Maybe my child has a hearing issue …. {breath in … breath out … try not to panic}

I had an audiologist appointment with Isabelle today. If you have never been to an audiologist (with a child) basically you get put into a 3 x 3 x 1.5 metre room that is sound proof.  Audiologist sits in front of the room (front of the room has a glass window) she has speakers in the room which she controls.

Sounds are emitted from the speakers and based on your child’s reaction she assesses whether your child has normal, or below normal hearing.   I assumed the last bit, I actually have no idea how it works, but there is a monkey with a tambourine in one corner and a duck with a trumpet … I think that if these items are part of your standard work-tools, well that commands a certain level of respect right there.

To say it did not go well, does not quite hint at the extent of it.  I figured that if she was going to use an interesting sound like “white noise” well what do you expect.  Isabelle showed little to no reaction to the sound – even when it was loud enough to make me wince.

She was totally absorbed in her building-blocks game, and the fact that there was noise blaring out of the speakers on either side of her head, showed little in the way of interest for her.

She did react when the audiologist put through sounds that she created “b – b -b – b – b ….. ” and “d -d – d- d ….” and then went back to her blocks, not really interested/reacting to the other sounds.

Audiologist was not exactly brimming confidence, and asked if we would not mind going to see an ENT. Today.  She miraculously she got us an appointment.  I looked at the sheet she sent with us, and I really cannot fathom much, but there are little marks on a grid/graph and then a dotted line which I assume is the “normal/ideal” range, and Isabelle appears to be miles away from it on the graph.

ENT guy said, hmmmm, and again not in a “hey, yippeeee” kind of tone, more in a “okkkkkaaaaay, this is not ideal” sort of way.  He said there was a build up of wax deep in her ear canal, which he removed with the aid of something not dissimilar to a crochet hook. Isabelle was calm and did not flinch, so I was hoping her good behaviour got her some points.

He relooked and he said that there is thick liquid trapped behind her ear drum, and that more than likely this is causing the poor hearing, and may be the cause of her inability to communicate, as she cannot hear.

I tried to explain that maybe it was because Isabelle has been a bit off for the last week, and her nose is runny and maybe that is it.

Dr ENT tried to explain that sure it might be, but unless I have had her hearing tested there is no way to know whether the fluid has been there a week or for a year.  I had never had her hearing tested – even as a newborn.

Dr ENT said that we could go one of two options.  1.  Treat with Cortisone, and reassess in 6 weeks to see if the fluid has drained.  2.  Make an appointment and fit grommits.

I commented that I thought grommits were a bit invasive for a child who has never been to a paed, let alone an ENT.  Isabelle is +3 and she has probably had two courses of antibiotics in her life, one of those I requested as a preventative response.

Crikey, general anaesthetic to fit grommits, which might, assuming it does not go well, leave scar tissue on her ear drum membrane which in itself could lead to hearing loss. Grommits which may in their design cause ENT issues that we have never had before.

I am one who is usually reluctant to follow main stream medicine and doctor recommendations, but this one came out of left field.  We discussed pro’s and con’s and I sat there feeling that his recommendation was to go with grommits.  His logic was why waste more time where she can’t hear – go in, sort it out and then look at the results.

I opted to go with the Cortisone, and to wait 6 weeks and then retest and see where we are.  I have nothing against grommits, really I think they are the answer to kids with ENT issues – Connor was an ENT child, and we had 3 sets fitted.

But the entire thing just felt a bit jarring as a first step option.

So the short answer is, yes, Isabelle is no hearing at the correct level.  Is it the reason her speech is so far behind/lagging, I am not sure.

I have a speech assessment appointment next week, I have booked a follow up with ENT guy for the first week of September.  I will book a retest with the audiologist after ENT guy has taken a look.

If the fluid has not drained then the only option is to go straight to grommits.

I realise grommits are really pedestrian, everyone and their neighbour’s dog has them, but the idea of subjecting Isabelle to any surgery, unless I am 100% convinced there is no other option, then I would like to hold back a while and think about it a bit.

{PS: I do kick myself that I did not do a hearing test as a routine thing when she was 2 years old!!!  I feel this was a huge over sight on my part and had I had it checked out then, we may well be quite a few giant steps ahead than where we are right now.  Don’t you just heart mother guilt? Like with wreckless abandone.}

Leaky fish tank and other emergencies ….

Me sitting re-editing 400 images I already edited, but made a photoshop 101 error on, so I am sitting and redoing the editing, and not exactly loving every moment.  Editing once is fine, editting the same thing again because you are a tosser, really is somewhat unsatisfactory.

Phone rings.

Me: “Hello….”

Little voice: “Hello Mommy…”

Me: “Hi Connor, what’s up my boy…?”

Connor: “Mom, are you busy?”

Me: “Er, a little bit, what’s up Connor?”

Connor: “My fishing tank in my class has a leak, can you go to the pet shop and buy another one, and bring it to school now?”

Me: “errr…..”

Connor: “Please Mommy….. please …….”

Me – wondering how to argue with the fact that he knows I am not working.  He knows I am at home, he has a fish tank leak, which I can offer little in the way of advise for. Can I actually say NO when he is obviously speaking on his teacher’s cell phone with her and all the kids listening?

The short answer is I went to buy a fish tank, a cover and some pebbles and delivered it to Connor’s school within 45 minutes of his call.

So that gets me a Mommy of the Week Award.

The part where I lose it, is that I had his teacher’s name wrong (not slightly, totally wrong).  So could not find her class (as I had never attended a teacher-parent meeting clearly).

Fortunately only managed to find Connor’s class because he was standing at the front of the class and I was looking through the little glass window in the class room door.

School mornings and misplaced school bags …..

Arrive at school with kids this morning – kids bale out, Connor grabs his school bag and says the usual “love you mommy, bye”

I look at Georgia and she is looking into the car and there is no school bag.

I look at her, I look at the empty car and ask “Georgia, where is your school bag?”

Georgia: “er, I think I left it in the tv room….”

Me = sighs heavily and looks at her with the exasperation I often am confronted with when dealing with Georgia and her inability to “just get with the programme.”

The school bell rings, and the kids go off to class.  Georgia sans bag, and with a total lack of concern that has forgotten her school bag at home.

<bearing in mind she is wearing the wrong school shoes as she forgot her proper school shoes at school yesterday, so the ones she has on are too small ….>

I stand and wonder if I should just leave her bag at home to teach her a valuable lesson about “remembering things” and then I think of the teacher’s face as Georgia tells her she has left her bag at home, and I am shamed in to going back to fetch it and take it back to her.

I go home and there is her bag – standing in the middle of the kitchen.  Just to further set the scene, I have had Isabelle going bezerk in the backseat as I did not take the turn to her school when I usually do, so she has been screaming in the back seat as she thought she was not going to be going to school.  And because she was screaming so much she could not hear me trying to explain to her that I am just going via home and then will take her to school.

I am quite looking forward to my kids going to boarding school so these problems are no longer my problem.  {sigh}

When the talking never stops ….

Georgia can talk the hindlegs of a donkey.

The donkey will willingly give up his hindlegs in the hope that she will stop.  I often hope I could be a donkey when she starts talking, just so I could walk off and go and eat grass or something.

Driving home yesterday, Georgia started the story based on the fact that her plaster had come off her knee.  She wanted to keep the old plaster, get a cardboard box, paint the plaster and turn into into grass, and cut out a tree, and make a house …… and…blah blah … blah …. cow and ……and…blah blah … blah …. another house and…blah blah … blah …. princess….. and…blah blah … blah …. and it went on and on and on …….

I had no idea that an old tattered plaster had this much story in it.

Eventually, after the blood started seeping out my ears I said: Georgia, Georgia, Georgia ……GEORGIA! When do you stop talking …. for goodness sake, you have not stopped since I put you in this car …… when do you stop?

Georgia: When my story is finished ………. and then I will get a box and cut out a tree  and…blah blah … blah ….

Driving kids back from school ….

