Monthly Archives: December 2012

Make-Unders.

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BY ABBY MAC

I love them. I really do adore them. And I think it’s time we brought them to Growing Pains.

I found the idea of having a make-under on the television show ‘Snog Marry Avoid’ where girls (and boys), who wear a little bit too much make-up and buy masking tape as T-shirts, are made-under to their natural and more attractive look. The public is asked at the beginning of the show whether they would snog, marry or avoid that girl (or boy) and once the make-under has been completed the public is asked again. Most times, the majority of the public prefers the made-under version of one girl (or boy).

Even though ‘Snog Marry Avoid’ may seem like a tongue-in-cheek television show, the fundamental idea never ceases to amaze me. The girls that enter the show are completely dependent upon their makeup and skimpy clothes to ‘hide’ what is on the inside; mostly insecurity and self-consciousness.

Public Analysis

Would you snog, marry or avoid her?

I have read many articles which list all the reasons why girls wear make-up and they wear it not because they are insecure about their looks, but because they enjoy wearing it. I get that. Totally. I am not a big make-up wearer (because I don’t know how to apply it) but I do use it on certain occasions; weddings, eating out etc.

For some, make-up is like a hobby or playing sport. It is something that they are thrilled and interested by, however there are people telling them to stop using it, for no reason. I wouldn’t let someone tell me to stop playing hockey or shopping for no sufficient reason because I LOVE to play hockey and go shopping. People feel the same about make-up. Make-up can be worn so the user can look more professional, more polished, coverage from the sun and coverage of blemishes and pimples. But when I see girls of all ages wearing more make-up on their face than I have in my life, I start to question the extreme of this ‘hobby’.

Transformation

Who would you prefer?

That’s why I’m calling for a make-under to all those who can’t even go to sleep without make-up on. I’m not asking for all application of make-up to be immediately stopped, that’s unrealistic and not necessary. But, we need to empower those around us with the knowledge that you don’t need to wear gallons of make-up and instead a light foundation, mascara, concealer, eye shadow and gloss. For whatever purpose you wear make-up for, it doesn’t necessarily improve you. You deserve to feel natural.

Did you know?: Make-up affect people’s skin differently. Though, this does depend on the brand, how long you wear it for and how much you apply. Typically, skin can react in two ways; irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis can be felt as a burning sensation or itch on the skin, however, the allergic contact is a ‘true’ allergic reaction resulting in sores and blisters.

Make-up can also be the cause of or worsen acne. If make-up is removed by the end of the day and after exercise, your skin won’t react or as badly, however certain oils will have negative effects on your acne.

To avoid all these symptoms, look for make-ups that are oil and fragrance free and hypoallergenic (less likely to cause allergic reactions), noncomedogenic (they won’t block pores – the cause of acne) and nonacnegenic (shouldn’t cause acne).

7 Tips on Make-up:

  1. Eye shadow can sometimes be the worst offender. The skin around this application zone is extremely sensitive and will easily react to eye shadows, kohl pencils and mascaras.
  2. Be careful when rubbing your eyes with nail polish on, this can also affect the sensitive skin around them.
  3. The best way to retain the moisture in your skin is to not use cosmetics every day. Eczema, dermatitis and inflammation around the eyes can also be caused by cosmetics.
  4. Never share your make-up. Even ask for a new sponge when applying make-up at a store. The brushes and sponges will always carry bacteria from the skin. You wouldn’t share a lollipop, would you? So don’t share your make-up brush.
  5. Don’t ever sleep with make-up on. For instance, if you were wearing mascara and the flakes from it fell in your eye; it can cause itchiness, infections or blood shot eyes the next morning.
  6. There are certain ingredients that are used in make-up that can cause harmful repercussions as serious as cancer. They include:
  • Bithionol
  • Mercury compounds
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Halogenated salicyanilides
  • Zirconium complexes in aerosol sprays
  • Chloroform
  • Methylene chloride
  • Chloroflurocarbon propellants
  • Hexachlorophene

8. The preservatives in cosmetics are the second biggest causes of skin problems. Here are some of the preservatives you should avoid:

  • Paraben
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Formaldehye

Do you wear a lot of make-up? Why? Are you going on a make under? Why do you feel people apply too much make-up?

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Abby: Why I Deleted My Facebook Account.

