The Toddler, The Carseat and The Mother F*ing Sandpit.

I’ve often read posts by other bloggers where they take us (the reader) through a day in their life. And I LOVE those posts. I’m fascinated by peoples routine, what they eat for breakfast and how they run their day. I’ve always wanted to write one about my own life. It’s slightly narcissistic I know, but I figured if I’m as intrigued by your daily bowel movements and dogs walks then you might be the same about me.

This is not one of those posts. I was going to, until I realised that it would be the longest.post.known.to.mankind. Why, you ask, when everyone’s day only has 24 hours in it? Because, dear readers, I have a 2-year-old, and anyone who has a toddler understands that there are stages in your kids life when time actually just fucking stands still.

Let me talk you though one of these times.

It was yesterday, and I was fetching my son from creche.

4:45 – Pull up at the school, park and walk in

4:47 – Arrive at Carters classroom and observe this angel, the love of my life, for a few minutes. Agh sweet man, look at how nicely he’s playing on his bike and listening to his teachers, I think.

4:50 –  Walk into play area and Carter catches my eye. Drops bike and runs over to give me my hug/high-five/kiss combo. Yussis but he’s cute man. All dirty kneed and grubby footed.

4:50 –  Chat to his teachers about his day and what he did. Out of the corner of my eye see another kid grab the bike my son was on and start to play with it.

4:50 –  Spend several minutes trying to remind my son that we are going home and he doesn’t need that bike until tomorrow. Alternate between loving and scolding his teacher for then finding another bike that now looks exactly the same and making a song and dance of putting this now new bike in a secret place for safekeeping. (2 year olds, masters of manipulation since forever).

4:59 –  Have child, bag, tag and keys. Somehow manage to lose keys to child. It’s Ok, anything to now start the long walk to freedom.

5:01 – Magically manage to walk out of playground gate. Brain on high alert as I know just how many obstacles lie in store between me, the 250 m walkway, and my car.

5:01 – Child spots sandpit. The goddam sandpit.

5:01 – “Mommy, I dig”

5:01 – “No baby, you can dig at home, come we need to go.”

5:02 – “No mommy, I dig here.”

5;02 – Mommy with willpower of a legless Octopus concedes and makes small human promise to only 2 minutes. He is very sincere and I almost believe he will honour his commitments.

5:02:10 – 2 shoes off child has launched himself into a sea of sand and buckets.

5:06 – Perched on edge of sandpit, overlarge belly and all making small talk with other downtrodden and weary parents who also just now want to go the fuck home.

5:07 – Rationally tell him we have been here for 5 minutes, and not 2, and we must now go home.

5:07 – Alot of no’s and general toddler sounding moaning.

5:08 – Must stick to guns. Tells him in no uncertain terms that we are going home now, and proceed to walk away. Listen to the sound of his wailing get softer the further I walk.

5:10 – Try to not make eye contact with horrified parents who are witnessing this angelic little boy, clearly stranded in the sandpit, with no parent in sight. I am now half submerged in a jacaranda tree to A) avoid said parents and B) hide from my child. I am still convinced the panic of being deserted by his second favourite parent will make him run out to find me.

5:12 – No sign of son growing larger as he runs towards me. Only the sign of the nursery school gardener now carrying my inconsolable child to me in a bear hug.

5:13 – Snot everywhere (him, not me). Not even Orphan Annie puts on this good a show. Slow clap for the little terrorist.

5:15 –  Kneel down on unsteady hind-legs and look into his eyes. Try to rationalise with him about why we have to go. Throw in self pitying statements like ‘mommys had a shitty day at work and just wants to go home’ to ‘daddys waiting with sweeties!”. I will stop at nothing now.

5:17 – A glimmer of understanding, if not compassion in his small tear stained face. I even get a hug and a ‘love you’. Clammy hand in mine we actually start walking, I can sell the Q20 on the gate we are so close.

5:18 – Puppies. MOTHERFUCKING PUPPIES. Two of the adorable bastards. When did the school allow this sort of child heroin into its grounds? Christ almighty we must now stop and play with the most adorable jack russel siblings you have ever laid eyes on.

5:25 – Dogs thoroughly tackled and tickled and assaulted we are finally on the home stretch. People, I am so close that my pregnant bladder lets forth a drop or two.

5:26 – Aand we are at the gate. My god I have never been so excited to see these maroon bars. Excited high fives for all the guards and it’s next stop motor vehicle time. Yes, you baby!!

5:27 – Crap. He has my car keys. It must now unlock the vehicle and enter the front seat at a speed a sloth would find agonising. I’m-A-Big-Boy-Mommy must now insert key into keyhole and start the car. Very clever, praise, well done, go you go. Now get the fuck into your car chair.

