A Parent’s Nightmare

I got the text message. One dreaded by every parent of school-going children, the one message that strikes fear into the heart of every teacher, that this is happening in their classrooms.

It was a long weekend. We were in the midst of discussions about weather and ideal spots for a picnic etc. All shattered by the content of that one short text message.

I was shocked! My child involved in this type of thing was unthinkable. But we cannot dictate who their friends are …. And friendship is a dangerous and beautiful thing. They say, it’s always the company they keep, in these cases. I began to think of all the playdates we had last week, and wracked my brains for signs of any tell-tale behaviour. I could remember nothing.

Then my mind began to spin, what about my older daughter? Surely, not her too. This was so awkward and embarrassing especially when they are older. And what about her friends and their parents? Had they found out?  What could I possibly do? And how do I keep this news from family and friends…. Or should I actually be telling them rather than hiding it, so that they are alert too?

There are traditional, gentle ways to resolve these issues but they take time or stronger, more immediate treatments – chemical, synthetic and harsh. Even so, could the problem really be solved? I sat inside mulling this over, wondering how to break it to my husband.

Outside, it was a warm summer evening. Everyone in our street had their windows open, children played in the street; skateboards, bikes and footballs lay strewn in the front yards with abandoned dolls, dinosaurs and toy trucks. Teenagers dawdled on their way home, neighbours chatted over fences, and usually I would have been out there too.

Then, I heard a car pull up in our drive and my youngest scream excitedly, “Daddy! Daddy! Mummy says most of my friends and I have LICE ….. and NITS- that’s the lousy eggs! Can I keep them in Snowball’s cage?”

 

-Bewildered-

 

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HAPPY 2017…

 

We had a great New Year’s Eve party. Lots of friends, champagne, music and to finish- we watched fireworks on the beach. Happy New Year! Happy New Year! … we all said to each other. I could feel it in my bones, 2017- a great year.

Because in 2017….

  • I don’t have to work twice as hard as the men and in half the time to be considered on par with them in the office
  • I don’t have to compromise on my career if I take a break to start a family
  • No longer need to dress carefully because the way you dress will say a 100 things about you
  • House husbands are no longer in single digit percentages worldwide
  • Car mechanics no longer try to inflate the bill unless a man questions it
  • If the children misbehave, my parenting skills alone are not questioned, they are his children too
  • The media no longer discuss women’s clothes, shoes and accessories on the red carpet of every award function
  • I can miss a family gathering because of work and not be given a full court martial
  • I am not the sole coordinator of the children’s birthday parties, presents, relatives’ birthdays, friends’ anniversaries, dentist’s appointments, pet medication schedules and soccer game car pools
  • And my wages are equal – no pay gap by gender
  • ……

 

I got so excited by it all, I woke up. Sorry, girls……

-Bewildered-

The Gift of Giving

Want more gifts? .  .    .   Have you got gifts you don’t want?   . .  .  .  .  Are your friends and relatives skimping on your gifts? . .  .  .   The answer is……

THE GIFT OF GIVING    “If you give then you shall receive.”

Product Disclosure Statement & Policy Document

 Disclaimer: Although it is tradition that individuals put in a lot of thought, time and effort into even the most economical of gifts, this approach is idealistic and may or may not be expected from a GIFT OF GIVING policy.

Why choose THE GIFT OF GIVING?

THE GIFT OF GIVING (GOG) is a hassle free way to ensure that you will receive gifts on birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and celebrations.

Benefits:

  • Never have to ask for a gift
  • Give the impression of being popular and loved
  • Get gifts that can be re-gifted
  • Shame other people into buying you gifts

How the Policy Works:

Buy a gift for every social event you attend this will ensure that your GIFT OF GIVING policy remains active throughout the year and these people in turn will buy you gifts.

How To Minimise Premiums:

  • Re-gift or recycle gifts received throughout the year (maybe recognised by the receivers)
  • Buy very economic gifts (you may get cheap gifts in return when it is your turn)
  • Buy gifts as a group, offer to organise the gift and avoid monetary payment for your share. For example, if 10 people are pitching in for a $90 present, tell everyone their share is $10
  • Buy chocolates and wine in bulk discount at the wholesale shop.

No Claims Bonus (NCB): If you make No Claims on gifts for yourself throughout the year, then you can apply for a No Claims Bonus.

How To Renew/Change/Cancel Your GIFT OF GIVING Policy:

If you change your mind about your GOG policy, you may stop buying gifts altogether or only buy some gifts throughout the year. The result of this change in policy will not be seen immediately but will be felt after a few months. It is strongly recommended that you do not renew/change/cancel your policy until your own birthday is done.

Cooling Off Period:

If you buy someone an expensive present, there is a mandatory cooling off period of 21 days when you can reconsider your decision, especially if the money can be better spent on yourself.

