1. And I maintain….it is only when you are moving that you realize HOW MUCH SHIT you own!!!!! AND MOST OF IT UNNECESSARY!!!
  2. A van is an important vehicle to own. Money saving tip yo. 💰💸
  3. Despite the general consensus in Trinidad, some landlords are really nice, I was grateful to score one.
  4. You can be attached to material things and you can’t help it. I was really sad to leave my home but the life beat goes on.
  5. If you suffer with slight OCD like me, ensure that you know EXACTLY where everything has to go. Chaos is no friend to us.
  6. Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done.

ON DEATH

  1. When it happens particularly when it’s some degrees of separation away, I always retreat into myself examine my life, my purpose, think about my gremz. It’s a rollercoaster of hope and depression. There is some element of strength that I still need.
  2. Death has no respect for protocol. My husband told me that and it has stuck with me since. It’s whoever, whenever, deal with it. This is the hardest thing to stomach.
  3. Live your life and make those memories. This is what got me through the rough times and I imagine would continue to.

 

So the holidays are upon me. It will be filled with exercise, camp, activities, road trips, swimming, mall runs, the usual. I’m going to try to be gremlin-centred but try not to kill out myself in the process and of course post a couple of updates!

Bless up

TMIDM