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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Brother's Mine

Growing up as the only sister to three brothers has been both a blessing and a curse. One day I felt like “the rose among the thorns” but other times I was that lonely “little petunia in an onion patch.” The first twelve years of my life were torture; my “big brothers” were mean! I have a few memories of happy fun times shared with them both, but I have loads of memories of their meanness and their relentless teasing. Funny thing is I also recall that most of these horrid tricks they played on me were when my parents were out. My older brothers were not nice baby sitters! I looked forward to the day they would both finish high school and head off into the big wide world and I would get to have the house and my parents to myself! But then my baby brother came along and spoilt all my plans!
Being the only sister to three brothers, especially with the age gaps as they are, was sometimes very lonely. My older brothers had each other for company all the time and I was often left alone with no one to talk to. I have no idea what it’s like to have a sibling close to my age with whom to share the experiences of growing up. I didn’t to talk to my older brothers because they would not have taken me seriously and Baby brother was well, a baby. Of course there was no way I was going to speak to my parents! So I spent many hours and days alone. I guess it was then that I learnt to enjoy my own company and filled the hours with writing, listen to music and reading.

My experiences growing up as the only sister to three brothers, I am sure, has scarred me for life!

I know exactly what they would say right now: Big brother would say he was teaching me life skills; of course he would use more elaborate English to get his point across. Middle brother would laugh look and Big brother and say; “Hey remember when we told Manth...” and Baby brother would look horrified and tell me he was the best thing that happened to me.

Yeah, yeah, whatever boys! But just think about it for one minute wont you, I mean I must bear deep psychological scars from being your only sister. I mean look at me I’m on the wrong side of thirty and still going on about my tortured and teased childhood! It was unforgettable!

Thank God for that! Imagine growing up not remembering much about those short free spirited childhood years! How empty my life would be now. I am able to look back at some incredible memories and having a good old fashioned belly laugh! Like the time Big brother gave me a black felt tip pen and a coin and told me to draw circles with the pen around the coin then roll the coin down my face. I had black lines all over my face! It took forever to get the ink off. I was devastated; my brothers thought it was knee slapping funny. Or discovering I’d been left alone on the roof of the “servant’s quarters” because Big brother, who had been flying his kite from there, had run out of roof and fallen off. Everyone was so concerned about him no one thought about poor little me stuck up there scared and alone. Oh the trauma! Of course there were the litres and litres of coffee I was charged with making for them. To this day if we are together one of them is bound to say: “You making coffee Manth?” I recall in the days before I started school waking Big brother up instead of my parents on Saturday mornings and playing with him while everyone slept in. I remember Middle brother always ready with a hug or smacking some poor fool who bullied me. I remember reading Little brother Bedtime stories and teaching him silly little songs in the bath. I remember receiving letters from Big brother and Middle brother on my thirteenth birthday. They were both in the army at the time so having them both remember made me really happy! Of course in reality I’m sure my mum found some way to remind them, but I don’t care if she did because the day I turned thirteen I got letters in the post from my brothers and they had both remembered my birthday! That was just plain cool and now a treasured memory!

The four of us had the same upbringing, the same parents almost all the same influences yet you will not find four more different siblings. We all have our own opinions and views and none of us are afraid to make those opinions known, yet we seem to seldom disagree. We have each made choices that took us along different “paths’ in life and have phenomenally different careers. We live in four different countries on three different continents yet you can put us in the same room and it’ll be like we just saw each other yesterday.

Would I change the circumstances of my birth if I could? What, and take away from my three brother’s mine the privilege of having me as a sister? Not on your life.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

No Regrets

I had a rather tear filled “Facebook” conversation with someone very special just recently and it got me thinking about when we first arrived at the end of the world and how we coped. I also realised that the Mauritian and I had never really talked about those “early” days and our coping mechanisms so over a good bottle of Nederberg and excellent lamb roast on what is the twelfth anniversary of our marriage I broached the subject. This is what we discovered...

Most people we knew said that I would really battle being separated from my family, that being so far away from my parents would be extremely hard for me. These same people also predicted that the Mauritian would find the move a lot easier and certainly would not miss his dad much at all. To those of you out there that are nodding your heads in agreement I have only this to say... Wrong!

Even though leaving my family was the hardest thing I have ever done I have coped very well with the home sickness and the challenge of starting over. It was the Mauritian who suffered and almost every day said something along the lines of going home, and he missed his dad agonisingly! Our phone bill was atrocious the first six month we were here and all calls were to his dad. So you see, we were all wrong!

The reason?

That’s easy, I was prepared for the emotional fall out of this decision I accepted it, embraced it and just rolled with it. I also did the one thing that has helped me through ever factor of my life, I wrote. I wrote pages and pages of nonsensical thoughts and feelings in exercise books and diary’s I always have around the house, I wrote poetry and I started my blog. Without it I do believe I would have gone a little more insane because even though I am a talker I have never been able to make sense of my feelings or make them understood when talking. But writing allows me to purged everything, in a sense, I guess you could say, it allows me to expose myself to me and helps me to make sense of what I am feeling. The Mauritian on the other hand was brought up believing emotions are not real. He was never taught how to deal or express his emotions in any way other than anger. He truly was not getting along with his father at the time and his relationship with his brother has always swung like a pendulum. The Mauritian is a social person and enjoys company, he really does believe in that cliché “The more the merrier.” He didn’t think he would miss anyone and he had no idea how much he would be missed and when he was bombarded with all these emotions he did not know what to do with them. He grew restless and agitated and his frown got deeper and deeper. Many of you will know the restlessness and the frown, double it and you’ll know what I mean. So he did the only thing he knew how to do he hit the gym, hard! Every night for two or three hours he went, coming home worn out and sore giving him something else to focus on, even if only for a few hours. He also got insomnia, something he has not suffered from since high school. He was in a hurry to make friends, he wanted to be in a good salary earning position almost immediately and the cold was almost too much for him to handle. Remember the Mauritian is a “tough guy” he won’t admit discomfort to anyone, not even me, he’d rather just tough it out! So he tried to socialise with people he was not very comfortable with, complained bitterly about his job, got bronchitis twice and had endless asthma attacks our first winter here. In short, until we got our residency all he wanted to do was go home. I think if he was here alone he would not have made it past the first six months, but as it was he had me to rely on so that’s what he did. The Mauritian has coped with his emotional upheaval by leaning on me and relying on my strength and understanding of my emotions. For the first time in 21 years he chose to not ignore his emotions but rather deal with them and he turned to me to help him do it.
I had no idea how to help him. I have grown up understanding that I had to always confront and express my emotions; all I had to learn was how to do it. How do you make someone understand that the first thing they have to do is admit to themselves how they are feeling and why they are feeling like that? How do you teach someone to express the actual feeling and not disguise it with anger or dispel it with numerous reps of bench press? How do you teach someone that it’s normal and natural to feel more than one emotion about the same thing all at the same time? How do you explain something to someone, that for you has been instinctive? It’s near impossible. So I did the only thing I could do, I listened. I listened to the same stories over and over. I frowned at repeated concerns; I did not react to any anger or get irritated with the numerous bad moods and endless repetitive complaints about everything. I just listened, and slowly as the months went by the stories, concerns and complaints began to change, the frown lines disappeared and the anger and irritation dispelled. Suddenly he’s smiling more and expressing himself more clearly and he’s so much more relaxed. All these years I’ve spent so much time talking or looking inwards thinking I could help him change, when all I had to do was shut up, listen and look at him and realise he didn’t need help because he didn’t need to change.

Wow! Serious light bulb moment here! It’s taken me 21 years in a relationship to realise the only thing my husband needs from me is myself. I realised that all these years I’ve spent writing, all those exercise books I have filled with illegible handwriting and bad spelling has really been me taking the time to just listen to myself. I have realised that I have my pens and exercise books to talk to, the Mauritian has me! That my friends and family is what a “sounding board” is, someone who just listens and does not react, someone who replaces the pen and paper and accepts any mood or any level of intelligence, and someone who absorbs feelings like paper absorbs ink.

So the wine bottle is empty, the plates are stacked next to the sink and the Mauritian and I have moved one more step closer to the perfect relationship. The decision we made to move our lives here to the end of the world was a decision we did not take lightly or make quickly. We agonised over it, discussed it again and again and even changed our minds what may have been a million times, but in the end we made the decision together. Our experiences were completely different and we coped with them individually but we have grown together emotionally and have learnt so much about ourselves and each other. We miss our family and friends every day, we live with constant pangs of home sickness and we are looking forward to flying home for a visit. But however hard it was, no matter how home sick we are and regardless of what the future holds for us we do not have a single regret.

Twelve Years On

So our twelfth anniversary has rolled around and we have planned a splendid day of celebration. As has become our custom we grab a few bottles of good red wine, the Mauritian cooks a roast and we spend the day at home with each other reminiscing and discussing.

Our weekend started off with a bang on Saturday morning, literally! I was going to bake a batch of muffins with breakfast and asked the Mauritian to turn on the oven to warm it up. Suddenly there is this rather strange bang like popping noise coming from the kitchen. On investigation we find that the glass on the inside of the over door has shattered! Guess I won’t be making those muffins now! The Mauritian, of course, has become irritated and restless and is cursing everyone and their dog for breaking the oven and interfering with his plans to make his superb lamb roast on Sunday. I really do think sometimes that if he could he would growl! So after eventually realising that what happened was really nobody’s fault he called the land owner to let her know about the oven. Apart from the fact that we think we woke her up, we live in a small town where nothing opens before half past eight and no repairman works on a weekend. Oh woe is us, no roast on our anniversary? You must be kidding; nothing was going to deter us from roasting that leg of lamb. But first to breakfast!

When the Mauritian and I finally got engaged my darling Mother-in-law was so happy she went a little dilly and bought us a lot of rather unusual engagement presents. One of these was a “Stove Top Convection Pot” and what a magic thing it is. It’s basically an oven disguised as a pot, it is designed to utilise the heat of the cooking plate on the stove top to create the convection heat of an oven. It works like a charm and does a roast marvellously, there’s just one problem, it’s rather small. We didn’t know if this cut of meat would fit so it was back on with the thinking caps.

