Georgia says ….

I am working and Georgia is off sick today.

I gave her a box to play with – not like climb in it, but to decorate it and keep her occupied (read to stop her talking to me).

She has been at this box with a variety of crayons for at least two hours.

She goes: “Shew, I am filled with busy ness!”

Aint that the truth.  I was also filled with busy ness today, except the part where I whiled away two hours on pinterest, which really was not productive at all.

And the other time when I made 4 Nutella sandwiches and stuffed them into my face.  But other than that, I know exactly how she feels.

Just saying ….

I often/always amazed at what I have to say in my house.

What I have to scream across the room/passage/table at my children.

I know there is the old saying about the fact that sooner or later, you realise you are your mother, because there you are yelling and you think to yourself  – I swore I would never say that when I had kids.

But there you go.  Breaking all the rules.  Realising how desperate your mother was.  Forgiving her for having a total shit fit when you were a kid.  Because now you are standing there having the same shit fit.  The wheel he turns.

Last night I was trying to cram in a few more minutes works, and the kids were watching tv/throwing the box of pencils on the floor/fighting with each other about who was going to sit on which couch — the usual state of the nation in my home.  It was escalating, and I am like a magnet.

Georgia showing me bizarre pieces of paper/art, and Isabelle unpacking my desk, and trying to get the glitter back on the glitter tube.  I just needed to finish an email, so I could log off and call this day finished.

I was forced to say: “Isabelle, get my giraffe off your head!”  Which was only surpassed by: Leave the toilet brush alone … no …. it is not a toy.  Put. It. Back.  Now!”

Really not something I thought I would ever need to say.

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Hiding in the car …. from the kids

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Fetching kids from school has it’s joyful moments, but for the most part they are filled with screaming, arguing, kids slapping each other, Georgia telling me about Princess Dark Pink, and me trying really hard to turn the radio up and listen to the news.

By the time I get home my nerves are frayed.  I am not wanting a drink, so much feeling an overriding urge to throw back 3 Zolofts and drink wine through a straw.

Today was no different.  It usually starts before I have even got out the parking lot at the school.

The drive home is not long.  But it feels excruciating  and eventually everyone is screaming and I have lost the will to live.  I no longer scream and tell them to be quiet.

The will to fight has left me.  They know it.  I know it.  The people sitting in their cars adjacent to me at the traffic lights know it.

I just sit there staring dully ahead, and watching my knuckles get whiter on the steering wheel.  The voices in my head keep saying – in unison “you just need to make it home, you just need to make it home ….. with everyone alive …..”

We got home today.   I thought, what if they got out the car, carried on fighting, and I just closed the door and remained in the car.

So I did that.

They were so busy beating the crap out of each other, they did not notice me.  I closed the doors, and then I just sat in the car.

Silence.

I could hear my heart beating.  I could hear that tick-tick-tick sound the car engine makes as it cools.

It was bliss.  It was heaven.

I kept thinking of that jingle from the kids show “just 5 minutes more….”

It was lovely.  My life has come down to this where I class happiness as sitting in a car by myself.  Yes.  Yes.  This is where I am.  I bit you sit there and titter, and make fun of me.  Well, chicken, your turn will come.  Sooner or later.

Then the two girls found me.  They brought the dog.  They closed the car door. Me.  Two screaming girls.  And a dog in the car.  Not so much peaceful.  Georgia was talking.  Dexter was going “hhhhhhh” or what ever sound he makes.  I have no idea what Isabelle was saying.

I thought I would stick it out and maybe they would go back inside and leave me alone.  It could happen.  In a parallel universe.

It didn’t.

Isabelle tripped over the gear stick, and somehow got her body wedged between the handbrake and the steering wheel.

I knew it was time to end watching the YouTube video on Britain’s Got Talent and face the evening.

Connor knitted a Christmas Present ….

This year Connor knitted Isabelle a pair of socks.  All by himself, off his own bat, without any suggestion, motivation, cajoling from any of us – for the record he is 10 (he has just turned 11, but he made the socks when he was 10).

On Christmas morning there under the tree was a gift for Isabelle.  Hand knitted socks all wrapped up – Connor’s handiwork.

What is even cuter is that Isabelle wears them – granted like a German tourist – sometimes with the shoes swapped over on the wrong feet –  but there we go.

I really wonder where we got Connor from – he is just so damn sweet, endearing and has a heart of gold.  I am not sure what recipe we used to get him, but he is definitely such a sweet boy.

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I really struggle with girls’ clothing in store …..

I realised that I do not dress my girls in shorts.  Strange, but true.

I always put tights on them, with a skirt, or they wear three-quarter jeans or Capri pants.  I have no idea why, I just do not put shorts on them.  If they have shorts on, it is under a skirt.

Summer is finally here – and I realised that the girls do not have much in the way of summer shorts and t-shirts to just throw on.  I am always layering their clothes.  I have decided to stop my Amish ways and dress the girls like it is summer.

I popped along to a local retailer and thought I would grab some shorts  and t-shirts for Georgia and Isabelle.

Most clothing in large retailers follow a size/fashion trend of baby wear, then 1 – 7  years old, and 7 – 14 years old.

Georgia falls into the 7 – 14 year old range.  I am not 100% sure I want my 7 year old to be wearing the same style as a 12 or 14 year old girl.

Kennith describes the size/fashion curve as Baby, 1 – 7 years old, and Skank!  I really can’t argue with him on that in many instances, but I decided I was going to find a pair of shorts that I would not cringe every time they wore.

The problem I find is that I am standing staring at shorts hanging on a hanger that are well ….. very short.  There is something about them that makes me stand there and wonder if this is inappropriate for a 7 year old.

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41BJ4-GaQVLfashion-floral-girls

I uh’med and ah’ed and picked them up, and then put them back several times.  Eventually I gave in and bought two pairs of what I would call shorty-shorts for Georgia – granted I looked for the longest shorty-shorts which were still a bit short for me, and two pairs for Isabelle.

I have not tried Georgia’s on yet, but this morning Isabelle wore her pair of shorts to school with her new pink t-shirt.  Yoiks it was so cute, and so nice to see her little skinny-ma-linky legs running free of the swaths of cloth she usually has to contend with.

Onwards summer!!

Now to find slightly longer cut shorts which at the same time aren’t golfer shorts!

