Monday, December 30, 2013

The Late Night Bad Thought


Why are you awake?

I had a bad thought and it made me scared.

What bad thought?

I thought about what would happen if I drew you a picture, but I didn’t tell you I drew it for you and your tore it up and threw it away.

That is a bad thought. Luckily it would never happen. Now go back to bed and think only good thoughts.

But I don’t know any good thoughts.

What about when Baldy does her baby dance or shouts ‘ta da!’, or cooking with me, or washing the car with Daddy and getting splashed with the hose, or building Lego, or reading books. Or writing books? Luckily there are more good thoughts in the world than bad thoughts…

But you don’t know that. You don’t know everything, how can you know that?

You’re right. I don’t know everything but I definitely know that.

I saw you cry once after talking on the phone. I don’t know why you were crying, but I know you were sad.

(Taken aback) But that happened only once. How many other times have you seen me laugh and smile?

Hardly ever.

What? That’s nuts, why do you say that?

Because we’re always so naughty…

Ahhh touché. But you can bet your ass I'm smiling right now.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, a fat cat in a fur tree…

It was time for the annual Christmas concert, and it wasn’t even Christmas yet. The Bombshell had whispered in my ear that it was time to announce the concert would start.

All the adults, exhausted from over-indulging in an Aussie seafood feast, were all too happy to oblige: as long as they didn’t have to get up from their chairs.

On the second day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, two chewed up slippers…

The Bombshell was the picture of seriousness. Standing straight and tall, book in her hands, she sang with the manner of an English Beefeater. No matter what was happening around her, she would continue to sing.

On the third day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, three French poodles…

This song was way too long for the Mop, who promptly took to the stage, grabbed a plastic rake as a microphone and began singing her own song. Not entirely sure what song it was.

'Shhhhh,' all the adults told her. 'You’ll get your turn in a moment'.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, four pointers pointing…

Breaking free from her Auntie’s grip, Baldy was determined to take her rightful place on stage. In the manner only an almost-two year old can muster, she began break-dancing, doing rolly-polies, dizzy-whizzies and egging the crowd on for cheers.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, five old hounds…

I watched the faces of the family, chuckles suppressed. We were all trying so hard to keep our attention on the Bombshell, who was pushing through despite the competition.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, six pooches playing…

The Mop was surreptitiously moving her chair forward. Her microphone had morphed into a trumpet, and occasionally she was waving it around over her head. It’s difficult to tell whether she was deliberately trying to hit Baldy who was flinging herself around, or whether it was just a happy coincidence.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, seven mutts a’dreaming…

Man this song was long. Why did there need to be twelve days of Christmas?

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, eight canines skating…

I had to admire the Bombshell’s fortitude. Almost no one was able to listen to her. Baldy kept popping up in front of her, raising her arms and shouting ‘ta da!’ at which point everyone (except the Bombshell) needed to yell ‘Ta da!’ back at her.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, nine fleabags fencing…

Anyone else would have given up by now, but I knew she was desperate to get to the eleventh day. We had read the book for the first time a few days earlier and it was every kid’s dream: to be able to talk about naughty things in front of adults and not get yelled at. She was going to soldier on.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, ten labs a’licking…

Besides, I had seen the script the Bombshell had neatly written out that morning. After she sang the worlds-longest and most annoying Christmas song, she planned on reading a story to everyone. There was no way she was given up her spot in the limelight.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, twelve dogs a digging…

‘Didn’t you forget one?’ I called out to the Bombshell. ‘Shhhh,’ everyone hissed at me, not wanting yet another verse.

The Bombshell paused and turned back a page. ‘Ah yes, thank you,’ she said.

She took a deep breath and another pause for effect.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, eleven puppies pooping…

‘Did she say pooping?’ my father-in-law whispered with a grin.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true dog sent to me, twelve dogs a digging…

Such applause, such acclaim. We were all so grateful she made it through, we were rapturous in our congratulations.

Baldy thought the applause was for her, jumping up and shouting ‘ta da!’

The Bombshell gave a neat bow, a satisfied smile on her face.

The Mop dragged her chair further forward and tried to grab at the Twelve Dogs of Christmas.

‘My turn,’ she wailed.


