words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

The day I farewelled my little boy

2 year old Josh with the Christmas stocking I made for him.

2 year old Josh with the Christmas stocking I made for him.

A lump formed in my throat as I handed him the letter. I watched as he took it outside and sat down to read it in the garden. A tear rolled down my cheek. This was the end of something special.

 Dear Josh

You have asked a really good question – “Is Santa real?” 

I know that you want to know the answer, so I have given it some careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is yes — and no.

There is no one, single Santa.

Dad and I fill your stocking and choose and wrap the presents under the tree — just as our parents did for us, their parents did for them, and you will do for your kids one day.

This could never make any of us Santa though. Santa is lots and lots of people who keep the spirit of Christmas alive.

He lives in our hearts — not at the North Pole.

Santa is the magic and love and spirit of giving to others. What he does is teach children to believe in something they can’t see or touch.

Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe in yourself, in your family, in your friends and in God.

You’ll need to be able to believe in things you can’t measure or hold in your hands.

Now you know the secret of how he gets to visit every house on Christmas Eve — he has help from all of those people whose hearts he has filled with joy.

With hearts full of love, people like Dad and I take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So there is no Santa who lives at the North Pole. Santa is love and magic, and hope and happiness.

We are on his team and now you are too!

But part of that important job is to keep the magic alive for people who think that Santa is one person who lives at the North Pole — like Laura.

It’s very important that you do not spoil it for her. Let her believe and have the same magic and wonder that you did — until she is ready to know the secret.

We are very proud of you and love you oh, so much. And we know you are going to make a great member of Santa’s team.

Love Mum xoxoxo

(Disclaimer: The above letter is a version of one that I saw posted on Facebook last year, which I kept and modified for my son. I thought it a lovely way to answer the tricky question of Santa, so thank you to whoever posted that last year!)

My son came in soon after with a knowing look and a smile.

“Right,” he said, with a wink.

“So what do you think?” I asked him, sure that he would be a little sad. He is quite a sensitive soul after all. “Are you okay?”

“Yep,” he said with a big grin.

Oh, so it was only me who was having difficulty with it all.

So while his sister was playing with her Barbies, I took him outside so we could talk more freely and not give the secret away.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked

“Well, the Tooth Fairy? What about her?”

“Same kind of concept.”

“I thought so,” he said.

“And all the letters that Santa left us, you just wrote those in different writing, didn’t you?”’

“Yep.”

“And the crunched up carrot and reindeer food. Did you eat those carrots and spit them around the back patio?”

“Dad and I did.”

He laughed.

“That would have been hilarious,” he said. “Can I help this year, seeing as I am on the team now?”

The 'hilarious' remnants of carrot and reindeer food.

The ‘hilarious’ remnants of carrot and reindeer food.

So we sat for a while and he asked all kinds of questions ranging from how much we paid for the bike that Santa brought him, how does Santa bring back their Christmas letters every year (seeing as they have been posted in a letter box), and who eats the food we leave out for Santa.

After we had talked, as perceptive as always, he said to me: “I’m not sad about it, but I know you are, aren’t you?”

And yes, part of me was feeling sad because I had just farewelled my innocent, little boy who had been living with us for nearly 11 years. One of the last remnants of his ‘littleness’ was now gone.

There would be no more letters to Santa (except to keep the pretence up for his younger sister). There was no more ‘tricking him into bed’ because Santa was coming. No more gazing at the sky to look for a sleigh, and definitely no more entertaining theories on how Santa does what he does.

However, in front of me was a grown-up version of my son. He was wiser, stronger and happier for the knowing. Taking it all in his stride and already thinking about what he can do to make Christmas special for his 8-year old sister.

Since he has learned “Santa’s secret”, we have had many secret conversations about Christmas and Santa (often behind closed doors or while his sister is otherwise occupied), which has delighted him. He feels very grown up and is chuffed to be ‘in on it’. He even told me that I did “a pretty good job at being Santa” and that I “thought of everything!”

Thank you my darling. I tried to make it as magical as I could.

While it is sad for me to let my little boy go, it is also a wonderful privilege to be there with him as he grows into a gorgeous young man.

