Monthly Archives: February 2014

Banana & Macadamia Nut Cake

 I might be recovering from chemo and to be perfectly honest with you, I could barely walk today and felt like I’d survived another direct hit by the proverbial Mac truck. However, there was still that part of me which is so averse to waste that even in the midst of this near death experience, I couldn’t ignore the pile of rapidly rotting bananas in the fruit bowl. If you bake, you’ll know exactly what I’d talking about. It’s like hearingTarzan calling out as he swings through the jungle “AHHHHH!”  except in this instance I’m not hearing the call of the wild. Bad bananas means that I’m hearing “banana cake”.

After all, you can’t throw out bad bananas. You can’t even feed them to your worms without feeling guilty. That is, the worms in your worm farm.

Throwing out rotten bananas, waiting until your bad bananas are so far gone that they are no longer edible, is almost a capital crime…even if you only care a teeny weeny, little bit about the environment. If you are trying to reduce your environmental footprint from a brontosaurus print down to a much more environmentally friendly ant print, the very least you can do is salvage those bad bananas. It’s all a matter of duty that has nothing to do with whether you even like banana cake. If you buy bananas and they go bad before you’ve used them for their intended purpose, you have no alternative. You must make a banana cake!!

We all know the rules.

As my grandfather said to my mother and my mother said to me: “Waste not, want not.”

So before being condemned to burn in hell for letting my bad bananas go to waste despite being decimated by chemo (Okay so I am exaggerating about the effects of chemo but I have been exceptionally tired today), I decided to grab Miss and give her a quick lesson in how to make banana cake.

The original banana cake recipe comes from the Margaret Fulton Cookbook which was first printed in 1968 and my edition, which has a relatively youthful Margaret Fulton on the cover, was printed in 1991. Last year, she celebrated her 90th birthday and she is still cooking!! I have never met the great Margaret Fulton but I have to admit she feels a bit like a surrogate Grannie who has shared so much of herself in my cooking adventures. You can check out her website here:   That said, this is the first time that I’ve actually read the introduction to the cookbook but it appears that I’ve absorbed her intentions by osmosis:

“Cookery is now accepted as one of the creative arts, andone by which women can express their own individuality. Never look on this cook book as a rigid set of rules, but rather as a starting point. Once a dish has been mastered, be adventurous- give it the stamp of your personality by adding your favourite flavours or your choice of garnish.”

This is exactly, what I have always done with her banana cake, which I have been making ever since high school. It started out by decorating the top of the cake with slices of banana arranged in circles and sprinkling the top with brown sugar. Since then, I’ve added coconut, chocolate chips, sultanas and pecans. It turns out that the kids don’t like sultanas in cooking and aren’t mad keen on dark cooking chocolate either. So I’ve revisited an old friend tonight and the basic banana cake was reborn yet again.

I have doubled the original recipe, which will make a 20 cm round cake and 9-12 muffins. We ate the cake straight out of the oven with ice cream for dessert and the kids can take the muffins to school for recess tomorrow.

I don’t think I’ve told you about our new recess challenge but I’m trying to bake something both kids will actually eat. Last week, they had Strawberry Coconut Slice using our very own homemade strawberry jam and Miss came home from school and said she preferred her milk arrowroot biscuits with butter in the middle to our home made excellence. I was shocked. Plain Jane has no appreciation for good food whatsoever…the pleb!

I know many parents would probably be thrilled that their children aren’t billboards promoting childhood obesity and would much prefer slapping a bit of butter on a couple of Milk Arrowroots to home baking. I should be thankful perhaps that our daughter has such simple tastes. It’s certainly much easier than baking…especially when I am having chemo. But if you’re a cook at heart, you pour so much of yourself and so much love into your cooking that you know packet stuff just isn’t the same. It isn’t a part of you…your love. When you cook for your child, your love somehow fuses to the food molecules and is absorbed and becomes a very part of your child nourishing and nurturing each and every precious cell.

When your child rejects your cooking, you know they’re rejecting your love and indeed YOU.

