Monday, March 30, 2009

Meal time woes

A recent post at inspired me to write about family mealtimes of my own experience. There are so many bloggers who absolutely enjoy the kitchen and are able to whip up fantastic tasty meals in no time at all. I cook for my two boys but I am severely restricted in my choices by the fussy palates. Dael won't eat any yellow veg. except gem squash and every meal is accompanied by a lethal dose of tomato sauce (ketchup). Bradley generally has eaten late and then is not hungry at dinnertime and moans and groans throughout the meal because he is full. The boys don't have an affinity with any vegetables and most meals consist of whatever meat with potato or rice and gem squash. Their favourite is macaroni cheese. Executive fare people. Anyway they are growing boys so I figure the huge amount of starch they consume is probably not doing them too much harm. Pantry items in my house usually consist of a lot of bread, ditto eggs, two minutes noodles, fresh cheese for making snackwiches (Dael's staple). Very simple fare.
I don't really even try to hard to get them to eat 'forbidden' items but my mom was very militant in her approach to feeding her fantastic four. Fantastic is the word because our antics were probably hard to believe. My mom believes that food is the backbone of bringing up kids and she has taken her task to heart. My parents believed in discipline and routine (who doesn't if they can implement it) and working as a well oiled machine, together they did implement it. The table was laid every night - cloth, placemats, silverware, plates, condiments, drinking glasses, colddrinks. When we were younger they dished up for us probably because they couldn't trust us to dish a balanced meal. My youngest sister (the baby) always got the smallest portion and always left some of it. She pecked her food! Can you believe that today she is the cook of the family, always trying new recipes and is a big girl. Her favourite tv programme is the cooking channel. My middle sister used to dissect her food and isolate any bits that had 'veins' or 'pipes'. Honestly watching her eat you would instantly lose your appetite. My brother didn't have a problem with food and still doesn't. I was fussy but in a good way - obviously. No really I was very simplistic and plain - no sauces, fresh tomato or cucumber. I loved cheese and lettuce. My parents once held me down as a kid and tried to force a piece of fresh tomato between my lips. I was about 12 at the time - I won! My mom's personal favourite in the vegetable world is peas and it seemed like every meal included peas! I hate peas and even today very seldom even buy them. Just about every night I would be relegated to the kitchen once the table was cleared to chase my portion of cold peas around the plate until every last one was eaten. My parents were very vigilant. Today though (in my maturity!) I will eat tomato on a burger or in cooked food. It is still not a favourite though. I love cucumber now and eat it every night with my meal. I eat mayonnaise and other sauces. I am waiting hopefully for the day that I can maybe be a bit more adventurous with my meal plans but until then - sorry mom - I haven't got your kind of energy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The small action of one person does count!

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
A new blogging buddy (Griever) had put that comment at the top of his latest blog to explain his reaction to a situation recently. But that comment spoke to me so much more of a negativity which grips humanity - you and me, our parents, children, co-workers and many more. It is a negativity which prevents action or comment or doing something to help others. We see someone in need and we know we can help but its not our problem. There is a community project for which we have the skills, knowledge and time to help but we stay at home, watching tv and bemoaning our boredom. People - If you have the time to ask yourself - what is the purpose of life and why am I here, you have the time to find someone to help. Every person is of value and its not for you to decide who has that value or what that value is.
My son now has the right to vote but his attitude is "whats the use of voting because nothing will change and xyz party will still be in power". It doesn't matter what your political affiliation is but if you are unhappy with how your country is being managed, you are the one who can change that, you and your neighbour and your neighbour's wife - anyone who has the guts and the energy to go out and do their duty and exercise their rights. I told my son that their have been folk in the past who have died for the right to vote but he is declines to use his right. On the other hand, my daughter has a lot of political vim and exercised her right from the first, as soon as she was old enough.
This attitude manifests itself in a whole lot of different areas too. If you have the energy and fervour to vote, you might be the one to make the difference in the running of your kids school, your local club or a charity of which you are particularly fond. But step up to the plate. Look for the value in life. Don't be a ghost floating on the perimeters of the community. Be prepared to speak out for what is right and I guarantee you that you will encourage a lot of others in your community or circle of friends who didn't want to speak out or take action because they didn't want to be the first to do so or they didn't want to be embarrassed. What is there to be embarrassed about? There is not one of us who hasn't done something foolish or laughable in our lives but you know what, after all the laughing is done, you are still whole and alive and moving onwards in your quest to make your part of the world a better place.
Change comes from the small actions of many people who are determined to make a better life in their immediate vicinity.
Pay attention to people. I have read many posts where people speak about someone who made a major impact on their life and all that person did was to pay attention or help in a small way which at the time they might not even have been aware would be so memorable to the person they were helping. We don't know how people we have talked to or assisted will use that help or advice to change their lives. But I do know that I cannot sit be idly on the sidelines of life waiting for others to take control or matters to resolve themselves positively or negatively.
What did you do to help someone today?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why do I like cats so much?

