Sep 27, 2012

Signs that your child been tampered with

This is a hard one to prove and even harder when it involves a family member. Molesting a child is an evil act as besides the physical and emotional scarring it is a deep betrayal and loss of innocence. The child will never be fully recovered as you cannot heal intangible wounds with a pill. Therapy will help and must be applied, but the best resolution of all is to prevent the child from being molested in the first place. In South Africa it is estimated that four girls and one in eight boys are sexually abused before the age of sixteen.

Signs that your child has been tampered with

• The child's personality changes and she wets her bed and is afraid to go to sleep for fear that something will happen; she never had the problem before.
• The child becomes clingy at the sight of a male family member.
She always has money and sweets she got from an uncle.
Her eating pattern has changed her from healthy to thin and frail.
The child is withdrawn and has nightmares and screams in her sleep.
She is afraid to go to a certain relative’s house.

This does not mean, however, that if you have some of the above symptoms that you have been molested. The signs are merely to alert you that something is remiss and that you should look deeper into the matter. Children who have been molested are not talkers and suffer in silence. Not all perpetrators strike immediately; some nourish their victims for years, until the time is right.

Facts about perpetrators

• More often than not the child knows the molester.
*Most perpetrators have no criminal record.
*Perpetrators can be members of the child’s family.
*Pedophiles sit on park benches and watch the children at play.
*Sexual offenders love reading porn.
*Offenders always appear innocent to children and offer them money and sweets to help find the dog. There is no dog.

Protecting your kids

Talk to them about strangers bearing gifts.
Don’t be graphic and speak in a calm voice.
Don’t evoke unnecessary fear although you would like them to be aware of strange people coming up to them in the street.
Teach your child to say NO. This is one instance where the child must use whatever knowledge and words he has in his power and vocabulary to get away.
Don’t make a big deal out of this but have the safety talk without frightening your children. A motto you can have in your house is: say NO to pedophiles and run!

Sep 26, 2012

Enabling and rescuing an addict

Do you have a member in the family who falls under any of these categories: sex addiction, alcoholism, workaholism, over-spending, an eating disorder or a gambling addiction? You keep baling them out, and instead of helping them you enable them to continue with their behavior which is spiralling out of control. This is self-destructive enabling; the person is not learning anything and instead of leading a normal life his behavior gets worse and he remains dysfunctional. What he needs to hear is the word, no, that you will not continue aiding and abetting him, and that you cannot give him money or pay his bills anymore. It is a harsh penalty but if you love the person refusing him is the best thing to do. 

Understanding addiction

Addiction is a disease. You can never cure it, but you can arrest it. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; even if you refrain from using or drinking or gambling for ten years, you are still compulsive. Going to rehab helps because you learn how to change your thinking, what to do, what to stay away from, and how to help yourself. The first thing you can do if you are sincere about changing the way you live is to join a twelve-step program; the most important ingredient necessary is conviction and your determination to succeed. If you are half-hearted about change, do not waste anyone’s time. An addict has to realize what he is doing to his family and himself and if he does not care about where he is heading, he is not taking you down with him.

Practicing tough love

·         Do not give any addict money no matter how he begs. Just plain no and meaning it is enough.

·         Plan an intervention and have everyone write a letter to him. If he does not attend the intervention, cut the friendship dead in its tracks.

·         Offer to go with him to the twelve-step meetings and drive him to rehab.

·         Tell him to stay away from his alcoholic and gambling friends. The idea is to spell out the rules of the friendship only once and what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior to you. He has to feel the pain of his actions otherwise there is no reason for him to change. 

·         State clearly that once you break off the relationship, there is no turning back and that he will not be allowed in the house. 

·         Go online for more information on enabling and co-dependency to help you better understand the progressive nature of addiction and what you should and should not do as a friend.

Sep 25, 2012

Tribute to my mother

**           When I was a toddler you picked me up and wiped my tears.

**           When I started school you taught me to share my sandwiches with those who did not have.

**           When you caught me smoking with my friends at age eleven you told me that smoking was for rough girls and you encouraged me to stop.

**           When I sent away my first story to a radio station at twelve you told me not to be afraid to reach far and encouraged me to write.

**           When I said to you at sixteen that I would like to be an actress, you said, my girl, I would not like you to do that; your job will depend on your looks and I would not like you to be in show business.

**           When I left the country at age 21 with just my sister, younger than me, you told me not to be afraid and that you would see me soon. You gave us enough money to take care of ourselves.

**           When we were young girls, before leaving for Canada, you encouraged us to bring our boyfriends to the house so you could know who they were. You served them coffee and cake and always were nice to them.

**           When I got married to a foreigner you left your work in South Africa to help me with the baby and spend some time with us. You were kind to my husband and he was kind to you.

**           When I got divorced you cried because you knew the damage done to children who grow up without a father. You cried because you remembered your own experiences and did not want us girls to go through what you had.

**           When I got published you were my number one fan. You sat in a wheelchair at my first launch. Georgina and I pushed you up the hill to the acupuncturist in the rain. You believed that the Chinese man’s needles would fix you. We had a few good years together and then your number came up and there was nothing anyone could do. Even then, with your last breath, you would not leave until I told you not to struggle anymore to live, that you had been a good mother who always loved and put her kids first.  You gave a last sigh and slipped away. If I have done an ounce of good in my life, I owe it all to you, Mom; thank you.

Wedding day anxiety

Imagine this scenario: it is a day before the wedding. The band has been booked, the bridesmaids’ outfits are ready, the catering is paid for, you are having drinks with the girls when suddenly you have anxiety and say that you can’t go through with it. Family members ask you what is wrong; you say you don’t know. You have mere hours before you become a wife. The groom-to-be is shocked and does not understand what is happening. The transition is so bizarre that one moment you are laughing with the girls and the next moment you are crying over the drink in your hand. What do you do? 

