Plea and please

The picture below is a photograph of my son and I, taken four years ago, on the evening of his final school dance. Many people have commented that he ‘looks a lot like me’. (I softly curled my hair for the occasion 😉 )

facebook_1597127112404_6698836636068258226

Although there is a resemblance in our appearance, it stops when it comes to height and body shape. He’s slouching a little in the picture, for Mom’s benefit 😛 He’s just over six foot tall, and slender. I am a shorty, and rounder 😛

The similarities with us are not just physical – he seems to be very similar to me in a lot of other ways too. He has a kind and tender heart, a gentle spirit, and like his momma he can be quite sensitive. He and I are the ones who will sit and cry in a movie, or an episode of a series – not always out of sadness though. In fact, most times, if it’s heartwarming, it gets our tears 😉 When we try to retell stories of acts of kindness, our voices wobble a little – and if it’s one of those ‘overwhelming type stories’, we’ll have to stop to try and ‘get a grip’ and prevent ourselves from crying.

We’re just too soft 😛

But I am proud of my young man, and who he has become. He may fail in some ways, and may be a bit of a slow starter in others – and yes, he still has his moments where he frustrates and irritates me, ha ha ha! BUT his good qualities FAR outweigh any bad, and I am very grateful for that!

One of the ways that he is VERY different to me though is when it comes to the social side of his personality. He’s great with the friends he has known since he was 13 – there is no struggle for him there. But he is, for the most part, shy and introverted. It takes him a while to come out of his shell around other people. (He partially struggles with self esteem.) And yet, like his mother 😉 , he doesn’t struggle to connect with his online friends. He met them through the world of online gaming, and soon they were social media friends, which means chatting and voice noting and connecting. And through all that, he has made good friends – friends he has never met in person. And I even ‘know’ a few of them – sometimes it feels like they are part of our ‘real world’ and have been to visit 😉

SO…. why am I telling you all this?

Last night, my very precious ‘boy’ came to me, still in shock and unsure of how he felt. He had just received a message from one of his other friends to say that their ‘mutual friend’ had committed suicide on Saturday. She was only 18 – we had all ‘celebrated online’ on her 18th birthday this year.
We knew she was struggling with depression. We knew that she had started new medication earlier this year. We knew that a couple of weeks ago, things were bad for her and she was withdrawn.
But it still came as a shock. 
Because we also knew that we had all offered help, that she had reassured us that ‘it was okay’, that she had her meds. She never once told anyone that she wished for death.

I didn’t hug my son. He’s not one for physical affection, and I respect that.
But we talked. Briefly. And I made it clear that I am always available if he needs to chat – he can even wake me if I am sleeping.
Then I watched my young man as he left my room, shoulders stooped, heart hurting.
And I cried a little bit.

Preteens, Teens, Young Adults, Grown Ups – please hear the cry from my heart today :

Depression sometimes has a way of ‘creeping up on us’. In society today, it’s ‘common’ – and yet in some cases, there still seems to be a stigma attached to it.
If you think you may be suffering from it, or know that you are, please DO NOT BE ASHAMEDno matter who has tried to shame you for it. 
Please reach out and try to ask for help.
I know that sometimes we get to a place where we just can’t ask.
Please force yourself. And if you need to, then please force yourself to accept help.
Your life IS worth something.
YOU ARE WORTH SOMETHING!

teaching learning moments

Yes, the pictures above ARE ME! (I usually avoid sneaky captures, so this is a rare moment 😉 ) What I am doing here, however, is not rare.

On this particular day about a month ago, I had collected three girls (one being my daughter) from school, and taken them to the dance studio they are all a part of. I’d been rushing around for two hours prior, and was desperate to relieve my bladder, so I accompanied them inside (okay, so me going inside with them IS rare – keep reading 😉 ).

The conversation in the car had been centered around a particular teacher, who had left them feeling rather uninspired and completely demotivated for the upcoming exam period. They needed to vent and have their own discussion, and so I didn’t interrupt. But I listened – partly because other than driving, there wasn’t much else I could do!

While I was in the bathroom and thinking about what had transpired in the car (because a bathroom is a place that inspires great thought), I remembered a story about a similar type of teacher that we had had when I was in high school. There was also a lesson in there, so I decided to share. Upon entering the room, the audience had grown and now there were two other younger beings, as well as the assistant dance teacher present. (The assistant dance teacher is the ”capture culprit”.)

To my daughters horror (oh the shame, my mother speaks, uttered by most teenage girls her age) I opened my mouth and began to recount what I remembered. I know it doesn’t look like it from the pictures, but they did all laugh with me at the end, including my kid 😉 I don’t know who it was who commented how lucky my daughter is to have a mom that is not only good at story telling, but is such an inspiration. Her reply was, “Yeah, well try living with it. Every moment is a teaching moment.” This was followed with a roll of her eyes – and then everyone was rushing about getting ready because their class was about to start.

I’ll admit it. I was a little disappointed with her reaction, and her comment. But it wasn’t new to me. I also know that she really didn’t mean any disrespect , nor was there the intention of emotional harm. I know this, because I know her. She’s often frustrated with me, and queries, “Why does everything have to be a teaching moment with you?” We had a long conversation about it a couple of weeks ago. I understand her frustration – she’s 14, and I am ‘the mother’. At 14, any instruction offered by those in authority (even when intended to help, inspire or uplift) is always taken as if it truly is a bitter pill. And since my daughter simply doesn’t swallow pills (we’ve tried in jam, cheese, chocolate, yoghurt – that small thing simply isn’t going down her throat) it’s a little more difficult with her.

FB_IMG_1573553967023

Photo credit : Facebook

(Ah yes, teenagers! Don’t get me wrong – she’s a great kid. But she’s still growing, and tends to be a little more defiant when it comes to seeking out lessons to learn. But then again, look how long it’s taken me!)

