Why didn’t anyone tell me?

I have this friend who I love dearly – she really is one of my best friends.

There is about a 7 year age difference between us – she is younger than me.  We get on like a house on fire, and she makes me laugh so much that it makes my soul smile.  She is one of the most beautiful and vibrant people I know.

She got married about four years ago and had a baby recently.

I recall chatting to her when she was pregnant.  There were several moments where I really wanted to “bring her down” and discuss the “someone should tell you the reality of pregnancy, birth and the thereafter…” but I felt she was so happy and optimistic, and maybe it would be different for her …. maybe. 

I decided to leave it, and only tell her something if she asked specifically.

She knew I chatted on forums and she knew I wrote a blog because I found all things motherhood a challenge. For me it was lonely and I did not really have someone who was telling me the “real stuff” or again maybe I was not listening.

At the time my biggest lament was “why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this….”

But that being said,  I was not going to be a downer on someone else’s rather happy parade. 

If they are all excited and optimistic about it, and prefer not to hear, then I am quite happy to smile pleasantly and let them remain happy.

She kept saying “I know it will be hard but thousands of women do it and I will be fine…”

And though I really felt I wanted to put my hand up and go “I really need to tell you what you are letting yourself in for ..” I resisted and instead opted  to take the high road and say little or nothing. 

<I really had to chew the inside of my cheek, as saying nothing is not part of my natural makeup.>

Fekn hell.

She had a natural birth that included screaming, tearing, baby getting stuck at the shoulder, baby being suctioned, OBGYN screaming (screaming) I NEED HELP HERE, OGBYN doing purl-plain-purl-plain to put her back together again, and and and …. (listen, I think she is a super hero for making it through, really, I might have stood up and said “Okay that is about as far as I am going here – someone give me gas or general anasthetic, and someone get this frikkn baby out …. because I am done!!”)

When I visited her later on “birth day” she had that far-away look like when someone sees something horrific.  It was as if she had survived something huge, but had seen the dark side and was now had a haunted look about her.

But we laughed and I patted her hand, and listened to her talk about her going home and how that was going to be …and I patted her hand a bit more, because she did not appear to be worried.

Again I felt an overriding urge to go “er…….” but I didn’t.  She seemed happy, she seemed confident, and that was enough to keep me quiet, and for hells sake she had just been through Hades.

She got home and unfortunately that is really where the fun started.

Baby is struggling to latch, she is stressed and upset and clearly not sleeping, and is making nearly daily trips to the clinic – I really really feel sorry for her.  When I speak to her I can feel her pain, and I want to cry with her.

Why can I feel her pain?  Because I was there.

And so were most (if not all) first time mothers. 

We have lived that hell of arriving home with your new born.   You are about 5km from that Linus blanket that is the nurses red button, and suddenly that sleepy little fresh smelling baby is screaming and you do not have a clue how to cope.  You are hormonally overloaded, your body is exhausted and nothing is working like it says it will in the books.

Nothing.

She is trying to breastfeed and its fkn difficult and it is not working.  But she has all this pressure that she must and she is weeping and wondering if it makes her a bad mother if she does not breastfeed!

Oh my heavens, my heart bleeds for her. I wish I could tell her that it will be better tomorrow, but we all know that first 6 – 8 weeks is like a slow ride to Danté’s hell without coins to pay the ferryman to get out of it.

And then she says: “Why did no one tell me that it was going to be like this…?” with a sort of hysterical note in her voice.

I love this girl – I really do!!

The short answer is, no one tells you because no one listens.

Everyone thinks that they are going to have this miracle pregnancy and this “soft light and roses” birth, followed by  the new little family skipping off into the sunset.  It is all going to be heaven and soft milky baby burps from here on in.

As sorry as I do feel for her – and I do – part of me smiles – not because I am a mean person – and quite possibly because I am – but because sh&t we all go through this, and I remember it, not fondly, I just remember it.

<but I do hope for her that this 6 weeks passes quickly, she regains her sanity and that this is a small bump on her road with her new baby …. I really do>

Gawd help you if you try to tell a pregnant first time mom about the “big bad world” because she will raise her perfectly plucked eyebrow and place her left hand – so you can see the glint of her wedding ring –  gently onto her perfect bump, and tell you in no uncertain terms that you are sorely mistaken, she has this under control.

And that is why when I see a really happy pregnant first time mom, I smile, take a really large sip of my Chenin Blanc, lean over and go: “So how’s it all going?” with a slightly evil glint in my eye.

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Fortunately I met Fortunate ….

If you recall Pepe was going to be going away and I had to find someone to replace her while she was on annual leave.

The problem is that at the mere mention of Pepe not being available my heart starts to race, my pupils narrow, and breathing becomes difficult.

I realize that there are thousands if not millions of woman that cope without the aid of a maid, but I am not one of them.  It appears my DNA was designed differently, and I need help – as I already have psychiatric assistance I might as well get some household assistance as well.

In the early years I roughed it without a maid, and now that I have a maid/nanny/house keeper – which ever is more politically correct for you – and I look back now at my previous life, and wonder what the hell I was doing!

Later for that.

Pepe keeps me sane(r). 

Because of Pepe I get to skip off to work, reasonably guilt free.  I get to wear clean ironed (oh the luxury) clothes.  I do not have to wash the kitchen floor, and pubes collecting behind the toilet are no longer my concern.

More importantly I do not have to get irritated when I look at dried Pronutro left on the kitchen table.

The fact that I have a Pepe allows me the opportunity to work full day.  There is no way I would be able to do that – and keep a semblance of my sanity – if I did not have her managing the house and keeping my kids reasonably clean.

My kids go to school with packed lunches, and Oros in a bottle – if it was left to me we would do a MacDonalds drive through on the way to school.  I get to kiss Isabelle good by each day knowing she is well cared for in our home, and she spends her days with someone who adores her only slightly less than I do.  Isabelle gets to sleep in her own cot and has the delicious opportunity to destroy her sister’s neat bedroom.  It is all heady bliss.

When Pepe announced she was going on annual leave, I felt a bit of despair as I know that without her my life would start to crumble.  I anticipated the pain and the anguish, and started planning for the inevitable “sky falling down.”

I am wise enough to realize that “we cannot cope without Pepe” by relying on our ability to wake up early enough to prepare lunches, and calling on assistance from nearest and dearest to help us over this month. 

The unfortunate situation is that we do not have the quantity of “nearest and dearest” needed to pull off this coup.  Often, even with the best will in the world, we are dropped when we rely on someone else.

To avoid the usual panic stations, I approached an agency to assist me with a replacement for Pepe.  To be honest I was not filled with much in the way of hope, but plenty in the way of despair and horror.

Anyway after much backwards and forwards I found an agency, I did some interviews and I met Fortunate and decided to give her a whirl.

A try-before-you-buy plan shall we say.  I will confess that I was a bit reluctant to “try” Fortunate.  There was something there that was setting of a small red flag in the distance, and I could not put my finger on what it was, or why it was going off.

<but I balance my mothering intuition with the fact that it also told me in no uncertain terms that Georgia was a boy, so it has been faulty in the past>

Fortunate came in for two days while Pepe was still with us – and I thought, great that seems to be working. Pepe left on holiday and Fortunate stayed to fill her large shoes.

I was understandably nervous and suspicious and thought maybe Fortunate was going to steal Isabelle.  Have you seen how cute Isabelle is?  Totally stealable.  Totally reasonable thing to worry about.  Totally consumed my days.

Besides my two days of total paranoia, once I got over that part then it was great.  It was better than great.  What is better than great?  More great?  Greater?  Greatest?

