Category: Taboo Topics

aaron fullerton

This is going to be a little bit of a different one. i ‘met’ Aaron online, as much as you can ‘meet’ anyone online [i think you can] and i don’t even remember how although it might have been through Hashtag Game tweets or some other comedy moment. And we got chatting, which is a little strange for strangers on Twitter. And especially when it turned out that one of the strangers is a writer for a popular tv show called Graceland [Aaron, not me.] And he was super friendly. And somewhere along the line i found out that he had cancer, or had had cancer, and had a blog about it and he gave me permission to use some of his posts.

Aaron clearly has a strong gift for writing and is also a funny guy and so despite these posts being about cancer [which is completely not funny and a total bastard, let’s be honest] there is a deep focus on the life behind. And as much as his form of cancer has a 95 plus percent chance of ending in complete freedom from it, i imagine the percents that are not guaranteed still contain enough strength to bring some anxiety and fear.

What i like about Aaron is he is real and rough and raw and it’s great because it really allows us to get a glimpse of a real life story, which is what Taboo Topics is all about. i am going to be sharing a number of posts from his last two years of journey, that i find particularly powerful/encouraging/uplifting/challenging, but i encourage you to go and check out his blog and subscribe and become an even closer part of his journey. Who knows? He may one day be writing one of your favourite shows.

Friends, i give you Aaron Fullerton and the appropriately named Aaron Laughs With Cancer

Laughing With Cancer, Not At It – Two years ago, after having the offending testicle removed, Aaron started to write.

The Cooler Side of Chemo – Aaron focuses on some of the things he is grateful for during treatment

Glimpses and Truths – snippets from three different posts that share some of Aaron’s insights, challenges and encouragements


Growing up in Cape Town in a largely coloured area, the perceptions about white and black people were always negative. So naturally I took that on as the norm (as that was my context). I was only in high school when I was first exposed to white folks. All my teachers were white and they knew everything and seem to have everything. I basically unconsciously just ended up assimilating into that thinking that white must be right. My teachers at school were never really outwardly racist but there were those occasional undertones, side comments that one at that age could not quite understand. In this context I never really thought much about the issues of race.

When I went to Bible College a little bit after High School I was confronted with my own racism. One of my classmates who was black got a better mark than me, and this shocked me. Why? Because I grew up being told that black people are not very bright. I went home to tell my parents of this discovery and they just shrugged it off saying “you’re 19 you don’t know anything and not you’re not racist, those people are …” I realised that as a Christian this kind of thinking would not be helpful or gracious it was downright ungodly. So I decided to get to know and build better friendships with black people that I was surrounded by at Bible College. It was and still is an awesome journey. In these friendships I have had to confront a lot of wrong and misinformed thinking and my friends continue to be gracious as we work through these things together. I have found that I am richer for getting out of my comfort zone.

So my friends then exposed some other stuff and brought up my racism towards white people. I couldn’t deny that at all. My experience of many white people is that of ignorance, entitlement, totally unaware of their privilege and so not interested in engaging in issues of race, politics etc.

So my argument for not making an effort to have white friends was, “agh will they ever change? Probably not, and who has time for those people anyway?” So I would just tolerate them but no further and that will be that. Right? Wrong?

I moved to Bloemfontein last year in December and ended up at a predominantly white church. I was like “ahh Help! I see white people, everywhere!” God has a sense of humour for real! Moving here has made me look more seriously at the attitudes and prejudices I hold towards white people. I had attempted to have friendships with white people many times but it always never deepened or went past a certain point. So I never really felt compelled to preserve and be persistent. I wrote to some of my friends and told them I guess I’m going to have to learn to love them white peoples.

I have actively sought to make and build on friendships with white people. What changed for me is that I realised that, had my black friends not been patient, gracious and kind with me then I would have not gotten out of my habitual wrong thinking. My thinking was formed by ignorance and lack of exposure to black people. It was only in my relationships that I was able to move past a lot of things I grew up believing about black people.

So what I want my white friends to know is this:

I am your friend for real, I love you because Jesus made you and I sincerely want to understand the inner workings of your mind. This might mean that at times when you say stuff because you are really ignorant of the world around you; I will in love tell you that you are wrong.

You are not an island. You cannot go on pretending that things are okay or be okay with being in your comfort zone. You are so missing out! You need me and I need you. Further to that I want to need you, because you are part of this epic country.

Be honest. Don’t hold back tell me how you really feel I can guarantee that your anger concerning race and apartheid will often be the root of some misunderstandings you may still hold. I love you enough to wrestle it out with you.

Don’t just moan, own! Don’t just complain about how rubbish things are, own your part in making a difference and changing things. The cop out argument of I can’t really do anything about stuff because I’m white? That’s just unhelpful and only leads you to be complacent and back to what makes you comfortable.

If we want a better South Africa then we have to fight for it. It’s messy and it will mean that we’ll scrape some knees, and come out bruised. But it’s worth it. We have such an opportunity to create a new normal. We don’t need to keep perpetuating our past.

To be very honest it is really rough and tough loving people who just don’t seem to want to get it. I often feel like giving up. But then I realise Christ never gives up on me no matter how many times I mess up and don’t get it. So to my white friends I won’t tap out, by God’s grace I’m all in.