Am I the only one who stands and wonders that the girls clothing on offer is just not appropriate to a young child, or am I being a bit too prudish about this entire process and needs to be okay with my kids high thigh being on view?

Princesses … do we have too many of them?

Georgia is very into being a princess.

She does switch between being Rapunzel, a fairy princess and a bit of fairy and a bit of a princess – she is constantly telling me her powers are attributed to her hair (I think a Samson story combined with a fairy princess complex).

I do not know a great deal about princesses.  When I read through the story books lying around, princesses do appear to be very attractive young girls, who seem to suffer some hardship or another, usually which involves a wicked stepmother.

The only thing that will save them is a prince who will sweep them off and marry them.

Based on the fairy tales – a princess needs to be super attractive, have lush hair, an attractive smile, and pretty much no future aspirations of any kind.

The fact that a prince wondering through the woods takes a fancy to them, and offers to marry them on the spot, seems to be the highest point of achievement in their lives.  It unfortunately also counters our constant admonishings of STRANGER-DANGER!!

I am always been a bit wary of these handsome titled men who traipse through the woods alone.  I think we would call them “displaced persons” or homeless.

Why is a prince alone in the woods?  Where is his retinue of staff?

If you saw a dead girl surrounded by 7 small people/dwarfs – would you reason that now is a good time to hop off your horse and wander over there to see if you can have a quick snog?  Really, does that sound like a great idea?

Did he think his kiss would wake the dead?  Let’s agree he has rather an inflated god complex going on, and maybe a touch of the strange, either way not attributes you want in someone you are marrying.

Cinderalla’s beau has always concerned me the most.  She gets herself all dolled up, for the ball, spends the night dancing with him, midnight strikes, she dashes, she leaves her shoe, and he finds her shoe.

Prince No-Recall-of-Facial-Features-but-clearly-with-a-foot-fetish then traipses all over his kingdom with a shoe for the ladies to try on.  You would think he would be able to recognise his great love – but nope shoe trying it is.

If I had danced with the prince and dropped my size six and  a half shoe, he would have been able to find 4 girls in my street alone whose foot would fit my shoe.

Even when he is in the house where Cinderalla lives, and she enters the room, he still does not recognise her face, her manner, her voice. Only when her foot fits the shoe does he have a eureka moment of recognition.  Weird much?

Rapunzel’s beau does not think that after climbing HER HAIR up a tower.  He does not think, well this must cause her a great deal of discomfort, next time let me bring some crampons and my own rope.  Or better yet, let me use my princely powers to rescue her.

Nope he just goes on climbing up the poor girls hair until Rapunzel’s step mother throws him into some thorns.

There is a great deal of emphasis on referring to little girls as “my princess” and little girls being obsesses with princesses – but what are these images and stories teaching our girls in terms of what they should aspire to?

Other than a tiara, and a wand and flouncing around in really pretty pink outfits, what are we telling them?

What is the point of being a princess, other than being pretty and waiting on your prince to come along and rescue them?

History has shown that princesses’ role was to marry well – her father who would use her in arranged marriages for his kingdom’s political gain.  And once that was done, her role was to produce an heir or die trying.  Princesses though living lavish lives, were going it in gilded prisons, so why do we continue to hold this ideal out to our daughters and encourage them to be “princesses?”

I would feel so much if my girls were playing lawyer-lawyer, doctor-doctor or actuary-actuary.

I wish my girls would don capes and fly around the house telling me they are super hero’s, instead of princesses having yet another stupid tea party.

Does anyone have any idea of good “character” role models for girls right now hopefully in a book and a movie?

I feel a bit overwhelmed with the Hello Kitty, Rapunzel, Princess Aurora and others of her ilk.

The one about a rat and projectile vomitting … otherwise a stunning day in Cape Town

{there are images that may upset sensitive viewers ….this might change your opinion on spaghetti bolognaise for some time ….this might make you reconsider having children …..ever}

Yesterday I am working in my home office and I hear this noise – a rustling sound.  I don’t think much of it as Jackson, my Maine Coone cat, lies under my desk (or on my desk as this image shows) and I naturally assume it is him making the little scratching sounds I keep hearing.

At some point I glance under the desk, and realise there is no Jackson, and I glance around the room and assess I am alone.  Clearly something is not right here.

The short of it is, the noise is coming from under the two seater couch.  I move  the couch, whilst I am on the couch, as I am petrified what ever it is will run over my bare feet.

I call Priveledge who comes in. After much to’ing and fro’ing where we both realise that between us we are terrified, I lift the couch and she looks under it.  Priveledge manages to get up from a full crouch position, leaps backwards about one and a half metres, to find herself standing on one of the kids plastic chairs – in what can only be described as with catlike grace and flexibility.

Impressed, didn’t realise she was that athletic actually.

I make a leap from the couch onto my desk chair, and there the two of us stand.  Priveledge says that she saw a HUGE rat.  Connor (who was home sick) brings in his own designed and manufactured mouse tral (don’t ask).

Priveledge looks at the trap and says it is not big enough as the rat is REALLY BIG.

Not really the news one wants to hear as one is standing on a plastic chair in the middle of one’s home barefoot.

After mentally working through several options – none of which included me getting within 2 metres of the rat – I called Roderick – our faithful, able and I hope brave. garden guy – and asked if he would please come catch the rat.  He came over and caught the rat.

It was not HUGE, but I really think when it comes to a brown sewer rat, size is not really an issue.  The issues are whether it is dead, and how quickly it can die.

I am all for “saving animals” but I think when you are dealing with an animal that has had such bad publicity like the rat i.e bubonic plague/black plague.  It is going to need to be the cure for cancer to even make a dent in that sort of publicity.

I do think they need to start a reality show where they have Spin Doctors and they get given really difficult campaigns and need to create an interest in a product./item/country/animal that no one would touch.

On the final show between the last two Spin Doctors playing for one million dollars, they need to come up with a campaign that makes the sewer rate loveable.  I would think a next to impossible ask, and if you can do that and change public sentament about something so repulsive odds are you deserve the money.

Rat caught, we dropped him into a dog carrier box, and took it down to the nature reserve and released him there.  He squealed and he was jumping in the box, and it was really not a warm fuzzy feeling.

I did not take a picture of the rat, he seriously freaked me out ……. like made my skin crawl.

In this story Connor is home, that is because he got sick the night before, and has been throwing up and complaining of cramping and just not looking good.

