Sweets in retailer check-out aisles …. and other ways we are outsourcing our parenting

This morning I was listening to Cape Talk – the KIENO KAMMIES show.  One of the topics being discussed was that retailers pack impulse purchasers like sweets in the check out aisles.

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There was a fairly vigourous call-in exchange that followed.

The gist of it was that retailers are tempting our children with the sweets in the check out aisles.  We cannot control our children, or draw clear boundaries for behaviour and with this in mind we are going to start petitioning the retailers not to pack sweets in the check out aisles.

Various parents phoned in and there was quite a lot of support for the “get the sweets out of our checkout aisle” campaign.

There were discussions about obesity and bad dental hygiene, and pretty much the end of civilization as we know it.  I kept wondering, where are the parents in all of this.

The one guest explained that he had a three year old child (I may be incorrect about the age), and when he stands in the aisle to pay, his child wants a sweet, or all of the sweets.  And then proceeds to throw a tantrum.

He felt that onlookers would judge him as a bad parent.

Speaking about bad teeth yesterday, part of the reason we have bad teeth is to do with the amount of sugar we consume, because if you don’t brush regularly after eating sugary snacks, it sticks around, and may lead to tooth decay in the long run… This conversation also led us to those so-called “aisles of death” in the supermarkets where you are herded like cattle until you reach the till, and your path there is riddled with chocolates, candies and sugary drinks. It can be hell for many parents, if your children happen to be with you demanding chocolate, and it can also be hell on your waistline. It is a widely held belief that supermarkets have these aisles in order to help their bottom line, make more profits. One man who is trying to lobby supermarkets to ban the sweets queue is Phillip Brink, who is looking for more support for his Facebook campaign to end the purgatory of treat aisles many shoppers face.

I am not sure if he just gave his child a sweet, or explained to his child that “dad has already said no, and no means no” or whether he just gave up the ghost and gave Junior a whack because the situation had escalated.

I am not sure what the dad did.

I do know the dad decided that he had enough of his child misbehaving when it came to sweets.  In a retailers’ check out aisles.

And started a Facebook campaign to stop retailers filling their check out aisles with sweets and other baubles that make children lose their shit, and parents unable to control them.

Because Gd help us if we say no to our child — and our child disagrees.  I know!!!  I know!!! The scene that would cause, because I spend my days just saying yes to my children, no matter what they ask for, or for that matter how much of a scene they create.

Me – I live in fear of having to discipline or control my child.

I am a reasonable person.  Most of the time.  I will listen to most opinions and try to hear or see it from the other person’s point of view.

I have three children – all of them are alive, reasonably well adjusted with ages range from 12 – 5 years old.  I am not suggesting because I have three children that I am an expert on parenting.

I also own a car and a pool, and I know very little about either of those.  So possession does not instantly equal knowledge or skill, I do appreciate that.

I have had many trips to Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, and many other stores where there are piles of tantalising distractions for my kids.

My kids ask for the sweets, sometimes they whine and every now and then one of them has a bit of a poes collapse.  The general shopping aisles are more of a gauntlet than the check out line.  By the time we have got to check out, I have already said NO to a variety of requests at least a dozen times.  But hey, whose counting?

I have never thought, not once, to blame the retailer for my kids behaviour, or for my kids making demands.  My son had one tantrum in Woolworths when he threw himself down on the floor – flat down – and proceeded to bang his fists and his feet as he bemoaned some injustice that had befallen him.  Granted he was about 18 months old.

Without making this a long story – the key here is he had one tantrum.  One and that is it.

My two girls have not had tantrums in stores, partly because we have passed the “he had one tantrum” story on to them.   I am hoping that by evolution and natural selection they have learnt why that is not a good route to go.  In our family.  Tantrums get your nothing, but time out, TV privileges begin revokes, and possibly only bread and water for dinner.

I say no – then I remind that I have said no and if they ask again, then there will be consequences.  And I follow through on the consequences, else they know that next time they can just keep pushing me, and nothing will ever happen.

What a concept!!  I did not realise we could out source parenting responsibilities to retailers.

