Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Anyone who makes their own work, pursues their ideas and talents, is someone I'm happy to support.
My friend, Paul Barry, an actor who lives in LA, is putting together a project to make a documentary about his finance's grandmother, and her experience in Poland during WWII.
My friend, Sophie Ruggles, who now lives in Barcelona, has made a cookbook and blogs about cooking. Her book is the book I needed when I first started feeding my kids, because I was clueless. It's a really good book. We met as teenagers. I remember when she was a single mum with a toddler she made sandwiches to sell to local businesses. She has always had a lot of initiative and drive and creativity.
Joan Garvan is President of the Australian branch of MIRCI (Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement). She recently was awarded her PhD from ANU, and has put together this site of resources re mothering.
Heidi Goh has written and illustrated a children’s book called York’s Universe. It is being launched at Better Read Than Dead at Newtown in September.
Rebekka Neville is a jazz singer. We met years ago at jazz workshops. She sings as part of a duo, trio, quartet. She's now also in my babysitting club.
The Jessamine cd launch is happening tonight. I met Jess when she was eleven. My share house was next door to her family home, and the households kind of merged. While at school Jess and her friends formed the band Nitocris. She now fronts her own band, Jessamine (and, yes, that's her real name.)
Bunny Hoopstar, our hoop teacher, has contributed to this book, Amongst Sisters, which is being launched in Marrickville this month.
I have other friends who have started and run their own businesses, but that's enough for now. Well done all!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
You can add your voice here:
I mentioned the environmental cost of all these toys going to landfill. Really, no-one needs them.
And they market M rated movies to children, as if those movies are suitable for children, when they're not. So, the sooner the toys go, the better.
Now, the philosophy has changed. You don’t pull teeth if you really don’t need to. You expand the jaw to make room for the teeth. And you get braces.
All three of my kids are likely to need expanders and braces. I’ve been asking the orthodontist we’ve been visiting about the change in policy. She’s just keeping an eye on the kids to see when is the right time to start intervening and doesn’t charge until the process starts. To her credit she has told us that we don’t need treatment. No-one died from having crooked teeth. But I’m well aware that people are judged on appearance, and having straight teeth does matter. She’s assured me that although the children’s faces will change, she won’t let them look like they aren’t my children anymore. Thanks. I’ve asked my dentist too. Why the change in policy? He told me that, because I’ve had four teeth removed, I have unsupported lips. Unsupported lips. I spent the next day wondering how my life would have been different if I’d had supported lips. My face would have been different if I had kept all my teeth. And, being in my mid forties now, I’m aware that your teeth do start to deteriorate and the longer you can keep your own teeth the better.
So, intervention either way changes the shape of your face. Is it better to expand the jaw and make the teeth fit, or remove teeth to allow room for them to be straight? Or to just accept crooked teeth and not mess with the shape of your face?
Strange how I wouldn’t dye my children’s hair, or tattoo them, but I’m prepared to change the structure of their faces.
At the moment, we’ll be going with expanders and braces.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A piece today about a new book, 'The Idle Parent', by Tom Hodgkinson, who lives in the UK. This is in reaction to helicopter parenting and over-scheduled children. He teaches his kids Latin and Greek at home, so that might colour your view of him.
If you read the article, I think you get the idea, and won't need to buy the book.
I've read a similar book by Muffy Mead-Ferro called 'Confessions of a Slacker Mom' which I picked up second hand for $3. I don't know why these kinds of books have titles that make the parents sound negligent when they aren't, eg, 'Mommies Who Drink'. Part of the genre.
In my course at the moment we have been talking about kids being coached for selective schools. Is it any different from kids being coached to attend sports high school, or visual arts, or performing arts schools? Probably not. Working hard leads to achieving goals. That's not a message to be sneezed at. When it is at the expense of free time and socialising and having fun and gong to the occasional party - that's when it becomes a problem and unhealthy for the family, in my opinion.
