I’ve read and heard various opinions about the video game, Minecraft, and it’s varied from good to bad to downright horrendous. There’s been instances of sexual abuse within the gaming platform as well as a report of a kid going into a comatose state from playing Minecraft. It’s scary stuff. The comatose kid had to go for therapy to get him off his addiction to this game, and the sexually abused kid had to also receive some kind of treatment as the gaming reality seemed so real and she physically felt abused. Some truly horrible stuff yes, and as a mother of four daughters it scares me to even contemplate either one of those possibilities. But can I voice my opinion…my humble no doctorate or phd or fancy degree, just staying at home 24/7 with my kids opinion? Because boy I really hate having to listen to everyone else bashing something that I truly find useful and helpful. Firstly, my kids are 5, soon to be 7 and 9, and the youngest too young to care. They NEVER play any online games, so the risk for sexual predators on these gaming platforms are null. And they NEVER play alone. They are not allowed to play games by themselves, because yes, inherently video games are anti-social. So, if they want to play, one of their sisters must want to play with them. And most of the time they’re only allowed to play an hour at a time, take a break, switch partners, play for another hour and then go play outside, draw, colour or do something other than stare at a screen. I’ve watched my kids play more often than not as well and if they do play unsupervised it’s while I’m around in the house busy with well, all those fun SAHM stuff we do….(yeah that’s right, we actually have other stuff to do besides entertain our kids) If they argue or fight over anything within the game it gets turned off. If they react negatively after being told it’s time to turn it off, they get banned from playing it for a couple of days. If they nag to play, they don’t get to play at all. They’re mostly, excluding weekends and some holidays, only allowed to play after 3pm. And they have to make turns. It might sound like a lot of co-ordinating, but they’re pretty good at keeping each other in check and balancing their times. We also give them tasks to do within Minecraft. Me and my husband plays as well, as I’m a firm believer that you should know what you’re allowing into your kids lives and minds. We started a “Dream house” world, where everyone had to design and build their dream house. Then we create tasks for them or create ‘treasures’ for them. A task might be something like having to build their dream playpark/restaurant etc within this world. My BH is busy building an underground railway to each house and we tell the kids there’s a secret within the world to go and discover…so we make it interactive and a family activity.
Besides playing Minecraft they also play various Kinect games. We opted for the Xbox 360 with Kinect because of the physicality of the games and I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised at the variety of games available for this. We’re busy trying out a couple of demo’s and there’s dancing games, Star Wars fighting games, Boxing and of course all the athletics and adventure sports games – and it’s fun to watch them play, as well as joining in with them. I walked into the house yesterday after telling them they can try out one of the dance demos and they were just bouncing and laughing and getting a good work out to boot.
So yes. My humble SAHM opinion is that if you’re going to leave your kid to their own devices and not monitor their activity then you’re going to find trouble – or rather they more than likely are. Do I use the gaming console as a babysitter? No – if it was a babysitter I could leave my house. I don’t do that. I think irresponsible parenting is causing more issues than games and screens, but instead of monitoring and being present with children while they are using these devices, it’s easier to point the finger at the games or videos or whatever and say how bad they are for kids. Do we really need to read about the fact that there might be sexual predators in these online games to not allow our very young kids to play online games? Surely it’s naive to think your kid is safe online, in any game…or that letting your kid play games or stare at a screen for more than 20% of their awake time won’t have an influence, especially if you’re giving them free reign on where and what and when they’re playing.
Be more involved with your kids screen time, interact with them, play the same games as them or play the games with them. Don’t let it be something that creates a barrier, use it to create a stronger bond…yes to some people playing video games might seem silly and a waste of time, but if this is the technology our kids are growing up with, then I see it more as an investment of time into my kids than a waste of time.
