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Posts tagged ‘Parent’

Semantics r us – A conversation with Red

Red's Dream

Meta troll

Teenagers. Need I say any more? Right, thought not. Red is at the very end of his teenage years and is no less annoying/mystifying/emotional/draining than when he was twelve. Except now, we have the added bonus of a well- developed sarcastic wit.

I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible to have a conversation with Red unless I am on full ale If you are not ready for it, the outcome can be disastrous. I often think it would be nice if I had a visual textbox to decipher Red’s communication. Something that would be helpful on the days when I am not tuned in to his brainwaves.

English: The "SarcMark" is used to e...

Sarc or 'snark'???

The level of sarcasm on some days has caused me to develop the quick witted response and to find new ways to remind Red which side his bread is buttered on. It is also directly related to if, how large or what type of audience he has.

I also have to remember not to lay traps for myself. It’s mental gymnastics, hostage negotiation and war strategy all rolled into one. I have strategies to deal with Red.

Testing the water

When Red comes up stairs from his cave (his siblings assigned that description to Red’s room) in search of food, it is helpful to test the waters to check on his state of mind. Lack of sleep and all night gaming will guarantee a red alert (excuse me). Empty cupboards will enrage the beast. Red needing a lift to the train station or wanting me to make sushi will ensure a pleasant interaction.

Knowing your opponent

You must know Red’s perspectives and ‘get inside his head’. It’s  a scary place but it helps to understand how he will react to what you say to him, why he does and how to avoid the pitfalls. It’s basic mental health preservation. There is no empathy here. Red takes no prisoners and don’t be fooled into a false sense of reality.

Be prepared

Yep, Baden-Powell hit the nail on the head there. If you’re going to go into conflict, wear the right gear. I prepare for battle with quick- wittedness and just the right amount of rhetoric. I’m talking strategy here people. Battle plans are important.

I often have little Facebook messages like this…/denied or the favourite…/forever alone. Then there is the incessant trolling. I have to assume that if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t bother. I have managed a few comebacks in my time.

Today was not too bad on the war front. Only one cutting remark. More of an aside really. Red was in the kitchen with a friend and asked me about something. I told him. He asked me how I came to know about it. I told him I had made an educated guess. Pause. Head down buttering bread. Oh, right Mum. You can do that now you’re at Uni. I really hope he does knows which side his bread is buttered on.  Smirk.

Raising resilient, capable children without the bubble wrap

Bubble Wrap

Image via Wikipedia

I have watched my children do some really amazing things and  I am often suprised by how capable, resilient, funny and loving they are and then I remember that it is not by coincidence or magic that they came to be this way.

This caused me to reflect on why my children, in varying degrees, are the way they are; critical thinkers, problem-solvers, ‘doers’, funny, loving and emotionally resilient. This is, by no means a how to, more of a how come post.

My comedic family


That about sums up the way things are here. Self  deprecation, dry wit, nonsense talk, family language, inside jokes and general goofiness is all part of the atmosphere at  Chez Vix. Laughter, humour and fun are a magic recipe for developing self-esteem. It’s even better when you can laugh at yourself. If not, there will always be someone here to do it for you. The key here is finding the right balance so that no one feels like a joke but are rather part of the joke.  The children never stood a chance.

Working  it out

I figured the best way to teach my children was to let them work things out for themselves with guidance. How do children learn and master skills if they don’t get to ‘do’. My father used to admonish me for the things I let my children do but I refused to mollycoddle them. Bubble wrap belongs at the post office and messes can always be cleaned. Master 6 used a knife from a young age. They have all used a screwdriver to take apart objects and see how they work. Master 6 made me a cup of coffee for the first time last week. Bieber can chop vegetables like a pro. The Princess has been cooking, without supervision, for the last two years ( she just needs to work on the cleaning up part of the process!) and loves to mow the lawn. Red has performed many science experiments (today was build a sparkler bomb day – my only advice –  someone please film it). All children should climb trees, ride a bike on the road and jump on a trampoline. It was interesting to see the trampoline inverted one day and the boys launching themselves against it. There have been numerous obstacle courses, dubious structures and elaborate game play. The children have always tested boundaries and their own limits but they have learned a hell of a lot along the way. I have taken my part as safety monitor, mediator, facilitator and paramedic. Yes, there have been some injuries but everything is dangerous if you don’t have the necessary skills or mind-set to ‘do’. See 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). Not for the faint-hearted. The important thing here is; children are allowed to make mistakes, learn from them and try again.

