Monthly Archives: March 2016

CHILDHOOD THEN AND NOW

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CHILDHOOD  THEN AND NOW

This piece from Huffington Post  has  it hit a cord.  I was speaking to my daughter the other day  and as we are separated by miles, dollars and circumstances, I don’t see my  daughter and her boys, my wonderful grandsons very often.  I had forgotten my youngest grandson’s birthday.  I had the wrong date in my diary.  She was understandably put out with me. In my defence, I have 7 birthdays to remember in March…I got mixed up. I am human.  I live up north, she lives down south and there is a time difference with daylight savings.  I never know when to call because of the hectic schedule of work, school, sports training and sports events. I feel superfluous.  I mentioned I felt like a ‘fractured grandmother’. Wanting to be close, but because of circumstances not being able to be. And missing out on being there  for her and the boys.  I do enjoy my own life …I guess ‘I want my cake and eat it’, as the saying goes.

What’s this got to do with the following piece?  I listened to her enumerate  their schedule  and thought  when do they get a chance to breathe, to be kids.  Everything is organised to the minute. I am not critical of my daughter, she is a wonderful wife and daughter and mother.   She has a stressful and responsible position in the workforce.  But  do we as a society today expect far too much of working mums?  I am not advocating a return to the one wage stay at home mum. If that is what a mum wants to do that’s fine – but the reality of life today is that many can’t be a stay at home mum.  I just wonder when kids are allowed to be kids and when is she allowed to be a mum who really enjoys unstructured, spontaneous time with her family.  I am not relating back to the days of  a rosy golden halcyon childhood.  I doubt that existed for anyone outside Enid Blyton’s  Famous Five and The Five Find-Outers books.  What will her boys remember of their childhood?  What are we doing not only to our kids today, but to the mums and dads?  What expectations are we setting up for the future in the way of consumerism? What will be their understanding of parenting?

How will they view themselves in relation to the world? Will it be as a part of the beautiful web of life or as the  integral core of the web around which life revolves?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bunmi-laditan/im-done-making-my-kids-childhood-magical_b_5062838.html

If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they’d think we were insane.

Since when does being a good mom mean you spend your days creating elaborate crafts for your children, making sure their rooms are decked-out Pottery Barn Ikea masterpieces worthy of children’s magazines, and dressing them to the nines in trendy coordinated outfits?

I don’t believe for a moment that mothers today love their kids any more than our great-grandmothers loved theirs. We just feel compelled to prove it through ridiculously expensive themed birthday parties that have do-it-yourself cupcake stations with 18 types of toppings and over-the-top gifts.

For a few years, I got caught up in the “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” parenting model, which mandates you scour Pinterest for the best ideas, execute them flawlessly, and then share the photo evidence with strangers and friends via blogs and Facebook posts.

Suddenly, it came to me: We do not need to make our children’s childhood magical. Childhood is inherently magical, even when it isn’t perfect. My childhood wasn’t perfect and we weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but my birthdays were still happy because my friends came over. It wasn’t about the party bags, perfect decorations, or any of that. We popped balloons, ran around in the backyard, and we had cake. Simple. But when I look back on those times, they were magical.

Christmas. With four of us kids and a limited income, my parents bought maybe two gifts per kid. There was no Elf on the Shelf all month long monitoring our activities and getting into photo-worthy trouble. No special Christmas jammies. Very few decorations, if any. We didn’t even make cookies. What made that time of year simply ethereal for me as a child was huddling in one bed with my brothers thinking we could hear Santa’s reindeer on the roof. It was so much fun to try to stay awake, giggle together, and just anticipate the next morning. It was magical. I did not feel as if I lacked for anything.

I don’t have a single memory of doing a craft with my parents. Crafts were something I did in preschool and primary school. The only “crafts” I recall were the ones my mother created in her spare time. The hum of her sewing machine would often lull me to sleep as she turned scrap cloth into hair accessories to sell and hemmed our clothes.

At home we played. All the time. After school, we’d walk home from the bus stop, drop off our backpacks and my mom would push us out of the house. We ran around with the neighborhood kids until dinner. Times are different now and very few of us feel comfortable letting our kids wander, but even when we were inside, we played with our toys and video games. We made blanket forts. We watched TV. We slid down the stairs on pillows. Our parents were not responsible for entertaining us. If we dared to mutter those two words, “I’m bored,” we would be handed a chore.

I look back on those times and smile. I can still recall what it felt like to have carefree fun.