It was that.

The month zoomed by and it was brilliant.  Fortunate is such a great find. I seriously did not even notice that Pepe was gone –  which I felt a bit guilty about, as I felt like I was “cheating” on my Pepe.

But it was seriously brilliant – like giddy curl-your-toes-while-wearing-shoes brilliant.

Pepe came back this week, and I could not face letting Fortunate go – I think anyone who has attempted to find someone to care for their children (and their house) knows that often you really have to put up with something awful because you can’t find someone really good.

But I have found great – and yes I am gloating.

We have decided to  try out a bit of colonial and have two house staff, yes, you go ahead and tut-tut, you do that if it makes you feel better.

Pepe is going to help us out during the week, and Fortunate is going to be there over the weekends.  Having Fortunate also means that if Pepe is ill or has to go to Home Affairs, or what ever, I can just call Fortunate in.

Damn life is good.

Listen, I have no idea how we are going to afford our staff complement and buy bread, but we can cross that bridge later, today I get to click my heels together three times and go whoop-whoop!

Pepe, with the kids, at our wedding – and no you cannot have our home telephone number to poach her.

Georgia on my mind ….

I have often spoken about how difficult it has become to discipline Georgia, and I think the thing I need to possibly stress is that she is not a naughty child, she just wanders off … in her head.

Today I went to fetch her from school, and she was busy in speech therapy.

I sat and listened to the last 10 minutes of the lesson, and then I asked Georgia if she would go and fetch her bag, and I could chat to speech therapy teacher.

Tertia – speech therapy teacher – explained the words and concepts that Georgia was struggling with and we started chatting about Georgia in general, and her progress.

I mentioned a few things that were beginning to become real concerns to me regarding Georgia – and they were not necessarily speech issues, but possible with her experience in childhood development she might be able to offer some insights that I was missing.

I really am not the type of mother that sticks her head into the sand and avoids seeing the issue.  I am more likely to start throwing water on a perfectly good bush, because I anticipate there might be a fire …. one day.

Tertia and I are chatting and at some point I look outside at Georgia.  She is playing with her friends.  But she isn’t.  Her friends are playing around her, and Georgia is playing on her own, or to correct in her own world.

I start explaining how much I struggle with Georgia because she drifts off so quickly – and often… almost all the time at the moment.  In the last two months it has got progressively worse.

An example is that in the morning I put toothpaste on her toothbrush.

Only because if I ask her to do that part it will take her 25 minutes. 

I then leave her in the bathroom, infront of the basin, aimed towards the mirror, and I will go: “Please brush now, inside and out, smiley-teeth and back-teeth, brush for two minutes, not fast, but properly ….. for two minutes.”

“Okay?”

“Okay, mommy.”

She will smile at me, and I will go and get undressed, get into the shower, wash, wash and condition my hair, brush my teeth – yes, I brush my teeth in the shower.

Wash conditioner out of the shower, allow myself the 30 seconds where the hot water runs against the top of my spine, and then I turn water off, get out, get towel, do a basic dry off, assess how crap I look and how much I really should take a bit more time to get my sh&t together in the morning.

Take the cream away from Isabelle, comfort Isabelle because she is crying, tickle Isabelle, put some toothpaste on a toothbrush and give it to Isabelle, stand and smile at her as she brushes her teeth and is getting dribble and toothpaste all over her chin and down her sleep shirt, realize that I need to go and check on Georgia, kiss Isabelle on the head as I move her backwards so I do not get her toes caught on the bathroom door as I open it.

Walk down the passage back to the other bathroom.

Arrive in the bathroom and find Georgia standing in the bath – there is no water in the bath – she will be singing or have a bucket on her head and singing.  The unused toothbrush will still be in her hand, with the tooth paste totally undisturbed – and clearly no teeth have been brushed.  Fifteen or twenty five minutes have passed at this point.

She is not deeply ashamed or mischievously smiling when I find her.  She will look at me and go: “Look I have a bucket on my head!”

Obviously at this point I go off POP!  Like blind rage.

There is screaming and shouting and much child pulling out of bath and threats of bodily harm and it is all a little bit fish wife.

But short of a few details this is pretty much how it goes with Georgia every day, when I ask her to do something.

I can just substitute “panties on head and dancing around the bedroom” with the “ bucket on the head” or even “sitting on her floor writing on a piece of paper” will work equally well.

I am lamenting my life to teacher Tertia, not because I think she can help, but because I am at my wits end and I am not sure who else to talk to.

I know the answer is not to beat the crap out of Gerogia, or send her to her room for 6 months  – none of these punishments work for her.  The only person who feels crap when they are being dished out is me – Georgia toodles on in her own world, “min gepla” as they would say.

Teacher Tertia and I sit watching Georgia and she goes: “You know Georgia is not a stupid girl, I bet if she did an IQ test she would score very high, but she gets distracted …. she gets internally distracted and that is where the problem lies.”

“Internally distracted” – I have never heard such an appropriate term to describe Georgia.

She chatted about the fact that it is often the loud/ADD kids who get the attention because they get so distract by what is around them, and kids like Georgia who get overlooked because they are so quiet, and are not misbehaving – but they are operating in thier heads and away from everyone else – day dreaming for lack of a better term.

Tertia also said that if she is working with Georgia and something happens and she has to attend do it, Georgia will sit in the same place and just sit there – as happy as Larry.  She says usually a kid who is not being attended to will get up and go off and play with the toys in the classroom, or something, she says Georgia will sit there quite content to drift off into her own world.

Listen I think all of this is wonderful and I love the fact that Georgia is as unique as she is – she is quirky!

Someone said to me yesterday: ”Georgia is so quirky, she is going to be the kind of person who opens a vibey coffee shop, and it has all this detail and she has all these interesting people there.”

She probably would …. the problem is that she will still be dancing in her room with her panties on her head and forget to go and open the coffee shop!

I am concerned that Georgia might not be main stream education material.  Her in a class of 25 kids when the kids have to absorb a body of work quickly because the teacher is talking to all of them, is probably not ideal.

I see her wandering off – in her head – and sitting there staring at the teacher as if she is listening, but in her head she is dancing naked in the rain with a bucket on hear head listening to the tippa-tippa-tippa-tippa sound of the water on top of the bucket!

Tertia recommended I chat to a specialist paed who deals with attention-issues relating to children, and she recommended someone for me to call.  She said the best thing to do is get her assessed.

What are my options in terms of ‘rectifying’ the issue, and Tertia said, I am not sure, maybe medication.

And then I sighed a bit, actually quite deeply … but not in happiness you understand.

I have the doctor’s number, I will call and set up an appointment to see what she says and just try and get some ideas of how to deal with this better (prefer no medication though, before the mother grundy emails start about who I should not medicate my child and and and ….)

I fetched Georgia and Connor and decided to stop for some ice cream. 

I then watched Connor eat his ice cream neatly in an organized fashion.  Same table, same type of ice cream, Georgia had hers on her jacket, on her chin, on her nose, on the table, on her shirt and on her forehead, and then the last bit fell out the bottom of her cone and fell on her lap!

<sigh>

This photo is classic Georgia … she is the one on the left hand side doing her Yoga deep meditation while everyone else is monkeying around for a photo …..

Is there a right age to be a parent ….

Is there a right age to have a child?  Is there a right age to decide to be a parent?

Is there an age where you feel okay, I am ready, I am ready to step into the abyss and see where it takes me?

