Lemonade

As you may have read in an earlier post, I applied for a job in October. I thought the interview went really well. The test I was given was nerve-wracking, not because I couldn’t do it but because I TOLD myself I couldn’t do it. Because as soon as I realised how much I really, really wanted that job, I knew I’d somehow screw it up. It’s what I’ve done almost all my life: Sabotage the things I want the most.

So I did a rushed, panicked job of the test and had all kinds of technical stuff go wrong, just for good measure.

Even then, though, it still felt like things were kind of on track. And then I started pushing and nudging and I think I kind of felt the shift when I followed up for the third time. I’d blown it. I received a message that the other candidate they’d been considering was more experienced than I, but they’d keep my details on file for a possible future position.  I actually cried.

I’ve had all kinds of mixed feelings about this these past few days. I’ve explored other options, set up a few appointments with people and largely moved on. What lingers, though, is the sense of having been deemed unworthy, not only of the job but also of an open, outright, honest dismissal and having bought into that mindset myself. *

Anyway, it didn’t work out and I can’t wallow forever.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. There have been a few highs in between the dips and it has been an especially busy time in these parts. With our eldest finishing primary school and gearing up for high school next year, the youngest getting prepped for Grade R and the year having been a tumultuous one for our Jack in Grade 1, there has been plenty to keep my mind occupied!

Since my last blog post, here are a few of the things that have happened:

I tweeted for and won a double ticket to the Titanic Expo happening in Rosebank. It’s not a huge thing in the big picture but was a much needed little boost to my emotional state.

Then, I was chosen as the lucky, lucky winner of a copy of Sarah Graham’s new cookbook, HOME. Food From My Kitchen PLUS a R1000 Yuppiechef voucher!

I spent my voucher buying several of my Yuppiechef Wishlist items, an experience which was made extra awesome by the fact that they were/are running a 4 for 3 sale, so you get the cheapest of any one of 4 items from the sale for FREE!! Naturally, this meant that I got to spoil myself not only with some coveted kitchen goodies but also some decadent edible treats!

My Yuppiechef Loot
My Yuppiechef Loot
My new Sarah Graham cookbook
My new Sarah Graham cookbook

Then, on 1 November, I got to revisit the Soweto Half Marathon, which was amazing. Soweto was my first ever half marathon last year, and I was thrilled to be able to go back this year.

It was a tough one and I was a lot slower this year than last. But I was happy to be there and humbled by the interactions between the runners and the residents of Soweto, especially around the 15km mark, where the water point that was supposed to be, wasn’t.

Residents brought out hosepipes and jugs of cold water to cool down runners and quench their thirst and I was just overcome with emotion at the kindness of strangers. That, to me, was the true embodiment of The People’s Race.

*And then, the day after Soweto, I received a rather cryptic tweet from someone I didn’t know, which would soon lead to something exciting, which I’ll blog about that in another post. I will say this, though: November shot by in a blur of panic and excitement and between my big news and the preparations for Megan’s first year at high school, there hasn’t been much room for anything.

2015 Seems to have been a hard year for many of us and I can certainly say that it was nothing like what I was expecting. But I guess it hasn’t all been lemons.

Getting to Know Me – Tagged by Cassey

Are you named after someone? 

Yes – My mother. My father filled in the birth certificate application and gave me her name without discussing it with her first. She was pissed, so they added something to make it a little bit different.  Very few people know what my name actually is.

When was the last time you cried? 
Eh? I cry almost every day these days. Sometimes because something is just so damned beautiful and sometimes because it’s just so damned sad. I think it’s probably time to visit my doctor and get my hormone levels checked because I’ve only ever been this prone to tears when I was pregnant.
No, I’m not pregnant now. It’s probably thyroid related. Or else I’m heading into early menopause…
Do you have kids? 
Yup. Four of them. Megan is 13, Michael is 12, Jack just turned 7 and James is 5.
Yes, they are all mine. I birthed them myself.
No, I do not need a lesson on contraceptives.
Yes, they keep me busy and on my toes and drive me crazy.
No, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
I like to think so. I can be a bit of an asshole, but it’s mostly without malice. Also, generally, when I’m being an asshole, it’s to myself.
 
