Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day. The UK celebrates it on a different day, and I often miss that one – and so, today, I will wish my stepmother, even though it’s ‘not applicable’ in their country for today. She became ‘Mum’ the year I turned eighteen. And unlike some horror stories with stepparents, she truly has been an absolute treasure in my life. I am very grateful for Mum, and her unconditional love. It hasn’t always been easy, but it definitely has been worth it.

I often feel that I fall short as a ‘Mum’. And to be entirely honest, I probably do in some ways. But isn’t that just life? We never get it 100% perfect.
When it comes to being human, and being me, I am always striving to be a ‘better me than I was yesterday’. To do things differently, to be more aware of how I react, to be kinder, to be gentler etc. And all these things apply to my parenting skills too. I just keep trying. Trial and error. What works, and what doesn’t – especially with a teenage girl in the house 😛

My children and I are not a ‘normal family’. Our relationship is a different dynamic in many ways – for example, we pretty much almost never eat a meal together. This is usually due to different timetables that can’t be changed, but it is what it is.

At the end of the day, even though my children are not really children anymore, my commitment to them remains the same in a lot of ways. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will always be open and honest with me (even when my teen daughter knows it might get her into trouble, which it sometimes does 😛 ) and that neither one of them will ever have cause to pause and wonder if I love them. And for me, those are the most important things and worthy of celebration!
We certainly are not a perfect family though, and we fail each other – like would you believe that my kids have never made me a cup of coffee or tea? Shocking, I know 😛
We bicker about little things, and in all honesty, there have been times where those little things have escalated quickly and we’ve almost gone to war. But we always get through it. And although there may be slight injuries, we heal… and we continue to forge forward, together.

And I love that about us.

So here’s to Mother’s Day, and single parenthood, and our ‘not normal/traditional’ little family.

I hope you all have an exceptional day celebrating!

To end off, if you’d like a laugh, please visit this old blog post… the video is for those who suffer from overprotective dad syndrome, which is rather applicable to me since I am both parents 😉

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been missing in action. For me, it’s been a difficult time – but as usual, there is always some amusement to be had from difficult periods in our lives. My last blog post was very significant to my absence thereafter – which is rather funny (both funny ha ha, and funny weird) because I didn’t plan it that way at all.
Another thing that I found rather amusing is the fact that I have been ‘M.I.A’ for the entire season of Winter here where I live.
So perhaps this was made for me…….
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The only problem is that I haven’t been asleep the entire time…..although then again, maybe I have. Sleep is more than just eyes closed and snoring….it sometimes applies to a dormant soul and a closed heart – just some food for thought.

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Parenting 101 – not.

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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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Creepy Callers

 

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Darkness has finally come, but with its cloak the coolness it usually brings remains evasive. Instead the sticky fingers of humidity continue to plague every inch of my body – not even leaving my scalp untouched by their nastiness.

I sit on the back porch, sipping my iced water, waiting patiently for the arrival of my latest nightly disturbance. The yellow bucket with its lid firmly in place waits at my feet.

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It’s Raining Animals!

Most little girls dream of a four-poster bed. Let’s face it: even if you’re a tomboy, a four-poster bed is pretty cool. It acts as a really large tent where you can hide out and plot your revenge on older brothers who left you ‘hiding’ in the cupboard for the past three hours, instead of coming to ‘seek you out’ as promised.
I have to admit that I leaned more towards princess than tomboy as a girl, but I guess I’ve had my moments – and being a single mom for almost ten years, I have found myself on a learning curve of ‘being a guy’ and doing the ‘guy stuff’.

As a young Princess, I plotted many revenges against my brothers – and they usually ended with ‘to the dungeon’, and ‘off with their heads’ – but since they are both very much alive and well, I am sure you understand that all of this was just fantasy.

As was the four-poster bed. I’ve never had one. My grandmother did make me one for my doll when I was about eight though, so I was pretty lucky.

But did you know?

The four-poster bed originated to afford protection from things falling on people?

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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’. 😉

Naming My Days

I’m always looking for new ways to improve myself. Looking is great, and I find so many wonderful ways to improve upon parts of me, in order to make me a better person. The problem is that sometimes I am so busy looking, and appreciating what I’ve found, that I forget to actually apply all the things I am learning and know. It makes it all seem so futile….

But at least these vast amounts of knowledge seem to stick in my head, filed away under miscellaneous, and every now and then something will happen and I’ll remember what’s in that file. I usually need to dust it off, and revisit to a large degree (which means looking at it all over again), but by the time that happens I’ve managed to be concerned enough about it to ensure that I put it into action.

Three of these ‘somethings’ have happened so far this week, and as I lay in bed last night, I didn’t need to remember what was in that file, because the file popped itself out of my memory cabinet.
On Monday, everything seemed to get away from me – including the dog who had stolen the last teabag of my favorite kind of tea, and only surrendered it when he had successfully broken it open and eaten it’s contents (I guess he likes it too).
On Tuesday, my daughter was recounting something that had happened at school and I had been so shocked (although I probably shouldn’t have been that shocked) that I had tripped over my own feet while we were walking – but thankfully was saved by the wall, and managed to escape uninjured. Later that day, I was helping push a friend’s car after its battery ran flat, and found myself with loose sand beneath my feet. I almost fell. Almost.
I lay in bed last night, listing in my mind : Manic Monday, Treacherous Tuesday – and the file all but smacked me on the head (I guess it had grown impatient with holding this particular content).

