It ain’t the color a the wrapping that count, it’s what we is inside ….

I saw this Facebook status update on Sharon’s facebook earlier today: “A friend Lisette travelled to a family wedding in Tulbagh this weekend with her 2 yr old adopted black daughter. When she got there she was asked to leave the guest house because of Elizabeth… it is shameful that this mentality ever existed and shameful that we grew up with it all around us – it is even more shameful that it continues… Establishments name: T***** Bed and Breakfast, 12 **** ***** Street.”

I will let you re-read that one again …. as no doubt you will want to take another look, to be sure exactly what was being said there.

Initially I gasped – then I grimaced – then I thought to myself, what if the issue was not that the daughter was black – but that she was two years old?

Some bed and breakfasts like their white linen to remain white, and do not like the sweet pitter patter of little feet on wooden floors.  Many have a “no children” policy – rather than a “no black children” policy …. but I shall not tout myself as being an accommodation expert, so really cannot say with any real clarity what happened, why it happened, and how it happened.

My brain does tend to go “what is really happening here….?”

This status post was reposted a few times – and I was interested to read the comments.  Though I was pretty sure that the comments would use the word “horrified” or “disgusted” pretty liberally.  The person who made the booking, Lisette, made it clear she had booked and indicated she had a child – however the establishment’s website does indicate “no children.”

She feels that when she made the booking – she made it clear she had a child, and the establishment responded in a manner that left no hint of uncertainty that there was a child with this booking.

Either way, the establishment is being totally slammed in social media, and at this point do appear to be at fault.  The horses seem to be well and truly hitched to the wagon of “you turned down my booking because I arrived with a black child……”

My brain, however, struggles to grasp how this could occur.  Exactly how do you turn to someone and go “oh, sorry, you can’t stay, it appears your child is black …. sorry about that…..” 

But this is the story that is being copy and pasted on social media. If I owned said guest house I may have my knickers in a lather today, assuming they have realised there is a bit of a slander campaign running rampant.

On a related story I have a person who I work with who was looking for an apartment to rent.  Let’s call him “Paul” for the purposes of this exercise.

Paul applies and chat to various landlords and he finally finds what sounds like the perfect apartment.  It is all going swimmingly and he is just about to sign on the dotted line, but goes to take a quick look at the apartment.

Paul as pretty much agreed that he will take it, and has his spare underpants in the car, because he is that ready to move right in.

Arrives, landlords looks at him and then starts mumbling about how the apartment is taken.  Bearing in mind Paul has spoken to the landlord and they have agreed he can take it, once he has a quick look.

Paul says that unfortunately this occurs quite often – Paul would be classed as black if classifications were important.

I am hearing this story and my mouth is hanging open – and I am getting more upset than him about it.

Paul, being the level-headed guy he is, tells me that it happens, and he can either get angry, but then he will be angry all the time, or he can accept that people are just people, and some people make these flash judgements, and then he can smile, nod politely and move on with his day.

I am not sure I could.  I get cross for Paul about the fact that he was judged based on his skin colour.

But then, I would be naive and a bit mentally slow to think that we are all not filled with our own prejudices, based on the colour of someone’s skin, hair (made any blonde jokes lately?) or their eyes (ever said ‘blue eyed wonder’ ?)

I am not sure what the answer is.

I do not think it is about “not seeing colour” because part of who we are is our “colour” – but it is not the sum of any one of us.  But my colour is part of who I am – and your colour is PART of who you are.  But it does become a problem if you are judged ENTIRELY because of the colour of your skin.

The reality we are faced with – is that we are all prejudiced in one way or another.

I think we like to think we are “the rainbow nation” and sing along and smile – but the reality is that we all have “stereotypes that we have grown up with…..” or have learnt along the way.

Anyone remember the Douglas Green series of advertisements ….. no doubt you can still say the phrase in the Asian accent …..

I love this paragraph from Kathryn Stockett’s –  The Help ….

“We go on in her room, where we like to set. I get up in the big chair and she get up on me and smile, bounce a little. “Tell me bout the brown wrapping. And the present.” She so excited, she squirming. She has to jump off my lap, squirm a little to get it out. Then she crawl back up. That’s her favorite story cause when I tell it, she get two presents. I take the brown wrapping from my Piggly Wiggly grocery bag and wrap up a little something, like piece a candy, inside. Then I use the white paper from my Cole’s Drug Store bag and wrap another one just like it. She take it real serious, the unwrapping, letting me tell the story bout how it ain’t the color a the wrapping that count, it’s what we is inside.”

The hunt for the new Pepe!

Pepe has left me.  Try to picture me in a hair shirt, throwing myself to the floor sobbing – uncontrollably.  That is a pretty accurate picture of how things are.  I have managed to hide it well with an outward guise of  “disinterest and calm…”

Do you know how difficult it is to keep up a facade of serene yen garden when actually you are going: “holy harry, and fk a duck, what the hell am I going to do now!!” but screaming inside and using really bad cuss words?

It is a bit of a challenge.  But I have “blank face, non fussed” pretty taped right now.

