60 Ways To Tell You’re Middle-Aged




Middle Age.

Two words that are not so much frozen in time, as frozen time, themselves.

That time in your life when deja-vu is true, because you’ve been there, done that, and tried the t-shirt on for size. It’s the time of life when the hairs – sorry, stray eyebrows – on your chin sprout white, and jelly belly happens even when you have not eaten any. It’s the time of your life when you unconsciously rhyme most sentences in a fey attempt at humour, and make atrocious puns in the vain hope of raising a wry grin from your readers.

Middle age is a time when the kids, if you have any, are torn between admitting you were right, after all, and wanting to prove you were wrong, with their own brand of twisted logic.
It’s a time when your brain drains and you have to send out questionnaires to your friends in order to compile your blog…. and then cheekily assemble the results alphabetically so that you can pretend they are your own brainchildren…

1. At cafeterias, you complain cappuccino froth is too tough to chew;
2. At the airport they say you are over-weight, and you’re not carrying luggage;
3. Conversations with people your own age often include lists of medications;
4. Dinner and a film constitute the whole date instead of the beginning of one;
5. Gardening has become a big highlight of your life;
6. It takes a couple of tries to get over a speed bump;
7. It takes all day for those “sleep marks” on your face to disappear;
8. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as “casual chic”;
9. Most of the time you’re at your pc it’s because you’re working;
10. One of the pillows on your bed is a hot water bottle in disguise;
11. People treat you as everyone’s grandmother;
12. Small children refer to you as “that really old person”;
13. The waiter asks how you’d like your steak – and you say “pureed;”
14. When you do the “Hokey Pokey” you put your left hip out – and it stays out;
15. You actually read the small print in any contract you sign;
16. You almost regret your tattoo, even though no one can see it;
17. You are now sagely and complacently nodding agreement with most of the above.
18. You arrive home early enough to garage the car;
19. You avoid looking at yourself from behind in a full length mirror;
20. You begin every other sentence with, “In my time…”
21. You believe black Lycra makes you look slimmer;
22. You call menstruation ‘the blessing’ rather than ‘the curse’;
23. You can talk to strangers and flirt without appearing to do so;
24. You cook for all the neighbourhood cats;
25. You decide to wear white tights with black shoes, or vice versa;
26. You discover that the pharmacy sells denture cleaner as well as prophylactics;
27. You discover that your measurements are now small, medium and large – in that order;
28. You don’t get up for old ladies on buses any more; they get up for you instead;
29. You don’t know what time the last bus leaves Paceville any more;
30. You eat cereal at breakfast time
31. You feed your dog Atkins Diet instead of McDonald’s leftovers;
32. You find your mouth making promises your body can’t keep;
33. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14;
34. You go to a Garden Party and you’re mainly interested in the garden;
35. You have to wear glasses to read the newspaper;
36. You keep food as well as beer in the fridge;
37. You keep repeating yourself, repeating yourself, repeating…
38. You light the candles on your birthday cake and the smoke alarm goes off;
39. You look like death warmed through, even with full make-up on;
40. You prefer pop-socks to tights – whatever the length of your skirt;
41. You remember the time your phone number had four digits;
42. You run out of breath climbing a bus;
43. You sleep during an action film;
44. You speak your mind even when it’s obvious you mustn’t;
45. You start scribbling sums that involve pensions, gratuities, and insurances;
46. You start video-taping telenovelas;
47. You stop filching hubby’s vests to use as t-shirts, and use t-shirts as vests;
48. You stop using sexy lingerie as outerwear and use outerwear as lingerie;
49. You think it’s too much bother to de-fuzz so you wear dark tights… again;
50. You think someone is stealing an hour from you when the clocks go forward;
51. You think you have lipstick on your teeth when a hunk gives you the eye;
52. You tune into the easy listening programme – on purpose;
53. You wake up at the time you used to go to bed;
54. You watch a TV game show and you know most of the answers;
55. You wear dessert shoes to go to the shops – and take them off on the car;
56. Your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up;
57. Your houseplants are alive, and you never use them as a mini ashtray;
58. Your Insurance Company has started sending you their free calendar – a week at a time;
59. Your new recliner has more options than your car;
60. You’re the one calling the police because the kids next door won’t turn down the stereo.


