Tag Archives: toddler

Operation: Bye Bye Cot


I’d like to compare the taking down of Hannah’s cot, to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, but I do believe that that would be insensitive for many reasons. So I won’t. But what I will say is that the emotion we I felt as I disassembled her cot, was almost the same. Not quite, but that’s the comparison I’m using so humour me please.

We had been talking about it for a while. Hannah had been sleeping in the double bed in her room for the last two months or so, so it wasn’t like her cot had any use or that she needed to be “weaned” from it. Zoleka would still put her down in her cot for her day time naps but that too was more due to habit than necessity. I also felt that Hannah was restricted in her cot; she is a wild sleeper, and I wanted to give her room to thrash out in her sleep if she wanted to.

The reason we didn’t do it sooner, is because it’s a BIG deal and I wanted to give the ceremony all the pomp and glory it deserved. Taking down the cot – for mother and child – is a momentous occasion. Any mother will tell you that. Any mother can attest to the fact that the coming down of the cot, is a major milestone in the life of her little bunny. The move from cot to bed almost always signals the move from baby to big girl or boy. We even speak to our children in that vein: “wow, you’re a big girl now! you sleep in a big girl’s bed!” I know my hesitation was because I knew this was probably, and most likely, and almost definitely, the last cot I would take down. Ever. There are no more babies. I won’t have to fight with my husband, as I tower over him with a huge belly, shaking the directions in his face as he battles to put it together (and we have camp cots, they aren’t that difficult to assemble), I won’t ever stare in wonder at the empty cot, all decked out in new fresh linen, with cuddly toys planted in the corner, as I wait for the pink squishy baby to be born. Or stand over my baby’s cot, winding a mobile to shush her to sleep. For me, that cot symbolises my pregnancy, my birth experience, MY BRAND NEW LITTLE PUDDING who used to look lost in that big open space of frilly linen; it represents sleepless nights when the cot stood empty because I paced with a restless baby in my arms sometimes from dusk until dawn. The cot reminds me of how HARD it all was, but also how quickly it has all come to an end and how rewarding it all was and how accomplished I feel for making it through ALIVE, and the kids are still alive too (!!) … the baby-baby days are over. I kick myself every time I use this corny sentence but it’s true: they grow so fast!

So for me, it was more a case of saying good bye to one of the best things I’ve done in my life: raise babies into toddlers. It may seem small, insignificant and silly – I mean it’s only been three years – I can hardly call myself an accomplished mother, I’m still new at this actually, but I do believe that these three years have probably being the most difficult, the most heart wrenching, the most rewarding, the most AMAZING years of my life. To conceive in itself, is a miracle, people brush off too easily how intricate and complex and remarkable it is to actually conceive a baby. To carry this baby in your womb for 9 months and to bring him or her to birth. To watch this pink ball of love-mush grow and develop into a walking, talking being with a personality to boot, and, as a mother, to be super instrumental in that WHOLE process – come on, that’s bloody miraculous! I think the move from babyhood to toddlerhood, is as significant, if not more so, than any other stage in development. To think that in two short years your ball of mush learns to eat, walk, talk, feels emotions like love, sadness, hurt and pain, knows faces and voices – there’s not that level of growth in such a short time span, for the rest of their lives. The growth which takes place in these two years (two being the general age that your child will be labelled as a toddler and no longer a baby) is astounding. So when they reach this age and you look back and marvel at how far they and you have come, it does make one emotional! And for me, the cot is symbolical of ALL of this! So I trust you now understand just how big a deal the taking down of my last born’s cot was for me. Not so much for her, but definitely for me.