Exclusions:

  • Damaged gifts, inappropriate gifts and doubled up gifts (e.g. 2 lipsticks in the same shade, 2 toasters etc.)
  • Tight-fisted relatives.

Claims:

How to make a claim: If you have not received a gift from an expected Giver for an event or an anniversary you can ring, txt, email, tweet etc. all the other members who attended the event and complain mildly. These givers will definitely convey the message to each other and through the grapevine, it will eventually reach the ears of the ungracious person who did not give you a gift. This is a subtle name-and-shame social exercise that is very successful.

How You Can Qualify For Rebates:

  • Give the gift in instalments. Buy a whole dinner set but gift it, a section at a time: Dinner plates and side plates for the birthday, soup tureen and platter for the          anniversary, tea cups as a get-well-soon present and tea service for a housewarming   present.
  • Organise a group gift (Please see How To Minimise Premiums)

 Customer Service:  Aggrieved parties should refer to the Claims section of this document. This option may be used in the following cases:

  • Cheap and tacky gift
  • Ridiculous gift
  • Re-gifted gift that you recognize
  • Re-used wrapping paper and tag
  • For more options, see canyoubelievewhattheygaveus.com

Recycling of gifts:

This is an important part of THE GIFT OF GIVING policy. Married individuals and joint family systems may find themselves at a greater advantage as gifts from one partner’s family can safely be recycled to the other partner’s family. For more ideas on recycling gifts, see whereshouldIpalmthisoff.com

Glossary:

‘Giver’ is the person who has bought a GIFT OF GIVING policy and traditionally expects to feel noble, kind and exceptional by giving a gift.

‘Receiver’ is the person who gets a gift because of the all gift giving he/she has done through the year.

‘Third parties’ refers to the shops, websites and commercial services that provide the actual gift.

 ‘Gift’ according to the dictionary refers to something given by one person to another without expecting anything in return.

 

-Bewildered-

Better Value

When I was a child, I was constantly taught the value of things, moral values, even the maths problems said, “The value of x is 2” etc.

But as I grew up, ‘value’ changed to ‘better value’ and this is different to any values you have ever been taught. Better value means paying or doing the same and getting more- food, travel, petrol, tickets, clothes, shares, houses; whatever you may be buying or buying into.

This is reflected not just in the things we buy but also in the things we do: A school outing is now an educational excursion, an office picnic is a team building day, coffee with peers and competitors is networking, texting 3 friends at the same time is social media. Being the quick learner I am, I have wholeheartedly taken to this concept.

I have supersized every fast food meal, taken friends to the bogof (buy-one-get-one-free) lunch, drink, shoe sale and sometimes eaten both the free desserts myself. I have bought many clothes on special offers and am now the proud owner of clothes of every description, I suspect in some cases the entire colour range of socks, gloves, jackets and t-shirts that I would have never bought otherwise. In fact, they were such great value for money (every third item free) that I have bought clothes in sizes and colours that will never suit me. I have had stopovers in many cities, just because I could, at the price of the original ticket. Some of these places I’d never even heard of or actually wanted to visit.

Now a strange phenomenon seems to be taking place. The clothes in my wardrobe seem to be shrinking- I can no longer fit into the ones that were once my size. Some of the bigger sizes now seem more comfortable and I only have a few of those. Surely that is not value for money! So this better value makes me optimistic and doubtful all at the same time.

The better value concept also seems to be extended into loans and insurance. So in this chase for better value I have bought a house larger than I want, more expensive than I can afford, a car bigger than I need and a gym membership for 5 years that I will use for that first week in every new year. Well, everything was better value, just like that upsize for my daily coffee and the two extra stopovers to get value for my flight.

All this better value like the upsized coffee means more caffeine in my system every day, more fast food into my body, more clothes in my wardrobe, more mortgage on my savings, more housecleaning as my chores for the big house, more financial responsibility on my income and savings. As a result, I find myself overweight from the upsized meals and free side orders of chips. My heart races at the drop of a hat; medically not romantically – high blood pressure from the extra caffeine and financial burden. My friends and family think I am rich and try to sponge off me because they have seen my huge new house, svelte car and plush boat. Not to mention that I can now tick off many places and countries in the world, thanks to the unwanted stopovers. On seeing my medical report, the doctor himself told me to take drastic action. At the next visit, he wasn’t too impressed when I told him that I had gone out and bought funeral insurance.

Now at 45, I am wondering whether it will be better value for money, if I die before paying the second monthly instalment on my funeral insurance?

-Bewildered-

Factory Settings

Every morning, I drink a cup of responsibly-sourced coffee from some remote mountains. The caffeine jump-starts my body as some money from my coffee purchase goes towards the health and education of children in that remote coffee region. And so the multitasking begins as I rush through my morning routine, every day.

