Tag Archives: Little Prince

Anne Frank 70 Years On: Our Vigil.

Last night, as part of a global tribute to mark the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death, we lit candles and read passages from her diary out loud and recorded them to post on the official Facebook page.

My husband and son take part in our vigil to honour the life of Anne Frank.

My husband and son take part in our vigil to honour the life of Anne Frank.

I don’t know if anyone else in the family really appreciated its significance or what it meant to me personally but they went along with, no doubt what they thought was another one of Mum’s crazy ideas, somehow sensing that there was some import somewhere.

This is one of the passages we read out. I chose this one because although Anne Frank suffered, she also saw the good and had a real joie de vivre, even while being imprisoned and in hiding in the Secret Annexe.

‘As long as this exists’, I thought, ‘this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?’
The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside; somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity.
As long as this exists, and that should be for ever, I know that there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances. I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.
Oh, who knows, perhaps it won’t be long before I can share this overwhelming feeling of happiness with someone who feels the same as I do.”

– Anne Frank: ‘Diary of A Young Girl, 23rd February, 1944.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve spoken to the kids about Anne Frank and or the horrors that she endured due to Nazi anti-Semitism and no doubt it’s going to take a few more attempts for the penny to finally drop and that one or both of them might also see the value in journalling as well, which I would love.

Our tribgute to Anne Frank at Sydney's Palm Beach. We lit a glowing circle of tea lights.

Our tribgute to Anne Frank at Sydney’s Palm Beach. We lit a glowing circle of tea lights.

The way I see it, the kids are like piggy banks. One coin might not seem like much and rattles around feeling lonely inside piggy’s empty belly. However, one by one, those gold coins start adding up and pretty soon that piggy is getting heavy and seriously worth breaking into. You have loot! You can go and blow all those savings on that much desired “something”!! (Sorry, I’m a spender not a saver. If you want investment advice, you came to the wrong blog…make that the very wrong blog!!)

When I was growing up, girls weren't supposed to even surf. There are so, so many things my daughter rightfully takes for granted!

When I was growing up, girls weren’t supposed to even surf. There are so, so many things my daughter rightfully takes for granted!

So, hopefully after last night, a few more gold coins have gone into their precious heads and they will appreciate and not take for granted the freedoms they have. The ability to say what they think without being put in gaol, although it may land them in time out! To appreciate that being able to walk along the beach, is a blessing and not something to take for granted because for us it is always there. I hope they will also appreciate that although alot of kids and teens feel their parents may not understand them and that some level of conflict with your parents is almost a right of passage through the teenage years, that they are very much loved and all any of us really can do is try and do our best. We are all mortal with feet of clay.

It has taken me the best part of a life time to appreciate that in my own parents. Even now, I’m now ashamed to admit that I’m their harshest critic. Mum and Dad, I am incredibly sorry for that and commit to change. It’s all very well to champion the Golden Rule but it’s also something I need to implement myself. As I somehow commit to change, I’ll just add that I’m not alone in this. Aren’t we all guilty of judging harshly and being so incredibly demanding of those who brought us into the world? They were no doubt young and naive like the rest of us and didn’t quite realise what they’d taken onboard. That parenting is a lifelong journey. That birth was only the beginning.

Although I’ve posted this link to an interview with Otto Frank, Anne’s father, before it’s worth repeating. He speaks such wisdom and like the rest of the world, we wish he could have had his family back. I could imagine the horrors he has endured!!

Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWRBinP7ans

Like so many I cherish the memory of Anne Frank and send her our love and this quote I love from The Little Prince by St Exupery:

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Love & blessings to you all and may we all know and appreciate what it means to live  in the free world and the joy of being able to step outside the four walls we call home!

Rowena

Flying Inside a Veritable Mosquito.

When psychologists and all sorts of other mental and physical health experts (who usually have a swag of impressive letters after their names) say that scouting develops resilience, they’re usually talking about the kids.

However, last weekend just goes to prove that scouting also stretches the parents well beyond their comfort zones into unexplored territories of fear. That’s apparently what it means to build resilience…you feel the fear but somehow manage to slay the beast and bury it somewhere in your backyard.

A stunning sunrise over Brisbane Waters as the cubs prepare to leave base on their big adventure.

A stunning sunrise over Brisbane Waters as the cubs prepare to leave base on their big adventure.

You see, last Saturday my husband and the kids went flying with the cubs while I stayed home.

Now, I’m not talking about “flying” as in running very fast or leaping off the roof of the scout hall doing some kind of Superman manoeuvres. They’re the sort of antics reserved for Detol commercials and such like!

No! Instead, Geoff and the kids went up in the sky in a real, live airplane. An airplane which I have since code named: “the Mosquito”. I don’t know what I was expecting in the way of aircraft but it was definitely something approaching half the size of a commercial jumbo jet with some kind of full-body airbag or parachute attached. After all, isn’t the Scout motto: “Be prepared”?!!

The Little Prince

The Little Prince

Unfortunately, I was unable to go flying with them myself. Rather than being a case of scaredy-cat-itis, I have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) so I have a shunt in my head which I understand doesn’t really like changes in pressure. We didn’t have much notice about the trip and seats were limited so I didn’t have time to check the ins and outs of it all. Rather, I simply waved the family off before sunrise and returned to the comfort of my electric blanket and feather doona and had a big sleep-in instead. It is the middle of winter in Australia and we are experiencing freezing, Antarctic conditions, which means the temperature is anything below 18®C. We Aussies can cope with the roasting summer heat but we shrivel up and almost die, as I said, when it is “cold”. So at this time of year, we’re all happily hibernating underneath our doonas and the invading hoards can completely overrun the place. We wouldn’t even notice they were here unless they turned off the heater or our electronic devices.

