Expectations vs Reality

Why do we have expectations? Why do we put that pressure on ourselves? It’s silly really, thinking that something will turn out one way, or work a particular way, and decide that NO OTHER WAY IS AT ALL POSSIBLE. That’s a very silly way of living life. Especially living life with a toddler.

Take for example my well intentioned idea of trying to keep my house neat and ordered.

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See those beautiful shelves. Each with its own darling little toy box. Each toy box filled with a specific grouping of toys. One holds the wooden toys. One holds all the cars and trucks and trains. One holds the stuffed animals. I was well into that idea of minimalistic play. Your child will focus and play with one or two things at a time. An ordered mind, free from chaos. It will help them to develop patience, fine motor skills, focus, a quieter and more thoughtful attitude, and the ability to have a larger and longer attention span.

Now look at my well intentioned idea.

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 That was taken the first day after the shelves were put in place, so rather it was just a reaction. More than likely Stormaggedon probably just thought “Oo, what are those? I’m going to pull everything out because I can!” It’s not that bad anymore. But now those boxes are no longer sorted. Usually it’s just “Let’s take this off the floor and shove it somewhere out of sight”. Perhaps one day I’ll go back to ordering it again. Perhaps not.

So silly me thought I could try again a little while later with a children’s table.

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Look at it. Pristine. Simple. Beautiful. I thought, “He can eat his food here from now on and feel like a big person. Perhaps that will help with his fussiness” (lol, see previous post “Dinner. Again. Why”). And then I thought “He will sit here quietly for craft time, creating lovely pictures, using pencils and crowns, and sometimes paint! Maybe even use his playdough”


Hahahahahaha! You idiot.

Ok, admittedly the table got better use after time, and he does eat there, and he does do his creative craft there. That’s fine.

Yet, I keep having these expectations on how life will be and get completely floored by reactions I did not expect.

We recently took a trip to Townsville to visit my in-laws. It was Stormaggedon’s first plane ride. Leading up to the trip, my first and only worry was how he would be on the flight. We planned to not hang around the airport for too long, we came equipped with an iPad loaded with movies that he could sit and watch. We packed some of his favourite toys and books, and prayed he wouldn’t ask for others once we got to the other end. We brought water and snacks and hoped his ears wouldn’t bother him. I hoped against hope that he wouldn’t get motion sick. Finally the day arrived. He was a little troublesome having to line up and wait for boarding (honestly what’s the point of flying with a small child if the airline decided to not bother with “Any families travelling with small children can now board first”). But once we were on board, he loved it. He loved taking off. He loved sitting next to the window seat. He loved the flight. He loved being able to just watch his movie on his iPad. Everything was perfect, it couldn’t have gone better. Then we got to his grandparent’s house, and something happened that I completed did not expect or plan for. He wanted to go home. Immediately. “Can we go now?” was the question we were faced with for two days straight. “We have to go home now!”

“I want to go home now!”

“I don’t want to be here anymore!”

Oh god, we planned to be here for 5 days. What have we done?! Two and a half days later of tantrums and tears he finally settled in. But I still laugh about it, a month later, thinking that we never even planned for what would happen if he didn’t want to be there when we got there. Suddenly that trip to New Zealand I’m planning for the beginning of next year doesn’t look so wonderful after all.

My advice: never expect anything. The reality will always be the opposite. You live in topsy-turvy land now. Just go with the flow, and try not to spend too much time colour coding your toys.

 

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Down with the Tampon Tax

I know that this discussion is a little after the fact, but I’ve been sitting on a number of articles for a while now and feel like I need to go back to this one for a bit of re-examination. For those who missed it in June this year the senate voted against amending the GST which proposed to remove the tax from feminine sanitary items such as tampons and pads. This obviously angered quite a lot of people, considering there is no GST applied to things such as condoms, lubricants, and incontinence pads. The backlash of this decision involved a large section of the population accusing the gentry that runs our government of purposefully taxing women for something out of their control. I myself agreed that this was deliberate discrimination against people with uteruses (uteri?).

But being me, I didn’t really participate in many conversations about it, as I don’t particularly like to comment on controversial issues (says the women with her own opinionated blog). However, I couldn’t go past one particular thread on a friend’s page on Facebook discussing the argument. The post highlighted that the choice to use disposable one-use-only items were in fact a luxury, and that there are more environmentally friendly options out there that we should be actively embracing. Most responses to this idea, including my own, were people reacting with “You’re just claiming women are acting entitled” to “So we’re just ruining the environment now”.

So I decided to look at the argument with those two points in mind. One being that women are acting entitled about being taxed on items that the government have deemed luxury. The second that women are just not being conscientious enough about protecting the environment better. As a parent, and a mother specifically, I’m sure you’re all familiar with that never-ending guilt about everything we do, and every decision we make. Piling on “Don’t forget about the environment” is just another layer of guilt we deal with on a daily basis. The many kilometres we drive chewing up petrol to take our precious cargo to this event, or that play date, or that sporting thing, or this dance recital, because screw having to use public transport to do that shit. The many, many disposable nappies we used going off to landfill to pollute the earth for thousands of years because we’re just far too lazy and inconsiderate to bother with cloth nappies. The pre-packed foods and snacks covered with three different types of plastic that will eventually end up in the ocean choking all the turtles to death, because we’re far too busy and important to bother cooking all of our food from scratch. We’ve all been there right.

As for the acting entitled part of the argument, I know that women used to make their own “rags”. With the invention of the tampon and sanitary pad, suddenly our lives became so much easier. It was wonderful. And now we’re acting entitled? When did this opinion creep in? Is this how the debate was handled on the parliament floor? With mostly men debating the issue, did they just decide that we’re being too entitled and not environmentally conscious enough? The more I thought about it, the angrier I got, and ended up formulating the following response, which should be read in the context as being directed to our lovely parliamentarians (note: it has been edited slightly to remove personal references, and to make more contextual sense).

