I've got my first cold of the new year. Cough, cough, cough. I'm self medicating; nighttime cough syrup, hot tea and ibsisa with honey. Ibsisa is a Libyan concoction of ground roasted barley and spices mixed with a bit of oil and toasted nuts and honey. God alone knows how many calories are in there, but it's supposed to be good for you. So far my cough hasn't got any better, but it's not got worse either.
This week was back to school week in Libya (Finally!). So far there are no books and no curriculum but the kids are out of the house and mothers all over Libya are finally getting a break, myself included.
I visited a school this week to see how things were going. The principal showed me around. Some of the kids were out in the schoolyard kicking a ball around while their teacher disinterestedly looked on from a bench on the sidelines. Inside the school the noise was deafening. We looked in on one classroom that had kids running around, jumping on the desks with their teacher right in the middle jumping with them. Candy wrappers and empty juice boxes littered the floor. Out came the stick... the principal shouted as she waved her stick about, banging on the desks. 'Who has a mobile phone! Anyone that has one better put it on the desk right now! If I search you and find one I will throw it on the floor and smash it!' No one admitted to having a phone.
In the next class tiny little first graders sat timidly in rows in their desks while the teacher stood next to a completely clean whiteboard. The principal asked the teacher why her pupils were just sitting there. 'Make them take their notebooks out. You don't need a schoolbook to teach them the alphabet! Where are their pencils?' The teacher looked as though she had no idea what she was supposed to be doing. Across the hall a teacher was leading some kind of chant. The kids were all jumping up and down, all trying to out chant each other. The teacher was jumping up and down too. I'm not quite sure what they were chanting because it was too loud to hear any of the words. It was an interesting visit. It was only one school but I bet that the rest of the schools are pretty much the same.
Later, when my kids came home I asked 'What did you do at school today?' No surprise when they replied 'Nothing'. At least they are out of the house, and I have a few hours of peace everyday. And for this week I'm happy to take some nighttime cough syrup and crawl back under my blanket.