“Mam” the blog has been really quiet since October 2020.
The reason for this silence was the process of turning “Mam” the blog into “Mam” the book!
It all finally came together on the 3rd of February when my book “Mam” – Teaching from the Heart was published.
I can not describe the feeling of elation when holding your own book in your hands!
If you would like to order, here is the publisher’s website :
Read the free preview here and buy from Amazon:
Thank you to friends and family for their encouragement and support since I first started thinking about writing this book!
It seems quite arrogant to “let it all hang out” in a permanent record of a slice of teaching life.
I do expect some criticism and at the same time I hope to provide practical, everyday advice for beginner teachers and those struggling with large, disruptive classes filled with behavior problems.
I know that my classroom management plan has served me well over the past 4 years.
Please share this resource with teachers in your area.
Monday, 15th of Feb is the start of the new school year in South Africa.
We are still on Lockdown Level 3, wearing masks, sanitizing a gizzlion times a day.
But 2020 proved that we could have a successful school year in spite of all the risks and fears surrounding Covid19.
Teachers do what teachers do best: Keep on keeping on.
This is Tuesday, Week 9 of teaching in Term 3, 2020 in South Africa. Lockdown Level 1.
We are allowed to travel across provincial borders, smokers can buy their smokes, drinkers can buy their drinks, we are allowed in restaurants and may eat with our masks off. Nobody is fighting over toilet paper in supermarkets anymore.
We may not enter any room/ shop/ mall/ place-where-people-are without sanitizing our hands. We have our temperatures measured at the school gate every morning. We teach with masks on, we don’t touch anything at work except our bags, we wash our hands 25 times a day. We sanitize shopping bags, the bottle tops of our Coke Lites we bought at the cafe, our water bottles and our pharmacy pill containers.
We teach among recovered Covid cases, asymptomatic cases, children who refuse to wear their masks because of a misconception that Covid 19 is also on “Level 1.”
I repeat “Wear your mask properly !” uncountable times a day. The mask goes up and 5 seconds later it’s down again.
Today I finally lost my
sh*t composure completely at school. Also, my logical thinking, my impulse control, the thin veneer covering my frustrated, mentally exhausted self.
I can handle many things. Naughty children, rude children, lazy children, manipulative children. In the end, I do win with most kids in my classes. The more I see them and they see me, the better they get to know what I expect and the better the lesson works.
It’s a shame that my Gr 9’s and I usually get to this place of mutual understanding and ceasefire only around October of each teaching year. I’ve seen this pattern year after year. It’s no use trying to force the situation. It comes down to teaching and re-teaching acceptable classroom behavior until they see that I am not going to back down. I know I have to reach this peace-on-both-sides sooner but have yet to come up with a solution…
Gr10’s, like I’ve said before, no problem. They know me from the year before and we get a lot done in the course of a year.
By October my worst kids in this age group have matured and adapted to being in a classroom in a civilized manner and I can actually teach for most of the lesson without having too many discipline issues.
So, the actual TEACHING part of my job I find challenging, exhausting at times but, in the end, fantastically rewarding.
What I can not handle is the “Office Politics”. And the self appointed “Ministers” who play out their self appointed roles daily. Yes, it’s a school, not a business. But our “Ministers” are alive and well, thank you very much.
- MINISTERS OF DUCKING AND DIVING
Unfortunately, we have more than one ducker and diver on our staff. Individuals who manage to do almost nothing but just enough to be seen on the surface as doing their jobs . They often plead “confusion” about daily arrangements, they arrive 20 or more minutes late for their classes, they take endless selfies on the school grounds.
2. MINISTERS OF OBSERVATION WITH THE PURPOSE TO REPORT AND LOOK IMPORTANT
During my first year of teaching I had one of these one my trail. At the time I was still using the school hall for some of my classes. This individual opened that hall door at least four times during each one of my periods. Why was he not teaching his own classes? What did he think I was doing in there?
3. THE MINISTER OF SPEAKING VERY LOUDLY AND BOOMING OUT AUTHORITY WHILE DOING NOTHING
This one likes to be HEARD. In staff meetings, reminding us all of things we already did the day before yesterday, reminding us of what we are employed to do, reminding us that he is A. VERY. IMPORTANT. MINISTER. Of noise. Not much else. Do NOT ask this minister for help . Yes, he is in charge of school discipline but that doesn’t mean he has to assist anyone with it.
