Are you hoarding it?

One of my happy places is being given the opportunity to read to a child / children.

For my daughter’s fifth birthday (eleven years ago, where has the time gone?!?), I really didn’t have a whole lot of money (not much has changed 😛 ), but wanted her to have a party. And so I decided to put my happy place to good use. I threw her a Cinderella party, and we played ‘pass the slipper’ (a plastic bling-ed up little girls high heel). But only after I had gathered the children around to read them the story of Cinderella.
(Yes, there were boys at the party, but I didn’t hear a single one of them complain 😉 There was, after all, cake 😛 )

Because of the age group, the parents stayed for the party. That was the day that I discovered that my happy place was not just a place – but a gifting of mine! That I definitely had a talent. Every single parent at the party approached me at some stage during the party to compliment me on my ‘story delivery’. The most surprising compliment came from a man! He said, ”Meg, I’ve always known you to be expressive – but oh man! You even had me mesmerised by the story. I know it well, because my daughter requests it often. I’ll never be able to read it like you can though!”

I’ve mentioned before, in a blog post from the past, that delightful movie called ”You’ve Got Mail”!
In the movie, Meg Ryan owns a bookstore called ‘The Shop Around the Corner’. And it’s the most exquisite little bookstore! Because she has a time set when the children can come, and she reads to them! She even dresses up to do so! I look nothing like that Meg, but this Meg would love to have that bookstore and do the exact same thing!

My daughter gave me the privilege of allowing me to read to her right up until she was eleven years old. People called me ridiculous, because no one could call me, visit me, or take me out between 6:30 and 7:30pm for many years. That was ‘my’ reading time – precious moments spent, reading to my daughter, sharing my love for books and, well, my love for reading.
It was very much the same thing with my son. And both my ‘children’ (now nearly 16 and 23) still spend hours reading.

Am I sharing this with you in order to brag? To ‘toot my own horn’? Nope. I am actually sharing it because it’s something I consider an ‘epic fail’ on my part… and although the ‘fail’ may not be the same, perhaps you find yourself in a similar predicament today.

I randomly came across these two images this morning, one directly after the other :

A talent is usually defined as a ‘natural aptitude or skill’. Aptitude? Well, that is the natural ability to excel in a certain area.

When I saw those two images, the first thing that sprang to mind was, ”When last did you read to a child, Meg?”
(Yes, apparently I am also talented when it comes to talking to myself 😛 )

And I instantly felt sad because this is the one thing I am fully confident in : I am an extremely expressive person who loves reading and takes great pleasure in sharing all of that with others by reading out loud to them. And I’m not doing it. (Quite possibly because I lack full confidence in other areas that may be hindering this one – to mention one : having someone video me and posting it online.)
I simply have to work on this! It’s important… and not just to me!

Because, for whoever is reading this and nodding their head :

Imagine how boring and awful this world would be if every person who had a talent kept it to themselves? We’d have no musicians, no books to read, no Netflix 😛 (the list goes on and on)

I am sure there are many things you can do well. But what is that one thing that you do the best? Are you sharing it with the world? Or is something holding you back?

I still don’t know how I am going to drown out the noise, conquer my fears, overcome the challenges in order to use this truly beautiful talent I have! (Suggestions are welcome 😉 They might not work because of where I live – but who knows where your suggestion might send my mind to thinking 😉 )

What I do know is this : We ALL need to find a way to use the talent we have been given.

In a world where we can be anything, the saying goes that we should be ‘kind’. And sometimes being kind to others is as simple as sharing our gift with them! ❤

Sometimes give them a Voluntary WHY

I have made so many mistakes along the way as a mother that there are days I really stop and wonder how it is that I actually have really good kids. Of course, on those days, it’s usually because I am comparing them to someone else’s kids – the ones who are NOT as ‘good’ as mine 😛
And yet, at the same time, I also know that there is NO comparison – my children are individuals in their own right. And in the same way that I lack perfection as a woman, and a mother, they also have areas that need improving. Such is life!

There are also the days where I find myself shaking my head, and wondering, where did I go wrong?
And no one else’s children feature on those days! It’s all about mine! 😛
Yesterday was one of those days.

