Tag Archives: parenting

The Silent Bomb- Carrot Ranch.

It was Henry’s tenth birthday and strangely his big sister, Kate, was only too happy to bake his cake. Indeed, she even suggested Mum took Henry out for a special, birthday milkshake.

Mum was so proud of her thoughtful daughter, that she jumped onto Facebook: “Proudest Mum moment. World’s Best Daughter! Milkshakes with Henry, while Kate’s baking Henry’s Birthday Cake.”

Meanwhile, Kate carefully cut out the middle of the cake. Blew up the balloon, stuck it inside and smothered the lot in chocolate icing. The bulging cake might have looked nine months pregnant, but at least it didn’t tick.

……

March 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features a balloon. It can be a party balloon or a hot air balloon. How does it add to your story? Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by March 13, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published March 14). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

xx Rowena

Writing By Rainbow Light…

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”
– Sidney Sheldon

Writing by rainbow light sounds rather romantic, yet incongruously intriguing. How could you ever write by rainbow light and where does it come from? How do you make it? If you turn on your garden hose and point it in the right direction, you can make your own rainbow but that certainly nothing you could write by, especially given that it’s just after midnight and the sun and the rest of my family are asleep and tucked into bed.

The truth is that I bought myself a neon rainbow which I can plug into the USB slot and it lights up my desk just enough for me to see, without turning on the main light which could disturb my daughter’s sleep. While I seem to run on my very own idiocyncratic clock with waking and sleeping at all sorts of hours through the day and night, I try to respect those who are already asleep and can’t catch up during the day.

This is the lot of the night owl and the parent who can seemingly only sneak in a little writing time at the very end of the day when everyone else is asleep. It’s my indulgence. My sanity pill…even if I can’t think of anything to write and my brain’s already gone to sleep but my fingers are still clicketty clacking over the keyboard.

The thing is, that I feel that I’m grappling with something and rather than sleeping on it, I thought I’d tinker around with it on the blog and see what I could draw out…a bit like putting peroxide on an infected cut.

I think my trouble is that too much is happening, and I feel like I’m running after a fleet of runaway steam trains. Or, perhaps I should make those Japanese bullet trains…something traveling much much faster. Indeed, traveling so fast, that the passengers can’t get their bearings or make out anything through the window. School assignments for the kids are due in and my daughter’s also going for auditions for anything she can audition for at the moment…great practice and I don’t expect her to land some of the more prestigious professional roles, but I think it took me an hour or so just to email everything off. I have also been writing letters to and about our National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) which provides me with domestic assistance, OT and physio but knocked back my electric recliner and savagely cut back my budget in my second plan.

All these things give you, or should I say me, the feeling that you’re wrestling with an imaginary dragon, and it can feel very overwhelming. Too much to deal with and no one to delegate it to. After all, Rowena is a sole proprietor, even though my husband does an enormous amount, he still has to work.

It would be really lovely to get away and write in my notebook somewhere picturesque like I used to once upon a time. I remember going up to the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney when I was about 19 and I went bush walking at Katoomba with a friend. We went down the Scenic Railway, which was much more rustic than the one that’s there today although the track is just the same and just as scary steep. At the bottom, a track takes you round to Katoomba Falls which is dotted with tree ferns from memory. I remember writing at the bottom there…a perfect spot.

I also remember writing poetry beside the River Seine in Paris right near Pont Neuf at around 2.00AM and it was just me and a group of Africans listening to their ghetto blaster on the other side. Dumped and feeling like my heart had already been cut out by a dagger, I probably felt there wasn’t enough left of me for anyone else to kill off, harm or torment. After all, how many of us really ever think that as bad as it is, it could even get worse. Indeed, most of us humans are so good at shooting ourselves in the foot, that we often make it worse for ourselves without any input from anybody else. Anyway, let me just say that I know God was looking after me then, because I wasn’t looking out for myself. Added to that, I had good friends. They also stepped in.

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”
– Harlan Ellison

Isn’t it funny what comes out when you just sit down and start writing! You have no idea where it’s going to take you and what ideas are going to crop up be it absolute drivel or creative brilliance…the germination of a masterpiece.