Dael went off somewhat miserable this morning. He has been told that he has to work 12-hour shifts until the end of the week - 6am until 6pm. His work colleagues told him that last year for about three months they worked 12-hour shifts non-stop. On top of that he has overspent this week and hasn't got any money left. He is now determined to get work with more reasonable hours but until then...

Bradley is busy with an entrepreneurship project at school and I purchased a box of 48 chocolate marshmallow Easter eggs for him to sell at school. I packaged some of the eggs in plastic tied with ribbon. He couldn't wait to tell me after school today that he had sold most of the eggs already. Budding little salesman in the making!

So why do I like cats so much? Because they're always the same. They don't have anything planned, no homework to do, nothing to buy, nowhere to go, no issues about life. As I walk in the door they don't ask "what did you buy me?" - although they do demand milk as soon as I boil the kettle. They don't wear holes in their shoes, don't even need shoes. They don't outgrow their clothes. They don't play music loud or get bored! They are always pleased to see me, are never rude, don't 'forget' to bath - they are self-sufficient with minimal input from me.

I love my children dearly but they can sometimes push my buttons too much and its comforting to just sit with my kitty-cats and hear those satisfied purrs as I stroke them and to know that all they want from me is a bit of attention.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My baby - My little man..

Bradley wasn't too difficult this morning about getting out of bed when he was reminded that Dael's friend C would be picking him up from school on his motorbike and was even more eager when I told him that he would have to take the motorbike helmet with him to school and carry it around all day. How cool! He wouldn't hear of me giving him a bag to put it in so that it would be easier to carry. He was going to carry it around on his arm all day for maximum effect.
When we arrived at the school this morning, he reached out an arm to hug me and I leant over to kiss him on his brow. He allowed me my kiss, pulled away gently and then very kindly with a conciliatory smile said, "We're going to have to get over this kissing business, mom."
"Oh okay." I said, looking around guiltily, "Then I guess I'll have to kiss you goodbye at home before we even leave then."
I got a nod in agreement as he climbed out the car but I know its only a temporary reprieve! The day will come when it will be - Hands (and lips) Off!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Have a little faith, mom!

Lying down on the couch on Saturday, I was half focused on a programme on the tv and feeling a little sleepy. Bradley wandering across the room and though not looking directly at him, I noticed that he bent down and picked up something off the floor in front of the other couch. Now I couldn't see what he had picked up because of the angle I was lying on the other couch and he carefully concealed what was in his hand while moving in the direction of his bedroom.
"I'm just going to lie down in private for a while, mom." "Okay Bradley", I answered. He turned and reiterated that he needed privacy! Now that was enough to wake me up. My eldest son sometimes smokes in the lounge and I had noticed earlier that Dael had left half a cigarette in an ashtray on the floor in the lounge from when he was sitting on the floor listening to music. "Oh no", I thought in dismay, "Not another child succumbing to the habit".
I quietly moved to Bradley's room. His bedroom door was ajar and through the open crack I could see him snuggled up under his duvet cover, not catching a quick puff as I had feared but playing with his little toy motorbike in the privacy of his own room! I ducked back to the lounge before he saw me. What a relief.
Up until he turned 13 in December last year, he always received little toy men in various themes - army men, pirates, knights of old, etc. But since December last year he had announced - no more toys for Christmas or birthday. We did in fact sneak in one or two toys for Christmas but this was top secret and diligently concealed from his brother who welcomes any opportunity to poke fun at his wannabe teenager younger sibling. The little guy still likes playing with his neglected toys now and again.
So no smoking yet for my little chap or hopefully ever!

