Archive for September, 2008

For reasons known only to me and my lawyer, yesterday I decided to switch off my mobile phone and to leave it unattended in the children’s room. And lo, within minutes, the phone had been spirited away by small hands, perhaps ne’er to see the light of day again. 

I asked The Pixie if she knew where it was.

“No, mama.” was her immediate answer. 

I decided to phrase the question another way. Often my children are like those mystics on the mountain who will give you the answer to the meaning of Life if only you ask the right question. 

“Pixie, have you seen my phone?”

“Oh, yes. I put it under my pillow.” Bingo!

However, an exhaustive search of her pillow and surrounding areas unearthed nothing except a plastic saw and some lego people body parts. I decided to try again. 

“Pixie, did you put it anywhere else?”

“Yes, I put it where my socks go,” she replied. And then added, somewhat cryptically: “Not my clean socks. But my dirty socks.”

Which means it could be just about anywhere. First, I tried those places I’ve repeatedly (and somewhat optimistically) asked my children to put their dirty socks: laundry baskets, washing machine, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor next to daddy’s side of the bed, etc – and then, somewhat disheartened, moved on to places such as my handbag, the oven, down the side of the sofa, inside the “Mary Poppins” video case… No luck!

I then enlisted the help of T. McGee and The Pixie in my search, by promising a piece of chocolate to the first person to find the phone. My children are never more enthusiastic than when fueled by the promise of chocolate. One by one, I was brought a whole series of phone-related treasures: a toy Spiderman mobile, a book called “Telephone Ted”, a Bob the Builder walkie talkie handset, and the handbook to the missing phone, which I had looked high and low for a few months ago. But still no mobile phone. 

I finally decided to interrupt Mr Justice’s concentrated drawing by asking him if he knew where the phone was – which just shows how desperate I must have been getting. As any mother of a six year old during school holidays can tell you, if they’re engaged in any activity for any amount of time – even if it involves the minor destruction of property – the ironclad rule is DO NOT DISTURB THEM just in case they remember how bored they are. 

“Oh, yeah.” he said. “I found it on my bed yesterday.”

“Please tell me you put it somewhere safe”, I said, somewhat hopefully.

“Ummm… I put it on The Pixie’s bed.”

Which is probably when she put the phone under her pillow and its whole Magical Mystery Tour of the house started.

“I’m bored,” added Mr Justice. 

At this point, I began to to feel the kind of murderous rage I haven’t felt since I last listened to the Teletubbies “Hat” song (a sample of the lyrics: “hat, hat hat hat, hat, hat hat hat, hat, hat hat hat, hat. Hat!”. Shit, I feel angry just writing about it…). When the kids find an old grape with fur growing on it or pull a particularly huge booger out of their noses, they are mindful of bringing them straight to me. But if they find mummy’s precious $500 phone, they put it… where???? It. Just. Isn’t. Fair. 

And so my phone is still missing in action. It’s been over 24 hours now and finding it is looking as hopeful as the global economy’s been looking recently. Which pretty much means I’ll have to sit out the ensuing recession without being able to text a single person. Now *that’s* depressing.

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The other day The Pixie chucked a huge wobbly because I wouldn’t let her wear my birthing tiara (which, in itself, is another story).

“You’re not the boss!” she shouted at me, in that Reichstag-storming voice again. “Girls aren’t the boss! Boys are the boss! Daddy’s the boss!!”

I was shocked. Surely, I *was* the boss and my daughter, of all people, should recognise me as such. Luckily, Mr Justice weighed in on my side. 

“Mummy *is* the boss,” he told her. “Just as much as Daddy is.” (Okay, so he was almost on my side.)

But this just incited The Pixie even further. “You’re a toy!”, she shouted, pointing at me in a J’accuse manner. “I’m a toy!! All girls are toys!!!”

And with that, she ran off sobbing to her room and slammed the door. 

Okay, so she’s been a bit Tired and Emotional following her trip to the dentist (see “Thumb Kind of Trouble“), but to call me a “toy” in this enlightened age where, yes, I may be trapped in domestic servitude but, like Panadol, “it’s my choice”…  Is she pointing out that the fight for women’s rights is far from over? Or is she just wanting to demote me from Boss of the House because I wouldn’t lend her my plastic tiara? It’s a hard call to make. 

In writing about this particular episode, I can’t help but make comparisons with Germaine Greer, another eminent feminist of a different generation, who – like The Pixie – has anger-management issues and is prone to baffling outbursts. 