Food for thought

Bring back the Maltese menus!
How many Maltese families, this Christmas, will be sitting down to a hasi roasted to perfection at the local bakery with mounds of vegetables as an accompaniment? (a hasi is a capon, which is a cockerel castrated at between six and 20 weeks).
How many of these will then have enough space left for afters – the traditional qagħqa ta l-għasel (treacle ring) and imbuljuta (chestnuts stewed in cocoa with cloves, tangerine peel, and a dash of aniseed liqueur)?
In the silly pretext of being “modern” or perhaps “cosmopolitan” we have discarded the traditional timpana and patata l-forn for a mishmash of imported dishes such as turkey with chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce, lasagna, and lemon sorbet, downed with copious amounts of imported wines.
We view ourselves as sorry clones of Nigella Lawson – slaving away to produce unfamiliar foods we may not even like… Ms Lawson’s latest Christmas cookbook includes recipes for chestnut soup with bacon crumbles, lamb and date stew (cooked in a tagine which resembles the Maltese baqra of yore), and maple cheesecake.
Ironically, however, in a recent interview, La Lawson said she would be satisfied with mere chips and curry sauce.
So much, then, for pulling out all the stops in order to impress the family and guests.
Food is very important to the Maltese psyche – a woman, alas, is sometimes judged on both the quality and the quantity of food she offers guests – anyone considering cuisine minceur is setting herself up for sottovoce back-biting involving the words sparrows and anorexics.
The whole idea behind a Christmas meal – which comes bang in the middle of the festive period, when most people are replete with the hors d’oeuvres and mince pies and rich Christmas cake offered when they drop in for drinks at someone’s house – is to enjoy other people’s company.
The meal is an incidental. And these days, with many people having – or professing they have – allergies to this, that, and the other, a cook may find herself rustling up vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free, low-sugar, low-salt, and low-fat servings… apart from the “usual” food.
There was a time when guests would feel they had to eat anything that was put in front of them, escape having seconds by saying they wanted to leave room for the next course.
The making and eating of food lost its fun and laughter and love connotations and became a game through which one could needle one’s hosts and act up, with spoilt brats, masquerading as guests with health issues.
Mrs Beeton’s Puddings and Pies (bought by my mother at the princely sum of 5 shillings and 6 pence before ISBN numbers even existed) lists Christmas Plum Pudding, Christmas Pudding, and Pudding Sauce as must-haves for the Yuletide sweetmeats table – today, they would go to waste for the excuses about cholesterol, fat, and sugar content.
It is high time we turned our backs on “imported” traditions and harked back to our own. After all, trends from all countries can be updated to provide healthy, nutritious fare…; not only for Christmas, but also throughout the year.
Take the homely timpana, for instance, once a staple Christmas Day and Sunday dish – and good for cold take-away snacks too. The dough was once made with lard; butter is the ideal replacement. Do not even think of replacing the lard with margarine, no matter what the labels say about its wannabe “healthy” qualities.
There is no need, either, to include organ meats and sliced boiled eggs with the minced meat – and you can cheerfully do without the 50/50 proportions of meat to pasta. And, while you’re at it, decrease the number of beaten eggs and full-fat grated cheese that go onto the mixture… and make up for this by pouring some milk onto the pasta before the dish goes into the oven.
Need you serve squash soup, just because it’s on the menu at a five-star hotel? Or bouillabaisse? Or borscht? Why not some broth (not consommé) with tiny pasta stars, as a nod to the season?
When it comes to picking a fowl – why not opt for the traditional capon? Remove the parson’s nose and the visible fat, and stuff with lean minced meat, garlic and parsley (adding rice or breadcrumbs only if you feel you must), rather than something else that has nothing to do with Maltese cuisine – chestnuts, sausage meat and apple, or… cornbread and oyster.
The vegetables you serve with this need not be exotic sweet potatoes puree or corn-on-the-cob or dried cranberries and shallot vinaigrette. Whatever happened to sliced potatoes, oven-roasted to perfection at the local bakery, and a mélange of peas and carrots and sticky onions sautéed to just this side of browning?
Why serve pitas or naan bread? Why wholemeal or pasty sliced white bread? Whatever happened to the Maltese ħobża, able to stand on its own – let alone as an accompaniment to our very own foods?
Here, of course, it is inevitable to suggest our national drink – but since not everyone likes the taste of bitter oranges, I would suggest squeezing copious amounts of Maltese oranges and lemons, semi-freezing the juice, and serving it in jugs to be diluted to one’s liking. Local wines are a must, however.
Afters ought not to be pecans or cranberry jelly; most people would find something they like from bowls brimming with roasted peanuts, cubed ġbejniet, bigilla, and ħelwa tat-Tork.
And you know that coffee with anisette tastes much better than when it is made with whiskey, brandy, or any type of liqueur.