My parents made sure we were warm and fed, and planned the occasional special activity for us (Friday night pizza was a tradition in my home), but when it came to the day-to-day, we were on our own to be kids. They rarely played with us. Apart from the random empty refrigerator box scrounged from the back of an electronics store, we weren’t given toys outside of our birthdays and major holidays. Our parents were around in case we needed something or there was accident, but they were not our main source of entertainment.

Today, parents are being fed the idea that it benefits children to constantly be hand in hand, face to face, “What do you need my precious darling? How can I make your childhood amazing?” You can’t walk through Pinterest without tripping over 100 Indoor Summer Craft Ideas, 200 Inside Activities for Winter, 600 Things To Do With Your Kids In The Summer. 14 Million Pose Ideas For Elf on The Shelf. 12 Billion Tooth Fairy Strategies. 400 Trillion Birthday Themes.

Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical.

It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.

None of this negates the importance of time spent as a family, but there is a huge difference between focusing on being together and focusing on the construction of an “activity.” One feels forced and is based on a pre-determined goal, while the other is more natural and relaxed. The immense pressure that parents put on themselves to create ethereal experiences is tangible.

I’ve been told we went to Disneyland when I was 5. I have no memory of this, but I’ve seen the faded photographs. What I do remember from that age is the pirate Halloween costume I wore proudly, picking plums from the tree in front of my house, intentionally flooding the backyard garden to teach myself to skip rocks, and playing with my dog on my front stoop.

I have not one memory of the vacation that my parents probably saved for months for: the vacation that was most likely quite stressful. The “most magical place on Earth” in my childhood was not a theme park; it was my home, my bedroom, my backyard, my friends, my family, my books and my mind.

When we make life a grand production, our children become audience members and their appetite for entertainment grows. Are we creating a generation of people who cannot find the beauty in the mundane?

Do we want to teach our children that the magic of life is something that comes beautifully gift-wrapped — or that magic is something you discover on your own?

Planning elaborate events, daily crafts, and expensive vacations isn’t harmful for children. But if the desire to do so comes from a place of pressure or even a belief that the aforementioned are a necessary part of one’s youth, it’s time to reevaluate.

A childhood without Pinterest crafts can be magical. A childhood without a single vacation can be magical. The magic we speak of and so desperately want our children to taste isn’t of our creation, and therefore is not ours to dole out as we please. It is discovered in quiet moments by a brook or under the slide at the park, and in the innocent laughter of a life just beginning.

We constantly hear that children these days don’t get enough exercise. Perhaps the most underused of all of their muscles is the imagination, as we seek desperately to find a recipe for something that already exists.

Bunmi’s first book, The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting, is available for preorder on Amazon.com now.

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VALE JON ENGLISH

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This morning we awoke to the saddest and  the most extraordinary  news.  One of Australia’s greatest performers has passed away.  Jon English.

Jon was a great entertainer always giving 500%.  Who can forget his wonderful performances with Simon Gallegher in the Gilbert and Sullivan performances and his profoundly beautiful rock opera, Paris.

To quote the man himself  “we haven’t finished yet …some very important dialogue to do …We haven’t finished yet”

Rest in peace Jon and thank you for all the wonderful memories

 

The Bennetts of Campbell’s Creek

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Wow so much is happening and I am getting back into the family history research.  Trying to pick up after 30 years of  bits and pieces of research. Everything is so much easier now as a lot of information is online. But there are traps for players. I use Ancestry to access rate books census documents etc and keep a rudimentary tree  online.  The hints they refer to in the TV advertisement are a real trap. I see trees with surnames I have never heard of linked to mine. This can happen and it is  telling me all sorts of things  that have obviously not been thoroughly researched. In the early days, I made the same mistakes.  Now I work on the assumption that unless I have documentary evidence to substantiate a claim  then it is possibly not correct.   For example,  one of my paternal great-grandmothers  had 4 children and from the birth records it is obvious that they were twins  as the Victorian Birth Deaths and Marriages records record them as follows:

Born to Henry BENNETT  & Nellie BATTS   married 1901/5795

Jack Webster BENNETT   Birth  1914/33603

William James BENNETT    Birth  1914/33604

William James BENNETT Death 1915/ 2524

The twins  had an older sister (Dorothea Isobel) and two  older brothers (Thomas Henry Phillip & Roger Keith ); born  1902,1903 and 1906.

The question that arises is what happened between 1907 and 1914  as there are no other recorded births?    Henry Bennett FamilyGroupRecord

 

WHO HAS THE CHOICE?

