Category Archives: Liam

Five things I’m loving about you guys right now…

Baby girl Hannah

  1. I love how cuddly and soft you are, with your delectable baby fat deposits behind your knees and the back of your neck…sooooo good for nuzzling!
  2. I love how you pat my back rhythmically when I am putting you to sleep – which technically means you put ME to sleep, but that’s ok.
  3. I love how you love to eat! Anything and everything! The minute the fridge door opens, you mosey on over with your mouth open and you say “hummmm” to indicate that you’d like some. So when you don’t eat, I know that you are feeling out of sorts.
  4. I love how you smell. Even when you’re dirty from playing in the sand, and rolling in the grass, and even when you have a stinky diaper, you still smell amazingly and wonderfully delicious. How do you do that?
  5. I love how you wonder around the house alone. And when I come and find you, you’ll be looking out the window at the traffic passing by, with your chin resting on the window ledge. Or you’ll be in your brother’s shoe cupboard, trying to put his shoes on. Sometimes I find you in the bathroom, wrapped in toilet paper and I want to smack your bottom because 2 ply toilet paper is expensive, but you look so cute, that I can’t help but laugh.

Mommy’s Big Boy, Liam

  1. I love how smart you are! I know every mom thinks their kid is smart.. but really boy, you are SOOOOO smart. You know your colours, even the hard ones like silver and grey. You know the days of the week and the alphabet, and you can identify letters like T for Tommy Tall and M for Magic Melon and C for Curly Clown.
  2. I love how I am your favourite – even when I shout and give you a smack – I’m still your favourite! And I love how you tell Dad that Mama is your best BEst BEST, and Dad is just your best.
  3. I love how you want me to tell you the same story over and over again and you always laugh like it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Ok, I must admit that sometimes this endearing quality does annoy me, because it’s the same old story of Ellie the Elephant who wants a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk which I made up months ago to keep you quiet. And if I forget one line of MY story, which I made up, you make a point of correcting ME, the author of the story.
  4. I love how you correct us when we make mistakes. If Dad and I are having a tiff, you remind us to TALK NICELY to each other. If we don’t say please and thank you and bless you, you reprimand us immediately. If we don’t say our prayers and kiss good night, you make sure that we do. You tell Hannah not to pick her nose, or eat from the floor and quite recently, not to pee in her diaper (it has been difficult to explain to you that while Hannah CAN wee and poo in her diaper because she is still a baby, you are now a big boy and you need to go potty).
  5. I love how you remember people and places, and how you place value on people, even complete strangers. You always smile and say HELLO or HI and you ask how they are. You remember all your aunties and uncles names – even the hard ones like aunty Adele, who you call aunty Tinkerbell. And when you haven’t seen a particular person for a long time, you ask me where and how they are.

You two are the best BEst BESTEST! I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.

The Dummy Suckers

How we went from no dummies, to dummies by the dozen… 

The pacifier is the one baby item I love to hate. I love how it immediately silences a crying baby, I love how I can shove it into Liam’s mouth when his verbal diarrhea hits record breaking levels, I love how it sends an almost-awake baby back to la-la land early on a Saturday morning. I love the cute designs and shapes they come in, the glow-in-the-dark types (VERY handy at night!), and the fancy ones with lids. I love the adorable  dummy chains in an array of colours and designs and the nifty little dummy boxes or casings, in which you can store dummies on the move. I have every believe in a dummy for the first few weeks with a new born, especially if you have a particularly naggy (for want of a better word) baby who takes long to settle, or who likes to constantly have something in his/her mouth or is really just a little whiner. The dummy brings much relief to a tired, overwhelmed new mother. All that said…

The pacifier drives me insane! It’s become my greatest fear to lose a dummy, or forget to take it (not it, them, 100s of them!) when we leave the house. Don’t EVER, EVER think they’ll get over it and forget about it, because they don’t! Hannah cannot sleep without her beloved dummy, she will wail until we produce it. If she gets hurt, not all the kisses in the world can shut her up. She needs that dummy to pacify her (much to my sadness!).