First, where I am supposed to get these reusable sanitary pads from? Because for someone who has been menstruating for more than 20 years (holy crap, I never thought about it in those terms before), I really don’t ever recall seeing these products readily for sale. Is there an aisle in Big W or Kmart? Does Coles stock them next to the Libra products? If you know where I can get them, please direct me to them, I’ll be all for it. However if they’re NOT readily available are you perhaps suggesting I make them myself? Ok, sure, I get that women “back in the old days” used to do that all the time. How many should I make? What fabric should I use, because I’m assuming absorbency will be a factor? Let’s say I need to change 5 times a day on average for 5 days. That’s 25 right? As a mother, and almost full time worker I have to do all the things important in raising a human, cooking, cleaning, going to work, then attempting to be at least a little social, and at the end of the day still pay my husband some attention. When should I be making these items? With what time exactly? Oh, yes I can hear you say that plenty of other women find the time to make clothes from scratch. You should see the women in my playgroup, they’re amazing! But forgive me for not meeting the standard of “Stuff I should be able to do” with the time available to me.

Moving away from actually making these items, how do you suggest I clean them? Should I just throw them in the wash with the regular clothes? Would you find it appealing that my used cloths are swirling around with your crisp white business shirts? Or even just your regular clothes. Clothes you’d probably prefer to not have blood stains on. If not, should I just do a separate wash for them? Forgive me, but an entire wash cycle for 25 pieces of cloth seems a bit much. You know wasting all that water, putting more strain on the environment. The environment I’ve been destroying each month with my disposable waste right? To save on water maybe I should wash them by hand in the laundry sink instead? Scrub them to get all that blood off. By the way, do you have any idea how hard blood is to get out of fabric? Have you ever had to try and do that? Are you in Fight Club? I know you’re not supposed to talk about it, but if you are I assume you would know. But if you haven’t found your local fight club yet, I’m going to assume you have no idea. Also, do you have any idea how different period blood is to say, blood that comes from a cut on the arm. Have you heard of endometrial lining? Do you know how dark and sticky that is? Have you heard of endometriosis, the fertility disease? It’s what I have. It’s shit. Did you know that period blood for someone with endometriosis is very much like a new born baby’s meconium? It’s black and sticky and painful to pass (that’s right, the cervix is SUCH a lovely thing). I guess I can just scrub that all off by hand right? Did I mention before how I was time poor?

But ok, there are other products out there like the menstrual cup. So I’m just supposed to walk out of the cubical at work and clean it out in the sink, in front of other colleagues who may happen to come in at the time. Oh, I should be more embracing of my period and we just need to be accepting of it and not treat it as some dirty taboo subject. Oh, ok I’ll just go back and erase 20 years of social conditioning then. Or what about when I’m out at the shops with my son. Stormaggedon opened the cubical door on me the other week when I was trying to go to the toilet. I cried out to him to wait and shut the door. In turn, he chucked a tantrum right there on the public bathroom floor. And now I’m supposed to deal with that with a cup full of blood in my hands. Fine, maybe not the cup then. Hey, what about those amazing period pants. How great are they? Oh wait, they cost $30 a pair. Sure, perhaps I could afford to get a few. But I’m slightly more well off than the average person, so it’s not really realistic option for quite a large number of women I know.

Now let’s say that I do decide to choose one of the above options. Am I still going to be charged GST for them, or will you finally let me off the hook? Because in the end I shouldn’t have to jump through all those hoops to avoid a tax placed on me just because I have a vagina.

And lastly, landfill. Do you have any idea how much anxiety I suffer over the environment? Constantly. I have started having panic attacks, something I have never suffered from before, because I’m horrified about landfill, the destruction of our environment, and global warming. Telling women we’re just contributing to this landfill because we haven’t made more of an effort is just plain horrible.

So I have a suggestion. All the men who have female partners, raise your hand. Now keep your hand up if you’re willing to do the following: Help your partner make and sew her own menstrual cloths. Be ok with said menstrual cloths being placed in the wash with the regular clothes, or be happy to help your partner scrub them by hand every month. Or help your partner to clean and sanitise her menstrual cups. And most especially help change attitudes at work and social situations if women have little accidents where things get stained because said precautions weren’t as effective as they hoped they would be. Stop treating periods as taboo, something that is considered dirty, or needs to be hidden. Stop shaming women for their natural bodily functions. Still got your hands raised? Good, now we can talk about whether the tax can stay.

 

And today I hate myself.

This post will not be funny or witty. It will not contain hilarious references and, apart from the naming convention of Stormaggedon for my son, will not in any way link back to Doctor Who. I am too tired and angry for such things. This week I have once again slid into the mire of hopelessness when it comes to my parenting ability. I have screamed and yelled and generally been fed up. Telling myself over and over again that I am the only one doing this, that everyone around me is coping, and that I am a failure. Why should I try? Why should I even bother? I keep reading these, what I’m hoping are, over embellished articles from celebrity mums cooing about how their children are their world. One particular article describes how bub climbs into bed with mum and dad every night at 3am and they “wake up laughing every morning”. Really? Do you really? How? Please literally tell me how. Because when I go to bed, I want that bed to be my sanctuary from the world, for me, for sleep, and for the occasional sex I get to have with my husband when I’m not too overwhelmed from the previous events of the day. How exactly am I able to achieve any of that with a toddler in the bed? I read these articles and once again feel hopeless, that somehow I’m doing something wrong. That I’m not appreciating what I have nearly enough. Perhaps I should just love harder? Squeeze every ounce of love out of me to elicit some sort of reaction, only to be faced with nothing. Only to be left feeling empty and alone. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.

It started innocently enough. Stormy was eating breakfast, then sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose was dropping some of his cereal on the floor. Today I decided “Stormaggedon needs to learn some responsibility, he needs to understand that I’m not going to clean up his mess every time he makes one. I’m going to ask him to clean this up”.

