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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last, but not least,

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

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

Blessings!

TMIDM

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

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

Anywho………

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

That being stated…………..

(🗣 send Merlot please!)

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

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

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

Red pill…

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

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

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

Blessings,

TMIDM

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

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

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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

Suitable rest pic

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings!

TMIDM

About 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.

    Screenshot (17)
    instagram.com/mightyapejunior
  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

Leave de people zaboca!

My neighbour has a huge avocado tree.

 

Zaboca
“Avocado = Zaboca”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bless up

TMIDM