Parenting-blog-2

Weekend Wit: Kids Say The Darndest Things!

Kids come out with some classic comments. There’s very little social convention, growing brains are always ticking away and they say whatever comes to mind in raw honesty. Here’s a tiny snippet of what some kids have had to say.

Muddy proposal

A young family was on holiday, trekking across the countryside. The mother was heavily pregnant and it was a staggering 40 degrees outside the car and not much cooler within it. Nearing closer to the Murray River, the mother stated, “When we get to the river, I’m going in.” The small voice from the back seat was shocked at the mother’s proposal, “You can’t go in that yucky muddy river, mummy. What if the baby gets borned and can’t find its way to the top?” Apparently, she was very concerned the baby would somehow slip out of her mother whilst in the muddy water and be unable to swim their way to the surface!

Speaking bluntly

Taking the kids to the hairdressers can be a challenge. On one occasion, a young child sat down in the salon chair and the hairdresser began to cut. After a few moments, the young person looked sternly into the mirror, announcing: “You do know your scissors are blunt, don’t you?” Astounded at what had been said, the hairdresser looked down at the scissors and, sure enough, they were!

20 what?

There was an Aussie kid at school learning about coins and currency for the first time. The teacher held up a 20-cent piece and asked the class what it was. “20!” exclaimed a young boy. “20 what?” asked the teacher, expecting to hear the word ‘cents’ as she had for many years prior. “Platypuses!” answered the child proudly. The teacher was totally taken aback and, during her lunch break, told the entire staff room about her precious pupil. From that day forth, each time the teacher saw a 20-cent piece, she thought of those 20 ‘platypuses’, lovingly named because of the image on the coin.

Girl in boys clothes?

A mother was preparing dinner in an adjoining kitchen when her child, who was watching Ellen, announced, “She dresses like a boy.” “She does,” said mum. Several years later, in the same situation, the child stated, “Did you know Ellen is a lesbian, mum? I always wondered why she dressed like a boy.” Apparently, it had taken all that time, to process a conclusion.

Puberty

The parents of a young boy were sitting watching TV while their 10-year-old had a shower. Wrapped waist-height in a towel, the young man walked into the room and announced to them, “I’m puberty! I’ve got a hair on my old fella!” He had the concept right, but his way of describing his remarkable discovery was priceless.

Image via teachingintheearlyyears.com

October 4, 2014

Melbourne’s Best Family Outings

Anyone who has ever visited or lived in Melbourne, knows it an amazing city. Going out as a family can be pricey though, plus there’s always that unpredictable weather. I’ve gathered some intel for the budget-minded family and found the two best outings, for rain and shine.

RELATED: 5 Of The Best Beach Holiday Getaways

Scienceworks

If you are looking for that one family outing that you can do when it’s pouring outside; you can’t beat The Scienceworks, for entertainment and affordability. Patrons are encouraged to touch, play and interact with the exhibits; spend hours exploring and learning new things. The facility houses several other attractions; including The Planetarium. (It’s defiantly a bucket list experience!) Trust me; even Dad will get into it!

As the name suggests, it’s all about science. There is a section for younger children upstairs and a large outdoor area, with a playground, for those who want to bring their lunch and make a complete day of it. There’s a gift shop and canteen, as well as having some of the most spectacular views of the city, from within its confines.

Car parking is available for a flat rate of $2. The only issue; be prepared for a crowd, because it really is one of Melbourne’s most affordable and entertaining, family outings. Even with a crowd, it’s a top day out.

Here’s the run-down of the most important info:

Address: 2 Booker Street Spotswood, Victoria, Australia

Hours: Open daily, 10am – 4:30pm (Closed Good Friday & Christmas Day)

General entry: Adult $12.00; Child (0 to 16 years) and Concession free

Optional extras (Planetarium show, Lightning Room show, Rescue exhibition): Adult $6.00; Child $4.50; Concession $5.00

Bookings and enquiries: 13 11 02

The Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens

For a sunny day outing, the best pick would have to be The Melbourne Zoo. It’s undergoing some extensive renovations to it’s predator enclosure; but don’t let that deter you. It’s excellent value and looks like it’s only going to get better!

There are animals from all over the world, as well as a selection of Australian native inhabitants. The monkeys, tigers and elephants are a real treat and just before closing, the elephants go out to feed. There’s even a baby elephant, who is sure to capture your heart.

There are various food options and plenty of room for everyone to spread out and pull up a piece of grass for a picnic, if you want to keep the cost down. There are gift shops scattered throughout and prices start low enough, to take home a small souvenir or two.

Getting there is relatively easy, either by car or train. Once again, car parking is a flat rate of $2 for 5 hours. For most families, 5 hours of wandering around the zoo is plenty, but it’s so big you’ll probably need to make a second trip. It’s stroller and wheelchair friendly (tip: call and pre-book, if you need one for Nana), but some of the pathways do get muddy in wet weather.

