Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Open Letter To The U.N.

Attention: Ban Ki-Moon

Re: Application for Position of Head of United Nations (Temporary).

Dear Mr. Moon,

It occurs to me that society is a little troubled lately, what with global civil unrest and nuclear proliferation and young people taking to planking when they are not using poor spelling and putting their long, spotty legs awkwardly in the corridors of buses.

As a committed world citizen and a mother of two pre-schoolers, I’d like to offer my consulting services. (Please note I am available only until July, as I’m having another baby in August and the final weeks of gestation will involve a heavy schedule of complaining, chocolate-eating and urination, while after the birth cracked and bleeding nipples would likely distract me during high-end meetings.) Until then, however, I can offer my skill-sets in the following areas:

Handling Difficult People

Like many political leaders, my children have different personalities that must be taken into account when engaging in complex negotiations. Four-year-old Ivy is theatrical and dramatic. As a toddler she banged her head on the floor when she was angry and since acquiring the gift of language, she’s taken to avowing ‘Oh my god, I think that nobody loves me’ whenever thwarted. Like many narcissistic despots, she is not yet blessed with empathy, evidenced by this morning’s query: ‘Will you be spewing for long, Mum? I want more cheesy toast.’ Two-year-old Teddy also has the erratic personality common to his age bracket. He likes to walk on his knees in public, answers every request emphatically with NO, and has, of late, inexplicably demanded to be addressed as Trixie-Jeff. Also, when angered, he shouts ‘You are bum!’ Clearly I am well-trained in the management of tyrants, megalomaniacs and lunatics. In fact, I think it will be a refreshing change to deal with the continent variety.

Punishment and Negotiation

I am not in general an advocate of corporal punishment, but I have found that creativity is key. For instance you would be amazed at how firmly you can hold down a two-year fighting his nappy change with just one leg across the chest. Another popular technique is ‘1, 2, 3, Magic’. In a political setting this would mean that when you reach ‘three’ a dictator’s beloved dirty billions are taken away and placed on the Naughty Shelf (the World Bank, for instance.) Time-Out, a perennial favourite, could involve a Micronesian island made unusable for tourism due to nuclear testing or climate change. In general, no-nonsense, Mary-Poppins-like approach is best. ‘Despots! You are skating the thin edge of the wedge. Stop your naughty genocidal oppression this instance or there will be consequences.’ Some parents advocate ‘time-in’ where you would hold the irate dictator in a close, enveloping hug until his ire is spent. This may of course present difficulties if the dictator in question wears a lot of heavy, spiky jewelry, or is prone to biting.

Managing Cultural Differences

I understand that different cultural customs and behaviors can lead to conflict and disorder. This is common in raising pre-schoolers. Alone, Ivy might cut and paste for an hour, while Ted is happy dancing solo in his room for quite some time to his Desperate Man Blues CD. When forced into a confined area, however, their different needs can lead to intense, sudden conflict, like a feminist academic sent on a romantic date with a professional footballer. Struggles over ownership in my house may include the yellow cup, the Wiggles fork and the honker. At your table they are likely over territorial boundaries, money and religious freedom. Regardless, they come from the same emotional space: Give. Me. It.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you cannot trust one party’s version of events. The truth is always likely to lie in between. Yesterday, sudden silence in the bedroom was followed by Teddy’s pained wailing while Ivy whispered frantically ‘Sorry, Ted! You’re alright! Sorry, Ted!’ When Teddy appeared in tears, and his sister was summoned to explain herself, she immediately went on the offensive and claimed ‘Teddy just kicked me three hundred times.’

In general, the arbiter of these conflicts must be firm, creatively focused on solutions, and prepared to face personal injury. (For instance, the time Teddy gave me a black eye with a chicken drumstick.)

I’m available to discuss these thoughts and my availability further. My best time to chat is either 3pm or 4.30pm on a weekday afternoon when Play School is on.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Little Rays of Sunshine Amongst The Compost.

Yesterday, I hit a little wall of self-pity when I was taking out the compost. I tripped over, twisted my ankle and landed in a pile of soggy weet-bix, coffee grounds and carrot peelings. I cried.

Either I have angered some gods, I thought, or generally my fornicating, atheist godlessness has finally caused the big J to strike down some wrath upon us. We've been sort of sliding along on a big banana peel of life around here.

I'm waiting on results to see if I have whooping cough, or just the tail end of some evil chesty disease that has pitted Keith and I against each other in late-night duelling coughing fits. I'm doing much better actually, which is good, because Keith has slid further and further over the last week into the land of Death Flu. Yesterday he went to the doc who diagnosed him with asthmatic bronchitis and dosed him up on antibiotics. He's hardly been out of bed for a week.

