A View From My Point

There have been a number of references between two of the bloggers I avidly read, mj monaghan and sportsjim – The Wordslinger they’ve  covered the ground of ‘Crazy and Terrible  Baby Names’. People around the blogosphere are quite hung up  about what parents are pinning on their offspring as nom de plumes. All of us, myself included have climbed on the band wagon and bemoaned the fate of these poor little mites that are forced to wear these monikers. And it got me thinking – I’ll have no facetious retorts to that previous statement – and this is what I’ve come up with from experiences as a Person Who Was Named and as a Person Who Has Named Other People:

Firstly, I was named after one of my fathers’ ex-girlfriends, my mom must have been Out Of It on that natural high you can get after your first born is delivered and while we were staring into each others eyes I’m sure he must have nipped off to the registry with the name of his previous love in mind for his new little daughter for whom he had just bought a cricket bat.

Secondly, my own childrens names are odd  different because I can’t imagine being the parent of yet another Nicky, Sophia, Isabella or Ben, Max or Tyler – I mean have you seen how many of them there are these days? In fact there are so many that I’ve got a gift drawer with presents already labelled with the above 6 names, every weekend we are good to go, no need to write a card! Well there might be an issue now because just the other day we  had a Nikki, Sofiya and Izabelle problem, along with the Benn, Macks and  Tighler – people are slowly getting the hang of breaking the mold. And besides that they’re going to be teased no matter what – come on throw a name at me, I’m a natural bully, I’ll find something to rip you off about.

Thirdly, if you don’t like your name enough you can change it. My mother in law did, in fact her own mother changed it for her, one day while she was down at the Name Changing Office on some other errand, I forget the details….

Sometimes the only thing that you have to give your kid is a Name. Proof of this is from my father’s experience as a clergy man. Baptising infants has it’s own share of fun and he’s observed that the poorer and from more humble origins the parents the more elaborate and spectacular the name, for example: Chantelise Shineqwa Enchante or for the boys Jaden Prince Stronginthearm. I know babies that have been named after their attendant doctors and midwives and even one thats mother liked the way the sound “Fully Dilated” rolled off her tongue and so pronounced her loin fruit just that.

Just because you’re not used to something as a name doesn’t mean that somewhere in the world that name isn’t a very normal everyday name.  In this diverse land of ours the names are from the impossible to spell let alone pronounce; Maholwana-Sangqu to a month of the year June, February, September and October being genuine examples of our surnames. Closer to some of your homes over the waters I’ve heard your women described as having ‘peaches and cream’ complexions – it’s no wonder Peaches Geldof happened. As for the America’s in a country where the broad strokes of generilasation must drive you people crazy why are we suprised that there are people called Neveah (heaven backwards – I hope she’s a good girl) and even your president is a chap who sounds like he was conceived in an army building. Let’s not talk about our president who seems to have had some other pop stars kid named after him *sigh* there is NO accounting for taste but who are we to judge?

Living with such a cross section of cultures the lines tend to get a little blurred. Most of the black people that I know have a Western name simply because it’s so much easier for our white mouths to get around and our white brains to remember. In fact I heard a conversation like this once for a job interview for a hand in the garden of a landlord of ours:

Landlord: “So,” – imagine a good plummy, cheap dry white wine shaped ‘o’ for this ‘so’ – “what’s your name?”

Gardener dude: ” Kudyauku.” he says clearly enough.

Landlord: “What? Oh no, that’s too difficult for me to remember, we’ll just call you Simon ok? You can start on Tuesday? Be here at 07h30? Good.”

Kudyauku/Simon followed a  fellow called Forest – hmmmm? Who’s got the funny name now?