I approached a nanny agency for assistance – they came back to me after a week, with no.thing!  Clearly they were going to be terrific in solving my problem.  To be honest I have really lost the “buzz” of agencies some time back.

I used to use this phenomenal agency Marilyn’s Maids (initially in Milnerton then moved to Sea Point).

Marilyn was trained by the KGB (I am sure) and had a degree in “not taking shit from shenola” – damn she was good.

You called her, explained what you thought you wanted, she then told you what you actually need, a week later you were sitting in her office interviewing three “perfect” candidates.  End of the day you had a new maid – worked every time.

Marilyn went to the UK, sold her agency to someone else.  They = suck = me at a bit of a loss.

I have tried a few other agencies since then, but in general they are all a bit not great.

I really do have a mild urge to start a nanny or domestic agency. I seriously get so little joy from the ones I deal with and I think based on my ‘in the trenches” experience I might just have an inkling of how desperate moms are to find someone who is not going to steal their baby and sell the family cutlery.  But more on that later.

So without too many options left to me, I decided to take matters in to my own hands, and after asking around if anyone knows anyone – I think it is called the “nanny network” I decided to run an advert on gumtree.

I wrote the advert, and placed it.  I DID make a gumtree 101 error, and added my telephone number to the advert.  Shall we just say that was a critical error in judgement.  I decided to switch my phone off for a week, as it was total chaos.

But that being said, I did several telephonic interviews.  I am actually not too sucky at interviewing and getting information: 1. Because I am a bit anal about information.  2.  I have a recruitment background, so that helped.  3: I feel like I have been interviewing “home staff” for about 12 years …..

I did interviews last week – I met the ladies in public places and we did one on one interviews, and I also did not want to put myself in a situation where I would be at risk.  Public places + a bit of caution = win situation.

This weekend I did second interviews, as I wanted Kennith’s opinion, and also wanted his buy in.

It went well.  I liked all three ladies I had shortlisted and I thought that either of the three would be right.

Kennith selected the one I had put in as a bit of an “outside chance” as she had attributes that I thought would be useful, but she was missing a whole host of experienced, but I saw promise in her situation and her manner.

In the end that is who I have offered the position to.  Granted I did say it was on a one month trial.  She arrives late this afternoon, and then we see how it goes from there on in.

I am apprehensive as I start to doubt whether this was a good decision.

I am fraught with worry as I am concerned that the safety of our family does rest to a degree with a person who I only know in principle.

But, I followed a good selection and interview process.  I asked great questions.  I have the correct documentation, and really there is not much else to do but “suck it and see it” and this point, and hope she fits in, and we fit with her, and well everything is Mary Poppins.

Then I watched the start of “The Help” (I had read the book…) and I started to feel a rather large set of “white guilt….” about employing a maid.

Saturday morning adventures …. and mishaps

Saturday mornings with kids are filled with soft lighting, pillow fights, children presented breakfast to their parents as they wake up from a good sleep, everyone happy, shiny and just happy to be alive.

Well that is what the print media or ad campaigns will have us believe <<the image above is in no way an indication of how my family looks when it greets the big bad world in the mornings>>

The reality in my house bears a stark contrast to this rather “fantastic” image I have always held on to.

This morning Kennith left early for a cycle.  I think he was up at about 5 or 6 – it did not really matter as Isabelle had woken up at 3am and thrown up in her bed, so we brought her to ours.  She continued to do a few more hurls.  We then tried to turn the light off curl up and get a few hours more sleep.

Cuddling sleeping children is always a bit wholesome.  Cuddling sleeping children and sleeping deeply do not always go hand in hand.

So not much in the way of sleep between 3 and 5 or 6.  Georgia then woke up and came to get into the bed.  We attempted to lie there and few more minutes.  I put on CBeebies and thought I could squeeze another hour of me lying there and them watching television.

Ah, the fantasies that we all make ourselves believe.

But that fantasy came to a screeching halt when Isabelle threw up all over the bed, her doggie and herself.  Isabelle then screamed hysterically as she wanted to cuddle her dog to make her feel better, but that was tricky as doggy was covered in globules of vomit.

She screamed as a pulled all the bed linen off, and tried to put her doggie in the washing machine.

In the end I had to run a little dog bath in the basin, and hand wash her dog as if it was alive (keeping its head about water, talking to it, soothing it..) all while Isabelle stood next to me crying with snot running onto her top lip.

I thought I would finish it off by cleaning up the dog poo – it appears my dog has a runny tummy …. again!

Nothing says runny tummy and you really are having a crap morning, than the moment that you try to pick up dog shit and it flicks itself up and lands on your upper arm.  Then you start to dry heave. Your child starts to cry because they want you to come and get their doggy off the line as it is hung up by its ears and she wants it now, and then you heave some more as you realise the shit might have flicked in to your hair.

I do love Saturday mornings – thank fk there is only one Saturday a week, I may not be able to deal with more than that.

Strange things happen in social situations …

I have a bit of a social phobia – social anxiety is probably a better term.

It has it’s ups and downs, and generally I can imitate “reasonable” functioning when I need to.

When I am going through a particular difficult anxiety/panic or depressive exercise, then socialising is very difficult for me.  I tend to want to avoid it and duck for cover.

