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Australian singer, Kamahl said it best, “Why are people so unkind?” From when we’re very little we’re told to use our manners and talk nicely. As we age it seems that our nice words get lost. We no longer have our parents hovering over us ready to put us straight.

It seems that as adults we excuse ourselves from such basic kindness, especially in our families. It seems the older we get the further away we travel from those simple lessons of respect. This goes for kids too. I’ve found if I give my kids my full attention when they’re talking, give them the respect they deserve as little people, then our relationship flourishes. Once I start distracting myself while they go on and on about such and such the closeness starts to dissolve, because they know that I really don’t care about what they’re talking about.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” What rubbish. Words are like swords; sharp, pointed and they have the capacity to kill. That’s no overstatement. Look at cyberbullying and the suicides that are coming out of such harassment.

Parents! We need to remember that if we talk about our kids in a negative way in front of them, that hurts them. It includes stuff such as asking someone else if they want an extra child, calling your kid a nightmare and labelling them as the black sheep. It hurts. It’s humiliating for the kid and in the end, you’re creating a massive divide that will get bigger over time.

Grandparents! My rant to you is even if you disagree with how your kids parents just love them all the same. Remember, they’ve never done this before and give your awesome advice when asked for. Times have changed, parenting has changed so just be a shoulder, a support and most importantly a source of encouragement. Then, they will come more often and seek your wisdom, mark my words.

As well as abstaining from saying hurtful words, I think we need to be more proactive in our positive words to each other. We are not a culture that embraces public displays of emotion or affection. But be countercultural and make someone’s day by giving them genuine encouragement. All it takes is an email, a letter, phone call, quiet word, perhaps over a cup of coffee. You never know what people are struggling with and they might need a little boost.

The other night one of my lovely friends sent this text message out of the blue: “I love you emma! You’re a lovely friend.” I felt so special. She didn’t have to send it. But it meant that she was thinking of me and valued my friendship without me having to do anything at all. So precious.

Sorry if this is a bit of a lecture. I just need to vent sometimes. It really can’t be that hard to be kind? Once you set bad habits in motion they are so hard to break. Kindness, however, is a great habit!

Check out what this kid did!!!!!


Image by Jon Bragg

A while ago we were travelling down to the ‘gong to visit the grandparents. Outg of the blue, my son says, “Maybe Nanny will have a present for us!” And I, in all my motherly wisdom retort, “Oh sweetheart, I don’t think so, you can’t expect that everytime we visit.” His answer? “THINK POSITIVELY!!!!!”

Well, was I put in my place! This was an idea we had been drumming into him for some weeks prior. You see, my lovely son is a little like me sometimes. We both suffer from the disease I like to call ‘Silly Talk’. This syndrome rears its ugly head when one feels unloved, unimportant and unfairly treated. For example, if little sister forcefully asks to play with certain Star Wars toys, in the past big brother has been known to say, “Fine, you can have it forever, she can have all my toys!” = SILLY TALK. (And little sister happily takes his word for it! Good times for her!)

An adult version of Silly Talk would be, “Fine, be that way, I don’t care.” But you really do… care. This places yourself firmly in the ‘victim’ role, hard done by, sad, frustrated with no way out; a silly place. The treatment for such a dire condition is called Positive Thinking. A simple but effective solution. Instead of big brother getting upset at little sister’s request, perhaps he could think, “Oh, isn’t this nice. She likes what I like! She must like ME!”

But no, human nature dictates that we often read each other incorrectly. We take things the wrong way, we think the worst of others and ourselves. This leads to Silly Talk, sadness and a life lived in a bubble of self-pity. Which is why I was humbled when big brother/little son came out with “Think Postively!”

It is nice to see that some things get through!!

Image by Vaikunda Raja

Life Lessons for children: How we stuff them up!

1. Stranger Danger. How much do we go on and on and on about stranger danger? We tell our children not to talk, go with or accept gifts from strangers. And then there’s Santa Claus. As a story or a fun activity, Santa is great. Bring him on. When it comes to enforcing the stranger danger message, this is where, we as parents, stuff up. “Look Cynthia, a funny man with a beard covering his face. Why don’t you go and sit on his knee without mumma and have your photo taken. Awww look Cynthia, he’s got a present for you!” FAIL.

2. Violence. Smacking is a controversial thing in our society. Remember the ‘good old’ days when your father took a wooden spoon, stick or belt to your rump? A while ago, my daughter lashed out at me and hit me on the arm. Now, I don’t often smack my kids but this was a big “no, no”. I held her hand and gave it a quick smack while saying, “Don’t hit”. FAIL.

3. Snacking. I must confess my love of sweets. Lollies, chocolate, biscuits, cakes; you name it, I’ll eat it. However, I am very aware of what my kids eat; they have limited snacks each day. I’m trying to teach them good eating habits that they can carry with them into the junk-filled teenage years and beyond. Do I practice what I preach? Ah, sometimes, yes, sometimes, no! In our house there’s ‘adult’ food and ‘kids’ food. Unfortunately for my kids, adult food is more fun! Perhaps that means that when they are adults themselves, they will go loco with the sugar!? FAIL

4. Manners. At meal times, I take the opportunity to teach my children manners. We have a chart on the wall, an illustration of dos and don’ts to make it easy for the little monkeys to remember. They include things like, “don’t talk with food in your mouth, do sit in your chair, do lean over your plate…”. As my son has often pointed out, “Why do adults talk with food in their mouth?” My answer: “Adults have more to say and more to do.” Double standard. FAIL.

Summary section: I think it’s good that parents fail a little. It’s even better if we can laugh at our failures and move on with our lives. Ha ha! Double standards. Whooo hoo, hypocrisy. It’s not that we want to confuse the little darlings with our duplicitous behaviour. What we want is for them to know we are human and we sometimes get it wrong, so they, too, can feel free to stuff up.