I have lamented this subject before — not too long ago, but cheese and rice seriously I cannot be the only parent who feels that this is really the short end of the stick.  This is the stimoral that gets stuck in the pubic hairs shit end of the deal.

I collect the kids from school most days.

Most days I get about 2 minutes into the drive home with them, and then I already start wondering if I drove headlong in to traffic, could I die, but they live?  I do not necessarily want to off them, but sure as shit I want to make it a sure thing that I do not want to spend an hour inside a car’s interior with three kids screaming.

Today’s things to fight about – included, but were not limited to:

1. Isabelle found easter eggs in her bag and ate them.

2.  Georgia started screaming because she wanted easter eggs and there were none in her bag.

3.  Isabelle threw the foil paper on the floor, I screamed at her, she screamed at me – she won.

4.  Georgia was upset that her flip-flop had ended up between Isabelle and Isabelle’s car door – and wanted me to get it back.  How the shoe got from Georgia’s foot to the other side of the car is a mystery.  I was attempting to navigate through peak hour traffic, so was somewhat distracted.  Georgia screamed she wanted her shoe back, Isabelle screamed as she did not want Georgia’s shoe on her side of the car.

5.  Connor sniffed incessantly.  I passed him a tissue.

6.  Georgia explained to me that she no longer wanted sandwiches for school, she wanted other snacks – I explained to her that she needed to take this issue up with her father as he was now stocking the “goody cupboard.”

7.  Connor explained he had a headached and continued to sniff.

8.  Georgia asked if we could stop dinner half way and then give her medicine, and then continue to eat supper.

9.  Isabelle was holding up her spare pair of khaki shorts, which I packed in her school bag, and screaming at me.  I have no idea why, but she was screaming, and I kept yelling back YES, YES, YES, and still am unclear what it is that she wanted to show me.

10. Connor asked me if I had anything to drink in the car, he was hot and thirsty.  I explained my bar fridge had not been fitted as yet, but I was making a plan as we spoke.

11.  Georgia was complaining she could not open the window and it was Connor’s fault.  Connor was feigning innocence – LOUDLY.

12.  I think that Isabelle was trying to show me the butterfly embroidery on her khaki shorts – I started to scream BUTTERFLIES YES, BUTTERFLIES YES ….. I am not sure exactly what it was that I was meant to be saying.

The thing is that the car drive with the kids finishes me off –  like totally fucking kills me.

I pick them up and always plan “this day will be different” but before I have safely navigated out the school gates it all starts, and then I totally lose the plot.

I know there is a law against using cell phones whilst driving, but clearly who ever made that law has not been a mother in a car full of children.  Trust me, talking on a cell phone would be the least of my problems, if only the kids would be quiet long enough so I could hear what the person was saying on the other end.

FML!

Checking your backseat ….

Several years ago (2006 if I remember correctly) there was a particular horrific incident where a professor, Dr Andrew Wilkinson, had his infant son (17 months old) in the back of his car, and forgot to drop him off at school.  The child had fallen asleep and was quiet, so the father did not hear him.

Normally the child would go to his grandparents, but this particular day Dr Wilkinson was meant to drop the child off at creche – it was a different routine, and whilst he was driving to work, he slipped into “routine gear….”  {I am doing this on memory, so I may be a bit off with the details}

On arriving at the university, he locked the car, and went to work as he usually did, not realising his son was still in the car.    It was unfortunately a hot day – around 26 degrees, and the temperature inside the car would have climbed to between 40 – 50 degrees.  The car was parked outside in a parking lot at the university.

It was a terrible story, with a tragic outcome.

I remember the incident clearly and probably think of that professor, that infant and the mother who had to bear that news, probably once a week.

It made me realise how often we slip in to “routine” and stop thinking about what we are doing.

You drive the same route to work, you park in the same spot, you follow the same procedure when you lock up and grab your stuff to dash to the office.

I have often been driving to one place, and then “wake up” at a point and realise I was driving to another, as I was doing my normal routine, and my mind had switched off.

We all do it …. fortunately we do not all have the tragic outcome.

Because of 1996, I check my car EVERY day in case I have forgotten a child in the backseat.   I actually double-check every day.

When I leave my kid’s schools I glance in the backseat to make sure they are not there.  I do not glance in the mirror, I actually swivel my head around and look at each of their seats.

When I get home to work, I consciously look around to check again that they are not in the backseat, and I have not noticed.   I mentally take note, and mentally take a quick tally.  Kids: 0 – check!

A simple oversight resulted in the worst possible outcome, and left a family hurt, scarred, distraught and a little boy dead.

I really am not in the mind of “good things have come out of that incident” as I feel the price paid was too much for what ever “good” might have come out of it.

I wonder how many other people were effected by that story, and how many other parents now “double-check” just to be sure that they have not left a child in the backseat.

I cannot imagine how that family was effected – I am not sure I could recover from that – I am glad the media appear to have left them in peace.

 

 

When the teacher calls ….

I am wondering how many times I need to reiterate this issue.

If my phone rings and I see that it is my children’s teacher/nanny/carer I die a little.   My heart races, my breathing gets shallow, I start to picture the worst possible scenario.  Usually involving one (or all) of my children, blood and possibly a paramedic.

I visualise kids floating face down in pools, television sets that have fallen on my kids, my kids abducted by someone, my children dead on a play ground.

I never.NEVER.never think this is a friendly how-do-you-do call.  Why do teachers/carers not get this?

I had just trained Pepe to start any conversation, should she phone me with “Isabelle is fine, no one is hurt …..” and then she can say pretty much anything after that.

Yesterday Connor’s aftercare phones.  They can’t reach me, they phones Kennith.

They open with: “Are you Connor’s father?”

Kennith: “Yes…”

School: “Your son has been involved in an accident at school, and hurt his neck…”

And then they stop talking — you know, to allow some time for the message to sink in.

This allows sufficient time for your mind to infuse with every paranoid thought it has ever had.  Your nerves bristle, your body floods with adrenaline and fear, and your bowels loosen.

As it turns out, Connor had tripped over a pipe, he had fallen off a step, and his neck had taken the full brunt of his full body weight.  Somehow his head had managed to fold itself into his chest so his neck could whack the tar with his full body weight and the momentum of his running.

It could have been very serious, fortunately it was not.

When I fetched Connor, he had a few scratches and I could see as soon as I was able to talk to him, that his neck was sore, but it was not serious or something that dinner and bowl of ice cream would not cure.  He was sitting, conscious and clearly had not sustained a serious injury.

Would have been fabulous had the school communicated that on the phone.

Do you know what it is like to drive to your kid’s school after a call of  “your child has hurt their neck, I think you should come….” ?

If you are a teacher or at any stage responsible for caring for a person’s child – please, as soon as the person answers open with: “Hello Kate/Bill/Mrs XYZ, your child is fine – there is no blood, no one is hurt, no one is dead, your child is fine.  I am looking at him/her, she/he is smiling and happily colouring in …. everything is fine … really… calm down … breath, breath, breath ….. okay?  Again nothing is wrong, Connor/Georgia/Isabelle is fine ….. brilliant in fact.  You okay?  Good.  Okay, the reason I am calling is that we would love you to sell hotdogs at the fete, can you do a shift from 1 – 3pm?”

Do teachers actually know what they do to parents with these calls?

When your kids are not mainstream kids …

I had a conversation with my friend Karen that reminded me of an issue I have with regards to Georgia and her fitting in to a main stream school situation.

Georgia is a “creative” children – not in the way that she does glorious pieces of art, but just that her mind does not function along the set paths – she struggles to follow “main stream” rules and she likes to talk about Smurfs as if they REALLY do exist.

Connor is a main stream child.  He likes rules.  He likes set parameters.  He likes you to give him clear boundaries and off he will go.  He is creative and a content soul, but he like his world to be presented to him clearly – and then he is happy to conform – thrilled in actual fact.

Georgia likes to run around with a bucket on her head!