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
– William Shakespeare (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

If you’re a writer or creative, do you believe you have a masterpiece inside? The ability to produce that best seller which is going to launch you into the dizzy heights of success, stardom and hopefully being able to buy yourself a cappuccino without counting your pennies. The lot of the true writer is hard, hungry and your blood, sweat and tears are etched into each and every word, especially if you’re writing by hand, which I do now and then, particularly if I’m on the train. It takes me about 1.5 hours to get to my medical appointments on the train and I can get in a bit of a hurry and forget to pack some paper and have been known to write endless words on those last few pages they leave at the end of a novel.

Have you ever wondered why they leave those blank pages there? Not every novel has them and I certainly see it as a mark of a tight-fisted publisher when they use up every inch of paper and don’t include those precious blanks. Indeed, I can see them all sitting beady-eyed around the boardroom table talking about how much they’ll save and how much they’ll make if they cut those pages out.

Personally, I feel like these blank pages are a gift from the author to the reader to go and write their own story. Have a creative response to all they’ve read. To write a poem. Jot down some ideas. But not for a shopping list. A To Do List or anything so mundane and practical. Well, that is unless your to do list is only about visions and dreams and how to launch into that flight of fancy.

Strangely, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on schedules, routines, calendars, planning, time management as I try to get my kids organized for new school year. Being the eternal optimist that I am  and having very little recent experience of organizing such matters, I thought this was something I could set in stone. Work out a system. Get it in place and walk away. Get back to my writing and leave the real world “far behind me” (remember somewhere Over the Rainbow…)

So far, no such luck. I think I’ll have term 1 sorted out just in time for term 2, but hopefully we’ll get that set up with the wave of a magic wand.

Do you ever just sit down and write late at night as though you’re letting out some kind of poltergeist or energy inside and you just have to write and write and write either with pen on paper or through the more convenient but not so romantic clicketty-clack of fingers on the keys.

However, as much as I’m addicted to these late night sessions, I must admit that I’m trying to get into more regular sleeping patterns and firing my brain up at midnight might not be the best recourse. Perhaps, I’d be better off ignoring the heebeegeebies and sleeping. Counting sheep instead of words? It’s very easy for other people to tell you what to do,  but they haven’t walked in your shoes. They haven’t slipped inside your skin and been you for a few days. Indeed, I’d really like to trade places with someone for a week or two just as long as I didn’t get stuck inside and couldn’t get back. That’s always a risk.

Well, on that note, I’m off to find my camera to photograph my little patch of rainbow light. I hope you like it!

xx Rowena

 

Sailing On The Wings of Poesie…

“On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.”

― Rumi

After watching our son sail today, my head is jam-packed with metaphors. Overflowing with adjectives, adverbs and superlatives. Indeed, I’m completely overloaded with words flying in from all directions and creating an almighty traffic jam in my head. Clearly, this is not a good thing, because as any half-decent writer knows, less is more. However, what are we supposed to do when we’re so enchanted by something, an experience, a feeling, an object, that we start spewing out metaphors, adverbs and adjectives like a broken sewerage pipe?

I don’t know. I always overdo it. Indeed, I’m one of the most enthusiastic, upbeat people I know, especially when I’m “sailing” on top of the water, and haven’t hit the deck.

Just to set the scene…The majority of the boats were an Optimus or “Opti”. Another parent described these as “a floating bathtub which uses a towel as a sail”. They’re a great sail boat to start out on because they’re relatively stable, although on the downside, they’re not as fast. Our son was too tall for an Opti and went straight to a Flying 11, which has rather complicated rigging and is a faster, but less stable boat and new recruits are likely to capsize. Indeed, they capsize a lot and usually want to quit!!

However, that’s what I’ll call the technical or business end of sailing, and I was more focused on watching my son and husband work together to get the boat assembled and to actually see Mr sail his boat. However, as much as I aspire to be the perfect Mum, I couldn’t be the passive observer and switch the writer-photographer off. Sailing is a spectacle. It’s an Adrenalin boost. A creative response was inevitable…an occupational hazard.