I need to keep baking until I find the missing key to our daughter’s heart. Open sesame! She will magically open up like Aladdin’s cave and all that treasure will be mine. After all, isn’t that what the relationship between mother and daughter is supposed to be?!!

I just need to keep trying, searching for that ultimate perfect recipe.

At least, I know Mister loves banana cake. Good on him although he isn’t usually so easily pleased either!

Tonight, it was Miss and I working together to make the banana cake.

Speaking of madam, there was some insurrection in the ranks tonight.

As everybody knows, there is only room for one chef in any kitchen. Even though I am teaching  my kids to cook and am expecting them to stand on their own two feet, they haven’t graduated yet. I am still the master…the chef. They are still very much the apprentices and if it wasn’t for the dog, they’d be at the very bottom of the food chain.

My daughter doesn’t fancy life at the bottom of the ranks and has long considered herself something of a Master Chef. In the past, this has included rejecting any kind of recipe and making her own mixtures using her own ideas of what goes together. She was somehow above the rules of cooking. Surprisingly, a number of these mixtures weren’t too bad and could even be considered edible. That said, she still needed to learn the ropes. Moreover, she needed to learn how to follow a recipe and not always be in charge!

Tonight, her path towards world domination continued as she attempted to demote me to the role of apprentice and appoint herself as Head Chef. The cheeky upstart! However, her ideas of what it means to be Head Chef were rather unsustainable.

These are her words: “You’re the apprentice Mummy. You have to do the work while I play on the computer. I’m the Head Chef!”

Something tells me she wouldn’t be Head Chef for very long with that attitude. She’d be sure to have some kitchen equivalent of Mutiny on the Bounty.

You will notice that this banana cake is a variation of a basic butter cake. It is based on the traditional creaming of butter and sugar. While creaming butter and sugar together seems rather basic, there are a few important points to consider…

Firstly, use butter which has been softened to room temperature. I am writing this at the peak of a hot Australian summer where I reckon the butter would melt within a few minutes so I’m not going to suggest how long it is going to take your butter to “warm up”. When you can cut through the butter easily with a butter knife without resistance, the butter is ready. Be careful leaving the butter out of the fridge for long on a hot summer day as you don’t want it to melt.

Secondly, when butter is creamed with the castor sugar, the sugar grains cut through the butter and aerate it, creating air bubbles. These air bubbles mix with the rising agent helping the cake to rise well and also give the cake a light texture.

Finally, the mixture is creamed, when it has doubled in volume and is pale, off-white in colour.

Recipe for Banana & Macadamia Nut Cake

250g butter

1.5 cups castor sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 eggs

4 ripe bananas

3 cups SR Flour

½ cup milk

½ teas bicarbonate soda

Ingredients for Topping

2 extra bananas, sliced

Roasted Macadamia Nuts

Brown sugar

The apprentice sitting on the bench.

The apprentice sitting on the bench.


1. Take the butter out of the fridge and allow to warm to room temperature.

2. Grease and line tin with baking paper and set muffin tins up with patty papers.

3. Set oven temperature at 180ºC.

4.Cream butter, then add sugar and vanilla. Beat until the mixture pales and sugar has “dissolved”.

5.Crack eggs into a cup one and a time removing any stray pieces of shell with a teaspoon. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar.

6. Mash the bananas in a bowl, then add to creamed mixture. Fold in the sifted flour. Dissolve the bi-carb soda in the milk then stir into the mixture gently but thoroughly.

7. Add coconut.

8. Pour mixture into greased round cake tin and muffin tins.

9.Arrange banana slices in circles on top of the cake.

10.Cover the cake with roasted macadamia nuts.

11.Sprinkle with a generous covering of  brown sugar.

12. Bake the round cake for around 40 mins and the muffins will take 15-30 mins.

Happy Cooking!

Love & Best wishes,


PS Please note that meal preparation has gone on the back burner at the moment. We are currently enjoying a stash of meal kindly provided by our Church. These came at a very good time as my last session of chemo has knocked me out. Wasn’t sick and my hair hasn’t fallen out but I’m exhausted.