Merry Christmas from Curly Mop, the Blonde Bombshell and Baldy Baby


* The Twelve Dogs of Christmas is written and illustrated by Kevin Whitlark

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Three Things That Changed My Year

After six and a half years of being a Mum it would be easy to think that I would’ve got this whole parenting thing sorted out.

I haven’t. In fact, this year I have behaved pretty badly at times. If my kids behaved as badly as I have, I would send them to their rooms and never let them out. But the thing is, sometimes I wish someone would send me to my room and say I don’t have to come out. For a mum, that’s a luxury. For kids, putting them in their room with their toys and books and things that make loud obnoxious noises is the Worst. Thing. Ever.

Kids just don’t get it.

I did have a realisation this year though, an epiphany if you will.

I was sitting out in the back garden, as far from my kids as I could manage without leaving the property. My fists were clenched and my heart was racing. I wanted to smash something. Ten seconds earlier, that something was one of my children. They had pushed me and pushed me and pushed me so far, something in my brain was saying ‘just do something to make it stop’.

And I made a choice.

I walked out. I turned on my heel, unlocked the door, closed it behind me, and walked as far as I could from the screaming and the fighting and the yelling. I sat and I tried to calm down.

It would have been very easy to make a different choice in that split second.

I have realised that every second of every day parenting is a choice.

It starts even from before the baby is conceived and often we don’t even realise we are making a choice. Cloth or disposable. Swaddle or sleeping bag.  Red wine or white (not for the kids, relax).

Sometimes that choice is taken away from us. Sometimes we can’t breastfeed. Sometimes our babies are sick. Sometimes we don’t have family to fall back on. Sometimes we don’t have the resources to follow through on something we really want for our children.

But in those other instances, often the small moments we don’t give much thought to, parenting is a choice.

I have made some pretty bad choices in the past. And sometimes I see the consequences of those bad decisions repeat on me like a cheap taco. When you look at your kids and realise that they are behaving just like you and you don’t like them very much it can be a very confronting experience.

I did two things this year to help me control my anger. Three things actually. The first was to go and see someone to help me with some of my issues. To be able to talk about my problems in a professional and non-judgemental environment was a step forward for me, but I admit it’s not for everyone.

Then someone put a meme up on Facebook that said ‘the way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.’

I printed it out and stuck it on the fridge, so I see it every day.

Your inner voice is the one who either tells you that you are worthless and you shouldn’t bother trying, or that you should keep pushing ahead. It’s the one that says you are fabulous regardless of your size and shape, or it tells you you’re not good enough unless you are a size 10. It’s the one that keep asking ‘what’s wrong with you?’ or instead says ‘how can we do it differently next time?’

Although in the heat of the moment I sometimes slip up, I have made a choice that if I have any role in developing my girls’ inner voices, it will be to make them strong, thoughtful, independent, self-assured and – most importantly - to like themselves.

Psychologists and Facebook are great, but they will only get you so far. So this year, I also called in the big guns.

The Blonde Bombshell.

Although she is just like me – or because she is just like me – we often don’t see eye to eye. To be blunt, we fight a lot. Well, we used to. Earlier this year I introduced a safe word. When our fight is escalating and we are beginning to lose the plot, we agreed that someone would call out ‘undies’ at the top of their lungs, the idea being that it is so silly we would laugh instead of strangle each other.

She is awesome at yelling undies. (Put THAT on your CV).

And while she doesn’t need to use it so much anymore for disagreements between her and me (because I am working on the other two things) she has been known to step in between me and The Mop (who, one month shy of four has discovered her own debating skills) and call out ‘undies, you guys, undies!’.

The neighbours must think we’re all loons.

Maybe that’s why they moved out.


Thank you to everyone who stops by Relentless to read my stories, who comment on my Facebook posts, and send messages about my WeekendNotes articles. With every ‘like’ and every ‘hit’ it’s another way of saying ‘I get it. It’s like that at my house.’


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Jodie Foster* Was Onto Something

I’m upstairs in the bathroom and half way out of my nightee when I hear feet thumping on the stairs. I brace myself.

‘Mum, do you like my picture?’ asks the Bombshell breathlessly.

I look at the explosion of colour in front of me and admire it appropriately.

‘Why is the Mop crying?’ I ask.

‘She asked me if I liked her picture but I was working so I ignored her.’

‘But you then come all the way upstairs and interrupt me so you can ask me if I like your picture?’ I point out.

