Random things our kids know

Tonight Isabel came into the kitchen, pointed at the pot of coconut oil and identified it correctly as coconut oil after a good old sniff.

It just struck me that our kids know a lot more random things about the world than I think we did at their age. Not in a oh-look-we’re-such-fabulous-parents kind of way, more in the way that the world is these days and how I think we all parent differently to our own parents. Not that they did a bad job, it was just different. Life was just a lot simpler back then.

We barely had TV when I was a child (yes, I’m *that* old). We listened to tapes in the car on long roadtrips without aircon from Cape Town to Kimberley. In December.

We were ushered from rooms where adults were talking.

We had to finish every last morsel of food on our plates.

I love that our kids know who Karen Zoid is, I love that they know where they are in the world and have a pretty good idea where they fit in. I love that they are curious, that they have the confidence to ask us a gazillion questions AND expect to get answers. I love that they will try new foods, smell (and later identify) new smells, listen to new music.

I love that we can Google almost anything and the answers are right there.

I love that they speak their minds, that they feel safe enough to express their opinions, whether it pertains to what they have been served for dinner or how stinky a sibling’s fart was. (always a source of great mirth in this household)

It sometimes scares me that they have so MUCH learning to do to keep up with their peers, that there will be enormous pressure on them to stand their ground and just be who they are, regardless.

At the very least I hope that they will passionately curious, that they will not accept the obvious. That they will not compromise their individuality . That they will brighten rooms when they enter and leave joy in their wake.

I hope they will be generous and accepting.

But mostly, I hope they won’t take shit from anyone that hasn’t earned their respect.

Not too much for to wish for nê?

ps. This didn’t turn out anything like what I had in mind when I started writing, but I like it. So I’m keeping it

It’s complicated

You know how, when you are intensely worried about one of your kids, your entire life feels out of whack? Well, that’s how I am right now.

I’ve written countless posts in my head about our current challenges and nothing feels right. It’s a bit of a damned if I do scenario, but it prevents me from writing, so here goes.

Just briefly (and I have to try and get through this post without crying):

Daniel is not doing well. He is currently seeing a play therapist and an occupational therapist. We suspect bullying, he has some sensory and muscle tone issues, he is very anxious, lacks confidence, has intense separation anxiety from me (partly caused by my traveling for work and apparently my PND, cue the self-flagellation) and sleeps with us most nights.

Looking at him you would NOT say so, he looks like the happiest boy alive, which is why it’s been so hard to get to the point of getting help.

We have good days and bad days. We have normal evenings and we have absolute emotional roller coaster trips when dinner and bedtime rolls around.

We have no labels yet, progress is slow. He doesn’t disclose, he avoids telling us what is wrong. The more upset I get, the worse he gets. It’s a vicious, vicious circle and I spend much of my time and energy trying on bigger girl panties.

I can’t tell you everything, we would be here for ages, but yesterday was a turning point for me. We were at a kiddy party which he insisted I go with him to, which is a double-edged sword: I knew that, if I went, he would most likely be with me the entire time and not engage with the other kids, but would possibly be lost if I didn’t and I just wasn’t willing to take the risk. Besides, he really is such an awesome little man, who wouldn’t want to spend time with him?

As predicted, he was with me most of the time, very happy to have me there.

Toward the end of the party one of the Moms passed a comment along the lines of “He really loves being just with you” and I wasn’t prepared. This is all too new. So I just kind of grunted and probably looked like a complete douche.

It’s taken me all of yesterday and today to process that comment and my terrible response and I’ve come up with “It’s complicated“.

Because it is. It’s fucking complicated. My heart aches for my son, it is the single most difficult parenting thing we’ve ever had to deal with. I’m trying not to get stuck at “it’s somehow all my fault” and rather be pro-active and involved in his well-being without alternating between beating the living shit out the child(ren??) bullying him at school and rocking like a madwoman in a corner, clutching a bottle of Jack.

So, there you have it, now you know why I’ve been so quiet. I know that some of you are battling similar things with your own children. Know that I think of you, I admire how brave you are, even on your difficult days.

Ps: didn’t manage to get through the post without crying, but a little weep is always good for the soul, yes?

Afrikaans Printables for all!

At the beginning of the school year I decided to put little printables in the kids’ lunchboxes and found some on Pinterest, but clearly none of it was in Afrikaans.