Mind over Matters: The Right Mind-Set to Start School

August 1, 2015

The First Day Of School. A phrase that must be written like that, because it is such an important milestone for the child -and for the parents too.
School is the place where a child may spend more of his waking time than he does in his home, not counting sleep. It is the place where he will make and break friendships; where he will mould his character further – and decide upon his future.
School is the place where parents have little or no influence over the daily interaction of a child with his peers and superiors. They may try to tell him what to do and what to say – but when push comes to shove, he must face the music alone. Talk about performance anxiety!
Education and learning are stressful enough as it is – and combined with a cocktail of new emotion, rituals and situations, the trauma and strain felt by the child, who may not be prepared for them, increases. All too often, the promised fun and games take second place. What the child sees in Orientation Day is a nice, smiling teacher – not one who is worn to a frazzle by spilled water-colors and miniature wars over toys.
To top it all, the parents’ attitudes, and feelings of anxiety, guilt or fear may be subliminally transferred to the child, who assumes that being uprooted from his home environment into the alien one is somehow “his fault” for not being “good”.
Children must never be compared with others; they absorb skills at their own rate, using their innate learning styles. It is wrong to expect a child to conform to a set of milestones, at such a tender aged. Moreover, different children bring different skills, at different levels, to the same class. Some children barely know how to put their shoes on the right feet – others can tie their laces into a perfect bow. Some may not even know numbers exist, whereas others can count to 100.
Psychotherapist David Grillo explains it in this manner:
One of the best things about staring a child off with playschool or kindergarten or pres-school is that they are not thrown in at the deep end. The fact that they don’t have to take notebooks and stuff eases them gently into the world of learning.
For some kids, especially those who fall under the youngest age bracket, the first few days can be traumatic. It is the first time that they separate for a ‘long’ periodfrom the parents. Separation anxiety is normal, and is also a part of growing up. But supporting them and ensuring that the parents, or someone with whom they identify, are home when they come back will help. It is also a good idea for both parents and not one to accompany the child to the door the first time.
These days, most teachers or kindergarten assistants are very well trained. And that makes a lot of difference.
Preparing a child for school psychologically goes hand-in-glove with the mundane preparations of uniforms (if applicable). Getting this must be a ‘special event’, with an emphasis on ‘school clothes for children who are no longer babies.’
If possible, take him with you too when you purchase his painting tabard, his lunch box, napkins and enough socks to have a clean pair each day. This is not the moment to worry that your child is gifted and will be “kept back” by the hoi polloi. That comes later.
Some children like to be alone with the person who is taking them to school, for the journey there. Others would prefer to be with a peer. See what works best for your child and take it from there. If the child has to take the school van, because of distances or time constraints, make sure to prepare him for this.
Never cajole a child into behaving like a “big boy” (i.e. ‘no tears’) because the “others” will laugh at him. This puts him on the defensive. Say, instead, that you are proud of him for actually being a good boy, even if he is bawling his eyes out.
Gradually change the child’s routine so that a week before school begins, he will be getting up and going to bed at approximately the times he will be doing when school commences. This gets him used to the routine.
Tell the child inasmuch as he is able to comprehend, that it is normal to have butterflies when starting a new school moving to a new house, or starting an new job. The idea is to get he butterflies flying in formation.
Getting to school should not be rush-scuttle-dash-sprint. The child can set his own alarm clock and fold his clothes neatly over the back of the chair, and make sure any stationery needed is in his bag, on the eve of each school day.
If you have to refer to your own childhood experiences, make sure the child cannot read anything negative in your attitude or tone of voice.
If the child’s school requires a packed lunch, allow the child to select what he wants to eat, and perhaps to help prepare it.
Angele Licari, psychologist, has this to say about the above:
Firstly check if you, as a parent, are psychologically prepared for your child to be leaving home to start school. I would sooner begin with preparing the parents, and not the child about the loss and attachment issues affecting both.
If you have any anxieties of your own, these can be non-verbally be transmitted to the child and become his own. If your own move to school as a child was tarnished with any negative connections, then you might assume the child would be passing through the same experiences, thus finding it hard to let go in a healthy way. Come to terms with your own un-finished past.
Every so often, check how your child interacts with other children. Check if he is clingy, jealous, rough, intimidated, insecure, or perhaps too confident, and how s/he behaves towards others in general. Consider whether the source for negative behaviors is sibling rivalry; or having a younger sibling who is allowed to stay home whilst s/he is being sent to school. Address these matters before they escalate and compound the child’s stress.
Go through the daily routine with your child so that he can visualize what school means, while at home. You can help him understand that how he leaves home, (transport etc), what things he might be doing throughout the day at school, (games, reading, playing, etc), that he would be brought back home or picked up. This is especially important. It will help him feel he can cope with new things as a matter of course.
Discuss openly how you feel; ask your child how s/he feels about the whole thing. You can say that you will miss him but that you are happy that he will now be learning new things and enjoying the company of his friends. You can ask whether he has any thoughts about the whole experience.
In a matter-of-fact way, without any drama, remind the child that if there is anything with which he cannot cope, the teacher is replacing the parent or carers during school time, until he come back to ‘home sweet home’.
Some schools allow parents to stay in the building for an hour or two during the first weeks of school, just in case anything untoward happens. Ironically, this sometimes makes the parents feel more bereft than ever; it’s as if they are extraneous – because since the child has not thrown a wobbly, it must mean that he has “forgotten all about them”.
by Tanja Cilia

Gone Trekking

When my friends were swooning over the likes of David Cassidy, Donny Osmond and even Marc Bolan, I had quite the thing for Mr Spock… I didn’t even stop to consider he was really called Leonard Nimoy.

I envied him because he could keep his face perfectly straight after his typical one-liners. Of course, to Spock they were not gags at all. Being half-Vulcan, he would have thought they were the perfectly logical things to say at any given moment.

