Tom (Siberia) and Jerry (gifted to our living room)

Meet Siberia.

She devil that brought rat in.

She is the queen of our home, or so she’d have you believe. She flounces around with high expectations of being rubbed down when she stands before you and pointedly stares at your hand. At times, she paws at your hand just to ensure you get the message. And, just in-case human, you forget your place and ignore her demands, her demanding “Meow ow ow!” alerts you most promptly to her annoyance, and, your infraction.

Since last Saturday, Siberia has caused great panic in our household. As is her norm, each day she strolls off to explore the neighbourhood, but… now we all fret that she will get past us with one of her gifts. Our biggest fear is that we may find it in our bed at night because she’s got it past the rest of us without us noticing. This has resulted in bedroom doors remaining firmly closed during the days and an obsessive monitoring of her movements once she appears in the house. Here is why …

On Saturday, I decided to take a break from marking remotely (the completed work from pupils) in order to do something for myself. The kids, teens now, had still not yet surfaced as 9:45 on a Saturday is far too early to be out of bed. Anyhow, the summer dress I was making was coming along nicely and I was feeling pleased with myself. Hubby was outside doing all sorts of puttering with the car, so, when Siberia wandered in it surprised me as she loves hanging out with him while he worked. What was even more surprising was that she had simply sat behind me as if quietly awaiting my approval. So, I turned around to check why she was busily watching me as she had already demanded her breakfast and usually had no use for me at this time of day, and, that’s when I saw movement. Not Siberia! Nope. Something under her paw moved!

The high-pitched sound that escaped my lungs was one I’d never heard before. I’m sure that is what woke the kids as I instantly heard them moving around upstairs in a sleepy daze. I was no longer rooted to the spot. At some point, unbeknownst to me, I had escaped my chair to put distance between myself and the cat and her new toy. I tried to control my breathing, in order to ensure I didn’t scare her away and end up with something wriggly in one of our beds. Coaxing voice to the ready, I tried again. “Siberia, what do you have there?” I questioned, trying not to let my panic send my voice to earlier unknown decibels. At the sound of her name she looked up from peering at her paw and sort of pasted on her “I am wonderful …” face before removing her paw and unveiling her gift.

“A mouse! She’s brought me a mouse!” my brain screamed. I had instant visions of the house being overrun with mice and germs crawling around everywhere and my heart plummeted. It was then, I believe, that another odd sound escaped me yet again. This one was more of a groan as the kids started heading towards the stairs wondering loudly what was going on. My heart rate became thunderous again as I panicked about what their noisy arrival could cause. Siberia is a show-off and she’d have raced off, leaving the offending rodent behind … with me!

 Reaching for my calm voice again, I ordered them to slow down and move quietly. Well, that didn’t quite go to plan. Never work with kids and animals, as following instructions is not their strong suit. That acknowledgement of my instructions lasted all of the two seconds it took them to get downstairs, see the cat’s gift and zoom back up the stairs screaming and exclaiming loudly. Siberia seemed even more pleased with herself at its effect. The mouse decided at that point to prove that it was only playing dead and rushed towards me. My busted ligaments and I were in the sofa faster than my brain had processed the actual decision to jump resulting in the sofa tipping and me having to position just so to avoid being thrown over the back. Where the heck had it gone now and where was my husband?!

The kids that had vanished upstairs now returned to ask if it was ok. A testament to whatever sounds I had made and the ruckus my unexpected landing in the sofa had created.

One of the kids asked after our boy C.J. in the hope that he would remove the offending ‘thing’ but he was nowhere to be found.

Giant softie.🥰

It was at this point that Siberia decided she had no intention of sharing. She grabbed her new find and ran out the back door. Hubby (appeared at this point) waited until Siberia was distracted and spirited the very scared but relieved mouse over to the bushes that disappear to the other side of the neighbourhood. Phwee!! That was close😊.

Now, you’d think the adventure was over. I certainly did, but no …Not in the least bit.

Relieved, I went back to work on my summer dress. Just needed to get that lovely bit of red hemline on and I was done. I’d then move on to a black and white number I’d begun for work … whenever we get back to normal … if I can fit into it by then ☹. The patterned scuba fabric was giving me a fight. No matter the needle chosen, I kept getting jump stitches and therefore gaps. Fed up, I decided to hand sew that section and just use the machine for the black fabric which was being compliant. As I re-threaded my needle, Siberia returned and headed towards the foyer that leads to the front door. The door was closed but not locked and she was enthusiastically pawing at it to get in. My husband had popped in for a drink and overheard me asking her what she wanted in the foyer, so he came in to check. When he opened the door, she dashed into the room and dashed around the boxes we stored there. He got worried she’d found another toy and stayed put trying to see what she was searching for which meant I was now transfixed with the activities in that room. As I listened to the dashing around and crashing into the door, silence seemed to have settled rather suddenly. This alarmed me. I felt that, the sought after creature had escaped into a box or the small cupboard in that room.

