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Posts Tagged ‘Mr Justice’

Nine

My eldest child – my first born – turns nine today. According to him, “nine is not that different to eight”. Who knew?

Here is a post from the NDM archives commemorating his tumultuous and triumphant entrance into the world…‘The Birth Plan’.

Happy birthday, Mr Justice.

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Eight years ago, I turned up at a hospital in London to be induced, armed with whale song CDs, aromatherapy massage oils and my birth plan.

“Here is my birth plan!” I said, handing a copy to the midwife on duty, as if I were Moses handing down the Ten Commandments.

The midwife smiled slightly and stuffed the plan away in my file without even looking at it. She probably already knew what I was yet to discover: the baby didn’t give a flying proverbial if I wanted to have drug-free birth on all fours like a cow. The baby had plans of his own and, it turned out, those plans mostly involved staying exactly where he was, thank you very much.

Indeed, twenty-eight agonising hours later – two hours of which were spent with the Oxytocin dial turned up to eleven – the baby had yet to make an appearance.

This is the point where the doctors revealed their own birth plan for me and my baby. A team of medical professionals began waving legal documents under my nose for me to sign while another team shaved my nether regions. Before I knew it I was being wheeled away from my birthing suite and all dreams of a drug-free cow birth, my aromatherapy oils unopened and my whale song CD cast aside. Turns out obstetric surgeons don’t like to listen to whale song while they operate. 

In the operating theatre, the failed epidural I’d been given during my labour was upgraded to a failed spinal block and the operating surgeon kindly requested that I stop moving my legs while he operated. This, in turn, forced my anaesthetist to upgrade her assessment of me from “Whinging Bitch With A Low Pain Threshold” to “Possible Medical Malpracdtice Suit” and she offered to put me under general anaesthetic whenever I gave the word.

Must… See…Baby...” I said, through the pain.

And then suddenly, there he was. My Mr Justice, held aloft and bathed in golden light. (My husband to this day denies that there was any golden light but he obviously wasn’t on the right drugs).

“Quick! Someone help me deliver the uterus,” I heard the surgeon say.

Doesn’t he mean the placenta? I thought vaguely to myself, as the pulling and tugging behind the curtain became so intense I became convinced the surgeon was pulling out my lower intestine like scarves out of a hat. Turns out that my uterus had gone ‘boggy’ – which is another way of saying it had started ‘haemorrhaging like a bastard’ – and needed to be  ‘massaged’, although, sadly, not with my aromatherapy massage oils.

Since I didn’t really want to see my uterus held aloft and bathed in golden light, I turned to the anaesthetist.

Put… Me… Under,” I hissed and then everything went black. Four hours later, I awoke, alone in the recovery area, seemingly intact.

“Where’s my baby?” I panicked and, with as much authority as a woman sporting compression stockings and a pubic mullet could muster, I demanded to be taken to him.

I needn’t have panicked. Back in the ward, my husband was in control of the situation. Braving the nervous giggles and strange looks of onlooking medical staff, he had taken his shirt off to give our baby the skin-to-skin contact I had taken such care to include in my birth plan.

At least someone paid attention to the fucking plan, I thought, somewhat despondently.

But listen. While the birth wasn’t what I had planned or wanted, the baby and I were both alive. And that, in my opinion, is what’s called a result.

And a lesson for me, too. The journey we’ve shared together as mother and son hasn’t always gone the way I planned or wanted – from controlled crying, to buying Wiggles albums, to fast food, to shoot-’em-up computer games. But as a parent, you can’t always stick to The Plan and there’s not much point beating yourself up when you don’t.

Today, my first born, with his shining eyes and his ready laugh – and who, incidentally, is still bathed in golden light – is turning eight years old.

Happy birthday, Mr Justice.

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Wherever my daughter and I go these days, we are always accompanied by a baby doll called Abby.

People love to see little girls with baby dolls. They always smile at The Pixie and say “Is that your little baby you’ve got there?”