Friday, March 20, 2009

What makes a parent?

The Billion Dollar question! As my last post for the week (I made it!) I nearly had writers block again but on reading my post of yesterday as well as reading and commenting on all the comments, I realised that I wanted to say a little more about my parenting ethic.
My mom and dad are and always were very dedicated parents, never slipping up in their raising of their 4 children. I am the eldest with 2 younger sisters and a brother but we were all born within 5 years. My mom was a busy person. She stayed at home, kept house, ferried us around and did everything she could to give us a stable well-grounded Christian upbringing. My dad was self-employed for as long as I have known him and worked a long week to provide for his offspring. He was always at home at night though, reading his paper and helping out with our homework. Evenings were also the time when any disciplining needed to be done. I can remember several occasions being summoned to approach my father to answer for something I had done wrong. "Hold out your hand". Hand extended gingerly and smack! Down would come his hand on the hand of the offender and we would be sent crying to our rooms. My father believed in hidings but between him and my mom they devised what they believed was a fair system and so we grew up.
When we became teenagers however, the cracks started to appear. Not so much with me because I didn't fight the system. But my sisters were rebels and I remember my mom on several occasions when my next sister down from me was out visiting friends, rooting through my sisters room in search of cigarettes, letters, etc., proof of misdemeanour. This was repeated for my younger sister as she became a teen. And I was thankful that I didn't have to undergo this remorseless 'intervention' from my mom.
With this in mind, I approached teenagehood in my daughter with a little trepidation, not being too sure how much to give or how hard to be. When my daughter was 13 she tried smoking. I sniffed her out. She had been smoking in the toilet while I was out. The only other smoker in the house wasn't around. She denied it. I allowed her to go out with her friends, giving her a curfew of 10pm. She arrived at 12pm driven by her friends teenage brother in a carload of teens. I started to become stressed. "You've only just become a teen. Don't try all the teenage drama at the same time. Just break me in slowly". Somehow, somewhere, we developed a system. I let her sleep out but I spoke to the mothers. I let her go to clubs but I told her to always let me know where she was. I let her come home in friends cars but I told her to always always wear a seat belt. I gave her slack and reeled her in where necessary. Don't tell me how I knew what to do because I hadn't done it. I grew up a bookworm, staying at home, marrying the first boy I dated. The one thing I did with my kids that I don't believe my mom and dad did was to respect my children as the individuals that they were and very much still are today. They are not just extensions of myself. I always told them and am still telling them today. From the time you turn 13 you are in training to be an adult and the decisions you make today are going to affect you for the rest of your life. Decide to smoke and it will affect your health and your income. Decide to miss school or not to learn and it will affect your career choices and your lifestyle. Empower your kids with information and let them decide what to do. Who ever changed their child's direction in life by nagging them? Lead by example. Don't expect your kids to do what you don't do. Don't be a hypocrite around your kids. They will catch you out. Be the person you want your child to be.
PS I love my parents dearly and I cannot bear the thought of them not being around one day. They still help me out and I help them where I can. They did the best parenting they could based on how they were brought up and what they wanted and still want for their kids. But what I have also told my kids is: Be a better parent than I am. If you are blessed with kids, take whatever you consider to be the good stuff you got from me and add something new and better. Don't repeat the mistakes that your parents made with you when you get to parent your own kids.
Have a wonderful weekend with your loved ones! See you next week. Momcat

Thursday, March 19, 2009

*Food for thought*

I borrowed the above quote from because the quote really appealed to me as a parent. It is the motto I try to live by while I am raising my kids. Okay I don't always succeed. My kids could possibly be more responsible. They could tidy up behind themselves and help out more at home. I could possibly give them a bit more independence but for goodness sake - I'm running out of kids now and I'm not having anymore! My youngest is already 13 and I try to hang on a bit. But I am striving to give my kids the Roots of Responsibility with the Wings of Independence and I already know that my kids are going to be great adults!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Comfort zone

