Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stranger Danger and other Areas of Concern!

At school and at home Shannon is constantly reminded about Stranger Danger. I find this topic to be an eternal minefield of 3 year old logic and adult inconsistencies! First let me ask this: how is it OK that we tell our children NEVER to talk to strangers and certainly never to accept things from them, and then at Christmas encourage them to go and sit on a strange man's lap and ASK for a pressie? As adults we can see the (slight) difference, but at 3, 4, 5 years old... certainly not!

My other dilemma in this issue is that I am trying to raise friendly, confidant and outgoing children and that means they need to develop the ability to talk to people they have never met and not to be terrified of them. Now, once again, as an adult, I can see that there are situations in which children can talk to strangers and times when it is wholly unsuitable... how do I explain the difference to Shannon?

Her latest take on the whole situation is that if she acknowledges that the person is a stranger it is OK, so whenever we go to the shops and she sees a car guard, for example, she shouts: "Hello Stranger Danger!" One feels the poor man needs an explaination, but where to begin?

Shannon also feels it is sensible to ask someone if they are a Stranger Danger, which sorta defeats the object, since if they really were a danger they would be vey unlikely to mention it!

The other thing that has evidently become an Area of Caution for us is Shannon's ability to listen to and repeat what we have said. There is a man who parks his car in our complex on the grass outside our neighbour's house. He does not live in the complex but feels his handbreak won't hold on his own driveway. We are asked not to park on the grass anyway as it has a bit of a negative impact on the quality of our front lawns. Sean said something about this, under his breath, when leaving with Shannon to go shopping and Shannon asked why he had his cross face on. So Sean told her that the man was naughty for parking on the grass. Not long after this we saw the man getting into his car and Shannon said loudly, as 3 year olds do: "That man's naughty, hey Daddy!" Once again... where to start with an explaination?

And, just because I am an overindulgent parent:
Not sure how to turn it so if anyone has any ideas please let me know!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Winter Weekend

If this is the onset of winter already then I am sorely dissapointed with South Africa's abismal effort at summer this year. Summer did not really arrive until mid January, then we had an unforgivably hot February (which was bliss if you were by the pool and more than a little uncomfortable if you were working outside!) followed by a week of the same in March and now, mid march, we are back to jerseys and longs! By my calculation that is a shorter summer than even Mud Island gets! And the weather is one of the reasons we live in this part of the world! Those reasons seem to be diminishing one by one! Ah well, anything to make The Decision easier!

This weekend, weather notwithstanding, has been funfilled and interesting. On Friday night we went, with the rest of the family, to watch Kyle perform in a play in Westville. On top of outshining the rest of the cast with his acting ability, Kyle wowed the audience with his singing. We are all very proud of him, none more so than Shannon. I was a little nervous as to how Shannon would behave at the play as it started at 8pm and finished at 10:30pm, so I made sure she had a late afternoon nap and supper before we left and then just had to wait and see. She was spellbound. Just my luck - with 2 kids in tow -they were filming that night and asked everyone to keep the noise limited to that of applause (!) This added to my apprehension somewhat but where Shannon was concerned I need not have worried! The one comment Shannon did make was to Sean:

Shannon: "Daddy, that's Kyle Hey?"
Daddy: "yes it is!"
Shannon: "But that girl called him Seymour" (!)

Oh yes, and she took the mick out of the 2 young men sitting behind us! They laughed... she copied them! They heard! EVERYONE disolved into giggles... giggles that may or may not mesh with what you see on the video!

Jordan was another story - perhaps because I assumed (never assume with kids) that he would sleep, as he normally does, at that time! Anyway he eventualy fell asleep and I spent the evening proudly watching Kyle... and Shannon!

On Saturday we went to Hilton to the Dedication of Noah Clulow, which was lovely. Despite the weather it was a fantastic day. Once again it was Jordan and not Shannon who couldn't sit still and poppet behaved brilliantly throughout! Who'd a thunk! Anyway continuing with the good behaviour, Shannon sat on the floor at Al and Susie's house, where we went for lunch afterwards, and played quietly with Noah' toys... and then packed them away afterwards when I asked her to.

From there we went to George's 'posi' to watch rugby and braai... in the rain... and that is were the wheels fell off! Running on the tiles outside Shannon did a complete wheels up and landed on her head! Children, being more resilliant than we give them credit for, seem to hurt less than we would under the same conditions, and other than a sore head she was fine...

After all the excitement of the 2 previous days, we spent Sunday pottering around the house! In tracksuits and March!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Our very own Evil Knievil

Having not done the bicycle thing for a while in order to allow my frayed nerves a chance to recover, today we thought it would be a good way of expending some energy! So, with Jordan in the pram, and Shannon on her bike, we set off along 50 meters of flat road. Flat, that is, until the end where it becomes a Very Steep Hill.

