A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Imagine this: you’re sitting al fresco style at a lovely restaurant eating brunch with your husband and your 12 year old son. Everything is great, you’re eating your food and this family outing is extremely pleasant; all of a sudden your son’s face goes extremely red. You wonder if he’s choking but he’s not making any noises or gesturing in any way that indicates that such a thing is occurring. He stands up and you can see a wet patch on his bottom. He’s had a minor accident you think, but then the smell hits you quite violently and you realize this is no minor accident!

Now imagine your son is special needs. Imagine if you were that parent. Imagine if everyone around you (and the restaurant, even al fresco, was absolutely packed) just sat and stared!

So I tried to imagine this and I honestly couldn’t, not in a real, oh my god, this is really happening, kind of way. This is what did actually happen to my sister and not one restaurant patron helped her in any way at all. She didn’t have any wipes on her (isn’t that always the way when you desperately need them) and her husband ran to to get as many paper napkins as he could whilst she desperately tried to clean their son up.

“What could another patron have done?” You might be asking. Well, anything but nothing! Here are some suggestions if you ever find yourself witnessing such an awful situation: Alert the staff, suggest they get some disinfectant and lots of paper towel. A bucket of hot water, a mop, you know, those things you need to take care of a situation like this, offer to help get paper towels from the public toilets, if you have young children (and there were other families with very young children there) offer your baby wipes! Try not to stare. the worst thing these people did was nothing. This was an awful situation for my sister and her family. She was embarrassed, stressed, mortified and by the end of this now-turned-horrific brunch, a little angry! And I can’t say I blame her.

We all talk about how kind we can be on social media, but it’s time to own that kindness in real life. Stop being so ghastly! Help out your fellow people when they need you! No, it wouldn’t have been pleasant, but no one was expecting you to do the actual clean up! My sister didn’t even expect the restaurant staff to do that! She cleaned it up as much as she could with the limited resources she had, but their disappointment in their fellow patrons and the lack of kindness shown to them, is something that has to be shared so that no one ever has to go through that again!

It’s time to start actually doing the right thing and thinking about people other than yourself. To the patrons at that restaurant: shame on you!

If you have a child with special needs and would like more information on where you can get support, please check out the links below:

USA (this is a link to a blog that lists 10 organizations within the USA that can help you with support):

Where to find support in USA

In Australia:

Support in Australia

UK:

Support for parents in UK

NZ:

Support for special needs in NZ

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Teen Anxiety and Blaming Parents

Teen Anxiety and Blaming Parents

I recently read an article titled “10 Reasons Teens Have So Much Anxiety Today” and I was really quite shocked at just how much the author generalized and blamed parents in this article. A little too much blame methinks. As if parents don’t have enough stress on them too! How about the fact that in America it’s all about working rather than spending any quality time with your family? How about the fact that teachers aren’t given the respect and recognition they deserve? And yes, I do believe (highly unfairly) some parents expect teachers to raise and discipline their kids.

I think another factor is that society wants to give everyone a medal! God forbid we recognize that our child lost! – Our daughter had a soccer game the other day and it was awful! It was awful to watch. She played terribly. Her team was annihilated because none of them played well. She got into the car afterwards and told us how she played terribly. I said she had some moments that were good, but it definitely wasn’t fun to watch and she certainly wasn’t playing her best. She said she didn’t give it 100% – All we ask is that our kids do their best. Every time. If you are going to commit to something then you need to give it your best. I told her I appreciated her admitting that, but if she wants to play soccer then she needs to give it her best, every, single time. There is no talking it up at our house. We are by no means perfect parents but when our kid doesn’t commit and recognizes it themselves, I’m not going to disagree. I’m not going to praise the not-so-good. I am going to praise her great moments though. Our other daughter has just made a lacrosse team. It’s the B team. She started playing lacrosse at a free clinic last Summer. She did another clinic in Autumn. And another this Winter. She can’t expect miracles. She can’t expect to be the best immediately. It just doesn’t work that way. I’m proud of how she responded though when I told her this morning that she had made the B team. She said that if she wants to get better then she has to work hard. But she’s going to play hard nonetheless and actually said how thankful she was that we actually let her start playing the game now (14).

