Breathe, said the river as it whispered to the sea Something is happening, the cowslip is growing free Bees are feasting on the broom, a delicious yellow delight Happy in their busy dance, what a wondrous sight Birds surveying the landscape in noisy melody Observing all the changes as he flies from tree to tree And the mountains echo as the hawk and eagle soar The beasts, the deer’s the elephants, gave a triumphant roar Breathe whispered the estuary as it washed into the sea Look at the fishes dancing, oh so merrily The crabs the sharks the jellyfish, maintain their habitat No longer caught in the destruction of man, and all that came with that but as the mist is lifting, like a bride to be’s veil We see the glorious beauty, of a world that never fails Just as mother nature, intended it to be Her creation will provide enough for the likes of you and me For a while she was raging and her arteries were blocked Choking, coughing spewing and dying with toxic shock So breathe said the wind, as it sent out clean fresh air The people get the message and now they’re feeling scared Let’s hope they remember the devastation caused As they watch the planet breathe again, when they were put on pause
Not many of us expect to be talking about our ‘final wishes’ at a young age. That is usually for the very rich or the very old, who make provisions for what is to happen to them at ‘the end’. This pandemic may give us all a different view on that now.
I was thinking about the Oscars, I don’t know why, because I never watch them fully, but I do sometimes watch the edited highlights. I watch as the camera pans to the celebrity that has been nominated, all of them tentatively smiling, looking coy or bashful, but hopeful that they will win the Oscar. One of them will read the speech which they had prepared, in the hope that they might win. So many potential speeches waiting to be read, full of thanks and praise for many, including their loved ones
We are currently going through a pandemic; this time it has the full attention of the world. When it was the Bird Flu, or SARS or even Ebola, the whole world didn’t quite take note as they are now. I myself, carried on as normal at that time, thinking ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I am sure there are many people who thought the way I did then.
This time it is a different story. This time the virus is spreading like wildfire and like other viruses, it does not discriminate against age, sex, race, disability, marital status or religion. This one is abiding by the Equality Act and each of us must take note.
We have all become accustomed, at this stage, to know what ‘Social distancing’ ‘wash your hands’ lockdown’ and PPE mean. It has become part of our everyday dialect and vocabulary. My 3-year-old beautiful grand-daughter calls it the ‘Virusy’ and wonders when it will go away so that she can give me a hug again. How I long for it to be over now, so I can give her and my 3 other grandchildren a big squeezey hug. I cannot answer her with certainty, no-one can. Instead we have to ‘make do’ with the occasional ‘window visit’.
What I do know is that the longer people flout the rules and don’t engage in social distancing, washing hands, remaining in lockdown or having the required PPE, the longer this virus will dance with us and pick us off one by one and none of us will know for sure, if we will survive it.
From healthcare workers to people on the street, Actors, models and even the UK Prime minster, young, old and in between people are contracting this virus and people are dying. It’s like a lottery, people are chosen at random but there are no winners, only losers. Sure lots of people will get over it and survive, but with what long lasting damage to their lungs? Others, not so lucky to survive.
This brings me to the Oscars. What if you get it? You don’t know if you will survive it. You have to be prepared. You have to have your ‘speech’ ready. You have to tell your loved ones, not only that you love them, that you will miss them, that you don’t want to leave them, you have to tell them what they have to do with you, if you do indeed, leave them.
Some families only think about having to bury their elderly relatives, but this virus can take any of us and we need to let our families know, what and how we would like to happen to us at the end. Whether that is to be cremated or buried. Whether it is to be repatriated home if you live/work in another country or indeed which graveyard to be buried in. Is this morbid, no I don’t think so. It is necessary. Not everyone has made a Will. Talk to your loved ones, let them know what you would like to happen to you, ‘just in case’ you are the one.
Write your closing speech. Your speech of acceptance, in the event that it is you. Write it in a letter. Tell your parents, your siblings, your children, your grandchildren, your friends. Tell whomever is dear to you, what they mean to you, in your closing speech. Be prepared. You may never get this virus and the letter will then never have to be read out, just like the nominees at the Oscars, they go home with their unread speeches if they didn’t win. You get to keep your letter if you are lucky enough to not contract this virus.
In the meantime, follow the rules to slow the spread and flatten the curve. Keep our Healthcare workers as safe as possible, by staying home. Allow them to not to have to be crushed by an overwhelming workload, in these extraordinary circumstances, and often, without the proper PPE. Give them some respect. If you do not stay home and follow the rules you are risking their lives as well as your own. They already have enough of a burden to bear, being in the midst of this pandemic and watching people suffer and die on a daily basis. Please do not add to their burden unnecessarily.
Take care, stay safe, stay home and give your ‘speech’ some thought as well as your wishes.
in these uncertain times we have enough to worry about. The most important thing to worry about it staying safe and well and keeping others safe and well. Worrying about rent, mortgages, businesses etc should not be part of our burden now. I think the governments, around the world should just press pause, from the beginning of march and reboot, when this is all over, so no more debt accumulates, adding to people’s already enormous burden of keeping well.
