Reflecting on the sibling relationship

26 03 2011

In so many ways, I am very close to my siblings. For as long as I can remember, we have shared our lives and joys and sadnesses and frustrations with each other. But now, as we grow older, a lot has changed, and continues to change. I was once told to treasure my siblings, because they would be all that would be left once our parents had passed on, and I have always held that admonition close to my heart.

Now, as my siblings grow in their own ways, my brother in particular, it is sometimes hard to let go. They say that we live, and we learn, and nowhere is this more true than in the sibling relationship.

My hope is that I learn to appreciate before I forget to do so.


24 03 2011

Exactly 1 hour ago, I thought I heard meowing as I sat on the living room couch under the solitary lightbulb editing my essays on counsellor ethics. Meowing? Now, I have 2 dogs, a scruffy-looking Bichon Frise and a Pekingese/Shih-Tzu mix. No cat. Not since the first and only cat I ever had ran away and broke my heart and the skin on the hands of my father and brother as they tried to bring him home. I literally said, out loud, “What the.” – it didn’t make any sense to me.

I turned towards the kitchen, where the sound was coming from, and thought I must have been imagining it. But no, I listened for it again and heard the distinct meowing sound of a cat. I pursed my lips and made the kissy noises that frequently stirs my scruffy dog into a frenzy and the cat came to me from out of the kitchen.

We occupy the 1st, 2nd, and top floors of a village house, and all the windows were closed for the night. There are no open drains in my home, and the doors were shut. I was dumbfounded and not a little taken aback: how on earth did the cat get in? Had one of the kids snuck it in? Did the helper? How long had the cat been lying in wait before making its appearance? Where did it come from?

The dogs, having never interacted with anything of a feline persuasion, were boundless in their attempts at getting a good whiff of this intruder, but did not bark or make any noises. Unusual. The cat did not seem scared of me, or at least it was putting on a bloody good show of it, and the next thing I knew, it had gone down the stairs, as cool as you please, and waited for me to open the door for it. The whole time, I had the younger of the dogs in my arms because I just knew he’d raise the dead with his yapping if I let him go, and as the cat left my house, a twitching-with-excitement Moses (a ridiculous name for a dog, I know, but he’s kind of a joker himself anyway) alternated between sniffing at the gate, jumping up my shins, and looking wistfully past his own reflection in the plastic at the creature outside that was now making its way out of the garden and into someone else’s home, probably.

Hands down the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to me.

Academia will be the death of me

20 03 2011

I’m in the process of writing my final 2 essays for this particular unit, and I’m so distracted. Spring Break is here though, so that means more intensive writing hopefully.

Something else is in the works though. I have plans for an art project for my sister. Yet another thing I can’t wait to do until these assignments are finished.

Uh oh.

17 03 2011

I posted twice last week and then didn’t post on the usual Saturday. Does that count as a post a week still? 2 entries within 2 weeks. Hmmm.

Reading minds…

9 03 2011

One of the prompts for this week’s blogging asks whether I would read minds if I could.

As an educator, one of the things I struggle with is maintaining relevance in my classes. I try to teach with humour and an understanding of the needs of my students, but I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful: my classes sometimes flop because the connections I’m making are not clear, the discussions we’re having are not challenging or engaging for my students, or, simply, that I had not planned every detail that I could have done before teaching the lesson. After one of those classes, I come away metaphorically “facepalming” myself out of frustration and ineptitude – why didn’t I do it this way? How did I not remember that that wasn’t something that helped last time? When should I have said what I said just now? What amount of time should I have allocated to that particular task? What would have been a more effective foundation task, back-up plan or extension activity?

In short, to answer the question that was the prompt, I don’t think I’d want to be able to read minds on those kinds of days. Being able to always know what my students are thinking about me, as professionally enriching as that may be, might have the ability to shatter the last vestiges of my self-esteem. For that, I use Google Docs for a survey which shows me what my students think of me so I can make changes.

I may have taught for 5 years now, going on for my 6th, but I still feel like I am doing a terrible job sometimes. Not all the time, mind. But the times when I feel like I’ve not taught anything the students can use later are the times I seriously question my choice of career.

And then a student takes a candid picture of me in class where I look like this, and I remember again what it is about this job that I love so much.

But when the rubber hits the road, I want to know how my students are relating to, and thinking about my classes; that’s why I work so hard at making my classroom open, and make myself available. I do take suggestions seriously, and like I wrote on my under-construction Wikispace, I am always looking for ways to improve the way I teach. This is an area of my life that is very clear to me.

Everything else, on the other hand…

Being manipulated, but hopeful still

6 03 2011

Reverting to decision-making as a result of the current assignment I am working on with this programme, and I recall again the words of Selina in our last session, that I need to learn to make decisions of my own. The only thing harder than making hard decisions is starting to make any decisions at all.

The decision to move out was made about 6 years ago, and it has taken that same amount of time to put the words into action. And now, the choking anger that rises as a result of what goes on here is suffocating, and heavy in the back of my throat are the many words that are dying on their way out.

It is appalling to me that someone who is so decisive and so full of the potential for leadership struggles with what should be insignificant issues. Decision-making should come easily to someone like me, but it doesn’t. On the route to becoming self-sufficient, and dealing with daily obstacles, there is a lot to be broken about.

But I will stand firm, because I have hope. Things will get better, and then I will look back upon these days and smile.

What I can’t say no to

5 03 2011

Recently, I completed my teacher evaluation. After the compliments and the encouragement, one of the suggestions that was raised by a colleague on my evaluation team was that I needed balance in my life, by learning to say “No” to some things.

I will learn that, but it will take time. This is something I don’t have much of nowadays.

The biggest problem, I think, is that I don’t know how to turn someone or something down. I’ve been practicing, but it sometimes physically hurts to say those two little letters, their lopsided z and the thumb-and-forefinger-together-with-tips-touching-making-you-make-the-“okay”-sign, so it’s a learning process, and I’ll manage to do it one day with full recognition of the the cost it is to me.