Is my family over-scheduled? Yes. During the week. But weekends and holidays are free. Do we have lots of free time? Yes. The kids have playdates and time to moosh about. We have dinner at the table together every night. They go to bed at a decent time. They eat good food. As my friend who is a mother of five says, 'It isn't rocket science.' Simple things first - food and sleep. No amount of coaching will help if the children eat rubbish food and are tired.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
When I started we weren’t really used to having parties. I’d go a bit mad. I’d yell at everyone while I’d spend two days cooking and cleaning. For the first one we didn’t have enough chairs, and I had to borrow from the neighbours. Another time I didn’t have enough cutlery and some of my guests ate with plastic baby spoons. One day it was very hot and my partner said we couldn’t sit everyone out in the blazing sun so my daughter smothered them in sunscreen and everyone wore a hat - mostly a hat from our dressup box. No-one complained. Everyone was happy. I need to remember that no-one is coming to inspect my house, and just as well.
I’ve had the kind of day where I’ve boiled the kettle a few times to make a cup of tea but haven’t actually got to make the tea. So now I’m just having a coffee. I’ve taken Clancy to the doctor’s this morning and spent an hour waiting for her prescription to be filled. I’ve shopped for groceries and bought some plates from an op-shop. I’ve made three desserts with three different children, because Clancy tells me it isn’t nice to be told she can help by staying out of the way. I’ve abandoned any hope of reading uni notes or going to the gym this weekend. I’ve combed three children and myself for nits because we don’t want our guests leaving with any unwanted party favours. I’ve upset the child who is giving up furniture for the 40 hour famine (and she gave up food for 20) by expecting her to sit down while I comb hair. I’ve brought in the washing but haven’t put it away. And I’ve just remembered that I haven’t bought my sister a gift for her birthday.
I’ve always told the children they can watch the M rated Harry Potter movies when they on tv as PG, and that’s happening tonight.
I’ll be going a bit crazy in the morning.
Having the whole family over also makes me a bit sad. It was at my place that we were last all together before my sister died. It was clear that she was dying, and she didn’t stay long. I was shocked to see her. She walked into my house like she was walking out of Auschwitz. She had Christmas presents for my girls because she knew she wouldn’t be here for Christmas and she was right. We took lots of photos.
This is what I’ll be reminding myself in the morning as I’m running around. The important thing is being together. Best to just keep rolling with it.
Monday, August 15, 2011
This semester I’m studying, for my Dip Ed, units on Education and Social Justice, and on Classroom Behaviour Management. I’m reading articles by specialists in those areas, who, in ideology and ideas, are saying things similar to the experts who have been commenting on the UK riots. The causes and possible solutions. So, I’m pretty full of theories this week. Theories such as:
Welfare makes people lazy, and gives them a sense of entitlement. We need to cut welfare and provide stronger law enforcement.
People feel they have no investment in their own communities. There is no hope for their future. They don’t care. How can we give them reasons to care?
The gap between rich and poor is growing. It is only natural that the poor will rebel. The poor see the big salaries paid to people who don’t deserve it and are resentful. They know it isn’t fair.
We need to bring in compulsory military service.
It is caused by the breakdown of the family.
The riots are symptomatic of loss of the power of the church in society.
We do young people no favours by keeping them in school until they are seventeen - it weakens the education system for everyone. If we can’t provide traineeships or apprenticeships, lets look to fast food chains to teach young people how to work.
Everyone has the right to an education. Everyone in society is valued and should be heard and should be catered for.
This is another indicator that capitalism is failing. We advertise consumer goods to everyone, telling the population that they need these things to be valued/attractive/worthwhile, so if people can’t afford to buy these things they’ll just steal them.
The riots are the result of police picking on people for no reason.
These people need support. Pulling funding for community programs was the last straw.
If you measure the success of a society by how the most vulnerable are treated, the riots are a symptom of a sick society.
We need greater taxing of the rich to help the poor.
The rioters and looters couldn’t even explain why they rioting and looting - it was sheer opportunism. They’re thugs.
With rights come responsibilities.
In order to learn people need to understand why they are being taught, and then make their own meaning.
Everyone needs to feel part of a community. Everyone needs to feel life has some purpose.
It’s all about power.
The most vulnerable or marginalised people need more support.
People in authority need to be consistent, fair and equitable.
The riots show how precariously our society holds together. The pretence of civilisation is a thin veneer.
This morning I picked up a copy of The Australian at the doctor’s waiting room (Banjo has tonsillitis) (they publish a column bagging the ABC and SMH, and I’m not sure why I’m surprised...) and found this:
YOU are right, of course, Ros Kidd (Talking Point, 13-14/8). But nor was it the rioting youths or their parents who implemented the education and social policies which led, at least in part, to the unrest.
