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Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Mother's Day to Remember

You would assume that with five loving teenage and young adult children, Mother’s Day for me would be a day beginning with a magnificent breakfast in bed, a multitude of thoughtful and expensive presents, lots of funny stories told and family jokes rehashed over a well- presented, delicious lunch…

No. That has never happened.

On the eve of the big day one of them will usually indifferently ask me what I would like for Mother’s Day. This query is normally solicited at about six o’clock when it’s too late to hightail it up to Myers anyway.

“Nothing, nothing at all,” I will reply through gritted teeth. “I just ask that you be pleasant to me for the day.”

The next morning is employed with rushed and secretive phone calls as Thaddeus is enlisted to ferry various individuals to the shops.

One by one the ingrates will front up with a hastily Christmas paper wrapped parcel.

At least now that three of the kids are over eighteen I can usually count on some prescription medicine from Dr. Dan Murphy.

When they were little I would give them money to haggle with at the Mother’s Day stall at school.One year Lulu gave me a chipped statue of a cocker spaniel that I swear I had donated to the bric-a-brac store at the school fete the year before.

They were fiercely competitive about their selected presents back when they were young; mocking and belittling any presents bestowed on me by their siblings. 

One year, Padraic (about eight at the time) had decided to trump the others and sidestep the school stall. He had conned his father into taking him to every mother’s favourite exclusive boutique, Crazy Clarks.

Eagerly eyeballing me in anticipation, Padraic carefully watched for my reaction as I opened my gift.

“Padraic! I can’t believe you bought me a CD! Engelbert Humperdinck! Now stop fighting and don’t listen to Thaddeus, I love Engelbert Humperdinck! What would Thaddeus know? I really love it Padraic!”

“Really Mum?” Thaddeus chimed in scornfully. “Where did you get it Padraic, the two dollar bin?”

I prudently placed the CD on the table and went to the kitchen to make a coffee.

I heard World War Three break out in the lounge. In a condescending and provocative fashion, twelve year old Thaddeus had spitefully opened the cellophane from the CD in order to get a closer look at the artifact. 

With the exquisite gift now defiled by his brother’s filthy hands, Padraic detonated.

He picked up the CD, took off the case, snapped the disc in half, threw it on the floor and stomped off.

That set the tone for the remainder of the day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Anna Bligh kicked my Yasi"

Recent inclement weather in Queensland has rebooted the old memory banks of our experiences during Cyclone Yasi.

The school year had only just begun and with the Category Four system bearing down on North Queensland we were all asked to batten down our classrooms, tape up the windows and were compassionately sent home for the remainder of the week.

Jonah was still home from University and in his usual panic-merchant custom rang me in a highly distressed state.

“Mum! Have you seen what’s heading towards us? It’s a bloody monster! Should we be evacuating?”

Jonah is a wee bit of a control freak and will make an excellent lawyer.
“Mum! I think you and Scott and the babies (Padraic sixteen, Lulu fourteen and Hagar eighteen) should come over to Dad’s and take shelter in the wine cellar.”

Now if the said “wine cellar” was an air-conditioned, fully stocked, subterranean paradise instead of the dank, musty, redback spider infested reality that it was, I may have relinquished.

“She’ll be right Jonah,” I answered nonchalantly.

“Mum! You’re not taking this seriously enough. We could all be wiped off the planet!”


We stocked up on baked beans and powdered milk (after chucking out the old packets from when the last cyclone threatened), taped the windows, bought candles, torches and batteries and cleaned up the yard.

On the afternoon before Yasi crossed the coast we were all ensconced in the lounge room watching updates on Channel Ten. I felt sorry for all the junior reporters standing in the rain saying the same thing over and over.

I got a bit bored.

“Feel like a wine?” I enticed Scotto.

I know it’s irresponsible to get pissed when there is a natural disaster impending but I was losing interest in the whole thing.