To the Vulcan authorities, Vulcan was somewhat “defective” because his human side – pun intended – made him emotional. But to people who never fitted in, and to geeks, he was the ideal role model. This, indeed, was later expounded in J.J. Abrams’ prequel film, which shows a young Spock not quite as imperturbable as he became when we first met him as an adult. Back then, it would have been unthinkable for him to have a relationship with Uhura.

In a later series, Science Officer T’Pol became for Vulcans what a paper bag is to someone who is hyperventilating; Trekkies had long wanted ‘proof’ that Vulcans were not merely rational beings who could only show emotion when they had a human parent, or when something went awry with the circuitry of the brain.

T’Pol’s storyline had her give birth to a baby girl, Elizabeth – the father was Charles Tucker III (‘Trip’). Inexplicably (for intermarriage between species had happened in the past since Spock’s time) their baby did not live, despite all that Phlox is a Denobulan (who happened to be the doctor serving on the Enterprise as part of the Interspecies Medical Exchange at the time) could do.

Thinking back, however, I realised that the sex-appeal image was not only applicable to T’Pol, but to most of the women on any Enterprise spacecraft, even when (especially when!) they were dressed to the gills, usually in spandex or chiffon.

Before anyone thought of the back-story to the Star Trek franchise, there was Uhura. Like the rest of the crew, she had a uniform where the skirt came down to just below the waterline. In this future’s past, the idea was to feature James Tiberius Kirk as a playboy, with a ready procession of women at his disposal. Sometimes, just for the sake of change, he was the one being seduced; but the premise that women had to be eye-candy remained throughout the series. Even the female villains’ bodies were attractive, because they were usually vehicles for ugly entities who knew that they would never have scored with him in their real carapaces.

Uhura got to activate the whistles and bells on the computer bank, and cover her ears whenever the starship was attacked. Later women were “allowed” to be more important, even if they were not “really” human.

Seven-of-Nine was a cyborg who appeared in Voyager (1995). Incidentally, this was the first, and only, series with a female captain, Captain Janeway. Seven had been an ordinary human before, aged six, she was assimilated by the Borg Collective. This is why she did not want to revert to her human name, Annika Hansen when she was liberated – life as a drone was all she remembered. She did, however, except the short form ‘Seven’ – much less of a mouthful than Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01.

Not many people know that Commander Deanna Troi was originally supposed to have four breasts. But this would have done nothing for the character – or the show. So this half-human, half-Betazoid with the empathic ability to sense emotions was the starship’s counsellor-psychologist. She could not read the minds of aliens with brain structures that were not like those of humans and other Betazoids, however. Nonetheless, her empathic skills, and the fact that she could tell when others were lying, made her an important asset to the Enterprise and often came in handy when dealing with hostile races

She spent the first six years of her role wearing cleavage-showing and form-fitting clothes, and in many episodes, was targeted by alien forms of life that could take control of her mind in order to speak through her…

Then there was Natasha Yar. Tasha’s beauty was what got her kidnapped by the Ligonian leader Lutan. Yet the fact that she was not comfortable with her femininity made for very interesting sub-plots, all intended to show off her physical appeal. Of special interest is the time when she became intoxicated by polywater. Later, in fact, Data’s interaction with Tasha, preserved holographically for all time, stood him well when his rights as a sentient being were called into question.

Many female celebrities had walk-on, cameo, or walk-on parts in the Star Trek series, films, and cartoon versions. As time went on, they were “allowed to climb higher in the starship fleet hierarchy, acquire ever more “spatial” skills besides the emotional and technical ones, and generally become more important in the scripts.

This was, perhaps, of little importance to those who had already made a killing out of selling costumes for conventions, carnivals, fancy-dress parties, and Halloween.

What matters in this case, really, is the amount of flesh that is shown, and how that which is not, is emphasised.