4. THE MINISTER OF “I DESERVE RESPECT”. A LOT OF IT.
This individual is also VERY. IMPORTANT. In fact, this person has posted on the staff whatsapp group how much respect is due. Because of the person’s position. Just in case one of us mere mortals decided to …well, really, I don’t know what. Throw oranges? Damage cars?
5. THE MINISTER OF I KNOW I HAVE A JOB TO DO BUT PLEASE DON’T ASK ME TO DO IT
This one is the master of the “disturbed glance”. Everything is just too much. Every day. All day.
6. THE MINISTER OF “Reporting To The Department”
No one knows who this one is. But every now and then this one calls the Department of Education about some perceived misconduct at the school. Or calls the local paper. You get the idea. Incognito spy type.
So why did I finally blow today?
Lets just say it was a combination of the term that was, dealings with a few ministers and worries about finances. Add in a big disappointment, a little bit of “That is just not fair” and a lot of “I need a break”.
I was unreasonably angry.
Then I ugly cried.
Then I was rude because I was angry.
Then I apologized.
So I suppose I could be the Minister of Drama?
Well, maybe a little.
Okay. Enough people-ing for one day.
I need to go and sit in a corner somewhere and just be.
We are in Week 8 of the nine week term that is now known as “Term 3 2020” in South Africa.
It’s time for the 9th period of the day , 13h50 – 14h30. It’s also the period after lunch break which stretched from 13h10 until 13h50.
I’m supposed to have a Gr 9 class of 30 learners returning after lunch for the last period.
I have 8. The top 8 if I’m not mistaken.
“Where are your classmates?”
“Mam, they’re not coming back after lunch. It’s too hot. And we’re tired. And food makes us sleepy…”
Having prepared an important poetry lesson, I fight the familiar feeling of defeat.
Do I go to the hostel / rugby field/ shadowy corners of the school to drag unwilling, sleepy children to class, or do I teach the willing 8 in front of me?
And who or what is to blame?
Is it the 5 month break from school due to Covid19?
Is it the general feeling in the country that “all has gone to hell” so why bother trying to finish the year with motivation and hope for 2021?
Is it the ever present problem of living under a corrupt government, making empty promises to a nation eager to receive rather than work for what you want?
It seems as if Covid19 has held up a mirror to society in general and it has managed to magnify cracks in a system that was broken way before 2020.
In our school, 75% of our kids have lost the plot. 5 Months without school was simply too long. 5 Months without proper supervision, discipline and control over their actions broke down what it took many teachers to build over many years.
Our computerized evaluation system is asking for marks for Term2.
It will not allow us to let learners proceed to the next grade without a mark for a Term that never happened.
A supervisor told us in a meeting this week to “Just grab a mark from under the desk, Mama.”
Speaking of desks ( and classroom walls for that matter ):
Standard fare for every classroom…
If you’re reading this and thinking “Another teacher moaning”, yes, today I am.
It’s going to take a massive effort to get things back on track.
Someone said to me the other day : ” Just accept it. 2020 is a F@#k up!”
Yes, I know it is. But my very nature will forever kick against “letting go” when it comes to my pupils.
We can not afford to “Let it go.”
Look Up Child
Where are You now
When darkness seems to win?
Where are You now
When the world is crumbling?
I hear You say
I hear You say
Look up child!
Where are You now
When all I feel is doubt?
Oh, where are You now
When I can’t figure it out?
I hear You say
Look up child!
You’re not threatened by the war
You’re not shaken by the storm
You’re in control
Even in our suffering
Even when it can’t be seen
I know You’re in control
Look up child!
God Bless Africa;
Guard her children;
Guide her leaders
And give her peace, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
One of the biggest ironies of studying towards a Teacher’s Diploma or Degree is that NOT ONE SINGLE LECTURE ever speaks about the biggest challenge of the modern day classroom : How to control and manage a diverse group of children in such a way that learning can actually take place and
nobody gets hurt nobody is insulted, thrown out or driven to old age quicker than God intended.
A class full of kids is a reflection or “slice” of society. Every time a teacher stands in front of a group, he or she is faced with many different abilities, personalities, personal histories and an array of learning difficulties.
Lets introduce you to a few of them :
“A” came to my English class with a reputation worse than a criminal on the run. Surprisingly, “A” never gave me any problems. “A” sat in front, on his own, worked when I said “work”. When Covid19 forced us all into isolation I accepted a few friend requests from pupils on Facebook because I felt it would at least keep us in contact. “A” managed to shock the socks off me with the amount of filth he posted. Lets just say I’ve now seen images I never knew existed.
