Tag Archives: children

5 Beautiful Things. Much needed.

 

 

Some days you just need to be reminded of the beautiful things.

 

So on a day that has delivered some bad news, proved more frustrating than most and not shone as it should have I am looking for the beauty.

 

5 Beautiful things.

 

Princess is taking voice lessons. Last night she sang for us, warm, melodious, full of promise.

 

Queen of the night, a pungent, sweet, sexy scent that fills the air once the sun goes down. We planted it, it has wrapped itself around a tree and now sings for us every night with the strength of its scent.

 

Trooper just finished To Kill a Mockingbird. The wonder of the book is written all over her face. She is struck by the magic of a phenomenal book.

 

A new bed. Big, white, high, I sit upon it like a queen upon a plump marshmallow.

 

If you open your eyes you might see this.

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Filed under Being brave, I have two girls

A Bear Hunt in Camp Sweetness

Perhaps I needed a break from those pesky teens, maybe I just wanted to feel nostalgic for the Beatrix Potter days, I am not sure why, but the other day I found myself perched on a tiny chair reading ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ to 4 year olds. Occasionally I do leave the high school block, also known as Camp Hormone, and venture over to a gentler place, the Primary Block, also known as Camp Sweetness. Over there are the little people who still run around trees and squeal when shown a picture of a ‘Big Scary Bear’, little ones from 2-11 who sharpen pencils, raise their hands and walk in lines. I like to go over and see where it all begins-knowing full well where it is going to end- I think it gives me a good perspective after a day in Camp Hormone and more than anything those big smiles and little hands holding mine make me smile. It is very relaxing after a day marking descriptive essays or finding the hidden metaphor in an obscure poem.

For one hour I spun through a snow storm “Whoo Hoo!” and marched through “Swishy Swashy” grass and tiptoed through a “Dark Cave” hunting the elusive big bear. I was reminded of another era, the Winnipeg Days, when I taught dance to 4 year olds while pregnant with Trooper.

I might do it again next week. But let’s make it our secret… We don’t want the physics and chemistry teachers running over in their free periods.  Camp Sweetness is all mine.

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Kids are Cruel.

The tween and teen years are a time of terrible pressure and also petty silliness. Take these examples of things that make my students said. What is missing here is maturity and perspective, perhaps all that comes from having bigger problems to fry. But in the mean time their little hearts get sore and their heads in a tizzy all from, what seems to us, simple silliness. But to them these things are very real despite being very short lived.

“Jill told Jack to come and tell me my boobs are too big!”

“Frank and Jack were throwing my bag all over the place and I couldn’t catch it.”

“Al flagged me at lunch today.” (This means that he pulled her skirt down to reveal her underwear to the whole cafeteria.)

“Jess looked at me with a mean face and all I did was have lunch with someone different today.”

“John threw a pen at me!”

“Everyone is laughing and saying I love Josh but I was only worried about his face after the ball hit it!”

“Sarah gave me a present and then she took it back! That is why I hit her!”

“Miss, John told me I am ugly.”

The girls tend to make each other cry but the boys are simply crazy. They tease each other so much that their skin grows hard and little bothers them. However they have been taught to pretend nothing hurts them when often it does.  Kids are cruel.

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A bit more Lamu

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Hell is a cockroach

A cockroach jumped on me twice. The first time I was at the club, it was pouring with rain and everyone was huddled inside by the bar, wet towels in piles by our feet. Children shivered in damp bathing suits waiting for the sun to come back out and grown ups sipped beer and munched on guacomole and chips. All of a sudden I felt something on my leg. At first I thought I must have brushed against the strap of a raffia pool bag, but when I looked down I saw the horrid truth. It was a huge black roach crawling up my shin. Yes I screamed and shook my leg and pointed and made a spectacle out of myself, but I don’t care. Because there was a cockroach on MY leg. As I frantically shook my leg it came off and started to run, very quickly along the wall of the bar, still too close to my feet. Finally a bemused waiter came to sweep it away into the rain where it would battle against the sharp rain drops for it life. I would have preferred it killed, dead, squashed, eliminated, but that’s just me.

Then this past Tuesday night I was standing behind Trooper who sat, texting like mad into her cell phone, with a large white towel wrapped around her damp freshly washed hair. I offered to comb it out and braid it and just I I whipped that towel off her head I felt something hit my chest. At first I thought it was a moth, the speed with which it has slapped into me and then taken off seemed moth-like. I screamed and jumped and acted a little freaked out until, out of the corner of my eye I spotted it. The roach was running along the arm of the sofa, inches from me and it was enormous, ugly and brown. At this point the jumping and screaming and scratching at my chest intensifed somewhat. Dinner was a mess, I couldn’t eat until it was dead and despite handsome and heroic handsome spraying cancer causing roach killing spray all over the place we couldn’t find it. Then it ran across the room. right under the coffee table, then under a chair and finally with more spray and squealing ( there were four girls there that night) the roach took one last gasp and stopped. A broom was brought into the sweep in outside.

Okay. You might laugh and call me hysterical. You might point fingers and ask how I can cope in Africa, but every one has their room 101 and that is mine. I cannot handle a roach.

To tell you the truth I think I may be mildly traumatized, I keep thinking there is something crawiling on me. Often it is just a stray hair that has fallen out, but my skin is crawling never the less. This morning two dead roaches, lying on the backs greeted me when I came down stairs. Must have been all that roach spray.