Hannah has handled the move from cot to bed, with such ease; she really is a super star. She giggles when I ask her where her cot is and tells me “cot gone” and swipes her chubby arms from side to side to indicate “no more.” She loves that she is able to get off the bed and waddle over to us in the mornings, without having to yell for someone to take her out of the cot. She loves to jump-jump-sugar-lump on the big bed, and most importantly she loves that she is one step closer to being more like her brother. Big girl and boy! The room looks a bit bare without the cot, so I’ll have to find something cute to fill that spot – because less is never more with me. In fact, Hannah’s room doesn’t look anything like a little girl’s room because it also serves as a guest room when we have visitors. So perhaps I’ll use this as an opportunity to girly-up her room a bit – but not too much because we have to be out of this house by August, remember.

So that’s a wrap folks! Cots, prams, feeding chairs, walking rings, Bumbos, bouncy chairs – ALL GONE. My toddlers are toddling along, and my baby checklist is fast reaching completion. Next stop: Operation bye-bye botty. Watch this space.

 

Liam in his cot
Hannah in her cot
Get me out of here!
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To poke, or not to poke..


So I have a small dilemma..

We pierced Hannah’s ears when she was about 6 months old. I received serious flack from “well meaning” folks – some who didn’t even have kids, or even a dog for that matter – about what a BAD mother I was for making this horrible choice for my daughter, and how would I like it if someone poked me through the flesh, without my consent (I won’t even answer that, my kids will read this one day).  Even complete strangers who would stop to ga-ga-goo-goo over Hannah, would cluck in disapproval when they noticed her shiny gold studs. Yeh, that’s right, I let some strange lady bust a cap in my baby’s ears. Anyway, the ear piercing experience wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but it wasn’t like a scene from a horror movie either. I think she took it like a (wo)man. She looked gorgeous with her bling, her ear lobes healed beautifully and that was that.

Well not exactly.

Sometime within the 6-week-do-not-remove-the-earring stage, one of her earrings fell out. We searched high and low for it; I had Zoleka on high earring alert every time she swept or mopped the floor, even though we could have lost that earring anywhere. I didn’t want to pop just any stud into that hole, so I left it, with every intention of getting a new pair. What I really wanted was to find the exact same pair so that I wouldn’t have to take the other earring out because that part totally freaked me out, more than having to jam a new earring in. Alas, I couldn’t find the same pair, I tried many stores, I even put it on order and hey, now that I think about it, that store never did call me back… and.. well… the truth is… almost 11 months later, my daughter is still rocking one earring.

My sister, totally annoyed that it had taken me so long to solve this problem, eventually pierced a brush bristle through the hole to verify that it was still open, and forced me to buy a pair – ANY pair, which I did. But would you believe it, it fell out again shortly thereafter, maybe it’s her ear, not the earring? Anyway, I try to cover it up with a well positioned lock of hair, and in winter with a cute fluffy cap, however as she grows older, she is starting to look a bit weird with this one earring. Perhaps it wouldn’t look so bad if her name was Billy Jean or Apple or Green Pea or something wonderfully weird and bizarre, but she’s just plain ‘ol Hannah with one earring in her ear, and quite frankly I am quite tired of explaining why she only has one earring, since it’s not exactly an exciting story, like the dog ate it.

Right, so back to my dilemma. The hole now appears to be closed. I tried the brush bristle trick with no luck. This means one of two options for us. Do I take her to be re-poked? Or do I just admit defeat, and take the other one out and let her decide for herself when she is older if she wants earrings or not? I am all for ear piercing; my concern is that she is much older now, much more aware of her surroundings and I feel bad about purposely inflicting pain on her when she is that much more aware. Also, she’s now at the age where she simply CANNOT leave things be.. that curious toddler stage where they have to touch everything, and I fear that she will tug on her ear endlessly and hinder the healing process. Or she may just yelp for those three minutes and be A-OK thereafter? Who knows!

My husband is no help at all. He says he likes her with one earring. Whatever. He just can’t bear the thought of his darling daughter crying in agony. Man up please. I need to make a decision before Christmas, because we definitely can’t have the one-earring-wonder, spoiling our Christmas card.

Good Bye Teacher Ane!


Totally bummed!