Me sitting there ever so proud of myself for what a responsible parent I’m being. There I am about to take the first step into teaching my son some further life skills, I could already feel the figurative pats on the back. Stormy had other ideas however. Mainly to completely look through me when I asked him to clean up his mess and wander off towards the living room to where his toys were. Stormy had just had his third birthday and received the entire collection of Marvel Avengers characters (well I say entire, I really mean four of them – Hulk, Ironman, War Machine and Captain America). In hindsight he was probably just excited to play with them.

So I started out calmly at first.

“Stormy, please come and clean up the mess in the dining room”. No response.

I repeated myself numerous times, “You can play with your toys in a minute”.

“This will only take a second”.

“There’s only three pieces of cereal on the floor. Just three. You’ll be done in no time”

By now he’s completely turned his back on me, and even simply stated “No”.

I try a sterner tactic, “Come on now, you need to clean up after yourself”.

“Stormy, I will take the toys away”.

“I’m serious, I will take the toys away until you clean it up”.

“Come pick up your cereal!”

By this point he still hasn’t budged, so away the toys go, placed in a box in another room, to much loud protesting.

“Well you can get them back once you clean up your mess!” My voice is definitely raised now. Stormy has started crying and yelling back at me that he won’t clean up his mess, “…because I don’t want to!”

I express to him that he won’t get his Avengers back until he does. The clever little so and so announces to me that he didn’t like his Avengers anyway, and starts playing with different toys instead. By this point I’m quite angry, and start yelling that I will take all of his toys away until he cleans the cereal off the floor. Away the toys go, chucked into the same box of the Avengers. Stormy is now jumping up and down screaming at me.

I’ve had enough, and drag him back to the dining room, I point to the floor and almost scream, “Pick it up, that’s all you have to do! Pick it up and put it on the table or in your bowl! You make the mess you clean it up, simple as that!”

By now Stormy has had enough and begins to shove me, screaming at me, “You have to go! You have to go now. Go away and don’t come back! I don’t like you!”

That’s when I snap. I throw my hand up in the air and just let loose, “FINE THEN, MUMMY WILL GO BACK TO WORK FULL TIME, SO THAT WAY I WON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOU ANYMORE!”

I turn on my heel and storm up the stairs, slamming the child proof gate behind me. I can hear Stormy run over the couch bawling his eyes out. I throw myself down on the bed in a similar fashion.

“You are the worst parent, the worse person ever! What is wrong with you? What is wrong!?” I say to myself through streaming tears. Stormy has stopped crying, no doubt because he is vigorously sucking his thumb, as he does often for comfort.

“That’s right, such your thumb. Just like a baby. Another thing I’m failing at. Go on, make your teeth all crooked and not be able to talk properly when you’re older. Prove to everyone what a failure I am at parenting you” I say to myself. I keep hearing all the nagging voices of “well meaning” friends and acquaintances telling me all the things he does wrong and how it will affect him growing up. “He’ll get bullied, he’ll have no friends, people will think he’s weird, he’ll never grow out of it if you don’t stop him now, you want him to be independent right?”

Around and around it goes. I am the worst I am the worst I am the worst.

 

Twenty minutes go by. The house seems still. I draw in my breath and let it out in one long hiss to attempt to calm myself and plod back downstairs. There’s Stormy lying on the couch, just staring at the ceiling. He looks over at me and says sweetly, “Mummy are you not angry anymore?”

Calmly, I reply measuredly back, “I will no longer be angry if you come over here and clean up your mess”.

Stormy practically leaps into action, grabbing each piece of cereal and rushes over to the bin. He looks at me and practically beams. I grab him and hug him tight, telling him thank you, that wasn’t so hard and that I love him. We sit on the couch and read stories. He snuggles into me crooning “Aww Mummy!”

I sit back and smile, but think to myself, “You have just emotionally blackmailed him into doing your bidding. You are a terrible, terrible person. What. The fuck. Is wrong with you?”

I hate myself for the rest of the day and continue to hate myself.

 

My problem is my worst fear is Stormy will grow up to hate and resent me. I’ve known too many older women through work and extra-curricular activities that tell me their sons hate them, and they hate them back. Good riddance to the little scumbags they would say. It kills me deep inside to know there are people that feel that way about their children. What if the same thing happens with me and Stormy? I feel that I react in such a way because I am already there, living out that possible life 20-30 years in the future, and I’m expressing those feelings now.

“Why bother trying when this is the inevitable outcome?” I think to myself. I’m so scared of it happening, yet I think I’m just participating in a self-fulfilling prophecy. I wake up and tell myself every morning that I’m going to stay calm and happy and not yell, and almost every day I fail at that expectation. By bedtime I’m so fed up with having to put up with his tantrums and attitudes that I’m glad to see him off to bed. For those few small hours I have to myself before my own bedtime I can finally be happy. Then I creep into his room to check on him before I go to sleep myself and I look at how beautiful and peaceful he is, and I hate myself even further for failing him as a mother. I continue to hate myself when I fall asleep. It’s no wonder I have no energy when I get up again the next day.

 

Why can’t there be detox or rehab for parenting? Somewhere to go and learn how to be a good mum again. Maybe a week long spa to relax and rejuvenate yourself. But there’s nothing. There’s just day after day of trying and trying again. Your childless friends will tell you to just be grateful, and your parent friends will try and sympathise, attempting to cull your anxieties by explaining that they’ve gone through the same thing. Yet you remain unconvinced, longing over the photos of happy times splashed all over Facebook by your many friends. You look at those faces and can’t possibly believe that anyone is as bad or worse than you. So you remind yourself that the internet is merely a lie. And you write this blog not for you, but for the others out there are doing exactly the same thing, and beating themselves up with thoughts of worthlessness and hatred. So to those people I say, you are not alone. Perhaps, like me, you feel alone, but remember you’re not. Chin up, tomorrow is another day. And perhaps tomorrow I will finally make it through without the yelling. Hopefully.

