Magic stays with you

Part of the Waldorf curriculum is on fort-building with children. You might think it is all frivolity, but fort-building is about creating magic with your children as well as teaching them skills to be practical, safe, nurturing and creative. I am quite sad really that there are many grown-ups out there in the world who do not know how to build safe loving homes.

If you look at some photographs on Pinterest, you will see how magical forts are.

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My children’s father and I used to build forts with our children when they were little. We would use bedsheets, cushions and torchlights to create magic – as I was working full-time in those days and did not have much time to spare, I just used glitter pen to draw stars on the sheets, but when shined with torches in a dark room, you see something magical. And we all felt that whenever we crawled into our little fort.

The magic stays with you forever. Today, I went shopping for a present for my beloved partner. He is a man who hated possessions so what could I get him? There is so much I want to give him but there is nothing he wants materially. So I decided to buy him materials to build a very grown-up fort – a teepee tent – so that I can create that magic with him on the cliff of our house. I think that is a very precious gift indeed ❤

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F0r an article on how to build a fort, click here

A healthy Mediterranean breakfast

Almost all children love tomato ketchup, but most commercially produced ketchup have very little tomatoes in them: a well-known brand of ketchup is made up mostly of sugar, starch, artificial flavourings and artificial colours. Indeed, it is so loaded in high fructose corn syrup (sugar) that it is advisable not to consume too much tomato ketchup (or tinned tomato soup).

Thus, many children don’t know what real tomatoes taste like. Tomatoes are tasty! Is it a fruit or a vegetable? – we used to play this game with our kids when they were young. And here’s an interesting fact about tomatoes – they are from the deadly nightshade family. But we love tomatoes – fortunately, because they are a cheap form of super foods. They are rich in lycopene, phytonutrients, antioxidants and a whole host of vitamins. (Note: because tomatoes contain over 90% water, I strongly advocate organic tomatoes).

Here’s a simple but healthy and delicious Mediterranean breakfast:

  1. Saute finely chopped garlic in some olive oil (i se 2 cloves).
  2. Add 1/4 of a finely chopped onion. Saute until transparent.
  3. Add 1 cupful of ripe tomatoes, cubed. (Note: orange tomatoes are purportedly better for lycopene absorption).
  4. Saute until soft and all the flavours blended.
  5. Serve on toast.
  6. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.IMG_2435.JPG

Of fussy-eaters and two way respect

My 60 kg 16-year-old daughter is strictly a carnivore. She eats greens under sufferance, namely to neutralise the acidity of the meat she eats. She often blitzes these greens up into a smoothie, fibre and all, and chugs them down. I have her sports to thank for that. As a footballer playing in high level, demanding international tournaments, she has been taught how to pay close attention to her diet. She herself can see the consequences of not eating well.

Since commencing football training four days a week and following a professional programme, she has filled out nicely from a skinny 14-year-old into a powerfully built 16-year-old:

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Georgina has an informed and healthy attitude towards food (she does not drink, do drugs, smoke or stay out late because of the strict Academy rules) though she eats more meat than I would like.

I, on the other hand, love my greens. I could eat salads all day, fresh greens with just a light, homemade dressing. I would rather my family just eats greens, no meat. Indeed, in my militant vegetarian days in my misguided youth, I used to enforce a no-meat policy in the house. Looking back with hindsight, I realised it was the wrong decision in my household as a family who values kindness and Self very highly. I should not have tried to impose my ‘right beliefs’ on my loved ones, in the mistaken belief that I know what is best for them.

These days, I honour my family’s tastes and choices, but at the same time, I integrate my own wishes and likes into the food I make. I strongly believe that food is a two-way respect thing, not a warring turf. Unfortunately it has been that way in many families for decades – food has been used as an emotional blackmail tool and we often have unhealthy relationships with food stemming from our childhood battles with our parents and from our parents’ unhealthy attitude towards food.

Georgina has several friends who suffer eating disorders in varying degrees of severity, a couple of them requiring hospitalisation. The biggest tragedy is one who lost her life to anorexia. I do not think good eating habits alone can prevent this, but I do believe that good eating habits fostered at a young age goes a long way towards keeping children healthy. Here are my tried-and-tested tips:

(1) Never fight over food. That’s why it is important to exert your authority in this matter when your children are still young.

(2) Introduce children to a wide variety of food at a very young age. I don’t believe in cooking special food for 1-year-olds. They do not need special porridge or special bland food. They can eat what we do and they jolly well should. Just be careful about fish bones and small things like peas and sweetcorn that are choking hazards, and ensure that there is not too much salt in foods.

(3) Terrible Twos is the stage when food battles begin. This is the time to manage it right. Never allow a toddler to win the battle of wills. Be firm (but not unkind or dramatic). When I was in my early twenties, I had three children under 5 years old and was a full time student at University. There was no way I had the time or the patience to pander to food squabbles. My children simply had to eat what was on the plate. No force-feeding and no chasing toddlers with food either. Make the dining table a fun and happy place to be and everybody will eat well.

(4) If they choose not to eat then they can go to bed hungry. They won’t die or suffer malnutrition overnight.

(5) Foster good eating habits in the home.

(6) No snacking in between meals.

(7) Ensure that children understand the consequences of their food choice but no empty threats (for example, if you don’t eat carrots, you will die).

(8) With older children, have a dialogue with them. No drama. I respect your food choices, now you have to respect mine. It is give and take always, as is everything in life.

Here’s my burger, loaded with nuts, seeds and vegetables: