SHORT STACK

I experienced a growth spurt once. Those of you who know me are probably giggling, but it’s true! When I was ten-years-old, I shot up in height like a rocket reaching for the stars. Unfortunately, it was short-lived and by twelve, I was closer to Earth’s epicentre than the Galaxy’s stars. I am a short stack, a pocket rocket, fun-sized, a small fry. I am 5 feet tall… on a good day. 

I can’t say that it was unexpected given my dad is 5 foot 1 and my mum is 5 foot 2. I had no hope with those kinds of genes. My brother got lucky somehow and ended up being 5 foot 9. He must have gotten more vitamins in utero than me. 

Suffice to say, I can’t help but envy tall women, what with their long limbs and elevated view of the world. Just think about how useful being tall would be! If I was taller than my 5 foot short stack, I would not…

  1. Need to do a hop, skip and jump over big puddles! I’d simply step over them.
  2. Get bruises from door handles when my sleeves get caught.  
  3. Buy 3/4 pants to substitute for full-length pants. 
  4. Buy shoes from the kiddie section because women size 5 shoes are impossible to find.
  5. Adjust the car seat all the way forward and upwards to reach the car pedals and to see over the dashboard.
  6. Ask random strangers for help getting products from top shelves at the supermarket after making a dunce of myself by jumping up and down like a loon. 
  7. Ask a random stranger to check if I made the 150cm height restrictions for accompanying adults so I could take my 4-year-old son on a mini go-kart ride at a carnival. 
  8. Have to explain to a cop that I was indeed the mother of two children and not their underaged babysitter.
  9. Be mistaken as a young child when on ordering drinks from McDonald’s. I don’t even say this in jest… a few days ago, I overheard a server yell ‘get the little girl her drink order’ to his colleague before correcting with ‘I mean, the lady’ upon second glance. Talk about mortifying!
  10. Do you really need more examples? I think you’ve probably laughed enough at my expense.

There must be yang to this yin, right? Pros to these cons? Let’s see… (thinking)… give me a minute… (thinking harder)… hmm… (brain starting to hurt)… I’ll have to get back to you on this.

Anyway, I can’t change my height, and I wouldn’t want to if it meant I wasn’t the person I am today. I guess I’ll continue to graciously accept hearing people say ‘great things come in small packages’. At least people aren’t cracking jokes about how down to Earth I am or how I’ve got a great perspective on life because I’m always looking up.  

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A WALKING REFLECTION

Self-reflection is a powerful tool for personal growth. For me, self-reflection has become an important part of my life journey and mental health. The practice allows my brain the opportunity to press pause on the hustle and bustle of life, to unravel and shift through interactions and experiences, and to consider my actions and words. By doing so, I can examine and learn from them and therefore, challenge myself to be a better person. In saying this, self-reflection is not always an easy practice.

Self-reflection can bring forth uncomfortable truths. For some, it’s your ego that helps to protect you from unwanted feelings and thoughts and keeps your fragile identity intact. It makes peeling back those layers of yourself difficult, especially if you don’t like what you find. It can feel unpleaseant and vulnerable to open yourself up for self-critism, but increasing self-awareness and achieving personal development and growth is a worthwhile goal.

I started the practice of consciously considering and analysing my actions and emotions when I began this blog. In essence, this blog is my journal where I reflect on the past week’s events and express my feelings and thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, self-reflection sometimes feels like I’m beating myself up over something I said or did. But once I get over the initial feelings and look deeper into the whys and hows, I get to a point where I can begin to understand and learn. And I believe self-awareness is a gift worth giving to myself.

So… I’ll give you an example of some recent self-reflection that I did. 

On the weekend, I took the children to see their uncle at the park for a picnic for the first time since this sixth lockdown started almost two months ago. I think we’ve been under lockdown for 270 days since this pandemic began back in 2020. With easing of restrictions and because my brother lives within 10 KM of us, we were legally allowed to meet up. 

