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Archive for the ‘Philosophising’ Category

You’ve got to hand it to Tiddles McGee. When The Pixie and her little friends recently declared her room to be GIRLS ONLY, he did what any male would do.  He put a pillow case over his head, and patiently sat outside the closed door, hoping to “surprise” them.

Eventually, The Pixie opened the door.

“We all know it’s you, [Tiddles]!” she said, with scarily well-honed teen-style exasperation for a six year old. “Look, you can come in but only if you pretend to be a dog.”

“WOOF!” Tiddles piped up immediately with great enthusiasm.

“Aw, look everyone!!! It’s a really cute puppy!!” The Pixie exclaimed tenderly, as she led her brother, crawling on his hands and knees into the GIRLS ONLY zone – like a whipped cur.

The Pixie, herself, is prone to the odd bit of role play – “odd” being the operative word here. Her latest thing is that she likes to play ‘Robots’ with her friend Little Miss E.

They go around asking questions about the world such as “What is that?” and “Why are you putting it in your mouth and chewing it?” and then even “And what does ‘chewing’ mean?”. I, personally, am waiting for the “What does ‘What does that mean’ mean?” question, at which point I think my head will completely explode.

One day, I found The Pixie completely distraught because Little Miss E had told another little girl a special secret.

“What was the secret?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you,” she said, sadly.

“You can tell me anything…” I told her. “Anything!”

“Okay, I’ll whisper it in your ear,” she said and leaning into me, whispered: “I’m a robot.

“Oh!” I said. “You know, you guys were playing that game and she  might have thought it was just part of the game.”

“It’s not a game,” The Pixie replied solemnly. “I really am a robot.”

“Oh, okay,” I said, unsure of how to react to this rather surprising news. “Uh… how long have you known?”

“I’ve known since I was a baby,” she said simply, before adding reassuringly: “But it’s okay, Mummy! I’m happy being a robot.”

“Well, I love you whether you are a robot or a real girl or some kind of mutant cyborg,” I told her and gave her a big hug. She felt like a real girl, but apparently that’s because her metal bones are covered with soft rubber. Nice.

Anyway, it turns out that having a robot for a daughter is not without its benefits.  For one thing, I’ve discovered there’s a switch to the side of her head which I can turn to get her to sleep. I wish I’d known about that when she was a baby.

Also, apparently I never have to worry about her being lonely.

“Do you know who will be with me until I’m very very old?” she asked my husband. “Little Miss E! She will always be by my side!”

Since this revelation, further intelligence has come in that her friend Little Miss E is a robot, too, and that there is a giant robot spaceship above the clouds which will take them both away when they are “all growned up”. Apparently, Little Miss E’s dad – my Facebook Friend – is guaranteed a place on the spaceship because he’s a cyborg, a fact that quite possibly came as somewhat of a surprise for him.

Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m really hoping to prove my own cyborg credentials and secure a place on that robot spaceship. What with all the flooding and bushfires ’round these parts in recent times, it’d be good to know there was an exit strategy when the shit really goes down…

________________________

Just for the record, I asked The Pixie if I could blog about her being a robot. She nodded sagely and said “But only if you tell everyone that it’s real.”

It’s real.

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The other morning, The Pixie told me about a dream she’d had about Harry Potter. This was markedly different from the dream I’d had about my husband misbehaving himself with a french exchange student. (“We’re never getting a french exchange student now, are we?” my husband said dolefully when I told him about the dream. Listen, he’s only got his Dream Self to blame.)

The Pixie’s dream involved her talking to Harry Potter and then getting ‘ouchies’ all over her foot.

“It wasn’t real – it was just a dream!” The Pixie told me, as she examined her foot. “Is Harry Potter real, Mama?”

“No, sweetheart, he’s just a character,” I replied. I explained about the books and then the movie version of the books. The Pixie thought deeply about this for a while.

“Harry Potter is a boy who just wanted to be in a movie!” she concluded, before jumping onto her next question. “Was Michael Jackson real?”

“Yes,” I replied. Well, bits of him were.

“He’s dead because his doctor gave him the wrong medicine,” she gravely informed me.

