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Classic Literature is Not to be Trusted with your Children

The other day (and in the words of the amazing Ed Byrne “when I say the other day that really means between now and…. ever”) I was having a conversation with my 20 year old son who is currently reading The Divine Comedy by Dante, more specifically, he is reading Dante’s Inferno. And let me tell you, that is some pretty messed up stuff. Human Centipede, Teeth, Saw? Nope, the people that imagined those sick and twisted plots lack the nauseating and warped imagery that Dante sprang forth from his dark and perverse imaginarium. Seriously, there is essentially what is a rape tornado in this book. Did you get that?   A tornado full of raping. Yeah, that happened.

What’s worse is the dentist’s office style waiting that is one circle of hell.

Me: “Your soul is important to us. Your afterlife may be recorded for training purposes.”

Me:“Thank you for waiting. Your deity of choice will be with you as shortly as possible.”

Son: “It doesn’t say how he got to hell.”
Me:“Probably took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.”

Son: “Yeah … can you go to hell for us…….(shrugs) Seems legit.”

Son: “Much fire. Very pain. Such ice. Wow.”

Son: “He got lost… and went to hell!”
Me: “Yeah, that happens. I went to Gosford once too.

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Interns and Insults

Mayne, long suffering husband, good natured tormentor of children and aficionado of ‘dad jokes’ had been off work sick for the a week with bronchitis.

Ash, 14 years old at the time,  future world traveler and girl of many scarves,  had been off school as it is school holidays.

Me, I was in the sucky position where I have to behave like a grown up because people will die of scurvy or neglect if I don’t.  

I came home from work and after stopping at the shops and headed straight into the kitchen to dump the groceries before going out to kiss all my people having between away from them all day.  Ash, however,  beat me to it and came into the kitchen to meet me.

Dressed in Mayne’s remarkably oversized tracky pants (tracksuit pants for those of you who don’t speak fluent Aussie slang)  and a t-shirt she stole off him when we first started dating (Mayne and I, not Ash and I – what the hell is wrong with you!?) she looked innocently up at me and said “Is there anything I can do to help you with dinner? ”

Firstly I’m a little taken aback, this is not the child who offers to do housework. The other two,  yes. This one… not so much. But I recover in fine style and don’t let on how shocked I am.

“That’d be awesome, thanks.  We’re having pasta…

…nice outfit.”

<pleased that I’ve mentioned it, she grins like an idiot> “Thanks! I’m interning as Dad since he’s been sick and can’t do dad stuff”

<laughs with delight>  “You’re amazing. How are those pants even staying up?”

<confused look> “I’m Dad.  D’uh!”

How foolish of me. I should have realised that I was living in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Trackies. She proceeds to spend the rest of the evening being chivalrous, helpful and making really bad puns to continue her internship.

The next morning Mayne, Ash and I were leaving the house to go to the post office to put in Ash’s tax file number application. I called back up the stairs to Bek “Love you, Honey.  We’ll be back soon,  make sure you’ve got your guitar ready to go for your lesson when we get back”

Ash (not dressed in her father’s clothes that morning) leans in past me and calls one of Mayne’s standard lines to the kids up the stairs “Also, you smell!”

“Still interning as Dad?”

“Yep”

“You’re really getting the hang of being Dad. It’s an absolutely flawless likeness. I’ll have to get you to intern as me next so you can take my place if I get sick.”

“Naaah. I don’t think so.  Being Mum looks like too much hard work.”

I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing so hard and looked at Mayne. “She called you lazy. Did you hear that?”

Much laughter and discussion on the pros and cons of being each of us ensued. Apparently M&M’s are a big pro to being Dad. Exercise is a con to being Mum.

I love my kids so much. They’re hilarious little weirdos.

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Just because it isn’t real, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

My daughter is writing a paper at the moment about Freedom and she was discussing with the family how she was going to compare the ‘Kony 2012’ movement with the women’s rights movement. And during this discussion on how ideas start and spread I pulled out one of my favourite Gloria Steinem quotes:

gloria_steinem_quote

And then I gave her a wonderful one by Jane Goodall:

Jane_Goodall_Inspirational_Quote_EnvironmentAnd finally I pulled out a deep and awesome quote that teaches us that small, every day acts make a difference, but I didn’t tell her who said it until afterwards.

gandalfAfter hearing this she nodded and said “Yeah, I like that. It’s really good.”

I asked “Do you know who said that?”

“No” she replied, looking enquiringly.

“Gandalf.”

She tilted her head and looked at me as if I had been no help whatsoever and I was just being silly.

