The Journey to Times Square

E is so relaxed these days and has her day organized to suit her. I tell her to write down her daily schedule so she has a balance but she always tells me, “Mum I know what I am doing.” A teenager in control, I guess! I leave her to organize her day. E loves to do many things, another newly discovered pride of hers is crocheting and I will write about that on another day. 

From day one, E, my middle schooler took this on, a seemingly out of character action. Covid19 has taught me a lot about my own children. The perseverance, resilience and determination to take on projects and see them through. E chose a puzzle from Amazon. The puzzle picture E selected on Amazon could not be sent to Ghana, so we chose our second option, a thousand piece puzzle that looked like the pieces would be bigger than what we received. In a rare moment of excitement, E just took over. I was fascinated as the puzzles we have completed before had much bigger pieces and were so much easier to put together.

This puzzle, however, seemed complicated to me. Times Square??? The colours, neon lights, fiddly details. I told my husband I can never start working on it without my glasses on. In my head I knew this would take weeks to complete. Some of the observations are very poignant and led me to think about my students and their capabilities, when they are given the choice to complete activities they enjoy. I thought about the reasons why we should allow them to come up with their own solutions or ways to complete tasks. This is making me really think about the different kinds of learners that come to us as teachers and how we have to embrace what they bring.

So, E took control and spent hours, daily fitting the ‘tiny dots’ together, that is how they seemed to me. Whenever I joined her she shooed me away not literally but subtly as she knew exactly what she was doing. Documenting her work by taking photographs helped me notice the development. 

Once I sat beside her, she asked,” Mum have you been to Times Square?”

I bragged I had been there every time I visited New York, and had experienced it both day and night.

E took fixing the puzzle very seriously, she had a plan, which I thought was or would be obvious, sort colors and have the picture open so you see each part all the time. Well I was wrong, she had the picture flung under the table or anywhere but open, which I thought was so surprising. Had she memorized the picture? Can you memorize a picture that is so detailed? What was she thinking whilst working? Sometimes she listened to a podcast or music so had earphones plugged in and would not even realise I was hovering.

This burst of ‘busyness’ happened over a period of two weeks. Until Dad took over and spent a couple of evenings sorting out the rest of the pieces. I realised he had a plan, he took the loose pieces out and laid them face up spending many minutes scrutinizing the picture with glasses on his face but still squinting in order to match the same coloured pieces he had sorted and stacked together tidily. 

With my teacher’s head on, I reminded myself that students have different learning styles. I appreciated the communal effort but wished E and her dad were working together all the time, maybe they could learn from each other. Dad must have popped in once or twice and made comments to encourage E, who thought, that’s not the way I work. So they seemed to end up taking turns.

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The puzzle is almost done, resembling how pieces of luxury chocolate cubes are enjoyed at different times. One day the whole piece will be finished and you’d wish another whole new block would appear. Through this observation I have learned a lot about E’s strategy or approach as a learner, her independence, risk-taking and thinking through the whole process. One of my observations left me thinking about her technique. She kept saying I have to finish with the Coca Cola sign and she did! She was actually setting small silent goals for herself, which it seems she achieved. Therefore perseverance does help and self-motivation too. Hopefully these traits will be applied or have been applied through her studies, but as a parent, I did not know this about my daughter.

 

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Birthdays These Days

We chose to take a local walk on Wednesday, last week. Mattie and I experienced an interesting scene.

On the pavement, not too far from my house, on our broad road, more like a boulevard, stood the birthday boy who had donned an all white outfit, a boubou and trousers, as we do on important occasions, in these parts. He was posing on the pavement with what seemed to be a young professional photographer, taking numerous shots of different poses. The photographer, rose and fell, seemed to duck and dive still taking shots of the posing birthday boy, all dressed up, like a father. That made us smile, he looked twenty years older than his eleven year old self. I am sure you are wondering how I know that.

I call the photographer professional because in his hand was a huge Nikon machine with more loose parts in a bag hanging across him. His body language and movements gave him away. He looked like he had been doing this job for a very long time.

The boy with coiffed hair neatly trimmed completed with shaved edges, held two huge silver ‘ones’. He looked proud and wore an unyielding smile that would not twitch. As we walked briskly past, in our put together sporting gear and oversized trainers, I started singing, “Happy birthday to you,” loudly. Mattie joined in. Suddenly, a lady emerged from the car across the wide road. Our voices must have drifted although our masks swallowed up half the volume. The photographer paused, we had interrupted his rhythm. He looked up upon hearing the sound and almost stumbled on the pavement. That break cut right into his theatrics.

Across the road, masked up in a very colourful face mask was a lady peeking over the open door and through the top of her large ‘four by four ‘vehicle. She had heard our shrill voices so waved at us, as thank yous would not have been heard or smiles seen. 

Covid 19 has impacted us all, this is what life has become, in some parts of the world, birthday celebrations for children which are normally vibrant and noisy occasions have turned into forced lone events that can be shared by sending solo photographs to friends and family.

Of course, the birthday boy had on his Sunday best for the downcast occasion. Mum I am sure had to pull a trick out of her bag to appease him, as none of his friends would or could be invited.

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Green

I see green all around me. This is because as my brother rightly put it, yesterday being my daughter’s birthday, we had a ‘party in paradise’.  A handful of us, it was just green. Covid 19 birthed the green fingered entrepreneur in my sister Ros. Stepping into Mama’s footsteps, Ros has created this paradise at my parents’ house. Yesterday we beat ourselves thinking how we all managed to neglect this paradise for over ten years since both parents passed and never thought to use the space for the many purposes it seems to be revealing to us now.

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Opportunities

In March when the world seemed to turned upside down, if I can put it this way, Ros with her experience of organizing events and presenting organisations to the world for other had become temporarily redundant. Her hobby or side job was to have her gardeners tend other people’s gardens. This was a side line that was brewing, Ros always talked about her endeavors and sometimes went plant or pot shopping. Oh, I forgot the trip to London last summer when she dragged us all to a world class flower show in the temperate heat. I now understand why the urge was so great, This was a trip of over two hours on the train to get to the Hampton Court Flower show. It was not in vain as we all , Ros, the children and I saw so much beauty in nature. I think that is when my conversion began.

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In Good Times and Bad

I believe we should uphold anything that life throws at us. Coincidentally, I am reading a biography that is so inspiring about life’s knocks, although the book has a religious twist it really resonates with what life is about. We have to be ready to face whatever life throws at us, shake it off and move on. The opportunity and time this lockdown or out of work period has given us is unearthing many areas in our lives that some of us may not know was present. Or maybe new interests are being exposed.

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Legacy

Walking around Green Gold gardens made me think about our actions and it’s enduring presence not only in our lives but in that of our children and the people around us. It is indeed a legacy, without a doubt and probably a profitable one too. If only Mama knew the passion that Ros has for her own love and what it has become or is becoming.

Nature

I also believe that green is a beautiful color. My first sofa was bottle green so was my curtain, actually custom made as I love the color so much.It also went very well with my parquet flooring. All of this green is majestic and even more enchanting when it is darker and creates an environment that can be indescribable. It is also probably because now the world or cities are full of concrete and nature is covered by permanent man made structures. Pushing aside habitats and creating either environmental or air pollution instead of the true nature of the Earth. Thankfully Ros found it in herself to use this ‘paradise’ that Mama had started planting over fifty years ago and develop it into this beauty that is emerging in just over three months.

Blessings have to be counted I believe and encouragement to be the word on our lips.