My missing diary …. and the bottle of wine ….

 

I keep a pen and ink diary.  I abhor digital diaries.

The problem with pen and ink diaries is that if I misplace mine the entire facade that is my life comes crumbling down.

I have no recall of what my appointments are and basically it is all just freaking a panic.

Today I had a parent and teacher meeting and took my trusty diary along.  In the excitement of the meeting, I put my diary down so that I could make the necessary hand movements one needs to make in these sort of meetings.  You know how these things go.

Honestly it was one of the most “real” meetings I have ever been to.

I was the last parent of the day so already there is a level of relaxation for the teacher that this schpeel.

It really was an honest chat, not just about my child, but also about how “being a parent” it seems is as difficult for a teacher as it is for the normal riff-raff.  She shared all sorts of home truths with me, and I could have hugged her in appreciation.

All three of my children have been in her class, so we have a bit of a history, and it is sort of cool that she knows my kids.  I don’t have to blow smoke up her arse.  She knows my children and me and we have clocked up a few hours in talks over the last few years.

I really had a laugh and it was all good.

I left the meeting and I was mentally already somewhere else.  The result is that I did not check and I left my diary behind.

I only realised my error at about 17h45 and then frantically I was trying to go down the path and see where it might be.  I sent a message to the class teacher and she said she had found it and left it at reception so I could collect it tomorrow.

Good plan in theory — however I had no idea what my calendar looked like tomorrow and knew I had something on quite early, but no recall who it was with.

Here is the part that was really cool.

She offered to meet me at the school and give me my diary – as clearly I had no freaking clue what I had planned for tomorrow and this was filling me with huge amounts of anxiety.

The teacher met me at the school – then realised that she could not get the door open to the side where I was on.

She then walked around until she found a window that could open so she could pass the diary to me.  In turn I passed her a bottle of chilled wine.

I felt it was a good swap.

Yay for cool primary school teachers — who do not get offended when I use the word “fuck” in several of my descriptions and do not seem to mind finger puppets.

When your child goes missing …. or hide and seek level 42

 

I saw a note on Facebook about a mom (Lisa-Marie) who received a call that her daughter was absent, when the mom had dropped the child at school.  Her daughter is in Grade 1 — it’s not like she could have decided to go and hang out at Forever 21 for the day.  She is 6.

Mom has a cardiac arrest and spends the next two hours breathing into an old McDonalds brown bag.

It reminded me of an incident with Connor that happened a few years ago.

I get to after care and I look for Connor, who is no where to be found.  I walk up to to the sign in sheet and notice he hasn’t signed in.

It is just after 17h00 and he would have signed in by 14h20.

I ask the after care teachers where he is — they say, they don’t know.

I can feel a full on “episode” coming on, but I am trying to look calm and control my facial features.  Already I have visualised the call I will make to nearest and dearest about the fact that somehow I managed to lose my oldest child and now he is dead.

I sort of started speaking in that slightly hysterical voice and saying “well where is he — he is meant to be at aftercare?”

I think the teachers could smell the impending poes collapse, they also came to look at the sign in sheet and agreed he hadn’t signed in.

Thanks, I am missing a child, not fucking suffering from retinal fucking detachment.

I start to go outside and call for him — which is one step further up the ladder of insanity as after 17h00 all the kids are inside.  So if he was outside I would not actually need to call for him — because he would be alone on the playground.  Unless he was Casper.  Then he would be on the playground and I would need to call him.

I started phoning a few of the usual suspects — again keeping it light and fucking breezy, when I was freaking the fuck out — “so, is there any chance you fetched Connor from school today….?” “no…” “okay…” “no, no problem — just a matter of him not being here and no one knows where he is … but other than that, it’s all thumbs up over here”  “yes, of course we are still on for the braai …. no worries…”

So now I am in full blown panic disorder territory, but I am still trying to look vaguely normal.

After care teachers do not feel comfortable when a mom is going fucking insane in the aftercare when little children are watching.

I swear if one more fucking teacher looked at that sign in sheet I was going to murder her with the clipboard the sign-in sheet was on.  I am not missing a signature — I am missing a child.  Similiar, but one is slightly larger and less likely to fit in a 10cm line space.

At this point I realised I was the only one here who was fully understanding the situation and I started to do that frantic run you do over the school grounds, when you think your child has been snatched.

If you haven’t experienced it yet, then I can highly recommend it.

Not only do you run faster than you ever thought you could, but you manage to learn to pray, string swear words together and start to plead with your imaginary maker —- it is all quite something.  I was having religious epiphanies, planning a funeral, deciding on an epitaph ….. it was all quite exhilarating.   I am not sure if this is that “moment” that runners feel when they are in the zone, it is hard to say.

I eventually found Connor down at the cricket nets —- his friend was not in after care.  Connor and Devin had decided they were going to play cricket till their moms arrived.  Devin’s mom knew where her son was —- my son was not where he was meant to be.

Connor of course forgot the key part of informing his mom or after care.

I can’t explain to you the relief you feel when you find your alive child at the school and not dead or in the back of a black panel van with tinted windows, with four dodgy blokes.

{my imagination and hysteria have very particular details to them}

At the same time that the relief endorphins move through your body, the other “I am fucking going to kill you” hormones make their way to your eye balls, mouth, and hands and you seriously want to fucking kill that child.

Right there.  Right then. Fuck epitaphs.

I screamed at Connor like I have never done before.  I think kids two fucking schools away learnt a valuable lesson that day. “Sign in to fucking aftercare like we fucking agreed ….” My fuck filter was totally off that day.

Connor couldn’t grasp why I was acting like a unhinged person — he had a cricket bat in his hand.  I felt an over riding urge to take the cricket bat and have a go at his knees.

For the next two days I kept looking at him with a sense of relief …. and then an immediate urge to beat the living shit out of him.

Parenting is super fun.  I don’t recommend it.  Get a dog — they usually leave you after 14 years and that is about just enough time to get attached to them, like them, and not have to get angry with them because they are going to steal the car and drink all your beer.

#greatparentingmoments

#fuckthisparentingmalarkey

#greatparents

#whymomsdrink

#daydrinking

#hideandseek

#hideandseekloser

When did parents become such arseholes?

170208_arseholeparent

I have written a few blogs about this, but have not posted them.  I get distracted when the squirrel walks past.

I am starting to become aware that when a person has a child — through what ever route — somehow there is this perception that somehow they are terribly special.  And their off spring is the most special in the universe.

Like not special-class special, but more “the Chosen One” special.

I drop Connor off at his school in the mornings – he is at Fairmont High School.

I have only good things to say about the school.

I drive him to school. Because he refuses to walk.  I have tried to press him on the issue, then he starts using phrases like child abuse ….. and quoting the Childline number. I drop him at school and watch him walk through the school gate.

Once he is through the gate he is someone else’s problem.  That people, is how parenting works.

You can imagine — if you can’t — try —big school, lots of kids. Most cars are dropping one child off — at most two, so there are a lot of cars moving through the gates from 06h45 – 07h50.  It’s controlled chaos basically.

The school has various drop off points.  You can drop your child off at one of the side gates, and the result is it reduces the congestion with everyone trying to enter the school.

Makes sense.  It’s a really good system.  Very easy to understand and follow.

At every drop off point there are red lines – clear red lines – so you know not to park OR STOP your car there.  If you do it creates a situation where other cars cannot pass or see you or what ever.  It’s a red line.  IT’S A CLEAR RED LINE.

I don’t care if you only need a minute.  It isn’t going to take a minute -it never does.  More importantly when did your minute get more important than my minute??

Basic basic stuff.  Red means no.  When you see any other colours you can do anything you want to.When you see red with regards to road and traffic,  it means no or stop. Or pull over we are going to be doing a breathalyzer.

Dropping off is simple.  You drive up.  Pull up close to the kerb where there is no red line.

