Back In The Swing Of Things

We started work again on Monday. So quickly the holidays have come and gone and now we wait another eleven months until our next long break.

Though I am still at the school I’ve been working at for the past three years, I am no longer with my Ladybirds. At my request, my boss moved me to the toddler group (The Ducklings). It wasn’t because I no longer loved teaching 3-4 year olds; I just really needed a change. The oddest thing is how people look at me and assume I’ve been “demoted” or am being “punished” or that I can’t “cope” with the bigger kids any more.

It couldn’t be further from the truth.

No age group is any more or any less challenging than another group. The pace is slower with the toddlers, but their independence level is far lower. I can still do the same amount of creative work, but it’s even more of a challenge to think of stuff that is stimulating for this age group, and is stuff that they can do themselves without too much help. A totally different outlook, mindset and skills set is required.

It’s something new. Something different. And I NEED this.

So far, only four of my children have arrived. Two will only be starting in February when they get back from holiday, and two are still in the baby centre as they can’t walk yet, having only turned one in December. Others may still enrol.

The four I have are all boys.

Neo (pronounced Neh-woh, not Nee-oh, though my boss has already nicknamed him “Matrix”) is the oldest, and the smallest. He’s never been to school before so it’s a huge adjustment for him. He’s at his happiest sitting in your lap while he plays with your mouth with his fingers. On day one, he cried constantly. Now, on day three, he’s confident enough to play with and talk to his class mates, and move more than a meter away from me. He still cries when I leave the room, however.

Langa has been at the school since he was a few months old. He’s turning two in February. He’s naughty as anything and loves to see how long he can ignore me before I will actually start chasing him. He’s got a brilliant sense of humour and is very clever. He can sing the whole of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Jingle Bells”, as well as count all the way to ten (He will only do this if you’re not looking at him – if you try to ask him to count for you, he just giggles).

Tawfeeq is a sweet and gentle little boy with a butterfly obsession. Seriously. The kid goes NUTS for butterflies. I gave him a free-drawing task yesterday and he looked at his scribble and excitedly squealed, “It a buttah-fie!!!” He’s not as rough as my other boys but he enjoys playing with them. He loves coming for cuddles. Not too keen on eating though.

Stephan is my current youngest. Absolutely adorable and he knows it. It’s very hard to be cross with him because all he has to do is smile and hold out his arms and my heart melts (Note to self – get a stronger heart…). He is a typical boy – loves cars and trucks and is constantly raiding the shelves with the big trucks – no matter how many times you tell him no. Insofar as kids this age form bonds with each other, Langa is his best friend. He, along with Langa and Tawfeeq, form our class’s Three Musketeers. All for one – unless you get caught, then it’s every kid for himself!

I didn’t have the excitement towards the end of the holidays that I usually do. But it’s just set in late. I am so excited to be with this group. So excited for the new challenges. I’m loving it.

(Ask me again in a few months and I’ll be begging for the holidays).

Ripples

Cast a stone into a pond and watch the ripples spread. 

I cast mine in 2008 (though I didn’t know it at the time) when I joined a little message board for South African Pagans called Way of the Rede. I practically lived there in my spare time. I loved having a group of like-minded local people to chat to, relate to and celebrate with, even though at the time I was a solitary practitioner.

Every once in a while, a bunch of us from WOTR would get together. We called this the meeting of the “Pointy Hatters”. It was at one of these meetings, midway through 2008, that I met Jane. Jane ran a course called “Paganism 101”, the likes of which I had always wanted to attend but could never find one near enough to where I lived.

Through Jane, I met what would become my coven. Through Jane, I gained a far more solid working and understanding of the faith I had been following since 2002. I attended rituals. I gained a confidence in my own abilities within the Craft. I nurtured a bond with the Gods who had been calling to me for six years. I was happy.

Through Jane, I met Symi (in the hopes that we would form a relationship – we didn’t). When Symi was handfasted to Ava, I was present. It was the first time I had ever seen two people so in love. That day restored my belief in love, restored my belief that everyone has a soulmate out there; that one person who is meant to share your life. That was the day I met Ava.

Ava taught me how to dance. Between her and Symi, I grew in confidence, I became more comfortable with my body and how I look . I reconnected with myself and made peace with the shadows in my past. And even though I have lost my parents, those two women have become my guardians, my mothers. They have “adopted” me, opened their home to me and woven me into the fabric of their lives. Without them, I don’t know if I could have survived the past two years.

