Sunday, 27 February 2011

Positive Parenting

Late last year, a friend was lamenting the request of her 15 year old daughter to get a Brazilian. Naturally her response was absolutely not and do have any idea how much that costs?

I’m not sure that would have been my response as I like to enthusiastically embrace all my kids’ pursuits. Like when my son wanted to smoke. He and his friend were spotted by a relative trying to get cigarettes out of the machine while we lunched at the local pub.

“Do you want to smoke?” I asked – actually, encouraged.
“Sure,” he responded, innocently.
My sister-in-law provided said cigarette and we all headed out to the deck (at home – not the pub – this kind of parenting definitely doesn’t require an audience will mobile access to child protection!)
“Okay, so if you want to smoke, you need to do it properly. Let’s practice some really deep breathes, right to the bottom of your lungs. That’s it! Good boy. Now if you’re going to smoke, you need to smoke the whole cigarette. Okay? Promise?”
This was too easy….

So I lit up, passed it over and he inhaled deeply. Tears streamed from his eyes and he was coughing furiously.
“That’s great! Keep going!” I cheer led him through the entire ordeal. And yes, pretty much managed to put him off smoking for the rest of his life. So much so, his friend’s mother asked me to repeat the exercise for him too.

Faced with a request for a Brazilian, I think I’d be making the appointment and then casually throw into conversation about having not been in ‘that position' since giving birth, ‘knees to your chest’ or ‘tweezers’….so many indignities, so many options!!!

Or failing that, driving straight to the supermarket to buy a home kit and saying sure, but you’ll need to do it yourself – that ought to fix it!!

Sunday, 20 February 2011


We inherited Gary from the people over the road when they moved overseas. His name was Puss then and it’s a wonder he’d come and join us given my partner used to throw water over him when he’d sit at our front door and yowl at 2am just to check we were awake.

I wanted to call him Graeme but I couldn’t sell that to the kids. Gary is Sponge Bob Square Pants’ pet snail who meows – so we settled on that.

I’m putting out there right now – Gary is a slut. There isn’t an open for inspection in the street where you can’t find him stretched out on the display furniture waiting for all the neighbours to ask pertinently “Who’s is that cat!?’ before they bang on about how much he hangs out at their place. I don’t own up.

But it came to a bit of a head late last year when we hadn’t seen him for weeks because he’d pretty much moved in with the elderly lady down the road. We don’t let him sleep inside and okay, with the chaos at our place it’s hardly conducive to a napping lap cat. However, he is our cat, so we asked if they could please stop feeding him and letting him sleep in their constantly 24 degrees-warm house.

A couple of weeks later, and still no sign of Gary, but one of the elderly lady's sons knocks on the door. The cat has a sore foot and needs to go to the vet. Tempted though I was to suggest they take it to the vet and have the bill as well, for once, I showed restraint.

I asked the vets advise. Tricky, he said. Either give them the cat or put up with it. Gary has character, we like him. He sits on the letterbox when he hears my car so he can ‘surf’ as I swing open the gate. He’s our cat god damn it!!

I had planned to post a photo of him – he’s big and orange – but naturally, I can’t find him.

So, thoughts? Here are some options as I see it:
 A. Let it go. He clearly hates you all.
       B. Put your foot down and claim him back. You’re paying the bills.
 C. Suck it up. Pay the bills – after all you do work!! Think of the joy he’s brings others.
 D. Fix the problem. Have him put down.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Interview

I had someone come in for an interview today. Well, more of a chat really as it wasn’t for a specific position. But I like to know what’s out there for when we are hiring. Our agency is on a roll so there’s no shortage of young hopefuls wanting to sign up. I’ve seen a few potential candidates recently so I am getting the lay of the land. Today, however, was a barren patch.

It started well, full of confidence and enthusiasm, but headed south after the small talk when we got down to business. Seriously, it was akin to me turning up at Freehills asking to be a lawyer because I love C.S.I. – and therefore, with that degree of passion and commitment, surely you’d want to take me on. No?

I did try and probe, give opportunities for her to prove me wrong, but alas, the more she talked, the worse it got. I had glanced at her CV but asked what packed goods experience she had. She named a big client – in fact, one I’d been looking after for the past 4 years. I’d never seen her before today. Clearly not a prominent role.

Okay, try again. Ever had to resolve a tricky client issue?
‘You mean like a deadline that they refuse to shift and you have to stay til midnight to get it done?’
‘Ah…no. No, not that kind of ‘tricky’ issue.’

She remained bold enough to say that if we were prepared to take her on and 'hold her hand for a few months', she could be really good (frankly, we need recruits to hit the deck running – nay, sprinting!)

Okay, I do hope it wasn’t just my MBA coming to the fore,  (I was feeling a little officious by that point), but I decided the best thing was to tell her like it is. I did pre-empt it by saying she’d probably never see me again (that sounds really bad now I type it!!!) but I hoped it was helpful. She should try some other ways in to a big agency, perhaps starting somewhere smaller or in related discipline like events or promotions – just to get some experience in some basics. I even committed to put her touch with a colleague who might be able to give her some more direction (in case I hadn’t given her enough!)

I’m not sure my sage advice was appreciated. It certainly knocked the wind from her sails – which wasn’t my intention - more of a reality-check.  But maybe next time it’d be easier for everyone if I just shut the fuck up because I’m sure I ruined her day and I’ve clearly been feeling pangs of guilt.

I’m ditching the polls – so you’re going to have to write ‘comments’ on what you think I should have done….

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Last first day at school!

