Bye bye Bryanston Pre-Primary School

Wednesday, 4 December was your last day at Bryanston Pre-Primary School. Wow. I remember doing the school tour to find the right one for you and walking into Bryanston Pre-Primary for the first time after seeing countless others I just knew it was the one for you.

The warmth, community spirit, caring and sense of well being I felt on that first day have been present throughout our time there.

You entered the school a tiny tot in January 2012 and are leaving a little big boy. In your time there you have grown in so many ways but the one I want to single out is the friendships you developed.

You and teacher Angie celebrating your birthday at school

You and teacher Angie

For the first time you got to choose your mates based on how you connected and formed close bonds. Your closest friends over the two years have been Rosco and Zak. With them you have got up to untold amounts of mischief, spent time in Lucille’s office, exchanged countless hours of toilet talk but most importantly laughed and created special memories.

Other special friends were Tristan, Axel, Tyler, Mifi, Ababalwe and Kieran. From each of these little people you have learnt different things and we see how they have helped to shape you and build your funky little character.

Of course the person who has had the biggest influence this year was Teacher Angie. A wonderfully gentle soul who has worked tirelessly in helping to develop your fine motor skills and your sensory quirks.

Saying goodbye was tough. You went to give Lucille, or as you like to call her ‘Wacille’, a hug goodbye and as you snuggled in to her shoulder you said “Goodbye Wacille I am never, ever going to see you again.” Well that was the end of myself and Lucille.

All these goodbyes are difficult for all of us, but especially for you as your little world gets turned on its head. I know it’s tough my monkey but you will come through it all a little stronger and a little wiser, it is all unfortunately part of the process of growing up.

Something you are doing far too quickly.

School matters

Last week was a big week on the school front for you. We spent the early part of it in White River where we got to see our new home again, meet some of the other teachers and their kids and spend some more time exploring our new town to be. Most importantly though, and the key reason for our trip, was that you attended orientation where your got to explore your new school and meet your new teacher and some of the kids.

For you though the highlight of the trip was your school uniform. Your first one ever. To get you into the spirit of things I took you to the Monkey Apple shop to buy it on the Tuesday morning ahead of orientation the next day. Well it was love at first wear. I shouldn’t have bothered to pack you any other clothes as you didn’t take it off for the next two days. This did cause some confusion at orientation.

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You in your first school uniform

After spending the Wednesday morning at Uplands Prep it was a mad dash to Johannesburg for your graduation from Grade 00 that evening.

What a wonderful evening it was. Bittersweet as you have had an incredible two years at Bryanston Pre-Primary.

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You, Kieran and Axel in your graduation hats

So it was with a few tears that we watched you all take the stage and perform for the final time.

You got your certificate and a special award for, and I quote “For his bubbly personality and all the charm he brings into the classroom. Also for his great general knowledge.”

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So my monkey a big day for you and although there were a few tears shed and some moments of frustration I was so very proud of you for getting through it with your sense of humour in tact.

The weeks ahead are going to be challenging but as long as we can keep our wits about us and sneak in a family hug or two we will be okay.

The times they are a changing

On the 10th of September we made a decision. A big decision. Not one that you make often, or in our case, one we have made together before. We are moving, and by moving I mean really moving, away from everything we have known and loved. January 2014 will see us leave the hustle and bustle that is Johannesburg to move into the quiet country town of White River in the Mpumalanga province.

But that’s not all, we will be moving onto the Uplands College school property into a staff house which is nestled in a valley overlooking a small dam. This is a first for you and me and will require some getting used to on our part but we are excited.

With all the important conversations had, key decisions made and a million and one thoughts now better aligned in our heads, I can finally put this all down. See, as much as I am excited I am also fearful. Scared of the change and the unknown.

For the first time I am going to be freelancing, giving me the opportunity to spend more time with you while you still want me around, letting me take a break from the rat race and providing a chance for me to explore new avenues.

We are also leaving our families that we love and share so much quality time with behind. I haven’t begun to contemplate the impact this will have on us, as it is just too big. Even writing this brings tears to my eyes. This wonderful network of people have had such massive role to play in helping to raise you. They have always been there to support us in so many ways and although they won’t be too far away in distance they will be in other ways.