I watch what I eat, I eat what they advertise is good for me, thus I nourish and educate myself at the same time. I am paid, to know what I know and store in my brain what I read and use it effectively to dispense more information to other people. I try and use multimedia to educate myself every day about health, politics, corporations, parenting, sharemarkets, food, foreign countries, taxes, sales in my favourite shoe store.

All day, I feed my mind with endless information, news from the radio, articles online, podcasts in the car, gossip on coffee breaks at work. Plus, all the usual… newspapers, grapevines, magazines, newsletters. I look at social media photos to compare holidays, homes, car sizes, children’s achievements, their looks, dress sizes, ageing husbands and personal wrinkles. This who, what, where, when, how and why of everything from the eccentric neighbour to the reigning politicians affects my moods, my clothes, my appetite and my relationships. I try my best to store most of this information in my brain and on my laptop so that my phone can share it too.

Even my glasses multitask. Myopic glasses are also reading glasses and sunglasses with numerous prescriptions and tints on them. I do not have to waste time switching between glasses, sunglasses and reading glasses. All the time saved, is put towards gaining even more knowledge and information. Some of which I need and the rest, I must have, because I can.

I wear a device that tells me the time as it records my heart rate, blood pressure, steps I walk, stairs I climb and calories I burn; wearing a watch would be too simplistic,  monofunctional.

My phone has replaced my watch, diary, alarm clock, address book, camera, maps, torch, weather report, music system, shopping list, emails and credit cards. My handbag now, is much lighter but the demands on my time have become heavier. I am now, my own secretary, travel agent, photographer, DJ and I shop online, even for groceries. All this multitasking keeps my day full, my family life restless and my relationships dependent on that last post I ‘Liked.’

I thought multitasking would free up some time to be at peace but it only makes more demands on my time. By the time I go to bed every night, I am tired. My brain is full, it has been like a sponge all day.

Early every morning, I go to a meditation session where I pay to be guided to empty my mind like reverting to ‘Factory Settings’ on a smartphone.

And I can start all over again.

-Bewildered-

Watching Reality

After ages, I had commandeered the TV remote, so I clicked it.

The first channel had a show where a group of strangers was divided into teams in a big house. The teams had to bond and then work with or against the other team over a few weeks. That’s not TV! That is any traditional wedding with the ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ factions. With competitions for dressing up, drinking yourself silly, generally trying to make a fool of yourself, trying to show off. Peripheral tasks include matchmaking grannies, young things trying to attract other young things and a subsection of relatives actively criticising everything from people’s clothes to the caterer’s notepad. And at traditional weddings, just like this TV show, both sides regularly get an opportunity to complete inane tasks which had a lot of significance and symbolism many years ago but now are mere actions that have to be completed for posterity.

I flicked the channel.

It was a cooking show. A member of the audience brought out a bag of ‘surprise ingredients’ generally mismatched on purpose. These ingredients were then given to the contestant and/or professional chefs to cook a three-course meal. But I didn’t realise that was a show either. In our house, it’s called ‘Dad Went Grocery Shopping’ or ‘The Kids Raided The Fridge, Again.’

I flicked channels again.

Now the matchmaking grannies seemed to have disappeared! Gone on the dole because here were a couple dozen men, vying for the attention of one solitary girl and in the commercial breaks they were advertising a program where several women would try and win over a single man. The individual interviews had so much back stabbing, bitching, fake nails and make-up, that I gave up. It seemed to be high school popularity contests all over again. The only real thing here, seemed to be the money made by the dress designers and the business that endlessly supplied red roses.

I flicked again.

A shot of houses in a street, maybe I could watch this. It was about a team of professionals who came in to give the entire house a makeover. We play that too in our house, when unexpected guests are imminent and I am shouting, “Tidy up! Tidy up! I’d like to see the carpet again, forgotten what colour it is!” But the house makeover show was almost over. The skinny, well-dressed, celebrity host was saying goodbye.

The next one was a quest to charge unabashedly through exotic cities to world-famous landmarks trying to find clues to the prize. And I thought to myself, I don’t need to watch this.  I am on a daily quest from morning to night in a bid to not lose my sanity as I try and get through the day.  With clues along the way, from my teenage children, who mostly ruin any strategy or advantage I could have had, with their forgotten lunch boxes, cancelled orthodontist appointments, rescheduled music lessons, wet uniforms still in the washing machine. They also ensure that I don’t run just one race every day but several races rolled into one and my prize is very simple: Making it to bedtime without actually losing my mind or any members of my family.

The only difference is that when I lose these races, as I often do, there is no good-looking celebrity host to give me a pat on the back.  All I get, is a look from the husband that says, “You really should know better by now.”

Fed up, I threw the remote onto the couch and it flicked itself to a different channel. And just when I thought I’d seen everything that night, I found a show where half a dozen families are filmed watching reality shows and commenting on them as they watch. Yes, you read that right. Now, we can watch, not just the reality show but the reactions of people watching those reality shows.

When did life get so unreal that we actually need to watch reality?

 

-Bewildered-