‘Oh,’ she says. The Bombshell turns and leaves.

I struggle into my dress when I hear thumping again.

‘Mum! She hit me,’ the Mop cries indignantly. I peer around the door, where the Bombshell is sitting contritely on my bed. I respond with a vague threat about taking away her canteen money and to stop hitting her sister, yada yada. I am standing with my dress bunched around my shoulders, otherwise just in my knickers. I am sick of this.

‘But she hit me first,’ yells the Bombshell, whacking her sister in the arm.

‘Is that true?’ I ask the Mop, who has the decency to look appropriately ashamed.

‘So you came all the way up here to dob on your sister when you started the fight? Grrrr,’ I finally pull my dress on.

‘I love you, Mummy,’ purrs the Mop.

‘Get out, both of you,’ I tell them. Someone punches someone else and the shrieking starts before they even walk out of my bedroom.

‘If you two wake the baby up, I am going to… to... I’m going to ban Christmas!’ I threaten wildly.

As if. Sometimes my mouth works much faster than my brain, but still, the idle threat did the trick and they make it downstairs with only minimum ruckus.

‘She’s already awake,’ the Bombshells yells helpfully up the stairs.

I figure I have about one minute to finish getting dressed before things implode downstairs so I whack on some deodorant and wave a mascara wand near my eyes.

A scream from the stairs.

‘I’m going to tell Mum,’ a voice threatens. ‘She’s gonna KILL YOU.’

I walk out of the bathroom and lock the bedroom door, then go back to the bathroom, and lock that door as well.

My own private panic room. Sometimes it’s the only way.

All mums should have one.
* apologies for the obscure reference, but I'm guessing most of you got it 

Monday, November 11, 2013

What I Learned from My Day from Hell

I didn’t realise I had become so complacent.

I also didn’t realise how lucky I am.

I came home from an appointment today, pottered past the letter box, unlocked the front door, and dropped my handbag on the bookshelf.

It was then I noticed that my laptop and iPad were neatly placed in a large bag sitting on the high chair.

I was confused. I had left my computer and iPad on the dining table. My corner, where I work. Plugged in.

It was then I noticed the spray of wood shards near the laundry door.

And then I noticed that the laundry door - a three pin, supposedly ‘criminal safe’ metal security door - was ajar.

Someone had broken into the house. The question became: were they still in the house? I stood there for a minute thinking: do I grab my bag and the phone and go outside and call the police, or do I go and walk through the rest of the house.

I called out in my best I’m-not-afraid-voice ‘if there is anyone there, you need to leave now.’ I walked into the first bedroom: no one. The door of the spare room was ajar, I kicked it open. No one. I did the same for the two front rooms, thinking in that none too rational way when adrenaline is coursing through your body, that if they were hiding behind the door I would squash them.
Good thinking Shan.

I also reasoned that since the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs was still closed, they hadn’t gone upstairs because when was the last time I (and here comes some stereotypes) a man, let alone the type to break into a house with a brick and screwdriver, opened and closed a baby gate. He would have just ripped it out of the wall, right?

So after I had reassured myself there was no one in house (and I don’t even know what I would have done if there had been someone there) I called the police.

While I was on the phone giving my details, someone knocked on the front door. A lady I had never seen, older but not old, with a sun hat and long white hair said: ‘are you on the phone to the police?’

She was a neighbour from across the road, and had happened to be walking past when the man jumped over my back fence and bolted down the road towards the train station.

She had gone inside her house and written a detailed description of the man, had a drink of water, grabbed the magnet with the phone number of the police and come to my house. If I had not been home, she said she was going to call the police herself and make a statement. It was a hot day, she had prepared for a long wait.
For a family she had never met.

As she gave me the description and the policeperson on the other end of the phone listened and typed it all down, it occurred to me that the reason he had left in such a hurry – and without my computer and iPad – was because I had come home. He had seen or heard my car pull in the drive and he had bolted. He was probably in my daughter’s bedroom (the only thing he took was one of her money boxes), and had seen the car pull in through the window.

I had come home at exactly the right moment.

He saw me and was able to leave. I didn’t walk in on him. I came home early enough so that he hadn’t enough time to finishing grabbing everything.

How lucky am I?

