Day 2 – What’s In A Sunset For A Kid?

There will come a day when Adam will be interested in watching the sun sink down over the sea and below the mountains, but today wasn’t it.
He was too busy digging and leaping, conquering sand and driftwood on the beach.
I was superfluous to his needs.
He only noticed the symptoms of the sun having left like wanting a hoody on, or that he can’t see things as well. He got angry that he was cold, saying ‘I don’t want to come here ever again!’.

It was a good opportunity to talk to him about being aware of his surroundings with the cause and effect it has on everyone, and taking responsibility for how we choose to react to that. We can see them as cues for preparation and transition to the next phase, or let them take us by surprise, making us flounder like a victim. With the gentle daily repetition, the sun reassures us that this day is nearly finished, and that tomorrow is another chance to do things differently. I said it in simpler terms for him of course.

Just like the gentle repetition of the words of parenthood that affirm and build lifelong trust between a parent and child, the child learns to trust themself.
With so many things changing around us that we have no control over or its outcome, it’s reassuring that the sun will be here again tomorrow and each day after that, even with the clouds as a distraction that will soon blow away. The cyclic nature of our planet reveals itself in us.

22279885_1874933849213667_5870880550750145667_nI love the contrast of that beautiful soft light touching everything, sucking and holding the warmth for one last minute, quickly chilling to cool blue tones.
As Adam hugs in for warmth, I tell him that the sun is saying goodbye to us and hello to people on the other side of the world where they are just waking up.

‘Will it come back?’ he says with wide eyes.
‘Yes, of course, it always comes back.’
‘Ok,’ then he and the dog head to the sanctuary of the car, coating the seat with a fresh spray of glittering white sand.
© Words & Photography by Paula M Cunniffe, New Zealand.
This article may be republished with permission from the author.






Day 1 – How hard is it to make a child laugh?

I’d wished my own childhood away with the hopes of more engagement from my parents, then spent the childhood of my own kids thinking ‘what the hell am I doing?’ I relived the horror of my upbringing, feeling like a stunned mullet as I identified each stage from the opposite role. I couldn’t wait for the next stage to end, then it really was all over. With no life experience to draw on, I had no chance to modify the trajectory of their lives. All the missed opportunities to engage and enrich by slowing down to listen, validate and just enjoy. Now I’m raising my grandson.

So, we’re taking part in this 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge. It really spoke to my heart when I saw it on Facebook, so I signed up. Seeing the calendar on paper makes it sound so simple, but the lessons are quite profound.

Day one is all about making your child laugh. How hard can that be? I realised we’d been living the last year making it from day to day, one problem to the next. I pushed aside opportunities to bring myself down to my grandson’s level when he asked. Simple things like building a hut in the lounge, tying a tarpaulin between the bushes to eat under, or to tickle him in a contrived way bringing a bout of belly laughter. The kind of activities that make no sense in a day that demands so many meals, cleaning up, and making sure everyone’s physical needs are met.

I consciously had to make an effort to lock eyes with him. Listening to his faltering attempts to tell a joke I’d heard a hundred times, I had to retain my element of surprise. The urge to correct was over-bearing as I bit my lips together in anticipation. I feigned a hearty laugh, all the while thinking about the work I needed to get done before getting the groceries. Right then I noticed his face had lit up as I’d been made privy to a tiny piece of his six year old world. Grinning widely, he slipped his small, warm hands in mine.
‘I love it when you laugh with me, nana.’
Our rewards were instant.

© Words & Photography by Paula M Cunniffe, New Zealand.
This article may be republished with permission from the author.

Local Woman Finds Drug Stash While Walking Dog

I saw it. It wasn’t visible from the street. It was down a bit before the massive playing field and wedged in a sunny spot between two trees. Whomever had put it there probably didn’t count on someone approaching it from the north side. Maybe they’d left it there at night?

I thought it a disposable nappy at first, wrapped in a supermarket bag. It made me angry as I stabbed at it with my hand, forced to bend over making my knickers slip off my bum, requiring a serious effort to hoik them back up. There was a rubbish bin only two metres away, why couldn’t they have put it in there? It was then I realised it wasn’t a nappy.  Wrapped in thick white paper within the bag, it was hard with a sloshing sound when I shook it. Suddenly it occurred to me that it could be drugs stashed there to be picked up later on. I tore a bit of paper back to reveal a glass jar with a thick milky white substance. I daren’t take the lid off. Maybe it was a first step in preparing crushed up pharmaceuticals in some toxic liquid, ready for the next person to dry it out or whatever? Then take it further by providing drugs for all and sundry to become addicted to, maybe even my children or grandchild?!