The skippers assembled on the grass and walked through the muddy bank to launch their boats. I don’t know how many boats were there. However, there were enough to resemble a small fleet and look quite spectacular. Yet, they’re only little and reminded me of hand-made, origami boats. Indeed, I even Googled how to make them when I got home, although I didn’t succeed. That boat didn’t even get a chance to sink!

Getting back to the race… one minute I was watching Geoff help Mr get his boat out, and the next he was gone.The boats had sailed off into the distance and the skippers merged in with the sails. Now, they were nothing more than a patch of white on a blue background.

Yet, I was still watching. Feeling something bubbling up inside but I couldn’t quite channel my thoughts into anything specific.

Sheep…the little white boats now reminded me of sheep… what with being white on the blue background. In hindsight, even I can see this was a bit far-fetched. That I’d inhaled too much magic dust, and my imaginings had gone too far. After all, I doubt whether a sheep can swim, and as for a flock of sheep wading out into the deep, that’s bonkers.  Clearly, I’d had too much sun!

Still, being in serious creative overdrive, I didn’t just stop at sheep analogies. I also thought of dancers in white tutus, which is hardly surprising given that the dance studio is our home away from home. Indeed, sailing reminded me a lot of dancing with sailing being a kind of dance on water. That said, it’s not that graceful when the boom smacks you in the head, or you capsize and you’re wading through the mud to get back.

Hey, did I mention something about clouds? The boats also reminded me of white clouds. However, you’d have to say they’d had a close encounter with a steam roller with a triangular cutting attachment. After all, sails are flat, not round and fluffy.

Okay, I accept the cloud analogy doesn’t fit.

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison

Anyway, in case you haven’t worked it out already, I was really pleased and relieved to get down to the sailing club today. Like many parents, my husband and I split up on Saturdays. Geoff does the sailing run, while I do the dance run with our daughter. While this set up is very practical, it means I haven’t seen our son sail in his new boat and they haven’t seen our daughter perform her dance solo. Moreover, each of us is missing out entirely on one child’s universe. Or, at best, we’re skimming past the outer reaches. Indeed, my husband and son missed out on half of the annual dance concert, because he had a big day. Indeed, that afternoon’s sail was just as important to him, as her dance concert was to her. That’s where you need the wisdom of Solomon. Alternatively, you could always clone yourself, so you can be in two places at once. Nothing to it!

By the time I pulled up, Geoff and Mr had got the boat out of bed and it was out on the grass waiting to be set up. Setting up the Flying 11 every week, is a bit like wrestling with an Ikea flat-pack with ropes and sails thrown in for added complexity. Geoff and the Mr almost, almost have their routine down pat and make a great team. Getting the boat ready, is a two person job and it took them some time to get the rigging sorted. Moreover, as these boats have sacrificed stability for speed, it’s frequently capsized. It’s a very challenging boat and the sort of thing “which puts hair on your chest”, as my Dad would say. However, this is the price you pay as a young sailor climbing through the ranks and learning the ropes.

“That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it, and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way is winning.”

Richard Bach, Jonathon Livingston Seagull

Launching Fury

As luck would have it, the weather was perfect…blue skies, sunshine but not the blazing Summer heat. Probably my favourite bit, was watching all the boats get in the water. It was low tide and they needed to wade out quite a way through the mud to launch. I know there was order in there somewhere, and everyone was respectful of each other’s boats. However, I was struck by the kaleidoscope of little boats of varying classes along with their different shaped sails…a real cacophony. Indeed, I know I’ve overdosed on metaphors already, but they were like a flock of sea gulls.

flock of sails

If you peer deeply into the centre of the photo, you can see the fleet.

However, all too quickly, the flock had disappeared out of view, and we weren’t really a part of it anymore.We could just make out a cluster of tiny, white sails in the distance. For some reason, it felt very strange knowing Mr was one of them. I guess I’m so used to seeing anonymous yachts sailing past in the distance and it felt weird to know he was on one of them. Moreover, it’s a bit of a stretch to think of our 14 year old son skippering a boat out on the horizon all by himself. He hasn’t ridden a bike in years and is too young to drive a car, even as a learner. Yet, he was out there by himself, not out in the ocean or the open sea, but close enough. That didn’t worry me at all, because the club has a safety boat and it’s a safe area. It was more the extension of his horizons and by proxy, my own that felt uncomfortable. He wasn’t in the small pond anymore.

