Archive for April, 2009

It may or may not have come to your attention that my Late Pass Counter has not risen past 004 for a couple of months now. Some might think that finally the NDM has learnt to respect School Policy and is putting in 110% effort to be punctual, which is mathematically impossible, but whatever.

Others might harbour sneaking suspicions that the NDM is not reformed at all, but rather too embarrassed to return to the school office and thus the scene of her public meltdown (see “Sorry, It’s School Policy“).

Whatever the reason, just yesterday I found myself screaming “RUN! RUN! RUN!!!!” at my kids as we all sprinted, with me still in my ugg boots and with my hair distinctly uncombed, from the car to the school gates.

Now, one could argue that if wasn’t for the Late Pass Policy, we would have been walking in a calm, genial fashion, all holding hands, perhaps even singing a little ditty about going to school. Any casual passerby might have exclaimed “What a lovely school!” instead of “Eeeshhhh, that parent is clearly unwashed and unhinged!” before concluding “I’m not sending my child there and/or I’m not approving their grant for funding and/or I’m calling ‘Today Tonight’ to report a sighting of a bona fide ‘Suburban Menace’.”

Those same people may or may not have had similar negative feelings about seeing me and my children parked outside the school 30 minutes before the morning bell, eating our breakfast and listening to Razorlight at full volume. It was raining, okay? And I didn’t want to miss out on a parking spot again, alright?

Still, whatever way you look at it, we have had an unprecedented run of punctuality and I have the support of the community to partially thank for it. 

One dad, who we shall call “Mister A”, often meets me on his way back from the school run, while I’m still on my way. One morning, he kindly offered me a”Late Tip” that went something like “Wear headphones so you don’t stop to engage in conversation with Every Single Parent you see on your journey” which of course ignored the fact I had stopped to talk to him. He then signed off with a cheery “Same time, same place tomorrow, for another Late Tip!” and disappeared off into the distance, riding his six year old’s scooter.

The following day, I saw his wife on her return journey, and she told me that Mister A was thinking of standing on their street corner and issuing late passes of his own – to me, only me. “Well, he promised me a daily Late Tip service and he’s late!” was my retort. In truth, I had been interested to hear the next tip in the series, especially since some early experimentation wearing headphones while pushing the pram had almost resulted in me garrotting myself. 

Interestingly enough, in the school newsletter yesterday, Brett (the principal) expressed “safety concerns” because of the large number of parents double parking to let their children alight in the middle of the road. Ironically, Brett says that for those parents “being late for work is not an acceptable excuse” for such behaviour.

But what about “avoiding a late pass”, Brett? Let’s face facts: I have run screaming at my kids like a crazy bitch in public, eaten my cereal in the Tarago parked outside the school like some kind of breakfast-eating stalker, and dabbled with self-strangulation by ipod. All to avoid a late pass. 

At what price punctuality, Brett? At. What. Price.

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Stupid thumb. Always in the wrong place when I’m finely chopping ginger. Luckily the thumbnail took the bullet. Didn’t need it anyway. Except that now my thumb is more sensitive than an NDM 36 hours before her period starts and putting on a bandaid apparently requires two fully-operational thumbs and, even once I’ve finally managed to just get it on using my teeth, the bandaid turns out to be no damn substitute for an actual nail. Stupid thumb. Stupid thumbnail. Stupid supersensitive skin under thumbnail. Stupid NDM.

Stupid smoke alarm. Every time I start to fry something on the stove, it goes off. Then I have to run around flinging open doors and windows and searching for the broom so I can stand underneath it, fanning it like it’s some Roman emperor, while my dinner starts to actually burn on the stove top. If the smoke alarm is so damn smart, the least it could do is predict next Saturday’s lotto numbers rather than just the fact that we’ll be eating charcoal again tonight. Stupid self-fulfilling prophetic smoke alarm.

Stupid underwire bras. After seven years of wearing maternity and nursing bras, I finally bought one with a bit of scaffolding-support in the hope it would turn my southbound migrants into something a little more Dolly Parton-esque – but without the wig or the freak-show face. And then, after only a few months, the underwire staged a jail-break and I’m back to wireless. And then I read that a woman’s life was saved because a bullet deflected off the underwire of her bra and I started worrying that someone’s sabotaged my bra on purpose because they Want To Kill Me for doing something simple like setting off the smoke alarm again when the News is On. Stupid murderous husband.