Here’s the most vital info:

Address: Elliott Avenue, Parkville 3052.

Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm every day of the year.

Cost: Adult (Ages 17+) $30.80; Adult concession $23.60; Child 4-15 years (weekends, Victorian public holidays and Victorian government school holidays) free; Child 4-15 years (Monday to Friday, outside holidays) $13.60; Child (0–3 years) free

Family package deals (Monday to Friday – except school holidays): 2 adults with 1 child $74.60; 2 adults with 2 children $74.60; 2 adults with 3 children $81.60; 2 adults with 4 children  $88.40; 2 adults with 5 children  $95.20

Tickets and bookings: 1300 966 784

Image via zoo.org.au

October 2, 2014

Happy Mother Happy Child

A couple of years ago I began my own Happiness Project. I would do what makes me happy. I would still have to work, but keep my bills low and drive a car I’ve been told looks like I bought it from a drug dealer. I didn’t care. I was doing an exegesis on the art of being happy and staying there.

“I would just take drugs, have sex all the time and eat a lot”, a lawyer friend told me.

“Okay. But would that really make you happy?” I asked, meaningfully.

“Yes. That would really make me happy,” he said.

My Happiness Project was more craft-based. I would paint for the first time since high school. Learn to cook Indonesian. Buy summer dresses. Lift weights. Talk about happiness like a stock investment I was watching.

“That’s sounds pretty indulgent to me,” one mother snapped.

“Unbearable to listen to, actually,” another mother said.

“You just have to do what excites you!” I said, again.

“I’d like to put my children into state care. Then go travel for two years and pick them up afterwards,” one mum joked. “That would make me really happy.”

“Okay. Is there any way you can be happy without doing that?” I asked.

“I suppose I could give them to my mother.”

Another mother said, “I would quit my job and stay home with my children. That would make me happy.” I would think about those mothers who stayed home and were going bat shit crazy…“You might not want to do that.”

I don’t think women want it all – they just want to be happy with what they’re doing. Most parents put their child in front of the television from time to time and when they see them zonked out in front of it, feel guilty and turn it off. They pull out the building blocks, their faces set in a grim mask. “Let’s play building blocks,” the parents mutter. “No, no, no. I don’t want to play building blocks!” the child says, because that’s what children say and also, their play partner looks like they want to kill themselves. “Fine!” the parent says and knocks over the blocks with their hand.

I’ve babysat dozens of children and so I’m not allowed to kick the building blocks through the air, but I feel the same way sometimes. Mothers of our generation have been told to sit down and engage with their children. I can’t remember a single instance of my mother doing that or any mother I knew growing up, but we want to be better than they were. Building blocks. Fantasising, as you lay one block on another, about spending two years in Bali. Of course it would be a scandal if you just took off, but you could invent a story about a nervous breakdown or a job promotion. In Bali. Do people still have nervous breakdowns, you wonder? Did they ever exist or was that a brilliant excuse for a holiday? Might have to be more specific to really pull it off these days. “I’m having a bi-polar break, with episodic depression and suicidal ideation…In Bali.”

Our mothers solved the problem of ‘productive play’ by having more children. We weren’t really playing so much as throwing blocks at each other and crying, but our mothers got a break. It takes one pediatrician to announce the damage to a child’s synapses if they don’t get productive play and parents are back on the living room floor, death mask on. Everybody wants to do what is best for their child, but I think the form is wrong and by form I mean the structure of families in single-unit housing and community safety fears and its attendant isolation. Either one or both parents are working and they come home to be with their children, alone. It’s the aloneness of the experience that wears on mothers.

When I grew up, I was in and out of other people’s houses along the street and playing with their kids. We ran along alleyways and fought with each other and danced on each others beds and went home when it got dark. We knew who lived in the creepy house and we never went in there. We had our own lives. Recently, a parent told me they let their very mature seven year old play outside on the footpath, as long as he doesn’t leave the block. He is regularly brought home by a startled neighbour, like a dog who got out of the yard again.

Living in L.A., I’ve observed that picking children up at a Californian primary school involves sitting in a line of cars, colour-coded placard on the windshield with the child’s name and ten teachers in headsets feeding information about who has arrived. Teachers are running between cars, “Sam Smith! Sam Smith!” they bark into the walkie talkie. Sam Smith gets led by another teacher into the holding pen. Another adult walks him over to the car. I look at the banks of vehicles and think about the loss of productivity in the hour it takes to pick a child up from school. And the tedium of it. Is the alternative too horrifying…letting them walk home alone? What will be the effect of this loss of autonomy? No one wants to be the parent who takes the risk to find out. We are the first generation of parents who grew up knowing the high rates of sexual abuse. One in three women. One in five men. How do we find a way to keep our children safe without cloistering them with our fear?