Hagar had refused to come home and had been riding his bike around in the tempestuous weather refusing to answer my texts but I’d managed to hunt him down, capture him and force him back home. 

Everyone was accounted for.

We continued to blearily guzzle wine for the rest of the evening until at about eleven o’clock when I heard Anna Bligh say something horribly frightening on the telly.

“We’ve just had a report that a boy was knocked over by an eighteen metre wave off the coast and that an eighteen metre surge is heading towards the North Queensland coast.” 

The deaf signer was frantically gesticulating beside her.

What was a boy doing swimming in the ocean during a cyclone? I pondered fuzzily, what was his mother thinking letting him go out on a night like this?

Hang on! An eighteen metre surge! 

Tragic visions of the Japanese tsunami flooded my mind.

Urgently waking up all of the kids, we started earnestly moving our worldly goods upstairs. Farfel the lorikeet was rehoused in a smaller cage, the dogs were brought up to the upstairs bathroom and the cat locked in the toilet. 

After countless treks up and down the stairs my 8765 books were rescued as well as all the televisions and moveable electronic appliances. 

Hagar was very pissed off at being disturbed and protested bitterly throughout the entire procedure.

Roughly ten minutes after we finished our epic labours we heard Anna Bligh announcing that there was no eighteen metre surge and that the ‘boy’ in the ocean had been inverted and had provided an invalid reading.

Oooooh… a buoy!

Anyway, the German Shepherd drove us mental barking at his reflection in the bathroom mirror all night and the cat almost got hold of the bird. 

Apart from that we all survived.

Jonah bullied his father and Thaddeus into sleeping in the wine cellar all night and none of them got a wink of sleep.

The masking tape is still powerfully gummed on Padraic’s windows two years later. 
Gives our house a decidedly bogan panache.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A First Time for Everything.

All mothers remember ‘firsts’ in their children’s lives. 

Their baby’s first tooth, that first tenuous step, and the first word uttered from their sweet mouths (which let’s face it, is usually mum or dad) are special moments that stay with us forever.

Sometimes those ‘firsts’ can be something we take for granted and our child’s new wonder and delight fills us with a sense of fresh admiration for whatever it is they have discovered.

I recall the first time we took Lulu to the Gold Coast and she ran out on to the sand. Living in North Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef precludes surf, we put up with coarse, grainy sand on our beaches that feels harsh and scratchy underfoot and is not that nice to lie on. 

The minute Lulu scampered on to the silken, powdery sand at Broadbeach she stopped frozen in terror. Looking up at me with horrified eyes she squealed,

“What is it?” and promptly burst into tears.

It was a similar situation when Jonah had a life-altering moment at about three years of age. 

Pizza Hut had been on the dinner menu that night and I had failed to notice how much pizza Jonah had been stuffing down his little gob. I tucked him into his racing car bed early in the night and was roused from sleep at about eleven o’clock to the sound of crying. 

When I staggered into the room and turned on the light I thought I’d walked into a scene from ‘The Exorcist’. There was so much vomit on his Superhero bedspread I waited for Jonah’s head to begin spinning.

“What happened?” wailed Jonah incredulously. 

It was the first time he’d thrown up in his memory and he must have wondered why his insides were being ejected from his mouth.

Everyone jokes about how much poo you have to deal with when you have a baby but no-one goes into depth about the spew. It’s preposterous the number of nights I woke up beside an ailing child in bed who would sit up without warning and puke all over the place. 

I’d get up, rinse the vomit off the sheets (making sure to poke the chunky bits through the plug holes with a pointy instrument) wash the child and myself, and change our pajamas and sheets. Thirty minutes later they would do it all again.

Hagar’s ‘first’ realisation of the circle of life was a truly endearing moment. 
At about four years of age, he snuggled up beside me in bed reading a book. We came to a sad part when an old family dog unexpectedly went to the big kennel in the sky.

