Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bits N' Pieces

Today I was thinking that being in a new place and trying to get 'up to speed' is like having someone empty a jigsaw out over your head. All the pieces are being given to you but they make NO sense. After a while you've found the edge pieces and you have a frame; then you look at pieces you've seen before and THIS time they make more sense and you can find a place to slot them in....

I feel there are people who must be saying " But we told her that two weeks ago, why has she only just 'got' it?" It's just that, now I've got a context to hang it on.

My little autistic boy had a bad day the other day. He was kind of limp and unco-operative in the afternoon and had been involved in some kind of ruckus in the boys toilets at lunchtime, which left a lot of paper hand towels strewn about all over the floor. When it came time to leave, Daddy arrived to pick him up. This was a change from the norm; it was usually Grandad. Well, this was too much for him. His eyes welled up, his face crumpled and he began to wail "No, no, I can't." He fell onto his knees and buried his face in the carpet sobbing inconsolably.

This is what a change in routine means for him. It was heart breaking to watch. Daddy handled it really well though. He got down low and asked Henry to look at him, then he explained that everything was ok and that Henry was going to be alright. Even as the wailing continued Henry wrapped his arms around daddy's legs and tearfully waved goodbye to us as he was carried off. It was heart rending.

Meanwhile I am struggling to pitch my Add English classes at the right level and I have to write a whole raft of NEPs. But I AM happy!!!! Off to Port Vincent on the weekend for the State sailing titles. Well, sailing for some of us; beach and quiet reading for others!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

"Mrs A Has To Teach You"*

I wish I could show you a real photo of 'my' little autistic boy here. He has golden hair, blue eyes and the smile of an angel. He is 6 years old. I shall call him Henry.

"Henry? That's my name! You're Henry."
I hear a cheerful little voice call from the other side of a group of children. Henry is sitting with his lunchbox in his lap. A large 'H' adorns the top of his hat to ensure he stands out from all the other little blonde haired, blue eyed boys with school uniforms and hats on the playground. As I watch he finishes his fruit, slaps the lid back on his box and scrambles awkwardly to his feet.
"You have to put your lunch box in your bag. Put your lunch box in your bag!", he chirrups to no one in particular as the mile wide smile never leaves his face.
I try, unsuccessfully, to catch his eye.

"Hi Henry, it's time to come with me now to do some work in my room."
"You have to play on the playground at lunchtime," his smile wavers fractionally and he pushes past me towards the playground. I am a blip in the smooth sailing of his routine.
"You can play on the playground later Henry. It's time to come with me now. Good boy."
He hesitates slightly then back tracks and takes my hand. He never lifts his eyes to my face.
"We have to do some work in the Rainbow Room," he sings as he follows me meekly to my room.

On the way we pass some large, orange traffic cone shapes, cut out and laminated and stuck to a range of places such as the front gate and the top of the stairs.
"What do these cones mean Henry?" I ask him as we walk up the stairs.
"You're not allowed to go past the cone. Can't go past the cone," he chants.
"That's right," I chant back, "you can't go past the cone without a safe adult."
"Got to has a grown up." he sings quietly to himself, reinforcing and reminding himself of the rules.

In the Rainbow Room we read a social story together.
As he catches sight of his own picture on the cover his face lights up again.
"That's Henry. Let's read about Henry. That's Henry"
He clambers over me enthusiastically to get to the book and all but sits in my lap. Surprisingly he reads accurately,
"This is Henry. This is Henry's school. School is a safe place to learn. School is a safe place to play."
He examines each photo (taken that day with the digital camera) and comments to no one in particular, maybe me, who knows?
"That's the school. That's Henry. That's the playground."
We come to the crux of the matter.
I read.
"Henry is safe at school. Henry never leaves the school grounds. Here is the front gate. Henry never goes through the front gate without a safe adult. Here is the gate near the oval. Henry never goes though the gate near the oval without a safe adult. Here is the gate near the bus. Henry never goes through the gate near the bus without a safe adult."
Henry quietly joins in the chant "...never goes through the gate..."
We reach the end of the story:
"Henry stays on the school grounds at all times. Henry is a good boy."
he closes the book and looks around the room.
"Do you want to read it again?" I ask optimistically.
His answer is unequivocal.
He looks to find the blue IKEA egg chair and dashes towards it.
"Henry goes in the crocodile's mouth." he says matter of factly, and pulls down the shutter.
I guess he got the message.