No one knows if they’re doing the parenting thing the ‘right’ way. Articles like these point out some great things to keep an eye on but they also blame parents in so many ways and that’s when it becomes unfair. We are trying to do our best. We are told what we can and can’t do as far as our parenting goes. We are told we are doing it wrong all the time. “Too many electronics!” “You have to have your kids skilled in electronics!” “They’re not exercising hard enough!” “You’re putting too much pressure on your kid by having them exercise hard throughout the week and playing competitive games on weekends!” There’s a happy medium somewhere there, but we can’t be blamed for everything! Society as a whole needs to intervene in a more productive way. Playtime at school has to happen. Yes to less screen time, but haven’t the so-called experts been saying that for years about TVs?

My son told me he was bored the other night, I told him to read a book or play legos or take his imagination on an adventure! We ended up playing a family card game of Uno. It was fun! Kids need to be bored and parents need to allow them time to develop coping skills, it’s also a time when parents can add some family fun into the mix.

I very much believe in the hierarchy point though. I have friends whose kids seem to dictate all that they do. I have friends who treat their kids as equals and share with them far too many facts about themselves or other adult friends. Your kid is your kid. Not your peer. Not your friend. When they are adult enough, become friends. But they need you as their parent, their guide, their guardian, right now.

This article points out things to keep an eye on within ourselves (as parents) and some modifications we can definitely make in our day-to-day lives as the parents of teens or even tweens, but blaming us for everything isn’t the answer either.

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Being There

Being There

I regularly reflect on life and try to find some deep and meaningful answers on a daily basis. Rarely do I actually get any 😆. But, some clarification has hit me this year, I think I’m done with the BS people in my life. The ones who only want me in their lives when it’s convenient for them. You know the ones. You call or text them for the umpteenth time & always get the response “I’ve been so busy……. blah blah.” We are all busy, every single one of us, but we all have a few minutes to take the time to call and check on the people we love; friends and family alike. It’s important. We all say all of these sweet things on Social media about how we are here if you need us, but why not be there before you are needed? Why not give a little rather than talk a sweet talk? It’s time, now is the time to do that! If it isn’t time for you, then perhaps the people in your life aren’t the right people? Perhaps it’s time to move on and make new friends?

Every relationship you have is an investment. You both give and take, you invest your time and your love, yes even with friends. If you’re too busy to invest that time and love, then maybe these aren’t the right friends for you. Take a moment to reassess who you want in your life, then take a moment to jot them a note, give them a call, send a text.

I know, I know, your busy, you’ve got too many friends, too much family, everyone is strewn throughout the country, throughout the world! If you don’t reach out now, you may regret that you didn’t. We have no idea if today is the first of many great ones yet to come or the last of many great ones lived. We have no idea about that for ourselves let alone for anyone else. After dealing with too many losses at the end of last year into this year and seeing so many people regret not reaching out in time because they didn’t realize their time was so limited, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. I’m not sitting here on my high horse telling you to cull your Facebook friends’ list, what I am telling you though is reach out to those you consider your true friends, a minute is all it takes. Stop putting off having lunch or a coffee with that girlfriend you haven’t seen in forever, stop thinking there’ll be time later to go for that beer or catch up with your mate to play pool. There may not be and you don’t want to spend time regretting.

I don’t want to regret another minute of my life. I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t truly like. I don’t want to spend time with people who don’t truly like me. That’s not doing either one of us any good. I’ve always reached out to people but it’s definitely a two-way street and my life is very full, so perhaps it’s time I stopped. Perhaps it’s time you stopped too. Perhaps our laundry list of so-called friends is just that?

Either way, the people I love , those who truly know who they are, will always call and check on me or text or let me know how they are, just as I will them. The rest, well some could be in this life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, some could just be wasting my time and I theirs. So here’s to truly being there for someone before they need you and to knowing others have got your back!

To my friends with no kids…..

To my friends with no kids…..