5:29 – Again, with the sloth dance, it crawls from my chair to his chair in a ground breaking speed of minus kilometres per hour. We are now actually going against the speed of light. The earth has officially stopped moving. Winter is coming.

5:35 – Realises it doesn’t actually want to be in his chair. It wants to be back in the sandpit.

5:35 – With the strength of Grace Mugabe in a hotel room with an extension cord, I pin him down under my heaving bosom and sweat lined face and try to strap him – a 12 armed rubber toy fuelled by Red Bull, into his car seat. Both now crying.

5:36 – Reverse car at rapid pace with music so loud. Never has Highved Stereo sounded nicer than it has drowning out my sons screams as he unleashes the wrath of his mothers meanness on the world.

5:41 – The 2.1 km commute home has been filled with despair and decibels of glass shattering proportions.

5:42 –  Ironically, in a last minute plot twist, it now doesn’t want to get out of its car seat and starts clawing me with tiny toddler finger nails to stop the unbuckling of his chair. I attempt few hard klaps but end up hitting myself twice instead.

5:43. Leave him in chair and walk into my house which is currently a construction zone. Place myself under the sound of a metal grinder and breathe in the sweet sweet sound of something other than a 2-year-olds-tantrum.

** Disclaimer **

No children were harmed in the making of this episode

The child was removed for the vehicle by his first-favourite parent

Mom only sniffed tasted the wine that night.

 

 

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On This Sickness Thing.

Everyone is a perfect parent when they don’t have kids. Then you have kids, and everything you thought and said pre-spawn files right out the window and hits some poor unsuspecting low flying duck in the face.

When I was a non-mom, one of the biggest ‘my child will never be like that’ thoughts I had was around sickly, snotty kids. Everywhere I looked there were babies and toddlers with runny noses, unwell children, coughing children and people bailing on social events due to said snotty coughing unwell children.

When Carter was born I handed him around to everyone within sight like a bad scene from the Lion King. “Touch him” I would screech, “hold him” I proclaimed “let him be exposed to all the germs” I yelled. And he did, and he was, and he was fine.

Even when I sent him to crèche at the tender age of 119 days I was met with disgust from most people, people horrified at just how many germs he would be exposed to. Steadfast in my belief that my child was a Kearney, and therefore healthier than a pot of organic yoghurt, I insisted that crèche would be the best thing for him. “immunity building” I think is what I said. And for the next three months it was great. I had a healthy, happy contented kid. Until one day – when he was seven months old – school phoned. Carter had a temperature. I was more panicked than Trump on a windy day, I raced to the crèche, fetched my utterly miserable child and spent the rest of the day wondering how he could have gone from farting and happy to 40-degreed and miserable in the space of a few hours. A few days later he was A-Okay, back at crèche and everything was just dandy. Except his immune system seemed to have been activated – like breaking that wee seal at a night club – and suddenly the crèche calls were more frequent. Not to say he was always sick (in-fact, he’s more healthy than not) but if there was a bug or virus doing the rounds, then my kid was bound to catch it.

We had our fair share of colds, eye infections and UFBD (Unidentified Filthy Baby Disease). In June he got gastro turned dysentery and in the past week he’s been off school with sinus infections and semi-bronchitis. Yes, that’s a thing.

He’s not alone, kids are foul creatures, and all the spitting, drooling, toy swopping and face touching means that germs will spread faster than a gossip session at ladies night. So, is my child more healthy or sickly than his peers? Absolutely not. Around 98.7% of my phone data is used up on mommy chats discussing our small humans bloody stools, projectile vomit and gunky eyes.

I already have game plans for illnesses that don’t exist. His medicine box is stocked for everything from a sore toe to a tsunami, Life hospital will be my destination of choice should he ever need to be admitted (they have beds and food for parents!) and bedtime vitamin administration is a mini assembly line.

Not that any of this will work, because they’re kids, man. And their small little bodies mean that they have much weaker immune systems. What might make us sneeze four times could cause them to need an antibiotic drip and a 5 hour nap. We have to remember that essentially they need to get exposed to everything at least once – so whereas you and I are revolting tainted grownups, our pink footed little munchkins still have a long way to go.

So, whilst Winter may be a hell pit of sickness and snot, at least I know his immune system is getting an excellent workout, and slowly building itself up to Kearney standards.

PS – If you are looking for a list of medications to stock up on for your little one, for those ‘just in case’ moments, may I suggest using this handy list I’ve complied, below.

Sally 6/5/9 126

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Today I Feel Like The Worst Mother In The World.

