Recurring Theme


I have a recurring theme to my nightmares – fighting for someone, and it turning into fighting either someone I love or fighting for myself.

Most seem to start out in a surreal world related to schools. Invariably in the dream-to-be-nightmare, I arrive at a school to teach a particular class. The class is a group of miscreants who’ve been banished from regular classrooms to one isolated from the rest of the school. Sometimes they classroom is off away among a mini forest, or is in a broken, neglected building on the verge of collapse.

The dream students are all adolescents, and often absentees. They have their own “dress code” whereas the school’s other students dutifully wear the prescribed uniform. They keep to their own schedule, coming in and out to fit their other life on the street or just wasting it out at home. Some have a criminal record for minor misdemeanours, Some are hard core fighters against the world if only emotionally.

I find resources for them. I find second hand furniture, and show them how to upgrade it. I buy paint for the walls, scrounge carpet for the floor… I try to make it become “their” classroom. We get along well, as I apply a relaxed “teach what they need when they need it” approach. They come to respect me, and that’s all I need from them.

In the meantime I’m arguing the case for them to be in a safer building, as there is an ever increasing threat of the building collapsing or falling into a sink hole beneath it. Other staff become aggravated that I’m not following the regular curriculum, I’m being given too much leeway, too many resources, too much unaccountable funding…

And as the dream becomes a nightmare, I have to physically take action. I wrestle a falling student up from the gulf which has opened beneath her. I shove furniture off from on top of students as the building is shaken by an earthquake. I separate two fighting students. I defend a student from a walk-in attacker.

And that’s when I waken – as my sleeping body physically moves with the nightmare activity. More than once I’ve hit my sleeping husband (poor guy). On more than one occasion I’ve fallen back to sleep to dream it all over again.

I hate that nightmare. I’ve wondered if it reflects anything real from my teaching career. And, yes, I’ve had to verbally argue for better conditions, more resources. I’ve had to separate fighting students. I’ve had to face down other staff disgruntled by my department getting funs=ding for classroom improvements. But these things never upset me at the time or place.

I stopped compulsory education level teaching in 2001. Why does this come back to haunt me? Who can say – perhaps I didn’t fight the good fight enough for some students – I don’t know. But I so wish this nightmare would let me get over it!



Posted in response to this Daily Prompt:
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/nightmare/

2 people who gave me great advice


The first was my mother, Jocelyn (died in 1997).

When I was entering the teen years, she responded to me belly-aching about having to babysit for a couple who gave me the creeps. I had babysat for them once before (and I don’t believe I was paid – my mother was doing them a favour) and I was to sleep overnight on their couch. The four boys all went to bed readlily enough. I only had to remind them to keep their noise down else they wakened the baby, once.

When all was quiet, and the Untouchables episode had finished (now that dates me, yes?), I wrapped myself in the blanket and fell asleep, the couch being comfortable and I being rather naïve. I awoke twice that night to find the father of the house standing watching me sleep; the first time from the hallway door, the second from the end of the sofa.

But when I told mum I didn’t want to go back there, she said…
“When you have a job to do, get on with it”.  I did the babysitting job, but asked the father to drive me home, which he did in spite of being tipsy.

But I have applied that to every job I’ve done.

The second to give me advice – and a better piece of advice I’ve never had – was my father Willy (died c. 1987). We ran a family Dairy (corner store, similar to Abu’s Kwik-E-Mart in The Simpsons). I loved working there after high school. And i enjoyed working with him and with the other employees – including Marge (no, not Simpson).

One day I was so tired, I just wanted to sit out the back and read. I know I may have grumbled a bit.

Dad said…
“If you have a job to do, find the fun in it, and do it well”.

Which led to, when stacking tinned goods on the shelves, Marge writing the price on each can, and rolling them one by one across the shop floor to me to stack. (Yes, writing prices with a felt pen dates me, too.) Customers had to get used to checking the floor for rolling cans every afternoon. We had some hilarious times in the shop.

And both pieces of advice have stuck with me all through my working life as an accountant’s clerk, teacher,  parent, and all the other twenty or so jobs I’ve done.

Others have given me advice, but both my parents’ advice have stuck with me.

 

This prompted by the Weekly Challenge at…
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/a-piece-of-advice/

Poor Choice of Words (2)


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ring of Fire.”