Now I take exception to this notion she seemed to convey that imaginary people can’t be deep and inspirational. Or right. Because he is right. Just because he isn’t real doesn’t make the point any less valid. I reminded her that a very real man had that thought and wrote it down, in the same way that a Jane Goodall or Gloria Steinham did. Tolkien just did it under the guise of fiction. Fiction I might add that has graced the bookshelves and movie screens of generations for over 60 years and sold over 150 million copies in print and grossed $871,530,324 worldwide at the box office. * Fiction that makes wise thoughts and lessons about the human condition accessible to the masses.

Paraphrasing Chesterton, Neil Gaiman said “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

The Brown Coats showed us that it is important to stand together and fight; and even if you don’t win the battle – you don’t have to give in and live life like those who oppress you have won the war.

Malcolm shows us that there is strength in protecting those who are important to you. Compassion doesn’t mean weakness or softness of character.

Zoe shows us that women can stand alongside men as equals, without apology for who they are or explanation for their belief that they have every right to do so.

Inara teaches us that there is beauty and power in owning your choices, values and sexuality.

Kaylee reminds us that there is beauty in the world around us no matter where or when we are and that attitude does not have to be dictated by circumstance.

Wash is particularly important in showing our young girls that men can love and respect a strong woman and find her attractive without trying to control or dominate her. **

Simon is a constant reminder that family is of the utmost importance and that we should travel to the ends of the ‘Verse to make sure that family, in all its forms, know that we love them and will protect them from harm.

River is instrumental in showing us that no matter how broken we are, we can kill people with our minds we can still make connections the best way we know how, be a valued member of a community of people. And through the broken pieces of our lives and minds, stand up and kick arse when pushed too far.

And Jane. Jane reminds us that no matter what happens, assholes can be tolerated and useful in life as long as you remember to be cautious about their motivations and loyalties.

So read your children fairy tales. Immerse your teenagers in dragons and wizards and space cowboys. The most important lessons are waiting for them dressed in robes or carrying rings or flying a spaceship.


*According to Wikipedia. Please don’t tell my Uni lecturers that I quoted a Wiki as a credible source. I’m not sure if they can issue a failing grade for this blog post, but I don’t want to risk it.

**Also, Joss, you know that I love you, your work and your feminism to pieces but I’m waiting for my written apology for killing Wash. I still haven’t come to terms with his death and I’m not sure I ever will. Go stand in a corner and think about what you have done.


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Weird Feet

Individual.  Funny. Empathic.

All the things I value highly in a child and my daughter has them all.  I can remember (and it doesn’t feel like very long ago, but in reality it is about 5 years ago) her getting so upset and having me whisper retorts for her to use in the ‘pun wars’ the older kids would have with my husband because she wanted to join in but wasn’t old enough to come up with the jokes.

Its hard to believe now.  She has become the most amazingly funny and quirky individual who has had us in stitches all weekend.

Our fabulous (and quite young compared to us at only 24) friend came to visit last weekend and Ash spent quite a lot of time with her splashing in the ocean on rainy days and failing miserably at navigation and trying on her clothes.  Well, scarves really.  All of them. And mine. All of them. At the same time.

11130150_10152814878591724_230618895433282949_n

Me (laughing and leaning in to kiss her): “I love you”

Ash: “I love you too”

Me: “You’re so weird”

Ash:  (looks down, looks back up, looks down forlorn) “Its my feet, isn’t it?”

Whole room erupts in laughter.  It couldn’t be the 12 scarves she was wearing at once making her look like a snowman dressed by small children, must definitely be the perfectly normal feet…

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Puppies are Better than Brothers. Here is Flawless Logic to Prove It.

We’ve had a house full of teenagers this weekend and the conversation turned to siblings and one 13 year old looked less than impressed at the idea of having a much younger sibling.  The conversation that follows had me rolling on the floor at the honest love expressed

Me: “Let me ask you this – if your little brother was hit by a bus, would you be sad?”

Visiting child “…….yes.”

Me: “Hmmm……If your puppy was hit by a bus, would you be sad?”

VC: “yes.”

Me: “You hesitated before you answered the first time…”

VC: “Well, my puppy is *adorable*”.

When I say honest love, I meant love for her new puppy, not for a slightly irritating toddler.

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Setting a Land Speed Record for Decorating for a Birthday Party

I’m still having trouble getting my head around the fact that my daughter has turned 17 in the last couple of weeks. My sweet little baby with the blonde ringlets is gone and in her place stands a fiercely independent young woman who is smart and funny and confident and beautiful and everything I wish I was at her age.

She is also a disorganised swine.

So when she gave me 4 days notice that she was changing the date of her birthday party and I didn’t have any time to prepare for it because I had to work and do other boring grown up things I was a bit disappointed because I had huge decorating plans that I thought I had a couple of weekends to bring together.

It turns out that when you only have 2 hours some cardboard and scissors in order to bring a party together that you can do okay as long as you’re going for the ‘sleepover fun’ style rather than ‘holy crap this is amazing’ style.

