Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
This column was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, September, 2010. Apologies for the confusion, I'm out of sync here. Ted has progressed from this brand of craziness, deep into the toddler-zone. This week he will only answer to the name Trixie and answers no to everything. 'More toast, Teddy?' 'No! But I'm Trixie! But no!' He cries if Ivy won't call me Robbie Rotten. Our easygoing, agreeable little fella is breaking bad...
My dear readers, I’m worried about T-Bone. It’s very early to drop such a heavy label on him, but I think he might be an addict. His relationship with condiments has reached unhealthy proportions. He begs for tomato sauce and mayonnaise and he weeps when he can’t get them. ‘Naynays. Soss. Naynays. Soss,’ he moans in a sorrowful, endless chant, and left near an unattended bowl, within seconds he looks like he’s been at the scene of some sort of chainsaw massacre.
If he’s not truly an addict, then it can only mean one thing: he’s reached what I call the Age of No Reason. I’ve been through this before with his big sister Peanut, and it lasted from about eighteen months of age until about three. During this developmental stage, there are no half-measures. Passions are intense, desires must be met immediately, logic has no place at your table and life can be tough for those trying to parent you.
At the same time, there is incredible magic too. It’s like watching a personality unfurl like a rosebud. First sentences appear, and early obsessions, and those light bulb mama-moments when you realise ‘Ah! He understands!’ At two, children have one foot in the cuddly, Wondersuited baby camp of gorgeousness, and one foot in the child’s world of imagination and exploration. It’s a beautiful metamorphosis to witness. But it’s also often like living with an incontinent lunatic.
‘Corner?’ Peanut would ask excitedly, knowing she was in for that hilarious gag where Mum and Dad carried her back to the funny spot, over and over again.
Ignoring the tantrum is the only real option, but toddlers don’t make this easy either. Peanut liked to bang her head on the floor in rage when she was going through the Age of No Reason. At one stage I was forced to put her into a fluffy sort of special-needs hat, in an attempt to get her through her toddlerhood with something left of her frontal lobe. If ignored, she would come right up to me and shout indignantly ‘Head! Bang! Head!’
T-Bonetakes a more physical approach. If I try and ignore a tantrum, he simply moves the tantrum closer. Yesterday I tried valiantly to continue reading to Peanut while he wailed for tomato sauce. ‘Sauce is finished, T-Bone,’ I insisted, and continued on with Hairy Maclary. T-Bone wasn’t having it. ‘Ignore him, Peanut,’ I gasped, as he wrapped one arm around my neck, locked his legs across my middle and shrieked into my ear.
Just a year-and-a-half to go then, of managing this patience-sapping, brain-melting phase before T-Bone becomes reasonable and allows me to do my best parenting, which involves the judicious application and withdrawal of Milk Arrowroot biscuits and Wiggles videos. Until then, I’ll just keep us well-stocked in tomato sauce and earplugs.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This week we set up a mud pie kitchen, inspired by some of these amazing set-ups.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Friends, I have stumbled along the crunchy road to Green Heaven.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Big news, my friends.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Back to all the words. This blog is where I keep track of stories as they are published, so apologies if you're tired of all the wacky. This piece was written for the Summer issue of Early Years Magazine. And p.s:- Tania, is this your wee-bath story? I wrote this column a while ago, and I can't remember, but it made me laugh for days. And now it is immortal.
Close your eyes, readers. Come with me on a little trip back in time. A faraway time, deep in your distant past. A time BC: before children. And now, in that misty memory, imagine you are taking a road trip. The guitar is there, the chocolate, the bottle of port, the crossword. Thick books and driving CD’s are piled high. Ribbons of coast road unravel before you as you cruise along, minds blissfully empty, needing only to stop at an occasional farm-shop for eggs and honey, or a country café for a leisurely latte.
Some years later, life has changed. I’m preparing for a seven hour drive with our two kids in tow, and the packing is a whole different kettle of fish fingers. The CD’s are less of your indie-folk genre, and more of your Hooley Dooley’s (and you know you’re listening to too much children’s music when you and your partner are singing along to ‘I’m A Slug’, and agreeing ‘you know, they’re really very talented.’)