Georgia is not naughty or disobedient, though she often makes me want to hit my head against a brick wall – repeatedly – because she does not “listen” to me.

She just functions in her own little world.

She cannot be “punished” in the established manner.  If you gave her a hiding, she would be traumatized, but would be doing the thing you just told her not to do in three minutes time with no clue as to why you appear somewhat exasperated!

You can give her time out, but she will make up a little game in her head, and you will come back in the room, she may still be on the chair, but she is far away as the lead character in her little fairy story she has made up.

Georgia is not really aware of what you are doing, as it has very little to do with what is going on in her world.  The result is that you being happy/sad/annoyed, has little or no effect on her.  Whether I speak to her nicely or I scream the instruction, it has absolutely no effect on whether she is going to follow the instruction and the speed at which she reacts, or does not.

You can take tv/dessert/nintendo or what ever away from her – she really does not mind.

At the moment she has three big loves in her life.

1.  Her doll named Chocolate.  Who is not a doll, but her daughter.  I need to be on the look out for a plastic dark chocolate coloured boy who may be the father,

2.  Her Smurfs.  She is obsessed with her smurfs and plays hugely involved games with the figurines for hours.

3  Her bedroom door has to be closed – she cannot function if her door is not closed, whether she is in the room or not, if her door is opened and she is in the kitchen and hears her door opening, she goes totally “ape sh@t” – to put not too blunt a term on it.

This year I have her in a government/main stream school.  I wanted to see “how it goes” as I was not convinced it was actually a feasible option for her.

So far she appears to be doing well, and really enjoying her class.

I got a call earlier today from her teacher to say that Georgia is doing really well, adjusted and paying attention in class ..  this was of course after I had a nervous breakdown when my caller ID’d the number …. teachers and schools should legally be compelled to start all conversations with parents as: “Your child is fine, no one is bleeding, no one is dead … your child is fine …. can I carry on or do you need to take a few deep breaths into a brown paper bag?”

I am really thrilled she is doing well – I will confess that I anticipated the worst.  She loves her teacher.  Loves her class. Loves her aftercare.   Really LOVES her day at school.

I can’t tell you the weight that lifted from me when I did some maths in the car with Georgia and she could do the maths (6 + 2 stuff, not how many oranges does the bus driver need if he drives from Transkei to Cape Town on 26 December?).

I know my child is a bit different, and at the same time I am glad I did not need to implement “extreme” measures and she seems to be adapting well (for now)

Maybe when her teacher asks all the children to make clay snakes, and Georgia decides that she does not want to make a clay snake, and will instead make a clay butterfly – and point back refuses to make a clay snake, then maybe we can have another discussion.

I do think though that the majority of people my age come from a school system where we all “made the clay snake when instructed” and did not question the motives of the teacher or the system.

We did we were instructed en-masse and then just hoped we would pass and not get detention.

I do feel teachers and doctors are quick to suggest Ritalin as a way to “control individuals or have them conform.”

I am not really for or against Ritalin (actually I am more against….)  I have not read enough on the subject to have an informed opinion.  My opinion is shaped by the “hysterical” media reports I have read, so that is hardly a balanced opinion – but medicating a child to make it easier for the teacher to control the group does have some inherent problems.

I am not sure of how the future will be for Georgia.  I am not sure if it will include clay snakes, butterflies and smurfs, but I do want her to stay as “wacky and bizarre” as she is … I would also like her to listen to me, but I am sensing there may be easier things to wish for.

If it means finding a school or a school system that caters for her “specialness” at a later stage, well then I will cross that bridge when I get there.

I would like my daughter to get the best out of her schooling, but I do not want her schooling to break her to mould and shape her.  I’d like my daughter to be left in tact to dream about fairies and smurfs, and magic… sans-medication!

Am I the only one wanting to run away from this year?

What the hell happened?  No seriously, what the hell happened to this year.

It is the first week of February and I feel like I have already been beaten by a rather larger, heavy and wet stick.

I am totally stuffed, and it is only the first week of February.  I have already suggested that I need a (several) weekends off, away from the kids – I just want to eat, read, drink tea, and sleep, and then repeat cycle, until I do not want to do any of the above.

I do not feel well rested.  I do not feel like I have built up sufficient resources to get through this stupid year.

The idea that I need to get through 10 months of this year before it is the “end” paralyses me with fear.

I do not have the resources to survive this year based on where I am and that I still need to cover a few dozen school books, do school projects that are given to me in the last minute, clean up dog poo as the stupid dog refuses to be house trained, probably go through the entire recruitment exercise to locate a new Pepe, make decisions about whether to eat a McMuffin or drink Herbalife every morning – for the record McMuffin has pretty much won hands down this week, and the rest of the stuff that life has to offer.

I am totally frayed and exhausted and have zero emotional cushion for this year ahead.

It is the first week of February, and I seriously cannot do an hour a day of driving kids to and from school, with them fighting and bitching and arguing.

I seriously cannot get through another hour trapped inside my car, with three kids fighting about who is looking out their window or who is touching who.

You know when you grab the steering wheel, and your knuckles go white and inside your head you are convinced you have burst an artery.  I am already at that point, and it is February.

I am actually trying to brace myself at the moment for the drive home with kids, I really really cannot do it today.

The next person who tells me to “savour every moment” is going to get a slap.  through the face. with a rusty spade.

On a related topic.

It is the first week of February, and I miss Aden Thomas on 567 more than I can say.

I listen to 567 Cape Talk when I drive the kids around.  I really am not a fan of loud incessant music, so the chatter of good folk, warms and often calms my soul.  I like to hear adults talk about adult things, in a fairly intellectual manner, and open subjects up to debate.  I learn something most days listening to Cape Talk.

This year I am stuck with Kieno Kammies.

Oh gawd, it has all gone so horribly wrong, and so quickly – I barely had a chance to regroup.  One minute I was happily listening to CapeTalk and bracing myself for the day, next thing I was wondering if I would have to find another radio station.

I love 567 Cape Talk.

Or I used to love 567 Cape Talk.

Now I am feeling somewhat betrayed that I am having to suffer the village idiot in the morning.

Could I not have Redi at 6 – 9am and who ever wants to listen from 9 take Kieno. Actually if Kieno went on from 13h00 – 15h00 there would be less of a chance that I hear his voice.  Africa, could I interest you in an early morning slot?

I feel more passionately about this than the referendum from 1994 or what ever.  I would so stand in a queue on this issue.

I would swap, good grief, I would so swap him right now.  If I had the power, I would push the copy and paste button and switch their schedules.

Aden Thomas used to ease me into my morning, and he was the calm in my morning drop off mania – he was the calm voice of reason – I chuckled with him, and sometimes I disagreed with him, but I still liked to listen to him

Now I have Kieno who makes me want to stop the car.  Dig in the boot to find my kid’s school bag.  Rummage through it for their stationery bag, then find an HB pencil and STAB MYSELF IN THE EAR.

I am almost sure a ruptured ear drum would be less painful than Kieno Kammies.

This morning I turned off the radio at a certain point as I could no longer bear him.

I ask you with tears in my blue eyes – karma what the fk are you doing to me?  What am I left with in the morning?

Screaming, arguing kids … that is what!!!!

Aden please come back.  Can we send Kieno where ever it is that you went, and leave him there?

I cannot do this year already.  I know I can’t do it with Kieno Kammies … when life hands you lemons, find an annoying kid with a paper cut!!

The lament of the reluctant mother with school going kids ….

The last two weeks are the mania that all parents face in January.

The happiness that school has finally started and that you have survived the school holidays.  The reality of handing large sums of money over to school outfitters and stationery store.

Can you say “how fast can my Xmas bonus disappear?”

There is a certain joy as you hand your child over to the teacher and think “thank goodness, that gets me at least 5 – 6 hours a day where my child can whine at someone else…” You try not to punch the air in happiness as you skip out of the classroom.  You wave good-bye to your offspring – or just run out and not wave good-bye.