I collect Georgia and Isabelle later in the day.  We get home, and as soon as dinner is presented Georgia starts moaning she is not well and she is going to throw up.

To understand Georgia, she is a total hypercondriac.  If you sneeze, she will fake sneeze twice.  If she knocks her knee, it will be broken, and she will dig out her crutches and be a cripple for three days.  Within all this one tends to ignore her when she indicates any signs of illness – especially if it mimics what someone else has.

Georgia had spaghetti bolognaise and then a bath.  She was sitting on her bed drawing when the spaghetti bolognaise made a second appearance.  The bulk of it got absorbed by the duvet, pillow, sheets, mattress and her pyjamas.

She ran to the bathroom, puking as she went.

{This image makes me feel like Dexter at a crime scene, but instead of blood spatter, I deal with puke splutter …. my speciality….}

Got to the bathroom just in time to drop the mother load of partly digested spaghetti bolognaise, unfortunately not quite in the toilet.

Now I had two children retching – not always in turns, often at the same time.

My shortage of buckets became apparent.  So kids are violently ill, Kennith is away on a work conference that entails him overnighting at a wine farm …. you can imagine the heaps of sympathy I am feeling for him at this juncture.

Last night was fun, but did not allow for too much sleep.  There was much up’ing and down’ing to hold hair back, and give sips of water and basically time for me to look towards the ceiling and wonder where for art my help shall come from.

Today the toilet broke — I have no idea if it is in anyway related to the amount of spaghetti bolognaise that was being forced down it, but I am getting a plumber in later this afternoon.

I am bitterly disapppointed that I have a large hulking cat that is forever hunting, but could not hunt and catch the rat.  I also expected Dexter, the Boston Terrier, to at least smell the rodent and look for him.  Nada. Both of them are clearly hopeless.

Otherwise, how is your day going?

The one about boys and girls and their bits …..

Margot over at Jou Ma se Blog has done it again with her latest post The 25-year-old tomato sauce stain.  I am not going to paraphrase her post, so best pop over and read – it made me sit back and have a little think.

Last year I had a bit of a journey of self-awareness when I did a workshop with Dr Eve.  It was done with 6 (or 8 I forget) other women.  We met once a week, sat on the floor with cushions and Dr Eve facilitated a discussion.

Nothing about it was aimed at man bashing, it was all about awareness of our own bodies and our awareness of ourselves – but physically, spiritually and in every other way.

Why we think certain images are sexy, provocative or pretty.  How we take on roles in a relationship.  How we adopt roles in our lives as girls, women, wives, girlfriends, mothers and so on – and how much of this is connected to whether we have a vul.va or a pen.is.  It was really interesting, and made my brain stretch in directions I had not considered.

The ideas around why we view our vagi.nas  – vul.va being the correct term – in a certain light became quite a key feature.

I cannot say I enjoyed the workshop.

I am hardly prudish when it comes to speaking about most things, but there were several moments in the workshop where I blanched.  I found that it challenged my thinking.

It fired synapses and made me think in a variety of directions that I had not thought before.  It was very uncomfortable and every workshop was exhausting on every possible level.

I knew it was all going pear shaped when we started looking at vu.lv.a images ….. that was pretty much close to the time I started wondering where the buzzer was to the security gate.

I had not really given vag.ina.s much thought before then.  Funny that.

It was sort of something I had, and {more than likely} so too did all the women I knew – I have NEVER discussed the subject of vag.ina.s with another women, as I am sure it would be a conversation ender, no matter how I went about it.

Girls/women are given information from when they are young that their bodies, and especially their vu.lva/vagi.nas, are dirty and off-limits.  Do not touch, do not discuss, do not show anyone, and for god sake DO NOT TOUCH!!

Mention a period/me.nstrua.tion and you will have women (and men) recoiling in disgust.

What alarmed me is I was communicating the same message to my daughters.

While I was doing the workshop, Isabelle was still in nappies. I recall changing her on her changing mat, and whilst I was cleaning and powdering her “lady bits” she put her hands between her legs.

Without missing a beat I exclaimed: “Hey stop that, it’s dirty, SIES!” and added a tsk-tsk for good measure.

Only when it fell out of my mouth, and because I was dealing with it in the workshop, I realised what I had said, what I had been doing, and what I was imparting to my daughter.

I was enforcing the stereotyped that “girls parts” are dirty – off-limits – smelly – yucky ……..  I was giving my daughter the SAME MESSAGE that I had been given, and probably most other girls/women I knew walked around with.

I was horrified.  How indoctrinated was this message?

I struggle to not think SIES YUCK where vag.inas and me.nstru.ation are involved.

I sat through a video/DVD that Dr Eve had asked us to watch called Viva La Vul.va.

I was horrified, and scarred for the rest of my days, eyes please unsee stuff.  I made myself watch it as I thought I should not be having this sort of reaction to part of my body, which is a natural part, and part of me – I thought I could be mature about the subject matter.  It seems I am not that mature.

The point I am trying to make, in a very laboured fashion, is that girls are given the message (from a very early age) not to touch themselves, not to touch their va.gin.as, and gods truth not to show it to anyone, because it is dirty/ugly/sies .  We demonize a part of our bodies which is vital to most of our existence, and then we wonder why we have such self-image problems.

Boys do not get this message about their bodies.

I don’t think I have ever said to Connor he should not touch his penis because it is dirty. I think I might have indicated it is not appropriate in the bread aisle at Woolworths.

If a boy touches his penis in public – and this does not matter whether he is 4 months or 40 years old it usually is met with a chortle of “put that thing away ….” and then a well appreciated laugh.

If a girl touches her vu.lv.a in public — well I am not sure what would happen, as girls don’t, and women would probably rather die than touch herself in public.  It is just unheard of!

Margot’s post reminded me of the difficult journey we have as Sharon at The Blessed Barrenness said (so well) “As one who possesses a vagina raising another who also has a vagina” it really is a difficult task to raise girls.

It is really difficult to raise girls and give them a good image of their ENTIRE body when we miss the middle bit, because it is too dirty to talk about.

Happy Oupa Day!

I was trying to explain what Mo-vember was about to the kids.  A bought some cheap and cheerful moustaches from China Town and wanted to get some photographs of them.