Six policemen and one forensics guy then descended on the house. Two of the cops wanted to see the kids’ rooms. We stood in the door looking at the mess of clothes, dolls, books and other assorted crap spread across the floor and bed.

‘Uhhh, was this… do you think someone has been in here?’ one of them politely asked.

‘Hard to tell,’ I said. ‘But the kids made this mess, not the burglar.’

They seemed to take forever looking around, while my lovely neighbour sat patiently at my kitchen table waiting. Eventually she was able to say her piece and go home to rest. As she left, and I was thanking her, I asked her if there was anything I could ever do in return.

‘Just be a good neighbour,’ she said.

A good neighbour. She is the ultimate neighbour.

Soon it was just the forensics guy dusting for prints. He called me outside.

‘I need to show you something,’ he said. We walked around to my kitchen window, where my fairy garden is.

‘Why do you have a hammer sitting near the window?’, he asked.

‘Because the builder left it behind and I thought he might come back for it,’ I replied.

‘And when was that?’ We both looked at the rusted hammer.

‘About a year ago,’ I admitted.

‘And why do you have all these bricks stacked here?’

‘The builder was meant to take them away,’ I muttered.

‘The thing is, first these guys use them to get into your house, and then they used them as weapons,’ he said pointedly.


So I learned a few things today. One is not to be complacent.
Another is to disconnect the external hard drive from the computer and put it somewhere else, otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose of saving all your precious things.
Don’t leave weapons outside the house.
And I learned what being a good neighbour really means.

Thank you Kathy.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why You Should Think Twice Before Opening Your Mouth

‘Dear Fairies,’ the Bombshell wrote. ‘Do you have an adventure for me?’

The letter was sealed and deposited in the Fairy Letter Box. She eyed me intently. ‘I wonder what the fairies will tell me to do.’

Crap, I thought. An adventure? How are the fairies going to come up with an adventure that can take place in the real world, where people don’t actually fly and pixie dust is a little hard to come by.

So naturally I forgot all about the letter until about 11 that night when I was lying in the dark willing myself to sleep.

The letter. Crap. The look on the Bombshell’s face when the fairies don’t answer her letters is heartbreaking. But 11 o’clock at night was no time to go find a fairy to write a letter. I needed a stop-gap measure.

I had recently been to a swap meet where I came upon some fruit carved out of marble. I had bought three pieces thinking the fairies might need a snack and promptly forgot about them. I bundled out of bed and armed with a torch, located some marble grapes and put them in the fairy letter box. No letter. No explanation.

What? It was really, really late.

The next morning I couldn’t stop the Bombshell from checking the Fairy Mail as soon as she sprung out of bed, and of course there were the grapes. I knew they were grapes, but apparently this wasn’t so clear to a six year old.

‘What do you think it means, Mum?’ she asked, bewildered.

‘I don’t know,’ I replied. ‘I guess it’s a mystery,’ I added honestly. I had no idea where this was going to go.

Over the next day or two she started writing lists about what this thing was. Was it a miniature tree? A musical instrument? Some sort of bobbly fairy wand. The on the third day, a marble pear arrived in the fairy mail box.

‘Look at this Mum,’ she said. ‘Now what do you think it means?’

‘I don’t know,’ I replied, still honestly. ‘It is a mystery adventure,’ I said stressing the word adventure.

Finally on the fifth day, with a little forethought, the mystery revealed itself. The three fruit with their magical qualities were being sent to us for safe-keeping, because a wicked goblin was trying to steal them.

Suddenly there was a real life adventure. The fruit needed a safe place, we needed to keep an eye out for goblin footprints, and a fairy charm needed to be hung by the door.

I really got into it.

But, as tends to happen, it backfired.

One morning goblin footprints were discovered at many of the doors and windows around the house. They looked suspiciously like white and green chalk and tended to disappear when you rubbed them, but I assured the girls this was the magic of goblins.

The Bombshell and the Mop thought it was awesome, knowing full well the fairies had put a protection spell on the family.

Unfortunately, no one remembered to tell the Mop’s little three year old friend about the protection spell.

‘Look,’ declared the Mop to her friend. ‘A goblin was here last night,’ she said pointing to a footprint in the backyard. ‘He’s trying to steal the fruit.’

‘A goblin?’ said the friend, eyes wide, slinking towards her mum.

‘Yeah,’ added the Mop for good effect. ‘They’re really evil.’

