And for once I was SuperMom

Monday, September 15, 2008

Once upon a time....

….there was a little apartment in Runda, Nairobi. It was a happy apartment for it was in a safe neighborhood and felt that it was a very pretty apartment. Only one thing made this apartment sad, no one had ever lived in it. One day a young couple came with friends in tow, they squealed at it’s nice tile floors, admired it’s pretty stamped ceilings, enjoyed the decorative arched windows, and exclaimed over it’s nice neutral walls. They toured the little apartment and seemed very excited about it, but then they left and the little apartment was again alone for a week. It sadly listened to the neighbors next door, another young couple named Nate and Jill make the next apartment their home. It heard them cook and hang pictures and chatter about their plans for their apartment. The little apartment was jealous it wanted people to be excited, and cook, and make plans in it’s walls.
Then, hooray, the young couple came back! And with them they had bags of clothes, and camping gear, and strange odds and ends that they started placing in the little apartment’s kitchen drawers. They chattered about where things would go and what kinds of furniture they should get. They came back later that day with a bed, and chairs that had no cushions, and small electrical things that they started plugging into the kitchen. They were happy with the deals that they had gotten that over the appliances but seemed perplexed as to why the furniture had no cushions; the little apartment kept hearing them say that some place named Rosslyn had given them the furniture and even though they didn’t know where the cushions were they were happy to have something to sit on.
Oh joy, of all joys! The couple spent the night in the apartment! The apartment was so happy, they were staying it finally had it’s own people to make plans, and cook, and live in it’s walls. The couple continued to happily make the little apartment their own, they put their clothes in it’s closets, the camping gear went into another closet, and more and more things began to show up that they put in the little apartment.
But soon the apartment’s joy started to fade; he heard the couple complain that the shower was too cold and didn’t last long enough for them to both get a hot shower. The little apartment was sad that it could do this for the couple. Shortly however another man came to the apartment to install an ‘instant shower.’ The couple did not seem encouraged by this because it seemed to ruin what they called the ‘water pressure.’ The little apartment was discouraged because the young couple kept complaining about the toilet leaking, and puddle that was on the floor. The little apartment didn’t know what to do because it could not fix this for them. The young man in the couple stayed home quite a bit and kept talking about a ‘repairman,’ but for all the days that the young man stayed home the ‘repairman’ did not come. The little apartment heard the young man talk on the phone with the ‘repairman’ telling him he needed to come for he was missing days of work. The little apartment fretted because it wanted to be perfect for this couple.
The little apartment often found that it was falling short of the couple’s dreams and did not know what to do to make them happy. The little apartment heard the young man saying one day to his wife, ‘go into the shower, see it’s not square, it’s a full tile off.’ And the wife responded, ‘Don’t point that out, I don’t want to know.’ The little apartment didn’t know what ‘square’ meant, but the couple seemed in shock and awe that she was not ‘square.’
One day the couple came home with a large piece of furniture called a ‘couch,’ it was beautiful indeed. The young couple seemed proud and had their neighbors Nate and Jill come over just to sit on the couch. The little apartment was so excited to see that the young couple was so happy and was making her into their home. A few days later the young man stayed home from work again and his Aunt and Uncle came, and they came with a table! The young couple had been talking about the table the night before, the young woman expressed concern because they had bought the table without seeing it, and she was unsure she would like it. The young man stated that they weren’t going to find a better deal and that they should just buy it. That day when the young woman came home from work she breathed a sigh of relief and said,
‘Oh thank you Lord, it’s cute,’ the little apartment was happy again to see its people happy. The little apartment kept hearing them saying things like, ‘It’s finally coming together,’ and, ‘It feels like home.’ The little apartment could feel the young woman relax as she looked at her new things and her new home and saw that it was becoming beautiful.
After the young couple had lived there for several weeks and the little apartment had watched them cook (and get frustrated because food went bad so quickly, but get excited when they cooked something that tasted good or like it did ‘back home’), and make plans, and have friends over, and move the furniture this way and that across her floors, she felt something happening in her pipes that made her unhappy. She felt her water slowing and at some points stopping. The little apartment didn’t know what to do, she could not fix this problem, and the water was just going away. She knew that she had already disappointed them by not having electricity all the time. When the water began to leave the young man was away and the young woman had been sleeping alone for a few days. On the day when the water would come no more the young woman had not gone to work, the little apartment watched the young woman move from the couch to the bed, to the couch to the bed all day long. Sometimes the young woman would shuffle up to the sink and crank on the faucet, when nothing came out she would sigh and shuffle back to the couch. Finally the water came back that day, the little apartment wanted to shout for joy because the kitchen had water again, but the young woman seemed to really want it in the shower, but it was not there yet. She had asked a friend to come over to take her to the doctor and when the friend came the young woman was giving herself a quick and grateful sponge bath in the kitchen sink. The young woman came back later that night and did not go to work the next day.
The water has not come back fully for a week, the little apartment will try her hardest to get the pipes to flow but it will only work for a moment and the water will stop coming. When the young man came home the little apartment heard him talking on the phone and heard that Nairobi was rationing water in the neighborhood of Runda and that another week would pass before the water would come back. The little apartment didn’t know what to do it wanted to make it’s people so happy but could not provide for their needs.
The young couple however did not fault the little apartment for the lack of water and talked about the government and seemed to not understand the lack of water anymore than the apartment did. The little apartment sighed and hoped that the couple would continue making it into their home.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blunt Scissors and Paste