He looked up at me with his black-lashed grey eyes and whispered,
“Why did he die Mummy?”

“Well Hagar, the doggy was very old and everything dies eventually.”

“Will Odie die?”

“Yes, one day he will Hagar.” I replied (thinking that if Odie didn’t stop incurring complaints from the neighbours he would be going to bone-heaven sooner rather than later.

Hagar seemed satisfied with that answer.

“But you won’t die, will you Mummy?”

“Darling, one day Mummy will die. Not for a long time (I'm hoping anyway) but everyone gets old and they get tired and they die.”

It took me about an hour to pacify his sobbing. 

It was awful.
I try to manipulate Hagar’s sensitivity these days. When he is being a classic a#$%hole teenager I switch into ‘Jewish 
Mother” mode.

“So what! You wanna kill your Mudda! You wanna give me an aneurism and have me drop down dead on da floor? Oy vey!”

It doesn’t work. 
He just grunts, “Meh….” and walks away from me.

Padraic’s ‘first’ was the first time he ran away from home. 
He was about five when he artfully absconded with his loyal partner in crime, Lulu, who was four years old. 

They were missing for roughly ten minutes, during which time I had been running up and down the street in my pajamas screaming out for them like a demonic harridan. 

In the distance I spotted a fluorescent workman walking up the hill with the pygmy version of Bonnie and Clyde trotting along beside him. 

Handing over the naughty duo he scrutinised me curiously, probably thinking I was the type of neglectful woman who should be prevented from breeding.

 Thaddeus’ first was my favourite. 

He was a late talker and at three years of age he was still only saying about ten single words. My then-husband and I were a tad concerned and I had been reading books about delayed onset of speech. 

One muggy, unpleasant day I was lying miserably on an old papasan with Thaddeus and Jonah playing on the floor around me and Hagar in my belly. Thaddeus stopped playing and stood up looking at me carefully. 

Gently, he climbed up on the chair, rested his little body on my chest, wrapped his chubby arms around my neck and said,

“I wub woo Mum!”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Why breastfeeding sucks more than the latest Hangover movie!


Geez, breastfeeding women and the divided opinions about discretion and breast exposure seem to flare up in the news again and again. Frankly, I’ve seen more boobies on the blokes at the local swimming pool than you’ll ever see providing nourishment to a baby.

When Thaddeus was born, as a first time mother, I had a lot of trouble getting him to latch on. I persevered through cracked nipples and a few other icky issues and managed to endure three months of it before he was put on the bottle. 

I was able to hang in there until about twelve months with the rest of them and lucky Lulu was breast fed until she turned two.This effort was due to a fundamental laziness at not wanting to sterilize bottles rather than a zealous fixation on breast feeding.

Was I a discrete breast feeder?

No, not particularly.

Modesty was the best policy when I first began nursing Thaddeus but by the time Lulu was born, I’d pull out the old milk jugs while pushing a shopping trolley around a supermarket. ..anything to stop a screaming newborn.

That is not to say I had sacrificed my feminine dignity. 

Not until the glorious, “Tradesman Porn Show Event” that is.

Grabbing a quick shower in the morning before my then husband left for work, was a coveted activity in the months after Lulu was born and there were five children under seven years of age trolling around the house.

One morning, emerging from my steamy indulgence, I realized I had brought my knickers and nursing bra into the bathroom but had neglected to grab my nursing pads.

Now excuse my vulgarity, but Twin 1 and Twin 2 were both fully engorged with incoming milk and I was reluctant to fasten the bra cups as I didn’t want any seepage sullying my clean brassiere. 

My cunning strategy was to make a dash from the bathroom across the hall to my bedroom wearing my knickers and my nursing bra with the flaps down. 

'Surreal' is how I’d describe my emotions, as bursting into the bedroom at high speed, I realized there were two men standing beside the air conditioner.

One of the men was an apprentice electrician; the other was my stupid, stupid then-husband who had invited the young bloke in to the bedroom to check the wiring.