Liam came home with a letter from school today which stated that his teacher would be leaving at the end of the month. Now I always give Teacher Ane grief in my blog, but that’s because I’m secretly envious of her calm and loving nature, her ability to look after 13 toddlers all day and still remain intact and of sound mind, with not a strand of hair out of place. She speaks slowly and softly, she hugs everyone hello and goodbye and she finds the lesson in everything – like of course there is a valid reason for Liam to be throwing a tantrum at 7.30am and “let’s see what can we learn from this…” But really the thing I love most about teacher Ane is what she’s done for Liam, both mentally and emotionally.

I was forced to send Liam to school way before I was ready to. I had plans to keep him at home with my helper, until he was at least 3 years old. I thought he’d benefit from the one on one interaction, and with the hours that my husband and I work, I didn’t see how we would be able to drop and fetch him and he was way too young for the school transport system. However, Hannah came along quite unexpectedly and during my maternity leave, with my two babies at home, I knew there was no way I could leave my helper with both of them. Firstly because I think she would have walked out of the job on day 2 – it’s way more difficult looking after a 15 month old and a new born than it is looking after twins; they don’t have the same schedule, they don’t eat the same things, they can’t occupy each other, they can’t bath together and they don’t sleep at the same time – its hard! Secondly, I knew I would be doing the kids a disservice, either Liam would be sidelined while Hannah was been seen to, or Hannah would have to learn to cry it out when Zoleka needed to attend to Liam. I felt like my only option was to put Liam into school.

Without naming and shaming, the first school we enrolled Liam into turned out to be a disaster. It really was more of a babysitting service and it was the saddest thing to watch.. my 18 month old baby would walk in and plonk himself on the mat and just wait for the next order. It broke my heart every time I had to leave him there. He would come home SUN BURNT every day, even though I lathered him up with sun block before he left in the mornings, AND packed it into his school bag. I was LIVID! After four months, we decided to pull Liam out and try another school. So the second time around, we did a bit more research, visited a few more schools, I too was wiser and had a better idea of what I DIDN’T want in a school. And when we found this school and our dearest Teacher Ane, we knew we were home.

Liam has grown in leaps and bounds, through play-and-learn, he has developed skills that I know I would never have had the time or patience to teach him. His fine and gross motor skills, his vocabulary, his self esteem, and even his imagination are being exercised and utilised in a way that blows my mind and I am amazed at the potential that ALL little kids have and how great and endless the possibilities, if we but just give them the opportunity to use their minds and bodies! Please don’t get me wrong, I am in no way undermining the idea of a child staying at home until the age of four or five, remember this was my initial plan for my own children, but I do believe (and quite sheepishly admit) that my lifestyle does not lend itself to a lot of one on one time with my kids in which I can focus on teaching them new and exciting things every day. So I am eternally grateful to Teacher Ane who has helped my little boy blossom into a confident, wise beyond his years, happy go lucky, bubbly, boisterous toddler. He can’t wait to rip himself out of his car seat in the mornings, we have to endure hours and hours of what Teacher Ane said and how Teacher Ane sings and can we go visit Teacher Ane on the weekend, etc, etc..

So we will miss you Teacher Ane!! I feel like an important family member is going away and never coming back! I know of course, that Liam will have many more teachers in his life who will leave a lasting impression and impact his life positively – I still remember some of my own special teachers who encouraged me and made a huge and positive difference to my life, both in school and out – but I also know that he will miss Teacher Ane for what will seem like an eternity in his mind (probably a week) and I hope that her replacement will be able to fill the rather big red wellington’s that our special Teacher Ane leaves behind. xxx

Door of Hope


 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10: 14 – 16 (NIV)

Last Friday, I had the honour of spending some time at Door of Hope, a home for abandoned babies. It was incredibly sad and disheartening but at the same time it is a place full of love and happiness and you can’t help feeling like you’re sitting on that silver lining of an otherwise very dark cloud. Presently, there are 29 little puddings housed at Door of Hope. They range from just a few days old, to about two years old. These babies all have tragic stories; some were found in plastic bags, others were left on the side of the road, some were thrown from high rise buildings, while others still have their real moms who visit them there, but these moms can’t financially or mentally afford to keep their babies in their care. The experience left me feeling utterly grateful for my life, for my beautiful babies, for LOVE that I so often take for granted.