Do you have a guilty pleasure? 
Many, many guilty pleasures. Mainly in sugary, edible form. (Ola, WHY did you have to discontinue the Red Velvet Cupcake Magnum? It was one of my reasons for getting out of bed every day!)
Do you like handwriting? 
 
When I was still in school, I refused to learn how to use a computer. I wrote everything by hand. And I wrote lots and lots of stuff, from poems to stories to long, long letters full of the agony of my misspent youth.
Now, typing is so much faster and neater.
What is your favorite cereal? 
Not sure. Most of the cereals I love are no longer an option for me because gluten. But if I’m going to fall off the wagon, it’s going to be over something sweet and most likely chocolatey. Like Coco Pops. Or Milo cereal. But I won’t turn up my nose to a few bowls full of Cheerios, either.
What is the first thing you notice about people? 
 
The way they “feel”.  I can tell within seconds of meeting someone whether we’re going to get along or not and it’s based entirely on the vibes I get when I walk into their space. I have yet to be wrong.
What color are your eyes? 
Blue/grey, sometimes green. It changes with my moods. And sometimes with what I’m wearing.
Scary movies or happy endings? 
 
I used to love scary movies and then, one day, I didn’t. Give me the happy ending – the world is scary enough without Hollywood’s help!
Favorite TV show? 
 
I’m not a big TV watcher, but there have been a few shows I’ve enjoyed over the years:
Friends
How I Met Your Mother
Big Bang Theory
Game of Thrones
Dexter (STILL haven’t watched seasons 6 and 7!)
Sons of Anarchy
Prison Break
Summer or winter? 
There are bits that I love and hate about both. Winter used to be much harder for me before I started treatment for the thyroid issues. Now, I don’t get as cold as easily, so it’s easier to enjoy the hearty, warming foods and hot beverages and the rich colours and luxurious clothing.
Then, I also love the lightness and freshness of the warmer seasons. I like the greenness of gardens and the sound and smell of a giant thunderstorm and of the ground after heavy rain. I like easy, summery salads for dinner and ice-cream and popsicles. I like soft, flowy skirts and dresses and strappy sandals.
Sorry – can’t pick just one.
Hugs or kisses? 
Depends who they’re from. ;P
What’s the furthest you’ve been from home? 
London, on a business trip in 2007.
Travelling to different places was one of the BEST things a job has ever meant for me and I will always remember those trips with fondness. I hope I’ll get to travel some more before I’m too old.
Do you have special talents? 

Not really. I like to bake, though, and do a mean shower karaoke!

Sometimes I Doubt Your Commitment to Sparkle Motion

For the past while (I’m not sure exactly how long because there wasn’t a one-time, conscious decision to make an effort in this one particular aspect of my life) I’ve been trying not to be a screaming banshee in general but with my kids overall. Because, as some of you may recall from back when I used to blog more liberally and say the things I actually wanted to, I’m kind of a (mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing) shouty, sweary mom.  And recently, I’ve been trying not to be.

Let me tell you that it hasn’t been easy! You see, being a mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing, shouty, sweary mom makes it possible for me to NOT be a complete psycho. No, I’m not joking.

Mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing, shouting and swearing might LOOK scary, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, set anything on fire, get anyone put in jail, break anything or cause any permanent damage. It really just lets me get rid of lots of pent-up frustration and communicate how unheard and generally disrespected I feel. But it also makes me look like an irrational lunatic. And, slowly but surely, it’s becoming less and less effective at either getting my message across or making me feel better.

Which puts me at a bit of a loss. Because sometimes I feel so completely unheard and generally disrespected within this family.

Most of the time, I get really upset with David about this because he doesn’t seem to think that it’s a problem when the kids talk back to me or treat me like their personal maid or simply ignore me when I speak to them. It’s fine for him because he’s the fun one. He’s the one they are always happy to see at the end of the day, after I’ve asked then reminded then yelled at them to get changed/pick up their toys/do their homework/put their dirty laundry in the basket…

