Life, Love, and Passports

Archive for September, 2012

Fear factor

Whenever I think of Disney movies I think of adventure, action, romance and achieving the impossible. Fear is not an emotion I expected my young children to be gripped by when I took them to watch Brave, the latest instalment from Disney. I realise that the movie was rated PG but I didn’t expect to shield them from scenes which were more terrorising than entertaining. I must admit it was not the relaxing morning I had in mind.

I’m not much of a movie goer and would rather wait for the action to come to me. So my trip to the cinema this morning was more of a motherly duty because the kids always seem to place a little more value on a trip to the cinema with the obligatory purchase of overpriced treats which cost way more than the movie itself. Armed with what seemed like a giant fizzy drink and a truckload of popcorn they were certainly clueless about the absolute fear that would ruin what would’ve been a magical experience.

Walking out of that building and hearing my girls describe the movie as scary was not a good feeling. I felt like I’d made a poor choice. It seems that I’ll have to do some research in the future instead of the screen giants deciding on an appropriate age restriction. Personally I would’ve placed it at PG 10 and that of course is my personal opinion. After all fear and fun should never be confused!


Toddler tantrums

I’m sitting here trying to figure out why children throw the biggest tantrums in the mall. Perhaps the bright sparks figure there’s not much that can be done. To try to avoid ugly scenes while out I usually try to give my girls an idea of what we’ll be up to. Today while out and about with my three-year old I thought I had a shopping plan which was one shop for her and one for me. I must admit life doesn’t get more fair than this plan I’d hatched. Perhaps that was my problem actually believing that the arrangement would work. After all children by nature are pretty selfish.

Tantrums are much like migraines and I’ve been exposed to both. There’s the trigger and quite frankly it could be any number of things. In this case it was watching the Disney store disappear into the background. Then there’s the aura and in this case it’s the whiny voice and unless action is taken immediately it usually progresses to an uncontrollable level. I could see things getting out of hand so I tried ‘the look’ and the passive aggressive tone of voice. Needless to say my sweet little angel totally ignored my plea for her to remain calm.

It wasn’t much longer and we’d arrived at tantrumville. Of all the unpleasant antics my children display this is by far the worst. Crying, kicking, screaming and falling to the floor as if you’re suddenly untouchable. At this point there are no threats only action. The trip home was brought closer and though I felt like I’d shot myself in the foot seeing as I left some stuff undone. I realised I only get one shot to show how serious I am. The further along I dragged her through the mall the more I felt like I was in some kind of reality show. My response is always the same I just roll my eyes and say ‘Aah kids’ seems to work.

I was really happy to be in the confines of the car and to have a moment just to breathe and sigh. I hope my little girl has got the message today anyway. Like a full-blown migraine, tantrum throwers need to be sent to bed until they feel themselves again!


Sign of the times

Over the last few days the weather has turned rather nasty for this time of year forcing me to turn the central heating on and prompting me to pack away our summer clothes. Britain isn’t exactly well-known for keeping it together when it comes to the seasons. Funnily enough though the warm, sunny days seem to have vanished and replaced by heavy rain and flood warnings.

While out and about at the mall today a strange thing happened. I was completely confused about what time of year it was. In one store that I visited there were Easter eggs, red balloons, pink balloons, Christmas decorations and plenty of picnic stuff on display I honestly felt like they were playing a sick joke of guess the occasion with me. I took my pick and it’s official I started my Christmas shopping today and I feel awesome. One down and far too many to go.

Looking around at the trees I think they’ve not been given the seasonal memo either. If I was a fully clothe deciduous tree displaying my autumn range of colours I’d be mad at the rain for cheating me out of a chance to let my gold, yellow and red leaves glisten in the sunlight. I guess they’re all dying to be evergreen trees right about now.

It’s truly been four seasons in a day for me and I’m not quite sure if I should end the day by having an Easter egg hunt, putting up the Christmas tree or sending a message to my valentine. I haven’t made up my mind much like the weather maybe now is the time to do things my way!


Celebrating our heritage

South Africans are celebrating Heritage day today which is one of many public holidays. This is a day set aside to celebrate our diversity and the contribution of South Africans in building our rainbow nation. It is traditionally celebrated by citizens having a braai (barbecue) with family and friends. This is our most cherished culinary achievement. I’ve been gone so long I hope I’m not too brainwashed by the British version which consists of grilled hot dogs and burgers.

