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Archive for March, 2010

People often say to me “NDM, are you willing and able to substantiate all the events and conversations that appear in your blog?” And, believe it or not, they don’t just ask me this in a court of law. They also ask me when they’re trying to get through my front door with their TV crews. Stupid TV crews.

The truthful answer is “Yes, it’s all true… if just ever-so-slightly exaggerated.” I look upon in like pumping up the bass on the beginning bit of The Breeders’ “Cannonball”: accentuating the groove. I mean, for one thing, I definitely make my husband far funnier than he actually is. Far far funnier.

However, nothing The Pixie says is ever exaggerated. I write down what she says ad verbatum. Man, that kid is trippy.

For example, recently she drew the following picture for her friend Master X.

It was such a very complex picture with so much obviously going on, I asked her to explain it to me.

“Oh,” she said. “This is Master X with his mum and his little sister talking to his teacher at the school. He is thinking that his mother is a monster.”

Master X looks genuinely thrilled his mother is a monster.

 

“And this is Master X’s sister, Baby A, at home in her cot,” The Pixie continued. “Her daddy is looking after her. But he’s put on X’s mother’s clothes so that Baby A doesn’t know her mummy has gone out. See? This is a skirt. And he’s wearing her underwater top, too.”

Is that a closet that Master X's daddy (left) has just climbed out of?

 

(Please note: the jury’s still out on whether “underwater top” means bikini or tshirt favoured for wet tshirt competitions.)

On the other side of the piece of paper, the picture continued.

 

“Now it’s night time. Everybody is in their beds,” The Pixie explained. “Here is Master X dreaming of that monster.”

He has a few things to say to that monster, wouldn't you say, Mr Freud?

 

 

“And this is Baby A dreaming that somebody is stealing her milk.”

 

The identity of the milk thief is unknown but I'm guessing it's Master X's daddy

 

“And here is Master X’s mummy dreaming of marrying somebody else.”

Sweet, sweet dreams...

 

Which begged the question: “Where is Master X’s daddy?

“Oh, he’s already gone off and married someone else,” The Pixie replied, matter-of-factedly. Of course he’s done that. You know it’s true.

When I presented this picture to Master X’s mummy, she took this rather bleak depiction of her family life with the good humour I’ve come to expect from her.

“I feel honoured that we were worth so much texta” was her official response, before rushing home to no doubt check her collection of “underwater tops” hadn’t been stretched too much.

I told my husband about the picture. “Where on earth does she get this stuff?” and then looked at him sideways as if to suggest he might occasionally wear some of my clothing or, from time to time, take on additional wives.

My husband just wryly laughed in a way that suggested I should write him a suitably witty response to make him look far funnier in this blog post than he actually is and not at all guilty of any of those things.

Which I haven’t.

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I don’t lie very often. I’d like to say it’s because I have strong internal moral compass and a keen sense of Right and Wrong. But no, I generally don’t lie because, like a lot of people, I’m worried I’ll get caught.

The other day, Mother of Master L asked me to pass on her apologies at the kindergarten committee meeting. Turns out she’d got free passes to see a film in Gold Class with her husband. (If you don’t know what Gold Class is, some people look upon it as mainstream cinema with comfy seats and alcohol. I personally look upon it as a chance to drink copious amounts of alcohol in an almost fully reclined position in a place where a movie also happens to be playing).

Anyway, in the words of my high school diary: I was shocked! Gold Class instead of the kindergarten committee meeting? Where was Mother of Master L’s sense of community spirit? I, in stark contrast, am always the very embodiment of such spirit when I sit through those meetings, perched on one of the kindergarten chairs, my knees around my ears and my eyes fixed firmly on the Secretary’s watch in an attempt to stay awake. And before you start thinking ill of me (well, more ill of me), it’s not because I don’t care about the kindergarten or its community. I do. Very much. It’s just that I don’t have a head for the details. I’m an ideas person remember! IDEAS! NOT DETAILS! Now, what were we talking about again?

Anyway, when I passed on MoML’s apologies that evening, the President of the Committee noted her absence without question. I was surprised. I thought that you’d need to give a reason to miss a committee meeting such as “I’m really very sick indeed”. Because that’s what I’d probably say if I were skipping off to Gold Class instead of the meeting.

