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Schools Need To Monitor Playground Activity

Well, I’ve had a very hard week.  Chandra, my youngest has been hurt 3 times!  What a week!  Please can we not have a repeat?

I mainly want to focus on Incident 2 and 3 here as they both had to do with the school playground.  However, to be fair, I have to briefly touch upon the 1st incident.   Incident 1 was to do with the TV at home nearly falling on top of her, since she had pulled out too many drawers of the chest of drawers where the TV resided on.  I heard a scream, and then she gave me the fright of my life, and hers too – when she said the TV had almost gone on her head, and it had brushed her arm.  She could have broken her arm!  This occurred last Friday.  My lesson was learned, I moved that TV away from her room – she will not have another one in there.  She never watched it anyway in there.

Then on Tuesday, she fell off the bars at her school’s playground, not the monkey bars exactly, but similar bars, called pull-up-bars, where she likes to do backward flips.  She fell on her back, and I had to leave work early.  When I got the call, I was so scared, as I didn’t know what to expect.  The school nurse said her back was stiff. Well, it turned out she was okay, and nothing was broken.

Now the 3rd incident was the most heart-wrenching and gruelling one for me, even though she did not get as dangerously hurt, she was more terrifyingly hurt.  I got a call from the school Principal while I was at work, on Thursday (just yesterday) at around 3pm.  She described the incident below, and said she wanted to bring it to my attention, and that she has addressed the situation, and that no one should be pushing someone around, and throwing them into the bushes.  She said she has dealt with it properly.  She did not tell me the names of the kids involved, and said if Chandra told me that is different.  I can understand her need to be discreet.

Below, is an account of what happened yesterday, as told by Chandra to me about two and a half hours after the Principal described it to me, I wrote it all down and then sent the email.   I have cut and pasted it from an email I sent to the teacher, and Chandra’s Principal (just slightly modified as I was really mad and seething, and didn’t care if I used quotation marks for referring to what a particular kid said before I pressed “send” on the email.    I have in this post of course, disguised all the people’s names, replacing them with Boy X or Boy Z, etc (the letter does not even represent their first or last name) and Teacher A or Teacher B (same rule applies, this does not represent the adults’ first or last name.  I will leave Chandra’s name in it as this is a real story, and real stories must be told, in the hopes that people will learn and things will change.

Hi Teacher A,
I talked to Chandra after picking her up from the ……….., and asked her about the incident that you called me about this afternoon.  She told me that she and Boy A accidentally bumped into each other, and she said sorry to him, but he didn’t say sorry back to her. She believes he thought Chandra was mad with him and that was why he ran away, so she ran after him to say sorry again, because she thought he didn’t hear her.  Meanwhile a boy named Boy B, saw she was chasing Boy A, and called out to Boy A and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll hold her down”, and then he chased Chandra.  She stopped outside her class (where she should have been safe), and as was out of breath, she sat on the bench (again………right outside her class) and Boy B came up to her and held her down on the bench.  Boy B asked  “Where is the ruby?” to Chandra, and Chandra said she doesn’t know about any ruby, and she doesn’t have one.  Another boy, Boy C, was right next to Chandra and said “You are under arrest, here’s your handcuffs”, and produced some string.  He just held it, but didn’t put it on Chandra or hold her down, but neither did he help her.  He actually thought it was time to joke at a time like this, instead of helping Chandra.  He just goes along with it as though this is a game and Chandra is playing!  How can this be?  I am shocked that he couldn’t have helped Chandra, and allowed her to get hurt this way.  Boy B then pushed Chandra to the bushes, and she straightened up, and he asked “Is the ruby in the bushes?” She said “There is no ruby and it’s not in the bushes”.     He said “thanks for your help, and now I’m going to let you go”.