Bek wanted a 1920’s style poker party where they gambled on monopoly and go fish. I had grand plans for it, but with no time to shop, make and decorate we toned it down to a playing card themed decorating style with a quick tip of the hat to the 1920’s. I’d already begun a Pinterest board to gather decorating ideas so I quickly had a squiz and then made my templates. I completely love the way the doors turned out.

Super happy with how quick and easy and awesome these are.
The kitten thinks he is going to get credit for how super quick and easy and awesome these are. But I’m not that nice. No credit for you.

They particularly fabulous Morgaine Ford-Workman of Madcap Frenzy supplied the printables I used to decorate the front door:

ClosedProhibitionSign

1920sSlangand I also used her brilliant list of 1920’s slang.  I printed out enough copies for all of them so that they could use them while playing poker.

Bek was amazing with her contribution to the affair. She realised the day before that she didn’t have enough monopoly money for everyone to be able to play so she went online to get pictures of monopoly money and she photoshopped her friend’s faces into the middle and printed out stacks of the stuff.

beks_monopoly_money

I’d say it was a successful sleepover party in the end, they played games, ate pizza around the fire out the back and then roasted marshmallows and cooked damper on a stick (if you’ve never done this, you should embrace your inner Girl Guide and give it a red hot Aussie try). Sang Avenue Q songs around the fire (editing out the bits the little girls next door shouldn’t hear) and laughed. So much laughter. Such a beautiful noise for a proud Mumma to hear.

I can’t tell you how much I love that at 16 my daughter and her friends are not trying to grow up too fast, wanting loud parties without parents present and that I can trust a group of them of mixed sexes to all sleep in the lounge together. I know I was not this awesome or trustworthy at her age and I all can say is “I’m sorry, Mum. It turns out that being a decent teenager skips a generation…”

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There is a Shrine to Me – I might be a Deity of Some Kind. Also, it is Ryan Reynold’s Fault I Can’t be Trusted with Your Souls.

Oh my god, you guys!! My daughter came home from school with the BEST story to tell me today.

“So my friends Dad is a teacher at our school and he was wandering around the staff rooms and he found something that was so awesome he had to tell me about it straight away. He came running up and he was all ‘OMG LISTEN’ and he told me about this cork board in the PE teachers area, it has a bunch of stupid excuse notes and it has Every. Single. One. That I handed into the sport teachers. The mutant squid cyborgs and the time dinosaurs ate my sport uniform, everything PLUS a two page letter from my teacher to the head teacher about how I shouldn’t be able to get away with this and how I should make up for the lessons missed.”’

The thing is, I think that physical health is important. But I don’t think that it is important to make children spend hours running around the perimeter of the school in the mud and rain in winter. That’s just stupid. Especially when yoga, indoor cricket, hot chocolate and common sense exist. So I write notes letting my children get out of cross country running when the weather is wet and slushy. And out of competitive sports that they don’t give a damn about. Which is most of them. Except Mario Kart. Mario Kart is a sport, right? Poorly spelled notes like this:

PE Note

Rebekah is excused from PE today due to a particularly vicious & fashion impaired heard of wild dinosaurs attacking the house & stealing her PE uniform, her running shoes & a pot plant. This has caused her untold amounts of stress and physical imparement.   She now, quite curiously, has been able to smell nothing but sauerkraut since the incident. As such, no PE for her on Wed 27/2.

And this:

PE Note #2

All hail the dark overlords.

Rebekah, in accordance with the wishes of our Evil Cyborg Squid Zombie masters is unable and unwilling to participate in Cross Country Running today so as not to anger the ECSZ overlords.
Only indoor sports may be done.
And eating braaaaaiiiins……
Brains mmmmmmm…..
Braaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiins……..

Now I was quite proud of these notes and had written many like them in the past for genuine absenteeism and sport related apathy when the children were at other schools, and it had amused the teachers and excused the children. Not so much with this school. The 2 page letter writing whimsy police sports teacher prompted the head of the department to call me to tell me that I was weird. Not at all offensive. And by not at all, I mean TOTALLY. He went on to tell me that PE was the most important lesson that they have. To which I politely disagreed that running around in a circle would further my daughter’s chances of getting into NIDA as she plans to do, especially as she was making straight A’s in her other classes and I also politely (read firmly but respectfully) informed him that I was her mother and I was comfortable with my decision to excuse her from running around in the rain. To which he quite abruptly informed me that as her mother I had no right to have a say in her education. Cue me hanging up after informing him of the importance of my role in her life and education. And cue a less dinosaur studded letter to the principle to complain about his rudeness.

The next note was every bit as weird.

This was back in 2013. And I haven’t had cause to write too many zombie notes in the past year. On the odd occasion I have filled in medical consent forms and added chocolate as a recommended medication/incentive for laziness or wondered in writing if not being able to find things when looking for them was a medical condition. But all in all, Jurassic housebreakers and undead overlords have been kept to a minimum. (Also, my spell check doesn’t think undead is a word. It is. It knows this now.) And these notes are still on display in the teacher’s lounge nearly a year and a half after I wrote them.

