Monthly Archives: March 2011

10 Things I’ve Learned in the Real World

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Since quitting swimming I have been on a learning curve that has, on many occasions, been vertical. No curve about it. Steep would be an understatement. And as my 11th anniversary of the beginning of Life 2 approaches, I have taken stock of some of the more profound wisdoms I have gathered.

Number 10 – Unless you are going for the cement render look in your kitchen, mop the Weet-Bix up immediately. I’m not kidding. And you thought the builders were really using cement, didn’t you?!

Number 9 – Marrying an electrician in no way guarantees that you will have functional fans, lights, power points,… in fact, it almost guarantees that you will be searching for the Kid’s Panadol by candlelight while those light-switch wires tease you from the hole in the wall forevermore, amen.

Number 8 – It doesn’t matter how often you wash your hands, your children will make you sick. Often.

Number 7 – Your children will make you sick in the metaphoric sense exactly five times more often than they make you sick in the physical sense (unless you are particularly squeamish around poo and vomit, in which case you will be sick from 1 to 100 times a day depending on the number of children you have and how often they like to purge their insides).

Number 6 – Physical activity is only enjoyable if you call it “Me Time”, “Time Away” or “Outahere”. If you refer to it as “Exercise”, “Getting Fit” or (God Forbid) “Training”, it immediately hurts four hundred times more than it should and you instantly find innumerable reasons why you just don’t have the time.

Number 5 – On average, it takes three weeks from the time you notice your finger nails are getting skanky to the time you actually hack them off, give the rough bits a quick file and swear to your poor cuticles that you will give them some love ‘tonight’. It then takes a further five nights before the cuticles get a little slop of cream that you assure them is love a-plenty.

Number 4 – No matter how much sleep you think you need, it is possible to function on less than half that for a period of up to… well… three years and counting.

Number 3 – Anybody who says that their children “don’t cry”, that they “have always slept through without any trouble”, “have always just eaten everything” or “have never hurt their little brother/sister” are either lying or are not actually raising their children.

Number 2 – No matter how hard you try, you will never be the “perfect parent”.

Number 1 – The only people who are normal are the ones you don’t know very well (these, alas, are not my words), and the only normal life is the one you are living right now.

What have you learned in the last 10 years?

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The Slap – my version (without the affairs, brutish thugs and damaged women)

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I don’t do smacking. That’s just the way I roll.

But today I crumbled. I’ve done it before and it tears my insides out, sending me into a spin of self-punishment via caffeine, fat, sugar and salt.

I’m tired, sure. I’m a little preoccupied with the ocean of things I want to do vs the teaspoon of things I get to, sure. But that is no excuse, is it?

There’s just some days that I can’t stop the reflex. Little Lion pushes his sister so she smashes her head on the wall, I respond with comfort for her, a short and stern expression of my disapproval to him and I walk away to focus on Blossom. No attention for attention-seeking behaviour. No focus on inappropriate actions coupled with praise and lavishing attention on the good stuff, right?

But he shoves her twice. I’m tired. I don’t have what it takes today, so when he stares at me, opens his mouth wide and buries his teeth into Blossom’s head, I snap. I smack him. His eyes flood with tears and he screams, fire spitting from his eyes.

“Oooooowww! Mummy NO hit LL! Why you hit LL?! NO HIT LL!” and he smacks me back.

I am instantly sick to my stomach. He’s right. Why did I hit him? I shouldn’t hit him. He’s small and frustrated and lashing out in the only way he knows how. He’s asking for help, not for punishment. But I can’t give it. Not today.

So the drama fades. The moment passes and I eat half a pack of Allen’s Chews to camouflage the knot in my gut. He starts drilling Blossom’s back. I divert attention, create a game, do the good mother thing. It lasts 5 minutes.

He’s restless. So we go to the shops. He’s happy… For a while.

We’re in Woolworths. The pasta aisle. He “cuddles” Blossom when I am not looking for the third time, choking her until she cries. I hiss a warning with the finger pointed at him. He roars, pure fury, and again buries his fangs into Blossom’s head. Again, I snap and crack him on the arm.

He sends up a wail that shakes the sauce jars on their shelves. Other shoppers scurry from the aisle. They avert their gaze. It’s too embarrassing to look at the mother who has lost control – of herself and her children. I am determined not to scamper away in shame. I am determined to finish my shopping, screaming duo or not.