I was right.

It had escaped. It had escaped back into the living-room and under a piece of my fabric which I had dropped, while hastily relocating to a reasonable distance from the door. This escapee was not a tiny little mouse like visitor number 1. This was a squeaking rat!!

Well, I will refrain from sharing my first utterance and my second, but both were punctuated by screams from a voice I once again did not recognise. It was in my fabric that was partway to becoming a dress!!!

The kids were more aware and therefore prompt in their arrival to investigate. I tried to explain what was going on, but that voice was unfamiliar and filled with panic. My imagination was back on its trip about the spread of germs and this time huge rats taking over my home. My husband pulled the kitchen door closed so we could trap it in one room. Did the room just shrink? This wont do! The kids were on the steps laughing their heads off and I was now standing in a sofa looking over one side then the other like an over curious owl. Stealing myself and reminding myself of my role as mother, fearless role model to my daughter, I gingerly lowered my feet onto the floor, remember then that I was only wearing socks. Sound effects successfully relegated to my head and inside voice only, I began to monitor Madam Siberia to get a feel for where the little monster had ran off to. Who knew there were so many tiny corners to disappear into in my living room?

“I see it!’ my son shrieked pointing towards the back of the television. He had, by this time, erected a barricade to protect himself and his sister from our tiny tormentor. Siberia was now racing around behind the tele which shook nervously as she determinedly tried to reclaim her prize. My husband, now peering down at them, expressed fascinating at the fact that this rat was not going down without a fight. Its squeaks were a loud testament that it was fighting back, which only served to get Siberia even more excited by the chase.

As we tried to determine how to get to it without moving the tele from its home, the rat dashed across the floor and headed under a stationary case near the stairs. His movement resulted in my very very gradually evolving adventurous kids diving up the stairs to escape. My daughter however, caught herself and decided that she was not having it.

Punctuating her annoyance with “Stupid rat can’t sleep in here. Let’s get it! Siberia do your job this is your fault!” she grabbed a broom and began banging near where it had now gone to hide. Meanwhile, Madame Siberia at this point decided a nap was in order. She climbed onto a chair, made herself comfy and, with half closed eyes, watched us chase the little critter around. Well, that drove my daughter up the wall as we had by now turn the sofas on their heads, pulled them apart, all in fear that the creature of the plague and victim of the Pied Pipper was hiding in them. Siberia was picked up, carried towards the next search point and directed back to the job at hand, but, she was rather lack lustre in her efforts. She was now bored with it all and regularly laid down. She even, at one point, tried to exit the room while we screamed, dodged, blocked and rushed around after her new toy.

And, so we continued for the next hour and a half.

Tired and frustrated, my son now standing on the sofa, my husband armed with a range of items, me clutching the broom and my daughter armed with the lazy cat now determined to leave the room, to the point of crying at us, we realised that her behaviour was unusual. We let her out of the room, and she went straight to her litter box. It turned out that the poor madam was bursting for the loo.

 Must’ve been all that chasing the rat around earlier.

As we acknowledged her need, and apologised for doubting her willingness to help in the chase 😊 the offending critter, it escaped the living room and fled into the kitchen, bounded out the kitchen door with a now energized Siberia hot on its tail. My daughter promptly slammed the door shut while the rest of us laughed our relief at seeing the back of it once and for all. We returned to the living room and my husband’s face more or less represented all our reactions at the absolute chaos that that little critter and the Queen of cats had left in their wake.

Everything was everywhere!

Chaos 😟

I couldn’t resist so I muttered… “Thomas!!! That darn cat!” We indulged in nervous chuckles all round. Those chases clearly destroyed that poor woman’s house time and time again in what used to be my favourite cartoon.

As a firm believer in being fore-warned and fore-armed Siberia is officially permanently under surveillance. So now, she does not enter the house without a spot check by one, or all, of the occupants in the house.

Why couldn’t she have decided to bring us some fruit or another cat over for a visit? Honestly, these gifts of love have got to stop.

