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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

The other day, The Pixie patted me reassuringly on the arm and said “It’s okay, Mum. You can make me an Easter Cake. I promise!” And then, smiling at me encouragingly, she leant over and kissed me on the cheek. “Yes, I promise!” she reiterated.

Trouble was, I had no clue what an Easter Cake was. I really truly thought hot cross buns and chocolate easter eggs full of smarties had Easter all covered but there it was: Easter Cake.

I asked The Pixie if she could tell me a little bit more about Easter Cake. “Oh, it’s a cake!” she exclaimed brightly. “For Easter! You get some eggs and some sugar and some flour and a little bit of salt and put it in a big patty pan.”

Okay, so at least we’d established that we weren’t talking about a cake of soap.

And so I got The Pixie and Mr Justice together and we workshopped what an Easter Cake might look like – because, let’s face it, that’s all that really matters when it comes to kids and cakes. 

Now of course it would involve lots of chocolate – that was a given. Maybe it could be covered with little chocolate eggs? Eggs were very Eastery. Or even, it could be like one of those piñata cakes where you have a hard chocolate casing that you break through with a hammer to find lots of mini easter eggs on top of a chocolate cake. A three-tiered chocolate treat… Bingo! We had ourselves our Easter Cake concept!

“So, should we use a fake hammer or a real hammer?” Mr Justice asked with a small glint in his eye.

Great, I thought. My children are going to whack a cake with a real hammer, get ridiculously high on the shit-load of chocolate that lies within and then probably go on a rampage through the house with said real hammer. I’m not sure how all this relates to the True Spirit of Easter (and that) but to Christians and non-Christians alike, I ask you – nay, I implore you: Pray. For. Me.

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The sale of ice creams should be banned in zoos across the world. And I’m not thinking about animal welfare here, I’m thinking about the Parents. All it takes is for one mother or father to succumb and the next thing you know, there’s a child on the loose with an ice cream in their hand and the game is pretty much lost to the rest of us. 

So it was no surprise that when we arrived at the zoo yesterday, the steady drone of “Can I have an ice cream?” had already started up throughout the grounds, with the traditional counterpart reply “No. I said no. I mean no. So, NO!” And it was even less of a surprise that my own children launched their own Ice Cream Whisper Campaign as soon as humanly possible, except it was less about whispering and more about out-and-out whingeing.

Now I am an old pro at this game. I’m all “No we’re not having ice creams now” and “Not before lunch!” which is my equivalent of the celebrity “No comment” and “I’ve been advised by my legal team not to answer this question at this time”. Why not the flat out “No” you may ask? Because I never know if I’ll need to put the Ice Cream Exit Strategy into action and I think consistency is the cornerstone of Good Parenting, although I obviously don’t have any problem using junk food as leverage. Ah, yes. I am a Good Parent.

Anyway, after a few hours of walking around, the cry for ice cream was becoming deafening. One Little Bird, the friend I had met up, casually commented that her daughter was always the one to push for the purchase of ice creams, but her slightly older son never thought about it. 

At which point her son piped up “Can we have an ice cream?”.

And it was then I knew that we had ourselves an ice cream pandemic on our hands and we needed to Get The Hell Out. 

Now, I thought we could make it back to the car. I really thought we could do it. However, I didn’t count on one thing: that my usual temptation-free exit at the back of the zoo would be blocked by a makeshift kiosk as part of the managment’s school holiday strategy to extract as much money from its visitors as possible. 

And so my Exit Plan was ruined and, weak as I was, I succumbed to the children’s pleas. But unfortunately, I succumbed before I had realised the zoo were disregarding the recommendations of Streets Ice Cream when it came to the pricing of their iced confectionary. The cheapest icy pole was $2.30 and I, my friends, was 45 cents short of being able to buy three. 

In my desperation, I looked around and spotted the Chuppachups stand. “Lollipops!” I exclaimed. Mr Justice concurred, McGee dithered but the Pixie held her ground. “Ice cream!” she said. 

