Monthly Archives: April 2012

Welcome to the jungle

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The twins have entered a new phase. This might be the worst one so far. Worse than night feeding, worse than Trouble’s screeching, possibly even worse than toilet training, but I reserve the right to review that statement in 8-12 months. Yes folks, it’s the terrible twos. We have hit it and we have hit it hard. Times two. Oh mother of mary, buckle up.

We have had probably two months of respite between phases which has been just lovely, rejuvenating and happy. I guess we are due for our next instalment of I’m a toddler, get me out of here! Here’s how we roll at the moment. We want something, we don’t get it, we freak out. We had something, someone took it off us, we freak out. We are hungry, food does not materialise within 1.5 seconds, WE FREAK OUT. We think we may or may not be hungry, may or may not want that bike, or that car, or a cuddle, or to be left alone, or to play with the bin, or to climb on the table, or to kick our brothers, or to cuddle our brothers, WE FREAKING FREAK THE FREAK OUT!!!

Twin 1 has a very special brand of the freak out. I know he’s hungry and so I present him with food. Reasonable enough I would have thought. He runs, screaming, in the opposite direction and throws himself on the ground in a fit. He does the same thing when I pick him up at the end of the day at day care. So excited to see me that he freaks out and runs around literally like a headless chook. I can’t imagine what the day care teachers are thinking. The other day he wanted to go in the pool at his grandparents’ house. So he freaked out. We got him ready as fast as we could, swim nappy, sunscreen etc, but he was in such a state that he was about to drown himself so we had to take him out. Freak out. It went on for over an hour and he could hardly breathe he was so emotional. It is literally an emotional short circuit.

So here we go. I look forward to the post that observes in hindsight that we seem to have made it through the phase of the terrible twos. In the mean time, maybe I’ll have some war stores to share.

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I am the worst parent ever

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Oh man. Days like this. Tears, tantrums, illogical arguments, outrageous demands…and then there’s the kids.

I see things in myself that really upset me. I hate it. I used to see it as a teacher. Overemotional, shouting, trying to ‘win’. As a teacher, when I shouted at kids I would kick myself mercilessly for days. I would get so upset with myself because I knew how unacceptable it was. The best advice I ever got from an older and much wiser teacher was this, never, ever try to win. Once you enter that battle of wills, you have lost. Even if you win. Because the damage that you do a relationship with a child by winning at their expense is irreparable.

If I was attending an anonymous anything group, it would be shouters anonymous. I said sorry to Mr 4 the other day for shouting and his reply was but why do you say sorry and then keep shouting? Ouch. The painful, brutal honesty of kids. I must, must do better. The irony of it is, that I can do the same thing, get the same message across, hold up the same expectations and move no behavioural boundaries but do it in a calm voice. I know I can. I have done it. I do it at work every minute of the day.

Funny that this post should follow my last ‘sanctimonious parent’ post. Like I said, strengths and weaknesses. The only thing I can do is to keep going back to him, keep saying sorry, keep telling him that shouting is not OK. Keep showing him that I am not perfect but that I won’t ever give up trying.

Parenting 101

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I am no parenting expert. I make mistakes. Big ones. I’m good at some things, bad at others. Patience for example. So by no means do I position myself as one who has the authority to lecture. However. There are just some things that I thought most people would get. Y’know, just the basics. Simple parenting common sense. Like, oh, I don’t know, let’s say…not locking your kid in a closet. But, no. I see parenting decisions on a daily basis that make the skin peel off my eyeballs.

So for the good the bad and the truly incredible, here are my basic parenting dos and please don’ts.

1. Do not have the same haircut as all of your kids. This goes along the same vein as not having the same name as your kid/s. I’m lookin’ at you George Foreman. I was driving past a school that shall remain unnamed and I saw, crossing the road, a Dad with his three kids (looked so close in age they could have been triplets) all with exactly the same hair approximating this guy. Except the ponytails were mid-back length. Good looking. Very very good looking. While we’re on it, same goes for naming your kid after a car or a type of petrol.

2. Do not let your toddler drink Red Bull. Yes indeedy, I have seen this. On more than a few occasions. Simply put, if you are doing this to your little one, then you deserve every little bit ‘o crazy that’s heading your way. Hold on to your hats. FYI, for the rest of us, please don’t feed your child Red Bull and then bring them to school. We don’t wanna play that fun game.

