Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

men ancholy

There was a little boy in my life.

He reached up to hold my hand. He was terrible at tying his shoe laces. His best friend at kinder was a girl named Alex. He played with matchbox cars.

 

We took a walk together down the bike track, close to the creek. He watched the trickles of water. Looked at the trees, the bark, the leaves, touched a washed rock, stared at a blade of grass.

He asked “How was this world made?”

He wasn’t interested in who, he was interested in how.

He was three. And he already knew there was a bigger picture.

 

If I close my eyes I can see him now. He hasn’t gone anywhere. But he’s not here anymore.

Tonight I feel off-balance. The axis of my earth has shifted. Slightly. Perhaps no one else notices. The changes have been gradual. Daily infinitesimal.

 

I now look up to see this little boy.

He puts his arm across me, protectively, before we cross the road.

He mows the lawn because he is saving for his first car. Or a play station three, whichever comes first.

He plays his guitar with his best mate at school. His best mate is Jase, an enthusiast of Queen and ACDC.

But he likes to play Sunshine of your love because he knows I like the sound of the first few bars.

 

He reminds me to take my vitamins. Every day.

 

He’s learning how to swear. But he never says anything rude in front of girls.

He’s learning how to cook. And he teaches me about renewable food sources.

He shows me the pumpkins he has planted. He demonstrates the male to female pollination process. He’s rigged the garden so the pumpkins have a soft place to form. So they don’t hang themselves and wither. The vines twist up the back fence and down past the tree he grew from pits we spat out three summers ago.

 

He needs new shoes. I push my toes into them, ready to squeeze, but I realise that they are roomy on me now.

 

I tell him that when he falls in love, he should find someone who doesn’t want to change him.

I tell him that when he falls in love, he should find someone whom he can respect.

He sighs and rolls his eyes. But his ears are paying attention.

 

I watch him when he’s sleeping. One hand squashed under chin and cheek. I’m staring. Trying, trying to find the little boy. He’s there somewhere. Enveloped in this man-child.

I understand now,

One cannot pine for something they have not lost.

But the axis of my earth has shifted.

And I’m standing in his shoes,

trying to find my feet.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

cadbury-milk-chocolateWas reading today about a group who have “shamed” companies such as MacDonalds, Kellogs and Krispy Kreme for using apparent “healthy” messages to promote their unhealthy products.

It’s true.

Many companies spotlight one aspect of their product, *low in fat* but make no mention of the seventeen spoonfuls of sugar per bite.

It’s called marketing. 

Shaming companies into utilizing a more ethical way of appealing to the young minds of our children is perfectly fine, admirable in fact.

But it doesn’t absolve our duties as parents to teach our children to be media savvy.

I don’t see the point in bringing up our children in a cotton wool community because we don’t live in a cotton wool world. Advertising of children’s products is the first way in which we can teach our children to read between the lines. It’s the equivalent of media pull-up-pants.

My kids can beg and plead and show me their best rendition of sweet puppy-dog faces but I still will not buy them Fruit roll ups. Ask them why and they dutifully reply: “Because they are not as healthy as they pretend to be.”

If we sanitise all children’s advertising how will they cope with the big, ugly, truth of the grown up world? Ever wondered why all those lovely old people believe everything that’s spouted on those commercial Current Affair programmes? It’s simple, they grew up without media training.  Let’s face it- most of them grew up without media. They see the news as having a voice of authority, and like a Doctor’s, it’s one that is never questioned. It would be nice if everything on these current affairs programs was honest and real and we were safe to believe. Sadly that will never be the way. Business is business and no program on television or article in a magazine is without it’s bias. In one form or another.

Krispy Kreme’s school fund raising campaign seems to take the biggest battering of them all.

How dare they entice families to purchase super sweet, high fat donuts in the name of school sponsorship? This isn’t encouraging a healthy lifestyle at all. Yet there’s no public outrage over all the chocolate fundraising that Cadbury has done over the years?

But maybe it’s because Cadbury has a glass and a half of real dairy milk in every block. And we all know that milk is very healthy for you.

