5-4-3-2-1, Andddd…. It’s a Wrap!

SOLSC 2022: Day 31!!!

This is inspired by Erin, who writes on One Miraculous Mama, and who sliced her version of the 5-4-3-2-1 format, which was inspired by Carol. I have seen this format on another blog site as well, and have previously encouraged my students to write it too. They never did. Funny how my students NEVER go with the ideas I give them for their daily writing. They’ll remain stuck for ideas, but won’t go with any suggestions.

Here is my version of the 5-4-3-2-1 format:

5 things that made me smile this past week:

  • One of my students told me, “Miss, we can talk with you, like really talk. I don’t think we’ve been so open and honest with any other teacher ever.”
  • My 17-year old son had his farewell party in school. He’s all set to graduate soon. How fast they grow up!
  • I met someone who loved the series ‘Ozark’ as much as I did, and was as fascinated with the characters as I was.
  • My weekly ‘sister Zoom’ was full of jokes, gossip, and crazy laughter.
  • We had a spontaneous early morning Slicer meet-up in school, in my classroom, complete with pictures, something to eat, and total joy. Eight of us have been slicing from one building, and it’s been one whirlwind month, but we did it! We range from first-timers to tenth-year Slicers, and each of our experiences was unique. It was sense of community at its best.

4 words to describe my upcoming week:

  • Busier than usual
  • Satisfying
  • Crucial
  • Productive

3 plans for this weekend

  • Pre-cooking
  • More pre-cooking
  • Grades

2 things I learned this past week:

  • As expensive as things are getting, we’re probably never getting back to pre-Covid levels of cost of living.
  • Ever so often, Worldle will throw up names of countries no one you know has ever heard of, making you want to quit playing, but you’ll still go back to it the very next day.

1 goal for next weekend:

  • Get over with some long-pending return dinner invites. For an introvert with social anxiety, that’s a long shot.

To the team at “Two Writing Teachers,” a huge thank you and a round of applause for making this month happen. To my ‘We Are Eight’ team at school: I wouldn’t have had the courage to take this on this year, had it not been for you all joining in. Thank you for helping me decide! To all the Slicers who read, commented on, and/or liked our posts, thank you for helping us feel seen and included. To all the other Slicers, it was a privilege to read your posts and get to know a Slice of your lives. It’s been very interesting to get to know people from across continents. I have grown and learned something every day of this month. For the next so many weeks, I will keep coming back to read Slices I missed out on this month. I don’t want to ket anything go unread!

We Are Eight! ❤️ 💖

Logical Fallacies

SOLSC 2022: Day 30

My seventh graders are at the end of their argument-writing unit. I am teaching the same unit simultaneously to the seventh and eighth grades. It has been a fantastic experience doing that. The teaching points, the sequence of sessions, all remain the same, but I have to raise the level of expectations a few notches to challenge my brilliant batch of eighth graders. I have absolutely loved doing that, stepping out of and beyond the confines of the unit of study, tweaking it to suit two different grade levels.

Yesterday, I taught my seventh graders about logical fallacies used in arguments. We looked at different arguments, tried to figure out what was wrong and to understand the ‘fallacy’ part in it. I struggled to get the drift across to them. They struggled to understand the full meaning. I tried different approaches, and was at my wits’ end, thinking, Maybe this is a hard concept for them to understand. In my mind, I decided to do this same lesson with the eighth graders, and to discard what I had prepared for them ‘to take them some notches higher.’ For if seventh graders were not getting this, how would eighth graders get the several-notches-higher lesson I had painstakingly prepared the previous night?

With that thought, I sent them off for their ten-minute snack break. When they returned, it was time for our news reading for the day. We watched the president of one country talk about another in scathing terms, discrediting the person rather than the issue they’ve been fighting over. Suddenly, one kid piped up, “That’s a logical fallacy!” Another chimed in, “That’s character assassination!” “Ad hominem!” said another quiet student. All of a sudden, the class was abuzz with how politicians use logical fallacies with us, the public, their target audience, all the time.

