Protect or Prepare?

A little bit of controversy for you today…  the next line of the blog is probably going to shock many of you and and possible start a flourish of criticism and complaints, but here we go.

I let my eight and six years old grandchildren handle my medications – and being a secondary cancer patient, there is some beefy stuff in my arsenal.

There.  I said it.  For those of you not already rushing off to call Children’s Services I’d like to explain why and how, and then you can be the judge.  A few weeks ago I blogged about old-fartinalia and how my medicines were getting so unruly I bought an idiot box – um I mean pill box – to stop me killing myself with the wrong medications.

“I remember that,” you might be saying “But hang on…  one day they were too confusing for you to handle but you’ve being letting the kids handle them?”

That’s right, I do.  Each Sunday Jordan and Charli help me take all my tablets out of the packets and fill up my pill box for the week ahead, and each Sunday I choose to be less hands on so that their confidence and skill increases.  Protect or Prepare.  Any one who has ever had a child will no doubt be faced with an endless stream of Protect or Prepare choices.    Sometimes you have to protect (when they are very small and don’t have experience) and sometimes you have to prepare (they have to go to school or learn to cross a road).  Other things are more discretionary and one of the most challenging choices is how to handle serious illnesses and dying.

My approach is to opt on the side of prepare, rather than protect my children and grandchildren from these tricky issues.  My grandkids (as with all little people, are curious and natural learners) and having three of them (4, 6 & 8) living with me at the moment, I’ve had an awful lot of sticky questions.

Jordan (left) teaches Charli (right) how to fill Nonna’s tablet box. Jordan had been filling the box for a few weeks prior to this photo.

We have had impromptu conversations about my mastectomy:
“Whats this Nonna?” asked Charli (6 years)
“That’s my fake boob honey.”
“Oh. Ok.  Why do you need a fake one?”
“Because the cancer made my real one very sick and the Doctor had to cut it off.”
“Oh, and the fake one makes you feel better about yourself?”  Charli surmised. I just had to hug her.  Little Miss I’m just six, had more understanding than a lot of adults.

We have talked about my Cancer being incurable:
“When is Nonna going to get better?” asked Jordan (8 years)
“She’s not, honey.  This type of cancer can be cured.” Said Mel, her Mum.
“So, her medicine are to stop her hurting so much?”
“And slow the Cancer down”.
Once again we were proud of Jordan’s understanding, she only turned 8 last week.

We talk openly about my treatment and medications:
“Nonna, Nonna!  One of your lollipops is on the loose!” said Harry aged (5 next week) before carefully picking up the non-drug end of my empty lozenge pain killer. Harry knows that particular drug can hurt other people and is aware of how to handle one on the loose 🙂

We’ve been fortunate in our house (and in both my grown childrens’ homes) that cleaning products have never been ingested, fire’s never been lit and medicines never taken in mistake of lollies.  I don’t believe it is because we have locked these things away and made them a mysterious taboo – in fact the opposite,  Hot, Sharp and Poison, were some of the first words my kids and now their children learn to understand.  Dangerous and breakable things were displayed safely, but never locked away or removed.  Kidlets were just closely supervised and taught about these things.

Now I have five beautiful grand children, who are being raised in a similar way. These five kidlets are very lucky that they have amazing parents who help them to see the wonder, fun and magic  in the world  as well as prepare them for life in all the forms they might encounter it. Needless to say a little bit of proud mum and Nonna bragging is sneaking into this blog but you know as much as  I adore my own children, the grand kidlets would not be as charming and awesome as they are without their other parent too. I love and appreciate my ‘other’ daughter Sharon, and my ‘other’ son Grant for the way they love, care for  and nurture their children too. I don’t like the term “in-law”  it sounds like a legal document rather than a heart based relationship, so I am lucky enough to have two daughters and two sons who between them are raising really wonderful human beings.

Disclaimer:  I am not professing that my parenting or my kids parenting is so flawless that accidents don’t happen; constant supervision is needed to teach these concepts.  No lock or education can take the place of an interested, involved parent supervising kidlets as they learn and explore the world.

I also think that by letting the kidlets be actively involved in my disease it will help them cope late on.  Medicines, doctors and long periods in bed while I am drowsy are going to become a regular feature of the rest of my life and likely to increase as time goes by.  I hope that exposure and explanations now, will make whatever happens in the future less scary and more normal for them.

To this end I encourage Jordan, Charli and Harry to come up and snuggle me on the weekends, or simple play computer games or watch a movie in bed next to me.  I love having them nearby, they enjoy the one on one time and I am happy that they are so comfortable being near by while I am sick.  I know that down the track there will come a time where I am spending more time in bed and able to do less: in these times I hope the grandies will continue to jump in next to me for a hug, chat, or a story, and that these fun memories will outweigh the not so nice ones.

Kidlets are more in tune, capable and responsible that we give them credit for.  Little hearts and souls can carry very heavy loads with such adult understanding and simple acceptance that it would put most of us to shame.  What kids CAN NOT handle is feeling unsure, excluded or not important enough to be involved.

I have trusted my kids (all 4 of them), and grandkidlets with the truth and the facts and they have responded with empathy, understanding and responsibility.   This, is why I believe in Prepare over Protect wherever possible.

Talking to a five year old about disease and dying is much more refreshing and honest than talking to most adults.  Not that this is a topic of conversation all  or even most of time in our house but on the occasion it arises we do talk, listen and  respond. Perhaps as adults we over-think the big issues, worry to much and forget to be in the moment – genuinely BE present, with the people around us.