Stop your car, put it in neutral, kick your offspring out the car.

He fumbles in the boot for his bag. He finally gets his shit together and as he walks past the passenger window he says something like “Bye mom” and every now and then I will scream out something like “I love you so much my boy — have a really lovely lovely day —- mommy loves you!!”

You know, anything to embarrass him.  I like to keep it fresh so he never really knows what is coming. I like the fear in his eyes each morning.

I don’t do it every day — I save it for holidays and high days.

Anyway, yesterday — I drive up.  (this happens almost every day, I am only blogging about it now, because though the diarrhea post I have is funnier, I am not going to put it up — I am trying to hold on to my dignity though it is a losing battle)

It’s a single road – so one lane up, one lane down, and the road has a right angle bend in it.

There is endless places you can drop your kid off without parking/stopping on the red line.

Sure, it means your butter ball might have to walk 20 meters, but you know I think they will live.  These are high school kids, not infants — I think we can trust them to walk 20 meters without starting a meth lab, joining a cult or getting a tattoo.

I shit you not.  One person in the up lane is parked/stopped on the red line whilst they are dropping off their overlord-and-master.  Then there is another person in the down lane dropping off their own saviour-of-the-world, also parked/stopped on the red line.

The result is no one.  NO. FUCKING. ONE. who is parked in the right place can go anywhere.

I am sitting in the middle of the road, whilst I am watching these shallow DNA pool swimmers dropping off their lucky sperm.  Of course because they are kids (the ones going to the school not driving) they always take long, or drop something or what ever.

This is what kids do.

There the rest of us sit, and watch these two mother (literally) fuckers back up the entire road.  In both directions.  You know, because they just need a minute.

I try my very best to be patient with people, but fek me — even I have my limits.

I could totally understand if the drop off point was so congested you had to park 200km away.

Totally, got your back.  Then you can put your stupid car anywhere.  But no, there is actually a great deal of road without red lines.  That is where the rest of us, with our the fruit or fruits of our loins/babies from various daddies/princes of Maine are stopping — if you looked up long enough from your self absorbed existence and noticed you might notice the mild irritation on our faces.

I know it is very hard to actually absorb your effect on other people when you are sitting next to the prince/princess/the chosen one.  I get it — all that closeness to greatness can be a bit blinding.

Granted the PLEASE ONLY STOP HERE spots are not 20cm from the gate you want your little angel to walk through.  I think they have legs for something or legs that work. Again, if you kid is in a wheel chair or in a full body brace I might go … okay maybe let’s let this one slide —- but then use the main gate, that has special parking parking for special people.

All these fuck-wits have to do is drive maybe 20 – 30 meters, and they could park/stop and the kids could get out, and we would not have to be involved in their dim little lives.

But no — “fuck that” they thought.

We will just put our cars right over here and now you, and you, and you, and especially you, can watch whilst our off spring gets out the car, unpacks their shit, drops their hockey/polo/beat a child to death stick — and then —- still has a chat with mom and dad….. at about this point I am losing touch with sanity.

Whilst we all sit here in contemplative silence thinking about ways to beat you to death with the wheel jack, or what ever we can find in our car on short notice.

I swear I was sitting there saying things that made Lil’ Wayne blush.  He eventually stopped singing on the CD and said “yo-yo-yo bitch, yo man, yo man… coming down a bit hard on the fucks … just be chill like…..” (it’s my story I can tell it anyway I feel it happened — prove it didn’t happen that way I dare you)

When these things happen you always think you are alone in the universe.

This is happening to you and obviously everyone else is fine with it.

I was really saying some fairly unkind things.

I had violence and rage running at full tilt.  This does not happen once — there is never one prick in the school having an emergency morning. There are dozens of them, all self entitled and assuming you can just sit back and wait whilst they ignore the rules and basically fuck up your day whilst you have to watch them be the fuck ups they woke up to be.

I aim my anger and rage mainly at the parent.  At a certain point I start to go for the child.

If the parent/adult person is this stupid then my guess is there is going to be something inherited there.  We —- yes we, this is a village issue people—- need to consider flushing out the DNA pool.  As a group, to at least delay the low IQ apocalypse, or at the very least save some water.

In all of this, I had so much time to take in the scenery and all of that shit — well because I am sitting there waiting for Prince William to get himself organised and all.

I looked in my rear view mirror and there was a mom who had dropped her kid off NOT ON THE FUCKING RED LINE.  She was going off, like OFF. Proper.  Which made my going-off look like I had maybe dropped a spot of Nutella on my almost black jean pant, and it was a slight inconvenience as I dabbed it with my wet wipe.

This mom person was dressed for work, all neat and proper and she was going off like a lunatic.  I think she was in Stage 5 of the use of the middle finger. I actually didn’t realise that fingers could do that —  I couldn’t read her lips but I am almost sure she was using the word po#s there with reckless abandon.

I stopped ranting to watch her.  She was that impressive.  Even in the rear view mirror.

I do wish you and I could have spent more time together.  I felt we were kindred spirits there for a little while.  I heart you, who ever you are.

Finally these two fuckers drop their “reason for living off” move their respective cars and drive away.  Allowing the rest of us to get on with our lives.

Yesterday like every day, I shrug it off and do not think about it again.  Because what am I going to do? Change direction and follow them, and when they park their car go along and key the side of the car …. I mean I could.  I could plan my mornings that way.

I have more flexibility on a Monday and a Friday, so lets just see how the week pans out.

I am trying to look at this and think that maybe someone else will take charge here.  Get out of their car with a baseball bat and take care of one of these annoying vehicles.  Taking a few swings at their front lights or their side mirrors.  I can’t describe the joy that thought gives me.

My money is on the mom behind me yesterday.  Chick, who ever you are, I am backing you in this episode of Mad Moms!!  I will be your alibi if you need one.

This morning I am dropping Connor off –  same thing I parked in the area without the red line.  Child gets out of car with necessary luggage.  Walks the required 12 steps and is in the school gate.  Easy.

I accelerate, as you do. To move to the part of the road where I can drive.  Away.  To work.

But no – because some fucker mother (see what I did there?) has decided that the red line is a good place to sort of park/stop — that the rules do not apply to her and her liebchen.

She has actually beaten the odds and done red line and sort of middle of the road park/stop (it is not a very wide road).  In one move she has fucked it up for everyone.

Close enough to the corner that the folks behind her have to sit and stare at her as well.

She isn’t even in a huge SUV.  She is in a Paleo (or what ever) fucking smurf car — like how the fuck do you manage to take up so much space with that??

How is it possible?  She beat the odds,.  This stupid cow peaked in areas that I did not realise were even a competition to peak in.

Of course her fucking gifted daughter dropped something and then needed to leopard crawl under the car to get it.  No worries we will just sit here as we watch our lives slip away from us.  Be late for fucking everything because you didn’t use a condom 15 or 16 years a go!!!

I didn’t even curse this morning (yes I realise how unlikely that sounds — I think I had used up all up my fucks and fuck-me’s yesterday).   I really just sat there with that look of amazement on my face and doing that thing.

That thing where you put your hands on the steering wheel, lift them up in awe with your palms still resting on the steering wheel, so you are sort of doing controlled jazz hands. Then you put the fingers down, grip the steering wheel so your knuckles go white — and keep repeating this movement as long as what ever is happening in front of you continues.

It’s the WTF sign with a steering wheel.

I am sure If this happens at all schools — because Fairmont High School surely cannot have the most clueless parents.  They appear like such nice people when they are not in their cars.

Parents cannot be this self absorbed they do not notice they are impacting on the rest of the world, in their aim to do what ever they need to do for their offspring —- because their shit for brains is more important than mine.

Surely other schools have these parents too.

I do not have a solution.  I have some more swear words though.

If YOU are a parent — if you are one of THESE parents at Fairmont High — then stop being an arsehole.