Well, it’s done. We’ve moved back from Nelspruit to Pretoria. Suburbia. And it’s stressful. I’ve forgotten how stressful a move can be. It’s absolute chaos and my anxiety is in overdrive and the black hole that is depression is peaking at me with red glowing eyes. What if this move doesn’t work? What if instead of bringing our family closer together it splits us more apart? What if instead of support and understanding I get lack of interest and disappointment? What if instead of growing deeper in relationship with God I get pulled further away? The countless what if scenarios running through my mind is close to overwhelming, but I don’t want to really talk about it because then I’d have to really think about it and acknowledge the fear it creates in my being. Anxiety sucker punches you in the gut when you think you’ve got everything under control. I know too well we cannot control life and circumstances. Some believe we can control how we react to situations though, and I guess in a way not talking about the anxiety I feel it might somehow control how I am reacting? This last week I’ve been reacting by literally doing just what I need to get by. Since realising that PTA is just a halfway stop on our way to NZ it’s become less of a need to unpack all the boxes – why unpack stuff I’m only going to have to pack again in less than 6 months?
It’s been raining and cold all week and summer seems to have disappeared overnight. If it wasn’t for my kids I don’t think I would’ve gotten out of bed at all! My BH has gone on a surprise visit to his youngest brother in London to be there for said brothers’ wedding, so I’ve been taking advantage of having our bed all to myself…and our almost 6month old baby. It’s been great weather for Netflix and chill so I’d say about 70% of my time has been taken up by catching up on Gilmore Girls, my 8yo are super excited that we’ve finished all 7 seasons and can now finally watch the 4 new episodes released last year. Yesterday was a complete PJ day, which honestly I’ve missed…it’s not fun doing a PJ day when it’s warm and sunny outside, too much guilt to deal with then, but with this rainy, misty, cold weather it was the perfect day for staying in our PJ’s all day, watching movies, catch up on our favourite series and play some video games. It was probably also our last day of being unproductive as my mother will be coming to visit from today and thus giving me more time to actually sort things out in the house…it’s a bit of a challenge trying to run a household without those extra pair of hands and eyes to help with baby. Not impossible. Just way too stressful and not fun…although my 8yo makes a great pair of extra hands and eyes – as long as baby is happy and not crying.
I guess in a way I have been dealing with my anxiety by just shoving it into the background and focusing on other things besides out lives, watching series and movies is a great distraction, but now I feel I’m ready to head out into the house again and try to create home for the next couple of months while we sort out all the admin and logistics that goes along with moving to another country. Am I nervous about how I’m going to deal with that? Yes, but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m focusing on the positives that a move to NZ will bring. I cannot let my mind wander into the sadnesses of saying goodbye to country and people…I hope that people will understand that. I hope my family and friends will know that I love them and will miss them, but that I’m incapable of thinking about that for fear of not being able to escape the sadness. I hope that they will understand that being able to see my husband everyday and have a stable family life in a different country doesn’t take away from the fact that they will be missed, but that I can’t give in to the feelings of nostalgia and fear of the uncertainty of not seeing their faces. If moving to PTA was stressful I’m sure moving to a different country is going to be even more so, but I cannot think about it and I am choosing to focus on the adventure that lies ahead!!
This morning I shared an article about how some people deal with anxiety and today was a real test of my coping skills. The whole situation just causes my heart to feel like it’s going to jump out my throat and my brain to shut down. I haven’t left the house by myself with my 4 girls in almost 4 months….two days ago I decided to take them to a movie as we’ve been home bound without my hubby for about a week or so. Yes, it took me two days to sort through my anxieties, think of all the likely scenarios and formulate my responses to it. To most people taking the kids to the movies is a simple excersice, to me it has a million little things that I need to be in control of. Uncoordinated bathroom breaks or a crying baby mid-movie could derail my carefully thought out plan.
This morning I almost cancelled again. It was raining and just thinking of what could go wrong makes me want to shut down. We left with plenty of time to get to the cinemas in time as I need at least 30min of a barrier in case something happens. So getting out the house with 4 kids in tow happens with a lot of heavy sighing, perspiring and muttering under my breath. I have to tell my girls upfront to please be quiet on the drive and not ask too many questions as I navigate my way through traffic. Too much input and I could suddenly find myself lost, even driving in a straight line. Stopped at a traffic light a kind person signals to me that my front tyre is flat. And all the calmness and peace I’ve managed to procure up to that point vanishes.