Next time you are feeling frustrated and thinking of telling someone to “grow up”  … consider… maybe that’s the problem 🙂

UT oh! They’re back!

Darned Fighter Vanessa keeps adding things to my bucket list.  Normally I’d be on her side for this, but lately… Well I think she has gone a bit barmy.  Her latest item is “Make something go viral”.  I mean what the heck?  It doesn’t even have to be Parfait Party related she tells me: just any old thing will do.   Fighter assures me that cracking the elusive magic of a viral campaign will somehow enrich my life and make it more meaningful.

Frightened Vanessa’s response “Ok, maybe we could do that. After I sleep for a week and wash my hair.  Oh yeah and I’ve also got the very pressing matter of re-organising my lint collection.

Seems like these two girls in my head are poles apart: one keeps throwing more at me and the other has a small case of head-in-sand.

But I know what they are both up to.  Oh yes, I’ve got their measure. The Parfait Party needs to start officially.  It’s the time of gunna’s-be-gone and although Frightened and Fighter both desperately want it to succeed, we are at the the final point of commitment, toes just creeping over the edge, but still gripping tightly.   I need to book a party, buy a caravan and just – GO!

So, once again I find myself in front of the mirror having difficult conversations with myself and alter egos.

“Maybe we could just stay here, wouldn’t it be great to still have this house, just in case?” Asks my protector Frightened.

“”Yeah, just another month or two to crack the viral puzzle and THEN we can get back to the original goal” says Fighter, in a rare moment of agreement with Frightened.

“No.” I reply calmly (ok … nervously) “I am going to do this. I am going travelling. I am writing a book.  I am eating Parfait. End of story!”

“But…”

“Ah ah! No buts.”

“Couldn’t we just…”

“Shh!  No more!”

Frightened and Fighter are very, very quiet for a very, very long time and then… it’s just me…the mirror and my goal.   Whoa!

Rainbows you CAN catch

Awesome Rainbow Eucalyptus

After the flu comes a catchable rainbow.  Woke this morning and realised I could wave goodbye to the flu and to confirm that things were looking up I saw the most wonderful picture on FaceBook. Yes, all my best eduction and discoveries come from StalkBook. You’re welcome to stalk me here 🙂 and share my discoveries.

Rainbow trees – YES they are real and … and … and… *squeal of delight* … there are some in Australia!

I love real rainbows, rainbow paints, rainbow cottons, rainbow anything.  I even have rainbow fingernails right now. I also LURVE the outback, so imagine by absolute bliss on finding rainbow gum trees. The world constantly surprises and amazes me.

After giggling like a three year old for several minutes, I turned to the oracle of random trivia – Google – for more info about my new found love: Eucalyptus deglupta.

They occur all over the place, but what I really need to do is find them in Australia.  I’d love to add them to my trip. The hunt is on … do you know where they live? Because I really want to see them on my epic journey.

For now I’ll have to settle adding these beautiful wonders to my visualisation and hopefully I’l see them on the road somewhere soon.

Happy Rainbow Hunting!

Rainbow Eucalyptus

Rainbows everywhere

Hello Party Goers

I’ve fallen off the radar for a couple days.  Tuesday, I was down in Adelaide for a spot of scanning to check on some gremlins – this usually take me out of commission for a whole day.

Upon my return, I found my daughter Mel in a mad panic trying to plan an elaborate Birthday Party for my soon-to-be 6yr old granddaughter.  Funnily enough, Charli – the Birthday girl – has had five other Birthdays on the 4 July, so I am unsure as to why it came as such a surprise to Mel that come the 3rd of July she better start organising a party.  Bit of forward planning wouldn’t hurt you sweetheart… 🙂

A couple of people have asked will I be able to do this trip with … erm… umm… ‘that condition’, and the answer is apparent after the last two days. If I can do the day trip to Adelaide (five hours travel) take a couple of medical appointments, THEN pull an all nighter creating party games AND face an onslaught of sugar-soaked six year olds the next morning, then you bet!  I can ABSOLUTELY handle hosting an event with consummate professional venues and my team by my side.

Anyway, after pulling the graveyard shift and making props and party bags into the wee hours, we managed to pull the thing together.   As we were readying ourselves for the grand affair, Mel looks and me and says “Why did we just spend 10 hours preparing for a 2 hour party?”

On the surface it seemed crazy. Why indeed did we? But what Mel hadn’t taken into account was the fun factor and value system.

When calculating effort to put into an activity it’s not as straight forward as one hour homework = one hour output.  Ask an Olympic athlete, possibly one of the worse work/reward time ratio’s – A lifetime of training for a three minute race!

How much fun will the event be? How much will it fulfill your personal values?   These are questions that can’t be measured by the minutes on the clock.  In fact, now I think about it nothing worthwhile can be measured on a clock and it probably explains the row of silent watches in my jewelry box.

So Yes Mel, we did just spend ten hours to create a two-hour party.  But we also created a memory, an impression and a bucket-load of fun!

I think the Parfait Party Events will be exactly the same. There will be months of pre-sales, media preparation, working with the venues, interviewing the Awesome person and their chosen charity.  It’s a big job for me and my team.   But just like little Charli’s Birthday, some things are worth the extra effort.

Hang on?  Did I say a couple of months organisation?                                            EEEEEPs I better get a wriggle on…