Her friend promptly ran to her Mum. ‘I want to go home,’ she said tearfully.

She would not budge from her Mum’s lap, thus negating our nice coffee and chat morning, since she had an extra appendage who would sob intermittently about being scared of goblins.

There was eye-rolling, though I suspect it was directed at me.

I spent the next hour treading a fine line between trying to convince the little girl that the goblin was of no consequence without outright ruining the fantasy for the Mop who thought it was ace she had a stinky goblin prowling around her yard.  More importantly, I knew she would happily out me to her sister if I had claimed that I had made the whole thing up.

‘I’m so sorry,’ I mouthed to my friend for the tenth time as she tried to wrestle her daughter off her.

More eye rolling. Yep, definitely directed at me.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bring On the Clowns

We had just returned from the circus.
The Mop was disappointed. she expected it to be more like Madagascar 3. I had explained it was unlikely that a giraffe was going to do the high wire, but she hadn't believed me.

The Bombshell on the other hand, was in raptures. I had spent most of the time watching her watch the circus. She was enthralled.

Even the look on her face when we got sprayed with wood chips from a prancing pony was priceless. The Bombshell had picked the little pieces of wood off her lap, cradling them in her hand like they were jewels.

‘Did. You. See. That?’ she asked. ‘That was awesome.’ She then brushed the sand off her lap into my handbag.

Yeah, awesome.

The drive home was long. As usual, it was a competition between the girls. Who got sprayed with most woodchips. Who got the better prize on the clowns. Who loved it the most.
‘I’m going to be a sparkle ribbon girl when I grow up,’ the Bombshell declared.

‘Or maybe I will do the trapeze. No, I will work with the ponies. Or the puppies, that was cool.’

She sighed happily.

‘You can’t do that,’ the Mop informed her. Just to be annoying.

‘Yes I can. Mum says I can be anything I want when I grow up. I just have to try hard enough.’

In the rear view mirror I could see them sticking their tongues out at each other.

‘I can be anything I want when I grow up,’ the Bombshell repeated under her breath.

‘Yeah,’ retorted the Mop. ‘You can be a circus animal.’
Shall I let the Bombshell be a sparkle ribbon girl when she grows up?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How To Get Rid of an Unwanted Wobbly Tooth

Kids who have wobbly teeth are pretty cute, right? Big gaps in their smiles. Complete inability to eat apples, hilarious, right?

Except in my house, this is what I have had to look at for the past few weeks.

The worst, most disgusting, sticky-out, redneck, beer-bottle opening snaggle tooth. Ever.

There was nothing cute about this tooth.

The 4th wobbly tooth belonging to the Bombshell began in the normal way, but every day it began to stick out more and more, until it was perpendicular to the gum. It would stick out between her lips. She would chew on it.
Strangers would grimace and stare when they saw it. It was freakily unnatural.

She looked like she belonged to Cletus the slack-jawed yokel. You know the one.
'Y'all get that damn tooth out now, hear...'
[image Simpson wiki]
It was very distracting and – and between you and me – I offered to add $5 to whatever the Tooth Fairy was going to give her if she could wobble it out before Show Day (tomorrow).

For a week I reminded her to wobble it, waving the idea of $5 in front of her. I’m not proud, but I was desperate.

She tried, she did. She would wobble with her tongue. She would wobble it with her finger. She would gross out every adult who made the mistake of asking to see.


I considered doubling my offer to $10.

As I resigned myself to the freak-tooth staying forever, a miracle happened.

Baldy intervened in the only way she could. She kicked the Bombshell square in the face coming down the slide.
Blood went everywhere.

The tooth was out.

It was the best five bucks I have ever spent.
Love your work Baldy...

Food Lines


It’s one of those jobs you hate, but you have to do at least once a year. Sometimes more in my house.

The annual cleaning-out-of-the-food-cupboard.

If you’re a responsible shopper – and I’m not – you know exactly what is in your cupboard at any given point in time. You have manageable levels of tinned and packet foods, and never need to throw anything out because it’s out of date.

Let me reiterate, I am not one of those people.

In a snatched moment when the kids were all away, occupied or asleep, I battled my demons.

I unpacked and sorted. I groaned as I saw three jars of hoisin sauce, four tins of tomato soup, eight tins of creamed corn and fourteen packets, of varying sizes, of instant rice.

