Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dear Ms Lamens’ kids: Teachers are like parents

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Your wonderful teacher told me you read part of my blog while you were studying the relationship between parents and their kids. I wanted to write a special post just for you to thank you for reading, tell you how brilliant your teacher is (and you better do as she says or I’ll come over there and kick your asses) and tell you a little bit about how teachers are just like parents. Your teacher is very intelligent, wise and loyal. She’s got your back I’ll bet. I know how hard she works. You are lucky to have her. I must say am nervous as a long tailed cat in a room of rocking chairs (just for you Jeano) that she is reading this as our friendship will mean nothing if grammatical errors are involved. So I will be on my best behaviour.

Teachers are like parents because on the one hand they love you and on the other hand they can’t stand you. They get up every morning, knowing that they will have to deal with the same inane shit you have been carrying on with for years (and those who went before you), smile while doing it, and make you feel like they think it’s important. On the outside they’re saying yeah that’s really sad for you, I am really understanding and supportive of your personal crisis, while inside they’re saying you’ll be over this by next week and on to the next massive drama so please let me know if I really have to care at this point.

Teachers are like parents in that they have to enforce the rules, but secretly wish they could just cut loose and let the whole place turn feral. The only reason I care that my kids’ food ends up in their mouths instead of on the walls is that when other people come over it’s kind of gross to have two week old dried cornflakes stuck to the couch. The rest of the time who cares? As teachers we secretly wish we could just let the lot of you do whatever the hell you wanted and teach the ones who are interested. As parents we wish we could just let you wear mud, fight each other and poo outside. But those damn social norms get in the way.

Teachers are like parents because they could be doing something more glamorous, that pays better, but they are there with you every day. Because they want to be. Because your humour, your creativity, your sass and your fearlessness inspire and sustain them every day. Because they think there’s nothing quite like watching your mind open up to embrace the world. Teachers are like parents because they feel like what they do means something, that when they go to sleep at night they feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Teachers are like parents because you make us cry. You make us laugh. You make us try really hard to be better.

Lastly, teachers are like parents because they know there’s gold in you. No matter that you may suck the life out of us with your illogical, frustrating, demanding, emotional and slow growing up, teachers know there’s gold and they know how to get it out.

Quit your bitching and get on with it

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This was supposed to be my New Year post. It’s a bit late. I always think a lot about new year’s resolutions, but this year I had more of a list of hopes and dreams for the year. 2013 is the year that I get on with my life, stop whining about how hard it is to raise twins and just live, be a family, without fear of mess, disaster, tantrums and poo painting. Here are my hopes for the year.

1. Be a nappy free household. I cannot wait to be living in a house full of people who are responsible for their own excrement. At the same time though, I fear starting toilet training. I am kind of hoping they’ll just figure it out for themselves without me having to actually train them. Please?

2. Eat out together. See my post on kids in cafes. Our first attempt was exciting to say the least. As long as I go along not expecting to have a leisurely breakfast (we were in and out within 45 minutes), I can certainly handle it. It was, I may as well say, FUN!

3. Go away on holidays together. We have not had any weekends away together as a whole family. We have had a couple of holidays with my parents and other family, but I am looking forward to just having weekends at the coast like normal people.I am not ready to fly yet, the trauma of our last attempt is still too raw, even a year on. Our first shot will be this weekend when we all head to the Goldie for two nights. We have even booked ahead for a three day Easter break. I am cautiously excited.

4. Remove the toddler gates. I am looking forward to walking freely through my house without having to hold three dinner plates under my chin whilst I open the child and adult and in fact human proof bloody gates that contain our existence. Two of three have already gone, but I am unwilling to open the flood gates of curiosity that are contained within the kitchen cabinets so the kitchen toddler gate will remain in place for a while yet.

5. Go out with my husband very regularly. We were doing well at this until 2012 reared it’s ugly head. We really pulled back last year because things were just a bit unpredictable and we were also so tired all the time. This year I want a date every two weeks.

6. Run better, faster and more often. So far so good. I have never run so often and so fast as I have this month. It feels great and I feel like there’s another half marathon in me. Maybe.

7. Be happy. I’ve spent a fair bit of time feeling sad, frustrated, crazy, lost and not myself. This year I am looking forward to getting back to being lighter in my spirit, taking more on the chin and looking more intently at the faces of my boys, for much longer.

