Category Archives: Life
Baby G has had a hard time saying goodbye in the mornings (here’s the full Diva recount). Little Miss Independent has turned into a cling-on of grand proportions and I’ve accepted that we’ve entered the OMG-I-need-to-get-back-into-that-womb-NOW phase. After a few mornings of tears and trauma, her beautiful teacher sent the classroom copy of The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn home with her for us to read (wonderful book, by the way). She also sent home the Kindy‘s plush “Chester” doll for a sleepover.
If you have ever had a four year old, you can imagine the ENORMITY of this honour. Not every kid gets to take Chester home, you must understand. Chester, in case you’re wondering, is the raccoon in the book. See the sweet little heart in his paw? That’s the love that his mama raccoon left when she kissed his hand.
All together now: Awwwww. Read the rest of this entry
Today’s post was written by an old friend and fabulous blogger, Alexia, of I am fancypants.
Our friendship began in South Africa in the late nineties, when we were young creatives testing the waters in the Advertising World. South Africa had only recently undergone the most incredible historical transformation – we had elected Nelson Mandela our new president.
We lived in a country electric with hope and buzzing with joy. Unfortunately, among this Rainbow Nation (as we South Africans like to call ourselves) were the inevitable monsters. Those people who want only to kill, maim, destroy. With impunity.
This week, as we watch in horror as the Boston Marathon bombings are on every news station worldwide, Alexia and her family feel the horror in the rawest of ways. Here’s her story: Read the rest of this entry
Today at Mamapedia, Dave Room, of Heal Our World, Heal Ourselves has posted a piece titled, “Are Lil Wayne, Zombies and Minecraft Raising Your Children?”
Having checked out Dave’s website, I’m pretty sure he’s a good guy with pure intentions, so I’m going to ignore the wholly unsubstantiated statistic about Latino and black kids (true or not, there is no source quoted and there really is no relevance to the content anyway) and hope this wasn’t intended to offend.
The article itself asserts that technology is changing the wiring of our kids’ brains and making our kids more violent, foul-mouthed and immoral.
On the surface, I guess I’d agree. A little bit. No… not really, now that I’ve begun to think about it in the context of my kids.
Does technology affect our kids’ developing brains? ABSOLUTELY.
Do violent video games and music with foul, degrading lyrics have a negative effect on our kids? In my opinion, WITHOUT QUESTION.
Is excessive screen time bad for our little ones? Excessive ANYTHING is bad for our kids.
I guess what I am saying is that this article deals too much in absolutes. It deals in blacks and whites (in more ways than one, clearly). It assumes that parents are either going to be The Bradys or they’re the Octomom.
Life isn’t like that!
Of course there are days when my kids watch way more TV that is good for them (appallingly too much, sometimes). Is it every day? Not a chance. They also do sport, play with friends and go to school. Do they listen to gangsta rap? Hell, no. Know why? Because their playlists are monitored by me. Sure, they ask to download songs their friends are listening to, with lyrics that are less than wonderful. Mostly, I allow them to get them anyway. It opens a window to talk about the incredible power of words and how we have the choice to use creative and interesting words to weave together magical stories or throw together really ugly ones and show ourselves to be ugly people. By facing the real world, we have the chance to have discussions about how much we value ourselves and how our words are the clothes of our character. Miss M certainly didn’t start yelling, “F*&k you!” after she heard the Cee Lo Green song at a friend’s house. She came to me and giggled and told me what she had heard and we talked about it. My kids know curse words exist but they also know that they’re not going to try include them in their day-to-day language. They don’t swear because we parent them, we guide them, we show them the world and help them to navigate through it. Hiding technology from them isn’t going to teach them anything.
Minecraft has given my kids an intensely creative outlet. I’ve heard that there’s a violent side to the game but I certainly haven’t seen it when my kids play. They are far more interested in what they can create that what they can destroy. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they have no idea that you CAN destroy anything. Miss M and Little Man get together with their friends (the one situation, mind you, that they adore each other’s company!) and strategise. They make alliances and they relish in the deeply creative imaginary worlds they are creating. As far as I see it, this is a wonderfully positive experience for them. On the flip-side, (and I have to be absolutely honest) when time’s up and I send them outside to play, withdrawal does set in. If I let them, they would be glued to their iPods all day.