The Mauritian’s birthday is seven days before Christmas and I am always faced with the dilemma of what to get him for both those days that has significance and neither bares any resemblance to the other. In other words I could buy him clothes for his birthday but not Christmas, it is rather a tough one most years. But one such time I came across a small kettle braai which was the perfect size to use when he got the urge in the middle of the week to have a braai for just the two of us. We soon discovered that it was a brilliant way to do a roast. It was also one of the items we decided at the last minute to pack and were really happy we did. So we had our plan “B” the problem with that however was, it’s an outdoor thing and the weather did not look promising. Perhaps we should consider a plan “C”?

Breakfast over the Mauritian headed off to the garage to resurrect the “kettle” braai and I went digging in the depth of our kitchen cupboards for the “Convection” pot. All parts collected and we set about reassembling both items. I know this may sound strange, but we were actually having a lot of fun even the Butterfly was helping and laughing with us. It also took us over an hour to complete something that should have taken a few minutes to do. But in the end it was all worth it!
As it turned out the cut of meat did fit in the pot even though it was a tight squeeze and the weather though wet and windy first thing in the morning was contusive to an outdoor roast now we had two options, who needs an oven?

We, rather wisely it turned out, decided on the pot.

So it’s twelve years on and we started our thirteenth year with a bang, literally! Our home at the end of the world is filled with the gorgeous smells of roasting lamb. There are carrots, potatoes and peas’ steaming quietly in the corner while a white sauce is bubbling on the stove. The Butterfly is glued to the television watching her new DVD, “The Gruffalo”. The table is set with our best linen and quality dinner service. The clay wine cooler holds a bottle of “Nederberg Shiraz” and the cheese cake is chilling in the fridge. Soon the Mauritian and I accompanied by our precious little Butterfly will be toasting the past twelve years and looking forward to the next twelve.

A Change of Season

After the bone chilling cold of winter and the wet colourless spring, summer has dawned blue and bright. I am beginning to understand why the summers here at the end of the world are so full of activity. People, like bears, hibernate in the winters here, some days it’s too cold to move! But come the spring and people start to emerge and venture out into the fresh air only to run back inside out of the spring rains. Last year, our first here at the end of the world, was magical! My drab lifeless garden did just about “spring” into life over night and I spent my days wondering around the garden marvelling at all the colour. This year it has been more gradual and very, very wet, no magic there at all. But now the summer has finally woken up and we have had a cloudless week to bask in the sun.
With the summer comes energy and desire to absorb the warmth of the sun. It’s also a time when every house on our street has washing lines packed with washing day after cloudless day. People are cleaning windows and gutters and lawnmowers and weed trimmers sing all day long. Children’s voices can be heard as they charge up and down the street on bikes, "trikes" and scooters. Hibernation is over and it’s energising.

Each day, after the usual morning ritual I had all the housework done in quick time, the fact that the Butterfly chooses to sleep in late does help, but the sunshine and blue skies made it all worth it. I throw open doors and windows in celebration and set my washing machine to work. Even now the washing line is sagging with curtains and linen and winter jackets that we won’t need till next winter. The Butterfly slips into a sundress that is far too small for her and is outside within minutes of finishing her breakfast and only ventures back inside for a drink or a toilet break. She has been outside with her balls and "trike", riding bouncing and kicking. She had her paints and sidewalk chalk out and has brightened up our veranda with her artwork. We have played hopscotch and soccer been on and off the swings and see-saw and avoided the slide. She got soaked helping me clean windows, wash floors and the dishes and happily past me peg after peg to hang the washing. I have made a huge bowl of jelly with five different flavours, just for fun! We have had cheese muffins for breakfast and crumpets for our picnic lunch on the front lawn. We go for long rambling walks soaking up the sunlight and over dosing on vitamin D. Back home and the Butterfly collapses on the sofa with a sucker and a cup of juice and I make juice pops or coconut clusters, then we are back outside so the Butterfly can go for a ride on her “trike” up and down the road, stopping on occasion to have a lengthy chat with one of the neighbourhood children. Then its home for a bath where she splashes about singing her own little made up song at top volume, as only the Butterfly can. Supper is light, quick and easy easy just how I like it and then we were off again. We climbed into our trusty $200 Nissan and head for the foreshore for a stroll, or a charge about if you’re a Butterfly, to take advantage of the last bits of sunshine before it starts to set. Home again and a sun kissed, worn out Butterfly climbs wearily into her bed and is asleep almost as soon as she wraps her arms around her “Fred.” Wine glass in hand the Mauritian and I stand out on our veranda and watch the sun set over the mountain bringing to a close a beautiful summer day.

Back home the seasons blend into one another, the sun always shines strong and warm, the rain is never cold and you only need one closet of clothes all year round. Back home there is colour in the garden throughout each season, a social gathering around a braai is not uncommon in mid July and I don’t recall the Mauritian ever wearing long pants unless it was a formal occasion. Back home the seasons started and ended at precisely the right time of year, it cooled down in March and warmed up in September. Back home I only ever closed my windows and doors when we went out. Yep back home the weather was reliable and predictable and yes I’ll admit it, back home has the best weather in the world! Here at the end of the world the seasons are definite but unpredictable, like I said earlier, last year the spring was sudden and colourful while this year it has been wet and gradual. But the days are longer, the sun feels warmer and the clothes are drying quicker therefore it is spring! Last year the winter was swift and wet this year is was gradual and dry, the mountain was white with snow the days were short and the nights were long and cold therefore it was winter. Last year the snow on the mountain only started to melt in mid November, this year the melt has begun a month earlier, the sky is azure there is little or no wind and there are days between short hard cloudbursts therefore it is summer.

The thought of summer is what makes living through the winter worthwhile. Looking forward to the long summer days makes the cold winter nights bearable. I never realised just how unappreciative I was of the summer or of the comfortable all year round weather back home until my very first summer day here at the end of the world.

So what am I doing inside sitting at my computer I hear you asking yourself? It’s raining that’s why!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Butterfly Grew Horns

A few blogs ago I was strutting like a proud peacock and boosting about how well behaved and disciple my little Butterfly is. I really must learn to keep my big mouth shut! She all but gave me the finger today and today has gone down as the worst day of my life. I think today she has made up for three years of good behaviour and earned her nick name “Terror-Marie.” I never want another day like today, ever!

It started this morning with a tantrum because she wanted to watch television. On Sunday mornings while her favourite parent cooks breakfast the television stays off and the music is on. To his credit and for the first time ever the Mauritian did not give into her and she earned her first smack from him when she threw her moon chair out the back door. Breakfast consisted of a refusal to eat anything except her bacon and trying to steal my bacon off my plate. So I sent her to her room, to which she screamed “I’m not going to my room!” and slammed her fist on the table. Well, not the table rather the edge of her plate which sent it on a triple back flip to the floor with a showering of breakfast on both her parents. That earned her a timeout while we cleaned up and no breakfast.

We had decided the night before to go out for a walk or a picnic but after all the performances we were running a bit late so decided we would share the housework and then decide what to do afterwards. We didn’t do anything much! What we did do between chores was argue, fight and punish a very defiant little Terror. She was playing on my laptop and couldn’t get something right so set about hitting the keyboard with her fists. Luckily the Mauritian just happened to walk into the room and was able to stop her before she started. Needless to say she has now been banned from the lap top, which caused a few extra tantrums today too. She gave her lunch to the birds, squashed bananas by stomping on them, bit me and hit me with her “Maka Paka” bath toy when I tried to bath her.

Then this evening we went to church, she didn’t want to go. She threw herself on the foyer floor and screamed that she wanted to go for a walk and she “not going to church ever!” I gripped Pierre’s hand and just kept walking, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die at that very moment. Our priest went over to the Terror and sat down on the floor and spoke to her for a long time and then quietly brought her into the church to sit with us. Five minutes into the mass she’s having a tug of war with another little girl over a book they both wanted. The Terror was winning of course, she had a huge size and weight advantage and she was screeching with rage. She refused to whisper and blatantly told me “I don’t want to!” when I told her to be quiet. I don’t think I need to tell you that when it was time for us to go home she didn’t want to leave. It took me about five minutes to get her kicking and squirming body into the car and a further ten minutes to get her into her chair and buckled in. I am literally battle scarred after that experience. She then screamed the entire journey home and promptly refused to get out the car when we got home. So we just left her there, for an hour and a half! We arrived home at just after 6.30pm she eventually came in very sheepishly at about 8pm and asked if she could go to bed.

I graciously and willingly agreed!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Reflect With me for a Moment

There was a comment made on my recent post “It’s a Question of Faith” from one of my many “cousin’s-in-law.” Her comment disagreed with my opinion that we all worship the same God. This blog is not, I repeat, not a rebuttal of her comment! I will save that for when we are sitting across from each other at the dinner table with a bottle of wine or two between us. What her comment did do was remind me of a prose piece which I would like to share with you all here. Some of you know it, most of you I have told about it, all of you will benefit from reading it!

It is called “There Are Too Many Saviours on my Cross” It was written and performed by Richard
Harris on his album, "Slides". It was written about the conflict in Northern Ireland around the time of the Bogside Massacre known also as “Bloody Sunday” at a time when it seemed to matter how one worshipped. I believe, however, that these words are as appropriate today as they were almost forty years ago.


“There are too many saviours on my cross
lending their blood to flood out my ballot-box
with needs of their own.

Who put you there?
Who told you that that was your place?

You carry me secretly naked in your hearts,
and clothe me publicly in armour, saying
"God is on our side,"
Yet I openly cry
"Who is on Mine? Who, tell Me who?
You who buried your sons and crippled your fathers
whilst you buried My Father in crippling His Son."

