*Language you would normally hear me admonishing my students for using.
I am the Palagi woman who tries to tell my (mostly) pasifika boys to stop using bad language. I am the woman who represents the systemically racist, patriarchal, historically Western, education-based set of measures and matrices that they get judged on every day.
I am the woman they know can make the difference between them being able to return to their enrolling school, and carry on with their education, or not. As simple as that. The, (incredible, amazing, awesome in the true sense of the word, and patient), staff I work with get a say too, but ultimately the kids look to me to see if they have ‘met their goals’, and whether we deem them ‘worthy ‘ to return to mainstream schooling.
Also, I am a neglectful grand-daughter, invisible aunty, barely-there daughter, and intermittent mother of two boys. Did I mention ex- not really ex -westie? Did you see that Chris Cornell died? Shit, man.
Did you know, my Nana, who I have written about many times, is STILL alive. And thriving. Of course you don’t. I barely get to see her now, and I NEVER blog anymore, and she barely knows the outside world exists. (She’s a bit of a star on Insta tho #nanalove).
I enrolled a new boy today. His folks didn’t show up with him (they usually do). Because I had no information about him, I rang his old school (from which he’d been excluded), and found out about his home life, his past indiscretions, and the support his former school had put in place. Depressing stuff.
A couple of days ago we, (Activity Centres in New Zealand), got an email indicating that the MOE don’t see us as financially viable (no shit), and they couldn’t give us a guarantee that our Centres had a future past 2018. What is telling is that my staff, (who have been doing this for 10+ years now) reassured me that these rumours about Activity Centres being shut down come out every couple of years. We currently have a waiting list of ten students with nowhere else to go, and some of them are already not attending school at all, anywhere, in any form. We only take students up until the age of 16 so these kids being referred are as young as 12. Not in school. Not necessarily at home. Just hanging. Maybe ‘jumping people’ at the train station; maybe staying at home feeling like absolute shit. Maybe both. Maybe neither.
Alternative education, Activity Centres, and specialist mental health services are so overloaded now that most schools are having to keep their ‘troubled students’ onsite now, and mostly all they can do is triage the major damage. Yay National.
Today my kids, (the ones I made myself in my womb), managed to keep it together for 6 hours and counting, because my Teacher Aide – who collects them from school 2-3 times a week – promised them fucking ‘fidget spinners’ if they behave. Apparently they are cheap and as cool as those irritating jangly-fucking-circle-rings-metal-loud things were. And doubly as useless. But my kids are behaving. SO that’s a win. My teacher Aide rulz the school – don’t get me wrong – and if she can get my actual children to behave, where I can’t, she is worth her weight in gold. Don’t get me started.
My plan for tomorrow is to start school with some Soundgarden blaring on the iPhone with my lame ass speakers. Because you know by now, as I do, that Chris Cornell is dead. What the fuck. Soundgarden no more.
No one will love it except for me, and I will fight with the kids all day to play ‘their’ music during break-times. I will acquiesce and eventually we will have a Beyonce/Kendrick Lamar party happening. (I like Kendrick, but we will have a problem if someone suggests Chris Brown). We (the staff and I) will fight all day to have the young people in our charge not talk about gangs, racist bullshit and/or crimes they intend to commit over the weekend. As long as they don’t talk about it at school, they can stay.
This weekend I am going to try to see my favourite old grrl, but she won’t remember if I do. She spends the whole time we visit standing up and sitting down because she’s restless, but can’t remember the sitting OR the standing, and thanks us for coming but I don’t believe she relaxes until we leave. And then I don’t know if she knows that I’ve been.
On Saturday the GD and I will play some Soundgarden records and drink some wine and remember the dumb, fucked up shit we got up to listening to Soundgarden and I will think of my students doing their dumb fucked up shit now listening to Kendrick Lamar and Tupac (Can you believe he is still a thing? I thought he was boring back then too).
And I will remind myself that the dumb, fucked up teens grow up to be adults and most of them find their niche and figure out how to be contributing members of society and that high school and the five years therein are just a ‘blip’ on the timeline and mean nothing in the scheme of things really. I will remind myself that mainstream education doesn’t suit everyone and that one person can’t be everything to everyone and my Nana loves me and knows I love her.
Also I should buy my Teacher Aide something nice because my lads are shits to her and she loves them anyways.
And you should watch this now.
RIP Chris Cornell.