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Tracy Engelbrecht

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

To my ex’s girlfriend

Things I’ve always wanted to say to her, but felt too silly to do it. Now I have, and I’m so glad.

I don’t know you well, although you’ve been a part of our lives for some years now. I don’t how you really feel about being a step-mom, or almost-step-mom. We’ve not spent much time together, apart from greeting at the car when it’s time to fetch and carry. But I do know that my daughter loves you.

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Parenting the rapids

There comes a moment in every parent’s life when they realise that they do not in fact have the slightest clue what they’re doing and are not fit to raise silkworms, never mind actual people. This is a nasty shock, especially if you think you’ve been doing quite well up to now.

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Boys being boys?

A small boy sits on the school steps, alone. He hides his face on his folded arms – all that’s visible are scabby 7-year-old knees and a head freshly shaved convict-short. Lice, maybe? Or an attempt to fix a botched haircut?

I’ve never seen a sadder face.  It’s misery for the child on that step – and I can see why.

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Hamster Murder

 Now, this isn’t easy for me.  I’m about to share one of the most shameful episodes in our family’s history, and I’m girding the loins for the torrent of abuse which must surely follow.  And I’m afraid my father will never forgive me for letting the skeleton out of the closet (literally, almost). Be warned, sensitive readers. It’s not pretty.

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Whose God is it anyway?

I’m afraid it’s the tricky issue of religion today, folks. And the even trickier issue of how to parent two children with entirely different religious views, neither of them matching your own.

Joost and my kids

Erm, I’m back. Going to start syndicating my Parent24 column here. Did you miss me?

Much as it pains me, I’m going to write about Joost. Or at least use him as an example to make my point (stand by, it’s coming). By the time you read this, the man and his undies will be old news and the whole unpleasant business will have been sorted out. Secret evil twin, alien abduction, demonic interference or some such. The usual.

The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No to Ben Either

Woo hoo – she is back. Here I sit at the Book SA stand at the Book Fair, chatting to Ben, drinking Coke to calm my nerves and killing time until I have to speak at 11h30. So Ben’s got me writing, which isn’t a bad idea, seeing as I’ve been such a bad, non-existent blogger of late. It’s been a great weekend, I was here yesterday, soaking up the atmosphere, remembering last year when it was still 3 months til publication of my book. I remember looking at the Struik stand, thinking “Hey, I could be there next year.” And here I am. Yay?

The place is crawling with schoolchildren today (not kids, mind you. Hate that word, kids are baby goats, after all. Will always avoid using it, even though typing “children” takes twice as long). Schoolchildren that I have to speak to shortly. About me. About teenage pregnancy. About sex, basically. Gaah? Gaah. Just met SA Partridge and she said – “They can smell fear, you know”. Indeed. Any mommy could tell you that. Parenting is basically one part firm voice and nine parts bullshit, really. Hopefully I can talk firmly enough and not appear to be promoting flagrant underage babymaking. Some of those parents and teachers look quite fierce.

Right. I is off. Will be back to tell you how it went, if the mob hasn’t got me.
Missed you all, by the way

Said the Bishop to the Jesuit…

My lovely pudding-filled holiday is over and gone and feels like it never happened. Sigh. Yes, there was all manner of pudding. There was Nina Simone and pretty dresses and special people. There was tanning of the midriff region, which hasn’t seen daylight in about fifteen years. It’s possible that the searing whiteness of my untanned tummy may have temporarily blinded the surrounding birdlife as seagulls everywhere crashed into cellphone towers and dropped down dead. Satellites may also have been affected. Sorry ‘bout that. There were also suffocating coughing fits and a torn chest muscle caused by what now appears to be whooping cough. Very glamorous indeed. Dead birds and notifiable diseases notwithstanding, it was a really good holiday. And now, ’tis done. Bugger.

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The Playlist Hath Spoken

Today’s the day people. The day I go on leave for three whole weeks. Three weeks of shopping and pudding and happy yay times. But first, we must wait for the siren.

So here I sit, working nicely at my desk, not checking my Facebook profile once, not even for a second. Working frantically to get all my work done. Correction. I was working frantically, until I said bugger this for a game of soldiers and decided to blog instead. But fifteen minutes ago, I was being a good worker bee.

I was piously signed out of all forms of instant messaging. I was productive and an asset to my employer. I believe I have earned that as-yet unconfirmed Christmas bonus. I was adding up my little columns of endless and random figures, amusing myself with a little seated happy dance when the figures behave as intended. In the land of the day job, one takes one’s entertainment where one can. And one uses all tools at one’s disposal in order to get through the day with sanity intact. I find that music lubricates the brain and chops the day up into little bite sized nuggets, which can be easily digested. Indeed – it is Mona’s coffee and ITunes on Shuffle that gets me through the day.
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The Second Coming that wasn’t

Update on Mr Boss Man’s visit. It was something of a non-event, as apocalypses go. Armageddon, it was not. No Ben Affleck and sweeping Aerosmith tunes, which was disappointing. (Although, Ben Affleck will never be my nibble of choice. It just sounded good there. Don’t worry Johnny Depp my love, you’re still my favourite)

The Boss Man came, saw, and – um – went. There was a fair bit of scurrying amongst the minions desperate to bask in his glory – but I, in my stoic and unimpressed way, remained unmoved. There may have been some minor eyebrow-arching when he saw the mugs, but we had no plagues visited upon us so it couldn’t have been one of the bad sins.

I looked for sandals and flowing robes but didn’t spot any. Saw only a shiny bald pate and an annoying tendency to swagger. I hardly spoke to the man, other than to remind him who I was when he gazed blankly at me and tried to introduce himself again. The question is – if he IS God, and he doesn’t recognise me, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

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