If you have a child at a creche you should be reading this …. ACTUALLY ALL PARENTS SHOULD READ THIS

Get a cup of tea, or several tequilas and sit down for this …. this has been rolling around in my head so much it has to come out.  Sorry, you are going to now know it and it can drive you insane.  It has been all consuming for several days now.

I have been trying to wrap my head around this.

I still have not quite got it, but it is weighing on me as a subject.

Recently I was talking to a woman.  In short she disclosed to me that she is HIV positive – it came out almost by accident.  It was part of a totally different story, so it was not an announcement.  It was in the context of a story and it was a detail in a story.

I will be honest I was not floored by her telling me she was HIV positive.  It was the knock on effects that made my eyes go a little wider and my mouth create that worried grimace, where only plastic surgery is going to get rid of the worry lines.

She is employed at a nursery/creche/pre-school school as a nursery/creche/pre-school teacher.

She is employed at a nursery school as a nursery school teacher when she does not have an ECD qualification — none.  She takes care of 12 small children (the amount might be out by 1 or 2).  By herself.

At a nursery/creche/pre-school in a fairly upmarket suburb.

I stared at her and asked her if her employer knew she was HIV positive and she said “no” …. I sat with this for a bit.

I am not HIV positive.

I have no way of knowing what her life is about or like.  I do not know what she has been through, her struggles, what she has overcome or what she has given up.  I am not passing judgement on her or her situation, or in any way indicating that I can truly empathize with her.  There is no way I know her and what her life must be like.  I do not have the ability or right to pass judgement on her.

{Context:  Back in 1994 I worked for a company and we did a lot of advertising material for the AIDS Training and Counselling Centres – as they were known then – throughout South Africa.  The various ATICCs approached us with very little information and it meant that we had to bone up very quickly on HIV and AIDS and create advertising material that was responsible, true and put the word out about how it was spread, and how it was not spread.  It meant we had to up skill ourselves quickly in an area we knew nothing about.  I had to go and buy condoms, dissect their wrappers, and look at the instructions of how to put them on safely and create drawings.  I had never been into a store to buy condoms before, so there I was with a plastic hand basket filled to the brim with condoms.  I try not to think too hard of the chemist assistant’s face as she was thinking what the hell I had planned for the rest of the week.   I embarked on a trip to London and to Amsterdam – by myself on short notice – to go and visit centers there to see how they got the word out. What images worked, what images didn’t and so on — I am not an HIV/AIDS expert, but I understand the framework I am working in as far as a lay person can.)

So back to the person I am talking to, for ease of use, let’s call her Tina.

I am looking at this as a parent. Of children.

All Tina wants to do is work with children – you can see on her face how she lights up when she talks about the children she has worked with and works with.  This is her passion.

I sat there quietly as she spoke.  Listening to her as the noise in my head got louder and louder.

I started looking at this situation in the context of (1) A business owner (2) A parent.

I said to her that if the creche owner did not know her status and if this came out – my concern is that the damage to Tina would be huge.

I said it is one thing for a parent to know and to agree to put a child into her class.

To find out later that the teacher was HIV positive and hide it from the school, that becomes the part where parents would lose their minds.  Parents (all parents) lose touch with reality around our kids — we do, we are wired that way to protect our children even when there is an implied, but non direct threat.

We lose our shit. We. Lose. Our. Shit. In the most unattractive manner.

We totally lose our ability to be rational, and kind, reasonable functioning people.  I think any teacher or principal who has had to deal with a parent in a “difficult situation” will testify to that.

I have lost my shit at a parent-teacher meeting where I was frothing at the mouth.  It was something so randomly irrelevant it is not even worth mentioning.

Parents be freaking crazy!  Like bat shit crazy.

We are talking about small children here.  An HIV positive teacher who has not been adequately reference checked — who is not being supervised in any way.  With small children.

Even though I know that the chance of transmission rate/likelihood is so small there is barely a number for it.  Even though — I know as a parent I would want to know.

Tina is aware of her status, is knowledgeable, healthy, and she takes precautions if there are open sores or a bleed. If you speak to her she is a rational, bright woman — but that said, at certain times in our conversation I found her ability to rationalize and look at a situation from other’s perspectives as deeply immature. Again I started to worry at this juncture.

I suggested to her that there is just no way that this would end well.  Just no way I could see this going in a direction with “well” at the end.

If a parent found out I would be frightened for her.  What they would do to her?

When they turned their anger towards the school, no doubt that school is not going to defend her — they are going to be in a fighting for their own survival.