Social divide in education

In Jamaica there is a saying, ‘to be poor is a crime.’ Now, while this is not strictly true, this is symbolic of how poverty impacts on the potential outcomes of young people in society. Social divide has rung true more clearly than ever in this pandemic lockdown period. Many young people have been at the mercy of their school’s financial capabilities to cater to their academic needs remotely in a bid to prevent their academic growth being stunted even more than it might have already been, prior to the pandemic.

Often, the pupils most affected by situations like this will be boys. Now, it is imperative that we not only consider what historical factors affect our boys and their achievements but also the social and cultural factors as well.

Based on typical racial profiles, boys of ethnic backgrounds are expected to underachieve, as often, English is not their first language, however, this is not the case. Remove the white upper class and middle-class boys from the equation, and, the results are alarming; boys from working class backgrounds, especially white working class boys, are ‘miles’ behind girls academically.

This situation began many years ago. “White British pupils from managerial and professional homes are one of the highest attaining groups, while White British pupils from working class homes are the lowest attaining groups” (Strand, 2008), making it apparent that working class boys from a white background are officially one sub-group that needs to be targeted for extensive support. One TES editorial reminds us that societal “structural barriers to girls’ achievement used to mean boys always did better in the end.” (TES, 1999) Girls were restricted to being wives and mothers so their education was limited to useful skills specifically for their pre-designed roles. A departure from Victorian and early 19th century rules and attitudes have resulted in changed opportunities for girls and a competitive world for boys. No longer is it acceptable to depend on a basic education to secure a job and care for one’s family, which many boys depended on in the past. Working-class sons “… used to move easily into jobs without good qualifications, [following their] fathers into the mines, the docks, or factories” (TES, 1999) secure in the knowledge that as men they would be sure of work.

When “girls’ failures have been seen as inherent to their sex, while boys’ achievements have been all their own” (TES, 1999) which is very likely to have an adverse effect on society’s males.

Over the years, in a bid to tackle the academic disparity, between genders and social groups, educators have argued that the importance of the young people’s background is overstated, however “… no one denies the strong correlation between schools’ pupil profiles and their attainment rates” (Paul Marshall et al. 2007), yet, even though it is glaringly obvious, very little has changed, and “… the education reforms of the past 20 years have concentrated almost exclusively on school effectiveness …”. Arguably, “… this approach provides easier levers for policy makers to pull …” while placing impossible challenges on schools and wedging open the gaping maw of the male/female and middle/lower class gap that now still exists.

So, how do we tackle this problem?

There lies the rub.

Often, when there are problems in education, they are gradually covered with a range of well meaning ‘plasters’ in the form of ‘new strategies’. In the case of boys’ academic underachievement, we can assume it has been treated to a range of ‘new strategies’ again and again which explains why it remains a problem. It therefore begs the question, what can be done to finally make a real impact?

One answer to this age-old question requires time, opportunities from willing participants, supportive parents and caring educators.

In 2013, Wilson argued that educators needed to employ “… boy friendly tools …” to help them, “… to organise ideas, make notes effectively, remember and revise efficiently … to see the big picture.” (Wilson, 2013). The logic here is to help disaffected boys to see the ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ if they focused more and worked hard to excel academically. This cannot however solely be the responsibility of the teacher considering that pupils are significantly influenced by their parents and other key individuals in their family’s social circle. Without parental commitment and support there will only be minimal impact. All parties must be invested in securing the best outcome for the pupil, to ensure complete participation. According to Dorling (2015), in the past, when compulsory elementary schooling was introduced “… literacy rates improved markedly because far more children were being taught to read” (Dorling, 2015). This implies that the authorities, in a bid to ensure complete commitment to the cause, took complete control of pupils’ educational outcomes by stipulating exactly what had to be taught to ALL pupils nationwide. This eliminated educational hierarchies and inequalities. Now, pupils face unequal educational opportunities early in their educational experience, which remains a burden into their secondary experience and if this inequality isn’t addressed before the end of their secondary education, their futures are likely to be negatively locked in place for the rest of their lives.

Social and cultural mobility are the most noticeable differences faced by boys educated in the more elite schools compared to boys educated in mainstream schools. The provision of these is the life changing strategy that requires time, opportunities from willing participants, supportive parents, and caring educators.

After all, an improvement in the achievements of the working class means greater outcomes as a nation. An educated nation works well independently and can be trusted to function as part of a unit. This means that the UK whose “… competitiveness in the global economy, which is seen as linked to school-based achievement” (TES, 1999) will be well represented in their positioning in the OECD performance table. It would also demonstrate their economic prowess internationally thanks to their potentially low levels of illiteracy. Alas, we are eons away from this reality. It is therefore time to consider how to provide the social and cultural capital to those pupils that these elude.

