Category Archives: The mom, the wife, the caregiver

Basically, the glue that keeps everything together

Conscious parenting

A baby boy is born: Ah how gorgeous, he’s going to be a heartbreaker!
A baby girl is born: Ah how beautiful, I hope daddy has his shotgun ready for the boys!

A boy starts dating: Go get ‘em buddy! Here’s a pack of condoms.
A girl starts dating: Bring that boy here so your uncles and I can scare him shitless.

A friend posted this on her wall the other day and a heavy debate followed. I firstly said:

“As a mom of a human being, I agree 100%. I invested a lot and still do, in raising my kid to be a decent human. I’m sorry if you or your child had bad boyfriends/experiences before my son but you will not treat my well-raised son as a walking boner-machine. And hopefully you can see my son for the kind human he is when you first meet him.”

And then in reply to the “scientific fact that boys empathy levels drop between the ages of 13 and 16, I said:

“That’s where invested parents come in… just like you remind them to remember their manners when they are between 4 and 8, you call them out in their teen years when you see unacceptable behaviour. You parent until your last breath and you make sure the village of people that surrounds him and the circles he moves in are people who share similar values. He has people who can check him when his behaviour is unacceptable. We need to go back to ‘my kid is your kid too’. Our circle of friends subscribe to this and the kids know that any of the parents can call you out for bad behaviour (not spanking) and when you go to your buddy’s house, you have to remember your mom’s rules and any extra rules your bud’s mom has. We have to remind them sometimes but after 4yrs of being buds they know the rules in every house and of course know who the more lenient moms are ”

My dad had to wait 11 years after my birth to get his “prized son and heir”. And guess who had to stand in for the heir while he took his own sweet time? Yup, me. I was raised like a boy partly because I was a tomboy and partly because my dad thought he’d never have a son so I had to do the son stuff with him. As a result, I’m a pretty independent girl who can DIY with the best of them, comfortable with power tools, changing tyres and all sorts of other “manly stuff”. Pretty useless at all the “girly stuff” like make-up and fashion, though.

Being “helpless” and needing “protection” has never been an option for me. I ran with the boys and am happy to say I was able to stand my (wo)man in most childhood fights and situations. Thanks to my male cousins and neighbours, I gave as good as I got. Running with the boys also equipped me with a pretty good sense of judgement and I knew when a situation was dangerous and when to get out.

Consent was also always a topic of discussion in our house. Especially with me running wild with boys all the time. When the inevitable house-house games started, I was always the “wife” as I was the only girl in the group and I had a different husband every time we played the game. Some husbands were cool and others were quite ‘handsy’. But because body consent was discussed with me, I knew that even though real husbands and wives touched each other, this was a game and we did not need to do that. When it was time to go to bed, we got on to the flattened cardboard that was our bed, said goodnight and “slept” for 5 seconds, then we had to wake up the “kids” and start our day all over. Lolz.

At the risk of sounding like a smug mom aka a sanctimommy, yes I do invest a lot of energy into raising my son to be a decent human being. Someone I can confidently send into the world, knowing he will remember what he was taught and the values he saw being lived in his home and his village.

Someone who doesn’t EVER think it’s OK to have sex with someone who is in no state to consent (no matter how drunk you are) Hello, Brock Turner.

Someone who knows and accepts that consent can be withdrawn at ANY time and just because you’re in a relationship/friendship with someone, it does not mean you have ALL THE SEX with them whenever, however.

Parenting does not stop the minute your child reaches a certain age, I will parent until my last breath and it is up to me to ensure I lay down the kind of foundation in my kid so that when he is confronted with a tricky issue, it is my voice he hears to guide him, or that he’s able to come to me (or any of the fab people in his village) and talk openly about complex issues he’s confronted with. And I hope I have given him the courage to call out his friends or any one else for that matter if he sees unacceptable behaviour and in turn, when he gets called out for unacceptable behaviour, I hope he always owns it and rights the situation to the best of his ability.

 

 

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Tell me the truth…

The magic is over, Big Tom knows the truth about the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and yup, Father Xmas. 🙂

Ever since the dogs joined our family we’ve had this little ritual where he has to warn the dogs that the Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy/Father Xmas is coming and that they’re to welcome them and not bark at them/try to eat them.

I reminded him last night to warn the girls and he said ok. But then:
T: Mama, please be honest with me, ok? Please tell me the truth? Please be really honest, ok?

