Remembering my Values, and Empowering the Child

The other day on the way to ballet lessons, we stopped outside a block of shops.  I gave Zamara $9 (a $5 note and 2x $2 coins).  After I asked, and she correctly answered, how much she had, I sent her on a mission to go into the dairy and get a drink (of her choosing) for her, and a Mountain Dew for myself.

I thought she’d be thrilled.  She loves getting drinks (juice, or fizzy – they’re all a treat for her) and she craves independence.

Instead, she balked.  “Where do I go?  What do I do?”

I pointed out which shop was the dairy (surprised she even needed that much assistance) and popped into the neighboring pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  The prescription took about five minutes.  I checked back in the car, she wasn’t there.  I wandered into the dairy, where I saw a confused looking seven year old being assisted by the shop clerk, helping her pick out and get the drink she was after as well as mine.

I was shocked. I’ve never had her purchase anything herself before (I frequently let her choose, but do the transaction myself).  For some reason, I just assumed that a) she’d jump at the chance and b) she’d succeed easily.  Neither ended up being true – she didn’t know where to start with the task.  In the end, she managed it, but primarily because the shop clerk noticed her walking in and out of the shop looking befuzzled and asked if she needed help.  She explained she was getting a drink for mum and herself, and he gradually pulled the information out that I wanted a Mt. Dew and she wanted – well, she wasn’t sure – but actually, that Fresh Up looks nice.  When I came in at that point, she expected me to take over, but I didn’t.  I did follow her to the counter, but let her put the money up herself (and she did – she hadn’t noted the price at all, but merely put everything I’d given her up at once, for the shop clerk to sort out).

The experience was an eye opener for me.  It reminded me exactly how much we take for granted – i.e., I purchase something most days, and no longer think about it.  She’s never done it before.  She’s only just taller than the standard size shop counter.  But she’s also come to accept that it’s just frankly not her role – and that’s the part that bothers me.  I was raised very independent, in part by necessity and in part deliberately on my mother’s part.  In many ways, I was always treated as a mini-sized adult.  I don’t remember when I did my first shop transaction, but I’m sure I was doing it by seven and a half.  I regularly had pocket money – something none of my kids do.  (Even with their tooth-fairy money, they treat it like a toy, and misplace it more often than not).  There were some aspects of my uber-independent upbringing I didn’t like, but in general, it’s one I was hoping to emulate with my children.  The experience in the dairy was a wake-up call that I’ve slacked in my goals of empowering my children, at least in this area.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable that a seven year old be able to buy a few items at a small store. (Wasn’t Kevin eight years old in the original Home Alone – and he managed fine at the store!)

I am, as Dr. Phil puts it, not just “raising kids”, but raising tomorrow’s adults.  As such, I see it as my duty to ensure – in age appropriate steps – that they are fully capable and confident when interacting with the world.  I think I’ve fallen into the trap – and convenience – of still seeing my seven and a half year old as the fully dependent baby she was, and not as the Year 3 school student she is, or the adult I hope that she grows up to be. I’m busy, it’s easier in the moment to just grab items myself, often having her stay in the car for the whole trip.  This week, I’ve been reminded of the enormous value there is in both bringing her in with me, but also, nudging her to do things herself.


Sitting with my back to the sun

Funny how certain things trigger memories.

Between 9am and 11am the sun streams through the windows in the living room, and hits my recliner – and me, when I’m in it – just so.  It’s easy to get quite hot just from the direct sunlight at this time, in this place, especially with the windows closed so no breeze takes the edge off.

A year ago, I had developed a pattern.  William would go to sleep for one of his many newborn naps, often in the swing directly in front of my recliner, sometime during this time.  And I would stretch out in my recliner and soak in the sun, trying to take from it the same life-giving energy that plants soak up, merely by being in it’s presence.

Sometimes I managed to doze off in the warm glow.

Sometimes I merely wished to sleep whilst all the while anxiously waiting for the boy to wake up and start the cycle over, and simultaneously wishing he would just stay asleep, just a little bit longer.

Always, the time was too short.

Always, I felt like I was taking a single gasping breath whilst drowning in the ocean, before being barreled back under the waves.

Now, though, it’s just sunlight streaming in through the window… and highlighting the echoes of memories.

What a difference a year makes.

Ideals and Expectations

I love the idea of making fun memories with the kids.  This includes mucking around home doing fun, everyday things, but it also includes rarer, and more special trips as a family.

Here’s the secret though – I’m absolutely rotten at doing them.

I’m good at getting the ideas.  I love coming up with the ideas.

“Hey, I know!  We’ll take all but the baby with us to Rotorua (3 hours away) for the day so we can do the luge!  It can be hubby’s birthday present! Like a birthday party / experience!”

Of course, it never occurred to me that maybe the hubby didn’t want to be stuck in a car / motel / tourist destination with three hot, tired, grumpy, unappreciative kids.  In my vision of a “great family mini-break” that never came up at all.   Nor did the fact that with virtually any family trip, it ends up being me packing for myself, and all four kids (although Miss 7 and Miss 5 are starting to halfway help with theirs, although this needs heavy supervision as it often leads to situations of having 4 changes of undies – “a hundred” – as Miss 5 says – and no suitable socks, footwear, or shorts / pants.  And bulky winter coats packed for hot summer days.)  Meanwhile the husband leisurely showers and as I’m trying to herd children into the vehicle of choice, he thinks about throwing some clothes together to bring.

