Monthly Archives: November 2004

Slime awards

I just can’t do it. They’ll have to sack me, that’s all, but I cannot, repeat cannot, go along with the latest effort in school. I refuse point blank to issue slime awards. I just wish I could think what the alternative is. Any suggestions?

This is the currrent situation – a considerable number of the pupils we teach think that they can talk to anyone and everyone exactly how they choose. They are inpolite, answer back incessantly, and refuse to listen – hurling indignant torrents of insolence if you so much as look at them. The words “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” are virtually a foreign language to them and, although they demand respect, they are totally unwilling to give it.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the majority. No, I teach some lovely kids – and to hear fourteen little bods say “Thank you, Miss” when you give them a stinkingly-hard maths test paper touches the heartstrings something rotten – this is just a very vocal minority, but a minority that is understandably growing.

So what is the school’s response? Well, we’ve all been given little strips of green paper which say “I behaved respectfully today” and which each individual teacher has to sign. There was a special assembly to introduce this “Speaking and Acting Respectfully Week”, and from today until this time next week, every time someone is respectful, we have to give them one of these strips of paper to thank them for not answering us back. They sign their name on the back of the piece of paper and put it into a lucky-dip box – and next Tuesday four names will be drawn at random out of the box and those children will be given a prize.

Herewith begins the insincere slime by those kids who normally couldn’t give a monkey’s and who, after the week has gone by, will undoubtedly revert back to their normal modus operandi. We are to respond to this sickly sweet fraudulence by rewarding them for doing what should come naturally, while the good little bods who are always polite get overlooked because they feel their manners are being undervalued. Indeed, I can see it now, getting a load of mouth off a child for not giving them a slip they feel entitled to!

There must be something better than this.

Pressing engagements

This afternoon I am using the fact that Dad’s at the retirement home all day to get on and do my ironing.
Well, M is coming round to drink coffee with me and chat while I do the ironing.
Only first she has to drive down to the other side of the Island to visit the Traidcraft shop, so maybe I’d go with her to help her carry the boxes of stuff from the shop to her car before we settle down to tackle the ironing.
Of course, if we want to get there early, we’ll have to do without pudding or coffee before we go.
Happily there’s a rather nice cafe we pass on the way home. Or rather, we don’t pass.

I must remember to get home for 4pm to pick up the Smudgelet 🙂

Well, I did it

By now my minister will have been informed that I have requested a note to preach.

Not that I’m going to do the preaching bit yet, mind. We’ve decided that it makes sense to do the studying first. I can’t really manage the preaching without neglecting the boys and my dad who need me driving the car to get them to church and Sunday School and swimming rather than galavanting round the circuit doing my bit. And I can get plenty of “front of house” experience from my role as a worship leader in my own church for now. Oh my, I can tell my minister’s going to be dropping things on me now that he knows, and he’ll be there weighing up how effective I am. Oh my!

I’ve started reading the stuff. My friend has lent me a copy of the first six of the seventeen (seventeen????) units I have to study, just so I can get an idea of what’s expected. Each unit is about 20 hours’ work, apparently. I’ve managed to tear myself away from it for a few hours tonight but I was engrossed and it was all i could do to stop myself making notes on the borrowed copy. I have to wait to be granted my note to preach and be approved by the church council / local preachers’ meeting first before I get given my very own copy. Meanwhile I’ve a nice hefty list of “must haves” – anyone want to give me a concordance for Christmas?

No more Miss Nice-Guy ?

I understand you don’t like my style of Christianity. Well, I’m sorry, but I’m sick of hearing it rammed down my throat at every verse end how Christians shouldn’t be “nice”. Apparently, because I don’t swear, I am less honest than real Christians. I am not being honest because I try to phrase my words in a way that will not antagonise or deliberately hurt another. Well where precisely do you get off questioning whether I am being honest or not? I’d be more honest, would I, to act against my nature and mouth off at someone.. slip a few swear words in here and there for good measure? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. You’re like you are, I’m like I am, but both of us can be being honest before God and true to ourselves.

Apparently the trouble with us “nice” Christians is that we’re judgemental. We’re far more judgemental than the “real” Christians. Our faith is sickly sweet and not real… certainly not in touch with the real world. We should roll our sleeves up and not be afraid to get our hands dirty in the muck and grime that is life. Oh yes, I’m with you on that one. I’ll roll my sleeves up and I’ll be in there with the rest of you, but forgive me if I don’t believe anyone would thank me for not washing my hands afterwards. When my son was throwing up (ugh, remind me never to give him a mug of hot chocolate just before he vomits next time!) into my hands in the bathroom sink and I had to finger out the bits that blocked the drain, he appreciated me being there and not afraid to get my hands dirty, but I don’t think he thought any the less about how much I cared that I washed my hands before putting him to bed.