M: What do you need to know, love? And please think carefully about what you’re asking. *My heart starts sinking. Knew this day was coming, but man alive, I’m not ready.*

T: Mama, just be honest ok. That is all I want from you.

M; Ok, I will be honest, but if you’re going to ask what I think you’re going to ask, you better make sure you are ready for the answer…

T: I am, I think I know the answer anyway. Just be honest, ok? Does the Easter Bunny hide the eggs or do you and Daddy?

M: Well… you sure you want to go down this road?

T: Mama, you promised you’ll tell me the truth.

M: No, we do it. I’m sorry, Beeb. Are you ok?

T: Noooo, I knew it! You guys! I knew it!

M: Are you ok, though? Not too disappointed?

T: Arrgghhhhh all the lies! Yup, I’m fine.

We carried on like this for a while until all the magical/imaginary peeps were outed. Must say he handled it way better than us. We felt a bit gutted afterwards, but all he felt was vindication and “I can’t believe all the lies”.

Hahaha, he then started doing post-mortems of all the years he can remember and unpacked all the lies, like bunny paw prints and “snow” footprints.

Told him the cool thing about getting to this age and knowing the truth is you now know something your younger siblings/cousins/friends don’t know, so you’re “in with the grown-ups” now and have to carry on the magic until they get to this age.

Another one of those bittersweet parenting moments.

My mom was good before I was born…

Yesterday was tennis tryouts at school.

T: Mama, Ms Stuart-Findlay said I’m really good. She said my form and technique was fantastic. She wondered if you are good at tennis because it must come from you or daddy.
Me: Oh wow, that’s rad! See, I knew you’d slay at tennis tryouts. (my head swelling to three times it’s size) Awww and I’m so glad she could see the Serena Williams power and technique hidden behind my mom bod.
T: Yes, I told her we play tennis most weekends and that you were first team tennis when you were at school. She said wow.
Me: Aww, Thomas! Thank you for telling her that (by now I’m beaming so much, if I were THE iceberg, the Titanic would’ve seen me the moment it left the Southampton dock!)
T: She asked if I sometimes win matches. I told her I win most of our matches as you are not so fast anymore. I told her you were good before I was born.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaha, yes my child, I certainly was good before you were born. I was a lot of things before you were born. Lolz.

Do I just have South African blood in me???

The topic of the day on the playground yesterday was lineage. Someone mentioned that they have Italian and German and Irish and BRITISH blood IN them!! Someone else was three quarter Irish and three quarter German (teachers need to work on those fractions).

From what I was able to piece together, most countries are represented on this playground.

Thomas: *a bit disappointed* They asked me what blood I have and I said just South African. Do I really just have South African blood in me though?
Elton: Well, you have a speck of German from Ma’s side. Jutzen is a German surname.
Me: And you have a speck of Malaysian from Dadda’s side. But, you’re mostly South African and you are pretty marvellous.

This was also a great time to reinforce the “your blood” does not make you superior narrative.

Me: I think it’s great that you guys were able to discover more about each other. And remember, it is not on to think or say that you are better than others because you have blood from other countries in you or for any other reason. And…
Thomas: I know, I know Mama, you always say it. All our blood is red and our poop is brown.

Hahaha, my work here is done.

At some point, my body is going to have to be MINE.

This is usually said with exasperation because his mother is too clingy.

Applying moisturizer and sunscreen every morning is one of his least favourite things to do. And when he asks why I insist on doing it every day my standard reply is: I made that beautiful body and skin (insert teeth, nose, eyes or whatever body part is in play on any given day) and it’s my job to protect it.

Ditto when I cuddle or tickle him and he’s not in the mood. Mama, stooooooop it! No. Mama!!! No, I made this body and I can cuddle and tickle for as long as I want. Depending on his mood, I either stop or slow down. Mostly fun and I have been able to use it as a lesson for body consent and privacy.

But as with all things with kids, it can also backfire rather badly. He has been able to wipe his own bottom for years now, but a few years back we use to supervise and assist as he could use an entire loo roll for one session if left to his own devices. And to save ourselves from having to deal with a clogged loo, we used to supervise and assist where needed.  On one of those supervised sessions I said: Dude, why do I still have to help you, you can do this with less loo paper, you know! His reply was priceless.

