Friday, August 28, 2009

In which I take a long hard look at my parenting, put myself on the naughty shelf and start the attitute adjustment.

The times, they are a-changin.

I've sent myself to parenting re-education camp.

After a few weeks of stressful home-life, I consulted my favourite parenting handbook: The Science Of Parenting. There's always one book that speaks your language, I think, and this is mine.

In Sunderland's breakdown on tantrums, she splits their causes into 6 possibilities:

1. Tired or hungry. (Easy fix.)
2. An undeveloped emotional brain.(Some bad behaviour kids just can't help, like the impulse to shout and run.)
3. Psychological hungers. (For recognition, for stimulation, for structure.)
4. Needing help with a big feeling.
5. Picking up on your stress.
6. You activate the wrong part of their brain. ( For example, shouting, activating stress hormones rather than play and laughter, releasing calming opoids.)

I think I do pretty well with most of these, but it's number 3 that kept me up last week, as I chewed on it. Attention? How can I give more attention? I'm there all day, I thought defensively, but it felt hollow. My presence is there, yes, and I attend all the time, but the quality of my attention could use improvement. Something rang painfully true.

Ivy, at almost-three, needs a lot more stimulation than she did at two. And Teddy, at one, seems to have leapt, overnight, into a new realm of development. He climbs, he babbles, he needs constant cuddling. Ivy's demands for stimu-ttention have been outweighing my supply. Tanks: empty.

It was either diazepam prescription (refillable), short stay at farm (funny), or new system. I chose door number 3, and took a hard look at myself.

realisation 1

My expectations of Ivy and Ted are too high. Really, I've thought that they should be able to play for periods alone, and happy, while I get on with maintaining house and home around them. I'm in the same room, I would think, I'm talking to you as I fold the washing, or cook, or plan a wedding, or *insert any of a thousand domestic tasks here* Isn't that enough??

WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM MEEEEEEE? my internal voice has been screaming. Did you hear it?

*light bulb*

They are two, and one, these creatures. They don't know anything. They need me to teach them which end of a banana is the food. Why am I not teaching them how to play alone? Teaching them more tricks?

realisation 2

I'm retreating, feeling stressed and frustrated, spending less time getting down and dirty in fun-and-games land, so I'm forcing Ivy to up the ante to get enough attention. I need to rethink the amount and type of stimulation I'm giving her so that she doesn't have to go crazy-bananas to satisfy that need for action.



there's a new routine in play at the house. It's a work in progress. My aim is to create a happier, calmer space for us all, to bring some order to the chaos, to release Ivy and I from a pattern of defiance and discipline, to create space for positive praise, and higher-order learning than there's been room for lately. I'm playing a lot more. Reading more books. Making the cubby, but getting in the cubby too, and hanging out in there more. Setting up the zones. Helping with 'sharing' practice. Mainly, I'm thinking of myself as 'teacher', and improving my classroom.

My expectations of how our days should run are shifting, and I feel more connected with both her and Ted. My expectations of her behaviour are still high, but there have been almost no tantrums, and, it hurts to admit, no puddles on the floor. Has she even been weeing on the floor to get my attention?

*the guilt*

*oh, the guilt*

Maybe my changes this week will help us to grow, as a family, in a happier, healthier way. And here: a little band practice in the afternoon. Nobody on the naughty shelf, and my spirit hopeful that I'm doing a better job this week than last.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You can stop saving the drama for your mama now. Please.

Yesterday morning I struggled to get out of the shower. I was so deep in my daydream about what I had to do at the office. Jeez I had a good time.

Better get onto planning that trip to Brewarrina for the teenage pregnancy position paper, I thought, and mused for a while on the best way to run a community round-table discussion. Then I had a meeting to discuss funding for a research project on swingers in NSW, and scheduled some time to write a factsheet on chlamydia for the web.

I did used to have a fun job.

We're only on tank water here though, and at about 30%, so I finally had to cut my little party short and get back to my real life.

Can you tell things at home with the puppies are wearing me out a little?

Ivy has the naughties, big time, and Teddy has the cling-ons, so all day it feels like I just prise one baby off my shin long enough for the other to kick me in it. I'm planning changes - stricter routines, better planning of Ivy's activities, and other options, but this week has been so full-on that I'm all over the place like a mad-womans shit.

The naughty shelf has been piled high, and my right hip, doing overtime as Teddy-shelf, has locked up tight like drum. Even the naughtiness + time= comedy equation has failed to work lately.

Sense of humour going south, and dreaming of the good old days writing papers on the increase of syphilis in Sydney's gay population.

I think I'm in need of a holiday.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flight of Le Conchords get froggy with it:

Thanks to Christel for this gem. It made me ooh la laugh my arse off. Dedicated to my beloved Francophile mum-in-law Liz:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Future Mr. Fatty Fat-Fat?

Tonight, for dinner, Teddy ate an omelette with bacon, cheese and peas, a corn cob, a banana, a bowl of yoghurt with blueberries and a piece of vegemite toast.

And still he yelled at me when I closed the kitchen.

Good healthy appetite? Or binge-eater + enabling mother with 'feeder' complex?

(Meanwhile, I had to encourage Ivy through her omelette by naming every bite a different Wiggle.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

For Theodore Fox, on the occasion of his first birthday

Dear Teddy,

When they handed you to me in the hospital, last winter, you looked just like a little orangutan. Red and wrinkly all over, you were dusted with blonde fur and you blinked calmly up at me. When I looked at your eyes, I met the same sky-blue peepers that I had, the colour my Dad had passed down to me.

You were such a mellow baby, Teddles. You hardly cried for months. In fact, when you did wail for ten minutes once, your Dad and I and I hauled Ivy out of bed and bundled the whole family in the car. En route to the hospital, you fell asleep, and sheepishly, we turned and went home. Had we made it to Emergency, what would I have said? ‘My baby is CRYING! Help us, somebody! Run every test you can, and damn the expense!'