That’s one of the great things about sailing for kids. They can experience freedom, a degree of speed, independence and nut things out for themselves without adults hovering over their shoulder. So, while it’s not an inherently safe sport, it’s actually not too bad when you compare it to contact sports, wandering around the neigbourhood or even riding his bike.

Now, I’d still like to write a poem about it. Or, if I could, paint what I saw. However, I photographed the race with my phone and plan to get back there for the last two weeks of the season with a real camera. Open my eyes to absorb what I can. Then, I’m going to try to get in a sail myself!! I made great ballast!

Have you ever been sailing? Or, been a sailing parent? How did it go?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

When Your Baby Turns 12…

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.”

William Barclay

So what if it’s my daughter’s birthday? That’s hardly newsworthy. After all, she’s not Princess Charlotte, and the only paparazzi hanging around when she blew out her candles, was her Mum.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that her birthday didn’t mean anything beyond our four walls and her beaming grandparents.

Amelia Geoff Ro

Our daughter turned 12 yesterday. While she’s still not officially a teenager, she’s in her first year of high school. So, this birthday marked a definite transition from childhood into something else. Entré into a zone where it can be difficult for parents to find their way. Are we wanted, or unwanted? In the way, or ignoring them and giving them too much space? Are we expecting them to be kids and adults all in the same breath and setting all sorts of unrealistic expectations? Or, are we feeling like little more than a taxi driver? An ATM only good for more money?  I’ve heard a lot of parents lament that their teens only grunt, and shut them out. Lock themselves away in their rooms. There’s also the great electronics challenge. How do we tear our kids and teens away from Minecraft long enough to even look us in the eye and say “hello”?

Amelia baby

These are challenging times. After all, the teenage years come with the same kind of flashing neon signs as the terrible twos. Having been through that, I’m no idiot. I know it’s virtually impossible to come out unscathed, but I also feel empowered. I make things  better or worse.

However, none of that was at the forefront of my mind yesterday. That all came afterwards, as I reflected on how well everything went and how I’ve built connections with my daughter, her friends and their parents. Also, I’m pleased to say we passed muster. So, I’m feeling really stoked…content.

IMG_2125

Miss in Saphora Sporting Blue Lipstick.

The big birthday, began with a morning of dance rehearsals and classes for Miss, and I set about trying to find the carpet in her bedroom. Even though the girls would be sleeping in the tent in our backyard under the watchful eye of the dogs, kids always end up in the bedroom and hers needed major reconstruction. I’m still fighting off the sinus infection too so wasn’t 100%. Meanwhile, Geoff was salvaging the backyard from the pups. There isn’t a blade of grass out there, and there was all sorts of chewed up detritus. With only hours to go, we had a lot of work ahead. Fortunately, I did my baking on Friday, making Mars Bar Slice, Pavlova, cup cakes. Dinner would be pizzas.

However, before the party began, Miss wanted to go to makeup Mecca, Saphora, with her friend, so she could go crazy with her birthday money from her Godmother and earn double points and a birthday gift. We also spent awhile in Lush.

Saphora really is a kind of fantasyland and they let you play around with a kaleidoscope of eye shadows, lipsticks and highlighers so you can even glitter and sparkle in the dark. It was so much fun. After all, how often do we have the opportunity to colour ourselves in using the brightest of brights without any limitations and get away with it? At Saphora, our face is a blank canvas only limited by our imaginations and our arms are our palettes. Indeed, there’s even a word to describe trying out this multitude of product…”swatching”.“

Not unsurprisingly,  I don’t keep up with make up or fashion trends. I was chaperone. My daughter’s friend’s Mum likes the girls to be accompanied, and that makes the decision easy for me. I’m a slow walker. So, they’re always a metre or two in front and I probably look more like a stalker. However, this means they have their own space, can do their own thing and have an old head with them if required. You just don’t know what those unpredictables can be, and they’re not quite at the stage where they have the life experience to deal with all of that on their own. Also, my daughter is tiny and younger than many of her friends and I’m quite conscious that a stranger could pick her up and cart her off without any effort at all, aside from her resistance. In Australia, we had a young man called Daniel Morcombe who was abducted from a bus stop, violated and murdered. He was 12 years old. That puts things into perspective for me. While a 12 year old might be sensible, trustworthy and intelligent, they are still a child and need a backstop.

