Monday, October 28, 2013

Another Day Another School Project -- ad infinitum

Moses Project: Done. Geography Project: Done -- No it's not!!! Fortunately, we have until Friday.

Unfortunately, this is the part of projects that both Sam and I hate the most: The evaluation. Now, it is possible this may sound like a good idea to you and I do understand the point of being able to assess ones work critically. However, this is not effective for Sam, who takes criticism like a dose of poison! Therefore, it stands to reason, he is not bent toward criticising himself. And if I make 'suggestions', the instinct is for him to stomp off and head for the stairs and a good long sulk, not to mention sass...

Whoever thought up the idea of 'evaluation' did not think about the effort it takes to get some children, Sam is one, to sit down and work on a project. Reasonableness does not work. Threats work. By the end of the process and completion of the project we are both exhausted. The 'evaluation' is  an unwelcome finale.

I say to Sam, "Sam, how do you think you could have done this better?"

Sam says to me, "It's fine. I don't think it can be better."

And so the final tussle ensues. The thing is I should probably let him write that. Except it's 25% of the final mark. That is 5 points out of 20. And now, why don't you guess how much it counts towards the final grade?

Nothing. Niet. Nada. Rien. Nul Point...

And now I want to know why I/we bother -- These 'projects' go on throughout the year. They are a headache. They do serve the purpose, but there should be more of a reward than, 'didn't he do well!'At least, that's what I think!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Discovery, Sad Goodbyes and Hope...

In August my sister, Mary, was in Connecticut to visit out mother for several days. Because she had a problem renting a car -- due to the fact that she had renewed her driving license and had been issued with a  temporary one. She called my brother who lived about 20 minutes away and he came to the rescue, renting a car on her behalf. He then drove the car away from the rental office and she took his car and was to meet him 'down the road'. However, there was a mix up and in the end my sister gave up trying to meet him and after making several calls went on to my mother. The one thing she could not do was call my brother -- he had left his cell phone in his car!!

Twenty-four hours later all was sorted and my sister had the rental and he had his. At the end of her stay on the 21st of August they met up again for Bill to be present when the rental was returned. For some reason, which I can not now remember, my sister ended up staying the night at my brother's apartment and the next day he drove her to catch her plane. She had never been to his place before. While she was there it seemed to her that my brother was a bit dis-oriented and it seemed to take him a long time to do things. She was not unduly alarmed, but was relieved to know that the following day he had an appointment with his neurologist and he felt that there might be a problem with his meds. How fortunate we all were that my sister had stayed with him would become very apparent only a few days later.

On the 24th of August my sister received a telephone call from my mother, who was very distressed. She had been trying to call my brother and he had not returned her calls. My mother was convinced that he was 'mad at her' and she didn't know why. Mary knew that my brother would never in a million years be 'mad' at my mother! Anyway, as she later said to me, 'alarm bells rang'! She called his son in Raleigh, who also tried to reach him, but wasn't particularly alarmed. But who heeded his Aunt. Eric wanted to call the office of the apartment complex to see if there was someone who could check his apartment.

Fortunately, my sister, notices things like names of apartment complexes and remembers! She went on the Internet and found the website and a telephone number. A woman from the office went over and found the apartment door was open. She called my nephew and told him she could not enter the premises, that they would have to call the police -- and that was how my brother was discovered by the police. He was incoherent and could not walk. The apartment was in disarray -- apparently there were pills all over the place. No one really knows what exactly happened. Except that the previous day he had seen his doctor and his medication had been altered.

When I think back on all the events of that day, I can't help but marvel at how a series of mix ups and unusual happenings can lead to crucial pieces of information that can actually save lives and end up exposing all kinds of secrets! Such as a girlfriend, who lives in Dallas, Texas, none of his siblings or mother had any idea about! As my sister, Tricia, put it -- "It's a shame the word 'awesome' is so over-used -- because she really is 'awesome'!

We also discovered how important it is to monitor the healthcare we and our loved ones receive. Because often it is very seriously lacking. We think we have found the best place for Bill to be, where there is the best specialist treatment for Parkinson's disease. He is now able to walk -- with the aid of a walker and not in a wheelchair and in a care facility that specializes in mental disorders. He has been referred to a specialist at the University of North Carolina and we must wait for further developments. There is still a long way to go, but we remain hopeful. He is also very near his son and daughter-in-law who are able to visit him every day.

