You always think, okay, now parenting starts …… then you realise, no, now parenting starts

 

Do you recall when you were pregnant/or waiting for your baby and you were kitting out the nursery, and doing extreme reading on whether this wet wipe is good or that cotton blanket is good, and so it goes on.

You spent oodles of energy on getting things just right — because this was the beginning of parenting.

Then you had your baby, and you went all soft lighting and you dreamed of your baby and your baby was everything.  And you were so damn happy.

If you were in the unfortunate category, you got a load of post natal depression, and you then started to look at your baby and though you loved your baby, you sort of hated your baby.  Everything was difficult, everything was painful.  You wanted to run away.  And leave the baby behind.  But you didn’t, and every day was hard, and you thought, okay this is parenting.

Then it got time to enroll your baby into a school and you drove yourself mad trying to find the right school, where everything was eco friendly and they only fed your child organic strawberries and it was all love and goodness.  You got onto various waiting lists and it was so freaking stressful — and then you thought, this is parenting.

Then your child gets into a school and suddenly there are all these issues/shit that appears that you did not know about.  Social skills, possibly testing for ADHD or another set of letters.  You worry about your child being bullied, or being the bully.

You march along when you see a bite on your child — and the bite becomes your everything.  You talk to a hundred people, join a few groups that talk about biting.  Either your kid is the bitten or the biter. And you think, okay this is parenting.

And so it goes on.

There are so many stages in your child’s life — that become your life and you keep saying or thinking “okay, this is fucking parenting — what ever was happening before, was just a minor preempt.”

This weekend I had a “this is parenting” ……

 

My son is 16 years old.  He is a lovely sweet boy who for 98% of the time is a real cool guy.

He is a standard issue 16 year old where everything is about his immediate enjoyment, his friends are his reality, his face is normally facing a screen of some sorts.

But the upside is that he is polite, funny, gets excited about stuff, and is a joy.  For the majority of the time.

Parenting him has been easy for the most part.  I have three children, and the youngest is a thug, so I will be honest, my attention is often drawn to her and keeping her out of the 28’s gang, and to stop her being the “bully” at school.

16 year old is very into his mates.  Like they are everything.  Bro-mance has nothing on this.

He likes to be with them, or they are all together at his dad’s house (my house is too small to have them together in one place) — so he often bows out of things and asks to go to a friend, and I normally give him permission.

A few weeks ago we had a day where he was all over the show and he did not tell me where he was, and I was having to keep phoning him and finding out where he was.

That evening we spoke and I explained how important it was that I knew where he was — that he was honest with me, and that he was safe.  So we had this great conversation and it went really well, and I walked away from that going “dude, totally aced this parenting thing… look at me” and then I high-fived myself.

Fast forward to this weekend.

He asks to stay over at a friend for Friday.  He tells me the friend, and gives me the mom’s details.  He has stayed over several times and his friend J is within walking distance from the house.  I agree, check with the mom, she says that everything is cool and off my 16 year old goes.

Now I will confess I did not think through Saturday — I thought I would give him flexibility and he can hang with his mates and he can be back late in the afternoon.

I had my daughters’ friends over — so I had four girls with me on Saturday.

I started to feel slightly uneasy as a certain point — around 2pm —- as I had not received pings from my 16 year old.  I felt that the “chain of agreement” we had discussed, was falling apart a bit.  Totally actually.

I sent him a few “where are you messages” and got some vague responses.  I sort of let it past, as I was a bit distracted by the 4 girls and attempting to roller skate and not break a knee, and I thought he will be home around 17h00 and then I can calm down.

Late afternoon swings by — I now turn my attention to my 16 year old, who is not home and is showing no movements in that direction.

I start asking him where he is — vague responses.  I start to step up my messages, and I am getting no response or vague responses.  I start to call my son, and it goes to voice mail.

Nothing makes you dial your child 150 times than going straight to voice mail – when you know he has his phone sewn to the side of his face, so does not leave his phone anywhere away from his body at any given time.

I am getting no feedback on where this child is.

My head has already orchestrated him OD’ing and being on the side of the road (nothing supported by reality —- but when you brain moves into the range of “shit to worry about” there is no stopping the escalation).

This child is not responding.

Eventually I am at my wit’s end — I think it is around 19h00 now — I tell him I am putting the girls in the car, and we are going to the police station and reporting him as a missing child.    We are at this point of the evening.

He then called me back and said he is fine and safe, and I can punish him tomorrow and then he puts the phone down.

I have no idea which opium den he is in, which child trafficker has him and where he is being held hostage.  I am freaking the feck out — now keeping in mind I had been escalating for about 5 hours.

I am like a pressure cooker, that just needs another 3 – 5 minutes of applied heat and I am about to blow the freaking ceiling off.

Further calls go straight to voice mail.

I lose my shit (some more) —- short trip at this point.

I phone his dad who is travelling in India or somewhere equally far away.  I just felt if I had managed to break and kill our child he should know.  He also tries to phone said child, and also to voice mail.

I call one of his friend’s mom and explain to her that my 16 year old has gone AWOL and is there any chance that he is with J.  I said I think he is with his friend Avw — whose details I do not know.  She said she does, and calls the mom.

The parents are off camping.  The thinking is the boys are all together at a home without any parental supervision, and parental permission in my case.

J’s mom does not tell me the address.  I think she realised that I am at that point where I would arrive there with a 200kg gorilla who  would just yank my child out of there with or without his consent, and probably cause a scene and leave some blood on the door frame.

I am not sure how a gorilla got into my train of over imagination and over reaction.

Eventually J’s mom says her son has stopped answering the phone and says she will drive over there and check on what is going on.  We are now at about 22h00 on Saturday night.

It appears the boys are just hanging out.

I still do not know where he is, I still do not have any control over this situation.  I am trying to be calm but I have now sort of moved into how to move this from a three child family to a two child family.

Sunday swings by — I walk up feeling drunk, I am exhausted and stressed and literally every nerve fiber is frayed.

I go through another day where this little fecker just does not come home.  Eventually I send him a few threatening messages.

My 16 year old arrives around 17h00  – 18h00.

By this point I am already scraping his name off the door.  My sense of humour.  My upbeat manner is long long gone.

My 16 year old walks in without a care in the world.

I am going to end the story there, as we are not sure yet how to deal with his punishment.

I need to wait until my ex gets back from his overseas trip, as it is important we are on the same page here.  He moves between both our homes and it is pointless me instigating a punishment regime that is not being used at the other house.

The theme of this post is “so this is parenting” …. and really this weekend taught me that what ever the stress I had before regarding breastfeeding versus bottle feeding, buying purity of making his puree, the wooden toys which are better than the plastic toys for him, worrying about how he holds his pencil, his keeping up with the learning levels of the class, whether rugby is safe for him, will he have friends, will he fall apart because of the divorce, how will he adjust to the new living situation, am I working hard enough to keeping an open channel of communication with him …… all of this ….. all of this just disappeared into the mist of “my son went AWOL and I had no idea where he was for more than 24 hours” ………… and this people, this is parenting.  Hard core.

#fuckthisparentingmalarkey

 

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Yes, please may we talk about STD with my 12 year old child ….. fabulous plan … not

Yesterday we were having drinks after lunch and sitting talking about stuff and things.

We also had drinks during lunch, in case you got concerned that the wine was left unattended for too long.

My daughter and my friend’s daughter (Cara) are the best friends in the world.  They met at pre-primary and the strangeness in the both of them resonated with the strange they saw in the other.

The girls have attended different primary school but remain good friends.  They are very close and I think good for each other.  Because time and space they do not see each other as regularly as they would like, so any meeting is a moment of supreme happiness.

When they see each other they light up and their happiness is off the scales.

Back to the wine. Karen (Cara’s mom) and I were talking and Karen wanted to let me know that the girls where playing in the room.  They still play Barbies and My Little Pony and it is all so adorably innocent.

They are 12 years old and seem to be behind the maturity curve, but it is seriously okay in every possible way.

Anyway the two girls came through and asked Karen a pressing question about STD.  I took in a rather sharp breath. I took another sip of my wine and tried to steady myself in the chair I would never fall out of.  For a moment it felt like the earth’s surface was moving towards my face rather fast.

There is seldom a situation where STD’s makes for light conversation and if your 12 year old girls bring it up as a subject that you do not sit there and whisper “fuck” under your breath.

Karen has answered the question in a calm and adult manner.  The girls seemed happy with the answer and returned to their room to carry on playing.

I felt a bit incensed and while I was there we asked the girls to come through and we chatted to them about “how the fuck the two of you decided to question STD’s?  But in a calm, non-incensed voice.

You know that moment when STD conversation is your fault —– yes, that moment.

I struggle with insomnia — and up and above the medication I have found podcasts to be really great. I tend to listen to crime “based” podcasts.  I had been listening to a podcast that was set around the Yorkshire Ripper and the East Area Rapist.

