Why I am not apologising for my kids anymore

One of the reasons flying with my kids makes me anxious is because you don’t get “kid friendly” flights that are made up predominantly of parents or travelling families. We have to fly with businessmen, single people, childless couples and parents escaping their children.IMG_2386

I spend the entire length of the flight making sure my child aren’t annoying anyone, making too much noise, crying too much – generally I squash them and stop them from doing all the things that kids are supposed to do for fear of a scathing tweet about the mother and her unruly spawn or screaming baby.

WHY?

Are we, as a family, less entitled to be on an airplane? Are we less important than the businessman in front of us trying to edit his report or the career women counting the seconds until she can turn her phone on to check her emails?

NO. We are not.

Flying is not the only time I feel like I have to muzzle my children.

Restaurants are another minefield. As parents we are more worried about ensuring those around us aren’t in any way inconvenienced or offended by our children talking a little too loud, or eating their macaroni and cheese with their fingers, or a toddler announcing to the world he needs to POO NOW! And we all now how people feel about breastfeeding in public.
Shops also cause much anxiety especially when toddlers would rather walk than be confined to a pram. Heaven forbid a busy little person runs across the path of someone, causing them to pause and walk around them or a mom has to stop suddenly because her daughter has to show her that there is Barbie on the yoghurt. We all know how much fun toddler tantrums can be and often despite our best attempts to avoid them, they happen but again, we are often more in tune with the glares and sighs of those around us than the wailing child.

I am kinda done apologising for my children being children.

IMG_2497Before you get your knickers in a knot I am not condoning badly behaved children, yours or mine. I am simply saying, when my child behaves like a child and that inconveniences you, that is YOUR problem, not mine or my childs.

Babies cry on airplanes, their ears hurt, they get hungry, they cry. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Toddlers do not have the ability to sit through an entire meal without moving. They need to run, walk, move. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Children aren’t born knowing how to behave socially. We teach them, it takes time. They will talk too loud, they will ask inappropriate questions. It is how they learn. I will not apologise for that.

They throw tantrums. They get tired, over stimulated. They test boundaries. It does not mean I am a bad parent or that they are a bad child. It means they are learning. It is normal. I will not apologise for that.

Toddlers love exploring, the love walking around the shops. Sometimes they get so caught up in it all, the forget to look in front of them, so they will bump into you and we will say sorry for that BUT I will not apologise for allowing him the freedom to walk around a little.

My children and I have just as much right to fly on airplanes, eat at restaurants, watch movies and shop as our childless counterparts.You may not like children, that is really ok because I don’t particularly like children, but you do need to accept that children are the next generation, they are here to stay and they aren’t perfect.

My children are noisy, they get excited over trivial things, they whine, the toddler hasn’t perfected eating with a knife and fork yet, the baby can’t talk so she cries when she is hungry or tired, they do still occasionally bump the table sending drinks and chips flying. If that offends you, you have the choice to go to another restaurant, stand in another queue or take another flight.

I am not apologising for my children being children anymore.

Disclaimer: If my children disrespect you, or anyone really, they will be reprimanded and we will apologise. I am not excusing away bad behaviour. I do promise to do my best to stop tantrums because, I promise you, they are even less fun for me to endure, if you promise to give me the space to do that.

 

BEE, sport and your kid

FAMILY

I was all fired up last night to write this post today, then Emma didn’t sleep last night and vomited repeatedly all over her cot, herself, me, my bed and about 10 towels and then all I wanted to do was write a post about how Emma vomited all over, the perimeter alarm kept going off waking Jack and David had abandoned us for some godforsaken African country.

So I wrote nothing.

Then I started getting antsy because there was no post today, so I considered writing about how terrified I am about Cameron’s new swimming adventure or how I am done apologising to people who don’t have kids for my kids or about the home made chicken schnitzels I made.

But I kept coming back to this topic.

During a chat I had with a sport coach yesterday he mentioned Cameron stands a good chance of getting into the provincial team because they do take their BEE targets seriously. OH! Ok then!

Obviously he can’t just show up, tick the coloured box and make the team. He does have to show serious potential BUT I am not sure how I feel about HIM making the team based on this should it ever happen.

I am not too keen on BEE in sport in general. I really feel it is one of those things that the strongest and hardest working deserve to make it, regardless of the colour of their skin. I personally feel we are far along in our democracy for this not to apply in sport any more and the more I think about it, the more I don’t want it applied to my kids. I want Cameron (and Kiara) to be chosen based on their performance and not on the colour of their skin. I think it almost takes away from them if they are chosen so that the team can reach its targets.