Now that I do, it sure does open an entire avenue of responsibility I can park at other people’s doors.

I plan to start a campaign aimed at the radio stations to stop playing any songs that indicate that my girl child might be wear boots with fur and getting low, low, low ….

Shawty had them apple bottom jeans (jeans)
Boots with the fur (with the fur)
The whole club was looking at her
She hit the floor (she hit the floor)
Next thing you know
Shawty got low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low

Because clearly I am unable to control, teach or enlighten my girl child not to get low, low, low and then more low, low.

Definitely starting that campaign pronto.

When I have a few more moments I am also going to petition all the clothing stores not to stock any shorts that I would deem as shorty shorts.  Why?

Well I find them offensive for children.  I am unable to decide, enforce my decision, and not buy my girl child a pair of them when they ask for them  If my girl child throws a tantrum or ask more than three times, I just buy her one in each colour.

Because that solves the problem.

Listen, I could do all of that.  I could if I was daft and deranged and out of touch with reality.

Last time I checked I am a parent.

Last time I checked I am a parent who creates boundaries, parameters, rules and assists my child to learn to know what is appropriate, what is not not.  What they are allowed, what they aren’t and when all of that doesn’t work then to hear me say: “NO, because I said SO!”

Are we seriously becoming those people who cannot control our children?

Possibly because we have been so damn bad at instilling discipline, respect and our children have become our little princes and princesses who we can deny nothing.  Possibly.

As parents are we choosing to blame the environment or someone else, for our children’s behaviour?  Because if we are.  if we are, is this not a dangerous lesson in itself to teach our children.

We are telling our children that nothing is their responsibility – impulse control, being able to accept that you cannot have everything you want and learning that there are limits to everything.

By making a stand against retailers and asking them to put their sweets in another location, so that we as parents do not have to say no to our children, sort of sounds a lot, to me at any rate, that we are deciding that this parenting malarkey is just too damn difficult, and saying no to our Princes and Princesses is not something we wish to do.

Is that really where we are going as a society of responsible parenting?

Because if we are — then I suggest now, that we start to prepare ourselves for the next level which is an inability to teach, mould and guide our children through their lives.

If you cannot as a parent tell your children that they cannot have a sweet – and they accept that, then jeez louise we are in dire shit.

 

 

If you however disagree with my outlook – and feel comfortable handing over the responsibility of your child and what happens in stores, then pop along to Phillip Brink’s Facebook page.

To internet date or to just avoid social suicide ….. that is the question

 

This question raises several other questions, the first being “when is it okay to start dating?”

The logical answer is “any time you are not married or in a relationship with someone else.”

Seems reasonable, can’t argue with that.  But maybe I can.  A little.

I am technically “not” divorced.  I am still married — according to the Government of South Africa.  I realise I am probably opting to step out into the “social” waters too early when in fact I am not quite ready yet.

There was that line from 28 Days, where they are told that they have to nurture a plant for a year, and only if the plant thrives and lives for a year, are they ready to start dating.   Great plan.  But I kill any plant that I have to have contact with.  I can buy the plant, someone else can plant it and tend it and it will grow like a dream.

To involve me at any stage in the plant’s life is the shortest way to the compost heap for the said plant.

plant hospice

I gave this “time” thing a great deal of thought.

Is two weeks the right number?  Is two months better?  Is two years?  Should I work on a time line that is acceptable to me, or should I consider public opinion, and amend my time line to suit people who will look at me and make a judgement?

Tricky, tricky stuff this.

Anyone who knows me knows how stressed I get in social situations.  I would far rather hide on my couch, curled around a large bottle of Viognier and as much DSTV as I can ingest in one sitting, than put myself into any “strange” or “new” situation.

Meeting new people is about as uncomfortable for me as having a full body wax.

To add to my reluctance to consider dating nor or ever was that I feel that I am undate-able — like there is something fundamentally wrong with me.

I do not have a little black book full of names of previous partners to joyfully dig up and start drunk dialling.