About eight and a half years ago (yes, it’s been in that file for approximately eight and a half years!!!) I found myself completely deserted and alone, with my two beautiful children. It felt like it had happened overnight, but probably just because it was suddenly so overwhelming. Being a woman, and a rather emotional one at that, everything just seemed so terribly awful. (I guess in a way, it was.)
To suddenly be a ‘me’ (as opposed to an ‘us’), as well as Mommy and Daddy to my then 20-month-old daughter and almost nine-year-old son – well, it just felt like I was in the middle of a football field, with angry teams approaching from either side, and no protection of my own.
I decided I needed protection, because my children needed me, and joined a few online support groups and signed up for enough counselling programs to get me through the year, delivered to my inbox daily. Because I just didn’t want to talk to anyone face-to-face about any of it, and the only place I ever went for that year was to work, and my colleagues knew the topic was taboo. I even changed where I shopped, which was actually inconvenient, just to avoid any mention of anything.

One of these counselling programs spent a week focusing on not focusing. That week was dedicated to being an encouragement to others, listening to others, caring about their problems and offering words of motivation and comfort to them.
It was about not focusing on anything to do with you, but instead pulling into focus those around you. By the following week, I actually felt a little better. Which, of course, was revealed as the point of the week long exercise – and something I probably would have picked up on if I hadn’t been in the place I was emotionally.
At the conclusion of this particular course, they gave me a summary page of points that had been raised, as well as some actions that could be taken to help me cope with everyday life, which I read through and filed away. I was coping by that stage. But I knew I’d need it later.

One of those things was to choose a day, or a week, or a month – in each year – that you would make a commitment to make a difference in someone else’s life, either through inspiration, motivation or encouragement. It was also to make an effort on the days when you felt overwhelmed, to dedicate the next five minutes of your time to doing one of the above as well. I had made a mental note on these notes – how about naming your days?

So this morning, I have. The working/school days, that is, that are the most difficult to get through for me. And here they are:

Moody Monday – Monday is not considered the first day of the week, but it is usually the first working day of a new week, and the first school day for that week. Moody Monday does not mean that there is an excuse to be in a bad mood. All it means, for me, is that I need to make allowance for the fact that this day represents a return to work/school, after a weekend of fun and relaxation, and that the ‘moods’ in the house may not be exactly jovial (which includes my mood). So I need to be a little more tolerant of irritability in my children, or a general sense of impending gloom, and try and be a bit more sensitive with anyone who may cross my path – because I doubt the moodiness is isolated to only my home.  I need to also recognize that I may be irritable and feel gloomy, and so this is the day to making a special effort to check my attitude, and try and change it if it’s not what it should be.

Treat Tuesday – is exactly what it says. I don’t usually ‘treat’ on the weekends – it’s the weekend and you can spend most of the time relaxing and having fun, which in itself is a treat. But Tuesday? Well, we made it through Monday, and we’re all still alive, so we deserve a treat. This usually comes in the form of an ice-cream, or a special candy bar (one that we don’t usually purchase), or kids choice for supper. The treats are all kid-orientated, so for me Treat Tuesday means that I don’t do the dishes 😉

Wonderful Wednesday – It’s halfway through the ‘working’ week, and it’s either been good, bad, or mediocre so far. Whatever it’s been, it’s the day to be wonderful. Because if it’s been bad, there are only two more days left; and if it’s been good, then of course it’s wonderful. Mediocre? There’s hope for a change, and if it’s bad for the rest of the week, well then there’s always next week. And what better way to be wonderful than to make someone else feel wonderful. So this is the day of compliments, inspiration and motivation. (I try to be complimentary, inspirational and motivational all the time, but in particular on this day.)
Although I smile most of the time, this is the day you will be awarded with my best smile – and you won’t even have to earn it. In fact you can be grumpy and irritable, and bite my head off, but I will still smile. It’s Wonderful Wednesday, and I am making a very conscious effort.

Thrifty Thursday – has nothing to do with spending money, because I have none. And while time is also an issue for me, this is the day that I give away the short amount I get to have as ‘me time’. I can be rather selfish with my ‘me time’ and tend to only sacrifice what I would really rather be doing in that time when it is convenient for me. But on Thrifty Thursday, I do it, whether it suits me or not. That half hour that I have where I could be reading my book, or watching my series, or lying in my bath thinking of nothing? I pick up the phone and listen to a friend, or visit with someone – those types of things. I make an effort to give away that ‘time of mine’.

Finally Friday – By this time, I am usually thankful that the working/school week is almost over…and so my commitment is to thankfulness. A day where I utter out loud all the amazing things I have to be thankful for – the small ones and the big ones. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I spend the rest of the week in a state of ingratitude. Not. At. All. But I try a lot harder (although some times I fail) to keep my focus on an attitude of gratitude, and more importantly, try to hardly complain.