Ms. Greer was recently here in her native Australia to give the keynote address at a Writers Festival. According to a friend, who was at a small gathering to which the Mighty Greer spoke, she angrily berated the organisers of the Festival for not knowing what a keynote address actually was. Because if they *had* known, they wouldn’t have asked her to give one at the start of a writers festival – they would have asked her to give an “opening address” (or some other such thing) instead. And boy, was she pissed off about that. It was therefore only fitting that her keynote address ended up being called “On Rage”.

Personally, had I been at that small gathering, I would have swooped up to the podium (assuming there was a podium and it was a room large enough for me to swoop in), taken her by the hand and then placed her firmly on the Thinking Spot. 

“Germaine, sweetheart,” I would have then said to her, once she’d served her 69 minutes (one for every year of her life) and had apologised to the room. “There are plenty of real battles out there for the fighting and the definition of a keynote address is just not one them.”

Keynote address or birthing tiara – honestly! Sometimes feminism’s worst enemy is the feminists themselves.

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The things we do for our children. My husband, who has never watched an entire AFL match in his life (see “This Non-Sporting Life“), tried to sit down with his son to watch the Grand Final. When the siren blew after the first half hour, he was excited. “We’re halfway there!”, he exclaimed, pouring himself another fortifying beer. I pointed out that it was only the first quarter and I think, if the television wasn’t up so loud, I would have actually been able to hear his spirit officially break. 

If it weren’t for my uncharitable remarks during the ad for Erectile Dysfunction (“Those ad sellers certainly know their audience!”), he might have gone on to lay slumped in a drunken stupor for the remainder of the game. Instead, he slunk off at the first opportunity with his tankard of beer to get the BBQ ready, where he conveniently busied himself for the rest of the afternoon (“Sorry, son. These sausages aren’t going to cook themselves…”).

Soon thereafter, when I wandered off to get the salads ready, Mr Justice complained. I promptly gave him a bowl of Smith’s finest to keep that complainin’ mouth busy – but knew, in my heart of hearts, that I couldn’t just stuff him with junk food for the next few hours. He’d fill up at one point or another. 

Luckily our fellow non-AFL abiding friends turned up shortly afterwards to help us ignore the football. Touchingly, KC (not affilliated with the Sunshine Band) had tried to get into the spirit of things by making Hawthorn-themed cupcakes. This put Mr Justice’s nose a little out of joint – after all, he’d declared the house a Geelong zone by putting up his own home-made “Go Cats!” sign on the front door. KC tried to explain that yellow and brown were the only colours she’d had in the house, but the damage had been done. The adults were banished outside to chat amongst themselves, while Mr Justice stayed in to barrack for his precious team alone. 

And so the afternoon progressed pleasantly, with much food, wine and conversation. Mr Justice ran out periodically giving us enthusiastic updates such as “Geelong is catching up!”, “Hawthorns [sic] are getting lots of points!”, “I’ve made a poem: ‘They’re strong! They are Geelong!'” and, almost ecstatically, “One of the Hawks has been injured!!!”. 

Out of maternal love, I went in to watch the final four minutes with him – even if it was just to see how many ads Channel Seven could shoehorn into the breaks between play (The answer? An unsurprisingly large amount). As that final siren blew and I turned to Mr Justice to commiserate, I saw tears welling up in his eyes. Gee, he’s really feeling Geelong’s defeat deeply, I thought to myself. But, as it turned out, it was only because Tiddles McGee had just bopped him a good one on the head with a hard plastic light saber and, after a quick recovery, he was off to play on the computer. 

Our BBQ continued without any of the adults really making any reference to the result. KC and my husband talked world politics and the global economy (la-di-dah!) and MM and I went back to chatting aboutthe wonderful world of blogging. Only Uncle B went and kicked the rubber footy around with the little kids for a bit. After all, as the only Victorian-born adult amongst us, his indifference to AFL must make him a little like a lapsed Catholic and so he had to pay some form of penance. In any case, I think we all enjoyed our virtually football-free Grand Final BBQ immensely.  

As for Mr Justice… As I put him to bed that night, he asked with wide eyes: “Mummy, which team do you think tried the hardest?”. It was definitely Geelong, darling. “Good”, he said, satisfied. “I think I’ll go for Geelong again next year.” They’re strong, they are Geelong, indeed.

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