I told my child a lie.
A big bald-faced whopper.
I had to.
Here it is: (more…)
You welcomed my little girl into your classroom in the beginning of the year with your arms wide open. No booboo wasn’t worth a cuddle and a band-aid and, likewise, no achievement wasn’t worth a mighty celebration. It didn’t matter that the achievement was ‘not crying’ when it was goodbye Mummy time – you recognised the gravity of each and every moment in her year and respected her right to be little for as long as she needed to be. As a result, Baby G dances into your classroom, runs to you for cuddles and declares you to be the prettiest of all fairy princesses. How do I thank you for that?
You start every morning with a song and dance, you have constant music in the background and the vibe in Kindy is sometimes so delicious, I can’t bring myself to say goodbye and go. You often smile and let me join in as the kids dance and sing “jump up, turn around, have a happy morrrr-ning!”, knowing that this is my last baby through your room. You let me immerse myself in the deliciousness of my little girl at this special stage of life, even though you really should make me go. You allow me to wring every last little bit of joy out of this Kindy year and I watch you patiently and gently do the same for the other Mums. You get that our babies are only this little for a fleeting time. You care. You’re generous with your classroom. How do I thank you for that?
You have taught my child so many wonderful things! She comes home, excitedly demonstrating SY-LAB-BI-FI-CA-TION, clapping and counting syllables as though this is the be all and end all and everything exciting in the world. She lines up her teddies and teaches them to count in tens, she sounds out words and, sparkly-eyed, waxes lyrical about Jolly Phonics. She wants to learn, she thirsts for it. She uses words like synopsis and transparent and magnificent. She finds incredible joy in learning. Because you make learning tantalising. How do I thank you for that?
My child cries on weekend mornings because there’s no school. She plays with her baby dolls and names them all “Janine” after you. How do I thank you for that?
Baby G has learnt so much more in this first year of school than numeracy and literacy. Under your care, she has learned empathy. When she does something kind for other kids and I praise her, she often explains that it was you who taught her to do so. She has learned patience and inclusion and love. She has experienced the intense warmth that has come from her absolute trust in you. How do I thank you for that?
You have given my little girl an incredibly beautiful and rock-solid start to her school career. How do I thank you for that?
My simple ‘thank you’ seems so inadequate. But, THANK YOU, all the same.
You’ve made a difference,
With abundant love,
If you liked this post, click the thumbs-up button at the bottom of this post.
I’d really love to hear your comments, so please don’t be shy (comments make me do a happy dance).
Last week, my big kids each had a friend over to play. Baby G was feeling left out because the big girls wanted alone time sans little sister, so I suggested she go play with the boys, who are good-natured and would probably include her.
She happily skipped off to Little Man’s room and I got busy cooking dinner, enjoying this peaceful moment to myself and patting myself on the back for engineering it. After a while, I realised she hadn’t come back so I went to check up on her and the boys. I peeped around the doorway to Little Man’s bedroom and saw him and his little mate jumping of the bed and shouting rude words at the top of their lungs (as 8 year old boys do) followed by raucous laughter. Baby G, of course, was howling with laughter and joining in.
Despite her admirably brave attempt at stoicism at Kindy drop-off this morning, when it came to goodbye time, Baby G crumbled. With downturned eyes squirting tears like lawn sprinklers and a Lucille Ball-esque wide open mouth emitting air raid siren-like howls, my daughter cried so forlornly I thought – for sure – my heart would break.
Miraculously, I kept it together and maintained my Mary Sunshine air of calm and happiness. I was legendary, I tell you. My performance was Oscar worthy. Yep, I kept it together until, in a pathetic sobby-gulpy-snotty-whisper, Baby G said, “Mama, I AM SO SAD because *sniff* we just have not cuddled enough times today!”
Boom. Bullseye. Instant lump in my throat. Suddenly blinking fast to keep the flood of imminent Mama-tears at bay.
Smiling the fake, toothy grin of a demented Mary Poppins (in the vain hope that my grimace was reassuring her that she was going to have a lovely day) I backed out of the classroom. My gutted heart left a bloody trail on the floor right up to the spot where I finally stopped because the sheer guilt weighing me down was too heavy for me to move one more step. I was the Worst Mother on Earth. I’d done a terrible thing to my baby by taking her to that primary coloured, Baroque classical music filled, joy infused place called Kindy. Acting as if that Invisible Umbilical Bungee that connects us was non-existent…what was I thinking? Now my baby was scarred for life. Read the rest of this entry
As I write this, I’m looking down at puffy clouds from an altitude of 12,192m. I’m sipping on a chardonnay, flicking through a magazine and revelling in the deep sense of relaxation this travel experience brings.
Oh, who am I kidding.
I have a four year old beside me.
This is how this flight has panned out so far:
As we boarded the aeroplane –
Baby G: I want to carry my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book!
Me: As soon as we sit down, you can have it.
Walking down the aisle:
Baby G: Can I do my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book now?
Me: You have to wait until we are sitting down, okay?
As we find our seats:
Baby G: Now can I do my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book?
