Sunday, December 11, 2016

What the cluck?

Ahhh…the sounds and sights of the Christmas season is upon us.

Sparkling white lights twinkle around the trunk of the palm trees.

"Jingle Bells" echoes in the grocery store as you place your eggnog in your cart.

Shoppers clamour the stores in search of the perfect holiday gift.

Children scream with excitement as they attempt to release the trapped chickens.

What a minute…what?

Oh yes, it's that time of year where the children... and chickens... go nuts.

Working as a Speech Therapist in the schools, I have come to the realization that there are 2 distinct times of year when it is virtually impossible to hold the attention of a student - the entire month of December and the entire month of June. I've tried. I've strategized ways around this predicament to no avail. The kids are just wild with excitement for Christmas in December and Summer Holidays in June.

Last week I attempted to re-assess all my students' speech and language skills. Worst. Idea. Ever. Not only were the students distracted, excitedly listing off their wish list for Santa, but many of them were nowhere to be found - either practicing for the Christmas concert in the Hall or carolling the neighbourhood on a class trip. If I did manage to re-assess a child, he was impulsively shouting out wrong responses to subjects that we have painstakingly drilled repeatedly in the last few months.

"Ok, J'Quan. Listen closely: a shirt, pants, and socks - they are all….."
(C'mon kid, we've been targeting categories for 3 months)


Ugh. So close.

To make matters worse, one of my schools decided to set out traps for chickens last week. As you may have suspected, given my multiple posts and complaints about chickens, there are a LOT of wild chickens on the island. The chickens roam free, digging in garbages, stopping traffic to cross with their fuzzy chicks, and fighting with each other in the streets (I once witnessed 5 chickens chasing a rooster who was running wildly with a piece of pizza in its mouth).

The chickens are a real nuisance on the school grounds because they jump in the garbage bins and leave a trial of half-eaten school lunches behind. One of my schools attempted to alleviate the problem by outfitting each bin with a lid; however, the chickens got savvy and began knocking off the lids by jumping up and bumping them off with their own heads! These chickens are calculating and I secretly fear that one day they, and the iguanas, will rule the island.

Desperate for a solution, the school decided to trial chicken trapping. You gotta do what you gotta do, but I seriously questioned why this chicken trapping trial had to occur directly outside my therapy window, during my re-assessment week, in the middle of the school day. In the words of Vivian (Pretty woman) "Big mistake. Big. Huge."

I tried to divert my students' attention away from the window where 3 cages sat, containing 2 desperately squawking chickens. Suddenly dozens of chickens descended upon the area, clucking wildly, and (from what I imagine), shouting reassurance to their trapped friends, "We will get you out! Stay calm Edna! Don't get your feathers in a knot Margaret!"

Cue the wild students. Curious students, transitioning to their next class, suddenly became interested in the commotion and descended upon the school yard as well. As I unsuccessfully attempted to extract a description of a bicycle out of J'Quan, the view out side  my window now consisted of dozens of flapping, squawking chickens and screaming students, either attempting to kill or release the trapped chickens (The jury is still out, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a "rescue mission")

Gritting my teeth, I stomped outside (when I say "stomped," I mean limped heavily and loudly), put my hands on my hips and screeched, "PUT THE CHICKENS DOWN AND GET BACK TO CLASS NOWWWWWWW!"

The shrillness of my "mom" voice was alarming. The students stared blankly at me for a mere second, likely deafened by the frequency of my voice, and then carried on with the loud, chaotic chicken rescue mission. I wiped the sweat that was now dripping down my face, arms, and legs, and stormed into the School office, yelling at no one in particular, "The chickens! You have to do something about the chickens!"

I had reached the end of my rope. I am no spring chicken, you know. I was ready to fly the coop (See what I did there?)

In the end, the chicken trapping was an epic fail. The students' rescue mission had succeeded and no chickens were trapped during that momentous afternoon.

Once the bird seed cleared, I calmly sat down at my computer and began composing a strongly worded email with the following subject line: "Chicken trapping is interfering with speech therapy."

At that moment it suddenly dawned on me that I was truly living a completely different life than I had ever imagined.

Update: I fly back to the Arctic Circle Saskatchewan in less than a week! I am so excited to see all my friends and family and celebrate my first Christmas in 4 years back at home. I am; however, slightly concerned about the weather forecast. When you google, "Prince Albert Weather," an alert pops up stating: "Extreme cold warning due to Polar vortex." EEEKS! Given that I haven't experienced "winter" in 2 years, I am a little apprehensive about how my body (especially my knees) will react to wind chills of -40 degrees Celsius. I showed one of my keen students a map depicting the current temperatures in Saskatchewan and his response was, "But that can't be possible. I don't get it." Yes, kid, yes it can be possible. My Caribbean co-workers questioned, "How do humans live there?" Um…we just do? I'm not exactly sure how to respond to these questions, but I do know that it is imperative that I locate a pair of socks before I fly out on Friday.

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