Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Unreal TV

I don’t know about you, but I find a guilty pleasure in watching television shows like “Hoarders”. I mean, I get that there are serious psychological conditions that lends itself to collecting or hanging onto stuff. Lord knows I have trouble letting things go myself sometimes.  But it is in the watching of these almost hopeless homes that makes me feel somewhat better about my own housekeeping skills.

There is nothing like looking at a load of stuff stashed in someone else’s place that makes one feel that the piles parked around one’s own abode maybe aren’t so bad after all. Now I know my Beloved would have something to say about said piles, but since I don’t see him dashing about with a broom or duster, or dare I say it, even aware of where these items are kept, I don’t know that he’s in the best position to judge.

Anyhow, unlike certain other reality TV shows that make you feel pathetic by comparison (‘The Biggest Loser’ anyone?) Hoarders and the like have the ability to make one take a good hard look at your own surroundings, and see that they’re not too bad after all, as long as you have a clear path between you and the closest exit in the event of an emergency (and even then my Beloved would say we push the limit at times).

I always find myself inspired to get up and have a crack at that towering pile of something too, after I watch an episode or two. The kids hate it. Because the pile I am pursuing usually involves them.

Take the last lot of school holidays for instance, I declared that our New Year’s Resolution was to go through clothes, shoes, toys, books, whatever other clutter was clustered in the cupboards, and have a good old fashion Spring, I mean Summer, clean. Better late than never, right?

So I assigned both boychild and girlchild the task of starting in their bedroom closet, while I had a go elsewhere in the house. The instructions were quite specific- empty drawers, shelves, and hanging space, one at a time, and sort accordingly: keep or throw. Sounded simple enough in theory.  In practice you would’ve thought I asked them to climb Mount Everest! I swear, the preparation time was about equal, along with the potential failure.

So I sat, one bed at a time, and helped my precious progeny start sorting, with a new set of instructions to make it easier: Does it fit? Yes/No. If No, chuck it. If Yes, will you wear it? If No, chuck it.  Simple. (And here I really did start to swear, albeit under my breath so as not to set a bad example for the children.)

After about 6 years of sorting clothes (well it felt like it) we moved onto the shoes, then opened the toybox. Pandora’s Box more like it. Why is it that toys can lurk a long time under the lid, unplayed with, unthought of, unmissed. But as soon as it comes time to consider culling, it’s suddenly the Toy Of The Year and can’t possibly be gotten rid of?!

Anyway, it was during this time I realized that while my kids’ cupboards were looking good, we had somehow misplaced the bed. And you can forget the floor!  So at least on one occasion I had an extra body in my bed until theirs was uncovered again (luckily, or not, depends on how much sleep I needed) my Beloved often works at night a lot so there is a spot beside me.

On it went. At least the holidays were a full six weeks so we had time to make a dent in things. I have to confess though that even now there are little piles still awaiting donation or delivery elsewhere.  Yet while I was ultimately proud of my kids’ achievements in making their own rooms tidy, somehow, some of the stuff made its way into the Master Bedroom, so now MY room needs at least 6 solid weeks of sorting to make it habitable again.  But since we haven’t signed on to any episode of “Hoarders”, it can stay quietly hidden behind closed doors, as so much does in the lives of parents.

In the meantime I can settle in and see how someone else copes with the load, sitting smugly in my less-than-spotless place, and use it as a teachable moment for my children that this is where we’re headed without a few more hands on deck. Or until the next school holidays.

If all else fails, I’ll record a few episodes of “Wife Swap” or “World’s Strictest Parents”. 

That oughta do it.


© 17 February 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pins and Needles

Random fact: around 25% of women will suffer hirsutism at some stage of their life.

Geography, genetics, medications or certain medical conditions will up the ante.

I’m not sure what the percentage is for ladies who get told about it in a not-so-tactful way.

After almost 3 years of pain and nerve damage in my right leg and foot (from another apparently ‘random’ surgical mishap) I am still searching for a solution. I know I’ll never get permanent relief- the doctors have already given me that terrific news- best I can hope for is short-term benefits. I have tried physiotherapy, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, and any number of alternative therapies in a bid to ease my pain and improve my movement. Some more successful than others.

A while ago I once again found myself flat out and face down on a treatment bench. My torturer, I mean therapist, today had already stretched and massaged my injured side within an inch of its life, and now decided to finish off with some ‘dry needling’. The very term also made my mouth go dry with apprehension of what agony may lay ahead.  Or should I say behind.