I’m forced to talk to strangers and deal with a situation I haven’t had time to play all the possible outcomes through my head, I feel unprepared and ill-equipped. I don’t know what to say or do, I’m perspiring prefusely, my heart is jumping out my throat and any bit of extra stress added by my kids can send me into a panic….By the grace of God we all survive it without me shutting down completely. Shutting down would see us just cancelling all plans and heading back home. At the tyre fitment centre I feel like a teenager – unsure what to say or do, staring at my phone so I don’t have to talk to anyone and shushing my kids so we can all just dissappear into the background. Sometimes having 4 kids makes that really difficult….
After getting the car sorted I’m suddenly lost and forget where we’re heading…luckily my kids know all too well where we’re heading and even though we’ve missed the early viewing of the movie we’ll catch the next one…I have to sit down and collect my thoughts, plan our time again and then move on with the rest of the ‘fun’ planned for the day. It’s exhausting. Usually my husband is my barrier and helps me deal with the anxiety because almost nothing gets him into a panic. Today just reminds me that no matter how well I try and plan and try and escape my anxiety, God puts situations in front of us and us into situations where we sometimes have no choice but to rely and trust Him. It might seem trivial to most to have to deal with a flat tyre and a car full of kids, but to me it’s a situation that can derail my whole day and cause me to feel out of control and just cancel the whole day due to anxiety. But sitting here, talking to God and writing this helps me face the situation, find peace and make a new plan….
God continually tests my boundaries and shows me that with Him I can face my anxieties and walk through situations that I would normally run away from. He shows me that no matter how much I plan and rely on being in control, I’m not but He is…and it’s better that way. He blessed me with a husband that oozes calmness and even just a quick phone call to him can help ease off the panic. He doesn’t make me feel silly for having anxiety about everyday situations but shows me empathy and love. Having a loved one or friend that truly understand and walk this road with you is so important. Mostly though I can see how God works in me through my anxiety. How He reminds me to only focus on each moment I’m in instead of worry about what is to come…it doesn’t take away all my anxiety all the time, but it does help me through the surprise situations. Because He knows.
The intent of this article has got to do with how I mother through my depression and in some instances using it to be a better parent than I think I could be without it…a bit of a weird statement I know – how can a disease make me a better parent right…well, maybe it’s part of accepting the disease as a part of who I am. I’ve always tried to distance myself from the disease, as I believe that I’ve been cured…but I understand that it’s not really something you get cured of – you learn to live with it and recognize your symptoms so you can start preempting your emotions and reactions and warn those around you, if they care enough to stick around through your ups and downs.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression by some Dr when I was 19…I was put on Antidepressants and anxiety meds. I was told that I’m bi-polar….when I’m up, I’m UP and when I’m down, I’m DOWN. No in between, which isn’t necessarily true, because most of the time when I’m neither up nor down, I’m neutral – which is by the way the worst state to be in.
I used the antidepressants for about 6 months and then took myself of it. Whether I was on it long enough to actually do what it was supposed to, I don’t know, but it made all my emotions feel ‘fake’. Like I knew not whether I was happy because I was really happy or because I was on pills. I stayed on my anxiety meds for a bit longer and always had a back-up stash for those emergency situations. During an argument with my boyfriend I got so worked up that I just couldn’t handle it anymore and ran to get some meds. I could feel an anxiety attack coming on. 15 minutes later I couldn’t care less what we were arguing about. He still cared though and wanted some kind of closure to the argument. He asked me to stop taking my anxiety meds every time we have and argument and let’s just work through it together. I told him I don’t know if I could handle it. He didn’t back off…he assured me that whatever I do or say we’ll work through it together. I’ve never let anyone see my full self until then. He saw me, he handled me throwing grocery bags at him in a parking lot in front of a mall, he knows the darkest me and he stuck around. We’ve been married for 12 years and are still going strong. We have 4 beautiful kids together. And because he’s seen all my ugly and stuck around I believe it gives me the guts to teach my kids to love all of themselves – and all of others.