Family Matters






Friday, 27th August 2010

I was zapping through different television channels last Wednesday, and a photograph of a young boy playing a drum-kit caught my eye.
The child turned out to be a character, now an adult, who is a head of department. Someone had filched it from his drawer and sent as an e-mail to all the staff. He thought it was a slight, because he had a “reputation to uphold”. However, his half smile indicated that he actually enjoyed the ribbing that he got from his colleagues – and of course it was conducive to his solving the case in hand.
The episode – from a series the name of which I do not know since I chanced upon it towards the end – involved the usual shady character planning the murder of his wife. There was a twist to the hackneyed plot of hired assassins, though. He knew that each Monday, his wife deposited the takings from his saloon, at the local bank.
So he kitted out two of his henchmen as robbers, and sent them on a pretend heist, the object of which was to get his wife killed. This had to be an inside job; and the guard who shot himself point blank in the upper arm to pretend that the robbers had hit him conveniently forgot that the wound would be different from one that had been made from a distance.
But I digress; my point was that I felt for the person ragged as “Ringo Starr”.
This week, five people, in five totally dissimilar situations, told me I am “sweet”… an adjective that is hardly ever used in the same breath as my name. Frankly, this bothered me.
But my faith in humankind was totally restored yesterday, when someone told me I was being obstructive, obdurate, and deliberately argumentative.
It all began when someone in a writers’ group to which I belong, posted a link to the reality television show about The Duggars. This family of Independent Baptists – like the website called Raising Godly Tomatoes of Elizabeth Krueger – advocates several ideas of how to bring up children in a “godly” manner. This led to a discussion about similar lifestyles, mostly oft he Quiverfull style.
The Quiverfull movement takes its name from Psalm 127: 4-5; As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Natural Family Planning is anathema to the movement. Spanking, however, is often not; ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ is treated as Gospel truth. In fact, the line comes from Part 2, Canto One of Hudibras (“Love is a boy by poets styl’d; Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.”) What the Book of Proverbs does say about chastisement, however, is quite similar: (1) 13:24 He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastises him betimes; (2) 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying; (3) 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him; (4) 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beats him with the rod, he shall not die; (5) 23:14 Thou shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell, and (5) 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
In my opinion, however it is fundamentalist to assume that the Bible insists you are to spank children to get hem to obey you, whether or not this is illegal, or classified as abuse, in your country. Cynics would say that it is also an easy way out; it stops the endless “why-why-why” lamenting of children who feel they have been hard-done by. It is the be-all “because I said so” ‘reason’. By the way – a girl should always do her “serving” cheerfully.
Systems like this, apparently, must be adhered to devoutly in order to work. There is no room for mix-and-match; and if you do not agree with certain phases in the system, you are judged to be against it in its entirety. Parenting systems that rely on regimentation usually contain references to “secular gurus” whose advice is as nearly worthless as does not matter. Some things, however, such as living debt free, and not having premarital sex, make perfect sense.
Does “reasonable discipline” include showing a baby a toy, and then smacking him for reaching out his hands for it? Likewise, Michael Pearl suggests tempting a child with a bite of their favourite food (placing a morsel within the child’s reach) and when said child instinctively reaches out for the food, their hands are smacked and the parents says “no”. This is repeated as often as it is deemed necessary – a sort of Pavlov reaction in reverse. The child then knows not to reach out for what he wants, but to seek parental approval, first and foremost, before doing this and anything else.
Such ruses are supposed to teach the child that he is in this world for the purpose of Joy – which, here, does not mean happiness, but (a) Jesus (b) Others (c) Yourself. We pray “lead us not into temptation” and then these people do it deliberately, to teach self-control. It is unfair, as I see it. Children must be raised in the same manner that tomatoes are attached to a stake, while being homeschooled, so that they will have no temptations to stray from the straight and narrow.
Incidentally, it is a part of the duties of older siblings to nurture and care for their younger ones, and older girls must learn to defer to younger boys because the latter are, meant to lead. These ideas come not (only) from the aforementioned two systems, but from others similar to them in certain aspects. Adult women are not supposed to take paying jobs outside the home; girls may, however, start earning money by having home-based businesses. At puberty, a daughter will pledge her virginity (sometimes in writing) to her father who will match-make for her with a male from a similar background whom he finds suitable.
For some this Christian Patriarchal system is a way of life. For others, this radical, extremist side of “Evangelical” “Pentecostal” “Christian Right” “Fundamentalist” and “Charismatic”, and even “Fascist”.
I am all for sublimation (not submission) – but I also advocate dignity of the person. I am all for young to dress neatly and decently in order to deserve the name. However, I would never insist they wear dresses only to safeguard their femininity – or, as they have it “not defraud their brothers”. Some of the women also wear head-coverings; but this is extant in some cultures and religions too. Trousers may be as womanly as dresses, according to cut and fabric.
Maltese mothers, in our majority, tend to and watch out for my kids (and sometimes, by force of circumstance, those of other people too). However, a straw-poll among my friends indicates that as a general rule we do not spank, and when we do, we do it with the flat of the palm on the bottom (where fatty tissue will absorb the hit) rather than with a strand of electrical line.
Each system of nurturing offspring has its plusses and its drawbacks; I find that inculcating into a child that free will is abhorrent is not to my liking.
I also question the wisdom of bringing up children under the watchful eye of a television camera – but that, of course, is another story.