My parents still live in the house they built before their 4 kids were born. The house has been altered and added to but they have never moved. I bought a house further up the road from them virtually on the border of the suburb they are in and my suburb. I travel daily on the road which I walked home on in the afternoons after school. The bus dropped us on the main road and we would walk the rest of the way. I still remember the sounds of the warm neighbourhood, the occasional dog barking, the summer singer insects, the warm sun and the blue sky, my arm getting pins and needles from the weight of my school bag.

I had a thought just this morning while travelling along one of our neighbourhood roads that just this action brings some comfort to me and actually enables a bit of time travel in my memory back to the carefree days of childhood when I didn't have to worry about stretching my budget to the end of the month and handling the various problems of my kids. It reminds me that life moves on and that our individual problems which seem so large and insurmountable are unimportant in the passing of time and that there are several generations of children growing up behind me that will also have memories of walking our neighbourhood roads home after school.

Don't let small worries cloud your awareness of the timelessness of the universe.

There's nothing like an afternoon at the local dam to remind us of the timelessness of the earth
and the universe.
Bradley posing with a bass
he caught.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Parental tantrum..

I posted about Bradley missing school yesterday. I kind of knew he was building up to miss school (although I was hoping the drama wouldn't happen) so when I was driving out of the school and Bradley banged on the back of my car to stop me, my gasket just blew. As I pulled into the parking outside the school and before Bradley had even reached the car, I shouted out to the poor traffic signal woman who was trying to direct traffic, "Don't ever have children if you don't want hassles in your life" or words to that effect. She looked bemused, obviously not used to this kind of public display. Probably thought this crazy mother was finally going to do her offspring in! I continued screaming at Bradley as he got into the car and as we drove home, drawing curious glances from rush hour commuters. He just kept quiet and as soon as we got home, got out of my way. I saw the traffic lady this morning again. She was obviously relieved to see that I wasn't going into meltdown again today and cheerfully signalled me to move into traffic, both of us pretending that yesterday didn't happen!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm sitting at my desk at 4.30pm on Monday afternoon. My back and shoulders are stiff and sore from sitting at my desk for the whole day. Its been a beautiful sunny day with a warm breeze blowing and I'm missing the freedom of the weekend to move around freely from indoors to outdoors without being incarcerated in a dingy office. Bradley gave me a very difficult time this morning again. I am fine on Mondays until he wakes up and I can almost feel myself tensing for a fight. He was absolutely fine until he couldn't find the cellphone that he uses at school. We wasted about 10 minutes looking for it before giving up and driving down to the school. As he got out the car he was pulling faces and scratching his head. "I can't stand this itchy head. My head has been itchy since Wednesday (?). I think I've got lice. If I scratch my head at school my teacher will say I've got lice". I said goodbye and started driving out of the parking area. As I was given the signal to go by the traffic officer, I heard a bang on the back of the car. I looked round to see that Bradley had chased me out of the school and I knew that it was going to be one of those weeks. He missed school today and we are not going to discuss it this week but he is going to be seriously grounded this weekend. So one wasted trip down to school with my seriously diminishing tank of petrol and I was late for work.

On Saturday, Dael got to work at 6am, very irritated at having to work the weekend and tired before he started. I was at my mom's house visiting before I knew I would have to fetch him at about 2.30pm. Mom was busy making toasted sandwiches when I got a call from Dael at about 1.30pm. "Mom, make sure that you are here to fetch me by 2pm. The supervisor wants me to work until 6pm and I told him I had a doctor's appointment at 2pm". I was there before 2pm but he only came out at 2.10pm, marching past the supervisor with a face like thunder. He wasn't going to work 12 hours on a Saturday thank you. I support my son as I believe that artisans are given a raw deal. So if they know they can push you around they will. My kids have got big mouths (like their mother) but this is something I have encouraged so that they don't get taken advantage of. They will learn when to open their mouth and fight for their rights and when it is best to keep quiet. We went back to my mom and visited for another 2 hours (which is quite something for Dael). I got restless because I wanted to get back in the garden so we left. When we got home I carried on and my son joined me with a slasher and kept at it with me for quite some time. We accomplished a lot and he helped me clean up afterward.

