Monday, 21 March 2016

A few questions and thoughts I have about Never Been Kissed.

The first time I watched Never Been Kissed was with Ashleigh, my gap pal from Year 8. She had free tickets to see a movie, so along we went. I declared, during the rolling of the credits, that it was the best movie ever.

Okay, so maybe my opinion has changed a little over time, and I think having watched it now over fifty viewings, I have a pretty decent understanding of the *ahem* timeless classic. It does bring up a lot of questions though.

Was South Glen South actually Josie's high school?
It wasn't until rewatching the movie last week that I realised that South Glen South probably wasn't Josie's school, but to be clear, it is never confirmed nor denied. One would assume that it wasn't because at least some of the teachers would recognise Josie.

What about ethics in journalism?
Undercover reporters are not a new thing, and an undercover high school student has been done before too. I guess it was 1999, but my issue is that they are 'investigating' people who are underage, and also setting up a teacher for a possible affair. Did anyone consider the legal ramifications? Then again, Gus's boss seems to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Who is paying for all this?!
So the CEO demanded that this would happen, but a heap of money needs to be paid to make it a reality. Say Josie is in school for three months, they are down a copy editor who isn't replaced, but still has an assistant working there.... Doing what? The manned surveillance van would also cost a pretty packet, and the idea is that Gus, Josie's boss will 'review the tapes'.  So, four people are being paid to work on Josie's 'scoop'. Except, poor Josie gets scooped by their rival newspaper. twice.

Surely Rob had to register with a last name at the school.
At the prom, Rob is announced as "Mr Rob", because no one knows his last name. Good Madonna throwback. Rob does make his ID from help at the Tiki Post, so he must have a last name. Someone has to know what it is!

Rob and that 16 year old gymnast?
Just, no.

Was Josie into Guy at all?
The premise of Guy's character is that he is like Billy Prince, Josie's high school crush. Billy is an awful guy who sets Josie up for a cruel prank on prom night. Guy seems cool, but enough of his words, actions, and the fact that he only asks Josie to the prom because she is popular points to the fact the guy is a complete dud. I think there was supposed to be a 'love triangle' there, but actually, Guy just bridges Josie's past and future together nicely. Also, the writers callled him 'Guy', which, while being a name, is an awful generic term for young people.

Did Guy and Aldys actually like each other?
I am still so confused about their dance. He asks her to dance to 'put all this shit behind us' (okay, if you want to get technical about the dog food...) after there has been no tension at all between the two, other than the nerds and popular people slagging each other off the whole movie because they can, but no actual beef between Guy and Aldys.

I think it never was a thing though, because at the end of the movie, when all the 'meant to be couples' kiss, these two don't.

Who showed Josie how to dress appropriately?
Josie's dress sense became a lot more, well, common sense, after a few weeks in high school. Essentially I think she really did give herself her own make over. Several times.

How long was Josie in school for?
It is pretty unclear.
Here's what we know: she had been on the job for three weeks when Gus told her she needed to get to know the popular kids.
She also seems to study 'As You Like It' the entire time.
I think it probably is about three months, but those montage scenes make it really hard to know.

After all the time she invested in being 'a reporter', Josie ended up writing a feature article, or as we like to call it, 'life writing'.
No, really. Josie is so determined to prove herself as a reporter who can 'grab a bull by its balls', and in the end her story is picked up by a rival newspaper and she never writes the stories she was there to investigate.

How did Rob get a job after being so creepy and with only one week OR one week and three days left before the big game?
It seemed just a little too easy.

So I get how the 'Loser' stamp on Josie's head could be funny, but there is no way ANY of the people who commented on it in the hallway could read it from any sort of distance.
You know I am right.

Did South Glen South administration really fall to notice there was a creepy looking van parked outside their school every single day?
Yes, because it is NEVER mentioned.

Josie is so smart, and yet she falls for stupid idiots like Billy Prince. She even says in her feature article of the popular and pretty boys, 'High school would not have been the same without him. I would not have been the same without him.' Josie, do you realise that you would have been a lot better off without him?
But then, the movie loses half of it's story line. It makes me sad that after all this time and the rubbish ways Billy and his friends, and Guy and his groupies, treat people that she still honours them with moving paragraphs about her life.