So my days have officially been named – it’s on paper now, more importantly, on a blog for the world to see (not that the ‘world’ will see it, but you know what I mean) – so now it’s even more of a commitment! So roll on Thrifty Thursday, as Wonderful Wednesday starts making its way to its end 🙂

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.

Measuring Success

There was once a boy who worked diligently at school, and even though he got a pass that would allow him entrance to university, there were no funds available for further study. Instead of being discouraged, he came up with another plan. In his mind, university was not an option, but being successful was.

He took a menial job, two in fact, and began to save his money. At the end of a year, he purchased an old car, did the necessary repairs, and began operating as a taxi driver. He built up his reputation by always being available and ensuring he kept his taxi to the standard it needed to be.

Five years later, he owned his own taxi company, which included seven vehicles, and provided employment for seven individuals as drivers.

 

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Where I live, yesterday marked the start of a new school year for our children.

It marked the start of my son’s final year at school, and 24 hours later, I am still questioning where the time has gone.

My nerves were shattered as I waited impatiently for the end of the school day when my children would return home to me, and chewed my nails nervously as I wondered what the outcome of their respective days had been.

(I have to mention here that my little girl, who has already reached Grade 5 – how did that happen? – is an intelligent ‘A’ student and bubbly child with a wonderfully kind heart. Unfortunately, she is also rather sensitive and takes a lot of things to that kind heart. It doesn’t help that last year she was the victim of some mild bullying, and the main culprit is in her class this year. Thankfully, she came home bubbling over with immense joy after her first day. It is early days still, but I am going to choose to believe that she’ll be okay for the rest of the year!)

My son is also rather intelligent – I have been blessed! He used to be an ‘A’ student, but as he has got older he has become a little less studious and is now only just a ‘B’ student. I find his lack of motivation rather disheartening, because truth be told, we won’t be able to afford further education without a little help, and he won’t qualify unless he pulls up his socks some and knuckles down.

There has never been talk of not going to university – which pleases me in a way, because he most certainly has the brains for it.

He came home yesterday afternoon, and for the first time in a very long time, he spoke for forty minutes, only stopping long enough to take breaths in between. He regaled stories like the one above, all told to them by their new class teacher.

The story above was to inspire and motivate those who are facing the possibility of completing this final year, and yet not being able to afford further study, or qualify for assistance for further study. It was a message to them to not give up and to not feel that they could never be successful, just because they don’t have a university degree.

I was amused by his next motivational piece to the ‘children’, about always being the best you can be, and doing the best you can do. He gave them a short lecture on this, and ended with,

“So, if you decide you just have to be a drug dealer, be the best drug dealer – that way, you’ll always have customers.”

I can’t say that that little quip impressed me entirely – I don’t want my son to be a drug dealer. But I see what the intentions were with that example. The kids all laughed, and the example stuck in their minds, and so did the lesson. Kudos to that teacher!

I’d like to go back to the ‘successful’ part though. When my son finally stopped long enough to allow me to be an active participant in the conversation, and after I had laughed appropriately and stated that I agreed that he’d had a great first day and his teacher was brilliant, I asked him,
“Just as a matter of interest, what do you think makes you successful in life?”

He stared at me in horror and replied, “Well, that’s obvious mom. You have to have money and ‘be somebody’. The whole fame and fortune thing. That’s what everyone says. That’s just the way it is.”

I was a little sad when the realization hit me that my son has based his opinion on success by what ‘everyone’ says – by what the media has defined as successful. Success, to him, pretty much means money. So of course, I had to add in a short lecture of my own – I am his mother, after all. He didn’t take it as well as the class teachers lectures though, ha! At the end of it though, he did mutter,

“I never thought of it that way, really.”

And I can’t really expect him to have completely, because he is still transitioning from a ‘teenager’ to an ‘adult’, and I guess he’s still forming his opinions in their entirety, as opposed to just by what ‘everyone says’.(Where I’m from, children are a lot less mature; but I am not shirking my responsibility as his only parent – which, might I add, is rather tough – and know that I should have possibly done a better job in this area.)

My take on it? To define what it is to be successful, you need to first define what you think success is – and not by what the media depicts it as.

Success, to me, is definitely about accomplishment – some purpose or goal I have set for myself that I have managed to achieve. It can be small things, it can be large – but each success, whether big or small, is important.

It’s about experiencing one obstacle after another, and yet still pushing on and not losing the ability to be enthusiastic about life in general.

It’s about getting to the point where you know that every failure is just a stepping stone, and using it!

It’s about experiencing happiness, and laughter, and love, and peace.

I am successful, in small ways. The ways that count, to me.

But if we’re talking money?

poor

I don’t say I’m right – but it’s my opinion.

If you’d like, feel free to tell me what you think success is – how you perhaps measure being successful….

*EDIT* While standing washing dishes now, I thought of at least five other things that define success for me, and make me experience small measures of feeling successful! Wow! It’s mind blowing! 🙂