If a parent found out, and then started really looking at the situation and how the creche recruits it could “sink” this creche, this small business would close in a month or two.  There is just no way a parent of an infant or a child, would accept this — and not totally lose the plot.

I know for a fact that the owner has NOT run a police clearance certificate on Tina.

Which may mean she has not run a police clearance certificate on any of the staff that are working with children.

A police clearance certificate is not 100% proof of future behaviour, but it will tell you if someone has committed a criminal offense before.

You would want to know this if you have people working with children — especially so at a creche.  There might a groundskeeper or what ever.  It is the basis for “allowing anyone near your children” – IT IS THE BASIS FOR ALLOWING ANYONE TO WORK WITH YOUR CHILD —- ASK FOR A POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE OR ARRANGE TO GET ONE RUN IF THEY DO NOT HAVE ONE.

This is where my horror started to mount — the owner of this creche has not done due diligence on Tina.  Either this means she has slipped up once, which happens.  Or she has not done this on any of her staff.

Now this is where I really started to feel violently uncomfortable.

I explained to Tina that this stuff has a way of getting out.

I have no idea who she has told and who knows what her status is.

The part where I got even more concerned is there was an incident at the previous creche she was at – technically speaking one would label this as assaulting a child.  Technically that would be the label.  If I described the situation, it sounds minor —- but I am a parent, any assault on a child sounds deafening when it hits my ears.

As a parent I know I would sh^t myself if I knew the person looking after my infant had this on their record — and was allowed to be unsupervised with 12 children (or what ever the number is).

There is no qualified teacher in the class with her acting as an assistant teacher where she is monitored.  She has been left on her own without a proper background check, no health check, no TB test, no other checks and no police clearance certificate.

But.

Here’s the big fat but — the incident at the previous school is something that occurred in a school that had cameras. After this incident the school had no option but to let her go.

They did not disclose this to the new employer when the employer called to check the reference.  I don’t think the new principal asked “has she ever hit or caused an injury to a child” — this should be a basic question when you are doing a reference.

The previous school should have done the right thing — but they didn’t — they wrote a glowing letter of reference and recommended her on to another creche.

Knowing everything I know. That what you now know.

There is so much wrong, unfair, grossly neglectful in this story that my brain wants to have a break from my spinal cord.

At the center of it is Tina, who is HIV positive — probably contracted when she was 23.  That is no life for anyone.  That is not fair on anyone.  Here is a woman who loves children to distraction — all she wants to do is work with children, that is all she wants to do.

But realistically, can she?  Does our social paranoia and our heightened awareness of everything around our children allow for this?

I asked Tina to approach her principal — to disclose this information on to her.  The principal has the right to know.  The parents have a right to know.  The parents must know.

Maybe the message here is for us as parents to not push the responsibility of due diligence onto those we entrust our children to.

I am not suggesting we freak out and go and do a mass burning.

I am suggesting we insist that we ask the principal of the school we have enrolled our children in for records of the teacher/s that will be looking after our children.

Reference checks, health checks and police clearance certificates checks – and anything else that would be relevant and legally available to us.  I am not sure what our rights are as parents versus the right to privacy of the teacher.

These records should exist for everyone who is at the school who has direct or indirect contact with the children.  Surely.

What do you think?

{Legally I cannot disclose Tina’s details, her school or approach her school — I can only encourage her to do this, but I cannot do this without her permission.  If you are a lawyer, and this is your area of expertise and you know differently please let me know.}

 

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Hello darkness, my old friend ….. I’ve come to talk with you again

I have been listening to the Sound of Silence on repeat for about two hours now.  Probably not ideal.

I am a chronic depressive.  With a side order of general anxiety disorder, and social phobia.  I have a touch of something that cannot be defined but Ritalin takes care of it.

I have not slept “naturally” since 2008.

I take medication to go to sleep and another set to keep me asleep.

I realise you don’t need to know this, but here is the thing.  There are so many people around you that suffer with one or all of these maladies, that it is about as common as a fungal infection.

The difference is that someone will tell you they have a fungal infection.

There is so much embarrassment in telling someone that you are not coping and you need help — the result is a lot of people don’t seek help.  They quietly try, and try to get on by themselves.

They wake up each morning, take a deep breath and try to get through the day.

Some get through the day.  Others are not that lucky.

They are embarrassed they are not coping — so they hide it as long as they can —- until they can’t.

Some choose to end their lives.

This is what this post is about.

Suicide is not the easy way about.  Suicide is not because you are selfish or cannot do something.

Suicide is what happens when you get to the end of your rope.  When you need the pain to stop.  To just stop.

And it is the best option available to you at that moment in time.