Angry Young Men and Women

Posted on May 9, 2013 by Tanja Cilia

Some teens look  back, forward, and around them in anger – the ultimate in one-upmanship over the horde of (mostly) working and middle class 1950s British playwrights and novelists.
Kingsley Amis, Michael Hastings, Harold Pinter, John Osborne, Thomas Hinde, and the rest would have been surprised – and possibly perturbed – and the number of teens going around with perpetual pouts and frowns, erupting into toddler-like tantrums when things do not go exactly as planned.
We tell our teens that people their age never had it so good; including that some of us had to find part-time jobs if we wanted money during our school-days…
They dismiss this with a shrug, rather as if it is their divine right to have all that they need, and a bag in which to put it. The gap between teens and their parents or carers, alas, often seems to deepen as fast as the adults thrown in rubble from the top to fill it up and make it even with the rest of the terrain.
We wonder why our teens are acting in such a way; after all, don’t we know what is best for them? Don’t we need over backward to help them achieve what they want?
It is all too easy to wash the teens off our hands by quoting adages like “as you make your bed, so you must lie on it”… and it is even easier to react to their irrational ire by even more of it.
However, it is better, safer, and more logical to nip the problem in the bud. Here are a dozen ways to help you do so:
1. The teen is often trying to test boundaries. How far will you let him go before you issue an ultimatum? Will he be able to needle you into a reaction by using specific phrases or body-language actions? The solution: practice deadpan in front of the mirror. The teen will realise that the reaction they so want will not be forthcoming.
2. Anger from us engenders even more anger-related behaviours from children. These may react either by seeking solace with their friends or other adults (of whom we may not approve) or by retreating inside an impenetrable shell, or by even more extreme reactions – including outbursts that can wreak damage.
3. The sulks and the silent treatment are what some parents give their parents; they hope that we will ask them what the matter is, so they can say how hard-done by they are. This type of mind game appears to be very popular. Look at it this way: a child who is angry because his jeans are not clean will not always realise that this happened because he did not put it in the laundry chest; you have to tell him that.
4. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is advice that ought to have gone out with the Ark. Yet, alas, many still believe that the only way to get a child in line is to use physical force. In this way, you are teaching a teen that “might is right” – and, never mind that a time will come when they will be physically stronger than you will – the chances are that they will behave in a similar manner with weaker siblings or friends. Bullying is never a solution. When you hit your child, you are expressing your anger and frustration, not teaching him mores and morals.
5. A generation ago, parents were told to use the broken-record method to make children kowtow to them. Smart teens recognise this, and use the same attitude to make their parents change their minds about curfews, hair-dye, piercings, and other issues. He will badger, pester and harry you until (he hopes) you give in and tell him to do what he wants because he has exasperated you. Bingo!
6. If a teen is angry, he will not, and cannot, listen to reason. He sees “Let’s talk” as an order, and not as a suggestion; so he is bound to refuse. Go a step further and tell your teen that when he decides he wants to have a coherent, reasonable, two-way conversation, you will be there, waiting for him.
7. Sometimes it is specific incidents that prompt an outburst from a teen. If a teen feels helpless, or excluded from his peer group, it is bound to make him angry. However, he expects you to read his mind to know why he is speaking in monosyllables. You can watch out for the warning signs – a tic in the cheek; baled fists; swift blinking; narrowed eyes; nail-biting… all these may herald an eruption of anger. Therefore, it is better to nip the episode in the bud; letting it all out is not the best of solutions.
8. The general idea is to let the teen know that you know he is angry, and that, although you can assume why this is so, you will never know for sure unless he tells you. A teen needs to know he has your support and love. This will not happen if you only communicate with one another when the need arises, or when the only time you are together is when you drive him to his next ball game.
9. Remember that your teens are probably watching you, and, as a corollary, learning by example. It is useless telling them not to get angry when they see you mouth off at someone who has cut in front of you on the road; or describing your in-laws in graphic detail when you think he is not listening.
10. One of the worst parenting examples I ever saw involved a child who had fallen off a swing in the playground. His mother actively encouraged him to bang the swing against the supports, calling it “rude” and “nasty” and “cruel” the while…in effect, blaming it for the accident. The child’s face as he did this was a picture. If we teach our teenager to lay the blame elsewhere, rather than at their own door, they will never learn how to discipline themselves and control their anger.
11. Life skills include being sociable even if you do not really feel like it; being polite; negotiating compromises with people who do not see eye to eye with you, and curbing anger, amongst other things. Developing healthy self-esteem is part and parcel of a well-rounded character.
12. If you treat your teens like adults, they will behave thus – but if you treat them like toddlers, they will behave like babies. Explaining a situation from your perspective educates them, without driving them to be on the defensive. A child who is in a receptive frame of mind because he is relaxed is more amendable to correction than one who is het up in the throes of an argument.

Anger, Ire, Fury, Rage: An Acrostic

A Antagonism… annoyance… abhorrence.
N Nothing you will do or say will soothe the
G Great wrath
E Eating the soul.
R Resentment.
I Irritation and indignation have
R Risen like an
E Eerie tide of aggression and
F Fulminating loathing.
U Umbrage and dislike combine,
R Redolent of wrath and resentment.
Y You don’t even know why you are angry.
R Resentment and regrets….
A About time you realise ire is futile.
G Garbled emotions boiling within.
E Exquisite pain; anger propagates and feeds itself.

