Tag Archives: parenting

Conspiracy Theory…Friday Fictioneers.

The time was coming, when Mavis would leave this world in much the same way she arrived… with nothing.

However, Mavis had her own ideas. If the Chinese Emperors could take their terracotta armies and the Egyptians had their slaves, Mavis was going to be buried in her lounge room in her own Empire.

“Mother, we’re going for a drive,” her daughters chimed in unison. Although they were middle-aged, Mavis always knew there was trouble whenever they palled up. There was no way they were taking her to a nursing home. She’d die first.

Then, she saw the cake. “Happy Birthday, Gran!”

……

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Pup Psychologist Anyone?

It’s been quite awhile since the dogs have made much of a blogging appearance, and now they’re back with a vengeance. Our brother and sister pups, Zac and Rosie, are now about 9 months old and let’s just say, have developed plenty of “personality”. Personality, which has had me searching the depths of Google for parenting support. While parenting courses for young humans are usually free with at least a yummy morning tea thrown in, training your pups is expensive and so we’re trying to muddle along on our own. I think the pups are onto this are expanding their horizons well beyond desired bounds and it’s time to ignore those puppy dog eyes and for nice cop to become tough cop. Put my foot down, even if a paw or two gets stepped on in the process (which happens quite a lot around her with twelve paws under foot.

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Rather than offering any solutions to the difficulties of puppy training, I’m just going to let it all flow …a bit like a glass of red wine on a white carpet. Or, a pink fluoro highlighter pen which has been chewed into a puddle of pink with splashes of ink on the guilty party’s paws.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with our dogs, there are three of them. Lady, a border collie x cavalier is about 6 years old and we’ve had her since she was two. She’s a rather mellow dog and about the size of a Border Collie with the Cavalier’s floppy ears and facial appearance. She’s mostly black with a tip of white on her tail, chest and paws. Isaac “Zac” and Rosie are both 9 months old and are supposedly Border Collie x Kelpies but we suspect there could well be some greyhound in the mix. Zac has the long legs of a ballet dancer, and can look rather statuesque when he strikes a pose. Zac also happens to be our resident lap dog. He’s very snuggly and I had been thinking he had an innate sense of intuitive compassion, but I’m also wondering whether he just likes a warm lap in the cooler weather. Rosie has white legs and face with black spots, which are rather cute. She’s evolved into a feverish fetchaholic. Of course, we’ve all seen one of those in action, but rarely at rest.

Bilbo with ball

I had to honour a fallen hero. Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

So, I guess you could say like around here isn’t dull and that’s why we need a resident dog psychologist and in their absence, there’s me…and Google.

Firstly, there’s chewing. Of course, prevention is better than cure. So, most dog owners know that anything on the floor is fair game and that just like toddler proofing your home, you need to put things up if you don’t want the dogs chewing it up. However, not all dogs have read the manual, and Rosie has had no qualms about making choice selections from our kitchen table and exercising puppy power. I think perhaps her most impressive achievement to date, has been taking a pink highlighter pen out of the jar on the kitchen table and chewing it up until there was a pool of pink ink on the tiles and splashes of ink on her front legs. There was no denying that crime. She was caught in the act.

DSC_8401

A scene of canine carnage in our lounge room.

Of course, providing your pups with a steady supply of bones is a good idea. As I said, prevention is better than cure. However, sometimes I’m flat out getting to the butcher for the humans. Moreover, when I have bought bones, they’re instantaneously gnawed out of existence. Don’t ask me how they do it. I didn’t know bones were a fast food. Indeed, I thought they were supposed to keep your dog occupied for hours. Silly me.To think I had the audacity to think of myself as a bit of an expert on dogs. Clearly, I know absolutely nothing about them at all.

However, clearly the same can’t be said about them, because they can read me like a book. Indeed, they can read my soul much better than most humans. They really are amazing.

This takes me onto their next issue… our in-house Fetchaholic.

If our experience is anything to go by, this addiction all starts out in a fairly understated way. Someone in the household can’t resist giving that adorable little pup a tennis ball. Before that one corrupting tennis ball appears across it’s radar, that pup was pre-programmed to chase sheep, rabbits, and rid the world of rats. However, now all of that’s changed. That very same pup has suddenly had all that genetically pre-determined brain circuitry re-wired, and if your dog is very particular like our Bilbo was, all they’ll see is a green sphere. In hindsight, that was a blessing because Rosie isn’t particular. Tennis ball, half a tennis ball, felt of tennis ball right down to the very last remnants of fur of tennis ball, she’s back. Or, she’s dropping a bit of stick over the top of my laptop. I guess she thinks I’m just as addicted to tapping away on this thing and need a diversion. Indeed, she probably thinks she’s doing me good and giving me exercise.

She’s wrong.

Her pestering is only annoying in the end, but just as I’m getting fed up and about to confiscate the ball, she gently taps me with just one paw pad  and it’s so much like she’s tapping me with a finger, and that she’s not a dog, that I can’t resist.

That said, I’ve just put the ball up and told her to sit. However, in true fetchaholic fashion, she’s returned with the remains of a toy mouse, which had a pull the string wind-up mechanism some time ago. After ignoring that, she’s returned with a bit of stick…a remnant of a bit of stick…and its offspring. We’re talking desperation on both sides. How do I get this dog to leave me alone?

I dropped the ball over onto my son’s lap, he just passed it back.

