ARMED HOLD-UP

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Last night I watched a ‘60 Minutes’ story on the siege at the Lindt Café in Sydney in December 2014. What struck me was the heroic and brave actions of the younger hostages held in this siege. These uni students, who were part-time workers at the café, were able to make clear decisions in a time of extreme stress and on the whole seem to be coping well in the aftermath.

It reminded me of a time when I was 17, working part-time at the local Pizza Hut. One night after closing the restaurant for trade, two masked gunmen held the staff at gunpoint, whilst our Manager was taken out the back of the restaurant to empty the safe. The older people I was working with were shaking and sobbing, whilst I was trying to memorise the clothes worn by the armed robber who had his gun pointed at me. I then tried to work out his height by counting the number of tiles on the wall behind him. Whilst I was obviously terrified, I kept calm and tried to think as logically as possible, wanting to give the police the most accurate account of events as possible.

Once the thieves left the restaurant, I called my parents to let them know I would be late, telling them I had been ‘held up’. Due to the nuances in the English language my mother took that to mean I had been waylaid, not that I had been actually held up at gunpoint.

I was able to give police a clear description of the thieves and then went home, to live my life with as much normality as possible. I kept working at that Pizza Hut for a few months, but found that any time we closed the restaurant I began to feel anxious. Eventually I gave that job away and worked in a boutique, which was both a blessing and a curse. I enjoyed the work, but never had money because I spent all my wages on clothes that I could buy at staff discount!

I haven’t thought much about that armed hold up for a long time, which I guess shows you how resilient kids can be! I now reflect that my eldest daughter is the same age I was when that incident occurred and I fervently hope that none of my kids ever have to experience the stress of wielding to the demands of an irrational thug.

Obviously my experience pales into insignificance in comparison to the hostages in the Lindt Café siege that lasted hours. I just hope they can all move forward with their lives knowing that they did what they had to do in that situation and that they bear no responsibility for the actions of the deranged terrorist who was accountable for the death of two innocent people.

(Photo courtesy of Pong, freedigitalphotos.net)

ANOTHER DRUG DEATH

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My greatest fear as a parent is that my children will decide to dabble with drugs. Although there is more than ample drug education for kids these days, the message doesn’t seem to be getting through. Teenagers are more interesting in the calorie content in food than the chemicals used in making synthetic drugs that have the potential to kill them.

This morning I was devastated to hear of the death of a nineteen-year-old girl, Georgina Bartter, from an ecstasy overdose. She was at a music festival (just like the ones my teenage daughters like to attend) and although she is an intelligent university student, she took the gamble to have drugs and now unfortunately she is lying dead in a morgue.

These music festivals are rife with drugs, even though there is screening at the entry. The problem with drugs is that if they are consumed prior to entry there is little evidence. I’ve heard of girls putting pills into balloons and then inserting them inside themselves to smuggle them into the festival so they can consume them in the portable toilets. I even know some teenagers who flaunt their drug use by using pill emoticons when posting photos on social media.

The drug culture has always been taboo and something that teenagers will not openly disclose to their parents. I know some teenagers think that rebellion is a rite of passage, but this behaviour is risky and yet they seem to have little fear of the possible consequences.

I was exposed to drugs as a teenager but I always took the view that I had high enough self-esteem to say no and not bend to peer pressure. The funny thing is that the kids who were the ‘popular’ ones doing drugs and pushing boundaries ended up as the least successful adults and the kids that were more conservative in their behaviour have turned out to have the most balanced lives.

My heart goes out to the Bartter family as they grieve the loss of their beautiful daughter, whose life should have been just starting – not ending! Unfortunately I don’t have much advice on how to stop your kids using drugs except to say have conversations with your kids about the dangers of drug use, try to ensure they have good self esteem and won’t bend to peer pressure, keep an eye on your kid’s friends social media and monitor your kid’s behaviour for any signs of drug use.

Friendships and fun times are what make life exciting – not taking drugs! I just hope this message sinks in for my kids and they have the good sense to say no to drugs.

(Photo courtesy of amenic181, freedigitalphotos.net)

TEENAGE PLANS

Sitting under a clear blue winter’s sky I order a coffee to pass the time as I wait for my daughter and her friends to return from a jet boat ride on the harbour.

Today’s outing is a long planned surprise for one of my daughter’s friend’s birthday. They have been blessed with beautiful weather. Had this been arranged for 24 hours earlier they would have been stuck in rain – the droplets would have felt like needles on their skin.

A little nervous, but very excited, they donned purple jackets that made them resemble Telly Tubbies before climbing aboard the jet boat.

I love that they chose to have an experience together for their gift as opposed to more commercial gifts of clothes or beauty products.

On the car trip down they chatted about what adventures they want to have together when they leave school and I couldn’t help but wonder whether these grand plans made at the age of 15 will ever eventuate. I recall at the same age planning to work on a tropical island with a friend, but of course life got in the way and that dream faded, making way for more concrete plans for a career, marriage and a family.

Whether their musings translate into actions or not, the fact is that today they are forming last memories together. I look forward to hearing their excited chatter as they relay the twists and turns of their boat ride. Hopefully their Telly Tubbies jackets protect them and they don’t come back looking like drowned rats!

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MY MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEARING WARDROBE

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There is a very strange phenomenon that is occurring in my house at the moment. Items of clothing, shoes, makeup and accessories seem to mysteriously disappear from my room.

The problem with sharing the house with two teenage daughters, who by the way are almost as tall as me now, is that they see my wardrobe and toiletries as an extension of their own belongings.

This ‘borrowing’ phenomenon is not limited to my wardrobe either – my husband’s shirts and jumpers have also been known to wander.

The other day I was in the shower when I noticed my shampoo and razor had vanished into thin air. Of course I was a dripping mess by the time I came to this realization and had to wrap myself in a towel to do the dash to the kid’s bathroom to retrieve my things.

Just this morning I went to put on my joggers to go for a run, only to find they had disappeared. I sent a text to my oldest daughter, letting her know for the hundredth time that she can’t just take my stuff and received a text in return “sharing is caring J”

I don’t really mind lending clothes to my daughters if they ask in advance and return them after they’ve used them. However, I do worry that people will think that I’m raiding my daughter’s wardrobes if they spend too much time wearing my clothes.

In reality, the stream of borrowing is one way as I don’t want to wear the ‘trendy’ (aka skimpy) clothes teenagers seem to favour, nor wear their grubby converse.

I always wondered why some mothers dress in frumpy clothes that make them look years older than they are, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is their scheme to keep teenage daughters out of their wardrobe!

 

 

(Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic, freedigitalphotos.net)