Friday, December 17, 2010
'Have you heard of Jesus, Ivy?' I said.
'Genies?' she asked excitedly.
'No, Jesus,' I said. 'Little baby Jesus?'
'No,' she replied. 'Who's that?'
'Well, some people think he's excellent,' I said. 'They think he's the son of God and he was born at Christmas, so they celebrate.'
She was silent for a few minutes.
Is he like a genie?'
'No,' I said. 'He's a religous leader of great meaning to millions of Christian people.'
She mulled this over for a while.
'But can you tell me about genies, Mum?'
'Well, they live in tea-pots and if you rub the teapot they come out and grant you three wishes,' I said. Ivy's face took on the familiar fervour of passion. It was like Thomas, the Wiggles and the Jurrasic period were all delivered to her on a giant blueberry.
'Here are my grant-wishes, Mum', she said. 'A walking apple, a baby made just for kids, and a pineapple pie.'
Ever since, Ivy has refined and elaborated on her grant-wishes. I thought I'd explained that genies live in the land of imagination, but I forgot that the line between magic and reality for the four-year old is tissue-thin. Last night, she begged Keith to talk about genies, and so he wove a tale about an old, dusty teapot in the back of the cupboard.
This morning, Ivy jumped into the big bed. 'I know my grant-wishes, Mum!' she shouted. 'I want a yellow sewing machine made for four-year-old and five-year-olds, a real baby for me to play with and all the dinosaurs as a pet!'
Then she hounded me out of bed and made me search for tea-pots in the cupboard. I found two, and we sat on the floor and rubbed the first one. 'Genie, genie, talk to me,' I droned. 'Grant me wishes: one, two, three!' Ivy threw open the lid and looked inside. 'Not today,' I said.
Teddy did the next one. 'Genie, genie, what you do, wake up!' he sang. Ivy looked inside that lid too, desperately, and even checked the spout for a curl of dusty smoke, and then her little heart broke.
'Oh no!' she wailed as she threw herself on the rug and cried with the painful realisation that no pet dinos or babies were forthcoming. 'Ivy-cakes, genies aren't real,' I said. 'They just live in books and in games. But they are still wonderful.'
Two honey crumpets and a game of Snap later, she'd recovered.
Ah; four. I love it.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This post originally appeared as a column in Practical Parenting, November 2010
As summer heats up, mothers of two-year-olds around the country turn their thoughts to toilet training. My little Teddy will be excited, I’m sure. He’s spent almost all his life wrapped in nappies, so a season of letting it all hang out will be a wonderful treat to him. As it is, when disrobed, he is always pleased to regard his own naked glory. ‘Pea-nitz, Mama!’ he shouts with delight. ‘Lookit! Pea-nitz!’
Mainly Ivy’s decorative efforts were confined to the liquid kind. Usually she managed to poo in the potty; but not always. One day Keith noticed she had that thousand-mile-stare as she leaned against the couch.
'Are you doing a poo, Ivy?' he said.
'No, daddy, I just relaxing,' she replied, and then looked shamefaced as a little nugget fell out of the leg of her pants.
Just then I came home from the shop.
'What's up?' I said.
'I did a shorts in my poo, Mummy,' she said.
Another afternoon I come unexpectedly upon a steamy little offering in the hallway. ‘Why is there a poo on the floor, Ivy?’ I asked helplessly. ‘I just wanting to see what it’s look like,’ she told me.
Ivy was particularly good at the psychological aspect of warfare. She would wee on the couch cover, which spent more time on the line that summer than in the house, and when it was removed, would stealthily lay a little egg on the cushion itself. One memorable evening there was an Incident in the bath. It involved Ivy standing up, wailing, a little nugget in each hand, as Keith called for help and tried to stop her putting her fingers in her mouth. The next day she talked about the chocolate Daddy wouldn't let her eat in the bath. I think in toddler-therapy they call it a 'disconnect.'
The weeks passed. The Wee War limped on. Ivy refused to go to the toilet at the park, but instead climbed into the driver’s seat before we went home and let the rivers run. She merrily went though four or five pairs of Thomas the Tank engine underpants a day. I hopelessly tried to keep on top of the groaning laundry and the secret corner-tinkling. ‘Mummy is a bit angry,’ Ivy would say conversationally, with her hand on my shoulder. ‘OK, where is the wee?’ I would wearily reply; cloth and floor-spray in hand.
