I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late I’m late…

I am sometimes asked how I get my son to be so quiet and well-behaved when I take him with me to class or somewhere. And I often don’t know how to respond (because he sometimes isn’t quiet and well-behaved :-)). I thought it had something to do with the fact that I, in return for his compliance, spend time with him doing something that HE wants to do, before or afterwards. But I also thought, at the back of my mind, that maybe it’s just his temperament.

I still don’t really know why he is well-behaved when it matters (and others can see and comment on it), but from my experiences this past few days, I now know that spending time with him is a required ingredient for peace in our house.

We have had a rather rough few days. There was our big Taiko function in aid of Japan Friday. Out of the blue I got three different paid jobs (as a freelancer, I’m thankful) with target dates Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. My son had his first bus ride to a day-long hockey festival of sorts; he had to be at school at 6:20 Saturday morning. (Please reread the last sentence as: “O heavens, my son is going to ride on a bus with lots of other kids! To spend a whole day without me! He’s going to have to go to sleep without me! I have no control! What if something happens with the bus!”). Also two other social commitments (Reread as: “This is taking me out of my comfort zone! I wanna stay home…” ) in addition to the usual schedule of homework and extracurricular activities (son’s, mine and hubby’s).

Spending time with him thus effectively changed to no time to spend, except of course for what HAD to be done. You know: “Brush your teeth! Get your bag! Where’s your socks? Listen! Do this! Do that! No, I don’t have time for a story. I can’t do/help/play now; do it on your own.” You get the idea?

What did I get in return? A clingy little person who demands constant (so it feels like) attention, who gets sad about everything and anything, who doesn’t want to go to sleep and then doesn’t want to wake up or get dressed or go to school… In short: one negative dude.

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.
Jim Rohn

So let me get cracking to finish up tomorrow’s work so that I have time to spend with that negative dude I told you about. I know exactly how the White Rabbit feels in Alice in Wonderland:

I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late I’m late…


You have 1440 minutes today! What are you going to do with it?

Isn’t it exciting? We get 24 hours every day to start again. Charlotte Moss says:

Each day you create yourself anew through choice.

Every choice you make today is like an artist adding one more dash of paint to a master piece. So what picture does your choices portray?

This idea is rather intimidating. Because since Friday I have chosen not to work on my research proposal. I have chosen instead to watch television, to eat Easter eggs and to read. And then I beat myself up about it. Because it is also school holiday. Instead of doing proactive work – facing my insecurities about my work and spending quality time with my son – I wasted my time. (Jean Auel’s last Ayla book really was a let-down). My choices thus resulted in a dissatisfied, grumpy, overweight, bad mother.

My son overheard me telling his father that I find people and holidays hard to deal when I’m in this state. He wrote me a letter:

Ek sal jou uitlos (I will leave you alone)
Ek het jou gehoor (I heard you)
Ek sal dit self doen (I’ll do it on my own)

My choices resulted in me hurting his feelings. I’m so glad he did not follow my example. He chose to confront me. He chose to do something about the thing/person that made him feel bad.

No matter which route you take, within 24 hours the day will be over – Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Achievement = talent + lots and lots and lots of preparation…

Funny how it takes your child doing something strange for you to realise that you are exactly the same…
The other day my child picked up the guitar and was then frustrated because he couldn’t play. He also wants to draw the pictures that he sees in his mind… and then becomes very upset if it doesn’t turn out like he visualised it.
More often than not, I do not have much sympathy. I mean: get real.

But … I think I’m exactly the same (or rather, he’s exactly like me)! We want to be able to do things without having to put much effort in, without learning the basics first… We want to run before we’re able to crawl.

Because …
Sometimes things do come easy! Sometimes you stumble onto something that’s fun and you play around with it, invest your time in it, and before you know it, you’re good at what you do. Sometimes you just have a knack for doing certain things and you experience the whole process as easy.

This reminded me of something I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. He argues that although achievement is often seen as a combination of talent and preparation, it is the preparation part that actually plays a larger role. The magic number for true expertise is 10 000 hours, or roughly 10 years.

So maybe taking 10 years to complete a PhD is not such a bad thing after all. I would then be considered an expert in ____. I’ll fill in the blank once I know what I’m going to do. 🙂

A fish named Ichi

Visited Rocky Bay yesterday and took my son to the rock pool. He climbed on the rocks and played in a little puddle while I contemplated life and sat staring at the sea. Later when I told him we’ll have to get a move on, I immediately got a whiney, teary reaction: “I almost had a fish, but its tail just now slipped through my hands…” OK, I conceded, he could have another go at trying to catch a fish (with his hands – come on, what’s the chance?)

Lo and behold! “Mamma! I’ve got one!” I looked up to see him holding up a little fish by the tail. Please bear in mind that this is the same child (8) that does not climb on any jungle gym/slide/anything if there is a sign of cobwebs (because cobwebs is a sure sign of the biggest spider imaginable being close by). This is also the same child that would rather miss the chance to operate the spotlight on a night drive during our recent visit to the Kruger Park than be bothered by a few flying termites.

My first reaction was to try and convince him to throw the fish back, but he SOOOO wanted to show his father… (Yes, I do realise I’m a total pushover).

I felt a bit better about my choice when I heard him softly saying to the fish: “I am sorry, Fishy. I do not really want you to die, but I REALLY want to show The People” (his father and our host).

This poor fish was photographed in different positions, prodded and poked with a stick in the mouth (to see its teeth and the colour of its blood and its heart…) But once the red blood became visible, the poking fortunately stopped and we went to throw Fishy back into the sea.

On our way back Fishy became “Ichi” (pronounced “Itch” – Japanese for “one”) because it was the first fish he ever caught by hand. Next time, I was told, we’ll take a plastic bag with so that the fish could be taken home. But I got the distinct feeling he might only want to prolong the next catch’s life so that he could feed it to his beautiful (and carnivorous) Siamese fighter fish that he got as a present a few days ago…