<I am discounting when someone falls pregnant by ‘accident’ as that is no longer a decision to have a child, that is ‘we are having a child, let’s make some decisions that go with it” – that situation is different and though has merit, is not the decision where one sits and goes “am I ready to think about having a child”>

I am not sure that there is any “right” age to agree to have kids, but at the same time I do not think there is a wrong age.  I do think however there is an “unwise” age.

For instance I think making a decision to have children when your age ends with the word “teen” is probably an unwise age.  I personally would not trust a “teen” to order me a take away meal and get it right and bring me change, so odds are I might not think they were “wise” enough to raise a child.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that a “teen” has the plumbing and understands the mechanism of how to become parents.  My dog can have sex and produce a litter every year or so, it does not take a genius to actually become a parent, the genius (the sweat and the tears) is the ability to BE a parent.

<I am excluding good as my idea of good and Martha Stewart’s idea of good might vary on this>

I wasn’t ready to think about being a parent when I was in my twenties.  At the same time I was also not picturing white weddings and white picket fences.  It just was not how my mind’s eye was working.

However Kennith was ready and had been ready from about 35 seconds after we met. I am not sure it was me that inspired a sense of producing off spring, it was more the fact that he wanted off spring and I was there.

He did not pressure me, but he did indicate that his future included small replicas of our DNA, or at worst his DNA.

My tack was to say “maybe next year” – knowing full that next year would never come, and if it did, then we could have the same conversation. A little like Ground Hog Day.

But time moved on and at 28 we had the same conversation we had been having for a few years.  I was happy with our little lot in life, and could not imagine adding a child to the mix.

However in this particular conversation (held at the Spur – how symbolic is that of where we would be spending many many future meals) I realised that “next year” was never going to come for me.

It just was never going to come.  And I think at that point he knew.  He might have been suspicious before, but I think at that moment he knew.

I felt that if I stuck to my resolve of not wanting children then odds are that I risked Kennith leaving me.  I wondered if I would stick to my resolve and “see what happened” – but the truth was I was too afraid to see “where this went.”

I was too chicken to see if he left me …. because what if he did?

I decided instead to opt for the lesser known road of deciding that the idea of kids no longer revolted me – sure I was not exactly running into the light in ecstasy –  but maybe there was a slither of hope that it might not be as bad as I had thought.

Based on that fantastic decision-making model we decided to “try.”  Well Kennith decided to try, I decided to no longer fight the inevitable.

I had Connor when I was 29.

Do I think I was too young or too old?  Neither.

I was scared sh&tless, I was in over my head, and I had no idea what was going on.  I was in over my head and I felt like I was drowning most of the time.  I was unprepared, totally lost, totally not ready and when I think back now I feel very sorry for me actually.

But – and here is the but – I had 29 years of life experience under my belt.  I had spent six years with Kennith cohabitation and fighting over who is going to change the toilet roll, and whose turn it was to do the passer-by dishes.  I was reasonably mature, I lived a reasonable stable life, and I had my sh&t together.

I thought at the time I knew me, and I knew him.

But the reality is that when you throw a 3.25 kg wrinkled baby into the mix, you realise it is a bit like being on “the weakest link” – you sort of know the answers, but get really scared when the lights flash at you and all but forget your name, and then to add to it some git is going to write your name on a whiteboard and out for being the weakest link.

It was all pretty grim stuff.

I had my second child at 32 and thought I did not feel like I knew exactly what was going on, I definitely felt a bit less worried and anxious.

I had my third child at 36 – and I definitely felt less “deer in the headlights.”

But I am not sure if it is an age thing or an experience thing.  I am 38 now and I feel like I have “nearly” got this parenting thing down pat.  I have not quite got it, but man, I am close!

I think there are people who are couples/singles who decide to become parents in their mid-twenties, even their early twenties.  They might even find they are a bit pregnant, rush off and get married and then commit to this life at what ever age. Some how most of them do make a go at it.

Would I have coped?  Probably not.  I barely cope now.

I realise this is the point where I should wax lyrically about what a joy children are, and how I would not change anything for the world ….I know this is that part.

Freaking hell ….

 

I do think it is one of those situations where I am spread too thin and feel a little bit all over the show.

Trying to be good about keeping the blog up and alive is sometimes hard work.

I love blogging, but I prefer to write when I feel like it rather than when I have to.  The problem with “feeling like it” is that you sort of need to be in the zone, which right now I am not right now – the result is that I start posts and get a few paragraphs in and then lose the steam … and they lie there forlorn staring and me, begging to be finished. 

I need to still write the article for the magazine, so need to get into the head space for that (again a bigger deal for me than for them no doubt).

I need to still clean out my bag – as I get so frustrated every time I have to find something in there.

Today I got myself into a total tizz looking for keys, inside my bag.  After about 10 minutes of going ape-shit because I could not find my keys inside my stupid bag …. I then discovered them lying next to my laptop, on my desk ….. where I put them this morning …….so I would not have to scratch in my bag …. to find them.

I heard a radio article this afternoon as I got in the car, and the bloke was talking about being a responsible parent and that the best thing you could do for your child, was give them the gift of time.

I thought it was the gift of life, but I have been mistaken before.

Darryl, the presenter, went on to explain that you needed the time to sit and just listen to your child and hear what they have to say.

Which of course makes me feel all the more guilty as I really lack patience and often cut them off with a screeching: “just get to the point already…” ………….I mean seriously, how much crap must I actually listen to before you get to the part where you say what you need to!!

But on the more sane hand …..

I am really enjoying the photography part and the other blog.  

But that again takes a lot of work and of course more of my attention away from being able to listen to my children and even Kennith.  Trying to balance life and my hobby is challenging, and I have barely got started.

I am not a super-good photographer or even super-average, so I find the shoots quite stressful because I want to ensure that the “client” gets some good shots and I do not fek it all up.  I really get to be a totally stressed cabbage on the day.

Once the shoot is over, I am always excited to see the images – and more often than not I am more excited than depressed – probably because I expect so little ….. so that’s a good thing, low expectations and all, very hard to be disappointed if you start really low …… right?

I have been doing shoots outside which is much more difficult and requires more technical aptitude than shooting in a studio. 

There is shifting light, and usually a giant sun in the sky which is either creeping in to the shot, or creates such heavy lights and darks that it becomes almost impossible to get a good shot.  And  I am trying to take photographs of a child (and keep them unposed) so said child is running around like they are on E or something and that just adds to the chaos – I am thinking about taking along a little tranquiliser … not sure if it is for me or the children …. or the parents.

But that being said, I am really enjoying it and learning more each week. 

Could I do this for a living?  I am not sure, and I think there are too many people trying to carve a living out of it – so for now it is a hobby that I really enjoy, and let’s see how it goes moving forward.

On Saturday one my the friends, whom I hold most dear, Judith, agreed to let me do some maternity/pregnancy shots with her and her husband, Alistair.

Her baby Benjamin was due on the 25 March, and last week her GYNE said that the baby’s head had engaged and that he couldn’t even measure the head, which meant that it appeared that birth was imminent.

I was excited for her and disappointed that Benjamin might arrive and make the maternity part of the shoot a thing of the past.  (yes I realise how self-absorbed I am…)

But he hung in there and Judith and Alistair and I frolicked around in 39 degree heat to take some photographs.  It was so hot it was unbelievable.

I loved photographing her.

Sure I took a long time and took nearly a thousand photos, but there were so many nuances of her that I could see through the lens that I wanted to capture, that I ended up taking much too many.

Part of it was also that we were chatting and laughing in so many of the photos, that the results involved open mouths and silly faces, and some of my feet because I was laughing instead of focussing.

