It’ll knock your socks off …

On Saturday afternoon I went off to Pick ‘n Pay to do some grocery shopping – we  had friends coming over to watch the game and then stay for dinner, so I needed to get quite a lot of things and it was easier if I went without the entire family.

I left Isabelle and Connor home with Kennith, and Georgia came along with me to the shop.

We moved around the store and got what we needed.  While standing in the queue at the check out, I stepped away from my trolley to look at the soup display and was trying to decide whether we could include a soup course.

Retails often do displays right at the front of the stores, so you tend to impulse shop – appeals to the kind of shopper I am.

I was standing there with a liter of Minestrone in a bag, wondering could I eat a liter of Minestrone in a bag?  Would my friends eat a liter of Minestrone in a bag?

I was using my six-sets-of-eyes-that-mother’s-have to watch the trolley, Georgia who was standing next to me, and also to glance at people walking past.  I kept my one hand on her to ensure she was not wandering off as the store was really busy.

This woman walked past – long dark hair, maybe late thirties, and her son trailed behind her – about a metre gap between them.  He had on a dark tracksuit pants, takkies and a t-shirt – quite a solid built guy, I estimate about 11 – 14 years, but can’t be sure, as I do not know many kids that age.

It’s strange that I saw him, as I did not really notice him as my eyes were moving from trolley, to Minestrone, to the contents of the Minestrone, to Georgia, to generally public and back again …  all while wondering if I would use croutons and cheese with the soup and what bowls I would use, and whether I had enough.

But I did see him.

Then I saw him unfurl his hand, which I noted was quite a large hand.  Then in that moment I saw him open his hand.  He pulled his hand back while he was moving past her, and slapped Georgia through the face.  So hard that she lifted off the ground and flew into the vegetable/soup display.

It took me a few moments to register what the hell had happened.   It was beyond surreal.

I was trying to pick Georgia up at the same time emit some sound out of my mouth that possibly showed my indignation and horror at what had just occurred, as the boy and his mother continued walking like nothing had occurred.

I picked Georgia up who was now crying hysterically – as you would be when slapped senseless while perusing soup at the local Pick ‘n Pay.  I managed to shriek loud enough for the mom of the boy to turn around and look at me – and I said “your son just slapped my daughter through the face!”

Her face looked like I had slapped it.  She stared at her son and quickly started saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry….” to me.

I glared at her son who was turned away from me.  I was now ready to go over and beat the crap out of this little tosser right there in the veggie aisle of Pick ‘n Pay.

He turned to face me – while walking away from me – and I realized with sinking horror that he had Down Syndrome features.  That is where it got awkward, and my anger turned to shame and embarrassment.  I really did not know what to do.

Georgia was screaming and crying – I have her up on my hip, and I am staring at this situation and every part of me just wishes we all were not here right now.

So what happened?

The mother said sorry – I mouthed it was fine.  She kept moving away from me, and did not actually stop and walk back to me and apologise.   Her son carried on walking behind her not changing pace.

Georgia was hysterical, I had to tell her “it’s okay, it’s okay, it was an accident…” – yes, I realise it was not an accident, but what was I going to say?

I could have gone with …

That boy has a chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome, and for reasons I can’t explain decided to give you a flattie in the middle of Pick ‘n Pay – and me your protecting mother, stood there like a total freak and did nothing to protect you or to stop it happening.

I also felt embarrassed that I was about to rant at a child that clearly had a disability, and felt totally powerless that this had happened and I did nothing to prevent it or to remedy the situation. ”

Instead I comforted her, paid for my groceries and packed her in the car.

I felt that we had been assaulted in full view of a store full of people, and no one (not one) stepped forward to assist me or my daughter.  I realized that the boy could have pulled out a knife and slashed her, and I would have been equally powerless to prevent it.

I really felt traumatized and a bit violated that some stranger had walked up and assaulted my child while I was standing there and I did nothing, and afterwards it was me who felt bad for what had happened.

Georgia was upset afterwards for a few hours, but seemed most upset that the boy did not come and say sorry to her himself  (clearly they teach the power of sorry at her school).

I really do not have a conclusion on what happened.

I really felt totally powerless and immensely angry.  I wish I had reacted differently to the mother, but what would I have said? What could I have done to make it better for me and Georgia, without going totally beserk in the veggie aisle?

It also made me realise how totally vulnerable we and our kids are when we take them out into public.  That some stupid or misguided person could do anything to our child in the blink of an eye, and even with us standing there, we would not be able to foresee it or stop it.

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Brusha, brusha, brusha ….

We are pretty good about dragging our kids to the dentist very six months for a check up.   We do it on a Saturday morning and our appointment is usually at 9am.

I am not even going to describe what it is like to get three kids up , dressed, prepped, in the car and to a dentist in the middle of Cape Town by 9am on a Saturday morning.   It is as bad as you imagine it will be, and then some.  But I make the appointment religiously and we stick to it.

Partly because Discovery covers the visits and secondly because I would prefer my kids not to have fillings and other things to deal with down the line.  When Connor was a wee mite I read so many stories of kids who had to have their teeth pulled, and there were several kids at his school who had rotten black teeth – it was like a scene from Victorian England.

When I was younger the only time we went to the dentist was to have several rather large injections into my gum following by a very unpleasant filling – it was hellishly traumatic.

But then there was the two hour spell where you face hung on your shoulder, and at some point you ignored all advise and ate something because you were ravenous, but because you could not feel your face you ended up eating half the inside of your cheek with your cheest-and-onion chips.  Yes, good times, I bet you are remembering now.

I have several fillings that were done when I was a young child – all in primary school – so either my younger years were filled with too much cavity-causing sweets, or poor dental hygiene.  It is probably the latter .

The result is that every dentist visit I attend – even the oral hygienist which pretty much guarantees no fillings – fills me with fear and trepidation.  I hate being there, I drag myself kicking and screaming into their offices.

I lie in the reclining chair, wound as tight as a spring.  I am sweating in fear, and I just want this to be over.  I count when I am trying to endure something, I count a lot at the dentist.  I think most people would opt for a pap smear (which reminds me I need to book one) than a dentist visit.

On Saturday we all traipsed off to our ever efficient dentist.

We arrive en-masse and all go the oral hygienist, who also does x-rays and a good cleaning.  We all go to the dentist, who really looks at what the oral hygienist has x-rayed, pokes around a bit with his metal stick and gives you a 3 minutes pep talk on why you should floss.

Ah flossing, my pet hate.  I have decided to stop lying to the dentist that I actually floss, and also to not say “okay will do” when they give me the flossing-talk – which they always do.

My opening gambit with the oral hygienist is:

“Listen, I don’t floss, I can lie to you and say I do, but you will know I am lying.  You are going to tell me how I should floss, and demonstrate how important it is, and I will nod sagely and agree, then I will leave here and not floss.  So let’s avoid that awkwardness, and accept I do not floss.”

I find honesty is actually the better policy.  Just for the record I do that little speech only when my kids are out of ear shot.

Connor has been going to the dentist since he was about three, Georgia has been going since she was a wee thing. Isabelle is one and already has had two dentist visits, though she has sat in reception and played with the toys for both visits, so technically they do not count, but next visit we are going to get her into the chair with her pearly whites.

The dentist means sticker and maybe a cool blown-up latex glove with a pen face drawn on it.  Neither of my kids have the fear that I have of dentist.

Neither of my kids have any tooth decay either.

At the last visit the dentist showed Connor how important it was to floss.  So he has now joined the ranks of those who floss.  Which I am quite thrilled with, as he ain’t learning that from me.