Tag Archives: kids

Getting comfortable

Daughter: Mum, we’re learning about life cycles at school.

Me: OK. What stages are there in a life cycle?

Daughter: Birth, growth, reproduction and death.

Me: And what stage are you at?

Daughter: Growth!

Me: So what stage am I at?

Daughter: *Pause*

Son: Well, you’ve had us, so that’s past reproduction … death?

Daughter: I think there might be a bit between reproduction and death.

We actually had a good laugh about it, and the kids possibly looked embarrassed to have written me off so quickly.

I don’t need reminding of my rock-solid middle age status. The possibilities that were ahead of me decades ago are being slid across the John Lewis dining room table to my kids. I’m still hoping that one of them will be entrepreneurial and/or creative. My own youthful ambitions included:

  • Private detective and also an international spy
  • Science fiction writer in a light-filled attic
  • Boutique paper shop owner in Florence.

Instead, I have a sensible digital marketing career and I live in a regular suburban street.

We will be moving to a new regular suburban street soon. After years of renting, and despite Brexit and bombings, we’ve bought our own place. Our new home looks very much like all the other ones in the street and I’m now OK with that.

I propose to insert Comfortable between the Reproduction and Death phases of the life cycle.

life cycle diagram

My view of the suburbs.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Hype cycle of life. I’ve had a few days recently when I’ve been without my phone. This made me realise how I use social media to fill all the little gaps in the day when I’d rather scroll than think or look or talk. (Introverts unite!)

Kids – sorry the grown-ups broke your EU. Dear kids, Yesterday some grown-ups broke your European Union. Sorry about that. They didn’t really mean to. I hope that you can fix it when you’re older. Remember to vote 🙂 Love, mum

Kids – sorry the grown-ups broke your EU

Dear kids

Yesterday some grown-ups broke your European Union. Sorry about that. They didn’t really mean to. I hope that you can fix it when you’re older. Remember to vote 🙂

Love, mum

Post-Brexit, I’ve been doing some metaphorical soul-searching. Rummaging around in my drawer of tidy private political opinions. Well, I’ve tipped that drawer on the kitchen table and this is what’s come out. (Some swear-y bits follow below. )

Kids' guide to the EU

This kids’ guide to the EU recently appeared in our kitchen. Great timing.

 

Age-appropriate socio-economic context

I explain the world to my kids with a pinch of age-appropriate socio-economic context. Mentioning background, life opportunities, education, bad luck. I follow up with: “In our house, dad and I think [*insert appropriate liberal metropolitan educated employed opinion*], but there are people who don’t agree. That’s OK.”

Today, a day after Britain voted to leave the EU, bollocks to that nuanced ‘two-sides’ approach. I think that 51.9% of the voters made the wrong decision about the EU referendum. I’m telling my kids that I voted Remain because I wanted them to have the same opportunities that British kids had before them.

Unfortunately, more scared, confused, mean (sorry), arrogant (apologies), wrong (not sorry) people voted Leave. They probably damaged the economy for a lot of us, and they definitely stuffed up the European future for my kids.

More immigrants? No thanks, I’m full.

I’m telling my kids that a lot of nasty people supported a Brexit because they don’t like immigrants. (Of course, not ALL people who voted to leave were bad. Aaaaah – can’t help myself … Sorry.)

Our family is stuffed-full of immigrants. We like to get around, so I’m horrified and disappointed that this debate was so racist and fearful.

The Leave campaign was supported by famous arse-hats. Farage, Trump and a dirty pile of right-wing European leaders talking up the anti-immigration bullshit. These are not my people.

My reactions on Facebook yesterday

1. First thing in the morning – unfiltered emotion.

Went to bed in the United Kingdom and woke up in land of hate and glory. I slept badly, hopefully dreamed that the Remain side would ‘edge’ ahead… Instead I’m now living in Little Middle England.

