The African Way

If you grew up in a middle-class household in South Africa you would be familiar with the idea of Mothers sending their children to rural areas to be raised by Aunts/Grannies/Extended Families.

This doesn’t happen because they are bad Mothers (or Fathers), it is an unfortunate fact of life in South Africa that many women are single parents, work very long hours, travel very far to and from work every day and simply cannot afford childcare. They also have virtually no support structure or often even have the luxury of living in a brick house.

As South Africans we have become very desensitised to this reality, myself included. I simply accepted it as the norm instead of the exception in families that barely live on the breadline until I had a Mother crying in my office today.

A Mother that had to leave her job in a fastfood restaurant because her baby had pneumonia and she had no-one to help her take care of him when he was in hospital for 2 weeks. Similar stories play themselves out in my office every single day of the week. (Yes, I do know when someone is trying to manipulate me)

I keep toying with the idea that we have become a very intolerant society and that we forget that we deal with human beings. Yes, there are many lazy buggers out there, but if we take the time to know people that work for us, wouldn’t we be more tolerant and understanding? Or am I just a bleeding heart liberal?

I’m not exactly covering myself in ash and beating my head against a wall lamenting that there is something wrong with society because there are so many single parents and too many people are having babies for the wrong reasons at the wrong age.

I really just cannot accept our country for what it is, as much as this is our reality.

Is the concept of the traditional family changing?

Would I be incredibly naive in wanting for children to grow up secure with the love of both their parents?

When did parenting become transient and part-time?

Breaking the Silence

I was interviewing someone today and caught a glimpse of her cheekbone and something kept nagging at me. I then looked in her eyes and noticed the eye on the side of the eye-catching cheekbone looked smaller than the other one.

And that bugged me. I don’t know if it was her skittish demeanor or the distinct feeling that something just seemed a little off-kilter with this obviously very bright young lady, but I had bells clanging away.

We kept chatting and she was telling me how well educated her Husband is. How stressful his job is. Still something was amiss and the bells kept clanging.

She was wearing a really pretty short-sleeved jersey that slipped up her arm just a smidgen. Up and over the edge of an enormous bruise on her arm.

At which point I had a choice: I could keep quiet or I could ask. If there’s one thing I’m truly terrible at it is keeping quiet. So I asked. Oh, she says, she fell. At home. With the lie playing around the edge of her voice.

I raised my eyebrows.

He just got so mad, she says. I don’t know why he was so mad. He’s never done it before. He promised never to do it again.

I felt really helpless and really angry at the same time. All I could remember was reading somewhere that domestic violence is about power so all I could think of saying is ‘YOU have the power. Don’t let him believe that he has all the power. Don’t underestimate how important YOU are. Don’t let him hurt you again.’

Which is really easy for me to say I guess, but dammit, I wasn’t going to say nothing.

What do you say? How do you deal with someone that is desperate to leave but too desperate not to leave?

Of In-laws. And stuff.

I booked some tickets for my In-laws recently to visit my BIL upcountry and have been procrastinating printing them out despite several requests, so I ended up dropping them off this evening on the way from work because I felt so bad.

My FIL turned 80 in January and my MIL is of undisclosed age (i.e. not far off), but they are absolutely amazing for their age. They still travel, still drive, still live in the same house Etienne and his brothers grew up in and still take very good care of themselves. I often joke that they are “younger” than my parents that are almost 20 years their junior.

They were SO genuinely happy to see me today I ended up visiting for a while, the first time in absolute ages that I could have an uninterrupted conversation with them.

I was struck again tonight at how they are so much alike and yet so completely different to my parents. This is not a post of comparisons, and they certainly have their faults, but I feel incredibly lucky that they parented this awesome guy that I got to marry. Not just him either, his brothers are also so good with their parents.

I see so much of them in him. The way he really engages with his kids on a level I could only dream of. The way that he is so affectionate with them, just like he is with his parents.

So tonight I remind myself of this:

Never ever underestimate how far making your child feel secure and loved unconditionally will go.

And never underestimate the importance of spending actual time with your kids. They shine in the light of our love.

Ok. I’m stopping now, I must be PMS’ing or something. But you know what I mean.

And we shall be cooking up a storm on Sunday when all the Grandparents come over for lunch.

Entertained

I have a nasty, dirty little secret.

I have a morbid fascination with the E! Entertainment channel.  My excuse is that when Etienne is not around and I’ve seen the re-runs of all the news on Sky 6 times I need something mindless on in the background whilst I’m busy doing something else.

In reality I just love to cringe at the falseness that is American ‘Reality’ TV.  And the sheer desperateness of people who live a pretend life full of self-created and blown-up drama dressed like models at 07h00 in the morning.