Traumatised’ comes close to illustrating the expression on the young lad’s face.

I doubt at his tender age, he’d ever heard of or seen a nursing bra.He was plainly bewildered at the bizarre woman, standing immobilized at the door, with two pointy norks sticking out of her creepy Madonnaesque brassiere.

We did organize to get the air-conditioner repaired but the apprentice never returned. 

His boss probably sent him off on stress leave.

I answered a knock on the door a few days later.

“Hi, Mrs Poinker,” said a leering and more senior Sparky with a barely concealed grin on his face. 

“I’m here to fix your airconditioner.”

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Knocked Up

About six months later I was in the front room teaching a drama lesson to a group of students.All of a sudden one of the little girls who had finished her lesson and was waiting to be picked up by her mother came tearing in.
“Mrs. W! You need to come quickly! There’s something wrong with your cat! I think it’s sick!”

Interrupting my lesson I ran outside to investigate the state of affairs. The cat was undeniably acting in a very abnormal manner. Rolling around on its back and wailing in a horrible and uncharacteristic caterwaul it appeared to be having some sort of seizure. 

“Hey Kitty, what’s the matter?” I tried to calm the frenzied creature.

She leapt up and began to rub her stomach on the ground, waving her bottom and tail high in the air and yowling like an alpine yodeler. By this stage all of my students had come out and we stood helplessly watching her writhing in what seemed to be agonizing pain.

I was wondering about whether or not to put the cat in the car and make an emergency trip to the vet, when a mother arrived to pick up her daughter, got out of her car and came over.
“That cat is in season.” she confidently asserted.

Oh, I thought. She’s not in pain; she’s just behaving like a slut.

I returned to my studio with the highly amused students believing that I could deal with Pussy Galore later. After ten minutes another student barged in shouting,

“Mrs. W! Your cat is running down the street with three other cats chasing it!”

I have to say that my students got more than their money’s worth that day.

Nine weeks later the cat was lumbering around like a baby hippopotamus and ready to drop her bundle any day. My kids were overwrought with excitement and taking bets on exactly how many kittens she would have.

The cat appeared one morning loudly mewing for food. 

She was thin. 

After the ‘cannibal mice’ incident it crossed my mind that she may have eaten her babies.

Either that or she’d delivered them in the bush land opposite our house and had abandoned them to be devoured by snakes.

Hagar immediately coordinated a search party scouting out every inch of the yard. 

“Found them!” he screamed joyfully after about an hour of thorough exploration.

She had delivered her kittens behind overgrown shrubbery in our pool enclosure. One by one Hagar ferried a tiny parcel of fluff out to us. There were five altogether, one for each of the kids to name and cherish. 

For a little while at least. 

Hagar was the most enamoured of his furry friend naming it ‘Pubit’ (don’t ask) and vowing to teach it circus tricks when it grew up a bit.

Watching the five ravenous kittens greedily gnawing on her teats and constantly vying for her attention brought back some uncomfortable memories and I think I actually bonded with the cat that day.

Extracting loveable, six week old kittens from the tenacious clutches of my distraught, sobbing children and sending them off to good homes was no easy feat. 

I had her ‘fixed up’ at the vet after that. She had an operation to remove an abscess a few years later that cost me $600. If I added all the years of vaccinations, worming treatments and food and shelter on to that, I guess she wasn’t such a bargain cat after all.

The moral of the story is – Don’t count your kittens until they are hatched.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not such an aristicat!

In January 2002 the kids and I moved into a house close to their primary school and the sporting complex, where they spent a large percentage of my time. 
I was newly divorced and about to begin studying full-time for a Bachelor of Education at the nearby university. 

We'd brought our maniacal and senseless Jack Russell, Odie, with us but had left the blind, geriatric Siamese and the malicious, bitey black cat at my ex-husband’s house. 