Sources

Dorling, Daniel (2009) Injustice: why social inequalities persists. Policy Press

Dorling, Daniel (2015) Examining the roles of cognitive ability and social position in … University of Bristol. Online at: http://www.dannydorling.org/wp-content/files/dannydorling_publication_id5244.pdf [Accessed May 22,2020]

Epstein, D., Jannette Elwood, Valerie Hey and Janet Maw (1999) “Failing Boys? Issues in Gender and Achievement” Open University Press. Online at: https://www.tes.com/news/rogue- malesplatformopinion?amp [Accessed May 22,2020)

Marshall, P., et.al. (2007) Tackling educational inequality CentreForum. Online at:

https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/35120847/tackling-educational-inequality-centreforum

[Accessed April 24, 2020]

Younger, M and Molly Warrington et.al. (2005) Raising Boys’ Achievement University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. Online at: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5400/1/RR636.pdf [Access May 22, 2020]

Younger, M., Warrington, M. with Gray, J., Rudduck, J., McLellan, R., Bearne, E., Kershner, R. and Bricheno, P. (2005). Raising boys’ achievement. DfES.

Mad woman at the wheel (the proverbial attic) shopping time 🙄


This week I decided to do yet another grocery shop. I honestly don’t know where my teenagers store all the food each week. I mean, are they storing it in their cheeks for winter? Each time I think I’ve bought two weeks worth of grocery, 5 or 6 days later the cupboards are bare and the freezer is just hosting air. And so, my day begun with a check of stock which it turns out was pointless as everything was needed… again!
Often my love of literature sends me on mental trips with a range of characters in mind. The lock down has established me as a potential mad woman in the attic. I don’t mind being unable to be out and about much but I’m not a fan of queueing or wandering aimlessly and grocery shopping is currently that and then some. It therefore meant finding and setting a play list that I could hitch my sanity on to in order to not get fed up and return home empty handed. So, shopping time.


Where to begin?
With recycled bags in the boot I puttered off to the high street thinking that since it was only 9:30 in the morning the queues outside the shops would be short. Boy was I wrong. First queue for B and M went around the corner and down the other street. Being crazed is an easy state to assume when you sit there thinking ‘brilliant what now?’ Unlike Bronte’s Bertha who was desperate to escape the confines of her room, I was desperate to gain entry, to a store with food. Hmm, what would the exotic and wild Bertha do with this conundrum? Claw her way to the front throwing caution to the wind I’d presume. Alas, I was not Bertha. I wasn’t being held against my will in an attic because I hadn’t conformed to expectations. Like everyone else in that queue, my need for supplies was understood as we were all in the same situation. So, after a deep breath and the introductory bars of Sean Paul and J. Balvin’s ‘Contra La Pared’, I hummed my way past the queue, silently praying they’d be able to get their shopping soon and get home to safety.

Right on to the next possibility.

Tesco number 1.
The line stretched beyond where I could see. It is impossible to stay home when trying to get food means doing a full on road trip to find a shop to get into, especially nursing the torn ligaments in my left knee. Anyway, on I drove to the next possible store.
Imagine my shock when I arrived in the next town over and found a Tesco with just one person standing outside its doors. I’m sure the unnamed narrator in Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ must’ve felt a serious level of satisfaction once she had stepped over the unconscious form of her once overpowering husband to her freedom. My satisfaction was expressed in my very gratefully whispered ‘Thank you Lord’. I grabbed my bags and dashed, well …, more like hobbled to the door and, was politely invited in by the security guard there. Things were going my way, to an extent. I got some of the things that I needed and continued my journey to good old Aldi, also in that next town over.