This was a little different from her original theory when he first died that “Michael Jackson was just too sad because he had girl hair.” Mr Justice, on the other hand, was quick to say “Why did Michael Jackson die? Because someone told him to ‘Beat It’.” which – at the time – fell into the ‘Too Soon’ joke category. I was so proud.

There’s a whole generation of children who are learning about death through Michael Jackson. Even my friend The Fabulous Miss Jones’ three year old knows who he is (although she calls him “Mikeson Jackson”) and my little friend Cyclone Bella (aged 4) is often heard to exclaim “Michael Jackson is the best boy in the world!” and refuses to accept he is dead. According to her dad Uncle B, however, she was heard to remark “Michael’s face is changing!” while watching his ‘Best Of’ collection on DVD. And no, Uncle B went on to add, it wasn’t when she was watching Thriller.

Anyway, we talked a little while about Michael Jackson and how his kids must have felt very sad when he died. The Pixie went on to explain that he was probably “in Heaven” now – a place that is apparently “on the way to Chloe’s house”.

“You mean the place where all the graves are?” I asked. I mean, she was either referring to the big cemetery or the Hungry Jacks with the cool slide.

“Yes, you go to Heaven when you die so you can become soil. Michael Jackson is soil now.”

Tiddles McGee piped up suddenly with something that sounded like “He wore a pumpkin suit!”

“He wore a pumpkin suit?” I asked.

“No! He drank pumpkin juice,” Tiddles McGee clarified – which, quite frankly – didn’t make much more sense than him wearing a pumpkin suit. “And there was this hand that went all mouldy.”

“Mouldy?”

“No, moley.

“Michael Jackson had a mole hand?” I tried to clarify. It would certainly explain why he wore one glove.

“No! Harry Potter drank the pumpkin juice. And the other one got the moley hand.”

I didn’t want to ask who “the other one” was. I was confused enough as it is.

Need I mention this conversation happened before 7 o’clock in the morning and before I’d even had my first coffee of the day? Hopefully someone will read this post before their first coffee of the day and can share my pain…

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I was cyber-harassing advertising execs from the comfort of my own room the other day when my husband came in, holding one of my jackets.

“Someone must have broken in, taken one of your jackets out of your wardrobe and left it one the back of one of the kitchen chairs,” he said.

“Oh, those people!” I sighed and kept on typing.

Five minutes later, he came in with another jacket.

“I really should change the locks on the back door,” he remarked, as he hung it up in the wardrobe. “Those people are out of control.”

A few minutes after that, he came in holding a grand total of four paper mushroom bags of varying ages and fullness.

“They’ve played that mushroom bag trick again!” he said, waggling the bags at me.

I shook my head and tutted. These were obviously the same people who, according to my husband, poured bucketfuls of water on the bathroom mat and then left it sopping wet on the floor and who left things soaking in a bucket in the laundry long enough to make their own killer swamp water and who always turned the heat up too high when cooking onions.

They were also the same people I suspected of switching the meat at the supermarket when my husband was shopping so that he ended up paying full price for sausages that were due to expire the very next day. And the same ones who never ever put the rice canister or the rice cooker away after using them. And who managed to lose one of Mr Justice’s school shoes somewhere between home and my mother’s house, by letting it roll unnoticed out of the car door at the petrol station.

And when I went on strike and refused to put the used toilet rolls in the recycling, the subsequent mass accumulation of used toilet roll wealth (pictured above) was entirely the fault of The Others because they suggested to my husband that I was collecting them for ‘crafting’.

Honestly! Why don’t these people just leave us alone?

I was thinking about all this when I heard my husband calling me, saying breakfast was ready. But strangely, when I got to the table, no food had been served and, in fact, most of it was still cooking on the stove.

“Sorry, I thought it must have been you calling me to breakfast but it must have been The Others playing tricks again because breakfast is clearly nowhere near ready,” I remarked.

“Actually, it was me who called you early because you always come late,” my husband replied.

“And I always come late because the food is never ready when you call me,” I was quick to retort.