Coping with tantrums

It’s not an unfamiliar scene. You’re walking through the shops and you see some poor parent unable to cope with the epic meltdown of their child which of course just so happens to be in the most public part possible of the shop.

You cringe a little and give them a knowing awkward smile. “Yeah, I feel you. I hope you’re ok” the smile says. Then you walk off secretly shaking your head thinking “Pfft, how can they let their child behave like that.” Yeah, let. LET. Ha!

Then of course you get home only to be met with screams from your own child and you dreadfully remember “Oh yeah…”

Tantrums are the absolute worst, so I’ve come up with a few methods on how to cope.

Let’s go through some of the methods I’ve tried:

The Distraction technique: This one actually works quite well, but only if you hit them with it before a tantrum takes off. Example:

Me: “No you can’t just have biscuits for breakfast”.

Stormy: “But I WANT biscuits for-“.

Me: (picks up banana and says quite loudly and quickly) “Hey, the Hulk really wants to eat this banana! Would you like a banana!? Then you can be like the Hulk!”.

Stormy: “Huh. Hulk eats bananas!?” Problem solved.

The Calm technique: Stay calm. Very calm. Use a calm and soothing voice. Don’t raise your voice. You’re not a yelling person. Be matter of fact. Be simply. Be clear. Do not resort to yelling. Yelling only reinforces bad behaviour and does nothing to correct it.

The Yelling technique: Bah, the calm technique is stupid. Who doesn’t like having a good yell? Your child might be throwing something they shouldn’t after you’ve told them three times not to. Now you raise your voice and start yelling at them about what they did was wrong, and that they’re being naughty or bad. Usually ends with them just screaming back at you how they want to be bad, because they are a bad boy. Example. Stormy: “I WANT to be bad, because I AM a bad BAD boy!!!” Helpful tip, try not to laugh.

The Over Nurturing technique: They’ve done something naughty so you attempt to shower them with love instead to make them feel overwhelmed with security and comfort. Grab them and hug them tight, and whisper to them calmly and clearly what they did was wrong and why it wasn’t acceptable, and how they should act appropriately in the future, but most importantly that you still love them. This technique is usually used after the Yelling technique because you feel like you’re the world’s worst person.

The Pleading technique: Tends to be used after you’ve tried a combination of the first few and you’re at your wits end, or just getting plain desperate. Mostly used in public. “Please darling, other people are judging Mummy!”

The Bribery technique: Is usually used hand in hand with the pleading technique. “If you promise to be good I’ll let you have ice cream for dinner.” Hey, it’s not like they were going to eat dinner anyway.

The I’ll go away forever! technique: Your child is usually the one to start this argument with the screamed remark of “YOU HAVE TO GO NOW!”. My usual response: “That’s fine, I’ll go away forever then. Would you like that?”….yeah, I’m a terrible, terrible person.

The Do Nothing technique: Literally exactly that. Because 9 times out of 10, everything you’ve tried never ever works, and you just have to ride it out like a storm. So sit back, go quiet, ignore and do nothing to acknowledge your child and eventually they’ll just scream themselves out. Tends to be most effective if you’re at home, and you have a child gate on the kitchen, where you can stand with a cup of tea whilst hiding behind the pantry door.

So have I missed any? What techniques have you tried? What worked? Did any work? Seriously, I’m asking HAS ANYTHING ANYONE EVER TRIED WORKED!?

Discipline

The smell of rebellion. The stench of revolt. The reek of insubordination. The whiff of resistance. The pong of dissent. The funk of mutiny in action! Discipline discipline for children who aren’t listening for midgets who are fidgeting and whispering in history their chattering and chittering their nattering and twittering is tempered with the smattering of discipline!

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Sorry… they’re just the lyrics of The Smell of Rebellion from the musical Matilda (which by the way if you haven’t yet seen or heard, then you need to get on it now because it is AMAZING!). Ok, so I seem to be cheating on my word count there a little. Let me take a second to compose myself- MINCHIN IS A GENIUS! ….ahem.

Stormaggedon turns 3 next month, so we’ve well and truly entered the discipline phase of his journey to becoming a functioning person. I mean obviously he’s been disciplined before, in small ways, and I’ve always pulled him up on any unacceptable behaviour from quite early on. But it’s only now that he’s truly starting to comprehend action and consequences, and the correlation between the two.

Sooooo, anyone got any ideas? Because, holy crap nothing works! I keep thinking of me from about 10 years ago, let’s call her Bitchy-Judgemental-Doesn’t-Know-Anything-About-Anything Face, where I would watch parents in public with their children and think to myself “Why don’t they do X with their child. That should totally solve the problem”. Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa! I know, what an idiot!

Ok, I’ll admit that there were a lot of opinions that I held when I was younger about parenting children that I do still hold today, and I have managed to put a lot of those opinions into practise. And I’ll admit, some worked and some didn’t. And so some of my opinions changed. That’s called growing. I’ve spoken before about how opinions you’ve held in the past don’t necessarily have to be the same opinions you have today. You have the right to change your mind. But let’s start with the fact that yes, I still believe that a number of parents out there are either unwilling or unable to discipline their children. There does seem to be a bit of entitlement going on. Those stupid Marvel Discs from Woolworths for example. How many parents did we see writing angry letters to Woolworths claiming how upset their children were because they couldn’t collect all the discs because they “deliberately” made some of them rare. How outraged they were that their poor precious children couldn’t cope with the fact that their collection will now be incomplete, and as such they will DEFINITELY boycott Woolworths FOREVER!

Sigh, first of all, no you won’t. That’s just silly. If you’re going to boycott Woolworths, at least make it for a valid reason. Like the fact they keep calling themselves the “Fresh food people”, and yet every time you buy a capsicum from them, and cut into it THE SAME DAY, it’s always furry and mouldy on the inside! (breath in red, breath out pink, breach in red, breath out pink) Secondly, maybe try the old tried and true method of “There are children starving in Africa, you can live without the Black Panther disc”. Blaming Woolworths is not going to solve the problem of poor behaviour, and in my opinion will only enforce it.