I then found some Afrikaans Knock-Knock jokes on the Internet (some from a bizarre re-telling of a school event) and bought this book with Afrikaans jokes.

The problem with doing little letters for lunchboxes is that you can’t stop, so it’s a constant thing. Also, Daniel reads, but the girls not yet, so I had to find some simple, colourful stuff that would appeal to all of them.

I then did what any self-respecting person does that has a question: I asked Facebook and so the lovely Tamiya came to the rescue!

She sent me the most beautiful little notes that I can use over and over again and has given permission for me to share them with you.

You can click here, here, here, here and here and it should take you to Google Drive. If it doesn’t or you can suddenly see all my gatvol emails to builders and architects because I completely messed it up, please let me know?

And if you love them like I do and we all ask very nicely I’m sure Tamiya will do some more for us..

On Self-Fat Shaming

Tertia posted this update on Facebook and it really made me think (which is kinda obvious otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the time write a post about it, but hey)


This may come as a shock, but I have some body issues. Admittedly, they are a lot less than they were before I turned 40, which I highly recommend by the way, it’s AWESOME. I gained a lot some of the weight I lost last year back in the last 6 months as happens when you are stressed and eat toasted cheese and tomato sarmies for breakfast on the run too often.

The funny thing is, I don’t really care about the weight as much as I would have once. After some serious introspection I realised I was worried about what The People say and how I am judged. “Oh look, haha, she lost all that weight last year and she gained it all back, hahahahaha”. Ja, I’m over it now that I understand where my own Fat Shaming comes from. Judge away, I don’t care. No really, I couldn’t give a shit.

I tried casting my mind back over conversations with our children regarding body shape and weight and I honestly can’t remember deliberately putting myself down as I am sensitive to it thanks to the Internet.

But some things stand out for me:

  • I may or may not have a habit of dashing through the house in the mornings in a less-than-dressed (read:naked) state. The other morning one of the girls pointed at my wobbly middle bits and said “Mom! Look at your fat tummy!” and all I could think of to say was “Yes, but remember that you and your sister were in there at the same time and Daniel before that, so I don’t mind at all” I still felt a bit hurt, even though it was true.
  • The girls were recently chatting about eating chips and sweets at school and were telling us how Child X’s Mom (who is very, very thin) doesn’t let her eat any chips as “she will get fat and then she will have to go on a diet”. The child is a beautiful little 5 year old girl and my heart aches.
  • Children eavesdrop. They pick up stompies* and lately strange things have been parroted back to us by our own children that they overheard. I shudder to think what they’ve heard me say before I became aware of it.

We are ALL responsible for what we tell our children as our children talk to other children. A little of their innocence was taken away and it’s really not acceptable to be talking to your 5 year old about diets and getting fat (in my opinion). We told the girls to go back and tell their friend that a little chips or sweeties every now and then is ok and that it’s better to be healthy because then you feel happy.

All that is important to us is in the end is that they are happy well-adjusted kids, not pin-heads that count every single calorie that goes into their bodies.

That they love and be kind to their bodies, warts and all.

* picking up stompies is slang for “hearing half a story and jumping to conclusions”

Related: I should really stop saying Shit and Fuck. “coughs”

A discussion of death

Our children haven’t been exposed to death or funerals so we’ve had some interesting conversations about death lately.

Yesterday we were watching the transport of Madela’s casket to Qunu and how it was loaded into the airplane. Shortly after I was watching a clip of Harry at the South Pole dragging his sleigh behind him. Mignon pipes up: Mom, is Mandela in that sleigh?

This morning, whilst they were transferring the casket Isabel asks: Mom, when do they him take out? So I spent the next few minutes explaining that you are buried in the ground, in the casket. I then made the mistake of trying to explain that you can also be cremated. The concept of ash didn’t go over very well. Have you ever tried to explain cremation to a 5yo?