[For other stories from People of Colour who have things they’d love white people to hear, click here]

So this post by my friend Sean’s wife, Kirby, is a little bit different [was an eye-opener for me] as it differentiates between Tantrums and Meltdowns and i would love to hear some response to this from other parents who have maybe never thought about this before. She posted this under the title ‘Moment on Meltdowns’ on her blog ‘Niggles and Giggles’ which i have links to at the end, so go and see what else her and Sean have to say…

About 4 years ago we were driving to church and had to wait in some traffic to park (we went to a rather large church). In order to speed things up, I took my daughter out the car and walked into the church to an agreed meeting place. The problem was this place was busier than expected and noisy than I would have liked.

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This is a post that Belinda Mountain has generously allowed me to use. Make sure you click through to her blog ‘Making Mountains’ (out of molehills) which i link to at the end of this piece:

Pic of Belinda Mountain and family

Lessons in Humility

We’re back. And I wish I could say that I’m super relaxed from a lovely lazy holiday but actually my nerves are shot, my back muscles are all tensed up and my parenting chi is completely in tatters. Why? (you may ask). A 2-year-old that’s what. Let me begin my ‘Lessons in Humility’ story with the accompanying image..Lessons in Humility

That is Ben. A little boy sitting on a very big bench having a time out as he gazes over the hills of the Drakensberg.

Below him you will find some groups of adults attempting to play lawn bowls. One group was my family and another was a group of English tourists who probably didn’t imagine that they would be terrorised by a badly behaved two-year-old. They’ll head back to London and tell their friends that South African children are REALLY badly behaved. I cringe.

They are trying to have a civilised game of bowls and sip on a G&T but a tow-headed toddler in a blue shirt keeps stealing the little white ball or moving their black balls or getting in the way when they are trying to throw. He does NOT want to play with the spare set of bowling balls given to him specifically for this purpose. No, he wants to play with the real thing obviously. And then he has a tantrum when his mother stops him. And another one. And another one. He lies on the field and kicks his little legs and screeches and rolls around until after the third time, he gets removed to a bench where he contemplates his behaviour, apologises (Sowee Marmy) and then proceeds to do it all. over. again.

But this doesn’t just happen on the bowls field. It happens on the croquet field and when some strangers are playing tennis and when a little girl is kicking her own ball on the lawn. And it doesn’t just happen with balls. It happens when another toddler plays with “his” Lego (not his at all, belonging to the resort) or when he can’t have cereal for dinner or when I try and pick him up on a walk to the waterfall.

I carry him thrashing in my arms through a crowded dining room full of strangers and feel all of my confidence that I have finally got the hang of this parenting lark crumble off into bits. I am completely humbled. Because my inability is on show for all to see, there is no hiding from it. I want to crawl under the table behind the table cloths and pretend he belongs to someone else.

But I don’t of course. I pick him up and rock him to and fro and whisper in his ear and try calm him down. I claim that he is mine and when an older (very well meaning) lady asks me “Shame, is he sick? Or tired?” I answer with honesty and say that No, he is just two and a little angry and frustrated at life.

It’s a phase! (all the books say). But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to question what I’m doing wrong here. I’m quite consistent with discipline but the ‘time out’ that worked so well for Rachel does not appear to be working one little bit. Ben will sit on that bench dutifully but does not appear unhappy about being admonished at all. In fact, he seems to view it as a bit of a game.

What’s comforting me is that he hasn’t been THAT badly behaved before. His tantrums are pretty limited when he’s at home and when he is going to school and is in his routine. He’s mostly a happy agreeable little guy who is loving and funny and behaves like a typical little boy I think. But there’s something about being on holiday, surrounded by lots of other kids, and having me at his beck and call (i.e not at work or away from him) that brings out the worst in him. His tantrums never appear in front of teachers or his nanny Norma or parents of his friends – they seem to be directed squarely at ME, his mother, and I feel like this is my fault.

I was humbled this weekend and embarrassed. Fellow parents are wonderfully understanding people but I’m quite a shy person and don’t like to cause a scene and my child put me SEVERELY out of my comfort zone these last two days.

I need to buy some books on this issue or do some research. You’ve given me some wonderful advice before on a previous post I wrote. But ignoring him doesn’t tend to work. And acknowledging the reason (I KNOW you want the balls but you can’t have them right now as the adults are using them) has not got us anywhere. This piece one of you sent me on letting the tantrum play out just feels too difficult in such a public space. Any other recommendations or techniques or tips? I really could do with some help.

love from the most incompetent parent ever (sob!)



P.S. I forgot to mention that he also head butted me in the windpipe.

Belinda Mountain writes a (sort of) mommy blog (as she calls it) called Making Mountains which you can go and take a look at over here. If you benefitted from reading her story here at all, or just want to offer her an encouraging word, then please head on over there and leave a comment.

[For more stories of Parents dealing with Tantrums, click over here]

This is a piece that was shared with me by Leigh Geary but which originally was published on her blog, The Mom Diaries under the title, ‘The Terrible Twos: Am I being punished for all my sins?’