And she’s sort of right. Because I suppose there comes a time when it can get really annoying. She has also pointed out to me that I am ‘worse’ these past few years when it comes to teaching moments.

I think that this may be because in the past few years I have opened myself up to experiencing more learning moments. As I have mentioned in many previous posts, something has shifted. And although this process is painful, it’s bringing with it a lot of very positive outcomes. It’s changing my character, for the better.

While the word purpose is inclined to draw our focus to goal-based achievements – the type where we set a target that is usually ‘verb’ orientated (get a promotion at work, gain new customers, publish a book) – I have allowed myself to broaden my thinking 😉 Yes! Goal-based achievements are important. They are long term, future focused and give us a direction in which to head, often with a  tangible result.

But what about the other types of goals? While those achievements are great, if they never happen in your life it doesn’t mean that you lived a life without purpose, or that you somehow failed to achieve in your journey.

I have many ‘verb based goals’ and, truth be told, I happen to be falling behind. Tomorrow is not promised and I may never reach them. This thought is a little bit frustrating for me. BUT…

I am already aligned with the greatest purpose of all that I can hope to achieve when I choose to act in kindness, compassion and love. This ‘personal purpose’, while it is based on verbs, may not always have a visible outcome. I may not see the end results. I won’t always know if I was able to help guide someone, or influence them in a positive way. I won’t always know if I helped others change the course of their lives to a better direction, or whether my smile that day was the one thing that changed their mind about taking their own life. I won’t always know.

But it won’t stop me from being kind, sharing a smile, showing compassion.

And in the same way, as frustrating as my teaching moments are, I won’t stop dishing them out.
(Although I may need to be a little more sensitive regarding their frequency 😛 )

Most importantly of all, as painful as the learning moments are, I won’t stop being more aware of me and my surroundings in an effort to find them and determine what it is I need to know about them. Because it’s an ongoing process, and I am very aware of how it affects my emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical health.

So, for me? I am quite happy being a goal setter, go getter, in matters pertaining to the heart. And who knows, the rest of it may just follow 😉

Jail Bail?

Every now and then, I take a break from my usual blog posts and post something lighter and less inspiring, more unusual. This normally contains word definitions or idiom explanations – things of that nature. Today isn’t all that interesting, but I did find it kind of funny 😉
Today was inspired by none other than my 14 year old daughter.

We all know what teens are like. They have their very own language – in fact each generation seems to 😛

Each country too, as a matter of fact. It’s no surprise then that words and expressions used in different countries are, well, different. So I can’t claim what I am about to share next as a guide to ‘teen speak’.
(Interestingly enough, my son’s teen speak was similar to what I grew up with, carrying the same definitions. My, how times have changed in the last seven years!!! Enter my daughter. 😛 )

We got out the car at a local store, and she exclaimed, ”Oh my word, Mom! I need to bail!”

Entering the store, I asked, “Who you hiding from?”

I turned around and was greeted with a blank stare.

A little further into the store, I asked, “Why did you need to bail from the car so fast?”

The total look of confusion on her face told me we weren’t talking about the same thing!

In ‘my days’, bail was pretty much defined as I need to go; bounce; take off. 
My usual go to place when it comes to trying to find the more trendy meanings of words is the Urban Dictionary (although I find the language inappropriate a lot of the time). After checking it now, I see it wouldn’t have helped me this time though anyway since it seems to be in line with my definition. Therefore not cool. Not trendy. “Way back when you were a teen, Mom….”
(It really wasn’t that long ago 😛 )

Seeing her confusion, I naturally asked, “Okay. What does bail mean to you kids then?”

She shushed me, blushed (the cute guy nearby had turned to look our way) and pulled me to a quieter corner of the store. There she stammered out,
“Well…uh… it means to…um….you know? When your undies get…um…..and you need to…um….”

From that completely unhelpful explanation, I somehow got the drift of what she was saying. So I whispered back, “You mean when you get a wedgie and you need to pull your panties back where they belong?” She nodded, shrugged her shoulders, and replied with,

“Yeah, you know, bail.”

I think I am going to have a tough time understanding this new teen speak of our local kids! 😛 😉

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.

Continue reading

Creepy Callers

 

1

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.

Continue reading

Purple People Eater

No. I don’t eat people.
Eating people is still illegal in South Africa.
Not that anything being considered illegal makes anybody less inclined to do it these days. Even if it was legal, I still don’t think I’d eat people…
But I got the nickname anyway…and here is the tale as to how this ‘little lady’ earned her Purple People Eater stripes.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

 

                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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! 🙂

 

Hello World!

In the world of blogging, your first blog post could make or break you. (Or so I have read.)  The pressure is on! Of course, amidst this pressure, there were other important events taking place.

The dog has been stung by a bee, again. According to ‘legend’, a bee in your house indicates that you’ll be getting a visitor – oh hell, I hope there isn’t company coming. My dining room table is bending under all the clean, folded and ironed washing from yesterday – To-do list activated : put away the clean clothes ‘sometime’ this morning.

The glass jar of coffee in the cupboard has been attacked by the Coffee Critters and is now empty. When I have finished this cup, a trip to the store is in order – To-do list paused, shopping list in my head begins.

A quick glance down confirms that I have yet to get dressed – switch lists – priority on to-do list. I doubt the other shoppers will appreciate my fluffy purple pyjama’s as much as I do.

My preteen is hungry. Again. Breakfast was an hour ago. How much food can one little body consume? And how come the body is still so small after all that food?

Without further ado, I bid farewell to you – I need to beat the other human (teenager) to the bathroom if I’m going to shower and get out to refill my coffee jar!

Hello World, indeed!