Other notable questions include:
Isabel: what does it feel like to die? Answer: some people die in their sleep so they don’t even know, others maybe in car accidents so it happens so quickly they also don’t know. I shudder to think how I’m going to explain suicide.
When I explained that Joyce Banda is the first female President in the whole of Africa, Mignon asks: Mom, who was the first person made in Africa?
Loosely related, Daniel asks: Mom, did you have Bibles when you were small? Answer: yes
Daniel again: When will Ouma X die? How many sleeps before she dies? She’s very old you know.
Isabel: Will Ouma X die only when you’re a granny? Answer: we don’t want Ouma to die, we don’t want to count sleeps, but I don’t think she’ll live until I’m a granny my darling child.
Mignon: when will Madiba be a skeleton? Answer: remember he already has a skeleton, all the meat on his bones will disappear. Mignon: yes, but when will his skeleton come out?
Daniel: what do you look like when you are dead? Answer: your eyes are closed and you breathe anymore. Yes, but what do you LOOK like?

I always marvel at the resilience of children and how quickly they move on from difficult subjects, but I worry if we give them the right answers and which parts of what we say they remember. How do you explain death in a way that won’t scare them?

The one thing I know our children will remember of this time is the various versions of Hallelujah that were played in our house and how they made me cry every time.

Daniel may remember the many hugs he gave me every time I cried over the last 10 days, I think they were baffled by all my tears and even asked why they couldn’t hear me cry.

I know I was.

Martha se moer

This post is dedicated to all my friends that have called me Martha (Stewart) over the last few years.

Normally by this time every year there are home-made advent calendars that inevitably don’t end well and Christmas gifts are mostly bought or already being made with love.

Usually, by this time, I have already planned the Christmas feast and have been testing recipes like mad.

This year there is none of that.

This crazy (in a good way) year I remembered about advent calendars at 4:30PM (!!) on the 1st of December and I rushed off to Woollies, only to find them all sold out. This was remedied by rescuing long-forgotten old little advent boxes that Etienne stuffed with little things I managed to find at Pick and Pay in the 5 minutes before they closed.

This year I haven’t made a thing for Christmas gifts, thought about making anything or even had more than a passing, slightly hysterical, thought of what to buy people for Christmas, except for hastily crocheting edges around pillow covers for teacher’s gifts.

Today we had store-bought apple pie (don’t die laughing, to know me is to love me) for dessert with a hastily thrown together family lunch.

This year the days are rushing by with a resounding WHOOOOOOSH and I am just hanging on for dear life.

This year I’m completely over it.

Martha se Moer, this Mom would rather spend her precious time snuggling with children and a very neglected husband. The rest will sort itself out.

Telling time

Yesterday I had to take Isabel to the doctor because she has a ridiculous rash thingamajig on her leg and I was late usual. So I come screaming into the driveway and ever so (not) gently bundle her into the car and off we go, all whilst I’m explaining that we are going to be late for our appointment with the doctor, sorry that I’m in a hurry.

What followed was a slightly bizarre conversation about

  1. The concept of time and
  2. The concept of being late (something with which her Mother is very well acquainted, much to the dismay of her Father)

Isabel just couldn’t get her head around the fact that we had to be somewhere at a certain time as we had an appointment otherwise we would be late, so I launched into an explanation of how, if we are late the doctor would be waiting and you don’t let people wait as other people are also waiting to see the doctor. At this point I had a feeling that her eyes were glazing over.

So I explained about when we go to school and how we have to be there at a certain time and how, if the bell rings and Daniel is not there, he will get into trouble.

But he’s then at school, Mom. Why would he get into trouble?

Thankfully it wasn’t a long drive to the doctor, so it wasn’t a very long conversation, but then I spotted this clip that was posted by one of my favourite people on the internet, 6000, and it really made me laugh.


ps: the GP thinks it’s eczema, so we’re trying some cream

pps: it seems I have a mole that needs to be looked at that I’ve been ignoring for the longest time, partly because my Mother has been nagging about it and who listens when their Mother nags anyway? (yes, that is so going to come back and bite me in the ass)

On raising twins


This morning I was all set to write a whiny post about how really outraged cross the girls made us last night and this morning.

Bear in mind that we had a rocky rainy weekend indoors with children that have selective hearing, so much so that I ended up feeling like Ms Rottenmeier.

Here’s what happened:
There is this beautiful, immaculately maintained antique dresser that was my Grandmother’s in the girls’ room. I can still remember the smell of her lavender perfume from when I was too small to reach my reflection in the mirror. It is one of the few things I have of hers, so it is really precious and sentimental to me. We took a risk putting it in their room as it is now adorned with the odd Hello Kitty sticker, but we have nowhere else to put it at the moment.