The reason for this was firstly, as a rule cats don’t generally like to move house and secondly, the kids would be seeing them every weekend anyway.

A drama studio was set up in a front room of the house where my students could continue their private lessons and assist me in financing and maintaining my wine- cask habit.

At the beginning of August I realized that Lulu’s sixth birthday was imminent and after some deliberation I decided to buy her a kitten. 

Not being a cat expert as such, I wasn’t aware of the fact that cats aren’t much into procreation during the month of July and there was currently a city wide kitten- drought.

Scrutinising the newspaper every day and ringing the animal refuge left me empty-handed and scratching my head as to how I was going to procure a furry ball of mischief in time for Lulu’s birthday. 
I was beginning to get desperate as the 'B' day was fast approaching.

One fortuitous day I moseyed into a pet shop and found a solitary tabby (who had clearly originated from a couple of extra horny parents) sitting in a cage.

A little boy about ten, was standing beside the cage gazing at it adoringly. 

“She’s really cute isn’t she?” he lisped earnestly.

“Yes it is cute,” I replied untruthfully.

It was skinny, a bit mangy and didn’t appear to be infused with personality. With its plain markings and gummy eyes I have to say it wasn’t the most appealing moggy I’d ever seen, but it was only twenty bucks. 


Dithering uncertainly at the cage and wondering if it was skinny because it was indeed riddled with worms, I heard the little boy unobtrusively murmuring to the girl at the counter,

“So I’m going home to ask Mum and I’ll come back later.”

That was enough inducement for me. 

I waited until he took off on his bike, scurried up to the counter and slapped a twenty down.

The moral of this story is- A cat in a cage is worth two in a bush.

Ps: We still have this cat twelve years on and it has cost me a fortune.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Groovin the Moo- 15 000 teenagers can't be wrong- well they never are are they?

When Hagar turned eighteen he went into a rapture of ecstasy. Finally he was allowed to drink alcohol, go the nightclubs and do all the things he’d already be doing for the last two years, without getting into trouble for under- age shenanigans. 

After two years of my efforts in leaving newspaper cut outs about the dangers of underage drinking plastered all over the fridge, confiscating six-packs of contraband and delivering dire warnings about juvenile detention, I could relax slightly in the knowledge that at least now he wasn’t breaking the law.

The local musical festival was being held a week after his birthday and part of his birthday present was a ticket to the event. Not happy to appear at the festival in the usual youth- uniform of boardies, singlet, thongs and zinc cream, Hagar decided to go all out and dignify the occasion by wearing a specially bought costume. 

Ebay obligingly furnished my 6’ 2” son with a massive, fluorescent green Gumby get-up that clearly wasn’t intended to impress the ladies.

Every one of his friends was also planning on attending this massive occasion and the arrangements for the day included pre-festival drinks commencing at eleven o’clock in the morning. 

This boy was going to have one hell of a headache tomorrow.

“I had better not see television footage of Gumby being helped into the back of a police car!” I commented with false bravado as he left with a bunch of unadventurously attired youths.

At about nine o’clock that night he arrived back home with a mate. Hagar was stone cold sober. 

When queried about his apparent (and pleasing) abstinence, he replied that he was off to the nightclubs and hadn’t wanted to waste his first opportunity to enjoy a night on the town by being drunk too early in the evening. 

Yay! Now I could spend a sleepless night worrying about him being king hit and rolled into a gutter.

The next morning I stumbled into the kitchen and discovered a clear-headed and sprightly looking Hagar.

“How were the nightclubs?” I asked, astonished at his seemingly healthy persona.

“Alright. Don’t think I’ll be going back for a while. You wouldn’t believe how expensive the drinks are.” 

Young Padraic had closely observed Hagar’s preparations for attending this music festival with a mixture of intense jealousy and vicarious pleasure. 

The very next year, Padriac turned seventeen and even though he wouldn’t be able to partake of the alcoholic beverages on sale, he was officially old enough to be permitted to happily groove the moo along with the rest of the 15 000 strong rabble.

