Posts Tagged ‘cabin fever’

Are you acquainted with the 100 Most Used Words in our language? Well I am. Very well, as it happens. Mr Justice keeps bringing that list home from school (along with the less-successful sequel, “The Next 100 Most Used Words”) and recently I found myself doing a very close analysis of them. And my oh my, hasn’t school holiday cabin fever well and truly set in… Ah, happy happy days. 

A quick overview: “Dog” made the list. “Yes” and “Good” made it too, but interestingly enough, not “No” or “Bad”. Same goes for “Mother” (in) and “Father” (out). But then “Man” made it but not “Woman”. And “What” “When” and “Where”are there but not “How” or “Why”. Hmmm….

What does this list say about our society? That, through our choice of words, we are raising children to be a generation of unquestioning Yes Men? That the female of our species is only validated through motherhood? That we write and talk about “dogs” more than we do “politics, “environment”, “religion” or even “Paris Hilton”? (Actually, come to think of it, “dog” might actually cover most of that – particularly Paris Hilton).

“Oh, NDM, chill out,” people like to say to me. “You’re giving the list absolutely Too Much Thought.We know your tendency to obsess. We remember your ‘Tanks For Nothing‘ vent about the industrial relations issues inherent in Thomas The Tank Engine.We think you just need to take a big deep breath and go sort out some laundry or something.”

Of course the really annoying about Those People is that they are right – about my tendency to obsess AND my need to go fold and put away some clothes before someone gets crushed by one of those teetering piles. 

However, before I banish myself to the laundry, I thought I would do my own list of The 10 Most Used Words in our household – none on which appear on the Official list, I hasten to add. They are: 

1. Mine!

2. Ouch!

3. Sorry (usually follows “Ouch!” but only through constant prompting)

4. Why?

5. Toilet

6. More!

7. No! (often pronounced “Now-ooh”, somewhat resembling Audrey Hepburn’s mockney accent in “My Fair Lady”)

8. Shibby-shibby-shibby (That’s The Pixie talking)

9. Bored (Mr Justice)

 10. Shit (used by only the adults of the house in a myriad of circumstances, e.g. “Shit, we’re late for school”, “I’m sick of cleaning up this shit!”, “The kids are really shitting me today” or even just “Shit shitty shit shit shit”)

I’d also like it stated for the record that the word “please” is missing from both my list and the Official list. No surprise there, then.

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Something terrible has happened to The Pixie’s voice. The pitch modulation controls have gone all skewy and she’s spending most of the time walking around sounding like a dentist’s drill, which, considering my recent misadventures with the dentist and the oral surgeon, is Simply. Not. Appreciated. 

What’s worse is that one would normally expect this phenomenon to occur in the middle of the second week of the school holidays, and not at the beginning of the first. 

And it has neatly coincided with an incident with Mr McGee and an open bottle of lemon cordial in the kitchen that resulted in a Clean Up Operation bigger than the Exxon Oil Spill of ’89, although I should have just added water and drunk it up with a straw. Like, der, NDM.  

And so there I am, walking around my kitchen, with the onset of school holiday-induced cabin fever, with my feet sticking to the floor making me feel like I’m living in a night club but – considering the age of its clientele and the sing-song grooves laid down by DJ Tinky Winky – is actually much more like a Blue Light Disco. Which just makes me feel even more depressed.  

And all the while Mr Justice is following me around while I’m mopping up the spill, spelling out every thing like we’re in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, starting every single sentence with “Hey M-U-M-M-Y!”.

“What happened to you calling me ‘Mummy'”, I said to him, a little grumpily. “I like being Mummy. And not M-U-M-M-Y.”

“Oh, that was in the old days that I called you mummy. Now I call you M-U-M-M-Y,” was his breezy response. “Now, can we please go play D-O-W-N-B-A-L-L in the G-A-R-D-E-N? Huh? Can we? P-L-E-A-S-E?”

At which point, the Pixie walks in, with her voice pushed up to 11 on the dial, demanding things that can’t be made out through all that feedback noise, followed by a sickening Kerrrash! as McGee manages to tip the entire box of little lego all over the loungeroom floor.

And then: “Hey, M-U-M-M-Y….”


What was that thing I always like to say? Was it “Start as you mean to continue?”

Well, I renounce that Right Here Right Now because if this is how it’s going to be for two weeks, I ain’t gonna survive. I know my limits and This Is It. 