Just writing this has made my itch.

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Filed under Being brave, When the rose tint fades

The beauty of Sipi.

Sipi falls is 5 hours East of Kampala. It is a place for hiking, relaxing and gazing at the splendid scenery.

When we reached Sipi the first thing that struck us was the view. Thankfully, there are no mosquitos in Sipi as it is 4000 meters high, the air is clean and the sound of running water is always present. Three nights and four days is the perfect amount of time for a mini get away. You return to the regular life restored. How long that feeling lasts is another story..

There are three main falls in Sipi and they are not magnificent for their strength, power or sheer volume but rather they are very pretty by virtue of the extreme height of their fall. Our lodge was perched on the very edge of one of the falls. Our room, made simply in a rustic style, had beds built high enough to see the view from the comfort of our bed, it was not luxurious, but, it was all one really needed.  Like a little log cabin with thatch roof and knotty logs of wood for beds, each Banda was a brown dot in an otherwise stunning cliff top ridge. The falls were tucked under us, so, hard to see but we heard them and all Bandas and the restaurant faced an enormous valley hugged loosely by two tall cliffs. It was as if child, had, in an inventive moment laid a soft map of the world over two upturned chairs . The sky became huge as it spread itself above this valley, occasionally forming square shadows with it’s clouds.

When we arrived we set off immediately on hike number one. It is an hour and half hike to the bottom of the falls directly under the room we were staying in. But with three children 10, 12 and 12 who wanted to stop and admire, pick up and adopt every chameleon we passed and then stand under the spray of the falls , it took closer to three hours. The path took a winding route that passed a few mud homes, some cows and down past caves that looked like giant and deep scars in the face of the cliff. We then passed coffee trees that gave us some cool shelter before we came out and climbed down a giant steep ladder, kindly constructed so that between a choice of sliding on one’s bottom down a 90 degree mud wall or walk backwards down a shaky and steep ladder, we could choose the latter. By this point in the walk a few local children had decided to tag on. When we finally got to the bottom of the ladder after and slow and careful walk down, one of them just walked frontwards down the ladder as if it were a simple and dull flight of stairs. His friend chose the mud wall option, only he ran gracefully down.

Soon we arrived at the foot of the falls. Having passed through grass, mud, rocks and ladder we were now in a tall grassy field. As we passed through, the falls began to roar. We could see them before we felt them but once we climbed down some cool rocks we could feel the spray that came so suddenly, with a gust of air that literally took my breath away.

The walk back up the cliff hurt, and still hurt the next day. Shows how dreadfully unfit I am. Shameful, especially considering the number of women we passed who climbed that path and that ladder daily, with huge stacks of wood on their heads.

Children become completely  alive and vibrant under a waterfall. The joy of such abandonment is a thrilling thing. It is rare that I feel such unmitigated joy, such freedom to live completely in the moment without a care for tomorrow or even today. They are so lucky my children. In the past few days they have laughed with friends, had tickle fights in a tent, climbed hills, twirled in the spray of a beautiful waterfall, captured chameleons, run in nature and played. Played with each other and the space around them.

Kampala is a far life from here.

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Miss Teacher

I think it is time for a teaching post. It seems all I do at the moment is teach, teach, teach.

Most of the time I don’t actually feel like a teacher; in terms of the fact that I assume most teachers feel and look like teachers, whatever that means. No, most of the time I feel like a photographer, a writer, a mother, a wife, a friend; and then I remember that I am a teacher, and that I love it. Some days are magic, everything works, the cogs feel oiled and everything simply rolls into place. Other times there is a sticky sort of feeling between me and the kids. They don’t want to be there, neither do I, they are wild, I am not, they make a noise or a mess, and I lose my patience.

Reports and marking are not my idea of fun.  Meeting parents? Not so much fun. Standing on a chair to tell a story? Might be fun. My philosophy these days is simple. When teaching people who are going through puberty you simply need to keep them AWAKE.  Or ENTERTAINED. Their minds must be swayed away from their pants. Therefore I must not be boring. Kids only learn if they are aware.

At the moment I am awash in projects. I have little patience for boring teachers that simply do exercise after exercise with little imagination of inspiration. I stay on the syllabus, I do, but once in a while I take a leap and land in some gentle field of poetry.

Right now we are writing our own Poetry Books. The deal is this. Three poems by the student, one by a famous poet, a gorgeous cover page, a page typed analysis about the chosen poem and all four poems need to be illustrated in a manner that reveals the theme of the poem. I think it will be fantastic.

We are also writing short stories based on a photo prompt that comes from the best photos of the week on a popular news website. These stories will be peer edited by at least 3 peers before I finally get to see them so I am hoping desperately that all people will consider themselves an I and not an i, that proper things will be CAPITALIZED and that sentences end in full stops. It is the simple things I am after. If we get some real quality fiction, that will be a bonus.

Another exciting project on the agenda is our class Newspaper. I teach 6 classes of 20 students each so it should be fun to see what they come up with. They have all been assigned journalistic roles and with the kind help of the IT dept they should be pretty and perfect by the end of this week. I am strangely optimistic.

Last but not least they will all be receiving their big term projects this week. This time round we are doing Biographies. They need to choose a person they know; so no danger of reading plagiarized reports of Obama over and over again.

Now just think of the marking! When will I have time to do all the other things that keep me ticking?

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