22 Nov 2014

Being Big

Aftermath of sibling argument which conveniently took place while I was on the phone. 

Me: Why was Madi yelling at you before- repeatedly?
E: Because I was annoying her.
Me: *Sigh* Was that a smart thing to do?
E: (Affronted) Well, she shouldn't have shouted at me!
Me: What did you expect to happen?!
E: I expected her to be the bigger person and deal with it better.
Me: How old are you? And your sister...?
E: 14 and... and... Hmm... how old is she again...?
Me: 8. 14 and 8. That makes YOU the bigger person. Do the maths.
I give him my best withering look. He is fighting a smile. He's enjoying this. In a twisted way I am too, but I don't tell my face.
E: (Patting my arm) It's a figure of speech, mum.
Me: Don't move from here! (I walk into hall and shout for Madi. She appears within 20 seconds, bubbly and co-operative. This is her standard default approach to most things, unless she's in trouble). Babe, you know how you yelled at your brother when he was kicking you on the couch, what else could you have done?
M: Um... I could have asked him to stop kicking me. Rather than shouting.
Me: And if he'd ignored you and carried on doing it...?
M: I could've come through here and told you.
Me: Great idea. Note it for next time. Now... Can you do something for me? Even though he kicked you and was being really annoying... can you be the BIGGER PERSON and apologise for shouting? I think it may help...
M: (Considering my request) But... Jackson is always the biggest person.
This is absolutely true. Emotional intelligence wise, he outstrips them all. Even me. He often patches things up between these two that I don't even get to hear about.
Me: I know babe, but you see (turn to eldest) it's a figure of speech.
M: OK. I'm sorry Ethan.
I smile and give Ethan The Look
E: Thank you Madi.
More of The Look
E: I accept your apology.
Little bit more. 
E: I'm no longer offended.
Little bit more still. With higher eyebrows.
Me: And.....?
E: And I'm sorry too.
Thank you. My Big, BIG people.

14 Nov 2014


Please discuss the following situations and explain why you selected your answers. Diagrams are welcome but not essential.

1: Would you rather suffer debilitating nausea for hours and hours, or throw up once and be done with it and functional again?

2: Is it preferable to experience a family-wide sickness bug simultaneously and put up with the associated problems of having more people than bathrooms and no one well enough to take care of anyone else, or individually, thus increasing the likelihood of a toilet being empty when needed (although not necessarily being reached) and extending both the overall period of quarantine and volume of laundry?

3: Is it better to be woken at 2am by a poorly child, or a well child who has wandered through the entire house to tell you she got up for a pee and trod in some cat sick on her carpet? And she immediately came downstairs to tell you there's cat sick on her carpet- she didn't waste time washing her foot first.

4: Is it better to deal with 1: A small amount of rank, concentrated vomit that has been inside a person for 12 whole hours and which gives the person enough warning to be hunched over the toilet bowl in readiness, or 2: Copious volumes of recently consumed iced water and 3 green Skittles® which project from said person forcibly and suddenly resulting in a large, clear pond in the hallway?

5: Does the following conversation reflect well or badly on a particular parenting style?
I'm in the office at my desk (which I should state is at the bottom of our back garden). The phone rings. I see by the display it is poorly child last seen 35 minutes ago on couch watching Pop Junior.
Me: Hi Babe- are you OK?
J: Yeah I'm OK. Can I have a bath?
Me: Of course you can. Are you happy doing that on your own?
J: Yes that's fine. (movement)... I'll go run it now...  (weird gurgling noise) Hmm, I feel a bit... (more noises) Oh I'm sick again...
Me: (I get up off my chair) What - you're being sick right now?!
J: Yes that's right... (More noises) Oh I'm sick a LOT!

Some of these musings I first thought of ages ago. Scenario 1 for example. I'm not a puker. I fight it. My brain chooses to make me feel awful rather than going with the retching and probably feeling better much quicker. It's like the gastrointestinal tract can only be a one way street - the contents moving in one direction at all times making vomiting unnatural and something to be avoided at all costs- like colonic irrigation.

Then there's Scenario 4. I only thought of this today. On reflection, even though it involved being up at quarter past 7 (earlier than I prefer), it was less traumatic to deal with type 1 sick. There was far less fuss and mess involved and I multitasked my way through the sympathy and back rubbing by sipping a cup of tea with my free hand.

We look forward to your feedback and perhaps a diagram or two. Floorpans of bedrooms and their proximity to the bathroom* are most helpful.

*Obstacles between these locations should be avoided

10 Nov 2014

The un-American dream

We've been to Centre Parcs 3 or 4 times over the last decade with an assortment of friends and family members. The last time we went, several families booked the same week and we all managed to secure chalets within the same area, so a big group of us who all knew each other ended up being neighbours from Monday - Friday too. It was ace.