Ultimately it leads to a gathering like the one I just got home from –  Symi and Ava, Ava’s mom and dad, my “adoptive” sister Montse and me… one big happy family sitting round a table sharing a meal. A feeling more like home than I’ve felt in a while. As much as I adore my biological family, I never realised the bond I could share with friends so close they have become my family also.

The ripples don’t end there, though. Going back to Jane, I met her daughter Sandy who is a teacher like me. In 2009, my boss was making my life a living hell (it mostly started after she found out I like other women as opposed to men). After one spectacular incident when I collapsed on the playground with a massive fever, and then got royally shat upon when I had to leave work to go to the doctor, I asked Sandy if she knew any schools with open positions.

Through Sandy I met Lindy, who hired me even though she knew from the start that I’m gay, even though I rocked up to the interview straight from work in a dusty tracksuit and close-cropped hair, looking (as she said) more like a “Bernard” than a “Kirsten”.

I have been working at that school ever since. I have met so many wonderful children, and parents, who have touched my heart and changed my life. I have amazing colleagues who I would go to the ends of the earth for, and who would do the same for me.

And it doesn’t even end there.

Because through this school, I met Calvin. And through Calvin’s mom, I have a new home to move into, to begin my new life.

I am so, so blessed.

I am so, so happy.

All because I cast a tiny, insignificant stone into a pond by joining a message board.

Be aware of your actions. Take note of the little things. You never know when it will change your life.

A Shitty Job

WARNING: This post is not to be read if you have a weak stomach, or do not like reading about bodily functions and the cleaning up thereof.

 

 

 

Are you still reading? OK, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

 

I’ve mentioned before that in my opinion, I have the greatest job ever. It’s rewarding emotionally, it’s fun, it allows for creative freedom and it’s constantly dynamic. Even though we have a fairly strict routine, no day is ever the same as the next.

But then I have an afternoon like today.

And ooooh man am I glad genetics gifted me with a strong stomach.

A little girl in my class has been battling for a while with constipation. Kids do sometimes, especially the picky eaters who won’t eat anything with any sort of fibre content. At my suggestion, the Mom has packed WeetBix for her the last two days, and I’ve been ensuring she eats it. It’s the chocolate flavoured WeetBix – not idea, I know, but it has fibre and at this point, no one’s complaining.

So she pooped the other night, which was great, but it was painful, so the goal is to try and get her “regular” again.

Well, she got “regular” in her undies this afternoon.

See, I love my job. Really I do.

Because if I didn’t, there’s no  WAY I would’ve been able to clean up the kid. It was a combination of runny mess and rock hard solidity. No wonder this kid hasn’t liked pooping lately.

So, I stripped her off and put her in a large bucket of water to wash her down (’cause wetwipes just weren’t gonna cut it), disinfected her, dressed her and all the while reassured her that no one was cross with her and that she shouldn’t feel embarrassed.

And that’s the thing – yes, it’s an inconvenience, yes, it’s a horrible, horrible thing to have to clean up someone else’s poop… but the one thing you can’t do is shout at a child for having an accident like that, especially not when they’re so squeamish about the process in the first place.

You have to keep your cool and be nice and keep a hold on your stomach. And I mean a strong hold. Poop is NASTY.

Oh, and after cleaning her up, I then had to rinse her clothes in order to put them in a plastic bag for her to take home. It involves scrubbing.

It involves lots of soap and handwashing later.

And I’m really grateful we have these little disinfectant alcohol dispensers in the school for hand sanitising.

I suppose the one plus side of this is that no one can tell me that they have to deal with a lot of shit in their job – I’ll always have a story to top their’s.

Anticipation

We all went in to work today and prepped our classrooms for the new year. Tomorrow we open our doors to the children and my quiet three weeks of holiday come to an end.

The posters are up…

My birthday wall stands ready for photos of my kids.

I’m sad the holiday is over but I’m anxious to begin the new year. I can’t wait to meet my new class and see what this new bunch has to offer… and what I have to offer them.

Just as ever child is different, every class is different. How I worked with my class last year is not how I worked with the class the year before, or the year before that. I know some of what this class is capable of, as all the teachers communicate all problems and issues with each other. I know that this year my class will be a challenge. I have two special needs children in my class, one autistic, one with foetal anticonvulsant syndrome. It’s going to be hard.

But it’s going to be worth it.

I can’t wait.