The Pixie tends to frown when asked this question. After all, it’s a bit obvious she’s too young to have a baby of her own.

“No, she’s not my baby. She’s my little sister,” she replies solemnly.

“Which makes her my baby!” I then exclaim, perhaps a little too brightly because the people’s smiles tend to fade at this point of the conversation and, more often than not, they take a little step backwards.

Yes, I am now officially – or at least according to The Pixie – a mother of four.

Luckily, Abby sleeps a lot. Like a lot a lot. And she never cries. Not even a little bit. After having had three babies who did lots of crying and precious little sleeping, the universe owes me an easy one, even if it is a plastic doll.

The Pixie is growing suspicious about my parenting skills, however. When she gets home from school, the first thing she usually asks is “Where’s Abby?”

“Uh, Abby’s still in the pram…” I had to admit one day.

“Still? Didn’t you get her out all day?” she asked, outraged.

“No,” I replied. “She was, uh, sleeping soundly. Very very soundly. I didn’t want to disturb her.”

“Well, aren’t you going to get her up?” she demanded .

“Could you do it, sweetheart? I’m cooking dinner for my other (real) children,” I said, careful to swallow the word “real” so as not to upset her (see below).

“She’s your baby!” she replied, her finger no doubt poised over the speed dial button for the Department of Health and Services.

“She’s not a baby, she’s a doll!” Mr Justice suddenly weighed in from nowhere.

“NO! SHE’S NOT A DOLL. SHE’S MY SISTTTTTEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” The Pixie wailed, running from the room with her fist held dramatically to her mouth.

We have had many variations on this conversation over the past couple of months, inevitably ending in The Pixie’s tears.

For example:

PIXIE: How many people in our family?

NDM: (distracted) Five…

PIXIE: No! There’s six! You forgot Abby!

MR JUSTICE: Yes, [Pixie] there are six in our family. Five people and one stupid doll.

PIXIE: SHE’S NOT A DOLL! SHE’S MY SISSSSTTTERRRRRRRRRRR!

Or:

PIXIE: Abby’s enjoying her water soup, Mummy!

NDM: (distracted) That’s nice, dear.

MR JUSTICE: Water soup isn’t soup, it’s just water and Abby can’t even swallow it because she’s a doll.

PIXIE: SHE’S NOT A DOLL! SHE’S MY SISSSSTTTERRRRRRRRRRR!

And even:

PIXIE: Abby!

MR JUSTICE: Doll!

PIXIE: SISSSSSTTTTTTTTTTERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

But I have to hand it to The Pixie. She’s obviously spending a lot of time wondering how she can argue against Mr Justice’s claims that Abby is “just a doll”.

“Human beings aren’t real,” she announced in the car the other day. “We are all dolls.”

Mr Justice didn’t even pause for breath with his rebuttal. “Well, [Pixie], since you are always telling us Abby is not a doll, you’re only proving that she is not One Of Us.”

“You’re a doll! YOU’RE! A! DOLL!” The Pixie screamed back at him.

Although technically correct, Mr Justice should probably be careful at this point. His sister may well end up like Joy from Psychoville or Abby is going to go all Bride of Chucky. Either way, it’s not going to end well.

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I first kissed a boy playing spin the bottle at a party when I was nine years old. The boy who I kissed (rather chastely, lips firmly closed) was in his first year of highschool and later told his sister that I was a “really good kisser”. 

I have always remembered that and, from time to time, have thought about putting it on my CV, along with “neatest handwriting ever”, “knows how to work a buffet” and “I can touch my nose with my tongue!”. (That last one was actually on my CV in 1995 and landed me my first admin job. Fact.)

The Pixie is obviously a little more advanced than her mother and has already been spotted kissing various boys at school – as reported by the mothers of the various boys and by The Pixie herself. For example:

ME: What did you do today at school?

PIXIE: (enthusiastically) I kissed [Master J]!

Mr Justice was outraged when he first heard. 