Tickets were purchased and the good thongs dusted off and brought out of the cupboard. A gathering place for all his mates was organized and Padraic commenced his countdown to the big day!

On the morning of the festival a swarm of his pals assembled outside our house and unanimously decided to walk, as we live less than one kilometre from the venue. 

I wandered into the lounge where Padraic had sat waiting for his mates to collect him and found a large tin of expensive-looking flavoured cigars sitting large as life on the coffee table.

Cigars are not illegal, but just like my feelings towards cigarettes, I don’t like them and I certainly don’t approve of my kids smoking so I dutifully chucked them out.

Half an hour later two of his friends, Null and Void, knocked on the door.

“Hi! Mrs. W! Padraic just phoned and asked us to call in because he thinks he left his water bottle in the lounge and could we please grab it and bring it with us.”

“Okay,” I sweetly replied, “Go right ahead, you know where the lounge is.”

I could hear them in the lounge urgently rifling under the cushions and muttering to Padraic on the phone, 

“There’s nothin’ here man. Are you sure you left them here?”

After another fifteen minutes of rummaging and arguing with Padraic on the phone, they gave up their fruitless search for the elusive ‘water bottle’, thanked me for my time and left.

I waited until they were about twenty-five metres down the road. 

“Hey guys!" I called out to them. "Tell Padraic I threw his cigars in the bin.”

Parents -1 Teenage kids - 4576

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Hop on Top of Pop" by Dr Suss.

Long distance relationships can be difficult.

During the months apart before Scotto transferred to Townsville, we pledged to each other that we would write an email every single night without fail. 
Keeping this promise was often a very arduous challenge.

Firstly, it was frequently difficult to come up with something even vaguely interesting to say night after night. There are only so many ways to say things like,

“Picked the kids up from school today and they had a fight all the way home in the car. Lulu has head lice again and Thaddeus has done something funny to the computer so that when Jonah types his name in, it comes up as ‘dickhead’ and I don’t know how to fix it.”

My days just weren’t very exciting.

Secondly, access to the one ineffectual, dial-up computer in the house was a rigorously defended commodity; with Herr Jonah and Herr Thaddeus acting as if they were the Gestapo guarding the barbed wire fence at Auschwitz. 

My strategy for surmounting the second problem was scrupulous attention to timing. At about six-thirty each evening I would shout out that dinner was on the table. That presented me with about fifteen precious minutes to sprint upstairs, log on, and hastily type out an email with one finger before the wails of protest began.

The only way to shake things up in regards to the first problem was to be inventive. After one of Scotto’s weekend visits, when the kids had been staying at their father’s ( nudge, nudge, wink, wink), I looked to Dr. Seuss for inspiration.

By replacing nouns with Dr. Seuss words I realized what a truly filthy man Dr. Seuss actually was.

(Please be aware that this is NOT a love letter or a reflection on the weekend. It was only a joke!)

Hello my Chief Yookeroo! (I wrote)

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed working on your Palooski on the weekend, and I just loved the way you worked on my Hinkle-Horn Honkers. 

You are such an energetic Long-Legged Kwong and I just adore your Flummox so much…especially your Itch-a-pods… mmmmm!

I know we were worried we wouldn’t be able to Jibboo, but it was great that we managed it, and that Gertrude McFuzz got her act together. 
I must say, my Floob-Boober-Bab-Boober-Buds are a bit sore but probably not as sore as your Zlock! 

Anyway my adorable cute little Drum Tummied Snumm, your precious Plain-Belly Snetch has to do some real work.

Love and kisses, Foona Lagoona Baboona.

P.S. I hope your Nooth Grush is not stinging too much!

We went for a picnic and bush-walking okay!!!!!

Reposted and linked up to Weekend Rewind with Sonia from Life Love and Hiccups!