Tag Archives: children

Love like no other

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Trillions of tiny slivers of tenderness, billions of smatterings of care and affection, the number is endless. Infinity minus one some may say. And in equal abundance are joy, worry and respect, and an ease of the easiest of friendships.

All swirl free in a bottomless vessel of emotion and adoration, sometimes erupting without restrain and sometimes fighting uncontrollable and unreasonable and spiked with splintering shards that inflict lashings of pain. It’s the kind of pain that can’t be touched or pinpointed to a source, an ache that comes from the deepest of cores to transcend all other aches and that stretch into forever.

But oh the joy … oozing in shine and comfort, the greatest sprouting, boundless, endless, lasting, enriching, joy of joys. It comes with sacrifice and compromise, of tears that are often invisible and can turn red to bleed and weep from that same core buried in a secret garden.

And then there’s the toughest of all, of watching one’s own endure their personal challenges and pain, children that once were dependant babies are now individuals with their own battles.

Watching one of mine struggle these last weeks has spurred that ache to sting sharp from the pits of that secret garden. The study and assessments as he prepares to take on university grind him hard, as the old draught horse pulling a stone wheel to crush rocks in search of gold.

He lugs his wheel against the pull of needing to lead a balanced life with playing football and seeing friends. He struggles in the tumult of guilt where every second should be spent working and even on the rare occasion of being out with friends, he’s thinking about his studies and what he should be working on next.

And so has begun his foray into adulthood, of pressure that mounts, of stress and balancing his sea-saw life.

This is on top of losing his dear grandmother to a terminal illness and me dealing with my cancer scare. His grief and worry and coping with all that, and then playing catch up from falling behind.

My mettle is being tested watching him, but my own six-foot little guy is emerging with his own mettle tested and toughened. I can see already, his maturity soaring. My draught horse will find his gold as his wheel grinds, drawing on that same courage, inner strength and motivation horses represent.

Life’s tough. No news flash there. Watching our own children toughen it out, I don’t know a word to describe that. Perhaps it’s a mother’s love, a father’s love too I imagine.

When children never become adults

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Pooch stared at the kitchen floor, waiting for food scraps to fall. She’s always scavenging and often claws through the wire fence into the chook pen to steal their scraps. I stretched pizza dough on a floured bench top, spilling flour over the edge to dust her black coat grey. I laughed – Daffy Duck falling into a bag of flour!

‘What are you laughing at?’ called son three from the lounge room. He was sewing a green thread onto new white socks so he could distinguish them from his older brothers’ socks.

I giggled. ‘Call little Miss Pooch.’

He called her and soon laughed a jovial laugh as only an innocent and carefree child could.

Although he’s not such a child anymore; telling me the evening before a school outing that he had nothing to wear reminded me of his teenage thinking. As did his attempt to take the washing I was sorting down to the other end of the house, leaving him the space to freely throw his cabbage from dinner into the bin! I’m sure Miss Pooch would have eaten it!

And son one … well he’ll be driving in a few months, an adult with a driver’s licence. His friends already drive. One of them picked him up to go bargain shopping the other day.

‘Hi M,’ he called out to me.

‘Who’s that?’ I squinted across the road. Oh my, when I realised who it was. ‘You’re driving!’

It startled me to see him sitting in the driver’s seat unsupervised. That will be son one soon, driving without me in the passenger seat, another string cut from the thick twine that binds us as he drives, votes and legally visits bars with his friends. But my eyes still see them as little boys.

Last week too, son two received an elbow in the face while playing football. It split his chin open. I gasped as I watched him drop to the ground and only breathed again when he got up and played on. He laughed it off after the game. He too will have a driver’s licence next year and will be visiting bars. Although he tells me he dislikes immensely the incoherence of excessive alcohol.

When did they grow up, these little boys of mine?

Time moves everything from bud to blossom into the most exquisite bouquet, sometimes at impeccable speeds where before long, flowers begin to wilt and fall to the Earth. My lovely neighbour has just lost her father to the Earth.

I’m always banging on about time and gratitude and love. But I’m constantly reminded that gratitude and love sits at the essence of life. Stopping to appreciate all that I have helps me to realise what’s important, those simple things like hearing that genuine and carefree laugh, or the ‘thanks for staying home to look after me’ from a sick son three. That simple, heartfelt kiss.

Regardless of who’s doing what and who has what, who’s been here and there, what she has and what he hasn’t … it’s the simple things that are important, like making me a cup of tea just the way I like it, or having arms wrap around me in unexpected appreciation, and the ‘you can complain to me anytime’ from a friend.

It’s the simple act of listening and observing that can mean so much, to be acknowledged. It’s sad that we’re losing the ability to really listen when we live in a world of mass communication and where good communication includes listening and observing.

