Wednesday, April 26, 2017


(Original image via

Dear Reader, or as Elizabeth Gilbert would say: Dear Ones,

Well, it’s been quite a busy week since we last spoke. I went to a 3 year olds party, which proved to be one of the most fun parties I’ve ever attended. I was served pink gin and who knew toddler tutus could be worn in such innovative ways? I’m also in the early stages of growing out my hair and all I can say is thank heavens we’re headed for beanie season.

On a more sombre note, I’ve recently been at the sharp end of some barbed parental criticism. This, I confess, has not been fun. It’s been the opposite. Quite unfun, actually. Although the critique was general, rather than personal, I took it upon myself to feel personally attacked. As one does. As a parent, you know.

Anyhow, it got me thinking: Just who. THE fuck. Do people think they are to point fingers?

This isn’t the first time I’ve contemplated this. In fact, not long after Mr Chilled was born I started writing a little handbook called “The A-Z of Motherly Madness.” Whilst you might think that this is a book that’s filled with stories of sleepless nights, poopey nappies and how your breast pads leaked, it isn’t. It’s mostly filled with stories about how utterly painful it is having to deal with other adults, other parents and know-it-all society members in general.

From the moment you’re pregnant it’s as if you’re wearing a huge neon sign on your forehead that says “ARSEHOLE COMMENTARY WELCOME”. I had everyone, from grannies wagging their fingers at me saying, “Just wait until you see what’s coming” to single, childless men reminding me that “Boys don’t wear pink”.

But if I thought that unwelcome comments and wanky advice was a pain in the arse back then, you can only imagine my horror, when, upon the advent of Facebook, people saw fit to adopt their very own virtual soapboxes and spout enough advisory and judgmental rhetoric to sink a ship. Don't they know that in order to have a real virtual soapbox you need a blog?

Once you become a parent, you’re directly in the line of fire of the opposite of Facebook likes. The unlike end, if you will. If Facebook had icons for finger-wagging and pointing fingers, they would surely be the most used. “Pam checked in at Sanctimoniousville and is feeling finger-waggy”, “Simon checked in at Holier-than-thou-Hoek and is feeling “finger-pointy”, and “Dave checked in at I’mTooAmazingVlei and is feeling self-righteous”. You get the picture. I feel it’s a tragic oversight that Facebook hasn’t made an icon for the middle finger.

But I think we need to look at this dishing-out-of-parenting-advice from two angles. First, from the angle of childless people, and then from the angle of people who actually have children.

Childless people. What. The. Fuck? Just shut up, truly. You’re making a git of yourself. If you’re struggling with this concept let me explain it to you in simple terms, by means of an analogy. Let’s pretend that I’m the kind of person who watches a lot of tennis and, because I watch tennis, I start believing that I know how to play tennis. I become so convinced of my tennis abilities that I start commenting on how other people should be playing tennis. However, I’ve never actually played tennis myself. In fact, I don’t even know how to hold a racquet. I start chatting with other tennis enthusiasts who also watch tennis but don’t know how to play it either. Between ourselves we decide that there’s lots of room for improvement as far as tennis playing is concerned and so we decide to tell those, who actually ARE playing tennis, how to play tennis.

Do you see the problem here? Whereas I might be an expert at observing tennis and may even have done some reading up on “How to be the PERFECT Tennis Player”, my interest in tennis doesn’t make me invested in tennis. And how do you become invested in tennis? There’s only one way: play tennis yourself. Until then, just know that whatever knowledge you think you have about tennis is irrelevant until such time that you yourself get onto the court. #word.

Now for parents. Seriously? WTF? You should know better.

I recently got invited to a parenting group on Facebook. Being invited to a Facebook group is like being asked to Like, Share, and type AMEN. You don’t really want to do it, but you feel pressured into it, lest other people thing that you don’t really care about the issue at hand.  The thing is, though, belonging to a parenting forum is the parental equivalent of reading a beauty magazine: you just feel inadequate. Via a barrage of articles, you get the feeling that your child is on the verge of getting scurvy due to poor diet, that they spend too much time on their iPads, that they eat too much sugar, that you’re the spawn of Satan for vaccinating, and that, in short, your offspring are doomed to become psychopaths.