I wanted a nice, neat list of ten. I think if I can achieve all this in a year, it will be a good year. This time last year I was girding my loins for a year of testing. I celebrate making it though without a breakdown, a walk out or a divorce. This year, we will live.

Kids in Cafes: Us V Them

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This article appeared a few days ago online and as soon as I saw it I just thought *yawn*, here we go again. It’ll read something like this, I thought to myself….couple with no kids goes to cafe, child is in cafe crying, couple get snooty about crying child, child keeps crying, one half of couple SAYS SOMETHING to parent of crying child, harsh stares are exchanged, muttered insults are muttered, someone storms out…and in the middle of it all, angst ridden 23 year old waiter feels anxious about the whole thing. I wasn’t far wrong.

The comment feed on the article contains the usual vitriolic crap from people who think kids should not be seen anywhere doing anything that might make a sound, hold up the line, make a mess or be annoying. What upsets me most is the arrogant attitude from onlookers that they would conduct parenting so much better than you and would never make such ridiculous decisions such as bringing their child to a cafe. The message is quite clear, parents of children under the age of consent, get your ass out of our cafes and sit over there in the park with a take away. You are not welcome here. And while you’re at it, don’t travel on trains, buses or God forbid planes. Don’t go to the library, or the supermarket or a shop of any kind for that matter. You may inconvenience me while I am buying my single basket of groceries (because I shop daily, because I can). Go to the doctor’s office if you really have to, but shut that brat up will you please while you’re waiting for your 40 minutes late appointment. I’m trying to read my Marie Claire.

There used to be a cafe not too far from where I live and it appeared to be designed for kids to go there. It was called Mums and Bubs I think. The name alone infuriated me because of it’s clear gender emphasis. I also hate the term ‘bub’ for baby. Hate it. It was doomed to fail for a few reasons. First, I suspect a person with no kids designed it. There was this area, just a space, where presumably you were supposed to put your kids while you sipped your long black. No toys in it, nothing for the kids to do, and even better, no containment. The little monkeys could just walk right out. But the main reason it was doomed to fail was that you weren’t allowed to bring your own baby food in! They conveniently sold it there at insultingly inflated prices. Fail fail fail.

Perhaps you may call me a hypocrite, but despite my rant, I do not like kids in cafes. Especially my own. I’m not, after all, completely insane. Actually, when I am without kids and have a rare moment to sit alone in a cafe, the last thing I want is screaming bloody kids disrupting my precious moment (especially my own). It’s like ex-smokers I think. Don’t bring that stinking thing near me. No mercy, no forgiveness. I have taken my 5 year old to cafes, but only a fool would take 2 x 2.5 years old to a cafe. My twins would simply own the joint. I’d love to do it just to see the mortified look on the face of sanctimonious couple however. I have been to cafes with one half of the twins and, like pretty much every other parent, I have common sense and sensibilities and am able to determine when an outing had gone to shit and I need to bail. My kids need to learn public behaviour however, they need to learn how to sit still, show manners and have a conversation with an adult and they won’t learn it if they don’t leave the house. It’s my job to choose times, places and durations that they can handle. I very much want to take all my kids out to a restaurant, but up to now this would have been like throwing a lame goat at a hungry lion. Noisy, messy and upsetting for onlookers.

So for my morning latte, I choose the park. You’ll have to suffer me on public transport because I’ve spent enough time being confined to my house so my kids don’t embarrass me (and you) in public. You can thank online grocery shopping for keeping me out of the supermarket. As for learning social behaviour, I’m taking my whole tribe to a restaurant tomorrow for the first time. We chose the local Sizzler, so be forewarned, it’ll be loud, messy and possibly upsetting. But really, if you don’t have kids and you are eating at Sizzler, my mess isn’t your primary problem.

Running is exactly like parenting

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It’s all about mental preparation and physical stamina. You start out with a goal: I’ll get to 5k by March, which might equate in parenting terms to say, self feeding without accompanying entire outfit ruination. Or, perhaps you want to run a 10K in late April? This might be getting through a week without losing your temper. Or the big one, a half marathon, 21.2k, in early July. Toilet training. I’m not sure what a full marathon would represent (I swear I will never do one). Perhaps moving out of home?