Sometimes you are able to hold back until you get to the car, and then you can scream whoop-du-fkn-whoop at the top of your lungs.

Again, this might only occur in my neck of the woods, your reality may be far different.

I do not think that school teachers are being paid enough.  I have no idea what they are paid.  But what ever it is, they are not being paid enough. If they were being paid more, we may have negotiating power to insist they only take the mandatory 15 working days holiday a year.

When I was at school, we had to fill in a form in standard 8 about what you wanted to be when I grew up.

I filled in “school teacher” as I thought “winner, I love school holidays…and how difficult could it be?” My career counsellor looked at me and said “But you hate kids ….” and I agree that this detal may well be the flaw in my rather fantastic plan.  Instead I wrote “vet”.

This December/Jaunuary I was seriously considering offing myself with a bottle of wine, and car exhaust fumes if school holidays carried on for much longer.

At one point Kennith looked at me and said: “I am really tired of doing things with the kids ….”  I wish I could pass a reply in judgement, but the reality is I had already had the thought two weeks ago, and just been chewing the inside of my lip in the hope I could just survive until the 11 January.

This year Connor headed to Grade 4, and Georgia started Grade 1.

Georgia was dead excited about being in big school.  She only showed a mild annoyance with me that I deemed to hang around in her class while I looked on to see she was settled in. She wanted me to bugger off and leave her so that she could do some serious colouring in.

Her first week has gone off swimmingly, and she is as happy as a bat in guano.  I am already drowning in the deluge of school notes and co-ordinating her extra-mural schedule.

Isabelle started her first day of school today.

I was a bit blasé about the entire thing.  You know, what with being an old hand at this and all.  Love them and drop them.

Isabelle is so supremely confident that I thought I might just send her to school with the bus and enough money to get home.

I realised that judging by the other moms and their super kean keanness around open day, I should probably arrive in person for the first day.  I diligently went along and did the “first day thing” with the drop off, her sleeping mattress and her funky pink school bag, and packing all her stuff in the right place.

Unfortunately it ended it as all “first days do” with her clinging to my leg, screaming like her limbs were being removed, and the teacher nodding at me that it was okay to leave.  Me looking rather forlorn as my off-spring screamed and the tears ran down her flushed pink cheeks.

I did not so much punch the air as I got into the car, as let out a rather sad sigh and wished it had gone better.  I already regretted that we had reached this milestone so quickly – remember when she was born, it was just the other day.

I feel a bit guilty now about judging new moms so harshly that they want to sms the teacher during the day, and start fretting about Junior.

It is all I can do to not call the school to check on Isabelle … I am sure she is fine … or at least I really hope so.

First day of school pictures – trying to get that “thing” that is each child, and I think I have got it in each of these little montages/collages.

<<Connor – January 2012>>

<<Georgia – January 2012>>

<<Isabelle – January 2012>>

Please hand me that parenting book … so I can hit my child over the head with it ….

This year I wanted to do it differently with Connor.

Last year (and the previous two) were filled with me being handed last-minute notes and requests to supply two dozen cupcakes or build a RDP model home which includes statues of goats. <True story!>

I really was pulling my hair out and it constantly was putting me on the back foot.  My anxiety levels really does not need this last minute injection of adrenaline.

Connor gets a note or an instruction from school, throws it into his bag, and then remembers to give it to me on the way to school of the day that the item is needed, or the night before at around 8pm.

It happens regularly.  Often my mornings include dropping off at school, high tailing it to a store to buy something, then sticking it together in my car, and dropping it off at Connor’s school’s reception so it can get to his class by 08h30.

I have used the principle of “if he does not give it to me, he will not get it, but then he will suffer and learn his lesson…” sadly the principle is better than the application.  What happens is he does not arrive at school and then gets excluded and I feel sh*t as I feel I have somehow failed him.

This year he is in grade 4 and I thought, okay, this is the year we get organised.  We get out sh8t together.  Yes we do.  Can I get a halleluja?

He needs to start taking responsibility for his things.  He needs to start doing things himself, without his mommy running around for him.

Seriously, this is the year!

My kids have few chores – really, there is always someone/me doing it for them.

They drop their towels on the floor, they forget to flush, they drop their clothes maybe near the wash basket, they leave toothpaste all over the basin, and so on.  I generally haul them in when I want them to help out with something, but in short they have few “you must do this every day” responsibilities.

The one I have tried to install is.  Get home from school, unpack your bag, give notes or messages to me/mom, and put your lunchbox and cool drink bottle in the kitchen in the wash up area, and then go off and do what ever it is you want to do.

You go and play or watch tv or set the cat on fire.  But do these things first.

My kids remember to do this maybe two days a week, and it does my head in.  I walk in their rooms, they are swimming/watching tv/playing and I see their school bags, dropped in the middle of their bedroom floors, nothing has been done, school clothes strewn all over the room, lunch boxes, juiced bottles and scraps still inside their school bag.

I go in and check every day, and three days out of five I am unpacking their bags, and putting their lunch boxes in the wash area, and finding shoes to put them together.

This year, I decided to start off with a very clear instruction and a punishment if not done.  I do not want to start it with Georgia doing it as well, and then I am sitting with two kids bags I am unpacking.

Later for that!

Unpack your bag every day, on the day I see that it is not done it is no tv/DS/computer/electronic anything for that day.  Solution = immediate punishment which I hope will teach a lesson and not repeat the bad behaviour.

Last night – Sunday night – after 19h30 Connor goes: “Mom I hope you won’t be cross with me” –  which generally means, yes, I am really going to be really angry now.

He produces 14 school books that need to be colour coded and covered for school on Monday morning.

It is Sunday 19h30.

I am so ready for a cup of tea and a catch up episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I can taste it.  I have been counting the minutes til 19h30 since about 17h00 as I knew kids would be shuttled off to bed and I could go and lie in bed, with my cup of tea and the visual flashes of Greys, as I doze off to sleep.

Connor presenting me with 14 books to cover sort of put an end to that.

I was deliriously upset.  I was so angry that I pursed my lips and started shaking internally.  I could only respond by being quiet and centering my anger, because if it was left to run around the room, I am sure that we might be one child shorter at the end of the evening.

Kennith covered the books in brown paper, and Connor stuck the front covers on, I then did the plastic covering.  We finished at about 10pm.  Fortunately we had plastic, brown paper, colour paper for colour coding and sellotape.

I thought that we had dealt with this issue, but it would seem that my “super nanny” stance on it was not working, as Connor had just done the thing I had asked him and reminded him for a week not to do.

I decidedthat Connor would lose tv/DS/computer privileges for this week until Friday.  Added to that he would lose fishing priveledges for the remainder of this month.

He sat there with his big blue eyes which started to film over. He looked down, closed his eyes and his lips started moving.

I paused as I covered “History Grade 4” and his eyes remained close and his lips were moving ten to the dozen.

Me: “Connor what are you doing?”

Connor: “I am counting so I don’t cry…”

Me: “Okay ……”

I felt shit, and I know the punishment was a bit harsh.  But I am very tired of the “last-minute” rush that I constantly seem to be doing.  I also cannot “run after him” – he is 10, he is in grade 4 and he does need to take some responsibility for his things.

But, I still feel shit.  This parenting malarkey is not all it is cracked up to be.

<<pictures from Connor’s first day of school this year>>

The politics of “parties at school” ….

I am dragging this tired old subject out of the cupboard again and re-airing it, so that maybe I can get some consensus on the issue. It is a bit of an awkward one to chat about to the “mommies in the parking lot” group.

In the beginning I got really excited about my kid’s (or kids’) birthdays.  Like psycho excited.

I wanted to throw a humdinger at home or at a venue.  I invited all the kids in the class.  Spent my pension fund money and threw a party that made my head spin. It would usually end with Kennith and I having a “moer” of an argument about two minutes before the guests walk through the door.  Ah the joy.

Most of the kids in Connor’s class would come along and kids in general would have a good time.

That is a party.