It was an Emperor’s New Clothes moment for me. In my head, I could actually hear the voice of the kid in the cartoon I remember from my childhood, screaming, “But he has nothing on! The king has nothing on at all!” I beamed at my students, a happy and proud teacher’s beam.

Yesterday Kristi of I’m Writing Too wrote in her post – “You’ve Made it – Basically” – and I realized that I will not have the time to try out some of the formats I’ve been wanting to try. I was mentally trying to sift the ideas, thinking which one I want to prioritize to write today, when this incident occurred. And I just had to write about this. 😊

’83 and My Takeaways

SOLSC 2022: Day 24

I’ve just finished watching the Indian movie ’83. It is a heartwarming movie set in the year 1983 and tells the story of India’s first World Cup cricket victory that year. India started as gross underdogs, not even getting passes in advance for Lord’s, the stadium in London which was to be the venue for the finals. Their return tickets were also booked for five days before the semifinals. No one, not even the Cricket Board back in India, expected them to win. But win they did, breaking a couple of existing individual world records at the time. They also went on to win hearts across a cricket-crazy nation, even putting out some flared tensions between communities in a small town at the time.

However, these are not my takeaways from the film. I kept pausing the movie in between to talk with my husband about the stark contrast in sports then and now. How much more money, how much more glamor there is in sports now! Obviously, the rules have evolved, but so has the commercialization. With huge corporates now involved, trillions spent on advertising and promotions, with every public appearance of and every word uttered by celebrities being sponsored and monitored, with so much more at stake now, I wondered if somewhere, the essence of the sport is lost. And this is not just with cricket; other popular sports have also gone the glamor way. And again, this glamorization and commercialization is not restricted only to sports; world cinema, the music industry, they’ve all fallen prey to the marketing scam. While that route has definitely provided us viewers with more entertainment, excitement, and eye candy, the real essence may have been compromised maybe? Or maybe not? Anyway, the two-hour long movie took us 3 1/2 hours to finish because we had so much to compare and talk about in between!

Another thing we noticed is the difference the presence of social media has made. Players would make remarks at press conferences, or argue with each other, or say stuff even then, but the world came to know about it only in the next day’s newspaper. Mostly, people would discuss this at home, or among friends or at bars and clubs. We didn’t have the privilege of tweeting our instant reaction to let the whole world know what we thought, or of trolling the players for their remarks or for their outfits, or of wondering whether everything was staged and scripted. In fact, in the movie, I came to know (apparently the husband always knew this fun fact) that one of the matches where the then-captain Kapil Dev smashed a world-record breaking 175 runs was not even telecast as the BBC was on strike that day, and there are no recorded visuals of that match! The commentary that was heard on radio and some pictures are there, but no videos. Imagine how badly the BBC would be trolled if that happened today!

I’m definitely not against social media; I spend a huge fraction of my day on it myself, and cannot dream of my life without it. But sometimes I do think we humans were more simple and uncomplicated without it – that life itself was simpler and more uncomplicated without it.

Chalk and Cheese

SOLSC 2022: Day 28

My husband and I are even less alike than the proverbial chalk and cheese.

He needs the certainty of routine; I thrive when there’s change. He retires to bed early; I stay awake just to stay awake. He ignores problems and waits for them to blow over by themselves (and they do blow over and get wished away); I need to talk and hash things out (they never get hashed out). He keeps away from any risk; I love taking risks. He’s mostly solemn; I laugh a lot. He’s mostly serious; I cry a lot. He’s patient; I’m not. He plans things meticulously in advance; I’m impulsive. He’s bound by tradition; I’m a rebel when it comes to tradition. He’ll do things just because his parents said so; I’m blasphemous when it comes to following tradition just because someone said so. His idea of utopia is to be surrounded by his family – parents, siblings, wife, children; I need my downtime and my solitude. He’s duty-bound: No matter what, however late the guests leave, he’ll finish his share of the dishes and throw out the trash ; I’ll just toss the task aside to finish at a later time: “I’ll do it tomorrow.”.

But well, the chalk and cheese have found their meeting point, and the twain have met, and survived each other for over two decades!!

