Being Intrepid with my Daughter

” Educating the mind without educating the heart is not educating at all” ~ Aristotle .

Last year I was gifted an incredible trip for two to South Africa – a few days in Cape Town followed by a stint in Pilanesburg National Park among the wildlife. I asked Ruby to go with me. To be fair I did ask P first but he had other plans.

Africa is a place that people wax lyrical about. African friends speak of their homeland with longing. It’s the cradle of humanity. The wildlife, the sun, the earth, the conflict, the colour, the history, the enormity of it.

Ruby was VERY excited to go. Getting on the plane she was fizzing.

We tacked on an extra couple of days to acclimatise time zone wise, and I’ll never forget that first day. After offloading the luggage and freshening up, we walked along the shore to the Cape Town V&A Waterfront. It was a bright clear afternoon, with a sharp wind blowing off the sea.

The place had a sort of mellow old-world vibe.

We came across a public stage and sat there, mesmerised by a choir belting out powerful song after song. And the dancing – my God they can move. With her African genes it’s not a surprise Ruby can move like that too.

At dinner one night with friends our waiter told us of a good trail to climb Table Mountain. The next day we set off. It took a solid two and a half hours clambering to get to the top. Very big boulders!

Ruby and I discovered something about ourselves on that climb – in a nutshell if she’s grumpy and I’m around it makes her grumpier. To the point of sitting down and not moving. So we went up separately.

She walked with our travelling buddies chatting happily the whole way. Afterwards we had a good talk about it, and a laugh. Ruby has always been closer to P, but this was the start of a turning point for us. We began to have deeper conversations on that trip. It felt really good.

Pilanesburg was life changing. A term that is over used I know, but I feel different every day since being there. Kind of more deeply connected and centred. It’s hard to put into words.

The park is 55,000 hectares of African bush, no fly zone, no houses, no nothing except wildlife in its natural habitat existing as it has for eons. Our safari vehicle was a specially designed open air off-roader with tiered seating to fit 10. Ruby – not normally a morning person – loudly declared ‘there is NO way I’m getting up early!!’, but every day she was first up.

One morning we were in the jeep at 4.45am to catch the sunrise from a vantage point. She loved it.

Safari was a dance between the guide and the wildlife.

Our guide’s insights into the animals, their habits, their way of being, went far deeper than anything you could get from a book or a documentary. Often speaking in Africaans to the animals that got close, he said ‘I’m just telling them how beautiful they are’. We were totally spellbound.

The enormous quiet power of elephant, the quirk of warthog, the slinky skip-trot of jackal tripping through the brush, the immense beauty of leopard. The patiently waiting for an animal to come out of the bush. The big cat walking underneath us to get to its prey.

The endless burned landscape.

Our eyes and our hearts were opened. We love to explore, and have travelled quite a lot throughout the world – and in NZ our own backyard – but we’d go back there in a heartbeat.

One of the aspects of being a Mum is that your kids only ever see you as ‘Mum’. During our adventure Ruby started to see me as a person who inspires others, is adventurous and an independent thinker. And she’s proud of that. It’s a pretty nice feeling.

Our relationship has developed – I give her more space, and she shares her feelings more. So great!



I’d love to hear stories of travelling with your kids, drop me a line

I’m not beautiful Mummy

I was looking for a jig saw puzzle for my six year old daughter last week as a gift.

She is into princesses.

In the village toyshop and bookshop I found lots of puzzles with long blonde-haired and blue-eyed princesses but very few dark-skinned brunette princesses.  And none with afros.

It got me thinking.

When I called her beautiful recently she looked up with her wide innocent eyes and said ‘I’m not beautiful mummy, I haven’t got long blonde hair’.

I felt a trickle of fear run up my spine.