Procrastination really is the thief of time

The other day I got into trouble and it was entirely my fault.

Mum had asked me to wash the dishes. She was going out to have her hair cut and she wanted them done before she came back. She told me she’d be home around five o’clock and needed the kitchen all nice and tidy because people were coming.

When Mum went out it was just after three o’clock so I reckoned that there was plenty of time.

I had stuff of my own to do. Had been promising myself to get stuck into weeding my veggie garden plus I had a new book I was dying to read.

You can guess what happened… right? It was hot so I decided to read first and got so immersed in my book the next thing I knew it was nearly time for mum to come home.

I flew into the kitchen and started frantically cleaning up – but the place was a mess and I knew I’d never be finished in time. Had a brainwave (okay – maybe it was a brain storm) and decided to get creative. Packed all those dirty dishes into a big plastic basin and hid them under my bed. I’d just finished wiping down the counters when I heard Mum’s car roar up the driveway.

Sjoe! With dardly a minute to spare.

Heaved a huge sigh of relief… I’d worry about how I was going to sneakily wash those dishes later.

Mom bustled into the kitchen with bags of chips and started opening the packets. She reached into the cupboard where we keep the bowls… but her favourite snack bowl was nowhere to be seen.

She scanned the kitchen with a perplexed look on her face. I backed out slowly, hoping she’d use some other container instead.

But no…. “Sibooooo” Mum yelled – “WHERE is my pretty chip bowl?”

Briefly wondered whether to fib or not but then decided I was already in trouble and lying would only make it worse. Had to confess.

I was certainly not the flavour of the day! Worse, Mum impounded my new book and said I could only have it back on the weekend. Plus I had to wash dishes all week.

That was a hard lesson. In future I’ll do chores or tasks first and then do the fun stuff later.

See you next week.

Sibo

xx

Let’s all talk more

It was my friend Wayne’s birthday and his Mum took us out for a teatime treat at our favourite place. We had barely sat down when she whipped out her cell phone and started pressing buttons.

I was still examining the menu so didn’t think about it, but then the waitron appeared and asked if we were ready to order.

Both Wayne and I knew what we wanted, but his Mum had not even looked at the menu yet.  She just ignored the dude and carried on reading something on her cell phone.

The waitron stood there patiently for a bit. Then he hopped from foot to foot and sort of cleared his throat, as if to say… well… um… excuse me?

I considered giving her a nudge or saying something but thought that might be rude.

Eventually she looked up, waved her arm offhandedly and said “Just coffee”.

I probably went bug-eyed with surprise. No please. No thank you. Definitely no sorry for keeping you waiting!

I looked at Wayne to see if he had noticed but he was messing with the sugar packets.

His mother went back to her phone and ignored us completely.

Wayne asked his Mum if she’d had a good day, but she didn’t even hear him and so did not reply. He and I chatted quietly for a bit, and then we went and played in the kids section.

“Doesn’t your mum talk to you at the table?” I asked when we were safely out of earshot.

“No,” Wayne replied a little sadly. “She’s always doing stuff on her cell phone, even at home.”

I looked around the place and noticed that quite a few of the parentals were fiddling with their cell phones whilst their kids were sitting at the table, colouring in or trashing the place. There were other people sitting together, looking at their phones too – not talking to each other.

Our food arrived. His mum drank her coffee and hardly took her eyes off her phone. Wayne sucked up the last bits of his milkshake and made a loud slurpy noise.

His mother looked up sharply and said “Wayne! Where are your manners?”

But how could she expect Wayne to have manners if she did not have any herself. My Dad always says you have to earn respect, not demand it.

Let’s all talk to each other more please. Put those phones down.

Sibo

xx

Reaching for the Stars


My friend Ginny was invited to a think-tank on how to popularize multi-wave astronomy (no – don’t run away, this blog is not about that – although it is really interesting stuff) a few days ago, and had lunch with one of the other participants who happened to have a disability.

Not wanting to offend the lady in the slightest she asked a bit hesitantly… ‘Um, what is the politically correct way to describe somebody who cannot see?”

The lady promptly responded “Blind!”

Thereafter a lovely conversation followed, with the lady, Wanda, giving some insights (excuse the pun) into one of the challenges of being blind.
But let’s clarify something first. The lady is Dr Wanda, and she’s an astrophysicist, who, amongst other things, really enjoys developing interesting lesson plans to teach kids about astrophysics. She has not allowed being blind to restrict her in the slightest and continues to reach for the stars – literally. Except Wanda listens to them instead of looking at them!

