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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?

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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.

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A very M-G Christmas

30 Dec

And so that was Christmas.

I do love a good festive occasion. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I love a spot of carol singing too – I know I’ve mentioned that. I love writing Christmas cards to people I never see with promises to catch up in the new year. I hand write every card, each with an individual sentiment tailored to the recipient. I seal each envelope with a Christmas-themed sticker. These things thrill me.

I am fully aware of how this is reading to you right now. I know the picture you’re forming. But I can’t help myself.

The thing about this kind of dedication to the festive spirit is that two kids leave you with fuck all time. One can’t be embracing the writing of cards with such enthusiasm when there are little mouths just begging to be fed and little bums in dire need of a bath.

So maybe, this year, some of the individually tailored sentiments were actually the same but written in a different sequence. Note to family and friends; don’t compare cards. It’s rude.

One year, I sent my Christmas cards out on NOVEMBER 18th. And then I tapped my foot impatiently at the letterbox each day for the next month waiting for my reciprocal piece of holiday cheer. I was quietly shocked that some cards arrived on the 24th of December. Some people liked to live on the edge, I thought. And some people don’t realise that their card will only be on display for a week at best before it’s relegated to the recycling bin. Craziness, I thought.

This year, my cards didn’t make it out by November 18th. Some didn’t make it out by December 18th. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The actual celebration of Christmas Day is equally thrilling for me. This year, we celebrated as the Family M-G. Not another soul did we see that day. Well, no, that’s not true, I saw the guy at the bottle shop when I went for a beer run. But apart from him, it was just we four.

Both children deemed it necessary to start the festivities at 5am on Christmas morning. I did not feel terribly merry. And bright? No. Not so much.

But Christmas through a child’s eyes is contagious and so as we followed LD up the stairs to check if Santa had been, the fog of exhaustion slowly lifted.

A blur of gift opening followed. This year was the first that LD really hooked into the idea of Santa. He was pretty stoked with the first three gifts he opened and was happily playing with them but there were so many more still waiting in his stocking and B and I impatiently urged him to keep unwrapping. Unfortunately, what this did was make the opening of the gifts the highlight rather than the gift itself. By 10am, LD had run out of gifts to open (staggered throughout the morning – he did not have five solid hours worth of gifts to unwrap) but by then, it was too late and the monster had been created. The present frenzy was suddenly at an end and LD was now a junkie looking for his next festive foil-wrapped hit.

Ironically, he returned to two of those first three gifts and played with them all day long. A pair of blow up Buzz Lightyear wings and a wrist ‘laser’ also from the Buzz franchise. Total cost: less than thirty bucks. Next year, when I spend just thirty bucks on Christmas presents, he’ll piss and moan about the distinct lack of gifts to open. And their cheapness.

Zee, in typical baby fashion, delighted in the wrapping paper and just generally being in on the action of his older brother’s present-opening rampage.

Late morning, preparing the roast turkey lunch, I spoke to myself quietly.

“What was that?” asked B.

“Hmmm?” I replied, vaguely.

It wouldn’t have been in keeping with the holiday cheer to admit that what I actually said was, “I can’t be bothered.”

Later, as I set the Christmas feast on the table, it occurred to me that there was nothing in the lunch that LD would eat. Turkey, roast potatoes and pumpkin, green beans and peas, gravy. Nope. Mr. Fussy would deem none of that to his liking. This is the child who once licked chocolate and deemed it, “Not tasty” so I can’t really say I wasn’t warned.

Out of his mind with fatigue and probably starving hungry, LD began to whine about wanting someone to pop the Christmas cracker with him. We told him no, he had to wait until we were all ready and seated at the table. So he just popped it himself.

After (watching everyone else eat) lunch, we put something Christmassy on television and LD promptly fell asleep sitting up. Of course, we took photos and made fun of him. It was great.

Finally putting the sleep-resisting Zee down for a nap, I was ready to assume the position. The foetal position, that is.

What is it about Christmas Day that kicks the fuck out of you?

I’m glad I have a full year to recover. And for Christmas 2011, I think I’ll simplify wherever possible. Fewer gifts, maybe a serious cull of the Christmas card list.

But I do have the most darling idea for the place settings………

RMTT #16/ Friday Faves Christmas Combo!

24 Dec

Last night, Aunty Tor, a Family M-G fave, stopped by for a glass (or three) of Christmas cheer. We drank pink bubbles, exchanged gifts and drank more pink bubbles and then we laughed at YouTube clips of people being completely embarrassing or completely talented. It was ace.

But it meant Random Mumma Thoughts did not happen. It’s a busy time of year and maybe you didn’t even notice. But I’m choosing to believe that you did notice, that last night just wasn’t the same without RMTT.