Me: (Twitch developing in right eye) We need to put our bags away first, honey bunny (or the pushy guy behind us will use up the whole overhead locker and Mummy will lose the plot, my darling princess sweetie pie.)
As I attempt to load luggage in the overhead compartment, while balancing half on the seat and half in the aisle and trying to unpack activity books, crayons, ipods, snacks and blankies:
Baby G: Okay, I’m ready for my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book now! Can I have it? Can I have it? Can I have it? Mum? MUM?!
Me: Be patient, baby girl, I’m nearly ready, I just have to -
Baby G: I’m tired, Mum! (big, pleading brown eyes.)
Me: Okay. (Huff. Puff.) I’m ready. Let’s find your book.
As I rummage like a blood hound through the chair pocket, balancing an iPad and multiple activity options on my lap. WHERE the EFF is the bloody Strawberry Freaking Shortcake book? Ah, found it. Dammit, dropped 5 crayons. Hit head in my attempt to pick them up. Got them. Phew. All sorted.
Me: Here’s your book, Baby G! (Spoken in the perkiest, Mary-Poppinsest voice imaginable.)
Baby G: I think I don’t want to do my Strawberry Shortcake colouring book.
Me: (Twitch. Blink. Twitch.)
As I deep breathe, while observing Darren in the row ahead with Miss M and Little Man. They are relaxed, self-sufficient and happy. They independently browse through the movie catalogue and set up their headsets. I am brought out of my reverie by the chipmunk-like rapid-fire questioning by Baby G.
Baby G: Look, I can clip my seat belt! Look! I can unclip it!
Me: Awesome! That was very clever of you, to work that out.
Baby G: (Click. Click. Click.) Look, Mum! (Click. Click. Click.)
Me: No more seatbelt, Baby G.
Baby G: (Click.) Sorry, that was an accident. (Click click click.) Sorry. (Click.)
Me: (Eye twitching visibly now. Working really hard to keep my inner Mary Poppins alive.)
As we prepare for take-off and I start to believe I will never rest again. Ever.
Baby G: Can I colour now?
Me: Sure. (Put down magazine, rummage through pocket. Rearrange. Drop. Pick up. About to reach Strawberry Bitchface Shortcake…)
Baby G: Actually, I want to colour later.
Me: (Blink. Twitch. Double blink.)
Baby G: How much longer until we get there?
Me: (Mary Poppins singing loudly in my head… some annoying, perky crap about sugar fixing problems.) Angel, we haven’t even taken off yet.
Baby G: I’m tiiiiiired!
Me: Me too. Let’s sleep.
Baby G I’m NOT tired!
Me: (Getting hardass.)You can colour or sleep.
Baby G: Okay, I’ll colour.
Fast forward ten minutes and Baby G is colouring happily and – more importantly – self-sufficiently. I begin to relax. This is not bad at all! We are going to have a great flight! Flying with a four year old isn’t bad at all!!!!! (Five exclamation points convey, conservatively, the excitement I feel as I have this epiphany.)
I settle into my seat, browse through the movies and select Pitch Perfect. Excellent – light, mindless entertainment. I am grinning. This is the life! Movie begins, I relax a little more, I peer over at Baby G and smile. Flying with a four year old is a piece of cake. Now that the excitement has worn off, she’s going to be the perfect travelling companion.
First line of movie dialogue is not completely performed and –
Baby G: Mum, I don’t want to colour any more. I’m bored.
Me: No problem, baby girl, it’s movie time! Let’s see what’s on your special, very own tv! (My perkiness is totally natural. I’m kicking Mary Poppins’ perky ass at her own game.)
Excitedly, we scroll through the menu of movies and choose Horton Hears a Who. She grins. I grin. We are a living commercial for Singapore Airlines and Colgate rolled into one. My mother-in-law, sitting next to me tells me I am an amazing mother. I beam, smugly. We all but sing kumbayah. I begin to visualise the glass of wine and uninterrupted movie. I can taste it. It tastes good.
Earphones on, movies unpaused, we begin to watch. 30 seconds. IT LASTS THIRTY SECONDS.
Baby G: I can’t hear.
I pause my movie. I adjust her volume. No problem. I restart my movie.
Baby G: It’s too loud, mama!
Pause. Fix. Resume. Still happy – minor glitch. Oh, look, there are people singing!
Baby G: Are we there yet?
Pause. Explain that we still have five hours to go. Suggest we enjoy our movies. She agrees. Pat myself on the back for my saint-like patience. Resume movie. Looking forward to seeing Rebel Wilson.
Baby G: I don’t want to watch a movie.
Pause. Calm discussion about sitting still and keeping occupied and the concept of what five hours means. Still perky. We decide on The Wiggles. She grins. I grin. Unpause. Waiting for Rebel.
Baby G: I don’t want to watch TV. Can we play Go Fish?
Switch off TV. Abort mission. Observe Darren sleeping peacefully as Miss M and Little Man watch movies. Observe Mother-in-law reading book, uninterrupted. Feel perkiness waning. Accept fate. Play Go Fish. Lose. Play again. Lose.
Baby G: Can I play on your iPad?
Me: Brilliant idea! (Why didn’t I think of that?)