You have to do this because (mimicking my voice) “I made this beautiful body AND poop chute AND bottom and I have to protect it. You always say this is your body, well your body needs its bottom wiped!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha, I would’ve been ROFL if I wasn’t mid wipe! KIDS!

 

Thomas and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad haircut

The day before school started, Thomas and his dad went for the usual haircut before school.

They’ve been doing this for years. He has his stylist and they know what he wants. He mostly comes back happy, unless he has a new stylist and things don’t happen the way he likes.

His current stylist is on mat leave, so he had to go to her stand-in.

Well, an hour after the appointment, my phone went ping and this is the WhatsApp exchange that followed:
Elton: oh boy, I screwed up big time now. Thomas not happy with the length of his hair. Did #1 on sides and back and #2 on top. Crying, won’t let me near him.
Me: What did he ask for? What does it look like? Too short or too long?
Elton: too short
Me: oops (secretly relieved that it didn’t happen on my watch)
Elton: That’s what we usually get, I think she has a heavy hand.
Me: Eish. Probs better anyway. Take longer to grow out.
Elton: He doesn’t want to go to school. Says they’re going to make fun of him.
Me: Ai
Elton: He closed his door when we got back. Told me to go away when I tried to console him. 😦

When I got home later that evening, they had sort of made up but things were still extraordinarily tense. This was a biggie and I think Elton was feeling deeply distressed as he has always been able to console Thomas. An inconsolable Thomas is not a situation he’s used to being in.

Preparation for day 1 of school was a bit tense and we stopped just short of a bribe. When we arrived at school, I started chatting to the mom of one of his closest friends and she laughed and called her son over. She made him take off his cap and showed us his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad haircut. He has straight blonde hair and after she had been at his head, there were little tufts (nests) of hair sticking out all over. Once Thomas saw his bad haircut, I think he felt better and day 2 was way  easier. Hahaha, a great lesson in perspective! We’re on day 7 and the no good, very bad haircut is almost forgotten.

Almost. Last night we did a perimeter check of our electric fence and moved the little warning boards off the connectors as that sometimes sets it off. The fence was switched off and Thomas was moving the boards with a broomstick. He asked me what would happen to him if the fence was on while he touched it with a broomstick and I said you’ll have a peculiar hairstyle and your eyes might just swivel in your head for a while. His reply: Well, thanks to Daddy not paying attention, I DO have a peculiar hairstyle and swivelly eyes sounds cool! 🙂

 

 

 

 

This is grade 3.

Big Tom started grade 3 yesterday. I know, I know. Where has the time gone and all that.

Watching this little person develop has been glorious!. Well, mostly. I’m not the primary parent so I get to do all the fun stuff like walks with the dogs, cavorting in the ocean on our boogie boards and all the physical things Elton can no longer do with him. Poor Elton gets the homework, school run and extramural juggles. The infuriating questioning of everything and exasperating pushing of boundaries. When I’m home, Elton usually taps out and I have to do my time. Thomas and I are both quite strong characters so even though Elton gets to tap out, he sometimes has to step back in the ring to separate us when things get heated.

I love that with every year that passes he is more open to reason and we can better negotiate our way around issues. I marvel at how he seems to have inherited a delicious mix of Elton and my wit and I delight at his verbal skills. And my mommy heart loves that he is still extraordinarily affectionate (albeit restricted to the privacy of our home, mostly).

And by all accounts, he is a loyal friend, kind and an all-round great guy. Also love the feedback we receive from parents who have him in their homes for play dates/sleepovers. He has a solid idea of what is acceptable and what is not and he is courageous and has a fierce loyalty towards his friends. It really is heartwarming to watch him with buddies and fascinating to listen to him recount whatever happened on the playground. When I look back at my childhood, I wish I had a friend like Thomas. I know I’m incredibly biased, but this kid is such a treat.

I know those of you who have older kids are going *snigger, snigger, wait until you get to the teens* and I suppose you’re right. Things will change, but I would like to think that his inherent kindness and courage to stand up for himself and others who are not as strong as him, will carry on through the riotous teen years when the hormones rage and it all goes to hell. That is why I am writing all of this down, so in a few years’ time when I *can’t even* and want to run away from home and join a circus, I can pop a few Prozacs, take a big gulp of wine and reminisce about what a great kid he was and hope that kid comes back soon.  🙂