Tag Archives: single parent

Once in a Blue Moon

Here are some rarities that can happen in one night – or “last night” if we really care about specifics:

  1. Total Lunar Eclipse
  2. Blood Moon
  3. Both my children and myself in the same house at the same time for a whole night (entirely unrelated to 1 & 2)
  4. Getting both teenagers up and in the garden at 03:46 to stare into the night sky in time to witness the full eclipse by 04:00.
  5. Standing alone in the garden at 03:47 questioning my existence as parent and educator, and being forced to face hard truths about my own interest in rare lunar phenomena and my ability to be easily riled by the media.

On topic – Sometime between 04:30 and 05:00 I re-awoke and managed to catch a glimpse of the Blood Moon as I was chasing a rat out of the house that the cat had brought me – not the “gift of new life” I was led to believe the night of rare lunacy was to bring, but nevertheless it was magnificent. The moon I mean. The rodent was not of the magnificent variety unless we are talking size, which I suppose we are given the moons visibility from the earth.

In any case, back on topic I even managed for a second time that night to get the one child I had woken during that brief period of close-to whispered hysteria, to glance up into the sky and actually grunt in approval.

I believe that piquing your children’s interest in science and astronomy whatever their age, circumstance or apparent reluctance, and regardless of your own level of interest, can only be what I, and I’m sure many others the world over would call Responsible Parenting. Despite the fact that neither of them have any recollection of ever leaving their beds, I have no doubt that with time and perhaps undisclosed hypnotherapy they will come to cherish the memory of that minute of stunned silence as much I do.

Unlike this man.

Resist the Hype? Acclaimed scientist or not, he may understand quantum physics better than I ever could (not for lack of trying), but he clearly has no children and is therefore not familiar with the rare phenomenon of successfully pulling off early morning, outdoor, fun parental spontaneity and togetherness with your own teenage boys – albeit in the face of yet another possible apocalypse, this time brought on by the earth casually stepping in front of the moon and blocking his sun.

Still, what only parenting can teach you about rare moments such as these, is that the moon could be blue, blood, totally eclipsed and having a sleepover on Mars at the same time and it’d be common in comparison.

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School then


I never saw the point of school. And I still don’t.

I know right? How trendy and anti-establishment I sound. And how ironically uneducated too, mind you.

But still. I came away from the dreadful experience of attending school every day for twelve years with a basic knowledge of the “three R’s”, just as I ought to;

Reading, ‘riting and resentment.

But other than that, I self-taught pretty much everything else I have needed to survive the rest of my life so far. Which explains so very much.

Dammit, I should have used that at the reunion.

Doctors and similar: “What are you doing now? (this should be interesting, tall, lost and not particularly academic or sporty person I once knew)

Me: I’m a Life Autodidact.

D&s: “A what? That sounds AMAZING!

Me: Right?! It’s sort of a little bit like a Life Coach…anyway, just topping up, must do the rounds…back in a sec etc. *vanish*


Many years prior to my starting at the school as a gawky Grade 1 pupil, the school was run by nuns.  Whatever nuns were still shuffling around by the time I arrived however, were quietly stashed in convent in Durban somewhere. I know this because apart from the name “Sister Mary Margaret” being bandied about on Speech Day – as matrics about to embark on the important decision of choosing our life paths, we were taken off to meet them on A Special Outing. I imagine it was in an effort to instil some sort of reverence in us and a sense that the simple life of a nun was all we need aspire to in order to be listed as “Most Successful Old Girl” for time immemorial in the school magazine. This didn’t happen to a single one of us, but I speak only for myself when I say there have been occasional tinges of regret that I did not at least consider it.

Like now. As I sit across the table from lawyer #4 in as many years, trying to understand why my ex-husband can refuse to pay fees for the high school I have chosen for my youngest son to attend next year, when surely…..just surely you can tell him he just….MUST. (More on this later because although you can’t tell, it’s relevant).