Sometimes we really envy you. Sometimes we look at all the wonderful things you get to do, the adventures you get to have, the ability to leave your house on a whim, and we feel alittle, tiny, ok, sometimes it’s a bit more like a gut wrenching dislike towards you! Don’t get me wrong, we love you, but sometimes we really envy your freedom!
We remember the carefree days of adventure and fun. We remember not having to pack an entire day’s worth of snacks into a handbag. We remember not having to make sure everyone has hats and a change of clothes, to pack the sunscreen, to ensure everyone has towels, to make sure there’s water bottles for all, oh and other drinks if we are going out for the entire day, I mean who can survive on just plain water for an entire day’s outing???? I mean SERIOUSLY! We remember when there was just one person to take care of, hmm, let me throw on some clothes and be on my way…… Lol! Those days are gone baby! Now it’s, let me throw on my clothes then go and get clothes for everyone else or ensure the clothes they are wearing can actually be seen in public. Then brush hair, clean teeth, making sure breakfast actually happens before teeth cleaning (yes, we’ve done that before). 
Then there’s the matter of what everyone is going to eat! In my house, living in Korea means we have to plan very carefully. I am the only one who eats Korean food (well the son is starting to eat it given he gets it every day at his school) but this means the whole family sits in the car and thinks about where we are going and where the nearest place is that has food they will all eat! This is a serious conversation that normally ends with me rolling my eyes and giving in to them. Unbelievable! We may have literally finished breakfast 5 minutes beforehand but the conversation always takes a shift to what we will eat if we are out long enough. And the minute we get in the car, bellies that were full five seconds ago are now so hungry they could eat anything, well anything other than what was on the menu for breakfast anyway; “Mum, I’m starving!” “You just ate breakfast and said you were full.” 

“Yes, but that was ages ago, have you got any snacks?”

“Only leftover cereal.”

“Oh, well I guess I’m still full for now.”

Yes. You are! 
We were supposed to go camping this Fourth of July weekend. The forecast said a high chance of heavy rain (it didn’t end up quite like that, in fact, it would have been a beautiful weekend to camp) but we had to decide on Thursday and at that point in time, given the forecast, we called it. So, we did what parents of three kids do, we spent most of our time at the pool, yes we got rained on a little but we had fun. Hubby played mini golf with them yesterday too then we all played today. We love doing family stuff, but sometimes…..

This afternoon came and I really felt like spontaneously going somewhere. We have some friends who just yesterday went out for a drive, discovered a winery and hung about all day having wine tastings and doing spare of the moment stuff. Not us. There is no spontaneity unless it is a spontaneous run to the pool (I have pool bags at the ready now). We were coming home today and I suggested we take a drive and I would show hubby this lovely walk along the river. Well I got busy looking at Facebook and we missed the turn, he wasn’t keen to go anywhere anyway (but he gets to leave the house daily too) and dear son started with “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” 
I then suggested to dear husband that we go to this other place, but we missed that turn off too, finally he turned around and went home. Everyone got out of the car so happy to be home, except me. I wanted to have some adventure. I wanted to find that hidden gem winery, or that charming temple, or anything honestly. But no, home again. Requests to go to the pool again tomorrow in hand. There won’t be any winery visits, we may try to bike ride to the tea house (given dear son will be at school) so I may just be able to twist some arms and coax all into that but there will be no leaving the house carefree and wild with no idea of where we’ll go for the day. For now, those days are gone. I know tomorrow I’ll wake up and want to go to the pool and want to hang out with my kids, but for just a while today, I really wanted to adult, yet adult without responsibility & that just can’t happen anymore, for now anyway.
To my friends without kids, sometimes we envy you, but that’s why we stay in shape right now. One day the kids will be gone and you’ll see this ninety year old woman dragging her husband to some crazy spontaneous places/outings. I’ll make him do all the things we couldn’t do now and we’ll have an amazing time. To my friends without kids, have a blast, enjoy every second you can. I may envy you today but it makes me so happy to see you living life to the fullest! 

