Tag Archives: Be Prepared

A Conversation No Parent Should Have.

Last night, I had a conversation with my nine year old daughter which no parent should ever need to have. We talked about what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

I didn’t instigate this conversation but I didn’t shut it down either.

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My daughter is performing at a large event in a capital city and Australia is on a high terrorist alert. While a terrorist attack at her performance is unlikely, it’s not impossible. In the past, our geographical isolation  has protected us from global conflicts. However, isolation can so longer save our precious country from what happens “over there”. It has already happened here more than once and a former work colleague of mine was among the hostages in the Sydney Siege this time last year. So, I know first hand that these things can happen to you or someone you love.

While this awareness could turn you into a victim, being a Scouting family,  my thoughts were for her to “Be Prepared”. That this isn’t a time to stick our heads in the sand…especially when she has concerns.

Our daughter simply asked Daddy where she could buy a suit of armor. He told her that you couldn’t buy them and that he thought they were illegal. I’m not sure if he said any more but I decided to follow up her question. Given events in Paris and, as much as I have minimized exposure to the news, I knew what she was really saying. She is afraid of a terrorist attack.

When I was her age, a notorious murderer broke out of jail and I was terrified. In my mind, he was heading straight to our place and I was locking the windows and barring the doors. My Dad reassured me, talking about the likelihood of him turning up at our place, a tactic he has often used since and is a classic approach to reducing anxiety. He also told me that he would protect me and knowing that my Dad was some kind of super hero, I believed him. Of course, he didn’t turn up and Dad retained his incredible super powers.

If we were dealing with the same kind of threat, I would give my kids much the same kind of advice. I’d also tell them that our dog, Bilbo, would fight to the death to save us. We all know that while he looks cute and fluffy, he knows how to be ferocious and would die for us.  No questions asked. He’s a dog!

Bilbo shadow Palm Beach

Our Philosophical Dog walking along beside the tide. He doesn’t like getting wet paws.

However, these terrorists aren’t operating by the old, conventional rules. These days, having a simple cup of coffee or going to a football match or a concert, can be life threatening. These terrorists are striking at the ordinary, which means that your average Jo(e) needs to be prepared.

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Obviously, a writer-poet without any military training, is definitely no expert on surviving a terrorist attack. However, I read how people survived inside the Bataclan Theatre and have also had my dose of TV to add to the mix.

This was my advice:

  1. Try to stay calm and think. Keep breathing.
  2. Find the exits. If you are close to an exit, try to get out. Getting out safely is your best option.
  3. Hide. Try hiding under your seat.
  4. Pretend your dead.
  5. When you’re outside, find the Police.

I forgot to mention about listening to her teacher. We know her really well. Of course, she would look after our children like her own but under exceptional circumstances, Miss might just have to do the bolt.

Amelia's dancing shadow

My daughter exudes such joie de vivre dancing at the beach. She shouldn’t have to think about shadows!

While the chances of her being caught up in  a terrorist attack are slim, talking about what to do in an emergency is a good idea. That’s why we have things like fire drills and we just can’t assume that we will be with our child in an emergency. Or, that we won’t get separated in the chaos, like an Australian father and his 12 year old son in the Bataclan Theatre.

Indeed, the day of the Paris Attacks, we had a severe hailstorm here. I had just ducked out for a few minutes and while I was gone, the hail smashed through a section of roof. Rain was pouring in and we had to get the State Emergency Service out to put up a tarpaulin. We’ve been living in this house for 14 years and I’m pretty sure it’s the first hailstorm we’ve ever had. So, the unexpected can happen in all different shapes and sizes and a few survival skills go along way. That, in addition to book knowledge, we all need life skills. We need to know how to get through a crisis. How to save ourselves.

For my daughter, too, knowledge also means being empowered. She has some skills. She has some ideas about what to do and how to respond. So, instead of going into a panic, she can be level-headed and perhaps even help others in all sorts of emergencies.

So, I’ve now come round to thinking that this is the sort of conversation all parents need to have with their kids. Not just about terrorism but about how to respond in an emergency. Children might be young but they’re incredibly resourceful and being small can be quite an advantage. Being good at hide & seek could even save their life.

Being prepared isn’t giving in to worry. Instead of weakness, you’re actually coming from a position of strength.

If you have ever read the words of La Marseillaise, fighting the good fight is what it’s all about. We don’t lie back and let the bastards win.