I also think that this creates a sense of entitlement, sort of like ” I deserve to be on the team because I am a person of colour” when in fact Cameron is growing up possibly more privileged that I did! I don’t want any of my kids thinking they have an advantage over their counterparts because of something like the colour of their skin.

I am possibly over thinking this whole thing especially since nothing has actually happened yet but it is stuff that I lie awake thinking about while I wait for the baby to wake up.

What are your thoughts on this?

How would you feel if your child was chosen for the team because they were the right colour?

Why I won’t take the toddler anywhere anymore!

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We had a pretty busy Saturday, I had a Reach for a Dream event, Cam had soccer and a contact lens fitting and then we had to make a “quick” trip to the Vaal for some work stuff David needed to do.

While Cameron was busy with the optometrist I quickly ran into Dischem with Jack. He was pretty chilled and was being rather cute. While I was waiting for our meds, I looked down and saw he had managed to slip his tennis ball passed me and was now bouncing it in Dischem. CRAP! Having boys means that I have to often to a quick check to make sure we aren’t shopping with the soccer ball or eating lunch with a bouncing tennis ball, but somehow this one got passed me. I didn’t make a big deal about it and figured the quicker we could get out of there, the better. En route to the cashier we had a little “Look mom I can bounce the ball like this” moment, immediately followed by a “MOM I CAN’T FIND MY BALL ITS MISSING FIND MY BALL MOM WHERE IS IT!” moment.

This probably was the moment I should have engaged the “get out the shop as quickly as possible” mode but instead I found the ball and grabbed us all something to drink. Jack ALWAYS chooses an ice tea. ALWAYS. He orders it as we walk into restaurants, its his thing. Until Saturday when suddenly the luminous red Energade was his thing. He needed it. NEEDED it like Kim Kardashian needs a reality TV show! I stood firm though. Took the ice tea and tried to herd him through the pens that are the queues at Dischem. I hadn’t thought the whole little trip through, so had no basket and the medicine I got required a BIG medicine cage.

I was now standing in the queue with my BIG medicine cage, 5 bottles of colddrink and a screaming toddler, wondering how it all went so wrong.

Obviously at this point, the VERY irate toddler decides to rather vociferously bounce his tennis ball while we are boxed in in the junk food laden herding pens. The ball bounces, once, twice and is gone, swallowed up by the MSG free corn chips and sugar laden nougat. By now I am sweating profusely, trying very hard to maintain my composure as my child again starts screaming “MOM I CAN’T FIND MY BALL ITS MISSING FIND MY BALL MOM WHERE IS IT!”. Fortunately the stars aligned briefly and about 10 cashiers suddenly freed up, possible fueled by their need to get the screaming kid and his mother out the shop as quickly as possible, so we were able to move around to the other side of the shelves where the ball had lodged itself.Once he had the ball safely in his little hands, he resumed the “I WON’T DRINK THE ICE TEA I DON’T WANT IT MOM I DON’T DRINK THAT” wail.

Finally, after what felt like an hour, we get to the cashier, Jack still screaming. I drop the drinks and medicine onto the counter and pick up the child, he starts kicking his legs, so I put him down. Now Jack has perfected this move, it is very similar to that moment in an action movie where the good guys catch the bad guy and he falls to the floor onto his knees, all very dramatic. So he drops to his knees, head on the floor and wails and wails.

By this point the entire Dischem has come to a dramatic stop. All eyes are on the mother of the clearly out of control toddler. What will she do?

I did what any self-respecting mother would do. I paid, with my head held high, took my stuff and walked out of the shop, with the screaming toddler trailing behind me.

Because really? WHAT are the options?

Leave my shopping? Wasn’t an option.
Smack him? How would that stop him crying?
Buy him the juice? I did consider it but for obvious reasons it would be wrong.
Yell at him? Again, probably not going to stop him crying.
Tell him “I hear you Jack, I understand you want the red juice but you can’t get that juice right now. Mom got you the ice tea instead”? Ja that has never and will never work on my kids because it wouldn’t work on me.

We did sort of talk about it afterwards but I suspect it had no effect because on Sunday Mr Price Sport banned us!

