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Dear Kids: About Sex…


I’m still feeling a little grumpy after reading this article on The Herald website yesterday. I can’t seem to be able to stop thinking about it.

You see… I did not choose to home school my kid because I necessarily think school institutions are terrible. I don’t. At least not all of them. Obviously there are good and bad points to just about anything. But I think this sort of thing kind of makes me realise that I might very well never send my kid to “real” school. Because if I did, I wouldn’t be able to help being that mom who complains every five minutes. Yes. I’d be the mom that all the teachers hate. I’d be discussed in the staff room. I’d make people cry. It probably wouldn’t be good.

If you didn’t read the article, it tells of how the Grade 11 pupils at Alex High School are looking after fake babies for two weeks. If  the point of this exercise was some sort of tepid initiation into the trials of parenthood, that would be one thing (although I have some serious concerns about even that!) but no. The exercise is to promote abstinence.

To quote The Herald:

The high school is conveying the importance of sexual abstinence to its Grade 11s in a clever way – making them experience what being a parent is all about.

Um: gross…. (more…)

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The Tampon Terrorist

untitledSo my cat – Jonny Lee Mewler – has a new favourite game: Tampon Tennis. My tampons are kept in a basket next to the loo in my bathroom with the toilet paper. They are in reach for when I have need of them, obviously. But of course, Mr Mewler has discovered that if he jumps inside the basket and opens up the little blue box next to all the toilet paper (ok fine – the empty toilet paper rolls) a whole bunch of wonderful little toys fall out and he gets to have a grand old time chasing them all around the house. Of course this inevitably led to me finding a tampon in the kitchen and I was having a little giggle about it with my 14 year old stepson when my 12 year old stepdaughter noted how “embarrassing” it would be if someone were to come and visit. And suddenly I found myself grateful to my tampon thieving cat because I was given a perfect opening to casually chat to my kids about girl stuff and how there is no shame in it. You see, I’m a little tired of living in a world where the workings of the female body are considered taboo. If you walk into my house and there’s a tampon in the kitchen it is because, I as a female human being, have a normally functioning body. For you to find the evidence that I use tampons to be at all distasteful makes you a bit of a tool – whether you are male or female. I’m so sick of the cliched male (and sometimes female) specimen who is revolted by the workings of the female anatomy, that idiot who slips into his dramatic gestures of revulsion at the mere mention of anything to do with procreation, barring the expelling of his own semen. I can’t help but be tempted to fall into a lecture laced with obvious scorn. I spoke to my children nicely though. Pointing out the silliness of feeling shamed by the humble tampon, and even going so far as to mention that the person who buys my tampons is, after all, their dad. Their dad does all the grocery shopping, so he buys all the tampons. Why? Because the grocery store is right there where he works and his dutiful housewife generally has zero money and quite likes to get out as little as possible if she can help it (don’t bother making the hermit jokes…really…way too easy!). I was then conveniently able to point out how silly it would be if my big burly husband refused to buy my tampons. We would then have to spend more money on petrol going to the shops, wasting  more our most precious commodity – time – and for what? Embarrassment over the purchasing of a tampon? I don’t think so. This made all the sense in the world to my son, but he’s always been quite receptive to my somewhat not-always-the-norm ideas on things. Sadly my daughter is a little more prone to the worldly conditioning that we’re trying so hard to iron out. But maybe she’ll come around. She’s going to have to if she ever wants to invite her friends around here. I don’t see this tampon tennis stopping any time soon. And what kind of catmother would I be to deny my precious Jonny his fun?

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Vicarious Living

1533717_10154027622295094_7781311556325752292_nYou know when you’re watching television or listening to some gossipy old fuddy duddies and they’re going on and on about how parents live vicariously through their kids? I always thought that was a depressingly sad as well as ridiculous idea. Why on EARTH would you do that, right? And then today I realised that I am kind of doing it too…

You see… I’m home schooling my kids. I’m trying to give them a calm I never felt as a kid. I am trying to give them confidence that I never managed to foster for myself. And I am trying to point them in the direction of the most colourful life imaginable. While other parents are envisioning their offspring as doctors and lawyers, in my head I see us shipping them off to spend a year on a kibbutz in Israel. After that maybe they could do some volunteering in South America, or Spain, or China. They can do their TEFL courses and teach English to children all over the world. They can stick a map up on their walls and poke colourful pins into all the places they have been. And the idea excites me! Of course if they don’t want to do those things they don’t have to, but it’s something I so wanted for myself but was never brave enough to take.

So yes….I am living vicariously through my children. Be brave, because I know now that not being brave is toxic. Do what makes you happy now  because you will regret it if you don’t and eventually end up where you should have been years ago anyway. Why waste the time? Be adventurous because the best stories come from those who refuse ordinary things.

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Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Something about this man just demands for me to trust him and his ideas. While we attempt to home school in our home for various reasons, videos like this help to remind me that we are doing the best we can for our kids. I know there is such a stigma attached to doing so, and I totally get where it comes from, but after a year I can already see that my two stepkids are a lot less stressed and that alone makes me feel like we are most definitely doing the right thing.