Dummies are so unhygienic! I find Hannah prodding hers in the sand outside, using it as a lollipop to taste the earth. I’ve found her dangling it in the toilet in order to reach the water level. I’ve seen her pop it into complete stranger babies’ mouths and I’ve seen her ruffle it through Toto’s fur. And no matter how good I am at replacing the dirty dummy with a new one, every time I catch it being abused by Hannah, she thinks I am giving her a new one to test it in the dirt.

Dummies are a life sentence! I’m afraid I will have to wait until Hannah is cognitively able to make the decision for herself, to give the dummy up. I have never been a fan of the “crying it out” method for sleeping, and I certainly will not let my poor baby “cry it out” while I get her used to not having a dummy. For one, her crying will drive me insane, but more importantly, why would I deprive her of this life line on which she so depends?

The comment I hear the most often, is that my kids will need braces. So what? Braces aren’t forever and they most certainly haven’t killed anyone yet? Of course we want to avoid “blinging” our kids mouths, but if I don’t use the dummy NOW, I may not make it to their teenage years with all the crying I would have to endure. And besides I have firm faith in these expensive orthodontic dummies that promise not to hinder the development of your child’s jaw and teeth as they grow (fingers crossed behind my back).

Now let me enlighten you on the situation I am faced with. Liam was a baby who never took to a dummy. He was also a baby who never took to sleeping, unless there was something in his mouth, namely, my boob. I’d FORCE that dummy into his mouth, in an effort to make him think he was still suckling and hopefully sleep. Well that didn’t work and in the end, I was glad that he by-passed that dummy phase altogether. UNTIL..

Hannah was born when Liam was 15 months, she took to her dummy like a duck to water. And I firmly believe that this is why she slept so well from day one, but that’s just my opinion. Liam was fascinated with this big plastic thing that his sister was always sucking on. He didn’t know what it was, but it sure brought her lots of joy. I’d walk in on him trying to steal it from her. Sometimes I’d walk in and she’d be screaming while Liam would be sucking away on her dummy, without a care in the world. It got to the point where he used to cry for her dummy. Now a normal rational person would have explained that dummies are for babies and that he was a big boy and that he didn’t need it. But a crazy, sleep deprived mother would just give in and buy the darn dummy to keep the kid be quiet.

One year on.. I have two dummy sucking babies. Liam uses his mostly at night; since we took him off the bottle, it seems to give him some sense of security at bed time. Hannah basically uses hers like a life support machine. Oh, and they share and swap dummies throughout the day, as they feel fit, I can’t keep up with which dummy belongs to which kid. Presently I have about 12 dummies, which I’d say I replenish every four to five months because dummies go missing like socks in the wash. My husband is highly annoyed that Liam has started sucking a dummy at this age, more so because when that dummy is in his mouth, he thinks he can’t talk and uses sign language which is difficult for someone who only tells loooong stories – and he expects us to understand him. I personally enjoy the silence it brings.

I am in no hurry to wean them off their dummies, I know that there’ll come a day when they decide for themselves that dummies are for the birds. I just hope and pray that that day will come before they reach puberty. My husband almost fell off his chair when I made that comment. It was a joke, most children give up their dummies when they realize their friends don’t have dummies so dummies must be un-cool. Liam is already aware that dummies aren’t cool for school. If it doesn’t happen naturally, I guess I’ll have to fish up a story about how the “kitty” stole the dummies or something equally dumb enough for toddlers to believe, so that I can kiss our dummy days good bye.

Potty Training 102

So I’ve blogged about our (failed) attempts to get Liam to “go potty.” I used to use all the excuses in the book.. he isn’t ready, he’s still too young, I work hard all day and don’t have the time or energy to help him through this process, etc. But when your kid starts hiding behind palm trees in shopping centres and behind couches while visiting other people, in order to relieve himself, then you know he is very conscious of the whole process and it’s time to take the proverbial bull by the horns, or in this case, the kid by the scruff of his neck and go potty.

