Playground therapy – thanks for listening

Cruising around the blogosphere and I stumbled across a daily prompt posts. The prompt was to write an ode to a playground. Didn’t that create an onslaught of trippy memories for me?

How do you write an ode to a place where a horse once bit you? Or where you would sit and watch in horror (maybe it was awe at the time?!) as the older girls from two doors around come to the park, not to swing on the tyre with me, but to fossick for the filthy cigarette butts all over the ground. They then sat there and smoked them, generally getting maybe one drag out of each if they were lucky. Was it worth it Mary-Anne and Kerry-Anne? (They were sisters and I did not make those names up.)

Then there was the time when I was invited to the school grounds to play after school by my good friend. Well, I should clarify. She was everyone’s “good friend”, because we were all too scared of her for her to be anything less.

Once I got there, she was with another “good friend” of mine. Apparently her idea of a play date was to set the two of us onto each other like dogs. A ‘fight to the death’ kind of play date; gladiator style. When I said I wasn’t interested in having a rumble, I was given a choice: I was to fight the less frightening of the two, or I would be attacked by my ”good friend”. This was some “play” at the park.  The memory of that day is etched in my mind (and nose) forever. Only now, it is actually funny.

As an adult, I have broken my nose at a playground on a long slide whilst on a work excursion with some teenagers. Blood again, lots of it, everywhere. I went to the fish market nearby, where there are hundreds of kilograms of ice and asked for some to ease my suffering. They said no. Nice, hey? I did not feel bad for one second that I left a trail of blood through their eatery.

Thankfully, playgrounds are much nicer places for me these days with my lads.  I must admit though, there are still dangers  lurking at these seemingly harmless venues; parents who would rather watch their device than their children, graffiti that can provoke the most interesting discussions with little people, and toilets that belong in nightmares.

I wonder what the word ‘playground’ conjures up in your mind?

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Around the world on a grocery budget

I’d love to travel the world with my family. I’d love to experience the richness of other cultures with the lads. I’m not a seasoned traveller by any stretch, but the few trips I’ve made to various Asian countries have left wonderful memories, firmly implanted on my taste buds.
I look forward to taking the lads on their first international journey, hopefully in the next year. But until that time, we are going around the world on a grocery budget, and its proving to be quite the journey!

We have decided to be much more adventurous with our taste buds whilst exploring cuisine from around the globe. This is how it’s going to work:
We will take it in turns choosing a country, then look through recipe books and find a dish we want to create.

Isaac was the first cab off the rank, choosing Jamaica. He’s a big Bolt fan, so I’m pretty sure we know the source of his inspiration: Eat like Usain, run like Usain.
Jerk Chicken served with coconut bean rice was our first experiment. I salivate even thinking about it!!

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My choice for this evening was Morocco. To be honest, I had my doubts that the lads would come at Harira. Boy was I wrong!!!

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One thing I really loved about tonight, apart from the fact that I am beginning to realise I’m a damn good cook, is that we embraced the Moroccan custom of sharing a bowl around the table to wash our hands before eating. This added another dimension to our experience. I will be looking for other such customs to include in our international foodie family evenings as we go on.

I’m going to create a recipe book using our photos and memories of our family experiment and if I’m organised enough, give this as a gift to our family at Christmas.

Asher has chosen France for next week. He’s convinced he wants to eat snails. Bon appetit!

A-Z of Gratitude: R is for Reminiscing

Today I took my children to my old hood. I grew up in poverty in a pretty rough neighborhood. I wasn’t really aware at the time how poor we were, because it was all I knew. But as I raise my own family in very different circumstances, I am reminded of how tough it was for my mum, raising three kids on her own in such a tough suburb. She kept a tight reign on us, and boy, I resented her for that at the time. Now, as a parent myself, I’m enormously grateful that she stood firm. In her wisdom, she set boundaries that kept us safe.

Driving around the streets I walked in my childhood stirred me. I still feel so connected to the place, despite it being 16 years since I left. I took the boys to the street I grew up in. I lived there for the first 19 years of my life. Sadly, I could only show them where the house once stood, before it was burnt to the ground. I then took them to my primary school. After that, we drove by my old church. I had to explain again that there used to be a church there, before the act of arson that destroyed it. Finally, we drove to the site on the hill that I walked up each morning for four years of high school. I will never forget the fog that we had to navigate in winter, barely seeing a few meters ahead. Rain would pelt relentlessly and we would sit in wet clothes in class. But stories are all I can share, once again. My old high school was torched and burnt to the ground. I always imagined that it would be more visually appealing taking my children down memory lane, but these familiar places are now just a picture in my minds eye.

The memories were so rich as I drove the streets of my childhood. I could almost hear the familiar sounds of our neighborhood antics. I felt the thrill of riding my bike down our street. I could still see the hordes of kids hanging out at the local park. I can still recall the layout of each of my schools and the faces of my teachers. I can remember the countless ways in which I set my room up, changing it almost as often as the seasons. Memories remain so alive, so vivid because my I reminisce so frequently. I tell stories often, because I don’t want my childhood to be invisible to my children. The house, the church and the school may be invisible to them, but they can still see my childhood. Through my eyes and my reminiscing they get a glimpse of the mummy they can truly relate to- the one that was just like them. A kid, once upon a time.

I’m grateful that despite having a childhood that was difficult on many levels, my brothers and I still reminisce about the good old days.