And then, of course, today, I needed to write a Friday Faves.

Christmas Eve, huh? Yeah, I don’t have time for all this writing pressure.

So here’s my ingenious plan. I’ve rolled the two into one fabulous Christmas Combo!

Firstly, a Christmassy RMTT #16

–         Yesterday, I turned the house upside down looking for a card I had written for Aunty Tor some weeks earlier. I mean, I turned the place UPSIDE DOWN. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was so, so fucking annoyed. It had been on my writing desk, in the same spot, for WEEKS! And now, GONE! It wasn’t until I was through my first glass of pink bubbles that I started to get over my frustration. Today, I find it. I find the card sitting on top of my computer. And I just feel very strongly that I checked there. THREE TIMES. If the card had a throat, I would definitely have punched it.

–         I have not wrapped the presents yet. And B has to put up the trampoline tonight. Relaxing Christmas Eve? Sure, why not? It’ll be fun. I love wrapping presents and B is a gun at putting things together….. We may need beer.

–         The reason I haven’t wrapped the presents which I have had sitting in my cupboard since approximately August is because….I can’t remember. But tonight seems as good a time as any.

–         The reason B hasn’t put up the trampoline yet is because it’s big and I felt the kids might get suspicious about the big fucking trampoline in the back yard.

–         This Christmas, the M-Gs are celebrating with four people and four people only. That’s right. We have forsaken all others and are just doing our own little family Christmas. We love our extended families, of course we do, but holy relaxation, it’ll be nice not to have to go anywhere or see anyone.

–         Downside – I have to cook.

–         Upside – I can reserve the crunchiest roasted potatoes for myself.

–         Threatening that Santa won’t bring presents as a way of ensuring good behaviour is a dismal failure. It’s a hollow threat. I know it and my three-and-a-half-year-old sure as hell knows it. What are we going to do? Cancel Christmas? Missing out on watching the kids open the obscene amount of presents ‘Santa’ brought them would just ruin our day. But even so, we pushed the ‘No Santa’ line right up until LD’s bedtime. He was breaking new naughtiness records all day long in what can only be viewed as a big ‘FUCK YOU!’ to the fat guy but I think the Santa thing did get LD (LittleDemon) to sleep more quickly than usual.

–         Zee has been an angel and I’m tempted to give him all of LD’s presents.

–         No matter how bad my day was or how heinous my children’s behaviour has been, watching them drift into slumber just about stops my heart. It is a gift. That moment is a gift. And it never gets old.

–         I love Christmas carols. No, really, I love them. I’m listening to Sinatra sing the classics as I type.

–         I love Christmas. I really do.

–         My Christmas tree is already dead. It’s been dead for a least a week. It’s so dry the needles just crumble to dust if you touch them. What a rip.

–         I think I might buy a big fuck-off plastic tree at the Boxing Day sales.

–         What is it about Christmas and just being compelled to eat shit constantly? I am a walking box of chocolates right now.

–         And also, some chilli flavoured potato chips… 

–         The gym is closed for the next four days.

–         NOT. MY. FAULT.

And now, onto Friday Faves. And at this time of maximumly extreme consumerism, I’m not going to show you any ‘stuff’ – the last thing any of us needs is to look at more things we could possibly buy.

Instead, I want to share a favourite Christmas photo.

It’s me, circa…I don’t know, maybe 1985? It makes me laugh. And it takes me right there. Our family Christmases were epic. At least, I thought so. My parents – namely, my mum – put on an awesome Christmas show.

I would so love to recreate that magic for my own family.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Be safe and if necessary, be drunk.

The Little Mumma loves you! 

See you in a couple of days.

The Christmas Truth

14 Dec

I love my kids. Really, I do. But fuck me dead if they didn’t almost kill the tree within 48 hours of it going up.

Witness the destruction.

Increasingly denuded tree – the work of a hungry dragon, apparently.

Completely denuded baubles – LD explained to me he was just playing with his balls. Oookay.

Within three days, they had defeated me. That night, B and I moved the damned tree.

The tree with almost no decorations from kid-reach down.

The tree that cost me a lazy 50 bucks just because it is real and smells good.

The tree that was dying before we ever strapped it to the roof of our car.

It does smell mighty good though.

So the tree is at the front door. Downstairs and safely away from the main living action which is located upstairs (stupid  topsy-turvy house). The expensive dead tree is downstairs and away from dragons and little boys who play with their balls – little boys who can but stand at the top of the staircase, hands clutching the safety gate that seeks to deny them, eyes gazing longingly at the splendid dead tree below.   

click image for larger view