It was great.

Judith had her Benjamin this morning – and she said that she started going in to labour on Sunday midday.

She got through labour and by the time she asked for the epidural, they said “er, it is a bit late for that!” and then she panicked.

I put it down to her good manners.  She did not want to be rude by asking and thought she might just wait until they offered.  There is a lesson there regarding drugs and pain relief.

So my hero and deliciously gorgeous friend Judith got through labour on her ace, without so much as a headache tablet – how cool is she?  Very cool, much cooler than me.

I went to visit her earlier today and got to see Benjamin who was all of 7 hours old.  It is funny how new born babies make me cry.  They just do.

But I was so happy and overwhelmed for Judith, that she  had survived her day, and had pushed this guy out of her nether regions.

Of course I got to lie on her hospital bed as we were screaming with laughter as she was recanting the tales of the “labour ward” – I love the fact that motherhood has not changed her …. much……yet.

While there, the nurse came in to ask if she wanted to be part of the “bath demonstration” today or tomorrow.  Jude thought about it and opted for tomorrow. 

For those who are not familiar, basically the “bath demonstration” is when all the moms who have just had babies go and sit around – usually with very pained expressions on their faces – in the nursery area of the Maternity Ward and watch how the Matron bathes a baby with absolute skill and does it in about 7 minutes.

You then get to repeat the procedure.  Problem is that your muscles are exhausted, you are highly emotional and you have a tiny wriggly person who you are afraid of breaking.

So you go through this process and it is awful.  You pretty much spend 45 – 60 minutes trying to bath and dress this baby.  By the time you are finished, you are so traumatised and exhausted and feel like such a pathetic mother that you need an ante-depressant and someone to pat you on your hand.

The problem is that you compare yourself to the Matron, who does this with about the same feeling as you do to change a toilet roll.

Anyway I made that mistake when I had Connor. 

Unfortunately I also did it on day 4 or what ever and I was seriously in a case of “baby blues” or affectionately called the “warm up to full blown depression” and I tried to bath this little wrinkled child and dry him, and get the nappy on and the special outfit I had chosen.

By the time Kennith arrived to collect me, he might as well have put me into the wheel chair and pushed me from Maternity straight to the Psychiatric wing.

By Georgia I learnt my lesson, and asked them if they could just bath her – for all three days I was there.  I figured I would learn when I got home.

With Isabelle, well clearly they stopped asking at that point!  But they did ask to use her as the “demonstration baby”  – even better.

So my wisdom that I imparted to Judes today was to ring for the nurse a bit later and say “please can you bath my baby, I had him this morning and he has not had a wash…” and then proceed to ask them to do it each day.  I said that if they looked at her like “well honey you need to learn” she should just tell them that her mom is a widwife and staying with them, and she will have plenty of time to learn at home.

Judith, welcome, welcome to this little band of demented people who call themselves mothers – here we are – some of us more sane than others.

If you thought life was a bit strange before, wait until you can sit and discuss the colour of your child’s faeces over dinner, and think nothing of it!  There are even forums that chat about this.

It’s a brave new world chick, it’s a brave new world and welcome to it.

You have already set the bar high by going through what must be one of the hardest test of endurance without drugs (albeit not by your own choice) – and chick you survived.

But I did like the way you said…”next time straight c-section!”

 

My wife ….

Kennith sent this email around yesterday – he did not include me on the mailing list.   I started getting email comments from friends and initially I though “what?” – but then I realised what he had done.

I thought it was very sweet, and it is really nice that he is proud of my little achievements.

So here is the email so you can also know:

While my dear wife will go ape if Georgia does not climb in the bath when asked, she does likes to act all “Cool, calm and collected” about her personal achievements so let me share with you some of her latest achievements. 

1)      She has started her photography dream –  having done 4 or 5 shoots already – http://celestebarlow.wordpress.com/ – not sure why she has not posted the wedding shoot photos yet – but it has started.

2)      She was selected for a make-over feature in a HUISGENOOT type magazine – as winner of the Parenting Blog of the Year – and this should direct more feet to her blog as well.

3)      And most excitedly, she has been asked by one of the parenting magazines to write a 600 word article for their magazine – we are not sure whether this could become an on-going feature or a once off, but it is another step forward in her dream of journalism. Once published please ensure that everyone writes a letter to the editor about the “fresh new journalist and her honest, refreshing outlook on parenting”

So I think making headway on two dreams in one month is well worth a special mention. Well done bunny, proud of you!

Also Celeste and Alice are still signed up for the 2Oceans half marathon at the end of April, so there is another achievement just waiting in the wings…

 Kennith you are a good egg!

The one about the dead pigeon ….

I haven’t told you about Saturday night yet – I have left the best for last.  I suggest you put your poppy seed muffin aside for a bit, or eat it quickly before continuing to read.

Dinner ends, everyone goes home, and after saying goodbye to everyone, I walk back into the house.

I get this bad odour that whips past my nose at a certain area in our lounge.  I have been getting the same tinge for the last few days, but keep putting it down to something that is happening or not really dwelling on it.

It is not a strong odour, but it is a bad odour. 

Our lounge is not used much, and we have big sliding doors that are left open, so the smell was not strong, because (1) we had not been in the lounge and (2) there was constant flow of fresh air coming in.  The upper and lower door have also been open, so there was a lot of air flow during the week (because it had been so hot).

I stand there – it is about 22h00 on Saturday night – and instead of just walking through the lounge I stop and sniff, and this rather unfortunate smell assaults my nostrils.

I really hate a bad smell, and I know it has been hanging around for a few days, so I know I can’t ignore it anymoer.  It definitely is not coming from outside (as initially thought).

I stand and ponder this for a moment and then my beady eyes start moving around the lounge.  Our lounge is quite minimalist (which equals not well decorated and not a helluva lot of furniture) – so I am standing there looking around, trying to suss out where it could possibly be coming from.

Our lounge floor has white tiles (circa 1985 – the disco era), so it is not as if something could have been messed and absorbed into the carpet.

I consider that one of the kids could have dropped something on the floor and it could have rolled under the couch and that could be the smell I was getting.

I put my back into it and heave the couch about a meter from it’s present position, fully expecting to find a rotting apple.

What I did not expect to find was a great big dead pigeon!

Super.

Sounds like a job for Kennith.

I headed downstairs to the tv room and called for Kennith (and John – who is staying over) to come and sort the pigeon out.  I realize he was not going to be performing CPR, I just needed him to pick it up and throw it away. 

I do live animals, Kennith does dead animals.

Our tv room is on a level just below our lounge and there is a glass wall separating the two.  From the tv room I can look up into the lounge.  I close the door and sit in the tv room with Connor and chat to him, while I watch Kennith.

Now what happens next is put together from what I could see and hear, and what Kennith and John told me about the next day.

Kennith gets the big broom and the dustpan scoop and thinks he will just push the now deceased pigeon into the scoop.  Put him in a plastic bag and throw him away into our outside dustbin.

Easy enough.

What Kennith does not account for is that said pigeon has been dead since Monday (it is now Saturday) – and as he lifts the pigeon up with the broom, it allows the real smell to escape.  The smell of rank death.

Kennith is now gagging, not play acting gagging, but full on leaning over, eyes watering man-gagging.  John has entered the scene with the plastic bag he has found, and he takes one sniff of the odour of Senor Pigeon and he starts gagging, and leaves the room.

I am in the tv room and all I can see is this drama unfolding through the glass.  I can’t quite see the pigeon or smell the smell, but I see these two boys in a total state of mayhem in the lounge.

