Monthly Archives: September 2005

You can only read this if you promise not to laugh.

(hmm… naughty wiblog.. just ate an entire entry without reason or warning. Naughty, naughty wiblog!)

So where was I? Ah yes, I was in the classroom. It was a very ordinary day – a frantic round of gopher-bopping interspersed with occasional snippets of teaching. (A little explanation is maybe in order. Teaching my classes is very much like the arcade game – the real arcade game in the seaside arcades – where a toy gopher sticks its head out of a hole and you have to hit it with a hammer as fast as you can before more appear from other holes waiting to be bopped. As soon as I have quietened one twittery child, another sticks its head up and starts twittering around, and if you don’t act fast you have a whole classroom of them!) I taught lesson one – 55 minutes – then lesson two – 55 minutes – and finally the bell went for break.

Up to the staffroom quick as a flash for a quick fix of caffeine and chocolate. Oooooooh, wonderful. Then, as the clock ticked on towards lesson three, I nipped downstairs to the loo. Hmmm… something’s up with the zip on my trousers. It seems to be snagged somehow and won’t move. Of course, it’s a side zip and I can’t actually see what I’m doing due to certain parts of my anatomy being somewhat in the way. (I really must go on a diet soon!)

Battle ensues… but the zip will not budge. It is actually falling apart in situ and the teeth are in a total tangle. One quick yank of the zipper and…….. the little toggly bit comes off in my hand. I am trapped in my trousers… and desperate for relief! And at this moment, the bell goes for lesson three.

Rather stiltedly, I make my way back to the caravan. The children requesting to leave the lesson to go to the toilet meet with short shrift. “You should have gone at breaktime.. if I can wait until lunchtime, so can you!” Two more 55 minute lessons to endure. 55 minutes? Seemed like a lifetime. Gopher bopping became more efficient, teaching of maths possibly less so….. though for me it was a lesson in how slowly the hands of the clock can turn when you’re waiting and waiting for lunchtime.

Of course, it’d be far far too simple for me simply to have dashed home as soon as the bell went. Far too simple. I had to drive into town to meet a friend of my father’s who’s visiting, go to the lost property office at the bus station in search of Tiddles’ lost games kit, and take the friend out to lunch. I managed somehow to drive within the speed limit – probably due to the knowledge that I would not be able to withstand the stress of talking to a police officer in my current state. B was thrown into the car at high speed, without me actually stopping to think about it, and the abortive visit to the closed lost property office was really quite merciful. I flew back into the driver’s seat and made my way home just in time.

Scissors 1: Zip nil. Good excuse to buy some new trousers!!!

That was the week, that was.

I can’t believe it – back at school a whole week already. Not impressed on Monday, mind, to find that I was expected to stay the whole day AND that it was planned training without any time for really meeting with subject teams or for doing preparatory work for the terms ahead, but I decided in the end that I would follow my favourite piece of advice once given to a friend but which has stood me in good stead on several occasions – I would “waft calmly through”. 🙂

Highlight of the day today had to be the moment when I asked my class of eleven-year-olds “if Snow-White and the seven dwarves invited Red Riding Hood and the wolf to their house, how many feet would you be able to count in there?” Answers were quite varied – 3, 11, 400, 21 … I’m a bit worried about some of these one-legged dwarves! Oh, and I forgot my other interesting moment when my inquisition of a little lost soul who was standing in the middle of the carpark waiting to get run over yielded the repeated mournful response “but I’m waiting for my friend!, turning to downright indignant when I suggested he might be safer waiting on the adjacent pavement or playground.

Itinerant teaching is not to be recommended for the stress levels but will, I feel, do wonders for my slimline figure. Especially if I keep leaving my pencil case on the desk of the one upstairs classroom I teach in and leaving my box of books in the staffroom at the top of the other flight of stairs.

We’ve met out MacMillan nurse – a wonderful fellow whom I shall call Mr MacMillan, of course – and he has been able to suggest loads of good ideas to improve Dad’s quality of life. He’s also given me a prognosis – not so good. Still, I do need to know and it prepared me somewhat for the anaesthetist’s comment today that the operation will be high risk but worthwhile simply because the risks of not doing it are far worse. I can see the months ahead being a challenge. It somehow seems not to sink in properly at the moment because Dad seems so well some of the time and at those times it’s impossible to believe he’s so ill, and then when he’s not so well it seems a blessing to think that he’s not going to suffer too long. I told Mr MacMillan that my greatest fear for Dad was watching him degenerate into an “old” man and was reassured but heartbroken by the words “He will be spared that.”