Anyway I had been listening to these stories when going to sleep.

The girls always sleep with me.  I assumed they had fallen asleep.  Isabelle fell asleep 3 minutes in, as I felt the weight of her against me, but I did not check on Georgia.  So she was awake for how ever long she was.

So you wonder how the STD conversation came up.

It only gets worse.

Georgia and Cara and playing Barbies and Georgia has a story where the one Barbie is 18 years old and has a baby of 2 years old.

It appears neither of the girls could imagine a universe where an 18 year old girl had a 2 year old baby.  {I want to live in their universe forever}

Georgia remembered the rape stories and suggested the girl was raped and that is how she fell pregnant.

Yes, I agree I cannot imagine the levels of wrong this is.

So somehow in this, the girls chatted about teenage pregnancies and the next leap was STD’s.

These girls are 12 years old — I realise in some cultures they would be married off and possibly raped by their 65 year old husbands. Or what ever other horror you can work into this equation.

I get that I am freaking about my 12 year old asking about STD’s when I posted a story recently about a 13 year old who skipped out of her home for 5 days and ended up with a 19 year old boy, with her parents having zero idea where she was. Or contact details.

I realise that the collision of these two stories is rather abrupt.

Parenting is not easy.

The horror of your children growing up before your eyes is a horror in many ways.  It is a train you cannot stop or even slow …..

Having a discussion about STD’s is not something I really want to talk about.   But, again, I would rather settle myself that they ask me, and not some stinky boy.  But adding how the 18 year old girl got a baby is far far far more disturbing that I would ever hope to hear.

How is your parenting going?

Mine, clearly not as well as I thought.


Credit images: http://www.fowllanguagecomics.com/

Parenting …. no one tells you about when they get pubic hair ….

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Parenting is a very tense relationship.  With adjustments and readjustments and basically some shitty times, with some cool instagram photographs thrown in to keep you mildly sane.

Often you forget it is tense and you lie on the couch and go to sleep.  You will be forced awake (stuff jabbed in your eye, a child on top of you, the cat using you as a clawing post ….. kids screaming and fighting) and then you will start to rethink this entire “relationship” and why you got in to it, and how you can get out of it.

You will imagine various scenarios that usually include leaving your kids with your parents.  Or just plain leaving them on a corner somewhere.

When I say “leaving them with” I mean dropping them off in the dead of the night.  With a sticker stuck to them with instructions like “Feed this one Pronutro, check that teeth are brushed, check she is wearing panties ….. no matter how “like a princess” you dress her, she will look like a thug when you collect her from school.  No I do not know where the clothing is that fits her has gone either.”

You keep thinking you have survived or at the very least just got the hang of this parenting malarkey when your children will present a new facet you were not expecting, and ill prepared for.

Maybe I just have not read the notes on this section of parenting ….. that What to Expect when you are ….. sort of drops off in the toddler years.

Guys there is an entirely area here you should get your shit together on.  What to Expect … The Teenage Years.

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Connor is turning 14 in December.   Needless to say he has been 13 for far too many months already.

It feels like last week when he was 9 and he agreed with me most of the time.  His feet did not smell like a chemical experiment involving sulphur and he actually spent time outside of his room – he was polite, and a sweet sweet boy.

This year he has given me a clear insight in how parenting a teenage child is going to go.

Or the alternate but more apt heading “How I am failing at parenting a teen…”

It has not been pretty.   I have not come out of this process covered in glory, in any way.

It has led me to screaming, talking really loud, using pauses to prevent him answering back like “AND AND AND AND …… AND” and basically with what ever we were talking about getting so blown out of proportion that eventually I can’t even remember where I stand on an issue.  Or what we were arguing about.

I am fucking exhausted.

The problem with the exhaustion/feeling defeated is that I am waiting for every conversation to escalate into this screaming, arms waving and door slamming conclusion.

Connor and I have been fighting like maniacs for the last few months.  It feels like since last year to be honest.

If I say something is white, then he will counter it is black and then will try to convince me of his view point.

I do know that “Just fucking do what I told you to do because I am the fucking parent.  OKAY!” Is not the most winning statement one can make as the parent, but holy shit balls, sometimes (too often I am afraid) I lose my shit.  Like lost.  Like the series LOST.  That far gone.

I try and remain reasonable.  I try and remain calm.

But there is only so much backwards and forwards I can endure before I start to look for cakes to throw out the weekend.

We have had a sad shortage of cakes in our home.  I might be going with some Ultra Mel Custard in a carton soon. That one is going to not only need the strong throw, but it needs that propulsion follow through so it bursts as it hits the floor/concrete/dining table.

I am not sure I am on Custard Carton level as yet.

At one several point I thought “you know fuck this shit” and I started picturing packing up his clothing and what ever he needs to survive for the next few days.  Dropping/dumping him at Kennith’s house.

The fact that Kennith was not there at the time was a very small detail I was able and willing to overlook.

Kennith phoned shortly thereafter to ask me something totally arbitrary.  He got hit with the version of me that is screaming, sighing, spittle forming on my chin and basically at the point where I am willing to shift from a three child family to a two child family.

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I really was at the end …… the absolute end ….. the place were postcards are sent from …… end of this shit.

Kennith had Connor for the weekend and spoke to him —- I assume.  Connor came back and he was far better.  There was less fighting.  The respite was joyous.

He used to do me the favour of screaming at the girls for me, which I thought was rather endearing.

Then this weekend came along.  For various reasons I was feeling on edge and I just needed the shit to work, you know the stuff to get sorted, everyone to be at the right place at the right time in the right coloured underwear.

Connor was going to a birthday that I could not drop him off at.

I managed to organise my friend to drop him off.  Great.  He let me know that he was going to sleep over at another friend that night — I said fine, “take the bag that has been packed for you – take it with you to the party and then take it with you for the evening.”

There was no confusion there was only one bag.  And who had to take it.

I happen to go past the house, see the bag is there, pick it up and take it with me thinking I will drop it off at his friend’s home later.  I can’t work out why he would leave it, but this is Connor, he has left his school bag at home before.  On his way to school.

He goes to the party – and the mom drops him off at his evening sleep over place.  I am high fiving myself for a plan that seems to be working.

Then I start to get the SMS’s asking me to pack things in the bag …… that he should have with him.

The more I tell him that this is not going to happen (because I am not at home, and the bag is with me) the more the “please moms” start.  It goes on and on and I really start to develop a tick in my right hand eye.

He then escalates this to his school project and starts to ask me when this is going to be ready.

I made it clear from the outset he needed to build this project himself.  By himself, for himself.  He insisted on asking Wayne for assistance and I said no as Wayne has some other obligations and is not going to be able to do it.

He whinged and whined (no shock there) and I said that he needs to ask Wayne, and arrange it with him.  I am telling him not to, he is choosing to, and what ever happens is his problem.

Connor being Connor forgot to mention the project is due for Monday.  This is Saturday night.

He mentions it now in his messages.

I lose my shit.  Like. Shit.  Lost.

I realised I can no longer do messages, this requires a phone call.

I call Connor.  It is not a good conversation.  I am not screaming as much as talking really loud.

What we established is Connor does not have a hearing problem.

He clearly recalls that I told him NOT TO TRY TO GET Wayne to do this project.  What Connor is arguing is that I only told him ONCE!!

It appears once is not the right number.  I asked if he could give me the magic number of repeating myself over and over again …… I think he thought I was being a bit aggressive and told me I didn’t understand.

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It was just another situation that deteriorated into both of us feeling angry and hurt and not being heard by the other.

I was really angry.

The amount of planning and organising this day required was akin to the Normandy Invasion.  Then the one person you give the clear instruction of TAKE YOUR BAG THAT IS PACKED AND WAITING IN THE DINING ROOM does not, because he comes up with another plan.

The school project actually did my head in —- totally.  I was so spittle on my chin angry with him.

The problem with these things is as a third person you can offer really good advise as the person looking in, but as the one involved, you lose your sense, you lose perspective and you forget exactly how many years you get for murder.

On the drive home from school yesterday I had a little “it’s late but it is still related to Saturday because I was so freaking angry” explosion.

I drew some lines in the sand.  He still wanted to argue with me, and then I said the thing that you just don’t say to your child “SHUT UP” —- I actually said shut up to my kid.

I just wanted him to be quiet so I could tell him what I needed to tell him, instead of getting into a haggle about every point.  It was either telling him to “shut up” or me shoving a gag down his throat …..

Connor looked at me as if I had slapped him …… it wasn’t my finest hour in parenting.  I have to return the rosette best parenting award on Thursday.

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If anyone tells you the most difficult part of parenting is choosing the nursery linen, deciding on breast or formula, and working out whether co-sleeping is a good idea.  Laugh.  Laugh.  Hard.