Isn’t it?

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.”

Read Full Post »

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….

Read Full Post »

This afternoon we trolled through the garage (otherwise known as the repository for everything other than the car) looking for a case suitable for Miss 8’s impending camp.

Her first camp.

I finally found the one I was looking for, a snazzy-surfy one that her big brother had used on his first camp. I was elated. Phew! I never thought I would find it in all that junk. “But Mum…” Miss 8 said incredulously “it’s a boy’s suitcase.” I looked at it.

Yes.

She’s right it is a boy’s suitcase.

When her big brother went to camp he didn’t mind taking the old red sheet that had the rip in the centre and the Frankenstein stitches. He didn’t even mind that he had a non matching pillowcase. But now I have a whole new ball game on my hands. Don’t get me wrong she’s pulled out her old jumpers and jeans…but I’ve been firmly instructed that the pyjamas must match (tick) and may I please have new volleys (tick-and fine with me- I don’t want her taking her good runners anyway) and was it possible if I had a girls suitcase- please Mum pretty please?

Boy oh boy girls are different.

Part of me can’t justify buying another case, and another part of me wants to get the coolest-grooviest-girly-case I can find.

I remember the day my Mum told me we were going shopping for my primary school camp. I was elated. We were going to the biggest Kmart in town (the one in Burwood) and I felt like the luckiest kid on the planet- I was getting new stuff! Driving along my dreamy thoughts of new sleeping bags and fluffy socks abruptly screeched to a halt as we detoured to the… doctor’s surgery. There waiting for me was a big-fat-juicy tetanus shot.

Tonight I’ve taken a picture of the snazzy-surfy-suitcase.

Tomorrow it’s going on e-bay.

Read Full Post »

According to my weeping daughter, who had flung herself across her bed, two girls, (count them fingers sticking up at me) two girls in her jazz ballet class got a grade higher than she did in her dance exam.

I make her sit up. We wipe the trail of snot off her pillowcase and closely examine her new trophy.

“Wow.” I said.

“I think that’s real gold.” big brother said.

“Is that my dinner in the oven?” Dad said.

 

Back last year my daughter did not have such high expectations. I had chosen this new dance studio because I didn’t like the one she had been previously enrolled in (errr the owner brings in giant dog-unleashed- to watch wee-little children dance and then says- “oh but it’s a friendly dog’…). She sat the first exam with the new studio and we were all pleasantly surprised when she received a top grade. It was very exciting. But little did I know what enormous pressure this would put on her small rounded pink shoulders the following year.

 

Her disappointment is palpable.

 

We tell her she’s great/gorgeous/talented/marvelous all to no avail. Tears keep streaming. I remind her that just because someone did better than her doesn’t mean her result isn’t fantastic. Commended does after all sound pretty impressive to me and it’s much higher than fail or pass or credit. I ask her to tell me how everyone else did and her story wafts around, facts are blurry. Clearly her perceptions are more important than reality.

I hold her close and ask her if I can facebook how proud I am. She brightens instantly. She’s social networking savvy at eight. She knows grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins will see my comment and go to her (very restricted) page and leave lov-er-ley messages for her. I show her what I write. I tell everyone how proud I am.

 

Later I creep into her room and watch her sleeping for awhile.

The mother-part-of-me wants to tell her not to be so hard on herself.

But the preparing-my-kids-for-real-life-part-of-me is proud of her for a reason other than how well she actually did in the exam.

 

 I’m proud of her for wanting more.

Sure aiming high will land us with disappointments and many reasons to blow our noses into countless tissues over the years. But it also means we don’t settle for mediocrity.

 

Last week during some random conversation I asked my daughter (who is only in grade three) if she wanted to be the Gold House Captain when she gets into grade six? She immediately answered “no.”  I was very disappointed as she attends the same school as I did and we are all mad for our Gold House. She looked at my crestfallen face and said “I don’t want to be the house captain mummy- because I want to be the school captain.”

 Stay tuned for an update in three years.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »