Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The One About the Corn Poo [August 2009]

DISCLAIMER: do not read this if you are eating, or are currently childless but still think you want kids.

It would seem that I have almost reached that stage of motherhood that makes all the childless people take a deep breath and remind themselves how lucky they are; the stage where grandparents quite rightly disappear for a few months; the stage that is rarely written about in the parenting magazines accompanied by large pictorial spreads of chubby babies and smiling, relaxed mother-earth types.

That stage would be toilet training.  Unfettered bodily waste being allowed a glimpse of freedom, away from the constraints of those (glorious, sanity-saving) nappies.
I went to check on the two year old Blonde Bombshell the other day because she was making a ruckus rather than having her day time nap.  This was no ordinary Bombshell ruckus, which is typified by the thud of books flying across the room, the scrape of her lamp being dragged across her side table by its cord, or the wail of a lost dummy.  This was… different.

I opened the door a little, and the smell just hit me.  This was no ordinary smell.  It was an escaped, uncontained poo smell.  I turned the lights on and was greeted by the sight of my half naked toddler standing in her cot amid the stepped-on remains of a corn-fuelled poo.  She had removed her pants and tossed them out of the cot, and then removed her nappy.  She must have been sitting on her pillow when she did the giant poo, then stood up and stepped on it.  While investigating this interesting new sensation on the bottom of her feet, she would have sunk into the pillow, thereby squishing the poo up her ankles and shins, and pushing it through the fibres of her pillowcase into her pillow. 

She then seems to have walked to the other end of the cot, possibly to get away from the smell (as if you could get away from it!), dropping bits of remaining poo and undigested corn onto her books and stuffed rabbit, and leaving little poo footprints across her sheets and blanket.  Miraculously, the nappy was untouched.

Then she stood there and wailed.

I have to be honest, I did think briefly about closing the door and pretending I hadn’t seen it, but I figured a lifetime of counselling bills for a permanently scarred toddler could be rather costly.  So I picked up the big bits using the same inside-out bag technique that I have seen dog-owners employ.  Then I threw the baby in the shower, the pillow in the bin, and the rest in the washing machine. 

Hot cycle.  Heavy soiling.  A litre of bleach just to be safe - for the baby AND the washing.
The real indignity of this story is that the Bomb hadn’t even begun toilet training yet.  If we had embarked on that journey, then an episode of escapee poo would be fair enough, expected even.  But this was before we had even started.

So, it was with the smell still fresh in mind, that I went out and purchased a dozen pairs of the cutest little knickers and a potty seat.  I even invested $15 on five pairs of Thomas the Tank Engine knickers thinking it might motivate her NOT to poop on her favourite tank engine.

And this morning, I was all ready.  I was psyched to go.  This was it.  The potty was in the family room with its own little roll of toilet paper.  The heater was on.  The toilet training book complete with realistic ‘flush’ sound was in a motivating place next to the big toilet.  I had accepted the fact that I would be chasing poo and wiping wee off tiles and rugs and carpets.  I was ready to Start Toilet Training.

But the Bombshell wasn’t.
‘No knickers,’ she said. 
‘C’mon, they’re Thomas knickers,’ I coaxed.  ‘Big girls get to wear knickers.’
‘No big girl,’ was the response.  ‘Nappy.’
Can’t argue with that.

So, now when she goes down for her nap, it’s with a gaffa-taped nappy so she can’t get it off.  And I’ll wait a few weeks (or years) before I try again.  Meanwhile, one tiny pair of Thomas knickers adorns the arm of the couch as a reminder to the Bombshell, just in case she is ready sometime soon.

The One About Silent Joy [March 2008]

I think one of the nicest possible things about having a baby is beginning to see the world through fresh eyes again.  Mostly we just take the world for granted, but every now and then we learn to learn again; to see things as though for the first time; so we fully appreciate the experience.  Do you remember the first time you tried avocado – the colour (unusual for a food), the texture (unusual for something you willingly put in your mouth).  Do you remember seeing your first rainbow; the first time you saw (or smelled) an elephant; your first kiss; the first time that special someone told you they loved you.

That’s what it’s like for me at the moment.  I get down on the floor with the nine month old Blonde Bombshell and look up at the world.  Wow, the ceilings are high.  There’s a dried biscuit and half a dozen dusty sultanas stuck on the bottom of the couch, and gosh the dust balls are big.