Will it be easier dealing with a little boy and his pea-nitz? Will it be a summer full of fruity bath-bombs, and a lingering fragrance of Eau-de-Puppy-Shelter? The double-covers are on the couch and I’m prepared for battle, dear readers. I’ll keep you posted.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
When Ivy was three months old, we moved to a little beach town an hour or two south of Sydney and fell, to our joy, into a fabulous little community of like-minded bobos, bogans and beloved fruitcakes. But every once in a while, I feel the need to take off up the highway, sans babies, and see my Ladies, where we exchange information, pics, gossip and warm, fuzzy love.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
The fairy babies left Ted a present - a big blue dog with cuddly arms and legs to replace his lost plastic friends. Initially, Ted was excited by Big Dog, but when he went to bed last night, he really struggled with his loss.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I love a fiesty dame. Recently she wrote this New York Times article on modern motherhood, and her perspective, as always, made me think. Even when I don't agree with the content of a feminist rant, I will always support a womans right to get shouty. And I understand where these second-wave feminists struggle with the new breed; the bobo, bread-bakey, home-makey, earnest mamas of the current Western zeitgeist. (Guilty as charged.) Jong and her crew fought for women to have choices outside of the home. And here their daughters and grand-daughters are, embracing the kitchen that they emancipated us from.
I thank Jong and her sisterhood for giving me the choice to be at home with Ted and Ivy. I don't feel lessened or sidelined by that choice. But the modern world of parenting is a funny beast, and the opinions of strident women like her, and the French writer Elizebeth Badinter (whose theory 'give the baby a bottle and have a drink and a smoke too, if you feel like it', is sadly missing in the parenting books I've been reading) are important voices.
I think its is time for this examination of modern parenting mores. I worry about the give-me-attachment-or-give-me-death school of thought. Even though I agree with most of its precepts, it always seems to me that Mum comes last in this thinking. Can't you put the damn baby down? Can't you let it cry for ten minutes? Will it really be scarred for life? Really?
Trends in parenting theory will come and go, but what remains consistent is that the whole caper is hard work. Most of the mums I know these days struggle between twin poles of guilt: when I'm house-working, I should be playing with the kids, and when I'm playing, I should be cleaning the house. I am always reading little quotes and thoughts along the lines of 'The dust bunnies will still be there tomorrow. Don't feel guilty about using that precious time to build Lego castles...' Well, frankly, I don't. I congratulate myslef when I'm building the Lego castles. That's fine mothering, dammit! My guilt comes when I'm sacked out at the end of the day watching Wife Swap (I may have mentioned this before once or twice) and the laundry is piled, unfolded on the lounge.
Attachment, helicopter, free-range or unschooling parents are all still just people. Idiosyncratically flawed. That's why all families are different. Me, sometimes I am energetic, affectionate and creative. Sometimes I am buggered, moody and reliant on ABC2. Sometimes Keith is a brilliant mind of his generation. Sometimes he is a grumpy man watching football on the couch in his underpants. I'm not perfect, the kids aren't perfect and our parenting isn't either.
Do the best you can, says Jong at the end of her article. There are no rules.
Hooray for shouty feminists.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
There are two factors that keep my shopping expeditions on track: preparation, and the art of Zen. I am armed heavily with snacks, and have come to terms with the fact that I left control of my life at the doors of the birthing suite. I’m ready for any situation to go in any possible direction, at any minute. Currently, I am prepared for this:
I grappled with Teddy, simultaneously proud and horrified that he seemed to have developed the grip of a professional walnut-cracker. The moment was interminable. ‘Never mind,’ I eventually choked out and drove on, knockers out and waving in the wind, to the muted strains of Michael Buble. It’s true that Keith and I like to call the Canadian crooner ‘Swinging Bubes’, but on that occasion Teddy really took things a step too far.
2. The kids will win.
One memorable day, Ivy – aged two - threw the worst tantrum she’d ever had. It went for forty full minutes. In between shrieking fits, she did quiet moaning exercises, gathering energy for the next attack. I tried desperately to ignore it all, and as it wound down into small hiccoughing gulps, attempted some positive psychology. 'Ivy, you've done a good job controlling yourself for the last few minutes. If you can keep up this happy behavior you can have a balloon from the lady at the door.’ On the way home, with my Stern Voice on, I said ‘Ivy, that was very, very naughty, what you did at the shops. What was going on there?' Ivy was happy to talk though what she learned. 'I did cry and cry and cry, ' she said thoughtfully. 'And then Mummy did give me a balloon.’