It didn’t seem so serious, not really
Not at first
Everyone carried on as normal engaging with life
Wrapped up in it, in work or family, despair, debt
The rat race
December, a month of mixed emotions
Full of demands, from excitement to dread
A new unexpected trend was banded about this year
It was ‘Corona Virus’
We heard it mentioned, but it was ‘over there’
We carried on as normal, in the rat race
Wrapped up in work, in family, in despair and debt
Beware the ides of March!
Now we began to listen to take notice
It was here, it was everywhere
Stockpile, panic buy, carry on
With daily life, with family, work, despair and debt
Spreading, dying, ignorance and fear
Essential, frontline, social distancing, cocoon
Wash, wash wash your hands
Don’t touch your face
Stay safe at home
Get out of the rat race
Flatten the curve, it will save lives
Don’t be a fool, ignorance is not bliss
It is fatal
The world is broke, full of despair, fear and debt
Take time to reflect.
With fresh eyes, find a way
It’s about people and love and life
The rat race, dead in the water
It’s a boulder, laying heavy on your shoulder
The graves are the same depth
When it’s over, when it’s been contained
Let a new contagion begin
A kind one, a helpful one, a fair one
Not one full of ignorance, hate, debt or regret
Press play and begin anew
Wipe the slate clean
Let families flourish and businesses carryon
Without the noose
We are all in the same boat
Let’s not accumulate the entire ocean in it and sink
A new world, a new world game
The human race
Let’s heal the world, play your part
Let our leaders play theirs
Let them lead, honourably, wisely, honestly and fairly
So that we can embrace the pause
So we may cocoon and stay safe at home
So we may slow the spread
So that we may flatten the curve
So that we may not put our essential frontline staff at risk
So that our frontline staff may be rewarded for their bravery
When ugly is more than what the eye perceives. Ugly comes in many disguises
I hope they are not ugly….
What does that say about me? What do I mean? I don’t know really. When I signed up to take in other people’s children and when I would get the phone call from the social worker asking me if I would take in someone, ‘I hope they’re not ugly’ would always spring to mind.
Rewind to years before I ever became a foster carer but to a time when a seed was planted. Working on placement whilst studying law, with young offenders in a secure unit I was horrified that they were so young and yet were locked up due to their ‘behaviour’. Having read their files, I was more appalled at the level of neglect they had received from their significant care givers. I knew then whose behaviour was uglier.
Through this placement my path crossed with foster carers, caring for a very pretty little baby girl. My heart broke. My 2-year-old was safe at home and surrounded by a loving family. The seed was truly planted.
When my 2-year-old was 15 I took in my first child. It was to be for 2 weeks. Having been given some of the back ground, it was with nervousness, excitement and even a little bit of trepidation that I agreed. Not only wondering how this would all go, she was also the same age as my 15-year-old, I would try to imagine how she would look, based purely on the information I was given about her circumstances.
In total I have fostered 13 children over the last 15 years and none have them have been ‘ugly’. But what does that even mean. Ugly can be determined in different ways can’t it
The dictionary definition is: –
unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance
involving or likely to involve violence or other unpleasantness
At times, over the years, there has been an element of ugliness with regard to unpleasantness, bad or undesirable behaviour. There have been challenges, battles, disagreements and it doesn’t necessarily come from the ‘child’ who has been fostered.
I have had battles with school teachers, my own biological children, social workers, my husband, family of origin members, my family members and of course, the children themselves.
I had wanted to foster children between the ages of 0 to 10, because at the time, my youngest children (twins) were 10 years old. I wanted all of my children to be older. As I said, the first child which was placed with me was 15, the same age as my oldest child.
As the two-week period came and went, turning into six months, things eventually became difficult during this period of adjustment, for my oldest child felt that her ‘life’ as she knew had been completely changed and taken over. She had to share her home, her school, her friends, her mum and dad, with this new girl. There was nowhere for her to ‘escape’ apart from her own bedroom. It was junior cert year and it was a difficult time. She felt for the girl and her circumstances, but was that really her concern, she was after all, just a kid herself and didn’t really need that sort of responsibility, did she? Wasn’t she already dealing with enough transitioning into and through teenage hood? So at times, it got ugly. The twins however, felt differently because to them, it was just another older sister. She didn’t impact on their friends, their after school activities or their school life.
Even now 15 years later, we are in touch with this girl. Lots of other children have made a way into our lives and most have stayed a part of it too. Fostering is not an easy task by any means, because there are many different angles, perspectives, personalities, dynamics, challenges and ugliness. There is however, also a sense of joy, a sense of satisfaction and a sense of hope that you can make a real difference in someone else’s life. Not only the child that you foster, but actually, your own and your biological children’s life. It teaches tolerance, respect, understanding, responsibility, sharing, even when they don’t want to and acceptance, even of the ugliness. It teaches people to grow, to have empathy, and to care, to care enough for someone else, someone who has to deal with the ugly.