Kennith composes himself and uses the broom to try to move pigeon onto the dustpan scoop. 

Seems like another good plan.

However it seems that now pigeon has lost control of his inner organs due to what ever happens after rigor mortis stops, and his entire insides are now this greeny sticky slimey goo that is running all over our floor. 

But to detract from the smell of death and disease, is our troupe of friendly maggots who have taken up residence inside the pigeon and are now trying to flee the scene of the crime.

Kennith is trying to scoop up the pigeon, trying not to get pigeon death on his feet, and trying to round up the fleeing maggots in his dustpan scoop.  All whilst trying very hard to hold on to the pasta dinner he has just eaten.

Pigeon ends up in bin. Kennith and John are both feeling rather ill – and Kennith asks me to clean up the pigeon juice which is has leaked onto the lounge floor.

This is one of the few times I have been glad for white tiles.

I get jik and a bucket and clean the area, and lift little carpet and chair up, and leave everything to air.  Horrible, horrible, but problem sorted.

We all go to bed and that is that ………… or is it?

I really really wish it was.

Next morning Kennith, John and Natalie get up, put on some lycra, and ridiculous hats and go off and ride the Argus Cycle Tour.

I walk through to the kitchen at about 7am to get Isabelle a bottle, I walk into our little scullery and there are thousands of ants. 

I am like: “What the f&ck!”

I wish I could say I said “oh my goodness” but I didn’t.

There is a throng of ants – the part that is more confusing is we have not had much in the way of ants since we have lived in this house.  My brain is trying to understand what the hell is going on here and why would they appear so quickly.

Between the cussing and the confused look, I lean over to examine the ants.

Only to discover that among the ants are MAGGOTS – dozens if not hundreds of them!

I am like:”You are shitting me!”

My brain cannot spring into action.  My brain tries to look around for the dots so it can join it and make the picture.  I really cannot function unless my brain goes “there you go, dots connected..”

I am standing there staring at ants, staring at maggots, trying not to throw up, and trying to understand what is the connection from last night to now. (the scullery is two levels away from the lounge and there is no way even the fittest maggot could have got this far!)

Then I see it – the broom and the dustpan scoop – carefully placed right there next to the fridge, right next to our potatoes and other vegetables!

Excellent!

Guess who took a free ride up the levels via the broom and the scoop?  No prizes for getting this one right.

Of course at that point I was feeling less than gratious towards Kennith.

I mean seriously ……… seriously! 

At least I had the sense to take my bucket and mop outside after cleaning up after the CSI scene, and put them outside next to the house, not in the middle of the f&kn kitchen with our food!

Besides now standing in shorty jammies, and having Isabelle screaming for her milk – I am now up to my ankles on a Sunday morning in ants and maggots.

These are without a doubt, the best days of my life!

Why am I screaming if no one is listening ……

Okay so Saturday was like any other night, we had 9 friends over for dinner and I had three kids going bezerk!

To correct myself, I had two kids going bezerk.

I had one kid who went downstairs and realized the safest place was to sit in the tv room and play Nintendo – that child has a special place in my heart and was definitely my favourite child on Saturday night.

Georgia has reached that stage, where we are at that point where we have no more tools to use to discipline her.

We had a fairly empty toolbox when we started parenting, but right now, we have run out of ideas and the tool box is empty (unless I pick it up and just starting hitting myself repeatedly over the head with it – which might end up giving me more results).

How it goes is Connor is the good, sensitive and conscientious one.   Georgia would follow Connor’s lead.  That way we had to discipline one, and the other one followed sort of obediently after.

It was a wonderful arrangement.

It is a bit like getting a dog, and house training and obedience training the one dog.

Given, you expend huge sums of energy on the training, but you do it, you do it well and it is done.  You then get a second dog and the first dog trains the other one by association – a winner recipe for lazy dog owners.

Swap out “first dog” with Connor and “second dog” with Georgia and “dog owners” with parents and you have got our little arrangement.  Sweet, when it works.

Until. It doesn’t.

Kennith and I have always congratulated ourselves (gloated actually) on what brilliant parents we are.  Our kids are obedient (relatively), we can take our kids out with us (to most places) and generally ours is a fairly easy household – it is controlled chaos but our kids listen and the screaming is kept to an acceptable level (as long as mom has Chuckles and wine).

Or.  So we thought.

Georgia turned five last year and it was as if a little slither of defiance opened up in her.  That window has since started to grow and grow and the glass pane has fallen out, so it is no longer a window as much as it is a gaping hole!

With Connor we had time out, which worked really well.  Even the threat of time out would work.  We could take tv-time away, take computer-time away, and we could take Nintendo-time away – or we could threaten to.

The thing with Connor is the mere hint of threat is enough to curb his behavior.

We also use a system of counting to get results i.e. “I am counting to three, if you are still lying here when I get to three, you will get a hiding/beaten/never be allowed out again/leave what ever fits!”

Before “one” is even out of your mouth Connor is gone.

Fabulous.

Enter Georgia.

She does not respond to threats.  You can threaten to take television/Barbie/her princess dress/custard or what ever away from her, she sort of looks at you like “and then what will you do?”

If you threaten to give her a hiding, she seems to think it over before actually doing anything.

If you threaten to …. actually it does not matter what you threaten she just has zero reaction.  She does not care what you take away or what you threaten to throw away, she does not give a continental fig.

I count to three, and if she is being a smart ar&e she sometimes adds “four” when I get to “three” – which as mad as I it makes me, I still find really funny.  That girl has got real edge to her!

It is not like she is openly defiant.  But you can see on her face that what ever your threat is, it is just not doing the trick.

A bit like if your boss said: “Okay if you do not get to work on time, I will be cancelling all future enemas ….. I really mean it this time!!”  Wouldn’t exactly change you getting their much earlier would it?

Georgia is about the same.

On Saturday I had told her probably five times to get into the bath.  I had told her three times and screamed at her twice – I was busy cooking and just wanted her in the bath.

She did not want to bath and decided it was too early for bath time.  I see she is not in the bath, and then I get really cross – so I go looking for her.

I find her hiding under the sink  in the bathroom. (I was more cross because I had gone into the bathroom twice and had not seen her hiding there).

I did what any rational mother would do when they have lost the plot.  I took off my right slip-slop, sat on the toilet seat, pulled said child over my lap and give her three slaps with the “plakkie” on her bum!!

Then screamed: ”Now get in the bath, or I am coming back in here with the left one!”

Listen it is not a moment I am proud of, but we can talk about the right and wrong of smacking children at a later stage.

So Georgia is balling.  She gets undressed and gets in the bath …. I hear her saying something and crying, so I head back.

She goes – through snot and tears: “Is it washing hair day, because I don’t have a clip for my hair?”

I go, yes washing hair day, she goes, okay and starts laughing while she wets her hair.

My hiding was totally lost on her.  I think I was more traumatised by the experience.

I then sat (in calm Super Nanny style) and asked if she understood why she got a hiding.  She said “yes, because I was not listening” and then we spoke about that, and I went off feeling a bit crap to carry on cooking.

Georgia gets out the bath and then comes to make a picnic in the middle of the kitchen – where I am trying to cook – for the 9 guests.  She is totally ignoring me telling her repeatedly not to make the picnic in the kitchen – I remind her that she has just had a smack for not listening.

Still picnic’ing.

I mean seriously how far over the edge is this child trying to push me?

I pick up blanket and picnic stuff and throw it down the passage – I seriously seriously gave up even trying to look composed at this point.  The child does not listen – she does not even try to act like she does – and I am exhausted trying to find a way for her to hear me.