When David disciplines the kids – especially the littler ones – it’s with a light touch and of short duration. He’s quick to call them back a few moments after shouting at them to give them cuddles and have a gentle talk about things. I’m more of a “bitch” about it. I don’t agree with apologising to them for punishing poor behaviour. I don’t feel it’s okay to let them have their way to get them to stop nagging – that’s rewarding and reinforcing the idea that if they nag hard enough, they get to have whatever they want. I believe in getting the message across effectively. So, if they nag, they don’t get whatever thing it is they want. And if they speak disrespectfully to me (or another grown-up) I don’t respond. Or give them a stern talking to. And when they ignore me, I make a point of making myself heard and getting an acknowledgement.  And if they don’t finish their supper, they don’t get dessert. I don’t believe that these are unfair expectations or reactions on my part. But I lose this battle EVERY time David is around because he feels I’m too hard on the kids and lets them have their way. And they adore him and ignore me because, clearly, I’m just unreasonble.

I often find myself questioning myself on this stuff. Am I going about it all wrong? Should I be more like David in my approach to parenting and discipline? I mean, if someone kept telling me what I could and could not do, how to speak or what I could or couldn’t have, I’d tell them (in no uncertain terms) to FOAD. So maybe there is something to David’s approach?

I saw this video posted to Facebook earlier today and while it’s hilarious, it did make me think a bit about the way I handle my kids…

I look at this and think, you know, this video makes a good point. No adult would allow another person to speak to them like this.

And yet, do I really have to point out that children are not adults? They need to be reminded to do or not do things all the time. They still need to learn all the social filters that adults take for granted and they learn them  through their interactions with others and the example of the adults in their lives. But also by the consequences of NOT using such filters in their dealings with others – adults in particular.

So, once again, it’s all down to balance, isn’t it? That magical, elusive fucking middle ground. And all the patience.

Right?

Catch up

Last night, a friend and I met up with a former colleague from Dubai, who’s currently visiting South Africa on business. I got home at 2:00 this morning. It was so good to reconnect with old friends and feel a little bit like a person again, rather than a mom. People have more fun than moms, you know. And bikers have more fun than people. But we won’t go there just right now…

Anyway, we met up and enjoyed some cocktails and beer and a very late night burger, which was delicious. And we talked about all kinds of grown-up things, like education and learning and the study of literature in a hypertextual world. Things I used to be deeply engaged in before my whole life became all about five other people.

It was wonderful!

My brain misfired every so often, trying to plough through the fog of misuse that settles when you spend 80% of your time in the company of a pre-schooler, and still it was marvellous.

Apart from that little detour, not much out of the ordinary has happened around these parts this last while, so I’m going to follow Angel’s lead and post some random photos from my phone.

Mud party
What little boys do when Mom’s not home
Chris Riddell, 2015 - 2017 Children's Laureate, explaining the negotiation with "Edna Mode" in the publisher's "Making Books Beautiful Department" to his fans at Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch.
Chris Riddell, 2015 – 2017 Children’s Laureate, explaining the negotiation with “Edna Mode” in the publisher’s “Making Books Beautiful Department” to his fans at Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch.
James playing on the building site at Sci Bono.
James playing on the building site at Sci Bono.
Samuel Johnson snapped at the beginning of a big yawn. Looks like she's mouthing off something cheeky, doesn't she?
Samuel Johnson snapped at the beginning of a big yawn. Looks like she’s mouthing off something cheeky, doesn’t she?

Oh, also – I’m job hunting at the moment. There are one or two possibilities I’m very excited about but I’ll tell you all more when I know where things are headed. Wish me luck!

 

 

(I’m) A Little Bit of Everything

I’m a bitch

Jack recently needed to have a couple of teeth extracted because they had decayed to the point of causing infection in his mouth. (Yes, I know that’s bad and you can keep your judgements to yourself, thanks.)

I was of the opinion that the situation provided an opportunity to teach Jack the importance of good oral hygiene by showing that the Tooth Fairy does not collect and pay for rotten teeth. D felt otherwise (and had his way in the end). While we argued about it, though, he made a comment that really stung. He might as well have punched me in the gut: “How would you like it if you were your mother?” This implies, of course, that I’m an unreasonable bitch and my children shouldn’t have to suffer me.

Well. Okay, then. I’ll just file that away under “Things to throw in the husband’s face during a future disagreement.”