Tonight, my daughter spent two hours on the computer. She is ten. *gasp*
She wasn’t looking at porn or killing zombies. Nor was she watching lewd music videos. She was immersed in the challenge of achieving a higher personal score on….MATHLETICS.
Screen time ain’t all bad.
Sure, it has the potential to be very dangerous, if parents don’t supervise, monitor and guide their kids. The thing is, this isn’t unique to screen time.
Kids left unsupervised at a swimming pool could drown. Kids left unsupervised in a shopping centre could be abducted. Kids left unsupervised at home could burn the house down.
The issue here is not technology. The issue is parenting.
White, Black, Hispanic, Asian or Smurf for that matter – we all need to guide our kids, teach them about this world and all the opportunities out there as well as the dangers. We need to educate them, build up their self-worth enough that they CHOOSE to raise themselves above the lowest common denominator.
It’s our job to raise our kids.
If they grow up to be chauvinistic, racist, bigoted, foul-mouthed, abusive, aggressive adults… let’s just say, it wasn’t the TV that did it. Mmmkay?
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“Mum, I think that before people are born, they live in Heaven and they wait until they find the right Mum and Dad to be born to and then when that Mum and Dad decide to have a baby then that person goes from Heaven into the Mummy’s tummy and gets born.”
Little Man said this to me, matter-of-factly, as he sat in bed waiting for me to read him his nightly instalment of Harry Potter. Clearly this wasn’t going to be our usual goodnight routine. I climbed in next to him and he lay on his side with his head in the crook of my arm (perfect position for back tickles) and continued: Read the rest of this entry
You know that cute little paragraph we all read from time to time on Facebook about how being a mother is a twenty four hour a day job, seven days a week? How we get no benefits? How our bosses don’t pay us a salary or give us sick days? How we have to be doctors and psychiatrists and teachers and mechanics and electricians and handymen and policemen? You know how we ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ these little glib paragraphs and smugly smile because we know that this job is so rewarding and wonderful that it’s worth all the crap that gets thrown at us (often literally)? Well, I’m not laughing at it today. I’m not liking or sharing. I’m thinking it’s a pretty damn crappy deal I have here, quite frankly.
Now, now, Mrs Judgy, before you start writing to me to tell me I am an unfit mother or that I don’t appreciate my blessings or that I don’t deserve my children, give me a minute, okay? Come here, grab a cup of coffee (you may as well have the one I just made, since it’s the third cup I’ve made today and I didn’t get to drink the other two because a small person needed me RIGHT NOW why should I get to have the third anyway?) and let me explain. Read the rest of this entry
After waking up from a horrible nightmare and simultaneously realising I had overslept, I woke up my three sleeping children (because they only wake up at Sparrow’s Fart on weekends, of course) and BEGGED them to PLEASE get ready as quickly as possible so we wouldn’t be late for school.
Miss M dawdled and danced in front of the mirror, then stood in the middle of the kitchen NOT eating breakfast NOR brushing teeth NOR doing her hair, causing me to turn into a screaming banshee with the parenting skills of a toad.
Little Man did everything I asked at the pace of a snail on Rohypnol and simply refused point-blank to hurry up. He was so slow, in fact, that I had to remind him to chew his food after he put it in his mouth. Oh yes. Read the rest of this entry
Before I begin to tell you this story, I need to first stand up and say two things:
One: The previous post on flying with children was horribly misleading. Why, you ask? I’ll tell you why: that aeroplane trip was easypeasylemonsqueezy and as pleasurable as an all expenses paid spa weekend in comparison with what I am about to tell you.
Two: You may not want to eat your lunch while reading this blog today. Ignore this warning at your own peril. Seriously. put. down. the. sandwich.