So what if it is “more honest” to express the anger one feels with someone else – “I felt like saying it so it was more honest to say it”. Hmmm…. interesting one this. Does honest always equate with right? When my son told me he’d speak to me how he jolly well liked, I felt like smacking him repeatedly until he cried. He made me angry and I definitely wanted to make sure he knew that. Would the “honest” way also have been the right way? I don’t even have to answer that. I don’t always take the right way, I sin and ask forgiveness and sin again. But don’t question whether I’m a Christian or not or whether I am honest with God, thank you very much, as that’s between me and God. My reading of the Bible, especially the beatitudes, and my prayer life makes me content with the way I interpret God’s rules for me (even if I am not always content with the way I put that into practice) …. as long as your reading of the Bible and your prayer life makes you content with the way you interpret God’s rules for you, can you not rest confident in that faith?

Why can you not accept it? There are people who are at their best early in the morning, and people who are definitely night-birds. There are people who learn best when the material is presented in an auditory way, others who respond better to visual input, others who are more practical. There are people who are left handed and people who are right handed. There are people who are extrovert and others who are introvert. There are people who speak and people who listen and people who do. There are people who worship charismatically, and those who are more conservative in their worship. There are people who believe the Bible is the infallible word of God and those who believe it is God inspired but man-written. There are those who prefer to deal in a non-antagonistic and quieter way with their fellows and those who enjoy a good argument. There are those who are at home in a drinking, smoking, swearing environment and those who prefer to avoid those situations. Who is right and who is wrong? Who is the Christian and who is not? Whom does God love best? Easy answer – God loves all equally and the world would be a much less interesting place without all of them.

Can you not respect me for what I am? Please God, make me willing to do the same.

Sorry, rant over – normal service will be resumed shortly.

Skiving

Here I am, enjoying a day of rest and relaxation and feeling not the tiniest bit guilty about it, despite the fact that things are chaotic at school apparently, with several people off sick. No, my boy’s home, poorly, and I’m back in my Florence Nightingale role. His accumulating series of tantrums and increasing tiredness culminated yesterday in a raging headache and severe vomitting at school. So a series of frantic phonecalls from his school to mine eventually persuaded the management to release me from the cover lesson I was taking and let me go racing to the rescue. I was actually quite relieved as I’d been wishing I could keep him at home for a day and let him rest, but couldn’t justify taking a day off work to do it.

I am biding my time waiting to see what happens as far as Dad and the retirement home goes. He’s determined not to like it, sadly, despite talking non-stop about his experiences there and the people he’s starting to befriend and the lovely meal he had and what good the exercise session is doing him….. The only weapon in my armoury is the fact that he wants ME to ring up and cancel it as he can’t bring himself to do it himself. Now I just need to steel myself to say that if he wants to cancel, he will have to do it himself! 😉 It certainly convinces me that the counsellor was right when she said I shouldn’t feel responsible for how lonely he feels at times – it’s within his own power to make a difference!

I’m quite proud of Tiddles at the moment. His school gave him a pound to use wisely and make more money for charity. So far he has made four batches of cakes and biscuits and has raised nearly ten pounds. He invested £1.50 of it in some card and envelopes and printing at Auntie M’s and has made about sixty Christmas cards to sell. Amazingly the quality of them is rather good, so I shall be buying some because I want to rather than because I feel I ought to. He is planning to sell the rest at church or at the school Christmas fair at a calculated profit of about £4. A budding entrepreneur?

I gave up on the bedroom. I cleared it yesterday with three, yes three, binbags. And there were only three things that I couldn’t bring myself to put in there – the rest of the toys were all broken or with pieces all over the place….. and the train set box contained six dirty odd socks, two pairs of dirty underpants and a boxload of used tissues. Goodness knows how long they’d been in there. Oh lovely!

Well, Tiddles is indulging in a bit of sex and violence on TV in the absence of his younger brother. Yes, the James Bond video has come out again. I have to laugh – finally deemed old enough to watch such things, he turns his head away in total disgust the minute someone kisses someone else! I totally disapprove of James Bond, of course. How frustrating that I shall just have to watch it with him while I do the ironing – just to make sure it’s as unsuitable as I think, of course 😉

Now, how do I get rid of this huge stomach before my massage class this evening?

No-fuss evangelism

God will have his way. No matter how much I squirm and prevaricate, I just can’t deny that I hear that call loud and strong. My Smudgelets use every method known to small-boy to get out of tidying their bedroom, but it will be done. And I think I have stronger willpower than God? Never mind the widow’s persistant knocking at her neighbour’s door to get bread showing us how we should persist in our petitions to God, it feels more like I’m the neighbour and it’s God who’s just not going to stop knocking until I give up and open the door.

