Some fucked up shit*

*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.

The kids are alright.

So today I had my first little taster day at my new job (yes I have a new job and yes it’s still in education but I still have two weeks to go at my old job too) and it was remarkable.

I have (in the near past – I haven’t blogged in ages but) extolled the virtues of the young people in my ‘care’, and what I love about them, (and also written about my own offspring, whom I have referred to variously as #thelittledutchman, and #thedevilchildren respectively). Anyone who knows me knows I love my kids. And they know I love my grrls. And they know I have a sense of humour about both. (I DO love my boys I promise)

On Friday of last week my oldest little man, the 9 yr old, didn’t want to go to school. He woke up with classic anxiety about ‘what happened last night’ and REALLY didn’t want to go to school. What had he done? He has a new friend and she’s a she, and she came to play on the Thursday after school. She’s super cool (she likes skulls too and needless to say I loved her). But my little dude woke up and was immediately struck with the potential fallout from people having seen us all going home the day before in the same car.

I recognised his anxiety because I’m a Mamabear who wakes up the same, some days. The random, sick feeling that maybe I did something wrong yesterday and might have to face stuff the next day. The absolute terror of facing the world with no words to put to the fear.

Now, to understand me is to understand some of the stuff I respect and love in people. I fell in love with the Grumpy Dutchman not because – and he’ll question this – he is pure and simple gorgeous. Or because he is arrogant/sexy-as-fuck. Don’t get me wrong, he is (oh my god), but believe it or not, I see through that. And it wasn’t because he is well spoken, or in to art, or any of that stuff either. What sealed the deal for me, as it were, was because I could see we were exactly the same. We don’t fucking back down and we don’t bow to peer pressure.

Now that sounds like drama, but what I mean is that if the GD loves something, or believes in something, he will listen to you and he will recognise and (mostly) respect the reasons why, but he’ll quietly go on doing what he was doing, or believing what he believed in the first place. He’ll probably tell you you’re wrong – he’s arrogant (I told you that), and he will carry on, whether or not you’re gonna stay friends with him. And I was, and have tried to, remain the same all through adolescence and adulthood. (And no it’s not fun to be married to someone who thinks he’s right ALL the time – but so’s he so it equals out).

One of my best grrlfriends took great pleasure in introducing me to the WHOLE party as the Virgin when I arrived, right up in to my late teens. RIGHT UP UP UNTIL I WAS 19, I would arrive to any party and Theresa would shout to get everyone’s attention (and she could cos’ my grrl has charisma coming out of her ass), and she would quiet the party and announce that I had arrived. The Virgin. The girl who Didn’t Take Drugs. The girl who’s Mother(s) were coming to get her at midnight. I was that girl. And for the most part it didn’t worry me. At all. I had lesbian parents in the 90’s (very rarely admitted back then), I took no drugs when everyone around me was trying EVERYTHING, and I liked guitar music and was not to be swayed, even when dance music was at its peak and everyone was out of their face on ecstasy. I had people lining up to buy me ALL the drugs just to see what would happen. No dice. No friends. No cares.

So naturally the GD and I love when our kids are the same as us. One of master 9’s teachers a couple of years ago really struggled to get him to join in and finish required work; he was clearly capable but the child was not going to do it. While we shared his (the teacher’s) despair that peer pressure wasn’t getting him to do his required reading, we quietly, privately, were proud of him because he didn’t care ‘that all the other kids were doing it’. He had/has no learning difficulties – the child is straight up lazy – and we saw that; I am happy to report that he is ahead of his classmates now in reading and writing and we are mostly proud because he found his own motivation and got his shit sorted because he knew he had to.

And this stuff transfers. The 9 yr old now has a best friend who is female. OH MY GOD. The other boys are struggling and I totally get it. His bestie (boy) friend feels so left out and sad that he is angry. He feels excluded from the fun and games and missing my boy, and the only way he knows how to deal with it is to make the interloper friendship alien. So he is saying they are in love and are going out, he tells their mutual friends to exclude my boy and all that bullshit. I can’t tell someone else’s 9yr old that it’s not appropriate to sexualise children like that;  I can’t talk to him until I’ve talked to his Mum (who is totally cool so I can chat to her) because that would be me bullying a child so all I can do is support my boy. We also like his friend and don’t want him burning that bridge so he’s not allowed to talk badly about him or say ‘it’s all his fault’.