“A” also has a habit of switching on his phone’s bluetooth connection whenever I switch on my speaker to use in class. And blasts profanities concealed as rap music through the classroom before I can switch off the speaker. Big, satisfied grin on his face.
“S” is a reasonably intelligent kid , always very smartly dressed, always at the front of the room. “S” also wants attention ALL. THE. TIME. All while being extremely polite.
“Mam, I’m so sorry to interrupt your lesson but I need to blow my nose?
I nod, thinking “S” will quietly get on with it while I continue teaching.
Hah. No such luck.
“S” actually gets up at this point and walks to a girl at the back of the classroom. Much to the delight of his classmates.
“S, where are you going?”
“Mam, I need to get a tissue from Z? Because you said I could blow my nose?”
“S” gets the tissue from Z, then walks leisurely out the door and blows his nose loudly in the passage.
“Thank you so much, Mam.” He saunters back in, having completely redirected the focus of the room and in the process managed to waste 5 minutes or more of lesson time.
“S” also has a habit of getting mommy to come in to school when he feels teachers are just so unreasonable when all he’s doing is trying his best to be polite…
“O” had her technique of teacher manipulation refined to a fine art before she came to my classroom. “O” has told me on numerous occassions how “pretty ” I am, how she loves my shoes, my shirt, my earrings, etc.
She has in the past yelled across the playground to tell me what a great outfit I had on.
So if “S” is treating teacher so very nicely, how can teacher then reprimand her for talking when teacher is trying to teach? I mean, “S” is a nice person, isn’t she?
And , as is the case with all manipulators, “S” is the master of the “Super Sulk“…
She simply does not DESERVE teacher getting annoyed with her…
“L” has very little knowledge of or interest in English. “L” is interested in the boys. She sits surrounded by them and entertains them with witty under-the-breath comments throughout a lesson. She also shouts out ridiculous answers every now and then, followed by hysterical laughter. I have a lot of sympathy for “L”. I also worry about girls like her and what the future holds for them.
“SS” is one of the most intelligent kids I have ever taught. She is capable of being the first African woman in space or can be the doctor who one day closes my eyes on my deathbed.
“SS” is always the first to complete any classwork, often frustrated because “Mam, we’ve done this work a million times already!”.
I’ve told her to read when she’s frustrated while I explain a concept over and over again to her lesser brain ability peers. Because WHO do you cater for ? One super bright individual, or the majority of averages???
I spend hours of my life trying to come up with solutions to classroom management issues.
Sometimes my plans work. sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes they work for a week and then suddenly, not at all.
You’ve met 5 of my learners. There are 30 or more in a class. Individuals, each with their own agenda for the day.
I still love this job. I love it for those times when I manage to get all my ducks in a row, those times when I have the entire classes’ collective attention, those times when one looks at me and says: “Ohhhhhh. NOW I get it!”
Thank you for the visit.
Please feel free to leave a comment in the comment box.
Please close the door quietly on your way out…
Wednesday. The third week of learners in Gr 9 being back at school after spending 5 months goodness knows where doing goodness knows what.
TIME FRAME : 8h40- 10h00 ( 1 hour, 20 minutes ) and also 9hoo- 9h40 + 10hoo-10h40 ( another 1 hour and 20 minutes)
CLASS : GR 9 ENGLISH Home Language
( except it’s not their Home Language, most being Xhosa speakers who have chosen to attend an English Home Language School because “the discipline is better (!) OR the teaching is better because it is actually happening on most days and so on).
AGE GROUP: 14-17 YEAR olds, depending on previous Grade failures .
DEMOGRAPHIC : Pupils residing in town ( houses , flats, location, etc ) and not in the school hostel .
THE LESSON AS PRESCRIBED IN THE CAPS DOCUMENT :
Learners are to be instructed in Text Analysis : Pre-reading, Skimming, Scanning, Intensive Reading, Using Context to Determine The Meaning of Unfamiliar Words, Forming an Opinion about the Text, Identifying Manipulative Text and Answering Questions about Theme, Target Audience, figurative language and Symbolism. ( nice one, Education department, you sitting up there in your upper floor office , earning six times my salary, eating Kentucky Fried and not having set foot in a classroom in 25 years…)
SORRY. Not sorry.
WHAT I PREPARED :
The learners will listen to 2 songs ( “Beds Are Burning ” by Midnight Oil and “Take Me where The Sun is shining” by Colesky ).