Monday, October 25, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Maybe just a leetle. But the codeine isn't working and theatrical self-pity is all I've got. The whinging, worrisome dramatics of the small sick sausage (she's all better now), combined with the incredible destructive capacity of the two-year-old (he only stops emptying buckets to paint with bananas) would be tough in an average cycle.
Looking after little people takes enormous energy, constant positivity, a lot of physical work, and an indestructible sense of humour. When my body fails a bit, all of these little luxuries go out the window.
Problem is, when I feel crap, I just want to withdraw; go silently into my little cave, and have a pity party. It's the best I can do to not be actively cranky. Being all energetic and fun? On top of food and housework? Engaging in craft, in music, in park-time? Sorry. Not so much. In my single days,a little painful episode was easy. Watch Sex and The City DVDS, turn off phone, apply chocolate. But there's no 'alone time' when you have children. They own you, all of you, all the time. Let alone respecting the privacy of toilet time - they're leaning into the bowl during proceedings and saying 'Big one, Mama!"
Thank God for the K-Dog, who has stepped up to the daddy-plate big time - giving me lots of time in the bath and constantly taking Ivy and Ted to the beach, or looking for bugs, or playing Mr. Fox.
Yesterday I started feeling better. I began picking up all the little threads of everyday life that I had dropped in my time-out. I spent ages cooking and freezing. Today I even managed some craftiness, and some Dr. Suess, and some spring-cleaning.
So, Pain, you bastard, thanks again for giving me some perspective on what a tough day really looks like, and big respect all there to all you Mums who are dealing with real pain and disability, and not letting it sap your mojo. And those Mums who are doing it alone without a partner to pick up the slack when they crumble. You rock, if you didn't know that already.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Today I drove a four hour round trip to pick up a pair of Ebay stools that were listed as having ‘some light rust.’ Unfortunately the lister forgot to specify that the light rust was merely a top-coat addition to the ‘base rust.’ Also they are too short, which I can only blame on my measurement guesswork, dammit.
I thought I was prepared for the mission. Snack packs, toy catalogues and Mary Poppins soundtrack for the outbound trip. Prepared for, but hoping not to resort to caffeine, Nurofen Plus and McDonalds on the way home.
Forty-five minutes in, Teddy started to throw up. After I had fed him cheese and prunes, what’s more. On the freeway. Then we got lost, and please, I can’t relive the rest. You can imagine. Tonight, he seems better; at least he managed a full afternoon of steady, thoughtful destruction and then told me ‘Mama, I want eat poo-bum all day.’
Buddies, set me straight. Why the cuss am I thinking about adding another baby to this party? I’m ninety six fricken years old! Keiths sperm will need a walking frame and my eggs will probably get a discount onto the Fallopian tubes when they show their Seniors Card.
Plus, what if it wants eat poo-bum all day?
Monday, October 4, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
We're out the door to commune with the cows and leave technology behind. Have a wonderful weekend, everybody.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
PS - PMM is bringing back the bush. It's a groundswell, I tell you. A hairy, feminist groundswell.
Monday, September 27, 2010
It was dress-up day at pre-school last week. I thought a cat costume might be nice but Ivy, as always, had her own ideas. She returned from the dress-up box and announced she was...
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Dear readers, I’m worried about Ted. I think he’s an addict. It’s early to drop such a heavy label on him, I know, but his relationship with tomato sauce has reached unhealthy proportions. He begs for it, he weeps when he can’t get it, and left near an unattended sauce bowl, within minutes Ted looks like he’s been at the scene of some sort of chainsaw massacre. When Ted is denied tomato sauce, he takes a deep breath, and then he lets loose with a banshee howl of heartbroken loss that sounds a little like Chinese opera.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Hopefully we'll be back to normal programming soon, at least in terms of bowels, sinuses and technology.
In the meantime, have you checked out Megans recipe blog?
My pumpkin and bacon tart recipe is on there today, and a little tale about my Mum and sister that makes me laugh. If you have a favourite recipe, send it on over to Megan. She'd love to receive it.
I'm up at the library today working on the computer. I hope your day features a big hug, a juicy lamb chop and at least one burst of laughter that makes you work your pelvic floor.
PS- Welcome to the world litttle Griffin!