School was a battlefield for me. I had ADD, was painfully shy and extremely self-aware. This meant that being called out in a classroom meant snapping back from wherever my mind had raced off to and absolutely cringing at the eyes on me, and the silence as I frantically tried to remember which lesson I was in, what we were discussing and what question had just been asked. These moments were my nightmare and so typical of old-school teaching. I couldn’t actually hear what the teacher was saying in that moment because on the outside I was in shock and on the inside I was shrinking myself into a teeny, tiny matchbox.

If any one of those teachers had an inkling of how getting my attention without the rest of the class knowing would have changed my high school experience for the better, I like to think maybe they would have tried it. Instead I spent my entire high school “career” trying to blend in to the closest inanimate object. Anyway, I think “non-compliant” was sternly hand written next to my name somewhere and therefore in defiance of my defiance, I was constantly being called on with questions I couldn’t focus on answering.

I was also very, very terrible at sport. This did not bode well with the academic and/or sport ethos of this prestigious establishment. Not a bit. But I still am (unsporty) and refuse to apologise for it. The only sport I did was swimming. That was because one sport was compulsory and that one didn’t require co-ordinated bobbing and weaving around in close proximity to sweaty others, and then not only having to manage that successfully but also to achieve something on top of it, like connect that minute sized ball onto the end of a narrow stick and then correctly aim it into a box. No. I had bent down and tied my shoelaces without falling over and that feat – again, if they knew me at all – in itself should have been commended at prize-giving.

So basically in the eyes of the school and its wardens I was surly and disinterested. I did not participate and was easily influenced because I followed my cool, popular best friend around like a shadow, and yet they said I was a bad influence and promptly separated us. I was so furious at the separation and being so horribly misunderstood, it certainly did become the end of any compliance of any kind from me. I became exactly what they expected me to – of little significance.

Infuriatingly this was the late 80’s/90’s when the cool kids were bubbly and fun and were allowed to wear eye-shadow and off the shoulder baggy t-shirts on the weekends. Just a decade later I would have ruled that school with my make-up-forbidden attitude of surly indifference and non-participatory passive-aggressive resistance. BAH! Timing. You can cross reference the Breakfast Club to this story. Honestly, Molly Ringwald’s character would have been the darling of Diocesan schooling in South Africa at that time.

Anyway, on my last day with not a vestige of self-esteem left in my entire being, my testimonial was kind of shoved at me. It was mostly facts. I had attended the school from then to now and was a member of the swimming team and debating club. Debating! Ha! If I only knew the torrent of shit-storms that were headed my way that I would have to argue and appeal my way out of, I may have paid less attention to the rare glimpse of boys on the other team and much, much more on the art of being ingeniously articulate under pressure.

Still. I looked at the sheet of formal looking yellow paper in my hand that seemed to have absolutely no relation to me at all.

Me: For me? Did I do something to deserve this?

High School: No, but we have to give it to you so you’ll leave. Off you go and let us never speak of this again.

“The problem with that school was that they never helped you discover your ‘pockets of excellence’, you had to arrive with it if you wanted be recognised” a former classmate once very wisely put it. I rolled about laughing at the term “pockets of excellence” – for some reason I thought it was hysterical and imagined that awful headmistress striding up to me –


Me: They’re my excellences.

AH: But you don’t have any! Give those to me!

AH: What are these?!

Me: This one here is Mockery aaand this one…careful, it’s quite heavy…is Sarcasm.

But then I realised that actually my friend was absolutely right. Is it not the duty of a school to find something in a child that they can nurture into a positive identity instead of just highlighting everything that child is not?

Now I understand the line from my old school song

“Still seeking noblest truth and gazing upwards” 

It was really a divine nod to girls like me who spent all their time there rolling their eyes and muttering “Dear God, do I really have to do this again tomorrow?”

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Mother’s Day – a tutorial


Mother’s Day

Two simple words. Deep complex meaning.

Very deep and darkly complex if you’re a single mother and have to do the dishes twice as often, but the effects of which can be lessened by well thought out appreciation gifts that come with a bonus moral.

So I said to my young son matter-of-factly and as a subtle jokey reminder:

“It’s Mother’s Day soon, whatcha getting me huh nudge wink?”