In Liam’s defence, he is quite happy to use the toilet, he thinks it’s the funniest thing ever, he makes quite a ceremony of the whole time consuming process, hence my delay in getting it off the ground. His school teacher tells me he wears underpants all day, and even naps without his diaper on and by the look in her eyes, I can tell she thinks I am a bad mother for not nurturing the process at home. She says I should let him wear his underpants at home, and ask him every 5 – 10 minutes if he wants to make a wee. And even if he says no, I should take him to the throne every half an hour. WHEN? While I am cooking? While I am unpacking school bags and trying to feed them their dinner, and trying to keep Hannah from reaching up to the stove? While I am trying to sound remotely interested in my husband’s dialogue about how he can’t wait for soccer season to start? While I am trying to listen to Zoleka giving me an account of Hannah’s day, while writing down the list of grocery items she needs me to buy for the house? WHEN DO I HAVE TIME TO TAKE HIM TO THE POTTY EVERY HALF AN HOUR!

Anyway, the point is, we mothers have to find the supernatural time to do all these things, so this weekend I decided to let him “hang loose.” He was pretty good, I didn’t even have to ask him, he came to ask me every time he needed to go. I was so nervous that he’d wee and I’d have to clean it up; the last thing you want on your weekend when your helper is off having a well deserved rest, is to be cleaning urine off the floor, and washing pee stained clothes. Anyway, he was so enjoying the freedom of a diaper free bum, and more so, all the praise he was getting for using the toilet, that he decided he was ready for the next level… we were having lunch by family that afternoon and Liam refused to put his diaper on. I told his father that he was on wet-patch-watch and I packed extra clothes into his bag. I was so proud of him, he even stayed dry through his nap in the car. This was actually a piece of cake, I could do this!

We got to our destination and I took him straight to the toilet, it was a bit of a mission because we didn’t have his stool which put him at the right height for the perfect aim, and he refuses to sit for a wee, so there was a bit of spillage, but nothing major. Of course, the whole family were thrilled and he basked in the glow of all the compliments.

However, it was all too good to be true.. Liam hit a wobbly, and his little unnecessary tantrum earned him a time-out in the toilet. When I give Liam a time-out, I usually say that once he has stopped crying and performing like a circus freak, he is more than welcome to come out and join the rest of the family once again. So he usually cries and screams until he is quite sure that no one is listening or interested, then he’ll come out and apologise for his bad behaviour and that’s it. Because we were not in our own environment, I hung around outside the toilet waiting for him to calm down and it was at this point that I heard the CLICK of a key turning.. He had locked the door and there was complete silence on his end. I didn’t want to alarm him, so I tried the door gently and I called out to him, he told me to leave him alone, and I almost did – cheeky bugger. Well after trying the door a few times, and messing with the key, he realised that he couldn’t unlock the door. I could hear the rising hysteria in his voice as he called out to me, asking me to open the door. By this time, a small crowd had gathered. I tried to explain to him that he needed to turn the key back, but his little fingers couldn’t get it right. He was in a flat panic, so I rushed outside to the window so he could see me and I could talk to him. As he turned around at the sound of my voice, I saw the wet patch.. of course one of the first things to “collapse” when you’re in a panic, is your bladder! Eventually, after about 10 minutes, we managed to push the key out, and he passed it to me through the window and we opened the door from the other side. He cried loud tears of relief and he was upset that his pants was wet – what an ordeal!

He let me put his diaper back on.. that was enough potty training for one day! At school the next day, he ran to tell Teacher the whole story, emphasising the part about how I locked him in the toilet.. what? Under Teacher’s glare, I tried to mumble that that’s not how it happened, but she and Liam are a formidable team and they frightened me with their cross faces, so I just left with my head bowed. That’s the last time I try this potty training thing, it always gets me into trouble.

So no, we are not finished with this education.. Potty Training 103 to follow!

BC / AD (Before Children / After Darlings)

Before our kids were born, my husband and I would spend hours talking about what we wanted for our children, how we would raise them, how we would discipline them, what wnderful parents we would be, who would be bad cop, and so on.. Of course once they were born, none of those conversations mattered, our conversations were more along the lines of: who made the last bottle, who changed the last diaper, who had the least amount of sleep last night and who could have the next night off. While laying in bed last night, thankful that the house was dark and quiet, I started thinking about the way life used to be, BC (before children).