Until the age of 16 I believed my parents to just be that. My parents. I didn’t see them as emotional human beings – especially my father. I knew he was a recovering alcoholic but I didn’t really comprehend the addiction or the emotions of this man. I guess I saw my mom a little more as an emotional being because I saw her cry once or twice by the age of 16…The turning point came when I wanted to go to a party and my dad said no. I asked him why and he said the standard “Because I said so.” It wasn’t a good enough reason for me. I said that I’m going unless he can give me valid reason to stay. He looked at me and told me because he needs me at home. I asked him what for? My chores were done and he was just watching TV so how could he possibly need me. He explained to me that he’s depressed and just needed his family to be around him…not necessarily doing anything with him, but just be around. I gaped at him…what? I sat down on the couch and asked him why he’s depressed and we had a conversation around depression etc. I suddenly understood some of my own feelings but didn’t say anything to him about it. I then asked him to please let me know whenever he just needs his family and be honest with me about what he’s going through. We watched movies together for the whole day and since then had a more honest relationship. I still often feel that he was the only person in my family that truly knew and understood me. He passed away almost 9 years ago. Lucky for me I have a husband that are fully invested in knowing and understanding me, otherwise I don’t know how I would’ve coped with his death and absence in my life.
I’ve been a very emotional mother. Having 4 kids is no joke. I decided to be me to my kids and not some made-up version of a mother that society crams down their throats. They know I’m not perfect and they love me anyway. They’ve seen me cry, shout, laugh and uncontrollably giggle. We’re mostly doing it together…my husband have chosen to call me passionate instead of bi-polar…which helps to de-stigmatize the disease. I explain my emotions to my kids. If I can. Sometimes I just tell them I don’t know why I feel the way I do. I especially try to explain anger to them as it’s a symptom of depression. I try to back off them a bit more when I can feel anger building up, but sometimes the wall breaks and a shouting match ensues – for which I always apologize after. I know shouting is one of the worst things that can happen to a little kid, and believe me it’s not the best thing for a mother either, but it happens. Not that much that it’s damaging our relationships, but enough for me to want to do it less…because ideally I wouldn’t want to shout at my kids at all…at least I’m not throwing grocery bags at them. They know my limits…they stretch my limits, which is good. We go for longer and longer periods without incident. I don’t use traditional depression or anxiety meds, but what I use works for me. It makes me calmer and increases my patience. I don’t see myself cured, but I’ve learned how to live with my depression and anxiety without the use of antidepressants. I get judged either way by people – depressed and on antidepressants have a stigma as much as depressed and using cannabis does. The only difference is that only one of them actually works in helping me live with depression and the other only have the pretense of helping…It’s different for each person and I know that there are people who get helped by antidepressants, it just didn’t work for me.
I go periods of using a lot of cannabis and some periods of using none at all. I can go months or years without using and then I can have periods of using daily and periods of only using once a week. You can’t self-regulate antidepressants as you need. The last psychiatrist I saw luckily never suggested medication, probably because I was clear upfront about not wanting to be on medication. He helped me however with finding constructive ways to deal with my symptoms when I could feel them coming on. Practical ways, and one of them was to let my kids know when I feel sad, or happy, or scared…and it has helped me build stronger relationships with my kids. And I hope that it’ll help them to always know that they can talk to me about their emotions and with what they are going through. Too many times people bottle up their emotions, especially from their parents, and it all goes wrong…
Too often we hear of stories of teens that commit suicide and their parents thought they were happy and healthy. Too often we hear of mothers who struggle alone with their depression and feelings of guilt. I know my children are still very young, 8, 6, 5 and a 4 month old. But hopefully by being open and honest from a young age to them about my struggles, they’ll always see me as human being with emotions an won’t one day be caught by surprise when they are teens and I react in an emotional way towards them. Hopefully they will always know that they can be open and honest to me about their emotions and struggles, even when they are hormonal teenagers. They are all girls so that comes with it’s own set of emotional and hormonal struggles. I hope that it teaches them to turn to God for help and not to humans, because they’ll know that even their mother is a fallible, weak human without God’s help and grace.