And I do. And I stalk calmly to the car, denying LL a ride on Thomas, chocolate milk, ice blocks or treats of any kind. I don’t want to feel guilty for being weak, but smacking my poor little boy just because it’s the easier option, just because it releases the fury in me is no better than him releasing his fury on his little sister, is it? So I gorge on McDonalds for lunch, coke and chocolate through the afternoon, drinks at night, not enjoying any of it, feeling toxic and yet shoving more and more and more down my throat.

Because I should feel bad. Really bad.

(OK, so maybe there is one damaged woman in this story!)

Telemarketers

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It’s past lunch time and the kids are desperate and exhausted. I’m disorganised… again.

LL is screaming around the house with his train, hysterical with hunger. I have strapped Blossom into her chair after three near-head-on collisions with said screaming train. I have vegemite from one end of the kitchen to the other and I have just dropped the cheese.

The phone rings and somewhere in my desperate mind, I hope it is Mr D calling to offer some calming words of encouragement, or my mother ringing to tell me that she is out front and ready to take the mad toddler away for a moment, or my publisher calling to say they have sold the movie rights to my book for multiples of millions of dollars and that I can afford to have a full-time nanny to scrape the cheese from between the floorboards…

Me: Hello?

Them: …

Me: Hello?

Them: … click-brrr…

Me: (clearly not thinking straight, because if I was I would have hung up by now) HELLO?!

Them: Oh hello. Am I speaking with, uh, Mr Dewbury?

Me: (Do I sound like a Mr to you?) No.

Them: Oh alright, is this 49-bla-bla-bla?

Me: (You dialled the number, dipshit) Yes.

Them: Oh alright then. Am I speaking with the owner of the house?

Me: (Say no, say no, say no) Yes.

Them: Oh alright. And I take it you are working part time?

Me: (What the? You take it?) No.

Them: Oh alright. Well this is not a sales call. I am just calling you for giving you some informations, so this is not a sales call so ok do you work part time?

Me: (Not a sales call my arse. Did I not just answer this question?) No, I work all the time but I don’t get paid for what I do.

Them: Oh ok, um, excuse me?

Me: (Oh go away) LL leave your sister alone! No, take the train off her head NOW! As you can hear I have small children and I do not get paid to look after them and I am not interested in whatever you are offering.

Them: Oh alright. So your husband works then?

Me: (And what if I didn’t have a husband? What if he just died or if I was a lesbian? What would you say then?) Yes and I’m still not interested, thank you.

Them: Oh alright, so does he earn more than $70,000 a year? Just an idea of course I am not needing to know exactly just an idea…

Me: (Fuck off!) That’s none of your business, my children are screaming for lunch, I have vegemite from here to eternity and I am not interested in what you have to sell me, thank you very much, good bye.

Them: Oh madam this is not a sales call it is only information…

Me: (Madam?) *beep…beep…beep…*.

Why do they always push me over the edge?

Later I fantasise about the conversation I would love to have with a telemarketer…

Me: Hello?

Them: …

Me: Hello hello? Earth calling telemarketer? Come in!

Them: Oh hello. Am I speaking with, uh, Mr Dewbury?

Me: Yes! Well, anatomically I am still Mr, but I am well on the way to a complete physical transformation, so you can call me Ms Dewberry if you like. That would make me happy.

Them: Oh alright, so this is Mrs Dewberry?

Me: No, darling, that would be my mother, God rest her soul. No, I am in the process of a gernder re-assignment, so I guess you could say I am Mr on the outside but Ms on the inside and working on bringing my inner goddess out.

Them: Oh alright then. So, Mr Dewberry? Are you the owner of the house?

Me: Well, we are really all Stewards, aren’t we? I mean anything that I have is not really my own in that it is all given by God into our care for the short period that we walk this earth, so in that sense I am not so much the owner as the minder of this home.

Them: Oh alright. So you are renting?

Me: No no. God doesn’t ask payment.

Them: So you are the owner?

Me: If you say so.

Them: And I take it you are working part time?

Me: If you love what you do, you are never working.

Them: Oh alright. So your husband… er wife… er is working then?