The husband and I were movie buffs. We would  go sometimes twice a week; we were the Barry Ronge’s of our day. We could hold intelligent conversations for hours, dissecting the movie we had just watched, while sipping on post movie cappuccinos in a QUIET spot where non parents could gaze into each other’s eyes, without getting a blob of ketchup thrown in your face.  If we stayed up late, burning holes in the carpet, it was because we were having an adult party and dancing the carpet away, not pacing up and down with a baby who couldn’t settle. We used to watch the news after dinner, and Sunday mornings were for church, followed by fresh hot bread rolls and reading the newspapers.. Now the only news I get to follow is via my social networking contacts, and the only papers I read are clinic cards, report cards and bills. If we didn’t feel like cooking, we’d order in; if we felt like going to bed as soon as we walked in from work, we’d do it. If we felt like a night of pigging out while watching hired movies, and leaving the dirty dishes to soak, we’d do it! AD (after darlings), we have to ensure that there is at least one wholesome meal a day, we have to wait for the kids to go to bed before we break out the junk food – and even then, we have to open wrappers verrrry quietly, chew slowly and hide all the evidence. We don’t leave dishes in the sink, because there’s nothing worse than getting up at dawn to wash baby bottles, and the sink is covered with leftover dishes – that’s got to be one of my pet peeves! I remember sleeping in until the heat emanating from our room would eventually wake us up – midday sun is HOT! Now if the sun is up before me, it’s probably because I’ve been up all night and only got to bed at 5am – no not partying, nursing a sick child!

But the one thing that has really evolved AD, is the relationship I share with my husband. Our conversations are limited to baby talk – quite literally. He’ll say “I’m going pee-pee” when he leaves the room to take a toilet break. Or I’ll quite seriously say “give mama some love” when I need a hug? The only time we have alone time is when both kids are asleep, and by that time, all we want to do is sleep too. We get excited about Pampers being on special or half price kiddies meals at a restaurant, when did this happen?!! We argue over missing baby socks, and Hannah’s bad hair day and Liam’s increasing vocabulary of rude words; COME ON! We used to argue over who’s soccer team was better and how my t-shirt showed too much cleavage!

Sometimes I ask myself if this is the life I signed up for? Is this the man I married? Are these the sweet angels I used to dream about when I was pregnant? The truth is – NO! My rose coloured glasses were knocked clean off my nose, that very first night in the hospital when that darling nurse nudged my shoulder at 3am to feed my screaming baby. Of course this is a blog my kids will read someday, so I do need to end it on a positive note! But the blatant truth is, that even amidst the hardship of raising babies, and mommies and daddies having to sneak into the bathroom to have a cuddle, and crying louder than my two kids because I just don’t know what they want sometimes, and wearing the same pair of butternut stained jeans two days in a row because they are the only pair that fit, and wanting to bust a cap in Liam’s teacher’s XXX because he likes her more than he likes me sometimes, and wanting to SCREAM at my husband when he promises the kids something that I have said no to already… even with ALL these things, the blatant truth is that if a genie had to appear and ask me if I wanted to rewind.. I wouldn’t even consider it. When you know the feeling of tiny soft fingers wrapped tightly around your hand, when you’ve giggled with your toddler until the tears flow, over something utterly silly like watching a dog pee, when you come home to little arms outstretched for a “love”, when you’ve kissed a bleeding booboo, when you’ve fallen asleep with a stiff neck because a little face is nuzzled deep into your neck, when you feel that joy of a baby who has learned to clap handies or blow kiss or say ta-ta, when you see little eyes light up at unwrapping a gift – there’s just no going back and there’s just no giving them back, not for all the chocolate in the world! And even though my husband and I are no longer the people we were when we got married, quintessentially we are better. You see, babies force parents to connect and reach out to each other and rely on each other in a way that you never thought was possible. Babies strip you bare, they force emotions out of you that you didn’t know you could muster up, they make the highs really high, and the lows dreadfully low; and for my husband to still be here, to still love me like he does, to still be the almost-perfect father to our kids, after witnessing firsthand the highs and lows of parenting two bambinos, 15 months apart; I love him now, more than I have ever loved him in my life.