So the take home message from all of this is:

  1. Teachers need something to break the boredom, besides putting vodka in the water cooler. Because I’d become a teacher if they had vodka coolers. I’d be the most drunk fun teacher there if there was a vodka cooler. Also, I’d invite the students I didn’t like into the staff room and give them a drink of ‘water’ from the cooler and then BAM!! I’d have them expelled for drinking on campus.
  2. It was worth it. Mwahahahahaha
  3. There is a shrine to me. This is undeniable proof that I may be a deity of some kind. But not the kind of deity that anyone should trust their soul to willingly. I can’t be trusted with souls. I’d probably lose them in a game of strip poker with a heavily muscled and slightly oiled Demi God. Like Helios, Kevin Sorbo or Chris Hemsworth. Or Ryan Reynolds. And yes, I know Ryan isn’t a real Demi God like Helios, Kevin or Chris, but c’mon – its Ryan Reynolds guys. I’d totally gamble your souls to try and see him up close and personal without his shirt.
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Hitler was right………. Don’t be a superficial asshole. (Please keep reading).

So I while I was looking for work and getting more than a little frustrated that people don’t seem to be looking past my job title to see that I have solid admin skills that would transfer over to a PA or office management role. I was expressing this frustration in a definitely not ranty type of manner to my boy and his response made everything okay.

“Its kind of like your resume is Romeo and Juliet and the title is ‘Hitler was right’. And people just look at the title and go ‘ooooo no’ and throw it in the bin.”

So the lesson here, people, is never try anything new never judge a smurf by its outfit…. or never judge a book by its cover….. or something like that. Actually, the lesson we should all learn here is don’t be a superficial asshole – people can surprise you if you take the time to let them.

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China Tastes Funny

One of the most wonderful things about my husband is what a total and completely adorable nerd he is.  Suffice to say that when I met him, he was working in IT and living with his parents. (I choose not to mention that he had moved back in when them to support his father through his battle with cancer, because it makes it funnier to imagine him sitting in his parent’s darkened basement , bathed in the pale green glow of several computer screens and surrounded by unopened, mint condition Star Wars collectables. AND THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE A BASEMENT.  Weird, huh?)  When my in-laws gave our daughter a clicky clacky bally thing with the strings* he was incredibly jealous and excited.

“No, you don’t understand.  This is what physics looks like.  It’s actually quite impressive.”

So, in my completely supportive way, I looked at him as if he were not only completely insane,  but had to get out of the house soooo much more often.

This goes a long way to getting you to understand just how underwhelmed I was (by his standards) when he brought home a world globe for our girls.  Now don’t get me wrong, it is kinda cool, it has a light inside and bumpy mountains on it.  But it would be completely out of the ordinary for me to let him know that I thought it was cool, and it would have also ruled out any shenanigans. See – priorities, people.

The girls were in bed, so my son and I pretended to be were incredibly interested in being shown the wonders of the globe.  We first started with the basics, sitting there turning the light switch on and off saying “Daytime, night-time, daytime, night-time, daytime…” ad nauseam.  Which in itself was fun, but the most joy was to be found in seeing the look on my husband’s face as we did this.  Suffice to say, he had a look of unimpressed incredulity.

On the up side, the incredulousness and unimpressedishness (they are totally words, take my word for it, don’t look them up) were quickly replaced as his son leaned in to the globe, licked it and stated:

“China tastes funny.”

On the down side it was replaced by a fleeting look of horror and defeat.  I say it was fleeting, but we really only saw a fleeting glance at it before we hit the floor laughing.

And this is the thanks that I get for trying to show my interest in his toys.  You’re Welcome!

*My husband informs me that this is called a Newton’s Cradle and is actually an extremely exciting and highly sought after gift for a child.  I promptly informed him that children prefer candy and flamethrowers, but he stands by his original statement despite evidence to the contrary.  I would be much more impressed if they had given her one of these kind.

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A Deep Hole and a Sandwich Could Fix So Many of the Word’s Ills.

Derp

 

Conversation with my son upon seeing this photo:

Me: “Wanna see something that will make you weep for humanity?”

S: “Yeah, okay…”

*sees photo and holds sharp pencil to his chest*

S: “Do you have a hammer?”

Me: “Yeah, staking yourself through the heart is preferable to living in a society that has made that necessary, isn’t it?  I really don’t want to be in a gene pool that has had people needing pictograms to manage their shopping splashing around in it.”

S: “I don’t really need to take me out of it, do I?  I could just take them out of it.  Have you got a flame thrower?”

Me:  “You wouldn’t need to go to that much effort.  You could manage it with a deep hole and a sandwich.”