Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Air-travel Guidelines

Its funny how time in an airport passes. Correction. Its funny how the passing of time in an airport can vary so much based on what phase of life you are in.  And by funny I mean bewildering. 

I remember when I could enjoy airport bars, meander through duty-free smelling all the different fragrances, browse souvenirs and stand reading books and magazines in the shops while waiting for my plane to start boarding.  Footloose and fancy free is what they would call a young me, childless and unaccountable to everyone.  But we never know how precious this time is until we are given hindsight.  Oh if I could have told my 22 year old self how lucky she was to experience every airport leisure to its full potential!  Alas, I am now in a life-phase where airports require tact and strategy.

My child is a frequent flier.  His heavily stamped passport indicates he has been overseas 6 times before the age of 2, as well as numerous domestic flights.  We have strategy down-pat……… theoretically. 
For instance.
Sleep times and warm bottles are timed around taxi and take-off; nothing like the combination of a full belly and the thundering jet engine rumble to lull a child to sleep. 

Old toys will not be enough of a distraction to stop a child getting grumpy and impossible in a very long customs line.  Only new, never-before-seen by the child, wrapped up toys will allow such success in prolonged distraction of the toddler.  This was an idea I got from a friend – and what she said was, “if the child is well-behaved, give him a new toy to unwrap and play with, this will encourage more good behaviour.”  But I’m sure she meant to say “when the child is not co-operating, use the new toy as bribery and coercion”.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt duty free shopping with a toddler.  They will reach for expensive perfume bottles, vintage whiskeys, and jars of La Prairie moisturiser at lightning speed, causing acute heart failure triggered by the thought of the cost of replacing these broken items.  Along with that is the war you will have to wage on the child when denying them all the temptingly packaged candy that sits gleaming on the shelves and counters.

If the child is anywhere over 18 months, do not attempt to travel without an ipad. Parenting, especially in public domain, without tablets or touch phones, is archaic and just plain hard. Just don’t do it.

It is OK to suck the orange Dorito residue off your child’s fingers before he has a chance to touch your clothing while waiting to check-in for a flight and the wipes are out of reach.  Speaking of wipes, it is also OK to shove a hardly-dirty wipe back into the pack for re-use, so long as it has not been used in nappy-changing circumstances.

When a child is crying, or better yet – screeching inconsolably for most of the long-haul flight across the pacific, rejoice and be happy that it belongs to someone else.  There was a time when this was your child, and you wanted to open the door and jump.

If your row is full, let your child annoy and clamber over the other passengers.  Chances are they will kick up a stink, especially if they are elderly East Indian folks, and a sympathetic flight attendant will bump them to a spare seat in business class, thus allowing a free seat for said child and breathing room for the verging-on-insanity mother.  This is a far cheaper option than just buying a seat for the toddler.

Although it may be tempting to take all offers of coffee and wine offered, use caution.  Remember, you do not have the luxury of a nappy like the child does, and once he’s asleep you mustn’t dare move and risk wake him from his slumber just to go to the toilet.  Dehydration is a preferable option.

Most importantly, observe the family with two teenagers armed with handheld entertainment devices.  Note how peacefully they are travelling.  Also have a look at the elderly couple, tidily dressed, hair in place, not breaking a sweat.  Yes, the ones turning their noses up at you and your snotty-nosed child.  Remember that this life-phase will not last forever, and peaceful travel will someday again be a reality.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Unfounded Fears

“Is she going to know that he likes all his food separately instead of mixed together? Is she going to have enough tissues to keep up with his snotty nose?  Is she going to be able to get him to sleep? Understand his words when he is trying to communicate? Is he going to cry inconsolably, thus causing permanent seperation anxiety damage to his psyche, rendering me a bad mother?”

These are the questions one asks themselves while in the shower on the morning their first child is going off to any sort of childcare facility.  In our case, Jack is going to an in-home care center, run by the most lovely woman I will call B.  This decision has come after months of internal debating with myself as to if Jack is or isn’t ready, is or isn’t suited, will or will not benefit from spending time away from me, away from our home.  After a period of Jack seeming to be “searching” for something more, I decided to enroll and start the familiarisation process at B’s house. And now, here we are, the Big Day, and I’m suffering with terrible anxiety and poor Jack wont know what hit him.