My children will always be my children, just as I am to my mum. Over there for dinner one night with the boys and we’re fed her pasta and fruit cake covered in melted chocolate, just the way we like it, with my glass constantly full of the red wine made by her partner. Then we’re sent home with capsicums and basil from her garden and leftovers for the boys.

My boys will always be my boys … our children are always our children.

Dancing the Milky Way

Reach For The Stars by Margaret Pirrouette

It’s the end of an era, twelve years done and dusted. Twelve years of learning and friendships, challenges and triumphs, and all contained within the four black-spiked walls that have protected our most precious these past years. A period of time, finished.

And yet your deep imprint emblazons every skerrick of our skin in a most brilliant tattoo that will never fade.

We’ve come together for concerts and conversations, athletics and arts festival days. Together, as teachers and mentors, we’ve raised our little beacons of light to lead and go on, supported and nurtured this next generation of bright stars with steadfast strength, compassion and kindness that begets humbleness beyond compare. Gone are the little beings dressed in oversized shorts and t-shirts long enough to be mini dresses, hello to a new emerging brilliance on the Milky Way.

How good you must feel to see these stars burn brighter each year. How good we feel that you have guided and watched over our dazzling cherubs, and supported them in the illumination of celebrations and in the brevity of bumps where we all dug beyond our armour to rise in brave valour.

After twelve years it’s time for good bye and thanks for helping to grow our three stars bright in confidence, with passion and stamina to succeed, strong in academia, happy and healthy in well-being.

It’s good bye and thanks to those today, past and gone, and to the one who has only just left this Earth. Thank you to he who was a foundation of our place of learning and who filled our walls with song and hilarity. Thank you to he who had faith years ago in our smallest star that he would be okay in the new galaxy that became his playground, where he strived as the glowing star that he has become. He who has left this living Earth knew and understood more than me.

Thank you to he who filled these four walls with the grandest of jovial friendliness and with an unwavering sternness that finessed the edges of those little stars. Your departure has cemented the ending of these last twelve years. Finished and never to return, and yet part of that everlasting imprint and emerging brilliance on the Milky Way.

Cemented too is the departure of friends dear, where we will no longer connect in close physicality but be linked by depths that have tinged us and lie etched within.

Good bye and thank you for your friendship. Thank you for growing our stars to burn as bright leading lights that dance along the Milky Way and thank you for your unwavering patience and determination in helping them shine.

Keeping life real

The light which shines in the eye is really the light of the heart

It’s not news that humanity has issues, and they run systemically deep. In many ways, humanity has lost a sense of its humanity. But it hit me recently that those issues are being emblazoned onto our children.

School football was cancelled this week because it was raining. Now it doesn’t matter what code of football I’m talking about because I think it’s safe to say that generally, football is played in the rain.

Six schools began playing a round robin competition, where shorter than usual games are played between teams as a way to eliminate opponents to find a champion in a day. The games began in wind and part way through the round robin, the rain came down. So the competition was called off. How do you think the boys and girls reacted?

‘We always play in the rain,’ complained the kids. And then they laughed mockingly, ‘Is this for real?’

The expression on the faces of the parents that came to help and watch seemed to mirror that of the children: ridiculous.

The kids wanted to play. In the rain and wind. In the mud. They’re kids after all.
The teachers said it was understandable to cancel. The school would be liable if kids got sick or hurt.

Get a grip, I say. News headline: Kids are meant to get sick and fall over. That’s how they learn to get back up again, to recover and overcome adversity. Getting back up is how they learn determination and gain fortitude.

A few years ago, we were experiencing severe drought and sports ovals died as grass dried up. School ovals became hard pitches of dirt. Kids fell over as they ran and played and skunned their knees. So kids were given artificial turf to play on. It looked good, green. It was safer for them, they said.

And then it rained and the artificial turf became slippery and so children were asked not to run on the artificial turf when it was wet, so they wouldn’t slip and fall over.

Again, falling is not allowed? And on a sports oval, while running? Yet falling over and getting back up is what we do all through life. How else do we grow and learn to become strong adults, understanding of life, and coming through adversity?

Maybe I don’t fall over so much physically anymore but emotionally and professionally, all the time! I still remember slipping in the mud as a child on my way to school in the rain. I didn’t enjoy it but I slipped and got back up again. Things happen in life, and I get back up again.

I look at people that have made choices outside of their comfort zone and they’re strong in themselves. They recover to be stronger than ever when adversity strikes. Those that have ventured away from their norm are more confident and willing to try the untried. They become the leaders we need to lead humanity after we’re gone.

