Suffer the Children

In the next few days much will be said about the abduction and murderĀ of Jayde Panayiotou, whilst we are all still reeling from the recent (ongoing??) Xenophobic attacks, load-shedding, The Fall of Rhodes etcetera etcetera etcereta. (Yes, I wrote those out on purpose. The list is long)

Everyone’s double-checking their locks and alarm systems at night. Women, especially, will be even more alert when leaving their homes. Facebook updates and comment streams are riddled with “I don’t want to be in SA anymore”.

What is happening here is creating a collective angst. Many people (myself included) wonder: when will I become a statistic. When will *I* become a victim.*

That’s all good and well, and we will mostly agree that this is a really difficult time for our country, that many of us simply cannot see a positive end to, but let’s think for a minute how this impacts our children.

We will not let our kids set foot outside the front gate unaccompanied. They are not allowed to walk down to the park by themselves. Or play there unobserved. Or play in the streets until it gets dark. They cannot walk in a shopping mall unaccompanied. They cannot walk to school by themselves. I hate sending my son into a public mensroom by himself. HATE.

We think we are teaching them to be independent when, in fact, we are teaching them fear. Fear of the unknown, intense fear of the Bogeyman (and not the healthy kind either). I don’t think we are able to teach them basic confidence in being able to do things for themselves. In how to conduct themselves beyond our fences and our protective arms.

They hear us talking about Zuma. They ask us why Zuma is President if he doesn’t take care of our country, Mommy? What can you say? We cannot hide everything from them, they look over our shoulders when we read the news and scroll through Facebook, they see the headlines in the Community Newspaper that comes on a Wednesday. We cannot isolate them from all bad news, but where do you draw the line?

There are only so many cute cat videos you can show them so they hopefully forget that Mommy laughed hysterically in the kitchen the night of SONA 2015.

There are only so many happy stories you can tell them about your own childhood without them wondering how their lives ended up so differently.

There are only so many times you promise them that the angry-looking man walking past your house you take a photo of whilst desperately trying to usher kids and bags into the house in the afternoon is really just walking past. Only to see his photo on your local Community Policing FB page the very next morning.

We are liars and our kids aren’t stupid.

And this will all just come back and bite us in the ass.

That is all.

*I’m almost too afraid to say that out loud. We don’t want to tempt fate, now do we?

A letter to South Africa

Dear South Africa,

I want to talk about the elephant in the room. I want to talk about our relationship.

This is very hard for me to write, but I thought that putting my concerns down in writing would give us both some perspective.

I’m worried about the longevity of our bond, it feels like I’m alone in this relationship. You fail to give us letters and packages. You take away the electricity in our homes because of poor planning. You send riot police into the sanctity of our Parliament. You have invested our money in the palace of a King that is little more than a Common Crook. The list is long.

I appreciate that it may sound trite to write you this letter from the comfort of my spacious house in the suburbs whilst our children are happily swimming in our pool in your brilliant sunshine. I know we are more privileged than the vast majority of your other children here. I also know that we are blessed with stable jobs with good companies and that, from the other side of the looking glass, our life is just perfect.

I want you to know that there are cracks in our relationship. I want to tell you that I am worried about the future of our children, of all of your children living in our country of abundance.

I unfortunately find myself in the precarious position of re-evaluating the longevity of our relationship as you haven’t been there for us, your family. It feels like your priorities are all wrong, that you are not invested in us, your family. I worry that you are only taking care of yourself and not us, your family.

I ask myself: what would be the final thing that would make us leave you, but don’t want to think about the answer too much. What would be the final thing that would make us take our children and leave?

We love you South Africa, please don’t make it hard for us to stay. Just a little bit of effort, just a sign that you still care about us, your children, and all your other children.

That’s all I ask for.