I stand in the backyard and just listen: birds, the rumble of trucks and cars, wind chimes, the dog next door barking, trains, a rumbling tummy.  Hmmm is that mine or the baby’s?  So much can be heard when you stop and listen for it.  The Bombshell heard some thunder the other day and I benefitted from an extra-snuggly hug as she decided whether or not the noise could hurt her.

Standing in the shower, the baby in my arms, she keeps reaching out to grab the water – but can’t.  Try explaining that one!  You can see it, you can feel it, so why can’t you grab it?  The look on her face – surprise, frustration, amusement, determination – a total reward for wasting precious water.

There is so much joy in my heart.  But it’s a silent joy.  Recently, The Bombshell lost one of her precious great-grandmothers, a very special woman whose absence now leaves a large hole in many hearts.  But the fact that she got to meet her, spend time, get cuddles and kisses and photos, makes me very happy.  My own beautiful Mum didn’t have any grandparents growing up.  I was lucky enough to have three wonderful grandparents in my life.  My daughter is relishing in four grandparents, and she still has three great-grandparents left to love her (plus all her aunties and uncles).  Such a strong, loving family makes her the richest girl in the world.

She is extraordinarily lucky and she has so much ahead of her.  I can’t wait for her to try ice-cream for the first time, blow candles out on her birthday cake, ride a bike, see snow, go swimming in the ocean, build a sand castle, get licked by a puppy, stand in the rain while the sun is still shining, read her first book.  And what makes it even more special is that I will get to experience this for the first time again as well.  And I cannot wait!.

The One About Child Care [October 2010]

Scientists will tell you that black holes exist only in space, but most mums will tell you that they also exist on earth but that they go by another name – the day-care drop-off and pick-up.
The simple task of collecting your child from day-care has the potential to suck the time right out of your day, just like a toddler sucking the icing off a cupcake.

Take the other day for example.  I left the house at quarter past four in the afternoon, and after I had battled all the school mums coming back from the shops and after-school sports, I then had to circle the block three times before a space became free outside the day-care.   After squeezing into a space barely big enough for a bicycle and taking a layer of paint off both sides of the car, I had to pull nine month old Curly Mop out through the boot because the doors wouldn’t open.

Arriving in the three and a half year old Blonde Bombshell’s classroom, I happened to see her walk out of the bathroom with one of the teachers in tow.  She turned to me and announced loudly, ‘I did a poo, Mum!’ and promptly wandered off.
‘Ace,’ said one of the dads who had followed me in, and gave me a thumbs up.  

I went outside and was immediately swarmed by half a dozen small children.
 ‘Hi – can I hold your baby?’
‘Why does the baby have a dummy’, ‘What’s the baby’s name?’ ‘Es que su bebé?’
‘C’mon let’s GO!’
‘I’ll hold your baby while you go and get her.’  Keep in mind, it’s a three year old saying this, not one of the teachers - a three year old covered with dirt and boogers and lunch.  They are literally swarming us.  They are touching the Mop, grabbing her dummy, pulling her curls and tickling her feet.  The look on her face is sheer terror mixed with resignation (this happens every week).
‘NOW,’ I scream like a crazy person.
We then need to wait while the Bombshell hugs all her little friends’ goodbye.

Before we can leave she decides she needs to do a wee, so I plonk the Mop on the mat and give her a truck to chew.  Naturally this is when the whole class is herded back inside, so now there are dozens of small children chucking blocks at the Mop as the Bombshell dithers around in the toilet. 
‘Where is she?’ asks the Bombshell’s grubby little friend.
‘Here’ the Bomb says wandering out of the toilet with her knickers around her ankles and a wodge of toilet paper stuck to her bottom. 
‘Please, hurry UP!’

Miss Curly Mop has started to cry hysterically so I swoop in and pick her up just before one of the kids manages to stick her dummy in his mouth.
‘Which sink should I use?’ muses the Bombshell, and together she and her friend stand and discuss whether it’s better to use the one in front of the mirror (so you can look at yourself) or in front of the window (so you can look at everyone else).  They choose the mirror. 