Having the hospice and Mr MacMillan on my side at last is, however, a great relief. I don’t feel so alone. I just still wish I could save my Dad all the fear and anxiety – at least with Mum she never really knew that she was going to die. But I dread the moment of saying goodbye to Dad as he goes for the operation. Oh God, that’s scary. I hope one of my sisters can be here that day. In the meantime, though, we stay positive, keep a sensible balance, and enjoy life together to the full. He’s already insisting that he and the boys will go to Osborne House for the afternoon on Sunday: “I paid for this year’s subscription to English Heritage so I’m jolly well going to get my money’s worth out of them before I go!” And he went to the residents’ meeting to fight against the proposed extention to the local supermarket. (Least said, soonest mended on that point as our opinions don’t exactly complement each other!!! ) Bravo, my brave Dad.

IN other news…. (*drum roll, fanfare*)….. Tiddles has read a book. Not only that, but he’s now reading another one. Independently. Willingly. With enthusiasm and pleasure and enjoyment and pride. I am a very happy mummy!

Self-indulgent moan.. please ignore

Well, it was a lovely afternoon out.

It’s been a gradual descent this week after the delights of our trip to Scotland. We’ve met the MacMillan nurse (who is absolutely lovely and will be coming again this week to see me on my own), we’ve taked Dad for his day out at the hospice, we’ve seen the Encology specialist and got more information about the treatment which lies ahead, and we’ve taken Dad for more blood tests. I’ve organised loads of things regarding his tablets and his treatment etc. He’s in denial – not about the cancer, but about whether it bothers him or not. Fine, if it helps him to cope, but difficult to listen to him telling people that he knows he’s dying and it’s fine by him when I know it’s a lie. He’s doing so well, though, and fighting the depression which is hovering just round the corner. He informed the macmillan nurse he doesn’t expect to be around by Christmas, but I was relieved to hear the response that he shouldn’t pack his bags just yet as the angels haven’t finished getting his room ready in Heaven – he’s not expected yet!!! Still, though, there’s the dilemma between wanting him around for ever and knowing that’s impossible; not wanting to lose him while he still has quality of life yet not wanting to see that quality of life slowly (or quickly) ebbing away. AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGH!

Today was mostly lovely during the afternoon. We took Dad and his friend to the botanic gardens and let them have tea and cakes together while we went to the playpark. Lovely… apart from Dad giving a completely uncalled-for tongue-lashing to poor Tiddles. That happens occasionally, and it seems there’s no way of dealing with it other than teaching Tiddles to turn the other cheek… asking more maturity of him than of Dad! He does well, though. He is beginning to understand that, just as he fetches Dad’s walking stick to help combat the pain in his hip, so ignoring Dad’s outbursts is a way of helping deal with the imbalance in Dad’s brain which makes him lash out in anger at whoever is nearest.

He has his own problems at the moment, poor lad. He’s struggling with the thought of Grandad getting older and it’s making him feel very insecure. He’s struggling with his own “getting older” and frightened of the challenges that puberty may bring (grandad’s chief objection to him is that he is talking and behaving like a teenager.. I try to point out that this may be because he is a teenager in a month’s time). And he’s struggling with a desire to suppress the memory that he’s adopted for a while when he keeps having the fact thrust in his face.
Tonight he broke down and shared it all with me and we had some valuable snuggle time.

Then blow me if, as he went off to bed, my little one didn’t come with his own insecurities and sorrows at missing his sister. “What if I never see her again, mummy? What are the chances?” What could I say? What comfort could I give, but to hold him tight and let him cry? “It get’s in the way of everything, mummy. I start to enjoy myself but then it comes rushing out to make me sad again. Like today in the playpark, I made friends with some children and wondered why I bothered when I was only going to have to say goodbye and never see them again.” We wept together about loss and goodbyes.. and then shared a giggle at the thought that if you kept all the friends you made, your Christmas card writing would take from January to December and cost a fortune!

Tonight it’s me that’s sort of overwhelmed. Not with depression, at least I don’t think it is, but with a strange sort of feeling. Is it that I feel pulled in too many directions? Partly, but not entirely. Is it that I feel helpless to help my menfolk, other than to hold them tight? Partly, but not entirely. Is it that I want to have a moment without needing to support anyone but me? Partly, but not entirely. I feel as though I carry a lot of sorrow on my shoulders. Thank goodness Jesus is there to hold me tight.