Honesty – again!

Billy Joel says it best. “Honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard and mostly what I need from you.”

So often we present a Facebook status view of ourselves to the world; even those closest to us. That’s one of the reasons I believe Facebook is so popular. It allows us to hide or display ourselves as much or as little as we want to. Now, of course, there are extremes of each.

We’ve all seen, and desperately tried to forget, updates on a person’s bowel movements – with or without accompanying graphic; the selfie in the toilet; the badly framed view which didn’t take the mirror behind them into account; the 2am night out shot – etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.

And the moment by moment, blow by blow account.
#ateasandwich
#brushingteeth
#gothiccups
#goodnight
#goodmorning
#goodafternoon
#walkeddog
#sneezedmygutsup
#yougetthepicture!

Mostly though, I think we as a society are guilty of the director’s cut life. You know what I mean. Those Facebook updates that make you feel like your life is never going to measure up. By comparison, you – or your significant other – don’t make the grade. Photos of huge flower bouquets from darling husbands for no reason. Happy, smiling families with not a hair out of place. Cute videos of children who walked sooner, further and on a cleaner floor no less, than yours. New jobs, new friends, new hair, whatever it is, it’s always good and it’s always better than yours.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’ve probably posted about every single one of the things listed above, with the glaring exception of the cleaner floor. It’s what Facebook is for, no doubt, but is it honest? And if we live that way in the virtual world, how much creeps in to our real, face to face, everyday interactions?

Virtual world or not, it’s ridiculously easy to pop on our ‘game face’ and answer, “Fine,” at appropriate moments, but if we do it too often, I believe we actively block real connection with those to whom we could be close.

For real connection, be honest. Be real. Don’t be, “Fine.” Be, “Just awful, but thanks for asking.” Be, “I’ve had better mornings, thanks.” Cry if necessary.

Be you, in all your glorious splendour.
Be you, good, bad or ugly.
Be you. Truthful. Honest
Be you.

‘Scuse me, Miss!

It’s only been about 6 weeks since I last stood in front of a class and (hopefully) taught. It’s been less than 48 hours since I sat in someone else’s. And today, it begins again. And I’m scared.

Yes, scared. I know it seems unreasonable, because I love the school I’m at. I love the kids (most of them – veritas serum again). I love to teach. I love the connections; momentary or long lasting. I love the lightbulb moments. I love surprising the teenagers by knowing about the latest apps, games and songs. I love the reactions I see when they realise that I’m a person and I have a home. I believe the generally accepted school of thought is that teachers live in a box under their desk. I love to throw lesson plans out the window and ride the wave of a valuable tangent. I love it when a lesson plan and said lesson actually are the same. So why am I scared?

I’m scared because every ‘night before’ I fear being found out. I fear that someone, somewhere, somehow will discover that I’m actually not very good at this. I’m scared that I actually won’t be. I’m scared they won’t like me. I’m scared that despite my planning and best efforts, the whole thing goes pear shaped.

This is unfounded. In almost 7 years of teaching so far, none of this has proven true.

Oh, there have some pretty spectacular muck-ups; by no means has perfection taken up residence. Some days, I’m actually not very good at it. Some days only I know that. Some days I’m sure I’m the only one who doesn’t. But some days, I’m brilliant! Some days, they don’t like me. Some days I don’t like them all that much either. But some days I’m the ‘best teacher ever!’ I have it on the authority of a coffee mug. Some days pear shaped would be a bonus. But some days, we are the whole fruit salad!

I could cheerfully forget the times I’ve been taken to task for not following guidelines. I could be okay without memories of 6 dismal months of ‘that class’ in Year 10 History. If I never melt a plastic box on a hot plate in the Home Ec kitchen again, I’ll die content. Broken bones, cut fingers, burns and seizures; you can keep them.