Sadly it looks like homeschooling in South Africa is under attack by the government. Now of course, I do know that mainstream media tends towards drama, and my own experience with the Pestolozzi Trust has been that while they do great work in protecting home schooling families there also tends to be a very anti-government attitude that borders on unnecessary ridicule. This kind of mockery when it comes to the government really does make me have to think twice about what kind of agenda is being pushed. I am not saying that the information they share is necessarily inaccurate, but I cannot help but wonder if it is not somehow inflated. (more…)

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Careful Now: Your individuality is showing…

I wrote this a while ago and apparently forgot to publish it…. Weird…. 

September-ish 2013:

I took my kid out to Funky Frog yesterday because he loves it there and because it’s just the two of us for a few days and it’s hardly ever just the two of us these days. I curled up on the couch with my book and let him loose to play with the other kids. *bliss*

Every now and then I question whether I am doing the right thing in home schooling my kids – especially Noah because he has obviously not gone to school so I don’t have the “school isn’t working” thing to reassure me with him. The thing is, if you had to give me one of those things-your-kid-should-be-doing-by-the-time-he-is-five lists there is very little that I would be able to tick off of there. This kid is completely on his own time clock. I’m ok with that. The only pressure I feel sometimes comes from outside sources – well-meaning family members and friends etc. Anyway – the point is that fitting into a little school box is not going to work for this kid. Of course when it comes to breaking away from the norm it can be a little tough and it’s hard to be confident about my decision all the time.  (more…)

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Home schooling continued…

So I posted a bit about home schooling the other day and was so delighted to find that some of my absolute favourite moms are home schoolers! (Yes – I know it sounds mad that I didn’t know this…but let’s face it…most of my favourite people are on Twitter…) Perhaps it is silly but when someone you like/admire is supportive of something so huge you kind of feel just a little bit more validated. So for those of you who have been so great in saying “yes!” and putting forth solutions instead of throwing problems, I salute you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Of course none of this is to say that I have made my decision just yet. I jump from thinking it is a wonderful idea to questioning my sanity on an hourly basis, but I would just like to share a little story with you so that you can sort of understand why I am thinking of going in the home schooling direction.

My daughter, Bridgette, is going to be in a play soon. It is called Box of Buttons or something (I have forgotten because I am a terrible mother clearly) and for this play she needed a pair of black tights and a black tshirt. She was given a bunch of squares of multicoloured felt that needed to be cut into circles and sewn onto her pants and shirt. Fine. Now immediately I know that all this sewing is expected of moms/dads/grannies and I kind of thought, No, Bridgette must do it herself. She happily obliged and started on the project. Now her sewing is not great (she is 9) but it was going just fine and i was so proud of her for doing it herself. She was sitting in front of the tv sewing (something I kind of love because it’s what I always used to do as a kid – sew/knit/colour/draw in front of the tv) The first couple of circles went on great. But of course she started to get lazy and took some serious short cuts with the last few. Being the dreadfully negligent parent that I am, I never checked on them when she told me she was done. I just said “Good girl” and sent her to bed.

Now, when I took a look at the work she had done last night it came as no surprise that the teacher had sent it back to be redone. What DID come as a surprise was the note that was sent with it.

First of all, she seems to think that I sewed the clothing, and second of all…shouldn’t being able to spell the word “sew” be a prerequisite to teaching anyone anywhere?

Now I agree that the kid needs to redo some of them. But let there just be one complaint that those dots have not been sewn on by a professional seamstress with an overlocker and I swear my momma bear claws are going to come out in full force. Am I so wrong in thinking that the children need to learn to do things for themselves? Somewhere along the line independence seems to have completely fallen away. Kids can’t do homework on their own. And worse they can’t do school work on their own but the infrastructure doesn’t allow for each child to be given the exact amount of help that they need. It’s frightening! I want my kids to be accountable for their own destinies…while we guide and help them along the way. Does that seem stupid? Am I insane to feel that conventional schooling may very well be stunting independence?

Also… Please will someone explain to me why a grown up communicating with a grown up feels the need to send a note written on an apple?


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Would you ever consider home schooling your children?

The issue of home schooling has become quite the hot topic in my house lately, which has come as a shock to me because it is something I have always thought I would be against. Now there are many reasons why I (we) have started considering this change to our children’s education (not least of which would be the fact that I’m not crazy about the relatively void lives my children are living) but we are now faced with a very basic problem: What now?

I have no doubt in my mind that my children may very well get a far superior education from me than they are getting right now (seriously – if I compare these kids with how I was at their age it is actually scary!!)  but how do I start? I haven’t a clue, but I am definitely trying to find out…

The thing is I am dead serious about looking into it. And I really am considering doing it for all three of my children. The commitment is scary as hell I must admit…but surely making sure that they get the kind of stimulation they need and watching them grow up into three INDIVIDUALS would be worth the effort? Am I crazy for thinking this way?

What do you think? Would you consider it? Pros and cons?  I feel like I seriously need to brainstorm a bit here without being drowned by the “You’re crazy and you’re going to turn your children into antisocialites” argument.

Is it possible that this could be a more effective way to educate them? I feel like it is. I feel like my eldest son especially is drowning in a system that wants to medicate instead of inspire him. What if I can provide them with goals and independence which is something that seems to be stripped away from them on a daily basis in government schools?

What do you think? Really….