David left for the DRC early on Sunday morning so I knew I would have to get the kids out of the house for all of our safety. Stupidly I decide to take them ALL shopping. The quick Sportsmans Warehouse trip went well. The second Mr Price Sport visit, not so much. Cameron found a costume but wanted goggles, I said nope he needs to find one of the many pairs we have at home, I am not paying R100 for ANOTHER pair of goggles. Cameron, thankfully over the tantrum stage, was ok with that. Jack not so much. He grabbed a pair off the shelf and told me Cameron NEEDS these. I said “Nope he doesn’t” and put them back on the shelf.

Do I even need to tell you what happened?

There was wailing, Jonty Rhodes style dives across the floor of Mr Price, screaming and general brat behaviour! It was so much fun.

I have actually left out the incident at Spur on Saturday where he waved his knife, like some crazy ninja at his dad and then at a lady who was trying to introduce her son to him. I suspect you may all judge me too harshly if I put it all out there.

So I have decided that for now, it is safer for us, and the general population for me to not take him to any shop (or restaurant) for now.

Did your toddler throw tantrums in the shops? What did you do?

Being honest with your kids.

When I watched Idols for the first time many many years ago I made a promise to myself that I would always be honest to my child. I would never send them off to be ridiculed on national TV of they could not sing (or dance or whatever) because like Stacey said in this post, your kid can not be anything they want to be.

Cameron came home on Thursday very excited because he had received a form from school about provincial swimming trials on the 6 September. He really wanted to go, he wanted to actually go to gym that day so he could start training.
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He can swim and he can swim well BUT he has not been in a pool since March and even then it wasn’t really what can be described as training. He was swimming with the school team but I have watched the sessions and there is no passion from the coach, no motivation and no real training. So Cameron really has gotten by on pure talent but as he gets older he has fallen further back because swimming is something that needs constant training and hard work.

So we had to have the discussion. The one where I tell him that I don’t think trying out now is a good idea. I explained how the trials work and why I felt he wasn’t ready, but then to my own detriment, I added “NOT YET”. The “not yet” saved me from being called the “dream crusher” (again). But to be honest, there are times I am ok to be the dream crusher. Sending my kid to swim against some of the fittest, fastest 12 year olds in Gauteng knowing he is not swimming fit, is not fair to him and will do nothing for his self confidence. If he wants to do it, then we need to do it properly.

Every year at this time we have the cricket vs swimming debate. Every year I steer him towards cricket, mainly for my own selfish reasons. I grew up swimming and I know the commitment it takes, not only on is part but on our part too. He does enjoy cricket but I suspect he loves swimming, in fact I know he enjoys it more which is why we still have this discussion every year.

Last night swimming won. When I explained to him why I don’t think he is ready, I also said that IF he decides on swimming, then we will find a club and he can work really hard and be ready to try about next year. He thought about it all weekend, asked me questions, discussed options and finally yesterday he said he chooses swimming. So we go tomorrow to have an evaluation at our local club.

I will admit, I cried a little bit (ok maybe a lot) and mourned the loss of the little bit of spare time we have.

Are you honest with your kids? From the amount of rubbish singers there are on Idols, it seems that not many parents are.

So what does tongue tied mean?

I will admit that until Emma was diagnosed as being tongue tied, I had no idea what it really was or that both my brother and I had had it.

For a proper medical explanation of the condition you can read this wiki page. The short version though is when babies are born with a shortened frenulum (that little piece of skin under your tongue) which means the tongue can’t move as much.

Another thing I never knew before we discovered this was just how common this condition actually is. Both my brother and I had it, five of my followers have had children with it and one had a friend who had it. I obviously don’t have exact stats for you but I think 6 babies with this, in my circle alone, make this pretty common.

Yet no one knows about it and from what I can make out, no one was told at the birth of their babies that they had it. (Correct me here if I am wrong). This is a little concerning since it can cause major feeding issues.

How did we find out about it?

My mom! I sent her pictures of Emma and she asked me about it. Obviously I shrugged it off because I actually didn’t know what it was and I just thought our breast feeding issues were the normal issues you have those first few days.

But my mom persisted and in one sms she said that Emma wasn’t latching correctly because of her tongue. So I googled it. I didn’t even need to read about it, from the images it was clear that Emma was in fact tongue tied.

EmmaTongue

Not the best picture of Emma but you can see clearly the line in her tongue.

How did it affect breastfeeding?

Emma did latch and she was drinking BUT she was latching incorrectly which caused my nipples to crack almost from day one. I used tubes and tubes of nipple cream, they did nothing. I was in excrutiating pain every single time she fed. It was terrible. Nipple shields did help but it was still a painful experience. Fortunately  she was still gaining weight but there are cases where babies don’t get enough milk because they can’t suck properly.