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WHO HAS THE CHOICE?
REPLACING MUM’S OXYGEN CONCENTRATOR
WHO HAS THE CHOICE
A CAREGIVERS QUESTION
Yesterday I went to see my Mum who resides in a care facility. I visit every day or every second day. Mum has COPD and associated non-specific dementia. her short term  memory is terrible but mostly she is pretty good. She uses an oxygen concentrator 24 x7 and does not leave her room (agoraphobia). The facility which is under new management appears to have  a new supplier for the Oxygen concentrators (no consultation or advice to residents or their representatives), and  NOTE this is one of the best facilities I have seen.
When I arrived there was a replacement unit in her room. Bigger and noisier that her normal unit. She wanted her old one back. The reasons were. One she didn’t like it, two it was too noisy. She had a headache and we had trouble hearing one another over the noise and thirdly she could not hear the TV (her only distraction, as she has limited mobility and can no longer read – her eyesight is too poor).
Speaking with the RN on duty, she said she was aware  a changeover had occurred but was not informed or involved in the process. Less than  happy with that response I went to see the Nursing Supervisor.
I was advised that there had been a change of suppliers and these were the new units. When I mentioned the noise factor and that my Mum was sitting or lying within 4-6 inches of the machine, 24 x7 and that the noise level was unacceptable, the first response was that it was virtually a done deal and that was that.
Not the right response. The discussion became more forceful. I invited the Nursing Supervisor to sit in Mum’s chair for an hour and, consider how she would deal with the noise.
I was then offered the solution of placing the unit in the bathroom. A wet area – does anyone else consider this an OHS risk? Not only operating electrical equipment continuously in a wet area but, as Mum uses a walking frame and when accessing the bathroom at night she may  become disorientated and fall as a result. Not a good idea.
Neither was the suggestion by the unhelpful company representative, who was still on the premises that she could use an Oxygen bottle (not an option for a number of reasons) until a quieter unit was sourced – no time frame for this to occur could be provided. This brilliant salesman suggested those were the only options take it or leave it.
What a wonderful representative of his company he was – full of empathy – NOT likely. He then proceeded to advise me that they had had to fill the order at short notice and that these machines were the best available.
The unit supplied was similar to a unit Mum had  used in 2008 and I suspect may have been the same vintage. Could this possibly be that if there was a new tender, as no one including the manager seemed to know if the Facility had tendered for a new supplier. Was it possible the previous supplier had declined to renew their contract, that  a version that would be rejected by persons in their own home because of the noise, was offloaded to a care facility?
Do I believe the manager did not know the circumstances – in a word? no.
Do I think older/noisier  units were supplied to win a lower bid on the tender? yes, I do.
Could I be wrong? perhaps.
Was I disrespectful? possibly, however, I prefer the word forceful.
Was I angry? definitely.
Issues between the facility and providers of essential life extending equipment should not become a problem the person in care or their representative. There should also have been some consultation or advice that this was to occur.
 
The ultimatum I presented to the facility and the obnoxious salesperson, as their suggestions were unsafe or unworkable, was replace the unit, or we will hire independently or purchase a unit.
After much forceful negotiation, it was agreed the situation was untenable and they would replace the unit as soon as possible with a quieter unit. I requested Mum’s original unit be returned until this could occur.
When I left I am sure they rolled their eyes, glad to see the back of me as this discussion ended up taking place in the main foyer as I had no intention of having it in a private space.
Later that afternoon I was advised, via a phone call, that the matter had been reviewed. ALL UNITS would be replaced as soon as possible with a quieter units and that Mum’s original unit was back in her room. There are approx 12 residents affected by this action.
I was thanked  (?)  for bring the  problem of the noise level to their attention.
My questions are:-
What would have happened had I not gone to visit Mum at that time yesterday?
What would have happened if the representative of the supplier had not  been present in the building?
Why was there no consultation or advice with the residents or their representatives relating to changes of essential, life-extending equipment?
What would have happened to the other residents whose visitors are infrequent or who have no one to advocate for them?
My mother pays a considerable amount of money to this facility. She receives a minimal government subsidy. New management makes changes not all of the beneficial to the residents.  I acknowledge that  95% of the time it is a great facility, and IT IS HER HOME.
Management was not simply  changing the curtains or paint colour. They made a decision on a matter, literally about the provision of essential life-giving equipment, without consultation:
Management and staff would be well advised to remember,
YOUR RESIDENTS HOME IS YOUR WORKPLACE.
Not the other way around.
You are service providers and they are your clients.
*Image used is a generic image and is used to show what an oxygen concentrator machine looks like.  It is not meant to represent a specific machine or company.