“YOU CAN’T DO THAT, [PIXIE]!!!!” he shouted. “IT’S AGAINST SCHOOL RULES!! A teacher told my class in prep that there was STRICTLY NO KISSING AT SCHOOL!!!!!”

The Pixie just laughed (“hee-hee-hee!”) and skipped off. 

The next day, after school, Mr Justice pulled me aside. 

“Today at recess, [Master X] came and gave me some information,” he said. “Some very interesting information, indeed. He said he’d seen The Pixie kissing Master J in the playground again!”

He waited for my shocked reaction. 

“Oh,” I said, eventually. 

“Exactly!” he replied. “So me and some of the lads formed a group. Our mission was to stop Pixie kissing boys! We went and told the teacher but her friends hid her from the teacher. We’re going to have to work really hard tomorrow to stop all this kissing stuff.”

Yes, way to go for a) escalating a conflict and b) showing an unhealthy interest in your sister’s love life, Mr Justice. 

I went and had a heart-to-heart with The Pixie. “Mr Justice tells me that you’ve been doing more kissing at school.”

“Yes!” the Pixie said proudly.

“Well, I’m told there’s a rule about no kissing at school. Kissing is fine to do at home. But maybe… maybe you should just stick to hugging at school…” I said, not wanting to quash her loving nature but also not wanting Mr Justice and his Special Ops Squad to turn the whole thing into a CHOOSE-YOUR-SIDE BATTLE-TO-THE-DEATH-WITH-ULTIMATE-LIGHT-SABERS AUTOBOT-VERSUS-BATTLE-BRAWLING-POKEMON POWERBALL-type battle Every. Single. Lunchtime. 

“Okay!” she said, brightly. “No more kissing at school! I’ll hug everyone instead!”

And she threw herself, naked, against me. “Like this!”

Uh, okay.

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You can imagine my initial panic when Mr Justice lost his first tooth and promptly swallowed it along with a mouthful of dinner. I had this sudden vision of the kind of retrieval process I’d have to undertake to get the tooth back and thus was extremely quick to persuade him that the gap in his mouth was all the supporting evidence the Tooth Fairy needed for his compensation claim. 

That night, my three children banded together to submit that claim to the Tooth Fairy – in the form of a elaborate offering including food, drink and a hand-woven blanket made of grass. Mr Justice even carefully wrote a letter using the Official Fairy Alphabet, as laid out in “The Big Book About Fairies”, which made me secretly smile because it made the word “this” looked like “pis”. Gotta love the Official Fairy Alphabet. 

Anyway, this was a Big Moment in my seven year-old’s life – especially since it had already been many months since he had been proclaimed the only kid in his class yet to lose a tooth. 

“I am so very proud of myself,” Mr Justice said to me, all happy-gappy grins, as I tucked him in that night. He then added: “This is better than wonderful!” And then: “I can’t wait to get that twenty bucks.”

Twenty bucks? It was my second flash of panic that evening. Was that really the going rate for babyteeth these days? Why, that’s 20 teeth x $20 x 3 kids… a whopping $1200 in Tooth Fairy fees and, indeed, the kind of pricing structure that my oral surgeon would be proud to call his own. Zoinks!

I quickly jumped onto twitter, where I was relieved to find out that most people were paying out a more modest $2 per tooth. But how to get Mr Justice to readjust his rather unrealistic expectations?

It turns out that his expectations weren’t exactly that unrealistic: one of his best friends had recently received $20 for a single tooth. Which happened to be the same friend who got a Nintendo Wii from Santa the Christmas Mr Justice got a Matchbox car and an orange. Which also happens to be the very reason why I think there should be some kind of Parenting Charter that sets things like maximum spending amounts for Gifts From Santa and caps tooth fairy rates so that you’re never put in a position where you have to explain to your son why it seems The Tooth Fairy likes Johnny Down The Road more than him.

Anyway, the fact of the matter was that Mr Justice was quietly confident the morning would see him $20 richer. Luckily for me and my bank account, however, I remembered that he was still of an age where a handful of coins looks like much more money than a single plastic note. And so, when he woke the next day to find all the Fairy food and drink all gone and his once-empty glass overflowing with five cent pieces, he was satisfied.