Stupid cat. Who will never eat the actual cat food I put out for him but will regularly jump up on the kitchen table to feast upon peanut butter toast and partially-chewed carrot. And then will walk around crying pathetically as if to say “She never feeeeedddssssss me” just in case the Pet Social Welfare Officer happens to drop by. And when they do drop, I’ll probably end up spending four years in a high-security penitentiary because the council will have suddenly announced a zero tolerance policy when it comes to the ill-treatment of animals. And then I’ll have to spend every day writing to the cat from my prison cell, begging him to retract his statement so I can go home to be a Mother To My Children, but my words will go unheeded because the cat can’t read and instead just pisses on the letters because he’s gotten a bladder infection from eating too much peanut butter toast. Stupid incontinent illiterate cat.

Stupid post. Without a proper ending.

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The other day we were all playing a guessing game in the car – you know, the kind of thing you do with the kids to distract them from the fact it’s been five minutes since you last passed them back a biscuit. Five Whole Minutes. Sheesh! A kid could starve to death back there in the Love Bus without even a single milk arrowroot. Apparently.

Anyway, I was describing an armadillo, employing all my finely-honed writerly skills. My potential Pulitzer Prize-winning description went something like this: “I’ve got armour like a knight and I rhyme with ‘pillow’. What am I?” (Like it?).

And the Pixie immediately piped up with “A chicken with love hearts!”

Because of course a chicken has armour and rhymes with pillow, when it comes with love hearts. Those love hearts make all the difference, I find.

Now I love my little girl, but she’s one trippy child, man. When recently asked, as part of one of those facebook “memes”, where her mother liked to go, she responded: “To a party, to the city, to holiday, to sugar.” As my friend JS later pointed out: in her weird way, The Pixie totally summed me up.

And just when we thought we’d heard it all, my Pixie recently revealed herself to be one of the Greatest Minds of her generation, pioneering a new scientific phenomenon known to the world as “Fairy Science”.

Mr Justice was typically scathing, when he heard about it. “Fairy Science doesn’t exist,” he sneered.

“Yes it does,” The Pixie argued back. “You can make a Giant Fairy Wand which makes Magic using Fairy Science.”

“If it’s a giant wand, it will be 100 feet tall and you wouldn’t be able to hold it,” Mr Justice argued back. 

“Then you use Fairy Science to make a Giant Fairy Robot which uses Giant Fairy Robot Batteries and then the Giant Fairy Robot can hold the Giant Wand,” The Pixie replied, as if pointing out the bleeding obvious. Of course you’d do that. You know it makes sense.

There’s apparently been all manner of recent advances in Fairy Science, according to our reputable source. Apparently, if you “make lots of little fairies and press a button to make them go chi-chi-chi“, this makes “fairy snow”. Amazing.

When I asked her who she’d heard about Fairy Science from, she said “Nobody. I thought it all myself.”

That I would believe. This is the little girl who will suddenly announce in the shopping centre “I wish I were an elephant blowing its nose” and, at other times, will shout “Turn off my ears, mum! The wind keeps rushing out of them.”

This is the little girl that I love “mostest” in the world, who snuggles against me each night and covers my face with small, sweet kisses each day.

Keep pioneering, Fairy Scientist. The world needs your magic.

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It’s no secret that I play a lot of online scrabble and often with strangers. Yes, strangers. Go on, ask me about it. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve even got two facebook friends who I have only ever met across a online Scrabble board. In both cases, they evenly matched me as players, took their turns in a timely manner, saw the games through to completion and never once tried to engage me in sordid scrabble sex talk. What’s not to like?

“Now, hang on a minute, NDM,” I can hear Those People asking. “What’s all this about sordid scrabble sex talk?”

Honestly, do I have to explain everything?

Okay, so anyone who has ever done the scrabble thing via facebook may remember the good old days of “Scrabulous” before their makers got made Hasbro’s bitch in a copyright wrangle. 