This all.  This all fades into nothing, when you are sitting there arguing with your child, who unfortunately in some cases can argue you into circles.

I miss the days of the Waltons when no one would speak if Ma and Pa were at the table.  They would all defer to the parents say things like “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” and it all seemed like a very happy place.

I think I am ill prepared for this hormone soaked, pubic hair sprouting phase.

Please tell me this shit gets better ……. soon!

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Check out more of Brian Gordon’s comics on > http://www.fowllanguagecomics.com/comic

Why boys should not be allowed on Mommy Forums …..

I read an extract from a Mommalicious’ Mom’s Blog post this week.

To cut a very long story short, a journalist, Kevin Lancaster, had some less than generous things to say about Moms and their use of forums to assist them with baby health support.

{I personally quite like Kevin’s writing, but right now that might go down like a lead balloon on the Mommy community, so I best keep that comment to myself. Here is a recently written articles and I do tend to agree with his outlook on things parenthood related …. to a degree.}

I do not know Kevin Lancaster {Sunday Tribune Article} personally, so I am not going to comment on him, and what his short comings or strengths are in terms of parenting skills.

I am a registered user of Mommalicious’ Forum, but to be honest it never resonated with me.  I found it (at the time) less user-friendly than the Moomie Forum, so I forgot my user name and password and did not use the forum.

I have not been there in a very long time, and glancing at it now it is clear it has undergone several revamps and looks like a very funky place to be.  It enjoys a large, active and clearly enthusiastic community of moms who blog there, participate in the forums, and guest writers.

Again, I am not commenting on how good {or bad} Mommalicious is.

If you have never had a young baby, I do not think I can explain to you what a lonely time of your life it is.

It is probably the loneliest and bleakest time in your life.  Of course you cannot actually tell people that it is a bit crap.  You will need to tell everyone how wonderful motherhood/parenting is, unless you want to risk being voted off the island.

You think you are prepared for a baby – you have 9 months and change to get used to the idea.

You have people cheering you on – people throwing you baby showers, people wishing you well on Facebook, and books that show your baby’s size in relation to fruit.

You have friends offering to help where ever they can.  You have your husband/boyfriend/sperm donor talking about how “we” are pregnant.

It is possible to get drunk on the headiness of it all.

Having a baby (furnished from your loins or via alternate methods) is one of the loneliest (and most terrifying) experiences you will ever be lucky enough to enjoy.

You are suddenly responsible for this little being.  No matter how many books you have read {and I read a ton}, and how many children you have had {I have three} it is still an alarming/scary/frightening and intensely lonely experience.  You are constantly wondering what the hell to do and whether Medi Clinic has a returns policy.

Everyone appears so helpful and offering {usually useless} advise, but no one really seems to understand you or be listening to you.

Enter, from Stage Right, Forums.

You get to meet dozens/hundreds of moms who are going through almost exactly what you are.  They are scared, they may know more, some may know less, some are just total nutters.  But you get to speak to these women and they commiserate with you, and when needed cheer you on and they are there to lean on, and ask for advise.

You can talk about poo, about sex, about outings to the zoo, anything goes.  Somewhere in this new scary landscape you will find a few souls who you just click with.  Your days spent child rearing and nights crying in the bathroom will suddenly appear less scary.

You have found forum friends who you can talk to.

But ….. forums are not reality.  The information you are being given is advise that though given with the best intention is not gospel, or should be taken as medical advise.  I think that any user of a forum knows this — or I hope they do.  We all ask stupid questions, and we all need a wise mom to tell us what to do.  We also get imbeciles imparting old wives’ tales and questionable suggestions.

Forums have replaced villages to raise children.

If a mom ran to a doctor for every niggle that worried her, she would be there 8 times a day at a minimum.  Often a mom is over-reacting, and needs a sound board of sanity.  She can either pick up her phone and contact 6 of her friends or she can take the issue to a forum.  Same result.

I do think that Mr. Lancaster was being a bit flippant with his comment, but I also understood the point he was making.

Forums are where you raise an issue, test the waters with the responses, and once everyone has had their 10 cents worth you make a final decision as to what is best for you, your baby and your family.  Is there anywhere else in polite society where you can talk about the colour of your child’s faeces with such reckless abandon?

No.  Bless Forums and all those moms who give of their time, sanity and broadband to assist other moms.

I felt it was unfair for Mr Lancaster to “attack” Mommalicious, but again my guess is the colour or quantity of a child’s shit is not high on his list of things to worry about in his day.  And all the luckier he is for it.

If any of the moms on Mommalicious or Pampers or Moomie or all the other forums out there, tried to explain to the men in their lives why they feel so passionate about the forums, most men would not understand.  They would not get the allure and how you cannot understand the support and real friendship that develops in these forums.

And you know, they don’t have to.

Men sit and watch sport games together and then listen to two hours running discussion about the game, after the game.  This to them seems like a legitimate way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Woman?  Not so much.

Mommalicious, take it on the chin and move on.  And thank goodness, again for Mommy Forums!

What to Expect … when you are Parenting

Does anyone remember what it is like to “want” a baby?

You think of it all the time.  You pee on sticks, even if they are not the ones you get from a pharmacy.

You become consumed with “wanting a baby” but you never seem to think of “wanting a baby” in the same space as “wanting to be a parent.”

For me, I think that they were two separate things, and I forgot/misplaced a piece of information that wanting a baby also meant/actually meant/really meant becoming a parent.

“Wanting a baby” is doe eyed, soft lighting and all quite marvelous.  You think of that warm milky smell, that sticky chubby hand reaching out to curl itself around your finger.  Wanting a baby is magic and filled with promise and giddiness, and the warm cuddles of an infant against your breast.  And purchasing baby books by the kilogram and buying every soft lighting baby magazine that you can get your soon swelling hands on to.

For some reason being a parent is just not as glamorous.  When I say “just not as glamorous” I actually mean like a case of thrush without access to the one administration of fanny cream!

I can honestly say when I was thinking of having a baby, I was thinking of pink and blue fluffy blankets.  Which compactum to purchase, whether I should buy one of those super stylish baby sling numbers or just wing it and use my arms to clutch the baby to my breast.

Maybe it is only me, but I did not think about how much work “being a parent” was going to be when I was planning my “wanting a baby”.

I just thought about sleepless nights and me crying alone in the bathroom at 2am because I was so damn tired.  Wanting a baby and having a baby never translated into how challenging/difficult/labour of love with very little reward in the short-term being a parent is.

I know when”wanting a baby” becomes “having a baby” – that seems fairly simple. But when having a baby becomes “being a parent” is less clear.

Even with Baby number 3, I was still thinking about the new baby smell and how lovely a pink onesie was going to look and was not thinking about me yelling in the passage about brushing teeth and going the hell to sleep already!

“Wanting a baby” has a huge amount of very very small print in the section marked “being a parent” and can I suggest that if you are thinking about expelling a child from your loins (or via any other route), you give that section a bit of a read through and some thought.  Sober thought!

Trust me it will make the “What to Expect when you are Expecting” look like light reading for amateurs.

Notice there isn’t a “What to Expect … when you are Parenting” …. actually now that I think of that, I could probably hammer away at the first few chapters without breaking in to too much of a sweat.

When you make your child anxious ….

I was watching the slightly annoying show that is “The Worst Mother in the World.”

Nice idea, but I am a bit over Super Nanny and the range of similar shows, and no longer lie spread out on my bed as I watch other parents struggle with bratty kids – this could have been retitled “The Most Annoying Mother in the World” but I digress.

This one turns up, and generally the children are not the problem.  The problem is the parents who are a bit of the “helicopter” variety.

So there I sat, ready to judge.

Instead I said: “Yes, that is a bit extreme.  Hey, that one is fine, I don’t see any problem with not letting your child ride his bike on the road.  Okay, that one is fine, she is clearly not a helicopter parent ….. that seems fair…”

And so it went on.

It does not take a genius to work out that I was siding with the helicopter parent as being reasonable.  Why?  Clearly because I have some problems of my own.

Light Bolt Moment – watch out:  Anxious parents create anxious children.

Seems a fairly simple principle.  I would be more excited if it was not true.

The presenter mentioned that 10 years ago the biggest problem facing kids at school was “relationships” – now it seems to be “anxiety”  – she did not give me the scientific report reference, but the statement seemed logical to me.

I am not an overly anxious parent when you look from the outside.  I appear a bit glib, a bit jaded, a bit been-there-done that, almost lacksy-daisy you may say.  I almost appear relaxed (…oh how we laugh …..the we are the voices in my head and my internal anxiety driven centre)

What you do not see, or might not realise, is that I am a very anxious parent.  (For the record, my parents were what ever is the opposite of helicopter parenting ….. like the totally polar opposite)

I find parenting very stressful.  I worry about my kids in all sorts of ways.  Few of them reasonable.  Few of them sane.