The Rubber Band Theory

Emotional resilience – the ability to bounce back from the situations that life presents. My children are rubber bands. I don’t know how they came to be this way, but I’m guessing that stepping out of the picture and giving them the dialogue to negotiate problems and situations for themselves has probably been the contributing factor. I love that they get angry at each other, it’s healthy. It’s even better when I hear this, ‘See this? This is my angry face. You wanna piece of this?’  My father passed away in September, 2010. That was a big test, for all of us. It still is. We just talked our way through all the hurt, upset and anger. The Princess and Bieber have experienced bullying at school and while that breaks my heart for them, I had to overcome my own feelings and help them work out strategies to deal with it. The princess adopted the ‘delete’ technique where she deleted negative people from Facebook, her social set and most importantly, her mind. Bieber took the ‘ Emo/Shuffle, water off an ignorant duck’s back approach’ where he would hide under his enormous fringe, turn his back and shuffle. He completely ignores any person that is not worthy of his attention. I noticed this odd behaviour at graduation but trusted his judgement. He only allows positive people to enter his ‘mental domain’.  My children all have their own interests and strengths as well as their foibles. Each child is valued and respected for what they can and can’t do. However, do expect a good-natured ribbing (please refer to My comedic family) with the underlying message of ‘we love you for you’.

English: Rubber bands in different colors. Stu...

Love happens

I believe that it is not enough to tell your children you love them. You have to show it. Maybe that is why my children are the way they are. The power is in the ‘doing’ not the ‘saying’. My husband is not a big one for expressing his emotions verbally but there is not one person in this house that would doubt his love for them. The rough and tumble play, the joking and the ‘being’ is all part of the recipe for love. I had a secret giggle when I overheard my husband on the phone to his boss telling him that he hadn’t had a sleep (shift worker) because he was cooking naan bread with The Princess. One rainy weekend minus the shift working husband we were all a bit deflated. The Princess pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle and we all took turns adding to it throughout the day. 14 hours of love in that little display below.

14 hours of love in this thing

There were actually two more people under there!

I have realised that children don’t care what they are doing as long as they are doing it with you.

The Princess gets a birthday hug from Master 6

Love helps children develop good self-esteem. They learn where they belong in this crazy world and find ways to connect with others. It’s healthy. Our refrigerator is full of love. Photos, paintings and inspirational quotes that fly off when the door opens. I really need a cork board.

As I am writing this, I have just been handed a cupcake with Love written on top in pink icing. The Princess is busily cooking in the kitchen. I have just been handed another and couldn’t decipher the pink icing word on top. Happens, The Princess tells me, rolling her eyes. Love Happens.

Author: Bagande

Image via Wikipedia

It all comes down to this

Put on your Mother Shield


Today was one of those days.  If ever I needed my mother shield it was today.

What, I hear you ask, is a mother shield?  My Mother Shield is that little invisible force field that fends off

all the awful things that my children say from time to time when they don’t have the words to vocalise how they feel or what is upsetting them and it just comes out like a diatribe.

Here are some of the things my mother shield has had to deflect today and the proper translations:

  • Mum, I hate you…… Mum, I am so angry with you
  • You’re so mean…….I am angry that you won’t let me play with my remote control car outside in the street when it’s dark
  • I’m not ever going to cuddle you again, EVER………I am upset now and need to calm down
  • You are the worst mother ever……….Why can’t I stay up late when I am rubbing my eyes, whining and can barely stand up?
  • I’m finding another Mummy………Please see previous attack
  • You never play with me anymore, you should leave………I would really like  you to play with me like we did yesterday. Right now.
  • Why don’t you just find another little boy to be mean to……….Again, the remote control car issue ( see previous)
  • You don’t understand me, go away……..I’m really upset that you’re not taking my side and you should really be speaking to The Princess now about what SHE did
  • You never listen to me, EVER……..(See previous)
  • I don’t want you, I want Daddy…………Maybe if I ask Dad, HE will let me

Sometimes these little attacks do chip away at my Mother Shield and I have to hide my face away for a little tear. Some days I hide to giggle. It all depends on how stressed I am or what is happening at the time.