For those of you who don’t know, I need to clarify : they are my children because I gave birth to them and love them unconditionally – but they are no longer ‘children’. My son will be 23 in two months time (he still lives with us, having completed his university degree at the end of last year). My daughter will be 16 next month! (Oh gosh! My baby girl!!!!)
My son is in that stage of life where he seems to have forgotten how ‘argumentative and silly’ he was as a teen – often asking me, ‘Was I like that?’ and then apologising profusely when I confirm that he was indeed! It always makes me smile. These are usually occasions where my daughter is NOT smiling though, because he has just told her how silly she is being, and that she’s ‘not always right’ etc.
Being an adult has also changed my son’s views somewhat, and I have found that in some areas he has suddenly matured – it still shocks me! 😛 Which means that there is also the need for damage control when he assumes the ‘male adult/father figure’ role in the house – it’s usually done in way of protection of me though… things like : ”Don’t be cheeky to Mommy”, ”Your room is a mess, and those dishes need to come to the sink”, ‘Mommy just cleaned the kitchen, come and wipe your mess off the counter”, ”I don’t think you should be watching that, you’d better check with Mom”, ”You may not watch ‘insert You Tuber’s name here’ latest video – it’s really not for you”!
Teenage girls do not take kindly to authoritative big brothers – I know… because it’s how I grew up! Which unfortunately puts me in a rather difficult position – I appreciate and value my son’s input, but completely identify and feel sympathy for my daughter! I so remember what it was like!

Somehow, we make it through every conflict without too much damage. And I am grateful for that. And most days, I am in awe as to how we all still live together like we do!
What completely boggles my mind is their love for each other – although no one had better ever ask them to use ‘the L word’ when it comes to their sibling! 😛
My jaw ‘drops to the floor’… every day! Because every day there will be some minor infraction from one or the other that causes raised voices and conflict between them. The result is always the same – my daughter will stomp off to her room, muttering under her breath, and I will hear my son exclaiming out loud in the lounge area, ”So freaking dumb”!
And here’s the jaw drop part : within a couple of hours, one of them will approach the other one. Not to apologise though. The approach will be because they have a YouTuber that they both are fond of, and something will have happened, and there is suddenly this need to share.
(Sharing with me is usually a lengthy process, because they first have to remind me why I know the person – what they have told me or shown me in the past etc. 😛 )
And the sharing is often mutual agreement, and some laughter, and it’s like there was no conflict in our house at all prior to ‘this moment’ that they are having. This also always makes me smile.
And every couple of months, there will be a Friday or Saturday night where I find them both in the lounge area, watching movies that they have both seen far too many times from years ago. And my daughter will always say, ”We’re having a sibling bonding night. Don’t get too excited – we still don’t like each other.” To which my son will always have a comedic response, and my daughter will throw a piece of popcorn at him…. and my smile becomes a chuckle as I retreat and allow them to have time ‘alone’. Because I really do feel that, when all jokes are put aside, these occasional evenings matter and are important for the two of them. (Some days there will actually be the threat of murder – I need them to have these moments to hopefully help prevent follow through 😛 )

And now that you have some history about my ‘imperfect children’…. here’s why yesterday had me asking ‘WHERE DID I GO WRONG?’

We all know what ‘positive affirmations’ are, right? They’re pretty much positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. They’re to help you create a positive mental attitude to empower you.
About three years ago, I decided I wanted to help my kids a little more than I already was just by being their mom 😛 , and so I started regularly seeking out, and printing out, selected positive quotes and affirmative statements for them. They each have about ten printed pages – my son’s is a collage on his bedroom cupboard, which he sees when he wakes up in the morning; my daughter chose for hers to be behind her bedroom door so that every time she opens and closes it, she sees them.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, and my son was in the lounge (it’s open plan), and my daughter came through and announced, ”We all need to start doing positive affirmations every day.”
I don’t know who had the more ‘horrified and shocked’ expression on their face – me, or my son.
He was the first to reply though.
”What do you think Mommy has been doing by sticking up new pages for us every now and then?”
My daughter shrugged her shoulders and replied, ”I thought it was just stuff she wanted us to have.”

And my first reaction (in my head) was, ”How on earth can she think that? Where did I go wrong? How did I fail at this?” And it hit me! I DID GO WRONG! This WAS on me!

The intentions behind what I had done were pretty fantastic, I think 😛 – I had created a ‘visual board’ of positivity for them in an effort to empower and inspire them. When I invaded their space with the first page, I had told them to be sure to read it every day. But I had forgotten to fully explain. To give them a WHY.
A lengthy conversation followed and it was beneficial to us all, in many ways. What surprised me was a statement my daughter made when my son commented that she should have asked why I wanted them to read it every day, because clearly she didn’t understand. She replied, quite confidently, ”I didn’t ask because Mommy usually tells us, in great detail, what we need to know.” And she rolled her eyes. 😛

We all know the infamous ‘Because I said so’. I use it sometimes with my kids, when the situation calls for it and they dare to ask why 😛 (Stop worrying about whether there are vegetables in it, and just eat it! 😛 )
But I remember what that answer was like too.
Eventually, I stopped asking why – and I actually missed out. Because I think I could have learned even more, and saved myself some troubles, if I had just asked the right people ‘why’ growing up.
But I also think that as adults, and as parents, there are times where we should not wait for the why to be asked – perhaps if we would just voluntarily speak out small doses of the wisdom we have, perhaps then our children won’t experience feeling ‘as lost’ as they sometimes do.