I’ve done my bit by opening a can of All Gold super fine smooth apricot jam (serious patriotism!) because there’s no chance of me having a traditional braai in this rather morbid weather anyway. So while I snack on a piece of toast I’m actually dreaming of sitting around celebrating instead of preparing to do homework.

I’m a proud South African making my way in a foreign land. It’s weird but whenever a stranger recognises my accent I feel like I’ve brought all of me on my journey. I’ve had to drop some typical South African words and phrases most notably the phrase ‘just now’ and robot (traffic light). Otherwise I’m trying to keep it real because I’ve got so much to be proud of.

Happy heritage day! Here’s to continuing our contribution to our heritage wherever you find yourself in the world. Consider yourself an ambassador I do!


The dream factory

I’m not much of a dreamer or I have no recollection of dreaming when I finally gain consciousness in the morning. I guess the bottom line is I’m too tired to dream. The thing about dreams is because it’s a private moment you can pretty much make it up as you relay it to the next person. Whenever people tell me they’ve had a dream about me it always seems to involve having another baby. Seeing as I only have daughters it always involves the addition of a son. What a laugh!

Back to the dream factory. Last night I had what seemed like an action packed dream sequence. I can’t remember specifics but I know it wasn’t from the happy department. Funny how good dreams always seem to start ten minutes before the alarm goes off while alien invasions go on all night taking you on an impossible journey. My mother always says your last train of thought or images almost always appear in your dreams. Perhaps this was the case last night so there’ll be no crime drama before bed for me.

Occasionally my girls will march over to my bed in the middle of the night having had a bad dream it seems they have figured out it is a foolproof way of getting into my bed. Ever so often they’ll announce they’ve had a bad dream a minute after lights out. Sadly that is followed by a stern instruction to go back to bed. Obviously I don’t have the pleasure of going to my mother’s room and requesting a place of comfort after a bad dream but I’m glad my girls know there is somewhere safe to turn when the shadows of the night lengthen and harmless objects appear menacing.

Today I’ve been thinking of all things beautiful and I look forward to a night of dreams on a faraway island having the time of my life. Sweet dreams!


Without a trace

It’s estimated that about 200,000 people go missing in the UK each year. Those statistics are quite shocking when you consider that for every adult or child who goes missing that an entire family are left in limbo. My biggest concern is that the authorities get frantically involved and search relentlessly for a specified period. Thereafter the family use their own resources to track down their loved one and the financial costs escalate. While we remember the missing person occasionally their absence haunts their family daily.

It’s been nine months to the day that Bianca Couch a young South African disappeared without a trace. I cannot begin to imagine what helps her family to get through these dark days. Unconditional love, devotion and hope are no doubt their daily bread while they dream of the day they will wake up from this horrific nightmare.

Families are meant to be together and while certain people choose not to be part of their families at least it is their choice. When you’re taken against your will and your family are left to suffer and wonder about your well-being that is the cruellest of acts a family should be forced to deal with. What kind of monster would do this to a family?

Here’s hoping that family and friends of Bianca and the multitudes of missing persons never tire of keeping the hope of their safe return burning until they are home where they belong.


Reflections in the mirror

Whenever my husband or I discipline our girls the first opportunity we get we laugh about how grown up we sound and very parent like. Yes! I know we are parents but it’s hard to imagine that the things our parents said which certainly annoyed me are now my go to lines. I honestly thought I’d have a bit more creativity. Turns out you can’t escape those trusted reprimands.

If you’re a parent and you don’t find yourself sounding like your mother because for some reason the mothers always seem to have an arsenal of comebacks I’m not sure how you survive enforcing discipline. Some days I find myself asking “why can’t you just behave?” then I imagine them thinking to themselves “I’m just a child that’s what we do!”

My methods differ to the ones I was accustomed to as a child.
My first choice is to ban my girls from watching telly but it’s one of those where you should seriously consider the time limit you blurt out. At the moment that punishment is in place until the end of the school week. I do feel rather sad when they start displaying model behaviour and I’m tempted to give them just a little reprieve. Unfortunately at this stage of their little lives I’d also like them to know that my word is my bond even when it hurts me.
The naughty step is also one of my favourites for my youngest and it works great she always seems to just accept her punishment. Supernanny would be so proud of the both of us.