People say they are non-judgmental, but I think people judge all the time, if only for a while…
My grandson turned 5 yesterday. He is a very clever, observant and smart boy. He is definitely in tune with his feelings too. The night before his birthday, he go very upset, thinking that once he was 5, he would no longer be able to do crafts or colour in pictures of spiderman etc as he would be too old. His mother reassured him that not only could he still do his crafts and colouring, but that he would get better and better at it and anything that he did, the older he gets. He was very reassured and of course, believed his mother.
I went to see him on his birthday, well to have a social distance visit with him so I could leave his birthday present in the garden for him. After thanking me, he proceeded to tell me that he been upset the night before his birthday because he thought that he would not be able to colour or craft once he was 5 but that his mammy told him that he would be able to and not only that, but that he would get better and better. I also reassured him that yes, that was the case and that I am now 55 and I can still paint, draw and make things and that I got better with age. He smiled and nodded.
We were both painting at my house about a month ago, I was doing an abstract. He told me that my painting looked like a child had done it! Now thinking back to our conversation yesterday, I am a little perturbed that when he smiled and nodded at me, he was being polite, thinking that by 55 I should be able to paint better than something that looked like a child had done it! I think he may have been judging me!
These are very different times which we live in, especially the last few weeks and it is having an impact on everyone, all ages, across the world. This sensitive 5 year old picks up on everything around him and he is alert to everything in his environment and the people around him.
Last week he and his mother were having a chat which lead to how he views the family around him and it goes something like this:-
Nana L – drinks tea
Grandad L drinks champagne
Nanny M smokes
Grandad J builds
Nanny C Judges (means bosses everyone) 🙂
Grandad K works all the time
Daddy drinks cans of boost
Mammy drinks milk (no I don’t) she says
Jess watches Netflix
Jake says cool stuff
Uncle D gives out to B every day!
Aunty S tells C not to tease
Little J goes to school
and S…. poos
Well, we did have a giggle. Out of the mouths of babes hey. Well me being Nanny C, I took a little time to reflect. Am I really ‘Judgey/ bossy’? Well, yes I guess I am. It’s not the first time and I don’t think it will be the last time that someone will say that to be honest
I Judge EVERYTHING, straight away, and I am not ashamed to admit it. However, I am not the only one. You do too! People like to say that they don’t judge but, we all do. You are judging this piece of writing right now. I first wrote this in a notepad in a beautiful leather bound case which I bought in a shop in Dingle. I judged it as soon as I saw it, thought it was beautiful and bought it. Others may have seen it and thought it was just OK or too expensive, that would be their judgement on it.
The dictionary definition of to judge is:-
to form an opinion or conclusion
We all form opinions everyday, from the weather to what to wear, eat or how people interact with each other etc, etc. The dictionary definition is to form an opinion OR conclusion, not necessarily both, at the same time. In my defense then, I would say that when I form an opinion I do not always come to a conclusion on something, that there is room for manoeuvre. For example, lets take the weather. I may say ‘I don’t think it will rain all day’. That is not a foregone conclusion, merely my opinion. A meteorologist may be able to put me right, given that she/he is more expert in the field of weather, but even experts sometimes get it wrong.
I mind this particular grandchild 3 days per week whilst his mother is at work and sometimes at the week end too, until she gets back from work. He spends a lot of time with me, in usual circumstances, at this moment he is locked in at home with his mammy and loving every minute of having her home! He has been known to call me mammy 2, in the absence of mammy 1, but mammy 1 is his absolute number 1 person in his life I might add. As much as I love him and my 3 other grandchildren, I am known to somewhat spoil them more than I did their mothers when they were little. That is a grandmother’s prerogative is it not? Having said that, I still have to ensure he is ‘fed and watered’ properly and nutritionally first. I also have to ensure he is ‘bathed and bed’ by a reasonable hour, so I can absolutely understand his view of me as being ‘bossy’.
Also, I still have two teens in the house and boy oh boy do they test my patience at times. My little 5 year old is often a vicarious party to the conversations which go on between us plus the fact that they often have to be coerced, encouraged and told what to do and how to do it by yours truly, moi! Hence, of course I am a bossy boots.
I would imagine he has taken in a great many of the conversations we have had regarding, teens, indulgent and otherwise, boys, clothes, and make up styles to name but a few. Make up, especially seems to be a regular topic in the house in that I see lots of people contouring their faces to within an inch of their lives. Making themselves look like drag queens with the over made up eyes, lips and enormous eyelashes, that a bird could build a nest in. Then of course, there are the eyebrows and the shiney noses. Who really in their right mind wants to look like Groucho Marx about the brows and Rudolph with the ‘shiney nose’. Girls, put down the high lighter and step away from the brow pack…. Dont you know you are to only enhance what you already have, not recreate it with a pencil! See there I go again with the judging.
I started this piece by saying my 5 year old grandson is a very clever, observant and smart boy. I have judged him correctly on this occasion, not only is that my opinion it is also my conclusion about him. I also observe that he too can be a little bossy at times….. he must take after his nanny C.
In conclusion, however, to his list, when I am no longer ‘actively’ parenting or childminding grandchildren, I propose to be more like grandad L, and drink Champagne…..