Later in the week Henry was playing with the doll's house in the Rainbow Room. He picked up the dolls and placed them in their bunk beds.
"Got to go to bed. Got to go to sleep," his cheerful commentary burbled like the chatter of a creek over stones. He picked up the beautifully crafted wooden grandfather clock and began to shake it vigorously.
"Time to get up. Time to get up!" he lifted the unwilling dolls from their beds and pronounced enthusiastically, "Turn that thing OFF!!"

My two colleagues and I had to smother our laughter. We wonder where he hears these 'soundbytes'.

Later that day I see him standing silently on one leg with his arms outstretched.
"Wow!" I say," that's clever Henry," and mirror his action. He shouts something unintelligible at me; although I know it has purpose, I am unskilled in the interpretation.
"What's that Henry?" I query, looking desperately for visual cues. He calls out again.
I notice that he seems to have shoelaces wrapped up around his grounded ankle. My colleague spots the problem first.
"Henry, are you caught up in my jacket?"
She is right. Playing on the floor near her desk, he has managed to tangle his foot in the pre-tied drawstring of her jacket, hanging over the chairback. I move quickly to disentangle him and he calls out his command again. This time I hear.
"GET THE JAWS OF LIFE!" he sings majestically.

It is all we can do not to cry laughing.

I love my new job.

PS:* In the library last week I heard him muttering to himself as he wandered up and down the shelves of books. I had been shadowing him and had encouraged him to go up to the library rather than play on the stairs (next to the car park!). After a few moments I realized he was talking about me:
"Mrs A has to teach you," he murmured over and over. I wondered in what context he had heard that phrase.
Henry: I don't like that Mrs A.
Henry's Mum: But Henry, Mrs A has to teach you!

image credit

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Weather Over Adelaide Today

We are under all that blue stuff at centre bottom. That's TC Carlos at the top and the edge of TC Dianne to the far left. And it sure feels like a TC here in Adelaide today. Himself in his usual understated way has pronounced that we are forecast to get 'more rain than we've ever had before in history' today.

Hmm. We shall see. I for one am enjoying my day off although I am doing work for my old school and going in later to hand over 'stuff'. It will be a relief to be done with it.
Have a nice day y'all.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Beautiful Baby Angel

Well, it appears the 'wonders of the internet' are, like any free lunch, non existent or at any rate temporary in nature. After two days of glorious technicolour, the picasa postings changed into small white rectangles :-(

(exhibit a)

Still, I was able to download so here she is again in glorious technicolour!

And look at this enormous kid!!!!! She is about 6 inches taller than me now and I am forced to wear high heels constantly to look her in the eye!!!!
Neat pics dad! Love you and miss you!

Who Loves Ya Mam? And DAD

Look! It's my lovely mum and me at the airport.

I think I am looking remarkably brave for someone who is about to send her mother off 12000 miles in the opposite direction! of course 30 minutes later at the departure gate it was a different story. Dads of course can handle all this emotional stuff. Except he ran back out of the departure gate twice to wave! *sniff*

The Wonders Of The Internet (are temporary it seems)*edited

Well it appears my crack at picasa to 'lift it's game' (see bottom of this post) has put their noses out of joint! Read on.

My dad put an album up on picasa web sharing and it turns out you can post directly from there to blogger!!!!
(Well, you could for two whole days apparently. After that you get this white rectangle...see above. Mind you it did let me download so here we are after all)

This is Himself and I on the rare occasion of 'socialising at the same time'.

Well, at least I am socialising. I am not sure what he is doing. Gritting his teeth perhaps?

Now the only problem with this web sharing thing is that you cannot upload multiple photos on one post. Come on now picasa, lift your game :-D

(To be fair, the problem could lie with blogger. P'raps they don't like the link?)

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Valentine's Afterthought

After posting last night I realised that I had totally missed Valentines Day; which is not unusual in our house. My husband does not really 'do' anniversaries. It's not that he doesn't care, it's just that he doesn't see the point. When we were first married I made an effort to make anniversaries and Valentine's Day, special. I bought cards, real and virtual; I left gifts; I made special dinners.

After two years of being greeted by a gentle, bemused gratitude, I decided not to knock myself out. Not surprisingly he didn't even notice. He will wax lyrical on how the whole affair is a plot by the greeting card, florist and chocolate companies to prey on the insecurities of the average couple. If I bother to remind him.

We have discussed this on occasion. I am not overly devastated. Himself gives me a pretty fair smattering of 'words of affirmation', 'acts of service' and 'physical touch'. I'm pretty secure in the fact that I am loved. After 'acts of service' I probably lean more towards the 'gifts and surprises' than he does but they are usually pretty practical gifts and there is a Venn Diagram crossover between 'gifts' and 'acts of service' when buying the gift means you have relieved him of the torment of visiting the shopping mall. For any reason:

Me: Look! I bought you a 20kg tub of chlorine for the pool!
Him: Awesome!!!!!!!!!