The antiquated Saxon sword, rusty in its scabbard of time,
now rises.
You gave it cause in My name,
bringing shame to the thorned head that once bled for
your salvation.
I hear your cries in the far-off byways, and your
mouth pointing north and south,
and my Calvary looms again, desperate in rebirth.
Your earth is partitioned but in contrition
it is the partition in your hearts that you must abolish.

You nightly watchers of Gethsemane,
who sat through my nightly trial delivering me from evil,
now, deserted, I watch you share your silver.
Your purse, rich in hate, bleeds my veins of love,
shattering my bone in the dust of the Boxside
and the Shaghill Road.

There is no issue stronger than the tissue of love,
no need as holy as the palm outstretched in the
run of generosity,
no monstrosity greater than the anger you inflict.

Who gave you the right to increase your fold while
decreasing the pastures of My flock?
Who gave you the right? Who gave it to you, who?
and in whose name do you fight?

I am not in heaven,
I am here, hear Me.
I am with you, see Me,
I am in you, feel Me,
I am of you, be Me,
I am for you, need Me.
I am all mankind, only through kindness will you reach Me.

What masked and bannered men can rock the ark
and navigate a course to their own anointed kingdom come?
Who sailed their captain to waters that they troubled
in My font, sinking in the ignorant seas of prejudice?

There is no virgin willing to conceive in the heat of
any bloody Sunday.
You children, lying in cries on Derry streets,
pushing your innocence into the full-flushed face of Christian guns,
battling the blame on each other,
Do not grow tongues in your dying dumb wounds speaking My name.
I am not your prize in your death,
you have exorcised Me in your game of politics.

Go home to your knees, and worship Me in any cloth,
for I was never tailor-made.
And who told you I was? Who gave you the right to think it?
Take your beads in your crippled hands.
Can you count My decades?
Take My love in your crippled hearts.
Can you count the loss?

I am not orange, I am not green,
I am a half-ripe fruit, needing both colors to grow into ripeness,
and shame on you to have withered my orchard!
I, in my poverty, alone and without trust,
cry shame on you and shame on you again and again
for converting Me into a bullet and shooting Me into men's hearts.

The ageless legend of My trial grows old in the youth of your pulse
staggering shamelessly from barricade to grave,
filing in the book of history My needless death one April,
Let Me in My betrayal lie low in My grave,
and you in your bitterness lie low in yours,
for our measurements grow strangely dissimilar.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, sullied be Thy Name!”

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Time to Write and a Time to Ramble

Grap a beverage this is a long one, with absolutely no point to it at all.

So I’m a stay at home mum of one with what should be a lot of time on my hands to pursue the things I enjoy doing, namely writing! Wrong! Making the time to sit quietly at my computer and write my blogs or my poetry is hard. When I do get the chance I often give up something else like quality time in the evenings with the Mauritian after the Butterfly is in bed or sleep when I wake up extra early to take advantage of the dark and quiet.

I am, after many a false start, now rather well organised and my day runs pretty much to plan and I do try to put some time aside for my writing, I seldom get to use that time for what it was meant for. My day should start around 5.30am, with a stumble out of bed and into the kitchen to prepare the Mauritian’s lunch and his breakfast. Those of you who know the Mauritian also know how much he loves his food and that to him cereal in the morning is not breakfast. Knowing that you will realise that making breakfast for the Mauritian and ensuring variety is not an easy task first thing in the morning for someone as averse to the kitchen as me. With the Mauritian sent safely on his way to earn his keep my attention is turned to the Butterfly and getting her fed and dressed with a minimum of fuss. I do try really hard to be serious and get the tasks over with before playing games but we are normally reduced to rolling about the floor giggling before breakfast is finished. But once I do get her fed and dressed she settles down to watch TV for an hour and two of her favourite programs and now it’s my turn. Now I should ideally take the opportunity to have a quiet breakfast and a hot mug of coffee before dressing and starting my day, but I don’t! While the Butterfly is occupied I take the chance to check my emails and “Facebook” page make and cancel appointments, attend to any task the Mauritian has asked me to do, pay accounts, do a budget or some research about one thing or another. Along the way I get distracted by discussions with friends and family on that marvellous invention called SKYPE or MSN and Facebook too. Sometimes my phone even rings. So very often by the time the Butterfly’s programs are finished I haven’t even started what I need to do. I must mention here that once her programs are finished Butterfly has learnt that the television goes off and now does it herself without any fuss. Unfortunately I am now required to leave what I should have finished and tend to her, so with a promise of joining her in a bit I sit her down with a puzzle or a colouring book switch off my SKYPE and MSN and log off my Facebook page and attend to the tasks at hand. After which I am starving and grab a quick piece of cold toast and finish my mug of coffee I forgot on the kitchen counter. Then it’s off to fulfil a promise made to assist with the completion of a puzzle or picture only to find the Butterfly has established herself in front of my laptop web surfing. Now’s my chance to jump in the shower and get changed, but hang on there’s a load of washing I need to hang up. Well would you look at that, there’s still stuff on the line I forgot to take in the night before. Okay well I’ll get that done now quick, then I’ll jump in the shower. But then I realise there is a collar shirt and work pants of the Mauritians I now need to iron so best I do that right now if I leave it I’ll never do it, ironing is my worst chore I really do hate it but now the Mauritian’s job has changed so I am required to iron every day. I would rather wash dirty overalls! So by the time I have that load down that load up another load in the machine and the ironing done the Butterfly is bored with the computer and now wants my attention. By now I am completely off schedule and running late so I enlist her help with the housework and we start in her room tidying up and making beds, what takes me five minutes takes us half an hour then we head to my bedroom which takes another fifteen minutes by which time I’m at my wits end and the Butterfly has lost interest and she wonders off leaving me relieved to finish up on my own. Unfortunately it is at this point in the day when I have become involved in my chores that she takes the opportunity to get up to some sort of mischief or another, like putting flour in a salad bowl and mixing in some juice and “Look Mummy I making crumpets, careful it’s very hot!” That’s when I go get the vacuum cleaner and get the vacuuming over with.

With the housework only half done it’s now time for lunch and another hour of TV programs for the Butterfly and this is now my opportunity to finish the housework and any other chores that need seeing to. Except now I’m too hungry to go further and would kill for a mug of coffee, so I take my lunch and coffee to the table and sit down to eat, drink and read a few pages of my book. I end up reading a few chapters leaving my coffee to go cold and my food half eaten. So now the rain has stopped and the winds died down and the sun is making an appearance, there is no time to lose off we go outside to take advantage of the sunlight. We play hopscotch or soccer in the back yard or head off for a bike ride or a walk dependant on how close and how dark the next set of rain clouds is. By the time we arrive back inside I am in panic mode, there’s still a load of washing in the machine I forgot to hang out yet again, the kitchen needs cleaning and there are dishes that need washing, drying and packing away and I do need to start the supper at some point and still get the Butterfly bathed and fed before her papa arrives home. So the Butterfly is sent off to watch a DVD or play games on my lap top while I run about doing what should have been done before lunch. There is a moment when the Butterfly is playing happily in the bath and the supper is bubbling on the stove when I breathe a sigh of relief and think now I can sit and relax for a few moments only to suddenly remember that I have to take something out the freezer for tomorrow night’s dinner and oh my word what am I going to put on the Mauritians sandwiches, I wonder if he’ll notice if I give him porridge for breakfast six days in a row? Then from the bathroom comes a “Mummy I need my towel on!” and all thoughts of a relaxing mug coffee are forgotten. Now the night time ritual of dressing and feeding the Butterfly begins with a chase around the house and ends with us sitting under the dining room table where the Butterfly finally agrees to eat her dinner. Half way through I remember I was supposed to do half an hour of exercise on my Orbitrek so with stern instructions to finish eating on her own I crawl out from under the table and on to the Orbitrek to fulfil a promise to myself. Unfortunately I never quite make half an hour because either the dinner timer goes off or the Mauritian arrives home or the Butterfly has taken the opportunity to sneak a few more minutes on my lap top and leave her dinner under the table.

With the Mauritian home things seem to get even busier while they should start to ease off. Now there is supper to dish up and eat, at least I get a chance to actually eat the entire meal and have an excuse to drink a glass of wine. I do try and stick to just one glass of wine with dinner, unfortunately the wine often tastes too good to avoid a second glass. With dinner over the time has come to tidy away what toys the Butterfly has managed to spread about the house and ready her for bed and it’s here where I gratefully hand her over to the Mauritian to put her to bed while I wash up the dinner dishes and ready things for the following day when it all starts again. With that done the Mauritian takes the opportunity to listen to some music while I sit done finally to write only to discover I’m either too tired to pay it any attention or my muse has taken a leave of absence. Or I have so many ideas that I never get anything finished and decide to leave it for another day.

Last night I was told by a faithful follower that my lack of posting a blog has left her tethering on the edges of insanity and lacking inspiration and would I please do something about it. So today I abandoned my plans to continue my spring cleaning, ignored the housework and allowed the Butterfly to watch any DVD she wanted as many times as she wanted and sat down to write at least one blog. I managed to fit into today the housework, the ironing and cooked supper. I even managed a round of puddle jumping in the rain with the Butterfly, but unlike the Butterfly I kept my clothes on. I topped of the afternoon with a second blog a shower and a half an hour stint on the Orbitrek. My evening ended with one broken cell phone, another that would not charge and a Butterfly falling out of bed. All in all both a productive, rambling and eventful day.
So to those of you that rely on my blogs for a bit of sanity or inspiration or just in the mood for a ramble my sincere apologies for the infrequency of posts. I do not promise that I will be more frequent but I do promise to keep posting because I will never stop rambling.

It is now just gone a quarter past midnight and this blog is finished. Goodnight all!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

It's a Question of Faith

So the morning of the last Saturday of the month’s rolls around, the Mauritian is off at gym working the past week out of his system and the butterfly is charging about the house naked when there is the expected knock at the door. It is time for the monthly visit from the local Jehovah’s Witness who goes by the name of Jeff. Jeff is a “landscaper” by trade, an intelligent man with an open and honest face and a friendly and respectful manner. He is also a lapsed Catholic who has dedicated himself to the “Jehovah's Witness” sect and it determined to convert me. I admire his determination, his debating skills and his knowledge of the bible and look forward to a debate I can sink my teeth into for half an hour once a month. I started out just listening to what he had to say as I had absolutely no knowledge of what a “JW” believes or does not, I even started reading the little pamphlets they give out. Then I started to compare the bible quotes in these pamphlets to that of my own bible and noted some rather large discrepancies, so I started to ask questions and the debating began.

