Archive for March, 2010

Once upon a time, I caught my husband laughing at his own joke and, when I questioned him about it, he said he was thinking of wearing a fez to breakfast. This became the centrepiece of a post called “A Husband By Any Other Name” and subsequently resulted in my mother making my husband his very own fez, which he sometimes wears to breakfast. So that worked out nicely for everyone.

So it was only natural that my mother’s next project, after reading my post “What a W***er“, was to find me a black wool beret – you know, the type to be worn by other Creative Types, such as Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and, er, Frank Spencer.

After much searching, she finally found and purchased one last Sunday while we were all out at a countryside market. I immediately put it on and came over all writerly.

“Hussshhhh,” I said to my husband when he tried to explain to me how he’d arranged with my mother to meet us a particular place in half an hour’s time. “My mind is a maelstrom of metaphor and I’m going to start onomatopoeia-ing any moment now. Please don’t bother me with your jibber jabber.”

Next thing I knew, I found myself totally lost in the markets, looking for my mummy, with my fly completely undone and my beret askew. True story.

I thought that might have been the end of it. But then the very next day, my children had a series of wardrobe disasters that I can only ascribe to the Beret Effect.

I accidentally gave Tiddles McGee a pair of his brother’s underpants to wear, which (along with other things) swum loosely around in his trousers.

The Pixie, who had dressed herself in the morning, wore her skorts back to front all day, resulting in a hospital gown effect where the skirt bit looked as if it could flap open at any moment and reveal her naked bum.

And Mr Justice confessed he’d put his school jacket on upside down and got himself “all confused” because his pockets weren’t where he expected them to be.

Yes, by accepting and wearing that beret, I had definitely turned my children into Writer’s Children.

Anyway, on our way out of the school that afternoon, I saw the Mild-Mannered Lawyer’s son in the distance, wandering around the school grounds by himself. My first reaction was pure joy because I finally remembered why I’d walked around all weekend with the words “Green Stockings” written on the back of my hand (I was supposed to give the MML a pair for an Incredible Hulk costume, of course!). My second reaction, however, was concern.

The children and I followed him into the school office where we found him reporting his mother to the staff as Missing In Action. I boldly intervened.

“Excuse me, [Master MML] but isn’t today a Monday?” I interrupted. “Doesn’t your mum work on a Monday? Aren’t you supposed to be at afterschool care?”

Master MML looked at me with some confusion. And no, I wasn’t wearing my beret at the time.

A quick call to his mother from my mobile established that Master MML indeed should have been going to afterschool care and the school office allowed me to take him to the appropriate meeting point, despite my strangely dressed children and General Writerly Air.

Apparently the MML later made a follow-up phone call to the school to complain about her five year old son being left to wander aimlessly around the school. And though she didn’t mention it to me, I expect she added the words “especially in the company of Writers”. Honestly, I don’t blame her. If I were her, I wouldn’t want my child to fall prey to the Beret Effect, especially if green stockings were potentially involved.

I’d detail more but right now I’ve got to go sit at a streetside cafe with my beret on and gaze meaningfully into the middle distance… with my tshirt inside out and my shoes on the wrong feet, no doubt.

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I’ve heard tell of buddy systems in place linking first time parents with more experienced parents. I kinda wish I’d been teamed up with a buddy when Mr Justice was first born, except I suspect my buddy would have said stuff like “Oh, quit your bitching. Your kid isn’t even eating meat yet. You have no freaking idea how bad poo can get!” or “You think one child waking up at night is bad? Try three taking turns waiting. With vomit and diarrhea. Then tell me you’re exhausted”. And yes, okay, that’s just what I would have told myself. Had I known. Had I known.

When Mr Justice was in his first year of school, he was given a buddy.

“What’s his name?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Mr Justice answered.

“What does he looks like?” I asked.

“Um, he was wearing a green hat…” Which, since it was part of the school uniform, only eliminated the teaching staff and the lollipop lady. Needless to say, we never heard of Mr Justice’s buddy again.

The Pixie, in stark contrast, has been working the school’s buddy system to her advantage.

Her “boyfriend” Master J (and yes, I had to put “boyfriend” in inverted commas just then to stop myself from immediately throwing her over my shoulder and running to the nearest convent. I mean, what kind of a five year old already has a boyfriend?) has been spreading his wings a bit in the playground and “playing with other kids”. It appears he thinks they have “that kind of relationship”.

According to The Pixie’s teacher, the Pixie was very upset one day during the class’s post-lunchtime “catch-up”.

“My…my… my boyfriend didn’t want to play with me at lunch time!” she apparently blurted out to the class. She was about to break down and sob uncontrollably but somehow managed to break through the Tear Barrier with her usual Polyanna-style optimism. “But… but.. I said ‘I don’t care! I’ll play with… with… MY BUDDY instead’!”

I was very proud of my little girl and just a bit envious that I’d never had access to personal resources such as hers – particularly when I was 25 and had been “seeing” a boy for six months when I realised his ex-girlfriend was actually still his current and, indeed, live-in girlfriend. Which, now I think about it, explained a lot of his strange behaviour such as having to leave my house at two o’clock in the morning because he had to go home “to do the dishes”. And yes, I really do think I sat for six months with my hands over my ears going “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!” to have missed all that.