But then, thinking about it, if I did say I was sick, the President of the Kindergarten Committee (a kindly person) would probably swing past my house after the meeting bearing freshly baked goods. And then the door’d be answered by the babysitter and the Chain of Deceit would continue because the babysitter would have to make something up on the spot, like “Sick? Oh, yes, [The NDM] is sick…. in fact SO sick her husband had to her to hospital!! Yeah, she’s sooo in hospital right now”.  And then, when the babysitter grew reluctant to provide any further details, the President of the Kindergarten Committee would be left with no choice but to Assume The Very Worst. And she’d go straight home to do a quick ring around and form an emergency Prayer Circle for me. And then one of the Circle would suggest the group convene in front of my house in an all-night candlelit vigil and, before you know it, word would whip around the neighbourhood and a steady stream of people would be joining them in the power of Front Yard Prayer. And then, in one corner, someone would start a quilting bee to make a patchwork eiderdown to nurse me back to good health, with “OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU, NDM” carefully hand-stitched in the centre by someone’s grandmother with ailing eyesight and arthritic fingers, painstakingly working by candlelight. And then a hat would be past around and people would dig very deep, even into their own personal savings, and a sizeable amount would be raised in a very short time. And somewhere, someone would start singing a rousing hymn and slowly, one by one, everyone would join in, tears streaming down their faces as they thought of how full of life I’d been just that very afternoon.

At which point, my husband and I would arrive home drunk in a taxi, with tell-tale signs of Choc Tops smeared across the front of our shirts.

So no, I don’t tell lies. I don’t “do” Gold Class. In fact, I rarely leave my house at night, except to go to Kindergarten Committee Meetings, of course. After this post, I ain’t missing any of those ever again, that’s for damn sure.

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Children’s activity books should only ever be handled by a responsible adult, who can dole out each activity in measured doses according to their own time, energy and creativity restraints.

Most certainly, such books should never ever fall into the hands of, say, a seven year-old boy who can peruse their contents at will and start getting notions in his head that some of the activities might be “cool” and even “possible”.

Yes, long gone are the days when Mr Justice could only look at the pictures and I could pretend we didn’t have all the things necessary to do it or that the activity was far less exciting than the picture looked and in fact involved eating lots and lots of brussel sprouts.

Now he reads the book and Knows All.  And knowledge, as we all know, can be a dangerous thing.

And so it came to pass that one wet Public Holiday, Mr Justice picked up my “150 TV-Free Activities For Kids!” book and declared the day to be TV-Free. Of course, there was a small part of me that was just a little bit proud, even if the post-throat infection and extremely tired me was thoroughly dismayed. But as a responsible parent, how could I insist that the day very much needed to include television? (And yes, I am a responsible parent. No, really).

You may be wondering how such a book came to sit on my bookshelf in the first place, alongside such classics as “Whalesong For Child Birth” (an emergency c-section put an end to that particular fantasy. Apparently, obstetric surgeons don’t feel empowered by whalesong while they operate. Go figure!) and “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” (the reading of which involved many tears – all mine, when I realised that my child was unlikely to sleep through before he was 18 using the book’s methods).

Well, in answer to your question: I bought the TV-free Activity book when Mr Justice was only three, and The Pixie had just started walking. It was a time in my life when a TV-Free Day seemed not only achievable but desirable. Yes, it was a time before I accepted the television as my Lord and Master and as my only chance to get something (anything!) done without a fully-trained and equipped demolition team standing right by ready to undo the whole damn lot the minute I finished.

Anyway, I guess you’re wanting me to cut to the chase and say whether we made it through the day “TV-Free”.

We did. And it wasn’t too hard. In fact, it was quite easy – all because I did one thing. I sacrificed the house to the Gods of Destruction and surrendered myself entirely to a day of intricate planing for a Teddy Bears’ Picnic the size of Jordan and Peter Andre’s wedding in our loungeroom. Stuffed guests were chosen, invitations were made and issued, menus were drawn up and decorated, cakes were baked, food was lovingly prepared – ALL according to the letter of that goddamn book. Except for one thing, that is. Nobody would let me sing “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” song (as the book cheerfully suggested). Which was disappointing because I know both the words and the tune and had vague plans to record the whole thing and sell it on ebay as music for women to give birth to. You know, to recoup some of my losses for the day.

