little bother of a brother

This morning as I was trying to leave the house an argument erupted.

Scarlett was trying to tell me something, and her brother was complaining at me that I hadn’t put his cereal bowl in the right spot. I told Scarlett to wait a minute. At this point she burst into tears and ran down stairs screaming that Xavier always gets to talk first.

After losing my own temper, I put Xavier in his place (screaming) while I went to find Scarlett. When I found her I apologised for what had happened.

As I hugged her she said “I wish Xavier had a zipper in his mouth and only you could open it”.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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fibbing for fun

This evening after dinner, three and a half year old Xavier came to me to tell me something very important. He told me that our dog Biddy had urinated on the lounge room floor (as she often does being a 16 year old dog with kidney failure). His sister is often praised for raising our attention to this, and I thought how helpful it was of him to do the same.

When I went to inspect his find, I was puzzled as to why the dog would have gone behind a lamp in the corner of the room. I looked at the puddle and realised it looked more like spilled water than urine, so I questioned him about it.

He assured me that he was not fibbing several times, but after further questioning it came out. I was baffled as to why he would go out of his way to tell me a lie to avoid admitting to spilling some water – it was only a small amount after all.

I’ve asked him to tell the truth from now on. We’ll see how that goes…

boy stuff

Confronted with a bare bottom boy bounding down the stairs, wiggling and wobbling all around the place, I asked “why haven’t you got any pants on?”. He replied with the most logical explanation “it’s much cooler than way Mum”.

it's much cooler that way mum

guns

I’ve heard other parents talk about the strange attraction boys seem to have for guns, but it’s only recently that my boy has started mentioning them in conversation. I have a few friends whose children own toy guns, but we spend little time with them and do not have any of our own. When an opportunity presents itself, I talk to my children about why I think guns as a weapon for killing animals or people is wrong, and they listen.

Today while watching the Smurfs movie (of all things) Xavier witnessed a scene where a police officer used a stun gun on Gargamel. Xavier asked what it was and I told him it was a kind of gun used to shock people. He turned to me and said “one day I want a gun to shoot the baddies”. I tried to tell him that shooting bad people wasn’t the right thing to do, but he explained “super heroes kill baddies”. He is right, even if not always with guns, they do.

I wonder if this is something inescapable for parents of boys, unless you completely lock your children away from the world and all forms of media. We don’t watch the news when the children are up, but they pick it up from the little television they watch. Scarlett is exposed to the same content (although she tends to tune out more when any super hero type program is on) and she does not talk about killing baddies. Not at all.

It is a strange thing…

stare

starting school

stand up straight Starting school is something I’ve thought plenty about over the past five and a half years. When Scarlett was younger, I wondered if she would be able to start school ‘early’ at four and a half since she was an August baby.

After her first year of preschool, I quickly realised that she was nowhere near ready for school, and didn’t even ask the question.

During her second year of preschool, she flourished. Under the guidance of a firm but caring teacher, she learnt that not everything could be done her way, and also learnt how to be confident and assertive in groups, overcoming her shyness a little.

Once she ‘graduated’ from preschool, I had no qualms about her readiness for school. That was until the week before she was due to start…

I got messages and emails from friends wishing me luck. Every person I saw asked me how I was feeling about it. It made me focus on it much more that I would have otherwise, and it made me anxious and confused.

Unlike some mothers, I never have those moments of longing or regret that the baby days are over. I don’t think back to my children being babies and wish I could go back. I am always excited and relieved to pass new milestones and don’t want to ponder the past too much.

on the way in
All this talk of how I would cope with my first child going to school made me wonder if I would be emotional. Would I be scared and not want to let her go? I did feel nervous on the day we were due to go. Had I remembered to label everything correctly? Had I ensured she had everything she needed? It was really more about if I was going to pass my first day as a school mum.

After we finally arrived for her first day of big school, I walked with her to the classroom, and before I had a chance to think, she had gone in and sat down with the class. I had to call her back so I could say goodbye and give her a kiss. I did not get teary or cry. I did not feel sad or worried for her – I was just relieved and proud.

She is a smart little girl who is confident in herself. She makes up her mind about (most) things for herself and is determined enough to see things through. While she has not gone into kindergarten with many close friends, I know she will make some when it suits her.

Now there is only the matter of my own insecurities… I have many mixed feelings about the incongruence of my desire to further myself in my career, and my want to be a ‘good’ mother and participate in my children’s school life.

scarlett & freyaTalking to other parents at school, I have discovered that (mostly) mums are expected to participate in school activities such as sporting events, helping with group work in class, canteen duty and more. As someone who works four days a week, I am not sure how much of this I will be able to commit to, yet I don’t want my child to feel that her parents are not as involved as others’ parents.

I guess it is something many parents have no choice in, and I am lucky that, for the moment, I have some flexibility to work ‘part time’. I am already starting to worry about two years down the track when my youngest starts school, when my right to work part time will no longer be a given, but a privilege. In the mean time, I guess I will have to learn to navigate each school term, and see where I can fit everything in…

for future reference – technology and teenagers

In about 8 years time (depending on how technology has changed in that time), I’d like to remember the contract blogger Janell Burley Hofmann made with her son when giving him an iPhone for the first time. Here is her letter to him:

Dear Gregory

Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?

2. I will always know the password.

3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad.” Not ever.

4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 pm It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.

6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.

7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.

10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person — preferably me or your father.

11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.

13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO (fear of missing out).

15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.

16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.

xoxoxo,

Mom

christmas baking

Today I spent the day baking with my mum. For as long as I can remember, my mum has made the most delicious biscuits each christmas. There is her famous almond bread, hazelnut logs, almond crescents and pistachio pears.

As my sisters an I got older, we started to pitch in and began helping out each year. For several years now though, both my sisters have been living in another state, so it’s just mum and I. This year it was I who approached mum to get the day organised.

There is something very special about baking with a mission. Not just baking one cake or a batch of cookies, but to tackle the sum of baked goods we plan each year requires organisation and hard work. For six straight hours we each moved from one task to the next. Grinding, beating, mixing, moulding, baking, dusting, drizzling. Today we barely stopped to eat lunch or have a cup of tea.

The results were worth it.

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Aside from the copious amounts of baked goods I returned home with today, I also left with a great feeling. Mum and I had spent the whole day working, but also chatting and just being together which has been a rare thing this year. We talked about kids, work, health, religion, education, discipline and being women. I’ve suggested we do it more often. We have a lot to talk about.