ANYWAY, I asked The Pixie recently if she still played with her buddy. She said that her buddy’s friend [S] didn’t want The Pixie to play with them. She seemed surprisingly cheerful about it because, as it turns out, she’d already come up with a strategy.

“I’m going to invite My Buddy to one of my five birthday parties. And I’ll invite [S] too. I think, perhaps, she will really like Mr Justice,” she said, before adding with greater conviction: “Yes, she really will like Mr Justice. And she’ll want to play with him. And then I’ll be able to play with My Buddy!”

As impressed as I was with her strategy, I had to get her to rewind a little to find out about these so-called “five birthday parties”. I mean, who did she think she was? The Queen of England??

“Oh, I’m having one party for my family, one party for my class. Then one for my friends, one for mother’s group and then a special morning tea. That makes five!” was her chirpy reply.

It would seem I have a lot to learn from my little girl about love, relationships and the planning of birthday celebrations. Why, for my fortieth, I’m now thinking of having a party for my friends and family at home, a two-day opium den party in Shanghai, a three month cruise through the Bahamas and a party on the Moon by way of Sir Richard Branson’s planned Virgin Spaceship Airliner… Yes, that should about do it.

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I’m one of ‘Those Parents’. You know, the ones that waste valuable tax payers’ money by signing their children up for a state government reading initiative and then losing all the paperwork so that the kids are unable to log on to the relevant government website.

Mr Justice tried to help me by claiming he remembered his password.

“It’s 14!” he exclaimed and then provided me with a long convoluted explanation for his reasoning, involving someone else in his class’s password was “12-something” and how he was “next” and how things were “going up in twos”. You know, just generally using seven year old logic to explain something he thought he might have maybe remembered.

After the kids went to bed,  I tried to see if “14” really was his password. It was a long shot, but I was willing to do anything to avoid having to present myself to a deeply forbidding-looking School Librarian as “An Irresponsible Mother” and get spanked for it – although I daresay it’s the kind of thing my bookish husband fantasises about all the time.

My husband, in the meantime, was watching some random cop show on the ABC, oblivious to the fact his wife was trying to hack into a government website. After about fifteen attempts, however, I had to give up in fear that the Feds would burst through our front door and wake up the kids. I could just see the ensuing headlines in the local tabloid: “Children Woken Up Because Irresponsible Mother Lost Password” or even “Husband Asks To ‘Just Watch’ As Feds Spank Wife”.

And so I returned to blogging and general piss-farting about on the computer, whilst keeping half an eye on the TV.

After one particular scene in the cop show where the plot took yet another turn, I felt compelled to speak out: “That’s rubbish! There’s no way Ewan was involved in the robbery. It was Eddie.”

“Who’s Ewan?” my husband asked.

“Eddie’s son.”


“Who’s Eddie?”

“Uh, only the policeman who was shot and the one Caroline Quentin’s character is giving the eulogy for. And please don’t ask me which one Caroline Quentin is.”

“Oh, you’re the type to pay attention to the plot,” my husband said waving his hand dismissively. “For me, it’s all just colour and movement.”

“Yes, I pay attention to the plot while blogging, catching up on emails AND hacking into government websites,” I commented. My husband just snorted and went back to his colour and movement, interspersed with the colour and movement of the shiraz swilling in his glass.

And I thought of other times where the “colour and movement” rule might apply to my husband’s life – for example, when the children start vomiting in the night and he sleeps through the whole thing. Or whenever  he picks up his guitar and starts strumming, completely oblivious to fact the kids have taken off all their clothes and are dancing naked around him and either holding sharp scissors in their hands or trying to see how many marbles they can fit in their mouths.

ANYWAY, after the TV show finished (and I had explained the ending to my husband), we both watched an ad for that Griff Rhys Jones show where he goes places on boats along famous rivers called something like “Rhys Jones Goes Places On Boats Along Famous Rivers”.

“What’s with aging comedians and travel shows?” I remarked.

“What was that comedy show he was in? Was it ‘Alas Smith and Jones’?” my husband asked.

“No, it was ‘Alias Smith and Jones’,” I replied.

“Are you sure?”

“Well, let’s just say if there was someone else in this room who’d watched that last police show with us, whose word do you think they’d take?” I was feeling quite smug by this point.

Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t going to let it rest. He got me to look it up on imdb.com where I discovered it was “Alas Smith and Jones”. Although, in my defence, it was on obvious play on the name of  a much earlier American show that was called  “Alias Smith and Jones”.

“You may be right on the surface, sure,” I said to my husband. “You know, where all that colour and movement is along with trifling things like passwords and paperwork… But it’s like there’s the truth and then there’s deeper than the truth… And that’s where you’ll find me, my friend. That’s where I hang.”

You know, using thirty-nine year old logic and all… Now, quick! Some help me use that logic to explain to the School Librarian how I lost that stupid paperwork in the first place.

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