You didn’t stay quite this peaceful, once you figured out that you needed to share airspace with your all-action-all-the-time big sister. But you kept your mellow, happy nature, and you’ve stayed our little orangutan.

You might like a little picture of your life at twelve months:

You wake in the morning, and love to spend half an hour in bed with the family before breakfast. Dad dances you in the air, and blows on your belly, and Ivy tells you which Wiggle or Thomas train you are expected to play today. Affectionate to the death, you fling yourself at me with abandon. Often I cop a sudden left hook, and your loving head-butts can bring us both to tears. Mostly, though, it's 'Mama!', (unspoken subtext: 'You again! What luck!') and a fierce cuddle, a beautiful way to start the day.

You have supplanted your Dad’s place as family seagull, and happily eat all the leftovers from your sister’s plate. At nearly two years younger, you are just as solid, only half a head shorter, and share most of her clothes. (Even the pink ones.)

All day, you hate to miss the action. You are happiest perched on your mothers hip (as the osteo will confirm.) You love to squeeze into corners and small spaces, to unroll the toilet paper, to eat baby wipes and cotton balls; to unscrew the hot tap and throw it in the bath.

If the adults around you laugh, you do too, with a sudden, honking, delighted cackle you share with your sister. ‘Bah!’ you cry. ‘Mama! Dada! Ay! Dodo!’

You have a crazy jones for the computer keyboard. More than once I have come upon you wildly hammering at it while a text box on the screen says ‘Are you sure you want to delete this folder and all its contents?’ Currently you have set my screen saver to show a pair of 1920’s hipsters in suits.

You are a natural nudist, and fight at nappy and clothes-changing time with every one of your thirteen kilos. Every night, we sing you to sleep with your own little version of 'Danny Boy.' The sentiment is the same though the lyrics are different. Mine: ‘Oh, Teddy Bear, you’re such a lovely baby. Oh you are Mummy’s little baby boy...’ Dads: ‘Oh Teddy Bear, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From glen to glen, those fucking awful pipes…’

At one, you are still so much a baby. You are so deeply attached to me, and I to you, that we spend our days as loose physical extensions of the other. I can sense, though, just around the corner, the bittersweet sting of pride and sorrow that will go along with watching you navigate the world without me.

You are our love baby, McBeddles. Foxilocks Crazypants McMcintosh. Made with love, raised in love, and loved by many. Kissed, cuddled and carried all day. Love lives in every cell of your body, and love radiates from you.

You have given us a year of utter joy, Teddy.

Thanks for being you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Frozen yoghurt yumminess.

Too easy!

Blueberries, one each in the holes of an ice-cube tray. (A good job for a two-year-old sortmeister.) Honey mixed into plain yoghurt, freeze, and serve.

Berry delicious - I think they will be the hit of summer at this joint.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Which is the naughtiest vegetable?

If you're like us and try to live a crunchy granola kind of life, eating organic is one of those things you dream about, like weeing without an audience, or finding chocolate in your handbag, or winning Lotto and becoming a glamorous philanthropist with a collection of interesting hats.

Keith and I are old and tough, and can take life's daily poisons, but I'd like to keep the little creatures in my charge as pure as I can. Their systems are more susceptible to toxins and pesticides. And as a feeder, I really like to think hard on how I'm nurturing the family. A lot of love is chopped, roasted, baked and plated up in this kitchen.

I read The Complete Idiots Guide to Organic Living recently (a book with my name written all over it.) It had a seriously useful breakdown on the best and worst vegetables to buy in terms of their contamination:

Them say:

On any given day, the choices you make...could expose you to anywhere from 12-14 pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), avoiding the most contaminated vegetables can lower your pesticide content by almost 90%.


These babies require the most pesticides to grow commercially, because of being attractive to insects or having a thin skin that contaminants can easily penetrate.

1. Peaches
2. Apples.
3. Capsicum.
4. Celery.
5. Nectarines.

Best 5

These fellas come from the EWGs least contaminated list.

1. Onions
2. Avocados.
3. Sweet corn.

While the kiddos are so small I've given up on nurturing a vege garden. Not enough mother-love to go around in this nest. I'll pot some tomatoes in the next few weeks, but I don't think things will go much further than that this year. So I'm left juggling the budget to buy the best food I can to feed the tribe. I hope this list will be useful.

Plus, we have to feed the drop-ins.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wedding ideas.

A bride having a top night! As a guest, this is just what I like to see. So as the bride, do I aim to please?

Possible outfit? Too subtle?


I really would like Ivy to lead a future feminist revolution.

But I understand she might have her own row to hoe.

I only ask that she strives to be the best skank she can be, like Sal, who sent me this link, and for a good part of the early 90's wore a slinky t-shirt to nightclubs that read 'Ask Me', invented a son called Little Soro who sent letters to his 'father' through the post, and drank a buffalos birthweight in bourbon and coke.

I would never do these kinds of things.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

j'en veux, j'en veux, j'en veux...

to ride this, fully loaded, from Thirroul Park to Bulli beach.

Early morning in the Imaginarium

All three of us are sunk into our morning worlds. I am singing little snatches of leftover dream-soundtrack and slinging bits of rockmelon, toast and apple onto high chair and countertop. Ivy interrupts my reverie.

'Hello, Mummy,' she squeaks.

'Oh, hello,' I reply. 'Who am I talking to?'

Ivy has her head at a strange angle. 'I am Ivy's hair!' she sqeaaks. 'I have no eyes and no mouth! I cannot get off Ivy's head!'

I give Ivy's hair a little pat, Teddy watches thoughtfully and we all return to our toast.