Lasting impressions on our children

I read in a magazine that even picking up kids late from school on a regular basis can have a negative and long lasting impression on children and should be avoided when ever possible. As I was reading this article I could not help but think that the writer was overreacting somewhat and thought to myself how Alycia, my 9 year old, was so happy to see me when I showed up late, not a frown or angry look in sight. A few days later when I picked her up, I decided to have a slow drive home and get involved with some idle banter on the subject and at the same time get her opinion.

As I asked her how her day had gone and when I received the customary “ok”, I moved on to the main gig, “you know sweetheart” I started out, “when I arrive to pick you up from school you always look so happy so I guess you don’t mind so much that I am late do you?” I ventured. “That’s not exactly true dad to be honest, I am so happy to see you due to the fact that I don’t have to sit there anymore and be embarrassed being, yet again, the last one to be picked up from school”.

I turned on the indicator and pulled over, “What do you mean” I enquired. “The worst part of all” she continued, “is that as there is no parking and as I have no idea what time you and mummy are going to pick me up, I can’t even hide in the Library so that no one sees me, I have to sit by the drop off and pick up area in full view of the whole school and wait for the daily comments to start”.

I was shell shocked to think that as a loving father, I could be so busy with my daily schedule and routine that I could have become so clueless.

Later that night I went back to the magazine to have a closer look, they explained that even a minor public scolding, forcing children to wear clothing which would ensure that they were made fun of all day at school, using pet names in front of their friends, showing baby photos of them to their friends, holding their hands in public, announcing their weaknesses in front of others and even a public hug may humiliate them and set them off down a slope of terrible memories when they became older.

I have lots of middle age friends and we all seem to carry some kind of scared baggage about our childhood and we all seem to harbor some kind of memories which indicate that we may have been hurt in one way or another.

I have now come to the conclusion that as parents, we are the main obstacles that get in the way of where our children want to go which will usually end up with some kind of confrontation and if we are not careful this will allow ill feelings to develop. Alycia, is as yet unable to see why I don’t allow her to have a sleep over at her friend’s house; the trivial fact that her friend has 2 brothers aged 14 and 16 does not mean anything and in her mind is information that should not be involved in the decision process. I can only live and hope that one day when she is old enough to understand what may have happened if I would have allowed her to go, will enable her to appreciate my decision and for its importance.

Everyone knows my thought process on verbal, physical or mental abuse and that I believe it is an absolute disgrace and tragedy to say the very least, but the question here is, are we doing enough to make our children really understand and believe that we love them.

Are we giving them memories that we would hope keeps their soul warm at night and memories that will ensure they grow up with enough love to share with their own children too.

I have to believe that there must be nothing worse than enabling your children to carry around bad memories forever that could have been avoided with a little more care and thought.

To ensure that Alycia has long lasting, loving and fond memories, I am going to pledge that I pick her up from school on time more often than not, whisper in her ear that she is my angel before she goes to sleep at night and every day give her a big hug, look at her right in the eyes and tell her that I love her….if I do this long enough, hopefully she will forgive me for the mistakes that I have already made.

How ugly are you?

I was having coffee the other day with a new friend of mine and nonchalantly commented on how well they looked which surprisingly brought a frown to their face. I asked them if they disagreed with my assessment and they explained to me that they had been in a long verbally abusive relationship earlier and that they had been told on many occasions how ugly, stupid and worthless they were. This seemed unfortunately to have a profound impact on the way they felt about themselves which had resulted in them finding it extremely hard to accept any compliments concerning their intelligence or appearance. 

Today I would like to touch on the word ugly if I may due to the fact that I find it disgraceful, disgusting and repulsive that one human being can destroy another human beings confidence with such harsh and callous words. 

Ugly, according the “Webster’s New World Dictionary” is described as many things including, “unpleasing to look at, aesthetically offensive, unsightly, vile, disagreeable, dreadful, offensive, objectionable and even repulsive. 

I took my friend to stand in front of a mirror and slowly read out the descriptive words of ugly one by one from the dictionary and when I had finished I asked them if they could see any of these descriptions in their reflection.   

It is my experience that if someone is told every single day for years that they are worthless, even if they are a very confident and proud person, if they do not get away from this abuse they will eventually loose confidence and start to actually believe what they are being told. 

On the flip side of this logic, if they are lacking confidence and they are reassured everyday that they are intelligent, wonderful and an overall beautiful person, after time they will start to believe this too. 

I would like to propose that nobody should have the right or opportunity to deliver such damaging, heart rendering and torturous words to another and get away with it. Everyone needs and deserves that special someone in their lives to continuously reinforce in them their value, their obvious self worth and their importance, as without this they will be open to belittlement and the possibility of abuse resulting in a total lack of self esteem. 