Georgia latched on to “Happy OUPA Day” and you know when you just give up, and go “yep, happy OUPA Day” …. so everyone Happy Oupa Day this November.

{I thought it was virtually impossible to channel Adolf Hitler in a self-portrait of myself … it would seem not …. I appear to get this one right on the money}

Kids doing Happy OUPA Day …..

{Georgia so liked her ‘tach that she wore it whilst we were cycling/scootering in the road — I think a child with a Magnum PI moustache is an absolute winner, and will definitely have all the boys coming to the yard…}

Photographs taken with my loaned Olympus PEN E-P3 loaned from the folks over at mycamera.

#mycamerablogger competition

Connor … a moment in time

I took this photograph of my son Connor  — our pool sadly was a bit green, but green pools do not seem to deter children from swimming on a hot November’s day.

He popped out from under the water and I took this photograph – really love this image of him.

It captures exactly who he is right now ….. and another moment when I realise my baby is well on his way to becoming a man ….. with pu.b.ic hair!

{photograph taken using the OLYMPUS PEN E-P3 on loan from mycamera}

#mycamerablogger competition

I started to realise why Michael Jackson dangled his son over the balcony railing ……

This morning started with a THUD.

Isabelle fell out of bed and hit the floor. It is funny how as a parent you actually wake up with the thud – you actually hear it!  If you weren’t quite a wake the ensuing screaming would wake you and loosen your bowels.

I put Isabelle in bed with me, with the optimistic hope she would self sooth and we could sneak another 30 – 45 minutes of sleep.

In theory not a bad idea. In practice, Georgia woke up with the screaming and came through to assess the damage.  Her way of assessing is talking incessantly and trying to hug Isabelle.

The talking made me cry, the hugging made Isabelle cry. I knew the morning was really going pear-shaped, when at one point I actually put my hand over Isabelle’s mouth so she could hear me say: “Okay, okay quiet, quiet, I will get you a milk bottle!”

I realise covering your child’s mouth sounds a bit high risk behaviour, but seriously I started to realise why Michael Jackson dangled his son over the balcony railing …… what ever Blanket did before that, I guarantee he never did it again!!

Isabelle stopped crying.  Eventually.

I had to banish Georgia to her room as she was not going to stop talking.  The result was I was standing make a hot milk bottle at about 06h15 this morning and drinking tea through bleary sleep encrusted eyes.

I will be honest and tell you I usually leave the morning routine to the lovely and talented Priveledge … but this morning not so much.  Kids had dressed, eaten, and were ready to go and it wasn’t even 07h00 this morning.

The day was busy, and had the usual too much stuff crammed in to it.

I always like to push the envelope, you know exactly at the point when you are about to break, I like to add just that ounce more to see if truly I can go insane.

I took the kids out for dinner.  By myself. Kennith is away.  Me. Three kids.  A table with cutlery and crockery.  How did I know it was going wrong? At about the same time that Isabelle started taking her clothes off …. for no apparent reason in the middle of the restaurant …. I managed to stop her after shoes, socks and her belt had come off …. clearly I could see the direction this was going to go in.

End of day, sitting on Isabelle’s bed getting ready to read her a bed time story, Georgia is sitting on the bed with her 1/4 cup of hot chocolate – I fill it very shallowly because she is one of those kids who will mess/spill no matter what.

In an attempt to not disappoint and remain true to form, Georgia went on to spill her cup of now lukewarm chocolate all over the bed.

Isabelle will not touch something if it is wet.  If she is wearing a shirt and wets a sleeve, even with a few drops of water when she brushes her teeth in the morning, she wants to change her shirt.

So you can imagine the joy when you pour 1/4 cup of hot chocolate over her bed … with her in it.  Is it too late to start drinking wine?

Santa Shoebox Project … not sure I am getting the warm and fuzzy feeling …

I have decided to take part in the Santa Shoebox Project this year.  I went to the website and selected two children per person in our family – the result is 10 boxes.

I should have done less, as 10 is quite a lot of boxes, and if you average out R150.00 – R200.00 a box it is a bit of coughing at your credit card statement.

I selected two boys in the 10 – 12 year old range – partly because I felt that boys in that age range might not be as appealing as shopping for a 3 year old girl.    I also tried to pick children in the same age range as my kids.  Technically these are Connor’s boxes ….. presently he has no idea we are doing Santa Shoebox, so you can see how involved I have managed to get the family.

Granted, I have not told them, that might be the first problem – but I am a bit of a procrastinator and will spring in to action on the day I am meant to drop these boxes off.

I bought the boys playing cards as “toys” – no idea what else I could buy for a 10 – 12 year old that wasn’t a computer.  I also bought them a pack of underpants each and AXE deodorant as extra – I kept trying to bear in mind that the contents of these boxes really needs to be “fun” but realistically useful, and what do they need after the “joy of Xmas” has passed.  Underpants and deodorant seems like a logical gift that keeps on giving.

I bought all the kids a stationery pack which has pencils, pair of scissors, pencils, ruler, eraser etc – the same multi packs I buy for my kids.  For the older boys I also bought a big pack of “bic pens” – and I will add a reading book each as well to their boxes.

Kennith has helped out and has got 10 good sized shoe boxes.  He has also bought some great things from Cape Union Mart to add, like beanies, little LCD torches, sporks (hey makes sense!!)  and so on.  Really nice things for each child.

Today I went shopping to purchase the toiletries, stationery, sweets, toys and the last of the things so that I could sit this weekend and pack these boxes.

I really struggled to find a toys for the children that fitted in to the shoeboxes and weren’t crap.  I really did not want to put things in that would not last to the next day.  I found a good variety, but at some point I needed to stop myself and say “you cannot buy everything, stick to the list …. or you are never going to stop!!”

The bags are lying at the door, with the pile of boxes, and the wrapping paper and stickers I bought to decorate the boxes.

The problem is that shopping today made me feel pretty bleak and sad for these kids.  I kept thinking to myself “what if this shoe box is the only gift this child gets this year?” and I just felt sad, and sort of tearful in the Checkers underwear aisle.

There is nothing I can put into a shoebox that is going to make a long term change to these kids lives – and then I think of my kids who get pretty much anything they want at the drop of a hat, and that just makes me feel worse for the 10 kids names that I am holding.