If I had a little black book, I would fill in exactly three lines on the first page, and that would be it.  Besides having no idea how dating works NOW, to be honest I did not have at terribly good knowledge back THEN either.

Daunting does not even hint at it sufficiently.

Add to that that being “divorced from” – which tends to knock your self esteem for a total ball.

What ever low self esteem I had before, was well and truly pushed to an entirely new level of low when I realised I was the one being divorced from.  Lower than snake shit, I like to say.

I am sure who is divorcing from and who does the divorcing is just an issue around semantics.  For me it felt like a key point.  Probably because I was the one being left.

I gave some thought to the thought of me maybe dating again at some point in the far future  — then started to feel violently ill, so I just had another glass of wine and flicked to the Comedy Channel.

I thought of my by-line  “42 year old woman, with three children — and divorced.”  Yep, that blurb is not looking so very alluring right now is it? The only way it could be worse would be  “42 year old woman, with three children from three different fathers — and divorced.”

Really only moderately worse.

With all of this going on.  In my head.  I really really could not see me going on a date with anyone.  Ever.

I started to think that I might be better suited to being crazy cat lady … but that would require the acquisition of more cats.  And that I was even less keen on.

One day I was sitting by my lonesome, and I remembered a friend telling me about a dating site she had been on.

I uh’mmed and ah’ed, and just sat there staring at the screen.  I tried to go and look at the site, but you can’t unless you register.

I started to get this feeling that what if I managed to register on a dating site, and went through all the things you have to go through — and then I got absolutely no response, how the hang would that sit with me?

Surely, surely Shirley that would just add substance to the little voices that keep telling me I am shite.

With a glass of wine in hand, and one already down the hatch for confidence — with no idea what I was doing, I sauntered out into internet dating land, with more courage than I was feeling.

On the other hand Darron, I must say that my years on forums, social media and blogging did assist me in finding my feet.  A little.

Sites like forums have their own culture, their own manner of operating, and everyone seems to know the rules except you. Because you have just arrived, and there is no one to guide you, so generally you go along and make a total arse of yourself, before you start to sense the “mood of the room.”

You being me in this exercise.

It took me a while to figure out how things worked, and to find my feet.

The negative was that I could not see other “female” profiles so I had nothing to base my profile on — writing a profile about yourself for internet dating land is extremely daunting.

I used up all the characters that were afforded me in each section.  Why say less when you can say more? {wink wink}

Then with one final push of  the enter key, I was officially there in internet dating land.

The place that had filled me with dread and fear and anxiety.

It appears dating sites do not do anything for free.  You can put your profile up for free.  But.  And here is the part where they have you by the short and curlies.  To be able to see any responses to your profile you need to “sign up” and some money needs to change hands.

I will confess it is not enough to make you rethink the idea — and at the same time it is just enough to make you think, well shit balls I need to get my monies worth here.

You sit and stare at your profile and wait for someone to toddle past and say “hi” or “wink wink” or “Great picture, you seem to be wearing a wedding ring!”

You know stuff like that.

And then you sit and wait.  For the little “pink pink” of a message in your mail box.

Longest wait ever.  Okay. Not ever.  It does feel not dissimilar from that not being picked for the softball team at school PE class experience.

The exercise was not so much about going on date, than it was about finding out whether I could.  Or whether it might be better to just shut myself up in a convent somewhere.

Going on a dating site was facing my fear of what is out there — and whether I could ever actually go “out there.”  My theory was, no matter how frightening and dreadful as it could be, it can’t be worse than I am imagining it in my head.

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I love … I like … I dislike …

I love Chenin Blanc.

I like Sauvignon Blanc.

I dislike red wine.

 

I love HELVETICA.

I like Calibri.

I dislike Comic Sans.

 

I love bold.

I like italics.

I dislike bold italics and underline used together.

 

I love rooibos tea.

I like earl grey tea.

I dislike peppermint tea.

 

I love citrus fruit.

I like apples.

I dislike guavas.

 

I love Jimmy Carr.

I like Stephen Wright.

I really dislike Leon Schuster.

 

I love the smell of jasmine and lavendar.