Okay, here goes…
The day had finally arrived. I had been waiting for this train trip and visualising it for months before. Having been born in South Africa and now living in Australia, I was looking forward to my first sighting of snow-capped mountains in the same manner that my kids look forward to trashing my house on the day I clean it.
There I was, in the Zurich train station, waiting to catch a train to St Anton, Austria. It was going to be two and a half hours of blissful travel through the Swiss Alps and I was itching to get on that train. Between us we had four giant suitcases, four backpacks, a stroller and handbags, as well as three children to get on board in the (approximately) thirty seconds that the doors were open. Magically, we managed to get everything and everyone on board and found our seats. Aaah – now all I had to do was gaze out of the window at the Christmas card scenery outside….
Not so fast, Michelle. Read the rest of this entry
As I write this, I’m looking down at puffy clouds from an altitude of 12,192m. I’m sipping on a chardonnay, flicking through a magazine and revelling in the deep sense of relaxation this travel experience brings.
Oh, who am I kidding.
I have a four year old beside me.
This is how this flight has panned out so far:
As we boarded the aeroplane –
Baby G: I want to carry my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book!
Me: As soon as we sit down, you can have it.
Walking down the aisle:
Baby G: Can I do my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book now?
Me: You have to wait until we are sitting down, okay?
As we find our seats:
Baby G: Now can I do my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book?
Me: (Twitch developing in right eye) We need to put our bags away first, honey bunny (or the pushy guy behind us will use up the whole overhead locker and Mummy will lose the plot, my darling princess sweetie pie.)
As I attempt to load luggage in the overhead compartment, while balancing half on the seat and half in the aisle and trying to unpack activity books, crayons, ipods, snacks and blankies:
Baby G: Okay, I’m ready for my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book now! Can I have it? Can I have it? Can I have it? Mum? MUM?!
Me: Be patient, baby girl, I’m nearly ready, I just have to -
Baby G: I’m tired, Mum! (big, pleading brown eyes.)
Me: Okay. (Huff. Puff.) I’m ready. Let’s find your book.
As I rummage like a blood hound through the chair pocket, balancing an iPad and multiple activity options on my lap. WHERE the EFF is the bloody Strawberry Freaking Shortcake book? Ah, found it. Dammit, dropped 5 crayons. Hit head in my attempt to pick them up. Got them. Phew. All sorted.
Me: Here’s your book, Baby G! (Spoken in the perkiest, Mary-Poppinsest voice imaginable.)
Baby G: I think I don’t want to do my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book.
Me: (Twitch. Blink. Twitch.)
As I deep breathe, while observing Darren in the row ahead with Miss M and Little Man. They are relaxed, self-sufficient and happy. They independently browse through the movie catalogue and set up their headsets. I am brought out of my reverie by the chipmunk-like rapid-fire questioning by Baby G.
Baby G: Look, I can clip my seat belt! Look! I can unclip it!
Me: Awesome! That was very clever of you, to work that out.
Baby G: (Click. Click. Click.) Look, Mum! (Click. Click. Click.)
Me: No more seatbelt, Baby G.
Baby G: (Click.) Sorry, that was an accident. (Click click click.) Sorry. (Click.)
Me: (Eye twitching visibly now. Working really hard to keep my inner Mary Poppins alive.)
As we prepare for take-off and I start to believe I will never rest again. Ever.
Baby G: Can I colour now?
Me: Sure. (Put down magazine, rummage through pocket. Rearrange. Drop. Pick up. About to reach Strawberry Bitchface Shortcake…)
Baby G: Actually, I want to colour later.
Me: (Blink. Twitch. Double blink.)
Baby G: How much longer until we get there?
Me: (Mary Poppins singing loudly in my head… some annoying, perky crap about sugar fixing problems.) Angel, we haven’t even taken off yet.
Baby G: I’m tiiiiiired!
Me: Me too. Let’s sleep.
Baby G I’m NOT tired!
Me: (Getting hardass.)You can colour or sleep.
Baby G: Okay, I’ll colour.