Then it seemed that Tiddles might go the lollipop option. Okay, two lollipops, one icecream. Fine. I could afford that.

But no, Mr Justice then exclaimed “I want an ice cream, actually.” At which point, Tiddles switched back to the ice cream camp and I thought, I could stand here all friggin’ afternoon, so I made one of those snap decisions that Women on the Edge often make. 

“Three lollipops or nothing for anybody!” There, I said it. It was out there. No going back. No compromise. No ice cream-lollipop combo purchase. Three lollipops or nothing

“Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream!” cried The Pixie. And she began to sob in that way that only a four year old girl can sob over ice cream. 

At which point, a man standing nearby with his wife and a young child interrupted our gay banter and said “I hope this isn’t too embarrassing for you but can I buy the little girl an ice cream?”

Proud, always proud, I graciously refused his kind offer and turned back to my delicate negotiations. 

“We can only get lollipops, Pixie,” I pleaded. A lot of people were staring now. 

“ICE CREAM!!” wailed The Pixie, all tragedy. 

“THREE LOLLIPOPS OR NOTHING!!” I counter-wailed.

And it was then that the man intervened again and, trying to press a five dollar note in my hand, said “Please let me help.” Amid a flurry of apologies and thank you thank you thank yous, I finally accepted $1 and bought three ice creams. 

As we walked silently back to the car, the three kids licking their ice creams and me still blushing from the embarrassment of it all, Mr Justice suddenly said “What a kind man!” and then “Actually, I probably would have preferred a lollipop.” And judging from the amount of sticky food colouring all over his face, clothes and hands, I would have preferred him to have one too.

Still, that man was a very kind man. And I hope the universe rewards him. Normally I’d wish it to reward him two-fold but that would mean only two bucks and that would seem incredibly stingy of the universe for such an act of random kindness, don’t you think?

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The other Sunday, as I was dropping off Mr Justice at a playdate, I found myself grumbling out loud about how I was supposed to be going food shopping next with the other two children and how I resented doing this on the weekend because I could do the shopping with Pixie and Tiddles any day and, any way, weekends were supposed to be different from weekdays, otherwise What’s. The. Bloody. Point. 

Mr C, who politely listened to my little rant, patted me on my arm and gently suggested that I give up the distinction between weekday and weekend because it might make me happier. 

And at that moment, I saw the days stretch out in front of me as far as the eye could see and I almost fell over with the endlessness of it all. It took me back to those early days as a First Time Mother, carrying Mr Justice around a local park, looking at other older children and thinking “The parents of those children survived…” and feeling like I might just not be able to myself because I could hardly breathe through the crush of unrelenting responsibility for this small angry creature from Jim Henson’s Workshop that I was holding.

And that was before I knew the full weight of it. That there would be wave after wave of requests and demands from that small creature – and the others that followed him – for sandwiches without crusts and drinks with heart-shaped ice and a dash of pink food-colouring in the blue-and-white plastic cup and NOT the white-and-blue one, thank you very much, and for comprehensive entertainment programmes for each day without one single minute left unscheduled in case someone actually got Bored for a minute, if you don’t mind, and for new shoes whose soles seem to have worn-through before we’ve even left the shop we bought them in, while you’re at it.

Of course nobody often says those things in italics, but their gratitude is inferred in their smiles and the way that when Daddy comes home they still want Mummy-Books and Mummy-Teeth and Mummy-Huggles, Mummy-Eskimo-Kisses-In-Bed and, of course, Mummy-Poos (which I hasten to add is where I act as Door Sentry while they do the ablutions – oh, why, oh why did I never manage to have just one child who was a Solo-Pooer?).

Overwhelming.

Nope, I’m clinging to this weekend concept for as long as I can, I said to myself as I drove off with my screaming children in the back into the car. And adhering to the “a change is as good as a holiday” rule, I decided to do my food shopping at a different supermarket.