I know this season will pass, and there will come a time when Liam and Hannah leave the nest empty and the husband and I can go back to our movies and junk food and sleeping in. I know too, that as I sometimes miss our BC past, I will one day miss THIS time when my kids were babies who still looked up to me like a demi-goddess. Because the old adage is true: live in the present because it is a gift from God.

The Crying Game

If you had to ask me to name the top five reasons why babies cry, I could probably answer you quite confidently. Babies usually cry for a specific few things and by asking yourself the following questions, you can typically calm a stressed baby. Are they wet? Are they hungry? Are they tired? Are they feeling unwell? Do they just need a cuddle? All this, of course, in a baby who isn’t seriously ill. Right, so I passed that test quite easily. So why then, can I not figure out why my two year old has become such a cry baby? He cries intermittently from dusk until dawn until my husband and I are on the verge of crying ourselves. I fear we will need to be institutionalised because all this crying is driving us stir CRAZY.

Yes, Liam is Two years old and with that comes the Terrible Two’s and Tantrums and Trauma for the parents. Something ominous about that letter T, hey? But recently, he has intuitively discovered that convulsing on the floor, or jumping up and down yelling, really doesn’t bother us. Boy, your dad and I are from the late 70’s, early 80’s – that was a dance style for us. So by simply ignoring him or even laughing at him, it would break the ice and the episode would be over. So he has left the tantrums behind, although sometimes he reverts to this behaviour if all else fails. As I was saying, he has discovered that crying constantly, in varying tones, with high and low pitches, from a soft moaning wail to a shrieking scream, is really what does the trick. You see, when a child cries for no reason for longer than three minutes,  it’s very difficult for the parent to remain calm. I usually start by saying something like “what is it boy?” to “ok, tell mummy what’s wrong and I can help” to “WHY ARE YOU CRYING” to “IF YOU DON’T STOP CRYING I AM GOING TO BE CROSS WITH YOU” to “GO TO YOUR ROOM AND STAY THERE UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED CRYING AND CAN EXPLAIN YOURSELF” to “YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE, STOP CRYING BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Now before you label me a bad mother, let me put this into perspective for you, by giving you a few examples of why and how the crying game starts. Then you can go ahead and judge who’s the crazy one here – the kid or me. We’ll be driving to school, Liam will ask for Barney to be belted out from the radio (if the volume is not to his liking, he’ll demand that we “make the radio make a noise!”), the husband will oblige until the top of the hour, when he likes to listen to the news following by the traffic report. Liam immediately goes into hysterics when Barney is put on pause. I explain that this is MY car and MY radio and for just 5 MINUTES I’d like to listen to something other than Barney. He retorts with crying.

Next example. Together, Liam and I will select his clothes each evening, for school the next day. This in itself is a process, because for a two year old to make a decision between either the Spiderman t-shirt or the Ben10 t-shirt is like asking me to choose between chocolate or cake – it’s a difficult decision. This process usually comes with a tear or two, but the real crying comes the next morning when he decides that he made the wrong decision last night and wants to wear something else this morning – the whole point of choosing clothes the night before is to save time in the mornings, hello? We are NOT making wardrobe changes again, sorry. The crying begins.

Liam has taken to crying if his food is too cold, or if it’s too hot, if Hannah takes one of his 50 000 crayons or she sits on his side of the couch. He bawls if you remind him to say please, or if you forget to leave him a few shavings of grated cheese while cooking. He cries if his father hugs me for too long, or if I take too long to warm his milk up in the microwave. Sometimes I think he cries just because he likes the sound of his own voice. And I know it’s all part of his master mind plan to drive me slowly insane, because if I manage to placate him, he bounces back to his bubbly self in less than two seconds. I have never met a kid who can turn on the waterworks like my Liam can. It’s literally like a tap you can turn on and off. I’ve chatted to other parents who all say their kids went through this phase, that crying is a form of manipulation used by toddlers, in a bid to “flex some muscle” – well the only muscle I want to flex when the crying starts, is my bicep, in an up and down motion on his rear end.