While this plane might look safe, it actually crashed and broke a wing.

While this plane might look safe, it actually crashed and broke a wing.

Anyway, while the rest of the family was out flying, I did the next best thing. I was reading about, thinking about and even inhaling the joys of flight while I was writing in my journal. Quite a few years ago, we had been to a wonderful exhibition where scientists had built models from Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings and we gained a real appreciation of his absolute obsession with flying.

Self-Portrait-Leonardo-da-Vinci

Self-Portrait-Leonardo-da-Vinci

I contemplated Da Vinci’s love of flight: “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been, and there you long to return”.

Of course, I pictured the kids arriving home with their necks permanently craned up towards at the sky.

Then I jumped online and thought I’d check out the Scout Flying Centre and see what type of plane they were flying in.

That was where my heart fell out of the sky and came well and truly crashing down to earth.

It wasn’t a plane. It was a mosquito!

The Mosquito in shadow. I loved this shot. Well done Geoff!

The Mosquito in shadow. I loved this shot. Well done Geoff!

The plane was miniscule Cessna C172…a 4 seater with only one engine.

One engine meant there wasn’t a Plan B.

Moreover, with a plane that small, there was no room for the kind of airbag or full-plane parachute I was considering, although I guess the plane was small enough to somehow break its landing in a tree…

Such is the power of positive thinking!

Yet, as much as I was a bit rattled, I was the one encouraging the rest of the family to go. I wanted them to carpe diem seize the day and you can’t do that from the safety of your couch or by wrapping everyone up in so much bubble wrap that they can’ t even move. This might be a different application of the saying but “if you love someone, set them free”. As much as you need to protect your children, you also need to give them the space and encouragement to grow up and stretch their own wings!! In other words, they need to become independent and actually grow up!

At the same time, a part of me did wonder whether they really had to go flying in such a small aircraft to experience the whole carpe diem thing, especially in light of recent devastating aviation catastropies?!!

Apparently, the answer was a resounding: “yes!”.

Of course, they didn’t ring me to let me know they had all touched down safely and there were no photos beamed through to my phone so I could be a part of the experience. However, I did call them. The first time, they hadn’t gone up yet and the second time they were on their way home on the bus already. Phew!

Thankfully, the first phone call informed me that Geoff and the kids weren’t going to be on the same flight. Geoff and Jonathon were going up together and Miss was going up with a buddy. That was a bit of a relief but I was still looking forward to that phone call to say they were all safely back on terra firma and on their way home.

Geoff and Mister about to climb onboard.

Geoff and Mister about to climb onboard.

Apparently, the plane took off from Camden and they went on about a 20 minute flight out to Warragamba Dam out in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Geoff and Mister went together while Miss went with another girl and her Dad. Their plane was called “CFI” which in airplane talk becomes “Charlie Foxtrot India”. Aparently, Geoff kept getting in trouble for referring to it by its initials only. Geoff told me the boys were full of enthusiasm and it was a case of “Look! Look! Look!” They were so excited! Mister, who is 10, commented on how the view reminded him of looking at a model train layout, which also has an aerial perspective. Miss, who is 8, said they had gone to the Blue Mountains and it looked like “pillow land”. She was amazed at how quickly they managed to get there. It took them 15 minutes, whereas it takes a couple of hours’ drive from home. I should point out that the kids haven’t been on a plane since they were too young to remember so this is their first memory of flying.

Flying over Warragamba Dam. Can't see Nessy but everybody knows she's shy!

Flying over Warragamba Dam. Can’t see Nessy but everybody knows she’s shy!

In addition to these sightings, I also heard about a reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in Warragamba Dam, which holds Sydney’s water supply (so you could say it is a rather thirsty sort of beast!) This could, of course, explain the frequent water shortages…

French Pilot and enigmatic writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

French Pilot and enigmatic writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

While you could dismiss this sighting as childish imagination, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s enigmatic classic: The Little Prince reminds us that children have a different perspective on things and who are we to say who is right and who is wrong? I guess he is the “I” in the story, who talks about how he drew a picture of a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant as a child, which adults dismissed as a hat. When he explained his drawing, the adults told him not to waste his time with such nonsense:

“The grown-ups’ response, this time, was to advise me to lay aside my drawings of boa constrictors, whether from the inside or the outside, and devote myself instead to geography, history, arithmetic and grammar. That is why, at the age of six, I gave up what might have been a magnificent career as a painter. I had been disheartened by the failure of my Drawing Number One and by my Drawing Number Two. Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things[1]”.

LIttle Prince Boa Constrictor

St Exupery strongly believed in the power of the imagination to achieve greatness:

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing with in him the image of a cathedral”

Michelangelo had a similar vision. Talking about his famous the statue of David, he remarked:

“I saw an angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.”

However…

That doesn’t mean that I’m suggesting or even purporting that Nessy has gone and packed her bags and somehow relocated to warmer pastures!

I’m just saying that we have to be gentle with a child’s vision and all that they may or might not see and carefully nurture their dreams and visions. Given this little bit of faith, you never know how far they’ll grow! We don’t need to stamp all over them just because we’re “right”.

By the time the flight crew arrived home, they were tired and cranky. Their necks weren’t craning permanently to the sky longing to return. After such an early pre-dawn start, there was only one place for this flight crew to go…bed!

Sweet dreams!

xx Ro

[1] de Saint-Exupery, Antoine; The Little Prince, New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1971 p 2.