I have always loved Pygmalion stories. Always.

Anything in which an ugly duckling, or a wannabe or a dorky high school student is turned into some kind of princess everyone loves, I have been all over that. That's why I love the movie Sabrina. The thing is that both Sabrina and Never Been Kissed have a big thing in common- a sister doing it for herself.

Josie doesn't really go from copy editor to cool girl over night. She has some 'help', but very little, in the way to dress and act. She talks to absolutely no one about how to function in the world as an adult, or a wannabe-teenager. The thing that is awesome about this movie is that Josie is the only one who saves herself. She writes the feature article about her failures and disappointments and comes on on top. And that is really the best power-packed punch of all. Thanks Josie for being a roundabout role model for the past 17 years.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

About formula feeding.

It makes me so incredibly sad when people post requests that other women don't judge them for not breastfeeding. And yet, there is always, ALWAYS that one or two women who try and scare them into not using formula.

And, honestly, sometimes I worry what people think of me when I'm making up a bottle in public. No one is saying 'wow, it's great that you're not breastfeeding in public', because social media is constantly slamming those who challenge breastfeeding mums. That's awful too, but I honestly feel that this generation is changing. People don't feel free to ask questions or even admit that they are using formula because some bossy woman tells you you're ruining your child's "virgin gut" or dropping their IQ by 3 points or whatever they believe is true.

Bottle feeding is the best decision I made in terms of Natalie's health and development. I can tell you about my low supply, about being ridiculously medicated, about sitting with a pump to only produce 10ml after an hour. I can also tell you how happy, how less fussy and how much Natalie has skyrocketed up the percentile chart. My mental health is better for it also.

This is a great article if you are at all interested:

"And now I know what I don't want" and other untruths.

As a teenager I read a few dating books and plenty of teenage romance books. And while I don't think I had a heap of boyfriends, I had one every year since I was fifteen, until I was married. Every time it would work out I would say the same thing, "Now I know what I don't want."

At the time I said it, I was honest and believed it. Some of the problems I frequently ran into probably could have been solved by not being in some kind of boyfriend/girlfriend mess at the time. And soon I came up with a list: he had to have the same faith as me, he needed to drive, he had to have a job, he had to have a good sense of humour and he couldn't have any of the attributes that drove me nuts about anyone I ever dated. He had to be good at dates. I had lots of friends, we did lots of stuff together, but few things are as magical and fun as the first few dates.

The problem was me. About a year before I was married, I realised everyone I had dated was married, or about to to buy a house with someone, or was no longer with us so probably didn't count in those stakes. I even counted people I may had a friendly date with. My conclusion that it was me, or not great timing, and I could live with that.

But I also found something interesting. The boyfriend I wanted in uni, you know, the fictional awesome one, was not the one I wanted after all.

It was all about my inability to accept periods of transition. It seemed everyone I had even briefly had some kind of hot beverage with was going through a new phase - a new job, or a job ending, moving house, a medical diagnosis, a relationship ending, beginning study or one of those times when everyone else was changing except them, so they were trying to make sense of every day life. Although I expected a lot from my wished-for boyfriends, I didn't always live up to my own standards. When I was the person in transition, it didn't make for a great relationship either.

What I have finally realised is that the attributes you look for don't mean that that person is right for you. Throughout my teenage years and far beyond, my friends and I had made long lists of what The One would need. I never counted on chemistry, or lack thereof, and I certainly never counted on all the dismal ways one could be broken up with. (It's never nice.) I found that even though someone might have a car, they might also be pouring money into it; I also found that someone who works may be over-committed to their job and could be unreliable. I found that the boyfriend I wanted in uni who would take me on lots of dates, actually wore me out completely and I spent months being wined, dined and tired.

In the end, sometimes we don't know what we want, even when we think we do. Even when someone ticks all the items on your 'must have and must have not' list, it doesn't guarantee anything, because timing is everything, and love, for all its highs and lows, is a completely unpredictable rollercoaster.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

From the Archives 2011: Some thoughts on Youth Ministry, one year after leaving it for good.