What? I get a little stupid when things go on sale.

And my kids really like rice. And they want it NOW. It’s a great invention.

I took the opportunity to dispose of a number of barely touched party lolly bags, snatched with such glee after a birthday, and forgotten just as quickly.

I tossed out the tub of fairy floss. My husband wanted to keep it, but I said that unless he was prepared to feed it to the kids before HE was about to spend the day with them, then it needed to go.

I threw out an obscene amount of food, and I am feeling very ashamed of myself.


Food wastage is something we battle daily as parents.

We have all cooked the meal, full of healthy things only to have the kids say ‘yuck’ and demand a vegemite sandwich.

We have all swept up piles of rice and cereal from the floor, and had to tip it into the bin because it has been contaminated with pet hair – or, at our place - foot long strands of the Bombshell’s hair.

We have all found the mummifed half-eaten sandwich under the couch; the apple with a single bite out of it in the bottom of the school bag; the lovingly made fruit platter that the kids left out in the sun because they were too busy playing.

One of the biggest food battles we have is that fine line between teaching our children not to waste food but also teaching them to not eat beyond their capacity.

The three year old Mop has a canny ability to eat exactly 80% of what is on her plate. She will eat happily and then, with only a mouthful of two left in front of her, she will stop. It’s bloody annoying, and I used to push her to finish her meal, to ‘not waste food.’

But what is worse? Wasting a few mouthfuls of food, or teaching her that she must always finish what is in front of her.

I always finish what is in front of me.

And then I finish what is on my kids’ plates. And then I often get another helping.

I am more than a few kilos overweight.

Actually I’m a lot overweight.

So I am determined to not encourage my children to eat more than they need to. I eat because I want to, not because I need to and it had led to a lifetime of food issues.

I want my children to have a happy, healthy and uncomplicated relationship with food.

So I have started talking to the Mop about what her ‘tummy’ wants, as opposed to what ‘she’ wants. She is old enough to distinguish between wanting something because it’s yummy and her ‘mouth’ wants it, and wanting something because she is hungry and her ‘tummy’ wants it.

Clearly I need to start practicing what I am preaching. It’s something I fail at regularly.

Yesterday I had lunch out with my husband and the Bombshell. I tried my hardest not to finish everything on the plates, and when we left there was half a plate of fried rice remaining. I felt proud that I had not overeaten unnecessarily.

And then I ruined it all by eating an enormous ice-cream cone that I neither wanted nor needed.

Baby steps, Shannon.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why Exercise, Housework and Childcare Should be Banned

I have long been a crusader against exercise, believing it leads to all sorts of injury and humiliation.

Take my husband for example, in the course of exercise he has sustained a stress fracture during a gym class (which he finished before going to get an x-ray, typical male).

He's come off his bike, tearing his arms down to the bone, and had the worst case of blisters known to mankind after the City to Surf.


Clearly, sport and exercise are bad for you.

Now I am going to add housework to the list of things that must be stopped in the interest of personal safety.

Yesterday I broke my toe while putting the washing away. I walked into a door frame. Three toes went one way, two went the other.

I heard it snap. It was surprisingly loud.

It bloody hurts but you can't do anything except take prophylactic wine and sit down and watch ANTM.

I may also add childcare to my list of dangerous occupations.

To add insult to injury (literally), this morning the baby threw a book at me from her change table, and it landed squarely on my newly broken toe.

It's highly likely her next new word is going to start with an 'F'.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Worst Parents in the World

It was a game of parental one-upmanship, the one where we try and outdo each other with how crazy the kids have been. Except we can play this game with the antics of just with one child: Number Three, Baldy.

My husband started: she threw the rice-bubbles everywhere. They were on the wall. I even found them in my shoes!

I followed with: she was climbing on the chairs at the dentist. She tried to climb up the vertical blinds.

Him: She ate food out of the bin.

Me: She insisted on having her teeth checked by the dentist like her sisters, but then she just stuck her tongue out.

Him: She belted the Mop in the face and was trying to ride the Bombshell like a horse.

Me: I found her sucking water out of a face-washer she had dipped in the toilet.

Him: She was sitting on the top of the toilet. Not the seat – the cistern!

We both looked over to the toilet, visualising the 18 month old sitting on top, merrily swinging her legs, smiling cunningly.