They will receive the Lyrics, I will do the reading skills with them, I will analyse and explain the text to them in detail. I will make it interesting with appropriate larger than life hand movements and a louder voice than normal ( as I’m wearing a mask ). I will walk around the room as I talk , including all in my presentation.
I will insert short references to life in South Africa in comparison to life in the Australian desert and the evacuation of the Pintupi natives. ( the background to “Beds Are Burning”)
I will explain the symbols used in the lyrics, choosing my words carefully, inserting humor as and when appropriate to keep the learners awake ( and show them what a cool teacher I am ).
The learners will then understand the 2 texts and will proceed to answer 7 questions demonstrating a clear understanding of all of the above skills as prescribed in the CAPS document. ( HAHdehah)
They will work individually for 10 minutes . Then I will discuss their answers with them after which I will write the correct text analysis and answers to the questions on the board so that they can correct their work.
HOW IT ACTUALLY WENT :
Me ( in the passage yelling) : Gr 9’s! Move yourselves! You are 8 minutes late already !
They walk past me, dressed in the prescribed “civvies” outfits ( own clothes ) so that their school uniforms can be washed and dried to get rid of corona virus particles. ( ! ) Or that’s the theory . We alternate between civvies and uniform days. Most of the boys look reasonable. The girls outdo each other with the amount of cleavage on display. I say a silent prayer : “Lord, please don’t let one of those pop out in my class today. Please. “
Everyone has finally found a desk, I’m ready to start. I assume they remember my rule of standing next to their chairs without talking until we greet each other. THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN. 6 or more are throwing around hand sanitizer, 4 have their backs to me, chatting to whoever is behind them, 1 is asking to go to the toilet, 2 have entered the classroom late.
Me : ” Gr9’s . I’m waiting for you to stand still so that we can start. ” THEY DON’T HEAR ME.
A few look my way, remember their manners and start shooshing the others. I hear a few “Shut up, she’s going to put us in quad!” ‘s. I choose to ignore this and stand firmly until I can see every face turned my way.
It is now almost 9h00.
Me: “Good morning everybody!” In my best chirpy-in-control-don’t- you- mess- with- me voice.
“Good morning, Mrs Ooooooooodendaal! ” ( they stretch the “O” because I got fed up with being called “Mrs Odd-endaal” en demonstrated the correct pronunciation a bit too clearly. )
“Thank you. Sit down and take out your English book and a pen. ”
(scuffles, shuffles, scratching around in bags. )
“Mam, I didn’t know we had English today so my book is not here. What must I do?”
“Take a piece of paper and write on it. Remember to put your work in your book when you get home.”
( HAH. Like THAT”S gonna happen.)
“Right, guys. Today we will be listening to 2 songs and we will use the lyrics to practice our text analysis skills. Text analysis means to be able to answer questions on the words, sentences and symbols.”
A hand goes up.
“Mam, can I connect my bluetooth to your speaker? I have a song to play for the class!”
Me : “No. You can not. ” ( some grumbling but I turn a deaf ear)
I start handing out the copied lyrics.
“Mam, she doesn’t want me to have one! She took mine! Look! ” The sheet tears. I hand out a new one. Reserving my energy, I don’t comment.
I take a deep breath and carry on the handing out until each one has a copy.
“Right, people, I want you to listen to the songs without playing silly buggers. You might not be used to the sounds or the type of music, but I don’t want comments once the music starts. Please follow the words while you listen.”
I connect to YouTube and as always, an ad starts playing before you can choose “Skip Ad”.
I press Pause and repeat myself .
“People, I SAID I do not want silly buggers. It’s just an ad. It will pass. It’s not hilarious. It’s a small thing. PLEASE.”
( I want to add “small things amuse small minds” but bite it back)
I press PLAY . AGAIN.
2 Lines into “Beds Are Burning”, a quarter of the class is giggling behind their masks, 4 of them are NOT following the lyrics on the page I handed out and 2 have fallen on their arms, getting ready to sleep. ( the ones with the yellow,blank eyes I noticed as they walked in )
I press PAUSE.
“Gr 9’s . I just SAID DON’T PLAY SILLY BUGGERS AND FOLLOW THE LYRICS ON YOUR PAGE.”
I press PLAY.
This time we get halfway. Three girls are whispering and giggling at the back.
I press PAUSE.
“You three! Stand up! What did I say you MUST NOT DO???” Blank, innocent” Who -me?- I – did- nothing” stares.