Lets talk about the terrible two’s shall we? Holy Moley! I think I’m about to lose my shit in a big way but lets face it that would just be teaching him that tantrums and inappropriate behavior are acceptable.

I forgot what its like to have a two-year old in the house who thinks he’s Lord Muck and that our lives revolve around his every wish and command. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been ordered around so much in my life. And I REALLY hate being told what to do. This is today’s conversation with my cute as a button two-year-old son as we were getting ready to leave the house:

He enters my bedroom looking very hard done by, because lets face it being two is a rollercoaster ride of eating, sleeping, playing, outings, treats, afternoon naps followed by more playing and eating. It’s tough.

“Mommy hold you” (in a moan that’s so dramatic you think there may be something sinister brewing)

“Mommy is just getting dressed bub then I will hold you, come let’s go to the gym. Go get your shoes and then we can go!”

“No mommy do it”

“Ok I will. Just let me finish putting my shoes on then I will get your shoes ok?”


“Yes I will do it now”


In a huff I go and get his shoes and as I reach for them in his cupboard the freak out escalates to disturbing levels:

“NO. NO. NO!!! I DO it!! I DO it!”

“You said three times you wanted me to get it babe” (how’s me trying to reason with a two-year old?)

“No I DO IT!”

“Fine, by all means do it yourself”

I stand back to allow him to do get the gumboots out and he begins the painfully long process of negotiating them onto his feet. Just as he is about to fall from, all the wiggling and winding, I reach out ever so gently just to offer him a hand. (I’ve been burnt in the past and have learnt my lesson)

“No I do it!! Brody do it! I do it by self, NOO HELPING!!!!!!!!!”

I stand back in a panic (a little afraid for my life too) and watch his will power and stubborn nature refusing to give in to the help that is only a hand reach away. I wonder who he got that from?

I try one last time to gently show him we can work together and he throws himself in a lump on the floor.

I have a gym class I would like to make and I will be damned if my two-year-old kid and his boots are the reason I’m late. So I walk back to my room to finish putting on my other shoe.

What followed can only be described as a meltdown of disturbing proportions when he followed me back in to the room, threw the boots at me and said ”MOMMY DO IT MOMMY HELP YOU!!!”

And so there we were back at square one. My worst place to be. Square one represents energy wasted and time you will never get back.

After what feels like the longest exercise of coercing him to work with me, we get the boot on!

And just like that, as thought nothing has happened he screams “I DID IT!”” And with a bounce in his step and enough giddy excitement to bring a circus to back to life, he marches off.

I on the hand, was left in the fetal position on the floor wondering if I even needed to go to the gym after all the effort it took to get through that.

I get that toddlers are in a very intense stage of self-assertion and independence but it can be tough on the rest of the family. It can be tough on the neighbours too.  It’s even harder knowing when you are allowed to be extra firm and tell them how its going be and when you need to encourage their independence and nurture their strong wills by letting them go through the process themselves.

This is what DR Betty Liebovich says about this time in a toddler’s life:

“Your toddler may show developing independence through eating, dressing, playing with toys, and drawing. Sometimes, your toddler will want to do these things without any help; other times, she will need your help with everything. With the uncertainty of whether help is needed or not comes frustration on your part and that of your toddler. This is when your toddler may resist and throw a tantrum”

Or the world may end in my case.

She goes on to say:

“Your toddler may resist any help from you, insisting that she can do a task on her own. However, she may then become frustrated because she is unable to complete the task, as s/he would like. The resistance to accept help is your toddler asserting her independence. In order to assert her own will your toddler may reject your own. Negotiating when to assist, when to hang back and when to anticipate opposition takes time and patience. Having some ideas of what to anticipate and how to negotiate independence may ease resistance and opposition”

I’m hoping to find some ways to diffuse these situations and learn how my little guy thinks, how he is wired. If you have any tips to share with me and other moms please feel free to comment below. Who knows maybe we can brainstorm another post together!

This mom needs all the help she can get!


Leigh xxx

[To read Belinda’s story of her two year old and a very public meltdown, click here]


For the past 3 weeks, Masi has really been struggling to go to sleep. And when I talk about Masi struggling, I don’t mean that he just lies in his bed and plays with his fingers and can’t doze off – I mean he jumps out of bed and slams the door repeatedly, he pulls the curtains down, he opens his cupboard and flings all his clothes around the floor, he jumps on his sister while she is trying to sleep, most of the time yelling and screaming and kicking, hitting and fighting us when we try and calm him down.

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[Candice is one of my oldest [as in time spent together] Improv friends and now that she has moved to Australia i am realising how much i miss not having her around… but she has written an excellent post which i’m sure is going to resonate with and encourage many of you so here goes…]

Because I am going through a challenging phase with my teenaged daughter and many of my friends are having babies at the moment, I have been thinking a lot about what I would do differently in the parenting department should I have another child. Knowing what I know now about how the mistakes of the past come back to haunt you in your teenaged child, I guarantee you that it is easier dealt with when they are young, even though at the time all you want is some silence and a glass of wine in your hand without having a nervous breakdown. I know, I’ve been there.

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