Set yourself a goal and give yourself plenty of time to get there. If you go in too hard, too early, it will end in pain. And very likely screaming. You have to think of the long game, but you can’t get through the distance unless you break it up in your mind. Don’t start out thinking, I’ve got such a long way to go, but rather, only to the next hill, just the next turn in the road. A strategy to occupy your mind during long periods of tedium is good too. Music can help, or letting your mind wander to your happy place. When pain kicks in, and my mind starts turning against me, I look at my feet and think of people who want to run this race, but can’t. I think, you’ve got legs, run.

Sometimes it helps when you see others on the road struggling. Either you fist pump each other as you pass, or, if you are travelling in the same direction, you can suddenly turn it into a competition and overtake, imagining how in awe of you they are as you glide effortlessly by. Importantly, don’t let them see you failing around the next corner as you collapse in a wheezing heap from the burst of exertion. But mostly, when I see someone out there who looks new to it all and has a face frozen in a mask of focus and pain, I think, and often wish I could say, come on, keep pushing, you’ll get there.

The finish line is only ever just for that one day, just a moment. Until the next race begins, and you have to get out and train for that one too. As you run toward each finish, look around and notice, because you always forget later how good it is. When you are back in training, trying to raise the bar again, you forget the amazing feeling of success and all you can think about is the pain. So be proud.

I lie to my kids

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Didn’t I just have so many smug fantasies when I was a non-parent about how good a parent I’d be. I’d be firm on guns, idealistic on television and an organiphile in the kitchen. My children would turn out to be vegetable eating, TV shunning, outdoor loving creative geniuses due to my exceptional guidance. Me? I’d be a serene, honest, zen like, ever patient goddess-mother in flowing dresses. My home would be filled with wonderful craft I’d invented and created on fun filled afternoons, toys would be wooden, carved from sustainable forests and my perfect children would tend their own gardens and ant farms.

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I never had any of the moments as depicted in the top picture. I’ve had many of the second. Let’s see how my pre-children children plan turned out.

I’d be firm on guns, idealistic on television and an organiphile in the kitchen. My children would turn out to be vegetable eating, TV shunning, outdoor loving creative geniuses due to my exceptional guidance.

So far, I have been firm on guns with the recent exception of a pump action water super soaker that I felt Mr 5 should have in order to compete with his cousins. Television! Let me count the ways I love thee. I can name all the Octonaughts, all of Thomas’s friends and, god help me, the trippy freaks on The Night Garden. My children’s vegetable consumption is negligible apart from what frozen offenders I can hide in the mac and cheese. Organic schmanic. They do love to play outside, but only after I have REALLY put my foot down and said no more TV.

I’d be a serene, honest, zen like, ever patient goddess-mother in flowing dresses.

These words are not ones I would apply to my parenting style. I do not own any flowing dresses. I try really, really hard, but I am not serene. In fact, I’ve discovered a new strategy in my quest for parenting competence. It turns out that dishonesty with one’s children, carefully applied, can avert many small disasters. When my children are yelling at me for one thing or another (gee I wonder where they learnt that), I am often known to reply yes darling, mummy is coming! Knowing full well that by the time their 90 second attention span kicks in, they’ll have forgotten that they were waiting on some demand from me and have moved on, leaving me free to continue [insert household chore here].

My home would be filled with wonderful craft I’d invented and created on fun filled afternoons, toys would be wooden, carved from sustainable forests and my perfect children would tend their own gardens and ant farms.

My home is filled with wonderful craft. Piles and piles and piles of freakin never ending craft. Craft that comes home from day care, grandma’s house. holiday club….and occasionally craft of my own making. So much craft that I have to craftily figure out how to throw it out without them finding out about my callous disregard for their artistic genius. Mr 5 has in the past found said craft in said bin and I’ve had to employ the above strategy (ie lying) to evade blame for crushing his blossoming ego by binning his incredible creations. Incredibly prolific creations. He’s the Bryce Courtenay of kiddie craft. Toys, oh mary mother of plastic. We have a handful of Poppy-made carved wooden toys and the rest is plastic-made-in-sweat-shop-shit. Stuff that honestly sometimes lasts for less time than it took to get it out of the packaging. We do have a great garden. Which is destroyed daily by my garden trashing kiddlers. Sometimes we have flowers and they last about a half a second before they are ripped from their moorings and ground into mush. And in fact we do have an ant farm. An abandoned ant farm that my husband took more of an interest in than it’s 5 year old recipient.

Ahhh…motherhood…I’m all over it!