I think that like with most things in life, it’s about balance.
We all want our kids to have enquiring minds and look for the answers to the ‘why’s’ and not be afraid to ask – but at the same time, we want them to be informed and equipped enough that in some areas they do not need to ask because the why has already been voluntarily explained ahead of time.

And the parenthood lesson I was forced to learn? I need to stop telling my kids so much in detail, so that they are forced to ask WHY more often 😛
Off to think a little more about how to balance this particular scale 😉

Kid memory

I was watching a movie last night and there was a line in it that suddenly made me laugh out loud. It wasn’t funny by any means, and the movie was pretty serious too – but it sparked something in my memory for some odd reason. And I laughed a little too long at that memory – because perhaps that was what I needed.

It isn’t even really that funny, when I think about it now. But I thought I’d share it anyway, because it’s quite sweet… and we could all use some sweetness and a smile 😉

When I was 9 or 10, my mother owned a day care centre in collaboration with her church. It was open for about three years – until the church decided to do something else with the building in which it was housed.
I would visit there in the afternoons after school – and I loved the little kids. Their age ranges were 2 to 6, and so some of them were not that much younger than me.

But I have always been an old soul, and thinking back now, I feel like I was so much older than them. My brothers were 9 and 11 years older than me, and I sometimes think I grew up as a mini adult. I don’t know.

But I know I was very fond of those little kids, and loved reading to them, and drawing with them, and caring for them.

Duane was one of my favourites – we’re now Facebook friends, ha ha ha!
Back then, he was four years old, and he was the cutest little thing with the chubbiest cheeks I had ever seen. He put those chubby cheeks to good use. Duane loved after lunch nap time. He was always the first one asleep, and the last one to wake up… often needing to be woken. He loved nap time so much that he’d store the last two mouthfuls of food in his cheeks, just so that he could be excused from the table to do his quick bathroom visit and then go to his little mattress and pillow. I think he chewed and swallowed while in the bathroom. But one day, he was so tired, that he seemed to have forgotten. They’d had grapes at the end of the meal, and he kept one in either cheek. He fell asleep like that though! Thankfully, he didn’t choke. Instead, almost as soon as he was asleep, his mouth opened and they popped out onto his pillow. They were discovered as the assistant teacher made her rounds to cover the children with blankets and my mother was called. After that, little Duane’s cheeks were checked before he left the table!

But that’s not the story I wanted to share 😉

Ross was three (almost four at the time of the story I want to share) years old, and small for his age. He had big brown eyes, and sandy brown hair that was growing out past his ears, and he also sported a very straight, very thick, floppy fringe (bangs). He was very well behaved and a lot quieter and gentler than the other boys. And he had a lisp, which made him even cuter.
One day, as the assistant teacher, Pam, was tidying the bookshelf, little Rossi (that’s what we called him – no relation to Valentino 😛 ) came sidling up to her. He watched, and then helped with the lower shelf. When all the books were neatly put back in place in that shelf, Rossi stood up, put his hands on his hips and let out an enormous sigh. Pam turned to face him, and smiling down at him she said,
“And now, Rossi? What’s your case?”  (the line from the movie)

Rossi’s brown eyes widened and he suddenly look very confused. In his soft little voice he replied,
”But Aunty Pammie, you know my cathe. It’th the one with the red and white thtripeth!”

And his school suitcase was, indeed, the one with the red and white stripes. Pam started laughing, and gathered him up in a hug. Then she sat him down and explained what she had meant, and he laughed too, stating, ”I’m a thilly banana and I’m not even yellow!”

So it’s just a quick share…. but I felt it worthy 😉 Here’s hoping you at least smiled 😉

Be safe everyone!

 

one step at a time

Last night there was an off sounding violin in my room (a mosquito)! It clearly came from the era of Greek mythology and had my gender completely confused. It mistook me for the greatest, handsomest and bravest warrior of that time, and branded me as such.

