Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Lost Smile

This week Shannon has not slept at school, at all. Really as a result of the incident and the fact that she has coped well without sleeping. However, once in a while she seems to need to catch up and, having reached that point, she collapsed on the couch when she got home one day, and was asleep before I even noticed! Being an indulgent mother and, knowing it would only be me who paid for it at bed time when she was refreshed and ready to play, rather than tired and ready for bed, I left her to sleep. Until bath time.

I was once given some worthy advice about sleeping children... let them sleep. Well, I woke her up. Only to be rewarded by Little Miss Grumpy. Only little in size. I asked her what was wrong so she said, "I didn't have a nice sleep." I asked her why, to which she replied "coz I lost my smile"

Now, indulgent parent I am but not so much so that I can't find it in me to tease my poor, defenseless offspring. Lost your smile? Oh dear. I'll help you find it!

And I searched. High and low. Pantomime style. Her Highness was not impressed. "It's not funny!" she told me. But it was. Very funny indeed. And I was enjoying myself so not ready to stop. Sean went and busied himself in the kitchen to avoid the wrath of Shannon, since he couldn't stop laughing. Jordan looked at me as if I had finally completely lost my marbles (presumably in deference to Shannon) I looked under the chairs, in the toy basket, under the cushions, in her mouth to see if she'd swallowed it...

Slowly but surely she began to see the funny side of it and, after watching me make a fool of myself for a few more minutes, she said to me in a whisper: "I know where my smile is!" Where? I asked her, "here!" says she as a big grin spread across her face! Hmmm, perhaps not so defenseless after all.

© Jane Hendry 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where does the time go?

We have had a full and fun weekend. We did not stop moving and shaking until about 2pm yesterday afternoon. Shannon has been spoilt as only little girls can be, Sean and I have honoured two ladies who are very special to us, and Jordan has been adored by every person who lays eyes on him.

On Friday night we had a braai with our neighbours where we were regaled by all the gossip from around the complex and, though we were tired from a long week, sat up late laughing our socks off.

On Saturday we dropped Shannon off with her Aunt, Uncle and cousins for a morning of sport watching at her cousin's school and then some shopping. Shannon had a brilliant time at the school and was then introduced to clothes shopping the way it ought to be done (what would you like to wear, Shannon?) not the way Mommy does it(Sit in the trolley and don't touch!)! Anyway, when we saw her again at lunchtime the little princess was decked out in a beautiful little outfit, white and blue and very slightly frilly and looked like she should be on the cover of a magazine! If only I had my camera *sigh*

While Shannon was off being treated like the princess she is, Sean, Jordan and I were at a Natural Birth Seminar hosted by the Midwife and Doula who guided us through Jordan's birth. They had asked us to relate our birth experience to the expectant mothers who were not quite sure how the private midwife birth works (it is the norm in this country to have a gynaecologist in charge of a birth rather than a midwife). We retold the story of the amazing journey we had from beginning to end, and how those two wonderful women helped us create an experience worth remembering when our son was born. They were elated with the kind words and believed that many other women would want a private midwife at their side after hearing our story!

By lunchtime we were reunited with the now-more-beautiful-than-ever Shannon, who was distraught to discover that she was being left behind by her adored cousins while they went off to the stadium to watch 15 novice rugby players... erm... I mean the Springboks, receiving a lesson in humiliation from a rather more worthy Australian team. We watched in horror from the comfort of the couch at Sean's brother's house before feeding our sorrows with homemade pizza followed by pancakes. We got home at about 9pm.

By 8am on Sunday we were at the Verster's for a morning of natter for Trace and I and squealing delight from the masses of children we were surrounded by (and a little sawdust which seemed to find its way onto the floor in one of the children's' rooms) and Sean went off to the car sales with Quin (for boy fun)

Early afternoon we headed home and then I shot out to do the shopping (this is easier than stopping off with 2 children in tow) Sean sorted the house to a livable state and then we collapsed in a heap of exhaustion while, for a few precious moments, both children slept.

