Was I even on leave?

Three days into the new school year and already I forgot that a week ago I was on holiday and preparing to on a camp for the weekend. A camp that I still have mixed emotions about. Firstly because I was not made for tent camping and communal bathrooms, secondly also because I avoided the water and the river like a plague. Actually our trip was doomed before we even went. The week prior to our departure, one of my schools matric students died at the same resort. At first we heard he had drowned but he had actually hit his head and the impact broke his neck.

No amount of words can describe how torn I was about it. He was a sweet boy and I cannot for one minute imagine what his mom may be feeling right now. As she walked into our office yesterday and saw the pictures and candles we have on my desk to commemorate him, the emotion in her eyes was enough to break my heart even more. I hugged her tight and we stood in that embrace for a while. I have been praying for their family since that fateful day but I know that nothing anyone says can “make it better” right now. Only time can ease the pain but death changes you.

There are days I love my job and then there are days it sucks the life out of me. The past couple of days was “one of those days”. It feels like I close my eyes for a minute and then it’s ready for action again. It may be Wednesday but it seems like one long ass day. No amount of preparation for the new academic year (which I proudly completed before then end of last year) prepared me for the mess I walked into on Monday. I anticipated it but not at this rate.

Having to disappoint hundreds of parents by telling them we cannot accommodate their kids at school is a difficult task. I genuinely spoke to hundreds of parents during the past couple of days. Both face to face and telephonically. I really feel like making a recording of my spiel and just pressing play because having to tell people the same thing 15-18 times in a row is draining and my throat is dry. Thats no exaggeration. I literally made count and timed myself at some stage today to humour myself and it was about 15-18 parents in a row in a space of an hour. It is frustrating to say have to repeat yourself the whole day. Even more so when some of those parents make it personal like it’s ME who doesn’t want their kids there. It breaks my heart that we can’t take on more kids, but peeves me all the same when parents get rude and/or report us for giving them the correct information. There are some schools who simply do not have the capacity nor the educator staff to be able to assist. While some parents are understanding, others get real nasty.

As a parent I feel for them. On the other hand, as a parent I am one of those who sends my kids applications in early and confirm acceptance as well so that I don’t have any problems in the new year. I am not rich or well off but the moment my kids school fees are paid up for the current year, I start paying for the following year. Maybe it’s because I’m paranoid and like to be prepared for every eventuality but rather that than find myself in a financial bind and disadvantage my kids. So there, I’m sure you’ve guessed it. As sorry as I feel for kids and parents, I don’t have too much sympathy with them for being lacksy dazy where it comes to their kids education. In saying this I don’t mean all parents. There are genuinely those whose circumstances have changed and people who’s had to move due to work transfers. Everyone has their own story.

If having to deal with that for the past few days was not bad enough, I clearly didn’t mentally prepare well enough for our school kids this year. As sweet (and sometimes bitter) as they are, it is emotionally draining too because after a holiday kids are never the same. Some of their manners are still on holiday and many of them have lost their way. There are kids who genuinely need the school and teachers more than we know. It the one place they feel comfortable, safe and mostly loved. To plenty of kids we are the one thing they know for sure and even on our bad days (as humans) they much rather prefer the security we provide at school as opposed to unpredictability at home.

Being the strict parent is no fun and I find myself fulfilling that role at home and at work. Kids are funny beings though. They crave discipline and tend to gravitate to tough love. I seem to be at the centre of that affection and right now I smell like a gazillion people. Teenagers don’t know how to strike a good balance with deodorant and they crave hugs too. From me, who is not big on hugs but with every hug they are converting me. Don’t be surprised if I hug you randomly in the street one day. I’m too tired to shower now and I’m hoping my sinus will not disappoint me now and unblock because what little I can smell is nauseating. Not enough to wash though. I. Am. Exhausted! And I still have some work to catch up on before I go to bed tonight.

What took the cake today was a very disrespectful young man showing me some gangster hand symbols, that for a moment I felt threatened. Only a moment though, until my anger took over and I went after him to cut him down to size. I kind of went bat shit crazy and unleashed my inner gangster. Imagine me going ghetto Barbie on him while speaking *gham. He didn’t see that coming. My mom was shocked and laughed when I told her what I said to him. As for my gran, let’s just say she will be praying for me. Even my kids were shocked and nothing I do shocks them much. In hindsight it could have been ugly and I could have gotten hurt because there were four boys in total who were all my size and slightly taller but I was peeved. However, I won’t allow people to intimidate me. Especially youngsters who have their whole lives ahead of them. Being a badass is a learned behaviour and I unfortunately won’t be the learning curve they need to make them think and believe that they are “The Man”.

I feel that women are disrespected too easily because of various reasons and men (young and old) get away with it too easily as well. My biggest argument with my boss is the fact that men allow boys and men to disrespect women and girls by saying nothing. If it doesn’t hit close to home then it’s not worth getting involved. While I agree that running an interference or trying to assist can be a risk, are we just going to allow this kind of BS to continue without even trying to raise our voices or helping a sister out? Maybe I’m being a total girl by complaining or maybe I’m sick and tired of everyone being reactive instead of being proactive. Well really I don’t mind being labelled a b!tch for bringing this up but I have had it with women being victimised. I’ve had it with people looking the other way because it didn’t happen to them. I refuse to be anyone’s victim and I refuse to sit by and allow sh!t to happen.

All in all, it’s good to be back at work and awesome to be a mom of hundreds of kids again plus the three born of my body. A good 200+ new kids who I need to get to know over the next few months. I already know at least one of the boys because he is the tiniest 8th grader ever. He’s shorter than my 9yo daughter so I’ll be measuring him on a regular basis and watching him grow. We will have tons of fun.

If you work in education, I wish you all the best for this year. May we have a successful year with our kids and take them to higher heights. But whatever your career path, have a fantastic work year and embrace every experience you have this year. Most of all, always strive for excellence and have fun while you’re at it.

With love,

CJ

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