It's been almost a year since I stopped doing Youth Ministry. I've been leading or doing some kind of ministry since I was 17 and I have to say I've had a wonderful and restful break from it. On the other hand, it's also an amazing and challenging role to have. I thought maybe I should share some of what I've learnt or have discovered.

Thems were the days..

It's interesting to start with a section on retrospect, but I will anyway. I've had lots of chats with people using the opening line 'why does it always seem that the best days of youth groups have been and gone? (and why can't we recreate this now as leaders?)' I've got a few answers, some which I agree with, and others which I really don't. Here's some of them.
1. Things really WERE better then. Maybe it's because we (not as in me and friends, as in 'we' youth workers who have been part of many different ministries) weren't in charge then. Maybe it's because we had leaders were respected. maybe the activities really were just that good.
2. You could DO more stuff. If you've known me for awhile, you'll know about many stories of canoes, running around main streets at 11pm and playing Bigger or better in the dark. Yes, youth leaders then seemed to take a LOT of risks. I don't think they were particularly clever now I think about it. But it was fun.
3. Because you and you and you were there. My alltime favourite days were running around being crazy with Jem and Ali. I couldn't get those days back, and they never could continue. But they WERE good.

Everyone has an agenda.

It's true. Everyone has some kind of agenda, but often it's a good one (or, a well-intended one). I'd say you need a thick skin to stay in one place for a long time, especially when your agenda clashes with whoever pays you (or doesn't pay you in the case of volunteer roles).

The best agendas to have: I want these kids to know Jesus, I want to show kids what Jesus is like thru those in leadership, I want to encourage a healthy spirirual life, I want to create a safe, fun and loving environment.
The worst agendas to have: Numbers, passing on my own causes and beliefs which are not core to the gospel teaching, meeting potential partners, wanting to save the world, finding a 'cause' within a youth and attempting to rescue them.

Of course what I've said in the 'worst agenda' bit is a bit intense, and I have seen many good things come thru people who may have bad ones. You need to take each young person and each situation as they come. I just warn aganist the danger of becoming a youth ministry leader in order to rescue youth because we think we know what's best.

Jesus Comes First

Sorry, JC didn't come first in this one! However, when we lay down our own agendas and embrace that JC and His message comes first, we give power to everything.

At the end of the day you can have swishy games and fancy devotions, but if your core vision isn't about Jesus, what's the point of ministry?

Think Minority

Looking around churches and other fellowship gathering places, you'll notice that there really are some oddballs around. Now, within ministry (school, church, whatever), you attract the minority as well as the majority. Why though? Jesus drew massive crowds but people who were considered 'the least' were pursued BY Him. When you embrace this idea of serving the minority it all makes a lot of sense.

Always expect the unexpected

I loved chaplaincy and the wonderful excuses it gave me to talk to people, both from the Christian faith, and not, because without my role as a 'Christian' I never would have had the opportunity to be part of their lives. I was so completely overwhemled with the amount of love I was given in return for my role.

"Remember that crazy leader? Whatever happened to them?"

One of the downfalls of being a youthy and then being involved in youth ministry is the amount of people you lose. (I was tempted to say 'to the world', but I don't really agree with that statement.) Several people who have ministered into my life, taught me things and spent serious spiritual time with me have fallen away from the faith. That's really sad. But it's also reality, so we ought to pray for them, and not have those conversations in which is plain old gossip anyway.

It's not about what you do, it's about who you are (and usually who you are in your car)

When I think of my 'glory days' at youth, I can't remember doing anything terribly impressive (or, rather, the things that were impressive weren't meant to happen but did anyway). I do remembering be a mad hugger, pulling friends out during boring sermons (or videos) for prayer sessions and staying up late at night talking about boys, God, life and clothes.

Of my leaders, what do I remember? I'd hold back on saying 'unconditional love', but I do recall how deeply people cared for me and loved me. I knew that no matter how I was treated at school I had a whole heap of people (both youthies and leaders) who thought I was awesome.