What we can do, and have done, is support his choices – his new friend is cool, they should be friends and we want them to be and we are clear that we think that. Neither of us have made dumb comments about them being boyfriend/girlfriend and it’s all good.

What we were also clear on was, that although he was feeling shit, he couldn’t not go to school on Friday. He was worried that his friend and him would get teased because she came to play at our place. And I get that. But he couldn’t leave her to go to school to (potentially) face that teasing and still be a good friend. Part of the integrity of that friendship had to be owning it and being a team. There was going to no wimping out. It totally sucked for all of us. It took me an hour to drop him off to school that day and I was very close to wine for breakfast by the end believe me.

The saga continues. I went to school with him on Friday and spoke to his teacher, she was great. We are emailing, and I will talk to his other friends Mum if the situation doesn’t improve, but we are checking in daily. The 9 yr old seems chipper having been listened to and taken seriously. We could have taken his side – he said he was being bullied and wanted his (ex-ish) friend punished but actually he needed to be listened to and have the situation explained to him from the other perspective.

How does it relate to my day of enrolling kids for my new job?

Well. Kids aren’t born bad. You know that, I know that, and the world knows that, but fuck man, how many times do we forget that?

What struck me today was that a 10 yr old boy who clearly tried all the avenues he had been told to try to deal with being bullied at school, and was ignored by the adults trusted to protect and care for him, for a year and half, had to deal with it himself in the only way he knew to make it stop, and got expelled for his efforts,

That a young girl, known to take care of those less fortunate than herself, who made sensible choices to remove herself from those influences that dragged her down and suffered for those choices for the next two years – to the point that she had such crippling anxiety she was self-harming and couldn’t leave her bed – is now seeking alternative care, despite having really supportive parents and teachers,

And that a girl so intelligent she is passing all of her classes despite never being there; has such big walls up that she fights with ALL people who show any care for her; that has has burned all of her bridges at 14, cried at the interviews today because her mother was trying to lay all the cards out on the table.

These kids were failed by the adults in their life.Harsh shit, I know.

These children, and mine, were not born with the skills to deal with this sort of fallout. They rely on the mental health institutions our government fund to support them, the educational institutions available to them and, fundamentally, their whanau or community to find places for them, to teach them resilience, perseverance, and that ultimately, they deserve to take up space and receive quality education.

It’s not for nothing that these kids today reminded me of my boy.

I need to stress that all of these kids today were accompanied by their parents who were with them in an attempt to support their efforts to enroll, and to validate this positive choice their child was making. Students are not allowed to enroll if it isn’t their choice, and they make all of the appointments and have to follow through to be part of the center. These kids want to be part of something positive. They want to succeed. They have hope.

But I am fearful for the future. We, as a society, as a community, increasingly vote for people who see education as a business. With bottom lines, profit/deficit goals, ‘targets’ that mean nothing to individuals and data gathering exercises that speak to international graphs and tables. Who is funding the basic tenements of global citizenship – where is the testing for compassion, empathy and responsibility for one’s actions?

If, for whatever reason, in the case of our boy enrolling today, all of the adults (including his parents) fail him in asking for help when school is SO unsafe that he needs to resort to violence after over a year of ‘trying to harden up’ (his own words) fails him – why is the ONE specialist school in his area (staffed to take a maximum of 20 kids for the greater Auckland area) the only answer?

I am fucking excited about my new job, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE tweens/teens/young people, and I think I’m good at ‘them’. But what about all those other kids? When will we, as a community, face the fact that NZ society and it’s voting is fucking them over?

This is what I worry about with my little Dutchmen: what if they go to a school one day where the teacher doesn’t give a shit that one of them is being isolated by the other kids on the basis of their friendship choices? What if my kid is sticking up for the gay kid? Or the Pasifika kid (I have taught my kids, and will continue to teach them, that they must use their white, male, middle class privilege as a tool to support and protect others). Or the atheist kid? What if they can’t find adult role models in their schools to fight the good fight?

There isn’t room where I’m going for all of them.