PPS I should also let you know that our worms didn’t go without. They enjoyed the banana skins and egg shells. Everyone was happy except the dog.

Apricot Chicken Via the Beach

Apricot chicken is a great meal for busy families to cook together and it really only takes 5-10 minutes to prepare. Once you get the raw chicken in the roasting dish, the kids only need to throw a few ingredients together and you can chuck it in the oven.

This should have been the very first meal I made with the kids as part of my teach the kids how to cook campaign and here we are doing it well down the track. Silly me! Perhaps, it was just too easy. Simple Simon! While I know all about the KISS Principle or “Keep It Simple Stupid”, I’ve only been able to implement the “stupid” part of the equation so far. Complicating things is one of my greatest strengths.

The Abominable Doughman

The Abominable Doughman

On day two of the cooking challenge, I had the kids making pizza from scratch. There was yeast and flour snowing all over the house and my son’s hands morphed into very, very scary Abominable Doughmen. That very same night, we also made Apple Pie again from scratch. All of this while undergoing chemo. Quite typical of me, it was an overly ambitious and unrealistic effort but we did pull it off and it was a wonderful, unforgettable meal. We had a great night and made a zillion memories. That is one of the wonderful things about cooking. You infuse love and happiness into your food. Digest it and that love travels through your body, spreading through to each and every cell. Food from a packet just isn’t the same. It doesn’t come close!!

Mister eating his Ham & Pineapple Pizza.

Mister eating his Ham & Pineapple Pizza.

Last night, Miss and I made Apricot Chicken for dinner.

While the recipe is very simple, there are a few hidden clauses and some serious warnings.

The primary caution anyone has with making Apricot Chicken, is managing the handling of raw chicken. This gives you the opportunity to give your kids a crash course in food safety.

The first basic rule: anything which touches raw chicken needs to be washed immediately before it touches anything else!

This means that the simplest of tasks, actually becomes the most difficult part of cooking this dish. You need to extricate the raw chicken from its plastic wrapper without contaminating your entire kitchen. Moreover, as you’re involving little people, that potential contamination zone extends to include the rest of your house. We all know how those little fingers love to touch absolutely everything and spread their love around!

Chicken germs are all too easily spread. Your hands touch the chicken and then touch the fridge. Meanwhile, the chicken slips onto your kitchen bench and perhaps you wipe it up with a dish cloth, which adds its own germs and bacteria. While some germs are good for your immune system Salmonella isn’t one of them. Salmonella is a bacterium that occurs mainly in the gut, especially a serotype causing food poisoning. Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the Salmonella bacterium. Every year approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the U.S.

I found these tips at

When handling raw chicken, you must keep everything that comes into contact with it clean. Raw chicken should be rinsed and patted dry with paper towels before cooking; cutting boards and knives must be washed in hot sudsy water after using (or run through the dishwasher) and hands must be scrubbed thoroughly before and after handling.

Why? Raw chicken can harbor harmful salmonella bacteria. If bacteria are transferred to work surfaces, utensils, or hands, they could contaminate other foods, as well as the cooked chicken, and cause food poisoning. With careful handling and proper cooking, this is easily prevented.

Chicken should always be cooked completely before eating. You should never cook chicken partially and then store it to be finished later, since this promotes bacterial growth as well.

To be perfectly honest with you, after reading all these health warnings about handling a simple, raw chook, it’s really turned me off cooking chicken altogether. Most of us are not sufficiently OCD when it comes to hand washing and I can’t help wondering how many chicken germs are now running around our kitchen about to lay their deadly eggs. I’m surprised we’ve never got sick but perhaps after all these years of indiscretion, we’ve developed cast iron constitutions. That was a joke. Salmonella isn’t. I didn’t want my daughter handling the raw chicken. It was my job to unwrap the chicken and get it into the roasting dish but then she did the rest