The darkness that normally creeps around the edges of your existence, starts to bleed into the all of you.

Depression is an illness whose main function, each day, is to try to kill you.

I know it sounds ludicrous — unless you have been there.  Unless you have felt those cold unforgiving fingers wrapping themselves around your everything, you cannot imagine what it feels like – how your internal dialogue is so painful, so unforgiving, so intent on trying to make you hurt yourself.

Finding the right psychiatrist is part of the trick.  Being on medication that can stabilise you, goes a long way to keeping the demons at bay.  Or at least in check.

Having someone to talk to  – ideally a psychologist is also very helpful.

You need to speak to someone who understands your condition — who knows what your triggers are.  What sends you further into a spiral, what pulls you back from the edge.

I cannot explain my depression.  I cannot always identify what is going to set it off.  I will often be high functioning, catching balls, doing great and something will creep up on me. Kick my feet out from under me.

It isn’t always something big that floors me, sometimes it is something that is irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things.  A hurtful word.  A sense that something is happening to me.

Then the slow, or rapid, decline will occur.  The demons get louder and more insistent.  Egging you on.

Your ability to hold them back gets more and more exhausting.  Until one day, you just can’t. Anymore.

You function, because you must.  The depression brings the suicidal thoughts.  You start to map out a plan.  It’s usually not a big jump, as most depressives always have a suicide plan.  Always.

Mine is a pick ‘n pay bag of medication I have horded for years.

I believe that suicide via this route has a 2% success rate.  Not ideal.  Depressives have an unusual amount of knowledge on this subject.  Not because they have a pinterest board.

For a few moments each day their brain is telling them something about suicide.

If you suffer with depression — please believe that you are not alone.  There is nothing broken about you — you are just wired differently.

One of the worst feelings is when the demons isolate you.  They make you feel alone as you cry in the shower, or stand in the bathroom at 2am and sob, and you don’t even know why.

You. Are. Not. Alone — though your demons will constantly try to convince you that indeed you are.

They will work really hard to make you feel alone.  Isolated.  That no one cares about you.  That you are not worth anything. That you are not worthy.  That all those things that peoples say about you are true.  That all the horrid things you think about yourself are true.

You will only hear the negative things — and believe them.

You will not be able to hear the parts that you need to hear : You are worth it.  You are incredible.  You are loved.  You are needed. You are brilliant.  You are beautiful.  You are wanted. Every day you add value to someone’s life.  You are …. worth every moment.  Every breath.

The demons do not want to you to believe that.

Somehow you need to dig yourself out of this dark, damp and fetid pit — somehow.

Just get to the top.  Get to the part where you can see a bit of light —- where you can take a breath.  Regroup.  Find your strength to fight your demons.

I am not here to tell you it is easy.
I am not here to tell you that you will win.

I am here to tell you that if you can find oxygen, and look around, and see your children’s faces and the laughter of your friends, you will know that you can do this for another day.

Maybe it isn’t your children you see.  It might be the smell of lavender, or the feeling of someone who truly loves you wrapping their arms around you.  Holding the part of you that just needs to be held that day.

All you have to do today is get through today.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it is easy — it is a fight for survival.

There will be bullies who will hurt you.  Sometimes these bullies will be in the cloak of friends and family.

There will be people who will know where your soft spots are.  They will stab you for no other reason than to prove they can.  To show you that they are stronger than you.

Life will not be fair to you —- your demons will be stronger than you can believe.  Than even you could prepare for.

No one will be there for you when you need them — when your demons are winning.

Try to hold on — try to find the strength to take a breath.  Just one.  Then take another, and repeat.

My lowest has been the thought that my children will grow up without a mother.

Even though often I think it will be easier for them.  That I am the fek up.  I keep being told I am, that I am the failure.  That my life is a series of failures.  That I am the thousand other things that I have heard from sometimes my nearest and dearest ….. and sometimes just from my inside voice.

My best so far is being told that I am giving my ex a reason to take my children away from me, because I have tattoos.

Paranoid thinking is one of the horses of the apocalypse.

I think if it wasn’t for my children I would have exited this game a long time ago.

If I go ….

My concern is that they will grow up without me.  They will not know how much I love them.  They will not know how often I look at them when they are sleeping and my heart swells so much that bits of it leak out of my eyes.

They will not know how much I adore them — every little part of them.

I sit next to them and all I think is that “I did good here, these are great kids” — I broke the cycle.

My “hold me back” is that I do not want my children in therapy because they think they were not enough.

That somehow they were to blame.

That somehow they could have done something.  Else.  More.  Different.

I do not want THAT on them.