Hand over iPad. Resume movie.
NOTE: I have, so far, watched a grand total of three minutes of Pitch Perfect. We have been flying for an hour.
Tentatively, I begin to relax. Stupid move, but a girl can hope.
Mother-in-law: I have to read you this part of my book!
Pause. Listen. That was interesting, actually. Resume movie.
Mother-in-law: Oh my gaaaaawd, listen to this part!
Pause. Listen. Again, interesting. Resume movie.
Mother-in-law: This is insane! This book is UH MAY ZING.
(SIDE NOTE: I adore my Mother-in-law and consider her to be one of my best friends. So much so, that both Darren and I are thrilled that she has decided to come with us on this holiday.)
Mother-in-law and I have a deep conversation. I’m really happy to be talking to an adult. Until she unceremoniously shoves a dinner roll into my mouth. To shut me up. Apparently I won’t stop talking. Seems I was a tad over-excited to be talking about something that wasn’t Wiggles, Horton or Strawberry-the-asshat-Shortcake.
I realise that Baby G is now happily watching something. I have no idea what, but she’s happy, so I don’t care. Mother-in-law is reading her book. Darren is sleeping. Big kids are entertaining themselves.
This is the perfect time to write.
Out comes the iPad again. I begin to write. As I begin to type, the stewardess approaches with the lunch trolley and tells us to clear our trays. Of course.
I pack away the iPad after writing six words.
We all eat, except Mother-in-law-sent-to-me-directly-from-Heaven, who takes Baby G to the toilet three times in fifteen minutes. She then switches places with me so she can play with Baby G and I can rest.
Ahhh, peace at last.
Until a little hand reaches through from the seat in front of me. Miss M needs a spoon, wants to show me her Minecraft construction, and something else I couldn’t understand because her voice disappears in the white noise. She continues to ask me the same question at the same unintelligible volume. I say yes. Still don’t know for what.
I laugh. I give up on civilised travel. I try to ignore the fact that I only had two hours sleep the previous night. I’m a pro at handling sleep-deprivation. After all, I have ten years’ experience. My perky facade is still intact. I look over at Mother-in-law, who is ‘baking” with Baby G. They are so happy. Their trays are covered with plasticine carrots and cupcakes and sausages and apples.
Sure, I’d love an uninterrupted movie. Of course I’d enjoy reading my book. But I have many years ahead when that will be possible. Right now, I have a four-year-old next to me, proudly showing off the plasticine birthday cake she’s made with Granny. We ‘light’ the candles, she blows them out and Mother-in-law and I sing happy birthday to Baby G, who is four and is having a pretend birthday party in the sky.
Baby G: Mum, we have been in the sky for sixty and a million thirty two twenty minutes!
Yes, we have, Baby G. Only a squillion minutes to go.
Living with my kids is like house-sharing with a comedy trio. The conversations in my house make me routinely shoot coffee out of my nose. I’m pretty sure their comic dialogue is some kind of evolutionary survival instinct thing…it certainly saves our sanity on those “Mama is losing her mind” days. (Let’s be honest – that’s most days because getting my kids to listen and follow instructions is a parenting skill I am yet to master.)
Just last week, this conversation took place while I was driving the girls to dancing. It led to me nearly crashing into a tree:
Baby G: Muuuum, do i come from China?
Me: No, you’re Australian, Sweetie.
Baby G: But Miss M says I come from China!
Miss M: I did not say she comes from China… I said she came out of your VAGINA! Read the rest of this entry
Yesterday morning we took Baby G to a Wiggles concert. She was so excited, she could hardly contain herself. The night before, she hand-made roses for Dorothy the Dinosaur out of patty-pans, pipe cleaners and play-doh and then she sang her little heart out in bed until she fell asleep, so huge was her anticipation.
It was the original Wiggles’ last show before they retire and hand over to the new Wiggles and it was quite moving, really. I managed to get us press passes (ooh la la) in to the meet and greet before the show, so we got to see the Wiggles (old and new) face to face – or as Baby G put it when she told her big sister, “We saw the REAL Wiggles – with SKIN!” Baby G was UTTERLY star-struck and went completely mute. Let it be known that shy and star-struck looks to the outside world like demon-possesssed. She was the most miserable-looking child at the meet and greet and gave her heroes a giant snub. Not embarrassing AT ALL.
Now to the part where I cried. Read the rest of this entry
My kids love Man vs Wild. It’s a documentary where Bear Grylls (a super-human, uber-tough, attractively-British navy seal) gets dropped alone in a variety of scary locations around the world. His mission: to survive, get through the night, forage for food, make shelter and climb/trek/bungee-jump (using a home-made bungee created entirely out of banana leaves and animal excrement) his way out of the wild and find his way to civilisation. While on his adventures, he has to cure ailments such as bites from mosquitoes/ticks/snakes/tigers. He also has to survive by eating all manner of interesting things.
He has eaten:
a multitude of bugs
a yak’s eye
raw sheep heart
zebra carcass (yes, it’s as bad as you’re picturing)
frog (neat, uncooked and explosive)
scorpions and snakes.
He has also drunk urine. Lots of his own urine.