Connor changed schools in Grade R mid-year.  At his previous school I never experienced a “school party” – all parties were big things done on weekends.  But in the Boerewors triangle it appeared school parties were the norm.  (maybe it was an area thing, or maybe it was a sign of the times, I am not sure)

My kids are both in schools where “parties at schools” appear to be the way things are done.  Invite gets sent.  But it is not really an invite as there is no RSVP and the party is during school times, so is it a “real” party ?

The first year of “parties at school”, I sent presents for EVERYONE.  If I knew the kid, if I did not know the kid, what ever, I sent a present along.  Made sense, cost a bomb. (2 kids x 25 kids give or take each year …..)

I then decided to throw a “party at school” Connor (or Georgia or both – I can’t remember).  I had no mentor to explain how it worked.  I did invites, and party packs, and balloons and cake …. and a snake show … as you do.  I made almost as much effort for the “class party” as I would for a home party.

Let’s say there were 25 kids in the class.  I catered for each of them individually.  I asked each parent to RSVP so that I could make individual things for each child – most parents didn’t.  I still made individual thingss for each kid.

I noticed that Connor/Georgia probably received presents from 10 kids when it was their “class party…”  Yes, it is not about the presents, but it is a bit. Or that is just me.

The accepted rule of society is “you go to a party you take a present” it is just what is done.

I realised “school parties” are actually not “proper kids parties that appear to fit the norms that kid’s parties stick to…”.  They  fall into the cold hinterland of parties which are not quite parties… people do not rsvp, you do or don’t send a present, and as the party giver appear not to expect one … or do you …. so I am totally confused with the rules.

Georgia gets really upset when she brings me an invite for a “class party” –  she whines and yowls that I must send a present, and gets really upset.

I have started saying “Georgia it is not a real party, it is a party at school …. you do not have to bring a present and if I had a party at school for you, I would not expect presents …..”

I realise I might be standing in the firing line on this issue, but I am seriously over spending a fortune on presents and making an effort for birthday presents for “class parties….” when the entire concept confuses me.

I might be the minority and other moms might think class parties rock the daisies.  I think they are a great solution when you do not want to go through the effort/chaos/expense of a party … and is it the norm not to send presents, and realistically for the child (parents of the child) to not expect presents?

I have had several years of them, and I have still not quite “got the rules” …. maybe you can explain them to me, or you can just let me know what your thoughts are, and then we can see if there is a consensus.

The colour blue makes me …. well insane actually ….

Remember when you used to want your child to speak?   You would sit there expectantly and try to encourage them to say a word or make a sound?

Well, at some point that passes.  It does not pass in a pleasant way.  It passes like the thud of a dead body falling from the third floor.

One day whilst driving home from school with your brood, you realise that you would give anything for them just to shut the hell up – so you can get a chance to think.

You  consider opening the windows to allow too much brisk wind that will whip against their faces making it impossible for them to have enough air to form words.

You consider turning the radio up really loud.

You consider opening the door and throwing yourself into on-coming traffic.

You consider when will you be able to afford an au pair to make this trip on your behalf.

The constant chatter at the loudest setting soon stops being endearing.  It pushes you to the place where you start reconsidering why you took time off work to fetch them, and maybe next time will just leave them at school with bus fare to get home.

A 12 minute car drive home leaves you frazzled and shaking and wondering when is it too early to start on the wine.

Georgia has a serious case of verbal diarrhea.  I really wish I could tell you it is quite cute to hear her high-pitched little voice rattling off from the time I put my arse into the driver’s seat to the time I speed into the school car parking lot.

Really I wish I could.

This morning Georgia was talking – non-stop – from the time we left home, 07h35, until I dropped Connor off at school 07h52, until I dropped her off at her school 08h08 and she was telling me how much she liked the colour blue.

Nothing else.  Just how much she liked the colour blue.  You really need to like blue a whole lot to talk about it at that pace, pitch and with that much fervour.

I could have named all the blues in the pantone colour guide by then – but Georgia was still going hell-bent for leather about her liking of blue.

I fell out of the car, opened her door, and she was still telling me about the colour blue.  I kissed her good-bye, told her I loved her <I had to talk loud as she was still talking about blue ….> I aimed her to the school door, gave her a slight little shove to increase momentum ..and then I got back in my car.

She was still talking about the colour blue – or talking, I no longer could hear her.  Never have I been so thankful for a car window that rolls up to protect me from the elements.

And you wonder why I drink so much … FFS ….. I really wish I could tell you that today was the only day this occurs … trust me there will be something else tonight … it might even be a bit more on the colour blue ……

Pre-school .. eeny, meeny, miny, moe …

A few weeks back I lamented the fact that the pre-school I had in mind for Isabelle had rejected her and told me that they do not have space for her.

This pre-school is in the “oh my heavens” it’s a freaking fabulous pre-school category of play schools.

I have easily seen about thirty to sixty in my glorious years of being a parent to a pre-schooler.

I have seen some good ones and some crap ones. I seldom get to see great ones.  I often get to see ones that make me recoil, somewhat violently!

But this one was so great, I swooned.  I clapped my hands together like a seal waiting for a fish.  I filled in the application faster than they could say “fax it right over.”

I had seen it last year.  I filled in the application form last year. I faxed it last year.

I called immediately to ensure the principal had received it.

I called the next day just to check she had taken it from the fax machine and placed it on the top of her pile of children to admit to this school.

I then spent much of my airtime phoning the principal, L,  to remind her that I had filled in an application form, and that I was really keen.  I was available to drop Isabelle off any day, any time, how about now?

I called her in the morning, the afternoon and sometimes in the early evening.

I could not sms me or email her as she refused to give me either of these numbers.  Strange that.

The principal suggested I phone around June/July this year to see if there might be a spot for January 2012.

When other moms bemoaned the fact that they were struggling with pre-school, I put a look of disdain on my face.  I sniffed and indicated that I did not struggle with this sort of thing – as Isabelle was going to the best pre-school in the universe. It was all because I had done my homework and enrolled her early.

A tad on the smug self-righteous side, I am afraid.

June came and went. July came and went, and my harassment of the principal did not stop.  I did not have a letter of acceptance, and I was getting desperate.

Short story.  There was no place for Isabelle.  I was mortified.  I was horrified.  I felt rejected.  I started to get angry.  I started to get anxious that if I did not find her a school who could potty train her, she might be on nappies until grade 8!

Lisa-Marie came to my rescue and told me about another school, not close to home, but close to work.

I went to take a look. Nice school.  Not as great as my initial choice, but pretty good and I was relieved.

This time I was (more) aggressive with my application.  Isabelle needs to be at a place that can get her to say Mommy and colour-in without her tongue sticking out.

Accepted, tick — relief ……

<< I did however feel very disappointed that I did not get into the first school. I even drove past the school two more times and looked out the window in a longing fashion.  Can you say stalker?>>

This morning, L, the principal called me from the ‘first” school.  Unfortunately a mom is moving and taking her child out of the school << Can you say Yippee for Skippy?>>

Though L has several boys on her waiting list, she would like a girl to replace the child leaving – to balance out the numbers.  Does Isabelle want to join the school?

I must confess that I think I started to whimper on the phone.  Then I gushed, then I got a bit giddy.

It was so intoxicating to be wanted by my favourite pre-school.  Of course I have totally blown in out of proportion, because now they were pursuing me!!

I said “yes, yes, oh lordy, yes!” and then I think I sniffed back a tear.  I really did say a batch of inappropriate things to the principal expressing my happiness and excitement – I might have stepped over the imaginary boundary between prospective-parent-and-prospective-principal.

L said she would send me all the information via post and Isabelle was welcome to join them in January 2012.

<< I am really so excited I could fart!  Like actual flatulance.  I know I yelped and squealed.>>

That does mean I need to phone the other school and cancel with them – which makes me feel a bit guilty, as I made such a fuss to get in.

But I will wait until I get my little letter in the post – I have a sneaky suspicion that I might need to get a second job at McDonalds to pay the monthly fee at this new school.