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BY ABBY MAC

Facebook can connect us to friends and family all over the world. It allows us to share photos, videos and information about ourselves and as the viewer; we can like and comment easily on people’s lives. But for me, Facebook can no longer offer this glossy cover. As a teen, it has been infiltrated with hate, misery and falseness which is enjoyable to the people causing it.

I deleted my Facebook account for a variety of reasons but the biggest one was that some of the users, particularly teens, had lost sight of what the true purpose of it was. It was hard every day to see some form of bullying and sadistic comments from these faceless people behind their computer screens.

Media and other adults often portray the biggest threats online to be strange predators that are 50 year old men looking to find you, though they are serious threats, there are other predators which can easily be friends of Facebook; the people that you share your photos, videos and information with, every day.

For me, Facebook was no longer a place of sincerity but teens sharing their lives only to be let down and bullied by their ‘friends’ (friends on Facebook; not necessarily friends in real life).

It seems that your Facebook profile is meant to be perfect and glossy with perfect pictures of yourself, or stupid pictures of yourself which still make you look cute and sexy. But that’s not my life. I don’t take a perfect picture every time. When I look stupid in a photo, I genuinely look stupid not cute and sexy.

Un-Facebookfied

This is un-facebookfied. It isn’t perfect! But look! Do you like my pyjamas?

When I say ‘Facebook’ as a general term, I mean the Facebook world constructed by teens. Facebook, by teens, is no longer about sharing our lives, not the real ones anyway. It is a fake, perfected life for all those ‘friends’ to ‘hate on’ or ‘like’ and then ‘unlike’ only to be mean. You’re not meant to share the photo of you still in your pyjamas eating birthday cake at 9 am but in fact the beautiful, already ‘Instagram(med)’ photo with all your friends wearing high heels and way-too-short dresses in the city. Apparently, I’m unlike the rest of the teenage population on Facebook and don’t own a way-too-short dress (that I wear in the city at 9pm at night) and I don’t celebrate my birthday by taking enough cute and sexy photos to fill a real photo album.

This perfected Facebook life isn’t fair on the rest of us ‘normal’ or ‘unperfected’ people. People like me. People who then strive to have a perfect Facebook page. It became that a lot of photos I took and activities and I joined in on, were based upon what I could get out of it for Facebook. For instance, ‘If I go to this dance, I’ll be able to take these photos with my friends and then upload it onto Facebook’ or I went into this weird extreme place thinking if a photo isn’t good enough to be on Facebook, it was deleted. It didn’t matter whether it was going on Facebook or not.

Facebook-fied

That’s ‘perfect’. No, it’s just boring. My pyjamas were way cooler.

Fake photos, videos and the status updates don’t connect our lives to people. They only share very fleeting parts of our lives that are ‘Facebook-ready’ and are good enough to not be attacked online. The photos that girls put on Facebook with their flat tummies and beautiful bikinis aren’t real. They have most likely stood there for 50 or so shots, with either the peace sign, sitting down or pretending that they don’t know the photo is being taken to find the ‘Facebook-ified’ one. And my least favourite part – when they then have the caption ‘ew my bod is disgusting. just want to die.’ That’s not fair. It’s not fair on so many levels but the biggest one is, they have taken a photo of their beautiful body and then demean themselves in hope to be presented with 189 likes and 67 comments all saying ‘ew no. your bootfiul. i just want to die now.’ or ‘get some ugly.’ It’s these photos and comments which make the rest of us all sit back and be brain washed with all these beautiful girls saying their ugly and as a result, we are feeling twice as ugly as them.

It would be nice to think that Facebook is still living up to its true purpose in the teen world, but it’s not. I can’t stand the bullying and the falseness. People trying to be someone they’re not. Whilst we continue to be tricked that everyone’s life is just so perfect, we will continue to feel how imperfect we are.

Facebook is like a reality show; it’s meant to be real but it is just so fake.

Did you delete your Facebook page? Why? How do you use Facebook? Do you think Facebook is changing?

Simple Pleasures.

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BY ABBY MAC

In a world where we often spend years, or our life, searching for people or items that make us happy, I think it is safe to say, that we could so easily miss simple things that have the potential to make us the most happy. On Christmas Day, I saw so many simple pleasures, many were missed and others were appreciated.