This is not an AA meeting.  You do not need to introduce yourself and tell us you are an arsehole, and when your last arsehole action was.

We have watched you on the red line, because we can’t go anywhere.  We know you are an arsehole.

BECAUSE YOU ARE PARKED/STOPPED ON THE FUCKING RED LINE even if it was only for a freaking minute!!!

We are asking you to recognise you are being an arsehole. Maybe if you admit it, seek some assistance and just don’t park or stop on the goddamn red line, then, well we can all be lekker again.

Just don’t be that MOFO ARSEHOLE who puts their time ahead of all of ours.  Then blocks us in so we have to sit and stare at you — you do know your car has glass? We can see you, your stupid face and all that.

Don’t be a parking arsehole at school (we can deal with retail spaces another day)  — it’s not cool and it’s not lekker.  Just stop it. For the love of all things good.

Choose not to be an arsehole today.  Come on, we are actually rooting for you to not be an arsehole — be a sunflower or a fucking rainbow, but not an arsehole.

High school enrollment 101 …. you are going to need to grab a glass of wine for this … and maybe a suppository

high school search

I seldom have advise to give regarding parenting.

Let me put that in context “advise I would suggest you follow”.

In the eternal hunt for schools for your children, I am a veritable Oracle in this regard.

I am going to dish out a bit of tips/guidelines you should consider regarding high schools and when the time comes to enrolling your child.

I am sorry if that made  you throw up a little bit.  The reality is that if your child is at school, there is a fairly good chance they will be leaving Grade 7 at some point and you will need to start this stupid “find my child a school” again so they have somewhere to go when Grade 8 starts.

It actually never stops.  I am permanently in a state of “finding a school for one of my children….”

This advise has very little to do with private schools.

Private schools are a law to themselves and the key is that you have the money, your child will have a place in the school. In some instances there might be some other issues.  All in all private schools work with a simple philosophy of “you give us the money, we give your child a place” – it’s sort of easy like that.

I am talking about the horror show that is getting your child into a good government school.

Don’t snort, there are several very good government schools around – usually the trick is that they have an active Governing Body made up of brilliant, active and involved parents.

I am not one of those parents.  I am however  grateful that there are parents who are brilliant, active and involved parents at the government schools my children are in, which makes them such good schools.

It is great for us less than sterling parents who can barely make it through the day.

Back to my original story.

High schools – and the tips for getting your child in to one.

First understand how “the process” operates.

There are schools that have huge HUGE … LIKE FUCKING HUGE waiting lists.

Government schools technically cannot keep a waiting list.  They open their applications on a particular day when your child is in Grade 7, and the application period closes usually two months later.  You need to make sure you are on top of when the applications open.

Normally you have to go to the school and collect an application form.

You will need an ID photographs for your child – most schools ask you to attach this to the application form.

You will also need an unabridged birth certificate for your child – get this now – because it can take several weeks, and you should have one anyway.  You can apply with an abridged version, but they are going to be looking for the unabridged version come actual enrollment.

You will usually need proof of address.

You need to find out if you live in a catchment area of a school.  Do not assume!!   Totally newbie error there.

Take your “proof of residence” to the school who you think has to accept your child, ask to speak to the Applications Secretary/Officer and make sure.

Because you live there – does not always mean that the school will have space when you apply.

Our nearest school is 2.4km away – I was 100% sure they had to accept us, there is no other school closer – by a long shot.

With the application I printed a google map direction thing, showing my house in relation to the school. I thought “we are in the catchment area, they HAVE to accept us” – I was wrong, they told me they were full and could not take my child.  Er, what??

I started preparing for this process when Connor was in Grade 5.  I started by chatting to parents and finding out where they were thinking of sending their kids.  {Actually I already started doing that when they were in Grade R/Grade 1}

I then made a list of 6 – 8 schools who potentially we could apply to.

I contacted each school to find out when their open day is.  I started attending open days when Connor was in Grade 5.  I then saw a few more when he was in Grade 6.

Do not START going to open days when your child is in Grade 7 – there is not enough time, and you will basically end up only being able to view 1 or 2 – it will be chaotic and odds are you will miss out on applying to some schools, because some schools open their applications really early and close really early, so by the time you call them at the end of January, they are pretty much two weeks from closing all applications.

And at this point – you run around like a banshee screaming hysterically.

Start early, you get time to walk around the school, listen to why it is so lovely and wonderful, and more importantly you get to hear how many applicants they get versus how many places they have.

This is a CRITICAL point.  The rest is just fluff — you need to get an idea how many applications they get, versus how many they can accept. That dear reader is the “magic number” of desperation.

I cannot speak with any certainty on how the application process works at schools, but (and this is totally my own creation of facts or fantasy here) each school has it’s own application open and applications close days.

Make sure you know these dates.  Write them in your diary in BIG. INK. RED. LETTERS.  Use a tampon if you have to, this is pretty important stuff —- and should not be overlooked no matter how busy you are.

I cannot say if a school only starts the “reviewing of applications” process when the applications closing date starts, or whether this process starts earlier.

I have a suspicion that it starts earlier – so do not leave your form submissions until the last date – don’t think they are all going to sit there in a pile unattended until the closing date and then the school will review.

No.  No.  No.

There is the school of thought not to apply too early, as your child might join some sports teams or have some achievements which you want to include in the application form, and that might not be available in January or February.

I strongly suggest you do not cut this too close and weigh up an early admission with what your child could get involved in later in the term.

If your child is involved in extra murals, see about getting letters of recommendations to support your application.

Your child might volunteer somewhere or be involved in Scouts or Girl Guides and a letter from someone of that nature is not going to hurt your application.  I have no idea how much “weight” it adds, but my theory is anything to add value even in the slightest is a good idea.

Your existing school is not going to write a letter of motivation for your child.  Don’t ask.

The only time they will is if the “school you have applied to” faxes a form to the school your child is in, then the school fills it in and returns it directly to the school, you never see it.

Start thinking of your child’s CV in Grade 5 – think of how you are going to build his or her involvement in academic, sport and cultural areas.  Most schools want to see a well balanced child who is involved in several things.

There are some schools that are clearly aimed at a particular area i.e. rugby, and though they may say they do consider other areas important too, being the captain of the A team at the primary school you are in, does sort of make that application process go smoother.

Accept that you are going to need to apply to 4 – 6 high schools.

I know you want to scream WHAT THE FUCK!  Or are already mouthing WHAT THE FUCK because you are in the middle of a meeting, but this blog is so eye opening, that you have not been able to click away.

But you will need to just accept this nugget and get with the programme.

You see each school has different dates for applications to open, and applications closing.  Then they usually do their first intake in June of the year.

What this means is they shortlist applicants and send them a letter saying something to the theme of “Congratulations you get to come to ACME High School.  Please acknowledge receipt of this letter with a deposit of R500.00 and sign this letter and return it to the school secretary by 30 August.”

Here is the rub – because everyone has to apply to multiple schools, this inflates their application process, and this in turn creates what can only be described as the “wait of death.”

After the school sends out the “confirmation of acceptance” letter they allow 2 months (or what ever the window is) for parents to reply and accept the confirmation.

Only then does the school move to the second tier of acceptance.  Depending on how many spaces are remaining, they look to the waiting list and contact those kids and then there is another 1 – 2 month wait.

The problem is there is absolutely no guarantee of acceptance, no matter how hard you beg and cry — I have done both.  I was happy to do both.

In the end I got one rejection, and two schools accepted Connor, I did not hear from the other two.

{Side bar note: The school that rejected Connor called an hour ago to say that a space had opened and would we like to enroll him}

The one school I applied to was in Paarl. I practically prepared a project on what a fine boy he was.  I may or may not have included a pop up collage of his last three years at school.

I arrived to personally hand in the application, way before the “applications closed” date had come around.