Nobody can accuse me of not knowing how to have a good time. Nobody.

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As much as I am loathe to bring up Disney in my blog (I get enough of it at home, thank you), I was musing the other day how “It’s a small world” is another of those songs that has taken on a new meaning since I became a full-time Stay At Home Mum. (For other shapeshifter songs, see “Music to a Mother’s Ears“).

You see, my head is filled with the small details of our lives – shopping lists, dates of birthdays and immunisations, shoe sizes, medical histories, culinary likes and dislikes, the whereabouts of toys and other beloved items (but not the shoes, never the shoes), milestones such as when each child got their first tooth or started to answer back… Of course I can’t always retrieve this information when I need it, but it’s there somewhere. With the shoes.

There are the little things that I get a kick out of: the kids and I got unreasonably excited when my husband parked the Love Bus the other way around in the driveway because it felt like we had a Brand New Car. I still get a little thrill whenever I’ve just freshly iced and decorated a platter of cupcakes. And then there was the time Mr Justice insisted on wearing a single black glove to school. And the time KC tried to encourage our collective children to get moving at the zoo by singing “I like to move it, move it” and we had to wait an extra five minutes while T. McGee danced and sang “Mood it! Mood it!”. Or whenever The Pixie climbs up onto my lap for a “huggle”. Or when someone walks into my severely organisationally-challenged house for the first time and exclaims “I love your home!”. And that hard-earned glass of wine heartily enjoyed when the kids are finally in bed at night. 

Then there are those things that I like to put a little positive spin on. Such as the time The Pixie went through the fruit bowl and took a single little Pixie-sized bite out of every single apple. Some might have said “What a waste!” but I preferred to say “My daughter ate some fruit!”. Or whenever the children empty the entire box of little lego all over the loungeroom floor and start merrily jamming it into every crack and cranny. Some people might say “What a mess!” or “I just tidied that room!”, but I choose to say “They’re having fun!” and “At least they’re not hassling me!” (although I do say those other things, too but probably with a few more exclamation marks or some expletives thrown in for good measure). 

Of course there’s also that expression “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Fine for someone who’s world extends further than the four walls of a little suburban house. But for a stay-at-home mum like me? Not so easy. For example: I felt bad all morning the other day because a a cyclist passed me just as I threw something into someone else’s garden and his face said it all and had he been a Shakespearean actor of some repute (which he wasn’t), he might have exclaimed “Get thee behind me, ye slovenly ho!” . But before anyone else judges me, let me just tell you that it was a handful of partly-chewed banana which Tiddles had made a point of spitting onto my palm and I had Nowhere To Put It. And because the cyclist passed us so quickly, I didn’t get a chance to blurt out “It’s organic matter, already partially broken down by my son’s own teeth and saliva”. I then went on to spend the next hour alternating between being embarrassed that there was a member of our community who thought I wasn’t doing my Civic Duty and thinking how that cyclist wasn’t in any position to judge me because he wasn’t wearing a helmet, which is mandatory by law, thank you very much. Small stuff? Sweat-drenched, baby.

And then there are those small things that threaten to push me over the edge: sticky-rice feet, my husband eating crackers in my ear, scratched DVDs that skip or Just Won’t Load just when I really need the kids to spend some Quality Time with the TV, the fact that The Pixie never just comes when you call her but always does it in a way that suggests she isn’t coming because you’ve asked her to but because it was her idea to head that way anyway. And those Wiggles songs where they’ve sped up the voice track so it sounds like they’ve done a collaboration with Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

And then there are those toys with a million little separate pieces which come into our home and upon being opened for the first time, immediately explode so that every little piece is distributed widely throughout the house, never to be reunited with its brethren again. I have jars and boxes full of these small objects that I add to every time another piece is found, in the hope that one day we’ll ‘get the band back together’. It’s a small dream, but one that I can cling to for quite some time (before finally emptying those jars and boxes directly into the bin).