But there are jewels too. The consistent C- who got a B. The sudden, and totally unexpected, discovery of a student’s flair for writing flowery Shakespearean prose. The spark of understanding.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll know both sides of that battered, but still valuable, coin. You’ll know the highs and the lows. You’ll understand the billions of possible reactions you might have to the simple phrase, “Scuse me, Miss?”

And you’ll be scared. And you’ll love it. All at the same time.

Veritas,

Eski 🐛

The C Word

I wrote this some time ago and I felt that I’d like to share it tonight. Another leg of the caterpillar. 🐛 As always, comments are welcome.

Eski Caterpillar

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Six months isn’t very long. Not really. When you’re a little kid waiting for your birthday or Christmas, the time is utterly immeasurable, interminable. When you’ve been given six months to live; terminal.

Grandma must have known that she wasn’t well for a while. Surely that size of growth, that sort of invasion, you’d realise, if not recognise; wouldn’t you? But, while not one prone to impenetrable silence, she was never one for dramatic proclamations either. So even if she knew, we didn’t.

And then, just as suddenly, we did. I don’t remember the moment – not at all a movie moment where the thundering minor chords loudly announce the arrival of some devastating disease; not like that. We were all told. My cousins travelled out of season to see Grandma while she was still well. She made a point of doing things with them while they visited. I’m sure she did that for me too, but, shamed to say, I don’t think I noted it then, for I don’t recall it now.

For six weeks she was away for treatment. For some reason our base hospital was ill equipped (no pun intended) to offer the assistance she required. My uncle and my great-grandmother both spent blocks of time with her – ostensibly to help, but I recall overhearing that Nanna’s help was probably easier done without, although it was given in love.

I also overheard, not from Grandma herself, but my mother and aunt’s frustration and my Grandpa’s useless silence. Certainly not renowned for many outward displays of affection, he seemed unaware of the momentous happenings around him – surely they affected him most of all? I think though that he certainly was aware, and affected, but unable to express or even comprehend his emotions. We all chided him, behind his back of course; but I’m sorry for that now as I was sorry for Grandma because of it then. I never told her either how much I would miss her. I never spoke of love, or anything that might have been read as, “I’m admitting you’re dying.” It wasn’t consciously done – just unaware or unable to admit or comprehend what was going on.

I knew about the doctor’s sorrowful admission that all that could be done, had. I understood, but as for what I felt? Mum got it. She understood, then again, you would about your mother – I hope I do if ever the occasion arises – which I am praying not.

The last thing I did for Grandma; more for mum really, was buying a bedpan the day before she died. Isn’t it strange, the useless things we remember? Of everything, all the emotion, I remember that! But of course, by the time I got it there, it was too late; she’d died. For a week afterwards, I carried it in the boot of the car, not sure how to return it. No one asked any questions when I did.

Grandma died the day after / of my Grandpa’s birthday. That I felt sorry for him for, certainly no celebration to be had and always then that anniversary.

I wonder if people often feel entirely inappropriate planning a funeral. My sister and aunty visited the funeral directors only to be struck with the giggles, as we all were when they shared, by the man’s sincerely meant, but utterly inane question, “So, I understand we’ve had a death in the family?” Is it wrong to want to laugh at that? The comment still raises a smile today. I was proud of us, we weren’t wailers, we kept our sense of humour and practicality throughout the planning. It’s hard to mourn continually. The trite line, “Life goes on” is true. For the rest of us it did. Nanna understood. Considered more than a little old at 92 and particularly scatty at times, this time she understood. She discussed some and agreed on most points. Of course, we all cried here and there, I don’t remember it often. I can’t imagine having to plan my daughter’s funeral or my mother’s. I don’t want to imagine it – but that’s what they did, these amazing women. They carried on, smiling through tears and holding it together. It’s a girl thing in my family, I think.