I like the smell of crushed grass.

I dislike the smell of dog shit on my shoe.

 

I love the smell of a puppy.

I like the smell of my dog’s feet.

I dislike the smell when my dogs’ farts.

 

I love Game of Thrones.

I like Fargo.

I dislike Nashville.

 

I love Depeche Mode.

I like Katie Perry.

I dislike Mariah Carey.

 

I love finding shoes that fit me.

I like finding shirts that fit me.

I dislike finding maternity wear that fits me.

 

I love the fact that I look better than I think I do.

I like the fact that I think I am actually not as socially awkward as I constantly tell myself I am.

I dislike the fact that I am my own worst and most critical critic.

 

I love that moment when you are struggling to recall a word, and then it just pops into your head out of no where. Usually at an unrelated time.

I like that moment when you incorrectly pronounce a word, and no one notices, so it gives you a chance to say it again before someone corrects you.

I dislike that moment when you realise that someone is not listening to you when you are talking.

 

I love the smell of bacon in the morning.

I like the smell of coffee brewing in the morning.

I dislike the smell of dog pee in the morning.

 

I love being with people who make me laugh, and who are genuinely interesting.

I like being with people who have their own level of crazy.

I dislike being with people who have body hygiene issues.

 

I love that moment as you are about to go to sleep next to someone and both of you just relax into each other.

I like that moment as you are about to go to sleep when you remember that tomorrow is Monday.  And Monday is a public holiday, which you had forgotten about until just then.

I dislike that moment as you are about to go to sleep when you hear the bathroom door banging.  You know it is just going to carry on banging, until you get out of bed and go and close it.

 

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Facing your fear —- and property24 ……

I am often paralysed by my fears.

I come across as a reasonably confident, articulate and bright person.  The reality is that under it all, and not even that deeply under, I am a quivering mess robbing someone of their village idiot.

I try to give the impression of not being shy nor lacking in confidence.    The reality is that I am shy, lack courage, lack confidence and will gladly go and cry in a corner if something chips away at the outer shell.

My newest tactic is that I keep a facade going.  I do it pretty well, but it has it’s Achilles Heel and that is that the moment someone pokes a hole, even one tiny little hole into the outer wall, then the entire facade crumbles.

I have been building facades for so long, that I don’t know how to do it any other way.  Over the years, and with some really good therapy, I have definitely managed to become more of who I am, and less of who I feel I have to be.

It is a daily struggle, and reverting back to the knee jerk protective position, is firmly entrenched in my psyche.

Stupid things overwhelm me, whilst the big things I can often take in my stride.

I have been in quite a state regarding the idea of having to sell the home I live in at the moment.

I have not moved many times in my life, so the idea of putting all our possessions into boxes, and going to somewhere new scares the living crap out of me.

In my usual manner, I managed to create a catastrophic outcome.  I could only imagine how bad this will go,  how bad the outcome would be, and it was all pretty horrible.

My mental picture of where we would live, was not a good image.  It usually involved a one roomed flat in {enter as bad a suburb as you can think of}, with thin walls, a toilet we shared with the rest of the floor, and us all sleeping in one bed.  The kids would be lice ridden, we would not have TV, and I am almost sure the kids would need to walk the 9.6 km to school.

The more I thought about it, the more I created outcomes that were hideous.  None of my fears and imagined horrors have any foundation in reality.  This kind of mental losing-the-plot is never grounded in any sort of reality.

I dealt with it, by trying not to think about, which of course meant I thought about it all the time.  And the outcomes needed to get more horrific each time I gave the thoughts free reign.

I sat down with my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy guy and he asked what was worrying me the most.   I explained my real estate dilemma.

I explained what I thought, the way my mind was running and the fact that I was paralysed with fear.

We chatted and we worked through the reality versus the catastrophe thinking that I was presently running with.  CBT is not about just telling you to be happy, and then you are.

It is talking through a fear, understanding what you are scared of, then giving you realistic tools to assist you to see realistic outcomes.  Once you have a few of those tools, and you focus on the reality and not the catastrophe, your mind does start to go “oh, well that is not so bad …. is it?” and then it sort of calms the fuck down.