I would like to officially welcome him, as the newest member of Santa’s team.

Christmas 2012 - the last one when "The man from the North Pole" came to visit Josh. While the boy has changed a bit, he still has the same Christmas stocking I made him all those years ago.

Christmas 2012 – the last one when “the man from the North Pole” came to visit Josh. While my son has changed a bit over the years, he still has the same Christmas stocking I made him all those years ago. Oh and we still wear our PJs when opening Santa’s presents!

 

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Why kids deserve respect

Respect is a tricky thing.respect

Yet it seems to be twisted into a definition that suits anyone.

We need to respect their decisions

We need to respect their beliefs

We need to respect their right to express themselves

We need to respect the way they live their life.

What does it really mean?

Respect can be defined as:

  • A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

OR

  • Due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others.

While a lot of people talk about the need for respect, I don’t believe many people practice it anymore.

Instead there seems to be too much focus on ‘doing what makes you happy’, ‘living for the moment’ and forgetting about how that impacts on other people.

I’m not saying that you need to do what others want you to, or go and become a ‘people pleaser’.

What I am saying, is that we need to think about the impact our actions may have on other people — especially our kids.

Think about those ‘high profile celebrities’ who have been in the news lately, for their questionable actions. I am not going to name them, simply because I believe the reason they are engaging in their questionable behaviour is to gain publicity and get people talking about them.

However, if I used the words, ‘twerking’ and ‘joint-smoking’, I’m sure you know one of whom I am referring to.

Yet she is one of many. Listen to the lyrics of many popular songs, or watch the video that accompanies them, and there is often very little respect to be found.

Half-naked men and women, dancing around (often gyrating), singing about strip clubs, alcohol, and drugs. All the while objectifying women (and men), and passing it off as entertainment.

Think about some of our ‘sports stars’. Yes, they may be great at their sport, but are they really role models we want for our kids? Footy players getting drunk, or on charges of rape; a tennis star in trouble for hooning; a prominent golfer caught cheating on his wife a few years back. Yet these are the very people who are held up to be ‘heroes’.

TV shows are now being made from footage of drunken, foul-mouthed, disrespectful thugs having brushes with the law. While they may be televised after prime-time, they are still advertised when children watch TV. Do they really need to see that? Besides, are we really that desperate that we have to resort to that kind of stuff? Surely our combined level of intelligence isn’t that low.

What is going on?

Our kids are looking up to these people. What kind of qualities are these people exhibiting, that results in a feeling of deep admiration for them? Where is the regard for the rights and feelings of our children?

When we ‘normalise’ cheating, getting drunk or engaging in anti-social behaviour, our children learn to do the same. When film clips objectify women (and men) as objects, our kids learn to do the same.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my son growing up to only see value in a woman for what she looks like and how sexually attractive she is.

I certainly don’t want my daughter growing up to believe that the only worth she has is to be found in men ogling her, or being sexually available.

When we show footage of people doing drugs and making it look cool, then our kids want to do the same thing and be ‘cool’ too. It’s quite confusing for them to be told about the dangers of drugs on one hand, but then be shown footage of a celebrity lighting up a joint.

Parenting is not easy. Forget about the sleepless nights and toilet training — that’s a piece of cake.

The harder stuff is trying to teach a child right from wrong and to guide their moral compass. We are trying to equip our kids to negotiate the minefield of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, anti-social behaviour, cheating, lying, and selfish behaviour. Yet in one foul swoop, another person’s actions can call into question everything we have taught.

As children get older, the outside world has more influence on them. Yet people wonder ‘what is going on with kids these days?’ Well, kids model what they see, and ‘respectful’ is not how I would describe our current society.

Many forget that the children of today will grow up to be adults. What we teach them about the world, and their place in it, is a very big deal.

If our kids grow up believing that it’s ok to disrespect others, then they will grow up to be disrespectful.

If our children see their role models have no self-respect, then how will they grow up to respect themselves?

If our kids think it’s ok to yell, and scream and swear and carry on when things don’t go their way, then what kind of adults will they make?

If we show our kids that it’s cool to be on drugs and okay to get drunk, then what kind of society are we creating?