She reckons the most irritating thing is when somebody sends her a .pdf file to read. PDF stands for “portable document format” and it’s a way of saving a document from any application into a format that most systems can read – unless you are blind.

Wanda explained that her special software that “reads” the document cannot comprehend a .pdf file. It just picks up random words and strings them together. Obviously this could lead to major confusion. She gave us a hysterical example that went something like the “The moon was in the bathroom exploding.”

The numbers at the table swelled with Alfred from Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown (Jozi) joining the ranks. Wanda asked Alfred what his favourite exhibit was. His answer was the one that explained sound waves. Of course she did not leave it there – she had him explain to her just how he got the concept across to the people visiting Sci-Bono.

Initially Alfred waved his hands around a lot, which Wanda could not see, but he quickly got the hang of it and used his words – very simply and effectively to explain how sound waves work.

We all take many things for granted and our sight is one of them.

By the way – how often do people check the toys that their young children play with for sharp bits they could potentially stick into their eye (or somebody else’s) by mistake? Double check that toy box please, just to make sure.

Reach for the stars people – don’t let anything hold you back.

Sibo

The Power of Music

The other day I was feeling a tad glum.

The weather was gloomy, I’d finished my book and did not have another one to read. Nobody wanted to talk to me or play a game with me and I was generally feeling miserable and heavy hearted.

Then I switched on the radio…  a song that I really like was playing.

Macarena by Los Del Rio. It’s not a new song – in fact it came out in 1993 – long before I was even born – but it’s one of those timeless songs that you can’t help singing along to. Even if you don’t know the words properly.

Immediately my insides lifted and my heart felt lighter. Really, it did.

Turned it up so loud that mum complained that she could not hear herself think.

I sang loudly and did a little dance around the kitchen – probably doing all the wrong moves but I did not care and anyway, there was nobody to see me.

I felt immediately better.

I went off and found something to do and just listened to the music in the background (by this time I had turned it down a bit).  I like to listen to the words of songs too – but often these days they are just sappy and repeat themselves over and over.

Decided to do a bit of research about how music makes you happy and was amazed to find out that it has lots of other benefits too.

  • Listening to classical music can lower your blood pressure.
  • Surgeons listen to music when they are doing surgery – it makes them more calm and relaxed.
  • Listening to music may help the body defend itself from disease and infection – apparently it raises the level of natural killer cells.
  • Listening to soothing music can help a person sleep – it soothes fractious babies too.
  • Singing can improve your breathing, which can help people who have lung problems.

And how’s this… Plants not only enjoy being talked to but they like listening to music too!

Okay – so they don’t exactly listen but apparently pressure from the sound waves creates vibrations that can be picked up by plants that is beneficial to them. How cool is that.

The moral of the story – whether you sing, play an instrument, listen to music or do all three – music makes your life better!

Happy listening people!

Sibo

Dog fighting is disgusting

Yoh! But the world is a cruel place and people do really horrible things – deliberately. Never mind bullying (which is also nasty and deliberate) I was reading the other day that some folk think it is fun to make dogs fight with each other.

Really? Can you believe that anybody is stupid enough to think such a terrible thing is fun?

It’s definitely not fun for the dog – that is for sure. It is sadistic, mean and hurts the animals.

It is also illegal. Did you know that?

According to the Animals Protection Act No.71 of 1962, ‘Anyone who baits, provokes or incites any animal to attack another animal shall be guilty of an offence’.

Worse! These people specially breed their dogs to be mean and nasty. Some even cut their dogs’ ears so that they can’t get bitten off in a fight. Eeeuw! Just the thought of that makes me want to rush off and hug my dog.

Even more disturbing is the fact that some people bet money on which dog they think is going to win, and then watch the whole fight like it is a boxing match or something – except boxers choose to fight – dogs have no choice. These people are just as guilty as the idiots who are making their dogs fight.

It gets even nastier. There have also been cases where smaller dogs are used as bait. Just to get the fighting dogs in the mood. As if this is not bad enough, revolting individuals go around stealing those little dogs from homes where they are loved and treated like furry children – only for them to land up being mauled to death by some vicious dog that never had a chance to be anything else in life.

The whole thing makes me seriously sick to my stomach.

Dogs are such loyal creatures. All they really want is somebody to love them and look after them properly and they will, in turn, be the most wonderful companions. They understand a whole lot more than people ever think they do. They are not just dumb animals at all.

