Tag Archives: girls

Footprints Running Through Sand…

This photo was taken about five years ago at Sydney’s Whale Beach just around sunset when the sky (and of particular interest to me, the clouds) were reflected on the thin film of water on the beach. I was struck at the time, by my young daughter’s relentless energy  and that love small children have of running. Just running. It’s magic to watch…especially when you’re not trying to keep up and in this instance where she’s seemingly running through wonderland… running through the clouds.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Mummy’s Littler Miss.

This is the inimitable Miss, Age 3…a long 8 years ago!

I’m currently riffling through photos on my hard drive, searching for a photo of my daughter with her ballet teacher, which was taken about 5 years ago. That’s how I chanced upon this stunner,  which grabbed my heart with both hands.

The things is, eight years down the track, I’m struggling to remember why she’s covering her eyes. Is she playing hide-and-seek? More than likely, she’s hiding from my flash.

So, I return to the scene of the crime.

After all, I never take just one photo. There’s always a series!

 

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Someone loves Mummy’s lipstick a tad too much!

 

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Look at me!

I’m not going to show the next image of her contorting herself to escape from the flash. However, there’s no doubt she’d had enough of the paparazzi!

Fast-forwarding to 2017, her make-up is impeccable and the lipstick well and truly stays within the lines and yet it’s so lovely to hop into my time machine and celebrate this exuberant moment… three year old’s passionate journey into Mummy’s world.

She has plenty of time to grow up!

xx Rowena

 

Does Bullying Pay?

Today,  it’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence in Australia. It’s also Troll Free Day, which focuses directly on cyberbullying.

While these are fantastic initiatives, there’s still so much more which needs to be done.

Questions which need to be asked.

By the way, when I mention bullying, I’m not just talking about kids either.

Indeed, bullies grow up.

While we publicly denounce bullying, for me the big elephant in the room still remains: does bullying pay? Do you need to be the bulldozer, wiping out everyone and everything in your path to get ahead? Or, is there still a place for respect? Teamwork? Being nice?

I don’t know.

Deny it though we might, what do our collective actions say?

As a society, I don’t believe our report card is good. Scratch through the veneer and I’m afraid the verdict doesn’t require much deliberation at all.

Guilty as charged.

However, declaring a National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence is an important step. It not only raises awareness but it reinforces that bullying is not okay. Likewise, Troll Free Day, does the same with cyberbullying.

This a huge step forward from when I was a kid and bullies were boys.Girls supposedly smiled sweetly, slipping right under the radar, despite those incredibly long fingernails which could do incredible damage.

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Indeed, attending an all girls’ school, there was no such thing as bullying. There were the “popular girls” and the “losers” and it might even depend on the direction of the wind as to where you “belonged” at any given time.

When I was at high school, I endured years of brutal put downs and attacks due to my poor coordination. More than just a duck and not a swan, I had undiagnosed hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain which produced a swag of symptoms which were simply deemed “Rowena”.

People, even friends, emulated and made fun of how I walked not just behind my back but to my very face. There was a level of mean cruelty that I can’t even begin to explain. I just swallowed it and kept swallowing it. I had no choice. There was no escape. At least, that’s what I thought. Fortunately, not everybody was like this and there was kindness. People who didn’t just take pity on me but valued me as a person. Were my friend.

I can’t recall anyone ever getting in trouble for this bullying or the school taking any action whatsoever and my parents were never contacted. Even when I zoned out for a year and a half, I was left to my own devices because I wasn’t bothering anyone. I cut up magazines in class, decorating my school diary and wrote lengthy letters in class to friends at other schools but it took a long time for anyone to step in. I eventually got a new maths teacher who instantly confiscated my diary and scissors. I was in shock. Somewhere around this point, Mum, who was used to glowing reports, heard quite a different story. No doubt she heard I was “zoned out” or “distracted”…not that I was being bullied. That I was showing very evident signs of depression, which might have been a serious concern. But, as I said, we didn’t have bullying at our school…just beautiful people.

I never said a word about what was going on. What could I say? How could I possibly put all that hurt and cruelty into words? I did end up seeing the school counsellor but I’m not sure if I ever mentioned that in particular.Remember “bullying” wasn’t a term I could use back then.