This morning I had an unexpected cry over politics and unexpected need to share my sadness on social media. I’m not angry. There are apparently enough angry haters out there already and more of them voted. Just sad that being moderate and reasonable and compassionate isn’t good enough anymore.

I’m still glad I supported and voted for Remain. I can tell my kids that.

2. A bit later – after too much information, emotion and social media

My knee-jerk metropolitan liberal elite post-Brexit strategy: combination of stay within safe bubble of left-y urban multicultural suburbs + make sure our kids give a fuck.

European Union 2

Smiling daughter within the European Union. 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Keep the water in your mouth   Yesterday I found a Post-It note in the kitchen with these words of wisdom: Keep the water in your mouth.

Where do you go when you press Home?  Does your life have a ‘Home’ button? I’m back home (Sydney) after a brief visit to London (new home). My old house is empty and my new house is waiting for me.

To all the ladies in the house

Mother’s Day had serious expectations heaped upon it, such as handmade cards and someone else replacing the toilet paper for once. International Women’s Day? Just the same old fluff – gender parity, equal opportunities, more women in leadership, less violence blah blah.

Here are some words for the important girls and women that I know.

My daughter. I will never be disappointed in you, even if you don’t become the first female astronaut on Mars. (It would be VERY cool if you did though.)

My nieces. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of your big lives starting. Enjoy. I watch with hope and interest.

My female colleagues. You are smart and funny and interesting and ambitious. Please be kind to yourselves.

My lady friends. Thanks for not judging. We’ve got enough to deal with, without kicking each other behind the knees. We do not fight dirty.

My sisters in law. The paid work, the unpaid work, the family, the friends, the home decor – you are totally smashing it. All of it.

My mum. If you don’t want to live with me later on in life, I’ll pick a really good retirement home.

My mother in law. You are the head of a very impressive family of women. You can never have enough X chromosomes.

Pair of finished lipsticks

Finished two lipsticks in one week. Not much comes close in the ‘achievement’ stakes. 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Judgemental as anything. It’s not cool to judge, unless you are a legal official or preside over hotdog-eating competitions.  Women and mothers – judge me not.

Let there always be kittens. One day I found myself hopping with a clickety click of the mouse from pictures of vintage French cheese labels, to a pro-anorexia, self-harm Tumblr site.  I have never seen one of these before because I am neither interested in anorexia nor self-harm.

 

 

 

 

Keep the water in your mouth

Yesterday I found a Post-It note in the kitchen with these words of wisdom: Keep the water in your mouth.

post it note

Keep the water in your mouth.

I assume it was part of some weird game the kids have been playing. Otherwise, as general life advice, it’s not particularly useful.

I’ve had some crappy times this year, when I have been almost pressed flat under the weight of must do/should do/forgot to do. Advice from others hasn’t been as valuable as advice to myself.

  • Be nice(r) to my family. One day my kids will choose my retirement home. Husband has seen me through my worst and best.
  • Look after my health. Watching others watch their parents and partners cope with serious illness has reminded me of how we really are ‘bone clocks’ (as described by author David Mitchell).
  • Do things I enjoy. Books, music, art and any combination of noodles in soup will win.

Simple, isn’t it? And don’t forget to keep the water in your mouth.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

My Last Night of the Proms
Last night I went to the *Last Night of the Proms. I didn’t realise that the evening included two world-class opera singers leading a full Royal Albert Hall audience in a jolly singalong.

Judgemental as anything
It’s not cool to judge, unless you are a legal official or preside over hotdog-eating competitions.

The Mostly-At-Work-Mum

I’ve recently stopped being a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM). I am now a Mostly-At-Work-Mum (MAWM).

It’s Sunday night. Before I pack my bag for work, I have:

  • tidied away stacks of drawings of ice-creams, love hearts and roses
  • marched up the stairs to tell someone to put away his (Dr Who) Sonic Screwdriver, as he’s meant to be sleeping
  • washed wellington boots
  • found most of the pieces of a (Star Wars) Republic Assault Ship
  • tipped glitter and food crumbs out of school bags
  • secretly recycled even more drawings of ice-creams, love hearts and roses.