Well as it turned out, Jack wasn’t “poor Jack” at all.  After a 5 minute cry, he settled in just fine, played and played all day with the two other girls that go there, behaved “like an angel” to quote B, and was the most pleasant little boy all round.  And he wasn’t fussed when I came to fetch him at 3:00; he seemed to be more interested in finishing his snack so he could get back to playing on the slide.

All of my anxieties have been unfounded.  But what a strange day it was – that first WHOLE day without Jack, which in truth I have had before but he has been with a loved one and I didn’t have to deal with that aching in my heart, that physical tensing of the gut caused by worry and maybe my own bout of seperation anxiety. 

As mothers we spend our days going by the clock.  Time for a snack. Time for a nappy change.  Time for a sleep, or a playdate, or to get lunch in the oven, or for a time-out or a chill-out.  How foreign this feels to bestow all of this planning and responsibility onto another person for a whole 14 hours per week.  All of a sudden my motherhood productivity level just skyrocketed at an exponential rate, and I cant help thinking this is too good to be true.

Grocery shopping with no tantrums?  Dashing in and out of 5 different shops without bribing Jack back into his car seat each time with lollies or airplanes or promises of going to the playground?  A morning fitness class at the gym?  Yes – it is all possible after all! I feel like I can do anything now.  Clean the windows… write a book….. walk the dog…. We don’t have a dog.  Maybe I should get one. 
I can envision power sessions of wallpaper stripping and tile-laying in our renovation-hungry house.  Blog-writing by daylight, which has never happened before.  Baking frenzies at lightning speed which don’t include a 2 year old standing at the counter wanting to “help” pour everything in the bowl (or beside it, or on the floor…) 

I have heard people say before “a few hours of childcare a week help me to be a better mother”.  Well, I can now relate to that statement.  You need not suffer post-partum depression or any other sort of illness for this statement to be true.  There needn’t be an “excuse”;  just a feeling that it is the right thing, at this point in time, for a child or the family. 
However. I am left thinking that Nathan truly got the shitty end of the stick all of a sudden.  Poor bugger, away working all day, 5 days a week.  Here I am at home spending quality time with our son 3 days a week, galavanting around town at my leisure 2 days a week, then family time all weekend long.  My biggest dilemma, we discovered last night, was my lack of a coffee thermos, should I have to dash out in the morning before I am able to have my second cup.  Yes, being deprived of my second cup of coffee can be such a hardship.    Sigh.

My life has, in the past week, taken on a new rhythm to which the tempo is more upbeat.  Change is scary, but also necessary.  Jack and I will both grow and learn and, ultimately, win as our routine evolves.  I can now see how parents get to a stage of “we are ready to have another one now.  This just seems so eeeeeasy!”   wink wink!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

On the topic of Transgenderism

At long last, I am blogging.  It’s been a bit busy around here, what with marriage and a new home and a child who is moving into toddler-hood!  No more room for excuses. 
I stumbled across this topic a couple weeks ago now – and when anything is even remotely consuming of my thoughts I tend to want to write about it – so of course this went on the list of “blog topics”. 

A couple of weeks ago, something happened – my brother sent me the most heart-felt, unprompted, emotionally charged email I have ever received from him in all my years overseas.  Turns out he was feeling betrayed; lied to; a victim of fraud.  As it happens, Tom Gabel, the lead singer for Against Me!, an American punk band, is a self-confessed transgender.

For more than 10 years my brother has been a faithful Against Me! Fan.  The shock of this news sent him reeling, if only briefly, into a state of confusion and uncertainty.  He was quite apparently upset that such a “vital” part of someone’s identity had been kept a secret to him for so long.  He shared ideals and values with this man.  He identified with him, and some days, in a round-about sort of way, even idolized this man, although I will just clarify that Brad isn’t the sort of person to make idols, or wish that he was someone different – he is quite comfortable with himself as he is – imperfections and all, and I think idolizing is a weaker trait that he doesn’t seem to demonstrate all to often, unless its under the pretence of respect and self-improvement.