I am out of ideas.

I plan to take her for a hearing test in the next month, because seriously, the only possible reason is that she is stone deaf.  Because I am out of other ideas.

‘It’s only funny when it happens to someone else’ Moment ….

So Saturday night we are at the Spur, like any good family with kids.

We are not starving, but we are just too lazy to attempt to do anything in the kitchen that requires us, foods, plates and some form of preperation.

We eat, and Kennith always has ice-cream, it’s his thing.

Me, not so much.

But I did feel like a bit of ice-cream, but the Spur brings you such a large portion that it is actually a touch on the indecent side, even by my rather skew standards.

So Spur waitron person comes over and Kennith orders for himself and the kids and then looks at me, and I “uhm and aaahmmm” and say: “I’d really like a bit of ice cream but it is just way too much and I am just not that hungry!”

Spur waitron-guy, without missing a beat: “Shall I bring you the pensioner’s portion….?”

You know for a just a moment when you think you are starting to feel good, and think you are quite a young’n and then some tosser comes and stamps all over your dreams??

Fek, I need to get back onto that Oil of Olay cr@p – I was going to say ‘before it is too late” – but clearly that ship has sailed!

<just for the record, I did order the pensioner’s portion …………. muvverflucker>

Georgia gets hitched …..

Georgia has this boyfriend Jamie – that she adores.

I do realize that 5 ½ is a bit young to be “going steady” but allow me to explain the situation in a bit more detail. 

Georgia used to be at a creche and there was this little boy there named Jamie. From the get go, she spoke about Jamie in soft soothing tones and with a certain sparkle in her eye.

I did not really take much notice as she was also pretty excited about Emma.

At the end of 2008, I took her out of that creche and moved her to a pre-school, so that she could get started on Grade 0.

Jamie remained at the previous school.  Georgia was very sad that Jamie was not at her new school, but she had Emma (Emma had moved schools) and I thought that she would soon forget Jamie.

She didn’t.

Georgia probably spoke about Jamie twice every week.  She didn’t see him, or hear from him, but she referred to him in conversation at least twice a week and reminded me how much she liked Jamie, and that he was was her boyfriend and she was going to marry Jamie.

One evening she bravely told Kennith and I that Jamie was her boyfriend and she was going to marry Jamie.

Kennith told her that she was not allowed to have boyfriends (he was teasing her), and Georgia burst into tears and sobbed big crocodile tears.  Kennith then decided to retract that statement and indicated that she could have boys how were friends, but not boyfriends.

She sniffed and smiled through her tears and told us that Jamie was her boy ….. friend, and she was going to still marry him.

In November last year I called Jamie’s mom and told her that Georgia was still rather taken with Jamie, and maybe we could arrange that Jamie and Georgia got together for a (supervised) playdate.  Jamie’s mom said that Georgia should come to Jamie’s birthday party – and as an extra surprise Jamie was moving to Georgia’s school next year.

Georgia was beside herself with excitement – on both counts.

This year she was even happier and not only was Jamie in her school, but he is in her class.  Georgia is as blissfully happy and in love as any 5 1/2 year old can be (who has remained faithful to her man even though she has not seen or heard from him in more than a year – I know adults who are not that committed).

Today when I fetched her she was telling me that she was looking at Family Barney cards – I have no idea what family Barney cards are, so I just let her prattle on while I attempted to drive.

When I stopped the car she showed me three cards – one had a little girl on it, one had a little boy on it and there was one with a little puppy dog.

So Georgia goes: “This is Kennith when he was a little boy, this was you when you were a little girl and this is your dog!” 

Me: “Okay…”  (clearly the images look nothing like us, but why disagree over this small detail) 

Georgia: “And you and Kennith were best friends…..”

Me: “Sure, Kennith and I are best friends ….. “ 

Georgia: “And you married your best friend…..”

Me: “Yes, Georgia I married daddy and daddy is my best friend.”

Georgia: “And Jamie is my best friend and I am going to marry my best friend ………….” (she sort of squeeled that part out)

Me: “Georgia my love, you can marry Jamie when you turn 37, okay!”

Georgia: “Thirty seven, that is when I am going to marry Jamie…thirty seven”

She was so blissfully happy, I did not want to break it to her that maybe Jamie might have other plans at 37!

 

This is Jamie, who is possibly my future son-in-law …

And the hits just keep coming …..

I have a very simple theory to prevent yourself being pummelled to death with a doughnut.  It has worked well for me over the years, and I am about to impart it to you ….. so prepare yourself.

It goes like this: “Never EVER ask if someone is pregnant, or when they are due.  Unless YOU HAVE SEEN a fetal baby scan photo that the person has shown you in the last hour.  Alternatively if you have actually seen a head crowning between that woman’s legs.  I personally think the head crowning is a much safer measure”

Those are the only sure fire indicators that a woman might/may well be pregnant – and unless you see one, either or both of these indicators, NEVER ASK IF SOMEONE IS PREGNANT.

Just don’t.

The problem is if you ask, and the answer is no, well then you are screwed.  There is actually just no way to recover, and that person will hate you FOR.E.VER and E.VE.R!!

Even if they say “no it is okay, I get it all the time” it is not fine, and they will hate you and you are a chop!

I have had a few corkers in my time:-

1.  I was at Tech and first day in a lecture, put up my hand and asked the lecturer when she goes on maternity leave will there be someone filling in for her ….. she then explained to me that she was not pregnant and had a little bloating.

You know that moment when you realise that no matter what you do in a course, you are going to just not do well.

<and since then I have never asked another soul if they are pregnant – that was my moment of learning>

2.  I went to a business dinner with Kennith and some suppliers from the East a few years back – I think it was in 2007.  Dinner was going famously, until one of the guests leaned over and asked me when I was due.

The problem is that I did not quite hear her and had to ask again.  By that point, I had heard her, the entire table had heard her and so too had the parking guard out  in the parking area.   I was mortified!

And really cheesed off.  It was not because I was overweight, it was because of the shirt I chose that was clearly a bit too flowy ….. that must be it ……….that shirt found it’s way to the dustbin pronto.

3.  Kennith’s cousin’s dad also asked me if I was pregnant and I think that was around 2008.  He is a small man and at the time was lying on a low couch watching television – I used the excuse that his perceptive of vanishing points was all wonky, because he was lying down.

Of course I did want to kick him in the nuts as well, but I didn’t – he is sort of loosely family!

4.  Then my latest and greatest was we were in Johannesburg last month and on the Gautrain on our way to the stadium for the U2 concert.  Train was pretty full, and a guy offered me his seat.

I thought nice guy – well he did not offer me his seat as much as he offered to scoot over and sit really close to his mate and make space for me.  I thought it was my charming personality and the slight sway I had in my step from the bottle and a half of wine at lunch.

So I thanked him for his manners and queried why he was kind enough to offer a space to me and not to the other girls on the train ….. he said something about ‘someone in your condition’….and I thought ‘well, yes I have been drinking, but it is not like I have to drive the train…..’ and then the penny dropped.   I think the penny did not drop as much as I heard Kennith giggling …… and then the penny sort of echo’d into the tin that is my brain.

Someone with more principles would have kneed him in the scrotum and stumbled off all offended, but I accepted I had a seat …. and proceeded to really think about my waistline a bit and whether I really should have eaten that full portion of ribs for lunch ……

Anyway, so all in all, I am not exactly riding the wave of good vibes right now ….. I do really think that I am going to have a total sense of humour failure quite soon what with my age and my pregnancy and all.