As a chaplain and a youth leader I have done many stupid things. Then again, so have many leaders before me. However, who you are in your car is what counts. Peri has this great theory that picking up kids is awesome because they are stuck with you for extended time and they are free to talk to you, and differently than what they would if you were at church. If you have an open heart (and you usally need an open mind too), who you are when you're tired, stressed, annoyed or irrational shouldn't matter too much. We all have bad days.

We actually do care about numbers

I was so completely blessed to work for Port because they were about engaging kids with Jesus/church life and not about getting a whole heap of kids who would show up one week and not the next. It is ally about consistancy. When you're doing leadership by yourself (or with someone else), reality is that you can really only 'pastor' a few of those kids.

The numbers that count, really count, are those numbers that stay part of your youth group, or that you can track. If someone chooses to leave your flock for somewhere else, it's something you need to embrace and accept. I did that as a youthy and look where it got me.

I've left numbers for last as it is really should be the least of your worries.
In a nutshell - it's really about Jesus + relationships.

What else? I'd like to say thank you to so many people, but lots of them aren't FB friends, etc. They all deserve a mention.
To Mt Gambier Baptist Youth, especially to Mark, Jenni, Amanda, Ian and Troy who always had something important and meaningful to share with us. And to Steve who is now with Jesus. Words can not express what a wonderful bloke you were. I miss you.

To those crazy youth kids who made my Friday nights: Ali, Jem, Jess and Alarni. And everyone else too (but you girls were the most important to me).

To Eastside CRC, especial Mike, Nige and Ps Phil and Heather who spoke so much good into my life. To Kara, Gianna and Shaun who plan good surprise parties and also tip canoes. To my little youthies who are all grown up (and married)!

To those people who stood by me with Maximum Impact, especially Tim who put up with so much from me!

To the amazing students and staff at Scott Creek. Being there was always the highlight of my week, and serving you was never work, it was a joy. (Except for getting splinters!)

To those crazy Ichthus Youthies who I love muchly even though I'm far away. I won't list you all because I'm bound to forget someone important - so thanks guys for all the pizza, driving madness, crosswords and mishaps including, but not limited to Cassie falling off the spinning chairm running into the fridge and breaking a lamp. And thank you as always to the amazing Narelle, Stephen, Krystal, Miriam+Andrew and everyone else who loved and believed in me.

To everyone who has given me love, support and advice on chaplaincy and youth ministry - chappies from the Hills, South East and Riverland in 05-07. Peri + Eric - miss you guys muchly. Angela and everyone else I've forgotten and didn't intend to.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A post about things teachers should do.

I am mostly happy to engage in conversations and questions about teaching and school life ith parents of children who are not my student. Part of this is because some people don't know any teachers, outside of their child's school, and sometimes I can shed light on things. Other times, it's because teachers are people too, and we all need to remind people of this.

You have probably seen those pictures of Facebook of kids engaging with something fun, different and practical with the phrase 'Kids should learn this in school! 'Click like if you agree!!!!' And today I read a post about how teachers reward students for parents doing their homework for them (again, false.) I want to address some of this because I can.

There are lots of things teachers can and should teach.

Should schools teach gardening?
Yes, and plenty of them do. They don't have to, but it's certainly a good option for Home Ec and the Sciences.

Should schools teach another language?
Yes, and the majority of them do. It may not be the language you would like little Johnny to learn, and personally, I hate children learning, for example, German, just because it's the only LOTE teacher a school can find, but it is better than nothing.

Sometimes though, learning another language is not a good option for students who have English as a second language, or who struggle already using English in every day life. Then LOTE becomes a fruitless and which they will may not experience success.

Should schools teach Auslan/sign language?
If you have someone who can, why not? If you don't, skip it, unless you have a student who does communicate in Auslan in the school.

Should schools teach Australian History? Because I have heard they don't.
Oh, some guy made a meme about how Facebook won't allow pictures of the Australian flag/Coat of Arms/anything war related and you want to jump on that hobby horse? Yeah, good one.

