29 April 2013

If Fred Nile agrees with you - there's a problem

Rightio - Fred Nile has just agreed with your suggestion.  Do you
a) continue thinking its a good idea
b) give yourself kudos for having tried but concede its probably not the right direction?

Look - it was a suggestion to move the issue along which is more than Tony or Julia have managed but any idea that gets Fred calling on the 'Anglican and Catholic churches to come out in opposition to gay marriage' NON-IRONICALLY is not the right direction for this country.

The fact that we still continue to muddy the waters with bollocks about religion and sexuality is annoying.  And repetitive and really really boring.
www.change.org - thanks for the image to illustrate my point

The question is: are you human?
Answer Yes: Great stuff - you get the same rights as the person next to you.
Answer No: Chances are you're Mr Ed the Talking Horse and this really isn't about you.


I've just solved it.  It doesn't infringe upon anybodies rights and if churches want to say "None of that malarky in my building of worship" - fine. Let 'em.  Choose another building.  I align with 'those of faith' on a general basis but I think people that argue that religion should dictate the laws of a country are daft.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - the law of our country should apply to all individuals regardless of sexuality, religion, ability, gender, stupidity or bigotry.

And referendums never ask sensible questions like 'Do you want to be a republic?', they say 'Do you want to be this really specific type of republic that nobody wants?' and of course, it fails and the idiots get to bang on about it for 1000 years. Martin Luther King and Ghandi would have yelled 'referendum my arse' if they were about today.... and both of them were 'aligned with faith' and equality.  Imagine. They didn't make history or change the world by being negative nellies or risk adverse now did they?

So let me say it for them - 'Referendum my arse'.  Just change the freakin' law, let them homosexuals go at marriage with gay abandon and please god - smite Fred Nile with one of those thunderbolts like old Saul got on that road to Damascus.  Let him preach words of love not hate, acceptance not bigotry, peace not war.

24 April 2013

The practising of small acts of politeness

I have been seeing a psychologist since I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and PTSD following a particularly crappy first birth experience.  It's not a secret and my only regret is that I didn't accept the diagnosis at first figuring that knowing I had it was essentially dealing with it. 

We've done pretty well working me through that and we're still working on a few things around depression and anxiety and since I'm there, life in general.  So generally, she knows a lot of stuff about me.  We've worked through stuff I've talked about with nobody else, my inner thoughts, my outer thoughts, my not quite articulated thoughts.  It's a pretty intimate relationship and obviously I have to trust her because she knows EVERYTHING.  

Like everything. 

Which is why it ALWAYS makes me chuckle quietly to myself when I pay at the end of a session, she takes two steps away and turns her back, so I don't feel she's looking at me entering my PIN.  If she asked me I'd give it to her.  I know she'd do nothing with the information apart from make a note that I'm an idiot and we need to discuss that in another session. 

And it got me thinking as I left her yesterday that a lot of people practice small acts of polite which are respectful but unnecessary.

Like the doctor turning his back while you get dressed after your pap smear.  I mean really, I think we are way past that.  We've just chatted that whole time, so we might as well continue talking now that I'm upright.

And anything to do with childbirth - asking how my day is or whether the traffic was okay when you're examining my insides with an instrument larger than the child I've grown or as you're cutting my stomach open to move things aside and pull out a baby - is essentially superfluous good manners.  I'm touched that you care but I'm assuming that you've currently got other things to focus on and I am completely, totally okay with that.  No really.  

But it's not just the medical profession.  There are hairdressers that chop off your ponytail and then say 'that length okay?'. Um, should we not have checked before you used the scissors?  Just quietly it's a bit late now but yes it's fine, I'm just thinking that was a 'before' question, rather than an 'after' question. 

Another recent favourite is the carjacker that forced a man at gunpoint to drive him a couple of hundred kilometres and finished with a 'thanks for the lift' kind of statement as he jumped out and buggered off at the final destination.

In a world where manners are becoming scarcer than a non-racist Liberal party policy, it is lovely that people still use them and I do appreciate being on the receiving end of good manners, no matter how random they seem.  I've just been noticing them used at odd times.  Is this because they are not the norm, therefore I'm noticing them or is it just a heightened sense of the absurd which make them obvious to me?


