Monthly Archives: March 2012

I do try

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No matter how hard I try, edit, proof read and re-read, I have a spelling or grammatical error in every post. Maybe I should start awarding a prize for the first reader to alert me to it. Thanks for being so kind and pretendting you didn’t notice.

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Are we there yet?

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Sometimes I feel like it’s one step forward and three steps back in the up and down life of parenting three under 5. I have had a great run where I have felt more on top of things than I have since the twins were born. Then I have today, where I feel like the crankiest of cranky pants are mine all mine.

It’s my husband’s uni day. So I am alone with three kids from 7am until about 7:30pm. Oh the joy. If it were just one toddler, I’d be out and about, but I’ve house-bounded myself out of fear of attempting to take all three out somewhere. If one twins runs off, what will I do? We took a walk to the shops, which was OK, but I am too battle scarred to take them anywhere that allows the twins out of the pram. Poor Mr 4 gets the usual rough end of the pineapple. And the twins are having a particularly cranky day too. Although, I hear you, yes I did get time to blog today. Twice. This is only thanks to children’s TV (Mr 4) and a very child friendly back yard (twins).

I still get caught in that cycle of thinking that creates nothing but a cycle of guilt. Why am I not mother of the year yet? Why do I not love every moment of staying at home with my little ones? Why aren’t I dreaming up fabulous and educational art/music/cooking/building activities to expand their little minds and shudder with motherly accomplishment? Why am I feeding my kids frozen vegetables? The humanity.

In other news, I got my lazy feet up and into my running shoes this morning and STARTED my training. I’m saying it publicly so that I’ll be really embarrassed if I don’t make it. I’m thinking of a certain Mrs Gnu, who can be so strong in the worst of circumstances. If she can, I can. So I’ll be running this year and I’ll be raising some serious money (that means you friends!) for a charity close to her heart.

What will you leave behind?

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I was watching the news today and I saw a news report about the funeral of AFL legend Jim Stynes. At the same time, a news bar rolled across informing me that Kyle Sandilands (ugh, I hate to even write his name out loud) has been officially found to have breached the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s standards of decency with his vitriolic rant against a journalist last year. For the uninitiated, he called her a “fat slag”, told her he would “hunt her down” and other nauseating crap I do not care to repeat. All because she reported on his failed attempt at a TV show which rated poorly.

Two men. One already being remembered as an inspiration, leaving behind a family and a legacy. The other, consistently getting in trouble for shooting his arrogant, hateful mouth off. I don’t understand how these people operate. Alan Jones, Stan Zemaneck, Kyle Sandilands and the like. I know one of you has lain on your death bed. I wonder what you thought about? Did you think you left the world a better place? Left behind a legacy that will benefit future generations in some way? Any regrets? With a heart, head and mouth full of such hateful, divisive dribble, I can’t imagine how you can face your last hours without thinking, was that really the best I could do? 

Some of the words used to describe Jim Stynes today were gentle, dependable, strong, sincere and courageous. I didn’t know him, but he sounds like a great guy to know. I’d be completely honoured if, after my death, people were able to say words like that about me. I’ll have failed as a human being if people were to say that I incited hate and racism or that my legacy was that I was remembered for publicly humiliating and threatening people. No matter where you stand on spirituality, we are all going to one day face the time, it may be a moment, it may be a few days or  couple of hours, where we’ll have to own how we’ve chosen to spend our time. What we know in our hearts what we’ll be remembered for. When we’ll have to ask, was that really the best I could do? Sounds like Jim Stynes can say yes to that.

My first blogger award!

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Thanks to http://living4bliss.wordpress.com/ for the kind nomination for the Inspiring Blogger Award! I’m new to WordPress so I didn’t know that these lovely little acknowledgements make the rounds among users. Rules of the award require me to:

1. Thank the person who nomiated me.

2. Write 7 things about myself.

3. Nominate 7 other blogs.

The title of the blog where my nomination came from is Mental Health Food. She writes honestly and from the heart. My personal favourite is ‘Out of Darkness‘ and although I may not fully agree, there is the the brutally honest and funny ‘5 Common Parental Delusions‘. Many thanks to Ms Bliss for sharing the love.