[Aside: I don’t recall seeing mums in films doing any of these tasks. They spend a lot of time at kitchen benches slicing loaves of sourdough bread, or washing lettuce.]

During the week, I have outsourced a large proportion of my kid-related responsibilities, so these little things I do at night and on weekends keep me connected with them.

We still have some excellent conversations.

My son’s answer to peak oil and energy resource depletion:  “Buy a load of dead animals and bury them in the ground.”  [This was his variation on the boring old coalification process where coal is formed from prehistoric fossils…]

My daughter was drawing a sea horse. “It’s a French sea horse,” she explained. “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s wearing a bow tie and has a moustache.”  Of course.

So let’s get on with that work-life balance.

Make your own laptop

I was in one of those over-priced Belgian cafes, filled with equal quantities of rustic wooden furniture and jars of chocolate spread.

Next to me was a smartly dressed family. On a rustic wooden breakfast table, they were occupied thusly:

  • Dad – with iPad resting on muesli bowl.
  • Mum – on iPhone, with salad bowl of coffee.
  • Toddler in high chair – with iPod resting on ridiculous gourmet salt shaker.

They were probably content and well-fed. To me, they looked like 3 people who were killing time until newer, slightly thinner versions of the other family members are available at the Apple store.

Digital death

I spend a lot of energy ‘saving’ my kids from dying an early digital death. As the title of my blog suggests, I’m trying really hard to make sure their lives are not ruled by technology.

I am failing.

My children used to make magnificent craft. Behold a scale model of the Great Wall of China.

Great wall of china in clay

The great pile of …

Now, to compensate for the fact that I am depriving them of electronic wizardry, this is what they create:

the homemade laptop

Can you tell it’s the Windows startup screen logo?

And most impressively, there’s a Logitech mouse to go with the paper laptop.

the homemade mouse

Logitech’s latest prototype mouse.

This came back from a school holiday club:

the homemade mobile

The screen is a bit small, but it’s got an incredible battery life.

And our little animal friends frolic in a forest of cables and keyboards.

little creatures in cables

The perfect place to hang out.

I will continue to paddle weakly against the tsunami of digital stuff. I have my inflatable armbands, and kid-proof passwords on all my devices.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Slightly ranting about kids, technology, good and evil. I can’t decide. Internet = evil cesspit of narcissistic idiots chatting to gambling-addicted paedophiles? Or Internet = global community of inspiring humanity sharing knowledge and joy? Depends on which parent I am talking to …

Things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Here are some things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Modern parenting just seems a little more complicated these days …

Pictures of my kids, or not?

My kids are too attractive to put pictures of them in my blog. Their beauty and grace would make you weep tears of joyous wonder over your keyboard, rendering you unable to see or type.

That’s my back-up reason for not featuring my outstandingly photogenic kids on my blog.

The real reason is that I feel a bit odd about maxing out their digital presence, before they are old enough to understand and sign a consent form.

I’m not even sure this blog will be around when they’re old enough to sign this consent form. If it is, the form might look something like this:

Dear Mum

(You are great.)

I give you my permission to include the following in your amazing blog:

  • Pictures of me. I may be looking right at the camera, or it may be one of those secret shots of a pensive child gazing in to the distance.
  • Sound recordings of me. Even if it is a song about being sexy. (I do actually know what ‘sexy’ means.)
  • Videos of me. These include me falling off stuff in a funny but not painful way.
  • Pictures of my AMAZING school art projects. I am an artistic prodigy, after all.

I understand that all of my friends, relatives and future employers will be able to see these pictures and recordings of me. Complete strangers in foreign lands might even copy them to use in promotional material about pineapple-based health supplements for the whole family.

(I love you mum.)

I  ____________  have read and understood the contents of this form.

Signature

Date

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier:

Show me your private parts. Pre-digital privacy was such a clear concept: Teenage diary with “Keep Out. Private.” written on the cover…