Door of Hope opened their doors over 10 years ago. They operate purely on donations from generous people and organisations, with lots of overseas donors. The South African government have yet to provide them with any sort of subsidy, which breaks my heart, because I’d much rather my tax contribution be funnelled through to organisations like this, than to another road upgrade that does nothing to alleviate the traffic anyway. They have dedicated staff and young volunteers from all corners of the globe, who love and care for these precious babies around the clock. Their adoption success rate is phenomenal, with 90% of their babies being adopted by foreign parents. The babies are kept on a fantastic routine of eat, sleep and play, they are happy and healthy (except for the few special needs babies who are mostly HIV infected) and they have beautifully decorated nurseries and lots of toys to keep them busy. Their caregivers spend lots of time just holding and cuddling them, and it’s easy to sense that it is a place of love and hope.

While I bottle fed and cajoled with Njabulo, a 6 month old baby boy who tugged immediately at my heart strings, I wondered which cruel mother would ever have been able to give up such a gorgeous little thing. But the truth is, these babies are victims of grave and very unfortunate circumstances. I can only imagine how desperate, how completely hopeless a mother must feel to have the strength to dispose of this baby whom she carried for 9 months. What terror and almost insanity one must experience to have the will to commit such a dastardly deed. I can, in no way, judge these mothers. I will never know the trauma that she must have endured, and probably still endures to this day, at having to give up her baby. I will never know the levels of desperation that she felt, but I do know that the mind is a powerful thing and in the midst of anxiety and depression, it is possible to make yourself believe that wrapping your baby in a plastic bag is a rational thing to do, rather than letting them live through a life of hardship and struggle. Mothers who were raped, mothers who are uneducated so they don’t know they have other options, mothers who can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone a small baby. So I can’t judge.

Door of Hope encourages mothers who feel this way, to rather leave their children in their legal care. There is a hole in the wall, lined with a soft mattress, and a weight sensor that immediately sounds the alarm, when a baby has been placed on it; the mother who left her baby remains anonymous (sad face!!!!). Or the mother can legally sign over her baby to Door of Hope and the little one is placed on the adoption list.

I cried when I left that place, I cried for those beautiful babies who wait for loving families to take them in, I cried for the volunteers who take time out of their lives to give back to the world in a positive way, I cried for the wonderful families who adopt these babies, I cried for my own children who are such a blessing and who thankfully will never have to endure that feeling of being unwanted or unloved.

I cried for myself… how wrapped up I am in my own little world, with ALL my problems. How I walk around with my head hung low, moaning about traffic and my babies who don’t sleep through the night and my husband who doesn’t pack the dishes away even though he promises to, and my helper who doesn’t clean the bathroom tiles properly and my job that demands so much from me. This is how wrapped up I am in my own problems – my problems that are minute and silly and stupid – that I fail to understand the depth of the problems other people are facing. HOW can I compare having debt that I can’t shake, to a baby who will most likely never know his birth mother? HOW can I compare a speeding fine, to a mother who has to give up her baby because she can’t afford to keep her? HOW can I compare having to eat peanut butter sandwiches for lunch for the second day in a row, to a little baby who is found on the side of the road, starving and dying?

So today, love your family for just being THERE. Look at your “problems” and have a good long think about how bad it REALLY is. Give something back. Volunteer if you can, donate what you can, pray whenever you can, for whoever you can. You see, the sooner we realise that life is bigger than just our “problems,” the sooner we really start to live.

