On sound advice from a good friend, I’ve decided to chronicle important events of our times, in a bid to give my grown children a feel for the economic, political and socio climate they were born into, and grew up in. Personally, I was born at an amazing time in history – I was alive at a time when the world was rocked by events which changed humanity forever.
I have lived through euphoric moments, with the release and election of our first Black president, Mr Nelson Mandela; the end of Apartheid put South Africa at the forefront of the global arena. South Africa took centre stage again in this decade, showcasing probably the world’s most cataclysmic pandemic – AIDS. Yes it was a worldwide problem, but the South African statistics shocked the world. On a positive note, the Soccer World Cup came home, and it was one of the proudest moments to be a South African. Terrorism reached new heights with the 9/11 attacks on America, as the world continued to wrestle over oil – how would I explain that to my children? America swore in their first Black president. We witnessed firsthand the highs and lows of influential people whose names will forever be ingrained in the sands of time: Mother Theresa, Bill Clinton, Osama Bin Laden, Robert Mugabe, Oprah Winfrey and many more. We’ve lived through other people’s lives, as reality TV overtook the airwaves. Social networking opened up a whole new world called Cyberspace. Babies could be created in test tubes, sheep could be cloned, and cross-gender /cross-culture relationships became the norm. And sadly natural disasters unhinged the world as they plundered ferociously through continents, killing thousands, leaving millions destitute.
I was a child at a time in history when children could be just that – children. We played in the street until the lights came on, we were in and out of our neighbours homes and everyone was called aunt or uncle. We played games with sticks, tins and leftover bits from our mothers pantyhose. Your teacher was your parent away from home and we were disciplined with canes and rulers and that was ok, because abuse was almost unheard of, so we knew we were being deservedly punished. We’d walk to the local swimming pool, without fear of being snatched, we’d have sleepovers without fear of our friend’s parents. Our own parents trusted our neighbours enough to leave us with them overnight, while they went dancing. I grew up in a time when it was cool to be a kid.
One of my greatest fears as a parent today, is sheltering my children from experiences that they NEED to have, because of my own fear of what society has become. I’m too scared to let Liam play in the street because I’m afraid a drunken driver will run him down, or a preying paedophile will be lurking close by. Besides, there’s NO kids playing in the street anymore! I’m too scared to leave him at a kiddies party because I don’t know the other school parents well enough, so I stand on the outskirts watching and waiting. This is fine now, he’s two years old, but I don’t think he’ll appreciate my presence when he is at a 16th birthday party. I read the back of every label of everything they consume because I am so afraid of them being obese, or being exposed to tartrazine or too much salt or too many fatty acids because childhood diseases are on the rampage and kids are falling down dead from diseases that we can’t even spell. I spend more time in the doctors surgery than I do in front of the TV because they are always sick and constantly on antibiotics. I remember getting standard childhood illnesses like chicken pox, mumps and the odd runny nose, but not constantly needing a humidifier and allergy medication??
I want my kids to know the value of a well meaning stranger who honestly just wants to help them across the street, or to be able to run half naked through a sprinkler at the park, I want them to wave good bye to me at the school gate without being scared of being hassled by an older kid looking to steal their lunch money. YES we were hassled by older kids, but bullying today is nothing like what it was even five years ago. The suicide rate directly related to school bullying is terrifying!!!
So yes, these are the signs of our times. It’s difficult to be a good parent – I’m afraid of underexposing my children to the evils of the world – they need to know about stranger danger and about NOT touching their friend’s blood when he/she gets hurt and about the perils of Mxit, Facebook and other social networking sites. But do I really want to over expose them unnecessarily, and instil in THEM, this fear that has gripped me?
So my children, when you read this, I want you to know that I tried as far as possible to raise you “normally” in an otherwise crazy world. But I also want you to know that I didnt do it alone. I only got this far because of “He who is in me, who is greater than he who is in the world.” I pray for and over you, I’ve dedicated you and I believe that God’s favour is upon you. So although my fears and phobias do keep me up some nights, I know that there’s a greater force looking out for you and loving you even MORE than I do! And that kinda helps me sleep at night.