 

Take care and and I feel we are all particularly conscious of just how precious our loved ones and our communities are and I continue to pray for some kind of resolution and a new beginning.

Family shadow Byron Lighthouse Easter 2014

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

I would be interested to know your thoughts. We really do live in a new world where the old rules no longer apply. Now, the anticipated target could indeed be the exception. While this doesn’t make sense, this is our new reality.

xx Rowena

 

Dong! Dong! Dong! We’re back to the real world.

Getting the kids off to school for the start of another year, is tricky at the best of times. However, when your life is complicated for whatever reason, trying to get your little peoples to school on time with all their paraphernalia on the first day becomes, or at least appears to be, Mt Everest…particularly if “catastrophise” is your middle name.

Of course, to make matters worse there’s always that parent who has literally licked ever hair on their preciously child’s perfect little head in place just to ensure your child looks completely and utterly neglected like some raggamuffin orphan out of Oliver or Annie.

At times like this it’s easy to feel that no one understands that your children, your family and even your precious dogs have indeed been through the spin cycle and haven’t exactly emerged with all the right bits in all the right places and that you’re just thanking your lucky stars that they even got there at all.

Well, actually, things went a lot better than that but that was my concern. After all, this house is where Murphy’s Law, Mrs Murphy’s Law and Rafferty’s Rules all fight it out to the death.

However, it could be worse.

This time last year, I was undergoing chemotherapy to treat my auto-immune disease, dermatomyositis. I can’t even remember how the kids went to and from school on their first day last year but I do know that they soon found their way into before and after school car, which later cut back to after school care and when funding magically cut out after 3 months because, as we all know, parents only get sick for 3 months and then magically resurrect from near-death. Well, that’s how it is in Australia anyway.

Thank goodness for friends because a friend was giving my kids lifts at least two mornings a week all of last year.

Even though the broken foot is still healing and I’m only just back to driving locally, I’ve decided to tackle the new school year head on like a bull charging at a gate and have decided to take responsibility for getting our kids to and from school even though my mobility is far from ideal. I’m walking with my foot in a boot and my mobility is problematic anyway due to muscle weakness. While I am perfectly justified in getting assistance, I wanted to get involved with school again so we can stay with the program.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn't get our usual shot at the front door.

The kids all dressed and ready for school. It was raining outside so we didn’t get our usual shot at the front door.

The other problem I have when it comes to getting out the door is that the kids almost always ignore me. LIke so many kids, for some reason they completely ignore Mum and resolutely do their own thing, which makes getting them anywhere on time difficult. While you might say that I need to take control and be the parent, I often have trouble with my voice so it can be a struggle to speak. I struggle to move and so it doesn’t take much for the kids to completely out manoevre me and get away with blue murder. This was where having my friend taking them to school was particularly handy because they didn’t want their friends seeing them in their PJs. The Deputy Principal has also told me that she is quite happy to accept the kids in PJs and they know that. They may think they can run rings around me but they know they don’t stand a chance with her and they quickly shape up.

While it is one thing to make all these decisions, which really do fall under the same heading as New Year’s resolutions. They are doomed to fail without any corresponding plan of action and a fairly detailed one at that. The irony with most of these supposedly difficult changes which we struggle to make is that we already know what we need to do. We probably also know how to do it. We just lack the discipline and commitment to see it through. Stick with it. I understand that it takes 6 weeks to change a habit but day one or at least the start of day 1 has exceeded all my expectations.

I have drawn up a daily check list for the kids which is laminated. Every day, they tick off their jobs as they do them and only once they’ve done everything on the last, will they get access to electronic devices. Devices go off at 8.20 and we are in the car and driving off at 8.30 AM. School starts at 8.55AM and school is only a five minute drive and so they get in plenty of play time with their friends before school.

The funny thing about the check list is that the same kids who were protesting to do the dishwasher, never make their beds and forget to brush their teeth in the mornings did all of these tasks without nagging or complaint. It’s a miracle worker and I’ve known the check list is a miracle worker and yet I keep forgetting to update it. This means it’s been about 2 years since we last used it and believe me, there has been a lot of angst and heartache in between.