I’d never been to a funeral before. I’ve been to three since and I’m not interested in having too many more experiences of it, thanks all the same. Grandma’s minister did what he did. We sang some hymns that none of us really knew the words to, but the church people did. I don’t remember what they were. Mum, Katie and I sang “Precious Lord”, which chokes me still, although I love it. I don’t understand it, maybe it’s just me, but there is kind of a perverse pleasure in outward displays of sorrow. We’re not an unemotional family, but we don’t dwell too much on the “negative” emotions. Anger has a limited place in our family and we’re ‘cross’ or ‘frustrated’ rather than angry. There’s a therapy session in that! Sorrow isn’t something I’ve had much dealing with and this was one of those few times. I was certainly ‘movie’ dramatic enough in that one moment. I never want to see anyone’s coffin be lowered again! Death I can cry about and cope with. Since believing fully in Jesus, I can learn to celebrate a little at times – but it’s still a hard thing. Lowering of coffins – never again!

Just for one moment, when the ropes tighten to lower the coffin and its silver handles – which have been for all intents and purposes useless at a graveside service. But you can’t have a plain wooden box for a much beloved family member – optional extras courtesy of the funeral director – waste of time and money but they assuage the guilt you’d feel if you didn’t do it. When the coffin lowers, I cry out – unintentionally – the term “wrenched from her throat” makes much more sense now. I cry out and stumble – almost to my knees. Silly really. Useless now she’s gone. But the feelings. Such conflict with my joyous mood later, when we went that night to a dress up charity collection. Odd, the things we do. But then it’s finished, and again, life goes on.

Reflecting, I think I’ve learned more about Grandma’s illness and her life as a person since she died. Even since writing this, mum and Katie and I have discussed more about that time than we did then. I don’t want to think that about my mum more than eleven years after she dies. Or anyone I’m close to – bit of a hit in the head – a wake up call. Talk to your family! Let them know what you’ve done, what you’ve felt. Share what you’re doing now and tell them how you feel. Take the time to do it now, while you can – my mum does that and I want to. It’s not morbid, it’s more important. Why not?

The Little Red Typewriter

I didn’t have a typewriter moment, but I do remember writing and loving it from a very early age. I can remember writing to please younger brother and sister. I now enjoy helping people with re wording emails etc and writi by creatively to explain and entertain. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

Josephine Moon

Following, is a special memory and story for me, one that makes up the intricate tapestry of my creative self. And I’m wondering if you have any similar memories like this.

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Do you believe that kids often know what they’re supposed to do in the world from a very young age? In my case, I think I did. I have a very strong memory from when I was around three years of age, the timing of which my mother was able to verify based on where I described we were living at the time.

photo-3On this particular day, my parents took my sister and me out shopping and we ended up in a toy store. I wandered around and was interested in many things, including a plaster of Paris kit, with figurines of Paddington Bear. But then, I saw a little red typewriter. I was struck with an all-encompassing…

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Reblogged from my Son: My “Memoir”

Welcome to the blogging world of my son. He’s written here about his experience of depression and I love the reality of it. It’s brutal and honest.

The Not-So-Dragon's Den

I was trying to think of the best way to start my little blog and I immediately ran out of ideas.

You know how it is. You have ideas for ages but when you finally go to do something with them, they disappear.

So I decided to re-use something I wrote in my last year of high school. (I say that like it was aeons ago, but I only finished last year…)

We had to write memoirs for our English class, and I figure, why not show it to the internet. Nothing ever goes wrong that way 😛

So yeah, my memoir, as weird as that sounds to me.

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Another child arrives

This morning, for the first time in a long time, all 6 members of our family have piled into the van. It’s quite fortunate that this hasn’t happened any earlier, as up until last Wednesday, I had the back seats rolled down and the back of the van absolutely chock-full of costumes for the upcoming school musical, ‘The King and I.’ I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow them from a friendly teacher at another school just before the holidays. We’d picked them up, stuffed into the boot, with all good intentions to go home and sort, select and allocate them. This did NOT happen.