That last phrase is not a technical term, but you understand the gist.

At the end of the session he gave me some homework to do:-

1.  Speak to a bank official who deals with bonds, and get an idea of what you qualify for.  Once you know that it will assist you to know what you can afford, and where you can look.

2.  Look at the areas where you would like to live – that are not going to make you feel like you are disrupting the kids lives too much.

3.  Start looking at properties in the range of the bond you can afford, and get sense of what is out there – how big or small these homes are, and really what  so one.

All very logical things to do.

When your mind is so overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, it is very hard to remain logical, and think through things in a rational manner, because your point of reference is fear.  Naked.  Sweaty. Ugly fear.

I left his office, and did the things he suggested I do — once I had some specific information and facts, the fear subsided.

None of this is a conclusion I could not have come to myself, but where I was in my head space was not going to “allow” me to be rational.

I no longer feel this overwhelming strangling fear that soon we will need to put the house on the market and move.   It does not make me happy, it does not fill me with joy.

I do still feel sad and scared, but it is not overwhelming.

I am not looking forward to anything in the process, nothing.  But now that I can replace the mental picture of chaos and end-of-the-world-as-we-know it, with something tangible, I am no longer that scared.

I can breath, and function.  Deep breath. Deep breath.  Reluctant Mom keep your shit together!!

 

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If you could change ONE THING in this world, what would it be?

 

I saw this question recently posted on Redhead Writing — I do love her.

I pondered the question for about 12 seconds —- If you could change ONE THING in this world, what would it be?

My thing to change is that our young girls, especially our girls in the bottom rung of our socio-economic ladder are exposed to sexual education, life skills, and more importantly the concept that they can do so much, so much with their lives if they are able to hold off having children, or contracting HIV through sex at a young age.

I am not suggesting that boys are not equally exposed, but my heart and my soul goes out to girls — maybe because I was a girl child at one point.

I did not grow up in a rich suburb. I was lucky enough to grow up in a white suburb in the 80’s. In comparison to what girl children were exposed to in townships probably looked like something on the level of Bishops Court.

There were several girls in my school who were pregnant in Standard 8 or Standard 10.

Without going into way too much detail — I held off having sex in my teens because I was so shit scared of being pregnant and married to some guy in a blue overall, and this would be my life.  My mom had her first child at 17.  I really really did not want to have a child, and my life, my ambitions, my belief that there was something more out there for me, to come to a grinding halt.

I am not suggesting that having a baby at 15 or 18 is a death sentence, but realistically if you do not have some financial, emotional, and social support it does make life a bit of a challenge.

Young girls in our townships are not being educated to believe that they can actually move out of their situations —- they are not being upskilled that life is there to be grabbed, and is easier to grab if you do not have a baby at 15 or 12 years old.

Our country does not have the social support system to support a young girl with a baby.

Our social system cannot support a person with TB.

Odds of there being resources to assist a 15 year old with a baby, living in a shack, with 9 other people, is fairly limited, even on the most positive days. Even on days when our faith in South Africa is at an all time high.

I wish for our girls, that they could believe and see that life with education, and no babies when they are babies, offers them so much more.

It is still difficult, it is still going to be rough — but not having a baby, and finishing school, and working hard, and finding ways out of poverty is easier without a child.

Children are lovely —- children are great, but not when you are a teen, with no education, no money, and very little in the way of opportunities.

I am not sure how to word this well –but my one thing, and I am sure if I thought hard I would and think of a thousand things, but today, my one thing is to change the lives and open the minds of girls in our townships/poor areas.