I don’t know how parenting a teen will look down the track. Her big brother turns 14 in a few weeks and hasn’t brought us the usual problems of teenagers yet. We tend to be late bloomers in the puberty stakes, so perhaps all of that is just around the corner. You sort of hope it is as a parent, as much as you want to keep pushing it off into the future. After all, they really can’t have a relationship with their electronics. Or, at least not one that’s going to produce any grandchildren (not that I’m wanting them any time soon).

Anyway, my modus operandi for parenting teens at the moment, is to get to know my kids’ friends and their parents. Keep those lines of communication going. After all, what I’m finding so far, is that they’re all quite chatty and we’re all getting on really well and they trust me. This might not matter much at the moment, but it might down the track.

So, I’m now positioning myself as my kids’ parent and their friend. Trying to make the hard decisions and enforce boundaries and deadlines, while also being involved enough that they feel I know them,that they know I have their back and can see their point of view, even if I don’t agree with it. It can be very tempting to think that now our kids are growing older, that we can get more “me time”. Work more. Pull back. I’m not too sure.When they were younger, they could go to daycare or before & after school care but once at high school, they’re home alone…or not. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the family finances or the need for both parents to work, sole parent families and the complexities of life. My complication is my disability and chronic health, which has ruled out paid work for the last 5 years, although I am now starting to set the wheels in motion. I’m currently looking into freelance writing opportunities.

I’ll write more about how the birthday went in my next post. In the meantime, I was wondering what your view are about parenting teens. What are your hot tips for parenting teens? What helped you? I have definitely found that we often have our best chats in the car or around the family dinner table. I’ve also been playing quite a lot of board and card games with our son lately at his request. That’s usually when the wifi gets turned off, but it’s him seeking me out, not vice versa. These games might be old-fashioned, but we’ve had a lot of laughs, the competition is fairly intense, and I can feel the bonds knitting together on the spot.

On that note, I’m off for slice of pavlova. Birthday party leftovers are the best.

xx Rowena

 

Ouch! Killing a Killer Sinus Attack.

Only a few days ago, I was jubilantly chirping about finding my happy feet. Well, I should’ve held onto that thought. Stuck it onto my forehead with superglue, although it would need to be written backwards so I could read it in the mirror. “Life is Great”. However, please don’t ask me to actually write that backwards at the moment, as I’m not thinking clearly. I was simply being dramatic.

For those of you who’ve been following my trials and tribulations, you might recall that I was fighting off Fergus the Omnipresent Operatic Cough for about 6 months and it was getting me down. He was so darn persistent that he could’ve taught Calvin Cooledge a thing or two about persistence.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Well, I managed to have a good couple of weeks, but then Fergus decided to get sneaky. Or, perhaps like me, he has no sense of direction and he was actually heading back down to my lungs, but ended up in my sinuses by mistake. I don’t know. Either way, the results are the same. I’ve been in excruciating pain and my entire head felt like it was being compressed in a vice and the evil Fergus was turning the handle and laughing, of course and his evil eyes glowing like Christmas lights.

Actually, that shouldn’t be written in the past tense. That’s because Fergus is still at it and flaunting his malevolence. Nothing makes Fergus happier than a bit of torture.

Anyway, I’d been having these intense headaches for a few days, and wondering why my eyes were aching and was getting a bit concerned. Other than having Fergus is my sinuses, I have hydrocephalus and a shunt in my head and these were all the kind of symptoms associated with a block shunt and a trip back to the brain surgeon. With my daughter’s birthday tomorrow, slumber party and associated comings and goings, brain surgery wasn’t exactly on my list.