3. Do not let your 8 year old play Call of Duty for 8 hours straight. Or at all. See that bug eyed expression? See those shaky hands? See that kid who cannot, cannot focus on something as tame as reading, writing or conversing? Gaming addiction. Don’t go there. School simply cannot compete with 8 hours of brain blastin’, ear drum poppin’, adrenaline flippin’ violence. Education will lose out every time.

4. Do not let your kid watch any of the Saw films. EVER! Especially if they are under the age of 25. Or maybe 30. If you ever want your child to have a sound night’s sleep ever again, and believe me this is a good thing, stay away from horror. It says 18+ for a reason.

5. If your 11 year old goes out in the middle of the night. Go get him. Really, do what ever it takes and go get him. Don’t let him camp overnight in random locations with random homeless dudes to supervise. But if they must camp, teach them that aerosol cans and camp fires do not mix. You’ll thank me.

6. Do not, under any circumstances, use the F word or the C word to, near, about or within earshot of your child. Monkey see, monkey do. Believe me, calling your teacher or classmates f***ing c***s really doesn’t wash. It’s not under the radar type language…*target-back*.

7. DO talk to  your child. In a conversational, friendly way. You know, chat.

8. DO spend time with your child doing stuff that does not involve Foxtel. Outside type things are good.

9. Do ensure your face lights up with delight when you see your child enter a room. Rolling your eyes when you see him doesn’t fill him with a sense of self worth. Same goes for telling him if he doesn’t behave you’re gong to hand him over to The Department. Oh, and don’t drive him to the jail to freak him into behaving.

10. Last but not least. Kiss, cuddle, touch, pat, stroke, squeeze and hold him. All the time. Every day.

Random acts so far…

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I’m having a lot of fun with this. It’s hard to be original and avoid spending money, but it has been so nice just to think of him for a good part of the day and just devote time to doing something nice for him. I may have to repeat some things, or copy his but I think it is important not to put rules on it. And as I have tried to stress to my husband, simple is good! The random acts shouldn’t take a huge amount of time and definitely not large amounts of money. We have both spent some time working on a bit of a list and I gave him some help by way of some hints. But hey, it’s supposed to be fun not stressful. He is feeling the pressure now, 4 days in and tells me he may steal my ideas. I have no problem with this. Don’t we always give gifts that reflect what we ourselves would like to receive? So here’s what we came up with so far.

Day 1: We both came up with foot massages. Not original, but really nice!

Day 2: He came up with googling the sheet music to two of my favourite songs so we could have a bash together while he played guitar. Let’s hear it ladies! He forgot his lunch and his keys that day so I made a loving mercy dash to deliver them, three kids in tow! Yay for me!

Day 3: I got a little pot of gourmet ice-cream from the local deli (vanilla bean and candied ginger). Ginger is his favourite, so it went down a treat. I got a shoulder rub. Simple but soooooooo relaxing!

Day 4: I sent him nice text messages through the day. My aim was one per hour but the day was too busy. I managed 4 and they were very genuine and not soppy. He bought some new drinking glasses for us and cooked dinner.

It’s really great. Fun. And it changes the whole tone of every day. I look forward to making it a habit.

Dude, where’s my marriage?

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What’s the cost of your kids to your relationship? I’d like to see statistics on whether partnerships with kids are happier or longer than those without. I have recently read something abut women with more kids living longer than those with fewer. No idea why. I’m pretty certain more kids would send me into an early grave. From the little I’ve read on the topic, it appears from some studies that while the kids are at home, parents report a lower level of happiness, but once they move out parents report higher degrees of happiness in relation to being parents. This makes sense in that kids, for the most part, are awesome. But raising them sucks the life outta you. So while doing the hard yards, parents not so happy. Once the kids are self sufficient, (hopefully) achieving success in life, doin’ cool stuff on their own, parents a bit more happy. I am simplifying and generalising. But it’s my blog and I’ll generalise if I want to.

My husband and I were discussing the impact of kids on our marriage in the light of our recent tension free weekend away. There is no doubt that the little angels have been white-anting our relationship from within like, well, little white ants. Stress and exhaustion have turned our once lengthy conversations into single digit syllables long requests, reports, questions and answers. It’s about functionality, survival and logistics, where it was once about politics, jokes, travelling, dreams, the future and yes even parenting. It’s so easy, when my head is constantly in organisation and management mode, moving at a perpetual lightening speed, to forget to use something as simple as manners when speaking to my husband. We decided that, if we boiled it down, what was lacking at the moment was pretty simple. One, thinking of each other and two, kindness. We are always thinking of something else, the next thing, so we have made a habit of putting thoughts of each other last. And in the frenetic pace of getting sh*t done, we have forgotten the value of simple kindness.