I drop to the floor in front of the bag shelves and while I balance the Mop on one knee, start stuffing the Bombshell’s artwork into her backpack.  She thinks this is a good time to start explaining her pictures:
‘This one is whirly whirls.  Whirly whirly whirly, like this Mum, whirly whirly.  And this one is round and rounds, like this, round and round and round, and this one is circles, like this…’

We make it out of the classroom, but still need to run the gauntlet to get back to the car.  First she needs to say goodbye to the chickens, all eight of them.  Then she needs to sing to the plants and show me all the veggies they are growing.  Then we stop under the EXIT sign so she can read out the letters.
‘E-X-I-T. I read it Mum!’ 
Then we have to say goodbye to the fish (thank God there are only two left).  Finally, an eternity later, we make it outside.  The fresh air manages to quell the rising hysteria, but only slightly, as I realise we now have to walk past a dozen cars and the Bombshell will want to read the licence plates of each and every one.
‘Is this your car Mum?  1AUT235. Is this your car Mum? 1DBR776. Is this your car Mum? 1CMY096…’

It’s not finished.

When we actually reach the car, the Bombshell insists on buckling her backpack into the front seat, and she won’t accept any help. (Have you seen a three year old try to pull the seatbelt out far enough to click it in to the buckle? It makes your eyes bleed with frustration.)

Finally, about a millennium after I set out, we are back on the road and heading home.  It’s usually now that I look at the Blonde Bombshell in the rear view mirror and ask her about her day.  She hunches down in her car seat and refuses to talk to me.  She has nothing to say, after gabbing on for half an hour and talking to the eight chickens, and her thirty thousand friends, and the two fish, nothing left to say.   So I breathe a silent sigh of relief and drive home. 
Just to do it all again tomorrow.

The One About (Not) Sleeping [August 2010]

It’s 9.30pm, and the girls are asleep in bed, or so I think.  I sneak down the hall to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I can’t use the electric toothbrush - it might wake the three and a half year old Blonde Bombshell, so I use the ordinary one.  Hmmm… better not flush the toilet – it might wake seven month old Curly Mop.  I tread gingerly on the creaking floorboards back to my bedroom, where I throw myself in bed and heave a great sigh.  Bedtime.  Hot electric blanket.  Bliss.

I read my book for a while, then roll over and turn off the light.  It’s just before 10pm.  I close my eyes and feel myself dropping off to sleep.  It’s been a long day.  Suddenly I hear cries coming from Curly Mop’s bedroom.  I try not to swear as I get up, put on my dressing gown and head to her room.  Despite the advice of my (very expensive) sleep consultant, it’s just easier to breastfeed the baby and put her back to sleep.  I try not to tap my foot with impatience as she has a sleepy feed, dithering around on the breast.  After an enormous burp, she is back in bed and asleep, I practically run back to my room and get back in bed.  Damn - the bed’s cold.  All that electricity wasted.  I fall asleep.

I’m dreaming I am at the shops, the shelves are full of screaming babies.  Why would anyone want to buy a screaming baby?  Wait, there are also shelves of coughing babies.  What a ridiculous shop. Why would anyone?… Hang on…  My brain suddenly clicks into wake mode, as a chorus of coughs come from the Bombshell’s bedroom and cries come from Miss Curly Mop’s.   I look at the clock.  It’s just after midnight.  I look at my husband who has snuck to bed in the past 90 minutes.  He’s sleeping soundly and doesn’t seem to register the cries of his offspring.  I briefly consider poking him in the face.  Instead I heave myself out of bed, put on my gown and head to the Bombshell’s room.  She’s sitting upright in bed, apparently asleep, but coughing her little head off.  I gently lay her down and tuck her back in, amongst half a dozen stuffed toys and a couple of books.  The coughing subsides.  I then head down the hall to the Mop’s room where the crying has escalated.  Her room is pitch black, so I gently feel around in the cot until I find her face.  I poke her in the nose.  The screams become indignant.  Sorry Bubba.  I find her mouth.  No dummy.  I stick it back in her mouth and the noise instantly stops.  I trudge back to bed.  Hubby is now spread across my side of the bed.  I kick his feet back, and throw his pillow on the floor. 

