Parenting: Supporting our children’s friendships.

A couple of incidents that happened some time ago made me think about this more than usual. I have had to stop and ask myself how supportive I have been of my children’s relationships, both within the family and with their friends.

With the pandemic, there has been less physical interaction with their friends due to off campus learning and social distancing. The kids have adapted fast and are ok playing with each other but there is still something missing.

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With schools opening in January for face to face learning here, the kids are looking forward to seeing their other friends and planning for playdates.

Children generally make friends with those closet to them; neighbouring kids, church mates, classmates, or in extra curricular clubs such as music, swimming or gynmastic classes. When we moved away, they had to start from scratch, which was not easy as we did not know many people here, and those we did, had kids much older than them. Our immediate neighbourhood doesn’t have kids their age too, but thankfully we were lucky to meet up with some family friends who had also moved here.

One of the things I am always keen on is knowing who their friend’s parents are, and their contacts. Play dates can be arranged but no sleepovers.

Playdates are good as one gets to observe how the children are interacting with each other. It can give one an idea of what values their friends have, by how they behave when in your home, my assumption is that the other parent is doing the same (though we know this is not always the case).

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Some of the ways we have been trying to support their friendships in this social distancing times is by having them invite a friend over, letting them use my phone to record voice notes for their friends, scheduled video calls, emails and even cards or notes left in class cubby holes, so their friends can pick them up when they go collect their schoolwork.

I am learning to be intentional in this; speaking to them about their friends and what they like or miss about them. I also talk about my friends, and how my friendships were at their ages. Keeping communication lines open is important, they will be more willing to speak up when things are not right and be more confident in sharing the good experiences too.

Parenting includes recognising and supporting our children as individuals. They have their own likes, preferences and dislikes, and we need to teach ourselves how to acknowledge their desires in creating social bonds for themselves as they grow. No man is an island. As adults, we take pride in our social relationships, why do we forget that our kids need it too?

Children learn from us. The pride and fun they see us enjoying in our friendships adds to that appeal for them, and they yearn to get the same recognition and enjoy their friends company. Obviously we do have to discuss boundaries, safety and respect, but let us be supportive of their positive friendships.

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Weekend Recap: Garuga Resort Beach Hotel.

Garuga Beach on Nam Lolwe (Lake Victoria), is one of our favourite places to take a weekend drive to. It is beautiful, pristine and not so crowded, which makes it perfect for a family getaway.

This is one of the views of the lake as you drive to the resort.

The first time we went there was over a year ago. It was quite empty then, quiet and peaceful. It is nice for a weekend getaway if you long for some silence. There are many vervet monkeys around so you have to make sure your keep your room door locked unless you want some uninvited guests. And do not forget your mosquito repellent and some warm jackets as the mornings can be a bit chilly.

This is the path headed to the beach.

The pros of the place. It is beautiful, quiet and serene. The proximity to the lake is their biggest asset. They have a beautiful beach and one can wade on the sandy shores comfortably. The views of Lake Victoria, the sound of the waves, the cooling breeze, the variety of birdlife, are this place’s best features. There are some stone benches outside the rooms overlooking the lake that are such a pleasure to sit on in the morning as you meditate or pray.

The grounds are not too big but perfect for a picnic and some frolicking around. There are some swings for the kids and a small play area too with some climbing tyres and bars. You can have a picnic or order from their restaurant then play your own family games, which is always so much fun. I love having my son chase me around barefoot on the grassy slopes. There is a small swimming pool too with a baby pool, and a gym though it doesn’t look like it has been in use for a long time. Their pool is small but ok, the first time there the kids and I had the pool to ourselves the whole time. Bliss!

Their food is delicious. Usual hotel fare and freshly caught fish that can be steamed, fried or stewed, and their pork chops are some of the best I have ever tasted.

This is my favorite spot, right under this tree.
It is hard to resist wading into the water and walking around barefoot.
There are some benches and chairs to sit on, or you can carry a mat, but I love the grass as it is. Perfect to sit, walk and run on, even roll and sleep on.

The cons. The road to the resort is rough and very rocky but one can get through with an ordinary vehicle. It is one bumpy ride though. The service is well, slow. Very slow, EXCRUCIATINGLY slow, but their food is great which is such an oxymoron. When we first spent a night there, the breakfast buffet was non existent, the staff made us feel like we were a bother when we should ask for what was supposed to have been ready for us. We had to order hours (I kid you not, HOURS in advance), so the food would be ready by the time we were hungry. Can you imagine having to order after breakfast so that your kids’ food will be ready by lunchtime? I remember on one of the mornings there, my daughter asked for sausages, and we were told that the chef was tired and done making sausages for the morning, never mind that some of us had not had breakfast yet. Sigh. And it was not as if it was busy at the time, we were a party of six adults and four kids, how can you not be prepared for that?

If you are wondering why we would go back to that. We have found a way to go round the poor service- You would rather go for the day, when you have already eaten, or pack some food, instead of having to spend the night there. They charge for having a picnic on their grounds but it is pretty affordable. As a family, we love their beach more than any other here so far. We go for the views, the sound of the water, the feel of the waves lapping on our feet, the cooling lake breeze, the sand that sticks between our toes, and the fact that it is off the beaten path, so does not get crowded.

You will spot some egrets, pied kingfisher, cormorants, weaver and sunbirds, or some fishermen in their canoes in the distance.
Sandplay on the grass.

This is one of my favorite places to hide away. It is about an hour’s drive away for us, so not too far for a weekend drive. The sight of the water never fails to take my breath away, and the kids’ delight at playing in the water gives me so much joy.

This is the life!