It might seem strange to mention God now, but once again, the judgement that happens when you admit to relying on God rather than medication is sometimes overwhelming in today’s world. A lot of people also can’t reconcile the idea of using cannabis whilst professing to love God, yet have no problem with the use of alcohol. The overwhelming evidence of alcohol being more addictive and detrimental to your health completely escapes them and they solely make up their minds based on propaganda and the one or two articles claiming the negative effects of marijuana. They ignore the research articles done on the positive effects of THC or cannibinoids found in marijuana. Multiple sclerosis, arthritis, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, cancer and others have been reported to show improvement with the use of marijuana. CNN report, list of 700 diseases and articles related to the use of marijuana to improve conditions 700 diseases, Common illnesses
I pray my most fervent prayers and do my most revealing Bible studies when I’m struggling with depression. And when its going well I am thankful to God for guiding me through it once again I praise and worship Him for it all. I can see Gods’ hand in my life long before I was a born again follower of Christ. I can see it in my life everyday. I believe He knows all and guides us to follow the path He lays out for us, and He gives us tools to help us along the way.
I pray that one day I will live in a world where I neither get judged for suffering from Depression, or for the use of marijuana to help me through it. I pray that my children will know that it doesn’t have to be a disabling disease and that you don’t have to suffer in silence or feel like you shouldn’t talk about it for fear of being judged wrongly by others. I pray that the stigma of the disease and of the cure will be gone.
And I pray that I can always give the best of me to my kids, but that they will love me even when I am at my worst. Because I am not perfect, and I don’t want them to expect me to be…
Amidst all the chaos in the world today there are many things to pick to write about, but for some reason I felt the calling this morning to write about gender neutrality vs. gender equality.
According to Wikipedia: Gender neutrality (adjective form: gender-neutral), also known as gender-neutralism or the gender neutrality movement, describes the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to people’s sex or gender, in order to avoid discrimination arising from the impression that there are social roles for which one gender is more suited than the other.
I look at my daughters and I want them to embrace every part of who they are, be it adventurous, romantic, girly or not. I want them to show the world that in spite of them being female they deserve the same rights and benefits as their male counterparts. I also want them to understand though and be aware that because they are females they are made up of different stuff, different hormones and different connections than their male counterparts, and that because of this there just are some things that are perceived to have been done better by males or have traditionally been a male dominated profession/sport/activity etc etc. I wouldn’t want them to take that and say because it hasn’t been done before by a woman they couldn’t do it, or that them being female would prevent them from doing certain things, but I would want them to be able to realistically weigh their options in how to achieve their life goals. We all know that males and females have different biological make-up and different hormones that causes certain characteristics and or behaviour. Testosterone is a male hormone. Estrogen female…and they are responsible for different kind of behaviours. If we are now telling kids that they are gender neutral then how do we help them through their ways of expressing their emotions when these hormones come into play?
I agree that we shouldn’t use gender to discriminate against the different sexes, but I also think that women and men alike should stop using that as an excuse to say that they can’t achieve their life goals. I’m a white female in a very young Democracy, and I’m sure I’ve experienced discrimination because I was a female in the workplace, but I’ve never let that stop me from going where I was headed. I find that sticking up for who you are as a person vs. throwing your gender inequality in everyone’s face gets you further. I also find knowing where there might be discrimination and using that information to avoid situations can be beneficial. One example is the motor industry. I truly don’t know any women knowledgeable or interested in mechanics or cars. We appreciate a nice looking car, we love fast cars, we enjoy driving them and being driven in them and all kinds of stuff – but the inner workings of the machine?? Well…you kinda lost me at piston….I know enough to sound almost like I know what you’re talking about, but I’m not really interested…and most men know this. So if my car needs a service or I need to negotiate on what parts are necessary to replace right now vs. what can wait for a bit etc etc. I’m going to be sending my husband to do the talking and listening. Is that being sexist? I don’t think so…I think that’s knowing strengths and weaknesses….and there are many instances where this could be applied. I’m not saying women shouldn’t be allowed to study mechanics or mocked for being interested, but let’s not pretend that these areas don’t exist.