About three minutes later, as the bed is finally getting warm and cosy, and I feel myself drifting off to sleep, I hear the wailing start again in the Mop’s room.  My stomach sinks.  I don’t WANT to get up again.  I lay there and start an internal monologue with her, as though we are psychically linked.  
‘Please darling, go to sleep sweetie.  It’s late and you need your sleep [and so does Mummy]’.  The crying continues and I start begging.  ‘Pleeeease Bubba, go to sleep’. 
The crying subsides and then there’s a pause.  I hold my breath.  Is that it?  Is she asleep?  Five seconds pass, then ten.  I allow myself a glimmer of hope.
According to my sleep angel, these tears must be ignored and I have to let Curly Mop settle herself.  So, still lying in bed, I now start a conversation with the Greater Power.  Soon the conversation turns to prayer, then deal-making.  ‘If you make her go to sleep I promise I won’t yell at anyone for a week.’  Eventually, after about 15 minutes the sobbing stops.  Instead of falling asleep, my paranoia keeps me awake until past 1am. I have convinced myself she can’t possibly be asleep.  Can she? 
Hubby rolls over in his sleep and starts snoring.  I give him a poke in the side and he rolls back over and the noise stops.  I look at the clock, and angry for still being awake, try to will myself to sleep. This sucks.

I feel myself being hauled up through layers of consciousness, until I am mostly awake and listening again to a crying baby.  I resist the urge to start sobbing myself and peek at the clock.  It’s 4.30am.  Sigh.  Because Miss Curly Mop has been unwell and totally off solid food, I realise that she’s probably hungry again.  I calculate that if I feed her now I could be back in bed before 5am.  As I haul her out of bed all I can do is think about being asleep, being in my bed, ahh bed, bed ahhhh sleep.  Oops almost dropped her! She squeaks with surprise.  My eyes are shut and my head is drooping.  I start hallucinating with tiredness.  There’s a reason they use sleep deprivation as a form of torture.  Why can’t I have detachable breasts?  I could rig them up on the side of the cot like a rabbit feeder.  What a fabulous idea.  I should write that down on the little notepad where I write all my night time thoughts, in a vain attempt to get them out of my head so I can go to sleep.

Finally she pulls off and starts snoring her little contented baby snores.  I tuck her back in her cot and crawl back to bed.  As I curl up in a little ball and feel ready to pass out, a thought pops into my brain.  I need to pee.  I try and ignore the thought, but there’s no known way on this planet to stop thinking about needing to pee, other than actually peeing.  With tears of tiredness streaming down my face I crawl out of bed AGAIN and head to the bathroom.

Finally, I’m back in bed.  It’s after 5am and I’ve had about five hours sleep in three broken chunks.  No begging or bargaining or praying required, I pass out.  I don’t hear the Bombshell come in at 6am and ask for milk and a tissue for her runny nose.  I don’t hear Hubby get up and frogmarch the Bombshell into the family room.  I don’t hear her carry on as they get ready for day care and work respectively.  I don’t hear the car doors close and then open again ten seconds later, as the Bomb runs back into the house so she can do a wee.  I don’t hear Hubby muttering beneath his breath as they return to the car.  But I do hear that final door being banged shut and the engine start just after 7.25am.  And as I feel myself waking reluctantly, I also hear Curly Mop start singing.  At least someone is happy.

I need a coffee, or three.  Does anyone know a way I can just set up a caffeine infusion directly into my veins?  Gee that’s a great idea, I had better go write that one down too…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baby Boom on Checkout Three

Today while doing the food shopping I picked up a ridiculously expensive pregnancy magazine.  Who out there knew that Cosmopolitan published its own pregnancy magazine?  Obviously they don't believe that curvy women with enormous stomachs, stretch marks and low libido belong in their normal glossy spreads, so they have been relegated to their own publication at the bargain basement price of $13.95!

I decided to purchase it anyway, predominantly for research purposes for my next university assignment, but also because it's nice to read something in the ad breaks, when you're lying on the couch eating pineapple lumps.

As the check-out operator swiped through my groceries and assorted rubbish, she picked up the magazine and after a brief hesitation, shyly asked me 'Are you pregnant?'

'I am indeed,' I told her, at which point she broke into a huge conspiratorial smile.  'Me too!' she said.

We spent the next few minutes discussing the highs and lows of pregnancy, predominantly our continuing morning sickness.  I suspect by the constant smile and need to share with complete strangers that this is her first pregnancy. 

