The guilt propeller

It’s funny how a seemingly small thing can propel you into a state of guilt for an entire day. And please don’t offer me any big-girl-panties-psychobabble after reading this, I’m feeling vulnerable enough as it is.

Quite serendipitously I am going out tonight to see Michael Buble. When the tickets went on sale it was just not Etienne’s thing and life got in the way of making alternative plans with friends, so I didn’t pursue it. I’m so very happy to be going with a bunch of cool gals, but anxious about all the things OCD people like myself get anxious about such as parking, driving at night by myself (see psychobabble comment above), not seeing the kids tonight, hoping Daniel does well in his Xhosa test today and so on and so forth.

This morning the kids were up and about earlier than usual, so they were almost ready by the time I was ready and rushing to leave the house, already running a few minutes late. Mignon asked me to do her hair, so I said, sorry darling, Mommy has to go to work now, but Daddy or Norma will help you in just a minute. I also knew that, if I did her hair I would end up doing Isabel’s hair and then another 15 minutes would have gone by and I would be really, really late.

So I said, not today my darling. And, in the mirror, I could see something on my child’s face that was akin to disappointment. I didn’t click right that very second as my mind was already wandering to all the urgent things waiting at the office, but when it hit me I almost turned the car right around to go straight back and apologise and do the best hair ever. For her and her sister, work be damned.

Instead, I have spent a large part of my emotional energy today berating myself and wishing that I made a different choice this morning. Wishing I could take that crushed and disappointed look off my child’s face. An exercise in complete futililty, but still.

Then this popped up in my timeline this morning:

I think our kids need a Yes-day, almost like a Love-Bombing day, but probably something that would be more practical for us as a family. It feels like we live in a world of NO, a world of pushing them to do everything they *need* to do and don’t indulge them often enough or make them feel as important as they should know they are.

For now though, I’ll re-learn the lesson about being in the moment and continuously re-evaluating priorities and moving on. Thinking on my feet at 06h45am is clearly just not my strongest point.

Parenting Daniel

Daniel presented us with his first written story tonight.

Last night he lined up his Lego figurines, got into bed with a notebook and a pen and told us he was writing a story with the figurines as inspiration.

I cannot even begin to tell you how proud this makes me. (And a little weepy)

He has come such a long way this year. He has overcome intense separation anxiety, bullying and some other challenges that are not for me to write about.

He is a funny, gentle, clever little man and we are incredibly blessed that he chose us to be his parents.

It is so good to hear him laugh his trademark belly-laugh again. Having twin sisters that are a tsunami of energy and noise at the best of times can also not be easy, I’m sure he feels excluded sometimes. Yet, the three of them are a unit. They stand up for each other, they giggle, they make up silly games. They love with abandon.

How did we get this lucky?

Let’s talk about Christmas

Ok. I will eventually, but first, let me say: Fokkies. People. It’s almost Christmas. I know it’s the end of the year when dragging my backside through the last month and seeing the days whizzzz by fill me with equal amounts of dread and glee. To-do lists seem to get longer and longer, projects *have* to be wrapped up by the end of November.

I also know it’s the end of the year when I no longer have any filters and some of the things that come out of my mouth make me cringe. My Boss calls it ‘Interpersonal Sensitivity’. I call it ‘Too tired to put up with crap’.

Tonight I realised that I’m doing the same as every year: buying too many little stocking filler gifts for the kids and contemplating the utter futility of buying expensive toys.

Toys that they will play with for about 20 seconds before they are discarded in favour of the disposable arty kakkies that are the stocking fillers. (Unless they are the 2 microphones and a guitar the kids got from my folks a few years ago. The less said about that the better. They are like a bad rash)

Toys we spent time agonizing about, not only because there are 3 children and it adds up WAY too quickly, but also because we would hate to ruin Father Christmas’s reputation of buying the perfect gift.
I really do wonder what the point is of buying toys. Our lot are quite content to play silly games with each other and, really, they (mostly) hold no educational value. But then it wouldn’t be a toy, now would it?

What are you buying your kids for Christmas? Do you agree that buying toys are more often a monumental waste of hard-earned money than anything else?