I like the idea that here in South Africa we get to choose our names these days, unlike Simon and tons of other previously marginalized individuals who just got handed theirs, a lot of black people are choosing their own Western names now, going for stuff like Gloria, Beauty and Wisdom. I chose my own Xhosa name, Nomhle or Nombies if you know me well enough, it means ‘Beautiful One’ – nice hey? My kids have got Xhosa names too that I chose for them The Eldest is Nomvula, we call her Vuvu, – ‘When It is Raining’ – because it was when she was born and The Youngest is Vuyani or Vuyo, for short, – ‘Happiness’ – because he has one but that’s a story for another time.

Ok, so gripes aside, can we agree that even if someones name isn’t exactly mainstream that perhaps there’s a reason they were called that? Imagine you grew up with a name like Gwyneth, I’m sure her little Apple is just a backlash at a lifetime of having to correct the spelling on movie posters. The woman who swipes my card at the local grocer, her name is Virginy – she says it’s because she is one and that’s what her mother wanted for her when she was born. Then there’s the hippy type swishy hair lady  that drives a  daisy encrusted brown Volkswagen Beatle and her name is Sunshine, her parents name her that – I don’t know if they gave her the car but it suits her nonetheless, the car and the name.

Not to mention all the hybrid names out there like Hendrik, the father, and Johanna, the mother,  that had a little baby girl and called her Hendrianna – good plan, it’s different and it’s a combination of the two of you just like she is. On that note, there’s a little girl in school with The Eldest who’s name is also a combo and when you pronounce it it sounds like Dee En Ay – cool – yes, that’s what she’s made up of – DNA!

And aren’t we all, after all, just what our parents named us?

as the days go flitting by

and I do the things I do and sometimes have a braai

I have the best of intentions

to jot down some mentions

of things that simply need to be documented

or maybe something that’s driving me demented

but then there’s just one more swim in the river

another glass of red to save my liver

or one has to put a band aid on a scraped knee

while listening to plea for tea

it’s not all moonshine and roses

that keep me away from my proses

there’s my job and it’s folk

there’s the laundry, an eternal yoke

extra curriculars eat up my constant time

and it’s not easy to always come up with a rhyme

truly I wish for more hours in this life

I wish for a slave as a wife

but mostly it all just gets stored

so that I might never have to mutter, ‘I am bored’

 

I love this question in an interview and as I’ve not been interviewed in this way yet (and surely I will be someday) I thought it would be interesting to get it down now so that I’m not at a loss. Well I won’t be if they interview me in the next couple of weeks.

so apart form the usual, bed lamp, mobile phone and tissues (I’m a sinus sufferer) there are books – after all what else would this question be about? You wouldn’t want to know that I have kiddie paracetamol or an ashtray, perhaps a half eaten chocolate bar or a 2 litre bottle of spring water. No my bed side table is for Books – the books that I’m reading at the moment/that I would like to read/that I’ve started reading/that I’m going to read again etc.

Here’s the list and and their ‘in progress status.

From the top of the pile down’:

Matilda – Roald Dahl – a gift from The Eldest’s Godparents and currently at the point where she goes to Miss Honey’s cottage. We read about 6 pages every night (because she’s 6 years old – by the time she’s 10 I hope she’ll be able to read all by herself, with a torch under the covers.)

A book of Girl To Go 700 Stickers (Various Size Included) – because that’s where it ended up, it should obviously be in the ‘crafting cupboard’ that I dream of owning one day.

11.22.63 – Stephen King – read it. Loved it. Mr King and I have been in an off and on again relationship since I was 10 years old.

Surface Detail – Iain M. Banks – patiently waiting to read it, Mr Banks requires dedicated reading time so maybe once the kids are in Boarding School.

When God Was A Rabbit – Sarah Winman – have started reading it tonight, am on page 10, I’ll keep reading.

Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss – read to The Youngest, every night for the last 5 nights. He’s showing no interest in any other book at the moment unless it has a picture of something with wheels on it.

Apart from that it’s just my tiny little diary and a pen – it’s not a very big bed side table. I’m sure if it was expansive there would be more room for clutter which I’m sure would aggravate my sinus issues.

