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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Resignation

Dear Michael and Jane

It is with a great deal of regret and sadness that I am sending you this letter. We have been housemates now for roughly 4 years and I have got to the stage where, to coin a much used phrase, enough is enough. I am quitting as from today.

For all these years I have had your safety and needs at the forefront of my mind. I have never been able to do all the things that I really wanted to do, but only what you allowed. So many rules to obey and when I disobeyed them I was made to feel like an absolute loser, and you often threatened to get rid of me. Do you have any idea at all how that made me feel? You often made the comment that I looked upset, and maybe a bit guilty? Well, I actually did often feel hurt by your words and rough treatment of me, but all I was able to do was convey my feelings with my body language without saying a single word in my own defence.

You have been able to go out for expensive meals and have trips to the theatre whenever you felt like it, knowing that I was looking after your fancy house with all its precious antiques. I never ever broke a single item, and everything was always in perfect condition when you got home. You rarely even bothered thanking me for my loyalty, let alone having to stay awake until late at night until you both stumbled in, often reeking of alcohol. I must say that I was very glad when, several months ago, after your last run in with the traffic police, that you started using Uber to go out in the evenings. I used to worry as to what would happen to me should you be involved in a serious accident and not come home. I know it sounds very selfish, but we have been very much dependent on each other these past 4 years or so.

Anyway, as I said just now, enough is enough and I am leaving. At this stage I have not made up my mind exactly how I am going to move on with my life, but running away seems to be the best option. I am going to wait until I have had my breakfast tomorrow and, when you open the gate to bring in the rubbish bin, I am going to make a dash for it. I have made good friends with the woman who runs the local doggy grooming parlour, and she and her workers are very fond of me. I know that they will help me to find another job. They are sure to be prepared to give me a good recommendation, should it be required. They have always been suspicious of the way you two have treated me – almost like a poor, mentally deficient relative.

So, come what may, this letter is to tell you that you both need to look at your selfish behaviour and, before it is too late, make serious changes. Even at this stage things could be improved, but it’s all up to you. I have done my best to be hard working and honest, and I have never attacked you or made a mess in the house. I have been faithful, loving and courteous to your ghastly relatives with their ill-bred brats. I so often wanted to nip their overweight backsides, and really had to force myself to be well controlled when they visited you. You can be very grateful that I didn’t savage either of you two either, and believe me there have been many times when I would willingly have taken a big chunk out of you both. Especially when you sit on the couch, watching a rugby match, drinking beer and munching away on delicious biltong and offering me not a single solitary piece. Greedy devils that you are!

Well, you will find this letter once I have left, and hopefully you will come to your senses, see just what you have lost, and perhaps we can come to some or other amicable arrangement for the future. However, this is all up to you – the ball is totally in your court! Maybe you could consider buying me a couple of new ones if I do agree to any new terms and conditions which I feel may improve my life should I return to your home.

Anyway, you may find me at the parlour, unless I have already found a new home.

Regards

Mickey the Mutt

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So much wasted time

We often bear grudges and carry hurts and slights for years, and I don’t think there is anyone who, if they are totally honest with themselves, can say that they have never borne a grudge against either a family member who has upset them, or a friend or colleague who they feel has let them down in one way or another. It takes courage and a real desire to put matters straight, to actually make the first move and try to normalise the relationship. Not always easy, especially if the other party has decided that they are quite happy with the current status quo. Even if one makes the first move to make amends, it isn’t always a straight forward situation. Often the other party refuses to co-operate and to communicate at all.  After several attempts there is often no other option than to try to put the matter behind you and to move on, but not always as easy as that. Depending on the relationship that exists between the two parties, it can sometimes drag one down emotionally on a regular basis. All of us really do have an innate desire to be liked, if not loved, and failing this can be very upsetting, or even depressing.