If my children move out of my eyesight, in a public area, I can feel my heart rate start to climb, and I feel very anxious.  I get very agitated.

I prefer not to go to a public area with my kids, it is not relaxing.   But I still go – because that appears normal, but I go, and the entire time I am there, all I want to do is leave and go home, where I feel safe(r).

I don’t feel comfortable if my kids play outside, in our garden (which has high walls) unless an adult is watching them.  They can play in the backyard if I am in the kitchen.

They are not able to play in the driveway, which has a huge gate, unless I am sitting on the steps watching them.

I never let my kids cycle/scooter in our cul-de-sac unless I sit with them.

The entire time I am there I am so anxious that it makes me feel nauseous.  I set rules that they must stick to if we are in the cul-de-sac, and I feel like I am running around ensuring they do not hurt themselves, or a car does not come flying down the road and knock them over.

I usually can go about 5 -8 minutes in the cul-de-sac  and then I need to hustle them inside.  I just can’t take the stress any more.

It is like that with a lot of things.

But the idea that “hit home” for me last night that the things that I am anxious about:

1.  They will not get lost, they will get stolen by pae.dophi.les.

2.  They will not just move out of my eyesight, they will get stolen, forever.

3.  They will not get jeered at whilst at schools because they are doing something strange, they will become “that kid” – the kid whose life is made a nightmare by jeering and taunting.

4.  They will not bump their noses/bums on the floor of the pool when they dive in, they will snap their necks and be paraplegic.

5.  They will not slip when running around the pool and hurt themselves, they will fall into the pool unconscious and drown.

6.  They will not gag on a sucking sweet, they will suffocate and choke.

7.  They will not just move out of my eyesight, they will get stolen, forever.  (getting stolen is a bit of a recurring theme … so I have mentioned it twice)

8.  We will not have a fender bender in the car, someone will drive in to us and we will all die – so wear your seatbelt all the time, because it is just a matter of time as to when that person drives in to us.  I literally (not figuratively) shit in my pants if the kids take their seat belts off and the car is moving in any way what so ever.

9.  I do not move my car unless the kids are like 8 metres from the car, I think that if I move, and they are out of the car, they will fall under the tyres and I will drive over them.

And so it carries on.

I have realised that the anxiety I feel – and there is a lot of it – can so easily be transferred over to my kids and become their reality.

I know what it is like to be anxious all the time.  We are not talking mild anxiety here, we are talking escalated debilitating anxiety that physically makes me sick.

I don’t want that for my kids.  It is not as much fun as it looks.  And I know I make anxiety and depression looks like what the cool kids are doing this year! Not so mcuh.

The only way I can try to help them, is to step away from things that make me uncomfortable, and just let them be.

Let them do what they need to do to be kids.  It does sometimes mean averting my eyes, as I feel a mass of vomit come up my throat, and all I want to do is run up to them and sweep them up and scream no.no.no!!

I understand helicopter parenting – but at the same time as we want to say “but I need to do it for the safety of my children” what are we actually doing?

We are reacting to the stressful life style we live in – and we are then anxious for our children’s safety. (Watch one news bulletin, and you could not be anything but anxious.)

But in our quest to keep our kid’s safe, we are doing them an injustice.

We really are sucking the “fun” and “exploring” out of their lives, and instead giving our children “anxiety” “worry” and “suspicion” ….. I think it is less likely that we will have kids who discover, who explore and who really savour life if we continue standing on the sidelines gasping every time they appear to slip out of the finger of death and disaster.

I am the same, really, so I am not about to get on to my pulpit and start telling you how to change.  I am as stuck in this as you are.

I think that is why nature provides moms and dads (metaphorically speaking).

Moms are usually wildly paranoid and anxious with their kids.  Whilst dads prefer to send them out at 7 to tend the sheep, and fight off the wolves.  Dads also teach kids to swim.  Dads throw children up in the air (and usually catch them.)

Mothers sit on the side lines and worry and wonder how long this stupid monkey play has to go on until we can sweep our children up and hold them against our beating heart and smother them in kisses.

But anxiety-motivated parenting it probably one that solves today’s problem – today you are worried about your toddler/young child dying – but they (inadvertently) create an entire new set of problems when your child is no longer able to be with you 24 hours out of the day.

No, I do not have the solution, just putting it out there.

When your kid posts sh*t about you on Facebook ….

There is this great video on youtube at the moment.

In summary.  There is a girl named Hannah who is 15, nearly 16.  She is unsatisfied that she has way too many chores around the house, and balancing that with going to school is just too much.  As we all were at that age.

Unfortunately she has access to Facebook, which she feels is a private enough platform to post a rant about her parents, and their treatment of her.

She is unhappy about all the work she has to do, and has the usual issues that 15/16 year olds have.

Her first mistake was to post a rant about her parents on Facebook when her father (Jordan) is in IT …. oh dear, clearly from there it all goes downhill.

Her second mistake was to think that her parents would not see it.

Her third mistake was to argue with a man who wears a cowboy hat and owns a hand gun.

Her fourth mistake was to leave the house and leave her laptop, with her father, who wears a cowboy hat and has a handgun, and a few hollow point bullets lying around.

Her fifth mistake was to not think her father was not going to see the post, or see the rant, or suggest that she will hate the day when her parents can’t wipe their arse, and that she won’t be there when it happens.

Her sixth mistake …. well, it does not really matter as she is now grounded until 2026, she has to buy her own laptop, as the old one has 6 bullets in it, and I am thinking she can shove the 16th birthday party she was hoping to get up her freaking arse.

Do I think it was right that her father put 6 bullets into her laptop?

Damn toot’n YES!!  I don’t think it was wrong.

I think he got his message across, no one was hurt, no one was injured, and Hannah (if she has learnt something here) knows her father does not muck around with this type of thing.

I think we can have a debate for ages about whether he did the responsible thing, and how great is his parenting – and whether you should be using violence in reaction to your children to teach them a lesson.

Personally, I do think that kids need a bit of force in some instances, and this pussy-footing parent where we all sing kumba-ya around the fire is not really working for me.

Jordan did not fire the gun at his daughter, near her, or when she was at the house – the pan out video clearly shows that he lives in what appears to be a large open area, and gun fire barely made the cow raise its head in the distance.

Jordan destroyed property that was his, he had given it to his daughter and she was using it as a vehicle to teach her a lesson.

I think there is way too much focus on how we must parent along this invisible line of what is right according to this “social pressure”.

Based on my experience with kids in public places, birthday parties and at my kid’s school, I am thinking this “responsible mature parenting vehicle” is not really working, and sometimes use of a handgun in an open field is not the worst thing I have ever heard of.

I instantly liked Jordan, the father.  My guess is he is frustrated and the “right” method of trying to adjust his daughter’s behaviour has not worked, so he is taking it to the next level.

I am going to hold this video and show it to my kids in two years time, then every night of their birthday until they are 21, or have moved out of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<<click on the above image and the link should take you to the you tube video>>

Dad of the Year?  Or lunatic dad and poor daughter who needs a new laptop?

I forget stuff ….

At the moment I am finding it really tricky to stay on top of things.

Fetch kids from school today – it was 17h00 – I am holler-holler for being early…or so I thought.

Connor is all “it is science fair day, and we need to go to the school hall, and they will not have this for another 10 years…”

I had forgotten about it.  Though the school had easily given me half a dozen reminders.

I pushed my Clicks sunglasses to the end of my nose and look at Connor thinking “wonderful marketing campaign they have dreamt up my boy…” and thought shit “it is late, I really do not have any cash on me, and I really have a runny tummy …. so please gawd do not make me stand in the middle of a school hall …. please …for the love of wine…”

More importantly Grade 1 – 3 are doing science fair from frk-knows-when until 18h30 and then the Grade 4+ take over from there.

It is 17h15 now …..

I said okay kids, you have 15 minutes and then we are out of here …. then they whined, and moaned …. and yelled and negotiated ….Connor re-explained that as he was in Grade 4, he could not take part until 18h30 …. I appreciate sometimes he talks to me in a way I can understand.

I stil l had a runny tummy and no where to go. I do not do public toilets.  I don’t do school halls with screaming children and too many people.

It became purgatory in a school hall with very loud children, stupid paper areoplanes and capatilism until way past where you humour departs and your large colon decides that there is only one way out of this situation.

I eventually had to leave at 18h05 as Pepe needs to go home.  Granted she goes to church as she sings in a choir, so I really can’t make an issue against it.  The minute you bring religion or menstrual cycles in as an argument, you pretty much disarm the other person.

I race home with Georgia, sms Kennith that he needs to buy the “blowey balloon thing” as she saw it and now she will not stop about it.  I had to leave Connor at school – alone …. well alone with 600 other people.

I get home, Pepe zoots out the door.

