Category Archives: Parenting

Boys!

I really don’t want to get annoyed but one of my boys needs another operation.  He slammed his finger in a door and waited over a week to tell me.  The finger is fractured, the ligament off and the bones have fused.  And blah blah blah.  So now they need to insert a pin.

In 2010 he tore the AC Ligament in his left knee during a warm-up race in the Cape Town Nationals (motocross) which required two operations and a full year of rehabilitation.  He was back on his bike only for the fourth time in February 2011 when that same ligament snapped in half.  Another long year of rehabilitation and he just got back on the bike when he breaks his finger!

In 2003 the kids were shooting with the pellet gun outside in the garden.  I was there to keep an eye but somehow, this child stepped in front of the gun (with the barrel about 4cm from his head) when the gun went off.  That little pellet went through his skull in three different places, all three holes clearly visible on the X-Ray.  The neurosurgeon explained to me that although the bullet did not enter the brain itself, a cold bullet (such as from a air-gun) does not cauterise on its way in like a hot bullet would do, and so the chances of infection were high.  Also, the fragments took with them plugs of hair which were trapped between the brain and the skull, more bugs for infection.  So they cut out a round piece of skull, flushed out the cavity and cleaned around the brain before putting everything back together with pins.  One of these days he will set off airport alarms.

We survived all that.  I should not complain but like I said, I am somewhat annoyed.  The older one also had his fair share of accidents and hospitals but never quite reached the same lofty heights as his brother.

Mothers of girls always tell me:  “That’s boys for you.”

I suppose I better put it in my pipe and smoke it.

 

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What we should learn from our Mothers, about being Mothers

The Bath by Mary Cassatt

We should learn from our mothers how not to be devils

How not to bind our children in chains

And if we already have,

How to set them free

Because we so fiercely protective, we can be seen as interfering without meaning to.  We could take charge and involve ourselves where we have no business.  In the private sanctuaries of our children’s hearts.

We run the risk of interfering because we think we know better.  We do not want our children to stumble so we stop them from venturing out and trying.  We block the little falls they so desperately need in order to avoid those big falls.

There is always the danger of not approving so often, that we become disapproving.  That our children feel unwanted and unsafe near us.  That they stay away.

My buddy told me that the day her mom died it felt like a big, black devil climbed off her back.  And so many of us have the same without even realizing it.  We are wrapped in chains and bondage to what our mothers think or might say.  That ever disapproving down-turn of the mouth.  Those criticizing eyes.  That feeling of condemnation.  The dread of nearness.

Our own mothers are from a completely different generation.  They just got on with life.   Their mothers did not run to school every time they had issues with teachers, they did not interfere in friendships because they were simply too busy.  They were not pampered and mollycoddled.  That has predisposed them to  disapprove of the way we raise our children and the way we chose to live our lives.

We should learn to set our children free, exactly because our own mothers did not release us.

And how sad to wait for it to happen in death.


Annoying Mothers

I work in an industry where I deal with children and so by default, with mothers.  Most moms are normal and stay behind the scenes, but you always have one or two who interfere, make ridiculous demands and are so difficult to deal with that you actually wish their children away.  And sadly, the children are often precocious and unbearable too.

Some mothers never stop telling their girls to sit still, straighten up, speak louder, stop fiddling etc etc.  And rarely do these daughters benefit from the constant reprimanding.  They are in fact highly insecure.

One had no problem demanding to see my teaching syllabus for the year so that she could approve it.  Nor did it enter her mind as ridiculous when she told me to move a class to another day because it does not suit her.  Never a thought about the other parents inconvenienced.

These are the mothers that would arrive at an arranged half-an-hour photo shoot with so many bags full of clothes and shoes that the shoot turns into a two-hour affair.  But they would not think to offer the photographer more money.  Then again, neither do they settle COD as arranged.  I would imagine that this mother has been, and will be hated by every teacher that has the misfortune of having little missy in their class.

I believe that mothers should be hands-on.  They must know what is going on in their children’s lives and if the child is being wronged, they have to intervene.  As for the rest, staying on the background is healthier for the mental health of all concerned.

Mom, stop for a second and evaluate your behaviour when interacting with those who have to help guide your child through life.  Be a little considerate and think before you make demands.  Try to be nice.  Don’t make a nuisance of yourself because in the end, you will be seen as an insufferable bore and your child will be disliked.