What a great weekend this was, fun and full to the finish - I think next weekend we'll opt to do a little less, though, I could use the rest!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Child rearing 101

So The Nanny has been here 3 weeks now and a number of issues have come up. None, you understand, that have not been resolved in my interest, but all, of course, which require a bit of work.

Dorcas and I do not see eye to eye on a few factors concerning Jordan:

1. Dorcas thinks he needs a dummy! I do not!

Dorcas is horrified that the poor child is not given a device that will possibly destroy his dental growth, certainly impede his speech development and, most of all, look ridiculous. ('Ach shame M'em he will feel better!')

2. I have a phobia about children and sugar! Dorcas does not!

"He can have Rooibos tea, Dorcas, but no milk!"
" And how much sugar M'em"
After I scraped my jaw off the floor, I asked her in my kindest scary voice to never, ever, EVER, give the little chap sugar, under no circumstances, EVER! I think I made my point clearly and have since secretly peeped in on breakfast and lunch operations... just to make sure!

3. I think it is fabulous for my little prince to fall asleep on me before he is put down to sleep. Dorcas looks at me down her well experienced nose and informs me he needs to sleep himself.

He is sleeping himself - on me - and really (I know you are all on Dorcas' side for this one) if he loves it and I love it it must be good for both of us!

4. When he sees me my little angel wants me.

This is a small house, I work in the dining room which is in the middle of an open plan living space. Where ever he goes, other than his bedroom or outside, he can see me. "you make him cross with me M'em" What can I do, I love it that I am so important to my children and so don't, perhaps, do enough to discourage this sort of behaviour.

So, we work on the rules, regulations and spying to the best of our ability in the hope that Jordan turns out all right in the end. Not that I am a control freak, nor paranoid, you understand!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The truth...as spoken by a 4 year old!

We have had an 'incident' at school recently which went something like this:

Shannon came home from school, on about 3 different occasions, saying that one of her teachers had smacked her at nap time for not going to sleep. (I also discovered that, due to following the example of a friend with a tendancy for bad behaviour, Shannon has hidden in the big tyre to avoid 'capture' at nap time!) When pressed about the subject of being smacked as well as that of hiding she would say brightly "it doesn't matter now" or "we've finished talking about that now" Which, I have to be honest, made me wonder if there was a little more to the story (or perhaps a little less) than was being told!

Nonetheless, I called the school and spoke to the head teacher who said that, unless something had changed drastically and she had not been informed, the accused teacher is the only one with an absolute no smacking policy. Let me just put you all at ease here, smacking is against the law in schools in South Africa, so when I say she is the only one who never smacks, I mean that goes for her own children too. So the likelyhood of her smacking someone else's child is rather remote to say the least! I was told under no circumstances to let Shannon know that I suspected an iota of mis-information from her (afterall we want her to believe that it is always safe to tell Mommy everything) as there was no way she could possibly know truth from fiction in this instance. Shannon is no fibber. She never has been, though she has occasionally led herself to believe something that actually isn't! This is one of those instances. Needless to say, the teacher in question is a little put out by the acusation (even though she is a pre-school teacher and she should know better).

So we have devised a new sleeping plan for Shannon in which she only sleeps twice a week (she no longer really needs a nap every afternoon) and I prompt her every morning as to what is expected of her. Yesterday, when I could get a word in edgeways, I asked Shannon about Nap Time earlier that afternoon:

me: did you have a nap today?
her: yes
me: did you hide from your teacher?
her: no only last week (can I insert here that her concept of time is vertually nil but her use of past tense just means that it happened before now!)
me: did you sleep nicely?
her: I went faaaaaaast asleep! but Kyla beat me!
me: Did Tina smack you?
her: It's not fair, my nose will grow like Minocchio.
me: Why will it do that?
her: It's not fair when I be naughty!
me: Were you naughty today.
her No, I'm a good girl but we've finished talking about that now.

I think that we can safely say that the smacking did not actually take place. I am still left wondering, though, how that little bit of fantasy found it's way into her head and became a reality for her? Something someone said...followed by a dream...??? Who knows.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Happy Women's Day

Today is Women's day in South Africa so, to all the women out there, have a great day and remember how special you are!!!