Handling wedding day anxiety

**           You do nothing for the moment except be with her. Don’t try to explain things; it will go in one ear and out the other. Calm her down by telling her that you understand how hard it is to leave home. 

**           Don’t blame yourself. It has nothing to do with you. Be rational. Hold her and say that it is all right to cry on the night before you get married. After all, it is a huge thing to leave your parents’ home and change guard. 

**           Put a temporary hold on the catering until you know whether the event is on or off. Remember caterers start planning weeks ahead of time and they don’t do anything without a fat deposit; don’t do it too late.

**           If hours later you are still fearful and don’t know the cause of it, put the wedding on hold. It is easier to lose some of your deposits than undo or annul a marriage. It may even be that once you have cancelled everything that the fear dissipates and you find yourself with just two witnesses at the Justice of the Peace. It may be the fear of change rather than finding fault with your partner which one is sometimes apt to do. If on the morning of the wedding your partner laughs off her anxiety from the previous day and seems fine, you know you have crossed that bridge and are set for the marriage to take place. The fear and confusion is akin to a new mother who does not know what to expect and wants the baby but does not want to give birth.

Sep 23, 2012

South Africa's forgotten people


A few hundred miles north of Cape Town in the dry and rugged Richtersveld mountains lie four communities along the Orange River whose people are known by several names; the Nama, San, Khoisan, the ‘people of the Richtersveld’, and derogatorily also known as the Bushmen. With a slim frame, a biscuit or apricot-colored complexion, wrinkly features, wiry hair, they are the remnants of the indigenous people who once were hunter gatherers and beachcombers in the early Cape.

They had lived for centuries in the mountains, fished in the waters and looked for food along the shore. They have good eyesight and make excellent trackers and have the ability to study a pile of manure or animal dung and tell you which animal had made the deposit, the age of the animal, and the direction in which it had gone. They left behind a trail of rock paintings along the coast and had a wonderful sense of poetry, music and art. Some of these paintings can be seen at a resort in the Cedarberg where San children and adults are on display in their original skins and habitat.

Living conditions

It is shocking that once the land which had been freely used by all were taken away and some of them migrated towards the Cape, some wandering in the streets, some finding jobs, others living out their lives as alcoholics. In the past part of the white man’s form of payment was a ‘dop’, alcohol, which kept them in a perpetual state of slavery. Filmmakers saw a chance to join in and a film by Jamie Uys, The Gods Must Be Crazy, where a Coke bottle falls from the sky and causes a tribe member to start walking to the end of the earth to return it to the gods, was born. The San were romanticized and the act of trying to give back a Coke bottle to the gods attests to their delightful nature. They speak both Khoisan and Afrikaans which has a click to it when they talk. Hunted by the early settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, they fled north and disappeared.

The Nama

Another group of indigenous people are the Nama, similar in colour and stature to the San, who also had Mongolian features, and lived around the Orange River in the mid nineteenth century. These indigenous people were called Hottentots. Today, about 60,000 Nama live in Namibia and in the Richtersveld which are made up of Eksteenfontein, Kubus, Sanddrift and Port Nolloth.They have been granted houses along sandy streets and there is the normal church and school and a piano which provide entertainment. The Nama Dance which has them dancing around a fire in a trance is a particular favorite. 

Culture in the Richtersveld
They are also known for their natural remedies and their rooster brood, flat bread baked on a stone oven. Problems in the community are teenage pregnancy and alcoholism; their biggest concern is that their culture and language is dying out. Elders are worried and say that the children are uninterested in learning the language of their elders and many of them now speak only Afrikaans and a few words of English. Their second claim to fame is that when Queen Elizabeth was in South Africa the last time she met with the leader of the four communities, Oom Po’, and shook his hand. A large framed photograph of the Queen is on the wall in the living room where everyone can see it. Of all the communities in the Cape these indigenous people have fared the worst.

The magic of eggs

Tomatoes and eggs breakfast for 1 person

If you love eggs and are bored with the normal boiled, fried, scrambled or poached eggs, here is a tangy, delicious breakfast for one. The ingredients are simple; the taste is great. Have a pan with a lid or something that can cover the ingredients in a pan. A lid is imperative as it is part of the poaching process. The ingredient are 2 large organic and grain-fed eggs, 6 small tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 green or red chilli, a pinch of salt, and 1teaspoon of sugar.

Braise the tomatoes in the pan until they are almost brown. Add the olive oil and stir in with the sugar and salt and chilli. Immediately crack open the two eggs and put on top of the tomato braise. Cook 1 minute at the same high heat, then put on  the lid, switch off the stove, and let it summer for two or three minutes. Take it out of the pan with a spatula, unbroken, and have a delicious breakfast with an Italian roll and an espresso.

Stretching your meal with eggs

Here is a magic trick with eggs stealing space in a pot of hot curry or a tomato bredie. Bredie is a slow cook of meat, onions, spices, tomatoes and potatoes. Cook your curry or your bredie like you always do. To stretch the food or to have eggs in a different way, wait until the curry is cooked, switch off the stove, crack two eggs in the juice in the curry pot, put on the lid and let it simmer. The eggs will be firmly poached, and you can either have it with basmati rice without the meat and save it for the next day’s meal, or eat it as you like. If there are two of you, use four eggs. You have two meals in one and all you have taken out of the pot are the eggs and the juices created by the meat in the pot. Bon appetit!