Shannon was ahead of Jordan and me. She didn't stop at the end. Emitting a howl of dimay she went HURTLING down the Very Steep Hill. (We have still not mastered the breakes due to Being Too Small) Leaving Jordan in his pram in the middle of the road I took off at a sprint to try - in vain - to catch her before the inevitable happened - she had to stop somewhere - She then levelled out and narrowly missed hitting a parked car, instead heading for another Very Steep Hill. Once again, still howling and hurtling, she successfully negotiated the hill... then crossed the road (this is not as bad as it seems - we live in a complex and Sunday afternoons are usually devoid of people) and crashed into the pavement on the opposite side. The front wheel stopped right there, Shannon and the back wheel leapt with great agility over the front wheel, Shannon landed on her head in a bush with the bike on top of her. She has NOT A SCRATCH! There are 2 small holes in her helmet which would, presumably, have been holes in her head had helmet not been in situ! I gathered her up, still howling from fright - her, not me - and grabbed the bike in the other hand to get back to Jordan before someone ran into him - I know, sunday afternoon... complex... devoid of people... did I ever mention I'm a little paranoid?

We came home for some rescue (for me) and to swap bikes to the black plastic motorbike (for her) and went for a walk. Avoiding hills.

Bicycle is locked in the garage... have considered throwing away the key!Stationary Bike

Friday, March 07, 2008


Protect Our Women Against Rape

This morning was the scheduled court hearing for the rapists... we turned out in force! Hundreds of people drove to the Pinetown Court House for a silent protest against crime in this country. The support for Jessica was overwhelming, and it was uplifting to see how many people care and how many people are willing to at least try to make a difference. People held up placards and banners condemning rapists to the death penalty and calling for crime to be stopped, many people carried candles representing the need for peace in our country.

Hopefully we have set a precedent for the future for people to stand up visibly against crime, no matter what creed or colour, rather than complaining about it behind closed doors.

After the Pinetown court house, a great many people went back up to the Hillcrest police station where these criminals are being held and, with the use of a loud hailer, told them in no uncertain terms, in Zulu so there could be no misunderstanding, what will happen to them if they EVER get out on the streets of South Africa again. I think they messed with the wrong girl.

As for Jessica, I am awestruck by your bravery and openness in this terrible lifechanging incident. That this happened to you is devastating and unforgivable, and you must allow yourself to grieve, but your strength will help others to speak out and get help and that is something to be immensly proud of.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your dad on the long road ahead.

NOTE ADDED: I was disgusted to hear that the event at Hillcrest Police Station turned sour and those who were supposed to be standing up against crime were harassing innocent passers by and causing chaos. This is NOT the way to make our point.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Jessica's Courage

This evening Jessica, who is the survivor of the atrocious rape incident on Sunday, spoke out on Newswatch on East Coast Radio. Her message was to all the other women who have suffered this heinous crime to speak out and get help. All the sick bastards who were involved have been caught and are behind bars tonight. There is irony in the fact that their lives within a South African jail will be afflicted by incidents similar to the crime they committed! My personal preference would have been a shoot out in which they were all killed, but I suppose we have to be grateful for small victories.

Jessica has shown amazing courage and resilliance and our thoughts and prayers remain with her, her father and the rest her family as they strive to put this devastating incident behind them and move on with their lives.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Violent crime

In South Africa we live with violent crime around us all the time. In theory the trick is to be alert and cautious and you will remain safe. The reality is very different. It can happen to anyone at any time.

In order to stay living in South Africa, one develops an ability to put the terrors of violent crime to the back of the mind, in order that we do not spend our days in fear of doing anything. This means that we live normal, happy lives in a beautiful country. Unfortunately, however, the high incidence of violent crime in South Africa ensures that it is never long before someone in our own circle of friends has their life changed devastatingly and forever!

Yesterday a young lady in our community was gang raped at gun point while out walking her dogs. Her father, who was with her, was held at gunpoint while the sick bastards committed this heinous crime. I don't know any details so won't elaborate any further. Even in broad daylight it is unsafe to go out and enjoy our beautiful countryside.

So how do we go on living in our country? To me the only answer is: we don't. I have heard all the reasons to stay...

Well sorry, here is my reason to leave:

I have to protect my innocent children and I feel powerless to do that here!

As we all know I am a paranoid parent, which means that while living here I am not inclined to stray far from home alone with my kids... some idyllic life eh? But what it also means is that really I should be afraid even with Sean around. I can live with all the other things that come with living in Africa... but NOT the violent crime.

Luckily, or maybe hopefully, I will put this fear to the back of my mind again where it will hover until the next incident, and I can go on living a normal, happy life in a beautiful country.

The young lady and her father who survived this ordeal, however, may NEVER be able to do that. To you and your family, the hearts and prayers of our community go out to you, we hope you get all the support and guidance you need to regain some normailty in your lives.

To everyone else, take care and be safe.