Some days I feel like praying …..

Georgia:  “What happened to my beautiful brush?’

Me: “What is it, Georgia?”

Georgia – being a tad over dramatic – clearly those drama classes are really giving us our money’s worth: “My beautiful brush, its broken (pronounced bwo-ken)”

Me: “It’s fine …..”

I mean it is an old brush and she barely liked it any way!

Georgia: “Its her, it is her ….”  sort of gesturing wildly towards her sister.

Me: “Its her what…..” getting slightly irritated now.

Who am I kidding I was irritated when I walked in!!

<However my irritation was fueled when it took me 8 minutes to figure out that Georgia was talking about a pillow (small pillow with a pocket that you put your tooth in for the tooth fairy)  I had told her about last weekend, when I was trying to ask her if a dress fitted her. 

So I stood trying to understand and decipher what the hell she was on about in response to a dress – but she had changed the subject and not told me.  It sort of left me going: what, what are you saying …. for far too long, and I eventually got so chipped off and threw a wobbly.>

Anyway back to the brush …. so Georgia is looking at it and lamenting the fact that it is broken.  Suddenly it is her best item in the universe and it is all her sister’s fault.

I am preparing to explain that it was me, it was I, who actually broke the brush and just left it in her room, in the hope that the nanny would find it tomorrow and fix it.

Let me explain, it really is not difficult to fix, I just feel so lazy right now I barely have the strength to cut myself a piece of cake to eat with the glass of wine I plan to pour in about three minutes.

So I knew it was me, not her sister, and really it is not a big deal … or so I thought.

Georgia: “That girl, that girls got the duiwel in her!”

Me: “What…?”  in a slightly elevated tone!

Georgia – like she is talking to the mentally feeble: “That girl Isabelle has the duiwel in her heart!”  (duiwel = devil)

Me: ‘……………….”

I really think there are signs that Georgia is going to be “that child” – the one who we get called into the principals office to discuss …. often.

The girls playing in my cupboard, they totally destroyed it, and my shoes were strewn out all over the bedroom ……

I snot laughed today….

You know the kind, where you are sitting there quietly minding your own business, and someone sends you something that you read, and then you laugh so hard that your mouth does not have time to open, but the force of the air that should come out of your mouth, is now channelled through your nose ….. and in some cases this results in a speck of snot being flung out of your nose.

Awkward in an open plan office, but well worth it for the joy factor.

My blog friend (who I adore) wrote this post  and was kind enough to email me the link, and I share it with you because it is so damn good and I am jealous that I did not write it, and I do think it is high time I introduced a new Blogger to you.

Drum roll please ……… introducing the divine and brilliant ….

Tampons and other adventures

I am in a foul mood today. I could really just kill bunnies.

My body is still in recovery mode from pregnancy & birth. The entire c-section area is still tender to the touch. So tender that I still cringe while buttering myself up with Bio oil every night, out of desperation. Obviously it is not making a difference. I don’t know why I keep doing it to myself. My boobs are getting bigger and bigger, and I fear for when I stop breastfeeding. I fear that I may have to tuck them in to my pants when all is said and done.

I have no control over anything that my stupid body is doing. I am annoyed with it. Thus I am annoyed with every object and person within 2 meters of me.

This morning, after a year of absence, Aunt Flow came back in to town. Words cannot describe my resentment at my life and my uterus at this point. I am snappy. Unfortunately for Graeme, he is at the receiving end.

I asked him to pop by the pharmacy this evening. I gave him a list that he seemed apprehensive about. Things he might be shy about paying for at the check-out counter. But at this point, I had no patience for boyish reserves.
“Get tampons, Milton, another NUK bottle, Nurofen and pick up my pill”
He left looking unsure.
I always keep my phone on me once he leaves the house, because he will call to ask something. Always. It doesn’t matter why he has left the house. He will phone me to assist him with something that he is obviously incapable of doing on his own. I could ask him to get milk and he will phone me 20 minutes later wanting to know something about compost. I am not joking.

So he leaves the house to get the tampons etc. Fine.

Phone rings on schedule.

G: “They don’t have those latex bottles”
N: “OK” ( I am seriously wondering what solution he was hoping to get from me. Maybe he thought I could call NUK head office in Germany and ask them why that store does not have latex in stock. Really? WHY is he phoning me?)
G: “Do you think they will give me your pill?”
N: (Officially out of patience) I don’t know Graeme. Why don’t you ask THEM if they will give you my pill?”
G: “It’s just… I”m already in the queue and I don’t want to go back to the counter for nothing”
N: At this point I wished I was recording the conversation, so that I could play it back to him should I ever find myself impregnated again. Just so I can tell him that it happened because he was too lazy to stand in a queue. Instead, I did the mature thing, and hung up.

You can read more from happyduck at http://littleandbunny.blogspot.com/

She is brilliant, once you start you will be hooked!

The Slap ……

I completed a really interesting book last night – The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas.

I got it from bookclub, and that was of course just after the slight sniffing and the rather judgmental statement of “it is never right to slap a child….”  That being said, I was first to grab this little beauty off the “new book” pile.

The basic premise of the book is this: an obnoxious four year old child does something faintly threatening at a family barbecue, and the father of the threatened child smacks the child. Everyone is so upset by this that the barbecue breaks up in a hurry, and within a day, the parents of the slapped child have the slapper arrested.  (there is no need for a spoil alert, as this is plastered on the book jacket as well)

On reading the jacket blurb your mind will immediately start thinking about how this person slapped this child, and what if it was your child, and then your cheeks will get red in anger. 

However then your mind will backtrack to the last time you were at the Spur, and you can think of at least three children (neither of them yours, or maybe one of them was) who you would have felt quite justified for standing up and slapping.

Actually it might even be fair to say you would get back into your car now, drive to the Spur and slap that child right now.

Each chapter of the book is written from a different person’s perspective.  Initially I thought it might be about how they each saw the event, but it is about how the event (the slap at the braai) effected these individuals in their lives after the event.  (pre-slap vs post-slap)

The really great thing about The Slap is that it cannot be neatly summarised. The book is about exploring the inner lives of these eight characters, four women and four men, ranging in age from 18 to 70. And each of these characters is a sharp observer of those around him or her, so many more lives are illuminated as well from a different characters perspective.

The book is not written from the standard American angle, of event, middle with lots of action and then closing where the good guy is vindicated.

The novel’s forward energy is unexpectedly overwhelming, you literally get sucked into the rather messy lives of these people, who at first glance seemed normal and ordinary.

You get to peek behind the facades and see how they are trying to keep their lives together while the sh&t is literally raining down on them.

No one is evil, no one deserves to be hit, or even judged negatively (but the reality is that we do judge, we might do it internally but we do judge).

Everyone means well, and everyone is doing the best he or she can; but then again, everyone is awfully angry, and everyone is just getting through thier days the best way they can.

I really enjoyed this book – it is not light and fluffy, but at the same time it is not a heavy brain drain either.  The characters and the flow is fast and furious  – I flew through this book, because I could not get enough of these people.

Excellent book!  (I dare you to judge the situation at the outset, like I did, and then review your judgment at the end, and realise that you have probably travelled a long road of understanding with these characters.)

Do I think it is right to slap a stranger’s child?  No.

Do I think that many parents do not adequately parent their children? Yes.

Do I think that many children become problems because they were not parented well, and did not learn the value of consequences? Yes.

Do I think Joan River’s show about her commenting on fashion on E Entertainment is hysterically funny?  Yes.

Is it correct to assume the last question has absolutely no relevance to the book? Yes.