Children are an amazing gift and the responsibility on parents to shape their behaviour not just for now but their future is a daunting task. The challenge for me is to steer them in the right direction with support and occasionally some discipline without stifling their individual characters.Finding a punishment that fits the crime is a constant struggle. Perhaps the time has come for me to face up to the fact that I am a mother and being a bit of a nag bag comes with the title!


The parent trap

Earlier today I had to attend a parent information evening for my five year old. As the session progressed it soon became apparent who the overly enthusiastic parents were. It’s quite a weird experience because while the constant questions keep coming from the same source you start to feel like a disinterested parent. At some point I had to tell myself in no uncertain terms that I do have my child’s best interests at heart. The truth is there is nothing more annoying than somebody asking questions they know the answers to just to create an opportunity to display their vast knowledge. It’s just so distasteful in my opinion.

Tomorrow I’ll repeat the process with my seven year old and I’m seriously dreading it because I know for a fact that the clever Jacks will be out in full force showing just how very interested they are in their children’s well being. Of course my criticism is based on the structure of my girls school which has an open door policy. Everyday is parents day and we’re more than welcome to pop in any time of the day which is exactly what I tend to do.

My girls are a top priority and I want them to get the most out of life. I guess every parent has their way of showing their interest and I can’t help but wonder if the ‘question machine mom’ is discussing the total lack of interest in the parents she came across today. C’est la vie!


Affectionately yours – hand holding decoded

I love watching couples and how they interact. Of course in life there are always extremes with some showing no affection publicly and others going totally over the top with their public display of affection. I guess the question is how much is too much? Is it ever too much?

The display of affection may just have everything to do with people’s personalities. I imagine then that if opposites really do attract it can’t be very easy being overtly affectionate and then sharing your affections with a stone. Perhaps affectionate actions can be taught. After all it may just be learnt behaviour that needs modifying. Hand holding can tell you so much about a couple. I thoroughly enjoy observing hand holding grips. I’m not qualified to make an assessment but I’ll let you in on my weird thought process.

The interleaved fingers is my favourite grip because it’s secure and generally you have to inform the other person of your intention to stop the hand holding. Perhaps a sign of commitment.
The solid grip where he or she is in charge and I call this the airport or shopping mall grip. Being dragged along usually at the ‘grippers’ pace.
The loosely held grip comes across as a duty rather than a choice. This grip is okay when dating and usually follows the request to have your hand held.
Finally the pinky grip! What is that all about? A total lack of commitment and control in my unprofessional opinion. Thinking about the pinky grip now makes me wince.

Couples show affection in many different ways so if you’re not holding hands that’s okay. I guess the bottom line is if you love someone show them in a love language they understand.


Where’s Wally?

I must admit of all of the things that annoy me as a wife and mother it’s being asked for stuff that has little or nothing to do with me and it drives me crazy. Between my husband and children I often feel like a lost and found desk. When I can’t find my belongings I search high and low until the item is found or declared lost forever. Usually it is one of my offspring who make my stuff disappear into that magical place where things find their way miraculously.

The other day I found myself telling my husband that if I had a dollar for every time he asked me have I seen this, that or any other random thing I’d be pretty well off. Shoes, coats, phone chargers, headphones, wallet and just about every one of his belongings. I must admit after all these years of looking for and finding his stuff I still find myself wanting to be sarcastic when he asks about his belongings and I cheekily asked if it’s a pair of shoes or coat that I’ve worn.He is really quite long-suffering but then again so am I because after all it is a fact that there is a place for everything and everything has its place. I really wish it was that simple.

This morning while racing against the clock to get to school on time, Gemma my five-year old could only find one of her school shoes. I threatened her with a trip to school in pink shoes which was cruel considering the school shoes are black. Needless to say she wasn’t impressed and she can be very glad today wasn’t the day that I was going to teach her the importance of pairing and storing shoes. The first place I looked I found them which is another mystery to me. They always say they’ve looked everywhere and the admiration when you find the missing item is priceless as if you’ve magically made them reappear.

I almost feel compelled to accept this role of ‘the finder’ although I can’t help but feel that I’m doing them a disservice by rewarding their carelessness. It’s been said we live and learn and perhaps now is as good a time as any to teach them some responsibility and the pain of consequence. Time will tell!