In fact, get a copy of ‘How to make friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie.  It was written just for you.


Love parted

They were sixteen when they fell in love.  They graduated together.

They couldn’t keep their hands off one another and did not go out much.  Preferring to stay home to watch movies and cuddle.  Doing everything together, as young love does.

Someone drew a cartoon of everyone who matriculated that year.  They were the only two depicted as one.

Her dream was to study at a prestigious acting school in Los Angeles.  She was selected, and left.  He remained behind to pursue his studies.

All the parents watched.  And sighed.

Now it is their third year apart and he still has three years of studying ahead of him.

Both mothers’ hearts break for their children.  But they do not interfere.  How do you give advice on something you have no understanding of?  Courting over Skype in spite of an eleven hour time difference.  Touching physically for a little while only twice a year.

While so young and restless.

What everyone does understand is that if this relationship makes it, they would have earned it.  The usual issues that crop up and are dealt with over time has to be sorted out quickly.  Like jealousy and trust.  All of us might have time to fight it, or fight about it.  They don’t.  You cannot distrust the other at night when you are alone in your bed, and make it work.  Trust for them is a decision, not a feeling.

Everyone who knows them, roots for them.  Because they deserve it.

They take it one day at a time, with the optimism of their youth.  Not looking too far into the future.  Not sweating the small stuff.  They simply love, and believe that they are loved.  Trusting that this love will be rewarded.

I know that they will both be richer for having had one another, no matter what.  I also understand that to pass this test, they need character, and strength, and endurance, and faith.  Which the passage of time, and the separation itself provides.

These two stones rub against one another, sanding hard.  The pain released builds character which will be its own reward in time to come.

You are so faithful and brave my little children that my heart aches when I look at you, when my thoughts touch upon you.

I pray God’s favour over you.  May He give you all the desires of your hearts till there is room for no more.   And keep you strong and content, and faithful, and pure.

I have so much I want to ask for you, but rest in asking that His will be done.  Because I don’t know what is best for you, nor do I know what the future holds for you.

And it is not for me to decide.


Stepmothers

Why do some women feel threatened by their stepchildren?  Especially their stepdaughters?

I know of one woman who has forbidden her husband from seeing his daughter because she doesn’t like her.  It is a lovely girl with good manners but she dared to stand up to the stepmother once.  This child suffers from depression and has tried to commit suicide once already.

If Dad wants to see her, he has to meet with her outside of his own house.  He is not allowed to help her with money, buy a car or any of the things parents usually do for their children once they come of age.  But, he has to pay everything for stepmom’s child, including handing over a car and allowing her to live in his house.

Recently the Gran went to visit and dinner at a restaurant was organized.  Stepmom had to attend but spat on the sentiment by sitting at another table.

I can put up with a lot but these shoes are hard to imagine on my feet.

I believe it is harder for a woman to accept another woman’s child, than it is for a man to accept another man’s child.  I get all of that.  But how could anyone be so mean, callous, cold-hearted, malicious and wicked?  No wonder there is not one good stepmother in fairy tales.  In days where so many women died during childbirth, stepmothers were a dime-a-dozen.  Those authors knew what they were talking about.

Which brings me to the next point.  Why is dad allowing this?  Because he is too scared to stand up to his wife, at the cost of his child.  Because it is easier to do what his wife says than to put up with her continuous moaning and bitching.  Tis true.  And too many men who fall for this one.

Wrong move Dad.  You would only have to put your foot down for so long before mom gets the message.  Or you could take away the credit card.  You are after all the head of the home, why don’t you start flexing your muscles a bit?  Yes it will be hard and yes it might take a while, but it will be worth it.  And you know what?  Once you have made the decision to swallow your fear, the battle is half-won.  Nothing worthwhile comes easy but leaving it as not to disturb the peace is cowardly.  You will regret it when you are old or sick and your children don’t visit (out of habit or because they think they hate you).

And stepmom, you are messing with the life of a child.  You could be ruining a perfectly good human being.  Take a chill-pill and step aside.  Perhaps that is what the STEP stood for all along.

PS:  I know that not all stepmothers are bad.


Relationships have to be Transparent

Most of my relationships are of the honest kind.  Or rather, my most meaningful bonds are built on complete transparency.  With people who have seen my good, bad and ugly, and still want me as a friend.

These friends do not judge.  They might occasionally express concern, or gently point out an ugly, but they love and appreciate all the time.

