Friday, 13 January 2012

Week 1 done and dusted; and a pledge to Nuha

So the first school week of 2012 has come and almost gone.

It truly has been one of my most challenging weeks in a long time. But it has also been riddled with undeniable blessings.

Firstly regarding my fearful anticipation of driving in the city centre for the first time, which I described in my previous post, let's just say- I had every reason to be fearful. No, I did not struggle with the lane changing and end up in another province, as I had feared would happen. But it had been really really stressful and unpleasant. It has made home schooling seem like a really attractive option.

Shakeel's report card was lost; and then found. That was the first blessing- not only the fact that it was found, but that its contents reminded me of how dedicated this son of mine can be when he sets his mind to something. I am feeling a bit more confident and relaxed about him being in Grade 7 and the fact that we will start applying to high schools soon.

Shakeel had been pleasantly surprised that his teacher, about whom he had had all sorts of negative scary preconceived ideas and misinformation, has turned out to be 'really really cool'. What added to his 'coolness', was the fact that he has a second dan black belt in karate;  which pretty much makes him Shakeel's new hero. I'm glad that my son has something less about which he has to stress this year.

Yesterday Shakeel informed me that Tharaa's teacher (who had been his Grade 5 teacher) is very strict. Perfect. No, I'm not being sarcastic- I really mean that it is perfect for Tharaa. Her teacher last year had been a wonderful, fun-loving, delightful, cheerful and happy person. That type of teacher is perfect for Shakeel, since he needs to loosen up and relax. But for Tharaa, for whom the most important part of school is the playground and field upon which she can practice her cartwheels, a strict teacher is exactly what was needed.

Many afternoons last year she had come home, and much to my frustration, had told me that she had completed her homework in Homework Class (which they have as part of the Aftercare system). She had always said that she left her completed homework at school and that this had been expected of them (to prevent them from forgetting their homework at home).

Okay, I realise now that me believing that rubbish had been stupid. Or maybe just convenient. It was one person less whose work had to be checked. But I had faced the consequences just before exam time, when I looked at her Maths book to draft practice worksheets, just to find that none of her homework examples (upon which my worksheets would have been based), had been completed. Her teacher had left notes like "Homework not completed", but there had never been consequences. And of course the book had never come home with her, despite my numerous requests.

So on Wednesday I was very surprised when my carefree and careless daughter came home and hit the books immediately. What really amused me was the fact that she cried the entire time she was doing her homework. This continued yesterday, by which time her crying and sobbing had become less amusing and more irritating. But thanks to her new strict teacher, she won't dare to pull the crap she did last year. So eyes heavenward, I fall to my knees in sheer gratitude for Tharaa's new teacher being perfectly matched to my daughter's temperament.

And then there's my mixed blessing- the fact that Aisha absolutely refuses to keep on her nappy during the day. Yesterday she asked to pee and, when placed on the toilet, it turned out that she actually did have to pee. But, there is always the anxiety about whether she has left any puddles around, which have yet to be detected. So now walking around the house feels like walking in Sea Point park- with one constantly on the lookout for little 'accidents' into which one might inadvertently step.

As usual my little patient tolerant angel, Nuha enters the picture as if by an after-thought- but the reality is that she is ever-present in my nagging conscience (as she had been for the whole of last year). I'm not sure if all my focus (due to lack of time) is easily averted from her due to her tolerant accepting nature; or if she has been forced to become accepting by virtue of the fact that she is so often overlooked. The other three are so demanding, dramatic, and assertive that I've found myself focusing mainly on them, to the detriment of poor Nuha.

I was actually pleased when she started to speak out in the holidays- insisting a few times that I see to her needs first. This was unusual- it definitely made my life more challenging, but it was necessary. I was not doing a very good job of balancing the needs of the four of them. She had simply been trying to restore the balance (which had not been her job- I should have been more attentive to her needs anyway).

So this year I undertake to become much more organised and disciplined about my time-allocation. Shakeel will have to become more independent of me (which he has already been doing since last year). I will be watching Tharaa like a hawk- there is no way I'm letting a ten-year old get the better of me this year again. (Amazingly she did quite well in her exams though- but this was thanks to pre-examination cramming and not consistently hard work done throughout the year). We are getting a domestic worker to help with light household chores and provide me with some relief with Aisha.

But once the kids return from school, my priority will be spending time assisting Nuha with her homework- before the others descend upon me with their demands, tantrums and tirades.

So with week one survived, let's hope that next week will be smooth sailing.

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