Archive | January, 2011

Fair Play

30 Jan

“Can I come, too?”

Four little words. And with them, a crushed dream.

I was in the kitchen. Maybe I was scoffing down sour cream and chives potato chips, maybe I wasn’t. Not the point. Point was, when I looked down at my ankles, no-one was circling them. The kids were – gasp! – otherwise occupied. They were playing. There was no screaming. And I was not involved in any way. Heaven.

I saw a chance and I took it.

But fuck me if that damn safety gate at the top of the stairs doesn’t squeak like a motherfucker. And then –

“Can I come, too?”

I was trying to run silently down the stairs but there is no silent running. Not really. And the smallest of movements from me will cause my children to prick up their ears like a deer in the woods. Like little fucking deers with supersonic fucking hearing.

All I wanted to do was take a piss alone. And if, once the solo piss was done, peace and calm still remained above, then I might think about putting some washing away. So, you know, selfish shit.

But no. I was busted. And even though I threw promises of a speedy return over my shoulder as I ran (silently, I tell you!) away, I knew that LD would stand at the top of the stairs shouting at me (‘Mumma, I need my blue bike! Where’s my blue bike, Mumma? Mumma, I want strawberry smoothie, cup of milk and juice. Mumma? Mummaaaaaaaaa?’) until I got my arse back upstairs. And that would alert Zee to the fact that I was gone and he would proceed to rattle the safety gate like a prison inmate and scream.

So what did I do? I pissed like I was going for an Olympic record and got the fuck back up there. Of course I did.

But I’m telling you, when I can take the opportunity to hide from my kids, I do. Oh, you better recognise. I hide and I’ll hide again. Because there is only so much I can reasonably be asked to take before my blood pressure causes me to spontaneously combust.

In one of my hiding sessions today (in Zee’s bedroom – they’ll never suspect!), I read an article by Mia Freedman about how she hates to play with her kids.

It got me thinking. I never even dreamed of discussing that on The Little Mumma. And I pride myself on telling the whole story, no matter how unpalatable it might sound to others.

But clearly, I am all messed up about the question of play.

There are two conflicting arguments, as I see it.

The first is that you should play and engage with your children as much as you can. Play is how they learn and your time is the most valuable thing you can give to your kids.

Wise words from friend I greatly admire:

“It’s so easy to get caught up in all the pressures of the day that we brush our children aside. Next time your kid comes and tugs at your leg to come and play, drop onto the floor immediately and be in that moment with them. That’s all they really want.”

The other argument is that kids have wonderfully vivid imaginations so by encouraging your child to play alone, you are fostering this gift. An important part of a child’s development is the ability to play alone.

Wise words I read somewhere, one time:

“Children of today are given every conceivable toy or otherwise plonked in front of the television, and their imaginations are suffering because of it. Their inability to occupy themselves is a direct result of having their every demand met by someone (or something) else.”

 Reading both those sets of wise words back to myself, is there any wonder I am confused? They both have merit.

So then it’s a matter of striking a balance between the two. The only problem is that the kid you just played Postman Man with for the last fifteen (torturous) minutes, doesn’t understand why you are now withdrawing the playing. LD just didn’t respond as I’d hoped when I explained that I was simply “fostering the precious gift of your imagination.”

But who am I kidding? I have never played with my kids for a full fifteen minutes. I have to stand with Mia on this one and profess that I fucking hate it. And when I do get guilted into it (“Hey Mumma,” curls little hand around mine, “you wanna play dinosaurs…for a little bit…” looks forlornly to the ground, refusing to meet my eye lest I spot the extent of his manipulation), I am renowned for making the dinosaurs lie on the ground to nap.  

So I don’t know why I have never admitted it before. Maybe it’s because I consider myself a fun and vibrant mum. Hell, I am fun and vibrant but for fuck’s sake, I don’t want to crawl around on my knees being a lion. I refused to be a cow in drama class back in my university days (“..really try to feel the weight of your udder hanging between your legs..”) and it’s clear that nothing has changed.

Playing is painful. And, SHIT, I need my roots done!

So here it is. I hate playing. I don’t want to play dinosaurs or postman man or Buzz Lightyear. I don’t want to go to the park and if we go to the play centre, my preference is that the kids disappear for the entire duration so that I can catch up on some OK! magazines.

 I feel bad. But it’s nothing this beer won’t fix.

 Do you play with your kids? And enjoy it? Tell me about it….please?

Trust the Universe

28 Jan

Yesterday was possibly the very worst day I have ever had in Mumma-land.