But of course the most important Little Things of All are the children themselves – who in turn, frustrate, amuse, thrill, confuse, infuriate and fill me with love, pride and wonder. They throw their little arms around my neck, press their small mouths to my ear and say things like “You’re the Bestest Mummy in the Whole World”, which I know is quite some way from the truth but am so willing to believe for the duration of that precious hug. Ah, whoever would have thought such wonderful things would come in such small packages.

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa

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For a long time now, I’ve been increasingly suspicious that there is someone high up in the ranks of Fisher Price who is deliberately fucking with a whole generation of parents. Don’t get me wrong: my kids love their Fisher Price toys and I love that my kids love these toys because that gets them (literally) off my back for a few minutes. But there’s something else there, something underlying all this Toy Joy, something sinister. For the past six years, I’ve been collating an extensive dossier on Fisher Price which I’m hoping to present to the team of 60 Minutes for a big prime time humdinger of an exposé. And when that exposé happens, it will shake the very foundations of the world we live in, such as when we found out that the man who brought the world Bambi was a nazi-sympathising fascist pig or that Jennifer Beals didn’t actually do the dance sequences in “Flashdance” (although she did do her own welding which has got to count for something, right?).

For one thing, there is all that packaging. Is it just me or does the amount of wiring and sticky tape and plastic casing seem just a touch excessive? It’s the kind of security one might employ in an inter-prison transfer for Hannibal Lecter rather than in the delivery of a plastic home and contents to a small child. Even an adult armed with the Jaws of Life can’t free those plastic toys from captivity in less than an hour – which, let’s face it, is one hour too many in the eyes of an impatient child on Christmas morning. 

And then we have the music. The music! Last Christmas, Tiddles got given an FP fire engine which he loves. Loves! But let’s consider, for a moment, the lyrics of the charming little song that fire engine plays:

Up and down, down and up…
Watch my ladder lift up pup…
With a beep, beep, honk, honk, all around the town…
Up and down and round and round.

Harmless enough, you say? Now put it to the tune of “This Old Man”, have a choir of ultra-cutesy American kids sing it and punctuate each phrase with the sound of dog yapping. Are you still feeling okay? You’re obviously made of strong stuff. Now, indulge me if you will, and play it again. And again. And then again. And then once more for good measure. How are you feeling now? Yep, I thought so. Look, do yourself and everyone around you a favour and just take the toy outside and give it a good kicking, will you? Please? 

The rather large omission of an ON/OFF switch on a large percentage of the Fisher Price range arguably lends a song like “You Can’t Stop The Music” a much more threatening tone. There are always one or two musical toys which lie on the bottom of our toy boxes and get set off by the slightest of tremors, such as the ones created by Tiddles after the excessive consumption of baked beans. And of course the battery hatch on these toys requires the ever-elusive Phillips head screwdriver to get it open and thus gives safe harbour to seemingly self-renewing batteries that leave that Duracel Bunny gasping for breath in the dust, big puff that he is.

But in our household, nothing quite matches the diva-esque tenacity of the musical teapot my sister sent The Pixie for her birthday, which needs to be on a completely level surface for it to stop tinkling menancingly in the background like the theme music for “Rosemary’s Baby”. Stranger yet, is that the accompanying cups in the tea set have two holes drilled in the side of the cup, so that if you drink from them holding the handle with your right hand, they leak their contents all down your front. Which means any time The Pixie and Tiddles have a tea-party, they end up looking like they’re contestants in the toddler division of a wet t-shirt competition. I mean why would you do that to cups in a children’s tea-set unless you deliberately wanted to push an already floundering parent completely over the edge? So I’m saying “Screw you and your evidently Evil Agenda, Fisher Price” and I’m teaching my children to drink left-handed. Ha! And when I’ve managed to finish my dossier, I’m going to hand it to 60 Minutes and I’m going to do that left-handed as well. That’ll show them. That’ll show them all. But, as I said, I’ve got to finish collating that dossier and before I can do that, I’ve got to get that damn “Up and Down” song out of my brain and… what was I saying again? Never mind, I’m off to the Target sale to get Tiddles a Little People Crack Den to add to his ever-expanding Little People empire. Toodle pip!