I had these visions of putting a letter in for each child.  Telling them that they are loved, and that even though today might look a bit bleak, life does go on.  People do make something of themselves no matter how crap their backgrounds.  There are more kind and generous people in the world than mean ones.  But then I decided that might sound a bit twee, so I canned that idea.

I kept thinking about these 10 boxes I was stocking.  “My” kids are : Thaimile (Boy 6); Wilmie (Girl 6); Kamva (Boy 11); Andile Lubabalo (Boy 12); Jayden C (Boy 4); Anelisa (Girl 4); Sammy Joe (Girl 9); Sange (Girl 6); Kayra (Girl 6); Nicolas (Boy 5).

I think the Santa Shoebox Project was aiming to get 100 000 boxes to 100 000 children.  That means 100 000 children whose only gift this year will be one of these shoe boxes – and what about all those kids who did not make the list?  What are those kids getting?

Overwhelmed much?

I know I should be feeling all Kum bay ya, my Lord, kum bay ya about taking part in this campaign, but to be honest it really has made me feel terribly sad today!

Otherwise, how are your Santa Shoeboxes coming on?

Screaming random names at the door ….

I remember my mom used to do this … “Shaun, Bruce, Celeste!!!!” when she actually just needed me for something.  She would do it in reverse when she needed Shaun, and often throw our dog’s name in the mix, Cindy.

I have realised I do the same thing.

The problem is I sometimes throw in the cat and the two dogs, anyone standing innocently by to mix it up a bit ….. “Connor, no, Georgia, no, Dexter, no, Priveledge, no, Annabelle, no, ANNABELLE, do dammit, Isabelle, ISABELLE come here… ISABELLE!”

By this point it has got so diluted that either no one comes or everyone comes.  The problem is that once your brain has turned into the mush that cannot get your off spring shouted out correctly, then it is pretty much a downhill slide.  You never regain the use of that part of your brain where the electrons are able to get the name right and out your mouth the first time.

You appear to have got the use of the electrons that can’t recall a tv show name without humming the jingle first, and the same electrons who spring in to action the moment anyone puts YMCA on any musical device.

I have no idea why I do this, or why my brain functions this way – it usually happens when I am trying to call my three to get in the car for school.

Yikes, I am becoming my mother.

Someone told me something really disturbing today.  The Barney Theme song and the tune to Yankee Doodle Went to Town is one and the same.  Well that totally destroys that song for me ….. you go and try and sing Yankee Doodle now without immediately creating a background song of Barney in your head.

I know, now you are stuck with that stupid jingle as well!

Sleep outs and play dates ….

I am a bit more lenient when it comes to “allowing” the children to attend play dates and sleep overs.

A bit more lenient than Kennith.  A but more lenient than all most moms I know.

Connor has been sleeping out since Grade R – he made friends at his new school.  I met the moms/dads and then playdates became sleep overs.  There were two kids that he slept over at, and those children also slept over at our house.

Connor is now 10, and he probably has about three friends who he sleeps over at, and they sleep over at our home.  I am fine with it, and I don’t get all flustered if he is away from me – I know where he is, and I know he is having fun and he is safe.  And I have one less bum to wipe and child to scream at to brush their teeth, so it is all good.

Georgia has one friend (her bestie) who she is allowed to sleep over at.  She also stays over at Kennith’s sister’s home on occasion.

Kennith is not a fan of Georgia sleeping out.  The two places she stays at I trust implicitly and Kennith, I think, just gives in to me overriding his wanting to say “no” …. and the hope we may get an extra hour of sleep at some point.

I recall going to a drop off and go party with Connor.   I was not quite ready to drop off and go with parents I did not know.   I was the only mom there and I hung around in the kitchen like a bad smell.

The parents of the child whose party it was I am sure thought I was demented and they promptly ignored me.  I hung out with the housekeeper who was washing dishes, she was kind enough to make me tea and suggest I steal pieces of cake.  It was a very long three hours!!

I realised at that party that (a) Connor is old enough for drop off and go parties (b) Hanging around with other moms at a party for children milling around talking, usually about their child, is almost the least unfun thing I can imagine doing, drop off and go parties are pretty cool for the moms!

At this juncture I do wish to ask why is it that moms always get given this thankless and actually really not fun party-duty task?  Taking kids to parties, and then hanging around for 2 -3 hours making chit chat with people you would never chit chat to, and to cap it all you are normally served tea instead of wine. How is it we get all the sh&t jobs of parenting ….. but let’s get back to the subject at hand.

I have started doing drop off and go parties with Georgia.  I go in, steal a cupcake and a sausage roll, scope out the scene and if it looks fine, then I am outta.

Georgia was invited to a weekend away with her bestie this weekend.  Initially Kennith said no, he did not think it was a great idea.

I sold the idea and explained that Georgia would be safe and and and ….. I was really chuffed she was going, as I knew how excited she was and a weekend with her bestie was going to be the treat to top all treats.

K (Bestie’s mom) contacts me on Tuesday and explains she has decided to invite a friend of hers along for the weekend.

Me: {deep breath} huh-huh ……

K explains that it is a man person, but there are three bedrooms, and Bestie and Georgia will be in one bedroom.  She assures me she will not let them out of her sight for a moment.  And I do not doubt it for a moment.

I think Georgia will probably be more closely monitored with K than she will ever be with me.

The previously-near-perfect plan now includes a man person who I do not know.  What was a brilliant idea is now a less than attractive option.

I want to say “sure, I trust your judgement … I am sure it will be fine” but there is this feeling that just is not sitting well with me.  I do not know this guy, and even if I met him for 15 minutes today, will that be okay for me to pack my daughter off with him?

To say it went down like a lead balloon with Kennith might not hint at the extent of it.  We spoke about it, and I had little in the way of “pro’s to upsell this idea.”

Last night at bedtime we sat on the bed with Georgia.  Kennith suggested we not tell her, I went with the “rip it like a plaster” approach.  Kennith bravely opened it with: “Georgia, Mommy has something to tell you..!”

I proceeded to break Georgia’s heart, she cried like I had wrenched her leg off.  I decided to stick to the truth, there was a “stranger to us” man there and we did not know him, and we could not give her permission to go.

She sobbed, she howled, she blew snot bubbles out her nose, she begged, she pleaded, she promised she would be good.  We let her come lie in our bed and play on the iphone!

We spoke about stranger-danger and that was all we could say.

We did not want to indicate he was a “potential bad man” but the reality was that we did not know him, and that was it in a nutshell.