It only bit me twice, from what I can tell, for the itches are isolated to those two areas. Both heels – where my ‘Achilles’ tendon begins 😛 😛 😛

As I sit here typing, I realise that I have been AWOL for a few days again – where has the time gone?

Do you ever sit and think about all the things you feel you need to do – ‘and the necessity to get up and go’ – and then you suddenly notice how much time has passed and realise you need to get going, and so you stand up…. and the wave of knowledge crashes over you : your ‘get up and go’ has already ‘got up and went’. 😛 😉

I have accomplished and fulfilled the commitments of the last few days, even though some have been difficult. But there have been other things that I committed to in my mind and would really like to have got done. They’re still waiting. Today is a new day though, and I can always see how far I can get 😉
I DO, however, have a lunchtime commitment that will be a bit exhausting… but I am determined to come home and try and tackle at least one of the things I ‘need’ to do.

Because that is life. There is MUCH to be done. And it can be overwhelming when we take into account the amount of tasks and goals and dreams that come with being alive.

As a woman, and a mother, there is an incredible ability instilled in me to multi task. However, I have had to learn that sometimes that in itself can lead to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Sometimes, even when everything on the list seems to be urgent and a priority, it still helps to focus on only one at a time. Because in order to do it well, it needs your full attention!

This is a battle/lesson in growth that remains on the surface of my brain. I cannot do it all – and if I want to do things to the best of my ability, then I need to give each one its own space and time and attention.

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One more thought before I go : being like a child.
Yesterday I attended a children’s birthday party. It was the party of the boys who live across from me in our townhouse complex (cluster of houses within the boundaries of fencing almost like a gated community).
These boys are adopted. The oldest arrived at about 8 months old. The youngest was only 4 months when he moved in. I immediately bonded with the youngest because I was called on on his first day home to help. The new mom was uncertain and didn’t know quite what to do with this little baby who wouldn’t stop crying. I’ve had a lot of experience, and I also seem to have the ‘baby touch’, so off I went to help. As he has grown, the catch phrase has always been that he is ‘Aunty Meg’s Baby/Child’.

Yesterday we celebrated the oldest being 7, and ‘my baby’ being 6. Time has flown!
As I sat for two hours and watched the fifteen odd children running and playing and swimming and laughing, I was reminded of the joy and pleasure of youth. And the excitement of something as simple as a birthday, which a lot of us try and hide from as we grow older.

And I remembered my own childlike amazement and wonder, and laughter and excitement, when I had the opportunity of exploring the UK with my dad. Even with regards to simple things that others who live there get to see and experience every day.
Yes, everyone could tell I was a tourist in a way – but I also think that some looked at me and saw a child in an adult’s body – my awe and laughter was akin to that!

Of course you know where this path of thought is taking me, right?

Life is really serious when you are an adult. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a grown up. Especially when you have children who rely on you.
But you still need to find the moments where you can think like a child – the serious considerations are to not see colour, or status; to withhold judgments and just be kind and see THE PERSON as opposed to everything else.

The not so serious considerations? To remember that there are simple things that can elicit laughter and a happy euphoria.

Today, I shall throw caution to the wind (diet out the window 😛 ) and eat ice cream with my ‘not-so-much kids anymore’ and I might even search out my copy of Enid BlytonThe Enchanted Wood‘, and reconnect with Silky, Moonface and the dear old Saucepan Man. 😉
I wish I still had my Victoria Plum book collection, and duvet/comforter set 🙂

That One Teacher

 

We all have that one teacher. The one who, when we look back at our school career, made the most positive impact in our lives just because of the way he or she was. We’ll call her Miss L. She’s kind of alternative, arty for the most part, firm with the children and yet loads of fun. She has a no nonsense approach, and yet it raises no hackles. She has the respect and love of every pupil, every peer, and every parent.

She’s passionate, patient and persuasive. She somehow managed to talk my son into abseiling on their school outing, despite his fear of heights. When he now looks back on his primary school career (which over here is from Grade 1 – Grade 7), she is the one. She is that teacher. He shared his sisters disappointment when she discovered that this year she would not be in Miss L’s class – but while talking about the excursion coming up next month, he told his sister ‘all the cool stuff Miss L does with you when you’re there’.

Today was a bad day.

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Parenting 101 – not.

blog1

Yesterday I felt cornered. Sort of. I had coffee with a new acquaintance (she can achieve friendship status almost instantly because, well, coffee), and she asked to ‘hear my story’. I tried to keep it as brief as possible as I relayed situations and occurrences in my life that had not been pretty, and then revealed the beauty that resulted from the ugliness.