Are our young children going to be able to do the same if we molly coddle them in such a way that we rob them of experience, simple experiences like playing in the rain?

Yes it’s hard to watch them fall over but it doesn’t mean we stop them. I had to watch one of my boys fall over the other night, and not in a literal sense. I had to let him go because I couldn’t rob him of experience. Taking chances and pushing limits builds strength of character. All I can do is be there when he falls, for support to get back up.
Falling over grows that sparkling gleam of life. That’s life. Life is real.

The light which shines in the eye is really the light of the heart. ~ Rumi

My bag of mixed sweets

Love Hearts

We all have our own little indulgences, beloved drinks or foods, the yummiest lollies, chocolates, treats or candies. Mine is a bag of mixed sweets dominated by a Caramel Bud, a pot of honey and an old-time favourite, the Chocolate Mate.

My Caramel Bud is full of buttery charm with a determination for balance and equality. When he’s not cuddling over me in a swathe of lanky arms, he loves to chat and stir my bag of mixed sweets. He’s never afraid to ask a hard question or say what he thinks.

My pot of honey is smooth on the surface with complex layers of richness beneath. His kisses are sparse and skim my cheeks as butterfly wings, but occasionally come with a vigour that penetrates my core and lingers until he drops the next one on me.

Then there is my enduring Chocolate Mate, my buddy. Beyond the fine chocolate layer is a staunchness rich with strong ties and cuddles of thanks to have me near, or happy to have been to the shops with me.

Chocolate-coated Aniseed Rings too scatter through, adding curves and dips of complexity and sometimes sharp contrasts. Smarties bounce in and through gaps and lodge to add layers of colour and excitement.

Sometimes Pop Rocks explode like fireworks to stir my mix. I’m not a fan of the havoc they create to my palate of balance, nor do I enjoy the sometimes squirm of Sour Snakes as they test my mix further. They ensure though, that I hold my bag of mixed sweets tight as it constantly changes, as the beige Smarty who can transform as a chameleon to move with the flux.

Then just when I think that this balance is complicated or challenging, in sneaks a Love Heart to nudge me not to cry and remind me that I’m loved, or that someone wants to kiss me! They stick close to my Caramel Bud, pot of honey and old-time Chocolate Mate.

My bag of mixed sweets never empties. It’s always full of delight and decadence that reveal more deliciousness each day, jelling and adding more depth to the embodiment of my mix. My favourites don’t disappear, they just change and remain as faithful as my dogs by me now, snuggled and snoring together.

dirty face childrenFifteen-year-old son two came home from school yesterday, cornering me in the kitchen as I had just finished work, with his chest out and bag still on his back. He seemed very ready to tell me about school.

‘Hello.’ He kissed me. ‘You’ll never guess what happened today.’ He leaned back against the wooden, kitchen cupboard.

Still standing beside the kitchen door, I asked, ‘What?’

‘We walked into this year seven classroom today,’ he said in a voice more intent than is typical for him. ‘We never normally go in there. And there were three, five, ten and eleven times-tables written on a white board.’

His brown eyes sparkled more transparent than usual, probably due to them being so wide stretched, which allowed extra sunlight to reflect into them. Enthusiastic eyes they were, bursting to tell me more.

‘And so we asked our teacher, were you teaching time-tables to the year sevens?’

‘And?’ I waited.

‘He said he wasn’t but they’ll soon have to because the year sevens don’t know their tables!’

‘What!’

‘True,’ said son two. ‘They’re thirteen and they don’t know their tables. How dumb are they!’

‘No, it’s not them,’ I said, saddened by what he told me. ‘It’s not their fault, they haven’t been taught.’

‘Yeah I know,’ he said. ‘But they don’t know their tables!’

‘The question is, why don’t they know them?’ I asked. ‘That’s ridiculous.’

Son three called son two away. That left me standing in the kitchen, thinking. Surely teachers, parents and carers, understand that you need maths. Everybody needs maths. You can’t study subjects like geography, law, economics and science without maths. Or if you want to be a plumber, electrician or nurse, you need maths too. And times-tables are a fundamental of maths. Children need to get to a good standard of them. They’ll struggle to get a job without those fundamentals.

Sure, there is great emphasis in the classroom now on learning to problem solve and the theory of addition and subtraction. However, that’s not enough — you have to know how to apply the theory, and know how to do it quickly. Maths is a language all on its own, with symbols just like an alphabet.

Learning the theory and practicing it, it’s no new concept and happens for students of all ages of all subjects. Take any student in post-graduate studies. They must understand the theory behind concepts and then implement the theory against practice. It happens always. Theory and practice go hand-in-hand. Teachers themselves would have studied to become a teacher from theory, and then applied that to practice.