Sunday we were just vegging and watching a dvd when my sister phoned and asked if we wanted to go with her to her friend's house for a meal. We jumped at the opportunity as we weren't doing anything special and we had a pleasant afternoon and a great meal. The friends live in an upmarket townhouse development where every garden is coiffured and nothing is out of place. Kind of like a Stepford Wives village setup. Bradley took his skateboard and the boys toured the village's roads and got rid of some energy. The weather was sunny, the company friendly and we didn't overstay our welcome. A pleasant end to the weekend.

Let me get out of here now and catch some sun before it sets for the day!

Cheers from Momcat.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Week in a (large) nutshell

Bradley attended 3 detentions at school this week. Detention no. 1 was for forgetting his PE clothes. Detention no. 2 was for not getting detention slip no. 1 signed and detention no. 3 was for talking in class. (How was I supposed to ask to borrow a pencil, mom?" I was livid because the detentions really put Brad's afternoon routine out and they were all so avoidable. So on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday he had to stay for an hour after school. He didn't even try asking if he could miss school though. I think he is starting to grow up a little bit and take responsibility for his actions because of my few weekends of grounding him. I may have mentioned before that I don't like grounding the kids because it puts me under pressure. But I stuck to my guns and he missed a few outings so he knows I mean business. He did have a bit of a miserable face on the mornings that he had detention but after I told him to put on a happy face and not irritate me he did manage to pull it together.

I phoned him while he was walking to my mom's house after detention finished yesterday. He wanted to impress me with how much the two little Jack Russell puppies like him in the one yard he passes. He approached the gate of the Jack Russell's house and all I could hear was frenzied dogs going crazy. They didn't sound friendly! "Oh okay, I don't think they like me anymore! I'll try the sausage dogs." They live in a house further down. When I got to my mom's to collect him in the afternoon, Bradley was playing a game of basketball with my brother. They were thoroughly enjoying it. My mom's dog was helping my brother to get the ball by tackling Bradley and holding him while he was trying to play. Unfair advantage! Duke is a medium-size but robust "pavement special" He has rottweiler, German shepherd and staffie in him and he plays rough. His sister Tessie is not so vigorous but just runs around growling with her ball in her mouth.

Bradley chooses where he wants to go in the afternoon and as long as I know where he must be picked up I don't have a problem with that. On Wednesday, my sister's maid is at her house so if he rushes he can still get in to her house before the maid locks up and leaves. He sometimes walks home or to granny.

My dad (who is 73) has been battling with a mysterious foot injury. My mom suspected a broken bone but the doc said because it wasn't a sudden onset pain it was probably not broken. Anyway he has been taking various medication but the pain isn't getting better probably because he won't (and can't really afford to) stay off his feet. He has been a self-employed landscaper his whole working career and he simply loves his job! He has his own little nursery at home where he grows plants to use on his landscaping jobs and also sells to the public on weekends. I am very proud of my dad and definitely want to be as active as him when I am his age. I think this foot thing is worrying me because he has always been an active person and very rarely ill. He even brushes off gashes and injuries as if they are nothing. My parents are the reason I have never moved far from home, partly because I haven't wanted to be so far away from my family and partly because I wanted to bring my kids up close to their grandparents. I am glad now that I am only a short drive away from the folks and definitely don't think I would ever plan to move away at this stage. Unless they move away!...