However, I’ve found regardless of how you’ve prepared your child on how to behave I’ve realised one thing: No matter what you do they will all react the same. Basically, children are jerks regardless of what you do.

So how do we discipline them then? Well, saying no and sticking to the no is a good start. Let’s all practise saying it together. No. Doesn’t that feel good? Pretend your child is your boss. Now again, NO. Oh yeah, feels good doesn’t it. Just a strong, firm and stern No.

Make threats you will actually follow through with. “If you don’t stop fighting in the back I’m going to turn this car around and we won’t go on our holiday!” No you’re not. We all know you want that holiday as much as your kids do, plus you’ve spent all that money to pay for it. Try “If you don’t stop, we won’t go to that favourite place, or the movie we promised, or no dessert after dinner”. Also don’t try “We will never go on holiday again” – again an empty threat, one that they will soon work out you don’t mean.

Don’t send them to their room, all their good stuff is in there. Perhaps send them outside, the fresh air and sunshine should do them good. Unless of course the bad behaviour started out in the fresh air and sunshine. Then I’m really stumped.

Set clear boundaries that they can understand and easily comply with. Take a toy away and tell them they won’t get it back until they stop doing X, or apologise and mean it, or they do three nice things without asking.    

Tell them their behaviour is unacceptable, or disrespectful, or rude. But actually tell them what they did that was wrong and explain it to them. I have a clear memory of having a reward star sticker chart at home when I was about 6 years old. I had to earn a certain number of stars by the end of two weeks, and then I would get a reward. But if I was naughty I would get crosses and then wouldn’t get the reward. One particular outing we came home and my mum gave me 7 crosses. To this day I still don’t know what I did wrong. She didn’t tell me, she just said she was disappointed with how I behaved and crossed away on my chart. Seriously Mum, what they hell did I do!? So, if you explain to your child what was wrong, and why it was wrong you can give them the opportunity to change their behaviour. Instead of just being plain confused 27 years later.

Accept that sometimes no matter what you do, they will just continue with their poor behaviour. Point is, be there to guide and try your hardest.

But most importantly, don’t let them steal your horses, no, don’t let them throw them away, no! If you find your way through they’ll be waiting for you singing neigh, neigh, n- wait, hold on. Sorry, that was Smell of Rebellion again.

Anyway, happy disciplining everyone!

PS. If anyone has a spare $89, I do have a spare no. 42 Hulk disc that I’m willing to sell.

 

The worst kind of parent. *Eyeroll*

Urgh! Urgh, urgh, urgh. Everything about this article – urgh.

So if you hadn’t heard about this ridiculous story here it is in a nutshell.

Slightly famous and well off fashion designer is mother to an Instagram star 3 year old. Mother decides daughter should go on a playdate, and obviously provides her with “show shoes” that cost over 300 pounds (in excess of $500 Australian dollars). She packs into her little fashionista daughter’s backpack a less expensive pair of play shoes. Because why wouldn’t you. Three year old doesn’t understand the concept of getting out of her “show shoes” (oh let’s face it, “Show OFF Shoes”) and into her play shoes immediately once she is at her friend’s house. Mother of play date friend child fails to realise the requirement for swapping shoes (seriously, how does she not know this? Doesn’t EVERYONE send their children to a friend’s house with fancy shoes for prancing around prettily in, then change into everyday ruin-able shoes? Duh). Really expensive shoes inevitable get RUINED! Ie. Slightly scuffed on the toes. Slightly famous and well off fashion designer mother is SHOCKED AND MORTIFIED that her daughter has come home in such as state. Reacts in the only reasonable way, and sends insistent letter to now ex-friend demanding the full cost for replacement of shoes. Mother of clearly DESTRUCTIVE AND BAD INFLUENCE child seems perplexed and amused, and immediately does the only reasonable thing in return: posts the letter online, which immediately goes viral.

Enter infamous wanker, Piers Morgan.

Piers Morgan has a talk show and therefore has a platform he is allowed to sprout any opinion he likes from. Naturally. Piers Morgan insists Slightly famous and well off fashion designer mother is WORST KIND OF PARENT EVER! (actual quote)

Ok, let’s take a moment here, because I have a lot of opinions. Where to begin…

Firstly, one of the arguments Fashion Mother (I really can’t be bothered posting her name. If you want to know it, please read the attached article) claimed for sending the letter was something along the lines of “If you sent your child somewhere and expected them to be safe and they came back injured you would expect the person who was responsible for them to pay for damages”. Ok, I completely agree with that. If you expect your child to be safe somewhere, but the adult in charge decided “Let’s go for a drive and you kids can sit loose in the back of my ute tray”, and then they got hurt, yes I would totally expect you to be held accountable and responsible, and pay for any associated medical bills. This is a little different. Your child’s shoes were scuffed.

Additionally, I would also expect that if my child went somewhere and their possessions they had on them were damaged, I would expect maybe depending on the situation that you as the responsible adult in charge would kindly offer to pay, fix, or replace them. Within reason, of course.

But these were $500 shoes. Let’s use a little bit of common sense here. Maybe, if you’re worried about a ridiculously priced pair of shoes (that incidentally your daughter will probably not be able to wear in the next 6 months anyway) are going to get damaged, here’s a thought, MAYBE DON’T LET HER WEAR THEM OUT! And if you are going to let a 3 YEAR OLD wear such ridiculously expensive shoes, you’re going to need to not care when they inevitably get damaged. Because she’s 3. I guarantee they’re going to get damaged.

Secondly, if you child is only bringing a pair of shoes for “show” and not to wear, then that’s not a playdate, that’s a fashion contest. And that’s the bullshit “my child is better than your child” parental competing that I hate and slammed in one of my previous blogs. Don’t do it. You’re being a dick.