I was faced with the most exhausted and “I have already given up on the will to live” applications officer I have yet to meet.

Her desk was piled 30 – 40cm high of applications.  I looked at the numbers – the applications are usually numbered, and the numbers were far far far higher than the size of the entire school, let alone the number of Grade 8’s they had space for.

She looked at my little eager face, and my keen little smile.  I don’t think she actually said “Well fuck you and your stupid application” but I definitely got the sense of that as she sort of dropped it in a passive aggressive manner combined with a “fuck my life right now” attitude into the growing pile of applications.

I looked at her with my beaming moon of happiness face and said “So what are my chances?”

She did not answer me with words, but I got the entire feeling conveyed right there in her face, and her slow long blink, and the breath she sort of held for just that moment too long that basically we had no fucking chance of ever getting into this school unless possibly my husband was Schalk Burger and my son took after his father in all things Rugby.  Maybe, and not even then.

Never heard from that school – unless we are in the second tier short list and will be notified in the next few weeks of a space.

This school application thing becomes a job.  It really does.  Each school’s application process is different, and you need to stay on top of this stuff.

About a month ago I gave a friend of Connor’s a lift, and I asked him which high school he was going to.  He said “my mom is thinking about applying to…..” and I looked in my rear view mirror in horror.

Shit son, if you haven’t already applied it is well, Jesus born in a barn miracle time to get into a school.  And they are no longer accepting the virgin birth idea as a miracle.

 

1.  Do not start this process when your child is in Grade 6 – nope that is for people who are clearly short sighted and want to be disappointed.

I suggest, that you start “thinking” about this when your child is in Grade 4 or 5.

Thinking involves investigating the schools which you think your child would like to apply to, and which you can afford and which may take your child.

 

 

2.  Chat to moms whose kids are in your child’s school – you may find out about schools you had not even thought about.   There will always be that one mom is a guru on this shit, find her, follow her, bake her muffins, facebook poke her if you have to.

 

3.  Accept that you will need to do Open Days – some schools only hand out application forms on the Open Day.  Open Days also are good to give you a sense of the school, and whether your kid is likely to fit in.

 

4.  English and Afrikaans.  Make sure you understand each school’s policy.  Several of the schools I enquired about taught a lesson to both English and Afrikaans speaking children in one class.  So the lesson was partly in English and partly in Afrikaans.  They need did not repeat the information in one language and then the others.  If your kid does not do Afrikaans, then you are probably not going to be able to send your child to this sort of school.  Find out before hand what the school’s policy is on English and Afrikaans.

 

5.  Your child will want to have an opinion, unfortunately in most cases this will depend on where his friends are going.  You may want to weigh that up or disregard it – if his friends are going to a kak school (in your eyes) then you are unlikely to send your son there.

 

6.  There is normally at least one publication a year – if not more – than focuses on schools and how good some schools are.  Buy that, it’s a great resource.

 

Okay I am pretty much out of advise on this subject.  If you take nothing away from this other than white noise, then please repeat “START EARLY” as your mantra.

 

Happy High School hunting.  It all sucks hippopotamus balls, but is is rather necessary ….. I guess like hippopotamus balls.

School applications, Sherlock Holmes and the Holy Grail ….

I seem to have spent the last 13 years looking for schools.

It has become my “other job” – the one that drives me crazy, and at the same time excites me no end as I take on the digging and researching that would drive Sherlock Holmes to a happy ending.

{I do know that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, but I like to think of him as Benedict Cumberbatch and that makes him pretty real to me}

At the moment the aim is to get Connor/Child Number 1 into High School for Grade 8.  I can only apply between February and April, and then the school advises us during June – September as to whether you have been accepted. Or are going to just be home schooled.

The problem with the system is that because you find out so late in the year, if you are not accepted by a school what are you going to do?

So the system forces you to do the other thing, which is to apply to several schools “in case you do not get in” and thus in itself further adds to the fact that schools will let you know you have been accepted, give you a period of time to respond/accept/make a deposit and if that is not forthcoming then they move to the second tier of desperate parents who are sitting starting at their phone waiting for it to ring.

Schools worry me, because I have had to deal with them for so many years.  I understand how the lists work, and the waiting lists, and what it is like to wait for the acceptance letter.

The result is for Connor we need to apply to 4 – 6 high schools.

We are English-speaking, to find sufficient English schools in our area, has become akin to the search for the Holy Grail.

I applied a great deal of pressure on Connor during these last exams that the grades were the ones that schools were going to look at on his applications. I really need him to get straight A’s, or very close.

Next year I will also have to do the bit to get Isabelle/Child #3 enrolled for Grade 1.  She also starts at a new school in January 2015, in Grade R – they did not have space to take her this year.

I assume that Isabelle will go the same primary school as the other two, and she will get accepted based on a sibling criteria (her siblings both are at or went to the same school.) but that does not make me sit very easy until I have the letter in my hand.

I have seen a few status updates on Facebook where kids were accepted to such and such schools and it is always “oh, congratulations child so and so” when in actual fact it should say “Mom, seriously high 5 for the months of research, sorting out application forms, stalking people who may be well-connected to get you ahead of the queue.  Basically spending the last 1 – 3 years worrying, fretting and orchestrating this process to get your kid accepted at the school you wanted your kid accepted to, and not always the one he wants to go to….”

School application time sucks huge rocks!

141203_Grow up

Sports Fund Raiser braai …. invitation

Connor hands me a pamphlet today about a fund-raiser-braai at school tomorrow.

I realise I am not terribly popular, or have a very busy schedule but even I have plans for tomorrow.

Without being dismissive of my sons ability to hand me a notice at the very last moment, I read through the notice and gave it the due time and concentration it deserves.

Point three was in UPPER CASE:

NO ALCOHOL IS PERMITTED TO BE CONSUMED ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.

I look at Connor.

Me:  This braai says I can’t drink wine!!

Connor: I will tell them you can’t make it.

{ —————}

I am proud of my son in all sorts of ways right now.

pig_somee cards

I am that mom ….

1307_wine01

I am the mom that breathes a sigh of relief when school holidays come to an end.

Sure I love my kids, but I like the routine that exists where I drop them at school, and then have a few hours where I do not have to field awkward questions of: “So, where did you leave the kids?”

Last week I was in Willowbridge with Connor. Joyce was there so I stopped by for tea and a chit-chat.  I must confess a touch of panic did run through my when she asked: “So where are the kids?”

For a fleeting moment my brain panicked, as I had totally forgotten all ab0ut  them.  After a few moments I recalled I actually only had one with me, and then the panic passed as I sort of recalled where I had left him.

Moms all over the country are vexed they need to pack school lunches, polish shoes and drop kids off at school – me, not so much.

I did a lot more this school holidays with the kids than I usually would. I got to be almost intimate friends with a Tokai based baboon.  I visited Hermanus. I went to the odd wine farm. I did a spate of Art Jamming, and a few other activities thrown in.

But I for one am glad school holidays are over.

I like the sanity of school time.

I hope your Monday is happy, and you get the kids to school on time.

No, this post has no real purpose, but there you go.

Time to sign a petition against teachers taking leave ….

130702_teachers

I have given this quite a bit of thought.

Actually I haven’t – it ran through my mind whilst I was brushing my teeth.

I usually brush for one to three minutes, but it does depend on how far my mind “leaves the reservation.”   Sometimes it is more, and well sometimes I barely get the toothbrush in before I am spitting and screaming at a child to STOP IT, JUST STOP IT.

I think teachers need to be reclassified under “emergency staff” or “people we cannot survive without even for one day.” I am sure there is a technical term in the basic conditions of employment.

Teachers are important.  To our sanity.  To the chances of us ever finishing a sentence when talking to a friend.