My pelvis has become increasingly painful and I am waddling like a duck. I thought it was related to the coughing but I finally took it to the doc, who says I have pubis symphosis dysfunction, a pregnancy disorder with in my opinion an unnecessarily insulting name. Keith and I are calling the problem Elvis in an attempt to lighten the tragedy.

We bought a new car. It has broken down twice so far.


Daily, gifts of food and love arrive from the womenfolk who surround me in the lovely town I live in. Today, one minded Ted while Ivy had an extra day at pre-school. I went back to bed and snored for two hours while Keith wheezed and snuffled and tapped away at his spreadsheets.

Meanwhile, Plum kicks with joy and grows quietly away amidst the chaos. Ivy and Ted continue to be great companions. Teddy has been having nightmares that his bed is swimming away, and fallen in love with the idea of rainbows. Last night at dinner he said wistfully 'I wish a rainbow poo would come out of my bum, Mummy.' Ivy, meanwhile, has taken to patting me and asking 'How are your legs?' She's sweet.

We are blessed.

And yet, cursed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Bonjour, knitters:

Can you knit socks? I have such a jones for long knitted winter socks. Etsy is not doing it for me.

Would you like to knit me some knee socks? Or direct me to sock-knitters?

I'll pay!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pinky Winky

It seems just five minutes ago that I was living with the Black Ghost. But Ivy has turned, as daughters will, and suddenly embraced all things sparkly and glittery and pink. She's never done things by half. So her inner princess fairy-pants has burst out with a vengeance, and put paid to all those obsessions with death and dinosaurs and skulls. 'I still really like inside bodies,' she told me, 'but I don't really care about skulls anymore.' In fact she also announced last week that she's given up eating her boogies, so I guess my little girl is growing up.

Now she wishes to be called Pinky Winky. My best disciplining tool of late is to threaten 'Mummy will make you wear BROWN!'

I have rallied. This pink thing pains me, but you know, she's allowed to be her own person, dammit. Last week we found a hot pink polka-dotted suitcase by the side of the road. Can you imagine a greater thrill? Not only does Ivy want everything in her life to be pink, her very favourite game is packing to go on honeymoon.

Happy days.

ps - Thanks all for your words of kindness and support on my last post. What else is there, when the chips are down, and you're heading to funerals and strapping medical masks on your toddlers and vomiting in your own mouth, but friendship? You are wonderful.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Postcard From Crappytown

I've sort of been waiting until I had some cheerier things to say before updating my blog but this seems to be a tougher season than most.

I am getting why nature doesn't approve so much of having babies at (inches from) forty. As soon as one symptom clears, the next appears. At 30 weeks, I'm struggling a bit.

Keith is, on the whole, hugely sympathetic. The last two days he has brought lunch to me in bed where I have been wallowing in the four-hour sick day I carved out between Thursday and Friday pre-school/day care pick-ups and drop-offs and all the crazy shenanigans that fill the morning and afternoon. But he has implied that at night he feels a little like he is sharing his bed with a restless, snoring walrus.

I think this is because during the night, as well as changing position constantly, I must often suddenly sit bolt upright as acid travels from my stomach up my gullet into my throat. The glamour! While sitting up chewing heartburn medication I like to quietly moan in self pity. The acid has given me a bad sore throat too, so combined with the cold I can't shake and the mongy hip giving me a saucy waddle, I am one hot mama. Smoking.

Still, silver linings: I haven't yet woken up choking on my own vomit like I did while pregnant with Ivy. Or was that Heidi Klum? Just...quickly...Google... No, not Heidi, nor Angelina. Surprising. Must have been me after all.

Ted has been in hospital once since I last posted about his asthma. He had an attack on the way to my darling nieces funeral, and we had to juggle the emergency room with getting to the church. I changed in the toilet and raced there just in time. Keith missed the service. It was amongst our worst days ever. But Teddy is is doing much better. And sweet baby Autumn is at peace.

Amongst the worry and the sadness, there have been moments like these too.
Like father, like daughter.

Roald Dahl at bedtime.

But these next two pics say it all. Especially the second where Keith and Ted are moments from being lost forever under a giant pile of unfolded washing.

On the upside, the kids continue to delight with their emerging personalities. Ivy is besotted with her pre-school best friend Ava. They have started a club called Peacock Feather, in which Ivy is named Tulip and Ava is Superstar. Teddy remains an adorable lunatic with an impressive vocabulary. They are loving sharing their room. In the morning, instead of coming in to sit on our heads and shout 'Open you eyes!' they like to chat to each other, and waking slowly while cuddling a mustachioed physicist and listening to pre-schoolers exchange rambling thoughts on life is a very sweet way to start the day.

One morning they woke up and decided to open a 'hat and towel shop'. Up there for thinking, kids.

I hope you all are doing well too, wherever you may be.