Clearly folks this side didn’t wake up early, as the queue at Aldi only had 8 or so people waiting. Bertha’s maniacal laughter had nothing on my loud screechy rendition of Enrique Iglesias’ ‘Bailando’ as I quickly threw the car into a parking space. Another grateful prayer and off I went, with the other bags and a trolley. As I waited in line, I looked over my list just to ensure I’d ticked off everything from the earlier shop, so I’d be quick about this visit. Turns out, I’m the only person who’d bothered with a list that day. Everyone else browsed like it was just a typical shopping day. I mean, come on! There were people waiting outside in the sun. I even managed to leave before people who had entered the store ahead of me. Not to be mentioned, are those (words I decided to stop saying one Lenten period over 20 years ago) ‘Darling folks’ that had no masks on, whose kids were wandering, at speed, around the shop with no concept of what 2-3 metres actually looked like. For the most part, I got everything needed, but some folks that lacked a sense of distance, pushed their trolleys at myself and others unaware of our existence as their eyes were glued to the shelves.
Honestly! After holding on to my mad black woman – I am gonna see red capabilities, I was now being tested. I couldn’t even indulge in some deep breathing for fear of inhaling any possible germs that had been exhaled, sneezed or coughed by those not interested in protecting themselves or others. Once in my car, I needed a rage cure, so I revisited my playlist and Pharrell’s Happy, at volume, did the trick. When I drove off, my mood was back to being thankful instead of ready to kill. The journey home was a breeze with limited people out and about.


Now home, the next job began.

Setting up a bowl of warm soapy water, hubby and I got to work unpacking and wiping or washing everything I’d bought. It took me a whole 15-20 minutes. I never thought shopping and unpacking could’ve been made a longer more tedious process, but then, along came Covid 19 and I got schooled.
This thought caused me to think of how this Corona lockdown was similar to war time lock down. I then found a BBC video on Instagram of some folks discussing how this lock down was like World War 2 (see the link here https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_Kt2FFpq0f/?igshid=172na2l9bsg4e). Interestingly, this video made me feel rather guilty for my mental rants. Unlike then, families are generally able to keep in touch over the miles via various forms of technology. Food is available to us, even if we have to wait in lines, to stay safe. So, this mad woman on the road, in the attic having mental rants, decided to select another heavy duty reggae party sound track – youtube is a boss at providing these ( https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=RDEM-LdaHiNoAkr4COUO9gGecQ&feature=share&playnext=1)– to enjoy.

Moral of a more sane nature? Find that playlist that gets you through most things and stay sane. Hope everyone else has been coping and have exercised lots more logic than I sometimes do. 😬

Educators on the frontline …

In our current circumstances the Equality Act of 2010 is now even more important than ever. With schools closed indefinitely many pupils are at risk of falling behind even further than they already were before. Often, these pupils fall in the bracket of having ‘needs’ of some sort. These needs range from them being second language speakers in need of one to one intervention sessions to improve their grasp of the English Language in which they are educated while others tend to be from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds, often hanging by a thread academically due to the irrelevance of education in their home and social environment. Ofcourse, there are also those with actual educational needs due to apparent physical disabilities as well as mental disabilities that having lost the essence of routine, impacts significantly on social and academic progress.

So, while Section 4.20 of the Equality Act 2010 insists on schools ‘making reasonable adjustments’, how beneficial can these adjustments be for those pupils struggling to access the work made available online by concerned teachers?

While some of these struggling pupils are well meaning and keen to learn and excel, they are also some of the pupils that motivated the Child Poverty Bill 2009. This means that they are the pupils that depend on schools for a hot meal daily, desperately need the regular support of school mentors and teaching assistants in accessing basic aspects of the school curriculum. They also, often, do not have access to the technology needed to log in to their school’s online facilities.

As I consider these pupils’ varied needs, I also consider how proactive many schools have been across the UK. Speaking for the West Midlands, the area in which I work, I must say how impressed I’ve been with not only the attention being given to those, in some schools’ cases are a minority, pupils desperately in need of extra support. Our school’s pastoral team and SMT have already begun the process of developing physical resources (books, worksheets, etc) that they will then drop off to key pupils’ homes. They’ve also emailed, texted and written letters of encouragement to parents each week to let them know we are thinking of them and their pupils. LAC pupils and those with regular mentoring sessions get phone calls (with parental or organisational consent) to ensure that they are able to verbalise their concerns/fears, as the situation stretches on.

Twitter has been a brilliant resource as very talented colleagues share their creations and suggestions with each other as we all try to figure out a range of strategies to engage pupils and impart knowledge creatively so that its lasting remote learning. Additionally, Oak National Academy has offered some brilliant resources as well. Resources I hope the pupils that struggle may eventually be able to access if the Government keeps its word on the promise of gifting those in need with computers, tablets and 4g routers to bridge the gaps in the ‘haves and have nots’ access to an education in this exceptional situation.

It would be really interesting to hear more specific steps our educators are taking to ensure all pupils are given the chance to continue pursuing their education.

Educator, mother, wife, daughter, sibling, friend

So, the bard tells us that ‘all the world’s a stage’ and all of us are merely actors playing the assigned roles at the particular time.