So, I was starting to get concerned. Just a little concerned. Nothing approaching a major, full-on panic attack with all the bells and whistles. However, then I blew my nose, and I swear a real, living breathing alien jumped out. It was freaky, weird and almost terrifying. I’m not going to thrill you with a graphic description or photographic evidence, but let’s just say this thing was a cross between a Killer python and a jelly rat. The sort of thing that has the infection control Police out in their lab coats, masks, rubber gloves and buckets of Domestos. It’s Quarantine.

Fortunately, I was booked in for an appointment with my rheumatologist at Royal North Shore Hospital. This is one of Australia’s top public and research hospital and home to weird and wonderful conditions like my dermatomyositis. My husband, offering whatever encouragement he could to his embattled soldier, said I was going to the right place for the day. True! Why would I want to go to a tropical island when I could be at the hospital? Well, when you’re feeling that crook and concerned your brain’s being devoured by infection, the deserted island can wait. I was looking forward to going back to my familiar stomping ground where there’s enough expertise from rheumatology, lungs, brain, exploding sinuses to handle whatever Fergus was going to dish up this time.

Well, much to my relief, they let me go and I left with a script for more industrial strength antibiotics, and I actually managed to have an extended coffee with my best friend from school at a cafe near the station.(I perk up well).

I should also mention that I was reading Markus Zusak’s: The Book Thief on the train and in the waiting room. It’s a funny book to be reading when you’re feeling really crook and wondering if your number’s about to come up, but it’s beautifully written. I loved the film and started reading the book and got distracted, but wanted to have another go.

Train trips are always a good way for me to really get stuck into a book as it takes about 90 minutes to get to the hospital. Moreover, it’s uninterrupted time and not that jerky stop start reading you have when you’re going off to sleep. Have you read The Book Thief? It’s just brilliant and the language is so poetic and beautiful. It’s also very philosophical, which I love as well. So, after a day of train trips and waiting rooms, I’m now up to page 164 and I take my time to absorb the prose as well. It hasn’t been an express read. I like to let the words and the magic settle like Autumn leaves in the snow (not that we have either here).

Anyway, I woke up at midday today after my husband handled the morning run. I can’t begin to describe the throbbing pain. However,  even walking a metre or so to the bathroom was a huge agononizing effort and I had a glass of water hoping that would help. It was a separate trip to get some Panadol out of my husband’s drawer. I have never experienced pain like this. I had to let those process before I could even ring my husband to tell him how sick I was. That was very humbling, scary. Nobody wants to be that vulnerable. So stuck in a dreadful situation and unable to respond.

Fortunately, for me it was temporary. I rang my husband which perked me up a bit and the Panadol and water were starting to work. With a huge blow on my nose, there was also more relief. I’ll be heading off to pick the kids up from school soon and I’ll be back on my feet in my usual style. Rowena is fine.

I’m glad I’m feeling better and finding ways to keep going, get back on my feet and not let chronic health control my life. Yet, on the other hand, I could use some TLC and my own private nurse to take care of me. Peel me grapes. I know I need to rest.

Do you live with anything ongoing, which is challenges you? Please share in the comments and upload your inner Fergus.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 4th February, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

So, how can I tickle your fancy this weekend? Coffee, tea, Bonox? A slice of Vegemite toast perhaps? I’ve never had too many takers for the Vegemite toast on the Weekend Coffee Share, but if you want to walk like an Australian, you need to flood your bloodstream with the brown stuff and toughen up. Just think of it as chocolate sauce and ignore the taste.

Well, if you joined me for coffee last weekend, you might recall that the “kids” were heading back to school for the new school year and that my daughter was starting high school and our son was already there. That’s right. We now have have two high school students in the house and with that my responsibilities have gone up quite a few notches. No arriving back from holidays the night before and winging it with last year’s uniform on the first day. No, we had to be organized. Indeed, it was time to become anal about the whole thing and climb in the proverbial straight jacket.

You can  read all about our organizational efforts Here. Actually, I think that should read MY organizational efforts.

Anyway, after all of that, Tuesday was here and it was time for our daughter’s first day. I can barely remember how it went now, except that we took a few photos out the front of the house, without her brother because he was conspicuously scarse in case he somehow got roped into helping out. At their school, they have the Year 7s starting two days earlier than the rest of the school. So, big brother was making the most of time at home without little sister.