The last, but certainly not least fear, is saying goodbye to our Connie. She has been your second Mom and a key member of our family for the last five years. She has seen us all at our best and worst, has guided us, helped us in so many ways but most of all has loved us, you most of all, just as much as we have loved her.

But the pros far out weigh the cons and the signs so far have all pointed to us having made the right decision. We have sold our house, Dad has got a promotion before he even started and I have some work lined up which will help to ease me in.

Most importantly though we are moving into the most beautiful area. A place where you will be able to go to a fantastic school, have your Mom and Dad close by and grow up surrounded by natural beauty in a secure environment.

Really what more could we ask for?

Happy 95th Birthday Madiba

Today, 18 July 2013, marks the 95th birthday of Tata Madiba, the Grandfather of this beautiful and diverse country we call home. What makes the occasion even more auspicious is that it is in all likelihood the last birthday this great man will ever celebrate.

Let me take you back to why Madiba means so much to us all. You will no doubt learn about what he did, his selfless actions and ability to unite a nation in history, but what you won’t be taught is about the personality of this icon.

On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years. At this time I was on a train (EduTrain) with a number of other scholars from Johannesburg and Pretoria in what was my first time of interacting with kids from other race groups. Government schools had yet to become inclusive so I was at schools with only white kids. It was an amazing experience for me and there were many moments where previously held racial views were broken down. The most memorable was of a white Afrikaans boy who was a rugby player breaking down in tears and apologising to the black kids in our group for the how badly he had treated black players on the rugby field, something his father had told him to do.

Madiba showing off his playful side

Madiba showing off his playful side

I remember us disembarking from the train at Pretoria station and forming a massive circle on the platform and holding onto one another, not wanting to go back to the reality of the unreal world we were living in. We had gone through a life-changing experience together and were leaving into a very different world than the one we had left. Appartheid for all intents and purposes was over.

Fast forward to 27 April 1994, Freedom Day, the first ever free and fair elections to be held in South Africa. It was my first opportunity to vote and I queued outside Bryanston High School in the almost carnival-like atmosphere with Gagga, Grandpa, Uncle Ryan and Aunty Kristy to cast my vote. We didn’t get to vote that day as the queues were too long but we went back the next day and I voted for the first time on my 20th birthday along with over nineteen and half million other South Africans. What an amazing feeling it was and what a way to celebrate a new decade!

Nelson Mandela receiving the notebooks from Donald Card

Nelson Mandela receiving the notebooks from Donald Card

In the mid 2000’s I was privileged to work on a project with the Nelson Mandela Foundation for the handover of two of Madiba’s notebooks from prison by ex policeman Donald Card. It was an incredible experience as not only did I get to work on this historic occasion, but I also got to briefly meet the man. This took place on 21 September 2004 at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. I cannot describe the aura he has around him or what an impact he had on me by just meeting my eye. He had a twinkle in his eye, a genuine warmth and magnetism.In true Madiba style at the handover ceremony, he thanked Card and said to the crowd, “What you have just witnessed could be described as one old man giving another old man two old notebooks.” What a moment it was and I have the newspaper cutting saved where my arm is next to his in the picture, a reminder to me that it really did happen!

I count myself extremely lucky to have met this amazing man and hope that, although he won’t be around forever, his spirit and dedication to righting the social injustices in this country will live on for yours and future generations.

I’m not always a nice Mom

There I’ve said it. Not an easy admission but something I’m sure you will know if you are able to read. Fact is that sometimes I’m just too tired, grumpy, frazzled, busy to take the time I know I should to stop and listen, or talk to you properly. I know that it’s unfair and that you act out more when you sense this in me, turning it into a vicious cycle.

Yesterday was one of these occasions. After school we set off to the home affairs department to apply for your first ever passport for our trip to Mauritius. Dad and I prepared ourselves for the trip with all the documents and research into best time to go. Knowing that there would be a wait we packed snacks and things to occupy you. You however, got bored and frustrated, were acting up, hanging onto me and just generally being a four year old. I was tired and irritated – I don’t do well with beauracracy. So we took it out on each other with Dad being mediator which wasn’t great.

