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covet

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself. -Mary Schmich

 

 

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Shiny, sparkling grown-up-girl’s treasure.

Lightness and silver-chained Tiffany pleasure.

 

 

As children we covet our friend’s possessions.

But we do not begrudge them.

Children cry readily-

“I want one of those!”

But they never mean-

“And I don’t want you to have it.”

 

These things change as we get older.

 

Envy adheres to Jealousy.

Jealousy adheres to Spite.

Spite adheres to Revenge.

 

Revenge never adheres to happiness.

 

 

 

 

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 DSCN7945My daughter had a homework

assignment to do.

 

Brainstorm a BIG list of all the words you can think of that represent Australia.

 

She started off strong…

Melbourne, Victoria, koala, wombat, footy, meat pie, kangaroo, southern cross, sydney opera house, Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock, boomerang…

the list went on and on… until we started faltering, scratching our heads and wondering what to put next. Suddenly my darling girl said:

“I know! Santa!” 

We all looked at her…Santa??

“Isn’t he Australian?” she asked, “Oh no silly me-” she said slapping palm to forehead, 

“He’s not Australian, he’s  North Pole-ian.”

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j0385227Today my kids were lucky enough to be invited to a bowling party hosted by players from Melbourne Victory.

I have to admit that I don’t really follow soccer, so I quickly gave myself a Google education and we headed off -autograph book in hand.

While we were driving to the bowling alley the kids and I ruminated over what the soccer players would be like. 

The conversation went like this:

Mum to son: “I’m sure they’ll be nice. Why don’t you tell them that you played soccer last season for school?”

Son to Mum: “Awww Mum, that’s so not cool to walk up to some random stranger and say stuff like that. Maybe in your day, when you were a hippie, that was okay.”

Grrr. My son needs a history lesson.

I’m not that old. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a hippie. What a fabulous time in history to be alive. But unless my Mother painted a peace sign and flowers on my nappy in late 1969 no one could possibly classify me as being a part of the hippie movement. (A product of the hippie movement possibly, but not a part of it.)

My son’s comment did however make me think about how old I feel.

For the past few weeks I’ve noticed a little intruder on my head. He’s a silver little focker poking his unwanted face through the roots of my dye job.

When I try to get sympathy from my husband he simply points to his own salt and pepper hair and looks at me with an expression that reads: what the fock are you complaining about?  it’s nothing honey- barely noticeable.

I need a more sympathetic audience.

I part my fringe- in indignation, to show my Italian Mother-in-law. She took a close look and said “Mmm yes… you’re getting old.”

It wasn’t the response I was hoping for.

My Father-in-law said “I don’t worry about getting old anymore.” Oh good, I thought, here’s some words of wisdom on facing ageing gracefully. “I don’t worry about getting old anymore because I’m old already. Too late to worry now!”

They laugh their heads off. I don’t think it’s funny.

I don’t feel old at all. But I’ve noticed of late that I have begun to worry about it.

So here’s the big question: What age do you stop worrying about being old and actually start being old?

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Does he wash up?

 

helpingdaddy

Driving the kids home from school lately is a chore.

For at least a month there have been road works at a busy intersection I need to cross. At peak times it takes five or six turns of the traffic lights to get through. Annoying. Much.

So this afternoon instead of watching the snails slime by I flicked on the radio in an effort to keep the kids amused. There was a song playing that sounded snappy so I turned the volume up- nice and loud.

“Why’d ya do that?” my son (11) said.

“Because it’s catchy.” I replied.

“That song is sexist.” he stated.

I paid a bit more attention to the lyrics. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong.

“Why?” I asked him “Is the film clip rude?”

“No mum” he said mildly annoyed at my dumbness “it makes boys look bad.”

 Oh. Sexist.

Against men.

 Does he wash up? Never wash up
Does he clean up? No, he never cleans up
Does he brush up? Never brushed up
He does nothing the boy does nothing

He was right. Although I suspect the song is more about dancing moves than heavy-handed-man-bashing. But nevertheless it’s true- it does mambo-tunefully paint the ‘boy’ in a not so grand a light.

That got me thinking about the world I’m bringing my son up in.

As a woman it’s important to stand up for what is right and perhaps even more so for what is wrong. But does that mean we need to swing the power all the way to one side before it lands in a sensible middle?