And it wasn’t that the kids were especially difficult – although Zee is teething and LD is a three and half year old demon.

It was me. I fucked up. At every turn, I made the worst possible choice. It was an epic fail.

Yesterday, I was NOT a good mother.

And the killer was that within moments of me ceasing my screaming and ranting, both my children were so willing to crawl into my lap, to cuddle me, to laugh with me.

Kids are resilient? You can’t even imagine how true that is. How scarily true. You can get away with shit that a normal person would NEVER forgive you for.

But even if my kids have instantly forgiven and forgotten, just what am I etching into their little souls when I fail to be the mother they deserve? What will it mean, long-term?

I don’t beat my children, abuse drugs or alcohol in front of them, neglect them or leave them to cry. But there are choices I have made that I would never have thought I would make.

So, it was a bad day.

That evening, my babies tucked up in their beds, I was tooling around with the blog.

I chose to read two blogs that I had never read before. Two blogs that I had noticed many times but never gotten around to reading.

Anyone who thinks the universe doesn’t provide, that the universe doesn’t send messages, just isn’t listening hard enough.

It’s actually spooky how prescient these posts were.

And how reading them meant that today was one of the best days I have ever had in Mumma-land.

Check them out below.

And have a great weekend.

Pink Dryer Lint

Becoming Sarah

 

Aussie Aussie Aussie

26 Jan

It’s Australia Day today.

I have never really celebrated the day. In general, I don’t think the Australian people are zealously and demonstrably patriotic in the way that you might see in other countries.

In the past, Australia Day has meant a day off and maybe the Big Day Out.

In more recent times, I’ve felt there’s a cultural cringe attached to Aussies celebrating Australia Day . I can’t see a ute with the southern cross sticker on the back windscreen without thinking it’s being driven by a bogan redneck. And unfortunately, I now link outward Aussie pride with the Cronulla riots. Which is a shame. And misplaced given that there are many people who celebrate Australia Day who also support opening our borders to people of all nationalities. Many people just celebrate because it’s worth celebrating.

And it really is. Now that I have children, I have come to appreciate how deeply I won the lotto just by being born in this country. And that my children have won that same lotto.

The world is a big and complicated place. And I know so very little about so much of the conflict, next to nothing about the suffering that people endure within their homelands, especially women.

So today, perhaps for the first time, I reflected on what it meant to be Australian. What it meant to me that my children have been born Australian. How privileged we are to live with such freedom and such opportunity. And, oh man, the beaches. The beaches are ace.

We spent the day with dear friends. We chucked some snags on the barbie (with grilled turkish bread on the side – Oi Oi Oi!), drank beer and ate lamingtons. And the kids ran and played in the massive back yard.

Lucky is an understatement.

Happy Australia Day.

Embracing The Arts

25 Jan

So here’s LD, making a little something for my treasurey artwork collection.

As a parent, can you witness your child put paintbrush to paper without getting a little misty-eyed?

I’ll tell you, I can’t. I simply can not. It fills me with joy. Probably because I’m a left-wing, support-the-arts type. But also because seeing my kid’s imagination begin to soar is like a drug. It makes me high. Giddy. It’s cool is what it is.

And also, kids engaged in activities are kids that leave me the hell alone for a sweet second.

So, I love it when my kid gets all creative and artsy. I’m not sure if he’s any good at it but I love that he seems to get a kick out of doing it.

I had a friend whose (genius) daughter drew her first face at around 18 months of age. I was astonished. And jealous. It took LD an age to work out which end of the crayon to write with. Ummm, dude, it’s a crayon. Both ends work.

No, I made that bit up. Not the geniusy daughter bit. That’s totally true. But LD knew how to work a crayon,  he just didn’t really dig drawing until after his second birthday.

See here how he’s made up for lost time?

What is it about photos of faces and kids with pens? They have to draw something coming out of the nose. It’s like Defacing 101. Kind of cool though considering at LD’s age, I’d expect nothing more than mindless scribbles. The kid has defacing skillz.

And how awesome is this shit?

I wanna say that this is a ghost. But I can’t remember whether LD actually told me that or whether I’ve just decided that’s what it is. Either way, I love the shit out of this drawing.

A while back I came across this scene.

It appeared the painting had turned into a spot of finger painting. That’s cool. I’m all for exploring your creative potential.

But what, pray tell, had become of the little artist?