Last night, at bedtime, my eye fell onto the mirror and I noticed fine little cracks all over the inside of the glass. Weirdly, there are no dents on the surface. I was baffled.

I called Etienne and we stood there looking at the mirror that was still perfect yesterday morning, mystified. We look over at the girls and ask what happened, did someone throw something against the mirror by any chance. They both (more Isabel than Mignon) looked terribly guilty as only their transparent 5 year old faces can do, drilling toes into the ground and pulling their mouths and eyes just so.

They said they had no idea what happened. Then Isabel took the blame. Then Mignon took the blame. Then they blamed each other. After much cajoling it came out that they were throwing a hair clip against the mirror. We refused to read them a story, which is quite a punishment for them and told them that because they lied and lied again we would think about another punishment and that we were very, very disappointed and upset with them.

This morning we are all in the kitchen and I say that we have decided to ban them from all electronic devices until the weekend, thinking they would be very upset.

What do they do? They huddle together and giggle. GIGGLE. Etienne and I stared at each other, aghast. The little shits.

Banning one of them probably would have been terrible, but they are so enthralled by each other most of the time they really couldn’t care less.

Fast forward to this evening before swimming class and we are all home. They are such a joy to watch, wrapped up in each other and their own little games. It is the most precious thing to see these beautiful little people interact, they have an everlasting friendship that will not be broken by bitchiness or backstabbing or dishonesty.

To be honest, I felt a little envious. But mostly I felt proud that they are who they are, that they will, hopefully, always have each other (and Daniel’s) back and stick together.

Even if it is against their poor parents.

Ps. Just in case you were wondering, no, they don’t spend their days playing on electronic devices, they play. Like children should.

Diana and the Horse

You know how sometimes something comes out of your mouth in front of your kids and as it rolls off your tongue you think ‘this is SO coming back to bite me in the ass’. Yes, that.

I dragged Etienne off to see Diana last Friday night (don’t bother, it was very disappointing) and the kids kept asking which movie we saw, so last night when we were all tucked up for our last chat I told them about the beautiful Princess called Diana that was the most famous woman in the world. It was, admittedly, a little awkward to explain that her fairy tale didn’t end well and that she ended up dying in a car accident. I did explain that she had found someone else to love without going into what may or may not have really happened in her final days, that she was really beautiful and that she did wonderful things like take care of the poor and sick children.

At this point I considered back-pedalling about the whole divorce thing as it’s not really something I feel they need know too much about right now, but not before the girls were asking me what happened to the Prince and why he didn’t stay married to his Princess.

I then proceeded to explain that the Prince really loved someone else and that he married her after a while. ‘What is her name’ the girls ask me. ‘Camilla Parker Bowles’ I say. ‘She looks a little like a horse’ I say, immediately trying to suck the words back into my mouth, but it was too late.

This morning they were asking Etienne about the ‘Aunty that has a head like a horse’ and this evening when we were having our daily snuggle they asked about ‘the horse suit she wears’. And what Princess Diana covered her head with (I can only assume that they want to see the crown).

I shudder to think what they’ve told their teacher..

Note to self: if you’re gong to be ironic (ok, bitchy) about someone rather not do it in front of your kids. Oops.

Of photos being taken of your children

Over the weekend we were having supper with friends and they mentioned in passing that another friend was upset because an (older male) staff member at one of the extra-mural activities was taking photos of the children during class.

The 5 year old, mostly female children.

In a class that our girls participate in.

We then went and stalked their Company Facebook feed and found not a single picture of a child that wasn’t either older or dressed in the clothes pertaining to this extramural sporty activity.

I have emailed them, but I’m really not happy about it.

It has taken me a couple of days to process why this upsets me as my darling husband kind of rolled his eyes at me, so here goes:

1. They didn’t ask/inform us or provide us with a valid reason why anyone that is not me or my husband or someone authorised by us could take photos of our children.

2. If there are existing, unauthorised photos of my children WHERE ARE THEY, because they sure aren’t on their Company Facebook page??

3. Yes. I know I put pictures of our children on the Internet and there’s even been an enterprising soul that decided to steal a beautiful photo Caz took of us recently and use it on a Autism website in the US without permission.  And yes, the Internet is a very small place.

I’m still awaiting a written reply from the company involved, so I won’t disclose who they are, but I will escalate this as far as need.

Or am I overreacting?