Me: We live off the land. My husband-to-be is actually out back lopping the head off one of our chickens as we speak. I will harvest some potatoes and rosemary for the roast, right after I finish plucking the poor dear. Bless it’s soul. Amen.

Them: Oh alright, so does he earn more than $70,000 a year? Just an idea of course I am not needing to know exactly just an idea…

Me: It’s a she and I’m not sure where a chicken would get that kind of money. What would a chicken do with money in any case? You do ask some strange questions…

Them: Oh alright… um… excuse me?

Me: Chickens. You asked if the chicken earned 70 grand a year? Doing what, exactly? Not laying, that’s for sure – in fact, that’s why we decided to eat her; got to lay your way in this family, so to speak…

Them: *Click-Beep…beep…beep…*

Me: Hello? Hello? That’ll learn ya.

One day I’ll have the presence of mind. One day…

Amen to a new week

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Last week went something like this:

I cleaned up the cubby house while The Lion poured sand over his sister’s head to distract her from all manner of garden materials she was eating. Mr D had a huge week at work planned, so I was all hands on deck for dinner and bedtime and damned if I didn’t do a fine job of it on Monday night.

But then Tuesday came with my first period since Blossom showed up… I should have known the day was going to get ugly, but I went to playgroup at the park anyway (despite the gale-force, furnace blast of a wind). I lost my phone long enough to put me in a mood that could not tolerate LL’s constant nagging and inane questions. So, when his winging became too much, I threw both kids back in the car and cried all the way home (there’s nothing quite like a toddler shouting at you to shoosh when you’re feeling down – got to love that compassion).

LL spent the day thwarting ALL his sister’s attempts at sleep and whining that he was a baby in need of boobie, Blossom’s sachets of mush, and being carried around in the Ergo (he’s 14kg and I was in no mood to get all ‘attachment parenting’ with him, sorry). Blossom spent the day grizzly due to lack of sleep and attention. Dinner time saw me sprayed in stereo by kids who thought ‘Bolognese Raspberries’ was the best dinner time game ever invented, so being the solo all hands on deck again, I went for bath time early.

They splashed the majority of the bath water on me and when Blossom became suspiciously still and silent, LL suddenly announced that he was swimming, dove headlong into the water and jammed his feet fair up Blossom’s bits. This would have been a problem even if Blossom hadn’t just smeared a giant turd along the wall of the bath – the very same turd that became LL’s toe jam.

Bath time over.

Blossom was placed on the mat (where she finished the poo she’d started in the bath, before her brother rudely interrupted her) and I fought with LL over the right to clean the shit from the tub.

Bed time (remembering that Blossom was desperate for sleep) saw me drag the two of them outside for a walk in utter frustration at 7.00pm because Blossom needed to sort her digestive problems out (before I sorted them out for her)and LL was running laps of the hallway, screaming AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

When Mr D came home at 8.30, Blossom was still sorting out digestive issues and I was tucking into my second glass of bubbles in an attempt to lighten the mood.

Then Wednesday came, cold and grey, and began at 5.45am with LL shouting that he wanted yoghurt (WTF?). After getting up every 2hrs through the night to Blossom, I was in no mood to be woken, much less shouted at. But, being the mother earth that I am, I silently rose, gave the Lion his yoghurt and went back to sleep on the couch. For 10 minutes until he started picking my nose.

During preparations for daycare (I luuuurve Wednesdays and I don’t care if that makes me a bad mother), I discovered that both LL and Blossom were sporting a blotchy, pimple-like rash around the nappy region, on the feet and on the hands, but in the absence of symptoms around the mouth, fever or any other signs of dread disease, I rang The Magnificent Mrs L and asked if she would be ok with having LL anyway. Bless the woman’s soul, she thought nothing of it (especially since it was only going to be two of them)!

So, I left the Lion with TMML, Blossom with Grandpa G (while poor Nanna H was in bed dying of a sinus headache, ear infection and pain/drug/illness-induced nausea), and I went home to clean like no man’s business. Who would have though chores could be so satisfying?

Alas, upon bringing the kids home, I discovered a massive ulcer in LL’s mouth, he ate no dinner, drank no smoothie , no ice block could entice him. He sported a 38C temperature and all signs pointed to Fucking Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Again.