Of course I handle alcohol like someone who shouldn’t be allowed to drink.  At all.

When I am in a socially-making-me-nervous situation I tend to drink more.  The more I drink, the more comfortable I feel.  But the reality is I do not feel more comfortable.  If anything it makes me more anxious as the more I drink then the more I worry I am about to do something socially inappropriate.

And the more I drink increases the chances of me saying something inappropriate – and often something I do not really feel, but it is what is running in my head.  Drinking = stop valve in head not working = emotional puking on the table.

There are always a stream of socially inappropriate things running through my head.  All the time.

It is a bit like having this gnawing feeling to say something, but knowing that you shouldn’t.  The more you are under pressure (because you are in a social setting) the louder the gnawing becomes and the more you just want to say something.

When I am at my less than ideal stages, I opt to go to the bathroom and then I talk to myself in the mirror.  I blurt to myself in the mirror as then I hope by blurting I can join a social situation and nod-and-smile like everyone else. Strange much?

I know it sounds grade-3-and-Sally-just-cannot-keep-a-darn-secret, but there we go.

The interesting thing was that few weekends ago I was at a birthday party.  I knew some people, was comfortable in the location, as I knew it.  But I still felt a bit out of synch.  I was quite stressed when I arrived, and I tried to calm down a bit, but I remained anxious.  It is a kids party, so really what do I have to be anxious about.  Nothing.  But that does not stop me being anxious.  Over nothing.

It was an early day thing, so I would not have my wine crutch.  Though I knew a few people, I was still nervous/anxious/stressed- and when I am nervous, I try to find a quiet place away from the crowd.  I really struggle with multiple conversations, people and trying to tune in to everyone’s social ques and it is like my brain is trying to play pick-up-sticks (remember that game) in the dark.

The day went along and it was all quite nice as parties are, it was lovely and sunny and I could sit on the grass.  I find that I am less socially awkward if I can give myself a task to do – move furniture around, do the dishes, take photographs … you know that sort of thing, so I am distracted from myself.

We stayed after the party for lunch – and again it was very nice, I decided not to drink more than one glass of wine as I was already feeling “heady” – I was just wired from the day and being in company and feeling socially awkward.

I got home in the afternoon, and I felt like I had been drinking all day – I was drained and I felt my head was woozy, and I was wrecked.

The thing with social phobia – for me – is that what is meant to be a relaxing situation becomes fraught with anxiety and tension over nothing, and by the time it is over I feel like my adrenaline has been pumping two gallons to the dozen (I have no idea if that is a term … just thought of it) and by the time I get out of a social situation, I am lie on the bed exhausted.

Years ago I did a really interesting Myers-Briggs personality test, and one of the issue was whether you are introvert or extrovert.

The focus was not whether you like people or socialising, the issue was “where do you take your energy from” – and for me anything social is totally energy sapping.  Some people move into a room full of people, and the longer they are there the more energised they feel, whilst other people (me) start edging towards the bar, away from people, then trying to find a place to lie down and go to sleep.

Again, this falls into my stuff that I do, even though I don’t always want to, I try to socialise more than I probably feel I want to.  There is value in appearing normal in main stream society, for one your kids get more invitations to play dates.

Social phobia = social pariah = alone at home = not so great after the first 3 months!

The one where the nanny left …. and the mommy went (more) loony ….

Pepe’s last day was yesterday.  I dealt with it by not dealing with it.  I knew the day was coming, but decided not to talk about it, to think about it, or to mentally prepare for it.

I really felt dreadful yesterday as I knew it was the day – and even ignoring it, would not change the fact that it was “the day.”

I really felt in a bit of a state yesterday.  I was sad.  I was anxious.  I was uncomfortable.  I was afraid.  I felt panicky and stressed all day.

Day ended and I got home.  Pepe had all her stuff packed up, and I just felt awkward and as much as I did not want her to go, I did want her to leave so I could then go “okay that is finished…”

I went to drop her off at the station, and I felt very sad.  I hate awkward situations, and can’t do people leaving or people dying.  It is like I can’t sort through the reactions and emotions to find the “right” one, so it makes me feel jumpy, edgy, itchy and irritable, because I feel scattered.

Left the station and I felt really sad.  I had taken Connor along for the drive.  He decided to lighten the mood by talking about the death penalty.  So instead of driving quietly and thinking about Pepe, and how I will cope without her, I spoke about the legal system, the death penalty, which countries use the death penalty, and described the three ways (that I know of) to execute someone – I had hanging, electrocution and lethal injection.

Sobering stuff.

We got home and we were going to have dinner with a friend celebrating her second 40th birthday.  I probably should have shut myself up in my room, and sat there quietly.  My brain was not really able to do a social situation, when I felt this panicky, stressed and anxious.  My head was in full “panic” and “scared” mode.

I am really upset that Pepe is not with us anymore – this is “the thing” that I have worried about for four years.  Always worried she will leave me and my life will start to fall apart, one brick at a time.

Now she has left …. and I glance around in horror … waiting for the crumbling ….


Yes, I realise I am being a bit melodramatic, but I am not having a fabulous day.