We glared at each other for the briefest of moments before relaxing back into a smile. We knew this was The Others wanted us to do: they wanted us to fight. We weren’t going to fall for another of their tricks. Oh, no. Not us!

Honestly, marriage is much easier when there are other people involved.

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The other day, I was talking to a friend (I still have friends, you know) about the fact she had her book group that night but had only read 30 pages of the book.

“I won’t be making much of a contribution,” she admitted.

Luckily she was talking to the Right Person when it came to attending book group without having read the book.

“Bring two bottles of wine. That’s a valuable contribution!” I told her. “Also, tell them you decided to approach the book from a different angle by reading the Wikipedia entry about the author.”

She looked unconvinced.

“Or you could just bring along a list of books for future meetings and shout at them that they’re all stuck in the past and that they should move on like you have,” I suggested. I always have the best ideas.

We actually have an official book list for my book group. At our last meeting, one of our group was writing down on the back of a takeaway menu.

“You’ll lose it!” everyone warned her.

“No, I won’t,” she replied. She seemed very confident.

“No, she won’t,” I concurred. “That’s my job.”

After all, I used to be custodian of that list except, well, I lost it (the list, that is). I searched high and low for the scrappy piece of paper I’d scrawled it on, before finally having admit my error to the group.

ANYWAY, the next morning after my last book group meeting, I was about half way along on the one kilometre walk to school when Mr Justice picked up a random piece of paper on the ground, as often is his habit (you never know when you might stumble across a mystery or a treasure map, apparently). He held it out to me, asking “Isn’t this your handwriting, mummy?”.

One glance told me that this was The List. The lost one. The one I had searched high and low for and which had stripped me of whatever remaining credibility I had as a Responsible Person with my book group.

Whether it had fallen out of my coat pocket, the pram or the sky was unclear. Maybe it hadn’t even fallen. Maybe it had been there all along for six whole months. Or maybe, I thought, The Mild Mannered Lawyer had nicked it off me half a year ago and then planted it along our school route just to fuck with my head.

And then it struck me: this could be a message directly from God.  After all, you may remember, He recently made contact with me by giving me a bruise that looked like His Son. If I were an atheist instead of a weak-arse “Ooh! I don’t know if God exists or not! (*sound of pissing pants*)” agnostic, I would possibly consider taking out some kind of restraining order at this point. But since I’m as open to messages from God as I am from messages from anyone else (for example, literary agents, publishers and people who want to give me a free iphone), I decided not to be freaked out. But if this was a Message From Above what was it trying to tell me?

When I got home from the school run, there was an email from the New Bearer Of The List admitting she’d already lost it.

And so it goes. One list is found, another is lost. One door opens, another one closes. Swings, roundabouts, etc etc. That’s the message. Sheesh! It hardly seemed worth the postage from Heaven to tell me that.

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I am a person who prides myself on paying my bills on time. There, I went and said it. 

Anyone who has read my post about my toy box classification system may not be surprised to hear this fact – nor that I have created an Excel Spreadsheet and filing system to ensure that nary a bill goes overlooked or unpaid. 

However, anyone who has actually seen the state of the rest of my house –  or, indeed, watched me run along the street with multiple children in tow, screaming “We’re late! We’re FUCKING LATE” –  may be surprised I’d ever be organised or punctual about anything. Ever. 

What can I say? I offer the world a complex package. 

Anyway, the other day I received a surprising letter from the State Revenue Office informing me there were “Legal Proceedings Pending” because of the matter of some unpaid land tax. Unpaid? How could this be? Especially since a quick check of my spreadsheet, files and bank records showed our last land tax bill had been paid in full last June.

It turns out – after a phone call to the SRO – that the unpaid bill in question was first issued in 2006, shortly after we’d moved in to our new house. And the reason that I’d never received such a bill was because it – and all its cheerful red-coloured successors – were sent to our previous (rental) address and not the address of the house we’d just bought to live in, even though that was the address whose land was being taxed. You know it makes sense. 

Anyway, the crux of the matter was that we owed the SRO two hundred and forty big ones and had less than two weeks to pay. I broke the news to my husband, who took it rather badly. 