A brief post on his facebook led me to the 8-or-so page article in the Rolling Stone mag, which consisted of Tom Gabel giving a revealing interview about himself and his sexuality. 
Now, before I go any further, I am going to apologize to Brad, my brother, for baring his soul and revealing his thoughts and emotions for all of the interweb to see.  But he’ll get over it.  As I state in all my other blogs, everything is somehow or another all about Jack.  This is no exception. 

So, this “event” consumed my thoughts for a number of days.  Possibly because that’s how long it took me to get through the mammoth Rolling Stone article – but also because I couldn’t help thinking how it was affecting Brad.  He LOVED this band, their music, what they stood for.  What was he to do?  He couldn’t relate to a man that wanted to be a woman! A man who, from now on, was going to BE a woman.  How random.  How alienating.

In the article, Tom is quietly pleading with fans to please accept this truth and have faith in him.  He swears he will still rock as hard as ever, still give his all-consuming performances and keep writing thought provoking, instigating, poetic-like lyrics.  And I find myself inwardly praying that Brad does find it in his heart to forgive, and accept this news.  After all, Tommy is just a person – a person who is at the mercy of an unforgiving society, where transgender issues still lie in the “taboo” basket.  If you’re from a small town and have never had to deal with an issue like this personally, you cannot be expected to understand and accept the news at the snap of a finger. 

Look, at the end of the day, Tommy Gabel – now to be known as Laura – is a wildly talented and passionate individual.  His personal struggles and trials of growing up have channeled his talent and unique way of thinking into a form of art that has affected and influenced thousands upon thousands of individuals.  I’m not much of a punk-rock fan these days, yet I will always have time for Against Me! – it triggers a sense of nostalgia, remembering a time when, back in the day, listening to them while smoking a joint was the only way my brother and I could sit in peace without bickering or being spiteful.  But more than that I can fully appreciate his one-of-a-kind voice, his fist-in-the-air, anthem-style sing-along chants that prevail in his paradoxical, rebellious, anarchy-fuelled yet feel-good lyrical compositions.  To listen to him belt out a tune is to recognize that he has a deep understanding for societal values, and can quickly point out which of those values tend to be hypocritical crocks of shit, yet doesn’t go so far as to demand societal rebellion by his faithful followers – he is merely pointing out truths, sometimes in an apologetic manner.  And that’s pretty much all.  And the way he can go from that to a light-hearted, good quality pub rock anthem, or an acoustic guitar strumming rambling love song, often just puts a smile on my face and a warm sense of familiarity in my belly. 

So.  How is this about Jack, then.  Well… what if Jack has been born with some trait that society is unaccepting of?  What if he has some major personal struggle that lay ahead of him?  Not only will he have to deal with it personally and with his loved ones, he will also have to face judgement and persecution.  Whether it be a sexual preference, a religious view, a political stance – I just all of a sudden felt vulnerable to the world – the cruel, cruel world – for the sake of my son.  I had a pang of desperation for my brother to accept Tommy Gabel (a.k.a. Laura) and support her in what must be a terrifying time in her life.  Because, if some day Jack needs to out with some truth perceived as “wild” and “outrageous”, yet it was how he was born, I need to know he will be accepted and supported at LEAST by his loved ones.

It’s not about conservatism or liberalism or progressive thinking.  I am fully convinced that a transgender is someone trapped in the body of the opposite sex, and a lot of times we as a society can show a lot of ignorance due to lack of understanding, and that ignorance will be manifested as cruelty and mean-spiritedness.  