How different with the fourth! For the oldest, we’d had practise runs in the park with a lunch box to make sure he could manage the Gladwrap, having come straight from a crèche which provided hot lunch. (Those were the halcyon days for the mother who works!) The build up was huge with everyone asking if he was looking forward to school and counting down the sleeps. No wonder he was a nervous wreck when the day arrived. Never the less, emotions barely under control, he braved the day and survived.

This was in marked contrast to last week with the last one, who really, could not care less. It fact, had she thought of it, I’m sure she would have given me the W.E. M. (What Ever Mother) fingers. As she pushed past the kid crying in the doorway to her classroom, I didn’t even get a cursory glance. ‘Baby!’ I called, ‘How about a kiss goodbye?’ I got the ‘if I must’ look and quick peck before she was off.

Also in contrast to the one who’s just started high school in her Shabby Chic uniform, I did manage to fly into Target and grab her one new school dress. There was only one size 4 left, after that it was size 16 – typical! But for $12 on special, I thought for day one of the next 13 years, I could probably stretch to that.

It did get me thinking though, how much anxiety kids take on from us. As I recognised the angst –ridden look on the faces of so many parents at the first day drop off, and how that was me a mere 12 years ago, no wonder our poor son was nervous. I don’t know about you, but I think I was so caught up in my own worries about how he'd get on that I was completely unaware of the connection.

What do you think? Should we consciously be trying to manage our stress in front of kids, or is that just the way life is?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Now there’s a topic that surely grabs your attention! It certainly grabbed a friend's and mine when we paid $2,000 at a charity auction for the privilege of lunching with a collection of said firemen at a fire station. (FYI – we figured our friends would be happy to pay $200 a head x 10 = $2,000. Lucky we were right!)

Seizing the moment, we arranged the lunch not long after the charity dinner. On the night, I’d already collected 10 names and an interchange bench should any at the top of the list be unable to make the decreed date.

Excitement was rapidly building. Emails from the organisers arrived – no high heels, no skirts, no dresses, perhaps bring a change of clothes and a towel - what??? Excitement was rapidly waning….

So the day arrives, the limo picks us up and we start drinking bubbles - fast. Naturally there’s no drinking at a fire station. We meet the firemen, who are extremely lovely, and one’s wife has prepared us a delicious lunch.  We tour the fire station, climb in trucks, get a demo of the jaws-of-life and squirt hoses. So far, so good....

They then ask us to suit-up to tackle the foam challenge. Any flirtation or glamour from the day suddenly evaporates as we're transformed into huge orange M&Ms, blindly wondering through claustrophobic foam.
MWW, staggering out after 10 minutes
looking for the exit!

Anonymity maintained ladies!!!

Anyway, it was a really fun day, all in the name of a good cause and extremely generous of the guys, so we weren’t complaining!!!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Kids and the Net

Like all parents, I have a vague concern about the kids on the net and what they might stumble upon.

When our eldest was about 10, he was desperate to have a Hotmail account. I only had a work email so wasn’t particularly au fait with it, so after weeks of pester-power and obviously me banging on about it, a friend at work kindly set one up for him (thanks Aysha!).

I got home and announced he had an account, again, all credit to Aysha – I didn’t even pretend it might have been me. He rushed to his room and logged on.
“Mum?’ he called out, somewhat tentatively. ‘What’s this?’
I sauntered down to his room, thinking it was a small admin problem but on sighting the screen, I picked up my pace to a sprint to close the site. ‘Oh my god, look away!’ I yelled.

It wasn’t too hardcore, but like his sister, his spelling is a tad patchy and typing Hotmale into Google does have predictable results!!

I saw a frightening doco on Foxtel a couple of weeks ago about high school kids and how much porn they’re exposed to on the net. I’m fairly neutral about porn, not my thing but overall for adults, pretty harmless and their choice. But the reporter Googled and within three clicks, and no credit card details required, had explicit child porn thrown up on her screen. The entire film crew was apparently disturbed. I was disturbed just by the one sentence description that’s been haunting me ever since – so I’m certainly not going to repeat it here. But what a wake up call!!

How do you keep them protected from such disturbing imagery? Yes, there are filters, but they’re not on phones. Kids have such ubiquitous access to the net, I’m not sure what the answer is.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Shabby Chic.....

Can the term apply to a school uniform for a fancy private school? I have no idea but my daughter (or is that 'dorta'?) is about to find out.

Although number 3, she’s the first in the family to attend private school. The older two’s disability precluded that option. Not because we decided that, but government regulation restricts assistance to kids with special needs if you move them into the private system. I’d call it discrimination, but there you go, and this isn’t really the forum for my campaign for reform.

So I get the uniform list and once I've stopped opened and shutting my mouth like a goldfish as I scan the prices, I decide second hand it is. When I was at school (another fancy-pants establishment) the older the dress the better. But have things changed?

Like all mothers, I’m desperate for my kids to fit in, but when a blazer is over $200 and a hat over $60, the whole package is looking like I won’t see any change from a grand at least, I’m thinking we can at least explore the second hand option.

We get to the uniform shop and a mother I don’t know sidles up to me and mutters, ‘Can I have a word with you please?’ I look blank. ‘In private,’ she nods her head towards the door. I meekly follow her out wondering if she’s been caught short and is in need of a tampon….but no, she has two, ‘virtually brand new’ blazers in her car she’s willing to sell me. Slightly awkward. I say if it’s the right size, sure, I’d be interested. It turns out they’re 3 sizes too big.

I later discover that the second hand uniform shop is run solely on ‘donations’ with no cash going the way of the previous owner – and all becomes apparent!

Is anyone else doing the second hand thing? Am I alone? Am I mean???

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...