Of course then I start thinking that I have made a mistake and I should leave Isabelle in the school who kindly accepted her enrolment when I was at my most desperate … but then I give myself a firm talking to, and a little slap in the face – and go and make some tea.

My kingdom for a school acceptance letter ….

Isabelle is 25 months old, and is desperately in need of kids her age to beat up on.

She has her hands inside everything. Has worked out how to unscrew lids, no matter how tightly I tighten them,

Has figured out access to the knife drawer.  Knows how to put the microwave on.  Knows how to slam the microwave door.

Has recently discovered the toilet plunger can be used as an effective weapon against “suspecting” adults.

This child needs a school like no one’s business.  More for my sanity than hers.

I thought I was jolly clever and enrolled early last year in a school, that I thought was the best thing since that guest turned water into wine at a wedding some while back.

I ticked a block, and my type-A personality felt good.  I did not have an acceptance letter, but I enrolled her in 2010 … ages ago!

June swung around this year and I started phoning said school.

Repeatedly.

I think I  was up to message seventy-seven and most of them ended with “please call me, why won’t you call me, please for god sake just call me ….. okay?”

Principal finally did this week.  We spoke.  Well, granted she spoke, I cried a bit.

She told me there really is no space in her school for my Isabelle.  (I am sure she meant there was no space for any more children, but I took it as a personal snub of my child).

I suggested a bribe.  She got a bit snippy, but said she would keep Isabelle on “the list” just in case something changed.

I also could hear my child’s application being torn up and thrown into the steel metal dustbin next to the phone.

I do not really have a plan B, and I usually do.  But I had my heart set on this school.

I made an emergency plan B yesterday

I piggy-backed on my friend Joyce who has been doing some school shopping and purely based on schools she has seen I went along and started applying to schools.

I have an interview on Tuesday for one school that said they “might have space” in January 2012.

I hope they do not recognize me from my blog, or my alarming updates on Facebook.  Or when I screamed at my child at the local mall.

I also applied to another school Joyce said is so fabulous she is thinking about making “monthly donations” to the school now so that it does not look like a bribe when the time comes.

Always helps if you have single-handedly funded a “Kriel Wing” at a school – it does not hurt when they are weighing up your application against whether to take Johnny’s sibling.

That school I also chased – this week (yes I tad late) but I got my application off to them. They have an open day in September and then make a decision in September for January in take.

Dude, I am down with that as well.

Now that my Plan A has fallen through – I am desperately running around finding plan B through G.  I get a bit manic around now (you might not have noticed!!)

I hate rejection.  I hate finding the right school.  I hate all the running around and the hopeful “perky phone voice”  I have to use to try to get my child into a school, and all those smug moms who have acceptance letters for 2012.

Damn them!

Damn that I did not do this when this child was a fetus! I really should have known better.

I plan NOT to tell them that Isabelle is still not talking or is still using a nappy.

If there is a block I have to tick on an application form –  I will be ticking the one that says she speaks 3 languages fluently.  Plays violin on a Tuesday, and cello on a Thursday and has been potty trained and eating solids since 4 months!

If after the first week, I get a distressing call from the school wondering why my child is still on Purity and does not say anything past “caaaaa” and poo’s in her nappy, I will feign ignorance.

Until then, I am simpering and begging for a school to have space for my child.

Measuring Time … one school drop off and collect at a time ….

There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. ~John Mortimer

Last night I sat and worked out a time line focused on when the kids would be in what grade.  I was interested in the  year they would finish at a school to go to another – you know grade versus year stuff.

I was aiming to establish when there might ever be a year where I would be driving to one school with kids, or whether I would permanently be a mom-in-transit across several schools.

I got really excited as I thought 2015 was my year, but then I realized I had made a calculation error, and 2015 was not going to be my year.

I will always be going to a minimum of two schools to drop off and collect kids.  Three if we decide to send Connor and Georgia to single-sex high schools.

Some years I can look forward to:

2016 – Isabelle will start Grade 1 and it is the same year that Connor starts high school.  I will be 44 years old with a daughter in Grade 1 as I face parents entering the school with their first-born.  The bulk of them will probably be in the 25 – 32 year age range.  These parents are going to be all shiny eyed and bushy-tailed. Eager little beavers.  I on the other hand will be a complete jaded wreck!  That should do wonders for my self-confidence and ability to offend parents at get togethers.

2019 – The years I will start driving to three schools; two kids in separate high school and one in primary school.

2020 – Connor will finish high school.  I will have Georgia in a different high school.  Isabelle will still be in
Primary School.  That will be a bumper year for driving, but it will mean Connor will be getting ready for University/Fishing College.

2023 – The girls will both be in high school, so this might be the year where I am driving to one school assuming they are at the same school.

2024 – Connor will be in his final year of University (I am allowing for 4 years). Georgia will be starting University/Beauty/Art School and Isabelle will be in Grade 9.  So in theory, I could be dropping one child off at one school (I figure university = get there your damn self)

2028 – Isabelle will start university. Connor will be 4  years into paying back his University loan. Georgia will be in her first year of paying back her university loan and I will be 56 years old!  This will be the first year that I will not be driving a child to a school and fetching them again.  This is working on the premise that no one fails, and life goes to “plan.”

14 years – that is how long I will be driving to and from the EXACT SAME Primary School that my kids are at now.  Connor started there in 2009 and Isabelle will finish there in 2022.  I have been doing it for three years already and I am already bored out of my tree.

I will be 59 with a child in final year university.

Right there, that alone is an argument in favour of teenage pregnancies (as you are a younger parent when you r kids are big, incase that statement did not make sense on first read).

My friend Warren, kindly did an age progression image for me, so here is what I will look like when I attend Isabelle’s Graduation from University (I did ask him to make me look 60, I think he was aiming for 70 or 75….).

I really hope they have a Zimmer frame facilities and an open bar!

So, how is your time line looking?

The parable of Tony ….

So Connor and I are chatting on the way home from school on Friday afternoon, and Connor is telling me all about his friend – let’s call him Tony – for the purposes of this discussion.

Connor has often mentioned how envious he is of Tony.

Tony always has new stuff, gets to take his Nintendo to school every day, always has pocket-money to spend at tuck-shop and generally appears to have rather a comfortable life, in Connor’s eyes.

I agreed with Connor that Tony was lucky he got to take his Nintendo to school, and have all sorts of nice stuff.  And it was a case of each parent to each child deciding what was right for their child, and what one parent decided worked for them, might not work for another parent.

If Tony’s parent(s) decided to give their child things (which I personally felt were excessive, but did not mention this to Connor), then that was really up to them. 

Connor kept telling me how lucky Tony was (and in the silence between his laments clearly indicating how unlucky he was being born into this rather deprived family!)

Connor explained that today Tony was playing Nintendo, and when Tony’s mom arrived to fetch him for Tennis (she has to leave work early to get to the school to take Tony to practice, so you can imagine that it is a bit of a rush for her), Tony said “No I am not going, I want to stay and play my game!”

I asked Connor then what happened, and he said Tony sat and continued playing his game, while Tony’s mom said: ”Come my boy we need to go.”  But Tony was not moving. 

Then he shouted at his mom that he was not going to Tennis and was going to play Nintendo.

I asked Connor (as this is always a good time to push a lesson home) what he thought about what he saw.

In his usual way he shrugged and said: ”I don’t know.”

Not being afraid of bleeding the information out of my son, to teach a life lesson, I said: “Okaaaaaay, what do you think might have happened if you had spoken to me like that?”

Connor – sort of smiling: “ That Nintendo would have been bye-bye.  And you would have made me do all sorts of things to get it back.”

Me: “Well you are right.  I would have taken your Nintendo away from you. I would have punished you – severely – and then I would have dragged your arse to Tennis.  So you would have lost your Nintendo and still had to go to tennis.  That is pretty much how that would have played out.”

Connor: “Yes I know.”

Me: “So you say Tony gets lots of things.  How do you think he treats his mom – who works really hard to give him all those things?”