What I went through was bad enough. Yet, it is comparatively minor.

Fortunately, once I left school and started university, I never looked back. I was the same person and yet, I had loads of friends and things were radically different. Go figure. I was still me.

Others never escape. Indeed, bullying and suicide are inextricably linked.

I do wonder what those girls who bullied me are doing now that they’ve grown up? I certainly haven’t received any apologies in the mail. No confessions either. Don’t you ever wonder how bullies sleep at night? Or, perhaps school was just a stepping stone to greater heights? That they’re still knocking other people down to get what they want, be it popularity, status, money, that promotion? Doing whatever it takes!

Speaking of bigger arenas, dare I mention anyone in particular?

No! I’ll leave that up to you.

Meanwhile, click  Here if you like to find out more about Troll Free Day. I recently also wrote a fictional poem about bullying… Hopscotched.

xx Rowena

Inner Beauty Therapy.

Yesterday, my daughter treated me to the works at the beauty salon. The salon as such was our bathroom and my daughter was my Beauty Therapist. It was the most awesome experience. As she  gently stroked my face for the very first time, I felt the rains fall in a remote part of my heart which rarely gets a drop.It’s not that I don’t feel and know that I’m loved but we’re so busy and there are the usual challenges of getting the kids to do anything and of course, I’m running after them. I’m sure you can understand and appreciate the ups and downs of parenthood.

My daughter is 8 almost 9 and she’s growing up fast…especially whenever she struts around the house in the silver diamante high heels which I picked up for her from the charity shop. They’re not a huge size but they almost fit. Yikes! I’m not prepared for all of this. Not at all!!

Relationships of any sort are challenging and complex. Even when we’re trying to be caring, loving and thoughtful it can be difficult to synchronise our watches. Create that blank space where we can actually just “be” together. Build the bubble and somehow step inside and be with one another… one on one…no distractions, disturbances, mobiles, texts, or @#$%!!!!

Yesterday, my daughter and I managed to do just that. It was only for about an hour but it was an hour I’ll never forget!!

Miss... an inner beauty therapist!!

Miss… an inner beauty therapist!!

We escaped the to-do list, the mountains of stuff desperately needing to be re-housed and even the lingering Christmas tree, which long been begging and indeed pleading to be taken down and hauled outside to the green recycling bin and we found each other.

Yes, I know you all probably pulled your Christmas trees down weeks ago but I always find this something of a heartbreak and put it off as long as possible. Each Christmas when we set up a real Christmas tree in our home, I am transported back to the world Hans Christian Andersen’s: The Little Fir-Tree.  We all fall in love with our tree and fall under its spell. Now, how can I just throw out all of that love and wonder and stick our tree out beside the road to be crushed up into splinters?

Yet, we can’t start the new school year with our Christmas tree still up either.

The kids go back to school next week and as I’m sure you can appreciate, the start of the new school year heralds all sorts of miraculous happenings. Forget getting the kids organised, I’m still stuck on my own list of resolutions. This year, we are all going to be on time, organised, neat and tidy and homework done on time. We will also plan ahead. Be prepared. We will. I have list, schedules, strategies, tactics and the only thing now standing in my way is …me and of course, the kids!!

Anyway, my daughter has a real knack for ignoring my rising tide of jobs and my blogging commitments and going for the jugular: “Mummy! Mummy!!!!! MUMMY!!!!!!!”

This becomes pretty hard to ignore and indeed, you instinctively know you have to get moving or else your child will be in therapy for the term of their natural life.

My daughter painting my nails.

My daughter painting my nails. Don’t you just love the newspaper?!!

So, I was off to the beauty salon for the works…nails, facial and make-up. Well, it was a beauty salon with a difference… set up in our bathroom. Miss had arranged something like 50 bottles of nail polish I’d bought over something like the last 20 years on the stool in neat little rows, looking quite the professional beauty therapist. Some of these bottles, I must admit, are quite ancient and date back to a very different era before marriage, kids and skin sensitivities. They represent all sorts of hopes, dreams and special events, which have long since merged into the kaleidoscope of memory. Fortunately, it looks like nail polish withstands the tests of time and doesn’t go off.