Recipe for Apricot Chicken


1 whole standard sized uncooked chicken or equivalent pieces

1 405 ml can of apricot nectar

1 packet French Onion Soup Mix


  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Parent to unwrap chicken. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with a piece of paper towel.
  3. Place chicken in greased roasting dish.
  4. Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.
  5. Using a pair of scissors, child can snip open the packet of French onion soup mix. I’d get them to snip off the corner of the packet so it is easier to pour without spills.
  6. Sprinkle French Onion Soup Mix over the raw chicken. Make sure your kids do not try eating the soup mix from the top of the raw chicken. I caught my daughter doing this. Remember the Salmonella. They can always wash their hands if they do touch the chicken but I would be using this opportunity to teach them about food safety and I’d be opting for a 100% hands off approach: “Do not touch the raw chicken “or “fingers off the raw chicken”. Be clear and firm. This is a serious food safety issue!
  7. Open a tin of Apricot Nectar and pour it over the chicken and French onion soup mix. This is a good time to introduce your child to using a can opener. This may take a bit of explaining and may not be something they’ll immediately pick up. Of course, some can openers are also easier to use than others and not all of them are really suitable for kids. They need to get the can opener over the rim and once it has punctured the can, you will hear the air escape and know they’re on the right track. Warn them about the sharp edges on the can. Fingers need eyes and need to be careful.
  8. Pour the apricot nectar over the chicken. The soup mix will fall off so you’ll need to use a large serving style spoon to dish it back on top of the chook.
  9. Depending on the age and capabilities of your kids, assess whether they are able to put the chicken in the oven themselves or whether that is a job for big hands. I put our chicken in the oven.
  10. I didn’t actually note how long it took our chicken to cook buy I would say around 1.5 hours.
  11. Baste chicken with nectar while it cooks. The skin can start to brown before the chicken is ready.and if so, cover it with a sheet of foil and turn your oven down a little.
The Beach

The Beach

While the chicken was cooking…

Now, I have a bit of a confession. While the chicken was cooking, I took the kids down to the beach for a swim. It was a sweltering hot day and we needed to cool off. I am also conscious that we only live about 700 metres from the beach and yet we seldom get there. We live in such a beautiful spot and yet how often do we even steal a peek at it? I don’t even take the scenic drive to or from school. We take the rabbit run through the backstreets and don’t even catch a glimpse of the water which surrounds us on three fronts. We live on a peninsula. That takes effort!

Yet to be fair on myself, the beach isn’t the easiest place for me to go. I’m not allowed in the sun unless I’m fully clothed or caked in sunscreen all over. We all have fair skin so we usually go at the end of the day anyway. Miss tells people that we go to the beach in the dark. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. We take in the sunset. If I take the kids with me, I need to be able to get them out of the beach when my energy levels sag and historically this hasn’t been easy. We’re also fairly busy.

We had a wonderful time at the beach. Miss with her totally inflated concepts about my physical abilities, had me jumping the waves with her or at least attempting to and really trying to fake it to the best of my abilities. I was covered up from head-to-toe as I can’t go out in the sun both due to the chemo and because my auto-immune disease can be triggered by sun exposure. I felt like such a weirdo wearing clothes in the water but I wasn’t mad keen on slicking myself in lots of sunscreen either. It seemed the better option. However, as my sarong got wet, it felt really yucky and uncomfortable flapping against my legs and perhaps next time I will go the sunscreen. Geoff also suggested that I could get myself one of those full body swimsuits as worn by the Olympic swim team. You never know. If I could only get into one of those suits, I might just swim like a fish and get on the team for the Rio Olympics. Watch out world!

I have to be honest and say that I found myself feeling strangely sad, very sad at the beach. There I was in such a beautiful paradise on an absolutely perfect azure blue, sunny day and the ocean sparkled like a diamond carpet in the sun. Just beautifully perfect. You would think that I would revel in such a beautiful place and being able to actually go to the beach with my kids and be there together jumping waves and searching for hermit crabs. The kids were also is great moods and having fun. Yet, I found myself feeling inexplicably sad. As beautiful as the beach might have been, being at the beach really made me painfully aware that our lives aren’t normal.

I am not normal.

As much as I can stretch and stretch and stretch my skin, it still doesn’t fit. It’s way too tight. I’m struggling to move. Battling to breathe. It simply isn’t me.

