What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

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Our kids’ school has a program of outdoor camps that all high school kids attend each year. The camp in year 10 is considered the hardest of them all. It really puts the kids out of their comfort zone camping in wilderness areas without amenities where they have to trek, carrying all their gear and supplies.

Our second daughter just returned from her camp and immediately burst into tears. She was not physically or psychologically ready for the stress of the camp and she returned exhausted, bruised, hungry and tired.

I tried to buoy her spirits by sprouting words of wisdom like ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, ‘it’s character building’ and ‘it will be something you will remember for the rest of your life,’ all true statements, but at the same time a voice in the back of my head was thinking thank god it wasn’t me, because over my dead body would I want to hike 30km in the rain with a tent and supplies on my back.

Our eldest daughter had a similar experience, but had no tent; she had to sleep under a tarp and was so cold that she and her best friend shared a sleeping bag in order to share their body warmth. She did caving where she had to squeeze through a crevice called the ‘birth canal’ (where one of her teachers was too large and had to reverse up the cave and hike overland to meet the group at the other end). She returned home saying it was the worst experience of her life, however now that time has passed she is a bit more diplomatic in her description.

Don’t get me wrong I do think it is a great program that teaches our kids resilience, perseverance and an appreciation for all the comforts they have in life – I’m just glad I don’t have to do it!

(Image courtesy of vectorolie, freedigitalphotos.net)

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Stranger Danger

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The other afternoon my tween daughter walked to the local shops (about 300m from our home) with her cousin. It was just a fun little excursion to spend some pocket money on a chocolate bar after several days of exams! She normally takes her phone, she normally comes straight home and she is normally only gone about half an hour. As it started to rain and was beginning to get dark my panic level rose. She hadn’t taken a phone as she lost it a few weeks ago and her cousin doesn’t own a phone so I wasn’t able to contact either of them. Thinking my daughter may have gone to her cousin’s home I rang their home phone and it rang out, then I contacted my brother in law only to find out he and is wife weren’t at home. At this point real fear started to kick in. I walked to their house to see if there was anyone home. To my relief and simultaneous irritation my daughter and her cousin were home watching TV, totally oblivious to my concern.

As we made our way home I gave my daughter a stern talking to, telling her I was worried, as I didn’t know if she had come to any harm. Not half an hour later I saw a Facebook post about an incident the day before where two young girls had been approached by a stranger to hop in his car at the exact bus stop my kids’ use. Being topical, I thought it best to let my daughters know to be vigilant about keeping away from strangers given what had just occurred. I also thought it gave weight to my concerns that my daughter had felt were just me being over-protective.

Unfortunately the result from our discussion is that my tween daughter is now terrified of where we live. She is worried she will be abducted and wants to move house to a safe part of the world. What was meant to be a precaution has now turned into a real fear. If I had realized she would be so traumatized by the information, I would not have told her, but now the damage is done.

I had to explain that everywhere in the world there is a very small element of society where mentally ill people do things that are morally and legally wrong. We can’t live our life in fear of these people, we just need to be aware and not put ourselves in situations where we may come to harm. I also tried to put her mind at ease by asking how many times she and her friends had been abducted in her life – a grand total of zero! I also tried to appease her by telling her that due to the publicity this incident had received it is extremely unlikely that the perpetrator will attempt to do the same thing in the same place again.

I wish we lived in a world where kids could be free to roam and come home at sunset like we did as kids, but unfortunately that is not the case. I want my kids to grow in responsibility and freedom without having to wrap them in cotton wool, but more than that I want them to be safe. Kids need to know about ‘stranger danger’ without losing their sense of security. It’s a fine balance – one that at the moment in our household is tipped more towards fear than safety. I’m hoping as time passes, my daughter will feel a renewed sense of security and will live the carefree life of a tween, without worrying about being abducted. For my own peace of mind, we’ve replaced my daughter’s phone and stipulated that she is no longer to go for strolls to the shops without being able to contact me or vice versa.

I think the hardest struggle as a parent is walking the fine line between allowing your kids freedom and keeping them safe. If I had my time over again, I would still tell my daughter about the incident, but would be vague on the specifics so she wouldn’t realise it happened out the front of our house. Thankfully the kids who were approached knew the right thing to do and didn’t get in the man’s car to receive lollies. We can only educate our kids on what to do in this situation and then hope that no strange person preys on our innocent kids.

Have you had the ‘stranger danger’ talk with your kids?