I remember that... walking around with a little smile, feeling as though I knew a little secret, letting my hand rest gently on my (not yet existent) baby bulge in that oh-so-obvious way that screams 'I'm pregnant' to anyone with two X chromosomes.

By pregnancy number three the only tummy bulge I have at 13 weeks is caused by jam donuts and Pineapple Lumps, and all the other monstrous foods I am shoving in my mouth in some warped attempt to keep the nausea at bay.  The only secret I know is that I will NEVER do this again, and my hands are occupied scraping Curly Mops boogies off my shoulder.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What was Old is New Again

Let me introduce you to Pinky.

Pinky is a rabbit.  A very old rabbit.  Mum would have to confirm this, but I suspect he's at least 30 years old.  Pinky was my special toy when I was a little girl. 

One of my most enduring memories is of my dad sticking Pinky down the front of his shirt, so his pink ears were poking over the top of his collar.  'Where's Pinky?' he'd ask. 'There he is!', I'd shout. 'Where?', he'd say, pretending to look every where except at the huge lump on his chest.  'There!', I'd shout, jumping madly, trying to reach my beloved bunny (but I was too small).  This would happen fairly frequently and probably only stopped when I was tall enough to pull Pinky out.

I watched my dad play this same game last weekend with Miss Curly Mop and her (formerly) favourite toy, Ella the Elephant.

Now The Mop has a new favourite. 

It's heart warming to see my youngest daughter so firmly attached to my old toy.  It's also reassuring that I did not have to go out and buy something new, I spent nothing more than my childhood loving this rabbit, and now he has a new child to love him and chew on him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blogger 1: Shannon 0

I tried, I really did. 

I tried to be all clever and blog-professional and move from this blogspot address to my very own www.shannonmeyerkort.com address, so I could be a real blogger.  But it hasn't worked.

I can tell that it hasn't worked for you guys either, because it's not like you not to comment on news such as the (kind of obvious) bombshell I dropped last week.

Why this flurry of pseudo-professional blogging activity? This weekend I attended the 'Advanced Blogging' course run by my friend Amanda Kendle.  Although since I don't know what the DNS error message on my computer means, and cannot figure out a simple transfer of domain, I doubt I deserve the title of Advanced Blogger.  Medium blogger perhaps.  Hopefully not mediocre blogger.

The course, run through UWA Extension was brilliant.  You may remember that I attended the Basic Blogging course late last year, when From Mum to Me was born.  It's been eleven months since then, and while I may not have made a lot of headway with my dream to become a published writer in the traditional sense, I have posted over 100 blogs and been blown away by the sense of community and fun in the blogging sphere.

Keeping me sufficiently distracted to keep the nausea at bay, the course has given me pages and pages of good ideas how to promote and extend my blog.  I will be starting a Facebook page for From Mum to Me, as well as a 'Shannon Meyerkort - writer' page. It will probably be mainly pictures*.

So to promote the sense of community, and assuming that blogspot is allowing you to comment once again, I hereby invite you all to put your ten cents in and let me know how I can improve this blog.  What do you like to read about? What do you flick past or think 'I'll read that later' and then forget about?  More pictures or less pictures? Does the layout give you a headache?  Do you hate it when I ask questions?

* It's a joke, geddit?  I haven't done much writing, so I will have to put lots of pictures up instead...

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Official - I am Pregnant (and allowed to tell the world)

Part 1: BEFORE

I can't quite tell if the clenching in my stomach is caused by the relentless 'pregnacy related nausea and vomiting' or if it's good, old fashioned nerves.

Today is my 12-week scan.

Today I will get to see my little baby. Maybe it will suck its thumb like The Blonde Bombshell did, or do somersaults like Miss Curly Mop did.  Maybe it will wave.  Or make a peace sign.

Today I will be told the risks and ratios of this pregnancy.  The chances of something going wrong.  The chances that things aren't quite right.  A measurement here, a protein there.  My heart skips a beat just thinking about it.

I can feel it growing inside me.  Sure, it's not the baby I can feel yet, but the ever-growing, hard as rock uterus.  It's a positive sign alongside the never ending bleugh I have been feeling.  That and the stupidity I seem to exhibit on a daily basis (thank god I now have Baby Brain as an excuse).