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The very last place you want to go when you’re feeling really sick is the doctor’s – or rather, the doctor’s waiting room. Because, let’s face it, that’s where you’ll spend the vast majority of your visit, wallowing uncomfortably in a cesspit of germs instead of back at home in your jimmy-jams, all comfy-cozy in your own beddy-bedkins.

And yet, after burning hotter than the sun for over 36 hours and having a throat that felt like I was swallowing Bionicle armoury with every small sip of water, that’s exactly where I found myself: sitting in a doctor’s waiting room for a small eternity.

Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always had this fear I’ll end up sitting next to another waiting patient with a different kind of illness and that somehow our illnesses will morph together into some kind of Super Bug. I mean, that’s what happened with the Avian Bird Flu, right? Someone with a really bad throat infection was sitting next to a chicken with a head cold and BAM! Although, rumour has it that they did a bit more than just “sitting next to each other” but hey, people, let’s not judge them too harshly here! The person and the chicken were really sick and had been waiting far too long in a waiting room which only had issues of ‘That’s Life’ with stories like ‘Oops, I blew myself up!’ and ‘The Baby Making Machines: 2 sisters, 23 kids’ and they weren’t feeling themselves, okay? Although, arguably, they were feeling someone else… and no, I don’t like where this is going any more than you do.

ANYWAY, although I desperately wanted to lie down on the bench, I did my best to sit upright and not to alarm anyone unduly by bursting into flames or screaming (hoarsely) “MY THROAT! MY FUCKING THROAT!”

Luckily, I had a secret weapon on my side. Just before I’d left for the doctor’s, my friend Mrs Black sent me a link to a wonderful YouTube clip of a song called “Trololo!”  to cheer me up. It apparently has been doing the internet rounds in recent weeks but let’s just say it came to me Just At The Right Time.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this clip.  For one thing, it struck me as being a fairly accurate depiction of how I feel on the inside after I’ve managed to get the kids to school just in the nick of time and thus avoid a late pass. Or, if I’m going to be quite honest, how I must have looked from the outside after a few too many absinthe Flirtinis at Mistress M’s recent 40th.

But mostly, I love it because it stuck in my mind the whole afternoon. So there I was, all “Yaaaah yah yah yaaaah….” and “Trololo Lololololololol!” inside my head the entire hour that I had to wait for the doctor. Yes, my head was a very happy place to be, except when I forgot about my throat and made the mistake of swallowing. But, you can mark my words, I was straight back to internal “ho-ho-ho-ho-HOH!”-ing at the first opportunity.

Still, by the time the doctor saw me, I was ready to feel truly validated by having him step back in an OH. DEAR. GOD fashion when he examined my tonsils, like he’d just stumbled upon a giant hatchery where some alien species were using human beings to incubate their eggs. Not sayin’ that’s what was happening back there in my throat – not necessarily – but MAN, IT WAS SORE.

The doctor, however, was disappointingly calm about his discovery. He merely wrote out a script for my “very inflamed throat” as if he was prescribing a band-aid for a paper cut and sent me on my way. And there I was, $95 poorer from the whole experience, possibly the fore-mother of a Super Bug, never the wiser to why somebody was claiming “Oops I blew myself up!”, still with a throat as sore-as-all-fuck… and yet… strolling casually back to the car, arms swinging and with a “Trololo Lololololololol ha-ha-ha-ha-HA!” in my heart.

Thank you, Mrs Black.

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I love it how people often refer to forty as “The Big Four-Oh”. It’s like they don’t want to admit they’re turning O-L-D in front of the C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N.

Anyway, I have a new role model for turning 40. It is my friend Mistress M. She sure knows how to see in a new decade in style: big party, live music, great food, lots and lots (and lots) of booze.

However, there were a few key learnings from her recent party which I hope to apply to my own 40th (now only 8 months away, but hey, who’s counting?)