“A Big Giant Hug” he casually says without looking up from destroying something on a game bound to be deemed bad parenting on his PSP.


“Awww. No really though.”

I’m hoping I’m successfully conveying gratitude but still letting him know that it’s also a downgrade from the chewed macaroni necklaces I have received in the past.

“It’ll be such an amazing hug it’ll be just like chocolate” he assures me without hesitation, but glances up briefly to see if such eloquence would cement my appreciation and put paid to further discussion after I had dried my eyes.

Now I know you’re all scrunching up your faces and going whaaat? That is just the cutest…” but I have parented a child for nearly 19 years and am finely tuned to the emotional manipulation tools they use. Not least of which is offering one act of affection in return for at least two decades of their daily life sustaining resources.

Also the fact that he successfully linked the day with chocolate, means he smarter than sits comfortably with me.

However, dismissing the generosity of my child, regardless of its authenticity is a sensitive issue that if handled badly could be held against me and verbally returned to me every single day for the rest of my natural life.

Don’t misunderstand me – his hugs are excellent, really good get-in-there bear hugs and I love them.

But Mothers Day comes once a year and chocolate is chocolate.

And I happen to know he has R200 in his wallet.

As back-up justification, I must point out that almost all of that R200 was originally mine. Passed on for (half) doing chores that he is never going get paid to do in the future (one can ardently hope).

Regardless, let me explain why this is not a matter of ungrateful self-indulgence on my part. It is all part of a whole range of fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants single parenting life lessons I have come up with that are designed to help my son’s avoid becoming every alternate weekend fathers. (Or *shudder* half of not every school holiday).

It’s fairly simple.

No matter what she says, a ‘Big Giant Hug’ is not a present that is going to fly with any future lady friends he may one day want to marry, or is dating over a gift giving day.  Unless of course, she lives off the grid, off subsistence farming, and makes her clothes out of the dried pelt of last night’s supper. In the likely scenario that she is not (given his penchant for hoarding cash and his intense desire to own an expensive well-fitted suit), then it will definitely not be handled well and it is just going to get him a big giant splash of cold Chardonnay to the face – that he will undoubtedly have to pay for anyway.

So a few hours later whilst queuing for a till, I casually pointed out some Turkish Delight that costs R41 and comes in shiny pink foil wrappers in a pretty soft off-white packet.  A really small price to pay for the greater good of a future marriage. (Trust me, I mean that quite literally.)

He stood there staring at it for ages before sighing and begrudgingly muttering that his brother better go halves. (Although I think his brother deserves an individual lesson, I’m just waiting for a good time to use the same line without raising suspicion.)

“You’ll thank me later” I muttered – ignoring the less than appreciative tone in which this life-defining skill was being received.

No matter what transpires on the morning of Mother’s Day though, I think I may have to find opportunities to go over this one a few more times before it properly sinks in.

Because all that is likely to happen is that they will scour the internet that morning for these to post  on my Facebook wall –

images (2)









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Reasonable doubt

Today is an anniversary. It’s past exactly one year and two weeks since I last posted something here.

None of my tiny gang of followers (I felt the fleeting power of a cult leader as I typed that) has asked why or where I have been. I suspect its because they’re all living off the ‘no news is good news’ maxim, and if they ask they’ll have to think of sympathetic words to say to the horror/good fortune that has befallen/been bestowed upon me.

For example:

I fell into a pit of delusion thinking I could finish something I started.

“Where have you been? What happened with that other thing?”

I am typing up my thesis on Romantic Realism And The Long-Term Neurological Effects of Consistent Cynical Eye-Rolling and the Darcy Syndrome of Disillusionment.

“Congratulations on the adoption of your seventh cat”

I went to Spain and stayed in an internet-free village.

“I’ve been to Spain and there is no such thing…”

I have seen so many lawyers I am now graduating with a Law Degree (watching re-runs of Suits)


I finally met this amazing gu

Okay, this is what really happened.

I went in search of my real parents, Procrastination and Bad Time Management, and we have been catching up ever since.

“What?…you’re looking a little tired…are you okay?”