Répondez s’il vous plaît 

Répondez s’il vous plaît 

RSVP. Répondez s’il vous plaît. Literally translated into English meaning ‘respond please’. It has been a term used for a very long time, probably originating when King Louis XIV, at his palace of Versailles, created a set of rules in the form of a ‘ticket’ or, in French; ‘etiquette’, setting out the guidelines for the correct way to behave when in his Court. These ‘tickets’ were either put up around Versailles or sent out on the back of invitations. Though, this is but one theory of the origin of the term and how we still use it today when talking about modern etiquette, it certainly makes sense given the French led the way for etiquette in the modern world through the 19th Century. 
Why such background information on this blog? Well I guess it serves as a reminder that even in this day and age of incredible technology, where snail mail is rarely used anymore, one can still have manners! 
A few weeks ago, my daughter was having her 8th birthday party. We sent out invitations (my daughter handed them out at school with her teacher’s help) to 8 girl friends, 18 days in advance. Why 18 days? Well, I guess I thought three weeks was too long and two weeks was too short, so I found a happy medium. The party consisted of two parts; a sleep over with the option of me picking them up from school directly or the parents delivering children to our house (enabling them to meet me, ensure we were hygienic etc), and a party the following morning at something called a kids’ café. The café needed numbers, as does anywhere one books a party, so we gave them 10 (we have three kids of our own including the birthday girl). I made it clear on the invitation that each child was more than welcome to do either one or the other or both, that was entirely up to the parent but I did need an RSVP. I gave them my mobile phone number, my name and said please call or text by the Monday prior. 
Now let me give you a little bit of background information about what it’s like to live in an expat community as part of a Military Installation in South Korea: the children are bused to and from school. Most people are only allowed one car, meaning getting about can sometimes pose a problem, this is because of an agreement with the Korean Government, so not something that can be trifled with (Driving in Korea can be scary anyway, so it’s actually a good thing). Given that we have only been here for 5 months, we had only been to one school function for our daughter’s class and it was a play. We brought donuts, watched the kids perform then left the kids to their donut party, not really something we socialized at. Our daughter had been to two birthday parties though, but one of the girls had already PCS’d (military acronym for moving when the military tells you to move) & I did have the other girl’s mother’s number. 

Right back to the story……
The invitations were handed out. 1 week passed. Nothing. On day 12, the Friday before the response was due, I asked my daughter to remind her friends to RSVP through their parents. I gave her some cards (yes, I have cards with my telephone number and blog website on them – some even have the names and ages of my kids on the back so I can give them to other mothers with whom I meet and connect, that way they can remember who I was, who my kids are and which of their kids would connect with mine). She gave out a couple of them and reminded them to get their parents to let me know. Day 15: RSVP requested date. Nothing. Day 16, I again asked her to remind her friends to let us know if they could come, the party was on the Friday night/Saturday morning and it was now Tuesday. I then sent a text to the only mother who’s number I had and gently reminded her of the party on Friday night, she almost immediately responded and said yes, her daughter would be there, but she wouldn’t sleep over or come the next morning. Ok, at least one child was coming. I also asked if she had any other parents’ information and she had one of them and said she would find out if this other little girl was coming. On the Thursday night, I heard from this same mother who told me that yes, the other little girl would be coming but also not staying the night, nor would she be at the café the following morning. I appreciated her letting me know, though I did question why the girl in question’s own mother or father couldn’t respond to me directly. Odd. Finally, at 7pm, I got a call from one of the other little girls who said yes, she was coming and she was staying the night! Yay! A little late but my little girl was literally starting to feel heartbroken at the thought that no one wanted to come to her party nor stay the night with her, so this made her very happy.  At 9pm, I got a text from one other mother saying that her daughter would be there on Friday night.

 Four out of eight. As for the other 4 girls, I’ve still not heard from any of their parents. Just plain slack and inconsiderate as far as I’m concerned. 
As it turned out, only one little girl stayed the night and the other little girl, who’s mother sent me the text at 9pm, did come to the party the following morning, though she didn’t stay. We had booked a party for 10 kids and had paid a deposit. We were unsure how it would work when we turned up with only 5 so I asked my neighbours’ little girls to come along, literally at the very last minute (they go to school with my son and are his very dear friends). Luckily they could join us and wow, did we have a great time! 


The slumber party turned into “The best party ever,” according to all the little girls who came. We did makeup, nails and toenails. My girlfriend came along to help out and brought costume jewelry too. We let the girls decorate our faces after we done theirs and they loved it! We had an ice cream bar that any fro yo place would have been jealous of and it was just a lot of fun. 


But what if I hadn’t reached out to that mother? What if my daughter hadn’t gone to school every day for a week and asked everyone to remind their parents to let us know? Why has society gone in the direction of not using common courtesy, even decency, anymore? I admit we have gotten so busy that I have forgotten to RSVP on time, but I have always sent a response as soon as I’ve remembered. My heart was literally breaking for my little girl when she came home on the Tuesday before the party and we still hadn’t heard from anyone. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to strangle the necks of the parents or just burst into tears at the devastation on my baby’s face. It shouldn’t have come down to that! 
We live in an age where our children grow up far too quickly as it is. I know there are far more important things going on in the world than a simple RSVP, but when that lack of response means breaking a child’s heart, it should be important. It should be of the utmost importance. We are letting our own busy lives, our procrastinating tendencies, our own slackness all get in the way of the little things that make life grand when you are a child, things like an 8th birthday party! And I haven’t even discussed the implications when it comes to events like weddings
Répondez s’il vous plaît. RSVP. It’s more than just about you! 

