Monthly Archives: September 2013

Fortune Teller

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William's fortune teller

Do you remember these? I think we used to call them fortune tellers at school. It’s quite amazing the massive gust of memory that arrives simply by putting your fingers inside and doing that forwards, sideways movement, as natural it turns out, as breathing!
William brought this home from school on his last day of term – they had had some time with their buddies (children in a higher year) – and, since balls aren’t allowed in the classroom I think the girls had called the shots, go girls! William has to limit Sam and Edward to three goes each now or it could go on all day. A replacement is already under construction.
The predictions/promises inside when I first knew these were very different, ranging from the one with (almost) immediate gratification ‘you’ll sit next to Ben … at meeting on Sunday (The Mount), to the slightly more hopeful and forward thinking ‘you’ll marry James ….’ (St Mary’s), to the quite frankly ridiculous ‘you’ll fall in love with Rob Lowe/Emilio Estevez/Andrew McCarthy (insert name of Brat Pack member) and get married etc etc. But, however childish and silly, fundamentally what they contained was hope, a belief in the world and in the future that can become dull and diminished through time.
I think this is one of the absolute most wonderful things about having children if you allow it to be – polishing up that belief, turning your face to the sun and looking the future in the eye. There is so much bitterness and cynicism in the world, and often with good reason. It’s bloody hard to keep the faith when everyone around is succeeding when you are not, or life deals you a bum hand again. I’m not into politics at all but, whichever side someone is on, at the very least they are moving forwards, engaging and coming up with ideas (even if they are daft and completely impossible – actually they’re the ones I like the best!). So many of us display what could be called a restless passivity, flitting hither and thither in our minds yet remaining stationary in life. It’s a little early for New Year resolutions so an October one from me – I’ll be having some faith, making some plans, dreaming of sitting next to….
These are the predictions/promises inside William’s fortune teller:
1. Block of chocolate
2. You are in lolly (sweetie) world
3. Happy day
4. Happy day (can’t have too many of those, I agree)
5. Find a pot of gold
6. You are a lucky person
7. Fare and square (he describes this as life being like a game you play fair and square – I think he means play by the rules, good one)
8. You get 7000 eggs (I’m hoping these are chocolate eggs otherwise we could be in trouble, OCD, addiction…)
These are the predictions/promises in my imaginary fortune teller – as inspired by William’s:
1. Have a glass of wine
2. You are in a peaceful world
3. Happy day
4. Happy day (another glass of wine)
5. End poverty
6. You are a lucky person (don’t ever forget it!)
7. Play more games (like Uno and rummy)
8. Have the rest of the bottle
What are your memories of fortune tellers? What predictions or promises would you put in yours?

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Do as you would be done by

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Anti-poverty march 2005.  Andrew’s first..

Do as you would be done by.  The Golden Rule.  It was my Mum’s mantra when we were little and it is the one piece of advice I will never tire of giving to my children.  It seems to satisfy their beautiful logic, their natural instinct of course being retaliation which is the other side of the coin.  The determination to avenge themselves seizes the boys suddenly and often, always for something vitally important of course, such as:

‘Three weeks ago on Tuesday I was playing with [the car/particular trash pack/very particular block of lego] and left it there (particular spot on the floor – no, I know our house doesn’t come out of this well) and I was going to come back and play with it but now HE has taaakennnn it and I am going to KIIILLLLL HIIMMMM….

This usually has me rolling my eyes and muttering ‘give me strength…’ while the moment passes but some occasions warrant a sitting down of participants and a stern talking to.  Here The Golden Rule will be utilised.  “How would you like it….” Etc.  I consider the development of the boy’s kind, empathetic selves to be one of, if not the, most vital part of my mothering career.  In fact, if I do not turn out considerate, compassionate individuals I will feel I have failed.  In today’s non-stop, access-all-areas world, I think small (or big) acts of kindness and compassion are paramount to living a more balanced and satisfying life (as per The Golden Rule).