I’m a lover

One who doesn’t discuss in public what belongs in the bedroom… 😉

I’m a child

If you’ve been reading MamaMeeA for a while, you’ll know that my mom and sister moved in with us in April last year.  It was going to be a three or four month thing, while they sorted out some stuff, found new jobs, etc.

I moved my daughter out of her large bedroom with ensuite bathroom and put my mom in there. I moved my office out of my office and into my bedroom, and my daughter into what had been my office, which she would share with my sister.

I rented a storage unit in which to store those of my mom’s things that could not be squeezed into our house and moved out of our house and into storage those of our things we could live without, to make room for the rest of my mom’s stuff.

We adjusted and adapted and made do.  My mom found a job near our house and contributed from her small salary toward the household. That big project we had going from last year ran well into this year and the regular income from that masked the fact for quite a long time that we were going to run into trouble. And then my mom left her job for another one that didn’t work out. And then that project of ours was over and we ran into trouble.

So, in the middle of last month, I called a family meeting during which I asked my mom and sister to move out at the end of the month.

I’m a mother

Yeah – no surprises there! Between the weirdness of watching my two eldest enter puberty and all that goes along with that, wrangling my strong-willed Grade One child to some semblance of  pretending to cooperate with his teacher in class and having the youngest at home during the day (a new and hopefully temporary development), that fact is hard to miss.

I’m having so much fun with the younger kids at the moment! My littlest J happened upon a PEZ dispensing Perry the Platypus among his toys a few days ago and when I saw a packet of PEZ sweeties in the checkout queue at Dis-Chem later, I bought it.

Then I filled up Perry while James watched a movie and waited a few minutes before I called James and asked him whether he’d heard something that sounded like magic. James being James, he played along and agreed that he’d heard “magic noises”. I suggested that perhaps the noise had come from Perry the Platypus, prompting James to set off in search of the toy.

Watching him discover his “magically” refilled PEZ dispenser at random intervals over the past few days has been so much fun!

The older kids are doing pretty well, too and I find myself enjoying many proud mom moments lately.

Michael started playing chess this year and it turns out he’s really good at it! He’s currently one of the top players in the school and I’m so pleased he’s found something he enjoys, is good at and is likely to stick to.

Megan has started writing prolifically once again after seeming to have lost interest for a while. She’s also suddenly started surprising me with some impressive academic results and I’m so glad she’s finding her groove.

I’m a sinner

And these past few weeks, I’ve been paying for my sins.

Right now, I’m implementing a strategy to put my little company back on track after a few setbacks. I won’t lie – it’s slow, tough going and I’m not having loads of fun. But it does help to have a plan in place. Plans, actually. Plural.

Phase One entails handling the immediate internal issues, including the setting up of standard systems and protocols and drafting policy for future operations. This follows naturally on recent events and is the product of lessons learned from the experiences of the past couple of years.

Phase Two is where things get interesting and while I can’t say much until all of the various NDAs and other agreements are finalised and signed (single most valuable lesson learned so far – no verbal agreements!!), I am  excited for what all of this means in terms of long term potential.

I’m a saint

Okay, so that one’s never going to fly. I’m not exactly the choirgirl type. But I could be.

Could have been.

If I’d wanted to…

 

Milestone

At precisely this time in 2002 (14:30), my Megan was 1 hour and 33 minutes old.

Mom and Megan bonding

Brand new Megan

Yum, Bubbles!

I’ve kind of been letting this particular birthday sink in for a few days now, because it means that, today, I am officially the mother of a teenager.

Whew.

The journey with my girl child these past 13 years has been everything but boring and I have at times been terrified of how wrong I’m getting it all, only to be astounded at the very next turn at how smart and mature she can be.

Most of the time, it’s a difficult ride for us both, mainly because when I look at her, I see myself and that frightens me beyond all understanding. Because I know where I’ve been, what I’ve lived and how easily I could have been either, so much better or so much worse off than I am now and I worry that she’ll be just like me when she’s so clearly meant to be so much more.

But then, I never have to wait too long to be reminded that I worry more than I need to. So much more.