The Australian Curriculum does teach explicit parts of Australian History throughout primary school. I am not up to speed on high school, but I do remember doing an awful lot about the First Fleet and have no knowledge about history outside of Australia when i was in school. Other people have said the opposite, hence Australian Curriculum!

Should schools allow prayer?
There seems to be some confusion between Australia and America on this one. Australia, to my knowledge, never started the school day with prayer, unless it is a (for lack of a better word) "religious" school. In my time at public school I remember praying once when we were asked to pray for an incoming school chaplain. Once in five years is not a lot.

A much better question should be, should schools allow religious instruction? And in some cases and places, schools have answered 'no', for a number of good reasons. Well meaning volunteers are not teachers, and need to liaise with a school about their program. The National School Chaplaincy Program, as flawed as it is, helps keep schools and churches in communication with one another.

If prayer, Christianity or whatever religion takes your fancy, is a priority for your family, look at sending your children to a school that suits your faith if you want them to be instructed in this. To be honest, along with "intentional" parenting and a connection to the church, public school is still a good option.

Schools don't sing the national anthem or allow students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance anymore!
Dude, this isn't America. We don't have a Pledge of Allegiance, unless you count someone replacing the word 'America' with 'Australia'.

The thing is, the National Anthem will probably be first memorised by your child at school, during assembly for the first seven years of their schooling life. You've got nothing to worry about, or if you do, go to more sporting matches.

Explain schools teaching 'values'
For whatever reason, many schools teach 'values'. Want to learn about honesty, courage, 'a fair go', manners? Go to school!

In South Australia, Government schools have their own school values, and these are explored in different ways, whether it is acknowledging students who possess these values, or discussing them explicitly, or doing some pretty worksheets on it. In an ideal world, this is something parents should be able to teach their children, but this isn't always the case, and what better place to put it to the test than the school yard?

Schools aren't doing enough about bullying!
In some cases, no they are not.

In other cases, they are doing so much to discourage bullying that it's actually unhelpful. If you're concerned, ask about the school's anti-bullying policy. Observe how your child interacts with other students. If you're not happy, speak to the child's teacher, or 'take it further' (such as speaking to the teacher's line manager). Is it bullying, or simply being unkind as a one off thing? Please bear in mind there is only so much a school can do about bullying, especially online or outside of school, and if it is happening outside of school you need to look at pursuing different avenues to help bring closure to the bullying.

Schools should teach life skills (eg budgeting, write a resume)
And they do.

Maths in high school - check. Money in primary school - check.

Resume writing in SA tends to be done as part of a Careers Unit. Growing up we were given white folders as 'portfolios', to be taken to job interviews. I never knew anyone who did this, but I'm sure plenty of people did.

Life skills are taught in other places, such as in the home or on the job. They cannot be graded, and the reward is a slow burn, more often than not, This is usually taught in addition to the curriculum, which is crowded as it is.

Schools should teach first aid
Some countries do teach CPR every year to their students. In my experience, you learn first aid as part of health. In terms of being given proper instructors, I only remember the Outdoor Education kids learning this, lucky them. This would be a great initiative, and really, the only thing that is not taught to all children, and really should be (on this list at least!)

And so concludes my debunking session for today.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Dear Mama: Tuesday Morning Satire

Dear Mama,

I see you looking tired, old and haggard in your selfies with your new Little One. Your baby doesn’t mind what you look like for now.

And I want you to know, it won’t always be like this. One day they will grow up and You Mama, will wonder how the time passed so quickly.

I could use Ten Thousand Words to describe to you how right I am about motherhood, Mama, but I won’t because I don’t have an Editor to help with all the Capital letters. I have been a Mama myself for twenty months, and I know all about it.

One day your baby won’t be a baby any more, and won’t wake up fifteen times a night. One day your toddler won’t have tantrums in the supermarket or want to watch you use your toilet. And on that day, and when they are a teenager, you can definitely shame them on social media, everyone will appreciate the slow burn of this Joke from the Past.

One day your baby won’t want to be rocked or patted to sleep, and they probably only want to now because you do it. Let go a little. They will be big enough soon to work all this out themselves, unless you keep rocking or patting them to sleep, which they will definitely still want as a settling technique  when they are 21.

