Friday, October 12, 2012

The circle of life turns crookedly

Next year will be my 20th reunion... SCARY! I can't believe that I've officially been out of school longer than I was in it.

Today marked a rather special event for me - the first Valedictory that I have ever organised. 20 years ago, it was me sitting in those seats. Today, it is me standing in the background, organising and directing.

This was also a special event for me as this was the matriculation of the Gd 8s who started at the school in the same year I started working there. To them, I have always been at the school. There are some special kids (as there are in any year) in this group, but all the more so because I've walked the entire road with them through their high school years.

I have sat through, including my own, 13 valedictory services. As long as I continue to work in a school, I have another 11 years to go before my eldest child sits in those chairs, and a further 4 years until my youngest does - by then, a total of 28. This service was my aunt-in-law's (who happens to work at the same school...) 28th... AT THIS ONE SCHOOL! To me, 28 feels like such a HUGE number of services to have attended.

As the grade head who spoke today pointed out, there is a lot of maths in today's date. Today is 12/10/2012. The matrics are grade 12. Grade 12 used to be known as Standard 10. If you add up 2 + 0 + 1 + 2 = 5, which is the number of years one (usually) spends at high school. Pretty cool, eh?

And so turns another year in the circle of life... another group of prefects and RCL appointed... another group of Gd 12s move off into the big wide world... and yet, for those of us left behind, life goes on as it always has: lessons continue as normal from Monday. In many respects, it feels like nothing much has changed.

"She will always carry on.
Something is lost, but something is found.
They will keep on speaking her name.
Some things change, some stay the same."

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Aaaaaw... isn't he gorgeous?!

Every night I sing to my kids. It's part of our bed-time routine. I have done since they were born. While #1's song choice changes almost nightly, #2 is stuck on the same tune he has been since he was about a year old. However, clearly, having this musical input into his life has sparked a love of music in him. ("I LOVE this song, Mommy!" - said to just about anything that plays on the radio/ CD player). He often sings along with me when I'm doing my nightly performance. He's tuneless, and doesn't really understand rhythm yet either, so it can be challenging for me, but he's OH! so cute when he does.

For the longest time though, it has only been during private family time that he has deigned to sing out loud. He has been rather shy about singing in public. Even then, he has only really seemed to enjoy singing out loud (although he LOVES it when other people sing) when someone else was already singing.

So, it was with some amazement that just the other day I heard him singing out loud to himself and to his sister. I was even more amazed that the song he'd chosen to sing was an ABBA track! (The kids have only watched Mamma Mia! a few times, but it seems that that was all he needed to pick up the chorus of a few tracks.) I was absolutely gob-smacked though that he allowed me to record him - he usually refuses! So, herewith, a short clip of my boy singing (and accompanying himself on the piano... :D)

4 weeks and counting

For the first time in ages, I feel like I've had some time for me - time to reflect, time to blog, time to read. You know that you're too busy when the thought of logging on and tapping out a quick post makes you want to stick your head down the loo and flush! Well - for me, at least.

Things have been incredibly tough of late - on all fronts: work-wise, financially, spiritually, personally. Unfortunately, when things become tough, and there's nothing I can do to alleviate the stress, it makes me withdraw from the world. When I can't fix things, I feel helpless, powerless, and as a result I retreat to my cave. Of course, retreating doesn't fix anything either - it just leaves you alone with your thoughts, which isn't very helpful either.

It's been good to have a break. Although it was a holiday at home, and there were chores to complete around the house, it was good to have time off to just do some of the things I enjoy - going to movies, gymming, spending time with my hubby, seeing my friends. The only thing I haven't done is walk on the beach, but there's still time tomorrow, if the weather cooperates. :)

During this time off I was also able to make a decision that I think means next year will be slightly easier (yes, next YEAR, not next month, or next term!)

Of course, the work is already piled up for next term, and I'm already dreading it. Hopefully though, I've had enough time off to be sufficiently pulled back from the edge that I'm not going to snap. I just keep reminding myself that it's only 4 weeks to go, and then we're into exams. Only 4 weeks.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Farewell, Stranger

This afternoon I witnessed something rather horrific - I saw a man killed. It all happened so quickly... I didn't even realise what had happened until several seconds later. He was on a motorcycle and trying to turn right, when an oncoming car hit him, and knocked him off his bike. I heard the ka-thwack of his body hitting the road, and it took me a few seconds to realise that he was on the ground, and not moving.

Incredibly, a cop car had been coming down the road, so within seconds the cops had stopped to help, diverting traffic and calling the ambulance. The guy who drove into the motorcyclist stopped his car just past the intersection and had run over to try and help. He was distraught, but, sadly, all for naught. The motorcyclist died on the scene after he stopped breathing despite CPR.

As I drove away, all I could wonder was how his family would cope. My heart goes out to them. It's one thing to lose someone who is ill; it's quite another to lose someone unexpectedly. It reminded me how important it is to always part on good terms with people - there may never be a chance to repair a relationship at a later date. I also wondered whether he has a wife, and children, and if so, how they will get through their grief - what impact their grief will have on their lives. At least he died quickly, and never regained consciousness: he would not have felt any pain.

I can only pray that this stranger's death will be gentle on those he loves, that they have Jesus to lean on, and a strong family support system to lean on.

Farewell, stranger. Rest in peace.

Worker worth his wages?

It's that time if year again when the unions strike as part of their wage negotiations.
The miners have ben on strike for weeks now, with many dead after the cops opened fire (although I believe things are more complex than just laying the blame at their feet). Needless to say, the country has lost billions as a result.
Then there is the truck drivers' strike, now in it's 2nd week (I think). ATMs have run out of cash as a result.
On the one hand, I have little sympathy, because their actions have cost the country money, because their requests are out of life with what can realistically be awarded and because they resort to violence, which I am totally opposed to.
On the other hand I feel for them. They work long hours, in dangerous situations, for very little pay. In fact, how they manage to survive on such a small salary is beyond me.
The amount we pay someone us a measure of the worth we ascribe to them. As a poory paid teacher, I know about that, although I get more than either a money our a truck driver.
A friend recently had her eyes opened to the worth ascribed to teachers as evidenced by their pay skip when she became a school treasurer. Working in marketing, not only are the salaries exorbitant but the bonuses are ludicrous. When teachers work overtime, which we do, we get an honorarium of a few hundred rands. Compare that with overtime in marketing, where you would get several thousand our even trends of thousands of rands for the same amount of time and effort.
Or look at Mr Zuma's of the biggest in the world, and we've got a third world economy....
Something is just so wrong with this picture. From this perspective, I can almost see myself becoming a communist. Yet, there should be some justice somewhere.
How is it that someone who designs an as for a drug like nicotine, while exploiting women to do so should earn in one month what a miner earns in a year? Mining its our primary industry, which brings in bucket loads of foreign cash into the country, while the advert only promotes drug abuse and self-destruction. Where is the justice in that?
How do we fix this though? If the miners receive their demands (and again, I've heart rumours that they are supposed to be receiving the amount they are demanding, but a fat cat I won't name is pocketing the difference) then as a teacher I feel my salary should increase by about R4000-5000 nett per month as well. And what about our police, armed forces and health care professionals?
What are we worth, SA? Those of us who are working to keep this country functioning, or are generally working to promote our future as a nation - what are we worth to you?