23 April 2013

Currently old fashioned

This weekend when we spent some time hanging out at Gran and Granpa's house, we had cause to wash our hands.

The Tullinator was fascinated by this square of white sitting on the basin.

"What's this Mama?"
"Soap sweetheart"

Confused look on her face. She knows soap comes from a press pack either attached to a wall in a public place or in a bottle on the side of the basin if one is in a house.

"Yes, old fashioned soap"

She has no idea what "old fashioned" means but she's good like that, runs with an idea until such time as she's worked it out.

Not all that long ago, we're hanging out with the neblings and took them for a drive to somewhere we thought they'd find exciting. I can't remember where - but I do remember what they found the most exciting.  

The fact that our car allowed them to wind their own windows down. That's right - our older car didn't have electric windows and winding the windows down kept them entertained for a very very long time.  Up.  Down.  Up.  Down. With our feet.  Using our elbows.  Woohoo!

And then we recently gifted a pull along telephone with an old school dial mechanism and a cradle to put the earpiece in.

 It's a classic toy in that it has absolutely no relevance to the one year old that received it but they love the sounds it makes and anything that is pull along generally entertains small people.

And it came in a box. Either way, the gift was surely a winner. 

The fact is - things that to us were the everyday not that long ago - are already history for our children.

They are items of novelty. Hilarious. Funny. Enjoyable for being unusual.

And the fact that my childhood and even my teenage years are now officially the olden days is slightly bewildering.

What about you? What things have you discovered aren't instantly recognisable to smaller people?

18 April 2013

If I knew then what I know now - I'd change nothing

Lordy me but the glossary of terms for new parents needs to be refined.  I read article after article where people are beating themselves up because they didn't understand the basic terminology and judge themselves harshly as a result.

I was one of them.  I have two perfect children aged 1 and 2 and lots of my friends have had babies, so basically, I'm an expert now.  Here is my starting list of misunderstood or poorly marketed phrases which would make life for new parents so much easier if promoted accurately.

Natural or Vaginal birth
It hurts.  A fucking lot.

Caesarean birth
It hurts.  A fucking lot.  But after the drugs wear off and for a couple of weeks.  Basically, those women that do it on a wing and whale music for a couple of days are soft.  Caesareans when you already have a small person or persons basically make you more awesome than Mother Teresa.

A way of feeding your baby.  So it like, uh, doesn't starve. A good basis for successful parenting.

Bottle feeding
A way of feeding your baby.  So it like, uh, doesn't starve. A good basis for successful parenting.

Any situation where the child has more stamina then you.  Which is basically all the time.  So you co-sleep pacing the corridor, on the couch, at the dining table and occasionally in public places.  Generally, try not to co-sleep while driving.  Hard to explain.

Controlled crying
This is where nothing you do makes the slightest bit of difference and you try only to cry when nobody is watching so that everybody continues to operate under the misapprehension that you're coping okay and that the baby rearing stuff is a breeze for you. Everybody does it - nobody admits to it.  It's like a cult of denial because we're basically all daft.

Supportive partner
Somebody that appreciates for the last nine months you didn't get to do anything that was entirely selfish because if you even looked sideways at soft cheese some eejit in stained crocs from the North Shore was standing out the front of your house yelling 'Child Abuser!!!!' and organising pogroms. Especially supportive partners (the kind that win Father of the Year) are the kind that bring you champagne to accompany your first breast feed and are prepared to punch the midwife in the face should they criticise you.

The strict definition is moving a child from its mother's milk onto either a bottle, sippy cup or food. Where this is contentious is that the accepted age for weaning depends on your parental affiliations from the vaguely maternal to the militant earth mother and can happen any time from birth to age 49.  It is generally agreed that most children don't graduate still suckling at their mother's breast so if you have children or grandchildren of your own, you probably have a problem.  Otherwise, tell that pushy bitch at childcare to fuck off.