I am comfortable that the choice of her not going was the right choice, but not a “nice” choice.

The thought that gnawed at me a bit today, was how are we preparing our children in this rather unforgiving terrain called Life.

When I was Connor and Georgia’s age, I was arranging my sleep outs, weekends away and everything else.  No one asked if there were going to be strange men there – cripes the world was full of strange men and I negotiated my way around them as best as I could.

I know the quick response is “But times are different now…”

How are they different and why?

Are there more predators now than there were back in the 70’s?  Or does it just seem like it because through the immediacy of information, we are hit with a daily dose of how-shit-the-world-is-and-why-you-must-protect-your-child?

Are we not conveying to our children that the world outside our house is a dark and foreboding place?  Full of danger and threats.

When was the last time you saw children playing a game with a ball in the street?  When was the last time you let your child play in the street like we did as kids?  Well never I am afraid.

When was the last time you saw kids playing and building a “gang hut” in a veld or a bush? Definitely never – I am sure I saw a movie like that and it did not end well for anyone.

My kids aren’t permitted to play outside in my drive way without someone watching them.  And we have a large gate at the end of our driveway.

I do not allow Connor to ride his bike in our cul-de-sac ….. unless one of us sits with him.  He is 10.

At 10 I was hiking into Cape Town or catching a bus alone to go and shop in the Golden Acre!

When I left school, kids in my era were backpacking all over the world, and trusting their fate to strangers they met along the way.

{All/most} of the people I knew who headed out the front door to unchartered territories returned unscathed and un/mol/este/d, with stories of adventure, and adapting to life through Europe or where ever they had gone.

Are we possibly teaching our children to be afraid of everyone – to not trust anyone?  To not dare go anywhere without a parent firmly within eyeshot?

Does all of this not make teaching our children to be self-reliant and resourceful because they have to be, a bit tricky.  The reality is we never really let them wander off  further than the umbilical cord can stretch?

The thing I am taking away from all of this is, are we cotton-wooling our children in layers of terror/fear of the unknown/fear of strangers/too much caution, which will impede their spirit of adventure and healthy curiosity as they grow up, but we rationalise we must because it will “keep them safe”?

<note this post was written last week Thursday, I delayed publishing it as I kept amending the copy>

Boys who climb trees ….

No secret that I am a little on the paranoid side.

At first glance I may appear like a relaxed mom, lounging with a large glass of Chenin, whilst her kids play in the distance. But this is all an illusion of being relaxed and a no care attitude I like to exhibit!

The first sign that all was not well, in my brain, was when I started to develop a phobia about leaving the house with Connor.

This was when he was about 12 – 18 months old.  It did not get better, it got worse each day, and each outing made it more and more excruitiating to go out.

It eventually got a point where I just could not go out with him – it was too stressful for me.  I would rather remain at home.  Safely at home.

I kept seeing the amount of ways he was going to die. (notice it was not that he might die, it was an inevitable happening…)

I never felt he was going to go missing at the wall, I always felt he was going to be snatched by someone.  And be gone. Forever.

He was never going to trip and fall, he was going to trip, fall, shatter his skull and die.

He did not balance on a small brick walkway.  In my mind, he fell.  His face broke his fall, and his grey matter was spilt all over the crazy paving.  And then he would die.

I would love to tell you that now I am a no-worries parent.  The reality is what you see is a facade as I nod in the general direction of my kids going “don’t worry, they will be fine.”

I still prefer not to go out with my kids, it is too stressful.  The screaming and fighting makes me want to kill them, personally. The constant “threat of death” from other avenues, other than me, is actually too much to bear.

We have a pine tree in our backyard, it is about 2 storeys high.

Connor loves to climb trees.  Boys climb trees – Kennith assures me.  Every time Connor climbs that tree I quietly stand and wait for him to fall and break his neck, or split his skull open. It is not a case of if, it is a case of when.  There is a large stone under the tree.  In my mind’s eye he always fell and hit his head on that rock.

It is winter, so I get a respite from tree climbing and the related stress that is associated with it.  In summer it is all tree climbing, diving in to the pool (excuse me whilst I throw up from worry) and other rather adventurous activities. In terms of rough and tumble, girls are far less stressful.

The most I can expect from Georgia … actually never mind, she did fall off a very low brick walkway to smack her mouth and her teeth to kingdom come, so please scratch that.

On Monday Priveledge said that her nephew fell out of a tree.  He fell from the tree onto gravel and hit the surface hard with his head taking the brunt of the force.

The little boy could not regain consciousness and he was taken to the hospital.  The hospital said that his injuries were so severe that he may never wake, and if he did he would be seriously mentally effected (not from waking, but clearly from falling….)

The family held out hope, though there was very little to cling to.

Yesterday morning a 10-year-old boy died in Paarl, from a head injury from a tree that he climbed often.

My son is 10 years old.

The problem with paranoia is that when it is confirmed by real life, then you realise that maybe you actually weren’t over reacting.

I feel so very ill today and the thought of the pain that Priveledge’s family must be going through.  All because “boys climb trees” and sometimes “boys fall out of trees.”

YMCA … big with gay people ….

Connor and I were sitting watching “Come Dine with Me!”

At some point in the evening’s entertainment – on screen – someone put on “YMCA by the Village People” and the guests at the dinner were dancing, only as you can after way too much wine, when you forget your inhibitions and when someone puts on YMCA.

There is a universally accepted dance that includes hand movements, and no matter which era you were born in, and how “cool” you think you are, you will tend to do this particular dance.

I am sitting glazed over staring at the screen – it was about 15h40, and I was seriously wondering what the earliest is that I can get kids in to bed today.

Connor goes: “This is a song that gay people like!”

My brain starts to process what he is talking about …. so I frown and look over at him and he  explains further: “Daddy says that this song is one that gay people really like.  And gay people sing it.   One is a builder, and one wears a policeman suit …. and ……..  ”

The problem with these opportunities for a life lesson, is really some times you just cannot be arsed to have to go “Okay, okay, let’s back this truck up ….”

And like me, today, you frown, purse your lips together and make a mental note to have a discussion with your husband about the possible stereotyping of gay people and the connection with The Village People, and how your 11-year-old son is processing this information.

I will add to my list of things to discuss.  But on another day.  Today I am just too tired to broach anything.