But what’s even worse than the timeline on a parenting forum, is taking a scroll down your Facebook feed. Here you will find people liking and sharing all manner of crappy advice on parenting. Posters showing cute yellow minions saying things like “If you got respect spanked into you, like and share”. (As a complete aside, I’m quite, quite certain that minions would not subscribe to that philosophy.)

Bit the thing that has me foxed about these kind of memes is the person posting it doesn’t make it clear to whom it’s directed. The thought has crossed my mind that they’ve in fact shared it as a reminder to themselves - as one might pin up your favourite sayings on your pin-board at home – rather than as a comment that’s directed towards others. But if it indeed is directed towards other parents, I have to wonder: is it directed towards me? Or is it directed towards you? Just who exactly is responsible for raising these belligerent, disrespectful, precocious children? Do they walk amongst us, or are they in some other distant land where disrespect, belligerence and precociousness are the norm? It’s all very exhausting to figure out.

I really have to hope it’s not directed at me. Coz, you know, fuck you and all your preachy wankishness. Unless you have a tattoo on your forehead stating “PERFECT PARENT, ALL MY KIDS ARE A SUCCESS STORY”, I just don’t think you should be bandying around memes about other people’s parenting abilities.

Of couse, you also get the intellectual types who won’t recycle playful memes, but instead will draw from an incredibly reliable knowledge base that has been entirely gleaned from the archives of Facebook. Using recycled sensationalist columns that were only ever intended to drive traffic to websites bearing the names of “Lentil soup for your soul” and “Intuition for Conscious Enlightened Perfectpants People” as ammunition, they tout themselves as “well read” and, without employing any critical thinking, will take these “articles” as the gospel. It would be funny if it weren’t so un-fucking-funny.

Some parents are sneaky and use boasting as a way to wag their fingers at other parents. They’ll say things like “I’m so glad my Sarah loves to read”. Subtext: Your kid’s a reprobate because they don’t. Or, one of my favourites “I’m so lucky that Lou-Lou knows how to play and use her imagination”. Subtext: what kind of parent are you that you let your kids watch TV? Hashtag ARSEHOLEPARENT.

The thing is, most parents I know think that, most of the time, they’re fucking up royally with this parenting thing. Still, they’re doing their best and, as the saying goes, if you don’t have something positive to say, perhaps don’t say anything at all. And for those people who are winning at parenting, as my dad would say, Bravo!~ Bully for you! But there’s no need to be such a dick about it (he never said the last bit, that’s all mine).

And on that note I think I’m going to go and devise more ways that I can be the worst parent possible and completely stuff up my children’s lives. I’m thinking Ritalin might be the way to go. But that, dear ones, is a story for another day.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


(Original Image Via Kat Ross on Pintrest)
On Friday last week, like many other South Africans, I took part in what BK un-affectionately termed “a whitey protest”. He, like many others, said he would not participate because “Where were we during apartheid?” and “Where were we when people like him were sent to the army and posted at the border?” I suggested to him that as far as apartheid and the army are concerned, I was way beneath voting age and besides, protesting and marching wasn’t really a thing in my hometown. It was just a small town and would have been more of a small gathering than a protest march.

And while BK was wrangling with guilt and the ghosts of the past, I was wrangling with some pressing issues of my own.

The first issue I was faced with was that I was white. Am white. While this may not seem like an obvious concern, I’d read so many articles in the lead up to the protest about how white people didn’t have the right to march, protest or beg solidarity. I felt like quite the imposter even entertaining the prospect of protesting. Like BK, the prevailing sentiment for many people – many journalists at least - seemed to be that, just like the #ZUMAMUSTFALL protest, white people were only prepared to protest when it affected their capitalist privilege. Fair comment.

Still, I wanted to protest, and the only way I could justify doing so was to apply the same reasoning when I have to explain why I became a vegetarian. It goes something like this:  Yes, in the past I’ve eaten meat but now I don’t want to anymore. Yes, I did wrong by those sheep and cattle and lambs but now, I would like to take up the their cause.

If we use the same line of reasoning you can see how it doesn’t work to say “Well I ate meat then so I’m not allowed to give up eating meat now.” Same-same with protesting and marching. Just because I didn’t do anything back then to fight for the right of animals doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to do anything now. Surely?