At the end of our rather lengthy conversation, which was initially a ‘quick cup of coffee’, she told me I was a really good mom.
My children have been known to tell me the same – and since I am also ‘dad’ all the time, I also have Father’s Day cards claiming that I couldn’t be a better father, even if I were a man.
I am deeply honored by all of this – that an acquaintance, and my children, could see me as such a successful parent.

But I am not. I don’t say that lightly, and I certainly don’t say it falsely – I do not secretly have this huge ego that says that I definitely am a good mom, and parent.

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One Lovely Blog Award

The rules are as follows :

# Each nominee must thank the person who nominated them and link their blog in the post.

# They must include the rules and add the blog award badge as an image. 

# Must add 7 facts about them.

# Then nominate 15 people! 

A big thank you to the lovely SFR for this nomination. I really do appreciate it, and hope that my 7 random facts below do justice to the award.

onelovelyblogaward

7 Random Facts About Me

  1. My first car was eight years older than me – I’m not joking. She was a beautiful gold Ford Cortina, named Goldilocks, of course! I also got my first, and only, speeding fine in her. The traffic cop commented to me that he didn’t know she could still make it to that speed. I, in my youthful innocence (19 years-old at the time), replied, “Oh, she can go much faster.” He laughed along with me when I clapped my hand over my mouth after realizing what I had just said, and I took my ticket, and went on my merry way.pic1
  2. I have never been afraid of heights – I still don’t think I am, since I absolutely love being in a ‘flying bird’ and staring out the window. But I recall immense fear, and the feeling that I was going to fall, when I walked along a very narrow path in the rock face of a cliff, to see the view pictured below. No hand rail, and the path was only about two feet wide. So yes, I was scared, as I leaned as close to the cliff as possible to reach the cave at the top.pic2
  3. I have a problem with feet – and not in a foot fetish kind of way. I just don’t like mine. I am still not really sure why, because they’re quite delicate and I have fairly pretty toes. But I prefer to keep them covered, and when I am wearing summer sandals and I notice someone looking at my feet, I feel like I am going to curl up into a ball and die right there. Most of the time, I am walking around in socks. And if I am in socks (or on the very rare occasion, barefoot) I have a tendency to walk on tip toes.pic3
  4. I love the rain, and sometimes when I am out in it, I’ll even do a little hop and skip across a parking lot, while singing, “I’m singing in the rain….what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!” ….much to my children’s embarrassment.
    (Yes, you may not want to take me anywhere on a rainy day!)pic4
  5. My two drinks of choice? Coffee, and water. Yes, water. I drink too much of both. And yes, there is such a thing as too much water…water retention and all that stuff, you know. A normal water drinking day for me runs at about 0.79 gallons (3 liters). Add to that about 8 cups of coffee, and it’s no wonder my belly constantly sounds like the sea!pic5
  6. One of my favorite smells is vanilla. I love it! My kids get nervous when I bake – which I like to do quite often. If they have a friend over, they avoid the kitchen at all costs. They just know that in between batches and baking time, Mom will be sniffing that bottle of vanilla extract like there’s no tomorrow. I have vanilla room spray, vanilla body lotion, vanilla body wash, vanilla hand soap etc. I suppose it is safe to say that I smell a bit like vanilla too then.pic6
  7. I have never seen snow in ‘real life’ – so yes, I have never made a snowman, or had a snowball fight, or had the pleasure of making a snow angel. Neither have my children.
    I have also never tasted eggnog.
    Both of the above, for me, are ‘American things’ (I am aware they happen in other countries too though – but it’s a me/America thing)
    We DO get snow in my country, just not really near me – and when it is ‘near me’, it’s always at a time when work and school prevent a trip to see it. And it doesn’t cover the earth like a blanket. The US in winter is a big part of my bucket list.pic7

 

(I can’t take credit for any of the above pics, as they were all selected via Google Images)

I nominate the following people (but please, no pressure to participate, promise!) :

And please check out their blogs if you’re still reading this.

Saving Without Scrimping

Random Catastrophe

Bibliophile

Read Between the Lyme

Mother of Necessity

Just Call Me Elm or Something

A Thomas Point of View

t0bec0nsidered

The Scruffy Guy

SincerelyReine

The Bee Sneeze

mylifeinmywords

Yes…I know…there aren’t 15, and I apologize for that. I also apologize if I left you out. Exclusion is not a part of this, and I really didn’t mean to!

EDIT : If you read this post, and your name is not on the list, then please consider yourself nominated. Unfortunately, my brilliance only kicks in after a good few cups of Java – so now no one has to feel left out.