At the same time, I lead a very active and fulfilling life. I don’t miss out on much as a whole. I hear you saying that I should be thankful. Show a bit of gratitude and if your situation is more challenging, you probably think I’m being very self-indulgent unless you know that I’m still having chemo. It’s not easy juggling chemo, kids or any kind of life. You simply have too many balls in the air and sooner or later, they’re going to land. Things are constantly splatting for me and I’m struggling with some pathetically basic tasks and yet I appear better than normal. I look great.

While this doesn’t make any kind of logical sense, I’m actually finding things a bit harder at the moment now that I’m getting better and so very close to being “normal”. I now look 98% and so many people are telling me how good I look. These aren’t necessarily people who know I’m on chemo and are judging me using that yardstick either. They are comparing me with me. Much of the time, I do feel quite radiant but the fatigue still hits me and my daily tablet prednisone dose is slowly going down and that’s like depriving me of life-giving petrol. I want it back.

I’m trying to understand these feelings. Unpack their suitcase. Where have these crazy feelings come from? Why can’t I follow my own advice, cape diem and just enjoy such a seemingly perfect trip to the beach with my kids who were being thoroughly delightful as well? This just confirms that I’m a mad woman! Stupid! Get it together, Ro! If you can’t enjoy the beach on a sunny day, you’re doomed. Totally doomed!!

What I think is happening…When I am really sick, my well self, the person I really identify as “me” is somewhere off in the distance. I am so far away from her that she is just a blur…a haze… dare I say a ghost? But as I get better and my health improves, she moves closer and closer. I can hear her breathing. I can smell and touch her skin but then she slips away before I can quite reclaim my skin and slip back inside quite unnoticed and be exactly who I know myself to be.

I still can’t feel at home in this second skin. Surely, it has to be some kind of imposter? A fake? Surely, I’m going to wake up one day very, very soon and be myself again?

I know who I am.

Who is this fraudulent second self???

It’s definitely a case of stolen identity but I’m not sure who to call about this. The police? The bank? Who can reattach me to my lost self? Could some kind of surgeon, perhaps sew or even graft me back on?

Meanwhile, while I’m brooding down at the beach, that chicken was baking away back at home and we needed to get back. I was also concerned about us cooking in the sun, even though it was approaching 6.00PM, it was a hot day and we are all ghostly white.

While on the subject of burning, you do need to keep a bit of an eye on the chicken. Coated in all that sweet, yummy nectar, the skin can burn before the chicken is actually cooked through. If so, cover the chicken with foil and consider turning the oven down.

Now, it was time to get the rice going.

The rice!

That’s right. I need to teach the kids how to cook rice. Rice?!!?!! Add that to the list. Actually, I haven’t made a list of the meals I want to teach the kids to cook…our Cook-It List. I need to do that too. There’s so much to do? You wake up after months of getting by and there’s a lot of catching up and most of it isn’t pretty. I’ll mention one word…Centrelink. If you’re not Australian, read government department. 90 minute waiting times but I must say that the staff  were very helpful once I finally, finally got through. Just as well!

Rice…before I can teach the kids how to make rice, I need to teach myself. I have sacrificed so many good saucepans to boiling rice that I’m in no way equipped to teach them anything. So I’ll need to teach myself how to cook rice before I teach them. I certainly don’t want them picking up my bad habits!!

I managed to cook tonight’s rice without incident and threw in about a cup of frozen peas. I love frozen peas. Such an easy way of getting my greens and they are always fresh and not doing dreadful terrible things at the bottom of my veggie killing so-called “veggie crisper”. You know those floppy jalopies you fish out of there. Give me frozen peas any day.