So What’s On Your Bedside Table? Books only please and if you don’t read anything except my blog then don’t be ashamed to admit it…..

xiii

out of seasonal

tourists in our tortoise town

walking unhindered

It would seem that I have still not learned from mistakes as we move onto Nanny Number Four whom I will refer to as Mary-Lou*, interviewed out of three hopeful candidates I went against my gut instinct and hired her on the recommendation of her peers. We moved on and our lives changed – we moved upward and forward in my spouses career stakes and I decided to fully embrace the label of Stay At Home Mom and Lady of Leisure (from now on will be shorted to LOL because it really does make me want to lol at the thought of being a LOL) with the making of more money the opportunity arose for us to get a Nanny – which would increase the chance of being able to wear the coveted label of LOL. Again.

I’d stopped working and was looking forward to a sabbatical since I’d been working since I was 16 – I thought a little hiatus was in order. The Youngest was a year old and The Eldest was just starting some more formal schooling so the idea was that I’d be there in the afternoons and in the mornings for a few hours every day I could live the life that all us Stay At Home Mommies believe we should be living. I signed up for Yoga classes three times a week, I filled up my calender with seeing friends (other LOL’s) in the mornings for coffee at delightful little child unfriendly tea gardens, art galleries and antique shoppes. I did work every now and then but it was from home and for as little money as possible – but that’s a different blog post.

Of course to maintain this lifestyle a yearling would cramp my style while I was in downward facing dog so I decided to employ a woman who was younger and needed a hand up in life. The money that I would pay her would surely give her more opportunities. She wasn’t interested in completing her schooling or obtaining a drivers license (in future – this not wanting to learn is a red flag for future employees). the Youngest seemed to take to her (turns out he’ll take to anyone). It didn’t start well – on the first day of her employ the woman got lost on her way to my house – she was found wondering around the gated village weeping, ushered into my home I made her a cup of sugary tea and asked her if she would still be ok to unpack the dishwasher – she said she’d be fine after a cigarette. With only one slightly raised eyebrow I said, “Outside” – one wouldn’t want a nicotine slave weeping because of the trauma of being lost and not being able to get her ‘fix’. Unfortunately this set a pattern. She would arrive every morning and have a smoke on the stoep before coming in to help herself to some breakfast and then she’d finally get to unloading the dishwasher and straightening the beds.

Bless the Youngest – he would sleep for at least and hour and a half every morning, ample time for Mary Lou to catch up on her soaps while she swept the dirt under the carpets and rugs (the vacuum cleaner would make too much noise while her show was on). I would be dropping off the Eldest at school and hitting the mat for the first 2 hours of the day and then I’d come home to catch up on correspondence do my nails and write my novel  play on facebook. And everyday that I would be home around 10 am something would be out of whack. Obviously my nail painting habits were something that set an example – Mary Lou would sport the same colour manicure and pedicure one day and the next it would be the Youngest (whom I have no issue with being decorated – it’s just that I would like to do the decorating). She would say it was because he really really wanted to have Vixen coloured – toenails. He’s a boy, they only speak in sounds until they’re 3 years old but clearly she understood his requests better than I did. I did ask her not to do it again – I don’t think Vixen suited his complexion, he’s more of a Mud and Slime.

Then the housework began to fall further and further by the way side – with her salary in full swing she could afford to Mxit and play on her cellphone while she smoked up half a pack a morning. I found myself tidying up and washing floors like a maniac in the afternoons so that my home looked like a LOL lived there. It was not working. My plan was flawed and I had an inability to ‘let her go’ because then how would I get to yoga and my real life social life? Besides the Youngest was well taken care of – he had a minder that understood his desires for nail varnish – what more could a boy want?

That is until the day I got home and discovered a half glass of my favourite dry white on the counter above the dishwasher – that’s not like me – I thought – I usually finish all my wine. So I asked, “What’s this glass of wine doing here?”