When we moved her onto the bottle, she still never latched properly but again it never affected her weight gain and she seemed content enough. So I put off dealing with.

Introducing solids was a challenge.

While she did take solids and fed well, we would have to hold the spoon in her mouth so she could almost suck the food off. It wasn’t a quick thing and often frustrating for us both.

Why aren’t we told about this when babies are born?

If you look at Emmas picture and the ones on the internet it is very clear to identify this, yet my paed never mentioned it to us. When I asked her about it at  our 6 week check up, she said she doesn’t “fix” it because there are two opposing fields of thought (surprise surprise). I actually had picked this up from a discussion I had on twitter about it. Basically some professionals feel you fix it immediately because it does cause problems while the other camp feel that it can, at times, correct itself and that it should only be fixed IF it presents a problem.

Regardless of what side a paed is on, I do still feel they have a responsibility to inform the parents immediately so they can then make an informed decision, before going through the trauma of battling to breastfeed.

How do you fix it?

Again there is no clear answer to this. Both my brother and I had ours “snipped” at birth but as you know Emma went under anesthetic. The moms who I know who had it done also had different experiences, some had it done at the Drs rooms, no meds, some had it done under local anesthetic. The ENT we saw for Emma explained why he does it under anesthetic. Apparently it came come back and so he cuts it properly with stitches and that reduces the risk of it recurring. I suppose I could have “shopped” around and found an ENT that would do it in his rooms but I like this Dr and at R700 a visit, we really couldn’t afford to do that.

 

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And now?

The difference in her sucking was noticeable with the first bottle we gave her as she came out of theatre. She is now finishing bottles, her winds are less AND she is actually sleeping better. Her eating is now a million times better, she is eating decent size bowls of food at each meal time with ease and little mess.

I am a little sorry we waited as long as we did but at least we have now had it sorted.

 

Whose shirt is it anyway?

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If you live within a 10 kilometer radius of our house you will hear daily calls of “WHERE IS MY SHIRT?” followed by “WHY IS MY STUFF NOT IN MY CUPBOARD!”

You may assume that someone either didn’t put their stuff in the wash to get wash or that they just weren’t looking properly.

You would be wrong.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Cameron and David’s clothes and mine and Kiara’s. In fact David has given a lot of his smaller shirts to Cameron, blurring the lines even more, making it almost impossible for Jane and I to actually know which shirts belong to who.

For those of you who have actually seen Cameron in real life will know how tall he has gotten, it has caused a few soccer teams to call for his card to verify his age. This means that 12-13 year old clothes aren’t working anymore.

While Kiara aren’t sharing clothes just yet, there are a few items that are similar that do end up in the wrong pile. Jane now folds up the washing next to me so she can check who stuff belongs too.

This growing up business kids do has all sorts of unexpected surprises!!

P.S – this flu going around feels like a non-fatal strain of Ebola. I haven’t felt this rubbish in months and months!!

P.P.S – PicknPay have their summer stuff out and they have some really really nice stuff from babies right up to the pre-teens. I also managed to find some shorts on sale! Its worth the visit, if you haven’t already spent your money on the Woolworths sale.

P.P.P.S – this trip of David’s has been extremely uneventful (thankfully for me but the drama does provide for exciting blog posts!)

 

Forced out of your comfort zone

David left for Nigeria (please not one word about Ebola) on Sunday and so far we have had a very chilled 2 days. There is no sign of things falling apart. I attribute it to the fact that Davids mom took Emma for two nights AND I now have Jane so I don’t have to stress about cleaning, washing and other such stuff.

I have also been sick with some crazy flu that had me feeling like a bit of a basket case on Sunday, which means I haven’t really had energy to care about much.

Yesterday Cameron had a soccer match on. We don’t normally have matches during the week thankfully and it was scheduled for the same time as practice so not really an issue. The club they were playing against was in town but by some freak of nature I actually managed to find it first time. Almost every Saturday we get lost getting to the soccer venues, it has become a thing for us.photo

As soon as we arrived I felt a little out of my comfort zone, not only where we in the middle of town (unknown territory) but I was also the only female (well second one if you count Kiara). Two of our teams dads were there so at least there were some familiar faces.

Before the game had even started Jack announces he needs to poo! FANTASTIC!

So I head into the boys change rooms. There are some rather dilapidated toilets but no toilet paper. FANTASTIC!

Normally I would have wet wipes but Emma wasn’t with us so no baby bag.