With that out the way, let’s get back to *spews slightly* Piers Morgan. Ok, I agree this woman is being an entitled dick. Her reaction can probably be described as, well, stupid. But DO NOT call her “the worst kind of parent”. Let’s get things into perspective. The worst kind of parent will probably do the following:

          Hate their child

          Not provide their child with adequate food or water

          Verbally, physically and/or sexually abuse their child

          Deliberately starve their child to death

          Deliberately murder their child

          Provide their child as an object for horrible abuse to others

Working for the Courts, I have seen cases of the above examples pass my desk on more occasions than I would care to remember. I will not go into further detail as they are horrific, and not worth mentioning here. But I assure you Mr Morgan the parents involved in these types of cases ARE the worst kind of parent.

Fashion Mother may be instilling in her daughter a sense of entitlement and materialistic happiness. That’s probably a bit of a dick thing to do. But do you say the same of Kim Kardashian? Because let’s face it, both of her kids are probably in the same boat. But because Fashion Mother is nowhere near as wealthy as the Kardashians, that makes her somehow less entitled to provide her daughter with ridiculously expensive possessions? She did say it herself, her daughter is fed and clothed (albeit extravagantly), there is a roof over her head, and she is clearly loved. Isn’t that everything a parent is supposed to do. Ok, the attitude is a little terrible, but is that really anyone’s business?

So sorry Piers, once again, you’re very wrong on this one. Try again maybe? Actually, don’t.    

Dinner. Again. WHY!?

Remember a while ago I posted a blog entitled “Dinner is a Battlefield”? (If you’re curious you can find it here). I made that cute reference to Pat Benatar. We had a bit of a laugh at how frustrating life was. And then miraculously just after I posted that article Stormaggedon decided that dinner was actually a really great thing, and eventually devoured everything we put in front of him, like the future destroyer of worlds that he is. I walked away from that episode admonishing myself for being so anxious over the situation, dusted my hands off and thought well deservedly “I’m so glad that’s all behind us now!” Ha ha, ha haha, hahahaha HA HAHA HA HAAAA!… yeah. Guess what. It’s SO not over.

I’m not quite sure, but since when did I have to start hiding food inside other less insidious looking food? And by insidious I of course mean any vegetable every grown. It started out innocuously enough. A carrot every now and then. Then broccoli. Well that’s not surprising now is it. Just mush it together, or put it in a pie. Or yoghurt. Seriously. Then other foods had to start being hidden. Surprising ones. Potatoes for instance. Since when did we have to hide potatoes? And WHAT do you hide it in!? Potatoes is usually the stuff you hide OTHER vegetables in, not the other way around! Capsicum was soon off the list too. “But you love capsicum!” I would cry. It was so cute, handing him a raw strip that he would much down whilst saying “yum, capicum” (So adorable, not be able to say the S). Now all of a sudden it was poison. Poison I say! Or rather he says. Ok, not so much say, but you get the idea. Look, that’s fine, let try to some old favourites that we haven’t re-visited for a while. Avocado? Nope. Sweet potato? Nope. Celery? Nope. Ok, let’s leave off the vegetables for a while. Why don’t we try something different. Tuna bake, pasta, four bean mix, scrambled eggs, bakes beans, toast. No, no, no, no, NO, NO!!!

Deep breath. Alright let’s have a conversation. Yes, communication with your child is key. It makes them feel like they have a say. Some power over the situation. Don’t give them too many choices, just engage them in the conversation. That way they’ll think they’ll be exuding more power than they actually are. This is bound to work. But of course, the not-quite-three-year-old logic kicks in.

Me: “Stormy, dinner is ready.”

Mr S: “I don’t like that food”

Me: “Try it first.”

Mr S: “Can I have some food please?”

Me: “That’s food there. On your plate. Try it.”

Mr S: “Can I have something else?”

Me: “No, that’s dinner there. Please eat it.”

Mr S: “I would like some food on my plate”

Me: “That IS food. Please eat”

Mr S: “I don’t like this food”

Me: “Well that’s all the food you’re getting”

Mr S: “I would like something else”

Me:  (Siiiiiiiiigh) “Well what WOULD you like then”

Mr S: “Mmmm, something else”

Me: “I understand that, but you have to tell me specifically what you want”

Mr S: “Some food”

Me: “Stormy, that IS food”

Mr S: “Mmmm, no thanks” (pushes bowl away)

Me: (trying not to get even more frustrated than I am) “Stormy, you have to eat that because there’s nothing else”

Mr S: “No thanks” (wanders away from table).

Well, at least he’s polite about it. This cyclical conversation goes on for a while. Every night. I am now a mixed bag of emotions including rage, frustration, and holding in my laughter. He never once raises his voice or loses his cool, which makes it even more frustrating. His outright politeness fills me at the same time with a sense of swelling pride and Hulk like rage. Even more frustratingly, in one moment he’ll be refusing to eat the sumptuous meal placed in front of him, and then is quite content to eat crumbs off the floor that I haven’t swept up since lunch time. Floor food. FLOOR FOOD! Perhaps I should just dump his dinner on the floor to make it more appetizing! Is that what you want!? Ok, kind of lost my cool there, time for a new plan…

Some have said that perhaps I’m bending too much to his will, giving him too many choices. Faced with a hungry child before bedtime, I know I’m making it worse by giving in and providing him with a different meal, but at the same time I value sleep more than whether I’m spoiling him for choices. And as I said before, I believe that providing him with a place in the decision making helps him to feel more engaged and in control. So I try another tactic and put it onto him. Next time, before the dinner making starts I ask him what he would like for dinner. One particular evening he excitedly yells back “Cous cous, cous cous! I want cous cous!” Alright then, cous cous it is. “Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyy!” He marches through the house chanting cous cous over and over again. Not quite sure where he got this sudden enthusiasm for cous cous from, but whatever I’ll go with it.

I lovingly make the cous cous, and over a half hour period he excitedly keeps up his marching and chanting. The moment comes, and I reverentially place this dish down in front of him declaring “Cous cous!”, with the expectation that he will immediately jump in and devour every bite. He pauses as he takes the dish in, then looks up at me with a blank face. “No thanks”, as he politely pushes the bowl away and walks away from the table……HULK. SMASH!