I press PLAY.
The three girls standing are now the stars of this show.
Boys are commenting, other girls are laughing.
I press STOP.
( What followed was not pretty. The Gr 9’s were reminded WHY THEY CAME TO SCHOOL TODAY. WHY THEY ARE IRRITATING AND RUDE BEYOND WORDS. WHY THEY NEED TO LEARN THE VERY IMPORTANT SKILL OF SELF CONTROL IN THE CLASSROOM. WHY WE WILL BE PRACTICING CORRECT CLASSROOM BEHAVIOR UNTIL THEY REMEMBER WHAT THAT CONCEPT MEANS. WHY I WANT MY WELL BEHAVED CLASSES BACK. WHY THEY NEED TO PASS GRADE 9 IF THEY WANT A CAR, A HOUSE , A DECENT JOB AND THEIR OWN MONEY ONE DAY. )
Like I said.
We live to try another day.
And just for the record. My Gr 10 and Gr 11 classes are a teacher’s dream come true. They listen, they work, they try. The same goes for the gr 9’s staying in the school hostel. Most days.
What in heaven’s name is it with 14, 15 and 16 year olds?
If you know, please comment and enlighten me.
“South Africans are reeling today after the tragic death of six children and four adults in what was meant to be a happy family get-away near Kgalagadi Trans-Frontier Park. The ten people – including one entire family – perished in a devastating fire at luxurious Blinkwater Lodge in the Northern Cape. All the deceased were members of three families from Ceres in the Western Cape – the Carstens, Bauer and Davin families.
According to local police, the Witdraai station received a call at around 01h20 on Sunday morning that the lodge (which was reportedly made of wood) was burning. The cause of the fire is not yet known. The young fathers reportedly bravely ran in and out of the lodge to desperately try to rescue their children, who had been sleeping in the lounge. It was too late. The bodies of five children were laid out on the dunes outside of the burning house. One child is missing, presumed dead. Human remains were found underneath the rubble. ” – SA People News, 17 August 2020
I’ve started and then deleted and then restarted this blog post a couple of times.
The problem with blogging is that one often starts “editing” the way you write. You start thinking along the lines of “Oh, no, can’t write THAT, so and so will take it the wrong way”.
Or , “ Careful, don’t spill your guts all over the screen, keep that stiff upper lip thing going”.
“Keep it light and airy. Make people laugh. Be a little bright spark in someone’s dark day.”
( INSERT INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE MORE OR LESS HERE)
Truthfully though, I’m in no mood to make it all nice and easy to digest today.
I keep seeing fathers running back into fire time and again to try and save their children.
80% of their bodies burnt.
I imagine the complete panic and chaos and fear in the middle of the night.
And I keep asking WHY.
I’ve been reading “I KNEW THEIR HEARTS” by JEFF OLSEN.
It’s the account of Jeff’s near death experience after a car accident that killed his wife and baby son, leaving him and his 6 year old eldest son critically injured.
He describes the feeling of complete love, comfort and peace he experienced during the times his heart actually stopped. He speaks about walking through the hospital unseen, looking at each person he came across, feeling like he “knew their hearts”. He understood their pain, he saw the things they tried to hide from others, he felt their need.
Yes, there are many theories about these type of near death experiences, some saying it’s caused by an oxygen shortage, imperfect anesthesia, and the body’s neurochemical responses to trauma.
Me? I prefer to go with the love and the peace and the comfort, thank you very much.
It’s been a time of more questions than answers.
Personally, I’ve been ticking the boxes of depression more and more during the past couple of weeks.
The low motivation , high irritation, waking up several times a night…it’s back.
The counting of how many steps is involved in any thing I have to do. Simple things feeling overwhelming.
Questioning my faith, questioning God , demanding answers . It’s back.
Trying to “self talk” my way out of this weight on my chest.
“Ledigheid is die duiwel se oorkussing”.
An Afrikaans saying that means too much time to think and too little meaningful work creates the space for dark thoughts.
The battle is back.
I know once school starts next week ( once again after 4 weeks of not teaching) I will regain my perspective.
Once my mind is busy, once I feel of value, once I have a purpose, peace will return.
Shall I insert a meaningful inspirational quote here?
Maybe next time.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away a huge pooping disaster took place. You see, at this place, animals were stacked in cages, one on top of the other, waiting for someone to come and pick them for slaughter.