7 things about myself

1. Going to the movies alone is one of my favourite things.

2. I hate writing things about myself, which is ironic because I love writing my blog.

3. I’m devastated about last night’s election results and have real concerns about the future of public education for the poorest, most marginalised, most traumatised and those with mental illnesses.

4. No mater how hard I try, I cannot cook steak or salmon. ALWAYS under or over cooked.

5. I am just starting to learn that even though I have a great deal to learn and I am, essentially, a rookie, I am really good at my job.

6. I am a bit jealous of journalists and secretly wish I was one.

7. The idea of entering politics has entered my head many times over the years. But I’m scared they’ll find out about that time I smoked pot in my teens AND inhaled.

My nomiations

Most of my nominations come from my followers, some parenting blogs and a few who are also bloggers about their lives with twins. I find these blogs inspiring because I can see others doing it with a smile, making it through with flying colours and it reminds me that yes, they grow up, get toilet trained and it gets funner and funner.

Twodaloo

Twin Adventures

The Parent Consultancy

Debut Dad

Adventures of a Twin Mummy

Seana Smith

Dishes Can Wait (hope it’s OK to nominate a non WordPress blog?)

The things they taught me

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Just got off the phone to an old friend. He and his wife used to run a weekly Bible study group that as teenagers I and my friends attended for many years. She used to cook dinner for about twenty of us every week, and then crack the whip while we did the washing up. Today, nobody knows what the future holds for her, not even the next few weeks. Medical opinion is grave, but she still exudes the life, joy and love that she always did.

I never knew she struggled as a parent. I thought she must have been the perfect Mum. I never knew that she thought she could have been a better grandmother either. She has regrets as a parent, she told me once. I can’t imagine how someone as loving and sensible and balanced could fail in any way as a mother.

Here are some of the things they both taught me.

Children are a blessing. You celebrate them and welcome them no matter what.

God is logical, loving and sensible and has no need for flowery language, aggressive debate or exclusion of any kind. It’s not brain surgery. God = Love.

Weddings are a celebration. Party on.

The world is there to love and explore. But we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to fix it.

Giving is not giving until it hurts.

If you are a good steward of the things that have been given to you, you will be blessed (ie what goes around comes around).

Some things just really, really suck.

Dear Mrs Gwennie

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If you read my last post, (http://wp.me/p28KkX-2P) you’ll need to go back and read the comment from my dear friend before you read this post. She raises some very important points and this is my reply.

School needs to be a safe place

Absolutely. Every child has the right to feel safe at school. I would never, ever suggest that any child has any responsibility whatsoever to ‘deal’ with violence or bullying or having their belongings destroyed. Sometimes it does work for ‘good’ kids to act as a buddy to one who is struggling, but only in consultation with that child’s parent and only if that child has the internal resilience to cope with that role.

Mumma Bear eyes

My kids are young. Under school age. I have not dealt with this stuff on a very personal level yet. If it were my son being targeted, or witnessing violent outbursts, I’m thinking I’ll be digging my pitchfork out of the garage. That mother love I am sure will dampen down any well intentioned political correctness. As a protective parent (like Gwennie), my job is to protect my children and I’ll do that with every last breath. When it comes to my kids, it’s my job to be their Mum, not to do my other job.

I wonder if the school environment is the best place to be 

It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that we started to change the way we thought about people with disabilities and their right to access education in a mainstream environment. We built ramps, Special Education Units, changed the curriculum, educated ourselves about disabilities and changed our teaching strategies. We don’t worry nowadays that our kids will be ‘exposed’ to ‘those kids’, and our kids know that the world is filled with different people who can do different things in different ways. Those kids are not hidden away and the sun kept on rising and setting. It’s not always successful but we have a legal and ethical obligation to provide the best opportunity for children with disabilities to do what all the other kids their age are doing. All children have the right to education, but sometimes the school environment is not right for them at that time, so we have the option of Special Schools.

I look forward to the day when we think about behaviour in the same way. When kids with behaviour support needs have their emotional ramp and are not isolated even more than they already are. How? If I had a tidy answer to that I’d be getting paid a lot more than I currently am. I am only one person with only a few ideas. I need the whole village to be in on this. For what it’s worth, here are the ideas I’m currently working on.

Teach protective behaviours, resilience and empathy

There is so much out there that can help. From recognising signs of stress in your own body, to practicing talking about things, to understanding other cultures. Talking about friendships and role playing problems in friendships is a great way of teaching social problem solving to your kids. Just google ‘protective behaviours’ as a start. This kind of teaching can help the ‘good’ kids understand and cope with experiencing the world as it is, confronting and different.