We must be such bad parents.
And to prove the point, I found Baldy 'cleaning' the toilet, and took the photo for posterity
before taking the toilet brush off her

Monday, September 16, 2013

Preaching to the Convoluted

I was loitering with intent.

I needed a key cut and was hanging around the key-cutting place at a nearby shopping centre, but the woman hadn’t noticed me yet. I was child-free but my head was pounding. I’d had way too much coffee and not enough water, and being woken at 5am by Baldy hadn’t helped.

Nor were the screaming kids at the little indoor playground right next to me.

Hang on, you may say. You have kids. You can’t complain about kids that scream.

Well, actually – I can.

My kids scream. A lot. Almost as much as I do.  However I like to do it in the privacy of my own home, or occasionally in the car on the way to school, where passing motorists can see by my purple face that I’m yelling but they don’t know what about.

These kids were screaming in the middle of a very public space. Not just happy-kids-yelling-and-laughing type screaming. Not even she-pushed-me-over-and-I’m-upset screaming. This was I’m-going-to-shriek-because-I-want-to-see-if-I-shatter-those-windows screaming.

The mums were sitting watching and having a nice chat. Maybe they were chatting, maybe they were lip-reading because their kids were quite loud, who knows.

Finally the key-cutting lady noticed me and she came to cut my key. She noticed me rubbing my temples.

‘They do that all day,’ she said. ‘Shrieking like that, and the mums never stop them. They don’t seem to care that we have to listen to that all day.’

Fair point. Those particular kids and their parents might be there for five or ten minutes and then move on. The people working in the shops nearby, like this lady in her pop-up shop less than three metres away have to listen to it all day.

And they’re trying to work.

She clearly hadn’t noticed my key-ring with a picture of my own three daughters at prime shrieking age. I don’t think she would have been so chatty if she knew I could well be one of the culprits.

Or maybe she had, because she had very clearly – and politely – made her point.

I had never stopped to think that people are trying to work in the shops next to this play area.

I will next time.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Just A Little Story About Magic

Sometimes things happen so perfectly you wonder whether maybe if there is a little magic in the world.

The Bombshell and I were home alone.

A reminder on my mobile phone buzzed. I had it randomly set to a small chime. I heard it but didn’t acknowledge it: it was a reminder to me to get the spring decorations ready for the fairy garden. I wasn’t going to ruin the surprise for the Bombshell who was colouring at the table.

Her head popped up.

‘Mum, did you hear that?’ she asked.

‘Hear what,’ I asked innocently.

She turned to me, eyes wide.

‘I think a fairy just talked in my ear,’ she said conspiratorially.

‘I didn’t hear anything,’ I said.

‘It WAS! A fairy just spoke to me, it sounded like bells,’ she said sighing.

‘I wonder what she said?’ I asked.

She bounded up from her chair. ‘I think she wants me to look at the Fairy Garden,’ she said.

My heart sank a little, the Fairy Garden was a bit of a mess. The ribbons and garlands we had hung a few months ago were bedraggled and broken. I had new ones to put out tomorrow, but today it was a bit sad.

The Bombshell stood in front of the window, staring at the Fairy Garden.

‘Mum,’ she whispered in a low voice. ‘You have to see this. It definitely was a message from the fairies.’

I stood behind her, and sitting on top of the Fairy ‘bedroom’ was a little bird.

Picture perfect, a message from the fairies.

It made me believe in magic.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dad Jokes (by a 6 year old)

On the way to school today the Bombshell was regaling us with typical six year old humour. She was making stuff up as she went along and it was reminiscent of what you might call a ‘Dad joke’.

At least it was less embarrassing than her last joke attempt.

‘Mum,’ she started. ‘Why did the crocodile paint his toenails purple?’

I racked my brain because even though it sounded vaguely familiar, I couldn’t remember the punch line. I guess that would have spoiled it anyway.

‘I don’t know, why did the crocodile paint his toenails purple?’

‘Because he wanted to hide in the raspberry bush.’

Before I could point out that raspberries were red she had launched into her next joke.

‘Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?’

I was ready this time.

‘Because he wanted to hide in the strawberry patch?’ I answered glibly.

‘No, because he wanted to climb the apple tree without the policeman seeing him.’