“Oh,” she responded, “I was thirsty”.

It’s 10 am I thought – I have so many other beverages in my house. “Tea, coffee, juice, milk, coca cola, good old fashioned water? None of those seemed suitable?” I asked

“I don’t drink hot drinks, I thought the juice was only for the children, I’m slightly lactose intolerant and coca cola makes me gassy.” she explained.

“Wine makes you drunk. Which you can’t be while you’re in my employ and looking after the Youngest.” I politely pointed out.

“I wasn’t going to have more than one glass.” She justified.

“And you won’t even finish that one or have another sip in my home ever again.” I sighed as I poured my Hidden Cellar Sauvignon Blanc down the drain.

That was 2 weeks before I fired her – yes, she lasted another 2 weeks. It was only one transgression – it hadn’t affected the youngest. I locked away ALL the booze and marked the bottles. I gave a fellow human being the benefit of the doubt. Bummer for me. My judgement on her drinking habits must have had her a little miffed as she didn’t come to work on time ever again. In those two weeks I think I went to yoga once because of her inability to use a time piece I would have the Youngest with me on the school run and he didn’t love meditating as much as I did we would go home and I’d leave him in her supervised charge while I continued to hammer out some more work on the novel  playing on facebook. The last day of her employment she did arrive on time and that’s where I got the opportunity to escape early, dropped the Eldest off at school – 12km to the premises, it would have  been faster to walk since the traffic held us up for more than 45 mins – nonetheless, today I was on time for yoga (yay me). Stretching all the stress away I arrive home at my usual 10 am to find the Youngest weeping mucussly around his dummy being agressively bounced on the knee of a pouting Mary Lou.

“oh, my poor boy, why are you so sad?” As I drew him up into my arms,  ‘Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

‘Why isn’t he sleeping Mary Lou?’ I inquire.

“He hasn’t eaten yet” her sullen response speaking volumes.

“Why hasn’t he eaten yet?” I feel the blood rise behind my eyes as I bite the words out of my mouth.

“You didn’t tell me what to feed him”. She muttered, her eyes dead in her head.

I don’t recall her face or actions as I had now reached Bezerker in rage at the thought that the Youngest had been deprived of food to the point that he was crying.

“What? Bloody what? You’ve been feeding him 5 days a week for the last 6 months, some days he has cereal, some days he has an egg, some days he has bovril toast, some days he has yoghurt with banana and a strawberry’ I shrilly listed until I realised there was no point.

‘Fecking What The Feck?! GET OUT!!! GET!” – with a crying baby on my hip I slammed the door on her heel as she slumped out of my front door.

I haven’t seen her since. I don’t want to. I’m still angry. Not only with her, with myself too.

*names have been changed

Everyone has one. It’s what you make of it.

I think I like mine more than most other people do – well least that’s what I’ve experienced. No one (there are exceptions – one that immediately comes to mind is my Father who who would announce his impending Birth Anniversary from the Pulpit – perhaps the apple does not fall too far from the tree)  warns me of their birthday a month in advance. I like to keep my friends, acquaintances and colleagues up to date. My family knows and also, when we sit around the dinner table will remark that I’ll be turning a new age in a month/ 23 days/ a fortnight/ next week/ tomorrow/ in half an hour.

To anyone who has half an ear to listen with I will start giving them a heads up about a month before the time. The reactions vary, some people know me and are grateful that I’ve let them know, after all, they love me and wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to give me Good Wishes. Other’s know me a little less well and consequently comment and say that they hope that I have a good day – I assure them that I will. Then they nod and I can see them thinking of what they would like to give me in the form of a present – which is great since they’ve had fair warning now.  The people who don’t know me that well always smile and I can tell that they think I’m forward. And yes, I suppose it is a little forward but what makes it perhaps right in front of forward is the fact that I tell people what I want for my Birthday too.