I’ll get to that, because here I should mention that I had to take my girlchild with me, being a pupil-free day at school, and no husband at home to have her (I had managed to offload my boychild on a playdate. Just as well as it turns out). She’d sat nice and quietly through the initial assessment and treatment thus far (as quietly as a 9 year old can anyhow) but when my physiotherapist brought out the needles she was all eyes, and all questions.

“Are you really going to stick those in mama?”

“How far do you have to stick them in?”

“Are you going to use all of them?”

“Does it hurt?”

“Will you make mama bleed?”

And so on.

So there I am laying there, half-bare-buttocked, twitching in direct relation to the depth of the needles (they were huge!), eyes closed, trying to remember to breathe, all the while pushing my face through the cut out in the bench with a lovely little sheen of perspiration breaking out; and what do I see when I open my eyes again?

My darling daughter’s face, about 2 inches away from mine, peering at me in concern:

“Are you ok mama? ‘cause you look like you’re really hurting!”

“I am hurting darling, but I’m ok,” I lie through my teeth and through that wicked little face-hole.

And yet Little Miss Chatterbox chatted on:

“Random question mama, but is it ever possible for ladies to grow a little moustache?”

How is that random?!  Her face is mere centimetres from mine, I can feel the beads of sweat on my upper lip, and yes I admit it, I am approaching that age where the females in our family start to sprout a few unwelcome hairs here & there (conversely, while the male members lose ‘em!)

So now am I not only in pain, feeling embarrassingly exposed, with enormous needles in my butt and back…I now am only too aware of hair somewhere!!

To both their credit, there was much denial - and no laughter- from either therapist or my daughter. And I have to say, as a distraction tool it worked wonders. Wasn’t thinking about the pain at all was I?!

Until the needles started coming out again, and my little girl gave a narrative about the various drops of blood appearing.  And how red and sore my butt looked.

Quick, let’s think about hair removal techniques again instead.

Oh and next time I’m going to make sure my appointment is on a school day!



© 2013-2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Boys, Bubbles, and Butt-Cracks

If you can believe my Beloved, everything you ever needed to know about boys and friendship can be described in three simple terms: Snow globes, bubbles, and butt cracks. 

I guess I should explain.

Our boychild is on the cusp of, well something. Not entirely sure what yet, but he’s at the tail end of his primary school education and about to move into the high school years.  At the same time, as you’d imagine, he and all his mates are approaching puberty- that wonderful, wonderful time in a parent’s life.

Naturally, there are a lot of changes taking place. But it’s the out-of-body experiences that are causing the most concern.

As we all know, those who sat through sex education classes at school, or even more embarrassingly, “The Talk” our parents gave, boys and girls mature at different rates. In different ways.  At this stage of the game, boys seem to lag behind- physically and emotionally. Here’s the crux of the matter. Not even the boys in my boy’s group are moving at the same pace. Some just aren’t keeping up on the social side.

I won’t go into the gory details but this means a few, well, let’s just call them ‘moments’. And more than one conversation about how to deal with it all.

Since my Beloved has the same hardware as our manchild (if you know what I mean), I have been trying to encourage him to do the father-son thing, and talk to him not only about the physical stuff ahead, but also how to deal with mates. I suspect there is some Post Traumatic Stress about his own memories from a similar age (can’t say I blame him as my own experience wasn’t a walk in the park) so he’s been a little reluctant in approaching this task.  So imagine my utter amazement, not to mention amusement as I overheard their little chat the other night.

After a day at school with a number of ‘moments’, our son was feeling a bit low. I was in the process of settling the girlchild into bed when I wandered past my boy’s bedroom door to overhear the lad and his dad saying something about bubbles, and butt cracks.  “What the?” I muttered, only to be told to move along, it didn’t concern me.

On my return journey the topic seemed to have shifted to snow globes. Again the mystery was not to be revealed as I was again shooed away.

It wasn’t until my son came in the next morning for a chat of our own that he filled in the blanks.

Here’s how it goes.

At the start of every school year all the students are put into different classes, some end up with their friends, and some don’t. Our school’s Principal in particular likes to shake things up. As my Beloved explained, the kids are floating around like the flakes in a snow globe. Some settle pretty quickly, others take a bit more time, but there’s usually one that takes a lot longer to come down. Like our boy’s buddy, he’s taking a while to find his place this year. 

Not a bad analogy I thought. 

