Saturday, August 6, 2011

Parenting - The World's hardest, most rewarding and frustrating job.

I'm aware I haven't 'blogged' for quite some time. It's very simple really, teaching full time, parenting full time and living full time makes the 'extra' bits hard to fit in. As I'm getting on I find I do enjoy my sleep and don't like to pass it up.
Speaking of 'getting on' I will be the grand 4-0 next week and whilst I've never fussed about my birthdays (I feel they are more a day for my Mum to reminisce) this one has come around amazingly quickly. I always thought I would reach an age where I would know exactly who I am and what I'm doing. 40 is obviously not the age... perhaps it will be 50....
I found the following article in The Australian and wonder that I wasn't able to obtain the kudos for writing it as it's pretty much my total philosophy on parenting (never mind if I actually succeed at any or all of the bits). I just had to share it. Enjoy.

Show me the terrified parent and I shall show you some rules
Tom Jellett illo
Illustration: Tom Jellett Source: Supplied
WE are made to fear parenting. Going by what you read, even in fine publications such as the one you are enjoying at the moment, there seems to be little chance that your child will turn out well.
Every day there's yet another article about how we are creating a new generation of unmotivated, obese, anti-social morons who will never leave home. And it is all your fault. Or if not, it may as well be, as you will be hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with a society determined to destroy your gorgeous little bundle.
You joined your lousiest genes with those of your partner and created a chromosomal catastrophe just waiting to grow up.
The method of birth you chose has ruined any chance your offspring might have had at a successful happy life. As you stumbled sleepless through their early years, your amateurish attempts at parenting have given you a toddler who is spoilt, full of neuroses and bad habits, developing an allergy to everything, and who is lagging behind at every developmental milestone.
Your actions during their formative years have destroyed your child's self-esteem, undermined their resilience, blunted their creativity, failed to lay the foundations for future learning and encouraged a range of repellent anti-social behaviours.
As the child grows and attempts to mature, there is no doubt that he or she will turn into an overweight video game addict with psychopathic tendencies. They will be precociously sexualised before being stalked, bullied and warped by the hours spent online. They will be unable to form healthy relationships offline and turn out in general to be selfish, narcissistic, unimaginative, demanding, unrealistic, charmless blobs unable to fend for themselves and do anything else but sneer on Twitter.
Look, I've done a bit of parenting, and like anyone else who's had a shot at it, I'm full of advice.
Here are a few simple rules to follow, which I believe will turn your child into a functioning adult with a positive outlook and body mass index figures in an acceptable range.
Rules for parents:
  • Stop reading the articles.
  • Don't read the books and above all, don't listen to other parents.
  • Don't do your child's school project.
  • Don't smoke in the car with them.
  • Don't scream at them at sporting events.
  • No whacking.
  • Sarcasm not good. Yeah, right, try parenting without it, smart boy. (See what I mean?)
  • Feed them. Try to vary the diet.
  • Play with them.
  • Talk to them.
  • Read to them.
  • Watch some TV with them.
  • Take them to the movies. Let them buy popcorn.
  • Let them play with the weird kid you don't like. They'll like some other kid next week.
  • They will see inappropriate movies and TV shows at some other kid's house. Don't worry about it.
  • Make them go outside.
  • Let them get bored.
  • Let them make a mess.
  • Don't worry about what they're wearing.
  • They need to know how to use a knife and fork.
  • It's "please" when you ask and "thank you" when you get.
  • They don't know the rules of hide and seek; you have to teach them.
  • Throw a ball to them.
  • Go to the park.
  • Get a pet.
  • Teach them how to cross the road and then let them walk to school. Getting hit by cars is tragic but statistically unlikely.
  • Same for getting snatched off the streets by perverts in white vans.
  • Get them to bed on time.
  • Let them stay up on Saturday night.
  • Take them to funerals.
  • Take them to parties.
  • Answer their questions.
  • Let them finish their stories.
  • Whatever they're into, get into yourself. Play Xbox. Listen to Justin Bieber. You don't have to do it all the time. Just a few times. Remind yourself that this too will pass.
  • Make sure they know school is important. Go to parent teacher meetings. Do some work in the tuck shop.
  • Make them do their homework.
  • Say no.
  • Let them fail.
  • Tell them when they're doing stuff wrong.
  • Give clear instructions.
  • Have a routine.
  • Sometimes throw the routine away.
  • Look pleased to see them.
  • You will get angry. They won't hear what you're saying while you're angry. Only that you're angry. Apologise for being angry and tell them what you were angry about later when you're calm.
  • They may not be very much like you. They might be quite different.
  • Most of them won't be concert violinists, discover nuclear fusion or play for Australia.
  • Wrestle with the boys.
  • Be there.
  • Praise them.
  • Hug them.
  • Tell them they're great. Tell them you love them. Let them go.
Do all that, and then the rest is up to them.
I'm not suggesting my kids are wonderful. Nor that I'm a wonderful father. Of those rules I observe about half of them half of the time. The other half of the time I'm a nagging old idiot, thinking only of myself and looking at brochures for boarding schools.
If only they'd been selected for Hogwarts.