They are people who do not care to let their hair down in front of me, and who allow me to do the same.  I never have to feel embarrassed about anything I have done, or about a way in which I behaved, because they take me as I come.  And they like me because I am willing to just be me, on display, in front of them, warts and all.

Friendships like these are hard to find, and so worth keeping.  They put together on an understanding of mutual faults, and on the insight that we all carry our own bag full and that it is not for us to question what another has to bear.

I did not know all this until I was older, though I wanted to be that which I saw in my mind’s eye.  I could not ever really feel it because I did not really act it.  Now I do because I understand that what I am is what I am, and that those who do not care for me, can do without me.  And I don’t mind.

I never feel quite comfourtable with non-transparents.  That ‘something’ is always between us.  And I know what it is, even if they don’t.  I have a built-in radar for real and make-believe.  Life is easier when you are unaware of this though.  Relationships seem more rosy and true.  But you are less aware of the importance of guarding your heart, and so you will be injured.

I don’t get hurt that easily anymore though, because someone taught me in the worst possible way.  I won’t cry again over a relationship, unless it is my fault.  Because if you keep your eyes open, you can see most things coming.  It is the University of Life as far as I am concerned, and thank you to everybody involved.  You cured me of my friendship romanticism.

Today, I prefer my friends roasted.  Tested and true.  Genuinely real so that I can make an informed decision about whether I want you in my life or not.   It can never ever though, be based on grudges and there has to be a comprehension that I can be wrong when I think I am right.

Every person that crosses my path in life is important, whether for a season, or a lifetime.  I shall keep an open mind, I shall give you a second, a third, a fourth up to a whatevereth chance.   But if you show that your true colours are grey, I shall not give you my heart.  I’ll keep my innermost thoughts to myself and give you that which floats to the surface.

Because love conquers all.


On men, and feminism

Men are funny.  I love the way men just naturally assume that they know better, that they are superior drivers and that in fact, they are more qualified at most things than women.  My men specifically have an inborn confidence, and a belief that they can do anything and succeed.

From a very young age my sons believed that I was a bad driver, and they still do.  So does my husband and my Dad.  And, to be honest, it is true to some extent.  But that is another story.

Another amazing talent they have is the capacity to think themselves thinner than what they really are.  Women imagine themselves bigger, whereas most men think they look pretty good, even if they carry a “little” spare weight.

I have never been a feminist and never will be.  I believe men to be better chefs, mechanics, drivers and everything else.  But PLEASE!  I know there are exceptions to every rule and that there are women who outshine their male counterparts in all areas known to mankind.  I am just a bit biased.

I like a touch of male chauvinism, it suits a man.  Not the rude, overbearing, condescending kind, rather, just that little touch of superiority that makes a man, a man.  The type that affords a real woman a giggle.  Without it, women would snatch up the world’ pants supply and what would become of our society when all men turn into wimps, ruled over by slipper-wielding fiends?

While I understand why men would help with house duties when both partners work full day, I cannot begin to comprehend why men would do it when their wives stay at home.  And believe me; this phenomenon is on the increase.  I don’t only put this down to lazy women, but also to husbands not prepared to take charge.  Even more criminal are men who are forced into nightly baby duties when mommy stays home all day.  In Afrikaans it is called “slapgatgeid”, literally slackness in the posterior region.  But once again, this is just my opinion.

A home where the wife wants to be the boss is a house divided against itself, and a home at war.  Man was born and bred for the position and will fight anyone trying to usurp his authority without even realising why he is doing it.

I am of course referring to normal men, not bullies who beat their wives or lord over their children.

As with everything else in life, there has to be someone with the final say, the leader.  Every organisation on this earth needs one chief and a couple of Indians.  And in the home, the man has to be allowed final authority, even when he makes mistakes.  He too has to learn how to steer his family through life successfully but he will never learn without erring first.  We all stumble when young but as we mature, we gain understanding and knowledge.  Real love conquers all, and forgives all.

The most successful families I know, ones where the children are obedient and respectful and the wives lovely and confident in themselves, are households where the Dad has a firm grip on things.  These are families where everyone understands that Dad’s word is the final say on any matter.

Both genders have their place, neither to ever be above or below the other.  Instead, they stand side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, with the women’s just slightly behind the man’s.  He is, and should be allowed to be, the head of the home.