Upon hearing about the end of Tom Gabel as we know him, I went into a period of what felt like mourning and memoriam.  It was as if I was remembering a band that was deceased, cherishing the best of what they had to offer, as if there was going to be no more water to flow from that fountain.  I played their music at every opportunity, searching for some clue or cryptic inscription about his secret.  I explained this to my brother, and he said he was going through the same thing.  But then he resolved to accept what he had learned, and provided me with some optimistic insight – he said he is looking forward to their next album, which he believes will be more “raw” than the last couple more commercially refined productions, (which would come as a relief to any Against Me! fan), and he envisions them becoming more famous.  A wave of relief washes over me as I read this; he has accepted.  He has forgiven.  He is not judging.  He is still letting the talent be what it should be, and not letting it be overshadowed by some irrelevant aspect of Tom’s personality.  Alas, if someone as cynical and black-and-white as my brother can find it in his heart to resolve this internal struggle, I think there is hope in the world.  Hope for my son, who, one day, will need acceptance and forgiveness in some form or another.  Thank you Brad, for giving me hope. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Guest Post from Heather

Somewhere in America, a stranger stumbled across my blog, and has seen me as a channel - a means to share her story.  She contacted me via email, to share with me her story of survival and hope.  Her situation and circumstance draws no apparent parallels to my life, she has fought battles I can not even fathom.  However her story is one that will touch you deeply - bring tears to your eyes - send a shiver down your spine.  It will also remind you of the reasons we hold on to hope, and that we should never take life for granted.

This "guest post" is a short blip from Heather, telling of her journey thus far.  At the end of the blog, I will post the link to her website where you can read further - and hopefully share it on to your loved ones, because its nice to hear of a happy ending once in a while...

Learning Not to Take Anything for Granted
Everyone fears the unexpected. However, it is a lot harder to expect it, especially three and a half months after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. I did not expect the worst. The worst came anyway in the form of malignant pleural mesothelioma. The diagnosis came on November 21, 2005. I was scared and looking my own mortality in the face. I was also realizing a toughness I never knew existed in me.
Soon after I was diagnosed, I got a referral for Dr. David Sugarbaker at the Boston Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Sugarbaker was honest. My disease has a grim prognosis. However, he still managed to give me hope. In my research, I learned that my chances of living more than five years from that time were only two percent. I knew I could be in that two percent. I needed determination and that was growing inside of me.
It was not easy to stay determined. My first step on the road to beating mesothelioma was a surgery. The surgery involved the removal of the tumor that was ruining my life and my entire left lung. Obviously, I could not take care of my baby at that time. Lily stayed with my parents about 2,000 miles away from me while I had surgery under the care of the wonderful doctors in Boston, Massachusetts.
Despite so much of me being taken out during surgery, it was necessary to undergo chemotherapy and radiation for the months following my surgery. I was involved with the care of my daughter. Nonetheless, I needed help. I was still very sick. I was lucky to have friends and family to help me all the way to the end of mymesothelioma treatment, which was around my daughter's first birthday.
The lessons I learned from battling cancer I am not sure I could have learned through anything less trying. I learned that taking anything for granted is a mistake. Cancer helped me realize that appreciating all the little things in life is the best way to live life to its fullest. Life is not about the things that upset you. It is about the things that make life worth living. My daughter’s laugh and smile is something I will never take for granted. I will cherish every moment of her life to which I am privy.
Among the most important of my discoveries since my cancer diagnosis is that the people fighting with me were warriors. I met sufferers and family members whose journeys continued with mine or sadly ended. Each of them will have a place in my heart forever. They are the reason that I am striving to improve mesothelioma awareness. One of the best ways to do this is for me just to keep on living and living life to the fullest. No matter how bad things get, I have every reason to be grateful that I am alive and able to experience everything -- the good and the bad.

Read more:

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Honeymoon: Dirty Details....

Nathan and I got married last month.  What a wonderful day it was; I’m not lying when I say it was like a fairy tale – it was magic.  The setting, the vows, the dress, the catering, the decorations – it all went off without a hitch and was more than I ever could have hoped for.  But the best part of it all, the main feature, were the people.  So many of our friends and family showed up from around the globe – literally – and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have such a gathering of both sides of our family.
Now, we couldn’t let the Canadians come over without showing them the best bits of NZ, so after the wedding we embarked on a 2 week road trip around the South Island to see the country in all its glory.  Let me tell you about the logistics of organizing a honeymoon with 20 people.