May the fourteenth be with you! Ok, we’ll take the force! 

May the fourteenth be with you! Ok, we’ll take the force! 

It’s been a few days now since I last wrote a blog and things have been a little all over the place. The local police called me to ensure there were no injuries in my car as this guy is obviously still insisting that he is injured, even though it was such a minor accident for his truck anyway, having no damage whatsoever, not so minor for my car that hit the corner of his truck bed, that was literally made of steel, yet we have no injuries and he is saying he was injured. I don’t think so! I am just hoping he was caught on camera unloading somewhat heavy items from the back of his truck after the accident. If there is one thing I don’t like it is people who try to to take advantage of the system and of situations. I had three children all under the age of 5 in my car, all in the back where the impact was, and they are all just fine. Seriously, just fine and this dude wants to try to sue me? Again, I don’t think so. 
Ok, let’s not focus on the negative, there were some positives from this week, the dentist was amazing and has said that he will continue with Ally’s treatment free of charge! Yes, free! Would any dentist in Australia or USA do that? No is the definitive answer. Very happy with that. Also, I finished the first 4 weeks of Insanity. Here are my photos so far (now the first one in the blue actually goes back to the beginning of the whole thing when I started T25, the second one is from 4 weeks ago when I began Insanity and the third is from tonight):


I can see some results. Not as many as I would have liked given how hard and how long I’ve been working out but also given that I haven’t been on a diet as such, I think it definitely shows that working out is helping me get toned. Oh and I’ve lost somewhere between 6-7.5lbs depending upon the time of day I weigh myself and the day of the week of course 😜 (who knew scales could be so bloody temperamental??). 
It has been a somewhat subdued week, I guess. Hunter went back to school on Thursday and Friday, but Thursday I ran around and did errands, we did get a new (old) car finally. It’s something from 2002. It was cheap. It runs well & has AC and heated seats and a heater of course. All the basics and it means some independence for me, although given how shitty last Monday went, I’m not too keen on driving just yet. It’s weird, I have always been a reasonably confident driver yet this accident has thrown me for a six. 
Friday was spent doing odds and ends at home, Maddy had a half day for some reason, so I couldn’t go get the Lipolysis shots either as I didn’t want to traumatize her, but she helped me so much around the house and got to play and hang out with her friends so it was a really nice day for the most part. We did happen to go to the grocery store and witness a man collapse and gash his head quite severely on his way down. The whole thing was all a little overwhelming with the ambulance getting called and this man literally out cold. It was obviously quite traumatic for her as she didn’t want to go back to the commissary on Saturday (I forgot to get milk) until I reassured her he was ok and that it wasn’t going to happen again whilst we were there. How do I know he’s ok? Well, we had some friends come over for dinner and drinks on Friday night and one of them happened to work with this guy, so when I started telling the story, she chimed in with how she had been the first person they called from the hospital because she was the last to speak with him on his phone. It really is a small community over here and I’m finding this out more and more on a daily basis. 
Saturday morning, we decided to purchase the entire collection of Star Wars movies with copious amounts of junk food (ok, maybe not copious but certainly more than we would normally ever consume in a week, let alone a weekend) and stay in for the weekend and have a Star Wars marathon. I had already worked out Saturday morning so I wasn’t feeling guilty about not doing too much for the rest of the day and the kids seemed to be onboard (until their friends came door knocking wanting to play with them outside). It ended up being hubby and I who really watched the movies with children grazing on junk food and watching bits and pieces then wanting all the blanks filled in because they were somewhat lost. We did make the ‘best parents ever’ stigma for a short time, given there were no set meals over the weekend and food consisted of very few ‘healthy’ things! Honestly, you may think I’m the worst, but every now and again one just has to go with the flow and let your kids just eat crap. They stayed up late interspersing their time throughout Saturday and Sunday with playing outside on their bikes and watching the movies with us. On Sunday afternoon we all went for another family bike ride and it was so enjoyable. This time Hunter didn’t complain at all and his little legs kept pedaling the entire time. It was truly fun, even when it started to rain, there was no complaining from anyone. The rain gave us a good excuse to watch one more Star Wars movie (yes, we made it through the first 5 in order, throughout the weekend). It was just a nice, low-key weekend, with no need to be anywhere at a particular time and no one demanding our attention outside of our family. 