Blunt Scissors and Paste

So I have landed in the last job that I ever thought I would have, in fact the one job that I sweared I would never have, an elementary school teacher. I’ve held jobs that most people would cringe at and avoid; working in a women’s drug and alcohol rehab and working in a youth crisis shelter. No, I’m not afraid of drug addicts but I am absolutely terrified of kindergartners. Fortunately I only have the kindergartners for forty minutes sessions twice a week. In fact I only have each class for forty minutes twice a week. So I am fortunate that I don’t have the little squirts for a full day, I get breaks. I’m the elementary art teacher at Rosslyn Academy, I am presently an elementary school teacher.
It takes a special person to be an elementary school teacher. And I wonder am I that special person? Can I really do this? Can I really get fourth graders to understand positive and negative space? The answer to that question is: maybe, sometimes, and sometimes all the time. It seems like every class there’s a child that instantly understands what I want them to do, some that get it even before I’ve hit my main point and other’s that no matter how many different ways I come up with explaining a specific point they don’t get it.
I’m in my fourth week of teaching and so far it’s been up and down. I started with this gorgeous picture in my head of them quietly drawing and painting while Brahms and Mozart play peacefully in the background. Heheheh. They do talk and I allow them to talk because then they talk to me and I get to hear about the things they are creating and how they’re thinking through their projects. And it’s fun, and they’re creative and so often I’m blown out of the water by what they come up with and they’re executing a project. But when they talk often they distract each other so that they don’t get things done, so the class and I have ‘discussions about that.’ Then Mrs. Barnett takes away the privilege because they’re too loud and I can’t hear and I just saw little Jimmy start waving his paper in the air haphazardly. I find certain rules and standards hard to enforce because then I become a policeman of ‘sit in your seat’ or ‘stop talking.’ The sitting down thing is also difficult (elementary school teachers everywhere have a sudden headache right now and they don’t know why) because so many of them get up and I understand because it’s often easier to create standing up, in fact in many of my classes in college we were told to stand up. But when you’re eight you get distracted by your neighbor and if you’re already standing it’s just so easy to take a step over there and then all of a sudden someone has glue in their hair.
This week so far has been the best the children getting used to what I expect and how they are to behave in my class; ‘sit down quietly,’ ‘nothing happens until you’re quiet and looking at me,’ etc. Things are actually going smoothly and a few events that might have derailed me a week ago went without incident (one girl stood up in the middle of my instructional time, tooth in hand, bloody mouth wide, and announced, ‘I just lost a tooth!’ Her friend escorted her to the nurse, and I kept going.). I’ve learned to be way more directive than I ever thought I would have to be (and still after repeated directions I have a child who will wander up to me and say, ‘what do I do with this?’ and I want to say, ‘the same thing we do every night Pinky…’), am still amazed that, ‘It’s time to clean up,’ is heard as, ‘Everyone come up and show me what they did,’ and am learning that taking away sharing time just kills the second graders.
I still wonder though, ‘am I that special person?’
(written by Lara)