Updated: Sep 2, 2021
As you presumably already know...
My brother was beaten and killed on his way home from a party at 17.
He died 24 years ago.
My sister died from Cystic Fibrosis, a lung disease that took her three weeks before her 21st birthday. She died 17 years ago.
My children were born 10 years ago – before either of these events - yet they affected their lives immensely…
No, it’s not a riddle.
Let me explain.
When my brother died, I vomited for 4 days straight.
My father, who had taught my brother how to box, blamed himself for my brother’s death believing that if he’d just laid there like his friend, instead of ‘fighting back’, he’d be alive now.
· My dad became over-protective. Understandably.
· We weren’t allowed on public transport. (I caught my first train alone at 27 yrs old.)
· I wasn’t allowed to sleep at anyone’s house – they had to come to mine only.
· Activities were only with trusted family friends and my parents often attended.
When my sister was born, the year before my brother’s death – she was diagnosed with a terminal illness…
More damage control.
We moved to live on acreage. Mum drove us everywhere.
There wasn’t much to do there, so I didn’t even notice that we were never out of our parents’ site…
I also didn’t realise that this ‘exile’ from suburbia and ‘normal’ life not only kept us safe, but also gave them a level of stress relief from having to worry about things happening to us.
I really didn’t know any different and I still look upon my childhood fondly.
So when there were only two children out of four left, we bunkered down.
Fast forward to now.
My boss, who I was 2IC to, hung himself on Melbourne Cup day – his two-year-old found him.
My father died of Leukemia.
Amongst other traumatic experiences time and again...
The point is – I’ve learnt that I’m resilient as all get out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I ‘know’ I can beat anything. I ‘know’ I’m strong.
Now that I myself have two kids, I try to show my kids how to be those things and to think that way.
· Intellectually, I treat my kids as grown-ups. I explain everything to them honestly (to the shock and chagrin of others around me). If someone is sick and my kids ask ‘are they going to die?’, I don’t couch it, I say ‘they are’. I keep it real. At all times.
· I encourage my children to entertain themselves instead of having planned activities, at all times.
· I encourage my children to speak up for themselves – even if that means giving back as good as they get.
But in showing them how to be resilient and have an internal locus of control (no matter what life throws at you – and it will, trust me!) I ultimately have taken it away from them.
· I’m the mum that removes the need for my child to deal with that nasty fre-nemy who deserves a mouthful, because I deliver the onslaught myself.
o I stand up for them when things don’t go right, so they don’t have to.
· I tell my kids that if they do something the school doesn’t like (& they believe it was the right thing to do) not to worry, because I’ll deal with the school. As far as I see it, I’m the Principal’s boss!
I try to show them how to be strong, to be confident, to not care about other’s rubbish.
And yet, in the process… I’m not teaching them that at all.
I’m teaching them that “I” am strong and “I” am confident and “I” don’t care about other people’s crap.