After taking some photos out the front of the school and greeting the Principal who we already know quite well, the students lined up in their form classes and I have to confess, that I was among a handfull of Mums were were clinging on so tight to their precious offspring, that we were almost part of the line. Although that might have been a bit pathetic, I didn’t cry.

Day 2, we our second day back at school had a bit of unplanned drama…a local blackout. Fortunately, the alarms all went off but making breakfast was tricky and we were eating by candlelight. It was all quite an uncomfortable experience, especially when we were still reeling from the shock of going back to school but we survived and she was at school on time.

She has settled in well and is making new friends and picking up with a few old ones and I’d say by the end of this coming week, she’ll be good.

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Meanwhile, Rosie our 6 month old Border Collie x Kelpie was also keen to get an education. She managed to pluck a pink highlighter pen out of the pen jar on the kitchen table and chewed it to death. There was a puddle of fluoro pink on the floor and spotches of pink on her paws…a photo opportunity.

Another funny incident around here this week, was a discussion with my daughter about the band INXS. “Devil Inside” was playing on the radio and she asked me whether he was singing “dead inside” or “devon inside”. If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, you might not be familiar with Devon but its a cheap and nasty meat sandwich sausage often splashed with tomato sauce. This initiated a bit of a discussion about the late Michael Hutchence, which of course, became rather complicated but lead me into a reflection about the Americanization of Australian culture. You can read more about that Here.

It was fortunate in many ways that I could focus on their return to school and get things pretty much in order. I didn’t mind putting myself aside for a few weeks, because it’s a big change to start high school and a time where you need your parents on tap. You need them to be flexible and to understand your 1000 mood variations in 15 minutes without getting stroppy or needing to be the centre of attention. It’s the same when anyone starts something new. You often need that extra TLC and ideally those around you can give you that. However, with the cost of living these days, that’s becoming less possible. Everyone needs to work, even the dog (es[ecially when they keep chewing through highlighter pens!)

However, I can report that I did manage to have my first beach swim of the season on Tuesday afternoon. It was great until I waded in around waist height and then I chicken out and was reminded of my dog who didn’t like to get his paws wet and was feeling tortured as his beloved tennis ball drifted out to sea. I was pathetic, but I eventually dived under the water and survived. By the way, the surf is pretty flat at our beach and very non-threatening. Yet, you still hear about the odd rescue or drowning and it is a patrolled beach.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I need a holiday or an adventure, but don’t know what that’ll entail yet. It might just be a coffee down the street, but I’d like to think I might get further afield.

So, how was your week? I hope you had a great one and that the week ahead goes well for you. Got anything planned?

Well, I’d better head off.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.  You’re welcome to join us. Just click through to the Linky.

Best wishes,

Rowena

INXS Is “History”!

Today, while Miss 11 and I were out driving in the car, the great INXS classic: Devil Inside came on the radio and almost immediately my mood accelerated. It was 1988 all over again and I was basking in my first year of freedom at Sydney University. Yet, as much as I can be the penultimate in embarrassing mothers, I wasn’t singing, dancing or worst of all throwing my undies out the car window in honour of the late great Michael Hutchence. No. I had both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road and not a hair out of place to betray the devil inside me.

devon

Devon- a manufactured meat product sold in Australia and NZ.

That’s when my daughter started talking about how this song reminded her of a kid who was dead inside (I think this was her interpretation of being boring), and asked me to clarify the words of the song. Was it “dead inside” or “devon inside”? She also added that they could improve their diction. I had to chuckle at the thought of the late, great Michael Hutchence having devon inside. Although, in the land of young kids and school sangers, of course, devon inside makes perfect sense. Indeed, you might even have devon and a splash of tomato sauce inside two buttered slices of bread.

That’s when I asked Miss 11 if she’d heard of Michael Hutchence? Sadly, that just resulted in a blank stare and then she asked me if I’d heard of Josh Hutcherson who played the leading role of Peeta Mellark in  The Hunger GamesSadly, I had not. So, we were even. Nil all.