Much like deciding to join in protesting, deciding to become vegetarian didn’t happen immediately but rather over many years and via many messages. The first message was the movie Babe. After all, you can’t eat animals once you know that they can talk. I must confess, however, that the final nail in the coffin for me giving up meat came about when it became personally relevant. You see we got dogs and I just couldn’t eat meat any more because I just knew they were looking at me and thinking, “If she runs out of beef, will she eat us?”

Of course, there are many people who say things like “Oooh, you don’t eat meat but you eat eggs. Have you ever seen how laying hens are treated?” And all I can answer is that for now my cause is for meat and soon, when I have the inclination, I may take up the cause for eggs and milk. And who
knows, I may even wave a banner for the bees. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and then damned all over again if you do.

Another issue was that I didn’t know what to wear. There should be some kind of Protest101 manual. I did “attend” the other #WHITE #ZUMAMUSTFALL march that took place in Cape Town’s city centre but I certainly couldn’t use that occasion as a guide. Why, I saw more brand names, hipsters and neatly trimmed beards than what one might see at Fashion Week.

I told myself that this protest would be different but all the same, I cursed the arctic gale that was blowing in true Cape Town style because this meant I had to wear some kind of warm jacket or coat. And while I did have a Uniqlo jacket, I simply could not bring myself to wear it. After all, nothing says privilege like a Uniqlo jacket, right?

I also knew it would be just wrong to play dress-up and try to look like a freedom fighter. After all, we know how appropriation has landed people like Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift in hot water. So no, no dressing up and no dancing like any other culture but my own would do. Dancing and clapping out of time. That’s the way it had to be.

To add to my outfitorial worry, there was some confusion in social media as to whether protesters should all wear white, or all wear black. This, I feel, should have been made clear. I also think that it would have saved us a whole lot of trouble if we’d stayed well away from both black and white. When in doubt, Reggae colours are the safest. Peace and love bru, peace and love.

I should point out that TFTF, albeit unintentionally, went full guerrilla in his choice of outfit; he wore a hoodie with a red buff pulled over his nose and looked like he was a seasoned rabble-rouser, poised to throw a petrol bomb or at least get tear gassed. I can’t help but feel he was slightly disappointed at the calmness of it all. That’s ADHD for you folks.

Another salient issue was around which Font I should use for my sign. I’m quite a girly-girl when it comes to typography so in an ideal world I would’ve liked my HAMBA ZUMA sign to be fun and attractive. Still, I knew that “Blomster” or “Hippie Gypsy Regular” would be difficult to read and would just look too arty. Obviously “Comic Sans” was a no-go, so I opted for “Helvetica”. I feel I could’ve done more to decorate it though. A few flags maybe.

To make matters worse, the only cardboard I had lying around was from the inside of the fitted sheet I’d bought at Mr Price Home. You know how they kind of wrap the fitted sheets around an A4 piece of cardboard to that they can easily insert it into the plastic sleeve? It was one of those. I had my doubts that it would withstand the rigours of picketing and wind as they are quite bendy. Talk about being unprepared.

Of course, there were other dilemmas. Do we take the kids? Do we take the dogs? (They looked very disappointed when we left without them. The dogs that is, not the kids.) Do we pack snacks? Should we stand somewhere near a loo? Would it be like the Argus and would there be water stations and free mini Bar One’s? Would there be big amplifiers playing songs like “Give me hope, Joanna” and “Redemption Song”.

As if on cue, on arriving at our protest destination, Mr Chilled asked in his deep teenage voice “Um, how long do you think we’ll be here for?” and TFTF announced “I’m cold. I’m thirsty. Did you bring juice?” I’m not sure they understood the gravity of the situation.

Perhaps the last, but not least, critical issue surfaced when we were well on our protest way, so to speak. We noticed that passing cars were hooting and that their drivers were cheering. We knew we had acknowledge them somehow and signal our appreciation for their support. What we ended up with was a kind of mashup of the Black Power hand sign, a thumbs-up, and a wave. It was rather awkward. It would have been really useful if we could have clarified some universal type of hand signal for the day. It felt dreadfully imposter-ish and appropriation-ish using the Black Power sign as a white person. Just saying.

In the end, as in the beginning, I was glad I went along. Who knows what kind of difference will make but one thing is for sure, next time I will be more prepared. My outfit will involve comfortable footwear and my font of choice will almost certainly be “Bleeding Cowboys”.