We got home and left them there. For two days. Then they were unceremoniously dumped into a spare space in our house for 6 weeks. Untouched. Then piled back into the car for the short drive to school….for the whole week BEFORE I went back to school. They’ve since been taken out, and so I have the opportunity to head out in the family van, with said family. We don’t want to rush these things.

(I share this with you not because it’s necessarily important to this story, but in the interests of being real. I found out that I’d ‘scared’ a friend with my plans to sort, select etc. Far too organised for holidays apparently. Never mind Miss J, I promptly went home and began real holidays. Novel reading reigned supreme! So, in the interest of not having what I term a ‘Facebook status’ type relationship with anyone, I like to share the reality of life, disorganisation and mess and all its glory!)

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Back to the titular role of this post; we are expecting another child today. Mr 16 is from Thailand. We are volunteer hosting him for the whole of this school year. He is the youngest of two boys with parents who are a doctor and professor of paediatrics in a university city. Mr 16 has been an excellent student at his school and expects to follow the rest of his family into the medical field. He would like to experience the world, see what other options are available in the world and improve his English. And he’s chosen to do this with us!

Having Mr 16 stay with us was definitely a God-driven experience. Miss 15 is particularly keen on participating in an exchange to the US next year. She and I went to an information evening to see what was to be done to drive this. In the midst of other information, we were given a sample profile sheet. This was to show the prospective students how their information would be displayed to their possible host families. As we read through the profile, Miss 15 and I enjoyed pointing out to one another the things that would have fit in to our family: he liked games; he liked nerdy card games; he enjoyed anime etc. Whilst still listening to the presenter, I texted my husband in the normal detailed way that usually accompanies my spur of the moment ideas: Hey, want to be host parents? Pause. Sure. Great.

And then I prayed. God, if this isn’t the right plan, please don’t let it happen.

At the end of the presentation, we asked questions relevant to Miss 15’s exchange. We explained how we’d enjoyed reading the sample profile and that we’d have liked to host that student, but we’d apply for hosting anyway. The presenter smiled, “We aren’t silly. He’s the last student we need to place for January.” And so they did.

We’ve chatted via Facebook with Mr 16 and his mother and I’ve been so excited to have him arrive. Today’s the day. Mr 2 ran straight to him and gave him a cuddle! Icebreaker achieved. We’ve spent the day together, just sharing ideas, playing with playdough and getting to know one another. We Skyped his Mae and Papa, who were very pleased to know he’d arrived safely. We’ve established the few basic house rules that we have and are now all safely tucked in (some sooner than others) for a reasonably early night.

What will the future bring? I don’t know, but it looks pretty good from here.

😍 Eski

To my child

I want you to be independent, but I like being needed.
I want you to learn from your mistakes, but we’d both be more comfortable if you didn’t make any.
I want you to grow, but you’re so cute and little.

I just haven’t met you yet… (🔊)

Before you arrive, I wonder who you’ll be. What will you look like? Me? Dad? Will you be happy? How will I know what’s best for you? I’ll you even like me?

Sometimes, probably not, I’m sure. In fact, I think that’s my job. If I’m not irritating you fairly frequently during the teen years, there’s something odd happening.

For the one that got away

What was that I did that made life different for you? Why couldn’t it all be figured out? Why do I feel like such a failure? I tried so hard to keep you. I did all the things I knew how to do. I wanted us to be a success story, but it was not to be. I feel like I failed.

Broken

“I think I’ve broken this one.” I wonder if other people ever think the same? Bloody stupid genetics. Personalities are one thing. This is life. And it’s hard. I’m sorry.

FTW!

When you are smiling; when you laugh; when life gives you lemons and you make sorbet, I love it! I’m so happy for you. When you have problems and we can find solutions, we are an unstoppable team! When you cry and I can be your comfort, I feel invincible…and just a little bit devastated at the same time.

I’ve always wanted you. I always will.

😍 Eski.