Dael changed back to the early morning shift at work which means on top of getting up while its dark, he has to rush to get ready to start work at 6am and the first shift has to clean the machines! And he prefers to go to bed late but then he cannot wake up (have to call him at least 4 times before he wakes up) and he is tired at work. On the upside he was able to play touch rugby in the afternoon on Tuesday with his friends which he cannot do when he works night shift. Last night he told me that he was told that he would have to work his shift on Saturday! He is not impressed. I reminded him that a lot of artisans have to work weekends - mechanics, etc. He was a bit thoughtful after that but I think having to work this weekend is just the final straw for him after this tiring and irritating week.
My kittens are getting so big and so cute. They move around in a group. Where one goes the others follow. Bradley left his skateboard in the kitchen and when I turned round from the sink they were sitting in a row on the skateboard looking up at me. By the time I got the camera they had moved but they looked so cute, like chocolate box kittens. I have set up my fold-up camping chair in the lounge and the kits think this is their jungle gym. Will definitely try hard to get some photos this weekend. My little ginger female (Flopsy) is very lovable and purrs loudly while being stroked. She was the first born and is the biggest. Her twin who was fourth was named by Dael (Ginger Ninja) and lives up to his name, climbing on the curtains. Little Spidey (Spider) is the totally cute black and white boy and is the kitten that all my visitors want to take home with them. Last but not least is the little lady, Graybie, who is shy and a bit retiring. She is not pushy but don't get her riled up. She was pushing her brother off the camping chair last night. Every time he leapt on her, she made her move and he would go flying off the chair until eventually he gave up and ran away. Their mom, Kittykie, avoids them like the plague. She can handle them one at a time and even lets one suckle off her but as soon as one more shows up, she is off like a shot!
Forgot to say I had an unwelcome passenger the other day after doing some bush cutting. I had completed as much as I could and while still wearing my garden gloves, had cleared the post from the box and walked up the drive. As I neared the top of the drive, my eye caught a movement on my glove. A huge light coloured spider had hitched a lift up the drive on my glove. I hadn't noticed it because it was almost the same camel colour as my glove. Needless to say the post and clippers flew in different direction and those gloves were flung off my hands like greased lightening! The spider wasn't harmed in this procedure as I spotted it doing the spider crawl under my car before it disappeared. Adrenalin rush!
Greetings from Momcat xx

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quite a weekend...