I give Georgia dinner, I go down the passage to go the toilet – my tummy has been a bit funny today – so I can’t leave Isabelle walking around as she will probably paint san.at.ic symbols on the outside walls, so I head to the toilet, for a crap, with Isabelle sitting on the shower step eating her biscuit.

Georgia did come in three times, to explain why she was not going to eat her pumpkin.  At a certain point I seriously thought about throwing pumpkin+dinner plate out the window.

But I was on the toilet so could not actually reach the bathroom window and still retain my dignity.

Fabulous.

The rest of the evening pretty much went to plan.  Other than Kennith singing lyrics from Jack Parow.

But then I sms’s a person who I did not know.  By accident.  And then I had to have a conversation via sms that was all sorts of strange.  With someone I sms’d by accident.  She is coming over on Saturday night.  Still do not know who she is.

Such is my life.  <reach over and sip some wine….>

The next person who ….

The next person who tells me …

to believe and it will be … will seriously get a smack in the face.  With a wet macoroni. I believe it will be “dishes done” – I believe that I it will be “me sleeping until noon undisturbed” … I beleive, it does not MAKE it happen, now bugger off with your khumba-ya-m-lord thinking, it is exceedingly irritating.

to cherish every moment … will be sentenced to fetching my kids from school for a minimum of seven weeks. They can fight over lost juice bottles and who is sitting too close to each other.  If you think that you seriously would like to cherish EVERY freaking moment, do not hesitate to drop me a note and we can work out a pick up and drop off kids schedule.  No worrries. Email now, or forever stop your ridiculous happy bleating.

to just be happy …. will get a rusty spade between the eyes. Fk you and the stupid unicorn you rode in on.  Some times this shit is not happy, and stop making me think everyone is happy — really stop.  Life he is not happy.  Life happens.  You make a plan.  That is the way it is.  Some moments make you smile, some make you cry – you cannot just “be happy” ….

think they are so fkn happy on Facebook and keep giving us sunny updates…. I am so sick of your happy-go-lucky-life-is-super Facebook updates, that I am seriously done.  FB is not actually that much fairy dust, get a life, get a reality check and start status updating that your husband is not as happy as you think/that your child is wetting the bed and they are nine/that your child ran with a limp at the last sports day, or really that you woke up this morning and you were not as sunny as you keep telling us – for goodness sake, do you actually think we believe this amount of “how freaking happy are you” crap?

that good mothers are made …. okay seriously now I am going to ram your head into my venter trailer.  Good mothers are cultivated with great wine and promises of everlasting life, no one, but no one enjoys looking after small children all freaking day long.  It is a fairly repetitive, fairly thankless and actually does not challenge you IQ at all.   Bad mothers are born every day.  We are all crap, and it is about time we started admitting that it was not all wine and roses, but we do what we can with what we have got.  And some days get it right and some days, not so much,

wake up and choose to be happy … will undoubtedly have to swallow 25 of my ante-depressants with two quarts of Captain Morgan, and see if they can call me in the morning.  Now go and be happy somewhere else.

that motherhood is a joy … needs to come the shit over and wipe poo off the side of the toilet seat and argue with a six year old as to why the blue toothpaste is as good as the green one, for the twentieth time this week.  It is not a joy.  It is hard and thankless work.  And it tests you every day as to why you should not run your head through the wall.

I am so sick and tired of these stupid pinterests and facebook status updates that keep telling me how freaking good this deal motherhood.  How good life is.  How happy it all is.

Accept that motherhood is frkn hard.  Accept that some days ramming your head into a wall might be better, or at the very least give you about 8 seconds of silence before the screaming starts again.

It is not all that wonderful, no matter how many happy baby/toddler/couple pictures you post.

Can I please have a shout out from the moms who do it, and think it sucks lemons, but still do it – each and every day – we get through it, and it suck, it sucks rocks, but we get through it, because there is no “do not pass go, do not get collect $200.00” card …. fkn hell – February is a hard month – or is it just me?

End of year functions make me cringe … a lot ….

Last Saturday Kennith’s company had their end of year function.  I was thrilled that this year they chose to do a family picnic.

I am not really sure how end of year functions are planner or organised, but I find them generally painful.  My experience usually encompasses an 8 to 10 seater table, people sitting around on addis chairs, and looking at each other, chatting politely and praying it will be over soon.  There may be variations on this theme, but usually that is sort of how it goes.

If you are unlucky there will be a dress up theme involved.  Cringe.

I have already rationalised that end of year functions are not designed for me. But everyone I speak to seems to agree that they are a “necessary evil” but I am still confused who enjoys them.  The evening or afternoon often involves smiling like an idiot for four hours, while you count the hours/minutes until you can leave.

My theory is that I would like to spend social time with work colleagues, but in a relaxed environment over great food and a few glasses of really good wine.  It’s great to sit in a comfortable chair, an exquisite setting and be able to hear each other talk.

Unfortunately I find most end of year functions are karaokes/bad food/loud music/bad loud music/dress up theme/a venue that allows for almost no conversation as you can barely hear yourself think.  My experience is that end of year functions are all of these factors, or a combination of these.

Generally the “rule” is you eat, then you sit for 15 minutes and say “okay, I need to go…” and then do….. This is how “end of year” parties go in my experience.  {I am not suggesting I am the spokesperson for all end of year parties, I am simply indicating this has been my experience … almost to date….}

This year Cape Union Mart opted to hire a location in Sea Point, and invited staff and their kids.

They catered with a braai/salad (Bruce’s Catering I think} sort of thing.  You bought your own drinks if you wanted alcohol.  They organised soccer, a gladiator thing, jumping castle and a slip and slide thing.  No one had to dress up, no one had to sit awkwardly at a table and pray it would end soon.

It started at 12h00 and went on until about 16h00 or 17h00. It was relaxing and cool, that I think it might be classed as one of the nicest Xmas functions I have ever been to.

I have a social phobia, so asking me to socialise with a group of people creates a high sense of anxiety, panic and sometimes poo streaks in my underwear.  But turn it into a family picnic, and then I am much more relaxed, as it does not force me to stand around like a half wit smiling and nodding like a deluded idjut – I can instead look really busy with my kids.  Win!

I got to play gladiator fight with Connor. Connor played soccer, the girls played for hours on the slip and slide or on the jumping castle.  It was relaxed, the sun was shining and I was quite happy to while away the afternoon in this manner.

It was a relaxing day.  The only error was they did not serve wine at the bar.  Rookie mistake.  But someone saw the problem and dashed out to purchase a half dozen bottles of wine, which made me all very happy.

I had a great afternoon with the kids, and I still got to speak to a lot of people while we chewed on a chicken leg, and messed potatoe salad on our respective chins.

Great idea.  Executed brilliantly.  Lovely day out.  Cape Union Mart’s clever people who plan end of year functions scores a 10 out of 10 in my book for a great “end of year function” …..

<< they were also good enough to have a roaming photographer who captured some great moments>>

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Talking to your kids about HIV/AIDS ….

This morning taking the kids to school, I told Connor that today was the 1 December which made it World AIDS Day.

Connor asked what AIDS was and I tried to explain it as a virus that one has, and when you look at someone you do not know they have the virus, so anyone can have it.

It is a bit like a dog.  A dog with a wagging tail can be a vicious or a friendly dog, you just don’t know, so the best thing to do is to treat all dogs as if they have the propensity to be vicious.  So treat every dog with the respect and care you would in case it might be a vicious dog.

We use this analogy for a lot of things in my house.  Sort of works (and teaches the lesson of being aware around dogs.)

Connor asked how you got AIDS.

I then had to embark on a discussion that involved blood, sex, and pregnant women.  (my kids are 9 and 6….)

I also had to sort of go off on a tangent to explain that if a man and a woman are married or in a relationship and the man is having sex with other women, and his wife does not know, she might get the HIV virus from him and then she is pregnant + HIV positive, which means she could pass it on to her child.

Often this comes as a bit of a shock when a pregnant woman is diagnosed.

A very sobering conversation.

I tried to bring it back to explain that if there was someone at school who was HIV positive there was really very little chance (miniscule) of him contracting it from them.  Unless they were sharing needles/having sex or both had open wounds, that were bleeding and the wounds came in to contact with each other (and even that is highly improbable.)

Connor asked if he could have the virus.

I suggested it was highly unlikely as I did not have the virus when I was pregnant with him, and that he has hardly engaged in high risk behaviour.  I reiterated he would need to be having sex with someone, or sharing blood, or needles or the like.

But that being said, I did realise that I have not educated my children about HIV/AIDS.  I sort of dropped the ball on that one.  Do I go out and do an HIV test with them, as part of an education process?

At what point do you make it “a standard yearly event to have a HIV/AIDS” test as part of normal behaviour?  Tricky one.

But I do need to bring this subject into conversation at home.  I want them to know the facts and be clear on it, rather than listen to the jibber jabber on the play ground.