When you’re a kid walking with a gang and you’ve all got time to burn, it’s terrifying and exhilarating. You are learning how other kids live and which Dad is strict and whose brother’s a dick and which Mum is crazy. We were learning to trust our instincts. Standing outside the creepy house, one kid will knock on the door and everyone does a runner. It was our neighbourhood and we were known. We didn’t have to think about being happy, we were living.

Vivienne Walshe is an Australian playwright and screenwriter. Her plays have been highly awarded and published by Currency Press. As an actress she appeared on The Secret Life of Us and many other television shows and performed in plays at the Melbourne Theatre company, Sydney Theatre company and Queensland Theatre company. 

November 3, 2013

Motherhood in Moderation

Things to do: Heat leftovers, pester, kick washing machine, serve leftovers, lecture kids about gratitude and starving children, bath kids, shout at kids, take deep breaths, find peas in teapot, shout again, cry, group hug, re-light fire, bribe kids to bed, threaten kids with tech ban, watch trash TV and surf web, buy bodycon dress online, kick self, do 50 squats, resolve to be happy-fun-cool mum, go to sleep.

But in the morning someone’s wee’d all over the loo seat, there’s no milk and all resolve is dissolved. Happy-fun-cool doesn’t get a look in when cross-naggy-daggy gazes back at you from the mirror.

Motherhood does make me cross. Shouty cross. I love my little ferals to distraction and I think they are relatively good kids, but they do irritate the bejesus out of me. I know, children are supposed to be noisy and messy and smelly and intrusive; but their sapling status makes these traits only slightly less annoying.

But what aggravates me even more is the large pile of expectation that sits on the shoulders of mothers next to the large pile of washing; expectation of what we are supposed to be doing with said irritating ferals.

“Milly just loves the minted quinoa salad I put in her lunch box, oh and she’s doing so well at violin – three’s never too young. Did I tell you Finley’s already recognising flash cards?” Says some Smarmy Marmy at the park. I want to rush home, book a tutor, a piano teacher and a footy coach and wallpaper the house in words from the magic 200.

So it seems that motherhood makes me cross and insecure. I question pretty much everything I do in relation to my children. Should I try controlled crying?  Should I keep breastfeeding? Should I be showing them the dead budgie and a doco about famine? Should I let them go or should I watch them? Should I structure them or let them find their own fun? Should I call a penis a penis or a doodle? Should I stop shoulding all over everyone?

And then there’s all the literature, self-help stuff, research and articles that plops more questions into mum’s worry pot. Oh look, here’s one telling me that drinking alcohol whilst pregnant causes learning deficits. And if your baby doesn’t crawl she will be crap at maths. Teach them about privacy and money and jazz and ovaries and the evils of sugar and the joys of nature. Give them space, give them boundaries, give them opportunities but don’t push them, be patient, be honest but don’t tell them you tried pot, be organised but don’t rush, plan ahead but stay in the moment, take time for yourself.

Wait a minute, how do I stay in the moment if I’m busy being organised and getting the kids off to jazz class and on nature rambles and reading to them and teaching them about compost and worms whilst getting worms and nits out of them?

Help! I haven’t even got to sleep or washing or cooking or having a social life or a good credit rating or a bit of a hobby. Or a bit of nookie.

Here’s my theory: I would be less cross and insecure if we just go back to that oldie-goodie bit of advice: Everything in Moderation.

Everything, including bed bugs and Cheezels. Some days are good mum days where patience and reading and crazy trampoline jumping are things we can do. Other days we are all hurry up, go watch telly and what, jump? but you ruined my pelvic floor and I’ll wee my knickers.

Because if I’m honest (because it’s the best policy according to me when I lecture the children) I can’t be the good mum who makes chores fun and plays charades to stimulate imaginations all of the time. Not even a lot of the time. I know those amazing mums are out there and hats off to them but I’m not one of them. Maybe we all need to fess up and feel ok about our moderate (dodgy) parenting practices.

Here you go, I’ll start – I have been known to rely on telly and I do let them watch Horrible Histories because it has history in the title. I do shove them out the door with a packet of Chupa Chups so I can sweep the floor and check Facebook. I will do a small rain dance the night before an early soccer game and I can’t stand craft with children who can’t make tasteful collage choices. Oh and I rejoice in nutritionally negative two minute noodles.

Mistakes should be made in moderation too. Mistakes make for memorable lessons; they make things interesting and characterful and real.

In fact the only things that shouldn’t be moderated are love and laughter. I know, vomity gestures all ‘round but it’s true. As long as they’re loved and they know so, we should be able to get away with a bit of dodgmongery in the mothering stakes. And every single person benefits from a good dose of daily silly.

So, things to do: hug kids, tell them I think they’re lovely, kick washing machine, shout, kiss banged knee, boil pot for noodles, trip over dog, swear, impersonate an orang-utan, laugh, laugh again…

What is your favourite piece of parenting advice? Tell us in the comments!

October 21, 2013