The roles I play everyday are those of wife, mother and educator – sometimes officially (teacher responding to pupils) and at other times unofficially (parent who happens to be a teacher supporting child and husband). While I am a daughter, sibling and friend all the time, I don’t actively have to play these roles on a daily basis which means it is easy to be delinquent in making the regular contact necessary to foster the growth of such relationships.

Why might I be using this introductory talk topic here?

  • Well, I take satisfaction in giving candid responses once the person who asks a question acknowledges that they want my honest and fairly diplomatic (learnt method over the last few years after a few tearful responses to my response in the past and a quiet heads up from a friend and at one point, my line manager) answer.
  • Through this blog I hope to practise this diplomacy I am becoming adept at. Additionally, I will be able to consider some of the findings in my research regarding under performing pupils, a range of writers and their inspirations.
  • I will also consider the challenges of parenting while balancing a career in a society where things are constantly changing.

I’d like other professionals, trying to keep all their ‘balls in the air’ each day, to join in the chats or take a break and admire a particular photo of a location somewhere in the UK or in the world.

My hope is to inspire others to look more deeply at everything and keep their aspirations high, while recognising that rest is a necessity and we are not alone in this journey called life while balancing our careers.

.

‘Spare the rod spoil the child’ vs ‘free range parenting’

Well, I certainly grew up in a home where the rod was not spared and I must say that considering the ‘gobby’ little madam I was, my mother had her job cut out for her. She was not as generous as most with the rod and opted to embrace dialogue as her main form of communicating her expectations and disappointment. Well, her ‘novel’ approach at the time, for a teacher in Jamaica, was frowned upon by many. I had opinions and I was given room to do so, much to the shock and despondence of many of my class teachers, members of my church and my neighbours. So, what type of parent am I as a result?

I hope I am a bit like my mother to be honest. Firm but fair. I’m not quite ‘free range’ in my style. Now, I must admit that the first time I heard of this form of parenting I howled with laughter, as, having grown up on a farm, the term ‘free ranged’ was usually used in reference to the chickens that were allowed to roam the outdoors and grow up in as natural an atmosphere as possible before either the eggs of the ‘layers’ or ‘broilers’ were collected and sold or the ‘meat’ chickens themselves were prepped and sold for cooking. so, as a style of parenting, this conjured some rather interesting images for me and as a fan of Tom and Jerry to date, my imagination has gone in overdrive. 🙂

While I am an advocate for each person applying their own logic to steps taken on most things, I do believe that children need guidelines to assist them in understanding what acceptable language, behaviour and attitudes should look like, especially in their formative years. These years contribute to how respectful they are of others rights to their property, views and the right to be heard. It also means they learn about their own rights to the same things. If all their behaviours are tolerated they will then struggle to adapt in school settings and society in general which means a tumultuous educational experience all the way to adulthood.

So, is free range parenting the way to go? Or, should the rod be applied liberally? I had a rousing chat with my hubby about this as you do during a lockdown, given chill time to explore topics that would not always be given enough contemplation.

Well, the rod in my eyes involves firm clear instructions, time outs, firm reprimands, following through with promised punishments, an establishment of general expectations and grounding to match the seriousness of the infraction. The amount of gadgets we gift our children make brilliant rods to remove so the proverbial ‘rod’ does not actually need to be a ‘cane’ being used to whip. ‘Creativity is equivalent to flexibility’ we used to chant in college in Jamaica under the instructions of a tutor that encouraged us to find more creative ways to impart knowledge. This creativity is relevant to encouraging children to face life’s challenges as well as to deal with correcting their behaviour.

Why is this on my mind today?

  • Well, my teenagers have decided to test my patience during this lock down and after counting to 10 multiple times and trying to calmly have a serious conversation that saw them collapsing in giggles, as each tried to distract the other from the matter at hand, I applied my teacher voice and separated the two, after collecting all gadgets ofcourse. Somehow, the absence of gadgets seem to open their ears and refocus their attentions most effectively.
  • Then, I clarified my reason for being disappointed and reaffirmed my expectations. I then offered the opportunity to earn each gadget back by a set time and directed them to their assigned schedule that they had not looked at and were now two hours behind on completing for today. Needless to say, the house has not only been the most silent it has been all lock down, as they moved with a joint purpose, but their bedrooms are tidier than mine.

As a novice to ‘free range parenting’ it would be nice to hear a bit more about how this works as my imagination is stuck in my own experiences as a child on the farm. But as an open-minded person that happens to be curious, I’d like to hear about it.

So … ‘free range parenting’ …? Any comments?

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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