… and frankly, good riddance!
Some years are good, some years are bad. 2012 was a particularly bad year for us.
We’ve had family troubles, school troubles, financial troubles…. It’s just been a woeful year on several accounts.
It started off in Feb, when I spoke out about something that had been kept hidden in the family (which I’m not able to mention, for reasons I can’t say – and I’ve had to temporarily remove the previous blog posts relating to it)…. which didn’t go down well with the family. I’ve copped a fair amount of nastiness and abuse because of it. My mother in particular. It went back and forth between her saying “You’re disgusting and I never want to speak to you again” type stuff and her saying she wanted to work it out – but she wouldn’t discuss anything to try and work it out. It was clear it wasn’t going to get resolved, so I tried to then break the ties with my family and move on – first just asking them to stop contacting me or coming to the house – then getting a lawyer to write to them to impress upon them the seriousness of my request and what legal avenues I could pursue if they continued to harass me…. but in the end, toward the end of the year I had to get their phones blocked from calling my house, and the equivalent of a restraining order out against mum.
Losing my immediate family like that, as also meant most of my extended family is now lost to me too…. as most of the time we would see them together – at things like Xmas. Which is now not possible. Also some of them have taken the opinion that I’m in the wrong and shut me out of their life.
Poor MiniObsi has been unable to see my parents because of this, which she’s understandably upset about. We felt that in the frame of mind my parents were in, it was not good for MiniObsi to be around them. Made harder because just before all that happened we’d thought it best to prepare her for the fact that my father’s cancer treatments were starting not to work, and that he was deteriorating (as mum had said back in Feb it could be only a matter of months) So she was basically told about the cancer then unable to see him again. Which has been hard on her. Though it’s her “Nanna” she misses most. Xmas was something I was quite worried about, since we have always seen my family on Xmas day, and this year we would not be. But we managed to have a lovely day with the inlaws, and MiniObsi didn’t make any comments about missing out on seeing my family. So that was good. Thankfully I have been in contact with one of my uncles who will organise us getting together with my grandparents, and he brought around their Xmas presents to us – so that’s good. I still have them in my life!
MiniObsi’s school has been ridiculous. It started off with her teacher going on holiday to Bali in the second week of school. I think for memory she was gone 10 days, and then when she came back she was off again sick with “Bali Belly” for a week or so too. The only way we heard about her holiday was when MiniObsi mentioned a different teacher’s name – one of the relief teachers. So the year started off with relief teachers and not much stability. The teacher then revealed she was pregnant, so there seemed to be a fair few sick days (presumably morning sickness). There was an issue to do with handwriting. MiniObsi and a few others in the class were denied their “handwriting license” (allowing them to do cursive script instead of printed letters), because there was a problem with their writing. It turns out that *all* the kids from the class MiniObsi was in the year before, had been taught to do their N’s and M’s incorrectly (which impacted upon them joining the letters together), so they had to relearn that way before they were given their license. Sounds like nothing, but it’s a big milestone the kids look forward to getting in grade 3. So to be denied because your previous teacher taught you something wrong, is a kick in the pants.
Then mid-year we had an issue with one of the programs their class was doing. They were doing a healthy eating program (which is good), but as part of that, they were set weekly challenges they had to do or they would “fail” that week’s challenge. These things included drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day, eating fish 3 times a week, having a container of vegetables to keep on their desk to nibble on and so on. I took exception to the idea that the school could define what the kids *had* to eat/drink in order to pass their schoolwork, and MiniObsi takes schoolwork seriously and was adamant she needed to do all that because she didn’t want to “fail”. So I decided she wouldn’t participate, and spoke to the principal (citing that drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day is actually against medical advice and irresponsible for the school to push). He basically said it was compulsory and if I didn’t like it, I should find another school. o.O
At the same time I’d brought up with him another issue I’d had – where 20 of the kids in the class had been chosen to participate in a basketball activity. The remaining 4 kids in the class (including MiniObsi) were then sent to sit in on grade 3 or 5 classes for the day and basically did nothing. We only found out about this after it happened, with MiniObsi commented on how it wasn’t fair (not that she’d wanted to go, but it’s still not nice being one of the kids not picked to go). The kids who went were chosen because they were better at basketball, and they all got free McDonalds vouchers – handed out to them in class infront of the kids who weren’t able to go. How mean! I pointed out to the principal that this sends the message to those 4 kids that they are unwanted/not good enough, and that surely a better approach (like trying to include all the kids somehow) would be better. He disagreed with me (saying basically life is full of disappointments, deal with it) until I asked him if he knew what it felt like to be picked last on a sports team – to feel useless and unwanted…… he sheepishly then said he could see my point 😛
Then the teacher went on maternity leave and we had the last 2 weeks of term 3 with one relief teacher, who I’ve never really liked (she was also the long-term relief teacher when MiniObsi’s prep teacher got pregnant and left half way through the year [this is the 3rd teacher she’s had go on maternity leave during the year – and she’s only in grade 3!]) , but had to go talk to when she’d teased MiniObsi and made her cry. Admittedly MiniObsi can be quite sensitive, but she’d put on 2 school hats so she could carry them easier, and the teacher had then said something about “2 hat” and MiniObsi had asked her not to call her that (and Mini’s “Don’t call me that” voice makes NO MISTAKE about the seriousness of the matter)… so the teacher had then gone on to do the (very childish) singsong ” ok… 2 hat, 2 hat, 2 hat” thing. So MiniObsi cried telling me about it when she got home! But also… MiniObsi had one day done this thing to me, and I’d asked where she’d learned that and it was from that teacher – so I’d had words to her about that as well. What it was, was that if they did something “wrong” (like forgetting to capitalise a letter) she’d say “hold out your hand, I’ll give you a smack” and if you held it out palm down, she’d say “turn it over, it’ll hurt more”…. so you turn it over so palm is up – then she would ever so gently *just* touch your palm with her finger. Which she and the kids thought was hilarious….. Myself and some other mums I told this to, did not find it funny at all! sure, she’s not actually smacking them… and after kids see her do it to another kid, they know they aren’t getting a smack – but it’s totally inappropriate (IMHO) for a teacher to say she’s going to smack a child – even in jest…. and to tease kids. The teacher did see my point with both things, and apologised, so that was good.