KEY LEARNING ONE: Pace yourself

Mistress M has admitted to me that most of the parties she’s ever thrown, she’s already been considerably half-cut before the first guest arrives. For her fortieth, however, she managed to remain reasonably sober and generally “happy”, mostly by only occasionally taking a sip of her drink, putting it down and then being unable to find it again. I’m not sure if this means she’s achieved a certain level maturity or it’s the early onset of dementia. Either way, it worked for her.

KEY LEARNING TWO: Don’t invite anyone famous

A Famous Person will only end up being harassed by some random drunken fool who will ask personal and vaguely suggestive questions about the Famous Person’s childhood and then stumble against them, spilling their entire glass of champagne down their cleavage in the process. And yes, by “random drunken fool”, I mean “me”.

KEY LEARNING THREE: Stick to the Cocktail Recipe

The recipe for Flirtini clearly states two parts champagne, two parts pineapple juice and one part vodka. Do not, for example, make it five parts vodka and then just wave the other ingredients vaguely near the jug. Also, do not substitute the vodka for absinthe-slash-methylated spirits. It will make people far drunker than they need to be.

And no, Mistress M hasn’t confessed to doing any of these things but it is the only way I can explain how I got so drunk (and foolish) on so few drinks.

KEY LEARNING FOUR: Do not let your husband talk too long with FatherOfCrankyPants

It is most certain that together, they will come up with some vague plan to learn how to surf, rollerblade or scrapbook. Or worse still, they will come up with the idea of starting a band and you will have to stage a hasty intervention before either of them think of including flute solos or “whistling bits“.

KEY LEARNING FIVE: Do not corner FatherOfCrankyPants and recite poetry from your youth

Four words: He felt the pain.

KEY LEARNING SIX: Choose to honour the Birthday Girl by staying late and dancing the night away and NOT by cycling home shortly after 11pm, completely rat-arsed drunk, and then ingloriously vomiting up the Berocca your husband force-feeds you when you get home.

Enough said. But between you and me, I can’t imagine what kind of a person would do such a thing.

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Ladies and Gentleman of the Interwebs. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I stand before you as the recipient of the Best Australian/NZ Web Log in the 2010 Bloggies.

Oh? You hadn’t heard that I won? I find that hard to believe, especially since I could be heard four suburbs away when I hollered down the phone at my friend MM : “I WON! I FUCKING WELL WON!” followed by: “I’M SORRY, BUT I DON’T APPEAR TO BE ABLE TO STOP SHOUTING – I’M THAT FUCKING EXCITED!”.

The three year olds I was in charge of at the time were also excited about the news. But they were equally excited about the squashed sultana they found between the pages of the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book a few minutes later. AND they still expected me to make them their lunch, Bloggies win or not. Honestly, some preschoolers have no sense of occasion.

Still, I continued to celebrate (and shout) as I made sandwiches and cut up fruit. For example: “Do you want the crusts on or off – OH MY GOD! – what about some grapes – HOLY CRAP I WON!! – careful with your water there – YAHOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEE!!”. Eventually, however, I found it within myself to stop the shouting because even I could see that I was starting to frighten the children.

I then decided to go out and celebrate by taking my posse of three-year-olds to their scheduled Acting Class. Yes, you read that right: these three- year-olds are studying the dramatic arts, darling. But before you start thinking the teacher’s dressed in a black polo neck saying shit like “Anastacia, this is Brecht we’re doing here: you need to present the audience with the line, not represent it…”, let me assure you it’s more about running around the room pretending to be a monster or a farm animal or a celebrated blogger (that last one’s just me). Why, last week I got to play “The Prize Cow” in a role-play exercise, which some people are now claiming was typecasting. (Interestingly enough, The Pixie can only write three words by heart: her name, my name and “COW”. In the first week of school she drew a picture of her teacher with the word COW written in large letters. I told her teacher that it happened all the time to me and I tried not to take it personally. But I digress.)

Anyway, on the way to the acting class, I cranked up the mix tape my husband had made me for our recent mini-break and before I knew it, I was singing at the top of my lungs to The Divinyl’s “I touch myself” while stopped at the traffic lights. With the windows wound down. And three small children in the back seat. And yes, there were onlookers and everything. Result.