For that, you must point the finger at the moronic Left-leaning postmodernist social-deconstructionists in charge of the asylum. I wager that these misguided people, almost to a person, read and absorbed Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida with unmitigated glee.
Graeme Osborne, Southern River, WA
Well, that would be me and most people I know. It’s our fault. People thinking, or being compassionate, is the problem.
All depends on your ideology, which could do with some challenging. That’s what the UK riots are doing. Challenging our ideologies.
By the way, The Guardian Weekly put the story of the UK riots on page 12 of a 48 page edition. The lead story was on how India and China’s criticism of the US’s handling of their debts could be the tipping point of the transfer of global power from the USA to Asia.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Review from SMH here. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/musicals/mummy-mia-here-we-go-again-in-joyful-romp-20110728-1i27v.html
True that it offers no great insights or solutions. But that doesn't matter. My view, today, is that it is enough that we see ourselves onstage. It's an accessable and enjoyable entertainment. (Which leaves room for another, slightly different type of musical about motherhood...)
You can buy the soundtrack here.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Should be interesting.*
* Code for 'likely to be rather crap'.
Monday, August 08, 2011
I’ve been thinking about what advice I would now give to my younger self, and what I would say to my nieces (if they were interested enough to listen to me) or to my own daughters. This is what I would say.#
* Don’t remove your body hair. Once you start you embark on a lifelong contract. I’d be very interested to see if the body hair I started removing as a teenager (underarm, and legs below the knees) would be soft and fair and fine, like my mother’s, if I never shaved. I suspect so. I’ll never know.
* See a colour and style consultant. It’s an investment that will save you a lot of money, and you’ll always look great.
* Don’t worry about what the guys are doing or whether or not they like you. Just do your own thing. Work on becoming good at whatever it is you are interested in. I spent too much time helping males with what they were interested in, at the expense of building on my own abilities. If a person you are interested in is interested in you he/she will let you know. Don’t go chasing after people. It’s undignified. People will accept what you offer (food, entertainment, sex), but if you keep offering, you’ll never know if they are really interested. Give people a chance to come to you. If they are interested, they’ll make the effort.
* Don’t waste your money when you’re young. When I was young some people spent all their money on drugs and alcohol. Some bought an investment property. Guess which ones are better off today.
* If you want to be a mother, just have one child. Two tops. We need women in the workplace. We need women to have more power and influence in society. Stay in the workforce. Earn your own money. Money buys you options. If you have more than two children you’ll be working to pay for childcare. The more children you have the more people are bringing germs into the home. The more people to keep an eye on and deal with all the people around them. The more children you have the more running around you do. The more children you have the greater the chances that someone won’t like the dinner you’ve cooked. With one or two children you can travel. You can bunk down at friend’s places. You are more likely to agree on things. Of course, if you thrive on living in constantly noisy chaos, and love combing every member of the household for nits on a regular basis, then go for it.
* Be careful who you breed with. You’ll be dealing with the person for the rest of your life, through thick and thin. The audition process should run longer than The Glee Project. Like The Glee Project you are looking for someone with shared values.Someone who is easy to work with. Someone who is stable, resourceful and has a positive attitude to life.
* If you don’t have kids, being able to cook is optional. If you have kids, it’s compulsory.
* If you want to have kids find a compatible job (ie, working at a school), or a partner who is able to earn good money working part time. If you can’t both job share, live near family members who are ready, willing and able to help. If not, then find or start a community of like-minded people, so there is always someone around. You need a network. My dream is to live with people who all work four days a week, so there is always someone to do the school runs and to pick up a sick kid from school. Share resources, share child care and household jobs, be a sounding board, support each other. Share some common space, but have our own spaces too. Communal parenting. Lovely. (Because it isn’t natural for one adult to be alone with children all day.)
* Taking care of yourself means getting enough sleep, eating fruit and vegetables, drinking water, keeping physically active, washing yourself, and either wearing sunscreen or staying out of the sun. Physically, that’s it. But you need to also look after your emotional health and finances.
* There are still some men in the world who believe women are lesser beings than men. Male friends of mine have told me that men just give lip service to female equality, but they don’t believe it. Behave in such a way that proves we deserve the rights our mothers fought for. Women are capable and responsible. We don’t want our rights taken away from us.