I respect that Jeff has found a purpose and fulfilment within the Witness family and will never question his choice but I will not stand by and be judged for willingly being a Catholic. I admire Jeff’s knowledge of the bible and accept the interpretation, but I will not abide being told that what I believe is wrong! Jeff’s understanding of the bible and the convincing way he explains the “JW” interpretation of the lessons therein is impressive, but try as he might he won’t convert me. This does not deter him at all, one Saturday a month he is at my front door armed with a bible passage, an interpretation and a determination to win me over. I have too much admiration and respect for him to simply turn him away without hearing what he has to say and I enjoy a good debate too much to let an opportunity such as this pass me by.

I don’t know anyone who does not complain about the “JW’s” that seem to go around knocking on doors subjecting everyone to their religion. Yet I have heard these people being sworn at and seen them back at the same door the next week trying again. These people endure horrid weather conditions and hostile people every week because they believe they are doing the right thing. They believe it is their duty to take God’s message to all people. They believe that as Jehovah’s Witnesses they must bear witness to Jehovah and they go out day after day against all odds and adversity to carry out and fulfil their belief and duty. Could you do that? I am unashamedly Catholic and believe as the “JW’s” do, that we are called by Christ to witness to Him and bring those people that have “lost their way” back to Him, but I could never do as they do. Now don’t get me wrong I admire them for their courage but never really gave them a chance until one cold wet winter Saturday morning last year when Jeff knocked on our door. I never gave them a chance because my first encounter with a “JW” was a very negative one and as I was a naive and arrogant teenager I decided that avoiding these pushy non Catholics was better than being subjected to their warped belief structure. Let me tell you about this first encounter and testify to my arrogance. She was a teacher at my Catholic school and I disliked her instantly. She was brash and loud with jet black hair, the perfect physique and finger nails resembling talons. She never missed an opportunity to talk about her beliefs and for some reason she seemed to single me out every time and tried to get me talking about it. I never understood why, but in hindsight perhaps it was because I would immediately drop my head and avoid eye contact when she began her “witnessing.” I have a very expressive face and I am sure my facial expressions and body language screamed out the hostility and dislike I felt louder then if I had actually said it. Then one day she again singled me out and after weeks of thought and talking to myself I responded saying that I was comfortable and fulfilled in my religion as she made it known she was in hers. I said that I would never question her belief but neither would I show an interest. She was very quick to come back at me with a quote from the bible, making a point to state which Gospel it came from and the chapter and verse as well. I have never been able to recall the quote or where it is in the bible but I do remember it being about our responsibility as Christ’s followers to “bare witness” and “spread the Gospel.” I was, at this point, “saved by the bell” but could not resist a passing shot as I walked out the classroom. I turned back to her desk and said “I can’t tell you exactly where it is in the bible, neither can I quote it word for word but I know it’s there because it was one of the readings at mass on Sunday. Christ also said “Do not be like the hypocrites and stand on the street corners shouting your prayers, I tell you solemnly they have had their reward. But rather when you pray go to your room lock your doors and shut your windows and the Lord who see’s that which is done in secret shall reward you!” and off I strutted. Take that you pushy non catholic! Arrogant teenager 1, irritating teacher Zero! I never went to another one of her classes again and she never came looking for me. But, neither did I give another “Witness” a chance until I was not only wet, cold and yearning for the African sunshine but also older, wiser and lacking in youthful arrogance. I still find the interpretations misleading and confusing, but at least I now understand what they believe, I think.

I believe that we all worship the same God; He just goes by many different names. I believe that all the holy books of each religion teaches one how to live a good life with strong values and morals, it is merely our interpretations of these lessons that differ. I believe that to unite as one people under one God we must learn to tolerate and accept the differences and diversities of those that surround us. I don’t care what you believe or why I only care that your belief keeps you true to yourself and gives you inner peace.

It matters not how you worship, it matters only that you worship!

Hope and Preparation

Just over a month ago, here at the end of the world, the earth moved! Stop smirking I mean that literally, the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates shifted and the earth literally moved. The Rictor Scale measured a 7.1 earthquake with the epicentre just south of Christchurch along a fault line that nobody knew existed. According to one report the last time this particular fault line is thought to have moved was about sixteen thousand years ago and it made up for this lack of movement by condensing it all into about two minutes and shifted up to five kilometres in places instead of a slow four millimetres a year. A month later and the aftershocks just keep coming with reports of up to one hundred aftershocks in one day. But the most miraculous fact about this is that to date there has not been a single fatality.

There is a poem by William Congreve which ends “...Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.” The earths temperature is rising the polar ice caps are melting faster. The humanoids have scorned “Mother Nature” she has unleashed her fury and the earth is reeling while she screams. Tsunamis have engulfed Samoa and Fiji, earthquakes have flattened parts of China and Haiti may never recover. Aeroplanes are grounded trapping travellers in foreign countries while Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano erupts, spraying ash and rock kilometres into the air. Pakistan is caught between the wraths of two weather systems and drowns, while mudslides swallow shanty towns and squatter camps in Mexico, Brazil and China. Hurricanes batter the American coast line; tornados tear through the middle while across the ocean the end of the world shudders in fear.

What amazes me is why people are always so surprised by the destructive force of these natural disasters, there is so much information and technology out there that proves and explains all of this yet we chose to ignore the obvious. The only continent that does not have any fault lines or volcanos is Africa, but we can’t all live there can we? There just isn’t enough room! So we chose to live elsewhere knowing that tectonic plates move causing earthquakes and tsunamis. We chose to remain knowing that hurricanes, tornados, typhoons or cyclones can rip us or our homes up effortlessly. We chose to holiday at the base of a volcano knowing it could erupt at any moment. We make these educated choices yet we still say to ourselves that such things will never happen to us. We lock our doors at night, carry pepper spray in our handbags; we never leave our children alone with strangers and never wonder down alley ways alone. We take all the precautions we can to prevent injury to ourselves or loss of property by unnatural means but chose to ignore the inevitable. At some point in your life you will be or will know someone who is affected by the wrath of Mother Nature and the revenge of Mother earth.

A couple of weeks ago the Mauritian came home and told me that scientists are heading up Mt. Taranaki “just in case.” I shrugged it off as an uninteresting interesting fact and continued with preparing supper. But later that night I thought about it and I realised I was choosing to ignore a very real possibility. Mt. Taranaki is the mountain that dominates the view from my back yard. It is a view that is ever changing with the light and the weather and it is one that I never tire of admiring. It is also a dormant volcano surrounded by fault lines that are constantly moving. The scientists are heading up Mt. Taranaki to investigate any possibility of an eruption and if they can predict the when, where and how and prevent any fatalities. The last time this “sleeping Giant” erupted was over two hundred and fifty years ago and now the plates have shifted dramatically. The changes on the surface are the obvious ones, the changes underneath are the unknown. I of course cannot do anything without adding a little bit of drama and my thoughts that night were no different and I realised that we were completely unprepared for any disaster, let alone a natural one on the scale of an erupting volcano no more then fifty kilometres from my home. So the next day I took action and started putting a family survival kit together. I am proud to say that my family will neither go thirsty or hungry should a disaster occur. Neither will any minor injuries go untreated, but we may collapse with exhaustion trying to carry it. I now need to strip it down to just the bare essentials.

Among all this destruction is a lesson we haven’t learnt yet, perhaps we never will. So in the meantime I continue to live out my life hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

Friday, 3 September 2010

A Soap Box Moment

I had a bitter exchange with a woman at the supermarket a few weeks ago. The Butterfly was having one of her very rare disobedient moments and completely ignoring my requests or instructions. So after three warnings I smacked her butt, where upon this woman berated me for being so cruel and abusive and embarrassing my child like that in public! I was rather taken aback and retaliated with a rather bitchy “Would you rather I put her in a time out and gave her a lolly for misbehaving?” In hindsight I should have just acted dumb, smiled sweetly and nodded as I walked away. But as I generally leap before I look I plunged feet first into a very heated debate with a very hot headed stubborn and not so intelligent individual.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I do not advocate smacking as the only form of discipline and I do agree that in some cases it can be abusive. I also do not discount using the “timeout” method. For both me and the Butterfly using a combination of smacks and timeouts works very well. I am not a patient person and loose my temper very quickly, so when the Butterfly sends me flying into a “rage” I send her to sit on her chair in the passage. This gives me time to walk away from her and calm down; I can then approach the situation rationally and apply the appropriate “punishment to fit the crime.” Putting the Butterfly in a timeout helps me avoid over reacting and then regretting my behaviour afterwards. Normally I will warn the Butterfly first before following through with a smack, and I pride myself on the fact that I always carry through with the threat and now, more often than not, she stops what she is doing before her final warning. I make a point never to smack her more than once, I only smack on the bum and only ever with my hand. I’m not out to hurt my child, I’m merely trying to teach her that her actions and decisions have consequences and she has to accept and deal with these consequences. Like I had to accept and deal with the consequence of opening my big mouth and retaliating instead of just smiling sweetly and walking away, so must my child learn that misbehaviour gives one a stinging bum and embarrassment.