When he isn’t crying, we can have long conversations about his crying. I’ll explain that crying is for when you feel sad or unhappy or upset. I try and explain in as simple a language as possible, that if he cries for no reason, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration – ok not really, but I explain that he needs to find other ways to express himself other than crying. And he agrees – until the next episode. I don’t want him to ever think that big boys don’t cry, or that crying is for sissies, I myself know the value of releasing pent up emotion through a good long cry, but I also want him to understand that crying in an effort to get your own way, is not how we do things. Only mummies are allowed to use crying for that purpose occasionally.

Legacy of Love

I have been feeling rather run down lately. The last few weeks have just been hectic on all fronts; work, home, socially – it’s been one of those months where I don’t know where the time has gone, and it feels like I haven’t spent any of that time in my bed asleep. And what with a teething baby, a “terrible-twos” toddler, my work husband (I’m a personal assistant) and my real life husband, it just seems like I am being pulled in every direction. I start tasks and never find the time to finish them, or finish them shoddily and then feel guilty. I feel bad for losing my inch-thin patience with the kids who demand my full and constant attention at all times and for my poor real life husband who has to bear the brunt of my foul moods. I sometimes feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, or days in the week to just DO what needs to be DONE, let alone going above and beyond.

I often wonder how my mother did it, she had four children, a full time job and the home fires were always kept burning. I do recall certain times when we were particularly troublesome and she’d yell something along the lines of how sick and tired she was of us and how she wanted to run away – not verbatim, but something along those lines. But on the whole, my mother ranked #1 for being perfect in every way, and still is!

So this got me thinking about what sort of legacy I’d like to leave for my kids.. I don’t want them to remember me as the tired old hag that could barely drag herself off the couch to go and kick a ball outside. Or the kill joy who was always saying NO to everything, or the blur who was always rushing around, not a minute to smell the flowers and just enjoy each other’s company. I want to be fun-mum, my kids must WANT to spend time with me, I want them to understand that even when I discipline them, it’s coming from a place of love and concern. I want to be the type of mum with whom they can discuss anything – no holds barred. I want them to think I am cool, even when they raise questions about the human anatomy that I can’t answer without swallowing hard and choosing my answers verrrry carefully, I want them to know that nothing is off limits. But how do I go about this? I barely have time to make Two Minute Noodles, let alone be cool and suave and show them how well I can flip pancakes (which I can’t, but you know what I mean). I want to add value to the time I spend with my children. By doing seemingly inconsequential little things every day, I can enforce my “coolness” and with a one and a two year old, you don’t have to do much to be cool, believe me. And if I cultivate this sort of relationship from this early age, I won’t have to put in that much effort as they grow, because my cool factor would have established itself!

So I’m going to make more of an effort and colour in the 100th page for the 100th time that day, because Liam loves to colour and Hannah loves to eat crayons. I’m going to let them smear cake mix all over the kitchen table top and all over themselves because it’s fun to make 12 minute cupcakes in 2 hours. I’m going to let them jump on the beds  – they don’t weigh enough to break any springs anyway. I’ll let them brush my hair even though it HURTS when two pairs of little hands are stabbing at your scalp with a plastic comb. I’ll read The Silly Little Goose over and over and over again, because it makes them laugh. I’ll make sure there’s always bird seed in the house, because they love covering the lawn, and the garden toys and the veranda in bird seed so that the birdies don’t go hungry and well Hannah loves eating bird seed. I won’t rush through prayers, even though Liam prays for the whole family by name, down to Toto the dog. I will let them put loads of unnecessary groceries into the trolley and secretly dispose of them in the next aisle, even though this doubles the shopping time, because they think shopping is a treat – while I cringe at the idea of having to grocery shop with two toddlers in tow. I’ll laugh instead of shout when I find the Tupperware cupboard’s been unpacked by Hannah AGAIN, and I’ll show her how to pack it all back, instead of flinging plastic  back into place, in frustration. She’s so good at unpacking.. but packing.. not so much.