“Who the hell is the State Revenue Office, anyway?” he snarled. “Why, I’ve never heard of them! How can we be sure they’re not some Nigerian widow outfit looking to extort money out of us?”

I showed him the bill and the website and told him I’d just spent 15 minutes trapped in their elaborate automated phone system. “Either they’re legit or this is the sting of the century,” I told him. “In which case, you’d think they’d aim a little higher than $240, wouldn’t you?”

My husband humphed for a while and then said “They can’t threaten us with legal action just like that! I’m going to sue them! I’m going to speak to our legal team!”

I gently reminded him that we didn’t have a legal team. 

“Yes, we do! We have that guy who helped us with those contracts last year!” he replied. “In fact, I’m going to ring him! What’s more, I’m going to ring him RIGHT NOW! Threaten us with legal action? The nerve… the sheer bloody nerve!”

He disappeared into the back room with the phone, emerging some fifteen minutes later.

“Well, I rang our lawyer,” he said, somewhat satisfied with himself.

“And what did he say?” I asked. 

“He said ‘Pay it’,” my husband mumbled, adding with greater confidence: “Still, I’d like it stated for the record that I didn’t take all this lying down. They threaten us with legal action and we threaten them right back.”

“By ringing our lawyer totally unbeknownst to them?” I asked. “Yeah, that’s a pretty big threat. Like, a totally ‘under-the-radar’ threat. Perhaps even an ‘under-the-table-completely-shit-faced-drunk-and-passed-out-in-a-pool-of-our-own-vomit’ kind of threat. That’ll learn ’em.”

“Indeed it will,” he replied, pouring himself a big glass of wine. “In fact, I am going to continue showing the State Revenue Office exactly what I think of them by drinking this glass of wine and living a good life.”

Apparently, as he told me later, he was paraphrasing the “Living well is the best revenge” quote by some metaphysical poet (by way of Seinfeld). Whatever. There’s one thing that’s for certain here: that living-well-by-drinking-wine shit sure would have fucked the SRO right up.  

As for the lawyer, apparently he was “really nice” about it all.

“He even said I should feel free to ring him whenever I had any legal queries,” my husband boasted. 

“Of course he’d say that,” I said. “That’s because he gets to charge us every single time.”

“Yeah, well, obviously… ” my husband replied, somewhat deflated. “Whatever you do, just make sure you pay *his* bill on time. I won’t be able to ring our lawyer if it’s our lawyer himself who’s taking us to court over unpaid bills.”

“Don’t worry, my darling. You’ll still be able to drink wine and show them all,” I said.

And we both drank to that.

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Do you know that expression about having to lie in the bed you’ve made for yourself, like it’s supposed to be a bad thing? I’ve always questioned its meaning because to me, the reward for making the bed would be being able to lie in it for the rest of the day. And that’s actually a good thing, right? 

As I prepared the kids’ lunchboxes this morning, I found myself thinking about a variation on the expression. Something along the lines of: “You’ve made your lunchbox, now lie in it”. Which admittedly, doesn’t make sense. Although, it must be said that the food still remaining in my children’s lunchboxes at the end of a school day often *does* look like the kids have lain in it – and moreover, their uniforms look like they’d definitely rolled the hell all over that lunch. 

ANYWAY, the phrase “you’ve made your bed…” in its original form (as opposed to my radical reinterpreted form) most certainly did apply to one aspect of my lunch-box preparation… and that was in the careful writing and inclusion of “little notes” in said lunch box. 

Listen, in my defence, it all started on The Pixie’s first day ever of school. I was making the lunches and trying not to weep openly on the vegemite rolls, when I remembered reading about how fellow-blogger and twitter friend The Sharpest Pencil includes “little love letters” in with her son’s lunch every day.

Before I knew it, I had written my precious little girl a precious little note that said “Mummy ♥ [Pixie]”. But because she can’t actually read yet, I then drew a picture of me and a picture of her and a whole lotta love hearts and kisses and then cut the whole thing in the shape of a heart so that my meaning could not be mistaken (that is, in case she thought the note merely said “mummy will be extremely cranky if you don’t eat this lunch she’s lovingly prepared for you” – which was certainly something I might have thought, but just not written in a note for her lunchbox on her first day). 