It’s okay to teach our girls that they deserve equal wages and equal rights and equal consideration when paying for a dinner bill, but have we have also taught them that it’s not okay to put down women but it is okay to put down men?

Isn’t that a strange hypocrisy?

I don’t want my son living in a world where he is discriminated against because he is a male just as much as I don’t want my daughter growing up in a world where she is discriminated against because she is a female.

“Why do you think it’s sexist?” I asked him

“Well,” he pondered for a second “she’s singing how useless ‘the boy’ is.” And then like most conversations with eleven year old boys we were suddenly off on a tangent, albeit a related one- “And you know what everyone thinks-‘ he said “men want a wife that can cook.”

“And what do you think of that?” I asked him.

“It’s true you know [and he listed of several men in our family who actually do act that way] I don’t know why- it’s just the way they think.”

“No,” I repeated “ I asked you what you thought about that?”

“Oh” he said “Well I’ll cook when I get married.” he looked me and then added “I’ll cook sometimes…Okay I’ll cook a lot, no…I’ll cook always. Errr,’ he grumbled “I’ll cook whenever she wants me too.”

 The traffic lights were still red. I turned off the radio.

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42-15350445Was just reading a funny blog on Obama’s recent controversial speech delivered to all the kidlets of America (well at least to the ones whose mommas and poppas didn’t protest and keep them home in the trailer park that day- but ahem-I digress….) It evoked a memory of my own physical scareducation back in the good ole days of high school- circa the 80’s.

 

Our PE teacher was a tall bloke with a head of early-onset silver hair and a startling ginger beard. He’d be called a ranga-face these days- but back then we only had one name for him and that was >insert dramatic pause here< …Mr Blood. 

Well it was appropriate- because, after all, it was his actual name. 

Mr Blood had a penchant for interesting ways of promoting fitness. I was convinced that every night he must have cackled himself to sleep as he thought of another ingenious way to torture us without the aid of traditional evil implements. Under his churlish command orange dimpled basket balls and innocent looking skipping ropes somehow became weapons of mass humiliation. 

The most wicked of all his games was his own special version of Dodge-ball.

To give you a clue- we secretly called it Butt-ball. 

On the day that he introduced this charming game Mr Blood told us to line up around the perimeter of the gym. As we trudged into place he demonstrated a neat waist bend- touching his toes. Pointing to his own trim behind he said loudly “this will be the target”.  He then explained that the student at the other end of the gym had to throw the ball at the ‘target’, then snake back into the line for their turn at bending over. 

Sounds like fun huh? 

After most kids had failed to even get the ball down to the other end of the gym it was my turn to throw. The kid who sauntered into target position gave me one cool look as he slowly touched his toes. I nearly wet my navy bog-catcher-bloomers. My target was the one boy at school who really made my life miserable. For the purpose of this story I shall call him Sean. 

Sean was the master of the snide comment. He had a quick wit and knew no bounds when it came to emotional torment. He was so good at it that he rarely had to say anything at all. The mere thought of a class with him made me break out in a sweat that dripped down into my Berlei-sports-training-bra. 

I picked up the ball without any desire for revenge. My exact wish was just to get it over with as soon as possible. I hurled it across the gym floor –in an ungraceful lob. The class watched its high arc. Time stopped. The ball landed fair and square on his arse. 

Mr Blood applauded loudly as I slunk back into line.  I tried to hide, but Mr Blood had a different idea. He told us that I now had to be Sean’s target. I should have known I wouldn’t get off that easily. Revenge was Mr Blood’s game plan. Sean raced into position bouncing the ball loudly stretching out my agony as long as he could. Bounce. Bounce.     Bounce.           Bounce. I waited, my flaming face resting on my thighs. There was stillness and then the echoes of laughter bouncing off the concrete walls. His throw had landed short. A fitting end to the game. 

 

In case you are wondering- this event didn’t change my days at school.

It didn’t make me feel empowered to stand up to the bully, and it didn’t humble him in any way. We continued on as usual. He pointed out my flaws and I cowered. 

 

But just for the record- Sean was his real name.

You see- you big turd- I’m not scared of you anymore.

 

 

 

Credit where it is due:

This is the great blog I mentioned earlier – his hatred was for the pommel horse- another evil implement of physical education destined to deny generations of men from ever receiving Father’s Day cards…

go ahead read it… I’m sure you’ll love it.