On another subject, if you grew up the seventies and eighties you might be familiar with those round black sweetie balls you buy and suck, and suck and it finally dissolves in about three weeks time.

I bought a pack a few weeks back, and the phrase “nigger balls” came in to my head without me even thinking about it.

When I realised the term had just popped in to my head I blanched.  But I could not get rid of the phrase.  We have three small sweetie jars on top of the fridge filled with these black sweets, and I think of the phrase when ever I open the fridge door.

Cripes …. it is such an incredibly socially bad bad name, and we used it all the time when we were kids.  That and the “petrol boy” —- triple cringe!

 

In case you are sitting with only one line of the lyrics, and all you have is ” …. ta da da …young man …..young man…” like me, then it might be better to be stuck with the full set of lyrics, so you can sing it to yourself as you go to the toilet, make yourself a cup of tea ….

But you will realise on browsing through the lyrices, that “young man” pretty much encompasses the entire thing.  Possibly Connor’s snap judgement of the song was not that far off after all.

 

Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town
There’s no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there’s a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys …

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel…

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I’m sure they can help you today.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys…

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel …

Young man, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no man cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so jive …

That’s when someone came up to me,
And said, young man, take a walk up the street.
There’s a place there called the Y.M.C.A.
They can start you back on your way.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for you men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys…

Y.M.C.A….you’ll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there’s no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

Y.M.C.A….you’ll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there’s no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

Y.M.C.A….just go to the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, are you listening to me?
Young man, young man, what do you wanna be?

Is it a Matric Dance or a Wedding?

My daughter is 7 and showing no signs of being pushed forward 11 grades, so with that in mind my thinking about Matric Dances now might have an entirely differently perspective as my daughter is in Grade 1, versus when she is sitting in Grade 12 and I have Matric Dance Intoxication Fever!

I was sitting at the hairdresser (yes I appreciate how suburbs that sounds) – at a certain point no matter who much shampoo I lather on it still looks like crap, so I need to bring a qualified person and professional help.

I was sitting there and the lady sitting next to me is explaining how she and a few friends had clubbed together and “sponsored” a student’s matric dance dress.

I smiled as I sipped my tea, and thought what a great idea – I mentally started wondering how I could do that, you know find 4 like minded people and throw a few rand towards a girl’s dress from Truworths and some blingy shoes.  PROJECT my inner voice screams – clapping hands simultaneously, so exciting.

I nearly spat on the GHD emblazoned mirror when she (the person sitting next to me, sorry did not catch her name) said that they were presented with a bill for R5 000.00 – for JUST THE DRESS!

A girl who cannot afford a dress, went to a store that sells dresses for R5 000.00 and thought hey that’s okay for my sponsors  First off, I think this girl is either not doing well at Grade 12 “Life Skills” or needs a slap against the side of the head, or a bit of both actually.

Then I started wondering how much money are parents spending on Matric dance dresses and Matric suits for boys?

I get that it is a big day, but my concern is that as parents you are sitting there and putting down 2 months bond payments on junior miss or junior mister to have a cool party and a snappy outfit.  The idea of reasoning with a hormonal whiny desperately-needing-peer-approval child seems like something a bit alarming.

I can’t recall matric dances being this big a deal back when I went.  Back in my day, we spent R150.00 on a dress, borrowed shoes from your aunt, and did your own hair and makeup.

When exactly did matric dances turn into the extravaganza which they appear to be now – and more importantly if they do cost as much as I am thinking, then am I the only one who is having a serious sit down with my child in grade 10 and explain that they have 2 years (or more if they fail) to save towards their matric dance.  What ever they save, I will match – and that is the limit of what they have to spend in total for the entire day.

But my daughter is in Grade 1 and my son is in Grade 4 – I have a few years yet before this is really is a big issue in my world.  But seriously how much money are parents spending at the moment?

I saw this image on Super Mom and had to laugh (and cry a bit) as I think I had a very similar matric dress ….

I remembered this from Cat’s  Juggling Act of Life  Blog that she posted some time back –  and this makes me smile sort of lopsided every time I see it …. crikey, it is all sorts of wonderful … who knew you could get a dress, stockings and shoes to match that perfectly … GO CAT!!!

Promise to dig mine out – I need to get them scanned in as it was a bit before digital or CDs actually ……

The one where the cake saw it’s arse … bad parenting guide #453

While writing the earlier post I started rummaging through my head thinking about all the rash parenting decisions I made, and when I look back at them now I cringe.  No doubt one of my kids will be on a psychologist’s couch discussing the damage of my parenting choices and directly referring to this blog as evidence.

I am the first to out myself, so let me tell you this rather classic story of where I totally lose myself to the nagging of a 3-year-old.

I bought a chocolate cake and it was sitting on the counter.  We had one of those floating centre table numbers in the middle of our kitchen back then.

Connor is about three.  He sees the cake, and starts going on and on about how he wants some cake.  I explain that he can’t have cake now, but later after dinner he can have a slice.

Connor is like a terrier with a bone, and keeps going on and on about the cake.  I restate my case that he can have it later and he keeps nagging that he wants some cake now. Nothing makes me <further> insane that repeat conversations.  And this one is going on and on like Groundhog Day.

I recall standing and leaning on the counter and looking at him and thinking all sorts of profane thoughts about him, the cake, why I was in this situation, and how it was all Kennith’s fault.  This was 2005, everything was Kennith’s fault.  He did not actually even have to be home (which incidentally he was not much) for it to be his fault.

I am standing there, looking at Connor, looking at the cake and Connor is whining and I am pretty much at the end of where ever my really short tether is.

I look at him.  I look at the cake.

I pick the cake up … I take two steps, I open the kitchen window and I throw cake, container and plate out the window. Right out the window.  I close the window and walk back over to the table, rather nonchalantly.

Connor goes in to immediate shock, and his eyes are huge.  I look at him and go: “Okay the cake is now gone, is there anything you would like to ask for?”

Needless to say, the cake discussion had come to an aprubt end.

I was not proud of myself – but I was at that point where I would have given anything for the constant whining about the frkn cake to stop.

From that moment onwards I was able to use the phrase of “Please, ask for that one more time and I promise you it is going out the window!”