A fun day at the Dermatologist

Isabel has the weirdest skin infection for a while now that started behind her knee and spread up and down her leg. Despite 2 (!!) doctors diagnosing eczema it clearly wasn’t.

So, off to the Dermatologist we went today. (I had a good idea what it was as my bestie, Leo’s, little girl has the same*)

Of course I had to go with both girls, can’t exactly be leaving the one at aftercare, now can I?

I should have known we were in for a fun time when we arrived and they went into hysterical giggle mode. As we sat down Isabel immediately jumps on my lap and starts bouncing and kicking the back of the (very expensive) desk. In between trying to have a conversation, holding on to Isabel’s legs and trying not to clamp my hand over giggling Mignon’s mouth we concluded our conversation and move on to the exam room.

Here they both climb on the examination table, ready for action. At this point the doctor starts talking a little faster, I suspect he was getting a bit nervous.

It went downhill from there and ended at a crescendo with ‘Mamma! Ek het in Isabel se gesig gepoep!’ By then the doctor was talking so fast I could only nod and back out of the room quietly, giggling twins in tow.

Next time it’s Etienne’s turn, pass the whiskey please.

*the condition is called Molluscom Contagiosum. It’s not dangerous and quite easy to fix, but it is annoying. Apparently it’s quite common?

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.

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.

A moment of clarity

This evening I was taking the girls to their swimming lessons and, as we got into the car, I reminded them that they can now clip their own safety belts and that we cannot leave until they’re strapped in safely.

I then realised with a shock that this is probably one of the few remaining basic things that the girls still needed to master. I remember when they were babies and we had 3 kids in nappies. I won’t lie: it was damn hard doing pretty much everything for them. We didn’t mind at all, but some days it was tough going being outnumbered by 2 babies and a toddler.

I thought of all those basic things like feeding them, changing nappies, wiping poo bums, then getting them off night nappies, being able to dress themselves, pour their own juice and take their plates from the table. And tie their own shoelaces.*

We celebrated all the little milestones that they achieved because it made them independent and gave them confidence, but also because it meant that there was one less thing we had to for them, but tonight I feel a little sad.

We have these three beautiful children that still need us, but they don’t *need* us anymore. They are bright and funny and independent and courageous and affectionate.

And I just want to hold them each close and whisper ‘Remember, Mommy and Daddy will always be here if you need us’.

‘Except to wipe your bum, we’re very much over that.’

* after (mostly Etienne) trying since last year trying to get Daniel to tie his own shoelaces I eventually lost my marbles yesterday and banned him from any and all electronic devices until he decided to knuckle down and get it done. It took a whopping 2 hours for him to master it and the look of sheer joy and victory on his face made it 100% worth being the baddy.

I have a split personality

Our children are rather vivacious little creatures as a rule. This means that they are giggly, talkative, silly and loud. Oh so very loud. All the time.

They are also terribly inappropriate at times.

For example:

Every evening we make sure there’s a ‘jammerlappie’ (small wet cloth) at the table so everyone can wipe their hands if/when they have to use their hands to eat as I really don’t enjoy running my hands over my furniture only to find some old, hard rice or fatty hand imprints stuck on the side of a chair. Not that it helps much of course, but we do try.

Tonight we are all sitting at the table, politely encouraging (threatening) children to eat their broccoli when Daniel very politely points out that he wiped his snot on the ‘jammerlappie’.

Chaos ensued. Adults shuddered and vomited a little in their mouths. Children screamed and laughed like maniacs.

Things rapidly went downhill from there.

It dawned on me that I must have a split personality. On the one hand I’m this grown-up person that manages to hold down a job. On the other hand I come home and discuss snot on jammerlappies and who farted the loudest and the longest.

And I had this moment of sheer terror that I would forget one day which personality is which and completely misbehave at work.

But then I got sucked in by the vortex of love and laugh at home and I knew that it didn’t matter at all, because if I can hold on to the love I feel at home 24/7 no-one would notice the odd mention of a fart at work.

Do you also sometimes feel like you’re two completely separate people?

Too long for FB contd

Just a quick update on my post earlier this week about The Coughing Child and some random stuff.

