If you’ve read my welcome post, you will know that I live in a rather remote part of South Africa…and it definitely has its pros and cons. We get to live very private lives, free of noisy, and sometimes inquisitive neighbours or unexpected guests. My children still get to take walks down the road and ride bicycles. They were recently invited by the local vet to watch a tooth extraction of a cheetah. School outings involve game drives and my youngest goes on a ‘bush walk’ every week. They learn to identify animal prints, and are often treated to seeing wild animals along the walks….like ‘hot dogs’ as my toddler calls them….ie. Warthogs. They are exposed to situations that are very unique to our environment.
We have veggie gardens, and chicken pens, chameleons (every now and then) and backyards with ample space for games, climbing trees, etc. A drive to school takes approximately 2-3mins. We don’t have traffic …EVER!! Post office and bank runs are often easy with a queue of 4 people considered to be ‘busy.’ And our town is actually very safe.
But like all things in life, there are always cons. We have no halaal food in our area. The closest halaal take away is 20mins away… so there’s no ‘ordering out’ for a meal. There are no halaal butchers, so our freezers need to be stocked quite well. And we need to plan in advance should we have any major family get togethers. My kids are the minority in school, with there being 2 other Muslim children in my sons Montessori and my younger son has his cousin in playschool. But that’s basically it. I face challenges that mothers living in bigger towns and cities rarely even give a second thought to. For Islamic education, we do most of it ourselves, at home. We don’t actually hear Azan (the call to prayer) unless it’s via the TV or Radio. So even out of Ramadaan, we can still tell you the exact time of Magrib prayer in Hoedspruit.
Like all humans we have adapted to our environment. At Montessori there is a strict no sharing of food policy, due to allergies, which suits me fine. Montessori has even set up and Istinja table with a little jug and some flushable wet wipes as they are encouraged to be independent.
You don’t ever consider the impact of not having other Muslim families around you until your children show them to you. A few months ago my 3 yr old had forgotten his lunch box in the car and so at lunch time I had to return to school to deliver it. You can imagine my shock when I found him confidently chewing on a piece of biltong…..that I obviously did not send to school- which meant only one thing…. I asked him what that was and he happily replied that it was a piece of biltong a friend had given him. The teacher quickly removed it from his possession. These are the types of risks I run, and even though all precautions are taken to avoid this, sometimes these things happen. I have a sister who, as a child, unknowingly ate haraam biltong .And a cousin, who as a toddler drank black label beer thinking its coke. They seem to have turned out fine…. We have however drilled it into my toddler’s head that he is not allowed to share food with anyone except his cousin, as his school doesn’t have strict rule that Montessori does. He seems to understand and we have not had further incidents.
Having to explain to them why there are no jugs in the bathrooms at school was also a little difficult. My 3 yr old came home one day and after playing for some time, I asked them to go to the bathroom. The 5 yr old knows the routine well and was done in no time. He then came to me to report that his brother was doing something strange in the bathroom. I immediately jumped up and ran into the bathroom to find my 3 yr old standing and trying to ‘aim’ into the toilet bowl……..missing by a fair amount. There was a lot of shouting and reprimanding. It was obvious he had witnessed this in school. After the clean up, I had to remind him that “we don’t do that, because we’re Muslim.”
And naturally, I have questioned myself countless times as to whether it was the right decision to allow him to start playschool so early… and after much deliberation, I feel that it was. He is stimulated in ways I could not possibly have achieved at home. And that the sooner he adapts, and realises that he’s different, the sooner he will get past it. It’s in these matters I feel the city mums have it easier…
Given the choice….I still prefer to be a ‘country mum’ or in my case….a ‘bush mum’…incidents and all!
🙂 BiBi 🙂