I see my daughter grapple with existential issues, questioning who she is, what she stands for, what things mean. I watch her heart break and feel my own shatter alongside it when her peers cannot see, when it’s as obvious as the sun, that the things that set her apart from them are what make her fucking awesome:

Her one-of-a-kind sense of humour and the way she stands up for those who feel targeted and bullied. The way she combines what limited wardrobe she hasn’t already outgrown at any given time to come up with a look all her own and wears it with attitude. Her love of books and writing and finding out how the world works and the way she questions everything, including the authority of people who aren’t used to having their authority questioned.  The fact that she doesn’t simply accept the status quo but pushes boundaries, develops her own thoughts on a subject. Her tendency to recognise and seek out the extraordinary and cherish it, when all her friends are talking lipstick and boys and hanging out at the mall…. All these things that indicate to me that she looks at and perceives things beyond the surface veneer. That when she reaches adulthood, she’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s important and what it takes to be a decent human being, rather than a popular one.

And really, in the end, that’s all I can ask for.

IMG_2636

Happy Birthday, my gorgeous girl.

 

OREO kidding me?

Rattle and Mum gave away 5 invitations to the OREO pop-up store in Rosebank last week and I was one of the lucky winners! (Yes, I still enter some competitions – I just don’t spend ALL day, EVERY day, doing it anymore…)

It was the best ever leverage over my kids while we waited for the weekend to roll around – the slightest hint of grief was met with the threat of being left at home while the rest of us went to the OREO store and I don’t think any of my kids has ever been so well behaved!

We were the first to arrive on Saturday morning, of course. And it was such a great morning and so cool to get to spoil my four short people with all those amazing OREO treats!

The setup is like a sushi bar, so the first thing you see as you walk into the store is a conveyor belt of pure decadence, with such things as an OREO & Magnum ice cream sandwich, OREO cupcakes, OREO popcorn and even OREO & white chocolate fudge, to name a few! You receive a card with colour coded dots on it, which correspond to the colours of the plates on the conveyor belt and a staff member marks off on your card whatever you eat. You then present your card to the cashier on exit and they tally up what you owe.

The OREO belt
The OREO belt
Blue Card
Blue Card

I totally fell off the wagon and stuffed my face with an OREO and ice cream sandwich, which was divine and I can highly recommend the experience. I love how inventive they’ve been with the eats on offer and the prices range from R10 to R40 per item, so it’s really not too hard on your pocket.*

OREO ice cream sandwich

The store’s decor is bright and fun and they have a huge model BMW, built out of wire, rubber and some old car components. My little guys were particularly impressed the car’s ancient DATSUN engine which they both got busy inspecting pretty much immediately.

Little men at work
Little men at work

There was also an awesome marble obstacle course which, once completed, dispenses a mini pack of OREOs!

Obstacle course
Obstacle course

They have a decoration station, where you get a mini pack of OREOs, a little baggie of sweets and a little packet of black icing sugar with which to make faces out of your OREOs.

Then you get to place your OREO faces in a super cool miniature rock stage setup, Instagram it with the hashtag #PLAYWITHOREO and then you can look it up on the printer system set up in the store and print off your OREO characters’ rock show photo!

Play hard, Rock hard

We really enjoyed the morning and I would happily take my kids back there. And to make it even more of an event, the The Art of the Brick LEGO exhibit is right next door, so you can really make a day of it!

*My kids and I enjoyed all of our eats and drinks, compliments of the OREO store because it was a prize. I was not asked to blog about the event or paid in any other way to write this post.

Philips AVENT just celebrated 30 years – and we joined in the fun

This year so far has been all about the nose grinding, persevering and other everyday slogging to get ahead. So, where possible, I’ve grabbed greedily at every opportunity to take some time out and be sociable.

Last weekend, we got to attend the Philips AVENT 30th Birthday brunch. This was one of those rare occasions on which I got to bring the whole family out with me and it was one we really enjoyed. Between the delectable eats, candyfloss, bubbly and fun things for the kids to do, I got to see some blogging friends, meet a couple of new ones and to share in the celebration of a brand I support wholeheartedly.

My mom bought me an AVENT breast pump and feeding bottle & storage set just before Jack was born and it was a lifesaver when I was forced to return to an office job when Jack was only 5 months old.  This set lasted not only the duration of my breastfeeding journey with Jack (as well as restoring my faith in my ability as a mother to breastfeed my baby – something that hadn’t worked out with my first two babies), but also with James a year and a bit later.  Both of my littlest boys were breastfed for 9 months each, before weaning themselves off the breast and breastmilk. This would not have been possible without the help of my AVENT set.