Connor:  “Tony’s mom treats him like a King.”

Me: “Hu-huh..”

Connor: “And Tony treats his mom like a servant …. a veeeerrrrry poor servant!” (this is seriously what my son said, I really am not ad libbing here.)

Me: “Right, how do you think it is working out for Tony’s mom with her giving Tony everything he wants and not being very strict about rules and boundaries for Tony?”

Connor:  “Not very good.  Tony is really rude to his mom, and he does not listen to her, and he is also a bully at school.”

Me: “Okay, so you understand that as parents we decide what is right for our children.  And though you think Tony has it good, if you look at the bigger picture, you can see that maybe giving Tony everything he sees and wants is maybe not working out so well.  Definitely not for his mom, and maybe not for Tony as well.”

Connor: “Hu-huh..”

Me: “Connor, we are just not that family.  Even if we could afford to give you everything and anything you saw, we still would not.  You need to know that you need to work for things, because then you see the value in it.  You worked for your Nintendo, and think if you lost it, it would not be “aw, well I lost my Nintendo” you would be devastated as you know all the chores you had to do, and all the money you had to save to get a Nintendo…so you understand why it is important that you work for things?”

Connor: “Hu-huh..”

Me: “So when you are big and want to go to University, dad and I expect you to pay towards University.  It is not a case of “here is a cheque, see you in 4 years” – you also need to understand the value of the cost.  We want you to study, and we want a lot of things for you in life.  But we are not going to be handing it over to you like Tony’s parents.  It is just not going to happen.”

Connor: “Do I have to go to University if I want to be a fisherman?”

Me: <sigh> “No, but maybe can study about oceans and animals at University and still be a fisherman….. later.”

Connor: “Okay, because I really like animals, and I REALLY like fishing…”

Me: “I know, but could you maybe think about University instead of leaving school to go fishing?”

Connor <in a less than convincing tone>: “Okay ….but I am not going to get married.  Because my wife will not want me to fish, because I smell, and she will want me to not be smelly, so I am not getting married ….. and that is final.”

Me:”Okay, just to go University, we can talk about your body odour and where you will be living later, okay?”

 

Footnote: In this conversation with Connor, I really tried not to come across in tone as judgemental when I spoke to Connor about his friend.

I wanted him to make the mental leap without me pointing it out to him.

Tony’s mom has decided how to raise Tony, and that is her choice and the consequences are hers as well. 

I have noticed Tony’s behaviour for some time,and though he is a sweet boy, I have noticed that he is difficult to discipline and lacks respect for adutls.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to deal with that every day, and her choices might be because giving in is easier than fighting the good fight each day over everything. 

I do feel as parents, that though each child arrives with his/her own set of problems if we totally give in to our children, then the road to hell is not too far off. 

I know some people think we are quite strict (or lax) with the way we parent and gawd knows we get it wrong about as much as we get it right.  But I hope that the one thing we are is “aware parents.” 

We try to understand what is going on, and the impact it will have on our kids growing into adults, and parent accordingly – sometimes we get it right, some times we get it horribly wrong!

Our parenting has evolved, and we do parent differently now than we did in the beginning, and I trust we will continue to evolve as we get wiser, and older (and our sh&t tolerance continues to drop.)

“Jislaaik, that’s a hang of a thing, hey!”

I always lament the fact that I live in the land of two-tone shirts and veldskoene, and my daughter sings Kurt Darren…..

No matter how I try to fight it, we are in Parow country and it frightens me.

Connor now officially goes to school without shoes, which causes me emotional trauma in the morning when I drop him off.  But it makes him happy.  So I stare forward as I rev the car and say “goodbye, love you” and then try not to look at him as he skips off through the school gate.

In December we went to buy him new school shorts.

His school shorts are really rugby shorts, which only adds further insult to the situation.

I sent Kennith to the local school outfitter, and he picks up the shorts  to check them and notices that they are, well short.  Before they had a bit of length and sort of hung mid upper thigh, but now they are real-egte rugby short shorts, where if you sit with your knees-not-touching, your family trinkets might be on view, they are those kind of shorts.

Kennith queried this as he likes to get value for money, and no one is going to stint him on fabric.  So he queried why these shorts were so much shorter than the usual pairs we purchase.  He was told the school had asked for them to be made shorter!

Is there no dignity in the Northern Suburbs?  The shorty-short answer is an inequitable, no.

Beginning of the year heralds the arrival of so many school notices and forms, that it makes your eye sight go blurry and a little forest cry at its loss.

First child, first school you eagerly wait for these notices, and fill them out meticulously.  If something is unclear you take your notice, and arrive early at the school to ask the class teacher for clarity so you can fill in the form and submit it as instructed.

Two children, a few schools later, I sort of bundle the forms together, throw them into my bag, and aim to get to them within the month.

I am going through forms today and realized I have not signed up for the school committee.  I see to have missed the cut off date for that, which is a pity (and a relief) – they do a great job and long may they continue (without me).

I have signed the form now, and will drop it into Connor’s school bag later tonight when he is sleeping.  Then I  plan to rebuke him for leaving this form in his bag for so long.  He will feel bad, and take it class tomorrow and apologise to his teacher that it was his fault the form is late (well that is my cunning plan at any rate!).

There appears to have been a sports day I had no idea even took place, ah, well, will catch it next time.

I missed a meeting with my son’s teacher, clearly not a good start to the year.  But I did send an extra large peach for her when they had the school fruit picnic last Friday.  I am hoping that makes amends for the fact that I stood her up on the 31 January at 17h10!

There were a few other pleas and requests, that I have opted to juggle between “look at tomorrow” and “throw into the black plastic dustbin right now.”

I have signed Georgia up for karate,  I have contacted a company about coming to cost on wooden blinds or wooden shutters (not school related, but it was lost in the paperwork).  I have read the after care notice, and I have jotted down my son’s extra mural schedule,the day seems to be quite fruitful at the moment.

Then a notice caught my eye.

It was an invitation for my child to join Die Voortrekkers.  You can’t make this stuff up.

The problem is the notice is in Afrikaans.  Immediately that forces me to actually read through it, instead of just glancing through it rather flippantly.

I like the opening statement –  it is a definite call to action:  “Beste maat.  Will jy graag lekker saam met ons gaan kamp, oor die kole stokbrood en boerewors braai en hope pret hê?”

Now how can you turn an invitation like that down?

It went on to say that “ons is mos trotse Afrikaners!” and then it referred to someone called “Pappa en Mamma” which I can only assume denotes Kennith and I.

I liked the closing line: “Onthou net, spyt kom te laat, kom kyk wat ons doen en besluit self of jy daarvan hou!!”

I am almost motivated to go and have a look-see, because I am so curious, but it is on a Friday afternoon which is not going to work for me, even with the best will in the world.

So my son is wearing shorty shorts and being propositioned by the Voortrekkers in a bid for him to join their ranks.

I am not sure if I should laugh because it is so funny, or sit in a heap and cry because this is our life and we are those people now.

I recall having a Bishops application form lying around here somewhere that I really need to look in to again ……

Hostage Drama Negotiation ….

Last night I stopped to grab some groceries.  I also decided to try some McCain Bobotie (ready made meals) and paired it with a Robertson Chenin Blanc, and some other odds and sods.

By the time I got back to the car – the kids were as close to killing each other as two kids could get if they keep their seat belts on and remained in their relevant seats.

Connor wanted a magazine that Georgia had lying next to her (she was not reading it you understand, it was just lying next to her).

Georgia said no.  Connor begged.  Georgia said no. A fight ensued and then Connor took Georgia’s soccer ball to hold as hostage until Georgia released the magazine.

So Georgia is screaming for Connor to give her soccer ball back – screaming accompanied by crying, snot and tears, to which Connor is saying: “No, because you won’t give me the magazine.  If you give me the magazine I will give your ball back …. Will you give me the magazine?”