“If you give ,you will get. Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use to give – large or small – will be used to measure what is given back to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV

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 Terrible Two’s: A true Story


I’m not sure how it happened..  I am convinced I was with him at the time and I didn’t notice any lightning bolts, thunder, a voice from heaven or the likes? But something happened as the clock struck midnight the morning Liam turned two years old. He went to bed a sweet cherub, and woke up more like the cherub who was thrown out of heaven – if you get my drift.

I’ve always believed that the “terrible twos” was just a myth, I mean how can a child be bad for a whole year, come on now! I know a child must surely reach an age where they start exercising their independence, where they start pushing boundaries and testing the disciplinary waters, but I didn’t, in my wildest dreams, imagine that the move from infant to toddler would be more like dealing with a pre-adolescent tween, than a diapered babe still wet between the legs! The mood swings, the crying, the moaning and groaning, the meltdowns, the tantrums – it makes menopause look like a walk in the park.

I am all for allowing your child to explore this new found independence – letting him pour his own milk into his cereal, even though half of it ends up on the floor, I’m thinking of getting a cat to mop up after him. Allowing him to choose his own shoes and brush his own hair, even though we leave the house most mornings looking like a normal family with a circus clown in toe. Allowing him to choose his own meals, thank goodness his school provides a well rounded breakfast, lunch and two healthy snack options,  because as a mother, I know that Smarties and yoghurt do not constitute a healthy evening meal. Now this sounds simple enough, but you must understand that with every decision he wants to make, comes lots of crying, jumping up and down, the occasional toy thrown in my face and ME, the mother, the disciplinarian, the ruling authority, left to feel like a complete failure; frazzled at the fight I’ve just had to endure with a child who can’t even spell his own name yet. And even this I guess I could handle every so often, but this has become our lives! Nothing is simple to Liam, not even saying his prayers is simple anymore. Let me illustrate below.

 

 

Pre two years old:

Mum: Dear Jesus

Liam: Dear Jesus

Mum: Thank you for this lovely day

Liam: Thank you for this lovely day

Etc, etc.

Post two years old:

Mum: Dear Jesus

Liam: NO

Mum: Come Liam, say your prayers

Liam: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Mum: Jesus help me to be a good boy

Liam: *silence*

Mum: JESUS HELP ME TO BE A GOOD BOY

Liam: Liam IS a good boy?

Mum: *siggghhhhhh*

I’ve been told to ignore him when he behaves this way, and this is quite a safe method because no one would want to steal your screaming child in a shopping centre anyway – believe me. Still, you have to go and peel your miserable lump off the shopping centre floor eventually if you have any plans of getting your shopping done. I’ve tried reasoning with him, but this frustrates him to the point of a smack in the face (my face, not his). I’ve tried the art of distraction, which works if I am distracting him with a big fat sugary treat, but at the risk of him losing all his teeth before he is three, I’ve had to cut back on this method. The trusty wooden spoon has also lost its allure. Pre two years old, I had just to mention the wooden spoon and he’d revert to being the sweet cherub we talked about earlier. Now, he laughs scornfully when I mention the wooden spoon, probably because he knows I don’t have the guts to use it! Which brings me to the last method – the swipe across the bottom, or the rap over the knuckles – this method worked for a while, but now my soldier takes it in his stride, as if he sees it as an army stripe in the Battle of the Wills.

I’ve been told to chose my battles with my domineering two year old, and rather focus on winning the war. So as we battle along each day, I try and keep a mental score of who’s winning, hoping that I can let this particular victory slide, so that we can get through one conversation without a dramatic ending. I get shivers down my spine when I realise that as Liam learns to let this obstreperous behaviour go and grows up, I’ll be going down this road again with his little sister soon. I doubt my experience will be advantageous, as I’ve already noticed that Missy has a stroppy streak. I have no doubt that when I see their two little heads huddled together, loud giggles erupting, and little hands clapping together in delight, they are concocting a plan to see who can get mum to go grey faster.