Not your ordinary boob job!

Each Monday night, I hold a children’s group while their parents are learning about Loving Our Kids on Purpose. I currently have 8 kids from 3 years to approx 7 years old. Tonight I took them to the Primary playground (it has a gate they can’t open and this is important!). For the past 3 weeks, the older boys have been playing “Super Secret Agent Assassin Ninja Zombie Heroes” and this week one of the SSAANZs was under the lowest part of the fort.

“What are you doing under there, Ninja Assassin Zombie?” I asked.

“I’m making a booby trap!” he replied, happily.

“That sounds fabulous,” I said. “All the bad guys better watch out!”

“Yeah, anyone who comes under here gets their boobies chopped off!”

😲🤤

I’m not kidding. He wasn’t being cheeky, not silly about being able to say “boobies”, just an obvious answer when you’re 7, apparently.

When I could contain my laughter and breathe normally again, I couldn’t help but broach the subject again. I’m a teacher, it’s kinda my job, you know?

“Did you know that even though they’re called booby traps, it doesn’t mean that boobies get chopped off?”

I had not finished speaking before he jumped in, shocked that I would even suggest such a thing,

“Yes, it does. That’s what happened to my dad!”

“Pardon?” This I have to hear.

“Yes. That’s what happened to my dad in First War 2. He went in a booby trap and got his boobies chopped off. That’s why he’s got no boobies any more!”

I’m not often speechless.

Veritas,

Eski.

PS. Thanks to Dee Hudson of Striving to be Kind for the “Conversations” idea.

Not my story, obviously.

I can see why some people aren’t sure if Sam’s story is real or not. I mean, I’m a 41 year old woman, not a 16 year old boy. I don’t have the requisite parts to have testicular cancer. This is true. And so is Sam’s story.

“Nuts, A Ball and other 4-letter Words.”

He’s a real person. Not his real name for the sake of privacy. This is his journey for a short/horrifically long period of his life so far. This is the story, too, of anyone who has been dealt the punch to the face (knee to the groin?) that cancer is. It’s also the story of winning. Of not spelling cancer with a capital C. Of making it. Of living life anyway, of growth and regrowth. Of sharing instead of hiding. Of kissing and sex. Of separation and belonging. Just Life. It’s the story of family and yet it isn’t.

I spoke to most of Sam’s family while his personal story bubbled in my head and came flowing out in words both his and mine.

I spoke to his big brother who, although uncomfortable in some ways talking to a relative stranger, made his love love for his family, even an annoying younger brother, very clear.

I spoke with his little sister, who thought I was a little crazy and made a rude comment about my shoe choices….fair call, though. The two of us forged a friendship that was close, for a while, and sang the real lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ ‘Little Lion Man’ really, really loudly, just because we could. Now she’s not a ‘little’ sister any more, but a beautiful, engaged young woman with whom a coffee date seems elusive. And I spoke with Mum.

I wondered if she thought I was odd, a teacher and mother of children of my own, befriending her kids. Apparently not, thankfully. And I loved them. Hearing their stories; getting a little into their lives.

Weird, isn’t it, how quickly that depth of feeling can come? And go. Not the feeling, just the actual spending time. It just drifts off sometimes. I don’t really know why. Happens far more often than I’d like, that sort of fading. Anyway, I’m getting morose.

So Mum let me hang out. And talk to her kids. And to her. She told me all of her experiences of Sam’s diagnosis, treatment, surgery and eventual recovery. I think I expected more tears, more drama. But you’ve already read that’s not her style. So it was fact and explanation of both circumstances and emotions.

I always meant to write the whole story. The whole truth for the whole family, but I couldn’t write Mum’s perspective. When I voiced her, my pen stopped. I, who had children of my own and knew how mums felt when their children hurt. I, who could scrawl out the story of a teenager’s masturbation and fantasy, couldn’t find the words to share this mother’s battle for her boy.

Why?

I’m sorry that I couldn’t find your voice with my pen. I’m sorry that I couldn’t express your fear, or the knowledge that you just had to do what you had to do. I’m sorry ’cause I wanted to tell of your courage, your love. I wanted to write more. I don’t think I could go there, you know, because it would have been bloody hard. I haven’t looked at my notes in years, but I have one thing that I’ve always remembered.

When mums hug their children, we often put our hands on their heads, ruffle their hair up a bit. And it’s a sign of affection, of casual ‘love ya, mate’ warmth. But for you it became more. Discreetly, under the guise of casual, you’d check your not-so-little boy’s scalp and neck for the telltale heat of fever and bumps of possible infection. I already knew how I felt when I held my ‘babies’ and I think I couldn’t find your voice cause I didn’t want to even imagine having to watch them so closely, so scared. I knew I didn’t know, couldn’t even guess and I didn’t want to do you or your feelings injustice.

So there it is. Honesty. I’ve finally made myself look at it as more than just writer’s block.

If you haven’t read Sam’s story yet, you could start here.

Love,

Mandy. 🐛<<
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‘Scuse me, Miss!

It’s only been about 6 weeks since I last stood in front of a class and (hopefully) taught. It’s been less than 48 hours since I sat in someone else’s. And today, it begins again. And I’m scared.

Yes, scared. I know it seems unreasonable, because I love the school I’m at. I love the kids (most of them – veritas serum again). I love to teach. I love the connections; momentary or long lasting. I love the lightbulb moments. I love surprising the teenagers by knowing about the latest apps, games and songs. I love the reactions I see when they realise that I’m a person and I have a home. I believe the generally accepted school of thought is that teachers live in a box under their desk. I love to throw lesson plans out the window and ride the wave of a valuable tangent. I love it when a lesson plan and said lesson actually are the same. So why am I scared?

I’m scared because every ‘night before’ I fear being found out. I fear that someone, somewhere, somehow will discover that I’m actually not very good at this. I’m scared that I actually won’t be. I’m scared they won’t like me. I’m scared that despite my planning and best efforts, the whole thing goes pear shaped.

This is unfounded. In almost 7 years of teaching so far, none of this has proven true.

Oh, there have some pretty spectacular muck-ups; by no means has perfection taken up residence. Some days, I’m actually not very good at it. Some days only I know that. Some days I’m sure I’m the only one who doesn’t. But some days, I’m brilliant! Some days, they don’t like me. Some days I don’t like them all that much either. But some days I’m the ‘best teacher ever!’ I have it on the authority of a coffee mug. Some days pear shaped would be a bonus. But some days, we are the whole fruit salad!

I could cheerfully forget the times I’ve been taken to task for not following guidelines. I could be okay without memories of 6 dismal months of ‘that class’ in Year 10 History. If I never melt a plastic box on a hot plate in the Home Ec kitchen again, I’ll die content. Broken bones, cut fingers, burns and seizures; you can keep them.

But there are jewels too. The consistent C- who got a B. The sudden, and totally unexpected, discovery of a student’s flair for writing flowery Shakespearean prose. The spark of understanding.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll know both sides of that battered, but still valuable, coin. You’ll know the highs and the lows. You’ll understand the billions of possible reactions you might have to the simple phrase, “Scuse me, Miss?”

And you’ll be scared. And you’ll love it. All at the same time.

Veritas,

Eski 🐛