Road snacks don’t include chocolate peanuts or ginger beer. Snacks, these days, are boxes of dried fruit, cheese and crackers, sliced apples; carefully prepped for excitement of eating and separated into containers to give maximum time and interest. There are emergency wafers and caramels for the inevitable moments of madness. Surprise toys. Mapped-out stops at parks for running races, Duck, Duck, Goose, and other desperate attempts to tire out the tiny travellers.
I’m working hopeful, this trip, with a fully stocked Fun Bag. It took me hours and it contains a range of fiddly activities, intended to keep us twenty minutes ahead of the meltdown curve. We travel with a Rewards Chart complete with fairy stamp. We have lolly snakes for every hour of happy behaviour. We have a Dictaphone for Ivy to record and play back her own stories on. Trading on the vanity of the pre-schooler, we have little photo books featuring Ivy and Ted engaged in different activities, so they can gaze lovingly at themselves for a very long time. I know it sounds like the work of an obsessive mother, perhaps one in need of anxiety medication, but really, it’s just what I’ve been driven to after three years of listening to Ivy lose it, loudly and theatrically, in the car. Once she spent ten minutes on the freeway straining desperately against her car-seat and shouting ‘Undo me! I can’t undo me! But I have to get ooooooouuuuut!’
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
This post originally appeared in Practical Parenting Magazine, November 2010
Sometimes, I am faced with a certain parental schizophrenia, although I haven’t yet required medication, or constructed myself a foil hat with flaps that channel messages from the Sunrise team. I do occasionally talk back to the Wiggles, but that’s just when I’ve been forced to watch too many DVDs and feel compelled to offer advice. ‘Your pants are too tight, Anthony! Too tight! And tell
No, my mental disconnect is the furry line between reality and fantasy which delineates my imaginary children from my real ones. It happens across a few aspects of life. Take dinnertime, for instance.
Take dinnertime, for instance.My imaginary children eat whatever I put in front of them. They say ‘Brown rice and broccoli! Woo-hoo! Thanks for optimising our future dental health and academic success through a balanced diet, Mum!’
In real life, T-Bone will eat anything but by ‘eat’, I mean convey food to his mouth after taking each forkful on a journey across his outfit, the table and his sister. At two, he is barely stringing words together, but when I put spaghetti bolognaise down in front of him last week, he still managed to shout ‘Dog food, Mama!’
Three-year-old Peanut, meanwhile, says, as a reflex: ‘I don’t like that,’ whenever dinner is placed in front of her. An average mealtime might involve three visits to time-out, four threats to withhold dessert and six months off my life-span. When forced to chew, she can make one mouthful last longer than the
In my head, my kids dress in organic cotton, hand-made, fair-trade garments, woven on the earnest hips of a female collective from a developing nation. Logo-free, calming neutrals, they would be worn with just a touch of whimsy. A bespectacled owl badge, perhaps.
In real life, Peanut’s all-time favourite outfit goes like this: Sportacus underpants worn beneath a pair of satin Wiggles boxer shorts and a Thomas the Tank Engine singlet topped with a stretched-out, over-loved blue top that reads ‘Bring Back Warney’. She likes to top this ensemble with a pair of sunglasses I made for her third birthday that feature two Wiggles stuck on straws and leaping, maniacally and permanently, off the side of her head. T-Bone fights Peanut for the Wiggles shorts, but he prefers to wear them as a hat. Lately, he has developed a passion for a striped sun frock that he calls his ‘dancing dress.’
I can’t really blame the kids. To be honest, I am a different mother in my imagination too. There, I never withdraw to a quiet place in my own head where the whinging can’t reach. The television doesn’t function as a fat, square, twinkly babysitter. I use only cloth nappies, feed only organic and I am fully Present in the Moment.
Then again, maybe, my imaginary mother-self is a bit much. I would probably avoid her at the park. And those imaginary kids…, well,the other children would probably hang them up on a basketball hoop by the strap of their home-sewn underpants. Perhaps, in the end, reality ain’t so bad.