I have recently joined a community which, though I knew it was there, I never really grasped the closeness of. Reluctant Memsahib recently posted on a topic which, it seems, is very close to the hearts of many women. Certainly all those in this close community. Her words seem to have had a powerful effect on many of us! Potty Mummy recently posted on why she blogs... I identified with many of her reasons. Here are some of my own:

It is fascinating to consider that this group of people, very few of whom know each other face to face, and many if whom are spread across the globe, find that they have so much in common. I feel privileged to have a look in and to slowly become part of this community.

I have a great group of friends with whom I spend as much time as I can spare, we are all mothers, we are all women in a similar stage in life and we are all very different. Our time spent together almost always involves our children in one way or another. One evening every month we get together at one or another's house (and sometimes, when we are all free, for a morning coffee), without children, and we laugh. We can be just friends and just our Selves. For that time we are not mothers or wives or business owners or career women or any other of the many roles we have to play. We get to be the Selves that we were at 5 years old, and 18 years old and twenty something. Carefree.

Being part of this blogging community has given me another group of friends. I may not know them to wave to in the street, to stop and catch up on the recent past, but I can drop by any time I need a friend. Any time I need to see how they are, any time I need to offload the pressures of fulfilling all my own roles.

I love the all the roles I play in my life, from daughter and sister to wife and mother and every one in between. Sometimes I just like to be me.

I am happy that I am part of these special communities, real and virtual.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A different perspective

After a dearth of updates I seem to have a lot of words to get out at the moment... and perhaps a little more time to do so. Dorcas was not here yesterday due to the nationwide stay away to let the government know we are a little upset about the rising cost of food here! She had no idea there was a strike until she got up on Wednesday morning and saw the taxis barricading the roads, not letting the work force out of their villages. I forgot to mention it to her. It was nice to spend the morning playing with my gorgeous son and it cemented in my mind the fact that I have done the right thing by employing her. Dorcas I mean. I am adapting just the right amount. I think.

I had a friend around yesterday afternoon, mostly so our little girls could play together, but also so that we could catch up. She is a bit of a workaholic and, as well as running her own TWO businesses, has just picked up another job on the side! So her free time is precious. It was fantastic to chat. I often forget how similarly we think and, every once in a while, she exposes me to a different perspective, in a familiar idea, that changes the way I think. Yesterday she did this.

I am often charged with communicating poorly when my beloved and I do not see eye to eye (all our disagreements are through poor communication - his and mine). This is always made worse by being reminded that I am supposed to be good with words, I ought to know how to use them better. I never really thought about it til yesterday, but my words are carefully crafted, worked and reworked before they are presented, in the written form, for others to see. I am not able to revise my spoken words in the same way! I feel a little less pressurised to get it right under duress.

In my current state of openness to change, looking at things from a different perspective is helping to push my paranoia to the back of my mind. I would like to see everything from someone else's perspective, every day, in the hope that I can learn something new and add a little bit of difference to the Me that I am now.

On an entirely different note, Jordan's tooth, that has been trying valiantly to become fully erupted, has now managed to do so. The full tip of the tooth is exposed and the potential for tooth mark in skin has now been realised! Nonetheless, Mommy is very proud!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A lesson for me

In the interests of change I have also changed the look and feel of the blog... let's see shall we?

It is winter here in South Africa. At least in theory. July/August is usually chilly during the day and certainly very cold at night. At the moment the days are warm and the sky is very close to the deep blue that it usually only becomes in summer. It is warm enough for Jordan to spend half an hour outside in just a t-shirt, free of nappies and other restrictive, but warm, clothing; and for us to play in the garden all afternoon until bathtime. It's a little unusual.

I am enjoying the weather; I am one of those people who thrive on warm, sunny days. I am productive, positive and pleasant to be around. This is good. In the back of my mind, however, lurks a little unease. July shouldn't be this warm. It is winter afterall. Global warming feels more real now. I used to think of it as something far away and that, as long as I did my part along with everyone else, in time it would go away altogether. Perhaps not.

