Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sleepy Bobos

A story of mine is featuring over at today. You can comment there, if you have a moment, to spark the conversation. Thanks guys.

Ted woke us three times last night to talk his midnight crazy talk. We're making big plans to move him and Ivy into a room together in the next few weeks. Good idea? Or crazy like Anne Heche? I'm optimistic it will all go well. (But if you see me at the shops, be kind and ignore the anxious tic...)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Silver Linings

I've been a little absent from this space. A bit overwhelmed with life, to be honest. Ted is two. I forgot that Two is tough. It's tough on the family and on the two-year-old experiencing all the frustration and pain of conflicting desires for independence and closeness.

When Ted isn't speaking in his hilarious, over-complicated language (this is my bear which is yellow which is my favourite colour which is not Ivy's favourite colour which is green...) he is hugging my neck with desperate passion, or running away at top speed, or crying bitterly in Time Out, or flinging at us his greatest insult: 'You are bum!'

I'm feeling pretty buggered by the intense parenting required to manage an incontinent lunatic, while at the same time helping another human grow a brain-stem, and the urge to whinge is overwhelming. I'm tired and I'm guilty about my pathetic parenting of late; featuring much of the ironic and hopeless technique: STOP SHOUTING, YOU TWO! STOP SHOUTING! STOP SHOUTING!

Instead, I'd rather take a minute to remember the sweet moments. I need reminding. And my lovely friend and beautiful photographer Shirin took some photos on the weekend to help me.

  • Yesterday the kids invented a carrot orchestra in the back seat on the way to swimming. In the rear-view mirror I watched their matching, intense expressions as they rocked their instruments and I shouted 'Blow, cats! Blow!'
  • At some point in the day, of late, without fail, Keith says 'Ah, every day, life just gets better, doesn't it?'
  • Plum has started kicking me. This fills me with joy as I imagine our little mango-sized fella swimming around and I feel that sweet sense of you-and-mama-against-the-world developing.
  • Ivy has started calling people mud-chickens. We've just figured out she means 'munchkins'.
The end.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chaos Theory

This post originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, December 2010

In a recent burst of creativity, I set up a ‘shop’ in the corner of the lounge room for Peanut and T-Bone. It’s full of scrubbed, empty items from the recycling, and we use it to play wonderfully educational games about counting and shopping manners.

That takes approximately seven minutes. The rest of the day the cereal boxes, egg cartons and milk bottles are strewn all over the house after three-year-old Peanut has used them to build a complicated tower in the bathroom which two-year-old T-Bone then razes violently to the ground.

To recap: seven minutes of educational, creative activity. Twenty three hours and 53 minutes of living in a construction zone. Welcome to the world of a stay-at-home mum.

Every day, I tackle a standard loop of laundry, tidying, bed-making and clutter-management. Then I turn to the shopping, cooking and washing-up tasks related to the endless stream of meals and snacks that are demanded of my short-order kitchen. But the kicker is the random chaos. Tiny people need to be entertained, it turns out, or they cry. So they have blocks, and puzzles, and cars, and play food, all of which contain tiny little pieces that mate and meld together into one giant disordered toy casserole by the end of every day.

The kids make new mess faster than I can clean up the old stuff. On a typical morning, I’ll just move the breakfast dishes out of the way so I can make morning tea. T-Bone will tip over a bucket of hand-washing in the bathroom in a mad haste to get to the window he has suddenly decided to smear with banana. Meanwhile, Peanut takes her bed apart to make it into a spaceship. And so the day rolls on.

T-Bone is part boy, part tornado. He empties drawers, topples washing piles and relieves shelves of their contents with a steady, determined approach. Meanwhile, Peanut’s creative vision is inexhaustible. She is constantly setting up a market stall, making a craft project, constructing an animal theatre or – her absolute favourite - packing for her honeymoon.

At nearly four, she should really be doing more chores, but she’s not interested. ‘Help me do this bed, Peanut,’ I’ll request. ‘Well, the bones in my arms don’t want me to, Mummy,’ she’ll answer. Her expression is always rueful and apologetic. ‘If it was up to me,’ she implies, ‘I would help in a heartbeat! But the bones in my arms… you know how they get.’

It’s true, I could get on top of the mess, if I put in another two hours of hard labour after getting the kids off to bed and having dinner with Keith. But by that stage it’s all I can do to stay awake on the lounge through an entire episode of Ladette to Lady. So the key, I’ve decided, is to embrace the mess and never invite anybody over who would turn up their nose at the state of my bathroom – that’s if they can find it in the chaos.

Is Ivy a Secret Wiccan?

Things she has stored under her bed recently:

1. The big toenail that fell off Teddy's injured foot.
2. A dead caterpillar stored in a Tupperware container.
3. A small bowl of sea salt.

Monday, March 14, 2011

When Feminist Pride Turns To Feminist Shame

Ivy: Mum, did you know that in Italy a volcano burst and the fire buried the city and everybody died? I think it was before the dinosaurs and before animals first came out of the water and before fossils.

Me - Wow, you know a lot.

Ivy: Yes. My husband telled me everything.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Goodbye Trixie-Jeff. Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Bum On Your Way Out.

We're no strangers to multiple personalities in this house. I know who Ivy wants me to play in her daily theatre by the name she calls me. 'Excuse me, Miss Bucket,' she'll say, which means I must say 'Yes, Charlie?' If I'm called Mouldy, she's Milla. If I'm Robbie Rotten, she's Stephanie. Etc, etc.

Teddy is the same age that Ivy began her career in the theatrical arts. At two, she started insisting her name was Hairy Maclary, barking at strangers and addressing baby Ted as Schnitzel Von Krumm.

So far Ted has been pretty happy with the handle we gave him, but about two weeks ago, he started to go Method. One day our easygoing little fella began demanding he was addressed as Trixie. Trixie was a little difficult. But this week Trixie became Trixie-Jeff, and Trixie-Jeff was a shocker. A whingey, demanding, obstreperous diva. No matter the question: more toast, Ted? Ready to go? Need a hand with that? - the answer was the same. No! But I'm Trixie-Jeff! But no! (and once, even: 'No! But I'm Trixie-Jeff! And I dot a fruity poo-bum!')

Last night at dinner, Teddy suddenly made an announcement. 'I Teddy again!' Keith and I erupted in spontaneous applause. There may have been a tear or two. Or three.

Ted is back; our smiley, dancing yes-man. Trixie-Jeff has left the building. We can only pray it's permanent.