Health Insurance
A woefully inadequate but simultaneously extortionate amount of money that you pay over to some faceless institution that makes you feel protected until such time as your child actually requires medical attention and then you'll find out that they are too young to qualify for major dental, you can't prove conception date or because they turned up 8 weeks prior to due date, that all your plans to give birth in the same suite as Erica Packer will be null and void because Junior turns up 13 minutes the wrong side of 'the qualifying period'.

Yummy Mummy
All of us.  And anybody that disagrees can, well, go get fucked.

Perfect children
All of them.  Absolutely every single one of them.  Admire their resourcefulness, their stamina and their ability to beat you down into a weeping, apologetic mess.  That's the kind of balls they are going to need to make it in the modern world and you should be encouraging that.

What are the definitions you wish you'd more accurately understood when you embarked upon your parenting journey????

14 April 2013

Pondering on the Thatcher thing

In case you've just woken from a coma of some length, it may have come to your attention that Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister has died.  For those that aren't old enough to have any need to know who she is, she is the reason the Dad and the older brother were so cranky all the time in the movie Billy Elliott.

The news coverage, opinion pieces and obituaries have been fiercely divided on whether she was overall a good thing or a bad thing.  I can't confess to know from experience and would probably take my cues from my English husband and his family if push came to shove.  But the vitriol has intrigued me it has to be said.  Especially in light of the fact that she was an 87 year old, with dementia and the opportunity to be meaningfully cross at her as an individual has long past.

But one thing has really stood out for me in all the coverage and that was on her place in feminist history and her obligation to 'do justice' to her place in history as the first female British Prime Minister.

It may be controversial, but I'm going to cry "Bollocks" on this one.  Whether she did good or bad, how she makes people feel is not her responsibility.  She is famously quoted once for saying that she relished personal attacks as it meant they could find nothing in her professional life that was at fault.  While her view might have been oversimplified one and a breathtakingly arrogant one, she does have a point.

She only has as much relevance as a bogeyman as the people are prepared to invest in her.  If her legacy has been discredited (which seems to be the consensus) and her the consequences of her reign disastrous, it happened in conjunction with the support of the voting British public.  The UK is not a dictatorship, and the public's willingness to endorse her course of action is as damning on 1970's Britain is as our current stance on asylum seekers is on 2010's Australia.  Democracy doesn't happen in spite of us, but because of us.  If we are unable to see the impact of government policies on individuals and their families it is not because the evidence is not there, but because we choose to skew it to suit our own beliefs or prejudices.

If her legacy was to shatter the glass ceiling of politics, its only within the construct of modern politics.  Women have been leading, and universally disliked, in the UK for centuries.  We have imbued her role with meaning because she is female.  Whereas it is irrelevant.  She was not in politics for the sisterhood.  She was in politics for Margaret Thatcher.  And that is fine.  Women are not obligated by their gender to stand for all women when they act.  The consequences of their actions might impact negatively or positively, but gender does not come with responsibility.  If it does, the call for equality of the sexes is made redundant.  Men are not tasked with great things when elected to office on the basis of gender but because they have been elected to office.  Our expectations of them are based on promises delivered or broken, not because they are male.

And while Margaret Thatcher is topic of the moment, I would hold the above to be true for all people in the public eye - be they female, indigenous, disabled or other. And in fact, true for the people in our private lives - friend, sibling, child, parent - none of these roles leave people obligated to be anything or anyone other than they are.

Others don't owe us.  They can impact us, they can change us, but they are never obligated to us.  Nor we them.  True.

11 April 2013

Holly had a doctor who was quick quick quick

The Tullinator has a much beloved and generally naked doll called Holly (because she joined us at Christmas and I'm that kind of imaginative Mama), who lost an eye when she was dropped onto the pavement about three and half seconds after she was opened. And that's fine - because she was still loved and her one-eye-ness has just been part of who she is. The single eye didn't bother my girl, or any of her friends, but turns out it is often a talking point with adults.

Minus her eye
"She's only got one eye"
"Where's her eye?"
"What happened to her eye?"