A few people have asked me how I feel now and if everything feels “different”. I may be still air-punching on the inside but life goes on as usual for the Bloggies Winner:  there are still bottoms to be wiped, fights to be broken up, Wii treaties to be negotiated, dishes to be done and blog posts to be written. A mother’s work is truly never done…

But nothing drove this home more than yesterday morning when I went to the Children’s Hospital for a routine appointment.  There, I saw many amazing mothers just carrying on with their daily lives as they wheeled, carried or just held their sick and sometimes fading children.  And I realised that no matter how much I complain sometimes and how much of a  drama I make of things, there are others who have to work a lot harder than me at mothering and not drowning.

I’d like, therefore, to accept my award on behalf of all mothers, but those mothers in particular.

______________________

Anyone planning to send me cash in the mail, please send it to the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation instead – they’re far less likely to blow it all on cheap champagne and chocolate.

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What a difference a decade makes. 

Ten years ago, when my husband and I went on our honeymoon, my husband had scabies – a little wedding gift he’d picked up from our cheap and nasty rental accommodation at the time. 

And now, exactly ten years later, just before we set off on our “second honeymoon” (a one-night-in-a-seaside-hotel-without-the-children-and-with-too-much-wine occasion) I discovered I had myself a good old-fashioned case of The Nits. 

Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but I find it hard to kick back and relax when I know I’ve got a colony of lice fucking themselves ragged on my scalp. 

Amazingly, this is only the second time I’ve had to deal with The Nits. I say “amazingly” because, as regular readers of this blog will know, all you have to do is mention the words “gastro outbreak” and one of my children will start spontaneously vomiting. So you’d figure we’d maintain an open door policy for all types of school yard pestilence. But no. I think it has something to do with the fact I rarely wash my children’s hair and nits apparently only like clean scalps. Which makes them discerning as well as deeply annoying. 

Anyway, the last time we had an outbreak, it was well over two years ago. I had found one gaily frolicking on The Pixie’s scalp and so asked my husband to check my (extremely itchy) head. 

After five minutes’ careful examination, my husband pronounced me to be clear.

I wasn’t convinced, so I slathered my head in conditioner and proceeded to comb at least fifteen adult lice out. 

When I’d finished, I calmly presented him with the full body count, laid out on a tissue. 

“Oh,” he said, legitimately surprised. “Well, I didn’t see a thing!”

Obviously. I think I then probably said something about how next time he checked my scalp for nits, he might like to use his “looking eyes” – only, it’s likely I threw in an expletive or two for good measure. As I said, I was calm. 

This time, however, it’s the Pixie who has the infestation and I’m just accommodating the overflow. And, like a B-grade zombie flick, the little buggers have proved to be unkillable. Every time I think I’ve vanquished them, they’re back. I’ve had to boil pillow cases, machine-wash pillows and hats and bring out the KP24, also known as the napalm of the lice treatment world. 

When The Pixie first saw the bottle come out, she asked with wide eyes “Will that get rid of the bugs, mummy?”

“At $15 a bottle, I should bloody well hope so,” I replied, somewhat grimly.

“I think… I think that I’ll have no more bugs when I’m 16!” The Pixie said with lashings of her ever-sunny optimism. She was so close to the truth, it didn’t bear thinking about. 

Anyway, now all I can do is sit and wait for a week before the next KP24 application and hope for the “all clear”. And by “sit and wait”, I mean obsessively pore over my children’s scalp like some kind of OCD primate at every single opportunity. And by “all clear”, I mean “until the following week”. 

Anyway, I know most of you reading this started scratching your heads at the first mention of the word “nits”. To you, I say: Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean I’ve given them to you. Not necessarily. Why, it’s a natural reaction to start scratching! It’s like when someone says the magic words “happy hour” and, before you know it, you’ve ordered a round of Flirtinis. Or someone mentions something about “Barney The Dinosaur” and, next thing you know, you find you’ve put your fist through a wall. Or someone mutters something about a “gastro outbreak” and… oh my sweet fuck… was that Tiddles McGee I just heard throwing up?

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