Kid, you and me, we’ve been inseparable these past four months. Even before that, when you were physically a part of me for 38 weeks and 4 days. From the second you were born, your body has always found a way to be connected with mine. From the way you rested on my chest, just seconds after taking your first breath, to the way your fingers will always find mine. When you sleep, you curve your proud little chest into me, and when you wake, your hands swat my face in play.

I’ve always battled to be without you. Not in a ‘helicopter parent’ kind of way, but because I miss you when you’re not around. From the very beginning, being your mom has been my proudest role. I love how we read each other, and how happy you always are to see me (although, you’d smile at a brick wall if given a chance and I’ve watched you flirt with anything with a face, so I guess you’re not quite at the monogamous stage just yet.). Even when you were tiny, and the pain meds from my C section forced me to sit on the loo for hours on end, you would always be nestled on the bed within earshot, whilst I coo’d sweet nothings from behind the closed door, holding back tears of pain. Soon after, I stopped taking the meds altogether.

Maternity leave for me, albeit not ‘leave’ in the true sense of the world, has been the most intense four months of my life. You have come pretty much everywhere with me. Ive 4×4’d your pram up steps to friends houses, I’ve plopped you in a Pick n Pay trolley to buy groceries and you’ve experienced the sounds of the bush house more than once. You come to the gym with me 3 days a week, and you watch me from the floor of the kitchen while I make dinner.

I wont lie, at times I’ve dreamt of a nanny, to help relive my aching arms at the end of a long day, to watch you for “just 5 minutes” so I could shave my legs or to unscrew the lid of your bottle when my hands were needed for rocking you, but we can’t afford one (have you seen the price of education?). I’m proud of the way that we’ve done this together, you and me. Thank you for your patience when I nearly let you fall off the changing mat, or when I placed you in a way-too-warm bath. You’ve made this easy for me.

Tomorrow, I go back to work. I’m trying to rationalise with myself that I’m not a bad mom. That me leaving you for a full day in the care of strangers is acceptable. That this will make you a well rounded boy, and that you will know that it wasn’t without severe deliberation or self blame. The thing is, a part of me wants to go back to work. My brain has fossilised these past 4 months. My friend Sheena and I (also a new mom) laugh about our ‘mum dumb’ daily. I love my job, I’m excited to see my colleagues and meet my new team. I’m excited to reunite with my favourite client, and push myself again. I am happiest after a busy day and I hope you know that you will always still be the favourite part of my day, and that when I see you, it will always be the best of me. I know that your new creche teachers and carers are going to fall into the Carter trap. You’re bloody cute, and everyone who meets you is taken in by your comical smile and sweet nature. I know you’re going to a place where you will be treated with love and care. Your two cousins are some of the greatest kids I have met – and I know that the school will help you get here too.

I also know that there’s a good chance that the only thing I’m going to achieve tomorrow is trying not to spend half the day in the bathrooms, sobbing. That I’m going to be looking at my watch every hour, counting down the minutes until I can fetch you from creche. That if Eskom initiates load shedding and I get stuck on Jan Smuts, that you may be visiting your mom in a state prison.

I also know that in a weeks time, and a months time, I probably wont cry anymore. And that in a few years time, you would rather be at school with your new friends, than stuck at home with ‘boring dad and me’.

Kid, you are going to be so great. So am I. We are not the first mom, nor the first baby to have to do this. In fact, I have a feeling being a working mom is going to help me more. You’ve given me a new found strength and set of balls. I want to work for me, and for you. I’m working so that I can be an employable and well rounded person, and so you can get that fancy new cricket bat when you need one.

So, while I may feel like the worst mother in the world today, I know I’m not. I also know that when it matters, I will be there for you. I’m going to be at your parent teacher days, and your first swimming lesson. I’m going to embarrass the shit out of you at your first athletics day, and your art is going to drip off every available surface of my fridge.

Here’s to new things, kid. But please, just always remember, if you have a bakerman day at school, your mom bloody better get that first cupcake.

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Sheena, my partner in ‘mum dumb’ gave me this ‘back to work’ survival pack.
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My mom gave me this beautiful locket, so I could always keep Carter close to my heart.

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Things That Only Kids Who Went To School In The '90s Will Understand

I was chatting to a school go’er the other day when the talk turned to lunchboxes and tuck-shops. I guess in the back of my mind I’m already worried that I won’t be able to match my mom’s school lunch boxes – those things were legendary – and the talk of the quadrangle.

Did you know that some schools these days have in-campus restaurants and that the tuck shop menu features more than just a Piemans Pantry Cornish Pasty and a soggy salad roll?