And so, on this specific day, the bats in the top cage pooped on the rabbits in the cage below theirs, and the rabbits pooped on the ducks in the cage below theirs, and finally , the ducks pooped on the pigs in the bottom cage. Four kinds of poop mixed together in the bottom cage. A huge pooping explosion mixed with all kinds of other juices in the bottom cage and this mixing would change the world as we know it.
Citizen A decided to visit this place with live animals as he felt like a nice juicy piece of bacon with his breakfast. He stopped at the bottom cage where the pigs were kept, placed a foot on the metal rim surrounding this cage and looked the pigs over. He chose his bacon-of-tomorrow’s-breakfast, paid and walked out of the market.
On the sole of his right shoe, there was a little mixture of poop and fluids.
Citizen A did not notice.
Once at home, he took off his shoes, forgot to wash his hands, and went into the kitchen to prepare lunch. By accident, citizen A cut his finger while chopping up some tomatoes and he licked the blood from his fingertip.
Citizen A, in that very moment, became the first victim of the pooping, juice-mixing disaster at the market he had visited earlier.
Citizen A contracted the Corona Virus.
The next day, after a delicious bacon breakfast, Citizen A got on a plane to visit some relatives in Italy. He had started coughing slightly during the flight. Tiny droplets of corona virus spread throughout the plane. Upon landing, 67 more people had contracted the virus, having breathed in the cough droplets of Citizen A.
This virus was the deadliest of all viruses. It spread quickly. More and more people from more and more countries around the world became sick.
The virus spread and spread until it reached Africa. Because, why would it not?
In a country, far to the south, the King decided to prepare the nation for the deadly wave to come.
Citizens gathered in front of their television sets, eager to see their leader who had been quite invisible for some time.
The King started speaking.
“My Dear Fellow Citizens. This country will go into full Lockdown from tomorrow night at exactly midnight.
Ye shall not leave Ye houses, except for the purchase of essential groceries.
Ye shall not be seen on the streets after 21h00.
Ye shall not buy cigarettes to smoke, alcohol to drink or flipflops to wear around the house, should Ye feet feel hot. This is Autumn. Ye, as a citizen, should have no need for summer clothing items as Autumn is a cold season. Ye shall buy sneakers, not flipflops. Long sleeve T-shirts, not short sleeve T-shirts. This is a very important safety measure to be taken very seriously by all citizens of this country to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus.
No citizen shall be allowed to visit any other citizen in their homes. But, ye may fill up taxis to full capacity to transport citizens to and from their place of work. This will be fine, as all taxi drivers will be issued with 50 masks. They shall give a mask to each passenger before departure of the taxi. Upon arrival, said passengers will remove their masks and pass them on to the next group of passengers. In this way, all will be safe.
Ye are not prohibited from smoking weed. If ye can find weed, ye can smoke it. No problem here. The problem is the smoking of CIGARETTES. Any other smoking is allowed.
Ye shall not be seen walking on any beach.
Ye shall not be seen exercising outside of your garden.
Ye shall home school your children in all subjects. Including Advanced Math, the collective works of Shakespeare and the laws of Newton. Don’t ye come knocking on the palace doors for help. I myself find it difficult to read numbers of 5 digits or more.
And with that…I greet ye.
We are all in this together. Except for a few exceptions where members of my cabinet will be allowed to host big dinner parties. But this is none of ye concern, my dear fellow citizens. ”
The citizens looked at each other in shock. They started to tremble in fear.
They set their alarm clocks for five the next morning, lined up outside of liquor stores around the country and waited for ten o’clock, opening time.
Some citizens started brewing pineapple beer. Some added really scary stuff to their pineapple beer and ended up sicker than they would have been from the corona virus.
Smokers went underground. Everybody knew somebody who knew another somebody who knew another somebody who knew where to find Cigarettes at enormous cost. The citizens coughed up. They NEEDED THEIR SMOKES.
The ongoing problems with electricity in the country did not ease up either. Citizens were sitting in the dark for hours on end, teaching their children by candle light while inhaling pineapple beer.
The citizens gained weight from all the sitting around in the dark, munching on endless amounts of snacks…
Citizens started feeling like this …
Citizens started dressing up their pets :
Citizens started learning new skills :
Some citizens started contemplating divorce…
Many citizens started losing their minds…
After more than 12 weeks of Lockdown, the citizens had had ENOUGH.