Different ideas and expectations on learning and maths exist across the world. Here in Australia, it seems many children of thirteen are moving onto that second level of more independent learning without knowing their tables. In the past, it was considered that by age 12, children would know their times-tables.

In the UK, a new primary education curriculum will come into force in 2014 with a greater emphasis on times-tables and where children by the age of nine, will be expected to know up to their 12 x 12’s. Currently, children are expected to know up to their 10’s by the age of 11.

So why is it that many children in their junior years of learning, do not know their times-tables? Or maybe the question is, why aren’t they learning their times-tables by the time they are twelve or thirteen?

Maybe it’s because of an extremely crowded school curriculum and teachers having to do so much more than they once did. The reality is, schools cannot teach our children everything. Our children today are exposed to a far broader range of learning and experience than any other generation before us.

Maybe our lives and our children’s lives are so busy, that there doesn’t seem to be ‘time’ to be still or be together to learn at home. Maybe parents and carers need to step up and take back some responsibility for their children’s learning rather than relinquishing it all to schools and believing that schools should teach their children everything.

It has been said many times over that parents, carers and family are the greatest teachers with the most influence on our children’s lives. The not sharing of responsibility for our children’s learning, challenges the notion of a duty of care on children, as is the whole issue of obesity, but that’s another story for another time.

Why can’t schools and parents, carers and family join to share the learning for children? Why can’t parents sit with their children for half an hour a day and go over times-tables, or spelling words, or any other part of a child’s learning that has been identified as something that needs working on? I know some do spend the time but I also know many don’t, and many are so busy scooting children off form one activity to another after school that there doesn’t appear to be time to sit and be, to play and to learn from that play, which is just as important to learn formally.

Maybe that is the problem. The world has become so busy and complicated that there is no time to just be. To be still and to have time to explore.

Maybe it’s time to get back to the fundamentals of life so that kids will know that 3 x 3 10.

 

KISS

It was many years ago when I first thought about what that simple, four letter word meant. A word that is so easily thrown around by some yet can be so difficult for others to say, even though they feel it.

It’s a word that is with me every second of every day.

Love.

It can be so simple, and yet so, so complex. And I’m not talking about romantic love.

I was pregnant with my first child and feeling quite anxious about being a mother. I went to a session at a Reiki Centre one day and asked the guest presenter, a ‘spiritual’ man, what it meant to be a good mother.

‘It’s simple,’ he said with a chuckle. ‘Love. Simply love your children.’

I had no idea what he meant, but from then on, I questioned what this love was.

Some said it was unconditional love. But what did that really mean? I didn’t get it.

Then I heard that to love is to be open, and to open my heart. Again, I didn’t understand it. How do I open my heart? What did I need to do?

Years of contemplation and trying to understand, and I was starting to get it. Love is the KISS principle.

Keep It Simple Stupid.

Accept people as they are, their beauty and those things within them that are not so beautiful. We’re all humans. We all have our positives and negatives, passions, insecurities, things we excel at …

Still, I thought, how do I do that?

Then I started to meditate. It’s not a meditation that is new age, hippy stuff, or Buddha-centric, or religious, or whatever fan-dangled name you put to it. My meditation is simple. It’s to empty my mind, and to keep it still.

My meditation is to swim laps in an outdoor pool on a day that reflects dappled sunlight through huge gum trees, with branches that dangle freely and when no one else is about. Or to run a few kilometres by a river gushing with joy after heavy rain. It is to sit quietly, early in the peace of a morning when little stirs at 5.30, or with a group of like-minded people in the evening.

Meditation can calm AND energise me beyond understanding. It’s a way for me to relax and take time out, and allows me to not have to think about anything that I have to think.

It’s in this meditation, that I discovered opening my heart. For me, it’s been my secret.

I meditate, empty my mind as best I can, which is sometimes difficult to do with a million things racing about. And then I visualise my physical heart, and open it, expand it. Once I see it physically open, my love flows out and love flows in. I’m surprised by the surge that streams in and out. A peace overcomes me and stays with me afterwards, where people in the street smile at me and speak to me. I find myself smiling more and some who know me, say I look different, younger. I ‘love’ that side of it!! Nature’s anti-wrinkle fighter!

The more I practice this, the better I feel, the lighter I walk, and the more accepting of others and compassionate I feel. Everyone has a story, insecurities. Everyone seeks love of some kind.

So I think I’ve found my elixir of life.

Love.

Feel it, give it. Accept it. Accept people and life.

Understand, truly understand the circumstances. With that understanding comes compassion.

Be grateful for all that I have. Gratitude is a wonderfully grounding principle.

And above all, KISS.

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