I go into the other teams change room and ask if anyone has some toilet paper. Thankfully their coach had some but then I get told to wait while they go and get me some water? The puzzled look on my face gave away my confusion. Turns out that there is no water SO I need water to be able to “flush” the loo! FANTASTIC!

By now I am basically promising Jack a car when he turns 18, a real life Buzz Lightyear at his next party and all the cake he can eat if he PLEASE just holds it in. But he was having none of that! He needed to go and he needed to go NOW. His hands clenched tightly around his bum were a clear sign I was going to have to accept the water and embrace my Africaness!

So there we went, armed with our toilet paper and jerry can of water!

Kiara was rather horrified by the whole thing and started panicking when it appeared we were about to be locked in the change rooms.

I suppose sometimes it is good to be pushed out of our comfort zone a little?

But I have now put a bag in the car with toilet paper, wet wipes and hand sanitiser because who knows when we may find ourselves in this situation again.

How was your Monday?

On going to hospital

I have mentioned Emma was born tongue tied.image

We had it fixed today. It was not fun.

She is the first one of all my babies to go under anesthetic and for that I am extremely grateful. It was extremely stressful. David does handle this stuff so much better than I do. I just wasn’t to cry!!
The procedure was about 20 minutes but my poor child screamed and screamed for over an hour until she passed out. I think David and I were about to start crying.

She woke up ok but started screaming again so they weren’t happy to send us home at 11h00 but she is sleeping again so hopefully when she wakes we can go.

But at least it’s done!

Sacrifice

Both David and I have sacrificed a lot for me to be able to stay at home. The kids have all had to sacrifice “things” to have me at home. During the rough months I have questioned the decision for me to stay at home. I have often thought it a selfish decision and almost unfair on David.

I often think “if I go back to work maybe then we can buy more, do more, fix more”.

I often feel guilty when I have to tell the kids “it will have to wait until next month”

I do feel slightly envious of friends who get to go away regularly and eat out over weekends.

A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. ~Rita Mae Brown

But then there are moments where I realise that all the sacrifice is totally worth it.

Emma went to visit her gran today and Kiara only needed to be fetched at 15h00 so I had an hour to take Jack for lunch. We had such a great time. We chatted about his day, we shared his chips and then we did some shopping.

Half way through his story about drawing a picture with the blue crayon I had one of those Jacktreequotemoments!

I love that I get to take him out for lunch.

I love that I get to pick Kiara up and listen to her endless tales about her day.

I love that I get to meet friends for coffee during the week.

I love that I get to watch Cameron play soccer and swim.

I love that I can go with the kids to my mom for the holidays.

I love that I can now work from home, in my time with the flexibility to still be there for the kids.

We may not be the richest family on the block.

We may have really rubbish months.

We may all have to sacrifice things but they really are worth it because it is so true that “we don’t remember days, we remember moments.”

I am extremely grateful every day that I am able to experience moments like today with my kids. I have no doubt that it was the right decision for me and our family.

Short baby breaks recharge the batteries

We arrived back from Cape Town on Sunday morning. The flight back was pretty chilled despite the fact that Jack was still very miserable. Emma was super chilled and did not cry once which made it much easier to deal with Jack.

Cam and Jack

It was a really great holiday, being with my family always makes me miss them so much more when I get back. Having my mom around all the time was all kinds of awesome. Even though it felt like most of the time we were dealing with either a screaming Emma or a sick Jack, we did have a great time and I managed to get some great photos of the 5 cousins.

David’s mom took both the babies yesterday morning and they both spent the night with her. As much as we all do miss them when they are gone it is good for all of us to be able to spend some alone time with the older two and because they are low maintenance, by default David and I also get a chance to catch up and actually talk without one of us rocking a baby or wiping a toddlers bum.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in the babies that I forget that the older two also need attention as much as the smaller two do so these breaks are great for all of us. Today the three of us chilled, went to gym together, did some shopping and just enjoyed being able to talk and watch what we wanted to.

Kiara and Mae

It is also too easy for both David and I to get so focused on the two babies that we often pass like two ships in the night (or sleep deprived zombies as the case may be) which is why these kid-free moments are so special. We are able to re-connect, re-charge and re-group as a couple which is so important because we are individually and collectively more than our children and there will come a time when they are off doing their own thing and we won’t have the distraction of school trips, birthday parties and midnight wake ups.

Finding time for everyone in our family is one of my biggest challenges especially now while Emma is still a baby so I make the most of any opportunity I get to spend a little quality time with the kids and David.

How old where your babies when they first slept out (with family or friends)?