If my memory serves me correctly, I can only offer as a response to this day’s prompt with the following.
The reason it is my only response is, when I heard of this,
I laughed so hard it has burned into my memory and blocks any other possibility.

______________________________________________

The estate of Johnny Cash turned down a request from an advertising company
to use one of my personal favourites of his recordings,
“Ring Of Fire”, in an advertising campaign.

The product to be advertised?

A haemorrhoid cream!

5 Parenting Tips for Dummies


– or, How Not to Parent: a complicated subject I know about, and will explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.

Okay, fellow parent-dummy. Here are a few tips… picked up from my own muck-ups, and observations on what Not to do.
Unless you want to be a parent-dummy, of course.

First Tip (i.e. My worst muck-up)

If you’re a teacher and contemplating an impending childbirth – Keep right on Teaching!
I did for my first trimester, then quit. BUT (second child at school, and me teaching as a reliever a class of ages eleven to twelve) I took my third baby to visit my class, all of whom fell over themselves in the rush to see what Mrs S. had produced. And, believe it or not, those rushing most were the boys. They were so sweet with my baby daughter, (and confided so accurately (as I was advised quietly by the Principal, later) the inadequacies of their replacement teacher) I softened up, and baby was in day care full time from three months to when she was of school age. And I kept teaching. For years.

Now we have all joked how the last person to fix a dripping tap at home is the parent who is a plumber. Similarly, if married to an electrician, one does not expect the fuse to be replaced, nor the hair drier to be repaired. The gardener is the last person on whom to call for landscaping his own garden.
Sad to say, a tired teacher at end of day finds it hard to interact as a mother to the children at home.

Second Tip (i.e. A Dummy move some parents do make)
Buy for your crawler rug-rat those books with tags, tabs, flip-ups etc.
Supposed to involve the young ‘un in the story, it doesn’t do it. It teaches them that books are tactile things, not something with a story to which baby listens, until years later s/he reads it on his/her own for pleasure in both the story and the achievement.

The worst of these “action” books I’ve ever seen, after five weeks only, had been chewed on, slobbered on, and ripped, torn, shredded… Nngaargh!

Third Tip (i.e. Another dummy move some make)

Take on all the parenting. After all, your partner has worked so hard all day to earn the family income … you cannot expect him/her to bath children, serve the evening meal, feed the baby, clear the table, do the dishes, fold the nappies (diapers) and other laundry … relaxation is a right, at the end of a working day!

This will result in the child/ren feeling they can totally ignore their working parent in matters of discipline, advice, school support, etc. and may also result in the children feeling Mum’s too tough, doesn’t understand.
Worse, it can lead to the children learning to play one parent off against the other.
If the working partner resents being asked to parent – sorry, you picked a wrong ’un; should have discussed this ‘way back before conceiving.

Fourth Tip (i.e. Another of my muck-ups)
Choose a day-care facility at which the staff greet your child first thing with
“Good morning {name}, don’t you look good today!”

Instead, demand they compliment your child with a remark on how they have managed preparing themselves for the day. For example:
“Good morning, {name}—haven’t you combed your hair well /chosen sensible clothes for the sandpit, today!” (Or similar)
See Fifth Tip for further explanation….

Fifth Tip (i.e. Another of my muck-ups)
Buy your young daughter a Barbie, a Barbie-clone, a Bratz…doll. Continue buying the doll new outfits, accessories, play houses…all the shite the brand can push.

From this she will learn appearance is everything, not accomplishment. She will throw hissy fits in the mornings because she’s already worn that outfit to kindy, and while her histrionics may give a sense of parental pride in her drama abilities, her self esteem will become reliant on other people’s real or imagined opinions.
Girls with low self-esteem are fair game in their teens for all sleaze bags.
Boys with low self-esteem may defy it with bullying, manipulation, or maybe by finding a sympathetic male figure.

🔹🔸🔹🔸🔹

I could go on and give more tips for Parenting for Dummies, but this is titled 5 Tips, so that’s it for now.  I Hope you enjoyed this bit of fun, and I didn’t upset or offend you.

Brain Power – Programming Knowledge Management


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Brain Power.”  Assuming we use only 10% of our brain, what would I do with the remaining 90% if I could get at it?

Well obviously I’d firstly spend a week or two smacking myself for not unlocking it twelve years ago. That’s when I needed it. I was studying a Bachelor’s in Applied Information Systems, and was becoming extremely frustrated as I was already well able to code in BASIC, LOGO & Atari’s PILOT. HTML was a doddle, SQL too. Java I “managed”.