If you know of anybody that organises dog fights, watches them or bets on them – call your local SPCA immediately. It is not allowed.

Come to think of it – if you know of anybody being cruel to their animals – call your SPCA.

Sibo

Water challenged

Read this title free on the website

Right now those of us living in Gauteng might be feeling a bit complacent because we are not facing a severe water crisis like they are in Cape Town (and other parts of the country)  – but that does not mean that we have water to waste.

We should all get used to using water as sparingly as possible.

Make it a habit to save all those drops that are so easy to waste. Turn the taps off when brushing teeth, do the mellow yellow thing, make sure the washing machine is full before switching it on and ensure that there are no leaky pipes or taps in the house.

That’s the least we can do.

If you are planning a trip to Cape Town, be considerate. Don’t think you can rock up and waste their water because you will have left after a few days and the dire situation won’t affect you in the slightest.

If you are visiting family – buy-in water for your needs and be ultra-considerate with every drop you use out of the tap. In fact – don’t use those taps if you can possibly help it.

Think about taking your own sheets, or sleeping bag, with you and bring them back again to wash. Sounds crazy right? Not really – the guesthouse or your friends or relations would really appreciate such a gesture. You might even get a discount. Organise it with your hosts before you go.

Wash your hair before you leave and make sure you stick to the showering time rules. Even better – skip that shower if you can!

Take enough clothes to last the duration of your trip without needing to have them washed.

Don’t ask for a glass of water at a restaurant – they are also severely water challenged.

So are the shopping centres – don’t assume you can use their bathrooms – many of them are now closed.

Lastly – don’t share fake news or make cruel jokes about the water situation – especially around children.

The other day Ginny’s 5 year old granddaughter, Isabella, asked her mom if they were going to die when their water ran out. It was obviously a real fear uppermost in her mind. She was very relieved to hear that if things got too bad they could always move in with GG in Gauteng.

Be positive and considerate.

Every drop counts!

Sibo

xxx

Stand up to bullies

Remember last week we were talking about how bad bullies are and, even worse, how terrible it is to be bullied?

Here are some things that you can do if you are being targeted by a bully.

  • Get away as soon as possible and move to a safe please where there are other kids and adults.
  • Avoid places where you are alone – hang out with other people. Even if you are not friends with them – hang out near them anyway.
  • Act as if the bullying has no power over you. Look calm and confident (even if you are terrified). You can do this by standing up straight and tall – put your shoulders back and push your chest forward. (Practise this in the mirror at home – you never know when you might need to stand tall.)
  • Stand up for yourself – act as though the bullying is really boring and answer back with things like – So? Yup? Really? And…? Whatever you say! Who cares?
  • Get help from an adult you trust. Tell them what has happened to you and ask for their support. If one person does not listen – go to somebody else.
  • Keep in mind that bullying is about the person who is doing the bullying. Although they are targeting you and it affects your life – it’s not really about you – it says something about the person who is doing the bullying. Never forget that. It is not your fault.
  • Tell yourself that you are awesome, brave, lovable, worthy of respect and belonging. Nobody can take that away from you. Own it. Say it often. Remind yourself all the time that you are fabulous.

If you see somebody being bullied it is NOT cool to just walk away and not get involved either. YOUR SILENCE ENCOURAGES THE BULLY!

This is what you can do.

  • Don’t laugh and don’t encourage the bully in any other way.
  • Tell others not to join in on the bullying either. You can make a difference by encouraging others to do the same.
  • Help the victim any way you can – speak directly to them and say something like “Let’s get out of here.”
  • Show the victim that you are empathetic – say “I would feel sad and angry too” or “I’m sorry this is happening to you.”
  • Encourage the victim to tell an adult and offer to go with them.

Stand up for what is right – even if you are standing alone!

Sibo

xxx

It is not BIG to make somebody else feel SMALL!

In the same survey that was done about how sad South African reading statistics are, they also mentioned that our Grade Four children are among the most bullied in the world.

THE WORLD!

How horrible is that?

There is often some confusion regarding conflict and bullying.

  • When someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s RUDE.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s MEAN.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it – even when you tell them to stop or show them that you are upset – that’s BULLYING.

Conflict is normally a disagreement or an argument. Bullying is normally a show of strength or influence to intimidate somebody else, or typically to force them to do something that they do not want to do.