The best use of an ironing pile yet!
Well, what do you think? I have had a shot at this parenting thing twice. The first time was rather unsuccessful, the second going rather better to plan. May be more the children than the parent that's the greatest variable to my philosophy. Speaking of which, back to watching Mary Poppins snuggled up in bed with my 2 cherubs and their Other Mother. Time to get up shortly and head off to dance class. Then, who knows, it's not good to plan too far ahead.

Have a great day.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Close to you.

"Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near
Just like me, they long to be, close to you." The Carpenters

I have had so much cause the past 6 days to be grateful and amazed at the love and resilience of my little family.

We were meant to head off to Queensland last Sunday for a 5 day Family Holiday, but as you will have learnt in my previous blog, an insidious ash cloud from Chile put those plans into chaos. Early hours of Sunday morning after hours of 'on hold' with the airline, we were finally re booked for Tuesday. The airline were happy to change our return date at no extra charge and our accommodation did likewise.

Monday was spent trying to maintain an air of, "it'll be OK". We watched some movies, did a bit of extra cleaning, read, facebooked, rode around on the scooter and told ourselves that we would be on that plane tomorrow.
                                 Late Monday night the dreaded happened.

The text message, "Due to a volcanic ash cloud moving across Australia, Jetstar regrets to inform you that your flight tomorrow has been cancelled..."

Another few hours on the phone and we decided to cancel the trip altogether. School was starting back on Monday and we didn't have the luxury of extending the school holidays any longer. So, except for some 'extras' we were (rather will be) given a refund. Our accommodation deposit isn't refunded but we have been promised a 'good deal' when we rebook later in the year.

Come Tuesday and all feeling a bit low, we  wondered what exactly we should do considering we weren't heading to the warm end of the Country. We were painfully aware of what we were all going to miss out on...

By far Roscoe's most favourite ride when we were there in January.

Our very dear friend, Gina Scott, from Platypus Park, Bridport offered us an awesome deal and our darling friend Richard wanted us to stay with him, but we had a Family Meeting and decided to stay home and have a 'Not A Queensland Holiday, Holiday.' And I am ever so glad we did.

For the next 4 days we acted like we weren't at home but actually 'somewhere away'. The domestic chores - washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, were in no way chores as they were part of our 'adventure'. We all stayed up late and slept late. Did naughty things like eat chips in bed watching movies and played endless games of Uno. We laughed, talked, explored, shared and enjoyed each others company.

Tuesday - Mt Wellington

Wednesday - Ice Skating

Thursday - Bowling

Friday - Hobart Aquatic Centre
We also ventured out each day and did an activity in Hobart that we often don't do because we are usually just too damn busy.

Another bonus to our holiday is that we now have a whole list of 'to do' in future... looking forward to our occasional free weekend days and bring on the September holidays.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Power of Love

I've had cause lately to think and reflect on the past. That in itself is interesting as my blog is 'Moving Forward'.

An old cliche, you can't know where you are going until you know where you have been. Well I know exactly where I've been and I know where I am, I am hoping that is going to help inform where I am headed.

But we never really know...

Take today for example, we were, in theory, getting up this morning, washing floors and feeding Blossom & Bubbles (the fish) and Cadbury (the rabbit) leaving the keys with my Mum and heading off to Queensland for 5 days. Of course a volcanic explosion in Chile last week put paid to that plan. We were grounded. A couple of phone calls to Jetstar and Atrium Resort and we were all sorted. Change of plans - Queensland, here we come Tuesday (hopefully).