After that, my husband and I decided that the kids needed to get an education and we conjured “Devil Inside” up onto our TV, bringing 1988 back to life. While we were very excited and really looking forward to sharing something special to us with them, for the kids, it was a lesson in ancient history in the same way my own grandfather used to talk about his father and grandfather making wheels for carts in the old smithy. Moreover, while to us,  the music sounded contemporary enough, showing the kids the film clips put the nail in the coffin. Indeed, even I found them dated.

We love the Beatles.jpg

 

I guess I can take comfort in the knowledge that I am at least a step ahead of my parents. They each went to see The Beatles on their 1966 Australian tour. My mother also tells a story about how she had tickets to go and see Peter, Paul and Mary but her parents forced her to go on a family holiday to visit her Great Uncle out in Burke in far Western NSW. Mum, Dad and four “adult children” squeezed into the FJ Holden without air-conditioning or a radio. Mum played the piano in some kind of concert while she was out there. A promising pianist at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music visiting the outback was a big deal back then. Not the Queen perhaps, but perhaps an alternative to the pub.

When I was studying history back at school and university, we didn’t really look at the music people listened to as a way of interpreting the times. Of course, there were newspapers, novels and art. Yet, at least as far as I can recall, not much of an emphasis on music. Yet, for those of us who’ve lived through the times, music is such a part of it. It’s always there in the foreground, the background or stuck inside our heads even when we wish it would stop. Couples have their song and when an old song comes on, it’s like jumping straight into a time machine. I’m there.

In addition to sharing these songs with our kids as a part of us, I also want them to know their own culture, and their own cultural history. I want them to read some of our great books. Listen to our songs. Not only see a kookaburra sitting on a gum tree, but also know the song (even if it’s no longer cool to sing along now they’re teens).

Tuckerbox family cropped

The family standing in front of the Dog on the Tuckerbox (back right hand side), Gundagai, NSW, Australia.

Last January, when we were driving down to Melbourne to catch the ferry over to Tasmania, we drove through the famous country town of Gundagai. This town is not only famous for its statue: “The dog sits on the Tuckerbox”, but also the song: Along the Road to Gundagai, where the chorus goes:

There’s a track winding back to an o-old fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai
Where the blue gums are growin’ and the Murrumbidgee’s flowin’
Beneath the sunny sky
There my mother and daddy are waitin’ for me
And the pals of my childhood once more I shall see
Then no more will I roam when I’m headin’ straight for home
Along the road to Gundagai 

Well, the kids almost murdered me as I kept singing the song as we approached Gundagai. I just wanted them to know their own culture, but there was no respect. None whatsoever, just a combined cringe.

Crocodile_Dundee

Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee.

Sometimes, I feel that bringing my kids up with an Australian culture and influence, is like migrants trying to bring their kids up with a knowledge of the old country. That my own Australian culture feels just as foreign here due to the omnipresent American influence. Moreover, with the Internet now part of our homes, our kids are becoming Americanized in a much more intimate and personal way. One afternoon, I heard my son chatting over the Internet to a young kid from the American deep South. This was interesting and novel in a way and something I could never have done as a child. However, it wasn’t long and our son was speaking American around the house and I wanted it to stop. The same with our daughter. We have tomato sauce, not “ketchup”. We have cupboards/wardrobes not “closets”. We have biscuits, although we also have cookies but they’re an American style biscuit not your standard tea-dunking thing. We are our own people, our own place.

It’s not always easy to know what it means to be Australian. We are a multi-cultural society and any discussion of being Australian also includes Aboriginal Australia. For me, at least, it’s not just about white Australia or male/female Australia but a diverse mix which, despite all it’s diversity, is still it’s own nation with it’s own culture. Moreover, while our population is small, we don’t need to stop being who we are and become someone else to survive or make a go of it. We are beautiful just the way we are. I might not know what that it is, but I sure know what it isn’t!

Perhaps, I need to go and think of a way of rewriting Waltzing Matilda for the modern day and I’d better not ask INXS to perform it.

How are you conquering the cultural divide with your kids? Do you think its important for countries to maintain their own cultures? Or, should be all just merge into a global monoculture? As individuals, do we have a say? 

xx Rowena