Fellow bloggers, you won't believe this but after fighting the whole of last week for the cheaper cellphone deal and eventually giving up and processing the deal at the more expensive price, I discovered when I went to collect the cellphones after work on Friday that the cheaper deal had finally been processed in the interim and the second sales assistant had processed the paperwork to reflect the cheaper price! He also affirmed that I was right to have insisted on the just-expired deal and to have fought the whole week. He said head office was always pressurising them to achieve target but they didn't give them the backup to process a certain deal when the customer wanted it. I thanked him for his help though because without him pushing and negotiating from his side I still wouldn't have received the deal I wanted. Effort, good customer service and communication make the difference between an excellent sales assistant and a mediocre one.
Dael was happy to see that he got a small raise which he wasn't expecting since he only recently started working for the company. It has come at the right time with him having to pay for the cellphones. He decided on Saturday that he was going to hold a small braai (barbecue) for some of his friends. I told him I would supply salads but he would have to buy the rest. He and his friend went off on the friend's motorbike and returned about an hour later with softdrinks, meat and rolls. I had just got busy with a bit of garden cutting as I had been out of the house in the morning running a few errands and visiting my parents for a while. He came to tell me that his girl cousin was getting a lift to the local shop and that I would have to fetch her from there as she was coming to the braai. So I stopped gardening under protest and he and I went off to fetch N leaving his friend C at the house. He bought charcoal and we picked up N and went off home again. When we got there, we found that C's girlfriend S had been dropped off by her brother for the braai as well. Anyway N who is 16 was a bit miserable from the time she got there and Dael was trying to cheer her up. C and S were just flirting as teenage couples do. I was busy making salads with a couple of drinks to help me on my way. As the evening wore on N had apparently been persuaded to have a couple of very diluted alcoholic drinks and was feeling nauseous. Dael was trying to get her to his room outside so that she wouldn't bring up on my carpet or lounge furniture. She got nasty with him and ended up being very sick over and over again in my bathroom. In the meantime C and girlfriend S had got into an argument about him trying to get her into a local club which she wasn't old enough to get into and she didn't even want to try. It ended with him punching his motorbike and hurting his hand and breaking its mirror and pulling his girlfriend around a bit. Dael had to get tough with him and calm him down. In the meantime I (kind of) and S were supporting N in her sickness. Dael was also quite embarrassed at N for getting herself sick and making a big scene and for being nasty with him when he was trying to help her. Apparently after professing not to drink she had downed several drinks in quick succession (and she has a weak stomach).
What was I doing. I was mellow and although I was aware of what was going on around me I have been a mom for 21 years and I was kind of expecting drama. I didn't overreact. Dael is almost an adult and he had organised an event and he also had to handle the drama. I was just there for additional support. I dished up food for myself, poured myself another drink and enjoyed my dinner next to the braai fire while WW3 was taking place inside (again!). Afterwards when everything had stabilised I ended up driving the whole crew up to an underage club (which was the original plan anyway) where I left three teens and Bradley (who is just a teenager) and took the sick one home. I went back to the club and waited a couple of hours for them to come out before driving them all home at 11pm.
Dael wasn't a happy camper on Sunday though but I think the weekend was a learning curve for him because unbeknown to me he had, on top of paying for the meat, etc for the braai - already lent friend C R60 to pay his aunt for an arty ashtray that C had broken, as well as R80 to pay for C and girlfriend S to get into the club, C was supposed to fetch him on Sunday to go to the ATM and draw the rest of Dael's wage out for him to live on for this week but he went off with his other friend for the day and didn't bother to come round at all. Dael ended up punching the wall in his anger and frustration and hurting his hand. I told him that his actions were unproductive and he should rather go and chop some of my garden because at least he would be accomplishing something. That only lasted for about 10 minutes before his arm got sore.
Isn't it bitter pill to swallow when friends and family let you down and when your expectations of how people in your life should be acting fail to meet the standards you set. I used the events of the weekend to speak to Dael about putting his full faith in friends and letting his expectations of how events should evolve bring such disappointment and anger to him when they didn't turn out as expected. You have to roll with the punches and you have to realise that a bit of alcohol plus teenage hormones almost always have emotional and dramatic results. I am glad this happened at my home though because a lot of parents are less than understanding. They think that because they have given an instruction or banned something i.e. drinking, attending a club, that it's not going to happen. I am here to bear testimony that it does happen with or without permission and I would rather be the non-judgemental parent that the kids turn to when they are in trouble than the blinkered parent who finds out later that their child is in hospital or jail!
Happy Monday peeps!

Friday, March 6, 2009


The cellphone issue was eventually resolved this afternoon but only because I just couldn't bear to contact the cellphone shop even one more time. The original lady that I dealt with was back at work yesterday but was worse than useless and full of excuses as to why the problem was not being resolved. Eventually she objected to my use of bad language - I objected to her inability to solve my problem or to even phone me back after promising to do so. Eventually I threw down the phone after demanding that she get the other assistant (who had helped me on Wednesday) to phone me when he returned on Friday. She didn't do so but when I got him on the line today, he spent a lot of time on the phone to Head Office trying to sort out my problem. Apparently the upshot of the problem was that the deal was loaded on the computers at Head Office but the deal wasn't feeding through their online system to the computers at the shop and so couldn't be processed until the IT guys solved the problem. I threw in the towel. After establishing that he could use my information already uploaded I told the assistant to process the deal at the normal price which is about R32.00 a month more than the cheaper deal would have been. Ten minutes later he phoned me back and told me I could collect the phones. Sometimes one just has to admit that the dead donkey won't stand up no matter how many times you flog it.
I was also nearly written off this morning by another road user who flagrantly decided to disobey the road rules. I was approaching the driveway of our office. The driveway is approached by a straight stretch of road and then one takes a left turn and turns right almost immediately into our driveway. Luckily I had slowed right down after making the left turn because this other driver jumped the stop street further up from me on the same road I had turned into and whizzed past me down the road. If I hadn't slowed right down for some reason (because I had already checked and the road was clear), this lunatic would have ploughed right into my drivers side door and I would have been injured. My guardian angel was looking after me! My boss said he would have chased after the offender but I said it was not worth it because a lot of drivers are driving around with road rage and just defending yourself or arguing the point can sometimes get you injured or killed. Being alert and anticipating the actions of other road users is an absolute must.
During the course of the day I also got to talk to two of the Personal Assistants who work for the CEO and Financial Director down the road at Head Office. The one lady always updates me on what is happening with her finances, ex husband, etc. whenever I visit her. We are all single mom's and obviously all have similar issues with regard to making ends meet. She also told me that a week ago she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer for the third time, she had approached an attorney to assist her with her maintenance claims and because of this her ex had refused to pay for her sons monthly preschool (kindergarten) fees out of spite. She looked so beaten that I just had to give her my 'pep' talk, which is what I'm really good at. I told her to be positive and take control of her situation. I told her to start with a step by step evaluation of her lifestyle and her finances. She is living beyond her means and her means are small to start with. I have got a very bold and irreverent stance when I'm giving my pep talk and it almost always ends with the listener laughing and feeling better and a bit stronger. It helps that I've been down and dependent on family at various stages of my life. The important thing is not to look at yourself as a sum total of your circumstances but to empower yourself with action. I really feel so satisfied when I've managed to help someone to feel a little better about their situation. I think if I could do a job that I really enjoyed it would be something like counselling or motivational speaking because I get such a sense of achievement when I have spoken to someone and they feel a little better about themselves and their circumstances.
To all my fellow bloggers, have a relaxed and safe weekend. See you in the trenches next week!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I think I'm the customer from hell.