And somewhere in that fabulous brain of hers, The Tullinator came to recognise that Holly only had one eye and that in some way this wasn't the way it was supposed to be. And this made her sad, and there has been much talk about taking her to a doctor to make her better.  We are currently very much into doctors and how the bandaid is possibly the world's most awesome invention.

So I agreed to look into it. And today, after we dropped the in-laws to the airport we went to The Doll's Hospital.  This year the business is 100 years old and they specialise in fixing dolls and toys of all shapes and sizes.  And I'm going to say it here - this is NOT a sponsored post.  This is fan mail.

My little one was very reluctant to leave Holly behind.  After we'd dropped her off, and left, we had to come back in for some kisses and another goodbye.  And the lady there was so lovely and gentle and understanding.  We were told that it normally 2-4 weeks, but seeing how important Holly was, they'd try to get her operated in about a week or so. And as we headed home, we had a little cry in the car and talked about how hospitals help people and she'd be well looked after and we rang our Daddy (on speaker phone obviously) to check that he agreed that it was all going to be okay.

We got home and were settling in for some quiet time before a play date when the phone rang and it was the lovely lady from the front counter at the Doll's Hospital calling to say that she'd taken it to the 'doctor' explained the situation and they'd fast tracked her 'operation' and she was ready for collection. TODAY. Obviously she couldn't drive or operate heavy machinery after surgery like that so we cancelled our play date, got back in the car and headed back to the Hospital to collect Holly.  We took chocolate as a sign of our appreciation.  I know a blessing when I see one and I understand that chocolate is a good value add to the medical fees. Like major dental for under two year olds, eye surgery on dolls is not included in our health insurance. (Take note PHI companies looking for a unique customer proposition!)

"just like me"

And the Tullinator was so delighted.

"Oh Mama, she has two eyes. Just like me.  Now she looks just like me."

And with that sentence I had one of those chest thumps where your ribcage breaks open and makes room for your heart to swell with more love than you ever thought possible.

I am so incredibly lucky to have two beautiful hearted girls, Holly and The Doll's Hospital. Big love.

7 April 2013

It's bloody Brigadoon!

On Saturday, we journeyed South through the mists and time and on the highways to a town called Brigadoon. Actually, it's normally called Bundanoon but for the last 36 years they have been hosting this gigantic Scottish lovefest and for one day each year, they call themselves Brigadoon and they even have the signs to prove it.

We weren't there just because we got the notion, which is always the best reason to turn up to the bizarre and absurd, but because my nephew plays in a Celtic band and was playing his Snare drum, resplendent in his kilt, beret and long socks. And I come from a long line of 'joiner-inners'. We try anything once, twice to be polite and thrice if we love it.

Gratuitous photo of my cute daughter
So we packed up two cars with four adults (my in-laws are in town from England and of course wanted to travel to the Australian countryside to take part in a celebration of Scotland - its why the English travel)and two children and drove down and had the tour of Bundanoon via the detours to the car park. And then, not one word of a lie, we didn't leave the local oval. And you can only do that kind of stuff in small country towns flooded with 15,000 extra people and only one functioning ATM. Because I am not joking - the stalls didn't have EFTPOS. I know.

We got there just in time for the opening parade which goes on rain, hail and shine. And I tell you - the Mardi Gras aint got nothing on the Brigadoon parade. Celtic band. Southern Highlands Vintage Machinery Club (Tractor). Celtic Band. Tractor. Celtic Band. Tractor. Celtic Band. Fire Engine. Tractor.

 And they wave at toddlers and give out balloons thus assuring public adoration for all time. And my mother-in-law was able to name every song the bagpipes were playing. She maintains 'from school' but I suspect a closet bagpipe addiction. It's the quiet ones you have to watch.

And then came said nephew, tongue poking out the side of his mouth in concentration. Beret askew, elbows jiggling with appropriate snare drum action and the Tullinator was thrilled.

He of the jiggly elbows
She is his biggest groupie and that is before she realised that he played the drum. Now when we refer to him and his sister, his name was listed first. I was worried that the beginning of our visit to Brigadoon might outshine all the moments to follow but I had underestimated the attention span of a two year old and her one year old sidekick.