 

Which reminds me, I need to go and give blood again.

It’s my only child you see ….

I have three children.

I will confess that with baby one, I was a tad more highly strung, and saw “Death and Pestilence” everywhere. I would often lie in bed at night worrying about how my son might be killed or kidnapped tomorrow, and that I need to be still more vigilant.

I started to get afraid of taking my child into a public area and thinking he was not just going to hurt himself, but he was going to DIE.  It made me realise I need to seek psychiatric help and that was not “normal behaviour”.

It’s good to worry. It is bad to be paranoid about it.  All the time.  And not feel comfortable with your child being anywhere, except with you.

There are many moms who are helicopter parents.

They have taken caring for their off-spring to the point where it is actually way into paranoia and not-healthy.  If you cannot go out and leave your child behind (with a babysitter, not by him or herself with a box of matches) then maybe it is time to sit down and have a bit of a think about how connected you are to your child.

I’ve come to realise that the most moms I encounter are so afraid of their child hurting themselves and dying, that they cannot just sit and leave their child to do what children do.

There is this constant fussing and fretting, and checking and re-checking and ……….<eye roll + sigh>

I am not sure whether it is time, the introduction of baby two and baby three, more time, my age, the fact that some times I actually just want to sit and see what happens, that I am not as much of a “helicopter parent” as many parents I know and see.

For some reason it is often parents who have one or an only child, who just appear to be unable to “cut the umbilical cord.”

Kennith will vouch for the fact that when I am trying to appear calm when it comes to most things my-kids related, but the truth be told I usually am freaking out.

I regularly want to run and just pick my child up, and ensure that they do not get any of the knocks that life has in store for them.  I attempt to appear calm and collected, to allow them in some instances to make a mistake, or take a fall and get up.

I often give off a calmer impression than how I actually feel.

If it was up to me, I would dress my kids in 1 metre of cotton-wool, lock them inside, ensure all the corners in the house are bubble wrapped, feed them only food I had grown and picked myself, and prevent them from ever listening to Justin Bieber!

But reality has dealt me a different set of cards.

I have learnt that I cannot be as “verkramp” as I would like to be.  I need to sit back and let my kids sometimes do things that I would prefer them not to do, because they are kids and they must do certain things, to learn that life is well, life, and that you can fall down, and you will get a scrape, your knee might even bleed, but you know, it is okay.

I am using this as preamble to what happened on Sunday.

Georgia is invited to a birthday party.  I don’t know the mom other than the cursory “hi” and “bye” one mutters in passing fetching and collecting children from the same school.

Her daughter S is having a birthday party.  Party involves strawberry picking and other activities that require children to be transported to Stellenbosch <about 15 – 20 minutes away.>

The plan was that S’s mom transport all the kids to the party and return them to one venue.

I enquired whether the vehicle was fitted with individual seat belts and Georgia would be strapped in.  I was given the affirmative.

I was still cautious, as I am a bit anal about how my child is transported – and non-safety seat belt kids drive me to distraction.

I wanted to make sure I see the car and see who will drive Georgia and get a “feel” for the who, what and how.   If I was unhappy, I would just drive her to the venue and drop her myself, and go and collect her.  No problem.

I am hoping to allow myself the time to assess the situation while I am there. Instead of flying into a hysterical maniac panic before hand and shaking my hear whilse pursing my lips saying “I won’t let my child drive with anyone but me …. I won’t, I tell you, I won’t.”

This is whilst appearing vauely calm, but to be honest I am thinking Death and Car Accidents on the R300 like every other hysterical mother who has opted not to allow their child to come to this party.

I am not going to drop my kid off and wave goodbye and I tyre-burn it out of the parking lot with a gin-and-tonic in my hand.

I want to check who is going with, what the transport is like, and that she is assured of a buckled up seat, and what the vehicle is that she is going to be transported in.

I get to the location where we are all meant to meet.  S’s mom is running a bit late, as party days are hectic.  I am standing there and I start chatting to another mom, her daughter is B.  B is running around and Georgia knows B from school.

I ask if sheis going to let B drive with party-girl S or if she is going to go with the venue with her daughter B.  Polite conversation more than a burning interest to know.

She looks at me and goes: “Yes, I am going to drive to the venue, and B is going to drive with me.  I am very nervous to let her go with someone else – as you know I only have one child!”

And then she smiles knowingly at me.

I am not sure whether I should say: “Oh yes!! I find with three I can be so more laxi-dasie.  Because goodness I have an heir, a spare, and another spare.  Of course I do not mind if one of them dies in a car crash.  That will just be a minor inconvenience.  I have three and all, which is far less precious than YOUR ONE.  When you start breeding them en-mass like I have done, then it is so much easier to not make a fuss if one of them dies!  Yes, you are right, your one is far more precious than my three!”

That is what I should have said.

Instead I thought “stupid bitch” and pursed my lips disapprovingly and decided to get really interested in Georgia and the seeds that fell off the tree.

Side bar:  This is not the first time I have had the comment.  It is easily the 4th or 6th time someone has said this to me.  I am not sure exactly how to interpret it or respond.  Presently I just stand there and think to myself that this person is clearly going to come up with a punch line. If not I need to just punch them in the throat and walk away. 

Acknowledge cartoon source:  http://nickandzuzu.com/

The one with the oven glove ….

Isabelle is the “madam” of our house.

The fact that she has two older siblings, and two very loud and overbearing parents who outweigh her, has not stopped her from seizing absolute control and converting our house into her own little fiefdom.

We like to think that our children adjusts to our house.

The reality might have been true for the other two, but Isabelle has more or less shaped us to be her meek and compliant servants.

We sometimes doff our cap, just to be sure we have paid her the right degree of deference.

During the weeks she is with Pepe, and there is a genuine love between them, which I knew when she called Pepe “mommy” ….

Isabelle is eating well.  I meanshe is eating what she wants, and basically saying ‘suck it’ for the stuff she is not going to eat.  You can throw a total motherhood fail.  You can make all the “ducky noises” you want.  If she does not want to eat it, NOTHING you do will convince her otherwise.

I am not above giving her yoghurt because I could not be arsed to stand and negotiate with her about what she gets into her stomach.

Isabelle can swim by herself.  I know because it is not uncommon for her to throw herself into the pool.  Whether we are in the pool or not seems to be a minor issue in her world.  Fearless does not quite touch on her when it comes to her and a bikini and a pool.  Of course if you want  her to swim, she will not get within 2 metres of the pool.

Isabelle does fine when it comes to establishing her personal space boundaries.  When we meet another child I say “mind the baby” but what I actually mean is “mind my baby as she will smack your baby into next week….”  Size and age is not an issue for Isabelle.  She is an equal opportunity I-will-smack-your-kid-if-he-she-gets-in-my-way sort of gal.

Isabelle can dress herself.  I know this because she often picks something out of her cupboard and puts it on.  The fact that they are on backwards and not suitable for public display is another issue.  Jammies during the day time are not off limits.

Isabelle can turn the water on in the kitchen.  We have fairly comprehensive home insurance.

Isabelle can feed Jackson.  He has a big bowl, and a bigger carpet to catch the food that does not make it in to his bowl.

Isabelle can get a really sharp knife out of the drawer.  I have no remedy for this other than NO, PUT THE SHARP KNIFE BACK.

Please do not email me other suggestions, short of putting the knives not in a drawer in our house, nothing is working.

Isabelle is not to be startled if she is holding something of yours that is quite delicate or valuable.

To illustrate – if she is holding Kennith’s iPhone, I do not scream at her “GIVE IT TO ME NOW.”  As she will throw it at the general direction of my head, with a certain measure of force that far outweighs her age.

Best to use your “sweet inside voice” and ask her nicely to pass it to you — a small amount of crawling on the floor and speaking in a sweet whisper does not hurt either.  If she throws it at you, it may not be directly at you and can bounce off a wall or the floor … as has happened too many times to count, or tell Kennith about.

This weekend I watched Isabelle get the oven mittens.  She walked around picking things up with going “…OT …OT” which of course made me smile.   At a certain point I ignore her as she carried on repeating the same thing to infinity, and I got bored and did something else.

Last night Kennith made dinnerand he wanted to do some baked chips, because I had asked for them.

Like a good Big Cook he turned the oven on to pre-heat.

Unfortunately Isabelle had realised that the oven was a great place to hide Connor’s toothbrush and say “…OT ….OT” while mom was ignoring her.

House smelt like burnt plastic for several hours.

Connor no longer has a toothbrush.

I am emailing that school again, to triple confirm they have a place for her in January.

Tangle Teezer — my pink bit of magic …….

Georgia has got ridiculously long hair.  It runs way past her bum when loose.

I adore her hair, and hope that when she is twelve and decides she hates me, that she does to run out to a hairdresser and have it cut as a sign of rebellion.