It is weird to me that the first time I have had the inclination to blog in months has been today, driving home sad from work. You would think – at least I certainly would have thought – that driving home sad would have meant instead that I drove to the stupidmarket for a good bottle of red and went home to settle in.

I don’t know, is this, like, grown up stuff?

The reason I’m sad you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya dear diary, let me tell you.

After five years my girls are moving on. Yes this is a work post. Not a crazy restrictive diet post because I think we all learned our lesson there – heal thy gut by eating nothing blogger me was a failure, it was doomed from the start and achieved essentially nothing – this is instead a work thing. Because really, outside of my fucked up insides and my stupidly busy work life what do I have to write about? My sub-par parenting? You don’t want to hear about that.

Anyway back to why I’m sad. At my school you Dean for the length of time that the cohort attend, from their first day of Year 9 (third form for us oldies) to the last day of their Year 13 (seventh form). And it’s quite the ride. The girls arrive aged 12 ish and leave aged 18 ish. That’s quite a gap – and it’s a significant period of time to give yourself to someone. Let alone 300+ someones. Needless to say that the job takes it’s toll.

And I mean give yourself, because I firmly believe that without an emotional investment you are doing yourself and the students you care for a disservice. Yes, over the years I have learned how to pull back when necessary and how to ask for help or leave stuff at work. And I have never brought a grrl home to sleep on my couch – no matter what hell she has described to me – and I have known why and what would have been wrong to do that but jebus. You hear some stuff.

But apart from all the obvious stuff that is hard about Deaning; what I am going to miss is the joy. The reason I kept going – the reason I will miss it and the reasons it’s weird that they will go on Friday and be ‘not mine’ anymore – and it’s hard to process I guess because noone will really get why I’m so sad. The GD can try – but in fact he has been doing all the parenting this week and I would be really fucking surprised if he had the emotional faculties to give a shit – and he wouldn’t get it anyway.

For 5 years anytime these girls moved or breathed or made a sound and how they made other people feel about those movements, breaths or sounds reflected back on me. If they made a heap of noise I got an angry email or rant because I obviously hadn’t made it clear to them that they needed to be silent as mice all the time (this is a niggle with me – bear with me). If they were kind to juniors or polite to visitors I heard about how wonderful they were. My cohort received a record number of academic and effort based scholarships this year and I bask in their glory.

300 + young women spending their every day living their lives. Getting on with their shit, not thinking about anything but what was ahead of them and what they needed to do to get through their plans and in no way should they have been doing anything but that.

I can’t describe in words how proud of them they are so I won’t try. They give me hope, they give me life, on bad days they made me smile.

And now I have to figure out how to fill the gap they will leave.





Day 51 – TGIF

Grumpy cat is happy on friday

Friday friday, thank fuck it’s Friday! And because things aren’t still completely up and running at work I got to leave early-ish at 4. I was driving home and thinking, beautiful day; glass of wine by myself out the back in the sun before all the boys get home.

Oh yeah. That’s right. I don’t drink this year.

And actually, I had such a bad ear-ache from the too cold air-con at work that when I thought about it I realised that I didn’t actually want a glass of wine – I wanted a lie-down. Progress. If it had been last year, I would have come home and poured a cold, crispy, refreshing glass of Sav – and instantly my headache would have gotten worse. Instead – and I can’t believe I’m admitting this – I lay down, downed two full glasses of water and cruised around on the interwebs for a while… My ear-ache receded dramatically. Who’da thunk it?

Have you seen ‘The Katering Show‘? Oh my god. These women get me. I lost an hour of my life watching them and laughed and laughed and laughed. Even the GD cracked a smile. Kate McCartney is an australian version of me. Watch it.

Because it was friday and we are lazy, we got fish and chips for dinner. FYI Gluten-free fish and chips leave you feeling just as bloated and greasy as non gluten-free fish and chips. I sent the (very) grumpy Dutchman to The Ancient Mariner in Mt Eden because they have a dedicated gluten-free fryer. I told myself that it would be different this time. That I wouldn’t regret it because they understand me. They GET cross-contamination. I lied.