I despise it when someone utters the words:” you cannot do that, you’re a girl…” or “decent young ladies don’t behave like that…”. I don’t believe that just because you lack an extra piece of anatomy between your legs you shouldn’t be brave and adventurous and be able to do the things you want to do, and the classification of tomboy or princess between the different characters of girls is unfair and probably what drives the whole gender neutral movement!
I don’t agree that you should have to give up your gender in order to have certain experiences. I would want my girls to embrace the entirety of who they are and as who God created them. I believe that you should fight for what and who you are, not give up part of you to receive equal treatment. Gender equality fights for equal rights in all areas of life and to me this makes a whole bunch more sense than gender neutrality. Parents admit that they raise their children gender neutral by letting boys dress up as girls or letting their boys play with dolls, or with letting their girls dress as boys and play with cars and I look at it and think: Really – this is your forward thinking movement? I was raised with two brothers and a sister and we were never told which toys we could or couldn’t play with, and I had just as much fun playing with my brothers’ cars than I had playing with dolls. Did I wish I was a boy? At times, yes….when we were visiting on my grandparents farm and all the boy cousins would go off “hunting” wit their bb-guns and the girls had to stay behind and help in the kitchen, or sit chatting in the garden, or play dolls…then I’d wish I was a boy so that my cousins wouldn’t run away from me and let me shoot a gun as well and go hiking or swimming in the river. When the boys would be able to go for a long walk through the bushes and veld without having to turn back home or squat with grass tickling your bum to make a wee…but would I really give up being who I am for a couple of ‘perceived privileged’….no. I would fight for the right to do those things and show the boys that I could shoot just as well as them in spite of me being a girl! I cannot comprehend how you could convince yourself that by not calling your child a boy or a girl you could think that it makes them less so. They still have all the hormones and emotions and physical aspects of the gender they were born as. Some guys say that their kids just don’t identify with a certain gender and thus are gender neutral, some parents just make that choice before their kids can even speak…I would say that the gender you were born with isn’t the be all and end all of who you are, but that it still plays an important part of your created being. Yes, some girls enjoy doing activities and sports that have traditionally been considered ‘male’…and some boys the same, and we should be able to allow them to express that without them having to choose between being a boy or girl or none…
Maybe because I believe that God doesn’t make mistakes and to me a person saying that they are neither male/female are lying to themselves as well as saying God made a mistake…so maybe it boils down to faith….and that can of worms I will leave for another day.
To my four daughters.
I spend many hours watching you play and listening to your chatter and as much as I want to protect you from the harms in this world, I also want to teach you how to deal with the hurt each of us are guaranteed in this world. Some lessons we learn from others, other lessons only through our own experiences. This is what I’d want for you…because I love you and I want you to be kind and caring human beings….
I want you to appreciate the possessions you have in life, not because I want you to be materialistic, but because I want you to realize that you have no right to any of it. It’s a blessing to have what you want and one that can last for a lifetime or be taken away in an instant. True happiness surpasses all you could ever own and so does loneliness and sadness…it might make life easier, but it does not necessarily make life happier. To appreciate the beauty of a sunset or the love of your true love, you do not need a fat bank account, and those are often the happiest moments you’ll remember. No one denies having money is nice, but if all you’re doing is working to earn money and never actually living life with simple acts of life you will never know happiness.
I want you to respect your elders, not because someone deserves respect because they’ve been alive for longer than you have, but because they deserve respect through having survived the experiences they’ve had, the hurt and the joys they shared. Experience is worth more than years, but you can never catch up with the life experience of a 90 year old person…respect the things they’ve seen that you will never see, respect the lessons they’ve learnt and forgotten that you still have to learn.
I want you to be kind. Not so that you can be used as a stepping stone, but so that you can learn the value of a smile, of a kind word and realize kindness has more power than anger. That when you act towards someone with anger they close down but when you act with kindness they open up.