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I really don’t think I’ve written enough – if anything – about my local shopping centre, which I shall call “Party Central”. Once an aircraft hangar, it is now the cavernous home to a major supermarket and a growing number of other shops and on any given day you can go there to rub shoulders with a broad selection of our fair city’s dispossessed and mentally unhinged AND/OR get your purse nicked – a shopping trip there is always full of surprises, mostly unpleasant. But at least it keeps things interesting.  

The other day, a brand new fruit’n’veg shop opened up in Party Central and I don’t think I have seen queues like that around those parts since the last time Aldi had meths on special. The place was really buzzing – and there I had been thinking that “Eat Street” (the strip of takeaway shops at one end of the carpark – and no, I’m not making up that name) was the most happening place round here (if you define “happening” as being three bored teenagers throwing cold chips at each other and a man kicking his dog). Anyway, there was definitely a real buzz going on and it didn’t take long to infect Tiddles and The Pixie, who started running around in circles with their arms stretched out – perhaps as a nod to the original occupants of the the space, but more likely because the sugar from the donut I’d allowed them each had kicked well and truly in. 

I was trying to make a swift exit when I got caught up at the automatic doors by an elderly lady who wanted to oooh and aaahhh over Tiddles, who has what I can only describe as a “Musical Theatre” way of walking through doors, like at any moment he’s on the verge of bursting into joyful song, or at the very least breaking into a Jazz Run across the carpark. I turned around to bring The Pixie into the spotlight as well to take a little bow – because she, too, is pretty cute – when I realised that she Just Wasn’t There. I stepped back into the shopping centre and had one of Those Moments where your whole body goes as cold as ice. Not in a 4711 Ice Cologne kind of way, but that snap-frozen-to-your-very-core feeling you get it seems your beloved child has simply disappeared off the face of the planet and you instantly shed five years off your life-expectancy. 

So there I was, standing with Tiddles under one arm and my shopping under the other arm, and I started shouting her name, all the while scanning the shopping centre wildly for the merest hint of hot pink. I felt myself break out in a cold sweat. I started losing my grip on Tiddles and running the risk of losing a second child in as many minutes. I was about to either start wailing like a baby or vomiting like a baby or both. And then I suddenly noticed a brand new passport photo booth right next to the automatic doors, which was a welcome surprise – even amidst my panic – because A) until recently, most of the patrons of Party Central were unlikely to travel further afield than their local methadone centre or than the court order placed upon them would allow; and B) I could see two little pink Crocs visible beneath the curtain. 

And at that very moment, The Pixie stepped out from behind the curtain with a little David Copperfield-esque flourish as if to say “Aren’t I just the clever one?”. And she was smiling her Bestest Smile at me, like she’s actually just stepped out of a limo and is about to work the red carpet at the opening of, say, a passport photo booth at Party Central. And I felt like shouting at her and hugging her and having her permanently stapled to my wrist – all at the same time. But ultimately I chose to just hug her tight (as tight as I could while still holding Tiddles and the shopping) and I murmured into her hair “My precious little girl…” At which point, she pulled away from me and and said, with wide-eyed innocence, “Were you looking for me absolutely everywhere, Mummy?”. And suddenly I went back to just wanting to shout at her.  

By the way, while I’m on the topic of happy reunions, I’m relieved to report that I finally found Buddy Bear (he of “Gin and Bear it” and “The Dangers of Taking the Piss” fame) cowering in a cluttered corner of the house, which meant we could at last return him to the school. But first Mr Justice had to complete his entry in the Buddy Bear book. 

“How do you spell ‘Gin Palace’, mummy?” he asked.