For those who haven’t and/or don’t, Scrabulous was a popular version of the Scrabble format with a user-friendly interface and an extremely seedy underbelly. If you ever dared venture into the “Join Table” section to peruse the games on offer from other players, it was just a little like putting your carkeys in a bowl at a swinger’s party. Every second game request was from guys specifically requesting games with girls with “big norks” (and other such delightful attributes) or looking for a “XXX good time”.

Now, while I feel Scrabble is a word game with many fine qualities, I could never quite reconcile the desire to use it as a forum for sex chat. And I always wondered (without bothering to find out, mind you) whether there was any expectation for players who accepted those kind of games to put down words like TITTY and SIXTYNINER (which would be quite a high scoring word if you think about it, but that’s the Scrabble nerd in me coming out again). 

Anyway, let’s just say it was an absolute minefield for a Happily-Married-Thank-You-Very-Much Woman with three children whose personal motto was “A Quick Clean Game is a Good Game”. So you can therefore appreciate it that when I found some people who would play quickly and cleanly, I clung to them like a drowning sailor.

Since Scrabulous’ untimely demise, I’ve since found myself occasionally playing the Hasbro-endorsed and heavily trademarked SCRABBLE™ game on the Book of Face.  In stark comparison to the Scrabulous miscreants, the players on SCRABBLE™ are an earnest clean-living lot, especially since there is no capacity to advertise “particulars” when posting a game request. In the SCRABBLE™ world, you are either a Beginner, Casual, Serious or Expert. And this player, ladies and gentleman, is Serious. 

So you can imagine my surprise and horror the other day, when a young man burst into one of my Serious game requests, all chatty and friendly-like. Our conversation went a little like this: 

HIM: Hi! 

ME: Er, hello. 

HIM: How’s life today?

ME: Um, I’m doing the bloody dishes.

By this time he was already losing considerably in the game.

HIM: I can bet you are really worried you’re going to lose this game. 

ME: You might still surprise me with a BINGO.

(For non-Scrabblers, this is a seven-word move that earns you mega-points)

HIM: I like small words that get me no points at all.

ME: Evidently.

HIM: I like people to think, shit, he looks like a smart guy and then be pleasantly surprised by their enormous win.

I went and looked at his profile pic and saw it showed him up close and personal with someone who looked a lot like Paris Hilton – i.e. a blonde man in drag. Yep, real smart. 

ME: Interesting tactic. It must lose you many games. 

HIM: Yes, but I think I win the respect of strangers. And friendship is worth much more than scrabble points.

ME: I am too used to letting my six-year old son win too many UNO games to let any strangers beat me at Scrabble. 

ME: Hello?

ME: Are you going to do your move?

ME: Hello??

Was it something I said? Clearly, it was.

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A lot of people tell me that NCIS is not like other crime shows, that it’s “all about the characters”. And I’m like “Aw c’mon. How many gruesome crimes can possibly committed on boats?”. My mother, one of the show’s advocates, tells me that not all the crimes happen on boats and that naval personnel do bad stuff on land, too. And then I’m all “Whatever!” and think to myself that, if that show is anything to go by, they definitely should introduce more rigorous psychological screening for anyone wanting to join the navy.

I have similar issues with the small town of Midsomer where life-expectancy is far lower than the national average and the aisles of the local Waitrose are chock-full of people laden down with ulterior motives and deep-seated grudges. It’s a wonder new people keep moving into the area to replace the dead ones.

Still, for someone who clearly doesn’t have much time for the crime genre, I have to say that I quite fancy myself as a bit of a crime scene investigator these-a-days. I’ll hear a loud crash in a distant room, followed by the usual satellite-delay cry of one child or another, and I’ll run slow-mo into the crime scene, flashing my badge and shouting “Don’t anyone move! Don’t anybody touch a single god damn thing!”.

Then I’ll quickly survey the scene and ask “What the hell has happened here?”, a question that is usually followed by a flurry of finger-pointing and accusations – unless something is broken, in which case everyone is unusually quiet because they know that, even if they didn’t actually do it, The Shit Is Going To Go Down. And it’s never an easy situation to call because sometimes the child who is crying the loudest was, according to all witnesses, Legitimately Asking For It. But let’s just say when you’ve been in the game as long as I have, you learn to follow your CSI instincts on these things. And I did say “in the game” and not “on the game”, in case you were wondering.