Quite simply, I do a list up of everything the kids need to do before school and their afternoon/evening routines and then have a tick column for each day of the week. In the past, I’ve printed a list our for each week and pasted it in a book but laminating the list means they can tick it with a whiteboard marker and you can wipe it clean each week and start over. I have used a bit of colour, highlighting important times like leaving for school and I have also included a row for after school activities so they know what they have on as well. They are about to turn 11 and 9 so should be fairly self-reliant and not be needing constant reminders from Mum and Dad anymore.I am particularly conscious that our son starts high school next year and really needs to get organised now in advance.

Just because Mum's the papparazzi, that's no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

Just because Mum’s the papparazzi, that’s no reason the kids have to pose like supermodels. I was very lucky to squeeze a second shot out of my son and they refused to interact, relax and insisted on this kangaroo stunned by the headlights look.

I am quite thrilled that everything went almost too smoothly and that we pulled out of the driveway right on 8.30 as planned and I was back here sitting at my desk at by 9.00 AM armed with my special cup of tea and home made Banana Macadamia & Blueberry Muffin.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

A relaxing cup of tea and home-made banana muffin after dropping the kids at school early.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”.

-C.S. Lewis

However, to be perfectly honest, the early morning start has been a bit of a doozy so I think I might just nip back to bed for a little Nanna Nap. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I’ve somehow ended up on Western Australian time, which is 3 hours behind Sydney and what with the holidays and all, have been staying up way too late and sleeping in and I’m pretty sure Geoff has been hanging out for this morning when the night owl was needing to surface at 6.30AM and get back to the human race.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

Dogs sleeping under my desk. While the rest of us have had to get back to the real world, the dogs are on a perpetual holiday.

As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Please wish us luck and for anybody experiencing the terrible snow storms, we are thinking of you and praying that you are safe and sound.

xx Rowena

 

A wet and misty day in paradise.

A wet and misty day in paradise.

 

Looking very much like a scene from a Northern winter, it's summer in Sydney...not quite your postcard perspective!!

Looking very much like a scene from a Northern winter, it’s summer in Sydney…not quite your postcard perspective!!

Happy Australia Day 2015! It’s overcast, wet and even the cricket has been delayed.

Just in case you didn’t check out yesterday’s post, this was yesterday:

Mister still roasting as a very hot Australian sun sets.

Mister still roasting as a very hot Australian sun sets.

 

People often tell you that tomorrow is another day and most of the time I’ve politely nodded while feeling highly sceptical, cynical and plain unconvinced. How could my entire world change completely overnight like waving a magic wand? Surely, there would just be more and more of the same and one day surely follows another. Why would it change?

Well, overnight, we have seen an absolute change in the weather here in Sydney. Yesterday, there was blue sky and the sun was blazing overhead like an oven. I’ve always meant to actually test whether you can actually fry an egg out on the raod on days like that but eggs are rather messy and I always seem to forget. I’m sure someone somewhere has tried and can tell me if it works but that would somehow spoil the magic.

While our last day in paradise has been spent indoors, I was watching a few yachts sail past and even a couple of what I could only call zealous kayakers paddle by and then I realised that they were out there carpe diem seiziing the day despite the rain. I didn’t know whether that was a good thing or just blind obsession but as much as I love going out in the kayak, I don’t like that sensation of having wet raindrops patter again your skin. It’s sort of creepy…as in scraping fingertails down a chalkboard kind of creepy. No, I’ll stay inside.

That said, I am considering a swim in the pool. It was so balmy warm last night. You see, it has solar heating and we haven’t adjusted the settings so it was like swimming in a balmy soup. Yes, it’s going to need a good dose of something when we leave. Unfortunately, at those temperatures it’s going to become amoeba soup.

We will be heading back home tonight. Tomorrow, will be our last day of school holidays where we will be quickly trying to adjust our body clocks to the inevitable early mornings and trying to get all our ducks lined up for the real new year.

At least, I’ve made a list.

Sadly, something tells me that we’ll be relieved just to pull up at school on time with hair done, shoes on and something in the lunchbox. We are still struggling to implement our scouting motto: “Be Prepared”!!

By the way, I still have the boot on my broken foot as we start the new school year and the operatic cough is starting to look like I’ve had whooping cough. While this might excuse me from being wondrously organised for the start of the new school year, that isn’t going to help the kids get a good start or perhaps aiming well beyond our station…actually, get ahead.

Wish us luck!! We really, really need it!!

xx Rowena