Meanwhile, her friend Girl A was around this whole time, and was the only one trying to help Chandra.  She was actually screaming “Help” , “Can you guys leave her alone, she was just trying to say sorry to Boy A” and she said “help, please stop” at least 3 times, and nobody helped!  In fact, Chandra said there was a male teacher or parent volunteer close by right by the handball courts close to her class, and even though Chandra was screaming really loud as well as Girl A, this adult male did not help them.  How can you have staff members around or parent volunteers who are not doing their job and being observant, or protecting the kids as they are supposed to be?  How could this possibly happen?  Right outside her class, where she should have been safe, she was terrorized by a boy, with another boy looking on oblivious to her pain!  Kids and adults ignoring her cries, and screams for help, as well as ignoring Girl A.  I find this totally horrible, and inexcusable, and really hope that you will tell this Boy B to stay away from Chandra, and never go close to her ever again!  How dare he terrorize her this way!  Disgusting!

I know you said you handled it, but I really hope you have, and that you talk to both these boys parents, especially Boy B.  You must give an additional lecture to the kids on not staying quiet, and telling on one another – I’ve had to say this time and time again.  I don’t know what is going on with the kids at your school.  They are not very nice with helping each other when they see others being attacked or victimized.  Please do something about this.

Thank you,

Davinder

Well, I know I go on and on in emails, and sometimes in my posts, but how would you feel if this happened to your kid?  I find it very worrying.  A little 7 year old girl, is constantly picked on at this school by one kid or another.  Just to give you an example, just about two months ago she told me that the teacher had walked away, and another little girl who was sitting next to her told Chandra to get out of her square.  They have squares on the carpet in her class where they sit down.  She then continued to kick Chandra repeatedly, while other kids were watching, and not one kid stood up for Chandra and told on her!  Do you know why?  They teach kids in this country to not “tattle-tale” which I think means the equivalent of what we used to say in the UK and what I am still used to saying “telling tales on one another”, so the kids stay quiet or they get told off for “tattle-telling or whatever you call it.  Why can’t they teach them to tell on each other, and this way little kids like Chandra wouldn’t be victimized while the rest complacently watch and allow it to happen.  No wonder, they grown up, and continue that same pattern of watching and not telling.  I then have to do this extra work, and tell the teachers that this is wrong, and change your methods, tell the kids to tell.  I tell Chandra to tell on other kids all the time, if she sees something happen, and if anyone does anything to her, to not let them get away with it.  Just tell on them, and don’t be afraid.  What is this world coming to?  Also, if teachers don’t tell parents when their kids are doing bad things, how will the parents appropriately lecture their kids and teach them what is right and wrong?  Sometimes, forget the teachers telling parents, I don’t even think they tell the kids off!  Let’s also not forget the playground monitors.  What on earth are they doing?  Drinking coffee, talking to one another or going on their phones?  Aren’t they supposed to be there to monitor.  Remember, my little girl was being terrorized by another little boy, while another boy watched, and her screams and that of her friend were ignored by many kids, the playground volunteer, and God knows who else!  The saddest thing too, is it happened outside her class where she should have been safe.  Actually, come to think of it, isn’t she supposed to be safe in her school playground and school all the time, without question?

I know I write long emails, I know I write long posts, but I won’t apologize for getting worked up. I will defend her. I will defend all my kids.  They don’t call me Davinder, the defender, for no reason.

The Importance Of Education

image Read to your child, it’s one of the most important things you can do.  Give them the gift of an education. Do you know there are so many children – especially girls – who are deprived of an education?  They would love to be read to and to have the gift of learning.

The importance of education for many girls in my opinion, is so that we need to  break away from the mold that is most commonly made for us.  We are expected to fit that mold perfectly, and therefore, we would be expected to just be domesticated wives, cooking, cleaning, and bringing up children.  We are not expected to obtain a higher education, or go out and get a job in most cases.  The importance of education therefore, is that we can break this stereotype.  We need to be productive.  We need to know there is more than just being a maid-servant, who is at someone’s beck and call.  We need to have a bit more power.  We need to have some control.   Education can give us this, it can broaden our horizons, and show us that so much that happened to many is wrong, and can’t be continued.  Education is power – it’s knowledge.

