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Archive for the ‘school’ Category

42-15350445Was just reading a funny blog on Obama’s recent controversial speech delivered to all the kidlets of America (well at least to the ones whose mommas and poppas didn’t protest and keep them home in the trailer park that day- but ahem-I digress….) It evoked a memory of my own physical scareducation back in the good ole days of high school- circa the 80’s.

 

Our PE teacher was a tall bloke with a head of early-onset silver hair and a startling ginger beard. He’d be called a ranga-face these days- but back then we only had one name for him and that was >insert dramatic pause here< …Mr Blood. 

Well it was appropriate- because, after all, it was his actual name. 

Mr Blood had a penchant for interesting ways of promoting fitness. I was convinced that every night he must have cackled himself to sleep as he thought of another ingenious way to torture us without the aid of traditional evil implements. Under his churlish command orange dimpled basket balls and innocent looking skipping ropes somehow became weapons of mass humiliation. 

The most wicked of all his games was his own special version of Dodge-ball.

To give you a clue- we secretly called it Butt-ball. 

On the day that he introduced this charming game Mr Blood told us to line up around the perimeter of the gym. As we trudged into place he demonstrated a neat waist bend- touching his toes. Pointing to his own trim behind he said loudly “this will be the target”.  He then explained that the student at the other end of the gym had to throw the ball at the ‘target’, then snake back into the line for their turn at bending over. 

Sounds like fun huh? 

After most kids had failed to even get the ball down to the other end of the gym it was my turn to throw. The kid who sauntered into target position gave me one cool look as he slowly touched his toes. I nearly wet my navy bog-catcher-bloomers. My target was the one boy at school who really made my life miserable. For the purpose of this story I shall call him Sean. 

Sean was the master of the snide comment. He had a quick wit and knew no bounds when it came to emotional torment. He was so good at it that he rarely had to say anything at all. The mere thought of a class with him made me break out in a sweat that dripped down into my Berlei-sports-training-bra. 

I picked up the ball without any desire for revenge. My exact wish was just to get it over with as soon as possible. I hurled it across the gym floor –in an ungraceful lob. The class watched its high arc. Time stopped. The ball landed fair and square on his arse. 

Mr Blood applauded loudly as I slunk back into line.  I tried to hide, but Mr Blood had a different idea. He told us that I now had to be Sean’s target. I should have known I wouldn’t get off that easily. Revenge was Mr Blood’s game plan. Sean raced into position bouncing the ball loudly stretching out my agony as long as he could. Bounce. Bounce.     Bounce.           Bounce. I waited, my flaming face resting on my thighs. There was stillness and then the echoes of laughter bouncing off the concrete walls. His throw had landed short. A fitting end to the game. 

 

In case you are wondering- this event didn’t change my days at school.

It didn’t make me feel empowered to stand up to the bully, and it didn’t humble him in any way. We continued on as usual. He pointed out my flaws and I cowered. 

 

But just for the record- Sean was his real name.

You see- you big turd- I’m not scared of you anymore.

 

 

 

Credit where it is due:

This is the great blog I mentioned earlier – his hatred was for the pommel horse- another evil implement of physical education destined to deny generations of men from ever receiving Father’s Day cards…

go ahead read it… I’m sure you’ll love it.

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This afternoon we trolled through the garage (otherwise known as the repository for everything other than the car) looking for a case suitable for Miss 8’s impending camp.

Her first camp.

I finally found the one I was looking for, a snazzy-surfy one that her big brother had used on his first camp. I was elated. Phew! I never thought I would find it in all that junk. “But Mum…” Miss 8 said incredulously “it’s a boy’s suitcase.” I looked at it.

Yes.

She’s right it is a boy’s suitcase.

When her big brother went to camp he didn’t mind taking the old red sheet that had the rip in the centre and the Frankenstein stitches. He didn’t even mind that he had a non matching pillowcase. But now I have a whole new ball game on my hands. Don’t get me wrong she’s pulled out her old jumpers and jeans…but I’ve been firmly instructed that the pyjamas must match (tick) and may I please have new volleys (tick-and fine with me- I don’t want her taking her good runners anyway) and was it possible if I had a girls suitcase- please Mum pretty please?

Boy oh boy girls are different.

Part of me can’t justify buying another case, and another part of me wants to get the coolest-grooviest-girly-case I can find.

I remember the day my Mum told me we were going shopping for my primary school camp. I was elated. We were going to the biggest Kmart in town (the one in Burwood) and I felt like the luckiest kid on the planet- I was getting new stuff! Driving along my dreamy thoughts of new sleeping bags and fluffy socks abruptly screeched to a halt as we detoured to the… doctor’s surgery. There waiting for me was a big-fat-juicy tetanus shot.

Tonight I’ve taken a picture of the snazzy-surfy-suitcase.

Tomorrow it’s going on e-bay.

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According to my weeping daughter, who had flung herself across her bed, two girls, (count them fingers sticking up at me) two girls in her jazz ballet class got a grade higher than she did in her dance exam.

I make her sit up. We wipe the trail of snot off her pillowcase and closely examine her new trophy.