Mr Justice, aged 6, has recently become “a person of interest” in most matters because he is so often setting up his siblings to take the wrap – with mixed results. Recently I discovered someone had done some lovely scribbles on the desk in permanent pen, including Tiddles McGee (aged 2)’s name written in large neat letters. A lesser investigator might have fallen for the trick and declared the case “open and shut”. But not I. Oh, no. Not I.

Before he turned 4, Mr Justice would compulsively tell me the unadulterated truth, even if he knew it would earn him some hard time on the “Thinking Spot”. I used to think I had raised a remarkably honest young man. However, I’ve since read that it’s only because they assume that anything they know or think, you must know or think it also. That although you look like separate people, you’re actually the same. Like the Olsen Twins.

I tell you now, if that were true and I had known everything Mr Justice knew a few years ago, I would have definitely gone on The Einstein Factor with “Autobots v. Deceptacons” as my area of expertise and have won a lot of money.

When I told KT about this she said, “Er, I don’t think ABC Quiz shows are for people looking to actually win money. I think you probably get an ABC show bag at best.”

“You mean with things like a ‘Landline’-branded retractable pencil and a ‘Parliamentary Question Time’ mouse mat?” I remarked, somewhat disappointed. “I mean, who actually uses mouse mats? Who? WHO?

KT said she didn’t know and chose that moment to move away from me. Listen, it’s not my fault I have an enquiring mind and my Quest for Straight Answers puts people off. At least, I console myself, it stands me in good stead for all my crime scene investigative work. Thus far, there has been no crime unsolved – except why a yet-to-be-toilet-trained toddler Justice suddenly found himself with his pants down peeing in an ash tray. But that’s a story for another day.

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COMING SOON: Separate digs for Box Ted at http://boxted.wordpress.com

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The other day I found myself laughing so hard at one of Tiddles McGee’s tantrums in the schoolyard that a passing parent thought I was crying and offered to help. Quickly wiping away my tears, I had to explain that I was merely laughing at my son and gestured over to where he was standing, sobbing his little heart out. 

The minute the words spilled out, I realised that it didn’t Look Good and may possibly somewhat affect my chances of being voted Mother of the Year (but not “Hottest Mommy Blogger” in the Bloggers Choice awards, right? Have you voted yet? Well, have you? And yes, for your information, I did have to slip that in. I mean, c’mon! There has to be more than sixteen people on this planet who think I’m Hot. For one thing, I live in Australia where the climate is considerably warmer than other parts of the world, such as Antartica, for example. Which has a transient population of 5000. Why aren’t they voting? Not to rub it in or anything, but I am way hotter than them and it would be factually incorrect of them not to recognise me as being such. But I digress.)

Anyway, back to the schoolyard tantrum… In my defence, it was the kind of nervous laughter that I very often resort to when caught in an embarrassing situation, which I’m very often in. So it’s not surprising that I give the appearance of being generally quite jovial. 

People therefore are always saying to me: “You’re forever laughing and joking, NDM. Why are you so happy all of the time? What’s your secret? Please tell us, NDM, please please please?”

And I reply, all lightness and air,  “It’s not called happiness, it’s called hysteria. Deal with it.”

The people usually leave me alone after that. 

Now, I was planning to end this post at this point because my husband told me that my posts were too long. But when I showed the above to him, he said “Is that it? Isn’t there any more?” And I reminded him of what he’d advised me. 

“Oh don’t listen to my advice!” he exclaimed.

“But is that advice?” I asked “To not listen to your advice?”

I was worried we were about to get caught in one of those Classic Paradoxical Situations where he’d have to smack me across the face with a stick in order to “help me abandon logic”. (Which, according to my husband, is what zen masters do to their pupils. I’m going on his word now, which, according to him, isn’t worth much and… arghhh. There we are again. Caught in another paradox). 

In any case, what my husband was failing to realise with all this stick-slapping talk was that I had abandoned logic a long time ago. Around the same time that I lost sight of my waistline and lost control of my bladder. Around the same time that I became a parent and became permanently hysterical. No surprises there, then.

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