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Spring!

We spent the week-end on the beach, not in swim suits, but soaking up the sun in jeans and t-shirts. After a closeted winter breathing in wood smoke, the sea air and gull calls smelt and sounded like freedom.
I don’t enjoy the winter months like I used to, my bones feel creaky and my energy levels deplete with the effort of making a cup of cocoa. Another cold front is blowing in today, I can see it building across the sea on the horizon. But, the flowers are out, the dawn is earlier, and I’m stocking up with white wine instead of red.

Buddha Garagista

Not only are we slowly being squeezed out of the house by burgeoning stock, the car has been ousted from the garage.

Our most recent shipment arrived two weeks ago and is finally unpacked. The wooden crates are lying around the back garden, waiting to be broken up and packed away neatly. If we just wait a year or two the Golden Shower will gradually cover this one, saving us a bit of effort.

Opting Out, Hippies, and Schooling

Being a free spirit can conflict with being a parent. I’m not a mother who thinks kids can do what they want, and I abhor bratty, self-entitled children – mine are well mannered and respectful. But, on Sundays, with the week looming, it’s school that gets me down.
The mundaneness, the monotony – parenting flings me right back into that which I worked so hard to escape! The Sedgefield school is a good one, the teachers tend toward the Fundamentalist Christian and both my kids went through an early evangelical stage. Jake’s third grade teacher was, however, very calm and understanding when he told her he was moving on and now believed in Darwin.
I sometimes (very, very briefly) think of home schooling, and in dark sport-on-Saturday moments sympathise with survivalists.
When Gavin and I were younger we lived in the hippest suburb of Joburg, Yeoville. This was just before democracy and it was a wild and free area where all those on society’s fringes could find acceptance. Mixed race couples (when that was illegal), gays and lesbians (ditto), drug addicts, political radicals – all found a home in Yeoville. It was a great place to spend your early 20s if you were a neo-hipppie.
We were friendly with a couple then, Ben and Issy, he was a gem dealer and her occupation was vague. They had a kid, Luke, who was about 13 at that time. He had never been to school, never been registered with Home Affairs, had no birth certificate or ID number – completely off the grid.
They were pretty cool, loving parents and Luke knew a lot about a lot. I wonder what’s happened to him, now a man in his late 20s.
Much as I hate the adapting to the endless routine I guess it’s not fair to make those decisions on your children’s behalf. If Jake and Thomas want to opt out later, they should be able to do it with written affirmation that they have done the three R’s. You have to experience the system before you can reject it. Or not, as the case may be.

Home Gallery and Scary Bathrooms

The upstairs gallery is so full we've had to squash stuff into the corners under the eaves - and Gavin is off to Vietnam on Monday to get more.

The upstairs gallery has been such a hit that it has expanded – into the rest of the house.

The growth has been a huge relief financially, but living and running a shop in the same space is probably better suited to a family much neater than ours.

I had an email from a Johannesburg couple in January saying they were coming down on holiday in March and would love to see what we had for sale. I gave them our address and phone number and promptly forgot about it.

Most people phone to say they are coming which gives me a chance to shove dirty dishes into a cupboard and make the beds. The Joburg pair had a GPS and the first I heard from them was their voices wafting up from the garden.

They were lovely, raved about the house and gallery, and bought enough to pay our mortgage for two months. My pleasure was marred by sheer terror that they might need the bathroom. It would have been Hobson’s choice. The downstairs bathroom which has not changed one iota since I did this post, or the upstairs bathroom where the boys had performed their morning ablutions (a lot more horrible than you can imagine).

This used to be our lounge - still is in the evenings.

Daydream Believer

Thomas

A letter arrived from the school’s Occupational Therapist last week – Thomas has concentration issues. He works diligently when the teacher watches him, but when her flinty gaze is averted he downs pencils and stares out of the window.

A question from his teacher on a completely blank page in his workbook asks, “Thomas, what were you doing between 10am and 12pm?” His reply to me – “It didn’t seem that long.”

Upshot is he has to go to the OT for 30 minutes once a week. She seems nice and her room is filled with huge balls and hoola hoops so he’ll probably enjoy it. He goes during class time too, which he sees as a bonus.

I can’t help but see it as the continued medicalisation of childhood. What Louisa May Alcott would have called boisterous and rowdy is now ADD or ADHD. What Lewis Carroll would have called day-dreaming is now concentration deficiency. Adjectives have turned into diagnosis and behavioural disorders, and it makes things a lot less fun.

Nude Gardening and Pogo Sticking

The last of the holiday neighbours left in the middle of the night, and I’m not entirely sure that it was only to avoid driving in the heat of the day.

We’re a family that lives in isolation for 10 months of the year and some of our habits may have moved slightly beyond accepted social mores.

Gavin uses the outside shower in summer and often, as he strolls inside naked to get a towel, he sees a patch of garden that needs watering. Nude gardening has its niche no doubt, but for holiday makers sipping a morning coffee on their deck it might be a bit startling.

Thomas treats neighbours with a mixture of hostility and overriding curiosity. He insists on endlessly pogo-sticking right next to the boundary wall. It might not be all that restful to have a small boy’s head peer at you at regular 5 second intervals as you adjust your bikini straps.

Bat Bite!

The evening summer heat means wide open doors and windows at dusk – and Vlad the Fruit Bat swooped right into the dining room last week.

Catching a trapped bat, with radar on full alert, is no easy task. Top tip, using a towel as a throw net works eventually.

He was pretty calm when caught, until I rudely exploded a high powered flash in his little rodent face. He sank his savage fangs (ok, very tiny teeth) into Gavin’s finger and wouldn’t let go until we took him outside and let him fly off into the dark.

Googling rabies is not for the weak stomached and Gavin went off to the doctor next day to see if he needed a shot. Rabies is not endemic to our area so hydrophobia  and mouth frothing are not in Gavin’s immediate future, thank heavens.


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