2 vans,  2 weeks, 3500 km, 2 babies, 1 pregnant lady, 5 kiwis, 15 Canadians, 6 accommodation stops,  1 ferry crossing, a dozen or more one way bridges, countless oohs and aahs.

In hindsight, I think my most prominent shortcoming as trip planner was not accounting for snoring tendancies.  We had the best of intentions to bed down together in lodge  and cabin style accommodation, in some cases with bunk rooms, and this was definitely what made the trip economical for everyone.  But when it comes down to it, everyone should have had their own sound-proof pod for sleeping because the snoring penetrated walls and windows and made the floors vibrate and the windows shudder.  It was phenomenal.  And it wasn’t just 1 or 2; there were at least half a dozen grizzly bears in this group, and people who were unaware they were snorers quickly had it pointed out to them. 

Missing / forgotten / misplaced articles.  I have lost count, but to name a few: Bose  headset.  Reading glasses.  Cell phones (x2).   A hair dryer.  Power converter.  Adapter.  A slipper, a jacket, a room key, a porta-cot mattress, a frying pan, and the list goes on. 
I, personally, went on a wild goose chase around Twizel one morning in search of my credit card- only to discover it was in fact in my wallet all along.  I also forgot my brother at a hotel in Christchurch for a good 2 hours after check-out,  left my marriage licence documents behind, left all 3 of my families passports on the plane when we first arrived in NZ, and lost my wedding rings on the floor of a bar in Queenstown – until they stopped the music, turned on the lights, and made all the patrons get down on their knees to look for them.   Then I forgot my wedding rings in Christchurch and went back to Australia without them.  So, just the little things, really.

Ailments and Illnesses.   Both babies caught colds, and both suffered bouts of teething (including a temperature). Jack had the most heinous allergic reaction / eczema / rash of his life that started the day our holiday started and mysteriously subsided the day we returned to Australia.  There was strep throat. Double vision.  A case of leg swelling to which the cause and cure is still unknown, and the patient, my cousin, was reduced to crutches for a big part of the trip.  There was a stomach bug that methodically struck down individuals 1 by 1, starting in Pohangina and finishing in Wanaka.  There were hangovers, caffeine & nicotine withdrawls, coldsores, PMS, blisters, motion sickness, indigestion, back problems, oh and cuts and bruises –mainly from drunken shenanigans like falling out of bunk beds and trying to do clap-push ups in sauna like conditions while chugging beers.

One of the more amusing aspects of the trip was the language barrier.  You would think that because we all speak English that such a barrier would not exist.  Not so. 
Not only do we pronounce things differently, we have different words, phrases, expressions, and figures of speech.  As it turned out, the hardest people to understand were the ones with the thick Newfie accents who sounded like they had a mouth full of marbles while speaking.  My Uncle Doug was, hands down, the hardest person to decipher.  I’m pretty sure that when he spoke, most kiwis would nod, then take 4 or 5 minutes to contemplate or discuss with others what he may have said.   I recall one instance when my sister-in-law was speaking to him in the kitchen, (let me point out she is from England), and he repeated a question 3 times (all 3 times were just as mumbled and unclear as eachother, albeit) and she just broke out into laughter, shook her head and walked away in bewilderment because there was no way she could be clear about what he wanted.  In Dunedin one night, my uncle said he had to ring Air NZ to ask them about something he lost on the flight (aforementioned Bose headset) – and I quickly took his phone and gave it to Auntie to save all parties involved a lot of frustration and confusion.  An old newfie coming up against an Indian call-centre respondent was not going to be pretty.   And there were more than a couple occasions where Canadians were left scratching their heads with the loose kiwi slang being thrown about by my mother and father-in-law and their mates who accompanied us.  The best we could do was laugh, really, and make fun of each other.  One amusing game was trying to get Canucks to pronounce Maori place names.  Speaking of games, as the driver of my van I felt it my right to start a driving game whenever my brain needed some stimulation, so we played a lot of “20 questions” or “who am I”, to the point where I think my cousin and possibly a few others wanted to jump out the window.  Apparently they no longer cared if I was the pope, or Ronald McDonald, or Kelly Ripa.  But it was such a fun game!