Background to the story: When my kids turn 16 they get a cellphone contract which I pay for. So basically they get a phone and a top-up contract where they get an amount of phone time back from the service provider to use each month. The catch here is that Dael's cellphone from his contract gave up the ghost just after the warranty period. I took out another contract. Dael got the phone and I got the airtime. The warranty period was up in December and now that phone is broken too. He hijacked my new phone and I had to borrow a really old phone from my mom. Anyway I decided that I was being too nice (see Sucker) and because he is now working he could afford to pay his own contract.
So on Sunday, we schlep through to The Pav and I mean schlep cos me and shopping centres at month end don't agree with each other. The longer I stay at the centre the more my hysteria rises. Dael found a deal he liked (2 phones at a really good price) and I had made sure I had all the correct documentation on me. Perfect! I sat down to sign up as I was going to get it on my name with Dael giving me the money every month because he is just newly employed. And then things started going wrong:
Turns out the deal he chose had just expired the day before (on 28 Feb. as it was a Valentines deal)
If we had come in the day before, on Saturday, we could have got the phones the same day!
The consultant would forward the application to Head Office and we would have our answer on Monday.
Monday afternoon I still hadn't heard from her - I phoned her.
She said the lady at Head Office was off until Wednesday. (Only one decision maker in the whole of H/O)!
I started to get angry with the consultant and raised my voice at her. She acted passive which just made me more angry.
Dael was irate and just wanted to take the deal at the normal (more expensive) price. I said no.
Tuesday went by with no phone call. I, mindful of my blood pressure and stress levels also did not phone.
On Wednesday, when Head Office lady was supposed to have returned and okayed my deal - still no phone call.
Wednesday afternoon I phoned the shop - Consultant lady was off! (She knew she wouldn't be there on Wednesday.)
I dealt with another consultant and told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted to know yes or no if they were going to give me the deal or I would take my business elsewhere! I think I told him while he was apologising that apologies would not cut it and not to interrupt me when I was talking!
All of a sudden things seemed to happen. He got hold of Head Office lady, forwarded my application to her, she approved it and tried to load it. The last I heard was that there was a glitch with the computer accepting the price (expired deal) and that IT dept. had been contacted but it would be sorted out by Thursday morning latest. New consultant would unfortunately be off on Thursday but he would advise someone responsible to follow up with Head Office lady. I await the next instalment with bated breath! You can be sure however that I will be on the phone first thing in the morning to give the next consultant hell if I don't get the right answers.
I can be as nice as pie but don't give me the run around. Don't come with excuses - come with solutions. And phone me back when you say you will.
You're in the business of selling so sell dammit! Make it happen!
Thanks for listening....