She cackled uproariously which set the other two off, and I had to join in.
Whether or not it made any sense, the image of an elephant with red toenails hiding up a tree from the law was good enough for me, and at least she wasn't joking about the baby being dead.

Happy Fathers’ Day guys.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Prize for the Most Inappropriate Conversation Goes to...

I was cuddled up in bed with the Bombshell and it struck me that these days were numbered.

'You know,' I told her, 'one day you will be too old for me to snuggle in bed and you won't want to be my friend anymore.'

'Don't be silly,' she told me stroking my hair. 'I will always want you to be my friend. You're the best mum ever.'

How I wish that were true, I thought.

'One day you will suddenly grow up and you will bring home some deadbeat boys and I will tell you "No, don't marry these deadbeats". She started laughing.

'But then one day you will bring home a really lovely boy, and I will tell you how wonderful he is, but you will then dump him immediately because if Mum likes him, then there must be something wrong with him,' I continued.

She was watching me, utterly transfixed.

'But then you will bring home a nice boy who you will really like and I will really like, but I will stay quiet, and you will get married.'

She sat up in the bed. 'Tell me about the deadbeats again.'

'What? Why?' I said, suddenly wondering what on earth I was doing. Being inappropriate as usual.

'Because it's so funny, me going out with the deadbeats. Tell it again.'

And so I did. I told her about the deadbeats, and the nice boys she will dump because her parents like him too much, and then finally, meeting the right guy. She laughed and laughed. We both did, but all the time I was thinking that this was a woefully inappropriate conversation to have with a six year old, and that I really need SuperNanny or Nanny McPhee or someone to step in and stop me before I said something really dumb.

When she finally stopped laughing and we caught our breath, she peered into my face and said 'Mum, why are you telling me all this?'

I don't know, I said. I really don't know.

What inappropriate things have you told your kids?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weetbix, No Shame and the Teenaged Boy

Today was my first day back at uni. Naturally, just as I stepped out of the car it had poured down with rain. Naturally, as a mother and a mature-aged student I was the only person with an umbrella.

Everyone else was too cool for umbrellas.
As this story will show, I am not too cool for anything.
Before long the tutor asked us to get into groups to discuss the readings. Very few of us had actually done the readings, and even fewer understood them. I had good intentions and certainly eyeballed them, but when faced with this:

Few Platonic moments are better known in literary studies today, but copious
deconstructive attention to its metaphysical thematics registers little of the ethical
force of Plato’s argument, nor does it unearth the questions of signature which implicitly
 guide the equation of discursive responsibility with the presence of the subject.

I must admit I felt my eyes begin to wander, just a little…


But because I had technically done the readings, I was moved to sit with a group of young guys, possibly in their early twenties but more likely in their late teens.

The angle I was sitting at meant I needed to use my peripheral vision, but there was something obstructing my view. So I took off my glasses to rub my eyes. Nope, the blur was still there.
So I looked inside my glasses.

And plastered in a chunk the size of a five cent piece, was solidified Weetbix, obscuring the lens and caked like concrete around the rim.

What else should I do –I began to chip it out with my fingernail.

Then I realised that one of the guys was watching me with a look that nicely blended disgust and incredulity.
‘Weetbix,’ I whispered. ‘My baby put it there.’

He nodded weakly and nudged his chair away from me.
I remember exactly when Baldy did it. She had been eating with her hands as usual, and as I crouched down near her high chair to clean the larger chunks of the floor she had reached over and grabbed a bunch of my hair, then pulled off my glasses. I ran shrieking to the Bombshell, handing her a brush and asking her to brush it out of my hair.

‘I’ll do my best,’ she said gamely.

I later went to get dressed, and changed my glasses - rather vainly - to match the dress I was planning on wearing. No one would have even noticed the switch in glasses, but it did give the Weetbix ample time to solidify nicely before I changed glasses again a few days later.

Later that night, after I had been to the art gallery and dinner with friends (and school drop off and pick up and playgroup and the shops), I came home, had a quick shower and got ready for bed. When my brush got stuck in my hair I attempted to look at the top of my head in the mirror.

The Bombshell hadn’t brushed it all out and I had been walking around all day with a chunk of chewed up cereal in my hair.
Three days later, and the Weetbix was still haunting me.

So this was how I began my first day back at uni: encrusted, unashamed and with wet feet.

I wonder what will happen next week?
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