Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Exploring Paarl (again)

On Monday (Heritage Day) we headed out to the Paarl region for a long afternoon drive.

Since this is an absolutely beautiful part of the world, it is no surprise that we keep returning to discover more of its gems.

We drove around for a while admiring the spectacular scenery and just enjoying the tranquility of our surroundings.

As usual, the children soon became restless. We then headed to an absolutely beautiful spot, which we had discovered during one of our previous visits to Paarl.

Mo and I enjoyed the quiet serenity, completely in awe of our stunning surroundings - while the kids took the opportunity to run about to their hearts' content.

As usual, poor Nuha (7) was left to keep herself entertained, since - on the one hand - she is too young for the older kids' games (according to them) while - on the other hand - two year old Aisha annoys her with her bossiness and tantrums.

The older kids enjoyed a very competitive game of cricket


Meanwhile Mo kept Nuha and Aisha entertained with a game of hide-and-seek.


Mo then joined the older ones for a killer game of soccer, played with Aisha's princess ball.


As usual, we knew it was time to leave when this happened

Tantrum time

What a wonderful and peaceful afternoon. Thank goodness for public holidays.

Friday, 21 September 2012

A cry for help - with a shitty parenting dilemma

I'm at a loss. I really don't know how to deal with this stage of potty training.

My other 3 kids did not go through this - I can't remember how they started poo'ing on the toilet, but they definitely didn't go through this. I would have remembered.

Aisha (2) has been lying on the bed, crying for the past few hours. She no longer wants to poo in her nappy - nor is she ready to do it on the toilet.

So she just keeps it in. And cries and cries - with pain and discomfort.

Her record thus far is four days. That means four days of discomfort with bouts of pain (because it comes and goes). But it amounts to four days of misery.

Then, when it happens, she transforms into a different child; a happier, more normal child.

I feel helpless. I can force her to eat. I can force her to dress. But how do I force her to poo?

I thought about giving her prune juice for its laxative effect, but the problem is not that she can't go - it's that she doesn't want to. Perhaps I should give it to her anyway, to increase the urge to go, so that she cannot fight it for as long a period.

We've made an appointment at the doctor. I don't know what good that will do, but I suppose it can't hurt to hear if she has any suggestions - I, myself, am all out of ideas.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A period of terror and joy - and an interesting case study

Yesterday morning I arose with butterflies in my stomach. As usual I tiptoed about the room, choosing my clothes for the day - so cautiously, so stealthily and so fearfully; as if afraid to awaken a sleeping bear.

But there was no bear. Oh no, this was so much worse. So much more terrifying. The sound of its shallow even breathing alone was enough to turn my insides to jelly. My shaky hands lifted my shirt off the dressing table - I froze with dread as one of its buttons knocked gently against the dressing table surface. I fought back tears of relief - there was no movement.

And then, suddenly -from a dark corner of the room, I heard it. My pulse quickened. It couldn't be. Again - movement. I prayed silently, '' Please let it be my imagination!''

Then - silence. My prayers answered. Or so I'd thought...

''Mommeeeee!'' came the voice. Two hours earlier than her (two-year old Aisha's) usual waking-up time. Guaranteeing her exhaustion and hence, a day of tantrums and ill-temper.

''Hello, my darling!'' I said, a cheerful smile plastered to my face. Only the beads of perspiration on my brow revealed my inner terror.

She stared at me for an unbearable few seconds. Time slowed to a torturous pace. I waited, not knowing what the mood would be. Hoping. Praying.

She smiled. Again, tears of relief. Short-lived relief.

''I want my panty and my 'going clothes'. (She sleeps in a nappy, but wears a panty during the day. Her 'going clothes' are her day clothes, i.e. not her pyjamas - her clothes for going places).
''Okay, darling, '' I said, a bit too cheerfully.

I did as commanded and returned the items to her bed. (She will not get up until I've dressed and changed her).

My hand brushed her tummy. She giggled. My heart filled with hope. I touched her tummy again. This time - laughter.

Then, becoming braver, I leaned down, pretending to chew her tummy with my lips.
The laughter stopped. But no anger followed. Just, it seemed, disappointment at me having ruined the game.

''Mommy, be sensible,'' was her vexed rebuke.

''Er, excuse me?'' I asked, not sure if I'd heard correctly.

''Please be sensible,'' she repeated.