{On a later occassion I did eject a toy out of the car window whilst driving on the N1.  Connor and Georgia were fighting about the toy and they did not want to stop.  I said “Okay pass the toy here…” and then it got left on the N1 somewhere … not a great advert for not littering …}

“To Smack or Not to Smack” … that old onion

I will confess that when I started this business of parenting, I was under the impression that discipline meant a smack.

A smack would teach you that the consequences of your action/inaction would lead to discomfort and that might give you pause for concern next time you were in the same/similar situation.

A smack is not meant to be hitting a child until they are bleeding or bruised or fading in and out of consciousness.  A smack is a swift movement of your hand that is aimed at your child’s rump.  With the idea that it sends the message : “Hey bum, ears are not working.  Maybe bum can send a message to ears to say hey ears, wake the fk up!”

Seemed simple enough in principle.

Before Connor I had never really been around children.  I was the youngest in my family, the youngest in my wider family circle, and for some reason just never really came in to contact with children.

When I did I realised that they were a constant source of embarrassment.  I would ask a question and people would laugh at me.

Connor was the first baby I held for any significant length of time.  I thought that babies (like puppies) were born with their eyelids sealed.  So more novice you could not get.

I think the reality of most of us going from adults into parents is that we mimic our own upbringing.  Monkey see, monkey do stuff!

I was especially harsh with Connor, and was quick to punish (snap upbringing).

I did not want to be “those” people who are ostracised from society/public/friends because their child is a brat, or cries over nothing, or does anything that might remove from the joy of social occasions for people who do not have children.

I did not want to be stuck at home forever just because “we had a child” I wanted to continue what we usually did, within reason.  And Connor’s end of the bargain required him to behave according our rather rigid rules.  Poor guy!

Shame, I do pity the first child with Learner Parents.  Learner Parents cannot but fk up in the name of “I thought I was doing the right thing” – how else are they going to learn?  Been there, done that!

I recognise now that we were much too harsh, and especially with a child like Connor – who used to burst in to tears if you spoke in an angry tone to him.

By the time Georgia came along I must confess we had learnt a little (though not terribly much) but we were much gentler (and better) parents.  I still didn’t have much other options other than “I am counting to three, if I get there and you have not done/have not stopped doing what I asked you to do then you will get a hiding!”

Two problems with this system.

You have to do something if you get to three.  If you get to three and then warn again, and just do not do what you threatened/warned then your child is going to know that they have the upper hand, and they will know that they will able to always push you and you will cave.

The other issue is that you leave very few options as discipline if you are resort to a smack as a first measure.

At the time that was really all I knew.

In 1996 I went to the UK to visit my brother Bruce.  Him and his wife had been talking about Super Nanny and I bought a book and watched her show.  I was amazed at the “other techniques” I just did not realise existed that did not have a smack as the option.

I felt sick to my stomach that we had failed as parents and had been so harsh with Connor.  I recall standing in the bookstore in Glasgow and skimming through the Super Nanny book and feeling like I had been such a terrible parent.

I did not return a reformed from the UK a”non smacker.”  I still did not rule out a smack, but it got shifted to a “real point of last resort” when we felt we had exhausted every other method within reason.

I think we are still pretty strict parents, but that being said I think we have definitely mellowed from the first few years of Connor.  If I went back I would probably do it differently, but that would be because now I have plus eleven years of parenting under my belt, and woudl look at a situation totally differntly.

In some ways I definitely let somethings just roll on past and I do not make a fuss, but with other things I think I am still “I vant to year vun klik or else!”

I am definitely not an advocate against smacking children, and at the same time would not suggest it as the only course of action.  I am still a bit on the fence on it – presently we smack as a last/final/no other option — and it is very seldom.

I don’t think good parents are born — they are created with the shifts of experience and learning.

We do what we can with what we have got.  But for a me a good parent realises that what is right today, may not be right tomorrow and they realise that parenting is not an absolute point – it is a point of departure and we all learn a bit more each day.  From others, from ourselves and from our kids.

Remembered some rather important information …

After Isabelle’s “your child is beating up other children” note from school I will confess to feeling that familiar wave of panic that swept over me, telling me the best course of action was ANY ACTION.

I am sure the school meant it only as a progress report, but that is not what I am read I am afraid.

I used google, found a speech therapist and made an appointment – tick done!

I don’t mind running up a ladder sometimes, as I feel useful as long as I am moving.  I have found in my furor to get going I sometimes do not check the ladder before starting, only to realise it has been against the wrong wall all the time.

So I am still running.  I decided to take a wee step back just to ensure the direction of where I am already galloping!

I read comments on my earlier post and I realised I was being hasty.  No, she does need speech therapy assessments – REALLY – but I was using the first therapist that google vomited up.

There was no way to establish (for me) whether it was a reputable practice or whether speech therapy person was qualified and experienced enough to handle what I was about to present her with.

I think thanks to Nikki Heyman who gave me a “just stop and think” moment.  Once I calmed down, drank a cup of tea and shoved a bag of Chuckles (which are ON SALE at Woolworths by the way),  I realised that there was a Speech Therapist and an OT at my older kid’s schools.

Both my kids have used their services since pre-primary, and I have been happy with the assessment, and the progress the kids made.

So I cancelled the “made in a hurry” appointment and I have booked Isabelle first into an auditory test first, and then a few days later into a speech therapy assessment at a practice I am familiar with.

I am almost sure that her speech issue is not related to her hearing – but as I am starting from ground zero, it is better to go in and ensure that everything is where it is meant to be before we start trying to figure out where the symptoms are coming from, and take it from there.

Contributing factors I might not have mentioned:

1.  All my kids have spoken late – though granted not this late.

2.  Isabelle also sucks her thumb which is probably not a helluva help to the speaking thing.

3.  I stuttered as a child and had speech therapy.

4.   First mistake of speech therapy – sending your English child to an Afrikaans speech therapist (please remember this was circa 1977/8) so I came out of that speech therapy rolling my r’s and with a more guttural tone to some of my words.  My mom and grandmother nearly shat themselves, and I was hastly sent back to another teacher to try to fix that little problem. Everyone was so busy trying to make me not speak like someone from the Boland, they forgot to notice I lisp my “sssss” which is unfortunately considering my name, and the result is that I often have to say my name 2 or 3 times for someone to hear it correctly.

The worst I have even been called is Chester!

 

{Kennith took this photograph of Isabelle im December ….. one of my favourites, gets her forehead with the worry frown on it perfectly}