45 minutes to go. 

I remember my first 12 week scan.  I followed the ultrasound instructions to the letter, drank 2L of water and wound up with such a full bladder I was concentrating so hard on not urinating all over the table that I forgot to look at the monitor.  The sonographer and my husband ended up having this long technical discussion and I was almost in tears, begging to be let go so I could pee.

The next time I didn't drink any water at all, and the ultrasound was still a complete success.

40 minutes to go.  This is going to get ridiculous.

Part 2: AFTER

I have this ridiculously enormous smile plastered on my face.  It couldn't be any bigger if you had told me that we had won lotto, or an article of mine was to be published.

The scan went well.  Really well.  Of course they made us wait for an hour which didn't help either my nerves or my bladder, but I saw my little baby, waving its arms, jiggling around, and then being terribly compliant and laying still for all the measurements.

Low risk.  Everything where it should be.

I am now waiting for the nausea and vomiting to magically drift away. Waiting for my glow. Waiting for my bump.  I am immensely happy.

Welcome Baby No. 3

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Excuse of the Week

I have a little confession to make.  It is literally just a small one, about four and a half centimetres.  Practically insignificant, except it's not.  It's life changing.

As some of you have guessed, and some of you already know - I am pregnant.  This is the reason for my appalling writing record over the past couple of months, as I have been struggling to sit upright, let alone sit in front of a computer. For those of you who have loyally kept checking every now and then to see if I have returned, I thank you. 

I realise that many people don't announce their pregnancies until the all-clear at 12 weeks has been passed.  Or until they look like they are shop-lifting cushions down their pants.  Or they vomit all over someone's feet.

I am 11 weeks so the first two don't apply to me, but you have to realise this means I have been sitting on this exciting news for over 6 weeks. A lifetime! In six weeks my little baby has morphed from a blob with a heart beat into a little human being with arms and legs and who knows what else.

It's been a trying time.  First of all I thought I was pregnant.  Then I found out I wasn't. Then I thought I wasn't, but it turned out I was.  I was so convinced that I wasn't pregnant that it took about a week (and six positive pregnancy tests) before I finally came to terms with the fact, that yes - I am pregnant with my third child.  Woop!

About 24 hours later then nausea and vomiting started.

It's incredible really how efficiently the human body forgets pains and unpleasant experiences.  If we truly remembered the pain of natural delivery or the horror of an emergency Caesar, how many of us would go back to have more children.  Clearly I had forgotten how debilitating morning sickness can be.  (As an aside, the preferred term these days is 'pregnancy related nausea and vomiting' because spew is a bit like a four year old, and doesn't really care for the technicality of time and clocks - it just does what it wants, when it wants).

So I welcome you all to the next phase in my life.  As I start to feel better I promise to write more regularly and faithfully.  I'm sure I will have plenty to say.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Four Year Old Philosopher [June 2011]