Happy blogging, everyone!

*Please don’t forget to head over to Endever Publishing Studios on Facebook and cast your vote in the short story competition. You can only vote once, for one story. My story (I’d appreciate your vote) is Contestant 1, “Shoebox Sanity” – if you scroll down the page there, you’ll see it. To vote for it, you need to ‘like’ that particular shared post.

While you are there, please also like the Endever page – there is another writing contest coming up that you may be interested in. You can also follow them here on WordPress and keep an eye on what they are up to – I am sure you won’t be disappointed. Thank you.*

The School of Life

My son returned home from school the other day (he’s in his final year), walked through the front door, and said,
“Mom, please will you make me something to eat, because the way my day has been going, I’d probably chop my finger off.”
So I obliged – mostly because I would like him to keep all ten digits, but also because I didn’t feel like cleaning up blood in the kitchen. I treated myself to yet another much needed cup of coffee, and then called him to join me at the table. He missed the chair entirely, and wound up on the floor. Of course, my hysterical laughter could be heard from miles (I am sure), but he just frowned at me. Seeing his expression, I managed to regain control, and helped him up off the floor, saying,
“Okay, tell me about your terrible day.”

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Can you speak American?

A year ago, almost to this day, my daughter was watching yet another American movie that had some dancing in it. She again announced her hearts deepest desire: to attend a school like Juilliard and become a dancer. She currently has lessons in three styles of dance, and is very good. But I could never afford a school like that, or the costs involved with getting us there for her to try either. So all I can tell her is to keep practicing, keep dancing, and be dedicated – and maybe one day she will have her dream. She’s ten, and there’s time.

She has added a few other dance schools to her list, and our discussion prompted the retrieval of that list, and a request to google some of them. I didn’t have anything that needed my immediate attention, and my daughter usually trumps all anyway, so I agreed. We spent the next hour googling, reading and watching. And then the question came that horrified me, “But mom, do you think I could speak American?”

In that instant, my heart stopped and I wondered if I was so useless at being an educator to my children that my own daughter didn’t know that English was the language spoken in America, a country I love. Now, in my house, when my children ask questions that I don’t fully understand, I always say three little words.
“Please explain yourself.”
This time though, seeing the horrified expression on my face was enough, and she quickly added, “I know they speak English, mom. Most of them anyway. What I mean is, some words are different. Do you think I would be okay there?”
And then it made sense to me.

I’ve already explained the difference in spelling here, and in that post we also discussed that when you’re in South Africa, a ‘barbeque’ becomes a ‘braai’. We’ve watched enough American movies, and I’ve learnt so much from my American friends – knowledge which I take every opportunity to impart on my children – that I could, in confidence, reassure her that we would be okay. In fact, I often find myself ‘speaking American’ in small ways – but most especially when I speak to an American 😉 So here are some small differences, which you may or may not already know:

Petrol / Gas : I touched on this here, but will repeat – when we refer to gas, we’re talking about the stomach kind. We put petrol in our cars. And we go to the garage, or petrol station, in order to do this – not the gas station or filling station.

Robot / Traffic Light : I have the pleasure of knowing an American who lives around here. She finds this particular one very amusing. She says that when she first arrived, she kept looking around for Rosie the Maid – the robot from the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’ – on our street corners. She actually missed seeing a landmark upon her arrival, because on the drive in someone told her, ‘If you look to the right at the robot, you will see….’, and she spent all her time looking for ‘the robot’. So when we say robot, we actually mean traffic light!

Sweets / Candy : Around here, we all know that candy refers to things like M&M’s and jelly beans and all those sweet things. We also know the saying, “Like taking candy from a baby”, and of course we’ve heard of ‘Halloween candy’. But we still call it ‘sweets’, not candy. When we go to the shop (store) I’ll ask my daughter if she wants some sweets – and she’ll pick out jelly babies or something like that. To ask if she wants candy will take her a while to figure out what it is I am actually offering her.
By the same token, the word dessert is not used very often around here – although a restaurant will offer you a ‘dessert menu’. We refer to it as pudding – and by definition pudding can be either savory or sweet. But where I live, we are always referring to the sweet variety, and whether it be cooked, baked, chilled, served hot or cold, with or without ice cream or cream – it’s pudding 😉
A chocolate/candy ‘bar’ is simply a ‘chocolate’.