Even though I am not one to keep my opinions to myself, I don’t interfere in how parents disciple their children. That does not apply however if said children are in my home because then, my rules apply! Within reason of course, I don’t mind kids running around making a noise or if they spill juice on my carpet or chairs, “Scotch bright” and “Vanish” take care of that. I’m not fussed if every one of the Butterfly’s toys land up outside and I end up putting them away or a few toilet rolls find their way into the toilet. Heck I don’t even mind having to replace all my pegs because the others had all been methodically pulled apart, but no child is allowed near my clowns and my bedroom, office and kitchen is off limits. On the flip side of that I expect my child to behave in a certain way in someone else’s home and I do try not to mind when she is reprimanded by that someone else. Funny how its fine when I’m telling some kid off for something in my house but get all hot under the collar when my kid gets told off for the same thing somewhere else. I am however, very proud to report, I have yet to open my big mouth and protest before thinking, until a few weeks ago in the supermarket that is.

When we first arrived here we were warned to never smack our child in public because it’s against the law. That has since changed, which is just as well because I never got used to it and by now probably would have been arrested. But I digress, as a result of this “no smacking” law discipline, here at the end of the world, is seriously lacking! It is, for me, very evident in the behaviour of children during mass. Both the Mauritian and I have clear memories of being severely reprimanded for bad behaviour during mass, but no such thing happens here. Children of school going age muck about and talk at top volume and pay no attention to the mass or their parents. Now I have no issue with babies crying or toddlers running off down the aisles or even talking loudly, but by the age of five or six that is no longer acceptable.
In our parish there is a section at the back of the church were parents with young children sit. There is a space where the kids can sit on the floor and a huge box filled with books and stuffed toys for them to occupy themselves. Our little Butterfly has a great time unpacking and repacking the box or distributing the toys and books to those she deems deserving. Sometimes she will take a pile of books and sit to read, unfortunately she likes to read out loud for the entire congregation but a tap on her shoulder usually gets a whispered “Oops! Sorry!” and a big cheesy grin.
At first going to mass with the Butterfly was torture, at eighteen months there was no stopping her or keeping her quiet and I spend so much of the mass trying to retain her. Then one Sunday Fr. Craig told me it was okay to just let her run about, when I protested that I didn’t want her to distract other people he quoted “...forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”Mark10:14. So the next Sunday I bravely, I thought, decided to ignore her and instructed the Mauritian to do the same, and boy did she go wild. I have never wanted to be someplace else more than I did that Sunday. On our way home the Butterfly asked if she could have a sweet, I jumped at the chance to say “No because you were very naughty at church!” and thus began a Sunday of tantrums and tears because no matter what the Butterfly wanted her mother said “No because you were very naughty at church!” My poor child went to bed with swollen red eyes and absolutely no treats, not even an hour of T.V. but the next Sunday and every mass since then she has behaved superbly, so much so that many people have noticed and commented on her behaviour.

Disciplining and teaching your child is not easy and the lack of an instruction manual makes things that much harder. My little Butterfly surprises me sometimes with her level of behaviour and politeness. I seldom have to remind her to say please and thank you and though she giggles with glee when “passing wind” she never fails to say “Excuse a piggy wiggy Sarah!” or “Oops! Pardon my bum!” She has, after all, only had three years life experience and I think she’s doing very well. She still has a lot to learn about life and there is a lot that I cannot teach her. But the one thing I can teach her, through discipline and the use of smacks and “timeouts” is that “for every action there is a reaction” and “for every choice there is a consequence.” The rest will be up to her, I will be the best parent I can be and heaven help those random people who dare to criticize the way in which I chose to teach my child!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Butterfly Intellect

The Butterfly was spending her “calm down time” before bed sitting next to her favourite parent and listening to a “Celtic Women” CD and I was struck by how clearly she sang along with the music, even those songs in Gaelic. I realised then what an amazing command of English she has, even the extent of her vocabulary seems impressive. People often remark about how alert and intelligent she is for her age, and so many people seem genuinely impressed by how well she speaks. Now I am her mother and by nature am biased, I also have no clue what she should or shouldn’t understand or know at her age and am therefore often blown away by my child.

The Butterfly finds most foods “delicious,” my clown collection “gorgeous,” playing hop scotch with mum “delightful” and wine “superb.” I have no idea if she really knows what these words mean but she has never used them out of context. She has worked out how to swop CD’s and DVD’s and how to make them work she also now knows how to navigate around her websites on the computer and she has worked out which remote or “morrow” works with which machine. The Butterfly can count to fourteen with no mistakes and backwards from ten. She can recite the alphabet and now recognises her name when she sees it written. Her attempts to write her name are almost recognisable, well okay maybe only to me, but she has definitely got the idea. She recognises numbers in their written form and seems to know by sight how many of an object there is. She knows her right from her left can tell the difference between a hexagon and a pentagon and is discovering what happens when she mixes different coloured paints together. She can tell the difference between an Oboe and a Clarinet, a keyboard and a piano even between an electric and acoustic guitar, not to mention a bass drum and a snare drum. What’s truly amazing about this is she can tell these instruments not just by sight but also by sound!

Our Butterfly is not afraid of the dark and has worked out that if she leaves her torch by her bed she can use it to help find her way to the toilet in the middle of the night or the light switch. So now even though she might wake up during the night I get to sleep through. Unfortunately she has also worked out where we keep the biscuits and how to climb up and into our grocery cupboard to get them. There I was thinking my child was not a climber, how wrong I was. I awoke one morning to find the kitchen and toilet lights on and an empty biscuit packet under the dining room table. Next she’ll be making us breakfast in bed!
She often chooses her own clothes and insists on dressing herself and even though she usual ends up putting her clothes on backwards she always gets her shoes onto the right feet.
At church, during the “Sign of Peace” she willing holds out her hand to everyone and smiling says “Please to meet you I’m Sarah!” At communion, even if we are in a different queue she will go up to the priest and wait to be blessed and says “A man!” when he’s done.
When her favourite parent arrives home from work she runs to him throws her arms around him and says “I’m so glad to see you Papa, what you got for me?”

Our Butterfly enjoys a green salad, especially if it has cucumber and onion in it; she goes nuts for raw carrots and never leaves a pea or bean on her plate. Ask her what she wants for breakfast she’ll choose porridge or egg and bread, lunch will be a cheese ham and vegemite sandwich and supper is sausage rice broccoli and cauliflower! I’ve given up making a bowl of jelly and trying to make last more than a day and we’ve taken to buying her fruits as treats instead of sweets even though a packet of sweets seems to last longer than a box of grapes. But my favourite is when you ask her if she wants to get a “kiddies meal” from “Macdonald’s” she often will say “No thanks, I want fish and chips!” and off we go to our local “Fish and Chips” shop and get a family meal for a third of the price!
Such a clever Little Butterfly!

I’ll admit I do like to boast about my little Butterfly’s intellect and I do think she is clever for her age even though I often find myself outwitted. Some nights ago instead of staying in bed she came running into my office and told me that she had forgotten to say goodnight to Papa. Only half aware of her I told her to go say goodnight, whereby she charged into the lounge and said to her favourite parent “Hello Papa, I not going to sleep, mummy wants to dance!”
Recently she was refusing to finish her dinner and I, with my complete lack of patience, got up from the table and walking away told her that she would get nothing else until she finished her food, and I went and sat in my office. A few minutes later she came through and presented me with an empty plate, I was so impressed with myself because my threat had worked. I happily went through to the kitchen and gave her the biscuit she asked for, which she took and ran off to her room. I went to put her plate beside the sink and there in the sink was the Butterfly’s uneaten supper! Yesterday she asked me if I would make cheese muffins so I told her that the cheese was finished and couldn’t make them, when her favourite parent came home she said “Papa you have to go to the big shop to buy cheese mummy making muffins!” The Mauritian did an about turn and went to buy cheese and I was obligated to make muffins!
A few minutes ago I asked her if she wants to have a shower, she answered “No thanks Mummy I don’t want you to wash my hair!”

Every time I think I’m finally one step ahead of her I find myself ten steps behind, and here I was thinking I had this parenting thing all worked out instead I’m being spun around in circles and tied into knots by a three year old for goodness sake!

Ah, hell whom I trying to kid? I love every sentimental moment!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Evolution is Creation

I had an interesting conversation over Sunday roast with a friend about the “Creation vs. Evolution” debate.

Most people have a basic understanding about “Darwin’s Theory of Evolution” and the “missing link” and most people are aware of the teachings of Christianity. I have listened to the view of the “creationist” and the “evolutionist” and I have marvelled at how blind to a compromise these people are. “Evolutionists” seem to think all Christians are “creationist” and therefore gullible and unaware and all so called “creationists” seem to label “evolutionists” as atheist. I think people have gotten so caught up in the debate and desperate to prove themselves right they have lost the ability to be “open minded.”

I wonder how many of these people realise that Darwin was a devout Christian and that these theories he developed went against everything he believed and rocked the very foundations of his faith. Yet as a scientist he could not dispute the facts and proof that seemed to present itself to him. He was a Christian and a scientist and despite his inner conflicts he continued to try proving or disproving his theory. Can you imagine this man’s frustrations at not been able to complete something of this magnitude; he was not to know that almost two centuries after his death there would still be that “missing link.” A two hundred year old debate!

Most people readily accept that dinosaurs once walked on earth, no-one seems to dispute the fact that most animal life has evolved over millions of years. Most people seem to realise that the Bible was written thousands of years ago and that the people then had a very basic understanding of the world around them. The story of creation and Adam and Eve is just that, a story. It was written to explain in simple terms how the world began to people whose lives and way of life was simple. The creation of the world is so much more complicated than that, science has proved that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian and how ever shaky my faith may get I believe beyond doubt that God created earth. I believe too that the world as we know it has evolved to what it is today. There is undisputable scientific proof that plant and animal life has been evolving for millenniums. It can be scientifically proven that we as humans share ninety six percent of our DNA with chimpanzees. So why do some people find it so hard to accept that we are descendent from primates, that we have evolved into humans. It’s obvious we do evolve, think about it, how many of us have had our “wisdom” teeth removed. Some people go without ever “cutting” their wisdoms. I come across a lot of people that have no idea why we have wisdom teeth in the first place. So just in case you are one of those people I’ll show off and explain. Early man would eat their meat and most other foods raw, as they did not have a means to cook it so they needed stronger jaws and more teeth to enable them to chew their food. As the years have progressed and foods have become more and more processed humans jaws have evolved (there’s that word again) and gotten smaller leaving little or no space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth. Eventually the wisdom tooth will disappear all together and that evolution will have ended.

