For the teachers

This is a shout out to my teacher peeps.

This week, my kid expressed his unhappiness at school in a way that could not be ignored, and it couldn’t be misinterpreted.

And the response from the school has been heartening. Teachers who have worked with my boy have been shocked, and distressed, and they have made the time to set things in motion for change.

There have been teachers in his past that have ignored, minimised and disregarded his challenges, and his feelings about school, and my advocacy for my boy. But the last two days I have seen three teachers go above and beyond to make sure that this situation gets turned around.

And one special teacher, who happens to be a friend to both Squid and I, who took time out of her busy life to make sure we are supported and informed, and nurtured – you can’t know what your advocacy has meant.

I am hopeful that things will change really soon. And if it does, it will be down to great teachers, working passionately within a system that constrains and stifles where it should lift up and celebrate these wonderful people.

Thank you for the work you do.

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Gainful Emloyment

The New Zealand government has a philosophy that all kids should be catered to in the school environment.  

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association describes school policy as a framework that integrates culture and practice, values and actions. Inclusive schools ensure that the principles of inclusion are embedded in their policies, plans, and actions. They develop specific policies for the inclusion of students with special education needs…”

Which is great, right?

So Squish’s school has approached me to ask if I might consider helping out as a teachers aide for a few weeks while they get a more permanent person in to work with a new kid.  I’ve started back at uni, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to juggle work and uni and family in the longer term.  

The new kid has a global developmental delay, and he needs an aide with him the whole time while he is at school.  I did my first shift today.  

And it was fine.  He’s a lovely kid, responsive and keen to try new things, and he has loads of energy and enthusiasm.  It was hard work, but I can see that working with him has the potential to be quite rewarding in the long term.

But yesterday, a teacher in the same school told me that there simply wasn’t enough resources to be able to give my kid the differentiation and attention that he needs in order to be integrated into exactly the same school.  That he would need to be home schooled if I wanted his learning to be tailored to his needs.

So much as I hate the whole “my kid is a precious snowflake” syndrome, it is rather a double standard to claim that the school can be all things to all kids – except the ones at the wrong end of the bell curve.

At the Mind Plus information session we went to last week, I asked about emerging research and best practice in the field of teaching gifted kids.  Internationally, more countries are starting to have classes just for gifted kids, and that these classes give kids the best opportunity to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.  

NZ policy is to cater to everyone, and giving extra support where it is required within the school setting – just not to kids like Squish, who struggle at the other end of the spectrum.

Sydney Siege

Squish Kitten
Here is a picture of my kitten with a Hello Kitty face. To distract from the awful crap I am about to talk about.

A lovely friend just asked me to sign a petition asking for bail laws to be toughened so people like Man Haron Monis won’t be able to put innocent lives at risk in future.

I chose not to sign, because I believe that we must choose between a justice system that is there purely to punish wrongdoers, and a justice system that rehabilitates. If we believe in a rehabilitation model, then we must allow bail. And that will always carry a risk that someone will reoffend. Or, as in this case, take his vendetta against “the system” out on innocents.

Far better, would be a justice system, and a family court system that treats violence against women as a real crime. If his history of sexual assault had been taken seriously in the first place, is it possible that incarceration could have prevented these other crimes that he has been convicted of, and therefore avoided this siege in the first place (ostensibly in protest at he “wrongful conviction” for said crimes).

How is it that he faced more legal trouble over sending offensive letters than for the sexual assault of multiple women while in the role of a mentor and spiritual advisor?

Frankly, the last two days have really rattled me, but I think we are asking ourselves the wrong questions about why this happened. Let’s throw more money at refugee support services, mental health initiatives, and change the way we think about violence towards women.

And now, I am going to spend some time with a gin bottle, and search the internet for cute bunny pictures.

In which I shamelessly brag about my kid

I get it. Every parent thinks the sun shines out of that poorly wiped bum. And every non parent rolls their eyes at the beginning of every anecdote.

Believe me, I know I am boring. And your problems are bigger than mine. I know. And I care.

But I have no self control.

I wish I had three kids to brag about. I wish I could mix it up a bit. But I can’t. I only have the one kid to dote on, and I am going to keep doting on him.

I do try to tag all of my doting posts under “Spawn” so if you want to opt out it’s easy not to read those posts and stick to my political rants and cooking. You’ll probably think I am a much nicer and more interesting person, that is fine with me.

And in person, I’ll try to keep my adoration of the firstborn down to a dull roar. But here, on my blog, there will probably be a lot of Squishyness.

So. Best Start.

Inigo spent an hour with Mrs D. I waited outside the classroom. Usually the parent goes in for a while until the kid feels comfortable, but Inigo and Mrs D go way back, they met in school transition, and it was pretty much love at first sight for him. He wandered off without a backward glance, and I was happy that Mrs D was the teacher with him, I trust her too.

I spent an hour with Wolf Hall, and then he popped out, Mrs D said, “He did really well. Really well”.

He had a little snack while I talked to another mama outside the class, and on the way home I asked him what had happened in the class. As usual he got cross. He finds it hard to tell stories about his day because he can’t remember every detail, and gets frustrated when I ask.

So I let it lie.

Then he piped up with, “Mrs D asked me what would happen if we took the M away from the word MEAT. I said ‘eat”, and she did a little dance”. “She said it was her happy dance and that she had never had a kindy kid get that before”.

And I was happy.

Not because my kid is extraordinary (I am sure there are loads of other clever kids about to start school this year!), but because my kid has a teacher that takes real joy in teaching, in learning, in achievement. This anecdote illustrates that she cares about her job, and that she cares about the outcomes, and that she cares about my child.

Starting school is a big step for me. But I know he will be ok.

Thank you Mrs D, and also to all of the other teachers who care enough to do such a tough job. Public schools rock!

Making it better


Project-L Song can be purchased on iTunes – I did!

It absolutely flabbergasts me that someone like Magda STILL has to think seriously about coming out. She is a massive star, loved by all Australians, and yet she waited till 2012 to publicly talk about her sexual orientation.

Just for a minute, think about having to make that decision, think about having to decide, worrying about how you would be perceived, whether you would every get the same job offers, the same party invitations.

Think about what it means to be so vulnerable to the whims of public opinion. I was born in the 70’s, when David Bowie wore make up, and Elton John and Liberace were “flamboyant”, but no-one was ever openly gay.

Then in the ’90s, AIDS came along, and the hatred and fear was out in the open. In the last decade, the heteros started going to mardi gras, and it was cool to have a gay boyfriend (if you were a girl!).

We’ve come a long way, but obviously, watching Magda tonight, not far enough.

There is no point talking about being “almost equal”, Australia needs full legal equality, so that our kids don’t have to deal with this crap.

It’s great to say “it gets better”, but it’s far better to fight to make it better. Today.

Marriage inequality is the last remaining barrier to legally entrenched discrimination.

I wouldn’t be happy with a civil union.

Would you?

Happy Valentines Day. I love youse all.