Caulle volcanic chain near Osorno city in south-central Chile June 5, 2011.
Murduna, Tasmania. 12/6/11. Volcanic ash sunset

I love that the whole experience was dealt with calmly and with humour. In the past there would have been a great deal of angst and stress. Worry and impatience. Crabbiness and anger. Today, we knew that it would all work out, and as far as I know, it will.

After spending a very casual day hanging around the house - there wasn't much to do as we thought we'd be in Queensland. At a bit of a loss our lovely friends invited us down for a visit. They too were meant to be on the same flight as us today. A great chance for an impromptu catch up, a casual dinner, lots of laughs and fun.

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."- Anais Nin

I would like to share with you a few pics of some of our dear friends. Friends come in so many shapes and forms but there is one thing they always have in common - an impact, a memory, a moment of our lives shared.

Thank you to all of our beautiful friends. Oh, and if I don't have a picture of you on here please send me one... you know how I get caught up and forget to keep taking them :)

My Best Friend in the World EVER.

I Wish For You

Happiness. Deep down within.
Serenity. With each sunrise.
Success. In each facet of your life.
Close and caring friends.
Love. That never ends.

Special memories. Of all the yesterdays.
A bright today. With much to be thankful for.
A path. That leads to beautiful tomorrows.

Dreams. That do their best to come true.

And appreciation. Of all the wonderful things about you.

(Author Unknown)


Sunday, June 5, 2011

A beginning

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today - The First Day of the Rest of My Life

This is it. The plunge or the toe dab into the waters. I have been awake a lot during the night and I have dreamed extensively throughout the night about this initial blog. I decided it would start and then go with the flow. My fingers will listen to my brain and the outcome will be posted. It may not go where or how I expect and I assume if it's all too much or not enough you won't read it.

As an educator I have to know my audience before I begin to write. I have to be able to enable my language to reflect the requirements of the audience. This first blog is hard because I think it's actually for me, so I'm really uncertain of my tone. I ebb and flow my intellect level from hugely immature to academic, depending on how I'm feeling at the time. Right now I'm very relaxed and in the moment. To be perfectly honest (which is actually often a negative trait because it gets me into trouble) I am still in bed. My daughter, Charlotte (6) is setting next to me watching a bit of TV Hits, reading a book and chatting away. My fiancee, Melitta is on the other laptop playing Huntsville and responding to Charli's ponderings. My son, Roscoe (11) has been in for a game of UNO and to tell me how he has rearranged his bedroom - again. He has perched on the end of the bed and thrown Easter eggs at us, talked about a painting he saw at the museum with his dad and made me turn TV Hits up VERY loud for The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars.Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song [Official Video]
Oh, now I want to write about music. Our life is full of music. PM (Prior to Mel) I had little music in my life, now it's everywhere. Focus Michelle, FOCUS.

OK... A brief history (which of course we know is relative). Facts are only facts because we state them as such and only cease to be facts when someone else challenges them. Fact - I was born in Brisbane, August 14, 1971 to my Mum. Until I was 8 I believed my Dad was a man named Basil Clive Chester. He passed away from a heart condition November 2, 1979 - that is when my childhood ended. After Dad's death (whenever I refer to Dad it will always be referring to Basil, the' biological sperm donor' has nothing to offer my life other than an awesome sister, nieces and nephews and now a great niece). The story of when I found out the 'fact' of my father is for another day, but suffice to say my biological is a person (now too deceased) by the name of John. He and my mother had a violent 7 year relationship and she finally left him when I was about 6 weeks old and he hit me for the first time (in a butchers shop no less). He was an immoral degenerate who talked his way out of police issues, into peoples lives (and bank accounts), and right up until his lonely, pain filled death thought he could talk his way out of retribution. God has the last word for John. God may forgive, I doubt I will. He hurt people I love, he altered their lives forever, he changed who they were meant to be.

LOL, did I say "brief"? I haven't got past 6 weeks yet....