None of those other things happened except the last one, I have no paperwork and the only hard evidence I have is the fact that I live and breathe.  But its true. Also almost all of the one above that. No. The one above the one with a line through it.


Strangely enough, what did happen in my absence was that I got a couple of new followers – (to this blog, not to my commune of belief that all men are islands). Why you would want to hold out hope for someone who clearly had given up is anybody’s guess, but there they were.

The occasional e-mail guilt-reminding me that a commitment to the internet is forever.

A couple from the Americas, someone from Finland and another from Trinidad and Tobago – who one can only assume found themselves here accidentally, much like I sometimes do, and were reaching for the exit cross in the top right hand corner when their hand slipped.

Well, person from a country I can’t locate on a map without squinting and searching for ages because I don’t watch cricket, you’ve brought it back to life.


the lost correspondent. jason decaires-taylor sculpture

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Maintenance Really this Time and Spain

Okay, so maybe my previous post wasn’t entirely true, there are a couple of things on my resolution list. Less resolutions though, more ‘things that are likely and less likely to happen this year but still might’…

  1. Go to court
  2. Go to Spain

This pic is for dramatic effect, I won’t have to put my coat over my head. No one will be taking photo’s until the victory party.


This is a map of Spain. The whole of Spain. Every inch of it.

Yes, I have travel plans for 2013.  The difference between these two locations though is that one is two kilometres from my house, and the other is about 20 000 kilometres from my house. One is a holiday destination the other is more like hell in a holiday destination.  In my opinion anyway – this is not about that time you inadvertently got mixed up with the Spanish Mafia.

So, a little explanation about my choices:


Actually this is not a choice. If you scroll back through my blogging archives or just click here you will find that sometime in 2010 and before he left, my ex-husband and I had a delightful mediation session or what I sometimes refer to as ‘A Three Hour Marriage Summary In Four Parts’:

A short period of civility

Heated words exchanged

Promises made

Promises broken

Three years later.

I have managed to get through 1 more mediation session, 3 lawyers visits, 4 lawyers letters, (since the lawyer and mediation fees almost bankrupted me I decided I could do it without them, well my bank balance decided it) so  4 visits to Simonstown Magistrates Court,  28 phone-calls to the Maintenance Officer,  3 unconfirmed court dates, and 1 lost subpoena somewhere in Pretoria.  I am still not an inch closer to

a) A confirmed court date

b) A fair maintenance agreement

c) Affording a decent haircut

My inability to follow through on things to the end (except 5 seasons of True Blood and Ken Follett’s World Without End) dictates that I should’ve given up already sometime last year, but maintenance is a big deal and kids aren’t cheap.  He hasn’t increased his maintenance in four years. Four years. An entire presidential term.  Neither has he paid for the extra ten days I now have the kids since my ‘every second weekend’ of bar hopp ..erm fixing stuff around the house was ripped from me, which amounts to 240 days or a full 8 months. I know he can pay (surely his vet bill is paid off by now) but he just won’t, and now time is running out because there is baby on its way – his, not mine – gawd! And this changes the game entirely because it means that he will be responsible for three dependents and not two. Cue wretched soundtrack to an eye-rolling cliché. So I need to be in court by May. This means hopefully if all goes well, then by about July I’ll be in


Because I’m turning 40 and well, it’s Spain. Also though, I need a reason to get through all five ‘Teach Yourself Spanish’ CD’s that have been in my car for two years. So far I have learnt to count from uno to dias. But then my car radio was stolen.


Javier Bardem in ‘Vicki Cristina Barcelona’.  If you haven’t seen it then don’t, Spain is overcrowded.

Look, I’m not entirely delusional; I know I’m definitely going to court because I am on first name terms with the Maintenance Officer. She even avoids my calls sometimes, which is cool because breaking personal bests is fun and it ups my call counter which has almost surpassed that time I had to phone Telkom to move an ADSL line, but she can’t avoid me forever.  I’m probably not going to Spain because of food and school fees.

Still – this year, as Calvin said to Hobbes, “I’m just going to pray for the strength to change what I can, the inability to accept what I can’t, and the incapacity to tell the difference.”

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