Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Burn Baby Burn

Let me tell you about this week's emergency fire drill.

We had been warned in the morning, by our OHS officer, that there would be a drill sometime in the next few days, but he wasn't telling us when.

At around  11 am the alarm started: woop woop woop pause woop woop woop pause...

Checking my handy laminated wall chart with visual representation of the bell sounds (that's it there...blurry.....but can you see the solid red line and the broken one?)

I determined that this was the siren for a 'lockdown'.
"Quick everyone, out of sight of the door!"
The two students and the other staff member hunkered down in a corner whilst I (bravely) switched off the lights and locked the door. We settled in to wait.

The siren continued: woop woop woop pause woop woop woop pause etc etc

After a few minutes, having fielded the obligatory questions from students about whether this was real or a drill, we heard an extremely noisy and chaotic sounding class descended the stairway outside near our window. We all looked at each other.
"Are you sure this is a lockdown?" asked the other staff member. "Perhaps we should evacuate?"
"What? Right into the path of the crazed gunman?" I replied. She acknowledged that this may be unwise so we waited a little longer. We heard more noises outside, children running and squealing, quite a bit of laughter.....
"If this was a fire we would be dead," my colleague observed.
"Nonsense," quoth I,"If it were a lockdown and we'd followed those fools outside we would definitely be dead! Anyway, don't worry, if it is a fire, once they realise our names have not been ticked off the roll, they'll send someone to rescue us."

We waited.

woop woop woop pause.....

After a while the siren stopped. It was very quiet. The children looked at me.
"Everyone must be out on the oval Mrs A," whimpered one.
"OR," I postulated,"They could all be hiding under their desks very quietly like you're supposed to do during a lockdown!"
More minutes crawled past. A school bell sounded.
"There, that's the all clear," I announced, only to realise that it was merely the scheduled lunch bell.
I crawled over to the phone and tried to call Reception to find out what was going on, but they were obviously under their desks too.

Eventually we heard the sound of pupils returning to the building. My colleague looked at me and I at her: "They didn't come and rescue us!" she said.

Later in the staffroom I approached the teacher who would have had our names on her roll.
"What happened?" I demanded,"No-one came to rescue us!" She laughed heartily.
"There was such confusion," she said," I knew where you were and what must have happened. I just handed them the roll and told them you were all dead."

Thanks a LOT!!!!! :-D

It turned out that the fire brigade now has control of our bells and that they had changed the signal type. No-one had informed us so the laminated safety sheets are all WRONG! Half the school were in lockdown and the other half were careering around the oval in confusion and gales of hysterical laughter. The Principal was NOT amused and (apparently, I didn't see him as I was under a desk) stormed around shouting unintelligible announcements over the megaphone. Heads will roll!!

The classic comment of the afternoon came from a year 9 pupil who announced,
"They should have an alarm that goes FIRE FIRE FIRE FIRE and another one that goes HIDE HIDE HIDE HIDE!!"
Not so silly really.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


It's been a very long time since I wrote about, or even mentioned, The Small Boy. Of course,  this is partly because he is no longer small ( it's official, everyone in the family is taller than me) but mostly because we don't see him much anymore.

There is a long story behind this and in the past I would have filled you in along every gruesome step of the journey. As it is I barely know where to start. Suffice to say that when Himself informed me that Small Boy wanted to stay with us this week, my first thought was "what is he trying to avoid?" What does he stand to gain by hunkering down over here at our place (where he is usually bored) and why does it have to be THIS week, when the Honorable Husband is visiting us from Germany???

It didn't take long for us to find out. He is avoiding a school camp.

There is so much hurt in this young man. 

More later.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

My Feet They Finally Took Root In The Earth

I have been trying to write this post for 9 days.I have lost the whole thing, fallen asleep in front of the computer  and run out of time to do anything.....so now, here is what I have squeezed out 9 days later...

Some time ago I wrote about this guy. I wrote about him more than once and in December 2010 I had the very great privilege of attending his graduation ball. Here we all are.

Gene has renamed himself on facebook so I will use that moniker now. That's him, 'Al', on the right. Can you see why I love him? I don't feel so bad about posting this photo now, given that all the lads are over 18 and a pretty regular presence on the internet anyway. The other two gentlemen are also amazing men, with their own stories, but today I want to talk about Al.

After his graduation I connected with him on facebook and found out that he was doing a course in mechanics and expected to have an apprenticeship soon.We messaged each other occasionally and left comments. Then he went quiet.

The week before last, out of the blue, he contacted me. In the past I had always reminded him that I would be happy to help him in any way I could: study, references, course applications etc.
To my complete surprise (and delight) he suddenly popped up and said:
      "Hey Mrs A, I need you' help!"
I lost no time in replying:
       "Hey Al! Wass up? What do you need help with?"
       "Maths Mrs A. I want to learn everything. I'm ready now, I want to learn the basics and be able
         to do calculations and use formulas and stuff...."

Now any of you who have tutored will know that there is a significant per hour price tag attached to the assistance I was willing to give but as I prepared my response I knew that wasn't even in the equation.

        "No worries! What kind of things do you want to cover and where shall I meet you?"

We agreed to meet in the central library on Thursday night. I have got to admit I was anxious. I mean, it has been three years. What would he think when his sprightly, energetic maths teacher from 2010 turned out to be a middle aged pudding? Would it put him off study for ever? Seriously though, would he be committed? Would he even turn up?????

I was late as usual and then I found that the labyrinth of the library defeated me so I had to text him to come and rescue me from the foyer.

He came around the corner and I knew his shape from a distance.  Gone was the backward facing cap, baggy pants around his crutch and sleeveless singlets. Even the dubious symbols previously carved into his tight dark curls had gone. In their place was an attractive, respectable looking young man in a plaid shirt and slim fitting jeans with a conservative haircut and an air of purpose.

We sat and talked for a while. He was off that evening to graduate from his TAFE Course in Business Management.
"So you don't really need my help after all?"
"No, Mrs A, I really DO need your help. I want to do this..."
and he flipped over a folder he was carrying.....
He wants to learn to fly.
"I can do it Mrs A. I believe in myself now.  I don't care what I have to do. If I have to, I will go back to the beginning......"
"You may have to Al..."

He told me where he'd 'been' and what he'd been through. He told me of bad trips and seeing things he never wanted to see again. He told me of holing up in his mum's house and refusing to see his 'friends'; he told me about needing to separate himself from the culture and how his mother helped him keep the toxic friends away....

He told me about how he had found God.
 I smiled broadly.
"Yeah Mrs A, I knew you would like that," he said.
"Cool," was all I could offer. :-)

He had to leave to get to his graduation ceremony but I was so pumped after seeing him  I didn't know what to do with myself, so I went to the pub.
It was completely empty.

I sat with myself and thought about a lot of things. I thought about the last time I had been in that pub, maybe thirty years ago. I thought about how much it (and I) had changed. I thought about what I had wanted to do with my life 30 years ago and I thought about how that had changed and what I had contributed to Al's life.

Life is such a convoluted thing. My own weird journey, my regrets, my disappointments, I looked at them all through the lens of Al. I sat in that empty pub and downed pint  with a quiet sense of euphoria. Maybe, for once, I had made a difference.

God bless you Al. I know our journey will not be predictable, after all you didn't turn up this week while I sat there and waited, but I know God put us  together for  reason. I don't even know if my level of maths will be sufficient for the road you have set ahead for you but if not I will find you an appropriate tutor. Don't you worry about that!

I can't tell you how excited I am to be on this journey with you.

Love ya Al. In a nice, 'not creepy' kind of way ;-)

Growin Up : Bruce Springsteen