I grew up in a housing department area called Mornington, Tasmania. My Mum is still there. The only constant in my life really, that house. I went to Mornington Primary School and was pretty average. Lost teeth, suffered through childhood illnesses, made friends, lost friends, had boyfriends, got into trouble, came out of school in the top 5% and went to Mt Carmel College on a 6 year academic scholarship. There's lots about my childhood I could go into here but the blog would end up taking hours to read so I'll just add some snippets. I was a baton twirler. State Champion from the age of 2. Represented in my club and my State and my Family. Don't think I really reached my true potential but maybe I did. That may be a call for someone else to make. My Mum is an alcoholic. Until I was a teenager I thought (secretly hoped) that my Aunty Mary was my 'real' mother and due to the fact that she had a physical disability the family gave me to Mum. It wasn't until I really understood my family that I had to accept that was not the case. My family would never have stopped Aunty Mary from doing anything, ever.
After Mt Carmel I did a 6 month stint as a gopher for Cascade Brewery, experienced 'first love', went OS with a friend, and for the next 3 years had a number of boyfriends, worked as a support worker for people with disabilities, worked in childcare centres, worked as a teacher aide with early special education, started my teaching degree and basically enjoyed life. During that 3 years my Nan, the Head of our family passed away. I suddenly found myself in the role of primary carer for Aunty Mary. This didn't work well for either of us. Aunty Mary (has a story which is a whole other blog) was ready to have her life and that is just what she did. She didn't need a primary carer she needed a family and we worked through that and came out so much stronger at the other end for it.

In 1993 I was working at the Bridgewater Childcare Centre (as well as studying, being a support worker and a teacher aide) and a part time girlfriend and I met 2 beautiful little girls (aged 3 & 2). For my own sanity I shall call them Rhi and Nic. No doubt people who 'know' me will read this blog and know who the children are. The children know who they are. I had no idea of their story until one day I was called in for an urgent meeting. If Rhi and Nic's 'mother' turned up she was not to see the girls or remove them from the centre. There were court proceedings. They lived with their Dad and their mother had 'mental health issues'.

Now is the time to stop. Too many emotions competing and making my reason for writing unclear. Plus Charli wants to have a bath and the washing machine has finished so I best go hang the towels. I have watched the River change from a slow flow of tiny white caps to a fast, tumultuous rush of unpredictability. Definitely time to bask in the glow of family love.

Ah the things you find when you google yourself. I'm not sure when I actually wrote this but I have tried searching for it and was unsuccessful, until now. It's interesting as it sums me up nicely, except for the piece about my Grandaughter. I'm now' grandchild free'. Nic (see my New Beginnings blog) has since decided that due to the fact that I was such an horrendous mother I no longer have any rights to contact with her daughter. That honour has now been passed to my ex husbands new gf and I say, "good on them. Enjoy"
I am apparently turning 40 this year, but really I am only 26. I am Mum to a Son and Daughter who are delightful beyond words. I'm not into the whole verbal splurging of superfluous adjectives. My best trait, but possibly my worst, is my tendency to be blatantly honest. It's cost me family and friends. Upon reflection there is no loss. I do love my children, they do drive me nuts. But, God help anyone who hurts them. I am engaged to the most inspirational beautiful woman. Yes, I'm gay. I didn't find this out until later in life and if I had been more switched on to me instead of pandering to the needs of the selfish few who made me revolve my life around them I could have saved myself a great deal of angst. Of course everything happens for a reason and I would never give back my children, the 14 years with my ex husband or the raising of his 2 daughters (who I believed firmly were equally my children until they changed our history). Short bio? Hahahaha, nope it just can't be done. I do have a divine Grandaughter and I thank her Mum every night before I go to sleep for not depriving me of knowing her letting her know me. Ruby is the most precious jewel. I am a teacher and I am good at what I do. Listening is a great gift and while I talk a lot I also listen well. If I don't understand you then tell me again. Reflection, learning and growing are skills that I have developed over my life time. I have been able to apologise to people I have hurt due to my actions and I have also been able to accept apologise from people who have equally hurt me. At the end of the day, it's all about knowing there is a world beyond the end of our own noses. I wish for my children all that life offers. I could say I want them to have peace and happiness but I also want them to have angst and sadness. One can not be fully understood without the other. In the wise words of Descartes, "Cogito ergo sum". Unsure? Google it :)