How can I stand and pray the beautiful words of the covenant service one more time – the one where I say I give my life to God for him to use as he will – if I am not really willing to take that step of faith and do what I can here him so clearly telling me to do? The tutor for the local preachers told me today that she thinks I have too many demands on my time – and I said “Don’t tell me, tell God. I’ve been telling him that, and he just won’t listen!” – but I wasn’t getting off that easily. She has said that I have five years in which to complete the training, so she wants me to concentrate on doing the studying first and do the preaching later. She thinks I should have little difficulty with the studying (I wish I were that confident!) and I know she has confidence that God can use me to preach too, because she always calls on me to participate in her services and often to do the childrens’ addresses. Her husband is less reserved – he reckons that God will have me doing His work, busy or not…just as he ended up going kicking and screaming into the ministry.

Today was a prime example. There was a mission day on the Island with Steve Wild, the Director for Evangelism from Cliff College. I’d looked at the programme – an afternoon workshop and an evening celebration – and decided that that was all well and good but that I couldn’t go – commitments with the children, you know, and the fact that no childcare was provided. So what happens? All of a sudden, out of the blue, the organisers decide that there should be a separate event for worship leaders and local preachers in the morning and a letter arrives through the door, personally addressed to me, inviting me to come along for the hours of 10 – 12.30 – venue just down the road from where my children go to Music Centre from just before 10 until just after 12.30!!! Now that’s what I call sneaky. And there’s Steve Wild talking about looking for “God-incidences” instead of coincidences!

The mission was brilliant. I was enthralled. I watched the clock the whole time, not wishing the hours away or worried about not being on time to meet the kids, but desperate for the time to go more slowly so I could soak in all he had to say and listen and listen and listen. And God kept poking me on the shoulder and saying “Are you listening to this, Smudge? Are you listening to this?” I’d have loved to stay for the afternoon, but instead I put the children to bed for an hour and then this evening we all went. And I knew. The most important message for me, though, was this “Your greatest sermon is your life” – now is that a challenge or what?

warning

Last time my minister kindly came to babysit (remember my random babysitter?), he walked in on Tiddles having taken up residence in the bathroom for the duration of a tantrum. Guess what! Yes, tonight I’m awaiting his arrival to babysit again while I go round to M’s for the evening… and yes, Tiddles is having another bad night. Actually he’s not tantrumming, he’s finally repentant as his sins finally found him out today.

This morning he had another paddy as I asked him what had happened about his bag, boots, kit etc etc. He’d been told if they weren’t found by the end of the week, then his drum lessons would cease and his bike would have to be sold to replace them. He informed me, indignantly, that he had spent every break and lunchtime searching for them, and had asked the Games teacher who had helped him look, and the only thing he hadn’t done was phone the bus company because he knew they weren’t on the bus…. and he didn’t know what more I expected him to do.

Cruel and uncaring mother that I am 😉 I phoned the school at lunchtime and asked the office staff to ensure that he spent lunchtime looking through lost property. A little later they ring me to say that they had sent him to the dinner lady in charge of lost property, but that when they asked her later he hadn’t been. BUT she adds that last Monday (You know, the night of the tantrum because he had no idea where any of his kit was?) at lunchtime she had sorted out all the lost property and, because his stuff was named, had returned to him his sports bag, his rugby shirt, his PE shorts, his boot bag (minus the brand new boots, mind) and two coats!!! So all week, all week, these things have been in his locker at school, all the time he was saying he didn’t know where they were! So, to add to my cruelty, I turned up at school at hometime to give him and all his belongings a lift home. The office confirmed that he had not been to Lost Property at all and had spent every breaktime outside playing. And his Games teacher was really interested to know that he had been asked three times to help find the missing kit as he had no recollection of this having happened at all! He could distinctly remember telling Tiddles to take his kit OUT of the changing room where he had just left it lying around several times, but he had not been asked to help find it. And, poor child, at that moment the helper who looks after his pencil case for him turned up to find out why it hadn’t been brought to her today and why some of his equipment was missing from there. His excuses fell on doubly deaf ears!

Poor kid – it looks like he may not be going on the school trip at all. If he’s to learn any sense of responsibility at all, he’s going to have to start paying to replace all these lost things with his own money…. which means he may not have enough in his account to pay his share of the school holiday price. It’s so hard to stand back and watch him suffer the consequences of his actions – it really does hurt me even more than it hurts him. But it has to be done.