Humph. It’s definitely time to make myself a cup of tea and perhaps that will  break the cycle. Just had to rethink that. Zac is now sitting on my lap, and while you’d think that might provide a sort of barricade in between Rosie and I, she’s now dropping her paraphernalia on the top of him.

At this point, you’re not the only one asking why we adopted two pups and why we didn’t just stick with Lady. Apply the KISS Principle…Keep It Simple, Stupid. Well, I wouldn’t know how to keep it simple and I clearly don’t know how to say: “No”. I just keep going until I fall in a screaming heap.

This brings me to my next issue…a fear of other dogs.

Lady & Zac

Lady and Zac running along the beach in January.

Usually, our dogs socialise with other dogs as a pack and feel quite comfortable with each other’s support. If anything, they can intimidate a lone dog on the beach. However, yesterday, I took Zac to the beach by himself and while he initially loved running and really got some great exercise, it was quite a different story when he saw other dogs. He was cowering behind me like a young child hiding in their mother’s skirts. He even jumped up behind me putting his paws on my shoulders. He was terrified with his tail between his legs and then that fear turned to aggression and he really got narky and was snapping and snarling at the other dog, who retaliated and they both ended up back on their leads. It was time to go home, a time-honoured parenting trick.

Zac running at Ocean beach May 18

Zac running yesterday before we bumped into any dogs.

I have also taken Rosie walking on her own and she’s also quite cowardly in public and walks much of the way with her tail between her legs. It’s been quite a concern because you want your dog to be happy and have positive interactions with their own. Fortunately, Zac and Rosie are fine when they’re together.

I’m think the answer here could be taking them out more by themselves, so they can build those social skills. They are very much like twins and miss each other terribly  when they’re apart, even if it’s only for a short time.

Zac Seal

Zac swimming looking like a seal. You can see how this character wouldn’t go too well on a lead.

Just when I thought I had everything covered, my last gripe is tugging on the lead. We seem to be having some success with Rosie on this front, and it is Zac who turns into a racehorse as soon as the lead goes on. Indeed, “pulling on the lead” is an under-statement. We have tried a Halti collar and he’s somewhat getting used to it but he doesn’t like it. The funny thing is that he is so placid without the lead, and I can’t really understand what fires him up so much. Of course, he loves going for a walk but this is more extreme. This is like a canine Clark Kent going into a telephone booth and emerging as Thor.

Lady kids coffee

The funny thing is with all these canine antics, they provide us with endless entertainment way better than any television show and they’re our critters. They might not be our own flesh and blood, but perhaps that’s part of their appeal. Dogs live with us are part of our own families and so much like us and yet they’re not. Despite all our attempts to humanise them, they’re still dogs. And we love them, perhaps even because of their foibles or perhaps it’s us who have actually fallen under their spell and we might need to consider who is Master. Our dogs can be very proficient trainers. Indeed, my dogs have trained me.

Chewing, ball chasing and lead pulling, I wouldn’t be without them.

Do you have a dog and do you have any recent posts you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

A Special Child…Friday Fictioneers.

“Tilly! Tilly!” Jane screamed, frantically trudging through the bush trying to find her lost daughter. Mind, body and spirit on the brink of collapse, Jane laboured up the hill, powered by a mother’s love. Worried out of her mind, Jane almost forgot that hundreds of locals had joined the search. That she wasn’t alone.

Then, she saw Tilly’s boots perched on the edge of the cliff. Empty. She was too late. Her anguished scream flew over Echo Point and across the Megalong Valley on the wings of a white cockatoo, while Tilly splashed in the creek chasing tadpoles in the sun.

…….

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. PHOTO PROMPT (above)  submitted by  Courtney Wright © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous. All other photos are my own.

Three Sisters

The Three Sisters’ At Katoomba, West of Sydney.

Megalong Valley

While we were standing here, white Sulfur-crested cockatoos were swooping across the Megalong Valley. Unfortunately, I was too slow with the camera.

This story is set in the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney which is the home of the Three Sisters, a rock formation located on Echo Point overlooking the Megalong Valley. This is a rugged bush land setting where quite a few bush walkers have got lost and big search parties have been launched.  This is not the sort of place you want your child to get lost, or to disappear when they’ve had a meltdown and have special needs.

sulphur crested cockatoo

Sulphur-Crested Cocktatoo at Katoomba.

 

Newton Family 2011 Katoomba

Our family at the Three Sisters’ Lookout at Echo Point, Katoomba in 2011.

Like so many others, I am gravely concerned about the isolation of the individual in the modern world. While in so many ways the Internet has opened up new communities like Friday Fictioneers, we still need those connections on the ground. I wasn’t the most popular kid growing up, but I had quite a few people around me I could turn to and came from a close-knit family. My Dad was one of seven and there was always somebody at my grandparents’ house, and not just members of the family. The front door was never locked and that was symbolic of a general welcoming of the flotsam and jetsam which came and went.

These community connections still exist, and it’s often only in times of crisis that they come out of the woodwork. I guess I wanted people like the mother in my story to know that they’re not alone. At least, I hope not. I don’t want the village to become a myth.

I also wanted to share a song which has stayed with me all week. Mum was watching Britain’s Got Talent when she came across Irish priest, Father Ray Kelly, singing REM’s hit:  Everybody Hurts It’s incredible and he concludes with a heart wrenching cry “You’re not alone”.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

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