If today’s celebrities are all about self-promotion, self-gratification, making money at the expense of others and not interested in the welfare of the people who have made them celebrities, then what hope do our kids have?

So, to all of you out there who thinks that it’s none of my business how you live your life — think again.

Most of the time it is not. However, it is my business if the way you act and behave is disrespectful to my children. It is my business if your actions have a negative impact upon my children. And it is my business if what you are modelling is against what I am teaching my children.

It most certainly is my business, if I have to explain adult-concepts to my children, well before they need to know about them.

Remember, most children don’t ask to see scantily clad women gyrating about. They shouldn’t have to see sex-shops in every suburb advertising their sleazy wares. Most children don’t usually ask to see footage of people doing drugs. And they certainly don’t deserve to be told that their only value in life is to be an ‘object’ for someone else’s gain.

Children are vulnerable. Children are innocent. Children are impressionable. Children are special. Most importantly, they are the future of this country.

Let’s treat them with the respect they deserve.

You don’t always need a plan

Have you heard the phrase If you fail to plan, you plan to failfly by the seat of your pants

Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t always need a plan.

In fact, sometimes having a plan can hinder you.

Traditionally, November is “Novel Writing Month”. A group called “Grammarly”, (some of you may have seen them on Facebook), has orgnanised the largest group of authors to collaborate on a single novel.

More than 750 people from around the world have signed up to participate. And I am one of them.

The way it works is as follows: There are 30 chapters with around 25-26 authors being assigned a chapter. Throughout the month of November, one person is assigned to contribute up to 800 words to a chapter each day (30 writers per day), which means the entire novel is written simultaneously.

Yes, simultaneously. So Chapter 1 and Chapter 30 are all being written at the same time.

How does that work?

In truth, I have no idea.

All I know is that I was assigned to write up to 800 words in chapter 10.

Yes, we are given a plot and chapter summaries. In these summaries, we are advised as to what should occur in each chapter. Certain events, milestones, meetings, etc. How that unfolds is very much up to the individual writers.

With writers from all over the world, you can be sure that cultures, genders, religions, morals, beliefs and writing styles will all be different. Add into the mix the different time zones, and you can see it could be a recipe for disaster.

Because how can you possibly plan?

I should let you know that we can read the novel as it unfolds. We are given links to the novel in ‘real time’ and we have a direct link to the chapter that we are writing, so we are not exactly writing blind.

However, I quickly realised that reading the novel as it was unfolding was only adding to my overall confusion, so I simply stuck with my own chapter.

Given we only have 24 hours to contribute our part, and the fact that each chapter evolves on a daily basis, there is not much time for planning.

Today was my day to contribute. I had read my chapter yesterday and it seemed as if the person before me had finished their section. So I began writing my section ahead of time (yes, always wanting to plan) so I could load it up today without too much stress. I felt reasonably happy with where I wanted to take the story, so went to bed feeling quite confident and was really looking forward to finishing it off this morning.

However, as I logged onto my computer this morning, I discovered that someone else had written their section too early, which meant that my section no longer flowed.

No!! What was I going to do? So much for best laid plans and all that.

Due to time zone differences, I only had a few hours to sort it out. As it turned out, it was more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ activity, rather than a planned, structured writing session. It was both daunting and fun.

Sometimes, it’s better not to have a plan!

Yes, I am a planner at heart. I’m very organised and like my life to be like that. But when my plans were thrown out of the window, better things resulted.

You see, without a plan, I was free to write whatever came to me.

I was more creative.

I thought outside of the box.

I relied upon my own intuition.

I took ownership of my writing.

I trusted myself more.

And I even made decisions about key characters in the book 🙂

But most of all, I had fun. The adrenalin was flowing and I was in the zone. Within a few short hours, my work was done — and it turned out better than I expected.

Sometimes we need to plan.

But sometimes we need to throw our plans in the bin and allow ourselves the freedom to just go with the flow. To enjoy the moment for what it is, to see where our heart lies and what opportunities may be waiting to be discovered. To fly by the seat of our pants, so to speak.

Yes sometimes we need to plan, but not having a plan doesn’t always equate to failure.

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words by nerissa

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