Monthly Archives: June 2014

It is broken forever.

Some things just cannot be fixed, there is an adage that says time heals all, if it were only so.  A friend of mine shared some news re a crisis in his family.  A close relative is really unwell and likely to pass away really soon.  In their early 50’s just way too young.   Another friend of mine has a cousin similar age and battling brain cancer.  Neither of these things are likely to be fixed.  Many of us have words that we would want to share but whilst well meaning than can often have the opposite effect.  I have passed  my care on to the friend but in a very simple way that says I care, but no platitudes, no everything will be alright because IT WONT BE. The simple truth is that there are many things that occur in life to people that cannot be fixed, made better, healed, cured! I was reminded of this when I marked the anniversary of my brothers death, I remember a well meaning man coming up to me and attempting to give me a hug.  I didn’t want to bbe touched by him (or anyone else actually) and as he advanced towards me arms wide open saying you need a hug I said no, he continued to  advance towards me and said it will make you feel better. I said to him, touch me and I  will hit you!  Go away, he turned to a pastor who  was there and said to him what are you going to do about that, he said hold you while he hits you.  One of the few times he said anything spectacular.  This well meaning person flounced off as if he was the wounded one. There are times where you wish for words back  that in haste you have uttered, perhaps a missed opportunity to utter words that really mattered to you and then it is too late.  We reflect on this, what if, I should have, I wonder?  However the finality of some things are just that and not just death.  When trust is lost it can be like death, some breaches of trust are unfixable.  As I have been traversing another battle with Novopay (our national education payroll system) I was reminded of this. It may seem trivial to comparing death with salary non payment but here it is.  I don’t trust novopay to get anything right, pure and simple, because they have made many mistakes, they are often obtuse and only recognise mistakes when they are pointed out and with accompanying saber rattling.  They only seem to understand or be willing to fix things up when they are facing dire consequences.  Me I am over novopay, next mistake off to Wellington to protest on the steps of parliament or some other equally lame idea, but I refuse to do nothing. Just as I am over Novopay I am done being the trusting person that I have been for so long.  I am done with people who are unreliable, who don’t keep  their word, who stab you whilst smiling, unfortunately “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain”..  One must be always aware that one can also be the same villain!  I am having difficulty with trust issues and I fear I am becoming that which I swore I would not.  I do not want to become an island, a rock.  That kind of independence  is not what I want but I fear without the ability to trust then that is what I am destined for.I wrote many poems on the theme of my heart being on my sleeve, right now for me I am finding it difficult to find my heart, passion joie de vivre.  I temper this with the hope that I m but in a transitional phase, lots of loose ends that may tidy themselves up, or not.  But coming back to the hug freak,There are things in my life that can’t be fixed, I try to move past them to the best of my ability to wrap them up into a small impenetrable parcel  I don’t want pity, that would make me vomit at myself and I feel ill enough already so don’t pity me but be encouraged to live your life as full as possible whilst you can, try to live without regret by addressing the issues that you are likely to regret. Listen to your heart but be aware of situational  contexts that sap your emotional life. Live well and love often, Paul Paul


Its a matter of faith and it’s personal.


My journey of faith has been a long one.  I don’t ever remember not believing in God.  Continue reading

Hi my name is Paul and I am a Social Worker

Words that provoke an instant response,a pavlovian paralysis, Continue reading

Grey is my world am I lucky?

Sitting here looking out my window I can understand people with SAD, seasonal affective disorder. The vista is grey, Continue reading

Not my Circus, not my Monkeys!

Cowering in the corner, eyes wide open and every sense in my body on alert I wandered would I survive this encounter.  The pungent smell of manure mixed with the scent of hay assailed my nostrils.  Continue reading

Ten things I wish were true. (or maybe a few less)


I read a post from a fellow blogger, it was a list of ten things that she wishes were true for.  Ann is a parent to children with Autism and her wish list was around those things, you can read it here  They were pretty universal wishes, if I were to sum it up I would have to say they were about empowerment and enablement.  Ann made a challenge to make our own wish list, and that resonates with something that has been grinding away at me for a few weeks, so here it is.

As an ex care and protection social worker (or child protection officer) I have come face to face with many incidents of child abuse.  Such exposure has left me imprinted with many things, some positive and some not so.  What it has done is made me aware of what constitutes child abuse.  As an ex social worker I am often approached by others in the community who have concerns about situations, I am asked for an opinion and sometimes asked for help.  Here in New Zealand we have a national agency to deal with child welfare and it is here that I pass on notifications and information.  I wish it were true that once I had made a notification to this agency I could be certain that it was investigated properly and that the life of that child or children would be better and they were much less likely to be harmed or abused.  Sadly that is not so.

First of there seems to be some barriers in reporting child abuse.  The first port of call is to a National free calling number.  Your call is not answered by a qualified and experienced social worker but by a call centre employee who screens the call.  The caller is likely to have to tell the story twice in a very short succession; firstly to the call taker and then if they have convinced the call taker of the seriousness of the situation they may then get to talk to a real-life social worker.  This I perceive as a barrier in that some people work themselves up to a point where they can make a call.  For some people this is very traumatic and hard to do, it may be about a family member or relative or friend.  There can be a significant delay in answering the call, and do not ring outside of hours as the response is very limited.