So there I was transformed from a mere mortal into Her Royal Highness Queen Mummy perched upon my royal throne with newspaper underneath my hands and feet as Miss artistically painted my nails rainbow colours: red, orange, yellow, green and blue. That was my choice!!

I might be a supposedly sensible, mature 40 something wife, mother of two kids and two dogs but that doesn’t mean I have to conform. Be boring. Muted and lose all sense of colour. After all, just because we’ve grown up, that doesn’t mean we have to stop growing and stop living. No one is forcing us to to stick to the safe, the conservative and socially expected. I am, we’re all allowed to take a walk on the wild side. Besides, when it’s school holidays, the rules all go out the window. You can do whatever you like and just blame the kids. Guaranteed, even the stiffest conservative will break into a loving smile when I tell her that my daughter painted my nails and of course, they’ll blame her for the rainbow colours and think I’m the best Mum in the whole wide world!

 

Tapping away with rainbow nails.

Tapping away with rainbow nails.

Having my nails painted was fun and I also appreciated having Miss there to paint my toe nails. It’s not the easiest thing to do yourself and who doesn’t like to be pampered?!! Actually, you’d be surprised. Almost everybody is too busy and or too serious for a bit of self-indulgent pampering, which isn’t just frivolous, superficial beauty but also love in action.

The Body Shop's Warming Mineral Mask. Yum! I mean wow!

The Body Shop’s Warming Mineral Mask. Yum! I mean wow!

 

Anyway, the pampering ramped up a notch when it came to the facial. I can’t remember the last time I had any kind of facial but I’m thinking it was definitely BK (before kids). Well, I had this tube of the Body Shop’s  Warming Mineral Mask. It’s the most amazing stuff. You wet your face and when this stuff comes into contact with water, it heats up and feels so amazingly soothing. For those of you who are into facials, it is a clay based mask which promises to remove impurities. Hmm… I wonder if it can also remove all my faults and idiosyncrasies and make me a better person? Somehow, it will take more than just a face mask to pull that off!!

 

Here I am with cucumber eyes and face mask on.

Here I am with cucumber eyes and face mask on.

 

So there I was with my eyes closed and my daughter somehow managed to find a cucumber in our fridge and applied a slice of cucumber to each weary eyelid. Ooh! I’ve never experienced that before and the effect was immediate, relaxing and cooling. Wow it felt good. Not just the cucumber either. I am so deeply touched that my daughter has been so loving and spontaneously thoughtful. She has even brought in a newspaper for me to read, although I preferred for us to talk. She had thought of so many small details…I can’t tell you how that made me feel. As we all know, parenting isn’t always easy and we all make mistakes and press all the wrong buttons and instead of saying or showing “I love you”, it is all to easy to say: “Not now”, “I’m too busy”, “Go away!!” “Can’t you play by yourself?” or “Can I phone a friend to come and play with you?”

 

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Miss in bliss.

We’re all guilty of that.

Anyway, as my daughter gently stroked my face as she applied the mask (in between patting and occasionally rubbing it like an orbital sander), I felt drops of rain fall on a very thirsty, dry and parched desert soil. I lapped up that tenderness like a kitten thirstily lapping up a much loved saucer of milk and feeling totally satisfied.

Miss also enjoyed being pampered herself, although I suspect she preferred running her own beauty salon. She loved it.

We’re already planning our next session. Next time, we’ll be over at Palm Beach and indulging ourselves by the sea in a place that surely must be close to heaven on Earth.

I encourage you to take the time out for a bit of pampering, heart warming love.

Who knows? Perhaps, you too might start smelling the roses. I can assure you they smell fabulous!!

Love,

Rowena & Miss xxoo

 

 

 

Being Prepared: Dogs Join the Cub Scouts

As everybody knows, the scouting motto is to be prepared.

If anyone was ever prepared, it was a dog.

You don’t even have to mention the word “walk” or even produce a lead. If there is even the remotest suggestion that you might just possibly be going out or even just the thought itself, your dog is psychically already at the front door ready to go. Your dog is so prepared, they’re even ready before you are. After all, with that inbuilt fur coat, dogs are always dressed and ready to go.