Conflict turns into bullying when there is an imbalance of power. This can come from someone being bigger, older, stronger and more confident or having more friends. Their mean behaviour happens over and over again.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes – some use their fists (physical) others use their voices (verbal) and in the last few years, cyber bullying has become a big thing too – using the internet, social media, text messaging, e-mail and other electronic mediums to say mean or embarrassing things.

No matter what shape the bullying takes, they all leave you feeling broken and humiliated.

Bullying does not only occur at school either – it often happens at home and in the neighbourhood.

Warning signs of somebody being bullied:

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities.
  • Physical complaints.
  • Worried, angry, quiet or moody.
  • Declining schoolwork.

One of the major forms of bullying in schools is EXCLUSION.

For various reasons kids shun other kids. Often for stupid things like they don’t have cool enough clothes or hairstyles. We all know having a friend to sit with at break or lunch time makes the world of difference.

That’s what the friendship bench is all about. If you don’t have anybody to sit with – you can sit on that specific bench at school and somebody is always there to chat to you and see that you are not alone. We have a roster and take turns to do bench duty – you get to meet all sorts of interesting people too.

More on how you can beat bullies next week.

Be kind people!

Sibo.

Reading CAN make you happy!

It’s time to go back to school again!

I know lots of kids complain about school but I quite like it. I enjoy learning new things and finding out about interesting stuff, not to mention seeing all my friends again. We always have lots to talk about after the end of year break. Sometimes there are new kids in the class and that is cool too. This year I have signed up to do friendship bench duty – but more about that in another blog.

One of the things that really makes me happy is reading. You can absolutely never be bored, lonely or sad (okay – sometimes you can be miserable if the story is sad) if you have a book to read.

I was unbelievably shattered to find out that many kids my age cannot read. Seriously! They did a study and out of the 50 countries in the world that participated, South Africa has the worst statistics. 78% of our Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. That means 8 out of 10 students can read – but don’t really understand what they have just read.

Even worse, it did not matter what language they were reading. Many of those kids were reading something in their home language and still did not understand what they had just read.

The thing is… if a person cannot read, and make sense of what they are reading, how on earth can they plan to study and go further in life? It certainly makes things very difficult, if not almost impossible.

My parents used to read to me most nights when I was smaller. I couldn’t wait to hear the next bit of the story. I would see the pictures in my head and imagine what the people or animals looked like. I always used to beg for a few more pages to be read but my folks were pretty strict about only ever reading one chapter per night. Luckily now I can read myself!

Often, parents are too busy or weary to read to their children at night. If the kids are lucky they might get to hear an audio book before they go to sleep, but sometimes they just get plonked in front of the TV instead. TV is absolutely no substitute for reading. You use less brain power than you do when you are sleeping while watching TV.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to read more… please people.

Sibo.

The Happiness Jar

Happy 2018 everybody!

Here’s wishing that it is going to be a glorious year for us all on many different levels. Hope you had a good holiday and are ready to get stuck into the New Year.

I saw a really cool idea the other day and thought it was just too fabulous not to share.

It’s called a “Happiness Jar” and is really very easy to make.

All you need…

  • Jar, tin or a nicely washed out 2 litre plastic cool drink bottle
  • pile of paper
  • pen, pencil or anything to write with.

You can re-use old envelopes, the back of till slips or simply tear or cut some A4 pieces of paper up into 8 (or even 16) pieces and keep a pile handy next to your jar.

This is how it works… write down something that made you happy each day and pop it into the jar.

It could be something simple like seeing a pretty flower or a cute furry creature. Time spent with a buddy or a nice chat to a friend on the phone. Maybe wearing some article of clothing that made you feel good or a place that you visited and did fun stuff. It could be something that happened at school or work. Good grades, a kind word, praise, promotion – or a job well done.

Or something you read that made you happy.

Anything and everything that puts a smile on your face or makes your heart sing…  write it down and pop it in the jar.

At the end of the year (okay – if a year seems too long, try it for a week or a month) you take out all the notes and read them. You’ll remember all the little things that made you happy (that you have probably long since forgotten) and realise that life really is pretty good.

Of course don’t forget to make other people happy too.

Smile, be kind, pay things forward. Do random deeds of kindness. Be nice. You never know when a simple thing like smiling at somebody or paying a compliment adds sunshine to a dark day.

Too often it is easier to moan, groan and complain about life around us and forget about all the little things that really do make life worth living.

Let’s start 2018 off by being happy.

Lots of love

Sibo.