And that was the day I learnt that painting is not a good activity to set up Child A with so as to put Child B to sleep without being interrupted by Child A. Not a good activity at all.

So my little artist and I had a little chat about where paint belongs. Namely, on the paper and not on the face. I felt the chat went well but short of having him sign an agreement in blood, how can one really be sure that their small child has comprehended much less agreed with the little chat? It’s tricky. To reassure myself that we have been on the same wavelength, I often prompt LD to say, “Yes, Mumma” when I’ve finished speaking. How this helps with the overall comprehension, I can’t say. But it feels like the right thing to do.

Okay. So, do you see what’s happened here then?

I feel like maybe when LD said, “Yes, Mumma” after our little chat that he didn’t really mean it. Although in his defence, our chat was about paint and not textas, faces and not wardrobe doors.

Far be it from me to crush the spirit of the artist within. For the record, I’m a big fan of LD’s work. And I can see how the constraints of the easel could push a little man to extremes. Creativity can not, nay, MUST not be contained and all that. But seriously, we rent this joint. So I can’t be having this shit.

There was a heart stopping moment when I took to the texta with spray cleaner and a sponge and NOTHING happened. I was ready to sell my little artiste. But thankfully, the Magic Eraser worked like….well, you know.

We had another little chat. And for now, it seems to have worked. But maybe that’s because LD is sufficiently exercising his rebellious side by pissing on our carpet. Yeah, that’s rented, too.

Click above just once and you will help me become RULER OF THE UNIVERSE!

For Keep’s Sake

24 Jan

I am a terrible hoarder. I’ve mentioned that before.

Naturally, I am sentimental about anything my children have ever touched (except maybe their nappies and the boogers they frequently wipe on me). But I am also sentimental about crazy things. Really crazy things.

For instance, I went through a stage of feeling sentimental about my hair. Cleaning my brush of the hair it had collected over time and then throwing it into the bin was excruciating. The idea that in amongst the decaying food scraps and general filth of a trash receptacle would be my lovely tresses, once a part of me and still bearing my unique DNA, was almost too much to bear. Actually, I was about eleven years old so the thought process was probably simplified to, “My hair is touching rotten food. Ewww.” The fact that the hair was no longer attached to my head hardly mattered. Such was the extent of my crazy. It was, thankfully, short-lived. I’m not a total wack-job.

Beyond sentiment, I hoard things I consider ‘too good for every day use’. I am reluctant to break the seal of newness on things because of the way it renders them not new. I am an absolute shocker for keeping things for ‘a special occasion’ and then discovering they have not retained their original quality. Fifteen years later.

For instance, I can tell you that the Peppermint Foot Lotion from The Body Shop will not smell pepperminty forever. And the consistency of the lotion will change when the ingredients start to separate. Sure, I got the lotion in a lovely gift basket when I was fifteen but seriously, Body Shop, maybe it’s time to up your game.

And then there’s the whole green issue. If I can recycle something, then tossing it from my life becomes almost breezy. However, the idea of adding to landfill keeps me up at night and so our garage is full of things we may need to use one day.

The useful box of crafty stuff for the kids is overflowing with toilet rolls and pictures lovingly torn from old magazines. The crafty stuff I can never be arsed to get out and set up for the kids because they’re so fucking messy with it. The crafty stuff that, when I do set up the craft table for my fucking messy kids, I recycle AGAIN by picking it off the page my kid has glued it to and putting it back into the useful box. But that’s only the artworks I deem not treasure-worthy. The treasure-worthy artworks get stored in the overflowing treasurey-artworks box.

FUCK.

So, here in Australia, the people of Queensland have been suffering terribly on account of the flash-flooding in that part of the country. It has been tragic.

And it has made me think.

What the hell would I save?

In the event of a natural disaster such as has occurred in Queensland, would any of the shit I agonise over even matter?

If ever there was a time to downsize, to simplify, it is in the wake of this horror.

The spring cleaning that took place over the holidays recently was, I have to admit, more a tidying, a sort of rearranging of junk, rather than a brutal, everything must go kind of affair.

So that’s what I aim to do. Get brutal.

On the hit list:

  • toys that have many tiny parts that I am forever picking up or standing on
  • essential bottles of beauty product that I have used once
  • clothes that I am definitely going to fit into any day now
  • every toilet roll after the 3 millionth. NO-ONE does that much craft
  • the broken bangle (plastic and cost no more than $10) that I have been meaning to glue together now for more than four years

It’s time to get brutal.

The victims of the flood disaster are really hurting. Donations can be made here.