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Last night our son left our loungeroom- upset with something his Dad had told him to do and stormed to his bedroom. He slammed his door so hard that the house rattled and a blast of his hormones assaulted us in the jetstream.

Dad, not one for warnings, took his DS console, which son had left on the couch, and hid it. 

Dad then hollered out- “and that’s the last you’ll see of your DS for a while young man!” to which we heard a low growl emit from said bedroom.

For a nano-second (and having watched too many eps of True Blood) it crossed my mind that our son had turned werewolf on us. But no- of course it was just the forces of impending teen-age-hood and the hormones involved. Hormones which will evolve my son from happy-go-lucky-boy into hairy-intense-man. 

 They didn’t call it puberty-blues for nothing you know.

Within fifteen minutes good natured son had returned and we received a hug and a kiss goodnight.

In the morning our son sat with me while he was eating his tub of breakky yoghurt . He stopped mid-mouthful and looked at me.

“Mum…” he said “I’ve really learnt something from last night…”

I felt a surge of pride bubble up inside.

“What’s that son?” I said

“If I ever have another tantrum I should take my DS with me.”

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Behind the Hall of Preserving Harmony is the largest courtyard of the Forbidden city.

As some of our group, sweaty but determined, headed up the grand marble staircase I was distracted by a gathering of folk who seemed intent on trying to fan themselves while catching two wild children.

These kids were slippery indeed.

They sped up and slowed down to taunt the grownups who had now drooped- either exhausted from the chase or from the heat or quite possibly both. As I got a little closer I realized that the pair of terrors were dressed identically and were obviously twins. I’ve read that triplets and quadruplets were considered bad omens in Ancient China, but in a nation of family life governed by a one child policy I suddenly realized that a multiple birth would now be a different kind of omen.

Attention turned in our direction as the group watching the twins, act out all kinds of naughtiness, spotted my daughter. With her long dark-blonde hair and fair skin she had been treated as somewhat of a celebrity in Beijing. Every where we went people asked if they could take her photograph, posing with her and intrigued by her ability to speak rudimentary phrases of Mandarin- thanks to three years of weekly Chinese lessons at school. The Mother of the twins smiled broadly and waved her camera at us pointing at my daughter and then in the direction of her girls. Miss 8- who had begun to enjoy the Miley Cyrus treatment struck a pose and waited patiently as the Mother called her girls over.

The twins however weren’t all that interested in obeying.

They ran around their Mother, black plaits whipping the stodgy air and cackling at their own defiance. Everyone looked a little embarrassed and our guide looked away muttering  “spoilt princesses”.  The Mother- maintaining a composed face grabbed at the little boy standing next to her and pushed him into frame. He obliged instantly and beamed into the lens.  I asked if this was her son mistakenly now assuming that the twins were actually a trio, but got told no he was “just a cousin”. The girls did eventually saunter over and pose, curious perhaps as to how attention had so suddenly shifted away from them.

Miss 8 is now in our lounge room adding the final touches to her suitcase for her next big adventure- tomorrows grade three camp to Mt Eliza. Her big brother is giving her all kinds of advice like:

Don’t be scared of the flying  fox- it’s a blast.

And…

Just eat everything they give you or you don’t get any dessert.

And…

Watch out for the snakes and tigers (chortle, chortle).

She’s listening intently and throwing him a playful punch when she knows he is teasing her. He suddenly gets all serious and says “You know I’m going to miss you?” she gives him a quick hug and throws in another punch just to place the sentimentality firmly back where it belongs. “Muuuuuuum” he screeches “she punched me…”

My instant reaction is to think of the heavenly quiet that will transcend our home over the next three days. Ahhhhh no sibling rivalry! But then I flashback to those  twins, and China, and the One Child Policy.

As I continued my walk that hot, hot day I found it increasingly difficult to align modern day China’s family policy with that of the world of the Dynasty Emperors. In front of me lay Palaces- one more sumptuous than the last, erected to house the abundance of Empresses and Concubines whose sole purpose was to seed as many descendants as possible. These walls would have contained a bounty of brothers and sisters. Spoilt and plump and plotting. But now mostly families with only one child walk through the courtyards to sightsee the old ways.

And of course there are those families lucky enough to have twins.

 

Three days of peace and quiet will be lovely.

But to be honest I’m also looking forward to hearing my kids argue with each other again on Friday afternoon….

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