We decided to take Isabel back to our normal GP we love this morning and thank goodness we did. The poor gal actually has bronchitis. That other after-hours doctor won’t be seeing anyone in this house again in a hurry.

At least she is on the mend, thank goodness. Thank you for all the kind comments and tweets, much appreciated.


Every night the kids have 30 minutes to play on an electronic device and only after I get home. Some nights I get home and they are huddled around the computer, some nights they are drawing up a storm and other nights I arrive to the sounds of musical statutes in the kitchen. Like last night.

The only thing that is consistent is that the first thing Daniel asks me is whether he can have the iPad. The very minute I walk in the door. He knows he is not allowed to have it before he has had a conversation with me about his day. Sometimes I make him tell me repeatedly how much he loves me. Sometimes I even demand numerous kisses and hugs, just to torture him. I’m *such* a terrible person.

The other night, much to our amusement, I am accosted by Isabel, not Daniel, and we promptly gave her the same terrible treatment of demanding conversation and affection. She humored us for a while, then excused herself and sent in her wingman, that we also sent on his merry way.

We could hear Daniel whisper from the lounge ‘Isabel, it’s your turn, go ask Mom for the iPad’.

And so it starts, the ganging up on the parentals.

Sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong

I have a terrible habit: I tend to stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong.

In my defense, I’m never malicious, my intentions are always pure and 99% of the time it is to the benefit of someone else.

Point in case: the kids’ aftercare at school.

Recently I collected Daniel from aftercare and his top lip was red. When I had a closer look I realised that it was something that he drank and I cast my eye over the drinks available to the kids. There, lurking in the shadows, was a large container with red cool drink that made my skin crawl. Being the OCD I am (and proud of it) I promptly snapped a pic of my child’s stained face and smartly emailed it to the aftercare manager with the suggestion that, if my son’s face looks like that, it would be interesting to see what it does to his stomach. There were vague mumblings of ‘we’ll look into it’ and I got sidetracked with life and promptly forgot about it.

Then the kids came home during the holidays with a bag of sweets that made our hair stand on end. Before we even had a chance to complain our new Au Pair mentioned that they were getting liquid chocolate and sherbet thingies (that are absolutely forbidden in our house) as a treat at aftercare. If you have ever read those food labels, when and if they bother to have them, you would have seen that those things are tantamount to poison for children.

So, I called and was poo-pood with more vague promises to look into it. At which point I thought, nah, I’m escalating this. Which I did. They were very good about it and no longer do kids at aftercare get cool drink that stains their faces and sweets that are potentially harmful to their health. I do suspect they grind their teeth when they see an incoming email/call from me, but not only do they now save money, they can control the kids at aftercare better because they aren’t pickled in sugar, Tartrazine, MSG and additives.

Yes. I am THAT Mother. If your child no longer gets cool drink and shitty sweets at aftercare and only water and fruit, you’re most welcome. It’s a pleasure.

But wait. There’s more. (I’m on a roll, can you tell?)

When I arrived home this evening Etienne tells me that our Au Pair was waiting for the girls to finish ballet and had Daniel with her. She then saw 2 little boys, the same age as the girls, approach a very shy little boy and tell him how they were “going to come to his house, slap him through the face the whole time and then kill him’.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Daniel apparently heard this, went over to the boys and told them to leave the little boy alone, they were very nasty. And they did. (My son, he’s a hero)

The Au Pair then reported this to the aftercare teacher who apparently dealt with it.

This would be acceptable to most people, yes? Well, not me. Oh no, not me, because clearly I stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong.

We know who the boy is that was being bullied (and who was doing the bullying), he is in class with the girls, so I had a choice: I could assume that something was said to that parent or I could call the Mom to check.

Yup. You guessed it. I called the Mom. Nothing was said to her when she collected him, so even though she knows that, because he is quite shy he is an easy target, she would have had no idea what happened or to deal with it.

I may be way out of line here, but if my child was being bullied I damnwell want to know about it. Even more importantly: if my child was bullying another child I would want to know about it and there would be some serious re-thinking of how we were parenting our child to act in such a way.

What do you think?