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Looking at other peoples’ scenarios, it is often divorce situations which culminate in grudges and hurts. To have to fight with an ex-partner for maintenance for one’s children can often result in feelings of anger, hurt as well as deep resentment. These feelings are often very obvious to the children of the broken relationship, resulting in unhappy situations for everyone involved. It is never easy to hide hurt and anger and it is often grudgingly that one parent allows the children to spend time with the other. Children soon latch on to the vibes prevalent in a broken relationship and are very adept at using the situation to their own advantage and playing one parent off against the other.

Obviously the ideal scenario would be for both mother and father to remain on good terms with one another, but this seems to be the exception and certainly not the rule. In many cases infidelity has caused the divorce in the first instance, so it would be highly unlikely for there to be too much love lost between the ex partners. Jealousy regarding the comfortable financial status of the errant partner compared to that of the “injured” party,  or the fact that the new spouse is more attractive or more qualified than the ex, can be a constant cause of pain and hurt.  The situation often becomes even worse when the new partner becomes pregnant and there is suddenly a half brother or sister to further complicate matters.

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We most certainly do not live in an ideal world and humans are human because they are creatures with feelings which often are very difficult to disguise. We do not, unlike our canine friends, give unconditional love and ask only for food and shelter. However, having said that, one can look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and he identified man’s first need as being the satisfaction of hunger and thirst i.e. survival. Secondly, the need for shelter and money. So, in that regard, we actually are not unlike our canine friends. However, once our basic needs are satisfied we are driven by other motivating factors such as the need to be loved, accepted and respected by others etc., until, finally, we are able to strive for self- actualisation – not a need which many of us actually achieve.

Just reading what I have written, I would like to reiterate by saying once again that possibly the only real unconditional love we will ever experience in life is that which comes from our four legged friends. They don’t bear grudges, sulk (well not often, anyway), or keep on harping on about past grievances. They seem to have an incredible ability to forgive and forget! If only we could be as simplistic in our relationships then our lives might be so much less challenging.

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Sending him on his way.

It was the second day on board the cruise ship and Andrea was feeling more relaxed than she had felt in years as she leaned against the railing of the ship’s deck, gazing out at the horizon.  The constant strain of juggling home and office as well as the stress of her recent break up with her long-time boyfriend had taken its toll. She had been suffering from insomnia for weeks and her boss had noticed that she was constantly tired and irritable and suggested that it was time for her to think about using up some of her accumulated leave. She had been so diligent regarding her deadlines at work that she had hardly ever bothered to take any leave. It was only over weekends or when there was a public holiday that she was away from the office.

So far the week long cruise was proving to be exactly what she needed. Her cabin had its own balcony and she loved watching the flying fish and the occasional school of dolphins cavorting in the waves – she could forget about work for the first time in years, and even the hurt caused by the recent break up was surprisingly not bothering her much. The food and entertainment on board was first class and although she wasn’t really interested in spending much time with the other passengers, the ones she met at mealtimes were pleasant enough and not wanting to intrude on her privacy. She tended to be reserved by nature and found it rather difficult to make new friends. The few good friends she had were people she trusted and had known for many years and, due to her busy work schedule, she saw less of them than she really should, but maybe things could change once she got back home.

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Out of the corner of her eye Andrea noticed a middle aged woman with short greying hair who seemed to be talking to herself whilst trying to remove the lid of a square wooden box. Curiosity got the better of the normally reticent Andrea, and she walked over to the woman and introduced herself and offered to help her open the box. “It’s really stiff and probably due to the length of time that it’s been in my cupboard at home. Oh, by the way, I’m Linda, and thank you – maybe you can get the lid off!” With that Andrea tried to twist off the lid, and finally was successful. What she saw made her recoil in shock – the box contained ashes!

“I can see you’re a bit taken aback, Andrea, but before I throw these into the sea, let me explain”, said Linda. “It has been months now since I fetched the box and a lot of planning has gone into my taking this trip in order to do what is necessary and to say my final goodbyes. So many memories and feelings have been plaguing me and it has been a very hard decision to spend my meagre savings on this cruise, but I think once I have done what has to be done, then I can get on with my life”.

