Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Halloween Horror

Halloween is well and truly over. And I’m relieved. Not because it means the end of costume planning, trick or treating and overly excited children, hyped up on too much sugar. All that part of it was quite fun. I know it’s not really our tradition here in Australia but these days it’s hard to avoid especially with a school-age child. So my husband and I have adopted a ‘go with the flow’ type attitude to Halloween and all went well.

No, it was the lead-up to the big day that was scary. Three days before, I took the girls up to our local shopping centre to buy the Halloween lollies and I hit one of the many (very scratched) poles in the car park. Those yellow poles always look so bashed up, I used to think, who on earth hits them? Now I know. People like me. People with kids, chatting or fighting in the back. People with too many things on their mind. Or in my case a person with a brand new car that is slightly bigger than her last one.

Being our first ever new car, I could have wept. And I did. In fact I couldn’t stop. My daughters hugged and kissed me, not really sure why it was all so traumatic. It’s just a car. And that’s true. It is just a car. But it’s only three months old and now it’s damaged. When I got the quote to have it fixed, I had another little cry. Only in private this time rather than the lolly aisle in Woollies.

However the tragedy was put into perspective the next day when we found the small battery from a flashing witch nose in the mouth of our three-year-old. Nothing was ingested so no trip to emergency was required. But it was too close. We were nervous about buying the nose in the first place for exactly that reason. But we bought it anyway. Then we had it up high on a shelf out of danger all week. And then, somehow, it was in reach of little hands.

A car can be fixed but a swallowed battery can be fatal.

So for me, Halloween is now a time to beware cheap merchandising and yellow poles in car parks that are probably installed by some sort of panel beaters’ association.

Not that I can really blame Halloween for my lack of care but I’m going to anyway. Normally I wouldn’t have gone to buy lollies after school in the car and we would never have bought a flashing witch nose from the $2 Shop.

Maybe next year we won’t ‘go with the flow’ quite so readily…

Friday, 24 October 2014

Dreaming of a Car Park

When you start obsessing about getting a car park outside your house, you know it’s time to get a life. One with off-street parking.

It wasn’t that long ago we lived in the inner city suburb of Potts Point, in a one bedroom flat with no lift, a newborn and no car space. If you simply got a park, it was a good day. The fact it might be a 10 minute-walk to your front door was beside the point.

When we moved inner west, parking out the front of my house was a joy. And one I never took for granted because, as I knew only too well from past experience, a car park is never a given.

However a few years have past and I’ve come to expect my car park out the front. The problem is that now the area has increased in popularity and there seems to be a lot more cars in our street. Most households have two or even three cars and even though they may have off-street parking, they choose to park on the street. To which they are completely entitled.

However what frustrates me is when people do not park efficiently. There is room for three cars outside our house. Unless someone parks lazily across two spaces. That makes me furious and forces me to say things you should never say when you have young children in the car.

Back in Potts Point, no one wastes car parking space. You consider your fellow parkers by not leaving unnecessary gaps. Not so in the suburbs. Without the buzz of the inner city, people are more relaxed. They feel they can stretch out and park casually. Which means I have to park down the street and struggle up with cranky kids and bags of shopping.

I always used to tease my mum who would obsess about the car spot outside their house. She would be cross if it was taken and had a constant feud with the neighbours over their unregistered boat that always sat out the front.

‘You don’t own the spot,’ I would say to her. 

Now I have to say it myself. Every day. And unless we dig up our front courtyard and put in off-street parking, I have to put up with it.

So for now I close my eyes and think back to my inner city days when life was cool and car parks were not important.

And then I remember that 10 minute-walk and the three flights of stairs up to our very hot flat with no balcony.

And things don't seem so bad.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Not-So-Seasoned Traveller

We finally managed a family holiday on Hamilton Island. 

For the three people that read my blog, you will know that the last time we went to Hamilton Island, it was fairly disastrous with fever, tonsillitis and babies falling off steps. We spent more time at the island’s medical centre than the pool. While most holidaymakers don’t even realise there is a medical centre, my six year-old can give you directions.

So these holidays, rather tentatively, we tried again and it was a rip roaring success. No dramas, all-round good health and many nights of unbroken sleep. These days, it doesn’t get better than that.

The airport however was an eye-opener. It’s been a while since I travelled by plane (probably last trip to Hamilton) and things have changed. Not the flying bit - still a big heavy object that manages to stay in the air. Rather the bits prior to that. Like when I bought four plane tickets online, obviously for a family. One credit card transaction. Four transaction fees. Still don’t get that one…

When we arrived at the airport, we grabbed a couple of trolleys. We didn’t have to go far but I have fond memories of being pushed on airport trolleys as a child and thought the girls would enjoy it.

Never again. Four dollars each! Non-refundable! One poolside drink gone on about 50 metres of transportation. I’ll carry them all one by one next time.

Next we had to check in and get boarding passes. That was fine. Done that before. But we also had to physically check in our own luggage. No longer do you wait until a cheery face behind a desk does it all for you while they chat about where you’re going on your holiday. As I said, it’s been a while.