I want you to be impulsive. Not because it’s a romantic notion to throw caution to the wind, but because it teaches you to not worry about the little things that over time can become a huge burden and cause anxiety and no amount of time and planning can conquer it. The best things in life is realised within an instant. Planning gives you time and opportunity to consider possible negatives and changes your focus onto ‘planning’ everything to perfection, instead of enjoying the perfection of that moment.
I want you to be strong. Not because I want you to fight for feminism or stand up for women’s rights, but because I want you to stand up for what you believe is right and what makes you happy, without the fear of being judged for not wanting what you are told you should be wanting. I want you to stick to your convictions in the face of being told you’re uncool or weird or not normal. I want you to strive to never be the same as everyone else around you. Be you!
I want you to have faith. Not because faith will save you, but because faith is stronger than hope. Faith is believing because you know, not because you feel. Know that and hold onto knowing. Feelings come and go like the wind, knowledge lasts forever.
I want you to experience the love of a man and loose it. Not because I think it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all…but because when you loose the wrong one you are better prepared to fight for the right one. You learn when to give and when to take, what to compromise and what to stand up for. You learn to love regardless.
I want you to love Jesus. Not only because I believe He will unite us in heaven when this world has passed, but because when you know Him, you will be all you ever need to be to draw others to Him. And you will be the best you you could ever be.
In the last couple of weeks I have received warnings via my FB timeline about being careful at both malls in my hometown, because children have been kidnapped. In both instances it turned out that it wasn’t kidnappings but merely curious children wandering off without informing their parents.
In both cases I have no idea what the age of the children are, but I am assuming they were able to speak and walk as both reports later indicated this ability. First off, I am relieved beyond belief that neither turned out to be a case of kidnapping, as there is SO much child trafficking happening and it’s unspeakable what happens to these children when they do get taken.
I have a slight issue with the two above cases as obviously the posts made onto Social Media was instant and before they could assess the situation completely. On the one hand I understand that a parent might think it would be helpful to warn other parents or to assist them in finding their own child – but it also does a bit more harm than good. Because as much as you chase people into a panic when you post these events, you lull them into a false ease when you later have to apologize that you got it wrong. Soon any post about a kidnapped child will just be seen as another misjudged case of a wandering kid instead of receiving the serious attention it deserves.
As a parent of three very young girls I shudder to think what any parent must go through in this kind of situation. We have explained the dangers of this world to our daughters so that they can understand why we have to have them within eyesight at all times – even when playing at the play areas of restaurants. They are not allowed to go anywhere without our prior permission and with absolutely no strangers. This does not make us immune to the possibilities though.
I just wonder where do we draw the line – do we become overly paranoid and overprotective, or swing in the opposite direction and become blind to the horrors of the world? Having read a couple of books about child trafficking and the horrors that these kids endure I have to say I might swing towards paranoid and overprotective – but in the same breath I try and trust that God has my and my childrens’ backs…I find myself in a paranoid/naive paradox and events as noted above makes me feel angry and relieved. Angry because the reality of that poor kid being taken is very real, and angry that somehow he/she managed to slip past their parents and sent a whole bunch of people into a state of panic. Relieved that this child gets to go home and this family doesn’t have to face the real horrors of child trafficking.
I know we are suppose to protect our kids from the horrors of the world, and I have to wonder what the discussion was between parent and child once the kid was found.
My kids thought it would be funny to run ahead of me and my husband once while walking through the mall. The eldest two ran ahead and didn’t stop, even after we called them. They found themselves a hiding spot inside one of the shops and jumped out at us as we stood there trying to see where they’ve gone. They thought we would laugh and that it was a cool trick to play. And if we were in a different time or at home, it would’ve been. But it wasn’t. To experience that sense of helplessness for even just a second was horrifying. I don’t think they ever saw either one of us like that…we pulled them towards us with no laughter bubbling up and their giggles stopped very quickly. My husband very seriously told them that they are never to do that again. They explained that they are just playing and having fun and in no uncertain terms we told them that they will receive a very unpleasant hiding if they did that ever again. We then and there explained to them that there are people in this world that would take them away from us and they would never see us again. As harsh at it was the reality of this is the only thing that would stop them from playing this trick again or to think that it’s okay for them to wander off without us.