I have come to realise that I am both a “creationist” and an “evolutionist.” How’s that for compromise? I believe that God is the Creator, and I am in no doubt that evolution is at work every day. How do I make both beliefs work together? That’s easy; I believe that God, in His infinite wisdom, created evolution.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Compulsively Perfect Obsession

I had made a comment on my “Facebook” page about the Mauritian, saying something along the lines of his “compulsion” for perfection was bordering on “obsessive.” This sparked a “conversation” between me, my Angel and my new friend about “OCD.” I have always wondered at the Mauritian’s insistence that anything he cooks or builds must be absolutely perfect and the smallest, unnoticeable mistake will infuriate and annoy him to a point where he will not enjoy the food or whatever it is he has done. I think he goes a little overboard and when he rants and raves I just roll my eyes, mutter under my breath and walk away from him. I like how his food tastes I don’t care what it looks like and the woodwork or drawings he has done look brilliant as far as I’m concerned, he disagrees a lot of the time.

My Angel and my new friend between them seem to have a rather long list of compulsions. According to them, there is only one way the toilet roll should go on to the dispenser. Towels, sheets and pillow cases should all be folded the same way. Clothes are hung on the line with the same colour pegs, clothes hangers must all face the same way in the closet, oh and while you’re at it make sure all the hangers are the same colour. Then there are the stories you hear about people who sort their CD’s, DVD’s and books alphabetically and chronologically according to colour and size. Oh and what about those people that have to replace whole dinner sets when one plate gets broken? Now don’t get me wrong I am all for “a place for everything and everything in its place” but does it really matter which way its facing or that it’s not placed in exactly the same place each time?

My new friend said “Things make you feel good when they are right!” and in a way I do agree, but no one except her will notice the pegs all match on the line, the clothes certainly don’t care and as for which way the toilet roll is, well, need I say it? Though I agree that when a clothes hanger in facing inwards it is easier to get the hanger in and out the closet, does it really matter what colour they are? Again, no one else will notice and the clothes don’t care. I know that when food is tastefully presented it does somehow taste better, but surely there is no difference to the taste if the omelette breaks a little and the inside falls out? I’m wondering is it just me or does someone out there agree that trying to ensure this kind of absolute perfection is really just creating unnecessary stress for one’s self. Strangely enough both my Angel and the Kiwi agree with me and have admitted to trying not to be bothered by these things even though it’s not easy to “change a leopard’s spots.”
My advice: Don’t try and change the spots, try living with them without obsessing about them. You are never going to be able to not put the toilet roll on the "right" way so the trick is to just change it when someone else gets it wrong and not work yourself up by thinking other people just don’t care. We do, we just don’t see the point and the truth is there is no point it’s just an obsession.
I even have a great story about a chap I worked with that was obsessively neat but never let it create stress. He was so obsessive even the papers thrown in his waste paper basket were neat. I used to get such a kick out of mucking up his desk. He would come back from his lunch break or a meeting to an untidy desk and the only indication of any stress was his one raised eyebrow. No matter how many times a day I messed up his desk he'd just quietly tidy it up. This happened almost daily and I worked with him for 5 years. Then one day he retaliated and tidied my desk, I couldn’t find a thing! Needless to say that created an over abundance of stress for me and a whole lot of laughs for him.

Anyway, my point is everyone has some kind of obsession it’s really just the degree of obsession that differs. It’s how we deal with other people’s reactions to our obsessions that cause the stress and unhappiness. My colleagues’ calm response to my incessant interference of his desk was what spurred me on to keep doing it and what made his retaliation so memorable and amusing.
I would enjoy rearranging my Angel’s perfectly packed cupboards or turning the hangers around in the Kiwi’s closet, but I won’t because even though I know they would try laugh it off it would drive them both to the edges of insanity and the truth is, despite their “OCD” tendencies, I really do like them.

Emotions and the Words that Comfort

The Butterfly’s third birthday has come and gone in a whirl of wrapping paper, balloons and smiles. Again the Mauritian and I were faced with the problem of what not to buy for her birthday. We were very proud of the fact that we only walked out the shop with two books, a cordless microphone, a small tub of “Play Dough” and of course the next addition to her collection of “In the Night Garden” toys. It seems almost unreal now that only three years ago, after a sleepless night the Mauritian and I were heading off to the hospital to finally welcome our daughter into this crazy messed up world. But three years ago it was that this stubborn, bright and beautiful bundle came into my life screaming, red faced and indignant.

For the past three and a bit years now she has done or said something every day that has had some sort of effect on me. For the past three and a bit years I have been floating on a bubble of pride about this little miracle, who is a part of me. Every day I look at her reminds me of what the Mauritian said the moment she was born, he tapped my shoulder in excitement saying “Look Manth, we did it!” who would have thought this screaming red face wrinkled stranger could be responsible for this overwhelming emotion that I have felt for her every moment since. Whew! Some days it just does not seem possible!

A few days ago I finally got a chance, via “MSN” to have a “catch up chat” with my favourite Eeyore. Reading what she said about my new niece and the roller coaster of emotions she experiences every day reminded me of how I felt, even now. Eeyore spoke about how she gets so mad and irritated because “Sprout” just will not co-operate and then that sudden smile melts her heart. I remember those days so clearly when you’re delirious with lack of sleep, when you want to just give her to someone else, when you just want to send her back because there is no way you will ever cope with this. I remember just collapsing on the floor in a heap sobbing with exhaustion after almost thirty six hours of no sleep, the Butterfly had been crying for most of those thirty six hours and I was now no longer capable of anything. I lay on that floor sobbing and begging her to stop crying and begging God to take her back when I suddenly realised the only one crying was me! The Butterfly was happily cooing and smiling at “Fred” that made everything alright and the past thirty six hours dissolved into nothingness. I get so crazy mad with the Butterfly sometimes that I want to scream with rage, I’m happy to report, however, that I don’t. I often don’t even get a chance to because, when I come into the kitchen and she’s sitting on the kitchen floor with the tub of yoghurt and her paint brush painting my stove with said yoghurt, she says: “Mummy can I have a hug?” and then she smiles. I am incapable of yelling at that smile and she knows it!

Now I know why my father told me “Grandchildren are a Grandparent’s revenge!” Perhaps one day I too will have my revenge!
Until then I shall take comfort and guidance from the words of Kahill Gibron:

“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls’

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backwards, nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
(Quoted from “The Prophet”)

Speechlessness

One of the blogs I follow is written by the enchanting wife of one of my many charming cousins, I enjoy reading them because they are so real and it does in some way keep me connected to a small part of my family. This morning as usual I followed my normal daily routine rounded off with a quick blog update. Her blog this morning spoke of those rare moments between a husband and wife when one simple comment from him makes her speechless with indecision. Should she laugh, scream or cry? Should she hit him or hug him? For just that split second of silence the world holds its breath waiting for the wife to realise that there was not only insightfulness and some truth in what the husband said but also humour and love. As I said, a rare moment! So it was one of those moments that my fellow “blogette” shared and while it made me laugh delightfully it reminded me of a moment this wife shared with her husband.

To tell the story with any affect, however, I do need to give you some background!
The Mauritian is a very confidant driver, he is always aware of his surroundings and other drivers and has successfully avoided numerous almost accidents even while “DUI!” As one of his constant passenger I am very comfortable even though there are times I think he drives too fast or gets consumed by unnecessary “road rage.” I have learnt over the years though to keep my opinions to myself and just let him get on with the job at hand. In the twenty odd years he has been driving he has had one minor accident, one parking ticket and amazingly only one speeding ticket so who am I to criticize? He does, however, have one habit that really gives me the shivers! When we are having a discussion he does tend to take his eyes off the road and look in my direction. It is only for a split second but it happens very frequently. Unfortunately the Mauritian and I have our best discussions in the car, it may be because neither of us can walk away and therefore end up working things out. We are both extremely stubborn and always want the last word and neither of us is very even tempered so a discussion while driving tends to help us both keep things civil.

My story starts on a Sunday evening when we were returning from a visit to my favourite Aunt in Durban North. We were heading south on the N2 towards home and having a very deep and involved conversation about...hmmm, perhaps I should leave that for another blog! The Mauritian as always was talking and darting his eyes in my direction which was normal, except I began to notice the length of time his eyes were off the road grew longer and longer. I was constantly telling myself to just keep my mouth shut because he knows what he’s doing! Of course this would not be a good story if there was not that inevitable “but!” So, but I eventually could no longer take it and said, rather calmly I thought, “Babe would you please look at the road and not at me you’re making me nervous!”

His response: “But Polly you’re so beautiful, I can’t keep my eyes off you!”

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Blog that Got Away

I discovered a completed yet unposted blog in among my files this evening. I was rather bemused at how I had forgotten about it and put it down to a recurrence of “porridge brain” one of the last remaining afflictions left over from pregnancy. It is a few months out of date, but still worth sharing, I think. So grab yourselves a beverage and settle in for a ramble.

This blog started on a Friday morning in mid May at around 2am with the Butterfly climbing over me elbow to rib cage, knee to breast bone so she could “sleep” between her favourite parent and her Mum. Two hours later I banished her back to her own bed and threatened her with a life time of no nakedness if she made the slightest sound for the next four hours. To my delight and surprise, it worked, and with the Mauritian on a day’s leave we were able to sleep in past the sunrise. Breakfast was an unrushed feast complimented with oodles of coffee and conversation, rounded off with a trip to the local “zoo” and a run about the park for the Butterfly. Wrapped up warmly against the cold wind and keeping a wary eye on the heavy rain clouds overhead the Mauritian and I ambled behind the Butterfly as she charged about from place to place never quite sure where she wanted to be. Two hours, frozen noses and blue fingers later we made our way home for lunch, tea and a half hour “cat nap” on the couch.