To us being able to speak on the phone without doing that wild hand movement only mothers do, because suddenly three whiny kids are asking for something that fell behind the fridge last Tuesday, but has suddenly become ‘moer’ important as you are talking to a client.  On the phone.

Doctors, nurses, ambulance workers, national defence force members, teachers!

I really would far more have the borders being unprotected for three weeks over June and July, than have the teachers drinking mojitos, sunning themselves, and taking Xanax to prepare themselves for the new term.  Which seems more vital to you?

I don’t think I would notice if the defence force took 6 weeks off from not using our submarine or say retiring an aircraft because there are no qualified pilots to fly it.  Teachers who take 6 weeks off, make me weep in a desperate snot bubble manner and I ache for then each day.  I mark it off on my calendar to show when I will be seeing them again.

I miss them.  Like a lot.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act applies to all employers and workers, but not members of the –

  • National Defence Force,

  • National Intelligence Agency, or

  • South African Secret Service; or

  • unpaid volunteers working for charity.

I feel that teachers and especially preschool and primary school teachers need to be included in this list.

I am actually not sure what the law is around National Defence Force Members but I am thinking it probably prohibits leave, striking and really should include something about never being permitted leave during school holidays.

I think school teachers should only get leave over weekends.  And even there I think I am being generous.

I am willing to give them Sunday’s off, but this does not include Sunday School Teachers – them let’s keep in school.  With the kids.

Often over weekends I have thought to myself, good gonads, why don’t teachers work on a Saturday, that is really when you need to drop your child off at school – or in a bush – or an abandoned mine.

Just somewhere where there is a good chance they will still be in 4 to 8 hours.

Grocery shopping with kids is an exercise in glancing at other moms shopping with their kids and deciding who is more miserable.  Them or me.

School holidays are the bane of my life!  Well to be honest it is not the school holidays, it is the fact that school is closed.  I think we can still keep the term school holidays, and keep teachers in school.

What good are teachers if they are not in school?

No good actually -technically they are teachers with no one to teach.  I really think that if that is what drives you to erm drive to work each day, then as parents we need to insist that they keep their skills sharp.  By remaining at school teaching.  And available.

Teaching is a calling.  It is not a nansy-pansy job.  Get behind me here people!!

As a parent I have done my duty.  I have supplied products for the teachers to teach.  Producing three children did not come without it’s risks and inconveniences.

I held out because I knew one day I could send them to school.

And really is that not the day all parents live for?

Moms don’t cry because Rita is starting school, they cry because they are so frick’n relieved and feel guilty now that they can start drinking at 12h00 sharp – but they shouldn’t – we have support groups for that.  The guilt and the drinking – sometimes it is the same group, we give it names like “book club.”

I have fought the hoardes at Woolworths to purchase the wrong fitting white shirt and grey pants for school for my kids – so they all look the same.

I think similiar looking small people make it totally unnecessary for teacher to learn children’s names.

If my teachers worked over weekends and school holidays, I would totally forgive her/him calling all the boys Johnny and the girls, well call them Mandy, which can be shorted to Mands, or Burt – listen as long as they come when a name is called, that is fine with me.

I have three of them, and I seldom get the names right – and without fail there is always at least one child near me at any given time, which proves that remembering their exact names is not actually that important.

I am not sure how to get this campaign onto it’s legs.  I am sure it involves some blue sky thinking.  A shift in paradigms.  Maybe even something about a golden thread, and an out of the box idea.

Either way, I feel strongly about teachers.  We need more.  Let’s increase their hours, reduce their holidays and encourage it as a profession.  The more work, the more teachers we need – the more teachers we can get and we can work towards a point of removing “school holidays” and maybe even “Saturday’s off!”

Whose behind me on this?

Buddy punch …

130320_VW-Image

I am not quite sure how it started, but we play buddy punch when we drive.

The game is fairly simple, has few rules, and has the upside of being able to punch someone at random intervals.

If you spot a Buddy Car (A VW Beetle, old or new model) you get to Buddy Punch anyone in the car.  You just scream BUDDY PUNCH and hit them at the same time.

As the driver this can be quite disconcerting as you are merrily driving along, and not really paying attention only to be awoken from your driving-day dream with a punch and a scream.

My kids love the game and play it all the time – even if you are not actually playing, this does not stop you being a target of a punch — this can also happen if you see one on television, so the game never really stops.

This morning Connor gives me a second Buddy Punch, and he is quite pleased with himself.

Georgia got upset as she has not seen any Buddies and did not see the one Connor has just seen either of the two Connor had discovered.

{to assist in picturing the scene} Connor is sitting in the front seat and Georgia is sitting in the back, directly behind him.

Georgia – moaning/whining: “I can’t see because your seat is in the way.  I cannot see because YOUR BIG GOOFY HEAD is in the way!”

Jeez Louise I laughed. I cackled, I snorted– it was such a bizarre thing for Georgia to say, totally out of character.

In one small flash of humour I did not mind the 14 years I would spend driving my kids to the same primary school.

Start playing BUDDY PUNCH today, even if no one else has any idea why you are screaming BUDDY PUNCH at them and then hitting them with all your might.  {Hitting someone when you have not seen a Buddy or incorrectly identified one results in you getting two punches from who ever you last hit}

Seriously it is a real game, though we have changed the name PUNCH BUG appears to be another name.

28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive – FACT

I heard a horrific statistic today.  One of those where I go “hey that’s not right … that can’t be right”

At least 28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive compared with 4% of schoolboys.

My brain was trying to work out exactly why there was such a variance in the statistics between the boys and girls.

They are having sex with each other, so it should be a bit closer in terms of related figures.  The boys shouldn’t be 7 times less likely to be HIV positive that the school girls – they are exposed to the same things and equally at risk.  Right?

But it appears I am alarming ill informed.  The girls are testing HIV positive, because of the high prevalence of school girls having sex with “sugar daddies!”

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that some pregnant girls – aged between 10 and 14 years of age – also tested positive for HIV.

“[About] 77 000 girls had abortions at public facilities. We can no longer live like that. We want to put an end to it,” he said.

More than five million people in South Africa are HIV-positive – about 10% of the total population.  Last year more than 260,000 people with Aids died – almost half the figure of all those who died in the country.

I am astonished.  I am disappointed.

My heart dies a bit for what is happening in our country and these girls.  I have no idea how to remedy the situation.  I have no idea what more our government, HIV Activists, and private individuals/companies can do.  At a certain point you do as much as you can, then you need to step back and let people be responsible for their choices and the repercussions.   But how does one stand and watch this happen?

How you are infected with HIV is really not a difficult concept to get your head around.  Its a really simple message.

I do think that the government and clinics have used an exhaustive campaign to inform the public – the campaign and message has been punted from about 1993/1994, if not earlier.

Why is the message just not getting through?

One in four of our school going girls is HIV positive.  That is a horrific statistic.  What does this mean for our society and our future?

I am actually not sure who to blame.  The school girls?  The parents?  Society?  The sugar daddies?  Society as a whole?  The unemployment and poverty rate?

I am so alarmed, I am nearly speechless.

130314_school girls

My mom sold me ….

I was checking Georgia’s work last night and she had written a story about the recent Fun Day the school had hosted.

I liked the way she wrote I sold her for free chips and a hamburger ……

IMG_4626

Rhymes with mice ….

I recall seeing a Facebook post about a week ago referring to lice.

Of course I scratched my head, pretty much like you are doing right now.  I took a deep sigh and cast my eyes up towards the ceiling downward lights and said a few words of prayer that went along the lines of  “please please skip our family this year!”

And then I promptly forgot about it.

I noticed Georgia scratch her head on Monday.  I felt unsettled.

I noticed on Wednesday that Georgia was scratching her head the entire time she spoke to me.  I got in to my car and drove to the 24 hour chemist.  No point in waiting another day for the inevitable.