I couldn’t let this become the case. Feeling paranoid, I stuffed it in my jacket and walked briskly, an obvious jar shape looking like a droopy but firm third breast. I became aware of what was around me; a confused looking backpacker with a map, and a runner with poised bag waiting for her chihuahua to crap.  None appeared to have seen me, but I felt conspicuous with the blood rushing through my head with a whamp! whamp! whamp! in my ears.

I slunk along the tree line at the edge of the park. Panic made me throw myself under a bush when the chihuahua runner sprinted past me. I lay low for a while to catch my breath, especially since the impact of landing on the jar winded me a little. It then occurred to me that these substances could become explosives. They blow up houses and stuff don’t they? A new horror set in. I’d have to move very slowly and carefully until I reached home and got it to the police.
My god, I’m like a suicide bomber in the mean time. Everybody stay away!
My dog by now, must have thought I was completely bonkers. I stuck to the trees, getting dive-bombed by fantails. ‘Get out!’ I yelled at them. Didn’t they realise how serious this was? I got shit on three times in the process.

It dawned on me that I could have been spotted and the drug makers are following me, ready to take me down. It could be weeks before my rotting corpse was found in the bush. I removed the plastic bag carefully from the jar and began to hyperventilate in it,  nearly choking on my own spit in the process.
I had to carefully plot my course home without being detected, but if I stuck to the outside of the playing field like I was doing, it would take me all day. If I had my phone, I’d have called the police. They’d come in with sirens howling and save the dog and I, recovering the stash then putting us in the witness protection program. All would’ve been hunky dory.

I decided to leg it, bomb or no bomb. The dog thought it was Christmas. He’s never seen me run. Granted, it was no more than a slow jog that nearly killed me. In hindsight, the bomb may have been quicker and painless.
At home I thought I’d better have a closer look before I took the lethal cocktail to authorities.

Please accept this as a personal apology to the person whom left their kefir grains sitting in a warm spot while they went to the Saturday morning markets.

© Words by Paula M Cunniffe, New Zealand.
This article may be republished with permission from the author.

Photo credit: from

Damn you technology…

I’m a patient woman. I actually started this blog three years ago. I signed up with ‘someone else’ and it became so complicated with this and that and working out what went where. I thought it was all my fault for months and felt guilty. I didn’t want to be that person calling every five minutes after pushing a wrong button. I finally plucked up the courage to contact them and found out it was their fault all along.
‘We are very sorry, ma’am, thanks for calling the helpline’.
It was all just too much. I paid a fortune in advance and never even made my first post. I anxed myself to inaction for way too long. Their promo video about its simplicity was a load of lies, the s***-kickers.
Plus, I hate being called ma’am.

I’d love to be that person asking for what they want and knowing their rights. Give honest feedback, logically, sensibly, critically, helpfully… all in a way that makes all parties feel like they haven’t been given a wrath suppository by a head-spinning, froth-spitting minion of satan. I start imploding and feel the pent up ‘roid rage of a weightlifter, then this fragile ferret voice comes from nowhere and I find myself saying, ‘it’s okay, no problem.’

I’m not technology challenged, I’m choice challenged. Don’t give me options, give me results. Read my mind. Correctly. I sound like a millenial, but I’m not. I’m 48, going on 70.

The day my youngest child started primary school in 2000, I went to university. To get back into the print graphic design industry I’d left for motherhood in 1989, I’d have to learn to use a computer. Two degrees later without learning web design for my up-skilled design career, I was still up s*** creek without a paddle. I can’t tell you how many jobs I missed out on because ‘graphic designer’ and ‘web designer’ decided to marry and have a child called ‘bloody-superperson-who-can-do-everything-designer-would-you-like-some-fries-with-that-while-I-whip-you-up-a-quick-animation-thingy-for-your-sidebar-and-order-your-business-cards?’.

Turns out I’m not one of those mathy-coding type people. I hear numbers and gobbledy-gook going in, and I can’t see it or place it anywhere in this physical realm that resembles anything that feels like home. It’s like asking me what the colour of number nine smells like.
HTML… <blah blah blah bladdy blah blah stick it up your bum>

I hope I never have to eat my words on that one.

© Words by Paula M Cunniffe, New Zealand.
Photo credit: from