I don’t know the answers to this freaking curse that is depression.

I know what the blackest black looks like.

I survived today —- this year has been epic.  I have had so many situations where I have been whacked on my arse — stood up and been whacked again.  To the point where lying down and just taking shallow breaths seemed like the most apt way to get through the day.

I have been at my final hour this year — several times.

I have someone to talk to — someone who understands. Someone who understands how hard this year has been, someone who understands how hard I have fought for this breath, with every fiber of my being.

Thank goodness for her — and her wisdom.  Her continued support.  Her knowing I need help and reaching out to me actively.

If you are struggling with depression, do not use your embarrassment to keep you locked into this.

I can’t guarantee that the person you talk to is going to be the right person — sometimes people give you shitty advise and they have no idea of the damage it is doing to you.

But there are people you can talk to.  There is a person for you.  Someone who will hear your pain and listen to what you need.

There is a way to get out of the hole — or at the very least for someone to throw you a life line. A moment where you can catch your breath.

Depression is  a disease — it is trying to kill you.  Every day.

Get help —- in what ever form you need.  Today.

If you can’t —– for what ever reason, then, take a moment today to be kind.  To yourself.

Allow yourself to just be.  To think a good thought about yourself.  For a moment to really believe there is something good about you.  That you are enough.

Just one good thought can plant a seed that can start to help you heal.

Every day you heal is one more day you get to breath.  One more day you get stronger than your demons.

{Because I am a depressive, doesn’t mean I need to be treated with kid gloves.  I am a roaring strong individual that has overcome and continues to do so.  I would get annoyed if someone treated me like delicate china  — the catch with a depressive is that it is often is not the big stuff that breaks us, it is the small irrelevant stuff that shatters us…. be kind to someone today, you don’t know their journey or their battles}

Leaving infants in cars and the Salem Witch trials …..

I was browsing through Facebook today and saw a post linking to a video that showed parents (mothers, I assume fathers never do this) how not to leave their infants in the car.

This is normally focused around running into the shop or going for a wax and deciding that maybe if your infant is sleeping, it might be good to leave the window open a gap — you know for that self regulating temperature thing – and then go into the shop/wax store, and then come back later.

{I am differentiating between leaving your infant by accident and leaving your child in the car because it is convenient}

You know in theory I can understand how this seems like a good idea.

Un-clipping the carry seat and dragging it around is not really comfortable.

An infant sleeping, should never be woken up, purely for the sanity of the parents.

It often takes you longer to “just run in quickly” rather than all the unbuckling, readjusting, finding a bottle/dummy/toy and all that.

I totally get that.

But, when you leave your infant in the car there is a certain range of things that will occur:

  1. You will be judged as lacking as a parent by anyone who walks past to find your infant alone in the car.
  2. The person you judged you as lacking is going to call a few other people over.  They are all going to stand and stare and your car and your infant, and mutter things that are unsavoury about you — and they do not even know you.
  3. They will at some point call over the mall security guy.  Now this guy will actually not really have an opinion.  He actually does not care less either way. He does not even have a gun — if he did, he might shoot himself just to get out of this situation. But he is going to be faced with half a dozen women who have worked themselves into a froth and want him to do something. This dude knows he has no right to touch your car, the baby and now he is stuck and cannot walk away.  So he will just stand there which will draw more attention to the situation.  He may even call someone on his radio and now there are two security guys staring at the car saying something like “why are white people fucking up my day ….”
  4. This is not dissimilar to how the Salem witch trials started, and when that shit starts, someone is going to be burned, and the level of actual guilt is irrelevant.
  5. Someone will take out their phone take a photograph of your car, with your registration and post it on Facebook and you will be labelled “slightly wanting” in the parenting department.
  6. Not one good thing can come out of this — not one, so why did you make this decision?

Okay, so that part will happen – what might occur is:

  1. Someone may choose to steal your car and use the fact that you have left a window open as a good way to get into your car. You understand that the person who is going to steal your car – even if it has those stupid sticky family things on it saying that god must protect your family – is not going to take the time to unclip the baby and leave it on said sidewalk.
  2. Back to guy or gal (let’s not be sexist) stealing your car – I know you put the stickie family thing on your back window and it says that god must protect your family, but he can’t do that well if you are being an arsehole.
  3. Someone might decide “hey I need a baby, and this baby does not look like it is being used, and has low mileage, so I am just going to take your baby.”  Again if you are wanting this to happen, then well done you — if not, then you are again being a bit of an arsehole.  For instance if you had a an original (not a China Town original) Louis Vuitton luggage set, would you leave it standing outside next to your car whilst you popped in to Pick ‘n Pay — and assume it is going to be there when you get back?:?  No, because you are not a stupid arsehole, you realise the luggage set costs a lot of money and someone is going to nick it.  So why do you trust the universe to keep your infant safe?  Did you get dropped a great deal on your head when you were an infant??
  4. Some idiot might accidentally drive into your car —- granted if you were in your car or out of your car, this could still occur, but imagine coming back and finding your baby mangled in car wreckage — how are you going to explain this to the god parents of your child?
  5. I am not even covering heat exhaustion and all the environmental things which could easily kill your child in 15 minutes on a really hot day —- I am parking those issues.
  6. So dude — what the fuck are you thinking — like what??  Do you remember how sore it was when this baby either exited out of your vagina or through a c-section, losing your baby is going to make these pains look like skipping through lavender.

There are series of bad situations that might occur when you leave your child unattended.

Here is the kicker, if you are reading this and you are surprised at any of the above, then how the fuck do you manage to get through the day and parallel park?

Or get your panties on under your denims every day?

I am not the best parent — some days I only just get by —- but even I am not going to leave my infant in a car unattended.  Even if I was not really that concerned with the the above, the fact that I would come back to the kloister-koek convention around my car would be reason enough to just take the child into the store with me.

If you have to watch a video on what ever platform which explains to you how not to leave your infant in a car, then NEW RULE — you really are not ready to have an infant.  Or you need to give your car keys to someone a tad more reliable than you.

If you do understand how to not leave your infant in a car, then why are you sharing this video?

Which one of your friends is that stupid that they will need this video?  And if there is that friend, then do not do a general share, tag that stupid person in your life.

This brings me back to survival of the fittest.

If you can drive a car – this means you must need to have some brain activity going on.

You managed to pass a written test, then some sort of a practical test and get the licence. You probably had to fill in a form or several, take money out of your wallet and pay someone, and get a receipt.  You may even have some sort of a loan system going, so you would have to understand interest rates and all sorts of confusing shit.

I want to almost exclude people with a CF and a CFR registration here — I drive behind these feckers nearly every day and they are like super villains.  Rules of the road and basic safety do not mean shit to these people.

They do not wear seat belts.  They swap lanes without indicating.  They reduce speed to 60km on the R300 in the middle lane for no reason — so you are bearing down on them at 120km an hour  – because they are in the fast lane —and you need to think fast or you are going to end up in their hatchback.

Their kids stand between the seats.  No seat belts.

I am particularly fond of the ones who have safety seats buckled in, but the kid is bouncing around the back seat — oh the fun for the paramedics at a later stage.

They are lost at 4 way stops.  Circles are out of their range.  How freeways works is beyond their range. They drive 60km in any damn lane they choose.  And at night they have one light in front — if you discount the inside light in the car that is on.

I don’t know why these people with these particular registration tags do this.  They are rebels — I am totally going to exclude them as I have no idea how they got their licences and how their children have lived this long.

Defies reasoning and I think there needs to be a study somewhere.  But I don’t have time for this on this blog, so let’s just exclude them and give them a few free “what the fuck are you doing” signs.

There was a series of activities going on here, which normally indicates you may have scored above 85 in an IQ test — but somehow you still manage to think that leaving your infant in a car unattended is a super good idea.

If you are that person, and I believe there are a lot of you — because SOMEONE TOOK THE TIME TO MAKE A FUCKING VIDEO AIMED AT YOU —- then please leave a comment and explain the logic here, because it escapes the rest of us.

For those who get this video on their social media stream, can I ask, you do not share this video.  It is the same as the person who does not wear a seat belt and does not buckle up their passengers.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the universe going “fuck dude, I actually can’t do anything here” and let’s leave them for natural selection to sort them out, and for their blood lines to maybe stop.

These people are not going to make it through day one of the Zombie Apocalypse, so why are we trying to save them.

There is no way in all of the green earth that this woman (embarrassingly it is always a woman) is going to come back to the car and go “thank you, you group of ranting woman for bringing attention to the fact that I left my baby in the car” …. doubtful.

Odds are she is going to tell you to go fek yourself, and then threaten you with a lawsuit (way too much television) if you take a photograph of her car.  Then she is going to reverse and hope to kill at least two of you when she does that.

This is a message at times to step back and let natural selection do what it does well.

If you are religious then look to the heavens and park this in his court, if you aren’t then shake your head say something like “m*therf*cker” and just get on with your day.  There will be one less person using our valuable water resources soon, and that is good for all of us.

I mean seriously what else are you actually going to do here?