Fast forward ten minutes and Baby G is colouring happily and – more importantly – self-sufficiently. I begin to relax. This is not bad at all! We are going to have a great flight! Flying with a four year old isn’t bad at all!!!!! (Five exclamation points convey, conservatively, the excitement I feel as I have this epiphany.)
I settle into my seat, browse through the movies and select Pitch Perfect. Excellent – light, mindless entertainment. I am grinning. This is the life! Movie begins, I relax a little more, I peer over at Baby G and smile. Flying with a four year old is a piece of cake. Now that the excitement has worn off, she’s going to be the perfect travelling companion.
First line of movie dialogue is not completely performed and –
Baby G: Mum, I don’t want to colour any more. I’m bored.
Me: No problem, baby girl, it’s movie time! Let’s see what’s on your special, very own tv! (My perkiness is totally natural. I’m kicking Mary Poppins’ perky ass at her own game.)
Excitedly, we scroll through the menu of movies and choose Horton Hears a Who. She grins. I grin. We are a living commercial for Singapore Airlines and Colgate rolled into one. My mother-in-law, sitting next to me tells me I am an amazing mother. I beam, smugly. We all but sing kumbayah. I begin to visualise the glass of wine and uninterrupted movie. I can taste it. It tastes good.
Earphones on, movies unpaused, we begin to watch. 30 seconds. IT LASTS THIRTY SECONDS.
Baby G: I can’t hear.
I pause my movie. I adjust her volume. No problem. I restart my movie.
Baby G: It’s too loud, mama!
Pause. Fix. Resume. Still happy – minor glitch. Oh, look, there are people singing!
Baby G: Are we there yet?
Pause. Explain that we still have five hours to go. Suggest we enjoy our movies. She agrees. Pat myself on the back for my saint-like patience. Resume movie. Looking forward to seeing Rebel Wilson.
Baby G: I don’t want to watch a movie.
Pause. Calm discussion about sitting still and keeping occupied and the concept of what five hours means. Still perky. We decide on The Wiggles. She grins. I grin. Unpause. Waiting for Rebel.
Baby G: I don’t want to watch TV. Can we play Go Fish?
Switch off TV. Abort mission. Observe Darren sleeping peacefully as Miss M and Little Man watch movies. Observe Mother-in-law reading book, uninterrupted. Feel perkiness waning. Accept fate. Play Go Fish. Lose. Play again. Lose.
Baby G: Can I play on your iPad?
Me: Brilliant idea! (Why didn’t I think of that?)
Hand over iPad. Resume movie.
NOTE: I have, so far, watched a grand total of three minutes of Pitch Perfect. We have been flying for an hour.
Tentatively, I begin to relax. Stupid move, but a girl can hope.
Mother-in-law: I have to read you this part of my book!
Pause. Listen. That was interesting, actually. Resume movie.
Mother-in-law: Oh my gaaaaawd, listen to this part!
Pause. Listen. Again, interesting. Resume movie.
Mother-in-law: This is insane! This book is UH MAY ZING.
(SIDE NOTE: I adore my Mother-in-law and consider her to be one of my best friends. So much so, that both Darren and I are thrilled that she has decided to come with us on this holiday.)
Mother-in-law and I have a deep conversation. I’m really happy to be talking to an adult. Until she unceremoniously shoves a dinner roll into my mouth. To shut me up. Apparently I won’t stop talking. Seems I was a tad over-excited to be talking about something that wasn’t Wiggles, Horton or Strawberry-the-asshat-Shortcake.
I realise that Baby G is now happily watching something. I have no idea what, but she’s happy, so I don’t care. Mother-in-law is reading her book. Darren is sleeping. Big kids are entertaining themselves.
This is the perfect time to write.
Out comes the iPad again. I begin to write. As I begin to type, the stewardess approaches with the lunch trolley and tells us to clear our trays. Of course.
I pack away the iPad after writing six words.
We all eat, except Mother-in-law-sent-to-me-directly-from-Heaven, who takes Baby G to the toilet three times in fifteen minutes. She then switches places with me so she can play with Baby G and I can rest.
