Life, Love, and Passports


Call me maybe…

So the snow has been falling all day and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Christmassy is more like it though and I’m feeling almost compelled to put up the Christmas tree and perhaps some carol singing. I’ve got to break this train of thought before I have my girls asking for snow time gifts.

Being the social network butterfly that I am I’ve slowly been getting ‘closed school envy’. It seems every school in close proximity to our dear one has announced it’s closure. Though I’ve already decided it will be a snow day for us it will be great if its official.

So please head teacher you have my number so…call me maybe!


Frivolity of the bowling alley

My girls are huge fans of the bowling alley. Yesterday it became quite clear that my total lack of seriousness of the game was in poor taste according to my five and seven year old anyway. They’ve both reached the stage where competition and achievement are important. It’s the taking part theory is of no interest to them.

My highlight at the bowling alley is the recent announcement that it’s no longer necessary to wear those regulated bowling shoes. I must admit that I do sleep easier at night knowing I haven’t shared a pair of potential athlete foot infested shoes. The very thought of those shoes gives me itchy feet.

So we bowled our way through our game. I’ve learnt very early on that unless you’re a professional bowler the harder you try the more things seem to go wrong. We had a great time as usual and look forward to another bowling session filled with strikes, gully balls and total misses!

It’s not a game anymore

Today was one of those days that called on my husband and I to present a united front when dealing with my seven-year old. I’ve come to realise that parenting is a multifaceted occupation. Some days I feel like I’ve got a split personality. The challenges come thick and fast and then there are periods of smooth sailing when everyone seems to know what’s required of them.

My daughter has been playing the violin for little over a year now and we still have to deal with these intermittent outbursts when she doesn’t want to practice. She recently joined a junior orchestra and things have stepped up a gear. She is more than happy to attend her lessons but is not in favour of practicing at home. I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll tell her that she has put in more than enough time. Truth is that’s a long way off and for now we just have to encourage and occasionally threaten her. Whatever gets results!

The road ahead is long and we’ve agreed that she won’t be allowed to throw in the towel because quitting is for quitters. I must admit at the height of her music tantrums I want to throw the towel in for her. Here’s hoping that she’ll thank us one day for teaching her the useful art of hanging in even when things aren’t going your way.

The shoe monster

This morning my house was filled the sound of wailing, sniffing and sobs. If I’d been a passerby I would’ve imagined that something really awful had happened. Well actually something awful had happened my five-year old Gemma discovered that her school shoe had vanished during the night. I must be honest there was very little empathy from my side. You see I’ve told my kids on countless occasions the importance of storing shoes in pairs. I’m not dogmatic about where they are stored just that they be together.

I couldn’t help but feel today was the day for her to learn that lesson and I had no doubt the message would be made clear to her siblings. In between sobs I was asked what she should do. My ‘you should listen to your mother’ tone went into overdrive. My solution was simple choose another pair of shoes and I’m sorry they’re not black but fuchsia will have to do. At this point the crying went to another level and she eventually went to school in a pair of polka dot Wellington boots and a pack of tissues to dry a now endless production of tears and snot of course.

Safely in the car and on our way to school I started having second thoughts about the boots. I mean what kind of mother does this? I found a problem solver she could change into her physical education shoes after-all they are black, the downside is they are canvas and not practical for outdoor play on a wet turf.

On my way home I just knew I had to try to find that shoe and I did after all but two minutes. Now I would’ve just left them paired for her to find after school or I could take them to school and give her one less thing to worry about. Being the pushover I am I carted the shoes all the way to school. I’d like to think they’ve all learnt a valuable lesson. Somehow deep down inside I know this will not be the last time!

Bright sparks

My girls are at the age where their personalities are as different as their shoe sizes. I think it’s a pity that people wish to compare kids at every opportunity. Children should be complimented when they’ve done well and encouraged to do better when they haven’t. Over praised kids who live for constant affirmation even when their efforts don’t warrant a reward have my sympathy. When I was at school my parents had only two responses ‘well done and keep it up’ or ‘pull up your socks’. There were no promises of gifts and rewards for good reports because your only task was to go to school and do well.

I’d love to time travel to my toddler days and just observe the conversations of moms in that era I wonder if this incessant comparing of children’s achievements was the order of the day. I suspect there were other important needs at hand.
There is nothing better than praising your child for a job well done but there always seems to be a grandstanding mom in the wings who wishes to inform you that their offspring is bigger, better and brighter. Sorry mom it’s not always about your child he/she is not my yardstick!

I’m a great fan of social networking sites but I initially had an issue with parents constantly announcing their child’s every achievement. After sharing my annoyance with my husband he really shifted my thinking by informing me I am not the achievement police and I was stunned to realise that I had been guilty of the very thing that annoys me – deciding what is worthy of praise especially when it’s not my child. These days I share in parent’s joy more readily because being proud of your child should be celebrated by those who call themselves your friends.

Being a parent is the most difficult job I’ve ever done and it’s far from over. There is no way of knowing what challenges you will face. Each day is filled with opportunities for making memories that our children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. So whether your child is a bright spark or a flickering flame they are all special and need to be celebrated and not just for their achievements after all there is so much more to life!

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!