Then after year two the degree was restructured to become Bachelor of Information & Communications Technology (applied), with an increased focus on networking and hardware. The fist year’s work in these was all I wanted. I did not want to be carrying around circuit testers, anti-static screwdrivers and straps.

My aim was to work for the end-user and client on Systems Analysis, Software Development, Web Design, User Training, Quality Control, and Business Information Systems. I was so keen on S.A. I was intending to travel to London for post-grad Systems Analysis qualifications after getting the degree.

But…

Big But…

The language interface for database building was an obscure reinvention of the wheel by engineers in NZ – Jade. The lecturer was at heart his own entrepreneur – working with Jade for commercial clients as a back-stop to lecturing. Not trained to teach adults or tertiary students. Wasted six weeks failing to convince us that using Pointers was necessary and easy to master.  After we all struggled to put together the exemplar, Then the prat informed us “Well, now you know about pointers, you will be able in future to recode any program using them so the pointer system is removed while retaining its functionality. Pointers are considered a redundant coding methodology, and not used in program creation any more.”

” SAY, WHA’?”  {Group Scream}

Damage done, self esteem drained, some of us discovered a new mental block to any coding. I failed his course.

IF ONLY then I had had that extra 80% brain power, he could not have thrown me off track. I would have been able to focus, master that freaking Jade, passed, moved on to third year coding, and carried on pursuing Systems Analysis and what I wanted to do.

And maybe I would not have just had to sit and read the first sentence in the last paragraph over and over, figuring out whether it should be “had” or “had had”.

In the meantime, hard coding was wanted in the industry, not people, team, client-based soft skills. My  BICT is now a dream while writing is a fall-back.

Or is that meant to be the other way around.

—  Dammit, I want my 90%!  —  Now!

Throw a Dart – Win a Skill


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Got Skills
If I could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would I pick?


“Roll up! Roll up! Throw a Dart, pop a balloon, win a skill! A buck for three darts. Roll up – Ya gotta be in it to win it!”

Sheese, it is just like a sideshow game, yeh?

Every balloon on the backboard of the carnival of life’s side-show is labelled with a skill, and colour coded. Green, yellow, orange, red.

And all I have to do is pop one – One – to ensure I have or will master that balloon’s skill during this year.

Problem::I suck at darts. Give me a day with a bottle of social and confidence booster, a dart board and darts, and no one to distract me, and I’ll get my eye “in” and toss a perfect round. But, hand me darts and expect me to hit a balloon and I’m toast.

Thought to self :: “Aim.”

Question to self :: “Aim for what?”

Green balloons labelled with no new challenges: Teaching, compulsory and tertiary – no problem, and fun. Systems analysis – easy-peasy and fun. Information systems- ditto. Business administration, Book-keeping, Budgetting- ditto. Self-defence-ditto. Counseling- ditto. Reviewing books- ditto. Garden demolition, Landscape design, Interior design,  Reading, Performance reading, Elocution, Problem-solving…all ditto.

Yellow balloons labelled with skills I’m working on: Writing, Keeping particular Orchid species/varieties alive, Raising Kowhai seedlings to planting out stage, Ikebana, Drawing, Photography, Bodhran, Pool …

Orange balloons for skills I’ve attempted, but failed or lapsed: Baking, Knitting (by hand), Swimming (from age eight to thirteen), Tennis (at thirteen), Piano, Violin (twelve to fourteen), Singing (thirteen to sixteen, then as adult), Reading music (all time) …

Red balloons for skills I’ve had neither opportunity, budget nor courage for, only a fervent wish: Archery, Gunmanship- rifle and/or handgun, Search & Rescue, Flying (as in, as pilot), Sailing, Fishing, Horse riding, Rock Climbing, Roller skating/blading, Softball, Money-making …

“Come on lady, pick a balloon and aim for it. Every one’s a winner!”

Well, there is one other red balloon there. It’s label? “Living alone, self sufficient, and loving it”. Sure, if I gained that skill, that goal, that heaven, the only part of the world to benefit would be me.

But then aren’t new year resolutions for oneself?

So, Yeh. I’ll aim for that one. And if I miss but hit another, I still win, right?