There’s Something About Childhood

SOLSC 2022: Day 27

I introduced the Classroom SOLSC to my seventh and eighth graders today. The seventh graders wanted time in class to write, while the eighth graders wanted to write at home. Both will get their wishes granted.

As I sit reading their posts, one in particular catches my eye. In Not Leaving Childhood, Catherine writes that she misses her childhood already! At fourteen, she already wants to go back to being a little child, free to play with her dolls and kitchen sets. And I’m wondering, what is it about childhood that makes us long for those years so badly? I’m sure all of us adults have yearned for our childhood on more than one occasion. Why? Is it the unrestrained impulsiveness, the enthusiasm, the zeal for the simple things in life that we miss? Is it the faith in people and in life we had that we miss? Is it the simple joys, the ability of throwing all caution to the wind, to laugh unabashedly, to cry like no one’s watching that we miss? It’s definitely not the actual toys or the homes or the clothes – we get those in more abundance and variety now – rather, it’s the way those things made us feel. Isn’t there any way to get those feelings of carefree abandon, of being in a safety net, of loving and of being loved unconditionally, back? If we’re all the same people, and if all of us admit ‘those were the days,’ then what stops us from keeping those times and being the way we were?

These same youngsters, who are still children actually, talk so regularly and casually about depression and anxiety and needing therapy, it’s unnerving. They admit they’re under immense peer pressure. They’re aware of the rumor-mongering that goes on. They discuss family issues openly. They’re very candid and all of that, but it is those same teenagers who are behind the peer pressure and the rumor-mongering. Their life is insanely fast-paced. They don’t sleep well. There is a near-total absence of role models worth any real mettle. I know every generation has had, and continues to have, its share of conflict, but somehow it all seems to be going downhill faster. I’d give anything to be wrong there though. These youngsters, who are still children actually, already miss being children!

Catherine’s post had a very poignant feel to it.

No No No No, NOT Saturday!

SOLSC 2022: Day 26

Suzanne of Writintime wrote on her post Ah, Saturday today about her love for Saturdays. Now, I totally agree with her love for weekends. I feel the same emotions, albeit on and for different days of the week.

Let me explain.

Our weekends here are Friday and Saturday. So just the way Suzanne’s eyes flutter lazily open on Saturdays, mine heavily, reluctantly pull themselves open Friday mornings. I also wonder why my alarm didn’t go off, or whether it did and I put it off. I also look forward to my early morning tea, and actually get to savor it, rather than skip it, or, at best, burn my tongue on it. Breakfast is another luxury I also enjoy on Fridays.

But my favorite day of all is Wednesday. Wednesday is hope, Wednesday is anticipation. Wednesday is optimism. It is a warm, cozy, fuzzy feeling slowly creeping up to envelop my entire being. It brings a natural spring to my step just by its existence. It is like standing atop a mountain and enjoying the breathtaking, panoramic view before you. That’s what Wednesday feels like: a vista, a panorama before me. On Wednesday, no one and nothing can bother me, for tomorrow is Thursday, our equivalent of the world’s Friday. On Wednesday, I don’t mind staying up late to finish work. On Wednesday, I don’t mind if the kids stay up late., for tomorrow is Thursday. I can sing endless paeans to Wednesday. Its only competitor is last period on Thursday. They’re both vying for the top spot in my world. Last-Period-Thursday also brings that natural spring to my step. Last-Period-Thursday also never lets me down, always keeps my spirits up and soaring. I leave school Thursdays humming a happy song. The frown is gone, that muddled brain is relaxed, that hard-to-find smile is in the right place. Thursdays can be movie nights, Thursdays can be date nights, Thursdays can be spa nights. They can be reading marathon or midnight feast nights. They can be family or friends-meeting-up nights. They can be anything I want them to be. If Wednesdays are like standing atop a mountain and enjoying the panoramic view, Thursdays are like dozens of Lego boxes all opened and emptied on the carpet to let your imagination run wild and build what you want.