“I imagine that it is going to be a very emotional goodbye for you, and I hope that I am not intruding at such a difficult time, Linda?!

“Oh no, not at all. In fact I am just so glad that you came over to talk to me as I feel the need to unburden myself before I send him on his final journey. The past 12 years have been a total nightmare living with this aggressive, badly behaved individual who ruled my life completely. Being a positive person by nature, I always believed that thing would get better, but they just did not. My friends stopped coming to visit as they never knew what kind of a mood he would be in and often left in a hurry when they heard his snarling voice. They just could not understand why I tolerated it and eventually lost patience with me.”

“It sounds as though you have really had a lot on your plate and it reminds me of the past few years of living with my ex-boyfriend who was also very controlling and often bad tempered. There must have been some good times though?

On his way 2 350x211“Very few, sad to say. In the beginning he was so very affectionate and people admired his good looks and I got the feeling that many of them actually envied me having found such a great companion at the stage of life where many of my friends were on their own and feeling rather neglected. The trouble was that I started to loathe him for cramping my style and being so very demanding. I often felt that I was being totally manipulated and that my time was no longer my own. He was very faddy when it came to his likes and dislikes regarding his meals and I spent hours trying to find things that he would enjoy. Sometimes he actually seemed to appreciate all my efforts but I usually felt frustrated by the fact that keeping him happy was using so much of my time and energy. My decision to let him into my life had not been made in a hurry, but I must admit that there were days of serious misgivings and regret although I really did try to give him lots of love and attention.”

“It sounds as though you probably made a big mistake right in the beginning, Linda? Was it his good looks that attracted you?”

“That and the fact that I believed that we would have lots of fun together, but he turned out to be very ill tempered most of the time. It must have been due to his upbringing and his parentage but these were factors which only became relevant as time went on. I must say that I was actually relieved that, as he got older, he did tend to mellow somewhat and he aged very rapidly over the past few years.”

“It would appear that you had rather a challenging time whilst he was alive. Perhaps one day you will find a companion with whom you really do have great times together. You just never know what lies ahead do you?”

“I won’t be in a hurry to look for a replacement after this experience and the worst thing, Andrea, is that I feel that he sometimes really spoilt 12 of the best years of my life and it sounds very cruel, but I am relieved to be saying a final goodbye to him today. The reason I decided on this cruise in order to scatter his ashes is that he loved the sea and although I really don’t like swimming in cold water, I was forced to go down to the beach with him several times a week so he could race through the waves like a maniac whilst I waited on the sand for him to exhaust himself. Despite his extremely difficult nature, I felt a certain amount of guilt regarding my frequent resentment towards him so this is mainly to appease that guilt.”  With that comment, Linda leaned slightly over the railing and threw the content of the box into the sea. The slight breeze caught them as they floated down and it seemed to take quite a while before they disappeared into the waves.On his way 1 350x233“ Goodbye Rover, and thanks for the memories!”

“Rover? Was that your husband’s name, Linda?”

Linda burst out laughing, “I have never been married, Andrea. Rover was a Rottweiler that I decided to adopt, against my better judgement, when a good friend of mine went to China to teach English and had no idea of what to do with Rover who was still a puppy back then. Big mistake, but that is history now and I feel very relieved and maybe my friends will start visiting me again once this cruise is over! No more bad tempered male interference to worry about. Now time for a nice glass of cold champers in honour of a strong willed companion. Want to join me Andrea?”Onhis way 3 350x350.jpg

 

Update and Comments: 14 May 2019

I have recently posted the second chapter relating to Direct Selling in which I tried to give some idea as to how to choose a company which suits you best.  I intend to follow this with the next chapter very shortly and I do hope that the information which I am sharing is of use to anyone looking at going into this kind of business venture. On a different note, I have posted some great new recipes from Chris in the cookery section of the Guest Contributor portion of the blog – am sure the Foodies among you will be interested to try them out.

