Confusion reigns in the land of the gullible – June No 2

We, as South African citizens, must be amongst the most gullible humans on this planet. This probably stems from our past history of being controlled by old men in grey hats during the apartheid years. Only now, as we look back over the years do we realise that even those of us who were members of the so-called privileged White community had very little real freedom. We were only able to enjoy television in the 1970’s and then, due to boycotts because of the apartheid system, viewing was very limited and the few programmes which we were able to receive from overseas countries had to be dubbed into either English or Afrikaans as not all English speaking countries would let us have any of their productions.

What has the above got to do with our gullible disposition? Well, we are now in the throes of another horrendous 3rd wave of this terrifying Covid virus and many of us are suffering from ongoing stress, fear and sometimes, even panic attacks. So, when a picture of a massively (supposedly) pregnant woman appears on social media with the information that she has now given birth to 10 babies and will be in the Guinness Book of Records for this first-time event, it took our minds off the virus for a short while. However, was I the only person who doubted the picture actually being that of a huge pregnant stomach. Firstly, it looked as if a fully inflated Pilates ball had been shoved underneath a large pink shirt. The woman’s face was not in the slightest bit chubby, as one would have expected, considering the gigantic stomach in front of her.  The lack of a protruding belly button also was suspicious. All pregnant women tend to have a noticeable navel especially when the stomach has been stretched considerably.

Can one actually credit the fact that journalists working for all the major South African newspapers wasted hours following the story and trying to get to the bottom of the whereabouts of the elusive mother and her ten babies.  By all accounts, due to social media, the mystery of the missing decuplets was spread far and wide, and it is cringeworthy to think that so many people actually believed the story without any evidence other than the posed photo of the “pregnant” woman and her elderly looking partner in crime, aka the father of the 10!

It has now turned out that there never was a pregnancy and certainly no birth of 10 babies – five delivered vaginally and then the other 5 via caesarian section as reported. That in itself makes absolutely no sense at all. Such tiny little scraps of humanity would surely not have survived a natural birth. After donations from many crazy citizens into a bank account to assist with all the needs of these 10 premature (29 weeks gestation) infants, one has to wonder whether the stress of everything that is currently occurring in this mad country is turning brains into porridge. No photos of the babies, no confirmation from any hospitals or staff who were present at the births, and yet people put hard earned money into an account to help these liars and swindlers. The mind boggles!

South Africa must be the laughing stock of the educated world right now, but then aren’t we always nowadays? At the moment of completing this tirade, the apparent “mother” of the 10 babies, is actually in her late 40’s and is under psychiatric assessment in hospital. One has to wonder what the repercussions will be for the shoddy journalism which covered this ridiculous story! Also, what about the so-called father of the 10 who was involved in all this crazy situation? Oh, well, one has to wonder what we are going to find to become excited about in this crazy place we call our country!

Family Dynamics

No matter how one likes to believe that every child within a family is treated in exactly the same way by its parents, this is often not the case. The actual position of the child within the group of siblings as well as parental influence can be a determining factor in the way in which that child is going to develop. Much research has been done by those who claim to be professionals in their field regarding the only child, the first-born child, the middle child, the youngest child etc. etc. There are those who maintain that the first-born child is going to achieve more and be more independent than his siblings. The fact that the first born has to make his way out there in the big bad world without the help of an older sibling, is quite possibly a factor which could account for these findings.

The first born is the child who often has the undivided attention of doting parents who take loads of photographs, keep copious notes regarding his milestones, and lavish an enormous amount of attention on him. (I am using him as opposed to him/her, purely to prevent the reading of this article becoming tedious and not as a gender-based preference).  He might also be the child who is often the first grandchild in the family, and therefore may also receive a great deal of spoiling from grandparents as well as aunts and uncles.

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By the time baby number two makes his appearance, the parents have already made sure that his arrival is not going to interfere with the well being of child number one. Therefore, the second baby is expected to slot into the family with as little disruption as a new baby is capable of. Ha ha ha, this is where the fairy tale may have a slightly different ending! Sometimes the only reason that families have a second child is due to the first child having been an easy one to raise, with no major hiccups along the way. This may be the universe doing its best to ensure the survival of the human race! Very often parents have been quoted as saying that if baby number two had been baby number one, then the reproduction factory would have closed down immediately.

From the above observations, we already have an inkling of what the future might hold. The second child may be treated differently from the first due to either the parents’ frustration at having to cope with a more challenging individual, who differs entirely from their first born, or even from a feeling of failure or despair by not knowing how to handle the challenges presented by this newcomer to the family circle. Whatever the reason, life will never be the same again.

The amount of photographs taken of baby number two and the notes on his developmental stages might be far fewer than his older sibling, and this in itself could potentially pose a problem regarding feelings of inferiority in later life. I have recently been told by two separate families, who each have two girls, that the second daughter in both cases has never forgiven the parents for the fact that they were not the first born! This resentment towards their older sister has continued into their thirties.

To complicate matters even further, there is also that scenario where a third child arrives on the scene, sometimes because the first two are the same sex and the parents hoped that they might be able to change the recipe. If they succeed, then very often this third child becomes something of a celebrity, and one or other of the parents makes it obvious to all and sundry just how delightful it is to have pink baby clothes instead of blue, and dolls instead of motor cars in the house or vice versa. (I am not touching on the current trend of some children being treated as sexless by their parents until perceived to be old enough to make their own decision on whether to be a boy or a girl!)

Now, we see the middle child syndrome raising its ugly head. I actually knew of a Swiss woman whose brother and his family lived in South Africa, who was the middle child in their family. When she came here to visit them, she refused to sit in the middle seat on the aeroplane as she complained that she had always been the “sandwich child” and wasn’t prepared to allow this to happen anymore. Makes one wonder just when the reality kicks in of being sandwiched between an older and a younger sibling. What happens when a pregnancy results in triplets? Now that could be an interesting subject to pursue.

At a later stage I would like to go into more detail regarding the dynamics within families and recount some scenarios which I have personally come across over the years, as well as mentioning some well documented cases which might be of interest to you, my reader. Meantime, you might enjoy starting to look around you at families that you know and find the position of the children within them to be quite enlightening if not altogether entertaining.

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