I felt like those slightly insane people who take their arm, and wipe the entire contents of the shelf into their shopping carts with that rather crazed look on their faces.

It was very much like that.  I bought two combs, a magnifying glass and a few hundred rands worth of varying lice treatment.

I figured I would hedge my bets and grab everything from the holistic stuff with happy lice on it, to the more deadly looking stuff with cross bones and a skull as packaging, with warnings of anal leakage and not operating heavy farm equipment.

I still had a fair amount of the tea tree lice treatment from last year, but recalled that Contra-Lice had worked like a bomb.  I figured lice might build up an immunity, and if I hit them with everything right out the gate.

I immediately started to wonder which kid gave my kid lice!

Wednesday night had me treating all the kids – they had their hair washed with the equivalent of battery acid.  Then I sat with a bottle of “lavender oil” and Lice Treatment and combed their hair PAINSTAKINGLY with a nit comb.  Each hair gets to move individually through a lice comb, and if you have seen the amount of hair my brood has, you will appreciate this is no easy feat.

I sat them in the lounge, put white paper on the floor so I could see the f*ckers.  Of course you hope there will be no lice, you really do.

Unfortunately this is one of those situations where you get MORE than you deserve, truly.

Georgia had a few – Isabelle has a lot – and Connor had none.

I repeated the entire treatment last night, and look forward to doing it tonight again.

And for the next two or three weeks, we get to play Kill Your Lice! Again and again!  Ah, the joy of school going children.

Unfortunately I need to admit that it might be MY kids who just gave the entire school lice.  I can hear the birthday party invitations being torn up as we speak.

{I guarantee that by the end of this post, you would have scratched your hair at least twice, if not more, especially around your back neck area …….}

head-lice-looks-like

High school browsing ….

Connor is in Grade 5.

Though Grade 8 seems like an awfully long way away – the days of arriving at the front gate and pushing your child into which ever school you chose, just does not exist any more.

Or might, and the school system I am familiar with is just making my life challenging.

It is now all about frantic mothers (dads appear to be about as interested in this as they were in attending pre-natal classes) comparing schools in the primary school parking lot, googling until you break a nail, and applying to every school you think MIGHT just be right for your child.

Government schools cannot (technically) keep waiting lists, so they have to let you know in June-August of the year your child is in Grade 7 as to whether he or she is accepted.  Problem there is if they tell you that your acceptance has been denied then you are sitting with a child whose primary school career is about to end, and no where to send him.

The schools suggest applying to no less than three!

If you are lucky enough to live in a catchment area of a high school, that of course increases your odds of getting accepted into the school – I believe they have to take you if you fall within the residential zone, unfortunately for us who only have a Woolworths and a Liquor Store, well then you need to start finding a school.

And pronto.

Yesterday the kind folks at Somerset College gave Kennith and I a tour and a little meet and greet.  I do not want to say that I would sell my gonads for a place in that school, but I would definitely put Kennith’s on ebay and consider all opening bids.

The school is un-flipping-believable.

I do think that fact that it is surrounded by wine farms does make me even more fond of it than I could already be.

I kept waiting for something horrible to appear.  A reason why I would not want to spend a home loan payment per month on a school for my child – I even checked the toilets just in case they had not been using Jeyes fluid.

We were shown around the campus, and I swooned …. the classes were lovely, the hostel facilities were great, the children who we met were friendly polite and you did not get that rather “icky feeling of too rich parents with spoilt horrible children” that one does experience on occasion at schools that cater to those in the slightly higher earning/tax brackets.

When we got back to the car Kennith pipes up: “Is there anything about that school you did not like?”

Unfortunately starting with the creme of schools unfortunately is going to be make viewing the next six a bit of an exercise in : “For the love of gd can we not just send the kids to Somerset College and sell blood and sperm on line to try to afford it?”

The one about lucky number 95!

Connor and Georgia went to the same pre-primary.

I have sung the school’s praises and it is one of those places, that when your child is there, you feel a little bit above the other parents who are not lucky enough to have their kids attend the phenomenal preschool your kids are now at!!

Connor was there.  I was lucky that he got in, as this acted as a feeder for the primary school he is in.  We are way way out of the catchment area, so I would doubt we would have got in had we applied directly to the primary school.  But at that time the pre-school was a feeder to the primary school, so Connor got in to the primary school.

As Georgia arrived and had a sibling, she was pretty much guaranteed the same journey, so it was all pretty easy going.

Isabelle is at a nursery school which I adore.  You could actually eat pasta off the toilet seat (to steal my friend’s Joyce’s saying) it is so clean.  The Tot Spot is run by Linda Esteves, who has her eye on everything and everyone, and it runs like a well oiled machine.

Best nursery school I have ever been in to (and I have been in to easily 50 at this point in my rather weathered and jaded “find schools for my kids” age bracket).  Teachers are lovely, classes are great, there is nothing not to love.

There I was all in love with my kid’s school.

All in love with at the end of this year.  Isabelle will be going to the preschool that I love.   The other two are in grades in primary school, and there is no school changes for at least two more years.

Really there is so much love around right now, that I could shit a heart banner with string that joins them together.  Complete.

Even when I am guaranteed a spot in a school, I do not sit on my laurels.  Nope not me.  I filled in the application form and get it off in good time.

I got Isabelle’s form off in January 2013 for January 2014.

Good time considering her siblings went there, and that must give her some sort of  “automatic right of passage…” and well clearly just an administration detail we need to do, but clearly not applicable to the likes of me.

I was feeling lots of love until I got this response: “I confirm receipt of Isabelle’s application form.  I would just like to mention that I can only accept the first 54 learners.  My waiting list starts from nr 55 and Isabelle is nr 95……….”

er ……..I can’t say I am feeling the love right now as much as the panic.  Clearly I need to find another school, unless number 95 just got awfully lucky.

Jason Crisp I really thought this crap was over with.  But it seems not!  Fun I am not having it, and off I go to find a school for next year or I am going to be home schooling, and I am sure we can all guess how well that will end.

{I hope you have applied to what ever school you are hoping to get your Junior or Juniorette into}

130220_Not-feeling-the-love

The one about the cricket coach ….

I fetch Connor yesterday from school and he is looking really flushed and just bleak.

I assume it is because it is about 36 degrees and he has been playing sport.  But there is something about him that just looks off.

I let the girls walk on to the car, and walk next to Connor and ask him how the game went.

He played a cricket match today – Connor does not actually play cricket, but his tennis had been cancelled last week, so he went along to cricket practice and they asked him if he would play in a cricket match today.

I think Connor is already over stretched with his sport commitments and cultural commitments, but he wanted to play, and I agreed as long as it did not encroach on his existing commitments.

He says his team lost, and appeared to lose by quite a large margin — I don’t play cricket, I am not sure if it is 2 – 0 or 67 – love or what ever.

The point is they lost, and it was by quite a large margin.

I am still not following why Connor is SO DRASTICALLY upset.  Connor plays tennis and does not win each game, and he is always a good sport about it -very much in the mould of  “I will practice harder and play that boy again and then try and win….”

We are walking and he is upset to the extent that he is crying and cannot get the words out.  I stand with him and wait until he can form words that I can understand.  Eventually it comes out that the cricket coach screamed and swore at him (I am not sure if he swore and screamed at the entire team, so I am not talking on behalf of them just the interaction with my son).

Though I swear like a drunk trooper, Connor’s language usage is as clean as the day is long.  He doesn’t swear.  So he is trying to tell me what the coach said without swearing and in resorting to drawing the words in the air with his imaginary pen finger.

I eventually get to the essence and that the coach swore at him and said “fuck” in what ever context it is used in school boy cricket.  At the end of the game Connor asked the coach for the score and got the response: “blah-blah-blah …. you are shit!”

Connor is devastated.  I am livered.  I am so angry I could actually make a sign, or post a Facebook status update!!