Monday (today) has already been successful. I am now on the recovery week of Insanity, which means doing Core Cardio and Balance every day, starting today. And it felt good. I am still trying to kick this nasal, sinus, chest thingy I’ve got going on but I’m now guessing it’s from the yellow dust coming in from China. From what everyone has told me, it sticks with you for a while until you get used to it. Shit! If I wanted to deal with crap coming into my lungs killing me, I would have kept smoking. This is ridiculous. And poor Ally just cannot get rid of her cough! I’m thinking I will definitely have to take her to make sure she is not asthmatic or suffering from bronchitis or who knows what! This place is not agreeing with her lungs either. She is the worst of us all. One of her teachers actually made me so angry last week. Ally is always coughing, always blowing her nose, it is literally like she is allergic to this place, she gets into coughing fits and almost throws up at times. I have her doing a nasal rinse daily and we make sure she spits out all of the yucky stuff when she’s home, but the poor kid just doesn’t seem to be getting better. Back to this teacher. Ally came into her class and started coughing, the teacher stopped talking until Ally was done (as she apparently does when anyone makes any noise in her classroom that she hasn’t approved of). Then Ally’s nose started running and she had to use the roll of toilet paper this teacher had in her classroom for just such occasions. I can’t remember exactly what she said but she basically singled Ally out and ridiculed her then got mad at her for using too much of this roll of toilet paper. On top of that, Ally’s voice was a tad croaky last week because she has had this thing going on for so long, this teacher then made fun of her because she couldn’t reach the notes she had to reach in the class (it was choir class). Ally came home devastated. I was furious! I thought and thought about the best way to react to this. Ally didn’t want me to make a big scene and she didn’t want this teacher to pick on her further, and I completely understood where she was coming from. I know sometimes teachers will take it out further on the children if the parent intervenes, especially those teachers who don’t offer a nurturing environment to their pupils. That was the last thing our daughter needed in her life right now. So, I didn’t do anything until after I had calmed down immensely. When hubby got home, I asked Ally to tell him about it so I could gauge his reaction to the whole thing and was surprised at how angry it made him too. I told him my idea and as always he suggested I wait until I was calm to do it. Now a part of me would have liked to storm in there and grab this woman and shake her a bit until she came to her senses and stopped being such a bitch, but the more practical, sensible side of me knew that wasn’t anyway to show my child how to resolve conflict, instead I wrote her a letter and gave her a new roll of toilet paper. And yes, the toilet paper was my cheap shot, but at least this way, Ally can use it as much as she likes and this woman can never make her feel bad about it. 


She never gave Ally a reaction, but she hasn’t picked on her again, so I’ll take it as a win for my little (big) girl who needs all the wins she can get right now given her health and her friendship situation. More on that another day. 
Back to today, I went with my friend Rebecca back to see our favourite dermatologist spouse (again, hoping she’s actually a nurse) and to get our Lipolysis shots. This time, I actually took a photo of her sticking a shot into my belly. So weird. She and her husband only realized today that I’m actually Australian, even though I told them the first time I met them. Anyway, they were both excited today because their sons (yes, there are 2 of them) both live and study in Adelaide, Australia, and they have both been there. This was followed with, “it’s pretty, but it’s too hot and too dry.” I felt like saying in return that I could completely understand their distaste as this place is too cold and too wet, as well as too hot and too humid, (and yes, I do mean wet & humid independently of each other) for my liking. On top of that there’s the yellow dust and the monsoon season. Um, hello! Give me Australia’s weather any day! 


 Right, I think I’ve caught you up on all our exciting happenings. The days are definitely getting warmer here in South Korea, we are supposed to hit 33C on Saturday, That’s about my perfect temperature right there, although I think that’s hotter than it ever got whilst we were in Colorado Springs! A sprinkler may be in order though, just in case. 
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I hope you have a wonderful day or night, wherever you are in the world. This Aussie Mum plans on doing so! 😊

Living with a ‘tweenage’ girl – belle fille intelligente

Living with a ‘tweenage’ girl – belle fille intelligente

Today I have been reflecting on being a female in this world. There have been so many books, blogs, articles, you name it, written about young girls and how to give them the strength to face society as the best women they can be, but it is tough as a parent, to watch your child struggle with social situations in her ‘tweenage’ years. 
My eldest daughter is 11 going on 12 this year. She is incredibly smart, in fact, one of her teachers (a professor) just told me that he thinks she is incredibly gifted and wishes there was a formal gifted program at their school. Instead, he has started a high-level reading program with 5 students (Ally included) that meets once a week during their lunch break to read and discuss whatever current book they have selected. It works well for Ally as reading is her strongpoint. It was always mine too. Forget Mathematics, give me a book any day. 


