By Bunmi Sofola

WEMI had just made a much needed dash to the toilet when she heard a huge crash. “Couldn’t I even have a wee in peace without those brats creating havoc?”, she muttered under, her breath. Hastily pulling up her skirt, she dashed out of the toilet to the sitting room, yelling ‘what’s going on?’ as she approached her two grandchildren. “Jnr. hit me,” hissed Kenke, nine; “and he’s broken your fancy flower vase.”

“I didn’t touch her oh,” he defended himself. “She hit me first.” Wemi’s heart nearly broke in two as she saw what remained of the beautiful vase she’d bought on one of her trips abroad over ten years ago. “I would have defended the vase with my life as I clutched it through customs. It was an indulgence and it had pride of place on the sitting room’s coffee table. Now it lay in pieces on the floor – and my infuriating grandchildren were still fighting like cat and dog on the floor. ‘Stop it!’ I snapped furiously. ‘How dare you behave in such a destructive way!’ I might as well have been talking to myself for all the notice they took.’

“Desperate, I put on the DVD and sat them in front of it as I cleared up the broken vase. The maid was away at the market. I was 58, and Moni, my 35 year-old daughter often leave them with me on her way to the shop she ran. She was in between jobs and the shop kept her busy and helped towards her housekeeping. After Moni’s husband had left to live with his mistress, she had struggled to keep going and the monthly house keeping her husband sent didn’t go far.

“Now her little angels were turning into destructive monsters. Moni always defended them if I tried to explain how badly behaved they’d been. It was obvious there was no discipline, no structure at their home any more – a probable effect of the separation. Meanwhile, their antics were leaving me drained, despairing. My husband often returned late in the evenings, so he was spared the stress of putting up with the kids. As if the vase incident wasn’t bad enough, the kids ran riot in the kitchen biting into fruits and biscuits, then throwing them on the floor. Losing my temper completely, I frog matched them back to the sitting room, clipping their ears as I did so. It was a relief when their mother finally came for them.

“The following month, when she came for her kids, she was almost her bubbly self. ‘I have some great news,’ she said, smiling. ‘I’ve got a new job as an administrator in a good school, the hours are mostly during school time, but I’ll be staying over a few hours to tidy up. So, do you think you could take the kids as a regular thing after school?’ And have my house smashed up even more often? No way!’ But I didn’t tell her that – she looked too happy for me to disappoint her that quick, ‘No problem,’ I said, ‘but let me discuss this with your dad first.’ That should buy me enough time to make up a credible reason to back out of her crazy idea.

“I had an appointment for the next day with my doctor and I told him how stressed I felt. He told me my blood pressure was slightly raised and suggested I try to lose a few pounds and get a bit more exercise. He’s been saying that for a while. Basically, I was perfectly healthy. No reason on earth why I couldn’t help out my daughter. Only, next time she came over with her little horrors, I sat her down with some refreshments. ‘I’m sorry dear,’ I said, ‘but I won’t be able to have the kids with me for a while.’ She looked really disappointed but I quickly explained. ‘I went to the doctor’s and he said I’ve got a serious heart condition. He said I must avoid stress.’

She looked so worried I almost felt guilty.  ‘Are you going to be all right?’ she cried, ‘I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you.’ I assured her I would be alright with the right treatment. The big fat lie I’d told was to save myself from a lot of trouble. I’ve raised all my children with little or no help from anyone. Now that I felt my job was all done and could relax, she wants to put a lot of strain on my general well-being. Today’s children could be really selfish. Not all grandmas are dotting ones. Once they’ve raised their kids, they sit back and enjoy some peace and quiet- not chasing after some noisy brats!”

There’s Proof Menopause Makes You More Forgetful!

Women going through the menopause often complain they are becoming more forgetful. And an international conference heard recently that there is increasing evidence that women’s concentration levels, memory and ability to carry out tasks drop by as much as 40 percent when they go through the change. As many as four in ten women could be affected, and many find it increasingly difficult to do their jobs or go about daily routines.

Researchers also say that younger women may find it harder to concentrate at certain times of the month due to changes in their hormones. Studies have shown that they perform better in certain tests when levels of the hormone oestrogen are highest – just before ovulation. Professor Martha Hickey, an expert in obstetrics and gynaecology at Melbourne University, said there was now compelling evidence that the menopause affected women’s memory, attention span and ability to learn. She told the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston there was a number of possible causes, including a drop in levels of the hormone oestrogen and a lack of sleep. ‘Clearly, losing your memory or feeling your concentration is failing is distressing and for many women it may affect their productivity and ability to get on with their lives, she added. ‘Cognitive (concentration) complaints are common in the menopause.’

Professor Hickey said the drop in levels of the hormone oestrogen that occur during the menopause may affect key parts-of the brain responsible for memory and concentration including the hippocampus, the middle, and the prefrontal cortex, which is at the front. Scans on women going through the menopause have shown possible changes in both areas. But a lack of sleep may play a part, she added, as a result of constantly waking up in the night with hot flushes.

She also said that much of the previous research had under-estimated the effects of the menopause as they relied on tests that were not sensitive enough to detect small changes in the brain. Many relied on techniques used to diagnose strokes or dementia which do not pick up the comparably mild loss of concentration experienced by women. She is now carrying out her own study on 105 women in the US undergoing surgery to remove their ovaries to prevent ovarian cancer which will result in them going through the menopause.

She referred to a study carried out on 12,450 women in the US in 2001 which found they were 40 per cent more likely to report being more forgetful after the menopause. Separate research on 16,000 women, also undertaken in America, showed that four in ten admitted having memory problems. The average age for women to go through the menopause is 52 although some experience it in their 30s and 40s. It occurs when the body stops producing oestrogen as women age and this causes her ovaries to stop producing eggs each month. This fall in oestrogen also causes   mood swings, hot flushes and night sweats.


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