But, just occasionally, when others parade their red roses, romantic cards and surprise date nights about on Valentine's Day, I feel a little wan.

So, when I find that my husband has placed two rose buds from the garden in a hand painted bottle by my bed, on Valentine's Day, I feel strangely touched.

They didn't stay buds for long but that is exactly as it should be.

Monday, 14 February 2011

General Guff With Gratuitous Bikini Photo and Some Patriotism

Here we are at the beginning of Term 1, week 3. Mum and Dad have made it back to the frozen northern hemisphere whilst we are knee deep in antipodean life and work.

The weather has been hot and steamy in the wake of Cyclone Yasi, even here in good ole Mediterranean Adelaide! We've been having trouble 'balancing' the pool which has lead Himself to roar, on more than one occasion, "I don't know why we don't just fill the thing in!!!"
Nevertheless, as you can see, the BA and her friends have made it up onto the rocks on at least one occasion of late.

Notable events: I have put on nearly all the weight I lost before Christmas and must seriously make an effort to get back to the gym (if you're going to eat potato you have to RUN IT OFF BABY!!!!!!!!!); the Alma Mater has settled down since the first depressing and infuriating day, all the girls seeming more positive, and the BA in particular is loving her classes. OK, maybe not so much Maths, but at least she is doing it and with 5 girls in the class she can ask for all the help she needs, which is a good thing as my Maths skills stop at Year 10 and anyway I never did statistics and Standard Deviation the first time around. As I recall. Or fail to recall. Which ever way you look at it.

More notable events: we went to the First Night at the Proms with Mum and Dad which was fantastic and funny all at the same time. Every seat had a small Union Jack laid ceremonially upon it so that as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra cranked up "Rule Britannia', all us ex pats and reluctant UK born Aussies could bellow out "Britaaaaaannia ruuuuules the waaaaaaaaves" with gusto whilst waving our little flags for all we were worth.......

What a hoot.

Afterwards we were treated to the vagaries of Adelaide's nocturnal public transport or lack thereof although the BA assured us that it was just as bad in the daytime, particularly in a northerly direction which bemused us as the tram line is a closed loop. We concluded that there must be a black hole at the end of the line, swallowing 3 out of every 4 north going trains. As we trudged the 500 freezing cold metres between stops with father insisting we wait at every shelter,'just in case it's coming', mother looked gloomily down the road and with her characteristic Eeyore like optimism, commented that there may never be another tram ever again. Or if she didn't, she should have; she probably only didn't because we teased her about it. I can guarantee she was THINKING about saying it :-DDDDDD

And on top of all of that my beloved husband and his workmate (spoken with withering sarcasm) finally managed to restore my email to one address after two weeks, so I could pick up the several dozen communications that I knew must be waiting for me. There were 347 of them.

Having deleted most, I am now ready for bed.
Hope you are enjoying February, wherever you are.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My New Life As A Non Maths Teacher

So people have been asking 'how is the new job going?' I guess it's a little early to tell but I gotta say from where I'm sitting now...I'm loving it.

I'm working 4 days and deliberately taking a whole day off, unlike my previous job where I was 4 days scattered over 5 and staying way over the 5 on most weeks anyway. I am the Special Education Co-ordinator from Reception (Kindergarten) to Year 12 and I have two amazingly talented SSOs (School Support Officers) working under me. I used to work at this school 5 years ago, before Himself, before marriage and step children, and I loved it then too. The Baby Angel went to this school before she made the move to my Alma Mater and had a wonderful time there; although not quite so wonderful on the academic front ....due mainly to her having....a wonderful time!!! :-D.

Previously, I worked mainly in the Primary section of the school; this covers children from 5 years of age to approximately 11 years. I had also taken a small group of rowdy boys in Year 8 for three lessons a week in what was called 'Additional English'. This subject was offered instead of a language to those pupils with diagnosed disabilities or learning difficulties and was used variously for spelling and grammar consolidation, the development of writing skills and curriculum support in areas such as maths, science and SOSE . At one point, in response to the protestations of the 'rowdy group of boys', who said they didn't need to learn spelling and reading as they were going to work in the hospitality industry, we planned and ran a cafe for staff in the school hall. This was a 'laugh a minute' exercise and resulted in most of them deciding they were never working hospitality again! :-D Well, at least I taught them something.
The Additional English group worked so well that it has been developed in the time I have been away to include Years 7, 8 and 9. As well as my co-ordination role, I take 8 lessons of Add English a week in the Middle School.