Needless to say we didn’t know what to do. We caught the attention of an assistant who was not at all cheery. In fact she seemed rather annoyed.

‘What seems to be the problem?’

I tried to make a joke about my lack of experience in baggage handling but couldn’t crack a smile. My husband attempted to put a bag on the conveyer belt.

‘No, not that way,’ she snapped.

Yes well that’s why we asked you. That’s why it’s better to have people trained to do this rather than replacing them with machines.

I shouldn’t complain. We had a great holiday. Next time I will know exactly what to do. Hopefully the same assistant will be there and see me achieve a successful check-in and be proud. She might even smile.

But the holiday itself was fantastic.

Apart from losing the three-year old not long after we arrived. We did find her so that worked out well.

After that, it was fantastic.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A Mid Week Moment of Joy... and then business as usual

I sincerely hope this Wednesday night pans out better than the last.

This time a week ago I was heading into a sudden and spontaneous night of blissful alone time, a rare occurrence these days.

My husband had to go to a work function and the girls were asleep by 8pm. I was about to turn on my computer to do some work but as it had been a busy week of deadlines and auditions, I thought better of it and poured a glass of wine instead. And cooked a delicious pasta. And turned on the TV to find Offspring was just about to start. For approximately 70 minutes, I was so happy. For a moment everything in the world was right where it should be and life was just about perfect.

Usually the minute you even think such thoughts, you invite some sort of disaster but I this time, I really thought I’d got away with it.

Until I heard a noise. Maybe it was the neighbours. Or simply instinct telling me to get off the couch and check the girls.

I looked in on them. All fine. Nothing to fear. I turned to leave when I caught a faint whiff of vomit and my heart sank. I checked the 6-year-old. All good. Then I checked the 2-year-old and found the source. She was a little damp with what I thought was probably just a ‘burp up’ of her bedtime milk. She was sound asleep so I thought I’d quietly change her top, maybe the pillowslip. However it appeared to be more widespread so I put her to sleep in our bed and went back to investigate.

A torch revealed that she’d projectile vomited everywhere - over the bed covers, toys, the wall – down the wall and under the bed. It was huge.

I sighed and started the cleanup process, crawling underneath the bed on my tummy, cleaning vomit off the wall and floor and wondering where my night just went. Then she promptly vomited in our bed as well.

I moved her into the lounge room and texted my husband who was luckily nearby. Finally when nothing was left in her stomach, she fell asleep and sometime around 2am, after three loads of washing, I did too.

Having never really vomited before, the poor thing was so distressed. I can’t think how she felt during that first enormous one, especially when she probably called out to mum who was too busy indulging in wine and Offspring. Since no one came, she had little choice but to go back to sleep in her own vomit.

Anyway the next day should have been a daycare day involving a sneaky trip to the Writers’ Festival however I was home with my 2-year-old, doing about 17 million loads of washing.

So now exactly a week later, my husband happens to be going out again. I’ll get the girls to bed early and this time I’ll turn on my computer and do some work. I might have a little glass of wine; I might even watch a little bit of Offspring. But this time if I pretend it’s normal everyday behaviour and not get too over-excited, just maybe, I will get away with it.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

I Was Funny Once!!!

The other day I, casually and quite confidently, asked my six-year-old if she thought I was funny.

‘No Mum you’re not funny,’ she said. ‘Dad’s funny.’

When she saw my crestfallen face she added, ‘Well Dad’s the funniest and you’re the second funniest.’

Great, thanks for that.

You know there was a time I was considered quite funny, hilarious even. And definitely good company. But now I’m just Mum. Bit boring, very bossy (nothing new there), someone who always says no, someone who’s not quite as funny as Dad.

Now my husband is a fantastic dad. He works long hours and can’t wait to get home and see the girls, arriving full of energy to make the most of what remains before bedtime. While I on the other hand deal with the day-to-day squabbles, tantrums, fussy appetites and meltdowns. I provide structure, boundaries and crunchy carrot sticks. No wonder I seem a little boring.

Not that I’m complaining but I does make me want to yell, “You know, I was quite funny once!!!”

I lived in Paris in my 20s and when I first arrived, I would go to dinner parties and feel too shy to speak French. Occasionally I would think of something to add to the conversation but by the time I constructed the sentence in my head, interrupted and struggled to deliver it, the moment had passed or the joke was lost. Meanwhile everyone would wait patiently for la petite australienne, smile politely and move on.

I wanted to say, ‘I’m actually considered quite funny in Australia, you know!’ but at that stage I couldn’t say it in French. I felt people didn’t have a chance to see my true personality however after a year, I realised it still shines through regardless of language barriers. People still befriended me and I was always being asked to another dinner party.

So I’m hoping my daughters will see what my French friends eventually saw. I don’t know whether I will ever reach my husband’s standard of hilarity but that’s fine. I have to be a bit boring to keep things running and I will always be bossy, that goes without saying. But hopefully as my two-year-old stops drawing on my newly painted off-white floorboards then Fun Mum will appear more regularly.