So instead, I’m planning to get all this nastiness over and done with at the start so that there’s nothing but the nice stuff remaining. Stand by for tales of pleasant, educational jaunts with well-behaved, happy children through zoological gardens, museums and art galleries. Holding hands, talking to each other in quiet polite respectful voices, and sometimes maybe even not talking at all, just gazing in wonder and/or pausing for quiet reflection and then occasionally joining together in joyful song as we drive off to our next adventure in the Love Bus, clapping, laughing, loving. So happy. So happy. Yes, I’ve gone to that Happy Place in my mind now… Bliss…

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Let me share a little something with you: I now know why excessive use of the air-conditioner and TV is a bad, bad thing. It’s because it leads to power-cuts on a grand scale. And worse. So much worse.  

Following my post “It’s Too Darn Hot“, that cool change that I had hoped and prayed for did come in. But, as the temperature outside dropped 8 degrees in 8 minutes (according to a reputable source), our power consumption also dropped from the equivalent of lighting Las Vegas to zero. Just like that.  

It was like someone had come and kicked my legs out from under me. The TV was dead. The air-conditioner was dead. What could I possibly do with these overtired, overwrought, overheated kids of mine that didn’t involve them getting eaten alive by mosquitos in the paddling pool? (Though I tried that for a while, I must confess).

In my desperation, I allowed The Pixie to forage through the Cupboard Rarely Opened. There, she found a bag of old bath toys that had been stashed away ever since the Bath Toy Epidemic of 2006 threatened to replace the bath water entirely with plastic. And amongst this hidden treasure was a FisherPrice bath toy set that once looked like this:


Happier Times

And now looks like this:

Is it my imagination or does that shell look on the verge of tears?

Is it my imagination or does that shell look on the verge of tears?

Notice something missing (other than just general hygiene standards)? The Pixie certainly did. That thing had been hidden away for more than two years and she remembered that there was supposed to be a star. 

Now, god knows what happened to The Star – it may very well be cowering in a cluttered corner of the House That Ate Paris. But then it also may have become host to a dangerous fungal organism and had to be thrown away.  

Whatever the truth, I had to immediately extinguish all hope that it might still be somewhere out there, otherwise I’d be searching for it by candlelight the whole night through. So I had to say it was broken. And not just broken in a Dad’ll Fix It kind of way (why do my children think everything can be fixed with stickytape?), but smashed into a million billion trillion pieces. And then accidentally set on fire and burnt to a crisp. And then thrown into the bin. And not just the bin, but the Big Bin. I felt heartless as I said all this but it had to be done.

“The Star is gone,” I concluded. “Forever. Ne’er to grace our bathtub again. Let’s remember the Good Times we shared together and then move on. And swiftly.”

Unfortunately, my little ruse didn’t work – it just made The Pixie want The Star even more. More than anything in the whole world. She began crying for The Star. Begging me to look for The Star in the bin. Shrieking, tearing her hair and clothes, scratching at her face – all for That Freaking Star. I bundled her up in a move that was half-hug/half-straightjacket and held her on my lap. 

Mr Justice was, in the meantime, drawing pictures in the fading daylight. “Draw a picture of The Star. When it’s Dead”, instructed The Pixie mournfully, from the shelter of my arms.

Mr Justice was already onto it. “Oh,” he said. “I am writing the Saddest Thing Ever – for today.”

And then, with a tear in his eye, he showed me this:


[Notice the “Goodbye Old Friend”? Shortly after I had written my post of the same name , I found myself having to explain to my six year old son why I had A) taken photos of my maternity bras and B) posted them on the internet. Ever since then, he has become overtly sentimental about throwing anything out. He’s brought me dried-out textas and, with his voice cracking under the weight of the emotion of it all, said “Good bye old friend” as he’s put them in the bin.]

The Pixie, looked up at me with a tear-stricken face and said: “Why did we have to say good bye to our Star? I’m really sad that we lost our Star. Our Star. My Star. My Happy Lucky Star.”

Followed by a stirring: “I know what would cheer me up! Buy me another one! Go to the Star Shop and choose just one that looks like a Yellow Star for me to play with! In the bath!”

And then finally, returning to the fetal position in my lap, just: “Star. Star. Star. Star. Star. Star.”

So there I was, no power, too many mosquitos outside, a house like an oven (and a dutch oven at that), and with two of my children mourning a bit of plastic (Tiddles was having far too much fun emptying the rice canister to much care). And I only had myself to blame for all this by willfully disregarding small screen-time quotas and using far more air-conditioning than was conscionable. It all seems so obvious now, but at the time…? Would I do the same again in the same situation?  I don’t know, my friends. I don’t know.

But I do know this: I sure as hell am keeping that Cupboard Rarely Opened firmly shut in the future, no matter how desperate the circumstances. I know now why it was Rarely Opened in the first place. Stupid Cupboard. Stupid Star. 


Gone but unfortunately not forgotten.

Gone but unfortunately not forgotten.

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