It is interesting just how much skill is involved in cooking and how my humble idea of teaching the kids how to cook a meal, is teaching them valuable and very practical life skills. Amelia learned how to use a can opener when she opened the can of apricot nectar tonight. I am really starting to appreciate how much the children still have to learn and how much assumed knowledge we have. That you can’t just throw a kid a can opener and expect them to somehow psychically know how to use it. You need to show them. Be patient. Allow extra time in the cooking with kids sessions to allow for mistakes. In the over all scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if you botch up a meal but it is everything if you botch up your relationship with your children. You need to fuel and nurture that love and not destroy it. I know how challenging that can be especially in a hot and busy kitchen but I am starting to see my children blossom and take pride in themselves. Feel they can do something. Even if you have to throw the meal out and get in some takeaway, it is more than worth the effort.

xx Rowena

Hair Wars

When it comes to gripping action and explosive conflict, The Hair Wars way out performs Star Wars. While The Hair Wars might be more of a localised conflict, what it lacks in scale, it more than compensates for in intensity. There is also plenty of “personality”, although It doesn’t have a celebrity cast. The Hair Wars can also get pretty brutal and usually results in some form of hand-to-hand combat, usually between mother and daughter.

The Hair Wars opens with an all too familiar scene:

“You’re not going anywhere looking like that!”

Of course, I’m running late juggling kids, bags, hats and possibly even the family dog, when I finally spot my daughter’s hair. Somewhere in the midst of the morning’s madness, I’d forgotten all about the hair. While I’d had pictured something of a Cindy Brady with perfect pigtails with matching bows, she’s appeared with a bird’s nest perched on top of her head. Moreover, she’s stubbornly refusing to let me brush or even touch it.

My heart’s racing and I’m struggling to breathe. It’s a heart attack. I know I am having a heart attack. This is neither my imagination nor a false alarm either. This is the real thing!

“Who is this girl? I have absolutely no idea which planet she came from! She’s certainly not my daughter. This sapling has most definitely sprouted from someone else’s seed! My daughter would have to be neat and tidy…a miniature version of my taller self.”

Ha! Please don’t split your side laughing!

If your daughter has one of those delicate, very sensitive “princess” scalps and can’t stand brushing her hair or perhaps has very fine hair which knots easily, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Just getting a brush through that hair is the proverbial “Mission Impossible”.

Last year, we had tears, screams and I even tried peeling her hands off the top of her head in my futile attempts to get the brush through it and make my daughter “respectable”. Most of the time, I lost every round of these hair wars. I can’t tell you how many times Miss wore that disgusting “bird’s nest” to school. We’d try detangler…the works. She was in tears. It really hurt. Moreover, the more she resisted, the more tangled, difficult and totally impenetrable her hair became. It was rapidly becoming the enchanted forest!

Now, I can just hear you saying that I should have cut it off. Told her that if she didn’t brush her hair and look after it, that it would go. I did try but I knew myself too well. It’s ultimately counter-productive to make threats you know that not going to carry out. I’ve always been a long hair person. My mother kept my hair short when I was her age and I resented it. How I longed for Rapunzel locks! My own childhood deprivations are, of course, what’s stopped me from dealing with Madam for far too long and shaving it all off with Geoff’s beard trimmer.

Yes, the beard trimmer was tempting especially when the nits invaded the nest. You could just imagine trying to get the nit comb through. She was infested. That battle, for better or worse, resulted in chemical warfare and thank goodness we finally disposed of those blighters. I swear the nits always arrive at the very worst possible time. Fighting nits is never easy but when my muscle disease is playing up, I can barely brush my own hair. The nit comb is out of the question and of course, there’s an absolute population explosion.

Anyway, just when I was at my wits end, a friend of mine shared a very simple solution….a $2.00 plastic blokey hair brush. She also recommended plaiting her hair before bed so it wouldn’t scruff up. I did that a couple of times but now the brush is enough. Success built up on success and she started to get the oils through her hair and for the first time possibly ever, her hair actually looks shiny and healthy. We had a miraculous breakthrough and peace almost echoed through the house.

That was round one of the hair wars resolved with a win for Mum and a win for the girl! However, like all block buster movies, there’s always a sequel.

Our sequel: “I can do it myself!”