My younger brother reminds me a lot of what I was like in my younger years – a bit rash, brimming with confidence, and somewhat temperamental. He’s also incredibly fit. Remember how I wrote about him being my personal trainer for a while? Anyway, lockdown has changed him. He’s not as fit as he used to be. In fact, he suggested, like it was a great idea, for us to drive the car 100 metres down the street so that we would be nearer to the cafe where we were going to get hot drinks. He wanted to save us 100 metres from the 500 metre walk. Obviously, I told him that he was being a ninny and to walk it.  

Later when I relayed the story of my brother being so lazy that he wanted to save 100 metres of walking to my husband, he gave me a look of disbelief.

He replied with, “Who does that remind you of?”

Our 8-year-old daughter chimed in with, “You always want Daddy to park close to the shops!”

Our 4-year-old son reiterated with, “Yeah Mummy!”

Upon a bit of FORCED self-reflection, I admitted to them and myself that I probably couldn’t really laugh at my brother seeing as I do the same thing. You see, sometimes it’s not easy to see your limitations and it can be even harder to admit there are parts of you that could be improved. 

So next time, when my husband parks really, REALLY, far away from where we should be, I’ll endeavour to remember the time I ridiculed my brother, and bite my tongue because a bit of walking never hurt anyone. 

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ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND WORMS

I’m pretty competitive, even if I do pretend not to be. I can’t help it and so, I’m gonna blame human nature. Yes, that’s it. Human nature. We are hardwired in wanting to succeed and if you believe what that guy — Freud — says about humans, we are inherently selfish twats with an innate competitiveness that drives our psyche. Something like that – don’t quote me, I did psychology 101 about a gazillion years ago and we all know I have the memory capacity of a goldfish

Anyway, moving along. The point of this drivel is that I am competitive, ergo, I don’t like losing. Losing gives me that slight twinge in the guts. Losing feels like there’s a mean spirited gnat buzzing near my ear telling me that I failed at something, no matter how insignificant it is. But of course, it’s not true and I know this to be the case. Rationally, I understand that “failing” is an important part of life and an integral part of learning and developing skills to achieve success. Failure helps us to grow. 

However, despite this, I’m still driven by my competitiveness and dislike of losing. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be happy with a participation award. Not everyone should be a winner. 

Suffice to say, our household is pretty competitive, but in a good way. We don’t condone smack talking and tall poppy syndrome is non-existent. We give merit where merit is due.

So when it comes to being a good role model for the children, it can sometimes get tricky. Why do you ask? Because I can be a bloody sore loser.

As we are in our sixth lockdown, we’ve started a routine where as a family we play games after dinner and most weekends. It alternates between Monopoly Deal (card game) and Worms W.M.D. (Nintendo video game). To my absolute embarrassment, I suck at both. Actually, that’s a lie. I am as good as my 4-year-old boy, and that’s saying something. We keep a score board for Monopoly Deal just for kicks and guess where I sit on the leaderboard. Yeah, bottom last, beneath the 4-year-old, who plays with his cards open on the floor for all to see. What does that tell you? That my strategy skills are so poor it’s a miracle I’m not homeless. I believe I’m at 6 wins to about 25 for the husband and daughter, and 10 for the son.

As for Worms, remember that game? You play as little worms armed with a bunch of artillery and the aim of the game is to kill your opponents. Whoever has the last surviving worm wins. It was called Worms Armageddon about twenty years ago. I was a gun at it back in the day, or at least, that’s what I keep telling my family but no one believes me. And I can’t even blame them given my track record so far. But really, how am I supposed to win when my worms are ALWAYS placed in precarious positions? My worms are always sitting on a ledge or at the base of a hill where they can get batted off into the ocean and die. I keep telling them of my suspicions that the tiny computer person inside the Nintendo game is biased towards me and that’s why I keep losing. That and because everyone keeps ganging up on me.

Do I sound like a sore loser? I do, don’t I? Sigh. I hate losing.

Anyway, after several months of this losing streak, I’ve come to a realisation and acceptance. Yeah, losing can suck, but there’s good in losing too. I don’t play to win anymore. I play to spend time with my family. I play to help my children develop strategic and critical thinking skills. I play to help them develop social and cognitive skills. I play to show them the value of family time.

So in essence, while my children are winning and I am losing like it’s my job, we are actually winning as a family.  

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