They decided to go to their community leaders and pleaded with them to ask the King for some relief. But the King refused. He had only a few words to say :
“My Dear Fellow Citizens
Blah…blah…blah…mehmehmeh…bunch of alcoholics….shame on you… smokers
….hahahahahahaha…………blah.de.blah….waffle waffle waffle…Amen.”
And he promptly returned to the privacy of his fully stocked wine cellar.
The citizens brewed and stewed and moaned and banged on the doors of the palace.
All to no avail.
The King turned up the sound on his Samsung 110-inch Ultra HDTV and drowned out the noise.
( to be continued because so far, NOBODY is living happily ever after…)
( featured image from https://fineartamerica.com/art/prayer)
I drove to school this morning listening to a Rachmaninoff piano concerto while taking in a breathtaking orange-red sunrise over the Eastern Cape veld.
As always, the 35 minute drive allowed my thoughts to wander.
I was thinking about gifts. Blessings. Questions with no answers. Faith. The “WHY’S” we so often ask.
A friend is going through something similar to what I went through in my mid 30’s, wanting to settle down with the “right” guy, wanting to start a family, maybe feeling a bit desperate because the “right guy” is nowhere to be found! And sadly, the potential “right” guys are running a mile because no man wants to be at the center of the frustration of a 30-ish female with her biological clock ticking louder than the Big Ben every hour on the hour.
Like me, being a Christian, my friend is questioning God’s role in all of this.
Why Is God allowing this loneliness? Why is God not answering my prayers? Why did God allow me to move to this place when He knew the unhappiness I would experience here? Why is God silent?
( …okay, I can see the eye rolls, sister nr 2 in Pretoria and sister nr 3 in Germany. “Here she goes on a religious mission.”) (Stay with me here.)
Why does God allow loneliness, death, loss, heartbreak, violence, war, the impact of the Corona virus for that matter?
We don’t know.
I often asked my mom “What will I do when you die?” Because the two of us were attached at the hip . She was my shopping, eating out , wine drinking partner and the two of us got up to all kinds of irresponsibility. She would say “Lets see what the waiter does if I order a bottle of wine with breakfast? ” And we would giggle at the waiter’s flushed face all through the entire meal.
Or … “I feel lucky. Lets go gambling!” ( on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of a hectic teaching week)
“Some day is today. I’m going to buy that Michel Herbelin watch right now !”
And off she went, buying the super expensive watch she’d been eyeing for months.
She was living on borrowed time. And I think she sensed it. During the last year of her life, she lived life to the fullest, doing whatever she felt like, not worrying about the opinions of others. She had fun, she was happy.
When I asked her what I would do without her she always said : ” You will receive grace.”
And I did.
Of course, I was heartbroken. But my life continued. I was comforted.
To me, the answer to our “WHY?” lies in the fact that God did not promise us an easy life on earth. Just because we are “Christian” and we try to be good-ish people we are not given a guarantee that pain will not be part of our lives. We are here to learn. Our lessons are painful.
But God did say :
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43 : 2
We need to trust our path. Because if there is one thing I know for sure it is this :
God’s ways are not our ways.
God takes our wrong turns and turns them into rights.
God gives us pain so that we can understand the pain of others.
We are , in the end, meant to serve.
It is Day 103 since the start of Lockdown in South Africa.
We are caught up in a crazy STOP-START-GO-ALL-THE-WAY-BACK-TO-SQUARE-1 cycle affecting our lives emotionally, educationally and financially.
Coronavirus positive cases in the country is at an all time high of 205 721.
Recoveries stand at 97 848 .
Deaths : 3310
Our province of the Eastern Cape’s worst fear is becoming a reality . Hospitals are nearing full capacity with around 1500 new cases reported at health care facilities daily.
The Eastern Cape is the worst province in the country when it comes to planning, spending of funding and corruption. And COVID19 has hit us like a tidal wave.
“”If this situation doesn’t change we might face a catastrophe of hospitals overflowing with patients and people might die outside the gates.” – Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary Khaya Sodidi.
At the start of Lockdown our president explained that we are going to deal with the pandemic using 5 ALERT LEVELS, each level with its own freedoms and restrictions.
It all sounded simple. You can’t do much, then you can do a little more, then you can buy a bottle of wine, go to the beach and then if you hold on just a little bit longer all will go back to normal and you can visit the family over Christmas.
A few months, give or take.
Instead we are now living this :
968 schools (around 4%) of schools had to close at some point following the return of Gr 7 and Gr 12 pupils on the 8th of June due to coronavirus cases, while just over 2,400 teachers and 1,260 learners have been reported as infected.