Somewhere between clearing away the lunch paraphernalia and starting dinner the Mauritian was dragged to the Butterfly’s bedroom to build “Lego” houses and cars so with no one to talk to I decided to check my emails other social sites. It was while trolling through cyber space that I discovered that our “Residence Application” had finally been approved, of course it wasn't long before the Mauritian had phoned everyone he could to tell the news. Then he was gone, off to buy a celebratory bottle of wine and maybe stop in at gym! With the Mauritian out the house and supper bubbling on the stove it was time to wrestle the Butterfly into the bath. That was when everything went dark and I watched my heart jump out of my chest at the loudest clap of thunder I have ever heard as instantly the heavens opened, literally! I was inside looking out onto a majestic thunder storm. So there I was, once I was brought back to my senses, running about switching off and disconnecting computers, telephones, DStv decoders, Hi-Fi’s and bathroom taps. Once all safety precautions had been taken I went looking for the Butterfly to settle down and watch my first real thunderstorm here at the end of the world. I couldn’t find her, inside that is. The Butterfly, of course, at the first sign of rain, while her mother ran about frantically, had “stripped down to nakedness” and charged out into the sheeting rain running up and down the front yard yelling “This is fun!” and then jumping gleefully into a very muddy puddle, never mind the thunder and lightning that rumbled around her. Then, as so often happens with these sudden storms it ended as instantly as it had begun, the curtain of clouds was drawn aside and the sun shone brightly, smiling on the earth like nothing had happened the only proof was the soaking wet and muddy Butterfly running down the garden path followed by a beaming Mauritian sporting a bottle of Nederberg Merlot and a “Manth, how was that storm?” I topped off my Friday watching “American Idol,” yes I admit I followed it this season. I started watching out of curiosity as one of the contestants listed one of her musical influences as Melissa Etheridge and I wanted to see if she would do an M.E. number. She did, but only when she was in the final three, so I watch the entire season. Unfortunately, Crystal Bowersox did not win, and I have again gone back to thinking “Idols” is a crock of sh... And I won’t be watching next season! Thus ends my “soapbox” moment.

Saturday dawned cold and wet after a stormy night. I was awoken at 4am by a Butterfly wanting chocolate milk and a text message from my favourite school friend telling me of the death of her father. This news after the previous nights high sent me plummeting into the depth of despair. Okay, that’s a tad bit dramatic, even for me, but the news did make me very sad. I always had a soft spot for her dad, he was a happy, smiling man who was very difficult not to like. It was all made worse by the fact that I could not be there to support my favourite friend as she has been for me in the past. She has been my “sounding block,” my “punching bag,” and my “positive injection” whenever I have needed her for the last twenty or so years, this would’ve been a chance for me to return the favour but I was only able to show my support in an email. My favourite friend of course made it all better when she replied and told me to “...keep writing, it’s people like me who don’t have the words that need your words to get us through...” It seems strange to me that she should feel this way when she always knows exactly what to say and how to say it at just the right moment and I, with my love and appreciation of the written word seem to ramble on aimlessly.

Sad though my day began, it did improve with a delightful email from an uncle about the merits and demerits of “Face book” and emails and the “friendship” destroying abilities of those horrid time wasting chain emails. His delightful account did lighten my mood and gave me the positive boost I needed to start my Saturday in earnest and tackle that horror called housework and breakfast.

It’s almost a month and a half ago since I wrote this blog and reading over it now I am amazed at just how many emotions one can experience in just twenty four hours. The anger at been woken up at two in the morning, the satisfaction of getting to sleep in, the contentedness of a lazy start to the day and the euphoria at the end of a long wait. At being unaware of cold or discomfort because I’m so wrapped up in the love of a husband and child. Awed by the power and beauty of nature and the delight of a child in the simple things like rain and jumping in puddles. Being saddened by death, rendered helpless by distance and relieved of useless guilt by wise words of gratitude. Then up back into smiles and the positive because of an email from family. In twenty four hours we experience a myriad of emotion, a roller coaster ride of ups and downs all caused or influenced by the circumstances and people in our lives. We can deal with them or ignore them, we can feel them or suppress them, me, I choose to embrace my emotions and share them in my rambling wordy way.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

My Mauritian

The Mauritian had a rare nostalgic moment one Saturday morning, put on my “Colesky” CD, played the song “Share My Life” and asked me to dance. So there we were, in our pyjamas slow dancing in our teeny tiny kitchen. Not to be out done the Butterfly joined in with a “Hey guys, what you doing?” and wrapped her arms around my leg and swayed in the completely wrong direction to us.
My Mauritian is not a romantic, nor does he get sentimental very often so I treasure those times when he comes home with a chocolate or some other small present that he thought I might like. He is not someone who buys birthday and Christmas presents on time without a lot of prompting and reminding, but he has no issue with just giving a gift for no reason other than he thought I’d like it. Though I will admit that the day he comes home with flowers I will want to know what it is he has done wrong. I can count on one hand the number of times he has brought me flowers in the 20 years I have known him, in fact I could tell you the where, when and why of those times too. My Mauritian does not do flowers, so it’s just as well I don’t either.
My Mauritian loves to cook and is a very tidy cook indeed. He cleans as he goes along and the kitchen sparkles when the food is done. A sharp contrast to my distaste for cooking and the mess I make as I go, I cook because I have to not because I want to.
My Mauritian never had an issue with changing a “crappy” nappy, his attitude is “everybody’s got to go somewhere!”
My Mauritian will vacuum, clean windows and even dust the furniture with precision. He is fussy about the state of the garden; it has always got to look tidy. He is a perfectionist and though extremely tolerant of others imperfections and mistakes, he cannot abide them in himself. He works hard, is very good at what he does and is not shy to say it.
My Mauritian hasn’t a jealous bone in his body neither is he judgemental or critical of peoples characters or way of life.
My Mauritian has a wicked sense of humour and a laugh that comes from his feet and lights up his face, yet he often takes life and himself far too seriously.
My Mauritian is very creative and when in the mood, sketches beautifully; he enjoys working with wood and spends hours creating with the Butterfly’s building blocks and “Play dough”.
My Mauritian is far too overprotective of his Butterfly and she knows just how to use this knowledge.
My Mauritian like’s movies with lots of blood guts and gore, and graphic description do not put him off his food. But he doesn’t like flying, is weary of computers and absolutely hates spiders.
My Mauritian seems to always be complaining about something and over exaggerates just about everything.
My Mauritian has a quick, violent temper of which he loses control quickly. He over analyses people and their intentions, and miss reads situations and conversation often. He swears “like a sailor” and will be intentionally offensive to anyone who upsets him enough.
My Mauritian can be immovably stubborn and unimaginably selfish and self centre but will deny it fervently when confronted about it. He allows his mind to wonder while I’m talking to him and then swears blind he heard me when I say anything.

In short my Mauritian is just a regular all round nice guy with some negatives thrown in to make him real. My Mauritian is an attentive husband, a doting over indulgent father, a loyal friend, and a dutiful son. My Mauritian loves his family with every part of himself, my Mauritian accepts the real me inside and out.

He is the perfect “Ying” to my “Yang”.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

"In Tributum Ut"

A man died today, he was not famous, influential or rich, he did not win any “Nobel” prizes or leave his mark in the history books, but he sure made an impact on the lives of those who knew him. He was a father, a grandfather, a husband, an ex husband, a son, a brother, a cousin and an old family friend. He laughed with enthusiasm, reminisced with a smile and told the nastiest jokes he could think of. He was the inspiration behind the old adages: “He drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney!” I am sure he has nursed thousands of hangovers. He was unashamedly racist and didn’t care that what he said was offensive to some, me included. In fact, I believe he said some things precisely because they were offensive. He was most certainly not a religious man, though he was by no means “Godless,” he was a hooligan, not a heathen. He enjoyed the company of not just his generation but also that of a younger generation, a generation that enjoyed his company immensely.
I am sure there are many who would frown on how he lived his life, I am sure there are some who were offended by his behaviour. But, I liked him! I liked that he always seemed so genuinely pleased whenever I saw him. I liked that he always asked after my parents and each of my brothers and listened with interest to my replies. I liked that he always had something nice to say about my dad and spoke of my mum with respect. I liked that he always spoke of my grandparents with reverence. I liked that he never hid the pride he had for his daughters and his grandsons. I liked that he was never anything other than his true self no matter the circumstances.
A man died today, he was not what society would use as an example of the perfect man and he never pretended to be. What he was, was a man who lived a full life, filled with laughter, love and memories. What he was, was a man young in heart, mind and attitude. What he was, was a father who did his best and must have got something right. What he was, was a man who was loyal to his family and friends. What he was, was a man who never compromised his beliefs, or lack thereof, to fit into a mould. What he was, was unique in every sense of the word.
A man died today and I am truly saddened by his death. With his passing comes the end of an era that was all of his own making.

And so, a toast, a tribute to your uniqueness, to a life well lived and to the fond memories I and all who know you hold dear. Your passing has left a space in the hearts of many, an empty ashtray on the table and a half full bottle of whiskey on the bar. I will always remember you with fondness, the old family friend, father to my lifelong friends and a legend in your own right. God speed, Uncle Brian rest peacefully!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Worrywarts

My lifelong friend packed her bags and headed back to South Africa for a visit yesterday. My immediate reaction to the news that she was going was how lucky she was to be going home for a visit so soon after moving to the end of the world. The reality is she has dipped into their savings and gone without her family for the express purpose of visiting her ailing father. He had a rather bad reaction to a hip operation and as he has to undergo more major surgery she has headed home to spend time with him, just in case.

The Mauritian has just recovered from an anxious few month after hearing that my grumpy father-in-law was involved in a rather serious motor bike accident. It seems that there were a lot of complications brought on by the accident and he was in and out of hospital since January. The Mauritian is by nature a worrywart and in these past months he has almost driven both of us into insanity. We had to make an arrangement to pay off our large phone bill because the poor Mauritian couldn’t stand not knowing what was going on and was calling home almost every day.