“I hid under my sheet and stayed awake until 2 o’clock in the morning!” he told me, his eyes shining brightly, not knowing I’d found him propped up with three pillows and snoring at 10pm. “I even heard the Tooth Fairy drinking the water! She made a lot of noise and drank for a very very long time.” Which was probably just his father “making space” in the fridge. 

And that morning, a wave of fairy-fever washed over all three of my children, who busied themselves making a little house for the fairies who lived in the garden and searched the house for further evidence of fairy visitations in the night. When an empty Milo tin moved across the (wet) kitchen table, pushed by forces unseen, Mr Justice was beside himself with excitement.

“I can’t wait to tell the lads at school!” he exclaimed. And I thought to myself how I hoped the light in his eyes never went out.

And then I thought: how precious and fleeting these Tooth Fairy and Santa years are.

And then I thought: I should definitely draw up that Parenting Charter before a) the next tooth falls and b) Mr Justice begins to comprehend the buying power of the Australian dollar compared to that of the Australian five cent coin. Yes, definitely. 

DSC02056

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Yesterday morning I sent Some Guy In Paris the following message:

At the risk of sounding like your mother: “Ring your mother. It’s Mother’s Day”. Although, if I was *really* going to sound like your mother, I’d have to say “Ring me. It’s Mother’s Day”. But then I’d have to add that you don’t actually have to ring me [the NDM] but your actual mum. BECAUSE IT’S MOTHER’S DAY.

What some people might regard as out-and-out harassment, I consider to be a gentle nudge of sorts. Having spent years living “abroad” (darling), where Mothers Day was celebrated on a different date from Australia or, worse still, not celebrated at all, I often missed it altogether. A reminder, like the one I gave Some Guy Living In Paris, would have been much appreciated, if just a teensy weensy bit annoying.  

Now that my children are “in the system”, I’m on Cruise Control. I’ve got the teachers priming my children and weeks of the furtive whispering of “Plans” (always done in that Stage Whisper-kind of way where you could hear from the back of His Majesty’s) and the not-very-successful concealment of large packages behind the back to remind me that Mother’s Day is indeed a-comin’.  

In fact, last week Mr Justice just came out and asked me directly for money to buy something at the school’s Mother’s Day Stall. I decided to overlook any etiquette issues inherent in asking for money to buy a gift for the person you’re asking money from and gave him $5. 

“Oh, $2 is enough,” he replied. 

“Why don’t you take $5 just in case $2 is not enough,” I said, hopefully. 

“Oh, no it’s okay. I saw something for $2 that I want to buy you,” he insisted. But I put $5 in his school bag “just in case”.

Cut to: Mother’s Day when I open a lavender-scented candle set, which he handed to me, explaining how he’d wanted to – but been unable to – buy a “special super-strong light so you can still read a book when there is a power cut!!”, which might just well be an angle the makers of the Itty Bitty Book Light might like to explore with their marketing plan. 

My husband gave the candle pride of place in the bedroom until I pointed out it was an anti-aphrodisiac. At which point he swiftly snuffed it out and spirited it away to take pride of place in the toilet. 

In any case, Mr Justice had planned Mother’s Day very carefully – his schedule of events, which I found carefully hidden in one of my recipe books, read:

schedule

Translation:
1. Cake 2.00PM
2. Song: Happy Mother’s Day to you! 7:00AM
3. Flowers 7.01AM
4. Realax 5:30PM
5. Roast Dinner 5.40PM
6. Card 7.01PM

I don’t know about anyone else but I particularly like the fact that there is a whole 10 minutes allocated for “realax” before the roast dinner is served. Considering how much time I usually get for relaxing it was at least realistic. 

As it turned out, not much went to schedule on the day itself. The three children did sing “Happy Mother’s Day to you…” but neither the cake nor the flowers transpired and the “roast dinner” got downgraded to a barbeque. However, I managed to milk that relaxation period for more than ten minutes, I can tell you. 