Ahhh, peace at last.
Until a little hand reaches through from the seat in front of me. Miss M needs a spoon, wants to show me her Minecraft construction, and something else I couldn’t understand because her voice disappears in the white noise. She continues to ask me the same question at the same unintelligible volume. I say yes. Still don’t know for what.
I laugh. I give up on civilised travel. I try to ignore the fact that I only had two hours sleep the previous night. I’m a pro at handling sleep-deprivation. After all, I have ten years’ experience. My perky facade is still intact. I look over at Mother-in-law, who is ‘baking” with Baby G. They are so happy. Their trays are covered with plasticine carrots and cupcakes and sausages and apples.
Sure, I’d love an uninterrupted movie. Of course I’d enjoy reading my book. But I have many years ahead when that will be possible. Right now, I have a four-year-old next to me, proudly showing off the plasticine birthday cake she’s made with Granny. We ‘light’ the candles, she blows them out and Mother-in-law and I sing happy birthday to Baby G, who is four and is having a pretend birthday party in the sky.
Baby G: Mum, we have been in the sky for sixty and a million thirty two twenty minutes!
Yes, we have, Baby G. Only a squillion minutes to go.
Miss M: Are we rich, Mum?
Me: Well, what does rich mean?
Miss M: I think it means you have everything you want in the world
Me: Okay, then. So, do you think we’re rich?
Miss M: I think we are the richest, Mum, because we have lots of people who we love and who love us and that means we have everything we want in the world.
Today, this little conversation between my daughter and I means more to me than ever.
Today, when TWENTY (I cannot get my head around this number) children were senselessly taken from their families. Today, when TWENTY EIGHT families lost their loved ones. Today, when evil triumphed so monumentally over the purest of all goodness.
Today, I will hug my kids until they beg me to stop. I will tell them I love them. I will stroke their hair. I will watch them laugh. I will listen to their same knock-knock jokes that they told me all day yesterday. Tonight, when they are asleep, I will watch their chests rise and fall with every precious breath. I’ll be endlessly grateful for my riches, my little human treasures. I’ll rejoice in their messy bedrooms and toothpaste smears in the bathroom and legos on the floor and dirty fingerprints on the wall and unmade beds.
Today, I will force myself – despite the aching in my heart – to try to feel joy. I will make a point of acknowledging that goodness is still everywhere. Even in Connecticut – where horror struck with terrifying precision – goodness still wins. Its not easy to see, but look and boy, will you see it. It’s there in the teachers who bravely hid their children in closets and locked them in classrooms. It’s there in the nurse who ran towards the scene, begging to help, as others fled. It’s there in the thousands of candles being lit around the world by strangers to honour those who were taken. It’s there in the compassion of rescue workers. Its there in the tears pouring down cheeks in the UK, Australia, Israel, Canada, South Africa… everywhere. It’s there.
Yes, evil triumphed today. But goodness didn’t die. Far from it.
Today I will hug my children. I will let them eat ice-cream. I will do that one more puzzle.
I will do all these things, all the while feeling the heaviest guilt that I get to be with my children, while TWENTY other mothers in Connecticut are forced to comprehend a world without theirs. Their pain is unimaginable. My brain won’t even go there. Can’t go there. How do they even begin to live their lives after this? How? I can’t help them. I can’t write magic words to ease their suffering. I can’t do anything. Nobody can. Their fractured families can’t be fixed.
So, I’ll do what I can – I’ll hug my children. I’ll light a candle. I’ll focus on seeking out goodness. I’ll pray. I’ll do an act of kindness in honour of each victim and ask you to do the same. I will also look at the pictures and read the tributes about the victims, even as it rips my heart to pieces, and try to remember them, not the incident that ended their lives.
To the families who have been affected by this unspeakable tragedy, please know that there are people all over the world sobbing for you, aching for you and feeling for you. Among them, this one mum in Australia who is hugging her babies extra tight today, while, with a heavy heart, she prays for yours.