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

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

 

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.

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

A Holiday Shift in Focus

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Some months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend on the topic of scaling back the usual to-do when it comes to preparing for holiday celebrations. She is Hindu and does the most when it comes to Divali, the Hindu festival of lights, perhaps the most festive on the Hindu calendar usually celebrated in October. In a moment of reflection perhaps fuelled by past experience, the timeframe and on becoming a mother times two (toddler and baby), she realized that she may dial back the effort as she is usually A+ when it comes to creating the festive feeling when the second half of the year rolls around.  In the midst of the light-hearted banter about a serious topic, I thought about us adults, children and holidays.

I am entirely convinced that holidays are for children and this is simply based on two things: one, the joy that a child feels and expresses during holiday festivities could never be purely experienced as an adult and two, the fact that most, if not all, adults can place a finger on a seasonal memory that occurred when they were children and which they use as a point of reference. For me, when I was a child my father used to invite a parang* band over to celebrate his birthday which was Christmas Eve with the festivities leading into Christmas Day. I remember my sister and I used to force ourselves to stay up for that excitement (ranked higher than waiting up for Santa Claus) because the merriment, music, eating and drinking was something that didn’t happen on that scale during the year. Associated with that, was the particular smell of the carpet when it was vacuumed, scrubbed and dried. To this day if I hear certain parang songs or smell a carpet being cleaned there is an unbeatable joy that creeps into my heart which I know is stored there since childhood. Weird, but true. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing and when that hits, it hits hard, sometimes to the point where tears flow (I don’t cry when a carpet is being cleaned but you get my point).

Now adults and particularly parents, are taken up with ensuring that the holidays mean something (no matter how grand or miniscule) so that memories are created, and memory-making can indeed be hard work. Why do you think you take so much pictures with your phone of your children, your lunch, your face, your nails, your commute to work, your drinks, the moon, the sunsets and the rainbows? You are recording your life because on some level you don’t want to forget what you’ve experienced which of course naturally happens as we age.

This is why at holiday times we may feel inclined to ensure that they are well enjoyed. For some it may be putting out the best décor, food, drink and gatherings of family and friends and in putting out the best so that the memories are created (because it is once a year after all), sometimes we lose sight of the purpose and the overwhelming feelings of preparation anxiety kick in. For women who are the captains of this particular ship, this may work in direct conflict with the effort we have been employing alllll year to ensure our #selfcare, #balance, #metime and related hashtags which have become the order of the day. So we start to think about scaling down without losing the flavour.

I usually go crazy with Christmas decorations but when I was doing my ‘summer cleaning’, I discovered an intruder rampaging in my storage. I shall call him Mickey and he had a jolly old time. Mickey forced me to discard everything: garlands, balls, tinsel, flowers, ribbon, lights and nativity scenes. As mad as I was (still am), I was really on the fence as to whether I should repurchase all my stuff. This year got a tree, lights, another nativity scene (this is a must) some balls and that’s it. I’ve warmed to the idea of not having to hurt my head to find my ‘colours to match’ for my décor. My teen, tween and toddler gremlinz will hardly blink an eye at a missing snowglobe, my husband worse yet.

Perhaps as adults we have been oversaturated with the commercialization of the holidays over the years, the hustle, the bustle and the perfection, that we are returning to keeping the pure, meaningful moments dear for the sake of keeping our minds clear. It’s like children who unwrap the gift, take out the toy and then joyfully play with the box. Keep it simple. That is something I could definitely get behind as my sanity is precious to me. It’s the final weekend before Christmas day, what about you?

 *https://www.nalis.gov.tt/Resources/Subject-Guide/Parang

About Grandparents

Grandparents are strange creatures.

I say this purely from a perspective of observing them in my role as the bridge between them and the grandchildren and when I say strange I mean howww is this sharp 180 possible from you being one type of human as my parent to being another type of human as my child’s grandparent? I continue to ponder…

Image result for if i knew grandchildren were this much fun

Years ago when I heard the above quote on a tv show I laughed at the humour in it. Little did I realize later on in life when I created the grandchildren, that the joke was actually on me because grandparents mean every single word of it. Hurtful.

The following is a list of related scenarios, some happened to me, some happened to other parents like myself who are also in this midway twilight zone wondering ‘but what it is really going on here?’

  1. The grandchild comes home with B’s on the report book to which the grandparent replies “don’t come do so hard on him/her. B’s are good and you are frustrating the child”. Meanwhile you cast your memory back to your own childhood filled with fond memories of crying because you can’t remember 7×8 (to this day), anxiously memorizing spelling words and threats of A’s or else……
  2. As is custom with Caribbean parenting, you give the child a dose of punishment, to which the grandparent responds that you are being wickeddd to the grandchild or my personal favourite “I don’t like to hear him cry”. Meanwhile you have lived to tell stories of belts, pot spoons, ‘cocoyea broom flex’, guava whips, rolling pins, slippers, broomsticks etc.
  3. The grandparent remarks that the grandchild is soooo skinny and proceeds to feed the grandchild according to their set standard. This leaves you to wonder how a boiled egg could be swallowed ravenously in front of a grandparent but mashed and scattered in your own living room by the same human being.
  4. Relatedly, this set standard includes even after you have fed the grandchildren and any of the times in between that they feel they should eat reminding you that breakfast, lunch and dinner and ‘nothing in the interim’ was meant specifically for you.
  5. Again relatedly, you the parent give said grandchild a snack and are met with admonition about not feeding the grandchild properly, “in my days we used to eat yam and eddoes!!!” and that he/she is soooo skinny. Yet when you go in the grandparents’ kitchen, there is a cupboard or drawer filled to the max with every treat imaginable wrapped in cellophane paper which most certainly did not exist when you grew up in that house. Even if it did, the fear of taking (or even asking) for said snack was enough to have your ears ringing.

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  6. Grandparents lifting up full 5-year olds up a flight of stairs, while hold a bookbag and lunchkit while you the parent watch and remember the command “Walk up please!” while trudging behind them as a child.
  7. The grandchildren have attained the school age of three and the grandparents casting doubt if they are ready already for school because school is ‘stressful’ and they will be ‘tired’. “I thought about grandbaby in school and if you only know how my heart grieve me”….GRIEVE yuh say yunno!!!! For sending him/her to school??? Your own childhood memories come flooding back again…..
  8. Seeing grandparents magically and eagerly appear at the front gate, driveway or gallery as though to rescue the grandchildren from your hostage care.
  9. Grandchildren being allowed to run around and make noise because who must be seen and not heard? Leave dem…
  10. Clothes that grandchildren wear must be perfectly fit. Anything like a half size up or down in shoes etc must be returned for a proper pair or kept so they’ll grow into it and even as you wait for the growing, two or more proper pairs will be bought. Meanwhile some of you parents wore shoes stuffed or pants tightly belted until you could fill it out.

Did you read any of these and say to yourself ‘Yessss” or “Preachhhh”? The contrast is glaring and some things are indeed very funny while others are cold blooded man! Like where was this side of you when I was growing up?!?!

I suppose it’s a case of who feels it knows it and I know that there may be other deeper matters related to insecurities and self-confidence, change in society and wisdom that comes with age and all that but I’m keeping it light for now.

In the meantime, I continue to be flabbergasted by the strangeness of the grandparents. Are you?
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