Any educated person with confidence whom is surrounded by loved ones will laugh at name calling and any insinuations delivered of them being ugly or stupid.    

I urge all of us who know someone with confidence issues, or know someone who has suffered such dreadful treatment as this to make a commitment and help them repair, in any small way possible, the damage they have suffered to their self esteem and confidence. Take them for a facial, a spa treatment or to the salon. When their confidence has improved and when you see that they are smiling again, take them to sit in front of a mirror and ask them what they see. 

There is no such thing as an ugly human being; every human being can be beautiful if they feel confident in themselves, every human being can be happy if they are surrounded by people they love and people who love them. Every human being can feel important if they are contributing to a relationship or to society and if they are made to understand that their contributions are valuable. 

If I may I would like to request anyone who has confidence issues or anyone who has ever been through a terrible abusive relationship to sit in front of a mirror, close your eyes and think about someone or something that makes you happy. When you feel totally relaxed, open your heart to the possibilities for your future and the realization that your dreams really can come true. 

When you have done this, open your eyes, give yourself a warm smile from deep inside your heart, look directly into the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I ugly”. 

You and I both know the answer.

A father and daughter's inseparable love

Working at the E&O reminds me of why I joined the industry in the first place. It’s a luxury hotel with glamour, romance and intrigue, but most of all it has what many other hotels are unable to offer and that is the fact that this year it is going to be 124 years old. The walls of this hotel are steeped in history and many repeat visitors have private tales to share about their loved ones and their personal and fond memories.

I had only been here for a few months when one day, as I was walking through the lobby on the way back to my office, I saw a young lady standing under the grand dome holding a small shiny vase. She looked a little perturbed, so I slowly made my way in her direction to ask her if she needed any assistance. She introduced herself as Caroline and informed me that her father used to serve with the armed forces here many, many years ago and he used to always come to the E&O to eat and to go ballroom dancing. She went on to inform me that the E&O was one of his most favourite places in the whole world. She held on to the vase tightly and went on to say that her beloved father had recently passed away and he had requested that his ashes be spread in the grounds of the hotel. As she requested permission I realized that her father’s ashes were in the vase she was holding so tightly, I was taken aback by the request she was making and could not help but to be awe inspired by the way Caroline was holding herself together during such an emotional moment.

I told her that it would be an honour for us if she spread her father’s ashes in our garden and off she went to spread them amongst the flowers and plants close to the wall. After she had finished I watched her slowly walk through the front door on the way out, wiping away a few tears whilst holding on to the empty vase and I could not help but tear up with the thought of what was going through her mind.

About three weeks later, I saw her sitting on the wall having a glass of wine talking to herself, so I went over to enquire if she was alright. Caroline informed me that she would come over here at least twice a month to have a glass of wine, sit in the very same spot where she had spread the ashes and talk to her father. I left her alone so she could enjoy her very private moment with her dad and she did this every couple of weeks for over two years until it was time for her and her family to move onto their next posting.

Two years ago as I was arriving at the hotel and shaking the hands of my staff, there was an elderly chap standing under the same copper dome, leaning rather gingerly on a walking stick. After wishing the chap a very good morning, he introduced himself as Mr. Johnson and told me that he was having a visit down memory lane as he also served here over 5o years ago as a young soldier and was loving the historical moment he was having after just arriving on a 14 hour flight.

He informed that he had many, many wonderful memories of his evenings and dances at the hotel and as his bottom lip started to tremble whilst re-living his history, he managed to compose himself and went on to explain that there used to be an old lift somewhere that he used to sneak up to see his old girlfriend in. When I informed him that the same original lift was still here and most importantly still in working order, he was extremely surprised to say the very least. When I asked him if he would like to go for a ride, his legs wobbled a little, making it apparent that the walking stick had enabled him to stay on his feet.

We entered the lift for a short 3 floor ride to the top and back down again to the bottom. The entire ride took no more that 2-3 minutes, but was sufficient time to have this wonderful gentleman in tears. He started off out of the lift and across the lobby before turning around to face me for a second and as he turned around he told me that he would now go to his grave a happy man and this was a day he would surely never forget. I stood there speechless after hearing what he had just said to me and instantly tried to grapple with the importance a ride in a lift could have possibly meant to him.

There is something I know for certain and that is that after I leave the E&O Hotel, I will never be able to work in another hotel like this for as long as I live. Hotels are either 124 years old or their not, it’s that simple and that special, you can’t buy heritage. This is why I hold on to the position as the General Manager here as long as I can and pray that the owners will keep me here until I am unable to carry on due to old age.

Oh and before I forget, did I tell you that Caroline called me last week, she informed me that the whole family is coming here to visit us this festive period for a couple of weeks. She told me that she wants to sit on the wall, have a glass of wine and wish her father a Merry Christmas.