Of course, fostering independence in your children is critical. Only last weekend, I expanded my efforts in teaching the kids how to cook to a broader effort to help them stand on their own two feet. This means doing as much as they can for themselves and stretching their abilities so they can be independent. I am not their servant and I am certainly not their slave. That said, I also need to back off and stop taking over as well. I need to let them do it. They need to have enough room to make mistakes and learn from them. It is my job to maintain some kind of portable safety barrier around the edge to prevent serious injury. Remember, we all learn best through the bumps and knocks of hardship, not through smooth sailing. Everybody needs to be challenged (Yes, that is a need NOT a want).

Of course, all these ideas are just brilliant at the inspirational, conception phase. Like many good ideas, however, implementation is the real battleground…converting “talk” into “walk”. When it comes to teaching kids a new skill, there’s a lot of planning, trying to see a task from the kid’s point of view and endless deep breathing to cope with whatever happens. I’m just saying you need to be prepared for mistakes and then going into some kind of damage control to manage the consequences. We’re talking potential catastrophes…veritable tsunamis. The sort of stuff that feels like scratching fingernails down a chalk board and you can feel every single cell in your body reacting badly. Of course, you’re no Carol Brady of any persuasion. You are trying to smile and be encouraging and yet the most inhuman of screeches passes out of your lips and your child bursts into tears: “Mummy?????!!!”

Parents aren’t perfect either.

Getting back to the hair…

I’m not that fussy and I’ve never been a girly girl. I can’t French plait or doing anything fancy. I would just like my daughter’s hair to be neat…somewhat neat. No huge bumpy bits at the back sticking out like speed humps.

You can pick when a kid does their own hair. They can see the front okay but the back is tricky. As they put the ponytail together, the top seems to buckle and goes quite bumpy. I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s like some of those home sewers when they burst with pride at their less than perfect creations: “I made it myself” and you half-smile in reply: “I know”.

It’s the same when little kids do their own hair. You just know!

All I’m trying to pull off is a simple ponytail or other acceptable up style with perhaps a few basic clips to hold down all those renegade wispy bits and infuriating growing out fringes, which only I’m sure only ever grow out in time to be cut off again.

Surely, it couldn’t be that hard?!!!!  But…

There are too many bumps. Her hair is caught in the elastic. It’s a shambles. I can’t let her go to school looking like this.

Once again, I remind myself to breathe deeply. Inhale…1,2,3,4…exhale.

As tempting as it is to grab the brush and do her hair myself, if I want her to stand on her own two feet and be independent, that means leaving that hair brush in her less than capable hand. Moreover, I’ll need to gently guide to develop eyes on the back of her head or at least find a mirror to see what they can’t see instead of snatching the brush and simply taking over. Snatching the brush might be a battle and taking over might feel like the answer but you’re actually telling your child that they aren’t good enough. That they can’t do it and they are in fact useless…all over a simple thing like doing their hair. Is this really what you’re intending to do?

For me this morning, as I was about to snatch the brush, a moment of insight suddenly hit. She can’t see the back of her head. She looks at the front and thinks she’s done a great job and she can’t actually see all those infuriating bumps and ripples that drive me mad. So I didn’t actually need to snatch away the brush and take over. She just needed her to feel the back of her head, look in the mirror and she could fix it herself. She is quite capable of doing her own hair. It just needed some refinement.

I must also point out that she is too small to see into our bathroom mirror so when it comes to getting her hair neat and tidy, she really is rather challenged. We’ve been intending to set up a low-flying mirror and we really must get around to it. Give Miss a chance.

Of course, we are only at the very beginning of the hair wars. We are still a few blissful years away from the teenage years. That said, when Miss was only six years old, I had to contend with her infatuation with blond hair. Apparently, she thought she was ugly because she doesn’t have blond hair.

This was obviously a time for a serious life lesson on the importance of acceptance if ever there was one. I thought I might as well shatter all her aspirations. It would take a bucket-load of bleach because like me, her hair really is too dark to go blond without destroying it completely…another lesson in acceptance!

A cousin of mine expanded on this theme with her teenaged daughter. Dying your hair becomes very expensive and blond hair is very high maintenance. As a young person on a young person’s wage, she had to be able to “afford herself”. I noted and filed this advice. This was a keeper.