Saturday, November 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This post originally appeared as a column in Practical Parenting, November 2010
As summer heats up, mothers of two-year-olds around the country turn their thoughts to toilet training. My little Teddy will be excited, I’m sure. He’s spent almost all his life wrapped in nappies, so a season of letting it all hang out will be a wonderful treat to him. As it is, when disrobed, he is always pleased to regard his own naked glory. ‘Pea-nitz, Mama!’ he shouts with delight. ‘Lookit! Pea-nitz!’
Mainly Ivy’s decorative efforts were confined to the liquid kind. Usually she managed to poo in the potty; but not always. One day Keith noticed she had that thousand-mile-stare as she leaned against the couch.
'Are you doing a poo, Ivy?' he said.
'No, daddy, I just relaxing,' she replied, and then looked shamefaced as a little nugget fell out of the leg of her pants.
Just then I came home from the shop.
'What's up?' I said.
'I did a shorts in my poo, Mummy,' she said.
Another afternoon I come unexpectedly upon a steamy little offering in the hallway. ‘Why is there a poo on the floor, Ivy?’ I asked helplessly. ‘I just wanting to see what it’s look like,’ she told me.
Ivy was particularly good at the psychological aspect of warfare. She would wee on the couch cover, which spent more time on the line that summer than in the house, and when it was removed, would stealthily lay a little egg on the cushion itself. One memorable evening there was an Incident in the bath. It involved Ivy standing up, wailing, a little nugget in each hand, as Keith called for help and tried to stop her putting her fingers in her mouth. The next day she talked about the chocolate Daddy wouldn't let her eat in the bath. I think in toddler-therapy they call it a 'disconnect.'
The weeks passed. The Wee War limped on. Ivy refused to go to the toilet at the park, but instead climbed into the driver’s seat before we went home and let the rivers run. She merrily went though four or five pairs of Thomas the Tank engine underpants a day. I hopelessly tried to keep on top of the groaning laundry and the secret corner-tinkling. ‘Mummy is a bit angry,’ Ivy would say conversationally, with her hand on my shoulder. ‘OK, where is the wee?’ I would wearily reply; cloth and floor-spray in hand.
Will it be easier dealing with a little boy and his pea-nitz? Will it be a summer full of fruity bath-bombs, and a lingering fragrance of Eau-de-Puppy-Shelter? The double-covers are on the couch and I’m prepared for battle, dear readers. I’ll keep you posted.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
When Ivy was three months old, we moved to a little beach town an hour or two south of Sydney and fell, to our joy, into a fabulous little community of like-minded bobos, bogans and beloved fruitcakes. But every once in a while, I feel the need to take off up the highway, sans babies, and see my Ladies, where we exchange information, pics, gossip and warm, fuzzy love.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
The fairy babies left Ted a present - a big blue dog with cuddly arms and legs to replace his lost plastic friends. Initially, Ted was excited by Big Dog, but when he went to bed last night, he really struggled with his loss.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I love a fiesty dame. Recently she wrote this New York Times article on modern motherhood, and her perspective, as always, made me think. Even when I don't agree with the content of a feminist rant, I will always support a womans right to get shouty. And I understand where these second-wave feminists struggle with the new breed; the bobo, bread-bakey, home-makey, earnest mamas of the current Western zeitgeist. (Guilty as charged.) Jong and her crew fought for women to have choices outside of the home. And here their daughters and grand-daughters are, embracing the kitchen that they emancipated us from.
I thank Jong and her sisterhood for giving me the choice to be at home with Ted and Ivy. I don't feel lessened or sidelined by that choice. But the modern world of parenting is a funny beast, and the opinions of strident women like her, and the French writer Elizebeth Badinter (whose theory 'give the baby a bottle and have a drink and a smoke too, if you feel like it', is sadly missing in the parenting books I've been reading) are important voices.
I think its is time for this examination of modern parenting mores. I worry about the give-me-attachment-or-give-me-death school of thought. Even though I agree with most of its precepts, it always seems to me that Mum comes last in this thinking. Can't you put the damn baby down? Can't you let it cry for ten minutes? Will it really be scarred for life? Really?
Trends in parenting theory will come and go, but what remains consistent is that the whole caper is hard work. Most of the mums I know these days struggle between twin poles of guilt: when I'm house-working, I should be playing with the kids, and when I'm playing, I should be cleaning the house. I am always reading little quotes and thoughts along the lines of 'The dust bunnies will still be there tomorrow. Don't feel guilty about using that precious time to build Lego castles...' Well, frankly, I don't. I congratulate myslef when I'm building the Lego castles. That's fine mothering, dammit! My guilt comes when I'm sacked out at the end of the day watching Wife Swap (I may have mentioned this before once or twice) and the laundry is piled, unfolded on the lounge.
Attachment, helicopter, free-range or unschooling parents are all still just people. Idiosyncratically flawed. That's why all families are different. Me, sometimes I am energetic, affectionate and creative. Sometimes I am buggered, moody and reliant on ABC2. Sometimes Keith is a brilliant mind of his generation. Sometimes he is a grumpy man watching football on the couch in his underpants. I'm not perfect, the kids aren't perfect and our parenting isn't either.
Do the best you can, says Jong at the end of her article. There are no rules.
Hooray for shouty feminists.