I know that all parents try their best to protect and raise their children in the most loving and safe way possible, but I would ask every parent to talk to their children very seriously not just about “stranger danger” but also about just wandering off. I don’t want my children to live in fear, and I’m not someone that live or spread fear, but sometimes our kids need to understand the consequences of their actions, even if it is scary, so that they can think before they do things. As parents we need to be vigilant, because as much as we think we can see our kids playing in a play area or we know that they’re there, there has been cases of children being taken out of those play areas. Check in on your kids, or tell them to check in on you every half an hour or ten minutes. I always ensure I sit where I can see my kids from my table and if I can’t spot them within 2 min of looking I get up and go look for them. I would most certainly rather be safe than sorry when it gets to protecting my kids…and believe me, my kids are extremely independent otherwise….at home they have free reign and they know that they are safe to explore all areas of our yard and house.
How would you recommend safe guarding our kids and teaching them about the real dangers of being taken without instilling a sense of fear in them?
I have often uttered the words: “you guys are driving me insane”…mostly under my breath, but every now and then audible enough for my three little girls to hear those words…and every time I do say it loud enough I cringe, wondering what effect it has on their little minds…and then my hubby chimes in and says, no, you’ve lost your mind long, long ago already…and this in turn makes me wonder does any mother really still have any sanity left in her? I’m sure we must have some semblance of sanity to still be able to cook dinner, convince our kids to eat the deliciously prepared feast when all they want is a grilled cheese sandwich, stack the dishwasher for the umpteenth time in the same day, convince our kids to take a bath and put on some clean PJ’s…and finally get them off to bed.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my gorgeous three girls and I am beyond blessed to have them in my life. They are mostly well-behaved, well-mannered and well-intentioned little beings, but every now and then they just don’t understand the pressures and stresses of being the only adult around for days…I find myself amazed that I am able to converse in an adult like manner with my friends…and sometimes it turns upside down and I talk to my kids like real adults, just to make sure I still know how…
I’ve discovered though that acting a bit crazy with the kids goes down well, loosing one’s mind seems like pure silliness when it’s witnessed by little girls and they giggle like a trio of little crazies at their mom slowly going a bit crazy…it doesn’t work so well with adults though. They generally genuinely seem concerned…
I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever shred of sanity I have left is mainly due to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Yes, I thank Jimmy for my sanity, because after a crazy day of doing stuff moms do, which most dads seem to think is doing nothing, I can climb into my bed, turn on my PVR and mostly laugh at Mr. Fallon.
My hubby works away from home ALOT, and Jimmy is my companion at night when I need to let go of all the stress of all the day…Last night I made the mistake of thinking I could do the same while watching Grey’s Anatomy…
OMW..the worst decision ever!! I love Grey’s and normally it would’ve been fine…but then last night the show killed of Derek Sheppard, (yes we’re slightly behind…it’s Africa…) which is just not what I needed to see after having my hubby drive back and fro to the city as often as he has been – can you say emotional over reaction to a TV show…OH MY SOUL…Luckily, Jimmy was waiting in the wings and as soon as I finished bawling my eyes out of it’s sockets while trying to snack on something healthy (which, let’s be honest was part of why I was crying…healthy fruit roll vs. delicious chocolate…baaaaa) and just like that my crazy paranoia was stopped in it’s tracks and I could fall asleep with a smile on my face. Thank you Jimmy, for not talking about anything kid related, at least 98% of the time. Thank you for making fun of the entire US Government, which I really would have no idea who is who otherwise, being South African and all, and Thank you for keeping me company while my hubs earns some cash. Thank you for being the kind of show I could watch while my little one’s lie sleeping next to me – certainly can’t do that with Game Of Thrones…eeeeek….and Thank you for just being the darn good guy you are. You make my sanity seem in-tact and well after a long day. Bless you.
Do any mommies out there have a show they go to for a good laugh or a feel good vibe?