To which Georgia replies: “No, give my ball back ………” and well then Connor goes: “No, because you won’t give me the magazine.  If you give me the magazine I will give your ball back …. Will you give me the magazine?” and then Georgia replies: “No, give my ball back ………” and that is pretty much how this conversation/argument/sibling love-in was going when I got to the car.

Threw groceries in the boot – quickly assessed the situation.

Gave Georgia her ball back, took the magazine and gave it to Connor (it was actually MY magazine) and then Georgia started screaming that it was her magazine and now I must give the magazine back.

I tried to reassure her/scream some sense in to her, that actually it was MY magazine.  Odds are she might have another one (Cape Town Child Magazine, we have several lying around the house) that looked exactly the same, but was at home.

This was MINE and I was giving it to Connor to read. (He actually did to even want to read it, he really just wanted to have it because she had it.)

Then I lectured Connor that because Georgia was doing something wrong (not giving him the magazine) did not warrant him doing something wrong as pay-back (taking her soccer ball.)

I tried to get him to see that him doing something wrong, did not miraculously make her give the magazine to him.  All it did was make her scream and get more angry.

So his choice of action did not improve the situation, it only made it worse, and now he was also in the wrong because of what he had done.

Of course he was going to give me the “But mommmmyyyyy …….” defense, which I listened to and reverted back to the point that him taking the ball was also wrong and could he understand that his wrong action, did not fix her wrong action (refusing to give him the magazine.)

He did finally acknowledge that I was right. He did not actually acknowledge he was wrong, but he let it go at that point.

The thing that got me thinking was that as parents if we are not able to guide our kids correctly in decision making and dealing with “highly emotional” issues we end up creating an entire generation that thinks WWF wrestling is a perfectly acceptable method of problem solving.

There are several boys at Connor’s school that physically fight when an issue becomes too difficult for them to deal with, or they find a classmate disagrees with them.

Actually there are several kids (boys and girls) at Georgia school who have no qualms about the odd “strangling” or biting and kicking and slapping action to resolve a dispute.

There is value in trying to appear like a reasonable adult when your kids are around.  When they are in bed, you can continue to cuss at the cat for sitting on your monitor and obstructing your view of the latest You Tube video.

Just so you see the balance: I get the kids out of the car at home, reach in to the boot to grab the shopping bags while trying to herd them to get their bags and shoes.  Shopping bag falls over, and the milk, the chocolate spread, the stupid caremello bears do not fall out of the bag, only my 750ml of happiness fall out and breaks on the garage floor.

Let’s say I did not deal with that disappointment in a very reasonable adult manner.

Odds are it might have cancelled out my earlier rational stance on dealing with life.

An arrow from Parow ……

I officially live in the Northern Suburbs.

I have been kidding myself for a while that I actually do not actually LIVE in the Northern Suburbs.

I will tell anyone who will listen that I happen to be on the “belt” between the two worlds of the Northern and the Southern.

I am delusional most days, so this little oversight does not take much effort from my part.

The suburb that we live in is actually an ERF that belongs to the area of Parow.

So not only have I had to admit that I live in the Northern Suburbs, but I now officially live in Parow.

Which if you know the area, is usually something that is used as a source of ridicule if someone lives, comes from, or drives through Parow.  Jack Parow is not called Jack Parow for nothing!

Though – and I would like to add for the possible effect on our house sale price in the future – that the suburb I live in does not say “Parow” on the street signs.  We clearly did not really think about that when we were paying the 2.5 trillion rand for the house.

One of the giveaways  – that I should have paid more attention to – is that our postal code and Parow’s postal code are identical!  Yes, everyone is wise after the fact – where were you in March 2008?

When we moved in to our suburbs, I had to find new schools for the kids.

Finding schools is about as painful as childbirth, but just goes on a bit longer.  The downside of looking for a school is that you can’t get medication on a script to make it less painful, and no one gives you pink or blue balloons!  But you do sort of feel your v-jay-jay tearing at about the same rate.

The suburb where we lived before, had a church, bottle store and school on every corner.

Where we live now you have to drive quite a ways to find any of the three.  Schools do appear to be not as popular as either bottle stores or churches.

I am not sure exactly what social deduction one can make from that observation, but anyway, moving along.

I managed to find schools where Afrikaans was the “taal” spoken and English seemed to be this strange other language that was spoken with unfortunate accents and severe mispronunciation, along with people who wear jean pant and said words like “uver” in place of “other”.

Now I am not knocking anyone who has the taal as a first language.  The problem is Connor is such a rooi-nek he could not speak a word of Afrikaans when we moved in to the area.  Sending him to an Afrikaans school might have been touching on child abuse.

Georgia was at “language development” stage – so I wanted her to develop an English language as her mother tongue. and not Afrikaans or better yet English with a strong Afrikaans accent.

I found a school for Connor that had a dual-medium class, and though we were both a bit scared of how he would cope, he actually was fine.  It was a great school and continues to be a little gem in this area.  He did manage to pick up quite a bit of Afrikaans and fitted in really well with his new “maajties.”

Connor is never going to speak like a natural Afrikaner.  But he has learnt to get by.  His ability to make us laugh as he totally destroys the language of Afrikaans does give us hours of pleasure.

I got Georgia into a school – and I made the assumption that because the headmistress was English it was an English school.

Let’s just say that my assumptions are less than accurate and this is just another one to add to the pile.

Totally got this one wrong.

Georgia was in a class that was meant to be dual medium class but with English spoken as the majority.  I think the teacher only swung to English when I appeared in the room to give the impression that they had a “nice balance of languages.”

The reality was that when I heard the teacher – with the best intentions – reading English I started to weep.  Not in happiness, but in fear that my child was going to officially have the worst accent possible and then I started to pray that she would stop raping the English language and switch back to Afrikaans, which sounded by far more humane.

Of course I said nothing, and instead chewed the inside of my cheek and hoped tomorrow would be a better day in the land of English language teaching.

The day I realized that we were REALLY lived in the Northern Suburbs was when I dropped Georgia off at her fairly Afrikaans school and most of the kids arrived WITHOUT shoes (they could afford shoes you understand, but they choose to not put them on, which is odd as they appear to have taken care with their outfits and grooming.)

But what was more alarming was the dads who arrived wearing those short black rugby shorts and NO SHOES! That was a very sobering moment for me.  If I recall I phoned Kennith a little on the hysteric side.

Just for the record, this is the same school where Georgia learnt to sing “Los Lappie” and “Kaptein Span die Seile” both by the artist known as Kurt Darron.

Of all the smut and obscenity she would hear in our house, I have always been very careful to never infect her with Kurt Darron.  But the damage is done, and Georgia can sing a “liedtjie” like no one’s business.

I have continued to live in denial regarding our living arrangements – I have continued to insist that my children wear shoes to school, or when ever we leave the house.

Connor has moved to a fantastic primary school – and though it is primarily Afrikaans both in look, feel, and culture, the English teachers are fantastic.

I get the benefit of small English classes in primarily an Afrikaans school, and the school is very disciplined and offer a really homely kind of feel to it – so it is win-win for me.

The one thing I noticed – again – was that the kids do not always wear shoes to school.  However there was a stern note that said kids need to wear shoes to school on a Friday as it is “saal.”  (assembly for you cretins who do not understand any Afrikaans)

Connor has been bleating to go barefoot for months – and I have said no.  I really want to keep a semblance that maybe we do not live on a farm, and milk Bessie to get creamer for our coffee in the morning.  Maybe we are city folk!

But we are going through a pair of school shoes every 1 ½ months with Connor.  We are up to school shoe pair number eight this year alone.

This week I have “allowed” Connor to go to school barefoot.  He was so excited and flung his arms around me and confessed that I was “the best mommy in the world.”

Day one he did come to the car limping as his feet were so sore.

But by day two he was good to go.

This morning when I dropped him off I looked around at the school and about ½ the kids – mainly boys – were there without school shoes.  I am not sure if it made me happy or a little sad.

We might need to relook at our neighbourhood sign and see if it actually does say Parow after all.