They varied from the care and delicacy one took to wrap the gift (not necessarily the gift), to the true beauty of a meal or the presentation of the dinner table. They made me happy. They made me smile. And they were extremely simple.

Unfortunately, peoples’ lives are cramped with such meaningless tasks and planned pleasures that these simple pleasures can’t be enjoyed. We forget the people we love and dedicate our precious time to those we feel the need to please or will get us somewhere.

When my two cousins arrived on Christmas Day, I found my favourite simple pleasure. The girls arrived with a basket full of different dolls, craft sets and lip glosses, with dazzling smiles which only ever masks faces once a year. They made it hard not to smile at the sight of their grins.

They showed me each doll and why they were so special to them; they chased me with their toy cars and set up games for us to play. I think it was many Christmas’ ago which I was able to ‘play’ with my toys not apply them, wear them or soak up their smells and colours. And I thoroughly enjoyed those games only recommended for children aged 4-12.

Blingled

My Laptop was ‘Blingled’

After we played with all their toys, they asked me what gifts I was given. And so I listed the lotions, candles and gift cards. Most of that seemed rather boring to them, however they were most interested in what I was going to spend my gift card money on. BOXING DAY SALES, OF COURSE! It was then to my delight that the eldest one wanted to go shopping with me. And there was my simple joy. She wanted to spend time with me. Without a true purpose. Not because it was Christmas or a birthday, because we were two friends and wanted to spend time together. That was the most pleasurable joy of my day.

Simple pleasures are so spontaneous and spectacular which make them just so special. They’re missed for other, less important people or tasks, and aren’t often recognised for actually being pleasurable. How can spending time with a 12 and 7 year old be fun, some may say? It’s often presented as a chore, when really it shouldn’t be. It is your privilege to be together. As a family. Safely.

If I think back to when I was 12 and 7, I would have certainly embraced the idea of having a friend or family member, older than me, open to spending time with someone younger – not being a chore. My simple joys are very simple. My cousins feel free to ask for me to spend time with them. And I am more than happy to willingly do so.

Simple pleasures aren’t planned, they’re spontaneous. They’re pleasures which would never strike you as something you would enjoy or notice, however, when they do, they are the most pleasurable pleasures of all.

A Word From Abby…

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BY ABBY MAC

So, I know Jess has already wished you a very, merry Christmas but I think it is polite (and my pleasure) to wish all the Growing Pains readers a happy Christmas, whether it has just begun, lunch is being served or Christmas for you is another 365 days away. I am currently lying on my bed, with my mum fast asleep beside me and the boys are watching a movie which one of them was given for Christmas. Boring? For some. But it’s perfect for me.

Everybody celebrates Christmas differently and I think that is beautiful. Christmas is so wide-spread and understood, yet everyone has a unique was to enjoy it. Last night, we dined at a wonderful friend’s house whom my mother has known for decades and this morning we all woke at a reasonable (enough) hour, unlike Jess, to unwrap plenty of presents given to and by the family. Usually, we would eat out at a restaurant for lunch to save mum the hassle of preparing a dazzling, world-class meal, but this year I really wanted to stay in. I wanted a family-do, where it was just us and quite casual. Instead of devouring a spectacular lunch, we’re keeping it simple and having ham and cheese toasties for lunch… and then, for dinner, getting down to the world-class meals. That’s how we chose to do it this year.

Everyone interprets and chooses their way to spend Christmas, differently. Even the people in your own family. See, my grandmother spent Christmas Eve and morning with us and then madly dashed north-west to her other younger grand children. My brother is up at the crack of dawn and will happily sit at the end of my bed until I wake from feeling creepy eyes watching me. Jess – her family is different again. And so are our neighbours, friends and family. Christmas means something different to every person. Whether that be because of religion, age or values.

So, depending on all those different factors, how do you celebrate or spend Christmas? What do you eat? Where do you spend it? How many presents do you give or receive?

Oh, and no Christmas photos from me. I’m in my pyjamas and it is very early. Too early.

Merry Christmas, once again.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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BY JESS WRAY

Hey all! I write on behalf of myself, Abby and the Growing Pains Team as we wish you all a very merry Christmas, wherever you may be! I hope you all have a lovely day with whomever you choose to spend it with. I hope you all share the Christmas spirit and enjoy your presents!