Nevermind that.

I’m quite frankly not good in times of high stress, and especially not good with multiple whiny / tired / hungry / hot / bored / past-it children trapped with me in a confined space, whether in the name of ‘fun’ or ‘creating family memories’ or not.

So.  Rotorua, in slightly less than 24 hours round trip. Mainly, luging and a trip to the aquatic centre.



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I think the kids had fun though.  After a few days of being able to breathe, I might think I did as well.  Right now I’m just plain tired. Oh, and sunburned.

Learning Little Things

Sometimes it’s the little things you learn – and perhaps, the most obvious – that make the biggest difference.

For the past week or so, I’ve been going to the library to ‘work’.  Largely I’m working on writing, and reading (aka research) for the writing I’m doing, but I’m also using it for my space from which I blog, a lot of the time.  Although there are times when I think the problem with the public library is the public, it still tends to be quieter and more peaceful than my house in the midst of the school holidays.  Not to mention I’m surrounded by BOOKS!

There has been learning involved, too.

I’ve learned to look at maps carefully.

The particular library I hang out at, chosen not because it’s nearest to me, but because of a combination of factors including location, selection, nice study spaces, and parking, is the Waitakere Central library in Auckland.  My main kvetch with this set up has been the parking, as there’s bugger all parking immediately by it.  On the other hand, for the past week it’s been glorious and sunny, and I haven’t minded a wee stroll from the readily available, but slightly further away, parking lot to the library.

Today it’s rainy, and as I hoof it in with a laptop and usually no less than three books on my back in a backpack, I wasn’t interested in a peaceful but damp stroll through the rain.

I was looking at the map on Google Maps and complaining to hubby about my plight, and reluctance to walk a block in the rain.



The red line denotes the path I’ve been walking, from my parking spot, around the park, and courthouse, and Unitec building, to the library.

It wasn’t until looking at the map, that I saw the footbridge leading from the parking lot I use (admittedly the other end than I’ve been parking at) across the stream, leading direct to a path through the buildings and a side street, somewhat direct to the library.



Apparently it’s not that hard to park by the library, after all.   And now I have far less excuse not to ‘work’ when it’s raining.  Which is likely a good thing, as this is Auckland and we get a fair bit of rain… even when it’s forecasted to be sunny.

Another thing I learned stems from earlier in the week, but also due to my hiding out in the library.  The table (or, sequence of tables) I like to set up on is facing a window.  Which is lovely and serene.  I like windows, in general.  Windows are rubbish for laptops though.  (Pun not intended… but left deliberately!)

I was finding it seriously hard to actually do anything on the laptop, as I was finding it seriously hard to see anything on the laptop, in such a bright area.



I complained to the hubby (yes, I’m sensing a theme) that I needed a glare guard.  Something just to provide a little bit of shade / darkness around the edges of my laptop screen, and let me see what it is that I’m trying to work on.

It wasn’t until I was at home, on the weekend, working outside on the deck (oh, how I love laptops) that I realised it needn’t be that complicated.  I adjusted the brightness levels on my screen.  Y’know, using the little button on the keyboard put there for specifically that purpose.

And I could see again!



My final thing I’ve learned in the last few days also stems from the library.  It seems that being surrounded by books is not necessarily any less distracting… specifically for a bibliophile.



It looks good… anyone read this author before?  😉

Redefining Myself

Sometimes life isn’t as hard as we make it out to be.

I’ve done a lot of work – primarily, internal work – over the last two years or so, and I’m finally coming to a place where things are truly starting to make sense again.

I’ve been struggling with the dilemma of “What I Want to be when I Grow Up” for many years now – or I guess you could say, since growing up.  I can’t find any careers that are both suited to my skill and experience level that fire me up, or even entry level ones that lead to careers that fire me up.  Seemingly everything takes more than a BA to start with, or no degree at all – and whilst I don’t mind working in a job that doesn’t require a degree, despite the fact I have one, the ones that I can actually do are really just entry-level office administration work.  Not to knock administration, but it’s something I ‘can do’, not necessarily something I’m passionate about.

Not that long ago, however, I had a lightbulb moment. In truth, I’ve always known what I wanted to be when I grow up – I have always (at least, from the time I could read) wanted to be a writer.  Nearly anytime I mentioned this, however, I was met with limited enthusiasm.  “That’s great…. but what will you do to make a living?” In response to that, I did briefly explore journalism, but quickly found that journalism and myself are not a great mix.  I’m really not cut out for dog-eat-dog, beat-everyone-else-to-the-scoop type stuff, and journalism is rife with that.  Furthermore, my true dream is to be an author of books.  Journalism would be writing, and aside from the nasty atmosphere, a lot more desirable than administration – but being an author of books is my true calling. 

Instead, I’ve been getting hung up on how I’m going to make a living, under the blatant assumption that being an author would not make a living.   More importantly, I haven’t been doing anything about being an author.  Frankly, I’m not ‘earning a living’ at the moment anyway – but I could be writing.

So, I’ve started writing.  In my true style, I have not one project on the go, but about four, not counting my blogs.  Some, by their very nature, are progressing faster than others, but that’s fine.  They may not become books.  But I’m writing and that’s what’s important.  If I wait “until” before I start writing, I’ll never be an author.

And I’m blogging again.  (Says Captain Obvious).  Stay tuned for more, and more frequently, at this blog. Or, for a breath of fresh air (or at least pictures of such), check out my new baby – Walking to Wellness.