It was too late to phone the school, so I spent the remainder of the evening stewing about it.  I found the headmaster’s email and sent a note to him. But this morning when I opened my bleary eyes, I re-thunk that plan and phoned to set up a meeting with the headmaster.

Listen, I have no idea how exciting cricket games can get, but an adult swearing at my son and telling him he is “shit” well that is maybe a bit more excited than I need an adult to be who works with kids.

We have a 10h30 appointment with the headmaster.

130214_cricket-banner

High Schools in Cape Town … the fun we are having it.

332_connor

The day has come, I always knew it would.

In my mind Connor is still a little boy.

As I watch him stretch out on the couch with his beer oros I am amazed by how much he has crossed over that line of little boy, and is on his way to big boy.  He takes up the entire damn couch.  He eats like a wrestling team on steroids and he has taken to “inheriting” my shoes – and I am not exactly a small foot.

He gets embarrassed when undressing – and hides inside his cupboard if he is worried someone will come barging in.  Screams at his sisters if they try to walk in to the bathroom when he is on the toilet, and begs to shower separately.  The idea of him whipping off his shirt so I can see if something fits, horrifies him.

I am in denial, so get a bit cross and scream: “Just shower with the girls, what is wrong with you?”

But there is nothing wrong, he is growing up.  He is at that stage where he just needs his privacy.

I live in fear that there is going to be THAT day where I barge into his room, only to discover he is doing a bit of self-exploration and then I will probably die a thousand deaths right there.

I still try to have frank conversations with him about his body and s.e.x and girlfriends and all of those things which are just going to get creepy uncomfortable over the next 12 – 24 months.

Twelve to twenty four months — that is not a long time, that is a blink in the time line of a child.  Its not even long enough to make a dent in a car payment.

Talking about 24 months, Connor will be ready for Grade 8 in 2016.

Yep, sounds like forever away doesn’t it?  Not so much.  This year I need to visit Open Days, then apply this year (for some schools) to get on waiting lists, or next year for others.

Schools are going to be sending out “approval of acceptance” whilst he is in Grade 7  (2015) and probably before May of that year.  There really there is not a huge amount of time to sit around and think long deep thoughts about school.

Kennith prefers to lie on the couch, shrug, change channels and give me the look of  “really you are freaking out about nothing here” look when I decide to bring it up.  Kennith’s frame of reference is that the kids just appeared to go to a school, he does not know of the weeks/months of searching to vet a school, and then the amount of begging involved in them allowing you in.

In the Grade 7 talk that I sat in to by accident, the key point conveyed  was to apply to more than one school.  Three (and be accepted in two) if possible, so that you are not sitting come end of 2016 with no school for 2017.  This appears to be a common “need for an emergency meeting with the principal” of several Grade 7 learners and their parents.

I am not sure if 2016 and 2017 sound like they are miles away to you … to me, they sound like they are 2 or 3 Xmas cards away, and considering I am behind from about 1986 in sending Xmas cards in time, it appears frightfully close.

I sat today making a list of 6 potential high schools – and applied to them to find out when their Open Day is going to be, and whether we could pleased/beg come along.

I sent an email which I hope gives the impression that I am sort of disinterested in their school, and easy going either way.  I needed to hold myself from putting one of those smiley faces that pray and close their eyes at the end of my email.

The problem (of which there are many) is that I need to evaluate a school now for the child he is going to be then.  The option of waiting to see what sort of kid he is in Grade 7 and then make a decision is just not available.

I had to make my own list of Cape Town’s Top 10 Schools.

I did use the fact that they had boarding school as a criteria. I really would like the kids to attend a school with boarding facilities so they can be weekly boarders in High School.  But to be honest, right now I just need to find a school that will accept my child.

Tell me again how quickly our children grow up!  Cheese and rice where does it all go?

New Year … over enthusiastic parent ….

Last year I felt I was permanently on the back foot with regards to the kids and keeping up with their school work and school commitments.

I realised both Connor and Georgia make for hopelessly poor postman.

I don’t get notes in time.  I never seem to know what is going on, and most of the time I miss the notice about an oral, homework or something they have to bring to school.

I will confess that I also did not go and search out the information.  I used the theory of “if the kids don’t give me the right stuff, then they are going to miss out, and then it is their fault and that is just the way it is…”

I made a realisation this year.  I need to be more involved with the kids.  The less involved I am, the less involved they will be at school.  The less involved they are at school, the more opportunities they will miss out on.  The more they miss out on, will mean the poorer their school career is going to be.

The habits we teach them now about going to school prepared and with the right material, is the habits they are going to have in high school when things are much harder and they need to be more prepared than they are now at primary school.

I felt I needed to step up in the parenting department and start taking a more active role.  I need to be a pushier parent, instead of the sloppy parent I have been up to now.

I really do not enjoy “socializing with other parents” or going to school things.

My social awkwardness escalates and I find it all very stressful, but I am acutely aware that Connor is in Grade 5 and before I blink he is going to be in Grade 7.  Then I am going to be trying to get him into High Schools, and then kicking myself for not motivating him earlier.

This year, I have attended parent/teacher meetings.  Made sure I ask the right questions, and if I don’t know then I send an email to the school for clarity. (I even attended one incorrect one, so found myself sitting in a meeting for parents of Grade 7 children … on the upside, I feel quite psyched for Grade 7 and know how to start preparing!)

The kids have schedules drawn up and have been signed up for groups that I usually miss, because they are full by the time I wake up and realise I need to sign up for them.

The kids are enrolled into sports and cultural activities.  I have the name of the teacher who organises the eisteddfod, and I am on that to prepare the kids.

If something is sent home, I action it that evening, and do not leave it over until the next day.

I have jotted all the things I need to do, and what the kids need to attend for the next term.

By being a bit more involved, I do not feel so panicky and out of control, like I felt for a large portion of last year.

We have decided to have two evenings a week as no television nights – the kids can do homework, extra reading, or something else that does not require a computer screen, DS screen or a television screen.

Part of the reason I wanted to be able to “work for myself” was so that I am more available for the kids at school this year.

I do not necessarily want to have them at home with me in the afternoon.  But I do want to ensure that if there is a thing I need to go to, or a practice I want to watch, or match they need to be taxi’d to, that I am available and can attend.

On my list of things to do this week, is to look at open days for High School!!

How the hell does this come around so quickly?  I am still amazed some days that Connor no longer needs me to breastfeed him, and wipe his bum …. I know it is a cliché, but seriously it is like a blink of an eye and then they stand before you asking to borrow the car keys, and you wonder where it all went!!

backinschool

Georgia is not likely to win “So you Think you can Dance” ….

Georgia does dance at school.

To be honest, I think it is because I would like her to dance.  I can’t dance.  I have zero co-ordination.

I dance when I have had too much to drink, and then the lack of co-ordination feels very co-ordinated.  But based on the recent photographic evidence, the reality is something quite frighteningly different.

I think Georgia would prefer to sit quietly at a table and cut up paper into small pieces, for hours.

I have struggled to find a sport/activity that Georgia enjoys.  She starts most things with a certain measure of enthusiasm and that seems to peter out by week three.  About the same time I paid the yearly subs and bought her the entire outfit.

We have worked through Art, Swimming, Karate, Netball, Tennis, Athletics, Computers (I think she still goes to this) and Dance.

Around the middle of last term she started making sounds to indicate she was not interested in doing dance any more.

I am a bit exhausted by the way my kids flit in and out of things.  Back in my day you started something and you stayed in it come hell or high water.  Enjoying your extra mural was not a necessary criteria for you attending – you just attended and did the best you could, and smiled for the end of year photo!

Bleeding stump and heart ache were irrelevant – you agreed to an extra mural you went the hell along until the year ended, and that was about all the discussion there was on the matter.

I suggested Georgia try to remain in dance until the end of the year.