Mothers do the darnedest things out of love for their kids:

* Swimming lessons: Sitting, chatting with fellow parents, ‘thumbs up’ -ing the half drowning efforts of a three year old. Handling the wet swimmers and the musty odors of after, not to mention the exhausted, ratty child desperate for a bit of shut-eye.

* Drop-offs/Pick-ups: This dizzy routine gets crazier as you add more children. There’s long daycare, preschool, school, sport, music, dance, play dates, park plays, beach plays and the list as we all know, goes on.

* Life skills: How to use the toilet, how to wipe their own bottom, how to brush teeth, how to hold a fork, how to change a tyre, how to floss, how to remember stuff, how to be tidy, how to say stuff, how to make beds and walk and talk and sing and dance and pay for things and use manners… that’s just the first five years! What next?

*  Words: As a parent, thinking of the right words, with the right meaning at the right time can be exhausting. They often come out sounding slightly condescending as they are not always delivered wholeheartedly. A mother yawns, stretches and looks at her chaotic house. Mess everywhere. Toys on floor, food on floor, and she just wants to be on the floor herself. Little Tommy pops up out of nowhere. That kid has a knack for it. “Mum, mum, see what I’ve drawn for you.” She squints, she thinks, she says, “Oh Tommy dear, that’s a beautiful house.” “Not a house, Mum, it’s a spaceship”. “Oh, I love the colours.”

*Pain: Obviously childbirth is painful, that’s a given. Let’s look at other pain, parents (let’s include dads here for obvious reasons) endure for the sake of their little ones:                                                                                                                                             -Back pain is experienced when a large child demands to be carried, or won’t get out of the bath, or tackles you when you’re not ready.                                                                    – Hair pulling happens from birth. Those little fingers grasp at long strands of hair, one yank, and the warm and fuzzies explode into something else altogether.                 – Tinnitus often comes in the form of a sort of ‘ringing’ in the ears. It is when those beautiful rosebud, soft skinned girls open their generous mouths and release emotions, thoughts, ideas in the form of a loud squeal/scream. The notes they reach are pretty impressive. But it is very painful when the ear piercing high ‘C’ is directed straight into an ear canal.                                                                                                              – Sleep loss is a form of torture that many parents are familiar with. Your head is getting very heavy, your eyes are snapped closed, dreams float passed your eyelids and you hear, “Muuuuuuuuum! Need to do a weeeeeee”. You commando roll off the bed, stagger through the dark into the child’s room and guide them to the toilet. You squat, head in hands, while the deed is done, then stagger the child back to bed…x 10! Miscellaneous: Kicks in crotches, elbows in boobs, hit, bit, feet stepped on, scratched, tripped, head butted, infected. Muscles spasm, bones crunch, hair falls out but it’s all done for the good of the children.

Parenthood is a rush! You never know what is around the corner, literally (my kids are great at hiding). For all the pain (and there’s a lot), you have a double dose of love, affection, loyalty and bonds of steel. Bring on the bruises and sleepless nights, kids rock!

It is interesting to see language change as you enter parenthood. Language is efficient between mothers. There are phrases, spoken or written, that instantly make sense to other parents. A tap of the nose, a slow blink of the eyes, they know exactly what you mean.

For example, the other day, one of my lovely facebook friends said that she was having “one of those days”. I could feel hundreds of virtual nods moving simultaneously. ‘One of those days’ for a parent goes something like this:

– MORNING: Sleepless night, followed by whinging kid at the breakfast table, refusing to eat. An hour and a half later, the child is still in pyjamas and you’ve got to get out of the door. Lunches are hurriedly packed, the other child potters around forgetting what he or she has to pack in the school bag, no teeth cleaned. “We need to leave in 10 minutes”, you try not to scream. School child tantrums while trying ever so hard to put on pesky socks. Pyjama kid finally finishes grapes and dismounts chair, and starts fussing over clothes. Tears, screaming, parent tries hard to ignore while a volcano of emotions moves closer to the surface. Finally, both kids are dressed and find themselves in a power struggle over who has the stool while cleaning teeth and who can spit in the sink and who has to spit into the bath. Children meander to the car, taking FOREVER to climb in an sit DOWN. Car in motion, school kid dropped at school. Perhaps tears today, clinging onto legs, “Don’t go!”

-MIDDLE DAY: One child down one to go. You love your kids but this is just “one of those days”. The little one constantly switches between crying sad and painful whinging. Your patience is paper thin. You may use words you promised yourself you never would. You feel worse. You send child to bed for an early sleep after the breakfast behaviour is repeated at lunch. Child refuses to sleep, wants water, toilet, cuddle, story, more water, noises are scary, wants to sing…

-END DAY: Wake up little one. He/she is not happy. Grumpy, tears start again. Refuses to get out of bed. Shoes are put on while still in bed. Cuddle on the lounge before placing bleary-eyed little one in car.  Drive to school.  Little one demands water. No water, left at home! Try not to make little one run as you rush into the playground. Bell goes, school child runs past, dumping bulging, unzippered bag at your feet. You have to chase school child around the playground with bag and little one in tow. Ignored, you start walking out of the playground in the hope that s.c will follow. Eventually get to the car, go home. Afternoon filled with demands, sulks, crying, whinging and then dinner. You place your hard work on the table and you get “I don’t want to eat that”. You put child’s dinner in the bin and eventually they are both in bed!

– EVENING: You want to cry but too tired. You bury yourself in dvds, tv or a good book. You go to bed, trying not to seethe. “I love them, I love them, it was just ONE OF THOSE DAYS!”