I have wasted spent a fair amount of time engrossed in the Kardashian Sisters in all their puffed-up-over-made-up-fake-everything-lives.  To be honest, I still don’t know which one is which one and the one that had the accessory baby and her dysfunctional relationship with that horrific ‘insert disapproving inappropriate adjective here’ guy is just my end.  I mean really.  Just dump him already.  And don’t even get me started on the “royal” wedding.

But I noticed something last night that really made me think when I was watching Kendra. (Are you still reading?  You haven’t puked yet?)

It was some episode where she hadn’t seen her husband for ages and she was going to Minnesota and the baby was turning 1 and there was “GASP” a blizzard.  Anyhoo, every once in a while you get a glimpse of what life would probably be like if she weren’t being filmed constantly.  She was trying to put on mascara whilst the baby was playing at her feet.  Without a mirror.  And she looked preeeetty uncomfortable.

Does this mean that they told her to do it to look like a busy Mom or was it real?  Or has she just not applied her own mascara in the longest time?  Either way, she doesn’t treat her baby like an accessory.  According to the television.

And speaking of make up:  don’t they know real Moms like us do their mascara in the car?

Not so very nice a person

So tonight I don’t feel like I’m a very nice person.

I recently did a post about our cat constantly peeing in the house and the ensuing visit to the vet. Vet couldn’t find anything wrong with him, but we did the whole antibiotics thing just in case.

Then he went missing. And briefly came back, looking rather skinny. And disappeared again. All this was about a month ago.

Etienne and I went looking for him, alerted the neighbours and eventually just kind of gave up. We vacillated between feelings of guilt and relief.

Tonight our neighbour across the road calls and says that she thinks our cat’s just been run over as there are people in the road. To cut a long story short, I ended up taking a very sick kitty to the 24 hr vet and had him put down. The vet said that there was nothing he could do for him as he had absolutely no blood pressure and he suspected he had feline leukemia.

I feel like such a horrible person, like I failed our cat of all things. Like The Great Parenting Guilt isn’t bad enough.

At least I know where he is, it always would have bugged me otherwise.

Goodbye Kitty Kat.

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Ps: and our Dstv is also borked tonight.

The Christmas post

I am all psyched for Christmas this year.  Just wait before you fall off your chair laughing and speed-dialling the madhouse and think about why I say so for a minute:

I mentioned in my last blog post that my friend Sally believes in making, up cycling and re-cycling gifts.  She also believes in re-gifting.  Which I think is a cool idea, but only under certain circumstances (as she does, so don’t think she re-gifted something when she gives you a gift, ok?).

So, I have decided that for Christmas this year I will not be buying anyone an outright
gift except for our kids.  And even then I’m going to err on the side of caution.

Seeing as how I cannot paint or draw or knit or sew, I see many nights of crocheting in
the next few months, but I have the interwebs and Pinterest and Martha Stewart and I’m not afraid to use it.  I also vaguely recall how to make paper and still have the kit, so fun times ahead..

It reminds me of the first Christmas after Etienne and I got married.  We managed to get engaged, buy a house and get married in 2000 so we had ZERO money to buy gifts come Christmas.  So we made candleholders in various shapes and sizes from sand, glue and wax and some other random stuff I can’t even remember.  But I do remember having a fantastic time doing it and now the kids are a little bigger they can also help.

Have you thought about Christmas yet?  Ok, you can stop laughing now.

Ps: I asked my 80 year old Father-in-Law yesterday what I could crochet him for Christmas and he said a willy-warmer.  True story.

A question for a friend

Hello! I’m baaack!

I decided ti move my blog to Afrihost and it’s taken forever to get it sorted (through no fault of Afrihost)

So, I need to ask your opinions on something:

I have a friend that has met this guy that no-one seems to approve of. She quite likes him, so I offered to put some of his details up and get your opinions.

I haven’t met him, so I can’t give my opinion either way, but if you had to meet someone at a party and this is the life story that emerges, what would you think?

Here goes:

He is very religious.

He is 10 years older than her.

He is studying theology at the moment.

He has 2 kids.

He has been married (and divorced) twice.

He sold everything 2 years ago after his second divorce.

He stays in a room in someone’s house for free.

He doesn’t drive a car.

He hasn’t had a steady job in 2 years.

He lives from money being paid into his bank account by random people from the church whilst he is on this religious journey.

This church is not a mainstream church.

And lastly: the night he met my friend he told her that he was going to marry her.

I am not in a position to venture my opinion, but would very much appreciate yours.

Aaaaaaand GO!

To host or not to host

So.  I’m in the market for a new ADSL and Hosting supplier.

My current supplier is, at best, shocking.  Sure, they’re cheap and cheerful, but I’m unable to reach them when I need them.  I have been battling for more than a month now with a simple connectivity problem.