Then for the last school term they got a new teacher. Who was universally disliked by parents and students it seemed. Everyone I spoke to hated her. She tore a page out of one boy’s workbook because his writing wasn’t neat enough. Allegedly said “Ohh for fuck’s sake” to one of the girls in the class (unfortunately with some careful probing of some of the other kids, we weren’t able to find anyone who heard it to prove she said it, so the mum didn’t feel she could take it up with the teacher). MiniObsi was in tears doing her computer maths homework one night because she was told that if she didn’t get 100% she had to keep doing it until she did (even if that took her longer than her allotted homework time) – and the maths program thing they use often won’t let them redo an assignment after they have done it – so she was panicking she’d get into trouble…. So we had to end up telling her we’d write her a note to say she didn’t have to get 100%.
This teacher was moving to WA at the end of the year – so towards the end of the year she was writing resumes and calling up for jobs and organising her moving – IN CLASS! For the kids to notice she was doing that, it must have been pretty blatant too. One of the other mums and I were wondering why they were spending so much time rehearsing a play (a play they were told they “have to be perfect” at – not a “do your best” or anything, no, they have to be perfect!) – but then MiniObsi commented once that they were all being the directors, because the teacher would get them to rehearse while she was on the phone and stuff. Lovely. One of the other mums said her daughter told her that the teacher was also frequently talking to her boyfriend on the phone in class too – but then so did the first teacher who went to Bali……
But the piece de resistance….. Friday on the second last week of school, MiniObsi comes home and says “<the teacher> is wrong!” and I’ve gone “huh?” and she’s gone “I can talk to you about anything”. She was quite angry and upset, so I asked her what she was going on about. The teacher had basically told them that when they are having problems with friends at school, they should not tell their parents, because the parents will go on facebook and post about it. Obviously there had been some facebook scrag fights or something happening that I was unaware of (since none of the school mothers are on my facebook friends list)….. but to tell kids not to talk to their parents, I thought was a bit off. So I called the school and spoke to the teacher. She told me that some kids were going through a rough time, because their parents are sick and the kids can’t talk to them… so she’d given them a talk and what she’d meant was that if you can’t talk to your parents (because they are sick or busy), come to talk to her instead of your parents because she could help…. and that yes, some parents were posting about other kids on facebook. She said she’d “managed to solve all the world’s problems – it was great”….. I asked her if she had any counseling experience, and she got offended and said her teacher training had included that, so yes. So I pointed out that MiniObsi misinterpreted what she’d said, because she can talk to us…. and so she might like to clarify things on Monday in case anyone else took from that “don’t talk to your parents, talk to me”, instead of “If you can’t talk to your parents, talk to me”.
But then, questioning MiniObsi over the weekend, I found more of what had happened. What she’d done was get the girls together in their “cliques” (Mini called them “groups” but clearly there are cliques and it’s a problem), and must have had a chat to them about how they should be friends and include each other (Mini wasn’t called up). But then she got all the girls to sit in a circle and she’s got them to go around and tell each other the problems they have with each other! So of course all but about 2 of the girls were crying (coz it’s lovely when people say stuff about you – and 9 year old girls are ever the tactful creatures!). MiniObsi was forced to say something – she didn’t want to but the teacher pressed her. So she ended up with a “nothing that hasn’t already been said” (which was nice and tactful, I’m proud :D). And she asked one of the girls if she could tell everyone about her family – the girl begrudgingly said yes… the teacher then went on to say that the girl’s father was dying of cancer (and then basically said that’s why she has been difficult to get along with, and to cut her some slack – which is likely true, but not really what you should say!)…… and that’s when she also went on to say the “bring your troubles to me, not your parents” thing.