So, my bonus-babysitter has a remorseful child to deal with while I go out to M’s house. We were going to have a quiet evening in watching Calendar Girls on video again…. but apparently she has some bodies to hide in the attic and a jack-in-the-box to construct so we’re going to be too busy for such luxuries as videos on my night off.

I think it’s going to snow.

Eyes in the back of the head

Last time my minister kindly came to babysit (remember my random babysitter?), he walked in on Tiddles having taken up residence in the bathroom for the duration of a tantrum. Guess what! Yes, tonight I’m awaiting his arrival to babysit again while I go round to M’s for the evening… and yes, Tiddles is having another bad night. Actually he’s not tantrumming, he’s finally repentant as his sins finally found him out today.

This morning he had another paddy as I asked him what had happened about his bag, boots, kit etc etc. He’d been told if they weren’t found by the end of the week, then his drum lessons would cease and his bike would have to be sold to replace them. He informed me, indignantly, that he had spent every break and lunchtime searching for them, and had asked the Games teacher who had helped him look, and the only thing he hadn’t done was phone the bus company because he knew they weren’t on the bus…. and he didn’t know what more I expected him to do.

Cruel and uncaring mother that I am 😉 I phoned the school at lunchtime and asked the office staff to ensure that he spent lunchtime looking through lost property. A little later they ring me to say that they had sent him to the dinner lady in charge of lost property, but that when they asked her later he hadn’t been. BUT she adds that last Monday (You know, the night of the tantrum because he had no idea where any of his kit was?) at lunchtime she had sorted out all the lost property and, because his stuff was named, had returned to him his sports bag, his rugby shirt, his PE shorts, his boot bag (minus the brand new boots, mind) and two coats!!! So all week, all week, these things have been in his locker at school, all the time he was saying he didn’t know where they were! So, to add to my cruelty, I turned up at school at hometime to give him and all his belongings a lift home. The office confirmed that he had not been to Lost Property at all and had spent every breaktime outside playing. And his Games teacher was really interested to know that he had been asked three times to help find the missing kit as he had no recollection of this having happened at all! He could distinctly remember telling Tiddles to take his kit OUT of the changing room where he had just left it lying around several times, but he had not been asked to help find it. And, poor child, at that moment the helper who looks after his pencil case for him turned up to find out why it hadn’t been brought to her today and why some of his equipment was missing from there. His excuses fell on doubly deaf ears!

Poor kid – it looks like he may not be going on the school trip at all. If he’s to learn any sense of responsibility at all, he’s going to have to start paying to replace all these lost things with his own money…. which means he may not have enough in his account to pay his share of the school holiday price. It’s so hard to stand back and watch him suffer the consequences of his actions – it really does hurt me even more than it hurts him. But it has to be done.

So, my bonus-babysitter has a remorseful child to deal with while I go out to M’s house. We were going to have a quiet evening in watching Calendar Girls on video again…. but apparently she has some bodies to hide in the attic and a jack-in-the-box to construct so we’re going to be too busy for such luxuries as videos on my night off.

I think it’s going to snow.

For the benefit of Jack

Re: the ear. The local doctor’s surgery in the village has a rota of doctors on duty and the last two times I have seen a different doctor who’s really taken the ear trouble seriously (and reassured me that I am not really a hypochondriac!) He’s not referring me this time seeing as the ear is virtually healed, but he’s pre-empting my hesitation to go to the doctor’s. He’s recommended an over-the-counter spray which I can use at any time that there’s any hint of trouble – even before it becomes painful – and he’s given me a prescription in anticipation of another bout which I can start taking straight away rather than wait for an appointment. 😀 And if immediate response doesn’t cure it immediately, then a referral is next on the agenda.

The boys are slowly discovering that I can hear again 😉

I was roped in to go and be a dissenting voice at a committee meeting tonight. They discovered I was on top form too – I was the only non-committee-member there and the most vociferous contributer to discussion. I think the most depressing thing about the Church these days is the fact that they seem so defeatist. We were discussing what presence the Churches Together on the Island should have at the County Show next year. The general concensus seemed to be “We didn’t do as good a job last year as we would have liked to, so we’ll give up”. M, as secretary, was too busy writing up the minutes so it was left to me to say “We didn’t do as good a job last year as we would have liked to, so how are we going to do it even better this year?” I mean to say, apparently we had a few complaints that the sandwiches we serve were not filled to the edge… and the response of the committee is “We won’t do sandwiches any more because they make the church look as though we don’t take it seriously to the glory of God”. Am I missing something here? Because my response was “Hmmm… better put a bit more filling in, then”. And apparently our response to “The church is becoming more and more marginalised in society” should be to scale down the work we do at the County Show. Hmmmmm.

Of course, you know what the result is, don’t you? I’m now on the blooming committee!