I Am Woman, Help Me Roar


The police line-up looked like a page torn out of an Asian Who’s Who.
Sarah Champion said so, and she did not mince her words. “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls – and it’s time we face up to it.”
However, the aptly-named Champion is not just a woman in the street. Before she wrote the fateful words, she used to be the British Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Equalities. She resigned from her frontbench position when she was hauled over the coals for using, and I quote, “blanket, radicalised, loaded statements” and “Nazi like language”, unquote.
This is another example of political correctness gone, not only awry, but totally crazy. Apparently, she was being racist, and was not supposed to have defined the perpetrators by race.
I would probably be one of the last women that feminists embrace as one of their own. However, I cannot help noting that whatever happens, it’s cherchez la femme in the worst possible meaning of the phrase… because women always get the wrong end of the stick.
A lot – too much – has been said about the foreign woman who, alas ‘offended public morals’ because she was as high as a kite, and consequently did not know, or probably care, what she was doing. But two men who go skinny-dipping are laughed off as “lads”, and two youths who endanger their lives and cost the state megabucks in rescue fees and manpower and time are just “boys being boys”.
Can anyone tell me whether the person who filmed the woman is being fined for disseminating porn? Or does the video-clip fall under the general heading of “news in the silly season”?
A man of the cloth – I use the euphemism on purpose – makes a mockery of what he stands for… and some have the audacity to say that, like all victims of sexual deviants, she “asked for it”.
A pathetic excuse for a husband beats his wife, who did not obey her lord and master, not because she was out with the girls, or watching television, but because she had chores to do. She is hospitalised. It did not even occur to him that his brutality would deprive him of many more of her meals.
A dirty old man under the illusion that he is some handsome virile porn star, attempts to go kinky on his wife… without her consent.
A girl dies – and the hacks rush to pick out the photos featuring her in the most provocative poses from Facebook and other social sites.
A punter thrashes the flat of a woman who has still not fully transgendered. Some self-styled experts said that there should have been full disclosure before they got down to the nitty-gritty. Only a few of us understood that his wrath stemmed partly from the fact that he knew he was going to be mocked by his peers (especially of they are of the same mind-set as he) for what happened to him…
In all the above stories, the victims are denied dignity… perhaps because they are women… perhaps because the perpetrators are men… perhaps a combination of both… Throw in some barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen fundamentalism, and there you have it.
There will always be, of course, women who ask why “she didn’t leave him”, and, when it comes to abortion and prostitution, that it is “her body, her choice”. Alas, things are not that simple.
Now we are being told that prostitution, stripper clubs (let’s not call a spade a digging implement), white (or any other colour) slavery, and money laundering, are totally unconnected topics. International documentation backed by research and statistics, is scorned and dismissed as a mere theory… by the people who stand to earn megabucks if things go their way.
Alas, I thought that those of us who voted in the last election, chose representatives who would “do something” about injustices. It seems they are too busy going about their official darg to find time for anything else.
Who will bell the cat?


How Do I Write? Let Me Count the Ways

Posted on June 7, 2010 at 2:29 AM

I write in the dark, comfortably supine, using pencils on unlined paper and my stomach for a desk. I write on spiral notebooks during the countless bus-rides I take because I do not drive. I write at the kitchen table, with ink-filled pens on beautiful stationery. I write at my personal computer  – and that is where FreeCell and e-mails do their best to distract me..
My version of a paperless office is both my night-time dreaming, and the writing I do in my head when my eyes glaze over where it would be bad form to whip out a ballpoint. Sometimes these words do not get to the physical point, but as far as I am concerned, they’re written anyhow..
I breathe because I write. I scrawl ideas on the margins of newspapers and the backs of envelopes and receipts..
I write because I breathe. A letter, a poem, a haiku, or an opinion piece may be written on impulse, but I have to knuckle down for deadlines. Yet I have no “routine” as such; I would never be able to write one thousand words before breakfast..
People fascinate me. Family, friends, and even perfect strangers often thinly disguise themselves and gate-crash my fiction. For non-fiction I have to keep half an eye on the libel laws. With Malta being such an insular place, this is especially pertinent..
Credibility is something I treasure. I always get my information from the source. I do not like censorship; yet I do not like people showing that it exists by depicting gratuitous vulgarity, or sex, or violence that are bound to be censored, either..
Sometimes, a column or a poem write themselves. I have never stumbled over the hackneyed writers’ block; perhaps that’s because I tend to procrastinate since I know I work best under pressure. So, if you want me to write for you, never say “no hurry”. I have always made deadlines (albeit sometimes with seconds to spare) come hell or high water, births and deaths, illness and travel..
I’m a stickler for using the correct terminology; and since the phrase “editors reserve the right to edit for length or clarity” covers a multitude of their sins, this has given rise to many heated discussions. I have no beef with writers who insist upon being paid for every word they pen; but I am not averse to donating articles (or poems or puzzles) to publications of worthy causes, without being credited – since this would defeat the “donation” principle..
My writing is eclectic; so I slant my work according to the demographics of the readership of each publication or site. I do insert a couple of “difficult” words in children’s stories in such a way that, even if they are not looked up (as I hope they will be) the tale will not lose anything. I try to get my values across in anything I write, be it a television critique column or an interview with a celebrity. I like puns, alliteration, and idioms. But unless the feature is deliberately meant to be over-the-top, I consciously ration myself not to risk losing the thrust of my piece. I have several dictionaries (some of them esoteric) and thesauruses, which I prefer to online versions.
Therapy; a weapon; serious fun; a dais. Writing, to me, is all these, and more..