As you know I am a working Mom like millions of others out there. My job however, is not one that stops after office hours. In the communications industry, which I am a part of, there is no such thing as office hours for crises or news stories. I am ‘always on the grid’ so much so that your Dad calls me ‘robot girl’.

This need to be constantly connected does impact our time together and for that I am truly sorry. I also have to travel every now and then for business which you don’t like. You asked me the other day why I go on ‘work holidays’ without you. As much as I tried to explain it wasn’t a holiday but a work trip for meetings you refused to accept it and remained grumpy with me for a while.

It is tough to juggle the demands of both home and work and I feel constantly guilty as, as much as the word balance is bandied out, working Moms know there is no such thing. Trying to keep all the balls in the air is hard and sometimes I end up dropping a few.

As we move forward on this exciting journey together, I know there are going to be many more times that you are going to tell me ‘you’re not my friend Mommy’ which even though I say to you doesn’t matter, it does. There are also going to be loads more occasions where I’m going to have a little cry to myself regretting my actions, questioning my motherhood skills and generally feeling sorry for myself.

But I am making you a promise today, going forward I am going to take a leaf out of the Mr Jelly book. Whenever I feel myself getting cross with you I am going to take take a deep breath and go ‘onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten’. I am also going to give you a solid hour every day that is just Mom and Oliver time, no phones, iPads or laptops around.

As for you well, when you see that Moms a little down just give me one of your super full body hugs and a little snuggle time because that is the magic that makes everything better.

It’s been two weeks…

On Friday 17 May we heard the unimaginable, our colleague and friend had lost her little boy Hudson who was just over four months old. I wrote the following on Facebook on the day: A devastating day as we bid farewell to a little boy who was a fighter from birth and taken far too soon. Our hearts broken for his Mom and Dad, our souls shaken, with no words to express the pain we feel. Today I will go home and hold my little boy close, breathe him in deep and just be thankful for every moment we have together.
The blog post I have included is from Hudson’s Mom Andrea.

whatiwastryingtosaywas

It’s two weeks today since I last held my son.

I have no real learnings for you. I couldn’t write a book on anyone’s grief but my own. I can tell you it still feels surreal. I still wake up wondering why he’s so quiet. I still feel the universe was unforgivingly unfair on both Hudson and us. And I still miss holding him close to my chest. I can also tell you that we haven’t touched his things, except to smell them and rub them against our faces. We haven’t even discarded the milk we’d prepared so diligently the night before he died.

It’s hard. I can go all day feeling drier than the Sahara and then I feel the longing and the emptiness in our home or I look at one of his photos, remember the time I took it and the flood of tears comes.

The only…

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The great drain debacle

There is never a dull moment in our house and after a week of lots happening including travel to World Economic Forum, Bon Jovi concert, Gramps’ birthday, Mothers Day and Rayms spending two nights I was so looking forward to a quiet night at home but alas it was not to be!

Dad had not been out of the house for more than ten minutes when our showers started filling up with toilet water and fecal matter. Joy! Our normal plumber Paul was unavailable so off to Google it was to find a drain specialist. Thank goodness for the Drain Surgeon team who arrived within an hour of our SOS call.

Not only did they manage to fix the drain issues but John and his partner were so great in involving you. Letting you look inside their plumbing truck, showing you all the equipment and just generally taking all your ‘why’s?’ in their stride.

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The problem was that the main drain was blocked by roots from the tree on our driveway so they had to use the machine to clear the debris. You were so intrigued by what was happening and we had to stand and watch everything they were doing. The commentary around what was coming out of the blocked pipe was interesting with words disgusting and poo featuring prominently.

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You were also Mom’s helper running inside to turn the taps on and off, flushing loos and helping pack up tools when they were finished.

What an adventure! While Mom was finalising the invoice and getting the guys a well deserved cup of tea you made your way to your room. I found you in bed – dare I say it – completely pooped from all the excitement!

You were so precious. I told you I would be through to tell you a story once the plumber guys had finished their tea and I had let them out. You asked “Mom, why don’t they come sit by me in my room and talk?”

Precious boy.