One day you won’t be on social media at 4.11am because your baby is being fed and you need to keep awake. Perhaps, Mama, put down the phone and just look at your baby and try not to fall asleep. 

They won’t be this little forever. Capture Every Single Moment.

You got this.

Love from a Mama who has been there and knows all about it.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The day I applied to one of those '20 people needed NOW to start work TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" ads

Just before I finished my teaching degree I decided to apply for a commonly advertised position on the Seek job website.

So here is how it went down.

I heard back the next day after applying and they asked me to come in for an interview. No worries. The interview was at a was-a-house-now-an-office on South Road that is no longer an office anymore. It was very vague, mostly about my interests in Sport. I was coaching at the time, so there was enough to talk about.

I did ask some questions about the job. Some short answers. Different locations each week, the opportunity to build your own business once you had become established with the company for a little while. It concluded with 'Well we like you, job trial starts tomorrow to see if you like us.'

That was different. Usually it's 'if we like you'.

The next day I drove to the office again and sat in one of the morning meetings. They had a set target per person, per team, per day. Then a pep talk about how awesome sales had been. Apparently they meet together every day, which was nice. Soon it was off to the locations, and the interviewer had said I could ride with someone else, but I decided to take my own car.

The location: Castle Plaza. That was okay because it was close enough to my house.
The job: selling raffle tickets and donations for the Paraolympic Committee.

No one had been up front about it until now.

I spent two hours with two guys. The first was a young man out of school who wanted to join the Army but also wanted to make some money with this job first. The second guy was about my dad's age who was in the process of starting his own new business doing the same thing. (No, I have no idea how these things work and how businesses spawn businesses like some kind of frog-tadpole set up but there you go). They were both really lovely and earnest. My "job" was to sit on a chair they had brought with them and observe.

Here is how it worked, according to New Business Dude (NBD for short): each day you have a target. He was aiming for 20 ticket sales @ $6 each before 11am (we started at 9am). Now, if foot traffic is low, you can always adjust the goal accordingly. Each ticket has a commission of $2, but there is no base rate, so if you sell two tickets, well you have $4 pay for that day.

To get the customer's attention, you can call them over, or say hello. NBD suggested to have something to get them to pay some kind of attention. This team had photo boards and also NBD had a sign saying 'Paralympics Special Committee' which he waved around at waist height. Sometimes he would interchange 'How are you today?' with 'Will you give us a go?', especially if the potential raffle ticket buyers didn't seem too interested.

Lots of different people bought tickets, especially older couples. There were many people who said no, but surprisingly very few rude ones. Some people wanted to buy extras some they could be awarded with a special commemorative pin.

NBD and the young guy were both really lovely to me, but it got to 11am, the deadline I had given myself. The sales target had not been reached, but my limits of being polite sure had. I said thanks, this isn't for me, left, all the while  saying my twentieth prayer of thanks for driving myself to Castle Plaza.

Sales can be great for some people. I couldn't sell ice to Eskimos or even ice to 50 loud young people having a party without a fridge. I am also not into the sales pitch. I don't get pressured into buying things, or feel guilt/pity for not 'giving'. The entire time I was at my 'job trial' I felt a little duped, and also a little naive. I should have known it would be something like this, but I couldn't really until I tried it on for myself, and wasn't pleased with what I saw.

I haven't seen the young guy since, but I did see NBD out selling raffle tickets for the same company last year, which means he has been about five years into this gig. And obviously it is working for him.

After seeing enough of the process, I can understand why businesses do put out these ads. At this time, 2010, you were only paid in commission and I imagine the turn over of 'fundraisers' would be quite high. On the other hand, you are helping make money for an important organisation, in fact, many of the people 'selling' are trying to sign you up to support charities like World Vision or Amnesty. While others would say that too much money is being spent on 'administration' and 'revenue raising', there isn't really a huge volunteer force to help support income for the organistion, at least not without some kind of reimbursement. And so, I understand the reason behind some of the smoke and mirror behaviour of these business, but it wasn't a good fit for me, and, just for the record, I still am yet to purchase a 'raffle ticket'.