Limerick Reviews and Summaries
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
Today we all trooped across the street to help a new, young neighbour's celebrate her third birthday. I am very pleased with our new neighbours, both teachers, and their warm, welcoming attitude to the rest of the neighbourhood. Exactly the sort of neighbours we'd pick, if we could. They come in recently to a home long occupied by a much-loved pillar of the community, Aggie. Aggie was among the first couples to move to the street and had her original parchment deed in a bank vault. She was the first person I met on our street, and it was a very sad time for everyone when she passed away.
The new neighbours never met Aggie, but they are pleased to know how happy she'd be that a friendly young family was now in the house. Unfortunately, Buffy is feeling out of sorts and didn't stay long enough to sing happy birthday to her new friend. Now tucked up in bed, we can laugh at a time she did sing happy birthday to a resident of that house. That time was very unfortunate indeed.
Dear old Aggie outlived her beloved husband and was too settled in Greenwich to move back to her sisters in Ireland. She lived on in that old house with her grown son and her lovely mutt, Bella. She died about two years ago, had a heart attack in the middle of the night. We neighbours who loved her hope she died in her sleep.
The funeral was absolutely packed with people from the neighbourhood. The Irish priest had married Aggie and her husband and counted them as close friends. He was very sad. Everyone gathered cried for Aggie. Well, almost everyone. One, very happy little girl chirruped over the sniffs. Buffy was not quite two years old. Cheerful, funny little Buffy. The congregation sang a hymn. Buffy hummed along. The music stopped. Buffy sang on, "Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!" I think Andrew had her out of the church before she got much further, but somehow I don't think Aggie would have minded too much.
Phew! I had my observation on Monday, and it was definitely not a nightmare. Oh, there were some nightmarish moments, but nothing like my dream. No one walked out, I didn't pull any children's hair, and there was no crowd of teenaged boys jeering my every effort.
I taught an exhaustively planned lesson on nets. Not the fishing kind, but the two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional shapes. Basically, what you get when you open a box out flat. So, we did that. Lots of box opening and folding. My top group folded paper into a calendar dodecahedron with a month on each face. Very cool. Everyone else experimented with cubes. They were all engaged and the pace was really fast.
Following the lesson, my tutor found a quiet room to write "for twenty minutes". After twenty minutes she asked for twenty more minutes. I brought her a cup of tea, and she said she'd need a full hour total. Sheesh! What was she writing about? What had I done that required so much paperwork.
I knew she had my folders to pore over as well as the lesson. I knew these were in a shocking state. There were many things I hadn't even started writing up. With each additional "twenty minutes", I felt the mounting panic. What could she be writing? By the time she was finally ready to see me, I was a bundle of nerves.
She started by reviewing my lesson. She has no comments at this stage, she just recapped everything I'd done. She did mention the one point where I stopped the lesson to assess how the children were learning. She thought that was going to be the end of the entire lesson and was surprised to check her watch and realise we were far from done. At the end of the recap she heaved a sigh and said, "Phew! That was... intense."
I chose to take this as a compliment. My pace was fast, lots of ideas happened, the children tackled a huge project, and all wrapped up with a neat bow in under an hour. To their credit, the children tackled and conquered their projects. They were awesome. Well, most of them. Two boys were really acting up, but on the whole the kids were gorgeous.
As predicted my tutor said my paperwork was abysmal. It was. It still is a bit, to be frank. She flicked through and shook her head, "You're missing this, and this, and haven't even started this...!" She said technically she should record that I wasn't making the required progress, but it would have been churlish since she had no major comments on my teaching. I apologised, thanked her for her pointers and then delicately reminded her that I was a full three weeks behind everyone else as I'd had to find my own placement. She admitted she hadn't remembered that and cut me some slack.
On reflection I have decided I'd rather score high in my teaching than in my paperwork, so I'm happy. I'm really happy, actually. She'll come back in a few weeks to observe again, and I'll have all my paperwork up to date. There's so much to do! Sitting next to me is a stack of three job applications. Two of which need to be returned by Friday. As in they need to be in the post tomorrow. Not so sure that's going to happen! So much to doooooo!
Andrew's recurring anxiety dream is about taking his accountancy exams. He hasn't had any for a while, which makes sense since he hasn't had any exams for about a decade. Mine are about waitressing at The Broker. I have too many tables, can't get to them all, the orders and requests keep mounting, and there's tables I still haven't even said hello to. Panic! I still get them from time to time, and I hate them.
Last night I had a new anxiety dream. I'm not sure this is a good thing. While I'm sick of the waitressing dreams, I would probably rather have no anxiety dreams at all. Maybe to do that, though, I need to have no stress in my waking life? I'm not ready for a stress-free life, so I guess I need to make peace with my anxiety dreams.