Language barriers aside, I think each person got what they came for.  The fishing enthusiasts got to fish.  The wanderers got to people-watch and take photos.  The hunters got their deer.  The babies got to run and play and learn and discover.  The young people got to have a few big nights out kiwi style, and the women got to do a bit of shopping.  The Canadians and the North Islanders that came along were gobsmacked with the beauty that lay around every corner of the road as we travelled, and the well-known landmarks that make NZ famous did not disappoint.  Lake Pukaki, Punakaiki, the rugged west coast, Christchurch CBD, the heart of Dunedin, Otago Peninsula, Golden Bay…. It was a stunning and memorable trip of a lifetime for everyone.  Unfortunately, the beauty of New Zealand and the good times that were shared cannot be expressed in words or photographs.  I could try and explain to you in great detail the freshness of the air, the undisturbed, unexploited rainforest and seaside we encountered, or the friendliness of the people.  I could try and describe the beauty we witnessed in the contrasting colours of the Lakes District in the Autumn - the blue lakes against the varying green countryside against the sharp, intimidating and awe inspiring mountain range that is the Remarkables.  The compact, condensed city centre of Dunedin which wraps around a bay and has the charm and character of something out of old Scotland - which is befitting granted it was NZ's first established city and the buildings have the stories to go with the history.  Alas, words do not do justice to a land that is possibly one of the most picturesque and breathtaking places on the planet.  It is something that must be witnessed first hand.

We really are blessed to have had that opportunity to show off this beautiful country that we can now proudly call our home (again), and it is a relief that my family now has an understanding for why I stay here.  They got to see where I have lived, meet my friends, see my work projects, meet my new family, and partake in the NZ lifestyle that is renowned for its relaxed and laid back approach.  It was wonderful to see friendships forged that span the pacific ocean – and its funny now to see my family and Nathans family converging on facebook, sharing inside jokes and fond memories!  It was simply splendid, so thank you all.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

It seemed a good idea at the time.....

It’s a rainy weekend in Brisbane.  Saturday afternoon we decide to take Jack to Lollipops – what a great idea; get everyone out of the house, ensure Jack has a run-around and tires himself out so he sleeps well in this god awful humidity.

Lollipops is an indoor playland – you know, the sort with tunnels and slides and ball pits and bouncy castles etc. 

Somehow I didn’t factor in that every other family with small children in Eastern Brisbane had this idea as well.  Mayhem pretty well describes what it was like there.  Upon arrival, I witnessed a child just open his mouth and blatantly scream, before proceeding to dash around the place not unlike someone on speed or some other adrenaline-fuelling drug. 
I’m not a claustraphobic person, but somehow managed to experience this panicked feeling when trapped in the “under 4’s” play area with a handful of other parents all trying to stay within arm’s reach of their own wobbly toddler, ready and braced to body-check any obstacle who may happen to come between said parent and its child – should that child appear to lose footing. 
I wasn’t so much worried about Jack falling (in his case, head-over heels down the slide in his attempt to run down it on two feet), but more about him tossing other children to the side, stealing their dummies, or pulling hair as he seems to enjoy doing these days.  I let Nathan do the arm’s length monitoring while I sat back in a miniature chair and tried to take deep breaths.  That is, until 2 obnoxious and sugar-hyped 6 year olds bashed their way up the slide, past the toddlers and through the jungle gym that is for BABIES.  My heart rate immediately increased.  I scrambled into the jungle gym with Jack and started lecturing someone else’s little terror of a child, as he attempted to feed my baby a potato chip.  “There’s no food in here.  OUT”.  He shot me an evil stare and turned to crawl away from me.  I tried to grab his chip bag - my justification being he tried to feed one to my child, should his parent be offended – but he was too quick and climbed out of the gym and went to sit in the corner and eat his chips (not before screaming “YOU”RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME” and spitting in my face as he blew his tongue at me in true brat-fashion.
I got the last laugh, though, when I watched him leave his chip bag and crumbs on the floor – which I didn’t hesitate to pick up and bring to his father, sweetly explaining there is no food allowed in the “under 4” areas and that he was trying to feed chips to the babies.  I was sure to give that little shit my best “HA-HA” smirk as I walked away.  That was the last we saw of him!