Kids on the other hand…my goodness don’t get me started but I will mention one word…shoes! When it’s time to go,there are two bare feet and the shoes are MIA. That is, unless they smell so bad that your nose acts as a radar and you can spot them a mile away. Or should I say, you locate the left shoe at 90 degrees and the right shoe at 35 degrees.

The Scouting Motto.

The Scouting Motto.

To say that kids are unprepared, is such an understatement. That’s why we take our kids to scouts and our dogs for walks. Unlike dogs, it takes more than a few quick sessions at the local park to train a child.

Anyway, it was the last night of Cub Scouts for the year so I decided to take the dogs along to say hello. I’ve had a bung foot for a few weeks and the dogs haven’t been getting out as much as they’re used to. Friends have been taking the kids to and from school so they haven’t even been getting to ride in the car as much either. So tonight was their lucky night. They not only got to go for a ride in the car, they became cub scouts for the night. Now, instead of begging for a walk, they were pleading for a rest. So many kids wanted to take them for a run!

Bilbo and Mister racing the billycart. I just noticed my son is running along with roasted marshmallows on a stick despite being told not to run with sticks. I also caught him running with a live stick ie still alight. Proof dogs are easier to train than kids!

Bilbo and Mister racing the billycart. I just noticed my son is running along with roasted marshmallows on a stick despite being told not to run with sticks. I also caught him running with a live stick ie still alight. Proof dogs are easier to train than kids!

Of course, the kids were terribly proud of the dogs who by this stage, had become instant celebs with the kids. The dogs are also part of our family and the kids don’t often get the chance to introduce them to their friends. The dogs were more than willing cub scouts. They went for walks, runs and as one kid was showing me how he could throw a marshmallow up and catch it in his mouth yet miss…Lady was more than willing to hide the evidence. I lost track of how many marshmallows she polished off and I hope she doesn’t go troppo after all that sugar!

Thankfully, Lady didn’t entertain the children by eating rabbit roadkill or smearing herself with dead stinky fish like she’d done at Palm Beach. I think she knew that you have to be on your very best behavior when you’re a cub scout or even just the cub scout’s dog. However, even a cub scout isn’t perfect and Lady just couldn’t resist giving a few passing dogs a resonating growl. Bilbo preferred to stay with the family and wasn’t sure about going off with strangers, even for a much loved walk. He’s more reserved…unless he’s defending his turf. Then the slumbering floor rug metamorphoses into quite a beast.

The dogs and I at cub scouts during parade. Parents were also told to stop talking and there was to be no barking or growling from dogs either.

The dogs and I at cub scouts during parade. Parents were also told to stop talking and there was to be no barking or growling from dogs either.

As much as the dogs were thrilled to go along to cubs  tonight, they missed the BBQ over the weekend and who better to be dog’s best friend, than a kid too busy running around to keep track of a delectable sausage sandwich. Opportunity also knocks when little hands struggle to contain a snag hell bent on finding freedom between two lubricated slices of bread. If either of these two proven strategies fail, then there’s always the old tried and tested approach…switching on those puppy dog eyes and becoming absolutely irresistible. Even the war torn-stray who was hanging out at the scout hall on the weekend, was looking cute begging for snags.

Two exhausted puppy dogs looking forward to going home. There can be such a thing as too much love. They never thought they'd say "no more walks".

Two exhausted puppy dogs looking forward to going home. There can be such a thing as too much love. They never thought they’d say “no more walks”.

I’ve never inquired about whether dogs can join the scouts. As much as almost everyone loves dogs, there’s always the few, that vocal minority, who commit terrible crimes against dogs such as banning them from the beach. That’s right. No dogs allowed! Bilbo has often complained to me about this gross injustice. He wants to know why kids are allowed on the beach when they fight more than he does and says that he’s also quite aware about “the other matter” as well. That’s right. That dogs aren’t the only ones relieving themselves at the beach. Bilbo adds:”At least, we dogs are upfront about it. We don’t get all self-righteous and then strut out into the surf saying: “we’re cooling off”!!

Bilbo can be quite the defender of dog rights when he isn’t sleeping on the floor!

Well, even if Bilbo and Lady can’t be signed up members of the Cub scouts,  they are members where it matters…in the heart.They well and truly belonged.

Now, to see how they go doing a reef knot. Something tells me that Lady is just going to chew up the rope!
scouts prepared

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.