I am so grateful for the fact that though aged, I have healthy parents.

The trouble with living so far away from ones family is that the information one receives about a sick loved one is just never enough information. Questions you want answers to just cannot be answered and the poor people at home just never get back to you quick enough. The trouble with living so far away from ones family is the feeling of complete helplessness, add to that a ten hour time difference and you really do have enough reason to worry yourself insane. The reality is that if you were at home the self same information that is not enough from a distance is more information than one would normally ask for, you can get the answers to all your questions but you don’t think to ask them and you are, in most cases, pretty helpless in a situation anyway the distance really doesn’t change that. The trouble with living at the end of the world is you know your family at home is not telling you everything because they “don’t want to worry you,” the truth of the matter is that were you still at home you wouldn’t want to know everything anyway. It’s all so contradictory, the family at home is thinking: “They are so far away and there is nothing they can do so let’s not worry them.” and those at the end of the world are thinking: “Nobody ever tells me anything, I have to nag or throw a tantrum just to get some information. They just don’t know what it’s like being so far away and not knowing!” Okay, so maybe not in so many words, but you get my drift, I’m sure. Reverse the situation and those of us who have chosen to live at the end of the world will do the same to those at home, the difference being that we will justify it by saying that because we chose to change our home we need to cope without worrying the family at home.

Can you tell I’ve been thinking this over for a while?

I know that whatever goes on at home, when there is a need for me to know something someone in my family will let me know and give me as much information as they can. I also know that if they think I should try to go home, whatever the reason, I will not have to ask. When it comes to being kept informed about the important goings on in my family I am very secure in the knowledge that I will be kept up to date and well informed. No need for me to worry, right? Wrong!
I worry sometimes about silly things that just might happen, the kinds of things that, were I still living at home, I would dismiss as the mindless wonderings of a worrywart. There are a thousand questions about mundane everyday things I want to ask my mum, but I don’t because, well they are silly and mundane and don’t need to be asked. The Mauritian clearly disagrees with me on this point and will ask his family anything, no matter how daft the question may seem to me. His logic is he needs to know if he should worry, while I think its nuts to look for a reason to worry. I would rather use that energy on a rambling blog about life at the end of the world then waste it on worrying.
That’s what I say, but the moment I notice that the little “SKYPE” icon, that tells me my dad has switched on his computer, is not green when it should be, I begin to wonder if there is something wrong. I do believe I am turning into a worrywart and that scares me.

So to sort this conflict out in my head I have resolved that at any given time if there is any cause for concern about someone back home or at the end of the world, I will only ask for the information I would ask for if I was at home and I will tell those back home as much as I would tell them if I was there and not here. Thus insuring, in my rather long winded way, that I will receive and give more information then is actually required and I won’t feel like a worrywart anymore.

Friday, 23 April 2010

"Terror" at the Grocery Store

I was talking to my very talented mum this morning via that marvellous invention called “SKYPE” and telling her about the antics of my rather entertaining Butterfly and it occurred to me how much more time I spend laughing at her antics then I do scowling.

Every fortnight we all bundle into our trusty $200 Nissan and head off to do a grocery shop. Every fortnight I arrive home with not only groceries but also a Butterfly story or two. The Butterfly refuses point blank to sit in the chair part of the shopping cart and as shops here do not allow you to put a child in the main part of the cart, Butterfly gets to stroll around on foot. Come to think of it though, I doubt I would ever have put the Butterfly in the cart anyway as I am sure she would have tried to eat just about everything we put in the cart, packaging and all. The Mauritian stresses uncontrollably when our Butterfly behave instinctively like a child and runs off down the shopping aisle and I find it extremely irritating trying to keep her under control and shop wisely at the same time. So I braved the sideways looks of my fellow shoppers and attached the Butterfly to me by means of my “Toddler Strap.” This strap goes around one of the Butterfly’s wrist and the other end around mine, thus freeing up both my hands and giving the Butterfly the illusion of freedom. Apart from some rather disapproving looks from some people, using the “strap” was very successful. Successful that is if I discount the times the Butterfly managed to wrap the strap around my knees or her throat, went charging off in the opposite direction pulling me with her or bringing herself to a shoulder jerking stop or when she decided she needed a rest and plopped herself down in the middle of the aisle pulling on the “strap” saying “Thit mummy I very tired!” By the end of the shopping spree however both the Mauritian and I did not feel overly stressed just a tad worn out.
Last night however the Butterfly, for the first five minutes, was an absolute “gem.” She strolled obediently next to me keeping in step and not tying us up into a knot or trying to take me somewhere other than where I needed to be. I was pleasantly surprised and thus lulled into a very false sense of security! I reached up to get a bottle of juice and turned to place it into the cart when I realised that there was no tension on my wrist, I looked down to find that the Butterfly had worked out how to take her end of the “strap” off her wrist and she had charged off down towards the end of the aisle. I called to her to stop, which to her credit she did immediately, turned to face me, smiled, waved and yelled “Look Mummy I tooked it off!”
It was at that point that the Mauritian sauntered back towards me carrying a tray of eggs, his smug expression of having found a bargain turning to horror when he noticed the absence of our Butterfly. “Oh hell!” was all I heard as I took off down the aisle after my surprisingly quick almost 3year old. Butterfly of course found this all very amusing and fun and when she saw me coming giggled delightfully and took off again yelling “I catched you mummy!” much to the delight and amusement of everyone in that aisle. Needless to say the Mauritian and I arrived home highly stressed and exhausted after what should have been a one hour shopping trip took all of two and a half hours. Oh well at least both shoppers and staff had an entertaining evening.

Whenever we venture out with Butterfly we always seem to have a time when she causes her parents to cringe in horror, which amuses all the onlookers no end. One of the places we frequent our Butterfly is so well known by the staff that I now no longer bother to keep her with us, the staff quite happily keep an eye on her and when we are done I just go to the shoe section put away all the shoes she’s been trying on and pick her up to leave while she waves cheerfully and says goodbye to everyone. I have a feeling we would not go there as often as we do if she was not so popular! There is a restaurant we enjoy going to where the Butterfly is equally well know, so much so that the last time we went she strolled happily into the kitchen looking for the waitress who often serves us. She is on a first name basis with the owner of the local “Cafe” or “Dairy” as they are called here at world’s end, she even greets the postman/woman/person with great enthusiasm and she loves going to the petrol station with her Papa to put petrol in the tank.

Yes an outing with the Butterfly is both entertaining and exhausting but she does not reserve her antics just for entertaining perfect strangers she leaves some of her best tricks for keeping her mum on her toes. She has made neat little piles of sugar on the kitchen floor, methodically snapped spaghetti into little bits piece by piece and scattered them throughout the lounge, experimented with her new crayons and discovered they draw beautifully on the television screen and even cleaned the bath with a nail brush and my hair conditioner. All this before lunch of course! I am now in the habit of checking outside every evening while the Butterfly is in the bath and collecting my Tupperware which is used for tasks such as digging up and collecting sand or a makeshift vase or someplace to put her leaf and grass collection. She has even opened her piggy bank and had a blast taking handfuls of coins and seeing how high in the air she can throw them, once she buried almost all the pegs and recently found her sitting inside my Kist having taken all the linen out first. She has emptied all the draws in my chest of drawers, taken all the CDs and DVDs out of their stands, played bowls with the potatoes and onions and drawn pictures on the carpet with the dish washing liquid. I now have to remember to check the settings on my washing machine as she has discovered how to override the child safety and change the temperature or the cycle, I once almost boiled my sheets clean and the next day washed the Mauritian’s grease covered work overalls on a cold gentle wool cycle. I reset the television channels at least once a month and just the other day caught her undoing the wires from her Papa’s $1600 loud speaker. Her latest trick is resetting the tension on my “Orbitrek” and I either end up going so fast I nearly fly off or it’s so tight the wheel won’t budge.

The final straw, however, came the day she decided to play with every single one of her toys, and I mean that literally. She has a bag into which I put all the little fiddly toys and also her puzzles and smaller building blocks and fridge magnets, she took everything out. She emptied her toy box, her pencil case and her book shelves, entertained her stuffed toys on the veranda with her bike riding and ball kicking and built numerous “Lego” towers at the front entrance then had a rest on her donut which was in her tent covered with both the sheet and duvet off her bed. I, of course thought, at first, that this was all very cute and grown up, as she went about her day playing happily and entertaining herself, freeing me up to write a blog or a poem or was I reading at the time. When I did eventually survey the mess I was suddenly very tired. In a sudden spark of genius I told the Butterfly that before she could watch any television that afternoon she had to clean up and put away all her toys. To my complete amazement she did! Of course she is only almost 3 and making the mess is so much easier then cleaning it up but with a little guidance and reminding from “Mum” and the odd bit of assistance clean it up she did, and all rather joyfully too.
So now every evening after supper and just before bed it’s the Butterfly’s job to put away and tidy up everything she’s played with for that day. Amazingly it works really well because I don’t wear myself out picking up and putting away only to have the Butterfly take it out again and the Butterfly knows that when its clean up time it’s also calm down time making bedtime a calm and pleasant experience for both Queen Butterfly and her slaves.

This morning after telling my very talented mum all about our shopping experience she said about the Butterfly: “Where does she come from, do you think she was swapped at birth?” I laughed and replied that she most likely was because there was no way I was ever as cheeky as my Butterfly is. But, even if there was the remotest possibility that she was swapped at birth I would never swap her back. The Butterfly is a lot of work and I need to be one step ahead of her all the time, but always seem to be ten steps behind. The Butterfly is cheeky and stubborn and not scared of me at all. The Butterfly is very independent, strong willed and will do almost anything to get her own way, including telling me she doesn’t like me anymore and run crying to her Papa. The Butterfly is noisy and loud and never stops talking or singing. The Butterfly has character, is intelligent and has a wicked sense of humour and even though at the end of the day I am completely worn out and feeling old I wouldn’t have her any other way because a day with my Butterfly is a day filled with laughter, love and inspiration.

No, I love her exactly the way she is.