Then it was back to watch Jack crawl back and forth through this tunnel, competing with other babies to climb over and through the obstacles, up the stairs, down the slide, again and again and again.  I felt a little bit bad letting Nathan do all the monitoring as I just sat on my ass and watched from afar.  But I just didn’t have the energy, or the care, to get in there amongst strangers children and try and pretend that I cared about them as much as my own son – cause I really don’t.  Jack is an only child and I parent him as such – I just want to watch him explore, discover, do new things and laugh – even if it means he’s spending more than his fair share of time on the steps and not making room for the little girl behind him.  I’m thinking “just push him if you want to get past.  That’s what he would do to you.  Geez.”

Although, I like to think that if my child ever did anything that disrespected another adult like that 6 year old brat did to me, he would be in the car with a smack on the ass faster than you can say “grounded”.  I like to compare my own child against others and be delusional about how perfect Jack is going to be as he grows up.

Nathan sometimes says to me, if it’s a rainy day during the week while hes working, “why don’t you take Jack to Lollipops”.  I know he has great intentions for Jack and I that we can just go and have a play and get out of the house, but really, if I am going to spend $15 to get into that place for just an hour of play, Im going to do it when we can make it family time – on the weekend – and any less than a 2:1 parent-child ratio just means its going to be exhausting hard work.  At least with two parents you can tag eachother out.  Which happened when Jack wanted to go to the big kids tunnels and slides.  I also made children here be cautious of my wee baby, even though my wee baby wasn’t meant to be in there, and it was true rowdy-kids domain.  At any rate, Jack wanted to explore and I never hinder this desire of his if I can help it, so off we went.  Nathan was quick to point out I am smaller than him and therefore I had to tail Jack through the maze.  Fair enough.  So off we went, crawling through the smelly, muggy tunnels – getting whiffs of 13-year old boys who haven’t yet been told to wear deodorant, and tossing aside odd socks here and there that children have carelessly disposed of.  I’m trying not to hyperventilate as Jack sets his foot in some unknown puddle of liquid, or puts his hands to his face to rub his eyes.  In my head I can hear a slow-motion deep voice saying “NoOoOoOoOoooo… don’t dooooo ittttttttt…..”    and I longingly eye the hand sanitizer mounted on the wall at various points around the joint. 
Jack feels it necessary to carry a single ball through the maze with him, as if its his newfound treasure, managing to amble through with one hand where possible, and tossing the ball ahead and retrieving it if he needs two hands to climb over something.  And every time he picks the ball up, he has to try and shove it in his mouth.  I tell myself its all an immunity building exercise.  I tell myself this often.  But for the love of Pete, Jack, please please do not get sick from this play excursion, cause we have far too much to do in the coming weeks to be sleep deprived from some nasty cootie-related illness.

Anyway, after rubbing his eyes a couple of times and starting to get wobbly on his feet, I jumped on the opportunity to say “ok time to go.  Have to get dinner cooked”.  Nathan didn’t protest.  He already had my purse slung over his shoulder and we were off. 
All in all a great day, I mean Jack had a blast and its amazing watching him work out how to get himself up, over, under, around.  Just wondering how many trips it will take for me to become numb to the madness of it all.  Lets just say I hope this rainy weather doesn’t happen too often.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


In the past few months, there have been a number of break-ins on our street.  Probably not forced entry, more “opportunists” checking for unlocked doors and windows in the middle of the night, and taking whatever they can carry on foot – probably teenagers, taking ipads and game consoles, televisions and the like.  This has made me change my attitude a little bit – but only a little.