Here are my needs:

  • about 4 GB of data per month
  • 2 sites to be hosted
  • Reliability i.e. always on internet
  • I don’t need a lot of email addresses, I only use 2 on the one site and none on the other site as it happens to be this blog.  So please don’t tell me I can have loads of email addresses!
  • A Hosting Contact Centre that is available After Hours.  Do NOT tell me that your hosting department closes at 17h00.  Ionly blog at night (usually) and if there is a problem at 21h00 I have to be able to speak to a human being, not a know-it-all-condescending little snotface in your ADSL support Contact Centre.
  • A supplier that will remind me when my domain needs to be renewed.
  • A supplier that actually enjoys speaking to their customers.
  • A supplier that will not lock me into a complicated contract.  I need the flexibility to upgrade or downgrade my account at short notice.
  • At a push someone that knows a little about WordPress and can help me out in a fix. 
  • And lastly: a supplier that won’t pass the buck to Telkom and make me call around like a fool.

Who do you use?  Are you passionate about them?

Adoption

We have been toying with getting another dog for a while now so Jack (our pure-bred Afrikanis) can have a mate. Thing is, it’s Etienne’s turn to choose and he has been wanting to replace our beloved Labby we lost in January.

On Wednesday a friend that knows how much we love Labby’s and Beagles called to ask if we could take 2 Beagles that are at the SPCA at the moment. We can only take one, so after some to and fro it was decided that we would have the girl.

Cue the impressive array of paperwork that the SPCA now requires over and above the standard home-check before they will give you an animal. Which is, in my opinion, a great thing. They also require us to take Jack to socialise with the dog we plan to adopt. More good thinking, just rather cumbersome as they are on the other side of Cape Town and we can only get there over the weekend.

We went though this morning to meet our little girl and she is gorgeous! But so is the mate she came in with and a Labby a couple of doors down. And the 2 obviously pure-bred Scotty dogs. And a very scared-looking terrier that must have been treated quite badly by some nut. The staff at the Grassy Park SPCA are very professional in a firm and polite way and the whole operation looks like it is well-run and clean. Kudos to them.

It breaks my heart to go there and not be able to take several animals, especially now in winter. But then I’ll probably end up single as I’m forever coming home with animals.

I have suggested that Etienne and Daniel go through next Saturday with Jack and make the decision. I won’t be able to make a logical choice at all I’m afraid and I know Etienne will make a good decision.

Hold thumbs that those doggies all get homes and if you know of someone that wants to adopt an animal, please feel free to contact the SPCA on (021) 700-4140!

The Pissing Contest

Many people don’t know this about us, but we have a cat.  When we adopted him from the SPCA about 8 years ago he ‘decorated’ our house extensively and we tolerated him until he peed on top of Etienne, through the down duvet.

He promptly got booted out the door and we didn’t see him for about 3 days and we were torn between being really happy to reclaim our house and feeling like we had failed miserably.

He has never been overly friendly or affectionate or chatty.  He just kind of lives in our room and only goes out to do his business.  In the 5.5 years we have lived in this house he has never EVER left the yard.  Really.

The only time he engages with us is when he deigns to let us feed him.  And DO NOT think that you can put food in his bowl and leave it there if he is not around.  If there is ‘old’ food (i.e. it has been there for longer than 10 minutes) he will refuse to eat it and will whine until you give him ‘fresh’ food.  For this reason he gets 3 little cups of food per day.  Although, judging by the way his stomach sways when he trots down the passage you wouldn’t say so.

He sleeps on my side of the bed at night.  Which means that most nights I lie with my legs on Etienne’s side because he is too heavy to move.

Anyhoo.

Of late the peeing has started up again.  Fair enough, it’s mostly on Etienne’s clothes on the floor (Now that was a fun conversation: “Well.  If you pick your clothes up from the floor he won’t pee on it, will he?”).  We think hope this is because he is too cold to go out at night and we are quite frankly sick of leaving a bedroom window open in the middle of the winter, so I invested in a sandbox for him which I installed in out bathroom amid much grumbling from Etienne.

He has ignored this sandbox like a stop street.  I have tried coaxing him into it, dumping him into it and putting his water bowl next to it.  No go.

Last night we found a suspicious-smelling wet spot in the family bathroom (another old favourite spot) and he got the boot.  Etienne eventually let him back in at about 01h00 after Jack (the dog) had chased him around the house about 400 000 times in a failed bid to play.

We saw him briefly this morning and promptly deposited him outside and now he has gone walkies.

I am a little worried.  But we really need to make a plan, I feel like my entire house smells.

Any suggestions on how to train the most change-averse feline creature you have ever come across?

Shame, he is quite a pretty thing too:

Just a pretty face?