Bill, his girlfriend (of some years!!!), and son were able to visit my mother and have said 'goodbye' -- this is heartbreaking, but inevitable. Fortunately, my mother is now pretty forgetful and doesn't fret too much about it. She did like his girlfriend and admonished him for keeping her a secret! "Why?" he asked her.

"Because, we could have become friends...." You tell him, Mom!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


In Britain there is an expression one often hears to describe certain kinds of people as "keeping himself to himself". It's often ascribed to certain kinds of neighbours and the reasons for not getting to friendly. I rather think there is a bit too much of that kind of thing -- and not just with the British, either!

This is a serious post about something that has happened in my own family.

On August 24th my only brother, who lives alone, was found by the police in a semi-conscious state in his bathtub. He could not walk and did not know where he was or what had happened to him. He may have been there for over 24 hours.

My brother, Bill, has always "kept himself to himself". When he was a little boy he had a paper route and we sisters use to joke about how we never knew how much money he had -- only that he always had nice presents for us on Christmas! If he had problems we never knew what they were, only that he was looking kind of sad and eventually we'd find out if it was really serious -- like breaking up with his first girlfriend, for example. What a song and dance that was! I found that if I had a quiet word with him he would tell me -- but always I had to ask -- information was never volunteered!

Three or four years ago when I was home for Thanksgiving I inadvertently discovered one of his secrets. We were at my mother's apartment and I went into her bedroom for something. Bill was there and I saw him taking a couple of pills from a bottle that looked like a prescription. "Ah", I said, "Do you have high blood pressure, too?"

He answered quietly, "No, I have Parkinson's Disease." He also asked me to "not spread it around" -- I didn't promise him one way or the other. After some thought I decided to tell The Man and also my youngest sister, but not my 90 year old mother. By the end of Thanksgiving weekend my other sister also knew.

All of us were relieved to know because we had noticed that often his words were just slightly slurred and his speech a bit slower -- like when some people have a bit too much to drink and try to look sober. We had also noticed the slight shuffling of his feet when he walked.

I've thought a lot about Bill telling me he had Parkinson's and the way he told me. I really think he wanted to tell us, but didn't know how -- until I asked about what I had perchance observed. It has made me wonder how often it is that people aren't really secretive at all -- they just aren't able to share problems. Maybe they don't want to burden people with additional worries -- or maybe they don't trust anyone enough to thank they will care. I expect there are many reasons for reticence -- ranging from 'pride' to 'insecurity' and 'fear'. Maye it's growing up with three sisters, who when they are together can be quite a formidable force. That he loved us all has never been in doubt -- he always has gone out of his way to see us when we are visiting and he always seems really pleased -- even content -- to be in our company.

Several years ago my brother's second marriage ended and since then he had been living on his own in an apartment about an hour away from my Mom's residence. Mom and sisters all wished he had a girlfriend, but of that there was no evidence -- suspicions maybe -- but not a shred! He even admitted to me that 'I do get kind of lonely'...

Over the past three years I've been able to visit the my mother once a year for  a few weeks at a time. In that time, I've seen some deterioration in Bill's condition, but on the whole he seemed to be doing quite well and it was good to know that he was there regularly for my mother. I was looking forward to seeing him in the Fall.

As you will see in my next post -- life often interferes with expectation...

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

One Down, Two to Follow

What I like about Sam's effort is that he came up with an original idea and didn't just copy something off the Internet or choose a super-hero. He based his design on lizards -- he loves lizards and dinosaurs!! It has a definite 'tribal' element about it, I think.

But, my goodness my grandson is a lazy boy! The mouth is a mess because I explained to him how he could make the teeth by drawing them with a marker on a clear sheet of one of those plastic clear pockets you use to keep documents from getting wet or dirty. He could then paint the mouth -- with red nail varnish and put the plastic with the teeth -- painted in with tipex! So I did a rough example to show him -- after his eyes glazed over and the inevitable, 'huhhhh??' came from his mouth!

"That's good enough" he insisted. By that time I was so flippen' sick of pushing him to get the damn thing mask finished that I just let him have his way and he glued the 'rough' example to the mouth and that was that.

On the day the project was due and out of the house,  I was enamoured to download two more homework projects from the school's website -- geography and RE (Religious Education). The geography  project is to find out about one tourist resort in Europe and then design and make a tourist brochure, webpage or advertisement to provide information for tourists.

The RE task is to write about or make a power point presentation about "The Life and Times of Moses".

I think I've died and gone to hell... :-(