April 18, 2016

Don't Panic

Woke up this morning to the sound of a howling cat. Or was it screeching. Whatever the classification of noise, it was clear that she was pissed. Or was she concerned. Whatever the classification of her mood, one thing was clear when we sprung out of bed was that the alarm had not been heard and we had overslept. By nearly an hour.

Don’t panic. Don’t panic we mumbled to each other as we got out of bed groggily, but with purpose. Kaia was on her own and I got Skye showered while Mairin made lunches and then Kaia and I made some quick breakfast toast to be eaten in the car and we were off and made it to school in time for everyone.
It was the perfect start to what I imagine to be a crazy week.

I am somehow involved with three evening events this week:

Wednesday watching and speaking on a panel for Udi's screening of Conspiracy. (Another shameless plug, please come watch and eat and talk about what cutting down on meat consumption can do for our planet.)

Thursday I volunteered a few Daraja GC members to speak at a parents Wine and Cheese event, so I have to show up and make sure it runs smoothly.

Friday, is the launch party of our Lit Magazine- Off Tangent. We have organized, or I should say are organizing some readings, food, music, and a social for our writers and their other book nerd friends.

Needless to say all of these events include emails, planning and organization skills I am not an expert in. I can already hear the howling cat on any one of those events. But we will cross our fingers, work together and hope for the best.

Being back in the mix after missing three days of school last week did not make today easy. Still trying to figure out what was taught with the sub and what needs to be taught next was a challenging task, but I think we sorted it out.

We are currently working on a non-fiction unit, where our grade eights are reading book length, narrative non-fiction texts which include Columbine, No Logo, Omnivore’s Dilemma and Quiet. I was a bit worried that these text might be too hard, and I am sure to some extent they are, but today as we shared some ideas about what claims these writers might be making, most of the grade 8’s were able to nail it. These kids are extraordinary.

I ran today. I hadn’t run since March 28th. It was not an easy run. It was not long or fun or enjoyable in any way, but I ran today and it feels good to be back on the horse. I also wrote tonight. Back to the novel. I hadn’t written in weeks. It was not an easy session, but I wrote about a thousand words and I am back in it, which is all that matters.

These goals, these routines need continuity to be effective. Any extended break or absence can cause major damage to the habit. So even with this crazy week, I know I need to get back on track with a run and writing session on Wednesday.

Took a taxi home today with just Kaia and me. I told her I needed to talk to her, so if could she please put down her book for a few minutes. This is what I said:

“I was at this conference last week and we were talking about happy kids and students and how as teachers we can support our students to be relaxed and well-supported and happy. And as I was thinking about all the things I do for my student, I got to thinking about how we as parents talk to you and support you and what messages you might be getting from us. And you know what I realised? That I get so frustrated with parents when they put pressure on their kids or get angry or yell or over parent, but then I realised that maybe sometimes we might be doing that to you.

Sometimes when we are over-eager and parenting you too much, we might sound angry or yelling or demanding or never satisfied. Do your homework! Practice your guitar. Mind your manners. Clean your room. Be nice to your sister. Don’t talk back so often and so on and so on.

You might get the impression that we are always disappointment or not very happy….so…..I just wanted to take a break and a time out and let you know how much we love you. And how much everything we do is designed to help you become the best person you can be. We know you are working hard and what you are doing is amazing. We could not be more proud. I also need you to know how much we love you and everything we do is born from that love.”

She was awkwardly smiling at this point and looked happy but uncomfortable with the praise. It made me realise just how important it is to remind our kids how much we love them and that parenting is not always a clear representation of that love.

“Anyway, sometimes when we are in the heat of the week and things have to get done and we seem angry and cranky, it’s important that we stop and remind ourselves that we are here to learn and have fun and do our best. Nothing else matters. So as long as you are having fun and doing your best, we are proud of you and we love you. Okay?”

Okay she said smiling.

“Can I have a big kiss and a hug?”

We hugged and she went back to reading Harry Potter the seventh book and I fell asleep until we got home.


  1. Respect for keeping up the daily writing! This morning my 4 year old daughter said, "I don't want to be naughty today." Exactly what you describe in your post has been running through my head. Do we correct her behaviour too much? Does she think we don't love her as much when we tell her that what she is doing is not acceptable? It's a tough one, and I am aware of the message we send - that good days are days when she listens and complies. I think you are right in that having these conversations and finding opportunities to reinforce the idea that the things we ask for are part of our role in helping to develop our children in the most positive way we can.
    I'm signed up to your blog's daily emails, so know that I'm reading with interest. It would be great to set up a get-together before the end of the year!
    Your colleague on the other side of the island, Paul.

    1. Thanks so much for reading Paul. I really appreciate your engagement with my random thoughts.