When do you know if your Child is being Bullied

When does a parent know whether or not their child is being bullied?

Bullying is a repeated form of attack whether verbal, physical or cyber bullying. Random name-calling and teasing are just that  – random. Yes, parents need to be aware that little ‘Johnny’ was teased at school today, but that does not mean you have to go racing up to the school.

Stop!

Ask questions.

“Has X done this to you or someone else before?”

If NO then it is probably an isolated incident and unfortunately part of every child’s growing pains. Usually, in these cases, the children have long since forgotten what happened and moved on.

If YES, now is the time to act.

 

Polly Visits the Angel of the North

me and angelJann and Polly visited the Angel of the North whilst on holiday this year. It is an impressive structure, it is 20 metres high (65ft) and has a wingspan of 54 metres (almost 175ft). It was commissioned by Gateshead Council to attract tourists to the North and has been seen by 33 million people annually since it’s construction. Makes one feel quite insignificant when you stand at the feet of an angel.

sign for angel of the north

 

Where is Polly?

IMG_20180503_125833

Earlier in the year, Polly headed off on her holidays.  She visited Ireland, where she met many new friends and a few odd ones too.

There were Saints, Kings and Queens at Dublin Airport…

Castles, old churches and pubs…

as well as music shops, gypsy caravans and faerie forests, for her to visit, she had so much fun.

 

 

Sometimes I think I’ll Never Grow Up.

The most wonderful thing about being a Children’s Author is that you have every excuse under the sun to never grow up. Well, that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.

I recently attended the Edutech Exhibitions at the Sandton Conference Centre with Evadeen Brickwood, a friend and fellow and author. Afterwards, we had spent the morning wandering around the stalls we headed back towards the car, when low and behold, a toyshop jumped right out in front of me.

Now, those who know me well, know I have a weakness for toy shops and bookshops. It was just too much, I had to go in – for research purposes, I explained to Evadeen, who having experienced me on a book tour to the Eastern Cape, knew to just go with the flow, I love how she just does that.

Well, as we wandered around checking out the toys – for research purposes, of course, I spotted a mechanical Polly, actually I think she spotted me because as I passed her she started to chirp, and talk, flap her wings and raise her crest. I WAS IN LOVE! Only one slight problem, a R1700 (£100) price tag – Owch. Never mind, nothing can replace my Polly.

Oh and I think the 50+ was for the suggested appropriate age – JUST RIGHT FOR ME ha, ha, ha. Maybe next time Mechanical Polly…

Play Time for Big People.

Sometimes we also need some downtime, so after visiting the Edutech Exhibition and seminars, Evadeen and I walked back through the Sandton Shopping Mall, near Mandela Square. Unfortunately for Evadeen, as we crossed the bridge between the Conference Centre and the Mall, Jann spotted one of the exhibit booths slightly ajar and empty. Well the temptation was just too much and i decided to play at being a mannequin for the day with the following results:

Evadeen you were a great sport taking the pics, and don’t worry we only had our name tags on so that the cameras can identify us ha, ha, ha.

SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT!

Polly Talks at CP Awareness Day

I walked around to the back of the marquee and cried, I couldn’t stop the tears. I was glad I had worn shades. Then I walked back into the marquee, having given myself a pep talk – “You can do this Jann, it’s important. These are the children you wrote the Polly Series for because others are too afraid to write about disabilities.”

Ok, pep talk over, I was there to do a job.

Polly had been invited to talk and read at a CP Awareness Day. So, what is CP? It is Cerebral Palsy. I knew it existed and could be severe, but until Saturday I didn’t realise the degrees of CP there are. As children arrived, some so severe they just lay them gently on blankets, or in the ball pit, others in wheelchairs, or with walkers. I could feel the tears welling up again and looked to Kim for support,

“Think it’s going to be an emotional day,” I said, she just nodded and I noticed she had her shades on too.

Then it was show time. It’s amazing, after the initial flutter of butterflies, as soon as I fix on a child, the words always seem to come. I think it is something about the expectation in their faces and not wanting to let them down that does it for me. And well, these were the children I had written for.

It had all started back at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. In his closing speech, Sir Phillip Craven (a paraplegic Paralympian himself,) told of how a young boy was reading with his mother. In the book, he saw a man with an eye patch over one eye, a hook for a hand, a parrot on his shoulder and a wooden leg. When asked who it was, he said: “Well, he has only one leg, so he must be an Olympian.” Such was the strength of the London 2012 Paralympics that it changed peoples’ perceptions of disability forever as well as my own.

I had always admired Oscar Pistorius racing on his blades, as well as Natalie du Toit swimming like a fish in the pool, but the more I researched, the more I had gained so much admiration for these athletes. I realised the dedication it takes to be a top class athlete who is able-bodied, let alone one who is disabled. (I have a gym 250m from where I live at the end of the road, and I can’t get my sorry butt down there,) These athletes train every day through the pain and I can only take my hat off to them, they really are super athletes.

Over time, I made friends with some disabled athletes, Nur in particular. It started on Facebook, there we started chatting. I didn’t realise he was blind and put my big foot right in my mouth. “But how can we be chatting, I mean, how do you read what I am typing?” I asked him, astonished that we had been able to converse so easily. TECHNOLOGY  was the answer, of course,  his phone read out what I had typed (NO MORE SHORTHAND!) I still haven’t met Nur, or Natalie du Toit, but I will one day.

That closing speech sparked something in me and I quickly googled PIRATES/PARALYMPICS/BOOKS. There was nothing. ‘That’s ridiculous I heard myself thinking.’ I typed in another set of keywords around DISABLED/KID’S BOOKS/PIRATES. Still nothing. So, I went to Amazon, ‘There must be a book here.’ I found myself thinking. Still nothing.

I’m not sure if I was more shocked or disappointed that there wasn’t a book with that connection for children and mentioned it to a friend.

“Then write one,” she said.

Just like that. Write one. So I did, and am I glad I did, because, last Saturday I was able to share that first book with some very special children, their siblings and parents. I think we sometimes forget the able-bodied siblings, but for them, my characters resonated too.

Polly and her pirates get up to all sorts of antics in the Polly’s Piralympics book, there’s climb the rigging gymnastics, walk the plank diving, a three-legged race as well as a Pirate Masterchef competition, amongst many other events. The pirates learn about cheating, not bullying as well as how hard it is to be in a wheelchair.

There are currently 5 books in the Polly’s Piralympics Series. They all have a strong anti-bullying and disabled themes through them, and teach that disability does not mean inability, and bullying is not cool, it’s for a fool.

I think my reading/talk was well received judging by comments afterwards, and am so glad I accepted the invitation to the CP Family Awareness Day. I personally walked a path I did not expect to but would walk it again tomorrow if asked.

 

 

Beat the Bully

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