You see, I have this mentality that if you don’t think something is going to happen to you, it won’t.  So I never live with a fear that someone is going to break into my house – I don’t really believe random acts of violence are a fear worth wasting too much energy on.    Well, I have started to check the doors are locked at night.  But I don’t lock my doors when I am home during the day, in fact, I leave every door wide open as much as possible, because I believe noone would enter and rob us / harm us in broad daylight.  

When you become a parent, I think your fears change.  It used to be things like.. spiders, creepy old men at the bar, or, hm.. I cant remember the things I used to be afraid of.  Then there was the set of fears I anticipated I would have once having a baby – things such as germs, dirt, unprotected ledges, stairs, small objects, bleach, and the like.  But now that I have Jack, I can lay claim to a plethora of new fears  - seemingly silly ones, perhaps - that have bombarded my conscience as Jacks Mother.

Naturally, the most substantial medical claims always burn themselves into my brain thus propelling my fears of seemingly harmless things.
For instance, the sun.  “3 significant sunburns in a lifetime is all it takes to increase your chance of skin cancer by 65%”  Or something along those lines.  But Jack needs the sun, and needs fresh air.  Put sunscreen on him.  Sunscreen!  That bottle of chemicals laden with cell-killing ingredients and free radicals!  Oh dear.   Even hours of extensive research on “best for baby” products doesn’t completely eliminate these fears. 

Crocs.  Yes – those seemingly harmless, yet hideous foot coverings that have become all the rage.  All you need to do is watch the youtube videos to see that croc+escalator = mangled childrens feet. 

Wheat.  To be or not to be Gluten free…. Well with latest claims from doctors that more than 95% of wheat worldwide is GM, how do I NOT feel a rising sense of panic when I buy a loaf of bread for Jack.

Sugar.  I’m not even going to go there, you all know. Be afraid.. be very afraid!

The colour red.  That is, in foods or candies.  Eek… in fact, most colours in foods can be blamed for some sort of behavioural issues in children.  This along with any additive or preservative.  Again, rising sense of panic at the supermarket.




Air fresheners.


The list goes on.  You get the idea.  Seemingly harmless things come under a new light once you have a child.  It can be exhausting.

So Nathan and I make the best decisions we can, given the information we have, in the circumstances we face, while trying not to be pedantic or unreasonable.  (Nathan is better at the latter than I). 

But one thing I don’t believe in being afraid of is “random acts of violence”.  Going back to the break-ins, I have had neighbours express concern that Jack and I spend all day with the doors open and the garage door up – open to anyone to come in.  My closest neighbour, a lady I am deeply fond of and who I share a mutual respect with, has said we should lock our doors while at home.  And I know people that do this.  But I simply can’t.  Maybe I have another underlying fear of being locked IN….. whatever it is, I will not live as a prisoner in my own house.  I will not live with a fear that something or someone bad could enter my house at any moment – thus prompting me to apply deadbolts and close my blinds.  I simply don’t believe this is an effective use of energy – to live with this sort of fear.  Sure, common sense should play a part – hence my diligence at locking doors at nighttime (although admittedly I never checked them before the break-ins started).  My loving neighbour said “what if someone took Jack”.  Well.  Once I informed them how much money he costs to run, how he runs in turbo-mode from morning until night – with batteries that never wear out, sort of like a cyclone leaving a disaster in his every wake -  and that he requires almost all of your attention almost all of the time, I’m certain they would reconsider their decision to steal him.  Half the time he’s covered in food / dirt and doesn’t smell very good, and spends a lot of time banging hard things against other hard things while chanting or just blatantly yelling – anyone that wasn’t his mother would see there are simply more appealing things to steal.

This wraps up my “fears” rant.  I suppose with time these will change; some may fade off my radar, and new ones will pop up.  I better not think about it too much and rather just take it all as it comes! 

In all fairness though, given my heightened sense of alertness all of the time – which I now know is a permanent state of being in my life as a parent – I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Jack is worth every inkling of worry I will ever shed my energy on!