So next time, you read to your little girl – give her a hug, and spare more than a thought for other girls deprived of education for various reasons – complicated reasons that we would never wish upon our own girls.  But, their pain needs to be our pain – for if we don’t fight for them, who will?  If we are part of humanity, we must stop their pain and suffering and try our best to fight for an education for all.  We must fight for an end to certain atrocities that are forced upon these girls, such as child marriage, child labor and human trafficking.  Let girls be girls and not brides.  Let girls be girls and not slaves, or victims.  Give them an education, and break the cycle of certain cultural practices.  When you pick up a book tonight to read to your little girl, give her a hug….and strive to make it a world where every little girl is being read to and more importantly, allowed to continue her education.  Education first, then marriage.

Her Name Is Chandra…..Not Shaandra

Happy New Year everyone!  I haven’t written much lately, but what can I say….life has been busy!  Today, I am deviating from my usual topics of travel to something about my little girl – her name.  Her name is Chandra, and I’m kind of getting irritated that she keeps on getting called Shaandra.  I distinctly remember telling her Kindergarten teacher on the first day of school about my daughter’s name and how to pronounce it.  Yet, I have noticed that she keeps on referring to her as Shaandra (I elongate the name the way Americans pronounce it – quite stretched out).  But, not only does the teacher call her Shaandra, now all her classmates and the entire school (everyone who knows her there) is calling her the same name.

What would you do in a situation like this?  I let it go for a while, but then I brought it up to the teacher’s attention at a conference in the politest way that I could as it feels like I am almost being mean by telling someone they are wrong, but this is my daughter’s name and it’s important.  I know Chandra has told her teacher too that her name starts with a “Ch”, but she is also being ignored.  I was ignored in the parent/teacher conference too as two minutes later in the conversation, I heard the teacher again say “Shaandra”.  What could I do?  Should I have said “excuse me, you just got my daughter’s name wrong again?”.  This is kind of a complex problem.  However, I did remind her at the end of the conference about Chandra’s name, and if she could please try calling her Chandra and not Shaandra.  She said she would try to remember to consciously think about the pronunciation of my daughter’s name, however, I believe she did not make an effort at all since I asked Chandra later in the day after school whether her teacher had started to call her Chandra, and she told me she still calls her Shaandra.  I was quite disappointed.  I told Chandra to correct her teacher the next day, but sadly she told me her teacher just ignored her.  The other day I hear a sixth grader who seemed really nice, say “Hi, Shaandra” and I almost wanted to say “her name is Chandra”.  When I told Chandi (that’s her nickname) that she should have told her, she said that would be mean.

I can relate to the teacher in some ways, since I used to mispronounce someone’s name – when a  family friend  had been introduced to me with an incorrect pronunciation, that’s how I used to say his name, and that is how I thought his name was pronounced.  It finally dawned upon me that we were saying it incorrectly (me and my kids and the person who had introduced us to the family friend), and even though it was hard to change the way I said it, it was the only correct thing to do.  After all, I wasn’t pronouncing his name properly and that wasn’t fair, so I made the effort, and now it’s easy to say it properly.  The teacher must do this very same thing too.  After all, she is a teacher and should be concerned about pronouncing the names of all her students properly – after all they are her students and she is influencing all the other students to say my daughter’s name incorrectly.  Now, other parents are saying it incorrectly, as well as the sixth grader and who knows how many others in the school?  Is anyone paying attention to my little Chandi?  She does count.  Her name counts.  I wish they would say her name properly.  It’s Chandra with a “Ch” and not with a “Sh”.  Prince Charles would not be amused if you called him Prince Sharles.  It would be quite unpardonable.  Anyway, why do Americans find it hard to say “Ch” as in Charles and seem dispositioned to make a “Sh” noise when something is spelt with a “Ch”.  In England, we would not have this problem.  “Ch” is quite clearly a “ch” noise and we got taught “Ch” for Charles, “Ch” for cheese, “Ch” for charming.  Where did “Sh” come into the picture?  “Sh” is clearly “Sh” for “shine”, “Sh” for “shoe” and “Sh” for shirt.  They are distinctly different.  Should I be telling a Kindergarten teacher this or should she be teaching this very same thing to these 4, 5 and 6 year olds?