I generally keep her hair in plaits to stop it getting too knotty.

On the rare occasion I leave it loose in all it’s glory, but knowing that I will have an evening of conditioner + huge knots + Georgia screaming as I detangle her hair.

Usually it remains plaited or styled and then in the morning it gets brushed out and retied up.

Pretty simple system. I really love her hair, I often touch it …. as you do …….

Georgia often screams or cries during brushing and the lament of: ‘Mommy, you are hurting me, mommy you are hurting me, mommy please stop hurting me …” usually fills the house.  It is not my finest moment and makes me feel somewhat sh&t that I insist her hair remains long, when clearly it is not fun for her.

To say I am less than excited when it comes to brushing Georgia’s hair, is an understatement.

I use a lot of conditioner.

I use a very wide toothed comb.

I drink a large glass of wine.  I brush slowly and carefully.  Georgia does not enjoy it.  She always tries to find ways to negotiate her way out of having her hair brushed.  Whining and crying are usual weapons of defense.

Last week in London, I was watching a BBC show “Dragons’ Den” and saw a product called a Tangle Teezer.

I was not overly impressed as I figured it is a strange brush, and trying to sell on hype, probably does not work much better than my fancy-comb.  I showed mild interest, but not a lot.  It did appear to work, but I tend to be somewhat distrusting of “telecommercial” products.

Then I was at Boots.  They had the product and a little display.  I remembered the show.

I was seduced by the flourescent lights, the large signage offering buy-3-only-pay-for-2 signs.

I was intrigued by the ridiculous prices of cosmetics (even when I converted pounds to rands).  I had a credit card and no idea of the bank charges for purchases.

I picked up a Tangle Teezer – stared at it for a bit, threw it into my basket.  I was not feeling overly confident with my purchase, but wanted to give it a try.  And it was pink, so that helped. (I must confess that the fact that I had seen the show, and the merits of the product whilst staring at the display did come back to me, and did encourage me to make the purchase.)

I got home on Monday and in the evening opened the Tangle Teezer and used it on Georgia’s just-washed-and-very-knotty hair.

This would normally be a mammoth undertaking.

Seriously!!  One two three strokes and bob’s your monkey, her hair was brushed, knots were gone and she was not screaming. It was done.  I stood there in amazement and stared at my pink brushy thing in amazement.

Last night Georgia ASKED me to brush her hair.  She NEVER asks me to brush her hair.

She went to get her cool new Tangle Teezerand I brushed her hair.  I am amazed (like mouth gaping amazed) and how easy it brushes out knots and does not cause her pain and she was sitting there quite content.

I had her brush my hair to see the effect.  Normally if Georgia brushes my hair, a good portion of my hair leaves my head with their roots in tact.

But it was pain-free and really cool.

I have no idea how or why it works, but seriously if you have a child and have been struggling to brush hair amid tears and threats of violence, do yourself a favour and get one of these brushes.

No idea where you get them, but my giddy aunt, really really good.

When child services are called ….because of a blog …. no really ….

I may be coming a bit late to this party, I do not read as many blogs as often as I used to, but none the less, I do eventually get there, albeit it a bit later.

I saw this on blogher and of course, it made me a bit nervous, and apprehensive.  I raised a need-an-appointment-for-waxing eyebrow in suspicion, and asked “What is really going on here …?”

I went along to read the original story and unless I am missing something: – a son sold his calculator for Pokemon merchandise, his mom thought okay, that is fine, you do what you must, but you will need to earn the money back to pay for the calculator, which you do need for school – and oh, seeing as you sold your calculator it appears you will not have one for your maths test.

Sorry for you!

You sold/swapped the calculator = You suffer the consequences = Seems like good parenting.

Possibly I am further on the scale towards “free range” parenting, than say “helicopter” parenting.  But I personally have no problem with this concept.  (In truth out of guilt I may have stopped en route to school and bought my son a calculator, but good sense would have told me to allow the lesson to be taught and granted if I bought him a calculator now, what would stop him from swapping his duvet for a cool skate board tomorrow?)

The child in the blog post is eleven.

Eleven you can work out a few things, including you will not have a calculator for a maths test if you swap it for Pokemon merchandise, for instance.

I figure, if you can’t work this out, well then maybe you need to be kept back a grade anyway, whether you pass the maths test sans-calculator or not.

I do think as a parent we struggle to give our children everything, and balance this off against a sense of entitlement (the child’s) and a sense of their place in the world (the child’s) and guilt (ours as parents, which seems to arrive at the same time as the child).

I know far too many children who are catered to, and who have no idea what a consequence is.  They do as they please, and mom and dad, pretty much smile and nod and the child merrily skips through life thinking their sh*t does not stink.

These are loving parents, but for some reason they perceive discipline=hate my child, and they just can’t discipline, or choose not to.

I do think it is wonderful to be a child and be given toys and no restriction on rules and sleep time and all of those wonderful things.

It sounds like Disney Land every day.  Great for kids, maybe not so great for parents, or society.

I sense that by not setting boundaries and a sense of consequence we will affect how our children go through the rough (and trecarious) teenage years and thus develop in to responsible adults.

I may be wrong, but I will update my blog in about 5 – 10 years and let you know how that works out.

I am not sure what the result is of “giving in to everything our children want” being “restrictive about what we give our children” and I am sure for everyone there is a happy medium.

Yours may be very different to mine.

I try my utmost not to judge other parents, as really you have no idea what they are faced with, and how much sleep they have had, but I do roll my eyes.  Inside. Quietly, so they don’t see.

Have I told you the part where we made Connor pay for a second tennis racket we had to buy for him. (We bought the first one, because we are good parents who encourage sport and involvement, but we draw the line at kitting out the same child for the same sport a second time.)

Because he had lost the first one.

And we explained the value of looking after your possessions.

Then I found the tennis racket in a box.  I had put it in to.  After I had cleaned out my car …… yes, CPA anyone?

SA Blog Awards 2011 are upon us …. insert happy face or not ….

Surprisingly I won the Best Parenting Blog in 2010.  No really I did.  NO REALLY!!

I was as surprised as you presently are — trust me.

I could not make it to the Award Evening/Announcement of Winner-and-Losers as I was holidaying in Zanzibar at the time sans children (I love the sound of that.)

Good times.  Relaxed times.

I sent my lovely friends David and Alice to the Awards Evening in my stead.  Bless them.

I won!!  Yay for me.

Alice stumbled up to the stage and collected the little perspex/glass award for me.  She might have used the old but never forgotten speech of: “You like me, you really like me…” which I would have gone with, had I been there.

I did not see images from the night, but I saw this one earlier today, which was great. Olmeca Tecquila was a co-sponsor …..>

The 2011 SA Blog Awards have got started, a tad late, I might add.

But hey, I am not having to organise it, so really I leave it to others who are suitably qualified, and who like the feel of the last minute rush and the chaos that ensues.

There are far fewer categories this year.

Parenting Blog Category has been axed and so too have several others – we could argue the merits of that, but really I don’t want to.  It would be a case of lamenting something I have no control or influence over, and really just getting my big girl panties in a knot.

The present blog categories for the 2011 SA Blog Awards are:-

  • Best Business / Political Blog
  • Best Entertainment / Lifestyle Blog (I was suspicious as Lifestyle was spelt incorrectly on their website, not a good omen)
  • Best Environmental Blog
  • Best Fashion Blog
  • Best Food & Wine Blog (It annoys me when an ampersand is used, when in other instances the word “and” is used ….. anal much?….. yes I am a bit)
  • Best Music Blog
  • Best Photographic Blog
  • Best Science and Technology Blog
  • Best Sport Blog
  • Best Travel Blog

So there we go.  It appears I fit into none of these categories, though I may make a play for “Best Wine Blog.”

Drinking copious amounts of wine whilst blogging does not equal a wine blog, it seems.  Which I think is just a technicality and shows a narrow-mindedness very early in the competition.

If you like a blog enough to spare a few clicks, pop along and see if they are there, and then cast a vote.

The public voting phase opens on Monday 31 October 2011 and runs until Wednesday 9 November 2011.

The 2010 SA Blog Awards were a bit controversial.  People moaned, people complained, people beat their chests in anguish and not everyone was happy with most of it.

I found the process a bit odd and really had no idea what was going on most of the time. Clearly I was somewhat pleased with the outcome, as you would expect.

Winning is a bit like that.

There were a lot of bloggers who had some less than complimentary things to say about the way it had been dealt with (nomination + voting + judges decision) and how it had all run.

Lots of bloggers were annoyed and voiced this on blogs, tweets and on Facebook, and basically shot the awards down. It was my first year, so I had no comment as I did not know any better.

I guess this year will be similar, and already there is a bit of a huff about the categories and the fact that right now “quite popular and much in need of a night out with a bit of dress up and the possibility of an award” Mommy-Bloggers are excluded, or not included sufficiently.

