Friday, 24 July 2020

School: Covid Edition

Love him or hate him, our President is in an unenviable position. Let's be honest: he's damned if he does; damned if he doesn't, and today is just another day in which he'll face the onslaught in the wake of his address last night.

Schools: They fulfil the need for so much more than just education - and I don't mean that lightly; I'm an educator after all. For some they are the only place of safety. For even more they are the primary source of nutrition. They provide daycare in a time where even older kids cannot be left on their own. They foster friendships - some of them lifelong. They develop personalities, social interactions, and emotional growth. And they facilitate the acquisition and application of knowledge.

For the third time in lockdown, parents around the country are making arrangement for kids who, from Monday, can no longer go to school. For some it's a simple exercise of simply giving up some free time, or confirming with the office that they'll continue working from home. For others, it's a desperate situation that may cost them their jobs and/or livelihoods. I don't mean to downplay the former: I was doing online teaching from home for the initial lockdown and extension. While having the kids in the same space is possible, it's certainly not convenient or productive. My heart really goes out to the latter though. Before last week this was my fear because, from Monday, I am expected to be at work, in person, daily. Now with Andel home, at least I don't have to worry - but therein lies the problem: We are the minority. We are the privileged. What about those who have no other option?

In a twist in the tale, my school, because of its independent status, remains open. Let me not even start on the inherent injustices in this. We return to campus on Monday following our long break. I am usually anxious about returning anyway; add to this the complexities of school during a global pandemic, and I am surprised that I haven't fallen completely apart yet. Teaching as we know it will not be the same: we will balance in-contact and virtual teaching, live and asynchronously, and interactions will be limited, restricted, and impersonal. No doubt, the students returning will be a different version of the carefree teens I last saw in freedom in March.

So as we begin another month-long uncertainty regarding public education in this country, I'm reminded again of the strength, grace. and flexibility we require as we navigate this journey. God be with us all.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Moving Home & Other Stress

As though being smack-bang in the middle of a global pandemic weren't enough, we decided (well, not really) now would be a good time to move house too - one of the top 10 most stressful events one can go through in their lifetime

Interestingly, the other nine include: death, divorce / separation, major illness, job changes, imprisonment, marriage, financial troubles, retirement, and transitioning to adulthood.

The Physical Effects of Stress: What Happens to Your Body | Best ...

So the (abridged version) story of our new home begins back around 18 months ago, and goes a little something like this:

February 2019: We decide to start house hunting for something bigger than a semi, with a little more space for the kids.

March 2019: We find a house we have peace about, with a back garden large enough to play cricket in, and put in an offer - but there is an existing offer on the house.

April 2019: The offer ahead of ours falls though, and our offer goes through pending the sale of our house.

April, May and June 2019: We nearly sell out house a couple of times, but the offers don't work out, and we don't feel entirely at peace about everything.

June 2019: We withdraw our offer, and take our house off the market. We are so ok with this decision, we literally don't give it any thought again until...

March 2020: We are hounded by an agent who wants to sell our house. We tell her we haven't been thinking about selling, but she insists on coming to visit, and does so the next day, with a buyer - and an immediate offer.

Also March 2020: We decide to check out some houses, just in case, knowing we are under no pressure to sell if we don't find something we want to buy.

Also March 2020: We find a house - wait for it - in the same road as the previous house! We put in a ridiculous offer, and again, there is an offer in ahead of ours.

Also March 2020: The country goes into lockdown.

April 2020: The offer ahead of ours falls through, and our offer is accepted.

April, May and June 2020: Due to lockdown things are slow, and no one really knows where anything is al. We are still ok with everything as we figure that all of this has pretty much fallen into our lap.

June 2020: We get a call on Monday, June 29 regarding our buyers who, due to giving notice on their place in April when the sale was contracted, have no place to move to. On Friday, July 3 we agree to a moving arrangement with our seller. The Monday we agree to a movement arrangement with our buyer. From that day, for four days straight we move - In the middle of Level 3 Lockdown. With three kids. Without any boxes (we couldn't get any under Corona conditions). At the same time this winter's biggest back-to-back storms blow into the Cape.

We made it in just as the first drops began to fall.

Moving out of our first family home

It's funny (not really), because moving house is just one of a couple Top 10 Most Stressful Events we are living through at the moment. Most of it (increased anxiety around death, physical separation, major illness, a type of imprisonment, and job changes) comes courtesy of Corona, but then we also a toddler with a broken collar bone, a new school year starting in August, and it's now public knowledge that 95% of Virgin Active South Africa's employees have been temporarily laid off (hibernating, they call it), so we have become a single-income family...

We have battled recently about pressure of being a "poster child" for the faith. We have been reminded that God knows, and is in, our reality, and so it's ok to be upset, tired, and genuine. Even Jesus, as He prayed in Gethsemane before His capture, felt that God was silent. BUT whole fast onto this Hope about where we are right now - not just physically where we are living, but also where we are in life. The sequence of events that led us here is so bizarre that there isn't any way we could have orchestrated any of this ourselves. That means that God, who is sovereign, and wants only good things for us, will continue to provide for what we need - what He has ordered for us.

ps. A couple days after that storm, when the sun came back out, the kids stepped out into their long await yard to play. As will we after this storm, I'm sure x