And just by changing my attitude and making these small little changes to the way we are currently doing things in my crazy time strapped household, I know my cool rating will shoot through the roof. You see, being “cool” to a kid is easy.. it’s being there mentally and emotionally and not just physically; its listening, not just hearing; its teaching by example and its using every day experiences to teach them something new and amazing – like making beautiful blowing bubbles from dish washing liquid – WOW! So I’m going to try and find little things that will make a big difference to the way I raise these babies of mine, so that my legacy will be one that they will speak of proudly, years after my bubble blowing days are over.

The Trauma of Trauma

I always thought that Liam’s first scar would be the result of something amazingly awesome he had tried to accomplish – like a failed attempt at diving off a piece of furniture, or a tricycle accident or falling out of a tree while trying to save a kitty stuck up there. Something noteworthy that would make for good conversation at kiddies parties or his 21st birthday celebration. So I was somewhat disappointed that our first trip to Casualty was because Liam ran into a wall – what a letdown.

It started as a normal Saturday morning, we had just returned home from  our monthly grocery shopping expedition, an abominable exercise – so already tensions were running high. Liam was helping his Dad unpack the groceries and I can’t say for sure what happened, but I knew by the loud thump and the wail that escaped his mouth, that it was serious. Moms are pretty good at deciphering the different cries that their children make and before I even got to him, my heart had all but jumped out of my chest and I knew that this was not the kind of booboo that I could kiss better. My fears were confirmed when I found him laying face up, blood pouring down the side of his face and looking like he was holding a golf ball in his mouth; his cheek was blue and swollen. The husband and I tried to assess the situation, while I poofed around his open wound with a dirty dish cloth – the first thing I could fine! I was reminded again that my husband and I do not handle emergency situations well – we first argued over various things like whose fault it was, whether it was serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital, who would stay with Hannah who was asleep and who would go, why was I using a dirty dish cloth to wipe his face, what does it matter, etc, etc… you get the picture! Liam’s every increasing shrieks shook us back to reality and it was swiftly decided that I would take him to the hospital and the husband would remain with Hannah. And just like in the movies and just like good ‘ol Murphy predicts –  every traffic light was red, I was stuck behind two pensioners taking their cars for a walk, the short cut actually turned out to be the long cut, and when we eventually arrived at the hospital, more than a little frazzled, I couldn’t find a parking bay. With the effect, I had to park 5000 kilometres from the entrance and lug my big boy with his bloody dish cloth all that way, while trying to balance my purse and phone and car keys in my hand  – I forgot to grab my hand bag in all the mayhem and the husband just threw the necessaries at me.


We were third in the queue; could they not see my child was having a medical emergency, how could they let that infant coughing up blood and that old lady who was going blue in the face from lack of oxygen, go before me? I was livid. I was giving the husband a blow by blow account of everything that was happening, while Liam relayed the whole incident to the blue faced old lady, shame she was very sympathetic, but not enough to give us her place in the queue. Eventually we were called in to take his vitals, his blood pressure and heart rate were good which indicated no trauma to the head, hallelujah! All this time he was quite calm, more intrigued with all the machines, gadgets and the bed on wheels. But when the doctor appeared in his white coat, pandemonium broke out. Ever since Liam was old enough to understand that his childhood immunisations were administered by a man or woman in a white coat, he goes slightly barmy at the sight of well..a white coat. He wouldn’t let the doctor near him, he was clawing at me like a cat high on cocaine, the doctor had to yell instructions to the nurse who verified that the wound needed to be stitched up. I felt like I was going to break down from the stress of it all, but I had to hold it together – not for Liam’s sake, he was too far gone to worry about me, but I didn’t want the doctor and nurse to see me blubbering like a big baby. While they prepared the trolley with all the items needed for the mini operation, I had to administer pain medication orally and I had to drown the wound in some anaesthetic liquid in order to numb the area – all this while Liam was yelling like a banshee. I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I wondered if they were going to make me stitch him up as well because they were too scared to come near him. I heard the doctor yell something and out of the corner of my eye I saw four big scary looking ladies coming towards us. They weren’t really scary looking, but I knew this wasn’t going to be good. They proceeded to wrap my son tightly, too tightly if you ask me, in a sheet in an effort to keep him still, I was horrified, as was he. He was screaming and looking at me as if to say save me and I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyeballs. They asked if I wanted to leave the room and as much as I wanted to run as far away from the situation as possible, because I couldn’t bear to see the pain my child was going to further endure, I couldn’t leave him on his own, in a room full of strangers in his most frightening moment. So while the five of us tussled with him, the doctor painstakingly stitched his face up. I thought I was going to pass out, as I watched that needle pierce his skin and the doctor sow it all back together again with the precision of a master tailor.  When he said “all done” I wanted to rip that sheet off Liam and pick him up and RUN. But I calmly gathered my stuff, even though my knees felt like they were going to give way at any second, the nurses ooh’d and aah’d over him and he even managed to bat his eyelids and give the ladies a smile. I felt emotionally and physically drained as I walked out of that hospital with my bloody dish cloth.