# Written the week I've had one child on antibiotics, one with a sore but not fractured arm, and the other came into my bed and vomited. If I was employed full time last week, I wouldn't be employed at all this week.
To P&C Fete Committee,
Every second year, I look forward to, and enjoy, the (School) Fete. This year I am sure that it will be better than ever, except for the gender stereotypical note asking for donations to the Tombola stall.
The note requests:
- Toys for girls up to the value of $10 wrapped in pink paper
- Toys for boys up to the value of $10 wrapped in blue paper
Surely the committee doesn’t think that only girls would like “girls toys” wrapped in pink paper. And I am sure that it’s not only boys who like “boys toys” in blue paper. I would also like to ask you what you define as a boy or girl toy. Boys don’t only want dinosaur toys and Hotwheels and girls don’t all share a desire for Barbies and anything pink. As well as this, I remember that even in pre-school the concept of separate boy and girl colours was always meant to be avoided. How can this be encouraged by a primary school fete committee!
What I am trying to tell you is that our whole world is trying to eliminate gender stereotypes so why shouldn’t our fete? I understand that you can’t change that note, but I hope that in the future our entire school community is aware that gender stereotypes are not acceptable in today’s society.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
The UK government is endorsing a parenting campaign - five things parents should do each day.
Read to your child for 15 minutes
Play with your child on the floor for 10 minutes
Talk with your child for 20 minutes with the television off
Adopt positive attitudes towards your child and praise them frequently
Give your child a nutritious diet
I would have added one more. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Nobody behaves well or is ready to learn when they’re tired. The 20 minutes of talk with the tv off could be taken care of by having dinner each night at the dinner table. And the playing on the floor applies only to younger children - just playing doing anything would be ok for older children.
Some people find the idea insulting and middle class. I reckon any guidance the helps people learn how to parent (and lets face it, most people don't know how to parent until they have kids, and most just do what their own parents did, for good or ill), is a good move. If something similar was to be introduced here, I can hear the cries of 'nanny state' ( insulting to nannies?)
Also, controversy over the launching of a new toy. This is a baby doll that children can breastfeed. The nipples to be worn by the child are flowers, which is a bit weird. Normalising breastfeeding? Kind of. Stereotyping girls as mothers and nurturers? I don’t know. Certainly it’s a very gendered toy. I’d just say it is an unnecessary toy (as lots are). My girls have all pretended to breastfeed their baby dolls. Perhaps there is no market for it and it will die a quiet death.
I could provide a roundup of news stories from The Guardian Weekly. Suffice to say the world is cactus, and I'll spare you the depressing details.
Horrible Histories is now a BBC Proms show playing at The Albert Hall. It won a British Comedy Award for best sketch show, competing against adult comedy. My daughter, Clancy, only got into reading for herself when I bought her some Horrible History books, and we love the tv series. My kids are singing the songs. A lot.
The other thing they're into at the moment is Big Babies. You can have a look here.
When they're saying things I don't understand, it's either from Horrible Histories or Big Babies.
Friday, August 05, 2011
To be held at the Sydney Opera House, the weekend of October 1&2. You can see the program and a list of panel participants here. Strangely, there isn't a list of who is sitting on which panel. I'm guessing Clem Bastow and Catherine Lumby might be hosting the topic All Women are Sluts. But I doubt there will be anyone who works with women traded into the sex industry, or victims of abuse. Seeing who is on what panel might give me a clue about what the topic Why are we Poisoning our Children? is actually about. Food additives? Sex and violence in the media? Arsenic? I just don't know.
I'm not sure I'll be going to either. I don't know that I'll be hearing any new ideas or radical suggestions re either topic, and I could spend my $30 an hour on something better elsewhere. And these things are usually recorded and uploaded so I can see the highlights from the comfort of my own home.
There are a few other topics that have caught my eye though. Society is Broken, and The Impossible: Communism and Anyone can make a Revolution. I wouldn't mind hearing Jullian Assange re Wikileaks, and Jonathon Safron Foer re food, but I get the feeling I already know what they're going to say. For$30 an hour, I want some really dangerous ideas. Something exciting. Something that makes me believe change is possible and we present at the discussion can be a part of it. But I won't know unless I go. A bit like a party for grown ups. I won't bother going if it is just a little tea party - I could do that at home - but if it turns into a rave, I don't want to miss it.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Here’s a little rundown of yesterday, and today, so far.