(Photo courtesy of stock images, freedigitalphotos.net)

My son’s heartfelt message on Mother’s Day

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From the moment your belly swells with the new life inside, you develop a primal love for the child you are carrying. A love so pure you will accept the excruciating pain of giving birth, put up with sleepless nights and spend your life ensuring your beloved child is loved, safe, secure, educated and entertained.

Mother’s Day is the one day of the year your child is encouraged to show you how appreciated and loved you are. This year was the first ever I didn’t receive a glitter covered macaroni necklace or a kitschy ‘World’s Greatest Mum’ mug. This year my husband purchased a great gift on behalf of the kids, so their only input was a hand written heartfelt message in a store bought card. My nine year old son’s message will be forever etched in my mind:

“To Mum, hope you have fun. P.S. Can we go see Mall Cop 2?”

After all the dirty nappies, sleep deprivation, cooking, cleaning and playing mum’s taxi, that was my son’s heartfelt message!

Luckily he does still cuddle me and spontaneously tells me that he loves me, otherwise I might have had to put him up for adoption after his effort this Mother’s Day!

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net)

‘Horrorscopes’ a twisted tale

Horrorscopes

My new short story is now available on kindle for 99c.

http://www.amazon.com/Horrorscopes-twisted-tale-Joanne-Nicholson-ebook/dp/B00XJ27QYE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1431427013&sr=1-1&keywords=joanne+nicholson

When a little old gentleman goes into a bustling café to place an order for coffee he is ridiculed and humiliated for not being able to place his order electronically. Upset, he slams down a tattered old magazine on the counter, telling the crowd that karma will come back to haunt them. 

As each person who picks up the discarded magazine reads their horoscope, they are surprised to find that it is accurate – but maybe not in the way they first imagined. 

After reading this short story, you may not look at your horoscope in the same way ever again! 

Check it out now – it may be short but it certainly isn’t sweet!

Kate’s not alone

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There has been a lot of conflicting opinions about whether Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left hospital too soon after giving birth to little Princess Charlotte.

With my second child I left hospital after 20 hours. I just wanted to sleep in my own bed without listening to other babies crying and without the nurses chatter disturbing me. What I hadn’t counted on was that people took that to mean there was endless visiting hours at our home.

The night after giving birth to our daughter I had 26 visitors at my house at dinner time. I was exhausted and wanted time to rest and bond with my new baby. Instead I was hosting a party and ordering in copious amounts of pizza to feed the hordes.

Returning home also signified to my husband that I was back on board to care for our toddler and resume cooking and cleaning. I was exhausted and didn’t give myself a chance to heal and rest after what was a stressful experience for my body.

For the birth of my subsequent children I stayed in hospital for 3 days which meant I had allotted rest times, scheduled visiting hours, had time to stare at my beautiful baby without worrying about chores and best of all just had to tick a box on a sheet to order my meals.

While I truly understand Kate’s motivation to leave hospital immediately, having done it myself I wouldn’t choose to do it again. Having said that I’m sure Kate has nannies, chefs and cleaners so maybe returning home so early won’t be quite as exhausting for her.

There’s one thing I can tell you for sure is that I certainly didn’t look as glamourous as Kate when I left hospital with my newborn babies!

BACK TO SCHOOL

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They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m hoping to prove that wrong. Today I started saxophone lessons at my kid’s school. After searching for a tutor, I asked the kids’ school music teacher if she could recommend someone appropriate to teach me. She suggested I get lessons from one of the private tutors at school and assured me that I would not be the only parent going through the school for tuition. Thank god I’m not expected to don the school uniform to attend!

So today I fronted up with my saxophone in hand and wandered the halls looking like a lost student in search of my new teacher. I eventually found my tutor and the appropriate room and unpacked my gleaming new saxophone.

I thought as I learned flute as a teenager, it would be easy to just start playing the saxophone, but it was humbling to sit as a student and learn to play from scratch.

It’s a weird experience to walk the halls of my kids’ school as a student, have a lesson and be given actual homework, but I figure you are never too old to learn and that with passion and dedication anything is possible.

Whether it is publishing a book (by the way, my latest book ‘Music Score’ is available at Amazon – sorry for the blatant cross promotion) or learning to play the saxophone, I want to make sure that I cross as many items off my bucket list as possible. I hope that instead of just preaching to my kids that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, that I can lead by example. I may not ever be a saxophonist in a jazz band, but I hope that in the not too distant future I will be able to belt out a few Kenny G tunes without the emanating sound being mistaken for a form of torture!

(Image courtesy of nuchylee, freedigitalphotos.net)