Listen up, kids – we had it hard in the 90’s. I’ve heard talk of school tuck shops (are they even called tuck-shops anymore, or are they now referred to as ‘Student Lounges’?) serving sushi, hot meals and coffee.(Coffee! I guess ADHD isn’t a thing anymore)

This blog post is inspired by the almost slave labour like conditions that most C level schools provided in the 90’s.

Things that only kids who went to school in the 90’s, will remember.

Tuck-shops and school food

  1. In Primary School a R2 note at the tuck-shop could buy you half a Chelsea Bun, a large guava roll and a toasted mince sandwich.
  2. Tuck-shop ladies were always your mom and other moms. If you knew your mom was on tuck-shop duty you were in luck – as it meant getting to the front of the queue faster.

tuck-shop

3. A handful of coins was always enough to get you something. It was perfectly acceptable for the Grade 1’s and Grade 2’s to open a grubby fist, full of bronze coins, and ask “what can I get for this?”

4. Woolies did not sell cute snack sized, pre-cut, low carb, banting friendly treats (these were the days before Woolworths was aspirational). Our moms would pack our food (high-carb-what-the-hell-is-a-gluten-intolerance-anyway jam-sandwiches) in an empty bread packet, a Checkers packet, or in my case a 2 litre ice cream tub. Sandwich swopping was up there with marbles during break time.

Sports

  1. In Primary school, uniform regulations were strict. There were dedicated shops (I think called Step Ahead) which sold school authorised uniforms and accessories. Think navy blue scrunchies, padded alice bands and matchy matchy hair clips.
  2. In Winter, knee high socks were mandatory, and if you happened to have twig legs like me, your mom would have to sew you 2 elasticated bands to help them stay up.
  3. If you partook in a school sport, school colour and brand approved underwear was compulsory. Before every match or game the girls would line up in the quadrangle while the teachers lifted our (knee high) culottes and inspected our panties. Not school regulation grey or navy? Sorry, no sport for you.
  4. Refreshments during a school match were always the following: A slice of orange still in its peel during half time, and a packet of Fritos and a frozen Take 5 after the game.

Take 5 Fritos

Teachers and Classrooms

  1. For the longest time I thought every desk I sat at belonged to a boy named Ted. It was only in my later more intelligent tween (also, not a word that was around in the 90’s) years that I realised the permanent marker “T.E.D’s” stood for ‘Transvaal Education Department. (T.O.D in the Afrikaanse onderwyser se klaskamer)

School desk

  1. You don’t know what true claustrophobia is until you’ve sat in a pre-fab classroom with the windows closed.
  2. There were no cell phones in schools (they didn’t exist until I was in Standard 9) so the only piece of technology that was always being confiscated by the teachers was the Tamagotchi. Highly upsetting to all Tamagotchi owners, the confiscation of these always resulted in a “But Mrs de Bruyn it was going to die, I had to feed it!”

Tamagotchi

  1. There was no such thing as a Typo Stationer in the 90’s. School stationery was standard issue HB pencils, Bic pens (after a certain age) and feint lined exam pads. The only stamp of personalisation that one was allowed was a Space Case in which to keep it all.

Space Case

  1. If you saw a teacher out of school it was big news. We could never quite believe that Mrs so and so had a life outside of her classroom.
  2. Each child had a chair bag – a material item that draped over your school chair with a large pocket – useful for storing your stationery and lunches. God forbid you forgot your lunch there over a weekend or even worse – school holidays. Mom would get out the wooden spoon. (if you’re not afraid of the wooden spoon, even to this day, then you definitely weren’t a 90’s school’goer)

chair bag

  1. All class photos looked like this:

school photo

School grounds and facilities

  1. The quadrangle was the equivalent of the starting block in The Hunger Games. Most days ended and started there. Come rain or shine, hundreds of little children’s delicate bottoms grew haemorrhoids from sitting on the concrete listening to the headmaster read out roll call.
  2. School assembly’s marked a sign of seniority – the smaller you were, the closer you sat at the front. The older kids always got to sit at the back. Teachers flanked the perimeter of the school hall like soldiers at a prison camp. The floors were always dusty and one child would always puke near you.
  3. Toilets were revolting. The doors always started half way up the wall, and there was no such thing as a soap dispenser – only a soggy round white soap that sat in the ceramic indentation of the sink. To use this was a risk not many were willing to take. There was no such thing as hand dryers or paper towels- instead archaic machines were mounted from the walls from which white and blue striped material was dispensed. To get a clean portion of said towel one had to manoeuvre the round lever until the dirty section disappeared and a fresh section was revealed. To this day it is still a mystery as to how these towels cleaned themselves.

towel dispenser

So yes, schooling in the 90’s was not glamourous, but then I became an adult and realised… I would give anything to go back.

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