Nanny steals baby …. and other scenarios I keep myself awake with ….

Remember that pasta advert a few years back, when the woman pulls the little Italian woman out of the cupboard and then she whips up a pasta extravaganza (Fattis and Monis I think) and prepares everything.

When she is complete, the woman (hostess) enters the kitchen gives her a wry wink, and shuffles her back into the cupboard where the mops and detergent live.

Then the hostess then takes out the prepared food to the adoring guests,and laps up the praise as it appears she did it all.

That is pretty much how I would like my nanny to be – always there, and always available, working magic behind the scenes.

But as we cannot make Pepe legally live in a cupboard, and possibly because she is not an Italian woman from an advert.  Pepe also takes leave each year (those pesky basic conditions of employment rear their ugly head again much to the inconvenience to the white madam).

Just a bit of background, I work a full day and so does Kennith.  Isabelle stays at home with Pepe and our two older kids get home around 16h00 from school – and then the dinner/bath/evening fighting starts. 

If I did not have a Pepe, odds are I would not be able to work a full day, and then my kids would be stuck at aftercare/creche until 6pm on most nights.  I understand that for many working moms this is the only way it can be, but I have the benefit of working and still geting kids home to be at home for the late afternoon/evening without the chaos.

The only reason my household functions is because I have a Pepe – and I give daily thanks that I have someone like her making it possible to do what I need to do (without me having to drink more to cope).

At the mere mention that Pepe needs to go on leave throws me into an absolute f&nnie flap – and this year was no exception.  Usually she goes in December/January but this year she opted to go in March.

Of course that made December/January brilliant – us off to work, kids at home, and clothes that were magically packed away, and dishes that miraculously washed themselves.  It was all fabulous and a totally heady experience!  I was drunk with how divine it was.  I congratulated myself daily on how fantastic my lot in life was.

Fast forward to March and I am now in the midst of what can only be described as a mini/major (it fluctuates depending on the time of the day) nervous breakdown.

I went through an agency, interviewed three ladies, regretted one who was just too timid, and looked at the other two candidates a bit further.

I did references, and thought about it long and hard.  I brought the both women in for a trial for 3 days each so I could get a better sense of them, and have them living in my space.  I decided to go with the one lady – let’s call her nanny F for now.

Other lady nanny J was brilliant, but I thought nanny F was a better fit, but I might be keeping nanny J in my cupboard for weekends.

So nanny F started yesterday and Pepe left on her month leave last night.  It was as if when Pepe walked out the door hell broke loose.

The kids were fighting.  Isabelle was crying and clinging to my leg.  \Georgia was screaming (SCREAMING) that her pieces  of torn out paper she had torn up yesterday were missing.

It was totally fekn chaos!

And then I realized this was going to be my month forward – it was as if I had been given  a  glimpse, a snap shot,  of what was coming my way for the next 30 days. 

If Pepe was there she would have known what to do and the situation would not have escalated. 

Nanny F took one look at the situation and decided that ironing might be a good thing to be doing right now.  (tip, it wasn’t!)

I poured myself some wine, put Isabelle who had snot on her upper lip, on my hip and then proceeded to attend to Georgia who was officially have a po** collapse (I must thank my friend Natalie Black for that wonderful term – I do not use it often, but when you see a p.c. then you know that is the only phrase that is going to work)

I went over to nanny F and explained to her that when she hears kids screaming it would really help me, if she stopped ironing (which I do appreciate, as I do not iron) and rather attend to the screaming child.  I might have used a slightly disdainful voice when I explained this, but I was pretty tense.

Then I got really exasperated that I actually had to explain that problem…..and started to doubt that maybe I had not made the best decision on bringing nanny F into the fold.

Georgia continued to go totally ape sh*t – I continued to try to sooth her – Isabelle cries if Georgia cries, so the entire situation was really not pleasant.  I was trying not to scream (because inside the voices were) but I tried to use the soothing mother voice, though, to be honest I was really one step away from having a po** collapse of my own.

All this whilst Connor is playing a computer game featuring fish.  What he loves to do,  more than anything,  is whilst I am in the midst of a total family drama he  pop his head in – usually in mid-sentence and says something like:  “Mom, I just caught a Blue tang surgeonfish – it’s great, you know what they eat?”

To which I need to then ask: “No, my boy what do they eat?”

And so the exchange goes.

Please bear in mind I have no interest at all in what a Blue tang surgeonfish eats, that the sailfish is the fastest fish in the sea, and that the South American marbled hatchetfish are the only fish that can achieve powered flight.  I really have little regard for this information, but in our house if you plan on having any conversation with Connor, then this is sort of where the subject matter is going to be heading.

While all hell is breaking loose, I need to also compose myself for fish banter with Connor.

So I sort out Georgia’s dilemma, sooth Isabelle’s crying – which has escalated as I think she has realized I am getting a bit irked with nanny F.

Nanny F then walks in and shows me that the iron’s cord is burnt through – and she can no longer use it. 

I think wow, you have been here about 2 hours and we are already one appliance down…. Kennith is going to flip his lid.  I already start imagining the exchange as he sees the iron, and he will say something like: “Man, how did this happen?  She really needs to be more careful with the iron, you need to speak to her or she will break everything!”

Of course I will stand there, get annoyed as I would be thinking: “Or you could take three steps and then lean over and speak to her yourself!”

<Kennith’s defense he actually did not say any of these things, he just said, well we need a new iron and we need it quickly…..>

So all of this mania is going on, I finally get kids aimed towards bed, and I head towards bed myself.  I fall into bed rather than climb in with any sense of style or decorum.

<I had an optom yesterday as I have managed – through various levels of stupidity – to scratch my cornea on my right eyeball -normal words cannot accurately describe my discomfort>

My eyes are tired, my head hurts, I am irritable, my nerves are frayed and I am already exhausted and the month has not even started yet.   I am already predicting the chaos and starting to work through the various scenarios in my head and every possible permutation that may occur and what I will be doing when it does/might occur.

I fall asleep and then wake up at it is 12:10am and I lie there and start to worry.

I think I have made an awful mistake, and I am entrusting (with possibly my favourite child at the moment) to what really is a complete stranger.

I start creating an entire scenario of how this is going to play out, and all my scenarios end with me wearing sack cloth, crying with ash on my head, as I pull my hair out and plead with the not-so-friendly-police-constable to: “please just find my child, please find my child!”

All while they are looking at me with their little note books and small stubby pencils (in my mental picture they are in the blue uniforms from the mid 1980’s) and they are saying – in a very Afrikaans accent: “But lady what did you really know about this woman, when you decided to leave your child with her?”

So that kept me busy (in my head) until just before 5am.

This morning I woke up – feeling pretty grim, the acid in my stomach had already burnt a hole through to my arse.

I lingered and dawdled and left rather reluctantly this morning, and had no choice but to leave my little monkey with nanny F!

I literally sms’d everyone in my contact list and asked if they would please please please come by the house today and this week just to make sure nanny F had not absconded with my child.

I am in a total state today!  Total fekn state!

<please do not tell me it is going to be alright, as that is not going to help at all ……. I have already phoned her 6 times this morning, and yes things do appear alright, but how do I really know, for sure?>

I have managed to get hold of Judith who said she would make a plan and go over to the house and spend some time there.  I can’t tell you how much I am absolutely loving Judith right now!!! 

I told the guy at work about why I am so stressed, he looks at me – and in a very helpful tone says: “If something happens do you have any recourse with the agency?” Excellent question. 

Not an excellent question when I am thinking that nanny F has already sold my child for muti!!!