Thursday, 13 August 2015

Suicide. A word no child should know. Let alone do

The news of 14 year old Klara missing quickly spread on social media. I shared the desperate plea, after first making sure she hadn't been found or that it wasn't an old post. Some people on social media get funny with things like that.

I went to bed hoping that in the morning I would wake up to the Missing Minors Pink Ladies Organisation's status saying she had been found and the healing could begin. We would all breathe a sigh of relief and 'tsk tsk' the teen for being wayward and naughty. We could silently judge her mom for not having better control of her daughter and pat ourselves on the back that our children would never do that. 

Sadly we didn't get that chance. Instead we woke up to the news that Klara had been found. At Northgate Mall. Dead. The story at the moment is she committed suicide by jumping off the roof  of the shopping centre. The only way for me to cope with that news was to shut down and pretend it hadn't happened but as the day wore on my thoughts kept going back to this young girl, her face all over new sites and social media platforms.

I battle with depression and I've certainly had those thoughts of ending it all. My husband, children and medication keep me going and somehow I pull through and I face another day, albeit a crap one. I know those moments of hopelessness, helplessness and sadness but I've always got someone that I know I can reach out to. 

I keep looking for updates on the news and on Twitter, that it wasn't suicide. That Klara was pushed or accidentally fell. For me that would be easier to come to terms with. I can teach my children how to protect themselves in a kidnapping situation or against bullies. I can encourage them to stand up for themselves if someone's been nasty to them. I can warn them about strangers. But I have no idea what to do when the stranger is within. When their own mind is the bully. How do I protect them from themselves? 

I keep wondering what she must have been feeling. Did she act 'normal' at school? How long had she planned this? Had she spoken to someone who shrugged it off as teenage 'angst'? Was she excited about the school day ending so she could carry out her plan or was she dreading the final school bell? 
While she was standing there, about to jump, did she secretly hope someone would find her, stop her? Was she praying her phone would ring and someone on the other side would tell her she's loved. And worthy. And enough. If only she had checked Facebook and seen how many people were searching for her, praying for her safe return, how desperate her mom was. 

If, why, what, how? None of it matters. A family is dealing with a pain unimaginable. A mother has lost her child. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved Klara. 

What's your #BeautyLegacy?

I watched this clip the other day and it broke my heart. Not only how the gorgeous women interviewed disliked so many parts of their body, but how their daughters mirrored their insecurities. I am a mom to an impressionable little girl and I'm constantly aware of not commenting on body parts I hate, and there are many. For me there is a bit more of a challenge because Emma is not my biological daughter and so we have to deal with the stereotypes of 'white' pretty and 'black' pretty.

I think we all need to be a little gentler on ourselves and embrace our bits, whether it's your button nose that you think is too flat or your gorgeous lips you think are too fat. I know I'm a lot kinder on Emma's appearance (than my own) because she's my daughter and as far as I'm concerned, the most beautiful girl in the world. I always tell Emma she has long, strong beautiful legs, perfect for dancing or running or gymnastics or swimming. The sparkle in her eyes tell a story of a happy little soul and it lights up a room. But to me my legs are flabby, my knees look they have trapped babies inside

My arms jiggle more than jelly, my ears are too big, my nose not pointy enough. My hair has never been my crowning glory and as for my boobs, well, let's just leave them where they belong. On the floor! But that's my legacy. Not the one I want to leave Emma. What I want Emma to know is:
You are beautiful. Inside, outside and upside down
Prettiness is a state of being. It's how you feel, it's what you say and do and how you make people feel
You are enough. You're clever enough. Pretty enough. Funny enough. Fast enough

When I look back at photos of me as a young girl, a teenager, a twenty something woman, I'm shocked at how tiny I was, at my pretty dimple, at how pretty I actually was. Yes, I said it. I was pretty. If only I felt that then. If only someone reinforced that for me.

The Dove #BeautyLegacy campaign has made me aware that I can influence the young girls in my life, in a positive, by being mindful of what I say, about myself and others too.

Dove kindly gave me a #BeautyLegacy kit, which I'll be using to write positive messages and placing them in my jar of happy thoughts. One day Ill be able to pass this onto Emma and on crappy days I can look at my almost full jar and realize I'm enough.

I've downloaded the self-esteem programmes and interactive activities via Dove's website, which cover everything from teasing and bullying, friends and relationships and growing up and self-esteem and I'm going to create a notice board for Emma and I to share our achievements, whether it's trying something for the first time, finishing a book or a puzzle or having a special day out. For me, this board will be dedicated to anything but our physical appearance, because we are not our pants size or hair type. We are women. Hear us ROAR!

What #BeautyLegacy are you leaving behind?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

What made your kids cry today?

The school holidays are upon us and if yesterday was anything to go by, I'm going to end up in an asylum (again) come September.

Besides the 'kids will be kids' moments, like tossing a 1kg of glitter everywhere, including on the dog, we also had a lot of emotional outbursts. About nothing. But about everything. 