The actual weekends – Friday and Saturday – they’re great, no offense. But there’s that vague feeling of hurrying up to get things done. There’s grocery, there’s sleeping in, there’s laundry, there’s lesson plans, there’s WORK to be done. Sure, it’s all mine to do or not do, and to do at my own leisure, but it’s still WORK. And Saturdays, well, I’m afraid they’re no contenders for any top spot. Saturday mornings start off with the countdown. Saturdays are a race against time. Saturday mornings are grouchy creeping up. By evening, the pressure’s back. The WORK is still half undone. Even after all these years, Saturday evenings always bring butterflies into my stomach, not out of excitement, but out of some intangible nervousness. Is it dread? Not quite. Fear? No! It’s just the system getting ready to defy the odds and say, “Sunday, bring it on!”

And boy, does Sunday bring it on!

A Light-Hearted Ikea Day

SOLSC 2022: Day 25

Today, during a sibling video call, I noticed something familiar on my sister’s dining table. Small colorful plastic plates. She’d had a kids’ lunch party for her son’s friends, and I could some remnants behind. “Are those from Ikea?” I asked, knowing they were.

“Yes!” she laughed. I took the phone around the house and showed her the same plates, except I was using them to collect water under my potted plants. We realized how there are some pieces of Ikea furniture that are almost must-haves in every household. It’s funny how almost every home I know has those square coffee tables from Ikea; they come in white, yellow, and dark brown. Study desks, wall shelves, bookshelves, display cabinets, every household has some signature Ikea product. We spent the next few hours going around our houses sending pictures on our sibling text group, of Ikea furniture in our houses. Since not all of us have visited each other’s current homes (we’re in three different countries, with our parents in a fourth.), it was amusing to see how similarly furnished our homes are. If I sent a picture of a certain bookshelf, one of the four siblings was sure to have the same bookshelf in their home. It was almost like a game!

We realized when we do visit each other’s homes, we will all end up having this deja vu, this time-warp kind of feeling since we’ll be in another country, but surrounded by almost the same things.

I guess Ikea has made us all feel together in a weird but funny way. It also made us laugh quite a bit today, as we went around taking pictures of furniture and getting matching pictures back.

Teachers, They Rock!

SOLSC 2022: Day 24

It was report card day for my third grader today. She and I picked up her dad from his workplace and drove to her school. We walked into the building after more than two years! (Pandemic report cards were all sent as soft copies; this one was a proper printed one as school is back to partly in-person, though she hasn’t gone yet.)

She was a nervous wreck. Excited, nervous, enthusiastic, all emotions unbridled. We took some time to locate her classroom, and the teacher, even without seeing her, saw me and asked if I was her mom and was there for the report card. She hid behind me and was not ready to come out to speak to the teacher. I don’t blame her. She was in this building as a first grader last.

“There’s something I have for you,” the teacher said, trying to coax the shy nine year-old out from behind me. “This is from the math teacher,” she said, handing her a light-up pen. “And this is from me.” It was a small embellished tie-up bag, with some goodies, a hairband, and a pair of heart-shaped clips inside.

I managed to get her to say a polite thank you, and I thanked her profusely myself. I thanked her from the bottommost core of my being. I should know how hard it has been to teach these past two years. I’ve heard parents complain about teachers being replaced frequently, about schools still charging the same fees even though it’s ‘just’ virtual teaching, “from the comforts of their homes.” Well, I should know better. I should know the reasons behind those teachers being replaced every few months – teachers, like other human beings, were traveling and getting stuck in other countries; teachers, like other human beings, were coping with huge personal losses, with ill-health, with demotivation; teachers, like other human beings, were parenting and teaching their own kids and working their jobs simultaneously. Teachers bought their own white boards and hung them on their home walls to teach. I could go on and on. And schools continued to charge the same fees in most cases, yes. But then, all other professionals who moved their services online also did the same. In fact, some hiked their charges. No one complains about those. When it comes to teachers, some people are simply never satisfied.

As we walked back to the car, I said to my husband – “You saw that? They’re not paid very well here in this school. Yet, they spend from their salaries on gifts for their students, some of whom they’ve never met! Teachers really have the largest hearts of all professions.” And I sure took pride in that statement myself!

Teachers really have the largest hearts.

As for the light-up pen, it was used to write a story about a girl who goes to school after two years, and realizes she wants to return the very next day!