The day began with my dream of being hunted by murderous kittens. I kid you not. I awoke later than I wanted to, which I attributed to having a cold, and Cyberbuy asking if I am supposed to be up already. Apparently he had been awake for ‘hours’. I got Clancy up, and she cried saying that it was too late to go to band practice. We could have made it if we hurried, but she said the band teacher would be mad if she wasn’t early, so she went back to bed. I had breakfast and a shower. The other children got up and had breakfast. Cyberguy spent the morning yelling at Banjo, and making her scared and sad. She said he had poisoned her breakfast. He got angrier. I tried to muster the children in the right direction. Matilda was ready to walk to school, but Banjo wanted to walk with her but wasn’t ready, and Clancy only likes walking if we go the longer way. We were planing to walk together the long way. Then Cyberguy had a shower and was shouting ‘help me!.’ He was stuck inside the broken shower door. I had meant to tell him it was broken but forgot. He yelled at me and called me a prick. With no time to trade insults I left him there and drove the children to school. When I came back he was out of the shower (he’d dismantled the doors) and I drove him to the train station. Then I got some petrol, so I could give a child a $5 note for a sausage and can of drink lunch at the school fundraiser, and popped into the shops to pick up some buns, a lottery ticket and four small bananas at $7.99 a kilo.
Home again. Looked at emails and the SMH’s stupid story on Kristina Kineally’s new hairstyle. Reworked some writing for my first assignment. Ate. Tried to find my notes so I could blog about the mothering conference, but I've lost them. In the post received my free birthday ticket to the movies, so I might see Jane Eyre sometime in the next few weeks. Off to school at 11 for open day bearing boxes of tissues for classrooms. Visit three. Chat to other mums. Home again and submit first assignment. Ate. Packed for after school dance classes. Back to school at 1.30 for debate. Our team lost by a whisker. The adjudicator said it was the best primary school debate he’d seen. Home again to finish packing, and downloaded this week’s readings (I’m already behind). My friend rang to say her son’s party planned for the weekend was cancelled as he doesn’t want a party. There goes my social life. Back to school to pick up children. Clancy fell over at school and didn’t want to dance. Banjo was invited to a friend’s place for a playdate. Home. Sort the fete craft we’ve made. Took Matilda to dancing. Told the dance school principal that Banjo is dropping out of her class because they aren’t dancing to Cyndi Lauper. She said there will be a different teacher from next week. Back to pick up Banjo and drop off the craft items. Home to prepare dinner - shepherd’s pie so I could use up leftover mashed potato. Then off again to pick up Matilda from ballet. We saw the end of the class and Matilda fell onto her arm. She was shaken and crying. She puked into the bin. One of the assistant teachers is a trainee paramedic and checked her out. Got ice and a sling. She secured the ice in the sling. Asked if she had eaten anything unusual today. A banana? Made sure she was OK, gave us a vomit bag for the journey home. On the way to the car I sneezed a few times and wet my pants. We went home and I finished making dinner. Clancy was grazed in several places. Matilda feeling better but her arm, hand and wrist are sore. The Principal of the dance school called to check that Matilda was OK while Helen Reddy was singing ‘I am Woman’ on the radio. We ate. Banjo said she’ll go back to her class if there is a new teacher. Cyberguy came home and fixed the shower door. The children settled in their beds. Matilda got up, distressed, so I settled her in my bed. I told her I can take her to the doctor in the morning if she wants. I took an antihistamine and went to bed.
Morning, while discussing going to the doctor’s Clancy says she wants to stay home from school. I say I could take her to the doctor too, for her cough she’s had for two months. Matilda decides to go to school. Banjo drops her breakfast bowl on her foot and the bowl smashes on the floor. I write notes for two injured children and drive them to school. Then home for a shower. I drop off at school the project and jacket that the children accidentally left at home, and take Clancy to the doctor, who puts her on antibiotics for the crackle in the lung. The doctor says that Matilda’s arm might be fractured. I’ll take her for an x-ray tomorrow.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Blue Milk has shared her experience of teaching a Montessori class of 5-6 year olds about the messages they receive about gender, and asks them to challenge those messages. Great work!
News With Nipples writes about Sacha Molitorisz’s article about poor female role models, citing music videos, magazines, and the film Bad Teacher. Great work NWN.