Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What was that you said? Sorry I wasn't listening....

Dael came back from his camp last Friday feeling positive and rejuvenated. After a long refreshing bath and a good meal, he was feeling relaxed. He enjoyed being around the other staff members and he was amazed that no one had an attitude with him or treated him like the 'new kid on the block'. He just felt like he fitted in.
We didn't do much for the long weekend. It was very relaxing for me but Dael became bored and just wanted to get back to camp. He had been told that there was another camp on for the following week and he was asked to work on Tuesday. I told him I wasn't going to take him anywhere unless they confirmed beforehand and he was thrilled when he got the call on Monday afternoon.
I borrowed petrol money from Greg and got Dael to the head office on time. This time he was going in the other direction, down the South Coast to Port Edward. A lovely spot but an all-boys complement of school kids this time and apparently very naughty. He must be under considerable strain at the moment because when Bradley irritates him, he can respond with a punch, a kick or with throwing a matchbox at him or something. When the irritating ones are customers you can't really do that. It doesn't go down so well. Anyway, if anything this experience is going to teach him some patience...
On Monday, the public holiday, my dad and Greg came round to help out with some garden work. Dad had started working with his new weedeater and I looked and had to look again. He was wearing a long waist apron which almost looked like an apron that the Blacksmiths of old times used to wear. It tied round his waist and dropped down to his feet. I soon saw why he needed that. The grass was flying furiously in all directions as he whizzed along and he needed the apron to avoid being stung or cut. I was doing a bit of cutting with my clippers but if dad started even approaching Greg or I would have to duck away to avoid being hit by flying debris. I was a bit worried as dad worked his way along a narrow path that I cut halfway down my bank for access. He is 74 and I was worried that he might overbalance. He was fine though and soon finished. He was rushing to cut while Greg was loading garden refuse onto the back of the bakkie as he wanted to get to the dump before they closed. That night when I popped down to my parents to pick up the petrol money, I laughingly mentioned my fears to dad as I chatted. In mock disgust he returned "What do you think I am, an old crock!"
My dad is definitely a strong man who doesn't buy into the traditional scenario of how an older person should act. I think my sister of 39 acts older than him. I'm also as active as him and I use him as an example of how I want to be when I'm his age. Age is after all relative and inside that older shell is still an intelligent and creative hardworking person. A lot of people irritate me because they just see an old person or a disabled person or a person of colour. They don't see the spirit of that person. I challenge everyone to look beyond the stereotype of the people you meet and see the spirit of the person that is inside that frame.
Just as important is how you perceive yourself. Do you restrict yourself to a certain set of actions because you have reached a certain age. Do people perceive you as older than you actually are because of how you react to them or the things you say. Its not to say you have to act like someone younger or older. Its all in how your relate to people and if you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. If you can really see people as individual spirits, you can relate to them in an interested and non-judgmental way. Are you really listening or are you just waiting for them to open a topic of conversation so that you can put forward your point of view. Learn to listen before you talk. If others can see that you are interested in them, they will also be interested in you.
Be as open-minded as you can be today. You owe it to yourself and to all the wonderful people you know or have yet to meet.


  1. Well said Momcat! Here is to embracing open mindedness and spirit!
    Have a great week :)

  2. "My dad is definitely a strong man who doesn't buy into the traditional scenario of how an older person should act." Tell your Dad he is my hero. And yes, it is important how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive other people.

    Have a fabulous day...!


  3. Sooo true. My Dad (still) and my Mom (up to her passing away) never seemed old, because they always kept (Dad still does) themselves busy. I saw many of their peers retire with no hobby, interest or anything grow old in a matter of months.

    My Granddad (Dad's Dad) sat in their flat and stared at the ocean all day. He was old before his time and had eons of time to think out all kinds of crap and illnesses.

    My Dad dress more hip than I do (Oakley shades & label clothing).

    You are so right - age is in the mind.

  4. Keep going as long as you can. Never stop because you're expected to and live how you want. It's a freedom a lot of people give up too easy. You have a great attitude to life.

  5. Really listening to someone is a power skill I'm in need of much improvement. And not's like a human disease...we need to cure ourselves of it.

  6. Wonderfully put Momcat. Don't let other people's expectations define you.

  7. I am so glad that Dael is doing so well!

  8. FF - Hearty agreement to openmindedness. Sometimes it is in short supply.

    Jo - My dad is my hero too. When I was younger, I don't think I appreciated him enough maybe because we all think our parents will live forever. But as he and I grow older, I have come to appreciate his spirit and character.

    Spear - Dad's father too just sat on his porch every day after retirement and just withered away. I didnt really know him too well but I am just glad my dad is not like that. Well done to young minded parents.

    Griever - A lot of people as they age think that a certain set of actions is expected of them. They restrict themselves. If you are physically able to carry on with an activity, I say go for it. Dont let society dictate to you.

    Susan - Too often something we are all guilty of is not listening and being interested in the person who we are listening to. As long as we are aware of this failing, we can correct ourselves at the time. Practice makes perfect.

    Louisa - As a new mom too, many people will say to you - you cant do this or that and only you can decide what is best for you and your child. I truly think thats when determination is born in a lot of people. The determination to live our lives as we want. The trick is never to let that determination falter.

    Angel - I am glad too. I have seen Dael work when he is genuinely interested in something and you would think you are looking at a different person.