I figured once she got some of the basic steps down, then she might enjoy it a bit more.  She has specifically asked not to do sport/extra murals if it includes running, as she falls.

Difficult to find an activity without running, and the school no longer offers Darts as an extra mural.

Georgia used to like Dance and would often perform impromptu dance recitals – usually whilst I was at Woolworths or Pick ‘n Pay.

Kennith fetched her the other day and she was pretty bleak about doing dance.  Of course Kennith did the “But honey if you were unhappy why didn’t you tell someone” bit, to which she responded: “I did, I told mom …. and she made me carry on!”

I sheepishly nodded that I wanted her to stick with it.  Kennith has no qualms about forcing her to do an extra mural, but he draws the line at an extra mural he has to pay for.

Today I was looking at the “end of year dance concert” time-table, which translates into hours of waiting around so my child can stumble on the stage dressed like a reindeer and be hidden somewhere in the back.  {Lets ignore the 3 – 4 other Saturdays they have already had to go to school so they can practice this dance concert.}

I really am not one of those parents who gets all frothy mouth and starry eyed about their children in concerts.  I feel very little in the way of excitement.  I think when your child has been a tree or a rock in a school concert, the excitement sort of passes for you.

There is something soul-destroying about spending 2 1/2 hours watching random children move across a stage, whilst sitting and freezing to death in an auditorium, to see my child for 3 minutes or 45 seconds.  This entire process has made me less than excited about this entire song-and-dance thing.  On stage.  With a back track and bad costumes.

There are already two full days which can be written off totally to this “dance concert” …. which is all and good, assuming my child was the principal ballerina and would be breaking her moves centre stage.

But she will be dressed as a reindeer.  And judging by her present dance level will be hidden somewhere in the back behind the tree and the rock.

I just cannot face the hours and hours waiting around backstage and usually in freezing cold at some point so my child can dance with full costume and antlers.

Cheese and rice I won’t be able to recognise her.  She does not want to dance.  She has already told me how stressed she is about doing this concert in front of hundreds of people.

I will confess, I have an overwhelming urge to tell the dance teacher she can keep the money for the costume, and excuse Georgia from this Dance of the Stars at Xmas Time … or what ever it is called.  One less reindeer is not going to change the world ….

 

Another classic FAIL parenting moment ….

Connor has tennis and cross-country on a Monday.

I yell about him packing his school bag and preparing his bag for the morning, the night before.

But experienced parenting, and starting to lose the will to fight the recurring parent fight of “HAVE YOU PACKED YOUR ________ {INSERT CORRECT ITEM}?” and then to repeat the same thing at least 5 times in one evening, because each time Connor will go: “No Mom, thanks I will go do it now….”

And then he gets distracted by a shiny bauble and does not do the think and then I have to shout/ask/beg/plead: “HAVE YOU PACKED YOUR ________ {INSERT CORRECT ITEM}?”

At some point in the evening I was so tired and sore (I was not feeling well) and wanted to take some medication, a large hot water bottle, and go and have a lie down, I went to set out the kids things for the morning, pack the bags and then just go to bed.

The fight for me was over, I was at the point of, I will just do it myself.

I go and collect Connor from school today, and true as nuts he has two left shoes on.  I packed him the left shoe from two very similar looking grey takkies.

Connor did tennis to the absolute mirth of his tennis coach, and then proceeded to do cross-country in his two left takkies.

{please do not send me a parenting tip on how to persevere and that when I give in, then he never learns ….. please please please …. this is not a great week/month for parenting tips…. it is a great week if you want to come over and do it for me …. then come on over ……. sleep in required …..}

Maybe my child has a hearing issue …. {breath in … breath out … try not to panic}

I had an audiologist appointment with Isabelle today. If you have never been to an audiologist (with a child) basically you get put into a 3 x 3 x 1.5 metre room that is sound proof.  Audiologist sits in front of the room (front of the room has a glass window) she has speakers in the room which she controls.

Sounds are emitted from the speakers and based on your child’s reaction she assesses whether your child has normal, or below normal hearing.   I assumed the last bit, I actually have no idea how it works, but there is a monkey with a tambourine in one corner and a duck with a trumpet … I think that if these items are part of your standard work-tools, well that commands a certain level of respect right there.

To say it did not go well, does not quite hint at the extent of it.  I figured that if she was going to use an interesting sound like “white noise” well what do you expect.  Isabelle showed little to no reaction to the sound – even when it was loud enough to make me wince.

She was totally absorbed in her building-blocks game, and the fact that there was noise blaring out of the speakers on either side of her head, showed little in the way of interest for her.

She did react when the audiologist put through sounds that she created “b – b -b – b – b ….. ” and “d -d – d- d ….” and then went back to her blocks, not really interested/reacting to the other sounds.

Audiologist was not exactly brimming confidence, and asked if we would not mind going to see an ENT. Today.  She miraculously she got us an appointment.  I looked at the sheet she sent with us, and I really cannot fathom much, but there are little marks on a grid/graph and then a dotted line which I assume is the “normal/ideal” range, and Isabelle appears to be miles away from it on the graph.

ENT guy said, hmmmm, and again not in a “hey, yippeeee” kind of tone, more in a “okkkkkaaaaay, this is not ideal” sort of way.  He said there was a build up of wax deep in her ear canal, which he removed with the aid of something not dissimilar to a crochet hook. Isabelle was calm and did not flinch, so I was hoping her good behaviour got her some points.

He relooked and he said that there is thick liquid trapped behind her ear drum, and that more than likely this is causing the poor hearing, and may be the cause of her inability to communicate, as she cannot hear.

I tried to explain that maybe it was because Isabelle has been a bit off for the last week, and her nose is runny and maybe that is it.

Dr ENT tried to explain that sure it might be, but unless I have had her hearing tested there is no way to know whether the fluid has been there a week or for a year.  I had never had her hearing tested – even as a newborn.

Dr ENT said that we could go one of two options.  1.  Treat with Cortisone, and reassess in 6 weeks to see if the fluid has drained.  2.  Make an appointment and fit grommits.

I commented that I thought grommits were a bit invasive for a child who has never been to a paed, let alone an ENT.  Isabelle is +3 and she has probably had two courses of antibiotics in her life, one of those I requested as a preventative response.

Crikey, general anaesthetic to fit grommits, which might, assuming it does not go well, leave scar tissue on her ear drum membrane which in itself could lead to hearing loss. Grommits which may in their design cause ENT issues that we have never had before.

I am one who is usually reluctant to follow main stream medicine and doctor recommendations, but this one came out of left field.  We discussed pro’s and con’s and I sat there feeling that his recommendation was to go with grommits.  His logic was why waste more time where she can’t hear – go in, sort it out and then look at the results.

I opted to go with the Cortisone, and to wait 6 weeks and then retest and see where we are.  I have nothing against grommits, really I think they are the answer to kids with ENT issues – Connor was an ENT child, and we had 3 sets fitted.

But the entire thing just felt a bit jarring as a first step option.

So the short answer is, yes, Isabelle is no hearing at the correct level.  Is it the reason her speech is so far behind/lagging, I am not sure.

I have a speech assessment appointment next week, I have booked a follow up with ENT guy for the first week of September.  I will book a retest with the audiologist after ENT guy has taken a look.

If the fluid has not drained then the only option is to go straight to grommits.

I realise grommits are really pedestrian, everyone and their neighbour’s dog has them, but the idea of subjecting Isabelle to any surgery, unless I am 100% convinced there is no other option, then I would like to hold back a while and think about it a bit.

{PS: I do kick myself that I did not do a hearing test as a routine thing when she was 2 years old!!!  I feel this was a huge over sight on my part and had I had it checked out then, we may well be quite a few giant steps ahead than where we are right now.  Don’t you just heart mother guilt? Like with wreckless abandone.}