He fussed and shouted and pretended to be a dog for over an hour at bed time and by 8pm I had finished the bubbles from the night before and was working on a little Southern Comfort.

The rest of the week was thus:

No more days with TMML 😦

Cranky Mr Lion-Blotch and little sister Blossom-Blotchette.

No kids eating, much kids whining, even more Mummy-trying-to-entice-with-bite-sized-morsels-of-every-treat-known-to-kids. And failing.

Mr D cranky that he was at work. Still. Again. Until 10.30pm. After a 6am start. Again.

I drank Bourbon and Dry in the absence of Scotch.

Amen to a new week this week!

Little Lion takes the stage

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My sister’s little girl has grown up and grown up girls don’t need Wiggles DVDs, Thomas videos, indeed they don’t need any of that kiddy-type stuff any more. So when a box full of goodies arrived on my lap, I happily sorted though it and kept what appealed to me… For the Little Lion, folks… Geeze, what do you think I am? A mummy who forces her kids to watch Dirt Girl World just to see if Dirt Girl and Scrap Boy are going to confess their feelings for each other or something? Ugh, as if!

Among the salvaged collection is an old video that I just couldn’t pass on, despite having serious doubts as to its entertainment value: “The Tales of Beatrix Potter with the Royal Ballet”. Yep, a whole lot of ballerinas dressed up as pigs and mice and ducks and squirrels, trying very hard to leap gracefully and pirouette without being toppled by their grossly over-sized animal heads. Each segment is separated from the next with eerie silence as the audience is forced to watch a girl (presumably Beatrix Potter) as she reads a (very obviously blank-paged) book, or eat soup, or watch a clock ticking… Creepy stuff on the whole.

So you can imagine my dismay when the Little Lion discovered this video (which I had carefully stashed in the furthest reaches of the cupboard lest I be caught out actually having this strange piece in my collection) and demanded that he “Watch mousey now!” When I tried to convince him that Dirt Girl was a much better option he was adamant, “NO! LL watch proggy now, LL watch girl now, LL watch mousey now!”

In no mood for an argument, I put it on and walked away fully expecting cries of dismay from the lounge room at any moment. But they never came. He was transfixed. And he has requested that bizarre collection of prancing animals every day since.

Now, I’m not a big fan of sitting LL in front of the TV. He’s got waaaaaay too much energy to burn and I’m damned if I’m going to let him store it all up for bed time, but as we all do on occasions, I LOVE the television when I just need him to go away and not speak to me for a bit. You know, those times when you need to get the baby to sleep, or when you need to go to the toilet in peace because you haven’t had a relaxed and satisfying expulsion in a few days and you fear you will kill the next person who bursts through the bathroom door demanding to know what you are doing, and whether they can wipe your backside for you, preeeeese. So, on goes the classical music and silent goes the toddler. Magic.

And then this morning, after taking his nappy off to do a post-poo pretend-poo in his potty, LL put his shorts back on himself – this means he put both legs through the one hole so that he appeared to be wearing a skin-tight mini with a matching saddle bag on his hip. Unfortunately, in order to be able to walk, the mini had to be pulled up just high enough for his crown jewels to peek out under the hem. This circus-print mini was teamed with a workman’s blue singlet and I couldn’t help but smile when he strode into the kitchen, full of self-satisfaction.

The little picture of manliness demanded, “Mummy, sing! Sing RA-RAA-RAAAAA berry big! LL be mousey.” And he struck a pose in readiness for the music to begin. As I uttered the first notes of a disastrous attempt at dramatic orchestral music, he launched into a dance like no other. He swayed and pirouetted and lept like Billy Elliot himself. When he gracefully placed his hands on his hips and began tapping an Irish jig, it was all I could do to keep the music coming, tears streaming down my cheeks and Blossom looking on with the wide eyes of somebody utterly perplexed.

For ten minutes I was treated to the most enthralling, circus-mini-clad, penis-jiggling, hand-flicking, saddle-bag bouncing, wobbly-spinning ballet dance ever to be performed in a kitchen.

The self-applause when LL took a graceful bow was thunderous and I am still chuckling at the thought of the triumph in his face – Beatrix would be so proud…

So who says TV is all bad?