Now for the bubbles.  Our son has been with one group of guys since Kindergarten, they are great mates, get along really well for the most part and have stuck together. Like a little bubble. Over the years a few new friends have joined up with our lad, due to extra kids coming to the school, classroom placement, similar interests, whatever. There’s your second bubble.  OK so the two groups occasionally come together, but like two bubbles, never really join up - there’s a line down the middle. According to my Beloved, that’s our lad. A common denominator if you like. (There are actually a couple of the kids who would also make up that line, but for simplicity, and since he was only talking to our son at the time, he was in the middle.)  In imagining how the two bubbles look stuck together but not completely joined, and being typical males, they came up with the image of a butt, and the centre line was- you got it (do I really have to spell it out?)...

After the laughter, our son seemed to get it.

You see, in my Beloved’s opinion, as long as the kids realize that they can all still be friends, even if not totally stuck together all the time, things should settle down eventually, once that last flake finishes floating.

So there you have it. Everything you ever wanted to know about boys, bubbles, and butt cracks. And how to solve friendship problems in adolescent lads.

You can thank me later.

Once you get any unsavoury images out of your head.


© 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gifted and Talented

There are some people in life who are naturally talented. Gifted in ways others can only imagine.  Maybe they’re athletes who simply excel at any sport they try. Perhaps academics who just ‘get it’ the first time they attempt problem solving of any kind.  Occasionally there are those who seem skilled at carving out a career. Or musical geniuses.  Many, many examples. 

Then there’s the rest of us. The ones who discover we can in fact do certain things we never dreamed possible. Not necessarily with the same sort of success. And only if the circumstances are right. 

We’ve all heard stories of superhuman strength in times of high adrenalin- parents dragging kids out of crashed cars, people holding up heavy objects to prevent injury to others, and me, when I saw smoke coming out of our dryer...I was able to fling the thing out the back door (where it landed -ignominiously for it-upside down). Took two men a lot of grunting to put it back in place when they came to assess it (and surprisingly, it works once again, albeit with a few dents and scratches). 

To a lesser degree it’s how I found I could indeed dance Gangnam Style, after stepping on something sticky on the kitchen floor and being entirely unable to get it off simply by shaking the offending foot. So I stepped on it with the other foot trying to prise it loose without the need for me bending down, only to have it stick to the other side. Hence my horsey dance on alternating feet, to the absolute amusement of my offspring. Did either of those offer to assist? They who are much closer to the ground than their mother, and much more flexible? Not at all. 

It’s kinda like the Spider Dance- you know when you unwittingly walk through a web and start shaking all about trying to get any offending insect off. VoilĂ !  Instant Breakdancer Extraordinaire!  (Or have I just shown my age and should instead say “Twerker”?) And always with an audience when you least want one. 

Or to take the above example one step further, when Incy Wincy decides to drop in while you’re behind the wheel- you suddenly develop precision driving skills akin to any Formula One racer, trying to get off the road quickly and safely in your blind fear of the thing falling in your lap.  Pity the kids are too young to have a license and can’t take the wheel while you’re trying to find where Wincy went. 

Being summertime here, in a country that claims almost every conceivable venomous creature, there are Spider Dances and precision drivers everywhere you look at the moment.  Numerous social media statuses are stating close encounters of the creepy kind, and not all of them end well. Usually the creepy crawly comes off worse. A friend of mine even said the most romantic thing her husband did for her on Valentine’s Day was to hunt down a Huntsman in her car, and remove it. Everybody now: “Awwwww”. 

No one in my house is fond of the things. My Beloved does his best to rehome the non-nasties and ensure quick if not painless death to others. I’ve been awoken more than once by a tremulous voice from the toilet in the wee small hours calling out for bug spray (and you thought “Redback On The Toilet Seat” was just an old Aussie country & western song)!  But my girlchild takes the cake when it comes to arachnophobia.  Whilst perched alongside me on the bed the other evening, she all but climbed out the window when something fell from the ceiling, right onto Daddy’s pillow.  After careful inspection I realized it was a dead Daddy Long Legs (ironic?) and went to get some toilet paper to pick it up. In either her fear or enthusiasm to assist me (the Jury’s still out on that one) she flicks the thing off the pillowcase and sent it flying Lord knows where, so then I –the aforementioned inflexible mother in the story – had to bend down to the floor looking for it lest it is rediscovered during the night. We’ve all had those experiences and don’t need an encore just now thanks. 

But the helpful thing about this episode was that I rediscovered an ability to not only see my toes, but touch them too; a skill I had thought long-gone.   

So there’s something to be said about finding some inadvertent abilities, and while I may never attain the heights reached by some of those outlined at the start, it’s good to know there are untapped talents still hidden within. As long as the dodgy ones don’t show up with an audience around. 

© February 2014
The offending (and offended) machine