Do not excuse bad behaviour
I work with it every day and we do not allow the kids to just ‘get away’ with it. There are natural consequences for all behaviour, and the child and parent must talk it through with us. As hard as it often is, I try to sit them down and acknowledge the impact of their behaviour. But this often fails because the child simply cannot talk about feelings, their own or someone else’s. There should still be the same consequences as everyone else for extreme behaviour, but it can still be delivered in a way that doesn’t leave the child feeling worthless.
School Wide, Positive Behaviour Support
This is what I am talking about in my post ‘Behaviour’. We HAVE to teach behaviour. We have to. We have to teach it, reinforce it, understand it, do whatever we can to prevent what we don’t want to see and celebrate it when they get it right.
Sometimes, school is not the right environment and the child really does need to be somewhere else. But this should be an absolute last resort. Taking away a child’s right to education is very serious business.

We had a new boy in our centre today. I had the same reaction I have every time. Wanted to give him a cuddle (but didn’t). In a week’s time, he may well be throwing furniture, using truck driver level language and twitching at the corner of the mouth, but today was honeymoon day. He was lovely. And out there somewhere is probably a Mumma Bear with her pitchfork wanting the kid OUT. And all power to her, as Mumma Bear, that’s her job. But this kid may or may not have a Mumma Bear with the inner strength, loving energy and confidence that you have Mrs Gwenie. So he needs, and has the right, to have someone else fight for him to be understood.

Bone tired, bones aching, heart breaking

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Not sure if it’s work or kids, or both.

My work calendar has blown out to insane proportions. I had to reschedule a meeting and, looking through the whole week next week, was dismayed to find out that I had two, one hour spots left in the whole week. Here is a snap shot of the last month of my working life. One kid on his 15th school (he’s 13), one kid who has 15 “stakeholders” at his monthly review meetings, one kid who smashed 15 holes in our whiteboard with a chair, one kid plays Call of Duty for 15 hours straight and then turns up to school sculling Red Bull and one kid who sneaks away from home down to the local swimming hole (a disused open cut mine filled with skanky water) to leap off a 15 meter cliff into the murky unknown below.

There is a bit of a theme with these kids. I almost never meet Dad. Sometimes I do, yes, I must be honest, but mostly not. And when I meet Mum, it’s either a wild, desperate fire cracker who has been horribly judged as a Mum, mistreated and disrespected all her life, or a half empty shell of a woman, so tired, traumatised and hopeless that she doesn’t even raise an eyebrow when she sees the classroom that her 9 year old son has just destroyed. When I start getting to know her, chatting over a coffee, asking the right (but very unpleasant) questions, here is what I find: she’s alone, she’s disconnected from her family, she probably had post natal depression and nobody noticed (not even her), she had personal or family trauma to deal with while being pregnant and/or while the child was a baby and drugs, alcohol, crime or violence were involved by someone significant, somewhere along the line (it is usually not her). She’s also surrounded by equally desperate, equally sad friends, if she has any, and more often than not, she doesn’t go out anywhere as a family because she’s afraid of the behaviour of her child and the judging stares of others.

Oh and there’s poverty. Not just material poverty, but emotional, mental and spiritual poverty. The lack of such resources as language, knowledge of hidden social rules, support systems and good health. Dr Ruby Payne describes poverty as a lack of such resources to the extent that you are precluded from participating in life and accessing services at the same level as those around you who do not lack those resources. So this Mum, lacking in the language and knowledge of social rules required to navigate the mental health care system, lacking in money and motivational support, lacking in a car, health and energy has a kid who desperately needs to see a paediatrician, or a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, or a speech pathologist, or an OT…..where does she even start? She hears that there’s a two year waiting list for a public paediatrician, so why bother. So she doesn’t. And the cycle continues.

And then I hear a story in the news. About a kid. He’s done something. Then comes the vitriol. Where are the bloody parents? Why are the bloody kids allowed out at that hour of the night? Fine the parents! Take away their dole check! Lock ’em up! Bring back the cane! Let’s all get our pitchforks and placards. Becuse chucking these kids in Juvy is really going to solve the problem.

Ugh. End of rant.