Looking forward to a kid-free day tomorrow doing errands – I might finally post the xmas parcels to the nieces and nephews! They’ll have given up waiting so it’ll be an even more pleasant surprise… at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Day 28 – Second proper day of work and the sugar cravings are back

I am tired man. Two full days of work and I’m shattered. I got home and immediately wanted to pick at sugary snacks. I had some Kombucha tea left in the fridge – but I have fallen in to the trap of thinking that because it’s the latest ‘health fix-all’ that it will be good for me – nope. 10mg of sugar. That’s heaps! So that’s out. Luckily – and I say this sincerely – there was nothing in the house that could break my resolve. I did eye the Nutella up. I spent many a good night with a jar of Nutella and a spoon believe me! But it is not Gf so it’s out and to be honest it wasn’t that tempting.

So the plan is to focus on the good things that happened today, feel tired, and go to bed early. Lot’s of good things happened in the last two days;

  • I finally figured out how to add another page to my blog. (Actually Kylee showed me – she’s way more bloggy than me – thanks Kylee!)
  • I have seen a big bunch of my girls today; feeling positive and looking forward to starting the year.
  • I got to cuddle a beautiful two week old baby boy. Nawwww baby snuggles.
  • It is nice to see all of my work colleagues looking so refreshed and relaxed as we start the year. All summer tans and smiles.
  • Boot camp was good this morning – and it was great to watch the sun rise.
  • I got a parcel in the mail. Yay for shoes arriving via post!
  • I finally have a right hand side indicator on my car.
  • The GD suggested watching 22 Jump st again tonight. Oh Channing.

And on that note – I am signing off!

photo (21)

Day 19 – settling the butterflies

Boot camp didn’t hurt so bad this morning. It helps that I’m a nosy bitch and a new woman started this morning and I coulda sworn I knew her. But…. She could have also have been off Shortland st or something. I’m always asking people where I know them from only to discover that I’m talking to an All Black or a ‘world famous in NZ’ actor or similar. Embarrassing. So I didn’t say Hi, for fear of being a dick… just watched all covertly and stalkerly and probably she won’t be back because of the creep in the fluro orange top…

It was boxing this morning and I was paired up with Simon which was good because he works hard and although he declined to ‘knock me off my feet’ as requested by the instructor (ha ha Nicole), he doesn’t hold back. And for the first time in four days I don’t hurt sitting down and standing up again – yay! Getting back in to the swing of things again and it feels good.

This post isn’t about food, although Alissa and I went to Kokako – a cafe I had forgotten about but it’s a Gf and DF gem and I totally recommend it – it is more about being good to yourself and balancing work/fun/relaxing to relieve the tension. I have had butterflies in my gut for the last few days and it isn’t helped by some unhappy results for my senior girls. It was getting worse and I know the only thing that can help – work. Sorting out the year ahead and shooing out the butterflies. But I’m gonna ease my way in to it.

So today Master 7 and I went to work for the first three hours of the day. He sat in the meeting room and got completely screen stoned on Minecraft videos (7 year old heaven) while I went though the piles of paper on my desk. All I managed to do today was sort paper but it was a start – and my office mate will be pleased when I finally clear some of the junk. And tomorrow I will go in and delete emails. ALL the emails. I get a ‘your outlook is full’ message EVERY day. I’m not even exaggerating. It takes hours to do even make a dent. Hours.

And then, after a lovely lunch and catch up, me and the boy went to the beach. Just us, no phones or distractions, just me and the dude. We built a sand castle, I sat on the beach and watched him frolic, I sun bathed, and paddled and eventually (once the tide came in) went in the water and had my first swim of the season. I know – but better late than never. It was bliss. The water was so warm and the sun was so hot and there was hardly anyone else there because it was a week day. So we are going to do it every day this week; we might even invite the grumpy Dutchman and the littlest dude, but maybe we won’t because all of us together can start to fuck with my bliss.

It was a reminder that part of my ‘Year of health’ is also the stress relieving, the work life balance, and taking time out. I needed to go to work for my sanity, but I can keep my own hours this week and balance is the key. I need to hang with my little men – preferably one at a time so I don’t lose my mind – and believe it or not this is all good for my gut.

So if you are looking for me any afternoon this week, you’ll find me lying around on the beach getting my tan on, maybe reading my book, but mostly watching master 7 make friends with all the kids on the beach and enjoying this amazing summer.

Take care of you.