Mommy Bloggers are hardly going to be “right” in the Best Entertainment / Lifestyle Blog Category.  And as mentioned the Best Wine Blog Category is not right either.

Mommy Bloggers float in the abyss, or throw their hat in the ring with Entertainers and see how that rolls.

Motherhood often does requires an ability to fake an interest in sex, all things poo and how-much-does-your-baby-weigh related, and you must appear truly excited when you unwrap the macaroni-painted-necklace again ………. so at best we are fantastic thespians … just with a limited stage and not so much in the way of ticket sales.

Hence we might make it into the Entertainment and Lifestyle Category …. and then Mommy Bloggers are being compared to 2oceanvibe – I mean seriously!!!?

Ah well, such is life.

I think it is great to have a Blog Awards.  It’s cool to be ranked with the cool kids. and it is also nice to have a bit of “props” for something you think is pretty phenomenal.

But at the end of the day, you blog because you like the sound of your own voice, and you like to write about your own sh&t, and you get to cyber-meet some really interesting people.

Does an Award make you a better blogger?  Doubt it. Is it always the best blogger who wins? Probably not – it is subjective and probably not always as “fair” as we would like to think.  Does blogging become a bit of a please-for-fk-sake-like-me-and-vote-for-me? Of course.

Granted it is a nice badge to have, and I was super thrilled in 2010.

Good luck to all the bloggers for 2011.

Maybe Living and Loving or Pampers can run a Best Mommy Blogger of the Year Award …. I would so get on board with that sh&t …… just saying.

Isabelle might be MENSA material after all …….

Isabelle is still not talking.

What I mean is she is not saying Mommy!  She manages to garble together “dog” “cat” yuck “juice” and “daddy.”

She says a few things, and has acquired the ability to grunt or whine which contains no consonants, only vowels.  But somehow I am able to understand when she wants Flings, a chocolate biscuit or some water.

Granted I just give her one of these three options, when she makes this sound and it appears to keep her happy.

I have begun a twinge of concern regarding her “mental capabilities” because she is not coo’ing mommy, or even mama. (either that or she has a dislike for me)

This morning I was using the bathroom facilities.

I turned to use the loo roll.  It was nearly finished.

Isabelle is standing there.  She sees me reach over to the loo roll.  She is able to assess that the roll is nearly finished.  She immediately walks over and goes to fetch a new roll (which is kept in a little wooden box under the handbasins) and brings it over to me (I had not asked for it.)

I really do not need her to say mommy right now.

She is able to gauge a toilet roll is empty and get a new one (and throw the old cardboard roll into the dustbin), there are adults I know who still cannot do that.

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.

I am so crushing on the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer … like a lot …

Oh my giddy aunt (as my friend Alice would say!)

I really have very little to bribe Georgia with.  Painfully little you might say. I for one would agree.

Georgia is one of those quirky/difficult/does not react well to punishment-praise at all/I have not found anything that works sort of children.

Connor – I can indicate that I might think about taking away television or his DS, and I pretty much get an instant reaction.  The threat alone is warning enough for him to do what I need him to do.

He also does wonderfully if I threaten “time out!”

But Connor has always been that way.  He responds well to “I am counting to three ….. one ….. tw……..”

Then we got Georgia.

Georgia has been given to us to show us that we are indeed sh&tty parents and some children do not fall into the “average” so expertly referred to in parenting manuals.”I am counting to three ….. one ….. tw……..” results in her counting the “two, three…” out loud for me, which of course disarms me somewhat.

Nothing works on Georgia.

N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

I like to refer to her as “marching to her own drum.” In reality, not only does she march to her own drum, she appears to be the only one able to hear the tune.

I really love Georgia.  I love her gutzpah and her rather zany view on the world at large.

But, geez Louise, is she difficult to parent.

I ask her.  I speak in her language. I repeat.  I reinforce. I get her to agree so we are on the same page.  I
kneel so I am eye level. I promise treats and favours. I try not to lose my temper. I speak patiently. I scream hysterically.  I promise to take television away. I promise to pay her if she listens to me. I threaten to give her such a hiding that she will cry for a week.  I threaten to call her dad. I threaten her with time out. I give her time out. I take television away.I send her to her room.  I scream. Icurse. I ignore.  I beg.  I plead. I weep.

Nothing works.

I have never found the secret to motivating Georgia to do anything she does not want to do, or that she is feeling vaguely resistant to.

But then I did.

Oh my heavens, then I did.

I received a LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer to test out.  It falls into Georgia’s age category (ages 4 – 9 years old).

Georgia is not a big gamer, so I was not exactly swooning at the offer as I did not think she would really take to it.  I figgered she would glance at it, and then it would be thrown on the pile of toys-we-have-spent-a-great-deal-of-money-on-and-now-lie-in-the-corner-gathering-dust.

Well I have been mistaken before.  This will not be the last time.

Georgia thought Christmas had come early.  She has been firmly glued to the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer since it’s jolly greenness arrived on my diningroom table.

It is a bit like an ipad for kids. It has games, and educational stuff, and it sings and it dances.

I have not found the teach-your-child-to-make-tea application, but no doubt is just a case of looking harder.

Last night Connor and Georgia were fighting.

About what?  I have no idea.  It never stops.  I have nearly lost the will to live.

I gave a few warnings.  I said that if they carry on I will take computers/LeapFrog/television away for the night.

Needless to say they never stopped.

I said: “That is it, you guys can keep on fighting but tonight there are no games or television.  If you whine or make a fuss, it will also be off the menu for tomorrow night!”

Georgia looked at me with her huge hazel eyes, with tears starting to well up in the corners: “I can still play my game with the green screen?”

Me: “No Georgia that is still a game, no LeapFrog tonight!”

Man, did she cry.  I am talking the anguish-of-a-nation-cry coming from a six year old – of course this all happened while I was outside in our cul-de-sac trying to be a good parent, so the neighbours were watching this all going on.

Seriously if I was not distracted by my glass of wine (which I drank in the road Jerry Springer style) and my two-year-old throwing rocks at the neighbours dogs, I might have given in to her pleading and tantrum throwing.

I stood my ground, and Georgia did continue to lament her fate.

Later in the evening, she drew a “list of who has been good and nice to me.”

I did make it on to the list.  I was at the end.  I did not get any stars. I actually got a black dot next to my name!  Cara had 8 stars, so clearly Cara had been good and nice to Georgia.

I ♥ LeapFrog right now!  Before I thought it was a luxury but now it has become a necessity.

< LeapPad Explorer comes with 2GB onboard storage, built-in camera, accelerometer, stylus and microphone. The features let the kids to play educational games and apps like Disney Animation Studio, an interactive reader and 100 other apps ready to download. 

Georgia has made several of her home movies already.  There is a little song/story that teaches her the alphabet,and she is singing the song, thus getting her alphabet sorted.  It is totally brilliant. 

Have I told you how in-love I am right now?>

Transporting Polar Bears …..

I have mentioned before that Kennith and I are the owners of a VW Caddy.

It is not sexy.

It is large and it is white.

It screams FAMILY-VAN, and no matter how much you rev the diesel engine at a stop light, no one looks at you with envy.

It is about as close to a family of plumbers or electricians as you could get, without wearing overalls.

The upside, is that all the kids can fit in, and bring friends (or a nanny.)

The upside is that two children can be in the front row, and one can be in the back.

The downside is that even though the three kids are sitting far apart they still manage to have those physical fights that only children can manage to have in a car. On a road trip.  Where mom is about to lose her mind (if the kids only realised how tentative my grasp was on sanity right now!).

Though we have dropped several thousand rand on a vehicle to allow for the kids to be spaced FAR apart, it is not unusual for me to find Connor unbuckled, reaching over the seat to smack his sister on the head.

Yesterday he was “sucking her brains out” – fortunately she had an “anti brain sucker” machine so that it non-effective. <sigh>

The back seats can be removed so that it becomes a “dinkum” utility vehicle, and we can transport large things.

Yesterday Connor goes: “I think you could put two polar bears into this car.  I would be worried about three, but two will be fine!”

I am not sure quite why we would ever have the occasion to transport polar bears.

I am unsure of how this idea popped in to his head.  I am not sure how he is okay with two polar bears. In our car.  But three seem to make him nervous.

I was overwhelmed with the vision of a polar bear biting my head off before I had reversed out of the driveway.

On the upside, I would no longer be able to hear the kid fighting in the car, and that would be a bonus.

Connor further suggested that the polar bear face the other way when loaded into the van. (simple solution to a complex problem)

We would of course now we have the polar bear’s bum in our face.  Connor suggested we insert a cork.  It should be fine, he promised, as a polar bear does not have strong farts.

Have I mentioned Connor watches a lot of Discovery Channel?

Have I mentioned that I have some concerns regarding the government curriculum school system?