Although Ally is very gifted when it comes to reading, she is lacking in some social skills and I’m not sure how to help her. She desperately wants to be popular but for some reason, isn’t well liked. Neither of us encourage her to seek popularity, rather to make a couple of well-trusted friends, but she just wants to be liked anyway. We try to understand what it is about her that other kids her age don’t take to, but we just don’t know. She is highly liked by adults/teachers and her own siblings adore her, particularly Maddy. But what is it that she does, or how is she behaving when we are not in view, that is making her peers dislike her? She brought home a note last Friday that really upset me. It was from another student saying how much everyone dislikes her because she has a smart mouth. We tried to find out more about what this meant, but I truly don’t think Ally herself knows or is aware of, what she is doing. How does one rectify this? How can I help my daughter better socialize at school? She is always very polite and sweet. She can be bossy, yes, but swears she isn’t at school. She used to be a leader but now she is more of a follower because she so desperately wants others to like her that she has given up on the things she wants to do/play at school, doing seemingly, only what others want. I really worry. All this on top of being a girl in a society that is slowly improving, but still judges girls by their looks, their weight, their smile. 


She hates her smile too. For some reason we can’t fathom, though different theories have been offered including the fluoride drops we got in Sicily, Ally’s teeth are quite yellow. I have told her we will whiten them as soon as she gets to an old enough age, but she begs me almost weekly to do it. She needs braces and now with the whole dentist fiasco, will have to wait some more. How can I instill in my beautiful girl all the wonderful things about her when she is already judging herself so harshly? Wondering what she does wrong that makes people dislike her? Hating her smile? The great thing about her though, she is full of confidence on so many levels. How can I put this so you can understand? She is not a very ‘sporty’ person, yet thinks she’s great at most sports. Sometimes we have to bring her back to the real world by letting her know there could be better options out there for her. This isn’t fun either when you want your daughter to keep all the confidence she can, but the way I say it and the way some of her teammates would say it, are very different and I would much prefer she hear it from me. 
Then there’s her height. Most of the women in my family are fairly tall, my niece is 5 weeks older than Ally yet is about 6 inches taller than her. Most girls her age are taller than her. She is starting to feel it too, with kids teasing her at school about how she’s not growing. Sometimes I just want to punch all of these unthinking, inconsiderate, little shites! We talk about teasing all the time in our family and our motto is: ‘Only give what you can take; Nothing mean, all in good fun’. But these kids are definitely not practicing that. Some of the stuff they say is just plain mean. Ally tries not to let it get to her, but it does. She keeps asking me how she can grow taller. I’m always going to use that sort of a question as a chance to motivate more fruit and vegetables being eaten, but I don’t have the growth secret. Now, I’ve just started saying to her that it will happen in good time and when it’s meant to. Everyone grows and matures at different rates and she may well change at a later stage than most of her peers. My Mum keeps asking me too if she’s grown, knowing how big her other granddaughter is. I’ve finally told her not to ask anymore. I know she doesn’t mean it in a bad way, but Ally is getting a big enough complex about it as it is, so all talk about her hitting her growth spurt has been banned at this point in time. 