Curtain call

Today marks the beginning of the first full school week. Monday’s always seem to arrive sooner than any other day of the week particularly after a busy weekend. I’m glad to report I survived Monday after taking it head on.

This weekend also signalled the end of the London summer games. All across Britain its citizens have been declaring how proud they are to be British. I guess you can’t deny the team’s success both in the Olympic and Paralympic games.
I have also been very proudly South African because while we didn’t win bags of medals we gave our very best and I have been overcome with a weird sense of patriotism.

So after a summer of lazing around and cheering my countrymen on, the fun and games have ended. While it is only September it feels like the beginning of something new. I love new beginnings!

First day fears

Today was the start of a new school year for my girls and they were pretty excited for all of the new adventures that lie ahead. When I watched them just go about their business on the playground greeting old friends and interacting like they’d been away for just a day it made my heart sing.

I can’t really remember my first days at school but I imagine I just went along with all the other kids from my neighbourhood. Unlike the emphasis that is now placed on familiarizing children with their teachers and surroundings we just popped up at school and adjusted. None of the ‘meet your new teacher for next year day’ so you feel at home when you start or return on your first day.

What I do remember is always being afraid of oversleeping. The dreams I’ve had of missing appointments or arriving unprepared for events are enough to give me temporary insomnia. Sadly that hasn’t changed even as a mother. The chances of my girls explaining to the school that they’re late because their mother has overslept is a huge probability. So while they were pretty relaxed last night I was overcome by the fear of being stuck in holiday mode. After waking up close to morning tea time for about six weeks I couldn’t imagine being ready for the school run on time. Quite disturbing considering the run only starts at eight thirty.

After realising that my plan to stay awake all night wasn’t feasible I decided to set three separate wake up calls. Oh the irony of life I was wide awake before the first chime and had all the time in the world to just waste. I’m so glad to have my first day back at school behind me and knowing that I’m capable of being a responsible mother…until the next first day!

Project deadlines and the creatively challenged

Firstly I’d like to admit that I was the kid at school who just didn’t bother with projects. The only project I ever participated in was one about Halley’s comet and it was a group effort. I had beautiful handwriting so I was trusted with writing other people’s ideas and of course the class presentation because what some children had in creativity they seemed to lack in public speaking. Shocking now that I think about it perhaps I should see it as each pupil maximizing their potential. In my family my older sister would make our family virtually bankrupt in an attempt to have the best project. In my defence I always helped my brother and he always did well. What was wrong with me?

This summer holiday was always going to be clouded in memories of my serious lack of creativity. My seven-year old had to create a model from recycled material for her ‘saving the environment’ project. My heart just sank because unless she had some serious creative spark it was always going to be difficult. Art and crafts are a world away from having to assist with a piece of art work that has to be taken to school. Like my skills shortage when it comes to knitting and drawing, creating recognisable pieces of work was always going to be a challenge.

In true me form I’ve left the making of a recycled robot dog on hold with less than five days to go until the new school year starts. The pressure is immense because in some way if my child pitches up without her summer project or a less than impressive attempt that would be the first impression her new teacher has of her. I’ve spent most of the summer trying to convince her to make a recycled house because I’m really good at stacking boxes and wrapping them too. My children wonder why all of their friends get puzzles or books for their birthdays I tell them it’s educational. Fact is boxes just look so much more professional when wrapped as opposed to oblong or soft toys. When all else fails I turn to the trusted gift bag.

Fortunately for me (sigh of relief!) my daughter has a very clear idea what needs to be done and my job is to make sure she has all the components. So far it looks on track and I’ve had to do very little. It’s been said that it’s never too late to try something new but then again the same has been said about teaching an old dog new tricks. I’m up for the challenge!

Childhood inadequacies revisited

After months of dragging my big feet I finally took that long-awaited trip to the market to get knitting needles and wool for my girls. After seeing one of their friends knitting they’ve been dying to try their hand at a new craft. I had finally run out of excuses and we brought the loot home.

It’s a fact that there are some things in life that will never come naturally to us. It may take a lifetime to learn a new craft. On my own admission I’m really good at some things which in the real world count for very little like doing puzzles, colouring pictures and my favourite rollerblading! Sadly knitting brings back memories of serious under achievement along with her ugly stepsister sewing!

Funny how a simple thing like wool and needles can make you feel inadequate. I remember so clearly being in the bottom of the needlework class and being one of those who was asked to knit a cat and sew a wrap around skirt both of which looked awful. Then just while trying to cope with being an absolute failure they introduce embroidery and some kind of candle-wicking. Talk about kicking a dog while it’s down.

Children are so amazing as I began to cast on to make who knows what they were like a well-trained choir each of them singing my praises. At that moment I couldn’t help but feel it would’ve been a whole lot better if I’d been given some positive reinforcement at school just for trying. I guess trying is not always worthy of applause especially when the top dogs keep delivering. Needless to say the minute I could drop it out of my subject choice…I did!

So a new day has dawned and I’ve had several orders for blankets for horses, scarves for dogs and shawls for bears hopefully this barnyard of toys will be warm this winter. Perhaps the time has come to add a little bit of excellence to my mediocre knitting after all there is no pressure now and it would seem I’m the top dog – for now anyway!