“Wow.” I said.

“I think that’s real gold.” big brother said.

“Is that my dinner in the oven?” Dad said.

 

Back last year my daughter did not have such high expectations. I had chosen this new dance studio because I didn’t like the one she had been previously enrolled in (errr the owner brings in giant dog-unleashed- to watch wee-little children dance and then says- “oh but it’s a friendly dog’…). She sat the first exam with the new studio and we were all pleasantly surprised when she received a top grade. It was very exciting. But little did I know what enormous pressure this would put on her small rounded pink shoulders the following year.

 

Her disappointment is palpable.

 

We tell her she’s great/gorgeous/talented/marvelous all to no avail. Tears keep streaming. I remind her that just because someone did better than her doesn’t mean her result isn’t fantastic. Commended does after all sound pretty impressive to me and it’s much higher than fail or pass or credit. I ask her to tell me how everyone else did and her story wafts around, facts are blurry. Clearly her perceptions are more important than reality.

I hold her close and ask her if I can facebook how proud I am. She brightens instantly. She’s social networking savvy at eight. She knows grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins will see my comment and go to her (very restricted) page and leave lov-er-ley messages for her. I show her what I write. I tell everyone how proud I am.

 

Later I creep into her room and watch her sleeping for awhile.

The mother-part-of-me wants to tell her not to be so hard on herself.

But the preparing-my-kids-for-real-life-part-of-me is proud of her for a reason other than how well she actually did in the exam.

 

 I’m proud of her for wanting more.

Sure aiming high will land us with disappointments and many reasons to blow our noses into countless tissues over the years. But it also means we don’t settle for mediocrity.

 

Last week during some random conversation I asked my daughter (who is only in grade three) if she wanted to be the Gold House Captain when she gets into grade six? She immediately answered “no.”  I was very disappointed as she attends the same school as I did and we are all mad for our Gold House. She looked at my crestfallen face and said “I don’t want to be the house captain mummy- because I want to be the school captain.”

 Stay tuned for an update in three years.

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Bully, verb: discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner

Bullies really shit me.

I feel like starting a gang of parents who (masked of course…and maybe even wearing capes if we could come up with the right shade) roam school yards protecting our kids from the terror they inflict.

Pow to their arrogance. Bif to their aggression.

We’d make sure we cornered the bully- when no one was watching- and then claim innocence when they dobbed on us. Let’s see how they like it! What do you mean I was wearing a purple satin lone ranger mask ? Scoff, scoff. Sly wink at the bully (again- when no one was watching).    

Ahh if only protecting our kids was that easy.

With all the sad news about teenage bullying and the dire consequences of this behaviour in the media recently my soul aches when I think of my children being bullied at school.

Recently the primary school representative rang the parent of a child who had pinched my son (Master 11) so viciously that a purplish-green handprint was visible on his side for weeks. The parent is one I know by name- a smile and a wave whenever we pass each other. On the afternoon of the call I was waiting in the school car park and the parent in question walked right past and gave me the dreaded snub-face. She determinedly looked the other way until she had past my car. I watched as she walked by and contemplated how I would feel if the bully-shoe was on the other foot? But then I remembered it had been…well sort of.

When my daughter (then Miss 6) was in grade one she brought a prized magic trick to school- the disappearing ball (right up my sleeve) wow-presto-trickerooney. Another little girl wanted to know how she did the trick. She wanted to know so much that she kept tugging on my daughter’s sleeve. My daughter got so fed up with the little girl ruining her trick that she blew a big raspberry in her face. Gah. Not nice.

The receiver of the raspberry told the teacher that my daughter had spat at her and I received the phone call from school telling me my child’s behaviour was unacceptable. True-ish.

My daughter got a big lecture and I made her write a note of apology. But did I really think she was a bully? Secretly I’m not sure I really thought she was a ‘bully’ given all the circumstances. However I still made an effort to catch up with the parent of the child and offer my apology for the incident. It was a sincere apology on my part. I knew my little girl could have handled the situation waaay differently (and perhaps I would then be on the receiving end of an apology…but I digress.)

Since that day my daughter has not been invited to that girl’s parties and invitations for play dates from our end have been ignored. When she sobs into her pillowcase about it I bring up the ‘raspberry’ and tell her that all our actions have consequences. Some of these consequences are very long lasting. She’s learnt her lesson.

And so snub-face Mum has taught me a lesson too.

Somehow as parents we all have an innate gift to be able to look at our children and see only sugar and goodness. Oh sure we know our kids can be naughty and annoying and demanding…but when faced with accusations of them being naughty and annoying and demanding with someone else- our hackles instantly rise. We become ‘Parent the Protector’.

Even when the evidence is reported and physical it’s somehow still possible for a parent to see their child as innocent within reason- err… given all the circumstances. But the truth is all we are doing is making all kinds of excuses for ourselves- and the justifications somehow, perversely only serve to indict the victim.

And that hardly seems fair now does it?

Perhaps she was embarrassed. Perhaps the snub was all in my imagination. But what I know for sure is there will always be Bullies. And sadly there will always be parents who turn a blind eye.

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