After unloading all our stuff and moving all vehicles to the designated car park, the new neighbourhood quickly became a carless playground / abandoned bike area and children milled around with a bit more freedom than they would otherwise have at home. It was probably like going back in time - children had a home but were welcome elsewhere, using the scrum of bikes and scooters to locate their mates. They came home to eat, but could pick up a snack at a friend's house too. Individually, families made plans for the day, but these were quite fluid and in between unpacking, food shopping and meeting up at the pool / gym / ice rink, children re-enacted a more free range lifestyle as described in those viral news feed cloggers usually titled I survived being a child of the 50s / 60s / 70s (which curiously never seem to mention the national treasure that was Jimmy Saville or child road death statistics in an age before booster seats were available, let alone compulsory).


The layout and inventory of each of our houses was exactly the same, and although decor did vary slightly, the overall appearance was fairly generic- the developers clearly shopped with the one supplier for all their finishing touches. (What a dream job for someone that would be- shopping for a living then playing house with the results...).

Again. Anyway.

As the week wore on I noticed that people were a bit less precious about their belongings in this fake temporary environment. Granted, on holiday you generally have less things in your life to be precious about, but even so- there was an increase in trust and /or a decrease in security awareness. Bikes were stacked up in racks outside communal areas, helmets clipped into handlebars. There were dozens of buggies outside the pool, babies noticeably absent but carrier bags stuffed underneath them. And people were far less likely to close their curtains at dusk, meaning anyone walking by could easily see into their living rooms.

This last thing especially intrigued me.
Q: Why did no one care?
A: Because variations between us had been suspended and everyone was pretty much the same.

There were 2 grades of accommodation - Woodland Lodge and Executive Suite. Only fellow holiday makers were passing by and given that each had exactly the same facilities at their own disposal, there was no reason to be looking in through someone else's open curtains. Even if an Executive Suiter took an accidental detour, they were only on their way home to a slightly bigger living room containing identical (or very, very similar) soft furnishings & furniture.

I enjoyed this week for many reasons: No work or school, dossing with people I love, swimming every day, no post to open, being able to walk everywhere we needed to be, not needing to be anywhere, actually... But something else was great too and I couldn't quite figure out what. At first I thought it was spending time with our neighbours who were already friends, but it was deeper than that. There was a commonality between us that week. We were all living in a similar way. It was unfamiliar but comforting. Stuff wasn't as important. I'm all for downgrading stuff. I have too much of it yet am caught up in a way of life that requires it. Clearing out and passing things on is like therapy for me. After a bad day, most people phone a friend, go to the gym or reach for the wine. Me? I clean out a cupboard. Or a friend's cupboard. Or in the days of our lets move house every year-a-thon, pack a box of possessions and label it with a sharpie.

I can see why Communism was considered a good thing. On paper it must have seemed the perfect solution to inequality and a fractured society. Unfortunately, as a collective, people don't do restraint very well and when we tried it, the whole thing became so extreme it travelled full circle and met Capitalism coming the other way. But everything in moderation, you know? Just a little bit of Communism. Would that have been so bad?

• What if the movement had ended with the idea that stuff doesn't define you?

• What if the party members had managed to screen out the power trippers and schizoids when they elected their leaders and the movement had remained pure and uncorrupted? (NB- Russell Brand is definitely onto something but likely falls into the whackjob category. Disappointing. Avoid).

• What if the remaining legacy was not oppression, corruption, enforced atheism and the dismantling of human rights, but the overwhelming acceptance that your car is a thing that gets you from A to B? End of.

• What if some were not created more equal than others but rather we were just created equal?

I have an un-American dream. It involves less stuff. And clean cupboards. And wine (in moderation).

4 Nov 2014

Do not post until 2020

This, like several other posts has been sitting in my drafts folder for ages. It's immensely frustrating. I live in a vibrant household with 4 other people who are kind enough to provide me with bloggable interactions and situations on an almost daily basis. But to publish them too soon (or at all, sometimes) is not funny or clever.

Eventually enough time elapses and stories can be repeated for the good of families everywhere.

I have confiscated E's phone for the following reasons:
1: He took it upstairs with him when I'd expressly requested he keep it downstairs in craft box and tidy his room.
2: He had not tidied room, but was playing on phone in middle of messy room
3: He had complained to younger siblings that I was 'stupid' for confiscating phone for no valid reason. Younger siblings quickly dobbed him in. (There are no secrets with 8 year olds).

Several hours have elapsed. E is going upstairs to bed.
E: I'll need an alarm for tomorrow morning. Please may I have my phone back?
(I do not do mornings. He has me there. I retrieve phone from kitchen drawer).
Me: Just remind me. Whose phone is this?
E: It's yours. You're lending it to me.
Me: Yes I am.
E holds out his hand. I do not release the phone.
Me: And....?
E: I'm sorry
Me: For...?
E: Taking your phone upstairs.
Me: And...?
E: Calling you stupid.
Me: It's really pretty stupid to call another person stupid when that other person is responsible for providing you with many things, including said phone. Out of the goodness of her heart. Isn't it?
E: Yes it is. Absolutely. Very stupid. And rather ironic.
Me: Indeed. I accept your apology. Here's my phone back.
E: Thank you.
Me: You are welcome.