This one was a doozy. In real life I am going to be observed teaching on Monday. Naturally, I am nervous as this woman will determine whether I qualify or not as a teacher. Her decision will be based on three observations, so this one isn't absolutely critical, but still very important.
In the dream it was the day of my observation. For some reason they decided to invite fifty rowdy teenaged boys to listen to my lesson as well. Fine, I thought, I can still get them to be quiet. My tutor turned to me and expressed disappointment that I hadn't emailed her the lesson the night before. Oops! No problem, it was still early and I could just pop up to the copy room and make a few copies.
Unfortunately, when I got to the copy room they were all being used by children. I jumped the queue and tried to get the machine to quit what it was doing. Then there was some issue with the paper. A child kept calling me Regan and I got into a lighthearted argument with him about he had to call me Mrs. Gambier in school. Before I got the words out, a child from my class ran up and said everyone was waiting for me. Oh well. The tutor would just have to be impressed by my command of such a large and unwieldy group. I wasn't going to be able to fix the other mistakes now.
I stepped into the auditorium and noticed that I now had a panel of ten people in suits waiting to observe me. I screwed up my courage and clapped a jaunty rhythm for the children to copy. No one clapped. I clapped another rhythm. They continued talking and ignoring me. I did a stern, quiet "I want everyone with me in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1!" I had most everyone with me, but there were still pockets of conversation. One boy was tearing his paper into little bits and eating it. I told them I was waiting for everyone's attention. They all laughed, jumped up to visit their friends and were noisier than before.
I tried other strategies to get them to listen, but they ignored me and the chaos went on. I walked over to two of my female students, grabbed them by the hair and wrenched them apart saying they were ruining this for me. They rolled their eyes and went back to their conversation, rubbing their heads.
The noise got louder and my panel of suits started packing up their briefcases. My tutor was laughing with my teacher and walking out of the room. I stood frozen trying to decide whether to faint, cry, run out or keep trying. Around then I woke up. Awake, I decided the best course of action would have been to faint. Then I'd have their attention! I'd also have a good excuse for why I'd been so useless.
Sitting at the breakfast table, I saw a flash of something move out of the corner of my eye. Experience has taught me these flashes are usually mouse-related. They're probably all mouse-related, but my eye is not always quick enough. This morning it was. I saw a little mousey behind and tail scampering up the steps to the front door. I followed it to the front door, a little unclear on what exactly I would do with it. My brain caught up with my body and I went back to the kitchen to get... what? A carving knife? A rolling pin? Which cartoon stereotype was going to help me now? I went with rolling pin.
The mouse was still in the hallway, hiding between my shoes. It then ran to the door and tried to get out! Ooh. Now this was a plan I could sign on to. But how to get the door open? As I deliberated the mouse made a mad dash to get past me. I raised my rolling pin and took a mighty swing at it and flicked it several feet back towards the door. Woohoo!
By now I was absolutely buzzing with adrenaline, but I had no idea how I was going to get the door open. I had locked the girls in the kitchen, but I realised they were my only hope. I unlocked the door keeping a beady eye on the space between my shoes that occasionally flickered with mouseyness. I told Katie to come and I needed her to be at her bravest. She was not happy with her job of walking past the mouse to open the door, but we had no time to think. She paused then I told her she had to do it. It was the only way. Surely she didn't want to be on mouse-batting duty at the back? She agreed and bravely stepped towards the door. She unlocked it and walked calmly back to me. I was so proud! I was sure this would work.
We waited for the mouse to go to the door again. Surely he figured it was a trick. I kept talking to it. I think I had a running commentary throughout the incident, but I only became aware of it in the last seconds. We waited and waited for what was probably only five seconds. Then the little mousey sniffed at the door, squeezed through the smallest possible part - giant wide open door or narrow bit where the hinges are? - and ran free!
I am SO PROUD of Katie. She did it! She did it! My just-turned-seven-year-old beat the mouse! She did it! She did it! She did it!
Me: Katie, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Katie: A dolphin diver. A diver.
Me: What do you have to do to be a dolphin diver?
Katie: You have to know all about dolphins.
Me: What do you know about dolphins?
Katie: Well, they're very intelligent. Once they saved a human. They are very fast swimmers.
Me: What else do you have to do to become a dolphin diver?
Katie: You have to know how to swim very fast to catch one!
Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Buffy: A princess!
Me: Why do you want to be a princess?
Buffy: Because I'm a girl. And I have long hair.
Me: What do princesses do?
Buffy: I don't actually know.
Me: What do you want to do when you're a princess?
Buffy: I want to sleep. Because I'm going to be Sleeping Beauty and fall into an enchanted sleep.
Me: Why are you going to be Sleeping Beauty?
Buffy: Because I like sleep*!! And I have the dress. And Daddy doesn't have the dress.
*this is a flat-out lie