In my humble opinion, it would seem that the whole point of “Mothering Sunday” (as it is known in some parts of the world) is to do as little mothering as you can get away with. And for one day of the year, I think that is entirely acceptable. But perhaps not to the point you find yourself drunk at 7:30PM at night, on twitter, gibbering about dead cats. But that’s a story for another day.

To all the Mothers Of The World who are doing a sometimes difficult, often underrated and always important job: hope you all got a chance to sit back, “realax” and be spoilt. Happy Mother’s Day. 

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Somehow, from the word ‘versus’, Mr Justice has created his own verb which is “to verse” someone or something. For example, the Autobots versed the Deceptacons on the planet Cybertron – or The Pixie versed T. McGee over the last remaining cupcake. You know it makes sense. And I kind of like it because it suggests a great big sing-a-long where each side takes turns serenading each other, or at the very least reciting long tracts of poetry. 

And so I almost understood what Mr Justice meant when he solemnly informed me that The Cats were going to verse Geelong next weekend. Of course, any AFL fan worth their salt would know The Cats and Geelong are one and the same team. And – while they were showcasing their knowledge of the Great Game – that same AFL fan might have also spared me much confusion by explaining why Gary Ablett is not only *still* playing for Geelong but looks younger than the last time I paid attention circa 1996. (The answer, apparently, is that the current Gary Ablett is in fact Gary Ablett Junior. But someone somewhere chose to drop the “Jr” just to keep people like me in the dark). 

In any case, Mr Justice didn’t need the salted AFL fan to point out his faux pas, because he immediately corrected himself, and, with a small laugh, pointed out to me that if The Cats did actually verse Geelong, neither side could win and they would, in fact, be kicking the ball to themselves. I like this kid’s way of thinking. 

Since Mr Justice is the only member of the household who has any knowledge of the Great Game, I asked him to explain it to me. He thought carefully for a moment and then declared “AFL is like Aussie Rules, except it has badges and colours.”

I suggested that that they might actually be the same thing.

“They *are* the same thing,” he replied. “Except that AFL has badges and colours”.

Perhaps he is making the distinction between the game itself and the over-commercialised and over-hyped competition that seems to occupy our televisions for a good chunk of the year? But then again perhaps he is just as confused as the rest of the household and is just putting on a brave face.

Of course the bigger picture here is that we live in a country that seems to define itself by its sporting successes and I, personally, couldn’t give a flying proverbial about sport. Sure, I enjoy a cooling glass of Pimms during Wimbeldon, a champagne (or four) on Melbourne Cup day, maybe an ice cold beer at the cricket… erm, is a theme emerging here? But, as un-Australian as it may seem, I just don’t care about the sport itself. Perhaps it is because I chose to pursue a Life of the Mind. Or maybe it’s just because I was totally un-co as a child. 

In any case, is it fair that my – and indeed my husband’s – indifference to sport should put our children at a social disadvantage? My husband recently watched – with barely-disguised horror – as Mr Justice tried to kick a footy in front of his peers. The next day he went straight out and bought an oval-shaped ball and – no doubt after googling instructions – he promptly gave Mr Justice a lesson or two on how to properly kick and pass it.

But Mr Justice is a smart boy and he can look after himself. He took matters into his own hands by bestowing his previously teamless dad an Official AFL Team for Father’s Day. He did this by spending two bucks on a Demons mug’n’socks combo from the school’s Father’s Day Stall. Of course, neither my husband or I knew who the Demons were so Mr Justice cheerfully went off and did some research. He came back to inform us that they were right at the very bottom of the AFL ladder with only 12 points (in stark comparison to the leaders’ 84 points). Which goes some way in explaining why they were off-loading merchandise at a primary school stall.

“Twelve points!” enthused Mr Justice in that tone of voice that echoed my own effusive praise when given a birthday present made entirely of empty toilet rolls and patty pans. “Your team’s trying really hard, Daddy!”.

Go, you good thing, go!

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