What set this event apart was the fact that it really offered something for everyone. There was plenty to keep the kids occupied, including a photo booth, where we all got to have some fun, some brilliant face painting, candyfloss (did I mention the candyfloss?) – they had me at candyfloss… ;-P and we were spoilt with some very personalised gifts at the end. Each person got to make a handprint with their child (in my case, I got to make handprints with each of my four kids!) and received a frame to keep it in. Again, in my case, I received one for each set of handprints, so I get to preserve these memories of each of my precious monsters. What a thoughtful gesture!

So, although my babies are all well beyond needing feeding and burping and worrying about air bubbles in their bottles (which we never had to, when we used our AVENT bottles), we felt very much a part of this AVENT family event.

Thank you to Philips AVENT for a memorable and most enjoyable morning.

 

The End of March

And just like that, a month has gone – don’t ask me where!

March is always a busy one for us. We have 5 close family members’ birthdays in March: My brother’s on the 7th, our James’ on the 9th, FIL’s on the 10th, David’s on the 17th and my mom’s on the 26th.  And, were he still alive, it would have been my father’s on the 8th.

We’ve kept it pretty low key this year, and I think it’s good we did. To be honest, I just don’t feel up to going big for anything right now. It could be to do with my feeling a bit – what? Depressed? Numb? Nothing?…

It’ll pass. It always does. As much as they exhaust me sometimes, my family holds me accountable for myself. They don’t know it, but they do. Because how could I do anything other than keep on going, when opting out would mean leaving behind these five people who would then forever wonder if I simply hadn’t loved them enough to stick around?

Ah, fuggit.

Clearly, tonight is not comeback night on this blog. I’m off to immerse myself in yet another day in the life of Detective Sergeant Logan McRae, of the brilliant crime series by Stuart MacBride.

Tomorrow, school’s out for the Easter holidays and I’ll be busy figuring out how to keep the young ‘uns occupied and entertained and out of my hair long enough to let me get on with doing some work every now and then.

Sleep tight, Mr. Serious. Maybe you’ll feel better tomorrow.

Dear MTN

We started seeing each other a little bit over a year ago, when things between me and Vodacom started feeling a bit stale.

We didn’t get off to the best possible start. There was that thing where I ordered my new phone from you in the colour you promised me I could have and you then delivered me one in the colour I definitely DIDN’T want. Then I had to spend my own time and money chasing you to take it back, and then I had to chase you some more only to find out in the end that you could not, in fact, supply me with the phone I wanted.  I could’ve broken up with you then and walked away without having invested too much in the relationship but you wooed me back with the promise of something even better, at only a fraction more, and I stayed.

All in all, I can’t complain too loudly about the way things have been since then. I pay a reasonable price for a decent phone and have the freedom to top up as I need to. The device works and I rarely have major signal issues. Except sometimes when my husband tries to call me and nothing happens. It’s been a while since it last happened but I never did get around to asking you: What’s up with that? No biggie at the moment but, you know, this is the one human being on this planet whose calls I never reject and for whom it is actually important to reach me. What if it’s something urgent? What if something’s happened to one of our kids or to him and he needs to talk to me but MTN somehow isn’t getting the message across to my phone to fucking ring already!??! Just a little something you might want to think about…

Otherwise, my gripes are mainly trivial, really. You know, like when you debit my account 3 days before the specified debit date and I haven’t been paid yet? Did I ever mention how I love it when my credit rating takes a dive? No? Oh, yes. That must be because I FUCKING DON’T!

You couldn’t possibly know this, so I’ll tell you, I have a large family. We live in a rented house East of Central Johannesburg and, while it works for the moment, we actually have plans to move sometime in the next 2 to 3 years. Yes, really. It’s probably got a bit to do with how people get shot around here quite a lot. Like the other day, when some guys tried to rob a cigarette truck across the road from our house and one of them got shot in our driveway.  I guess it could have been worse, though, right? I mean, aside from not being able to get into my house for most of the day and the fact that bullets flying all over the place is not exactly conducive to a safe and happy family environment, y’know?