In 1637 René Descartes made his brilliant statement ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ or ‘I think, therefore I am’.  He was 41 and already a noted philosopher and mathematician.
In 2011, the Blonde Bombshell, made her brilliant statement ‘I think, so it is’. She is four. 
Of course, when Descartes made his profound statement he was talking about existentialism, and when the Bombshell made her statement she was talking about it being Tuesday when it was really Monday, but who’s nit-picking? Who’s to say that I don’t have a budding philosopher in the family? If she wanted it to be Tuesday, then it should be Tuesday, and too bad if the rest of the world thought it should be Monday. What’s 24 hours between friends?
There is a certain honesty in the words and beliefs of children.  They speak without worrying about social niceties (‘I did two poos and one is floating like a boat’), political correctness (‘I like your bottom Mummy, it has hair on it’) or the laws of nature (Mum: ‘how much yoghurt do you want?’ Bombshell: ‘27 minutes please’).
When children speak, they say it like it is: ‘Some cars are clean and some are dirty. Daddy’s car is dirty.  Adi’s car is clean.  Grandad’s car has a little bit of poo’.  They conversationally tread where no adult would dare, though secretly many of us would probably love to. They have no concept of self-censorship or self-preservation (‘Mum: ‘why is your sister crying?’ Bombshell: ‘because I hurt her fingers’).
The things my daughter tells me are the highlights of my day.  I write them down and make them real, before they disappear into a forgotten memory of something she said once that made me smile… now what did she say? It’s on the tip of my tongue. I can’t remember…
I love that everything is so literal when you are four years old. Words do not have hidden meaning, children hear what is familiar. My daughters and I were walking past a neighbour’s garden, which had a prolific flowering tree. ‘Look at that pretty pink flower,’ the Bombshell said.  I replied, ‘do you know what that is? That’s called a hibiscus.’  The Bombshell then said ‘Hi Biscus, my name is ... and this is my sister’
Similarly, there is a certain logic that is applicable only to small children. Things are taken at face value, even abstract ideas.  At three and a half the Bombshell was struggling to deal with her tantrums and we were taking the approach that if I gave her a big cuddle we could squeeze out her anger and throw it in the bin.  Sometimes this worked, other times it didn’t.  One day after a particularly drawn out tantrum and some attempting squeezing, she told me ‘I need my anger back because I’m having a tanty.’ I let her have her anger back and said ‘do you still want vegemite crackers?’ ‘Yes,’ she said.  ‘Yes please,’ I corrected. She shook her head, ‘I don’t say yes please because I’m having a tantrum.’
Perhaps though what is most precious about the words of children is their unrelenting love and devotion.  They are blind to shape and size and fashion and their mum is the most beautiful mum, even when she is wearing old tracksuit pants (Bombshell: why are you lying down Mum?’ Mum: ‘because I’m old and fat and tired’ Bombshell: ‘you’re not that bad’).
Eventually our children grow up, and their words will be tempered with flattery and hidden meanings and political correctness and all the other filters adults forget they use.  But while they are little, we should cherish their clarity of thought, because as the Bombshell so simply puts it: ‘I make you happy Mum.’

Monday, August 1, 2011

Help Me Please

My apologies for dropping off the face of the cyber planet for a few weeks there.  I have been dreadfully ill and in no fit state to write.

I know that if I was a real writer I would have taken my head out of the toilet for a few minutes to blog, because writing is my life etc etc, but in all honesty I am sure none of you wanted to hear about how crook I was.  I am literally sick, of being sick.

But now I need your help.

I have returned to uni for second semester, a Feature Writing Course which I am thoroughly enjoying and my first assignment is due in a week.  I need to write an opinion piece, 500 words, of sufficiant quality that I could submit to one of the worldly publications such as Time, Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone (sure, no pressure).

Anyways, my problem is this: I don't have any opinions.  I'm still too sick to care.

I don't care about the carbon tax or the fact that an Aussie won a bike race.  I don't care that another Royal got married or that the US can't pay its debts (join the queue!). I am shocked and sad about the shooting in Norway but cannot see myself writing about it.

When I was younger I used to think I was quite a passionate person.  I cared about things, got worked up about causes.  I volunteered at the AIDS Council for a year and worked as a carer for a young person living with HIV.  I would bore my parents silly with lectures about various issues I felt strongly about, although I probably would not have understood what I was talking about.  Hell, at one stage I even invented my own religion.

But I seem to have lost this passion.  I am ignorant and apathetic about issues that I should be concerned about. I watch Masterchef rather than SBS.  I read the West Australian rather than Time.  (Actually I do read Time, but I tend to skip all the articles on world politics and economics.) My world has shrunk to a small bubble of kids and family and house and uni.  Paying the bills, doing the washing, cooking dinner. It seems ironic that as the world has become more connected, our lives somehow become more insular.

Forgive me, but I do not think I am alone.  Why are we so lazy with our opinions?  Why are we so uninformed?  Moreover, why do we want to be uninformed?  Who wants to change the channel when the World Vision ads come on TV?  Or use that as a good time to get up and make a cup of tea?

Is it because I have always had it relatively easy?  I never had to see my dad or brothers go away to war.  I have never had to break down gender or race barriers?  I have always had the right to vote, to an education, to drive a car.  As a female I was always told I could do anything.  I certainly never had to prove myself to anyone.  I have never had to sit through a bombing raid, or watch family members die from starvation, or a disease that could have been prevented with a simple vaccination.  I have never been forced out of my home, or raped by soldiers. I have always had food on my table (and in my fridge and more in my cupboard).  My children will never want for anything.

So why don't I care?  Why can't I think of something to write about?  Help me please.   
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