If you’re like me, I release the ‘inner-child’ in me on Christmas day. I sprung awake at 3:50 am on the dot. It was still dark and I was so excited to look under the tree, be the first one to see the gifts. I lay in my dark, chilly room and debated with myself whether I should get up or if I should just stop being ridiculous and go back to bed, “It’s 3 o’clock Jess!” The more reasonable, mature side of me won the argument, so I tried desperately to go back to sleep; I shut my eyes tight. After about 10 minutes I decided I just couldn’t do it, so I turned on my lamp and decided to read my book for a while. After I had finished reading, checked Facebook and browsed on Instagram, I was delighted to have a small glistening glow of the sunshine peep through my window! By this time it was 4:45 or something crazy like that. I immediately opened my curtains and let the morning sunshine implode in. I love the crisp smell of the early morning, the gentle cool breeze and the birds that sing in chorus with nature. I was happy that soon I would be able to go wake up Mum and Dad as well, but I had to wait for the time to be just right… If I woke mum up at 4:00, I think she would have a fit and ban Christmas all together!

Not really, but you get the picture. After further debating with myself whether I should get up or not, I finally got the courage to get up and explore beneath the tree! I tip-toed as sneakily and as quietly as I could, checking all my surroundings before I approached the tree. Roger, Roger, the coast was clear. I saw some presents under the tree, all beautifully wrapped with red and white ribbons and each person in the family had exactly 3 presents addressed to them. I tried to sneak a peek but I thought, “Come on Jess, you’re ruining the spirit of Christmas!” By this time, I felt quite lonely and I needed to talk and wish someone Merry Christmas, my mouth felt trapped! I am usually quite the blabber mouth so you can understand my dilemma! I was suddenly greeted, very excitedly, by my favorite kitty, Cooper – he’s my pet cat. We cuddled for a while and he meowed me a Merry Christmas! I held him in my arms and decided to walk into Matt’s room (he’s my younger brother) and to my surprise Matt was wide awake too! A huge sense of relief came across the both of us; I wasn’t the only insane person in the family on Christmas day. Matt and I and little Coops chatted for a while about how we couldn’t get to sleep, he had been up since 4:00 am, and Cooper, well who knows! Later, we transferred to the living room, perfect distance away from Mum and Dad’s room, for us to make a noise and be able to talk and watch ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ; it’s one of Matt and I’s favorite T.V shows of all time. We know every word of the song… sometimes, even the script! So we were entertained by Sheldon and the Big Bang gang for about half an hour when we heard a very exciting sound.

It was Santa! Or maybe just mum awakening from up stairs. We both look at each other and our eyes light up! It was what we had been waiting for since 3:00 am! Thump, thump, thump went Mum’s footprints and the noise got louder as she came down the stairs and towards us; we knew it was time…to begin Christmas!

“MERRY CHRISTMAS!” we belted out as we ran to mum who was still half asleep! We bounced and cheered and Matt and I anticipated and waited for the five words that we desperately wanted to hear… “Let’s go open some presents!” Mum and Dad, Matt and I all sat in our formal lounge and each collected our treasures from underneath the tree. We all took turns opening one present each as we went around the circle. Just like children. Oh, how I love Christmas!

Our family was very lucky this Christmas to receive a holiday as our main present, I also recieved DKNY ‘Be Delicious’ perfume, an eye shadow kit and a Coldplay ‘MY LO XYLOTO’ Concert Tour T-Shirt! I am very happy with all of my gifts and I am very excited to spend the rest of our Christmas Day with our dear family friends, The Ducrays! They used to live in South Africa too and we have known them all our lives, Brigitte (daughter, and my very close friend) and I were born together only about a month or two a part! We do miss our family so much, all the time but especially on these precious days, I send my love and Christmas wishes onto all of my dear friends and family that I cannot be with today.

So once again, I would like to wish you all a very magical Christmas and I hope that you are able to share and celebrate the love and joy with people who are special to you!

How did you start your Christmas day? Do you have any family ‘traditions’ on Christmas day? What gifts did you receive? 

Dear Kitty, I have Holiday Fever!