Traskurati… jew imsieken?

Ġun 20, 2016 18:53

Fejn kienet ommu? Fejn kien missieru? Dawn il-kliem nisimgħuhom meta tifel jaqa’ mnn fuq bandla, jew jiżloq f’xi żejt tal-karozzi li jkun hemm fit-triq. Bħallikieku nistgħu nżommu jdejn uliedna 24/7 biex ma jiġrilhom xejn.
Nisimgħu dan il-kliem ukoll meta tiġri xi traġedja… meta xi tifel jittajjar minn karozza u jmut; jew, bħalma rajna dan l-aħħar, meta xi annimal salvaġġ jaħtaf lil xi tifel li jiżgiċċa mill-ħarsa tal-kbar, u joqrob lejh… u f’tebqa’ t’għajn l-annimal jagħmel dak li l-istint jgħidlu li għandu jsir.
U allura – il-kummenti krudili u inutli tiegħek ser ibiddlu li ġara? Mhux kulħadd jaf li ġenitur qatt m’għandu jidfen lil ibnu? Hemm għalfejn tikteb dan fil-gazzetti kollha fejn tidher l-istorja?
Meta tifel ikollu marda terminali, dan diġà jkun stallett fil-qlub ta’ dawk kollha li jħobbuh. Jixbgħu jistaqsu għaliex. Iduru l-professuri kollha biex jaraw jekk hemmx xi ħaġa li tista’ ssir; xi ħaga ġdida, imqar esperiment li qat ma ppruvawh fuq il-bnedmin qabel. Forsi ma tafx kif…
Meta jiġri xi inċident bħalma ġraw dan l-aħħar, imma, l-istorja tinbidel. Flok ma noħduha kontra Alla (jekk nemmnu fiH), nobżqu l-mibegħda kollha tagħna lejn il-ġenituri li ħallew idejn it-tfal tagħhom imqar għal sekonda. U jekk, kif ġara, ġarrbu t-telfa kiefra, xorta nsinnu lsienna u ma nħalluhiex ħelwa għal melħa.
Għax it-tfal tagħna qatt ma weġġgħu meta kienu magħna. Qatt ma korrew meta kienu l-iskola (u hemm inwaħħlu fl-għalliema). Qatt ma kellna xi membru tal-familja li baqa’ mmankat meta pprova jagħmel xi bravura. Jew forsi għandna żewġ qisien – dak “għalina” (għax it-tfal jgħalluk), u ieħor għall-oħrajn (għax il-ġenituri traskurati).
Kull minn segwa l-aħħar storja jaf li missier it-tifel tqabad bis-sħiħ biex jiġbed lit-tifel minn ħalq il-kukkudrill. Min jaf kemm xtaq li dan l-annimal feroċi jinsa lil ibnu u jaqbad fih minflok. Min jaf kif iġġennu bid-dispjaċir meta t-tifel ma deherx iżjed.
Din il-familja, li min jaf kemm damet tagħmel preparamenti, u tfaddal, biex tmur vaganza, ser tgħix il-bqija ta’ ħajjitha b’ħofra fonda f’qalbha – b’xogħfa kbira li f’dawk iż-żewġ sekondi, iż-żgħir żgiċċa u mar jesplora.
Imma possibbli hemm bżonn li kull meta tiġri xi waħda tinkiteb bħal din, aħna nfittxu każijiet simili fejn l-istorja spiċċat mod ieħor – jew għax it-tifel ikun salvat, jew għax jinqatel l-annimal – u nistaqsu “dan kif ma ġarax hekk din id-darba wkoll?”
Hawn min iwaħħal fl-internet… għax b’erba’ tektikiet tal-mouse nsibu dak li rridu flok li noqogħdu nqallbu l-gazzetti. Imma le. Mhux kulħadd juża l-internet għal skopijiet faħxija hekk. Mela allura, dawn huma n-nies li jħobbu jgħaddu ġudizzju fuq ħaddieħor… forsi biex tagħhom ma jidhirx.
Nistaqsi: kieku din l-omm, dan il-missier, kellhom ikunu ċ-ċimiterju meta int qed tqiegħed il-fjuri fuq il-qabar ta’ missierek / nannuk / dak li rabbiek, int tkellimhom? U meta ngħid tkellimhom, irrid infisser: x’tagħmel, ittihom il-kondoljanzi tiegħek u tibki magħhom… jew takkużahom bi traskuraġni u tgħidilhom li ħaqqhom li ġralhom hekk? Ser niftakru li jekk it-tfal tagħna qatt ma ġralhom xejn, dak mhux għax aħna perfetti iżda għax ma nqalgħetx l-okkażjoni?
Mela, dak li m’aħniex lesti li ngħidulu f’wiċċu lil dak li jkun, lanqas għandna ngħiduh minn wara dahru, jew fuq xi sit soċjali, biex nuru kemm aħna nafu ninsġu l-kliem (jew nitkellmu pastaż).