Here's my list of what made my kids cry yesterday (and any other day really):

We used Emma's instead of Ben's bubble bath. Ben cried 

I washed the kids and touched Ben's 'privacy'

Emma got out the bath first

I didn't let Ben eat his breakfast, lunch or supper using the dog brush as a utensil

Diego wasn't on TV when Ben wanted it on TV

I didn't buy him a real axe

I didn't let him use the lawnmower. On his own 

His favorite biscuits were finished. By him

Emma cried because she wanted to go out. Ben cried because he didn't want to go to the place we went 

I wouldn't let him spray paint the washing on the line 

I wouldn't let him spray paint my hair 

I wouldn't let them go set up a function with me

Because our few days away is a few days away and Ben wants to go NOW

I wouldn't let Ben really cut my hair. With real scissors 

I didn't buy him pocket money

He asked me to close the cupboard door while he was in it. I said no

I did close the cupboard door while he was in it and he cried because it was too dark

What made your children cry today?

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Garabaldi

We have a bald Indian Miner that lives in our garden. We've named him Garibaldi. 

We feed him and this winter Ben wanted us to knit him a hat and scarf. For the bird. Not Ben. He's a regular visitor and if after a few days we haven't seen him, we start to stress. Has he moved on? Has he sounds better home? Has he died? And then, as if called, he appears.  

We love Garabaldi and feel blessed that he's decided to call our garden home. 

Of course, this isn't a post about a rather unfortunate looking bird, it's about every, or most parents' worst nightmare. 

Ben and his buddy were upstairs in the bathroom. Ben was sitting, fully clothed, in an empty bath and Kopsi was having a poo, which he showed me, just so I'd believe him. Everything seemed fine so I popped downstairs to answer my phone.  A few minutes later Mark went upstairs to check on them and I heard a 'oh crap!' And then Mark came downstairs and said I needed to call the person back as we have a 'situation'.

As I turned, Mark presented me with exhibit A and exhibit B. 


My worst nightmare, or one of, had happened. Ben had cut Kopsi's hair. Like any good mom I sent Mark to tell the scalped child's parents what had happened. Thankfully they were understanding and later we had a chat with Ben about playing with scissors, cutting people's hair, that it's dangerous and that it could have gone very wrong. "But it didn't!" Says Ben, who's at an all-knowing age. "And anyway Kopsi loves his new haircut. I gave him the Garabaldi!"

Disorder or just kak naughty?

So here's a question, and it's a strange one, especially cos it's with regards to my black child. And we all know black children don't suffer from disorders or illnesses but rather amafufunyana.

Ben hates noise. Except when he's making it. We have to race through through fridge sections of woolworths and other stores because of the noise they make. He'll complain his blanket stinks or that there's a horrible smell in the house. It does and there is, but never so bad for it to be commented on. 

Looking at symptoms of some disorders, like sensory processing disorder, there's a lot I can definitely say no to but then there are a few where I have to nod in quiet agreement. Ben's mood can go from shiny happy to out of this world 'moerrig'. This morning we had a 45 minute meltdown because, um, it was because, I can't even remember. But I certainly can't forget the temper tantrum that carried on and on and on and on. 

Then this afternoon, he walked into the house happy as Larry, from school, laughing, playing, and then BAM! Just like that there was crying and screaming and hitting because Emma went to the neighbour's house in front of Ben. Ben wanted to be first. The triggers are so small, the effects enormous and it just leaves everyone feeling exhausted, helpless and irritated. 

We try placate where we can. So if Emma jumped out the bath before him and he's yelling blue murder we ask Emma to jump back in so he can be 'first' to get out. But it's not fair on her. Nine times out of ten Emma's behavior is angelic (or as close as damn it) yet Ben gets all the attention. 

Has anyone got some suggestions? Is there a possibility that Ben has some kind of a disorder, is he just kak naughty or has he been amafufunyana'd?

A preamble post to another post

Dove soap is currently running a brilliant campaign, which I'll be posting about soon but in the meantime I wanted to share this. I, as a woman, once a girl, have never had a very good self image. At one point I was fat, then fatter, then thin, then too thin and now, well now I just unhealthily starve myself most days, only to smash a woollies salted caramel in my mouth on others.

Sometimes I wish girls had the same self esteem as boys. A girl will complain about her hips, thighs, bum, stomach, flabby arms, her toosmalltoobigtoodroopytoonipplynotnipplyenough boobs, her nose, her eyes, her hair, her ears, her toes, her feet, her bigbonedness, her tiny frame, her skin, her moles, her ankles / kankles and calves. 

Men, well men just worry whether their dick's big enough. 

To this day I will never ever forget a night out with girl friends while in varsity. I'm no oil painting. I wasn't one then either but I'm also not Frankenstein's bride, but this is something that's stayed with me.

There were five or six of us and we were on our way to the loo. As we walked past  a group of guys, one commented how we were walking in a line from hottest to troll like. Guess who was at the back? That comment stung. It still does. And ironically it was the ugliest guy in the group making that comment. Somebody I wouldn't have had the time of day for. 

On good days I maybe feel like I could have been 3rd or 4th in that line. On crap days I get why he said what he did. And now I find myself trying to raise a daughter who is confident and in love with who she is and what she looks like. 

ps if you get a chance check out Dove Legacy on YouTube. And share the shit out of it