I believe kindness is inherent in us all.  When coupled with a child’s logic set against a backdrop of grown-up knowledge it can be heartbreaking.  Once in Nairobi we were in the car when we were approached first of all by the usual hawkers and when we moved on a little by a group of street children, hands outstretched, hunger showing in every ounce of their skinny selves.   Some of them looked about William’s age (five then).  The traffic was moving slowly which meant they drifted along beside us, patiently hoping.  Our boys asked us what they wanted so we told them, money for food.  At this William excitedly said, “You’ve got money there Mum, in the front, let’s give it to them.”  Much pointing and jiggling up and down went with this easy solution (if you can call a few hundred Shillings a solution), but we had to let him down.  We had to somehow convince him that giving away some loose change would not help – but perhaps it was only selfishness talking, worrying that our car would be remembered and pounced upon ever time we went out.  For William, and I think every child, the logic is simple:  we have plenty, they have nothing, therefore if we give them something it is all fair and everyone is happy.  It is not of course that simple, but it should be.

As well as inherent kindness perhaps we all have the capacity for greed too.  As I have mentioned before, we are incredibly lucky to live in an area with access to everything we need in life.  The term ‘gilding the lily’ could have been thought up for Sydney’s Lower North Shore where often it can often feel like its citizens take their good fortune for granted.   I cannot help feeling dismayed following a recent episode which showed great ugliness within our beautiful school.  In a nutshell, a six-figure sum was raised at the annual fundraiser and the suggestion to donate a small portion of that to charity has been re-buffed.   It was put to the fundraising committee that 5% might be given to a cause such as a hospice for terminally ill children or a school in a disadvantaged area.  The idea was for it to be both an acknowledgement of the incredible generosity of parents and a lesson in altruism for the pupils.  As one mum commented ‘5% of [say] $100,000 is hardly going to take the bread off our table.’  And yet someone has pointed out that the wording of the P&C (parents and citizens) handbook stipulates that money raised on behalf of the P&C must be spent on the school.  Surely, surely we should be reading that and wondering how we might get round it, make the contribution work rather than closing it down and admitting defeat.  I am saddened beyond belief that it is considered acceptable to exhibit such greed and self-interest and by doing so imbue all of our children with those same morals.

As disappointed as I have been this week with one school so I have been delighted with the other.  Sam’s gorgeous class got talking a few months ago about people less fortunate than themselves and in the spirit of the school they were allowed the time and means necessary to explore this idea to their hearts content.  The conclusion of this exploration came last Tuesday when I had the great pleasure to help cook what felt like a billion sausages for children, parents, teachers and three representatives from The Red Cross.  The class presented a cheque for $191.25 which they had raised themselves through means such as doing chores at home, a cake stall and door knocking neighbours.  The occasion was overflowing with pride in themselves and spirit of generosity amazing in children so young.  It was humbling to watch.  Their engagement in the discussion of how the money might be used was incredibly moving; their knowledge and understanding of war, earthquakes, refugees, orphans was both overwhelming and terribly sad.  There is something about listening to your five year old son describe the fall-out from war and what can be done to help those suffering that can bring you to your knees.  What Sam meant, though he didn’t realise it, when he said “[War is] when countries fight and people get hurt and then lose their families and we have to help them find each other again” was ‘do as you would be done by’.  Amen to that, may we forever strive to instil in the next generation what appears sometimes to be missing in our own.

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Hopefully the boys social conscience will emulate from here… Gorgeous inspired husband!

What a blether…

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I’ve been called a blether as long as I can remember.  It is a particularly Scottish word for chatterbox.  It can mean simply talking a lot and it can also mean talking a lot of nonsense – I have been charged and guilty of both!  I am finally, ecstatically using my love of words to good effect and people have actually paid me to write!  It is amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to have found something I can fit in around my family life.  No matter that I was up at 4am today wrestling with the widgets on this website – words I can handle, widgets I most definitely cannot.  This might soon become apparent when none of my previous followers receive this post and it turns out I’m blethering to myself…

I have changed the name of my blog from ‘Me Without Sauv B’ to the above since I could no longer live with the worry that I was somehow misleading people into believing I’m teetotal.  I set up my blog to support a fundraising effort before I had any idea people would actually want to read what I have to say, though I have to say, words are proving as addictive as the wine that I gave up.

I thought I’d share my first ever words in publication, written twelve long years ago.  I’m going to use this as a hint at future posts that are currently tumbling about in my head; one about nature and mission possum rescue, another about writing and importance of words.  

I’ve been quiet for a few months, unlike me I know, as my life for a time was a whirlwind of pre-school fundraising activity.  We got there in the end after a fairly f… frantic few months (to read my article about the experience click here or see the articles page) and I am happy to be back at the desk wittering away into the ether!

Thanks for reading!