Tomato Sauce / Ketchup : The first time I heard the word Ketchup, I was about fourteen. I don’t remember what the exact scenario was, or who exactly said it, but someone at school used it in an oral speech for marks in our classroom, and it threw me. He said, ‘It wasn’t ketchup on his shirt, it was blood.’ It sounded like he said, ‘catch up’, and because I was so unfamiliar with the word it made absolutely no sense why his shirt would be trying to catch up, and have blood on it. This particular guy lost marks for using that word which made him rather angry, because as it turns out his wealthy family had just returned from a holiday in America, and he was very proud of his new word. I was a bit embarrassed to be approaching this ‘cool kid’ and asking what it meant, but I had to. When he explained to me, as if I was the least intelligent being in school, stating that it was the American word for tomato sauce, I was not only fascinated, but relieved that his little speech now made more sense. It helped me greatly when I watched an American movie a few months later, and didn’t need to be concerned about the hamburger and it’s need to have to ‘catch up’.

Costume / Bathing Suit : One morning, I phoned (called) my ‘local’ American friend and asked if she wanted to go to the beach. She did, so I told her to grab her costume too. There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a big sigh. She told me, ‘I don’t have any fancy dress clothes yet, I have just arrived.’ I laughed and made the adjustment, ‘I meant your bathing suit’, to which she laughed and we hung up – and never did get to swim anyway because the water was too cold that day. We’re certainly weird, because we also use ‘costume’ when we’re talking about dressing up for a fancy dress, or the outfit worn for a part in a production of a show/theater. I guess you have to think about the situation to know which costume we’re referring to.

Washing Powder / Laundry Detergent : I do not do laundry. I do, however, do copious loads of washing. I also spend time hanging washing on the line, and taking it off again, because tumble dryers are not very popular around here. We had one growing up, but I have never had one in my home as an adult. The one we had when I was a child in my mothers house was seldom used, due to its large consumption of electricity and our ridiculous rates thereof – which are worse now. It goes without saying then that I purchase washing powder, not detergent.

Chips / French Fries : Again, we’re weird. If I tell you I ate a packet of chips, I am usually referring to eating a bag of potato crisps. However, I may also tell you that I made chips to go with the meat we had at supper time, and I am referring to something entirely different. In this case, I would be meaning French Fries. If you go to a take-away place around here, and ask for chips with your burger, you’ll get french fries. But if you ask at the local store where they keep their chips, they’ll lead you to the display of countless bags of crisps. Unless you say frozen chips…then you may just wind up in the frozen section where you can buy french fries to purchase for home and cook yourself.

Scones / Biscuits : My new friend was telling me the other day that he needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure he wanted to wait the twenty minutes or so it would take to bake the frozen biscuits he had. Wait, what? Frozen biscuits? Of course, Google is my best friend in cases like this. A quick search revealed to me that he was talking about something we call ‘scones’. Although we don’t buy them with a frozen option, I don’t think. If you go out to tea around here, and you ask for a biscuit, you will get a cookie. Because that is what we call cookies here. It’s a biscuit. Even an Oreo cookie – it’s referred to as either simply Oreo’s, or you may be asked if you’d like an Oreo biscuit with your coffee. So a cookie is a biscuit, and a biscuit is a scone 😉 Tea or coffee with fresh and warm scones, served with jam (jelly, see further down, please) and cream, or cheese, is usually a delightful option when out and about.

Cooldrink / Soda : When we ask if you’d like some cooldrink, we’re not referring to a drink that looks ‘cool’ (although you will be offered ice) and may be sporting an umbrella in a colorful sugar rimmed glass. We just mean soda. Plain and simple. I have to also mention here that if we ask if you would like some lemonade? You’re getting soda, and it’s usually Sprite. I have never tasted ‘proper lemonade’ of the lemonade stand variety – pink or yellow. I really should try and make some one day, just to be able to taste. I think I shall add that to my list of things to do this week.

Serviette / Napkin : There’s a South African comedian who does a very funny example of this – but he can be rather offensive, and so I am not going to link him in here. But I’ll do a brief explanation of the difference in these words, to us. Over here, a napkin is shortened to the word ‘nappy’, and this is what we call a baby’s ‘diaper’. You change a baby’s nappy, but wipe your mouth with a serviette. So you can imagine how this can become strange for us if we buy takeaway food and get offered a napkin to go with it. How bad is your food?

How’s it (Howzit) / Hello : This is a funny one, because many South African’s use it. Although we say it fast and it sounds like ‘howzit’, and it’s usually meant purely as a greeting, as opposed to being a question actually asking ‘how is it’.
We also have a tendency to use ‘is it’ a lot – but not as a question. It usually take the place of ‘really’, or ‘uh huh’, and comes out sounding like ‘izit’.