This has now kept up for the last month and half. Even the other tactics that used to work have now failed. Smothering the food with tomato sauce, apple sauce or mayonnaise. Dumping a bucket load of cheese on top. Even cheese is now off the menu! I used to be able to distract him by piling his toys onto his tray while shovelling the food in his mouth before he noticed. And yes, I’m aware that one of my tips for parenting was to keep toys away from the table because children should know and understand the difference between play time and dinner time. Blah blah blah, yeah, I want to murder Past Me too. She was an idiot. I know that I should just take this with a grain of salt, it’s yet another phase that he will soon grow out of. If anything, I should look back over my previous posts and remember that this too shall pass, just like my worries of everything else.

But like all those other times, this is the moment where it is happening, and the future seems so very far away. I have no advice or thoughts on how this will get better, excepting just to “Give it time” (mumble mumble grrr).

Now excuse me while I go and make a spectacular, healthy, and delicious feast which will almost certainly be refused in the politest of ways.

And now for something completely different…

Sorry for the brief interlude between posts. Life, as it were, has seemed to have gotten in the way. I really don’t know how this could have happened, frankly. All I’m trying to do is find time to write my blog, whilst at the same time fit in working four days a week, go to regular Taekwondo training and do enough physical fitness work that I can finally pass my fitness test, and therefore clear my incomplete from my third degree testing, rehearse and act in a play (Annie at Phoenix Theatre in Beenleigh, opens 28 April, you should totally come check it out), whilst at the same time practise and prepare my Les Miserable audition (my bucket list show), learn German, practise mindfulness by fitting in meditation and mindful colouring each day, attempt to write my book about my grandmother, finish the 10 different short film scripts I’ve had ideas for (damn it, I keep thinking up new stories), occasionally do some artwork like painting or sketching, catch up on my “to read” list (there’s only about 13 novels on there at the moment), spend enough time with my friends that they don’t think I’m neglecting them, eat right, maintain a clean and tidy house, all the while being a dutiful and caring mother, and at the same time a loving and attentive wife. IS THAT REALLY TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?!

And oh yeah, not get sick in the meantime. 

In any case, I do have about 3 half written entries on the back burner, which I will attempt to get up within the next few weeks. Until then, remember you’re awesome and doing it right. 

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Recently as I mindlessly trawled the internet for new inspirations and blogging ideas (oh who are we kidding, I was procrastinating and looking at videos of cats. Here’s a good one), I came across this interesting article. A little piece on a child’s birthday party, where a gift was flat out refused by the birthday boy’s mother because her son “Wouldn’t like it”. The present was a book, and apparently the little darling, who’s only achievement for deserving a party that day was to make it out of his mother’s vagina at a particular moment in time*, would really rather have something else. “He just doesn’t read books” was her smarmy response as she vaguely pointed to the direction of the shops. I personally can’t be more outraged. News articles, opinion pieces, and ranting on social media go on and on about the youth of today and how they have no manners. Yet we never seem to stop and reflect on the rudeness of adults. Perhaps it’s time we need to make a correlation between the two? In what world do you take a gift, not even unwrap it, then give it back immediately deeming it to be unsatisfactory, and on behalf of someone else!? Not to mention that you haven’t even let your own child make a decision for himself on his tastes, pleasures, and likes or dislikes, but to shove a gift back in the face of someone who took (at least a little) time and effort in buying it is just disgusting. What does that teach our children?

Look admittedly, we’ve all received gifts we either don’t need or don’t like. But a little bit of tact wouldn’t go unnoticed. “Thanks! Look, truthfully I’m not really a fan of books, but I’m looking forward to giving this one a go, because I can tell that you thought I would like it, and that means a lot.” Hmm, does that sound too saccharine? In any case it’s a hundred times better than “Nope, try again” whilst hurling it back in the giver’s face.

I’ll admit however that I too have been guilty of giving presents back, but only because we already had the exact same thing. I gave them back with the intention that the giver could get a refund, or pass it onto another child they knew. But even so, I stopped doing that because I felt bad about it. Now if we get a doubled-up present we accept it with a smile, and then probably stash away to give to charity, or even a replacement for when the original is destroyed (as is likely to happen in a house with a toddler). It’s still easy for the moment, as Stormaggedon is still young enough that he doesn’t really understand what he owns, what he doesn’t own and what he’s receiving. But now that he’s getting older he’ll begin making connections, and very soon will start to realise when he receives something he already has. Or worse, receives something he doesn’t like or want. Then it will be time to step in and help him to learn to be gracious, and how to react in a more dignified and polite manner.

But this article didn’t annoy me just for the antagonist’s attitude of refusing a gift. A throw away comment towards the beginning of the article mentioned the writer’s child going to a different birthday party, and coming back with the token “Party Bag” which contained AN IPAD! That’s right, an iPad. Seriously, is this what we’re doing now. Trying to outdo each other to the point of bankruptcy? “My kid’s party was so much better than your kid’s party, I got all his little friends their own iPhone and Playstation console to take home”. When the hell did a bag of lollies, a balloon and a plastic whistle go out of fashion!? Now admittedly, perhaps this party was held by a well-off and affluent family, who could afford to do such a thing. But I find this kind of blasé attitude frankly irksome. It reeks of privilege and a lack of understanding how the real world works for 99% of people. Parenting is already hard enough nowadays, yet I found myself (and I know others do too) constantly bowing to the pressure of trying to keep up with the Joneses. People who cook everything from scratch, and never give their children anything processed, purchasing the latest technology, taking their kids to music classes, gymnastic classes, and art summer school, family holidays spent further and further afield in exotic locations, hiring home tutors before they start prep just so they have “an edge” over the other kids. I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Ok, so here are some very basic steps to follow:

Rule 1. Simple birthday parties. Go to the Reject Shop and by some streamers and balloons. I guarantee they’ll cost you no more than $5. NO IPADS.