April seemed to disappear in a blur of public holidays here in South Africa and then it was a case of waiting for the Big Day, 8 May 2019 which heralded the 6th free and democratic countrywide national election. Well, in most instances and, despite all the negative postings on social media forecasting doom and devastation, most polling stations appeared to be run relatively successfully. All the people involved at my local polling station were very helpful and efficient and hopefully we will not be overly distraught once the election results have been verified and announced. My own experience was hundreds of times more pleasant than the 7 hour wait to renew my driver’s licence last month! (That little episode will feature in a future post once I have actually got my renewal in my sticky little hand. Cannot afford to send out any negative vibes in that direction until the deed is completed and I am once again legally entitled to drive for another 5 years!)

Something which occurred on the same day as our election, was the first sight of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new-born baby boy. I thought at first that they were just carrying a doll wrapped in a blanket wearing a woollen hat as the baby’s face was hidden from view. However, there were several photos published later which happily proved me wrong! The poor little chap may become the cutest baby around, but that name!! Archie!! Born into a royal family and called Archie! Queen Victoria must be turning in her grave!!  However, new facts have come to light since then which makes a bit more sense regarding the name. Apparently, the late Princess Diana had a distant ancestor who was called Archibald Campbell and he was the 9th Earl of Argyle. I think Diana’s maiden name of Spencer may have been an easier option for the poor chap to live with – especially if he lands up being a red-headed Archie!!

I suppose, in case there were any doubt at all as to the father of the child (just tongue in cheek – not aiming to offend any devout Royalists!), having the middle name of Harrison (as in Harry’s son) puts paid to any speculation in that region! Life is definitely interesting and always full of twists and turns, especially when an American actress marries a British prince! Here’s hoping this story, unlike some others of recent years, defies all odds and has a happy ending.

On the home front our dear Kelly, who is now almost 7 months old, is something of a canine Jekyll and Hyde! She is very clever (when the mood takes her) but unlike most dogs, is not particularly fond of food. She far prefers to chew branches of bushes, feathers from pigeons as well as having a passion for pebbles (of which there are hundreds on paths in our garden!). Needless to say, many valuable hours are spent in attempting to educate the dear pup that we really would prefer to control a potential obesity problem rather than having to face the prospect of foreign bodies finding their way into her digestive system and necessitating a rushed journey to our local vet! Who said: ”this too shall pass”?

Just a brief postscript regarding the e-mail contact for my blog. Despite following the instructions given by WordPress, there seemed to be a technical glitch. This has been rectified and tested and should be working well now, so please do feel free to contact me as per the contact details available on the blog.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Easter and the Bunny

Easter is a very important part of the Christian calendar whereby the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is commemorated.  However, regardless of the religious connection, children the world over have learnt to associate Easter with that much loved chap, the Easter Bunny. He is often used, nowadays much like Santa Claus, as a blackmailing tool by parents to ensure that their offspring behave well in the days leading up to Easter in order to receive delicious chocolate eggs.

Much can be researched regarding the origin of the Easter Bunny and why he brings eggs as well as the significance of eggs at this time of year. For, after all, bunnies don’t lay eggs! It all has to do with eggs and rabbits being symbols of fertility, dating back to pagan times, although there is a connection with German Lutherans who believed in the ”Osterhase” or Easter hare. When these German Lutheran immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania, USA, in the 1700’s they took this tradition with them. Apparently, the Easter Hare was originally depicted as a kind of judge of children’s good or bad behaviour.  Only the well behaved children would receive Easter eggs. The tradition of the rabbit bringing eggs was then passed on to future generations and still prevails.

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It must be rather confusing for children to make sense of a bunny bringing eggs, but all things considered, the end result isn’t confusing at all! However, I have heard of several occasions where the bunny decided to hide the eggs all around the garden, and in the morning all that was left was shreds of shiny foil wrappers. The family dog had woken up after the bunny had fled in fright no doubt, and devoured the entire hoard of chocolate delights long before the children had woken up.  Apart from heartbroken children, it is to be hoped that the dogs in question survived the feast with no ill effects!