Girls. They have it tough. We have it tough. Then she talks to me about perhaps going on a diet. What? No, I don’t think so. I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve noticed Ally has gotten a tad wider around her girth over the past few months, probably because she’s changing (slowly) and that’s what happens to most girls (and some boys) but my only thing to say to my children about dieting is “Every thing in moderation.” You can eat anything you like as long as you eat it in a balanced way, is my point of view. That means limit the stuff you know is bad for you, ensure you get lots of good, hearty fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and don’t keep eating just for the sake of eating (exactly what we did on the cruise and over Christmas which is what started me needing to go on this exercise regimen in the first place). Also make sure you get plenty of exercise on a daily basis. My girls ride their bikes almost daily. They walk to and from the bus stop. They walk our dog. We try to be a fairly active family. I’m not concerned about the exercise part, but Ally does like her junk food and won’t eat any fruit except apples, so she may have to start doing something else on top of our regular stuff. I suggested swimming but she told us that some of the girls who don’t like her are on the swim team. Back to that again. 
I think my husband is just now starting to see all of the obstacles facing girls. Other girls are mean, boys are mean. Girls are expected to be both beautiful and smart, yet the minute we make a mistake it’s ‘because we’re a girl’ or because we’re not smart. It’s time we changed this kind of thinking for once and all. No more putting crap on other girls. It is our duty as mothers (aka females) to ensure our girls are not mean to other girls. It is ok to be competitive, but when you start putting someone else down to lift yourself up, something has gone wrong. We should be greeting each other daily with a pat on the back and a compliment. That’s something else I’ve learnt from my other daughter (from the moment she started talking until this day), give compliments. Try to find something, anything, about someone you are talking to and compliment them on it. “Your hair looks amazing today!” “I like your scarf.” “Those are beautiful (insert anything here, earrings, sandals, etc).” It doesn’t have to be super personal, but it does have to be sincere. This gossiping crap has to stop too. There’s an old saying we are all familiar with, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ It’s true. Just don’t speak. Obviously there’s also some grey here, if something has been done to wrong you, then tell your story, but don’t put that other person down in the telling, otherwise you’re stooping to the same level, meaning you are no better than them. Even when Ally talks to me about someone at school, she never puts them down, she will say something very simply like, “…… was really mean to me today. She called me short and said I was a B word.” (She’s not allowed to say it but will let me know if someone has said it to her by stating the term B word). Now this was but an example, but I like the fact that in the real life scenarios there isn’t anything like, “……. was a real B word. She was so mean, even though she’s ugly and dumb, she had the nerve to call me short and a B! My girls rarely put other people down. I encourage you to ensure your daughters don’t either (and sons for that matter). 
We must pick each other up rather than put each other down. We must encourage healthy eating rather than junk (which we are doing but we still have a long way to go), we must encourage the realistic body not the photoshopped image, (again, we are doing just that) but we must also encourage the realistic body that is doing regular exercise rather than the overweight body that is doing none. Our daughters need to hear from us every single day just how beautiful they are, just how smart they are. Unfortunately certain web sites and famous people and authors and journalists and bloggers and whomever else, that talk about the unimportance of beauty have got it wrong. We are made to admire beautiful things (whether that be in nature, or in another human being). There is such a thing as inner beauty, yes, but there is also such a thing as outer beauty and it will always be recognized. Our daughters should be recognizing their own beauty both inside and out. I read an article the other day about how you shouldn’t be encouraging your daughters to care about the way they look and I have to say, I completely disagree. You should always take pride in your appearance. You should love yourself both inside and out. We all look in the mirror and we all see flaws no one else sees, but we have to be able to see beauty there too. There will always be someone more beautiful, smarter, with a better body, and we need to be aware that that will always be the case, but it’s ok, because we are confident in our own selves and our abilities and our beauty, both inner and outer. There’s no point in telling your children to not worry about being beautiful on the outside. They are always going to see people being recognized for their beauty. It does exist and it is very real and there are truly beautiful people to look at surrounding us. It’s part of life. We need to focus more on the confidence part. We need to focus on all the positive things in our girls. We need to help them to help both themselves and to help others. We need to make sure they are lifting others up. 
How do we do this? Well this is where we as women must lift each other up too. I challenge you to give everyone you meet tomorrow a compliment. I challenge you to find things that will inspire your daughters to be the most beautiful people they can be by bringing others up. Lead by example. Don’t gossip, don’t bitch and moan, always talk positively about your friends and their strengths and always remind your daughters to be the best “insert name here” they can be. I also went into my daughter’s room whilst she was at school today and put inspirational quotes, and reassurances everywhere. Including some I thought pertinent to just her at this time. And there are quite a few for when she’s laying in bed looking at her ceiling:


Just in case she needs reminding when no one is about. 😊

Boys will not judge my daughter and place her into a category and girls will not bring her down. She shall know each and every day just how special and amazing she is. And how beautiful she is on the inside and out. She will know how talented she is when it comes to singing and playing her guitar and she shall know that she has very special strengths and is truly gifted when it comes to reading and comprehension. We will be realistic with her when she asks our advice but we will never shame her choices. I challenge you to make sure your daughter knows those same things, as relevant to her and her strengths. Your sons too. But they not who this article is about. 

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