That is the first hurdle, the second part is actually getting any action.  There is such pressure on Social Workers that unless there is actual physical evidence of abuse like bruises or worse then the investigation if it occurs can be extremely lengthy or may not happen at all, after a few cursory inquiries the case may be closed and accorded a result of no further action. The problem with this is that I and many others know that abuse is often generational and deeply imbedded in the lives of people.  The perpetrators are adept at lying and hiding the truth from Social Workers (why would they tell the truth).  Many social workers are inexperienced not just in Social Work but in life with  very little real world experience.   That in itself is not so bad except  for this they find many things acceptable that most ordinary New Zealanders find abhorrent.  Drink too much, drug too much don’t worry they won’t check on you, they wont take hair samples and measure the child’s exposure to second hand (if they are lucky) or first hand cannabis or other drugs.  Under nourished, under dressed, under educated, they will leave that to the schools.

Don’t  get me wrong if they come across the signs of physical abuse they will mmost likely do something about it, but unfortunately it is often too late.

Now I above all understand the child abuse is a community problem that demands a community response, however I have very little trust in the system, and I used to work in it.  The system is cost driven, underfunded and under staffed.  A recipe for more dead kids, yes social workers do not kill children, but a good one can save a child and enable them to participate fully in life.  No I don’t trust CYF and I always follow up notifications, I wish it were not true that they often close cases without a full and proper investigation being done.

Signing off for now, to be continued….


Of Biltong, Roast Beef and, life


My son turned 20 last week.  It seems a significant milestone, similar to 21 in many ways I guess.  Not that 21 actually means much these days really.  I saw him for a brief time on the day however on Saturday we had a family celebration. As I often do on birthday occasions I asked him what he wanted for dinner, I said a roast would be good and he said beef please.  We stopped at Elite Meats in Hamilton.  It is a specialist South African butchery in Hamilton,  They have great beef there and I love the Biltong.  Luck was in they had a special on Biltong, I looked at the roasts, none were big enough we were feeding 12 and my teenage boys know how to eat these days,so I asked them for a bigger piece. No trouble, soon they were back, 2.3 kgs of prime topside, not too much external fat, but a lovely marbling through the meat.  Thirty eight dollars for the Biltong and the roast.  I estimate the total cost of the birthday dinner was around $60.00, divide by, 12 $5.00 per head, not too expensive really.

I was reflecting on the fact that it was good to celebrate milestones and thought about how much I had spent and realised that there have been weeks when that was the sum total of the money I had to spend on groceries. I don’t regret spending the money for an instant.  A good time was had by all.  My next oldest son is exploring joining the military, at this stage he is a bit gung ho and we talk about the realities of military life including active service and the fact that even today so people lose their lives on active service.  That if he joins the military he may never come home alive.  A somewhat sobering thought, however death lurks everywhere.  He is keen on farming, possibly more dangerous than being in the army on current rates.

The reality is that we do our best to protect our children yet there is no way we can completely protect them.   At times I am rather glad that I don’t know some of the things my children get up to.  I have faced death and injury over the years, from electrocution to violent offenders.  For a while it seems to sharpen your existence, set a bit of urgency in your world and a determination to live a different life.  I am not sure that the reality of that is so in my life.  But this I know, should something happen to my children in the near future, will I regret spending $60.00 on a family celebration?  Not likely.

Right now I feel as though I am on a treadmill journey of an indeterminable length, condemned to living vicariously through the lives of my children.   Time I guess will tell on that matter.  I do know that I have never felt as worn out emotionally and physically as I do right now.  I don’t think I am particularly unfit (although I can do better) I managed a 28 k trail ride the other day with not too much effort.  It is just that everything seems to bloody ache, my joints, my back, and above all else my brain. I am indeed in need of a holiday!

Some things will change in the next few weeks that may alleviate some of that.  Full time sole- parenting is a busy job and I am 51 and I know I need to get back to the gym. So although I feel often trapped, and not seeming to have a life of my own  (voice in the back ground daaaad) (louder voice, will you leave me alone I am on the toilet!).  I could be worse much worse.  I have five fantastic children, two who live with me, a fantastic nephew who also lives with me.  Three independent children, and three cool grand-children.  I am privileged to have some other cool kids in my life right now as well.  They keep me young and real.

I had a job interview the other day and one of the questions I was asked was do I have a sense of humour?  Fortunately I am able to laugh at myself (most of the time), not take myself too seriously (most of the time) and generally have hope.  Hope is a little short in supply right now but laughter seems plentiful.  Sometimes we have to be thankful for what we have, not that which we lack,  I am thankful right now, for my children, for my true friends and family.  Family is not determined by blood. It is those people who know and love you in the truth of your existence, good and not so good.

Live well, laugh often and love freely.