And so began another day of ill-tempered tantrums and tirades, interspersed though, with delightful laughter and ongoing surprises at all she is learning. Her broadening vocabulary never ceases to amaze me, especially as she throws my words back at me (as shown above). Her clever comments have me dumbfounded and excited. The loving way in which she comes to hug me and plants kisses all over my face, melts my heart - even when, after allowing me to plant a few kisses on her chubby cheeks, she will abruptly pull away, saying, ''That's enough,'' and then walk off.

So, do I wish this tantrum phase would pass? Do I wish that I could fast forward to an easier time ahead? Surprisingly not. Because along with all the tantrums, she also provides us with so much joy. So much surprise. I cannot tell you how often I just observe her with wonder - the way she reasons, the things she says, the jokes she makes. Her ability to comprehend; to express herself. Her vocabulary. Her clever humour.

But mostly her loving nature. I will miss the way she lies next to me at night, touching my face. How she'll throw her arms around me, saying ''I love you''. How, out of nowhere, she'll say ''Thank you Allah (God) for my mommy and my daddy and my brother and my sisters''.

So yes, I shall spend the next few months suffering her tantrums and tirades, but - at the same time, I am so thankful that I am able to experience every moment, pleasant and unpleasant, with her. I wish there was a way to capture every moment of awe and wonder which she brings to our lives. And I definitely don't wish that this time would pass faster.

Camouflaged as a harmless little girl:


Before the event triggering the transformation (No one knows what could trigger this event - this phenomenon is still subject to much research - conducted by her cautious, yet diligent siblings)

And - a few minutes later:

But the transformation has also been known to work in reverse


Utterly spent from a tantrum, she refuses to get up onto the seat and falls asleep on the floor of the car

 And - a mere half hour later

 Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Tharaa, the train bearer

On Saturday Tharaa (10) was the train-bearer for the granddaughter of my parents'-in-laws' best friends.

The other girls in the bridal party were much younger than she is, so their parents accompanied them for the whole day's proceedings. I knew my daughter would be nervous about being alone, so I thought I'd remind her of her important duty, i.e. to guard, lift and protect the bridal train with her life.

And she did such a good job.

At 11:00 am Mo dropped her off at the hotel, which acted as the base for the bride's preparations. Nuha (7) and Aisha (2) hung about the hotel with their sister, while she waited for the bride to get dressed.


Hanging with Maama (Mo's mum)


Earnestly performing her duties

As expected, Aisha (2) cried for her sister as Mo drove away, leaving Tharaa to fulfil her important duties.


We then dropped the other kids off by my mother so that we could prepare for the wedding (after spending a few rare and blissful child-free hours alone).

The reception took place at the hotel too. I sat waiting nervously for my daughter to make her entrance - I couldn't have been more nervous if she, herself, had been the bride.

As the bridal party entered the reception room I, embarrassingly (and predictably), had to fight back tears. My baby looked so grown up *sniff*. She wore an earnest expression, as she ensured that the train did not touch the floor; handling it carefully - like a sensitive explosive device which would blow the entire venue to smithereens should it touch the ground. I was so proud of her.


Fussing around the bride like a mother hen

After prayers and emotional, but funny speeches, the supper buffet was opened. Oh my goodness, what a spread! We had experienced this hotel's buffet before and were always very impressed with the food and venue. But this time the staff had really outdone themselves (to be expected, I suppose, since they were hosting the wedding of the granddaughter of the hotel owner - their employer).

And then there were the desserts. I seriously wished I could tip the bowl of whatever mousse I was eating, into my handbag to take home. (Don't worry I didn't).

By the end of dinner Tharaa was lying against me, begging to be taken home. The poor thing was so exhausted.

Before the speeches




Maama, looking spiffy as always

At the end of the evening, when we arrived outside, Tharaa seemed to be energised by the crisp evening air.
She treated us to a performance during which she lit up like a fairy / alien.

I was so proud of my baby. I thought she'd be nervous and unsure of herself (like her mother is in most social situations), but according to all accounts, she was a very dutiful little assistant to the bride. By the end of the night I was overflowing with love and pride - until we got into the car and she started bitching that ''They '' (meaning her siblings) '' had more fun than I did, didn't they? Where did you take them?''

And within seconds she was transformed from a mature, elegant princess, into the whiny disgruntled child I'd missed all day.