So, do you think that maybe I’d like to be able to maintain a healthy credit rating, in order to be able to secure a home loan when the time comes? Yes, I think I would. That would be grand, if it’s not too much trouble. ‘Cause, you see, I’ve kind of had to give up the idea that I’m going to win the lottery anytime soon, which means I’m not about to waltz into my dream home unless I follow the yellow brick home loan road to Kansas like everyone else does.

Speaking of winning – I was most impressed with that Win A Plane promotion you put on last year. Man, what a prize!

Here’s another little something you might not know about me but I’m quite the competition whore. No, really, I am. Okay, I’ve had to tone it down a whole lot this year but if you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I have won quite a lot of cool stuff over the years.  A couple of iPads, a couple of phones, some cash, some pampering and other experiences… It’s been pretty sweet. Because I ENTER so many competitions. And man, was I keen to enter that particular one!

So you can imagine my disappointment when, upon enquiring, I was informed by your social media team that I didn’t qualify to enter your Win A Plane (or a Million Rand) competition. Now, with a prize that big, I can understand that you may not have wanted to give the thing away for Mahala. (See what I did there? *wink, wink*) I mean, I can undertand that you’d want to see some brand engagement happening, before you just gave away an aeroplane! Jeez!

But what I couldn’t understand was why, when I pay you just shy of 400 bucks a month, every month, PLUS another hundred or two for top-ups, I was disqualified from entering when, at the same time, any Tom, Dick and fucking Harry who bought a pissy little R25 pre-paid recharge got an entry into the draw?! But in order for ME to qualify, I would have had to upgrade my contract to one that would cost me MORE THAN DOUBLE – roughly TRIPLE, in fact – my current monthly fee. How is that even vaguely fair or justifiable?

And even then, MTN, I didn’t throw my toys or cause a public scene. I went back to entering the competitions I could actually enter and winning the odd prize here and there. Nothing so grand or magnificent as an aeroplane, mind you, but still. I told myself that some lucky citizen of Mzansi was going to have one hell of a good day when that draw happened, whether they opted for the ‘plane or the cash. I figured, maybe this was the universe telling me to back off of this one and accept that it was meant for someone whose life would be well and truly transformed by the win. And I truly hope that it was and it did…

I could get over my misgivings and, yes, the sour grapes. I could do it because I know better than most that you can’t win them all.

That doesn’t stop me from still entering competitions, though. Not nearly as many as I was entering not that long ago but I still give it a bash every now and then. Like this latest promotion you’ve got going – the one where you receive and SMS prompt to SMS the word “FREE” to a designated number and get entries into a draw for a Samsung smartphone? Yup. I’ve got a good couple of thousand points in that game and am keen to see whether I’m lucky on this one.

But, once again, I’m disappointed to have to tell you, MTN, that I’m not sure you’ve thought out this whole promotion all that well.  Because, apart from the fact that YOU decide when my entries occur, by sending me those SMS prompts, I find myself also being bombarded with prompts to subscribe to a paid service that I have zero interest in. Not once, not twice but EVERY SINGLE TIME that I respond to one of your competition prompts. Really? Can’t you just accept that I DON’T WANT TO SUBSCRIBE?  I get that you’re trying to sell stuff here and make money. I get that, once again, you don’t want to be handing out cool, valuable products for nothing, that you’re trying to create engagement with your customers or whatever. But once again, I feel it is my duty to point out where you’ve lost the plot: You are not going to retain customers’ loyalty by forcing crap on them that they don’t want, in exchange for a competition prize.

If you want to make money out of a competition/prize promotion, then just tell people upfront how much money you want them to spend in order to qualify. Then you draw a qualifying client’s name out of a hat and BOOM! You’ve sufficiently fleeced a customer while making him/her a winner, no-one’s been inundated with bullshit subscription schemes and everyone’s happy.

And I guess that’s really what we’re all going for here, isn’t it? To be happy? Which is why, on having reflected during those instances of annoyance and/or disappointment, and over the writing of these 1375 words and some, I’ve decided to file for a divorce. It’s not me, it’s you. You simply don’t make me happy. So, come January 2016, when my dues are paid and the current contract period lapses, I’ll be making my move on over back to Vodacom.