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BY JESS WRAY

This post is inspired by a dear friend of mine… Anne Frank! Okay, I do not directly know her, but I’m reading her diary so I guess I know her pretty well by now. I have been really enjoying reading ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ throughout my holidays and I seriously recommend you read this precious book. I have not yet finished but I am so hooked, I can guarantee you I will most likely finish reading Anne’s Diary by the end of this week! Although, in a way, I don’t want to finish it, I want to keep being amused and accompanied by delightful Anne whilst I sit by the pool and enjoy the sunny days!

The book cover

Anne’s Diary, so far, has been quite confronting and upsetting to read at times, but witty Anne always tries to find the brighter side of life even during her terrible situation. She writes to ‘Kitty’ about everyday events that take place whilst she waits in hiding with her family (Mr and Mrs Frank and Margot), the Van Daans, Mr Dussel, Miep, Koophuis, Elli and of course the cat Mouschi in their ‘Secret Annexe’ located in their hometown Amsterdam. I do know how the book ends, unfortunately someone spoilt the ending for me but I don’t care, I will keep reading! I am able to relate to most of the topics that she brings up. She was around my age when she wrote the diary and, I know it seems odd, but when I am reading I consider Anne as a friend and I can relate to some of her feelings. Through reading this book I have gotten a different insight into how the teenage Jews felt during the war and her views of the Germans, the news (at the time) and daily occurrences with her family life. It’s very interesting to “hear” her side of the story, not just the politicians and famous survivors but a normal teenager like myself. I can’t even begin to imagine how Anne could have felt during this time; isolated in hiding, not being able to go outside and having to deal with her “growing pains” alone; it makes me think of how lucky and privileged we are here and that I must be grateful for such a safe life. This book deals with a lot of issues that we try to address and write about here on our Growing Pains blog, which is all about growing up and experiencing change- whether they be bad or good, through the teenage eye. I used to think I knew quite a bit about World War lI, with the Germans and the British but I feel like my knowledge of this subject has been broadened purely through reading this book and reading how Anne writes and explains to Kitty exactly what is happening through her eyes. It is a very educational book and gives you a greater insight into the everyday life of Jewish people during WWIl and the cruel and inhumane sufferings that they had to be put through.

I am not one of those teenagers who hates reading, in fact, I really like reading but it takes me so long to finish a book! Or I have this bad habit of reading about 50 pages of a book and then I stop. Then about 3 months later, I’ll look at the book and want to read it again but I have already forgotten the story line and characters. However I am very pleased to have found this book, recommended to me by many people, including my Mum! I thought it would be a perfect time to read this book as my family is actually going on a holiday to Europe in exactly 8 days! Our first stop being Amsterdam! Amsterdam was where Anne wrote her diary and where their ‘Secret Annexe’ is located. Mum and I did some researching on Tourist Guide websites (as we do) and it actually turns out that there are guided tours through the actual ‘Secret Annexe’ and we have scheduled a day when we will go visit the special place where Anne wrote her memorable diary entries that still live on today! I am so excited to actually see the real deal and I think that when I have finished the book (perhaps during the 24 hour flight to Amsterdam) seeing the place will enable me to actually visualise all the characters sitting there, reliving their story, almost as if they have come alive before my eyes, it will definitely be the cherry on top of a great book!

Anne Frank at work in the Secret Annexe

So, I am using this book and the diary entries as inspiration for a new project that I hope to accomplish! When I am away I will fill you all in about the experiences that I will have whilst I travel to Amsterdam, then onto Geneva and then I will be skiing with my family in France for two weeks! I will write about funny things I see, different foods I taste, people I meet and unique stories along the way throughout the journey! However it will be in the form of a diary, and all my posts will start with ‘Dear Kitty’ and I will go on from there. I am really looking forward to it, hopefully I will do Anne Frank proud!

Therefore, if you are feeling a bit bored during these holidays or maybe you are feeling a bit lonely, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ is the perfect Christmas read (actually, anytime read!) and I am confident that if you haven’t read it, you will love it just as much as I have been loving it! If you have read it or maybe when you finish the book, please let me know what you thought about it!

I want to wish you all the VERY MERRIEST Christmas in two days time (not counting or anything) and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, including Abby who is relaxing by the sea as she soaks herself in the Aussie sun and will no doubt be getting a killer tan! However I will try my best to keep in touch with all of you and Kitty!