It’s for their benefit of course, there’s nothing quite so awkward as finding out that someone’s birthday is on that day and you have nothing to give them. I’m just sparing people that embarrassment. It’s not as if I ask for things that cost money – in fact quite the contrary the free-er the better-er. So a couple of years back I asked for hugs – I got a lot – since I made sure that I was working on my holiday. Everyone that I’d warned a month before the time (continuously) had a hug for me. One year I asked for text messages (which do cost something – thanks everyone that texted in 2009) I also like to ask for Sincere Best  Wishes – I clarify and describe how I would like them delivered: a) with eye contact

b) you should clasp one of my hands in both of yours

c) I don’t want Mediocre or Good Wishes – I want only the Best for My Birthday.

Many kind souls humour me and consequently my Birthday ROCKS! I mean, who’s wouldn’t?

This year, since I’ve left my beloved Choir behind I’ve had a musical request – I would like everyone who I encounter today, in person or audibly on the telephone to sing to me -(my Father In Law asked what I’d been asking people to sing – I don’t think he’s had a Birthday since he was 5 years old – I told him about the common little ditty that people traditionally sing on one’s Hatch Day. He said, ‘Doh.”) So now at 16h10 on 10 Feb 2012 I’ve had 6 versions of Happy Birthday sung to me by my:

Clients – one of which can play 12 Medieval musical instruments and harmonised so beautifully with the 5 voices in my first Group Class this morning.

Colleagues – you know who you are – thanks for the call :-),

Friends – who flew here from London to sing about Squashed Tomatoes and Stew (in an Off Key – thanks),

Family – The Eldest and her father sweetly croaked out my request at 06h30 this morning,

Mother In Law even braved the first line before giving up since she’s been told that she shouldn’t sing  and

Strangers – my Sister (who bombarded me on all platforms – facebook, text message and a phone call)  and her delightful kitchen staff called me during their lunch rush to sing – that’s how special I am.

That is about 1 an hour since I woke up this morning. Do you know what it feels like to live in a Musical? People randomly breaking into song around me has been a life long ambition – and I know the words to join in and my choreography isn’t too difficult to follow either.

It’s not a Big Birthday – it’s not hitting one of the decade marks. It’s not a Crown Birthday. Still it’s a special day because today I’m the same age as my Mother – 37. When I first became conscious of the fact that she had an age, I asked her what hers was, she said she was 37. To this day, self centred creature that I am, I have filed away that ‘Mom is 37’ and to me that’s the age she always will be since I’ve neglected to ask her each year how old she is turning because, after all, it’s all about me.

And now I’m going to go and practice my Gratitude and go and respond to each every one of the 100 + Wishes on Facebook – but while I’m here and to all of you that are reading Thank You for making my Birthday as great as it is in my own tiny warped little mind!

 

The following poem is based on a conversation with The Eldest – I kid you not.

 

How I love to hear stories from all over the garden

things that so and so did and whoever didn’t say ‘Pardon’

So that one did that did they?

Well now, “What did you say?’

You’re kidding me, that can’t be true!

You must be pulling the one with bells on; it’s gone skew

Are you sure you have all the facts

these stories you postulate seem like complete random acts

A dwarf? Stole a lawnmower? From the Headmasters office?

It’s not possible, perhaps it was Chuck Norris

A child, disguised as a dwarf, now that makes perfect sense

for a moment there you had me all tense.

He keeps the lawmower there because it’s happened before?

to move it in and out for general use must be quite a chore.

In the meantime; ‘what happened to your pencil case?’

It was stolen? While you were having and egg and spoon race?

I better have a word with your teacher, she’ll know what’s behind all this!

Oh you were joking, you crack me up, living with you is a special kind of bliss.

And besides Ma’am’s in love with Mr Nel?

You know if you fib like this you’re going straight to Hell.

No, you’re right, you probably won’t fit in

since it’s quite clear that you are your Mother’s own saintly story telling kin.

 

 

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