Our life changing challenge to each other is this. Inspired by a friend who is doing one random act of kindness for a stranger every day for the whole month, we have decided to try it on each other. It’s not a new idea, but it’s a good one. If I want to see change in my world, my life, my work or my relationships, the only way to do it is to be that change myself. If I want more kindness, I have to be kinder. If I want more communication, I must communicate. It is the only way to change one’s own situation. It’s simple and it is true. I think it’s going to be immeasurably wonderful. We each have to make a list of 30 simple random acts so that we don’t have to think of one on the trot every day. I can’t wait. Bring on the happy.

Not in my backyard!

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Oh for the love of the NIMBY.

Nothing gets me more fired up than a car lovin’, public transport hatin’, change fearin’, placard wavin’ ignoramus on an ill-informed mission. And last night the Gold Coast had 600 of ’em. All fired up about plans for a light rail along the strip. They want to lobby the local government to scrap the project. Despite the fact that such a scrapping will cost a lazy 200 mill in broken contracts. Despite the fact that public transport along the Gold Coast strip is almost non-existant, relying on inefficent buses and far flung train stations. The argument  presented in the media today beggars belief. Some guy with presumably not much to do with his time who sat on the side of the road and counted the number of people who got onto buses. He came up with 8 at peak time. Ergo, we don’t need a light rail. Moreover, they took away our car parking spaces. Scrap the light rail and keep the already widened roads for more cars. Ugh. It does my head in. The unwavering love of the car.

From a parental point of view, it’s a no brainer for me. We chose to live in a high density, public transport friendly area. We wanted options that did not include our car. For the first year and a half after we came home from living overseas, we had no car. Our son knew no other way so we just walked or got buses and trains everywhere. He loved it. It took him about two seconds of car ownership before he began to protest walking to day care or the train station. I wanna go in the car!

When I am on school holidays, I pick up the kids on foot and walk home. When I’m at work, I pick them up on my way home in the car. Guess which is more fun? When we walk, Mr 4 talks to me all the way home, telling me all about his day. We discover rocks, flowers, dogs, other people and weeds. We learn about road safety, other people, animals, each other and how not to be scared of dogs. When we drive, all three of them zone out. Not much talking. When we catch public transport or walk, the experience is invariably filled with teachable moments. What other people are doing or saying, different or challenging behaviour in others, social graces, self confidence, what to do if you are lost, what this or that building is, what happens in a hospital, I can think of so many times we have had valuable conversations about things that have happened on our journeys. Oh and there’s also the minor advantage of it being greener and healthier. When we drive, they fall asleep or fight.

Sadly, the guy counting bus passengers may have a point. The residents he represents love their cars so much they’ll boycott the light rail on principle. But it’s a narrow view. Tourists, young people, public transport lovers like me, young families and yes, local businesses all stand to benefit from better public transport along that strip. We recently spent a weekend there and we limited our activities to those within walking distance of our hotel because on public holidays and in the evenings, the only option to go further up the strip was to drive. And yes, public transport can be difficult with prams, this I know. But I also know by year’s end we will be out of the pram and will be much more able to enjoy getting around more freely on public ttranposrt. And I couldn’t think of anything more fun than zipping up and down the strip with my boys on the light rail, learning, talking and watching the world go by.

Secret twin language?

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I had to post this. I came across it while reading another twin blog Look around you now! I completely killed myself laughing and you will too. It’s also a great blog.

Watching this got me to wondering about the whole twin thing and whether there really is a secret language or special way of communicating. I would have to say with my boys it seems more like a brothers thing in general as our older boy has his own special way with his younger twin brothers also. I have this great video of the twins when they were 4 months old, which, if it’s true, is my greatest evidence of twin language in action. Since then, I could only say that they do seem to understand each other’s gibberish better than we do, and that 90% of the time they are very compassionate toward each other. That’s when they are not trying to rip a toy of of the other’s hands.

I think my twins are really, really different and so most of the time they are playing separately or doing their own thing. Little R likes to sit quietly and ‘read’ books, Mr S likes to throw and bang stuff. But there are lots of times when all is quiet in the play room, much too quiet, and I peek in there to find the two of  them sitting close side by side sharing some little project or looking at a book together. One will often hand the other his favourite teddy if he’s upset, or offer a kiss and a cuddle (which is sometimes met with a solid backhand). I love it when I find them going nuts in unison on the rocking horses.

So is it a twin thing? You decide!