When I picked The Pixie up school, she was so excited about the note. She had carefully folded it and put it in the front pocket of her bag. And she pulled it out and showed it to me, exclaiming with overwhelming enthusiasm: “I loved my little notey! I want one every day when I go to school!!”.

Of course, later on I heard from our little friend Master J that she’d been crying in the playground during recess because she “missed Mummy so much”. Which was probably around the same time she’d opened her lunchbox and happened upon that note… Coincidence? Um… 

Anyway, The Pixie has assured me that the note in itself didn’t make her sad, and that NOT getting a note would make her sadder. And so I’ve promised her I’ll continue. 

Mr Justice, in the meantime, in his eternal search for truth, justice and a fair shake of the sauce bottle in this world, asked why he didn’t get a note, too. 

“What, one cut in a shape of a love heart with ‘Mummy ♥ [Mr Justice]’ on it?” I joked. 

“No way!” he replied somewhat ferociously, before adding: “I was thinking something in the shape of a star, maybe with a Joke Of The Day on it.”

CUT TO: next morning, me cutting a piece of paper into a shape of a star and then writing “What do you get when you cross a cat and a parrot? A carrot!”. 

Lunch box? Made? Yes, people. I’m definitely enjoying some quality horizontal time in it now. 

Of course, if I’m truly honest about why I’m doing this, it’s because there is one thing that’s definitely worse than the kids wanting notes in their lunchbox every day. And that’s them not wanting me to put notes in their lunch box any more… For all this shall pass. 

______________________

This post is dedicated to my beautiful little girl, who completes her first week of formal education today. 

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In my own experience, I’ve found the term “toilet-training” to be a bit of a misnomer (see “The NDM Guide To Toilet Training“). Training a child to use the toilet is like trying to train a cat to sit: the cat will sit when and where it damn well pleases. Same with kids and their piss and shit. To put it politely. 

So far, my toilet “training” with Tiddles goes something like this: I cheerfully suggest that Tiddles wear underpants only to have him start wailing as if the mere mention of the word “underpants” is a deep personal affront. I’ll then try to bribe him with the promise of treats but will be extremely lucky if he wears those damn pants for more than ten minutes before appearing before me, naked from the waist down and sobbing “WHERE ARE MY UNDERPANTS?” as if he himself had nothing to do with their removal. Of course, while I’m searching high and low for said underpants, he’ll suddenly cheer up and follow me around saying “Willy-WILLY!” in a sing-song voice and shaking his penis ’round and ’round like it had a tassle on it, until finally, he’ll slip over in a puddle of his own creation right next to the potty, inside which I’ll finally find the underpants stowed safely away. 

It’s not going well. 

You might be wondering, as many of my friends have, why I would even embark upon such a perilous journey with Christmas looming so ominously ahead. After all, many a PhD has been written about the lasting psychological scars inflicted upon older siblings who made a rush for the “mars bar” Santa had left under the tree, just next to where he’d spilt his “brandy”. 

But listen, this is not so much a journey that I’m undertaking here with Mr McGee: it’s more an occasional day-trip. I take us on one of these day trips when the pressure to have him “trained” gets too much. Like when I realise there are less than seven weeks to go until he starts kindergarten. Or when there have been one too many children in the neighbourhood younger than Tiddles making their debut appearance in underpants. Or I’ve heard one too many remarks along the lines of “Oh, he’s still in nappies, is he?” –  to which I usually reply something like “Oh, we all are! Who’s got time to go to the toilet?” and laugh ha-ha-ha-ha-ha but cry on the inside because nobody’s ever going to give me a plastic trophy with a sticker saying WORLD’S BEST TOILET TRAINER on it. 

Of course, the seasoned mum-of-three in me knows that it’s not a competition. That if it’s not going well, it’s because he’s not ready. That today might not be an Underpants Day but maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be… Possibly not for my husband, however. But that, my friends, is a whole other story.

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