Jam / Jelly : Around here, jelly is what Americans would probably call ‘jello’, so you can imagine how confused I was the first time I heard about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Google once again came to the rescue, and since I happen to really like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, I was happy with its definition.

Just now / Later : I often confuse my American friends when I use this term. I’ll say it without thinking and mention that I am going to fetch my daughter from school just now. This does not mean now, or immediately. It actually means soon, or later, or in a short while. But never immediately. Yes, us South Africans are a confusing bunch.

There are many more little differences that you may (or may not) find interesting, and I am sure I will come back to addressing some of them in a future blog post. For now though, I am going to give you a break from all the reading, and hope that you didn’t find it too boring. I need to think about going to the ‘shop’ ‘just now’. 😉

Apron Strings and Daughter Things

I really don’t know why they make us go to these parent teacher meetings at the beginning of every new school year. They just repeat everything we were told the year before. This year, it was a combined thing so we were all together, and not in our individual teachers classrooms. At least last year it felt more personal, and the teacher was able to communicate to her parents her methods and what she wanted for that particular year. Last night we were one of 300 sheep, just being told the general rules and regulations that have been told to us for the past four years. It was annoying, and boring.

The only thing different came at the very end. They discussed the excursion for this year, and my brain stopped yawning.

This year, my soon-to-be eleven-year-old daughter will be flying the coop for two nights and three days as she joins the rest of her grade on an outing to the mountains. There, they will sleep in dormitories; go on hikes to nearby waterfalls and experience the icy cold of the waters beneath them; participate in abseiling and obstacle courses; and attempt climbing walls.

All of last year, my daughter kept saying that she didn’t want to go – which was surprising because she loves the outdoors and all those adventure activities are right up her alley. But the thing with her is this: she doesn’t like the dark (we sleep with the bathroom light on at night), she has been the victim of some bullying (and those kids will be going too), she doesn’t like being forced into doing something (and they pretty much make you take part) and she’s rather accident prone (if she hurts her leg/ankle, she can’t dance, and by her own admission, dancing is her life!).

Schools have been taking kids to this particular adventure camp for years. In fact, I went back in the day – except with us we did it as a Grade 7 excursion. My daughter is a lot like me – and my experience was only 70% great.

At night, I couldn’t sleep because some of the other girls in the dormitory were unsettling. I was also scared of the dark and there were NO lights on – and the teachers were sleeping in the room next door, not in the dormitory with us.
I was petrified of the climbing wall overhang for some strange reason (I loved abseiling) and wound up crying halfway through it, after being forced into participating…which meant I got teased by the other kids for the remainder of our time there.
I slipped on the rocks at one of the waterfalls on the last day, and twisted my ankle – which resulted in me having to be carried ALL the way back to ‘camp’, and more teasing.

In all of my daughter’s nervousness, I have been encouraging her, and keep telling her ‘it will all be fine, you must go’. (She knows nothing of my experiences, and I won’t tell her either!) The trip is compulsory, the school doesn’t give you a choice – in fact the only way they will allow that a pupil does not attend is in the case of the death of a family member. Upon returning from the meeting last night, I asked my daughter if her feelings had changed with regards to taking part in the excursion. Apparently, my little adventure queen now can’t wait and is ‘definitely going’.

Now I am the one with mixed feelings, leaning more towards locking her in her bedroom for the remainder of her life, let alone those three days.

It’s not just based on my experience years back, but also on my son’s experience when he went a few years ago – and came home to not sleep alone for six months, which is credited to all the ghost stories that were told, and some teasing and bullying that took place thereafter. My son has always been afraid of ghostly things – he’s improved as a teenager, although I think he knows each and every woven thread of the inside of his blanket from watching horror movies with his friends.

My daughter is tough though – so I am sure she’ll be fine. She’s a strange combination of Princess and Pirate. And I’ll have to lecture her beforehand because I am pretty sure SHE will be the one telling the ghost stories.
I think I’m more concerned for safety sake – because of where we live, and the fact that she is a girl. And deep down there is also that voice screaming, “And she’s my little girl!”

I just have to keep telling myself it will be okay. And somehow let go, just a little.
It’s difficult when she is with me all the time, and only sleeps out for a night maybe three times a year, and at a friends house down the road – not two hours drive away from me!

I can’t help wondering if she will in fact be all right.
But then again, I need to recognize in myself: this is mostly Mommy fear – more importantly, will I be okay?

I don’t think I should cut the apron strings just yet, but perhaps I’ll loosen the knot a little.