I instantly began to have this little panic attack on the inside: “Shit, shit, shit. What does he know and what has he written – or worse still – what has he *drawn*??” But on the outside, I was all “Oh, darling boy, I think you need to write about your own adventures with Buddy Bear, not mine”, punctuated with a tinkly little laugh like a peal of tiny bells. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

“Oh, okay.” he said. And he wrote about building “Buddy Bear World” with his friend Master G instead. Nice diversion there, NDM, even if I do say so myself.

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The Pixie has been up in the night a couple of times recently with an acute case of Ants Pants but, unlike Tiddles who is prone to non-specific forms of the condition, she herself narrowed this outbreak down to an “ouchy bottom”. Concerned I might end up having to look at her bottom with a flashlight (see “Seven Years of Itch“) I decided to leave it to the professionals and took her to see the doctor instead. Five minutes and $55 later, we walked out of the consulting room with the name of an anti-fungal cream, an information sheet sporting a pretty much to-scale diagram of the vaginal/anal area and – at last! – a legitimate medical reason to Phenergan one of my children at night. 

As we walked back through the crowded waiting room to settle our bill, The Pixie looked solemnly at the info sheet and, with one hand firmly in her undies, exclaimed at the top of her voice “Why does my bottom look like this?”. And then “Does *your* bottom look like this, mummy?” And then, after pulling her hand out of her undies, somewhat enigmatically: “My finger has become a robot finger”. 

But the real fun was yet to come. I had been given the task of extracting a urine sample from The Pixie. Which is easier said than done. Of course, had it been Mr Justice, who lives permanently on the edge of wetting his pants, we would have no problem. No problem at all. Hell, he could fill me a keg’s worth at a minute’s notice if he had to.

But not “The Camel”. That girl has taken Water Saving to a whole new level: not one single drop would she relinquish during the THREE attempts we made in the surgery toilet. I started to worry that we would be done for loitering in a public toilet when – thankfully – one of the reception staff informed me I could always get her to do it at home and bring it in later. Why, she went on to tell me, I could even refrigerate it overnight and bring it in next morning. However, considering Tiddles’ little misadventures with the contents of our fridge, I could see that was just a blog entry waiting to happen. 

So we set off home, where I began to ply her with water, lots and lots of water. We had a few false trips to the toilet – I think she was starting to like the fact I had to grovel around at her feet with my little specimen jar – and then finally (finally!) she had this look on her face like the floodgates were about to open. 

At that precise moment, the phone rang and – goldfish memory and all – I immediately forgot about my mission because I saw that the handset was missing and I found myself telling KT via the speaker phone about how the handset was missing and that I was having to talk to her on the speaker phone (you know, the important stuff…). And meanwhile The Pixie crept off quietly to do her business without me or my jar. Doh!

And so the waiting game began again. She chugged three cups of cordial in quick succession and, at my husband’s suggestion, we went outside for her to “water the garden”. So there I was, standing around in the garden with my little jar, waiting for my daughter to piss and my husband said to me “You know what this is? This is karma getting us back for Buddy Bear”. 

And you know what? He was right. Since my “Gin and Bear it” post, I’ve had a run of bad luck. Not only have we had this whole piss-collecting debacle, but Tiddles almost got his head caught in an automatic door, I’ve had to change TWO pre-6am poos plus I did the whole school run AND went for coffee with a friend with my trousers inside out. What’s worse is that Buddy Bear has subsequently gone Missing In Action – obviously I’ve pushed him so far off the Righteous Path that he’s taken to turning tricks in the red light district. Pretty soon, I’ll have to notify the school about his absence and then the police will be around asking all kinds of questions and they’ll have to confiscate my hard drive and they’ll find the bear photos and then a concerned member of the public will come forward with some story about seeing me hang out at a public toilet with a specimen jar and a lewd picture of a vagina and it will All. Come. Undone.

There’s a moral in there somewhere. I just hope that, if someone finds it, they tell me where it is as I suspect that might be where old Buddy Bear is hiding himself as well.

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