YOURS, JESS

Have you done any Holiday Reading so far, which books have you most enjoyed? Have you read ‘Diary of Anne Frank’? What did you think of the book? Are you going away these holidays too?

Auto Corrected Text Messages.

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BY ABBY MAC

They’re those text messages that everybody hates. They’re inevitable. But, nevertheless, everybody tries to do their best to avoid them. We read and reread our text messages just make sure our text messages haven’t been ‘auto corrected’ and therefore made that sentence completely incorrect.

One day, my friend ran madly into school, screaming ‘Oh my gosh! I accidentally sent ‘give me sex’ instead of ‘give me a sec’ to Ben [her boyfriend]! Heeeeeeelp!’ Although it isn’t a text message, I almost published a post titled – ‘What do you want from Satan?’instead of ‘What do you want from Santa?’

Though these sorts of mistakes can be humorous (if explained), many don’t result in the way which we ever predicted. Technology is not as instant as speaking face to face and sudden errors like the ones before cannot be so swiftly fixed. What happens if you’re not even aware that you asked for ‘sex’ instead of a ‘sec’?

We’ve compiled a gallery of all those awkward text messages. (damnyouautocorrect.com)

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Just another first world problem to add to the list.

Have you ever sent a text message where silly ‘auto correct’ has ‘helped’ you? Have you received an ‘auto corrected’ message? What do you do?

Top 3 Strangest Christmas Presents. Ever.

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BY ABBY MAC

They could be delivered from old Aunt Nelly with the dodgy eye or even the neighbours across the road, but everyone gets strange Christmas presents. These ‘gifts’ could vary from a hand-made sweater with reindeers and Santa dancing on the front (Bridget Jones’ Diary anyone?) or simply another hand lotion which has obviously been re-gifted and still has the discounted price tag on the back.

Bridget Jones' Diary Sweaters

Bridget Jones’ Diary, anyone?

So, with the Christmas spirit floating around, I have compiled a short list of the top three strangest Christmas presents that I’ve ever received.

  1. Two wire coat hangers from my Grandmother. The same gift she gave my mum a decade ago. Tip: Wire coat hangers are never ‘on trend’.
  2. Underwear and a singlet from my Dad.
  3. Pool toys from my Aunt. We don’t even own a pool.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this strange Christmas fever. I often wonder what runs through people’s minds when they give gifts like the ones above.

‘Gee – I really think Abby would like two wire coat hangers for Christmas to hang up all the pretty clothes she gets from other people. Though, I don’t want to spoil her with a whole packet, she might get a bit greedy.’

That’s how I imagine it. Totally logical to them. Totally illogical to us.

But it’s the thought that counts, right?

What is your top three strangest Christmas presents, or does your list go on for longer than three? Have you ever given a strange Christmas present, why? Do you believe that it is the thought that counts?

WARNING: Embarrassing

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BY ABBY MAC

It is the duty parents must think they should fulfil. That duty could take place when you are young, or when you grow older, as they can bask in the heat which radiates from your burning hot, embarrassed face. But beware, at some point, your parents will embarrass you.

Every parent (or sibling) has their own style. Are they cruel enough to do it publically or privately, when you’re younger or older and is it so embarrassing that your life could come to an end?

Embarrassing Parents Dancing

Anyone seen this scene before?

I know of many friends whose parents have tried to act really young and hip, and that’s been the embarrassing moment. Others have had parents who really and intentionally embarrassed them and then there is the sad parent and the unfortunate child who don’t even know they’re embarrassing each other. For example, a girl in grade 11 caught our school bus, occasionally. Her mother would always wait at the bus stop with her and try to talk to all the kids there. But one day, one cruel day where even I was embarrassed, was when that mum got onto the bus. Yes, she got onto the bus. In her pyjamas and pink dressing gown. I know by now you’re wanting the story to stop here but it can’t. The truth must be told. Her mum then walked up the bus to say hello to all the kids – some being grade 12 men, that she remembers from when they were ‘tiny tots’. The worst part of it all, her daughter in grade 11 didn’t even care. Not a jot. ‘It was normal’.