Back home, Liam bounced back quickly, he was proud of his wound, he even let Hannah touch it. By the evening, he had picked out one stitch – I mean really, after ALL that??? We need to take him back on Wednesday to have the remaining stitches removed. I already know what a palaver that’s going to be, but I will be more prepared this time, I will take my Prozac and Valium beforehand. I’m considering phoning the doctor and asking if Liam can’t take them out himself, he did a pretty good job with that first one.

Yes I know that children, especially boys, get themselves into these situations and I have no doubt that this is not my last trip to the emergency unit, but I do hope that as I age as a mother, I will have more control over my galloping heart rate and my knocking knees every time my babies get injured. In hindsight, I honestly don’t know who was more traumatised by this whole experience, mother or child? The scar that will be left behind once the stitches are long gone, will serve as a reminder of the day my son got his first real booboo, and his mother almost wet her pants in fear.

The “Vaalies”

At the eleventh hour, my husband finally gave into my demands (actually it was more like begging and pleading than demanding) and decided that we could spend the long weekend in Durban. This meant that I had about five minutes to organise a trip I’d usually spend a week preparing for, but I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I made it happen.

Now think back to your youth, do you remember how we Durbanites used to laugh at the Joburgers who would flock to the coast during the school holidays? The Vaalies would infiltrate our beaches – even during July, wearing their VERY short khaki shorts, socks and sandals; they’d apply sun block to all visible areas, except the moms who’d literally play dead in the sun in order to catch a tan and then prance around proud as peacocks, as if the boiled shrimp look was hot. Yes, you remember? Well it turns out that I have become a Vaalie – sans the khaki shorts and socks of course.

The kids started sweating almost as soon as we drove past the “Welcome to KZN” signboard.  On cue, my hair shrunk back to its roots – literally – and my sleek Highveld look morphed into coastal “croos.” It was the middle of June yet Durban was as warm and inviting as Joburg in October. My first thought was that I had packed completely wrong for the kids. All the fleecy jumpsuits and polo necks which had taken up MOST of the space in the suitcases, were packed in vain, I knew that the most we’d be wearing was one layer, as opposed to the four layers we were accustomed to in Joburg.

How nice to wake up to the sun splashing across your face – in Winter. We wasted no time greasing up with sun block and made for the beach. Although the Golden Mile was packed with revellers enjoying the sunshine, there weren’t many swimmers, except for the Vaalies! Liam and Hannah made a bee-line for the water, I was ill prepared for the splashing, cavorting and frolicking and had to call for back-up when my beloved Blackberry almost drowned – while trying to take photos and holding two children afloat. We made it back up to the picnic spot, the four of us looking like drenched drain rats.

I have come to realise why us Vaalies love the coast – the eternal Summer, the warm Mozambique Current, the fact that your ice cream melts faster than you can eat it even in Winter. Just that fresh sea breeze alone is an automatic mood enhancer, it’s no wonder I had such a happy childhood!

Durbanites, be thankful for your mild winters, your roaring ocean, curried pines and Murkoo, Britannia bunnies and Ushaka. One day when I’m big, I’d like to retire in the city of my birth. Perhaps my loving children will see to it that I have a sea facing room in my old age home.

The Wonder Years

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.