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Anyway, as we approach the Easter weekend (except for the Orthodox Greeks who celebrate Easter later than other churches) it is to be hoped that the bunny is up to the momentous task of delivering all those eggs and that the family dogs are kept safely out of his path.

May I take this opportunity of wishing those of you who are taking a break from your usual routine to enjoy this time with your families and to stay safe wherever you may be, especially if you are travelling. A very happy Easter to you all.

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Update and Comments: 14 April 2019

I loathe making excuses for not having done what I intended to do, but the past few weeks have been extremely challenging to say the least!

Just to start with the challenges, suffice to say that I had never dreamt that having a German Shepherd (highly pedigreed, may I add!) puppy, who is technically an only child, could take such gigantic chunks out of my always hectic day! It is 13 years since we last had a pup, and then there was an adult dog in the home who was there to shoulder the stresses and strains of nipping bad behaviour in the bud as well as providing playmate time. Now, muggins (aka myself) has been nominated playmate of the year (no bunny ears and skimpy outfit involved, by the way!).

It is taking up so much of my time, but what can one do when there is a constant bumping against one’s legs and the toy in the aforesaid pup’s mouth is there for playing throw and fetch or tug-a-war!  To look at her you would imagine she is full size, but actually will possibly almost double in the next year but already her bossy attitude is fully developed!  Then there are the Saturday morning training sessions – but the less said about them and the stress that dear Kelly causes, is best left alone right now!

We have had some incredibly harsh rain storms in the past week and, waiting for an insurance claim to be finalised, the roof still leaks. Buckets and towels up in the roof as well as strategically placed in the lounge all add to loss of working time! However, with a reputable handy man involved, all should be sorted out in the next week or so!

I am planning on giving a rundown on the day spent waiting on a wooden bench along with dozens of fellow countrymen and women waiting to renew my driver’s licence, but that is a story in itself. However, it compounded my situation of recently wasted time.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and as my update is so overdue, I am glad to have received the following heart-warming piece of information in time for me to include it today. I have mentioned that my husband and I owned and ran an Irish themed pub and restaurant several years ago and I was responsible for, among other things, hiring and training our staff of waiters. After several months of operation, we realised that our Black male staff were often the most reliable and dedicated, provided that they had the right attitude towards their job.  Due to certain criminal elements outside our control (namely a corrupt landlord as well as a crooked lawyer) we only ran the business for 5 years (during which time we had an excellent reputation for all round great quality. More to come in future regarding our experiences during those years.

To continue, yesterday our eldest son was staying at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, one of the top hotels in the country, when a waiter approached him to ask if he was our son. He then said that it was due to the training which I had given him all those years ago which had enabled him to be working where he is today. Apparently he is very happy at his current place of work, and he said that he tells everyone that it was due to my emphasis on customer care, cleanliness in all areas of the job as well as the way he was always treated that has been the reason for him having improved his status over the years. I cannot tell you what a fantastic gift this has proved to be at a time when positive recognition can be a rare commodity.

This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened, as another of our very young waiter’s was spotted by a customer due to the quality of his service, and offered an office job. When he asked us whether he should take up the offer, we wholeheartedly encouraged him to do so, even though it meant us losing a valuable member of our staff. Imagine my delight when he connected with me via Facebook and also thanked us for our support all those years ago. He is now in a very senior position in a large government organisation and has children of his own. Feedback such as these make all the hard work and struggles one has to go through worthwhile when others absorb the knowledge which you are prepared to share, in order to help them grow. Information and experience is worth nothing at all if not shared.

Here’s facing another rather hectic week with Easter holidays in sight, so another post should be in the pipeline very soon! I am busy formulating training modules regarding direct selling, and later on there will be posts relating to the running of a popular restaurant. So in the meantime. Please continue to enjoy your ride on the Magic Roundabout.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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