We spent some time collecting individual pieces of gravel. Filled our pockets. Day made. Again.  And she that was slightly smaller fell charmingly at people's feet and giggled.  Day made.

We wandered throughout stalls that sold tartan, things made out of tartan, things alluding to tartan, jewellery designed with tartan in mind. By people who wear tartan, think tartan and accessorise with tartan. And we wanted to have our face painted. But before we could manage that we ate food so inexpensive and scrumptious that we could only be in the country. And we had Dutch pancakes. And Brazilian coffee. And American softdrinks. And Australian corn. And we did not have Haggis pie.

We watched sword dancing and more bagpipes. And more snare dram. And caber tossing. And waterbomb fights. And saw Highlander. Which is billed as the world's best Australian Celtic rock band. I know. Unsure if it's a backhanded compliment or just a fact. Either way I'm unsure that its something they should use in their regular marketing spiel.

And we got our face painted. Which is the most ridiculously exciting thing ever. Rainbow tiger. Scottish rainbow tiger obviously. Day MADE.

I think my in-laws love love loved it more than anything they've ever done in Australia. And it has to be said, it's definitely more of a culturally accurate Australian experience than many. Little bits of everything with a small blonde, kilted snare drummer the star of the day.

But seriously - these kinds of days, which take you out of your own zone of familiar and into the heart of other people's obsessions and passions are always fabulous. Such good hearted, joyous days.

A pure like it! (So says the Scottish/English phrases book!)

2 April 2013

Brave when it matters

A few years ago a friend stood up to some badly behaving teenage girls who were terrorising other passengers on a bus he ended up being physically abused and left with significant facial scratches because they objected to his verbal chastisement about their behaviour.  We tutted.  And forgot about it.

Jeremy Fernandez was racially abused in February on a bus for not giving up his seat.  And the bus driver sided with the abuser.  We tutted.  We tweeted.  We forgot about it.

And now Yong Wang and Heidi are being vilified for standing up to a racist on a Sydney bus. We tutted.  We tweeted.  And now...?

People are posting hateful remarks on the video, perpetuating the racism and the man's right to say what he feels.  And mentioning the war.  Again.  And again.

You should be able to speak up when somebody else is speaking out in a way that is wrong.  You should be able to sit on public transport and speak in whatever language you choose.  And you should definitely not be abused because of historical alliances in times of long ago wars.  If this was the basis for abuse the English could go nowhere.  Ever. Like EVER.

Because the English were bloodthirsty and very undemocratic in their approach to entering other countries.  I think you could even say they were 'murdering bastards' and 'c__ts'.  Which isn't to say that as a history buff with some Irish heritage that every time I'm drunk and somebody speaks English on a bus I have the right to abuse them.

I digress (even though my point is valid)

Our media is full of the bullying epidemic, the oppression of minority groups as an expression of leadership, a disregard for people's human  rights which is shameful. We need to stop celebrating violence, we need to stop reporting on it in lurid detail so that such reactions are considered normal.  Because they are not.

Most, and I really truly mean MOST, people do not resort to physical violence if their words are challenged.

Free speech does not mean you have the right to intimidate or harass people on the bus. Or on the street.  Or anywhere. (And lets face it - if that is what you are saying for free, thank the gods nobody is paying you to open your mouth because you're obviously an idiot)

I read often of parents having to go in to bat on behalf of small people being bullied at school because the school discourages their peers from standing up for them and so they are being taught to stand by and say nothing so that they can't be accused of contributing to the problem.

WTF is going on?  Why are we allowing fear to flourish?

Is this the world I want my small people growing up in? No.  I want them to not bully.  I want them to never be afraid that opening their mouths in defence of somebody will result in anything but some name calling.  I want them to be good people who do not allow evil to flourish as Edmund Burke spoke about 300 odd years ago.  I definitely don't want them hit.  Or growing up in a world that thinks standing up to idiots makes you an acceptable target for violence and/or malevolence.

Basically I want them to be a Yong Wang or a Jeremy Fernandez.  I don't for a minute think they are perfect human beings all of the time so don't start bringing up their as yet undocumented faults.  But they were brave when it mattered.  And that is to be celebrated.