I will allow that thought to lurk for now. In the back. I can't help but love the blue sky, brightly coloured flowers (that are up and about a bit early this year) and the birdsong. I never used to notice many of the smaller things that happen on warm sunny days. Now Shannon points them out gleefully; a butterfly looks like a face "that one's a pretty lady mommy". We lie on the trampoline in the afternoon looking for shapes in the clouds and her imagination is startling. She points out all sorts of things, abstract things. I am enthralled by the world through my child's eyes. It seems as though as childhood dwindles so too does our realisation that thing are exciting and beautiful and worth noticing. I have learnt to pay attention finally (my parents will be pleased to read that) by learning to be a child again!

I think we should all take stock once in a while. Take notice of the world around us. And look after it, so generations after us can be reminded by their own children that we live on a beautiful planet. One which deserves our awareness and consideration if it is in danger of suffering heatstroke through our folly.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Change is good...

I think!

Today I feel better about things. Housework is being tended to and Jordan is quietly playing with his new best friend! I suppose the better we get to know each other and the more things get done my way (",) the happier I will feel. Yesterday I was a bit panicked and didn't really know where to start. Today I have realised - thanks to some wise words from Sean - that trial and error is actually ok. I don't have to be perfect or get everything right the first time.

Jordan has been much happier today too. Yesterday he was very unsettled and last night, when we should have been sleeping, he thought it would be fun to play with Mommy since Mommy had ignored him all day!!! Although after some discussion Jordan agreed to sleep as long as it was on me. Have I mentioned he is nearly 9kg? Well, you try sleeping with 9 bags of sugar on your chest! Nonetheless at least he slept!

Dorcas also seems to be more confidant today. I suppose yesterday was pretty daunting for her too. She quit a secure part time job she loved to come to me (almost) full time. If that were me I would be scared that I could have made the wrong decision. She is very good with His Majesty Jordan who seems to be putting a lot of effort into making her feel welcome. He sits on the floor beside her dutifully playing with the toys he is presented. Then, when he thinks she's not looking, I get a sly look of pride at how well he is playing his part! Clever little monkey!

Speaking of clever little monkeys, I was left speechless by Shannon the other day when she was eating a piece of toast. She wasn't being at all ladylike about how she was eating it and I said: "don't do that it's not polite!" to which she replied (with a mouth full of toast) "Yes it is! I put polite on it!" Who can argue with that?

I have to commend Shannon for her part in my return to fitness. Yes, she is my new personal trainer. It happens that she LOVES to jump on her trampoline when she gets home from school... every day... with me. Who would have thought that the most effective form of exercise I have ever tried would be so easily maintained by playing with my children!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Changing times!

The theme of this blog is really intended to be about my children and their antics. It seems to have been a bit wobbly though, going off track often and haphazardly. A dramatic change has just taken place in our lives (well mine and Jordan's anyway) in that - and I know that many people do this and that, at least in South Africa, it is considered the norm - I have just relinquished a portion of Jordan's care to a nanny. I am a bit of a control freak and, as I sit here typing, they are happily playing in his bedroom. I can hear them. I can't see them. I can't control the passage of play. I am feeling a little freaked out. In the interests of making myself feel better I am going to reign in this blog and centre it, at least for the time being, around this new state of affairs. So here goes.

Dorcas has come for the first time today. I am a little unsure how to manage her. I want things to go my way but at the same time I don't want to be a tyrant to work for. I expect Jordan will be happy as she is totally focussed on playing with him at the moment. I wonder if this means he will sleep less often but for longer? I want her to do house work too. How do I go about setting a routine that works for me as well as for Jordan? I foresee a week of trial and error ahead of me. I want to find this easy but I don't.

Actually I am a bit pathetic I think. I have to work now, I have exams coming up and a writing career to get off the ground. I work FROM HOME. I am not leaving my precious litte boy at a creche where I can't keep my eye on him. I am not leaving him at home alone with Dorcas (who comes highly recommended by the way) I am here. They are here. Hmm. he is crying. The tired cry. How will she know?

I am off to do some managing. Wish me luck.