Rambling Autobiography

SOLSC 2022: Day 23

I’ve been wanting to try a rambling autobiography ever since I read the first one this month.

This post was inspired by all the rambling autobiography slices posted this month… which were inspired by Linda Reif’s Quickwrites!

I was born during one of the darkest periods of independent India’s history: The Emergency declared by then prime minister Indira Gandhi, a 21-month period when all civil liberties were suspended, and from what I hear, the press was totally gagged. I adore any brand, any nationality of chocolate ice cream, as long as it is chocolate. I bought my mom a pair of sandals with my first salary working as a counsellor at a computer training institute while still in college. I have lied to my parents. When my sister was a baby, I’d whisper to her as I rocked her to sleep, “Be my best friend when you grow up,” and she listened. I never had a sleepover at any friend’s place because my parents wouldn’t hear of it. One of my friends went through a series of unwanted pregnancies and abortions when she was in her mid-teens, which greatly scarred me. When I was eleven, I couldn’t wait to grow up, and I’d check myself in the mirror, standing sideways, to check how I was doing. My favorite place for solitude has always been my bedroom, whichever house I’ve lived in. I can still feel the cool moist breeze of tea gardens on my face. I dated my husband for five years before we got married. I gave birth to three children, but always wanted many more. I once had a huge vegetable and flower garden; I even sent heaps of vegetables to be sold in the marketplace. I am deeply spiritual. I want to retire and live in the misty mountains and grow my own food.

If you haven’t tried this still, give it a shot! It’s fun! I used these starters:
I was born…

I adore…

I bought…

I have…

I never…

One of my…

When I was (age)…

My favorite place…

I can still (sense)…

I dated…

I fainted…

I gave…

I once had…

I am…

I want to…

Spring, But No Break

SOLSC 2022: Day 22

“We might need to go to the passport office for S’s passport renewal. The form says both parents need to come for children under 18.”

“Could we go for a walk together?”

“Could you read two extra chapters to me tonight?”

“What’sforbreakfastwhat’sforlunchwhat’sfordinner?”

“Please wake me up at 5, I need to study.”

“I forgot to put my hoodie in with the laundry load. What do I do now?”

“Let’s make donuts? Biscuit pudding? A cake at least?”

“Where are my socks?”

“I can’t find my lunch box. It’s not in its regular place.”

“Mommmmmm…..! Get me my towel please? I forgot to take it in with me.”

“Dear teacher, Please help my daughter catch up with her argument writing over the spring break. Please see her over Zoom (I could come in person if you want!) and help her out.”

“Can I send my kid over to your place to read/write/do some math?”

“How about making rotis and sauteed capsicum for dinner tonight?”

Seriously? Like, how did you all survive before my spring break began? Were you really waiting for my breather week to hound me like this? Lunch box? Socks? For ____’s sake, they are exactly where they’ve always been for the last decade! Coach a student over spring break? Maybe I am a BAD teacher who does NOT want to teach over the spring break. Supervise a neighbor’s child’s study time? Well, you know what? How about you do it yourself just this once? Walk? I’d love that, except, please don’t bombard me with questions that need me to think! And what’s for breakfastlunchdinner? Well, food. Two extra chapters? Again, I. do. not. want. to. even. think. this week.

The barrage is never ending. I think that’s what happens when only one person in the house is trying to be on spring break, with the rest of the house living their normal life. Except, now they have someone at home, 24/7, to answer stupid questions like what to do with an unwashed hoodie. (🙄) This week, I don’t want to be a mom, or a teacher, or a wife. I don’t even want to be me, because that would mean being a mom, a teacher, or a wife. I just want to be. But the world seems to conspire against this simple want of mine. I am ending up being the mom, teacher, and wife, teaching my own and the neighbor’s kids, waking up early, sitting up with a high school senior while he studies, packing lunches for the husband, reading aloud to the daughter, answering emails, wrapping up college applications and checking in with acceptances. While I LOVE all of this, and I LOVE the chaos of my life, I really do, there are days when I simply want to dig a hole and crawl into it and hide there, and not have to think of anything at all.

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