Our own school was closed after 3 weeks of teaching due to infected pupils and parents. The school was sanitized and back we went.
We expected Gr R, Gr 6 and Gr 11 to return yesterday, Monday , July 6th.
This phasing in was discussed by the Department of Education over the past weekend and we received notice some time during Sunday night that this date was cancelled. Urgent messages to parents were sent out, cancelling the return of borders, some more than 5 hours drive away from the school.
Then we heard that schools that felt ready could go ahead with admitting these grades.
Our school decided that we were prepared and we started admitting Gr 6 and Gr 11’s today.
20 of the 75 Gr 11’s showed up and more or less the same number of Gr 6’s. Parents work. They took leave for yesterday. Not for today.
Gr 1,2,3,8 and 9 have not yet received new admission dates. My own 2 children ( Gr 3 and 6) have not been at school since the middle of March. Their father ( the farmer) is homeschooling them. Some days are better than others…
“The opening and shutting of schools is massively disruptive and (these types of changes) place school heads in an incredibly difficult position,” Naptosa has said. ( National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa )
COVID 19 has exposed the gross inadequacies we still face in our education system.
Many , many schools still have to deal with water shortages, bad sanitation and overcrowding of classrooms. How does one justify the opening of these schools?
I struggle to find the words to end this post.
Nothing is certain, everything can and does change at the drop of a hat, we are living with that drunken dice.
May you and yours find a little joy each day.
Some peace and hope and all of those good things.
Cry, laugh, kick the kitchen cupboard.
Have a glass of wine on a beach.
(This post is part of Global Blogging Linkup. Please click here : https://thedesphousewife.com/2020/07/05/global-blogging-linkup-170/)
First, lets create an ear worm in your head. Here we go…
ABBA is singing :
Knowing me, knowing you
There is nothing we can do
Knowing me, knowing you
We just have to face it this time
Breaking up is never easy I know, but I have to go
Knowing me, knowing you
It’s the best I can do….
I own lipstick in basically every shade ever made on this earth. Pink shades, purple shades. Red Pepper, brownish red, orange red. Raisin brown, gold, silver, glittery, matte, semi-matte, glossy, matte gloss. I even have black for darkening each of the shades I own. And a cream for lightening each shade. I’ve longed for a blue lipstick but wearing blue lipstick would be the same as me getting a tattoo on a strategic area of my body. My farmer husband would run a mile.
I could go on and on about my adoration for lip shades. But we’ve broken up. Me and my lipstick collection. It wasn’t a happy divorce. I am actually in mourning.
WHY would anyone mourn their lipstick?
Because lipstick has power. Ask any tired woman putting on her red lippy how it can recharge your female batteries!
It has the power to seduce, to create energy, to pull in focus to the mouth where my words come from. My words are my tool as a teacher.
I’m mourning my lack of lipstick power. Because these days I look like this in the classroom.
You can see I’m smiling, right?
And I’m starting to feel like this :
We grow up learning our face is something to be manipulated, in the same way actors manipulate their faces to entertain viewers. We learn about “putting on one’s face” with makeup; “facing the world” , cultivating “poker face” to deceive people in cards or lying to parents and teachers. We learn how to compose our face so as not to show emotion in the wrong places, like crying at work.
The face is often a mask of our real selves.
We have lost this communication tool due to covid19.
Women who wear the niqab ( facial covering shown above ) can definitely speak from experience about communicating with a covered face. Many people unused to wearing masks find it difficult to convey emotions or pick up on social cues.
But niqab-wearing women know that face coverings don’t prevent effective communication.
“Smile! Facial expression is easily and quickly noticeable because of the eyes,” one recommended.
Research suggests that detecting human emotion requires looking at much more than facial expressions anyway. The niqab-wearing women “make an extra effort,” as they communicate. They wave, speak and use body language to connect.
“I have to be more outwardly chatty and friendly,” Soraya from Scotland said. “If I’m standing at a bus stop, I say ‘hi.’ You can see I am smiling because my eyes crinkle.”
So I need to crinkle my eyes, wave my arms about and use more hand signs in my teaching.
Time to upscale my collection of nail polish…
( or go to school tomorrow like this :
or like this :
or even like this :
Women we are.
Rebel we must.
( This post is part of Global Blogging Linkup #168 . Please click on this link : https://thedesphousewife.com/2020/06/21/global-blogging-linkup-168/)