As to the next step in this matter, perhaps I have to send an email to the teacher and ask her to please apply more effort and to address the entire class so that they will also make an effort and pronounce my daughter’s name properly.  If this doesn’t work, then I might have to address the entire school in an assembly and appeal to them to say my little girl’s name properly.  Am I making too much of this?  I would do anything for Chandra, and I think teaching people to pronounce her name properly is one of the best gifts that I can give her, otherwise she will struggle unfortunately with people telling her that her name is not Chandra, it’s Shaandra…..yes, this is happening already.  My daughter does know her own name, please give her credit for that.

At Legoland

At Legoland

Here are some pictures taken in Washington, DC:

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

World War Two Memorial

World War Two Memorial

IMG_0168

Incase you are wondering how to pronounce this Princess’ name, it’s really simple…..here’s the Indian sounding pronunciation of it:

http://www.pronouncenames.com/search?name=chandra

Here’s another version:

http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=Chandra

I couldn’t record my own voice easily into a similar soundbite, so I was compelled to delve into my video footage and I made another video (it’s been awhile!) – it’s a brief clip of the Washington, DC World War Two Memorial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQhIGMUlbA0

In the video, it starts off with me talking to Chandra, so you’ll hear me say her name.  We all have our own accents and our own pronunciation and that is fine, but just please don’t call her Shaandra.

International Day Of The Girl

Happy International Day of The Girl!  October 11th has been designated by the United Nations General Assembly to be the “International Day Of The Girl Child”.  This is the second Day Of The Girl, as this day was recognized in honor of girls beginning on October 11th, 2012.

For millions of girls all around the world who don’t get equal rights for whatever reasons, this is your day!  So many girls don’t get the right to an education, because other “priorities” such as marriage are forced upon them.  Education can open up the doors to a wider understanding of the world around us, and this is our right.  Celebrate the Day Of The Girl today, and hopefully one day girls everywhere will get the right to an education.

With an education, girls everywhere can become all they desire to be, they can be a scientist, judge, teacher, lawyer, doctor, and they can become leaders.  They can make it to the other side of the gates of the White House.

The White House, Washington, DC

I know that my children will get an education, and it won’t stop at just High School, as so many other girls’ educations do (if they are lucky enough to get that far).  I will give them the gift, and their right to go to college.

Oh, by the way…..this day is also for women who may have suffered the lack of education in the past due to circumstances such as those described or for any other reasons not mentioned.  Happy Day Of The Girl.

To find out more about Day Of The Girl, visit http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/

Happy Day Of The Girl

Today is a fabulous day, it is the first International Day Of the Girl!  October 11, 2012 is auspicious because it has been designated by the United Nations General Assembly to be the “International Day Of The Girl Child”.

For millions of girls all around the world who don’t get equal rights for whatever reasons, this is your day!  So many girls don’t get the right to an education, because other “priorities” such as marriage are forced upon them.  Education can open up the doors to a wider understanding of the world around us, and this is our right.  Celebrate the Day Of The Girl today, and hopefully one day girls everywhere will get the right to an education.

With an education, girls everywhere can become all they desire to be, they can be a scientist, judge, teacher, lawyer, doctor, and they can become leaders.  They can make it to the other side of the gates of the White House.

The White House, Washington, DC

I know that my children will get an education, and it won’t stop at just High School, as so many other girls’ educations do (if they are lucky enough to get that far).  I will give them the gift, and their right to go to college.

Oh, by the way…..this day is also for women who may have suffered the lack of education in the past due to circumstances such as those described or for any other reasons not mentioned.  Happy Day Of The Girl.

To find out more about Day Of The Girl, visit http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/

Happy Day Of The Girl

Youth United for Global Action and Awareness (YUGA)

On October 11, 2012, people around the world will celebrate the first International Day of the Girl. The United Nations made the day official just last year, thanks in part to the advocacy efforts of Plan International USA.

In honor of the day, Plan is bringing female representatives from several of the countries where Because I Am a Girl projects are making a difference, thanks to your generous contributions to the cause. These young women will be in New York City for the first week of October, where they will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, and to have a high-level impact on the international effort to invest in girls’ rights and education.

Read a little about these extraordinary young women–and you’ll see why they were chosen to represent their country and community!

Fabiola, 18, Cameroon. Fabiola is a member of Plan Cameroon’s Youth Empowerment…

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