The final part of the job is developing the pathway for students with disabilities as they progress through into Senior School. With the advent of the New SACE, most pupils with disabilities should be able to complete 12 years of education in a mainstream school at their own level. The SACE is, in effect, an attendance certificate but be that as it may, schools are being called to respond to this challenge and provide inclusive education for all, way past the point at which they would have done in the past.

So last Monday the kids came back.
I had been given a run down on the main 'pupils with issues' by my predecessor who has moved to another area of the school to focus on Gifted and Talented education. Now, I distinctly remember her saying "Don't worry about Albus until week 5. His mum takes him in isolation as he's too violent to be allowed in the classroom. He has 'oppositional defiant disorder'.

Me: *gulp* And how old is he?
Predecessor: Oh he's six.

Six. And too violent to be allowed in a classroom. This was going to be an interesting one in 5 weeks time.

Guess who was sitting in my classroom drawing a picture of a 'potion' at 8am on the first Monday back?

It was a particularly good picture of a potion complete with red and black stripes, bubbles and a testube like container. Albus looked me in the eye,
"I'm waiting for my mum. She's talking to the Principal."
"Yes. She's got to go to work."
So much for working in isolation until week 5.

And that's how I came to spend a whole day with Albus, who was still too violent to be allowed back in the classroom, but apparently not violent enough to be a threat to the Angel with the Flaming Sword.
"Do you want a knuckle sandwich?" he asked me volubly a few hours later as I insisted he complete a task before playing with Lego and after I had walked him hand over hand to the rubbish bin to dispose of the pieces of ripped up paper which were all that remained of a worksheet I had been helping him with.
"I don't think so," I replied,"but I'll let you know if I change my mind."

The next day Albus's mum decided to take him back to the public system where he will be expelled within 5 minutes and then be eligible for the intensive behaviour unit. We simply didn't have the funding to go through the one on one process of re-establishing boundaries and re-introducing him to the classroom. A shame really. I had a wonderful day with him.

Of course, today the seemingly angelic Year 8 and 9s of last week have started to grow horns so I guess I will have plenty of Flaming Sword work to do as it is. Better get on with it.

image credit 2

image credit 1

Saturday, 5 February 2011


My lovely mum took me shopping yesterday. I had been complaining about my old freearm machine for some time as it doesn't handle knits very well so Mum decided to remedy the situation. I didn't want anything overly fancy, just good quality, reliable and sturdy. This one came with its own quilting foot and quarter inch foot, a free pair of scissors and a $5.00 donation to breast cancer :-)

Now, to find time to make something.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I really don't want affirmation. Very few people can actually understand what or why we are doing what we're doing. I'm not sure I fully understand myself. Today was always going to be a sucky day.

Integrity is what we stand upon; without it we have no frame of reference. We follow through a course of action based upon what we believe and trust; if this does not turn out well, at least we can say we walked the talk. What a life skill that is in this day and age.

How many more cliches can I employ? Lemons and lemonade? Silver linings? Any moment now we'll all take one cross each and start whistling 'Always Look On the Bright Side of Life'.

This situation sucks and to add insult to injury the ugly worms in the core of the apple continue to spew forth their venom: revelations of impropriety between the previous head and a board member; predictions, from both external and internal sources, that the school will only last two weeks ; continual negativity from not only the public and those who have chosen to leave but also from those whose jobs it should be to fill others with confidence.

We have ignored much and closed ranks over many things but these latest barbs are hardest to bear. The Baby Angel gritted her teeth through the first awkward and embarrassing day of school, sitting in a lunchtime group with girls she neither knows nor feels any connection with; filling in a cheap, plastic generic 'diary' that somehow summed up all the humiliation and despair of the situation.

Alternate Version: Explicit Language following:

Shut UP you bastards shut up shut up shut up. How dare you drag us down before we have had a chance to fly? What is it to you, you malicious, self centred arseholes? You made your choice. You abandoned the ship. Do you have some kind of deep seated need to affirm your decision by destroying the hope of others? Bastards bastards bastards.


If you are working in the office....don't speculate as to the longevity of the situation to parents!!!!! You complete f***sticks!!!!!!!!!!! Don't you GET IT??????????????????????????
We ALL need to be on the same page here! Do the words self fulfilling prophesy mean ANYTHING to you????????????????????????????????????


Today was always going to suck.

And it sucks big time.