So I wasn’t happy about that at all…. That poor girl is obviously going through a rough time, and MiniObsi has her grandfather’s cancer always on her mind (and had started seeing the school counselor to help her through her feelings on that and not seeing them) – so I think any discussion on that sort of thing, and anything where she’s bringing up emotional stuff – should have been done with parental consent and with the school counselor present (or run by her)….Since she’s a child psychologist and knows how to deal with children’s sensitive emotions. And sitting girls around and getting them to tell each other what you dislike about them, is not nice! I spoke to a couple of other mums, who were also not impressed at all.
So I wrote a letter to the principal. Saying that I don’t feel what the teacher did was appropriate – and asking what policies the school has for parental consent before counseling sessions are done (and if class teachers should have the ability to do counseling). Got back a scribbled reply back, saying we were lucky to have such a caring and wonderful teacher, and that he reiterates, if I’m unhappy at the school, I should leave. So I was furious and wrote to the education department, scanning in his letter to show them. They did look into it, and the school was supposed to contact me back, but they didn’t. They did say though that while they couldn’t discuss what would have been said about the concerns I raised, the principal would have been spoken to about telling me I should leave the school (twice), because that was very inappropriate. So I hope he got hauled over the coals for that one!
Post office issues…….
Aust Post have effectively doubled their postage rates to the US for small parcels now, which has pretty much ended any more sales I’ll get from the US – a large portion of my business 😦
In June I think it was, my Belly dance school was doing a concert and I ordered a skirt online for it. My post office gave my parcel to someone else. Thankfully they also didn’t scan it out, so because it was showing as being still in the post office, I was able to put an investigation in…. It ended up being posted back to the post office (by whoever had got it by mistake) and I got it, a month later. Then I got a call from the school to say they had been given one of my packages. So that’s twice they have given my parcels to someone else! I’m also still missing 2 parcels that are unfortunately not traceable, but have got lost along the way. One was supposed to be an Xmas present for my sister-in-law, the other was some pads posted to me in August for a combined Halloween pad giveaway 😦 Luckily because this mail is all sent to my post office box, I’ve got some form of recourse for stuff that doesn’t arrive. I ended up having to call in the postal industry ombudsman though, because I kept getting the runaround from Aust Post. This is in addition to the post office staff being woefully inept at their jobs. New people took over just before Xmas 2011, and they still don’t know enough to have a smoothly running post office. They are Indian and have trouble communicating with customers (and us with them) – so it takes a long time for people to be served. And since I run an online business – I’m frequently in the post office posting stuff! Hubby went in one day and one of the guys had yellow (curry?) stains on his white shirt….. and there’s often a roll of toilet paper and old takeaway coffee cups on the back counter…. I mean, seriously!?!
PHD and Money worries….
Then there’s the fact hubby was finishing off a PHD. An all consuming beast. Obviously that has been going on for a few years, but this last year had been the worst. Because it took longer than expected, the scholarships ran out, so we’ve had virtually no income – just what little my business brings in and what he has got with some tutoring. Not enough to cover the cost of living – even for us quite frugal people. But with the emotional stuff that’s been happening all year with my family, I closed my store for a couple of months and haven’t had the energy to put much into it when it was open… so I’ve earned less money. We’ve spent the year stressing about money. We’ve used up all the savings we had (so things like our roof that needs repairing because it leaks, can’t happen)…… and now we face a new year with no money at all……. we just have to pray his thesis is accepted without needing too much work on it, and that he can get a job quickly.
Also because he’s been busy doing that – we’ve had a lot of the year where he has been unable to spend time with us. No picnics or taking MiniObsi to the park. Not much time for helping keep the house in order. I’m quite a shy person IRL and I don’t like to go to things on my own (and I don’t like driving in unfamiliar places) – so there have been *so many things* I’ve missed out on, because either we didn’t have the money to go, or he’s been to busy to go and I’ve been unwilling to go on my own 😦 I’ve had to pretend we were busy and couldn’t make it to something, when in reality we just couldn’t justify the expense of going. We’ve lost contact with lots of friends because we’ve not gone to any of the get togethers. It’s especially hard for things like the SCA events… since it was hubby who started in the SCA I feel a bit weird going to things without him… especially since we’ve been gone for so long.
But, I guess to finish off with the good that happened in 2012…….
MiniObsi started Karate. Something we got her into because a friend’s child was doing it and we thought it could be good to ‘toughen up’ MiniObsi a bit and give her a hobby (she wanted to do ballet, but I’m very against that!). She’s done quite well at it, and while we had a bit of a stumble with her enthusiasm a few months ago (where she said she didn’t want to go any more, but we managed to convince her because we’d prepaid)… I think she’s back on track and willing to continue. One Sensei keeps saying how well she’s doing and seems very impressed by her, so it would be a shame for her to stop. I’d love to see her get to black belt!
I started Belly dancing again. After longing for it for many years, and even though we couldn’t really afford me starting up again – I found 2 different classes to go to and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying going. To be honest it’s probably the thing that saved me for the year. It was the one thing I could look forward to each week, and as shitty as my life felt, I knew I had at least 1 hour twice a week where I could do something for me and forget about things for a while.
I got a portal gun 😀