Getting Seasonal – sort of…


Daily Prompt for December 19

The holiday season: can’t get enough of it, or can’t wait for it all to be over already?
Has your attitude toward the end-of-year holidays changed over the years?


The “holiday season”? As in “holy-day season”? Well it’s a bit of a misnomer, isn’t it, no matter which.

“Holiday” as in a day for goofing off and playing around, enjoying company with family and friends, shouldn’t need a special season. Surely we can do that at any time of year.

And “holy-day” – well, that is debatable. It is Nothing to do with either the birth of Christ, nor with the stock market driven celebration of a coca-cola advertisement.

In case you’ve not noticed, the New Testament gives a couple of clear clues that the Northern hemisphere’s winter was not the season of Christ’s birth. Firstly – Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem with his wife (his property) to the town of his family/birth, for the Roman Empire’s census. Which would have been held in a warmer season, to ensure people could travel. Not in winter, when snows could cut off passes and prevent those who would be paying taxes to Rome from being counted. Secondly – think about where the angel found the shepherds – up in the hills. That only happened when the hills were covered with herbage for fodder – not in winter. Add to this that although there was no room any where for Joseph and Mary except for the stable, which ion winter would be full of cattle, goats or sheep. The stables were the ground floor, which in winter being full of animals would give off their body heat for the upper living areas.

So, nope, I cannot accept December as the correct month. Especially as we can also find that when Rome caught onto the fad of following the teachings of Christ, and realised it’s commercial worth to a Roman central church, they had to firstly convert the outlying nations of the value of conversion. So the Winter Solstice, the annual “heathen” midwinter festival, complete  with fire, yule logs, holly and ivy… that’ll do – call that Christ’s birthday!

Now I admit there was an historical record of a saint who on hearing of a man whose two daughters had no dowry and so would not be invited to wed, tossed two coins (gold, the legend says, so I’ll accept that for now – it’s what I grew up ‘knowing’) into the house. That was Saint Nicholas. Now whether he threw the coins down the chimney – a pretty amazing shot from the ground outside a house (which basketball player could do that, now) – or through an open window, or an open door – who knows or cares? It depends on who’s telling you the legend.

Saint Nickolas was known as Saint Nick (my church vicar used to shudder at that one – to him St Nick was the devil. I never did work out how come that.) or Sinter Klaus or other variations. He was depicted as wearing a green robe, with a hood, and carried a crook.

Cocalcola santa That “jolly fat man” with a white beard and hair, obese rather than fat,  wearing a red suit trimmed in white fur, black boots – “Hey. you guys! That  was a Coca-Cola advertisement!”

And from that advertisement came a host  of lairy legends.

He flies around the world in a night. Has any one mentioned this to Stephen  Hawkings? I’d bet he’d be quite amused!

He flies in a dirty great sleigh, pulled by a herd of reindeer. I know two who must laugh themselves silly at that one – Richard Branson, and David Attenborough!

He keeps a list of which children have been naughty since the last time he visited, and who’s been naughty. Has the dirty old man got fellas out perving at our kids all year? Maybe some of those child-sized elves who make all the toys – under contract to Mattel among others.

He comes down the chimney on christmas eve – so… his suit must be re-eally filthy by night’s end.

Worse – in some places he comes into the child’s bedroom!

He leaves gifts for children – whose parents have already bust a wallet buying all that’s on their child’s wishlist. Or what they can afford. How many young girls asked Chain Store Santa for a Barbie and he leaves them a clone or lookalike?

There was a time when a child hung a stocking on the mantelpiece over the fireplace. These days a flaming pillow case still isn’t big enough for what the greedy little beggars have begged for.

Now, I’ll admit – as a child, Xmas was a fearsomely lovely time. And I made it so for my own children. Until one spoiled it for the family by opening her gifts and moaning “Huh, is that all you got me”. That sort of took the fun out of it.

But we s2014-12-23 18.49.45till all come together as a family – just “because”. They live in three parts of the country, and once a year we see them together. All I ask of them is one photograph of the three of them side-by-side on the sofa – smiling, damn you – smiling!

We do the tree thing – but I cock a snoot at those who think it’s Christ’s birthday, religious, or want evergreen trees and holly berries, fake icicles and snow, a fecking star of  Bethlehem on the tree.

The tree is fake, and black. No lights. decorations are white (okay, fake silver) and red.

No cookies or milk set out for fatso. We’re all grown ups here. We buy a token of love for each other – and That is more than enough.