Yesterday, and today


Eleanor fell off the monkey bars at school yesterday.  She knocked out a front tooth.  The teacher said there was a lot of blood from her gum and her nose.  Cathy had to go and get her, and I had to leave a class and go and get Rosamund from creche.  When I got home Eleanor was lying on the living room floor watching TV.  I lay down beside her and gave her a cuddle, and she showed me the hole where her tooth had been.  A gap in her beautiful smile.  I wanted to tell her a lot of things then, but I just gave her a cuddle.  Cathy took her to the dentist who said there was no need to worry.  He gave Eleanor a surgical glove blown up into a balloon and a copy of the x-ray to take to school.  In the x-ray you can see her adult tooth sitting in the gum waiting to come down.  In time.


In the morning you slept late.  You came into the kitchen after I had finished my breakfast with great excitement and breathlessly told me that the tooth fairy had come.  You held up the little bag where your tooth had been and showed me the gold coin.  You told me that tonight you would look at the night sky to see the brand new star that the fairies had made out of your tooth, and I said I would like you to show it to me.  We fill you up with these dreams and fantasy and hope they will carry you through, and lift you over the difficulties that lie like snakes in the long grass.  Perhaps we can go buy something tomorrow with the money the tooth fairy left.  Perhaps you can charm the shop assistant with your new smile.


On the way up the drive to school this morning I saw a little bird on the ground.  A tiny little, raw looking fledgling who must have fallen from a tree and died.  It was no more than the size of a two dollar coin.  I wondered what to do.  Should I brush it out of sight, or leave it there to sadden the people who would walk up the hill behind me.  I thought of the nest somewhere high above in the limbs of the trees, and the uselessness of life sometimes when anything can be taken at any time.  This is what life is made up of I suppose; love as a compensation for pain and loss.  In the end I walked on and left the little bird there where it had fallen.


Last night I was led to this video by another blog, and it struck me with the force of its beauty.  Its longing.  Its romanticism.  Isn’t wonderful to be young?  But doesn’t it hurt sometimes?  So I have to stand both beside and far away from you Eleanor.  Save you from some harm, and watch as you find heartbreak for yourself and grow up.  Lord knows it is hard, but I have you in my heart.  Tonight let’s look for your star.

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

10 thoughts on “Yesterday, and today”

  1. I’ m sure you did not JP, but the experience I refer to was start of 3 years ago and before you were a Dean at NLHS. I still could not take a class of 30 plus students when I only had 25 computers. I did have them standing in the halls, as there was no room for the overflow in the lab even. A major health & safety isue when you try to cramm over 30 students into a room that is equipped for 25 computers, a teachers desk and not much more space in between. How RBB can teach practical music when he only has a set numbers of instruments and many more studnets than instruments, is beyond me too. Either way it is stressful for the teacher and stressful for the students. Maybe they should run a class under the subject “Can’t make their minds up” or “Unsuitable for anthing else”. But we can’t go around labelling our studnents in this way in today’s politically correct world.

  2. As a former Dean I can assure you I didn’t play God. Sometimes the choice is between a student taking a subject which is not ideal for anyone and them standing in a corridor for an entire year not doing anything. The timetable and the lines that subjects are on make it very difficult sometimes.

  3. Seems the timetabling issues and start of year chaos at NLHS have not changed in 3 years
    I also experienced this pain RBB. You are not alone. A pain when teaching practical subjects.
    Try having 25 computers in your lab and in excess of 30 students? How can that work.
    My KAMAR roll was changing by the minute as students came and went. Deans were making this worse not better as they played God and tried to pigeon-hole studnets into classes they were not suited to take. All adds up to one big teacher headache. Eventauly the dust does settle though (Like Term 2). Either that or you leave and let them sort it out like I did.

  4. Lovely post about Eleanor’s tooth. Soon she willbe loosing her baby teeth natrually anyway as this starts from 5 to 6 years onwardsI kept bothmy girls sets of baby teet. Evennow as they are in their twenties they ask to have a look at them. My Mum did too, btu as a School Dental Nurse she had a pre-occupation and fasciantion with teeth.

    Keep saving up your gold coins JP and Cathy. Each child has 20 baby teeth. This is only the start. A lovely time though while they still believe in magic and fairies.

  5. Isn’t the start of the year fun. I once had a Classics class (pretty academic stuff) with 35 students. It was the biggest class in the school. Apparently class size doesn’t matter though.

  6. Hey, it’s now the next morning, the wine is gone, and I’m still angry about this!
    That’s NLHS for you!

  7. Sorry, had trouble finishing the last post…
    What was the point of the process that involved everyone talking tough,
    “If they didn’t bother to turn up on the designated days to sort out their courses, we’ll decide where they go.”
    Tell Eleanor that Richard isn’t teaching, he’s working in a meat market.

  8. Back at school, huh! Any students who wanted to do music had to get my signature. I told the deans I couldn’t cope with 29 or 30 in a practical class so they let me put a ceiling on it. I should have gone for 22, but I generously let it slip up to 25. I boot up Kamar, as the class enters, only to find there are 28 kids there. What was the point of the signatures?

  9. Thanks Richard (of RBB). Eleanor is fine. I’ll pass on your best wishes to her. She mentioned you the other day actually as someone who needs to go back to school (she remembers the flashcard game) so Eleanor will be happy to hear that you’re back at school.

  10. I hope Eleanor is feeling good. Please tell her I asked about her. My daughter is 27 and I still lay awake at nights worrying about her. God (mentioning a fictitional character somehow relieves the stress) , it’s unfair how much we have to love these girls!
    Still, it certainly lifts the life experience and makes the finite universe seem like a love filled place. Thinking of you, Eleanor – look afrer that old dad of yours.

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