I don’t think I have a story that even compares slightly to that. I asked my parents and they said they’d never intentionally embarrassed us, at an older age (yet). Only when we were young and couldn’t understand why they were making us stand on top of the seat at the train station and flap our ears so the train could come faster. That sort of stuff. Anyway, there is one story which still results in my face burning extremely red.
It was pyjama day at our school and I was in grade two. (Just to let you know, when that girl’s mum got on the bus, it wasn’t pyjama day.) Basically, every child, and some teachers, could come to school in their pyjamas. I was happily entertained by the idea that I would have to do no changing from my bed clothes to my school clothes and therefore the hour which I woke up could be pushed back. My mum dropped me off at school as usual and she drove home. But unfortunately, that’s not where the story ends. My mum came back to school later that day to be a ‘helper’ . She came dressed in her pyjamas. With bunny rabbits all over them. And purple, fluffy slippers. No other ‘helper’ had worn pyjamas. With bunny rabbits all over them. And purple, fluffy slippers. I thought my life could end at that moment. Until mum turned around. On her bottom, she had accidentally ripped the pyjama pants at the gate and left a gaping hole for everyone in that room to take a look at the lilac underpants which she had (thankfully) worn. It was there that I realised my life was not about to end, but it was already ending.

When have your parents embarrassed you? Or, when have you embarrassed your kids? Have you embarrassed your sibling/s?

Child Parenting: Do You Do It?

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BY ABBY MAC

When my dad remarried, he and his new wife – had two more girls. Those girls were lovely and it was my genuine love for them which provoked me to want to be part of their lives. I wanted to play with them, brush their hair and hold them just like any other older sister would. That’s what I wanted to do. But I didn’t want to become their parent. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what did happen.

I only visited my dad every second weekend, however, that didn’t stop my dad and step-mother from making me the step-in parent. I was often asked look after them for extended periods or in unsafe environments, feed them, brush their teeth and bathe them, dress them and entertain them. I emphasise on the word entertain. I wanted to play with my sisters, not become the ‘girl on show’ to entertain them. That isn’t in my criteria.

When I was told to look after them, I ultimately had no choice in the decision. Whilst my dad and his wife went out for an hour or so, it was my responsibility to care for a toddler and baby – I started at just eight years old. It makes me feel uncomfortable that they were prepared to leave an eight year old girl on her own, let alone an eight year old caring for a toddler and a baby.

Siblings looking after siblings

Child Parenting. It happens.

The most frightening time for me was whilst my baby sister, step-mother and I were swimming in a public pool. At the time I was eight. My step-mother jumped out of the pool and said she would be back soon and just left the baby in my arms. In a public pool. I was eight. She was a baby.

Playing with a sibling is okay. Wanting to brush their hair or paint their nails is okay. Leaving young siblings under their brother’s or sister’s care, is not okay. It is unsafe on both accounts; for me and my younger sisters.

It is not any parent’s right to think it is okay to leave young siblings with another older sibling. It doesn’t matter whether the elder sibling is 16 – it is not okay. When one decides to become a parent, one cannot simply hand it off to their other children when they crave a break. When someone becomes a parent, one must fulfil it.

It was lucky for me that I was not with my sisters all the time and therefore was not their permanent parent, however many others have different stories. I know of a family whose mother and father have completely disregarded the job as parents and have transferred it onto their eldest from when she was eight. I think the best way to describe her life is sad. She was expected – forced – to fulfil a role that she didn’t choose and one she didn’t deserve. We lived quite close to their house and I could clearly hear her name being screeched across the house. ‘Jaazzz*, feed Kate*’, ‘Jaazzz, put Kate to bed’, ‘Jaazzz, stop Kate misbehaving’ and it would go on daily, her mother screaming taunts of abuse.

It is this poor and disgusting behaviour which plants a seed of resentment towards the younger sibling. It did for me. My sisters were no longer sisters but chores and that is not fair on them. They don’t have the choice in who cares for them, particularly at a young age.

Jazz lost her right to freedom, therefore being tied to her house all hours of the day to feed her younger sister, bathe her, dress her; the list goes on and on. She couldn’t apply for a job because she already had one. She lost her childhood. She lost her right to childhood.

It is not wrong to ask a sibling to occasionally brush another’s hair or put a jacket on them, though it is wrong to ask them to become their parent. I wanted to play with my sisters, not parent them.

How do you feel about children being forced to parent their younger siblings? Have you or are you the parent to your siblings? Do you force your kids to parent your other children? Why?