This was my original comment on her facebook page:

That young girls are given the sexual education they need and the life skills that our society robs of our children, both boys and girls — at a very early age. That young girls understand that if they are able to delay having a child — especially in our society — I live in South Africa — they are able to open a world of opportunities and access to education, and access to a better life than what is being denied to them at the moment. There is a strong preference for our girls — young girls in our townships — to acquiring Sugar Daddies. It has status. It gives them access to a few rands per month. It also makes them fall victim to rape, abuse, AIDS and being abandoned with a baby. These are girls as young as 11 or 12. Right now it is an insurmountable problem. We have very little in the way of social support, and a young girl with a baby, is pretty much left to fend for herself, denied education, denied medication, denied a life really. Okay, possibly mine was a bigger ask that you wanted in your question.

 

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What is your – If you could change ONE THING in this world, what would it be?

 

 

 

 

Time to return the Mother’s Day gifts —- because you are just being a kak mother.

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Any prizes I may have gained for parenting were withdrawn today.

My first mistake was deciding to go to Canal Walk.  On the last day (or there abouts) of the month.

The second mistake was deciding to go to Canal Walk with three children, un-medicated. Both the children and me were un-medicated.

It seemed like a good idea.  I have realised that just because an idea is mine does not make it a good one.  A good lesson to learn.

I had to get Connor a hair cut.  I needed to do some errands, grab invitations for Georgia’s party and what ever else you leave on your list of shit to do for a Sunday afternoon.

I really should have seen the signs.

1.  The girls were acting as if they were on LSD.  They were wired, hyped, and made me really rethink better contraceptives next time.

2.  It was Sunday, I really should have been lying on the couch.

3.  There were three of them, and only one of me.  I was outnumbered.

4.  The girls had slowly been wearing me down since about 06h00.  I was frayed and feeling very interested in boarding schools for primary school children – I could deliver them as a set.

Anyway, we all got in the car.  Before I had even closed the doors, I knew that this was already just one of those days.

Isabelle insisted that she go back in the house to get her sunglasses.  Just to regroup here — she is 4, it was overcast and raining.  She is hardly having to hide from the paparazzi as we reverse out our drive way.

I usually do not give in — I have lines drawn in the sand.

Eventually I screamed YES, JUST GO IN THE HOUSE AND GET YOUR SUN GLASSES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD …… I may have said fuck under my breath several times.  I also rested my head on the steering wheel and asked all the powers that be, to make this day fast, quick and pain-free.

Isabelle and Georgia are equally skilled at being able to fight constantly, and at the same time create a united front against me to whine and just bitch until I give in.  To anything.

We were at Canal Walk for about 4 hours – it felt like 4 days.

I kept wondering how people manage to lose their kids so easily in malls.  I kept trying to lose them, they kept catching up.

I do think that Hansel and Gretel’s parents spoilt it for all of us — I mean they left their kids behind twice in the woods. Really twice.  If someone abandoned me twice, I would get the hint, and just go off and get a new set of parents, or something.

I could not lose the kids.  I could not kill them.  It was a very long 4 hours and change.

I will confess the low point was being in Woolworths and having three kids walking behind me in a slightly insane version of follow my leader.  At some point I ended up in the underwear section — as you do with three kids trailing behind you.

Just at that point where I picked up a pair of rather lacy black panties — a family of four stopped in front of me —- I could see them through the lace panties — and they said excitedly  “Hello!!!!!” I  thought it was a bit odd, I was in the underwear section.

It was Georgia’s best friend from school, the younger brother and the set of parents.

It really is difficult to flick a pair of black lace panties across Woolworths in a non-chalant manner and still regain sufficient dignity to carry on a conversation.

I however did manage.  I did not flick it far, it sort of landed between us —- on the floor.

The day continued along that theme, however just with less lace panty flicking going on.

I eventually threatened the girls when I arrived home with the one that you save for emergencies: “WHO EVER SCREAMS, SHOUTS OR FIGHTS, I DO NOT CARE WHO — MAKES EVERYONE GO TO BED —– DO NOT SCREAM UNLESS BLOOD IS COMING OUT OF AN ARTERY —- VEINS DO NOT COUNT!!!”

That was at 17h00.

I counted the minutes until 20h00 —- I miss the days when the kids could not tell time, and I used to lie to them about the time, so that I could send them to bed early.

Parenting tip : Do not teach your children to tell time.  Keep that one your little secret as long as you can.