Rule 2. Except any gift that is given with a smile and a thank you. If it’s for your child DON’T REFUSE IT ON THEIR BEHALF BEFORE THEY’VE EVEN SEEN IT! You know, unless it’s something offensive like a harpoon gun, or porn. If this is the case you have my permission to throw it back in their face, kick them out of your house and never speak to them again.

Rule 3. Everyone take a chill pill and stop competing with each other. You know what, your child might legitimately be better than mine. They may already know how to tie their shoes, dress themselves, sing the alphabet, and whistle Handel’s Messiah off by heart. That’s great, but I refuse to compete anymore. And I’d appreciate it if you didn’t look down on me in judgement just because I didn’t buy Stormy the latest and coolest running shoes to match everyone at Kindy.      

Rule 4. Be an example to your children. Show them how to treat others. Tell them to treat others the way they wish to be treated. Turn the next generation into beautiful, empathetic, giving, open hearted and charitable people. Because from what I keep getting told, the current generation is too self-centred to care.

Rule 5. Relax about whether your child is entertained or stimulated enough. You know what’s great? Playdoh, crayons, and a sandpit. Obviously not altogether. You don’t constantly have to look for activities to do. Stormy found my mental ramekins the other day and banged on them with a wooden spoon, declaring “what an interesting sound” they made. FOR AN HOUR! Toddlers are like cats, give them an empty box and they’re entertained for hours. Seriously, for the love of God, do yourself a favour and get off Pinterest!

Rule 6. NO IPADS AS PARTY GIFTS. I just can’t stress that enough.

*Note: OF COURSE I’m not against childrens’ birthday parties. They are a wonderful thing, and give us really beautiful moments. That is, when we’re not having to deal with tantrums, food poisoning, no one turning up, the cake being eaten by the dog before your kid could even blow out the candles, or that one annoying girl who decides she needs to fight the birthday boy for his party hat because SHE likes it more, and their grandmother makes everyone give in to her tantruming and gives her the party hat, thus inflating her self-congratulating narcissism (looks around furtively from side to side hoping no one works out who that was). I mean all I’m saying is, I did all the work, where’s my freaking party? Guess I’ll just enjoy that glass of wine sipped in the dark of an untidy kitchen hours after everyone is finally asleep. 

Don’t ask, and maybe I’ll tell

Whenever people ask me when I’m going to have my next child, my immediate response tends to be to shout “Not until we take real action against climate change, and I know any further offspring will have enough food and water to live!” Apparently that tends to upset people, so usually my response is to just grin and say “Probably not till the end of the year”.

Ok, I admit, that shouting part was a lie. But it’s definitely what I shout in my head. It’s definitely something that I lay awake at night worrying about. And it’s definitely something that I am actually considering when I ask myself about when I want to have another child. The plan that my husband and I always had was to wait until the end of this year to start trying again. And by trying I merely mean “opening the vault”. For those of you playing at home, and haven’t read my previous entries, my son was conceived via IVF and we were lucky enough to have 3 extra embryos which are currently chilling in my fertility doctor’s freezer. I like to refer to them as “my children in the vault”. I usually do this in an Igor like accent and hunch. It really disturbs some people. I find it hilarious. Anyway, the logistics of having another child is actually quite convenient for us, so it will just come down to when we feel ready. Yet that “ready” feeling for me, just keeps travelling further and further into the future. For various reasons. Climate change and the uncertainty of the future is a big factor. Thanks to the latest elected US president, “Will we go to another World War, and this time will it be completely nuclear?” is usually my next worry. But knowing how much I struggled with Stormaggedon, the third worry is “Will I be strong enough to do it all again?”

But all of this pales in comparison to the worry and anxiety I feel of inevitably being asked the question by every man and his dog on when I’m going to expand the family. I’m sure all parents can understand. You might even be on your 7th child, and you’ll still get that curious well-meaning friend/neighbour/family member/random stranger on the train just casually dropping into conversation “So when’s the next one coming along?”

Just this weekend I was mingling with a new group of people and I inevitably brought up Stormaggedon. Because as a mother, I have nothing else to talk about in my life. Literally, nothing else to talk about. One lovely lady asked me how many children I had, and my response was “Just the one”. Without a beat her next question was “Plans for the second one yet?” WITHOUT. A. BEAT. I don’t even think the last syllable of my pervious answer had completely left my mouth by the time she was forming this next question. Now admittedly, I believe she only asked the question so she could get out her desperate “DON’T!” in response. Apart from her first child, she tells me her next three were all unplanned and life was a little “crazy” at the moment. I believe she thought she was doing a civic service by encouraging me to just quietly wade out of the gene pool, you know before the madness kicked in. We had a laugh about it, and went back to enjoying the array of chocolate that had been put on offer at this little get together.

Yet, I can’t help but feel a little out of sorts when people ask such personal questions. I know it’s a perfectly natural, curious and almost automatic question to ask. I’ve spoken about it before in a previous blog, but I felt it necessary to bring it up again. I think we’re all aware of how contentious the subject of having children can be. We all have that friend who is currently trying, or secretly trying, and really struggling. I was that friend. I have another friend who is now in the same boat as I was 4 years ago. But the idea of asking someone, badgering someone, about when they’re adding to their brood to me feels very invasive. Stormaggedon turns three this year, and I tell you it feels like a blink of an eye since we brought him home from the hospital. I know that “Now’s a good time to start trying again”, but I’ve only just found my feet with this first one. Can’t I enjoy him for a little bit longer? Can I just figure out what I’m doing for a little while longer before complicating the matter? Can’t I enjoy my rediscovered freedom for just a few more minutes? The water looks a little bit cold, can’t I just give it a minute before I jump back in?

So I’ll make you a deal, if you don’t ask me, then I won’t ask you. And maybe when I’m ready, I’ll let you know at the end of the year what I intend to do. Deal?