You see, I must have my Mother Shield on….because I shed all the Mother Guilt and I need something to absorb all those angry words floating around out there.



Hit me with your qualifier

No Talking

Image via Wikipedia

I was just thinking about some of the things people say. You know, the minute that it comes out of their mouths and you’re standing there thinking “Well, that’s the biggest load of BS I have heard in my life’ or ‘ Yeah, right’.

What I particularly like in conversation, are those little qualifying sentences that people begin with. You know the ones. They’re never going to end well. You’re standing there with that perfectly masked, pasted on smile belying your complete and utter lack of interest/here we go again face/’ut oh do I really wanna hear this?’ thought/tuning out/nausea.

Firstly, I will give you some examples of my all-time favourites, what they mean and  useful strategies to deal with these little gems.

  1. “If you want my advice…”
  2. “I’m a straight-shooter…”
  3. “No offense, but…”
  4. “I’m not one to gossip, but…”
  5. “I like to call a spade a spade…”
  6. “This is not like me, but…”
  7. “I didn’t want to say anything, but…”
  8. “It’s not your fault, but…”
  9. “I know my kids aren’t angels, but…”
  10. “You know I love you, but…”
  11. “I’d do anything for you, but…”
  12. ” I don’t usually lie, but..”
  13. “I came here to see you, not you’re home…”
  14. “I am not a violent person, but…”
  15. In fact any of these… “I am not sexist/racist/homophobic etc, but…”

Most of you who have read a few of my posts know that I believe  everything can be dealt with  by using a good dose of humour. I am an Aussie. We are known for our laconic wit – ( the drier the better), strong sense of irony and our laid back attitude to most things. “She’ll be right, mate”…”No worries”. If they can’t –  don’t deal with it. Just kidding!

With that in mind, let’s look at some of these ‘you beaut’ sentence starters.

“If you want my advice…”. No. I don’t, but you’re going to give it to me  anyway,aren’t you? If I really wanted your advice, I would have asked you. Nope, still talking huh? Arghhhh. You can’t stop them, they’re really not out to help you, they just like the sound of their own voice and are like an unwritten self-help book. Tune out. Go to a better place, while nodding and placing the appropriate “ah hah” every now and then.

“I like to call a spade a spade…” Immediately tell them you don’t like card games and then 1. walk away or 2. offer food and drink as a distraction or else you will hear everything they think about you/your neighbour/your husband/your kids/your boss/your dog all in its pure, uncensored glory.

“I’m a straight shooter…” Please refer to “I like to call a spade a spade…” except this time  insert “I don’t like guns”. These people are particularly volatile when you first meet them and I would highly advise walking away as the only step. But you didn’t ask for my advice so I won’t.

English: A chicken running Français : Un poule...“It’s not you fault, but…” yes it is. We both know it is. It’s just that you don’t want to say it and I don’t want to think about it. Cry. Cry like there’s no tomorrow. Drama cry. Like that fake cry in ET, when Elliot is trying to cause a distraction for ET to escape. Like that. here’s why:  1.  Your talker will go away to get tissues  2. They will think you’re nuts and leave 3. They will excuse themselves saying you need time to be alone. And cry. Because it really is your fault.

Sponsored by Amdocs - Yellow print directory“You know I love you, but…” Oh boy. You know this one is going to be a doozy. “Really? I don’t love you!” might be a little harsh or inappropriate if it’s your husband/child/best friend. “Well, if you love me, you’ll stop right now.” might cut to the chase. I usually put my hands over my ears and yell “lalalalalalalala’. It seems to achieve the desired affect because people usually walk away when you do this and never bring the subject up again. For the persistent others in your life, follow up with “I can’t hear you” X 10.

A toddler girl crying

“I don’t usually lie, but…” Just this one time and because it’s you…I will. Do not ever trust this person again because…they lie. Make them a cup of coffee, but do not believe anything they say and do not tell them anything. In fact, don’t speak at all. They will take what ever you say and make things up about you. No. It’s not paranoia. They will. Don’t look at them. Unfriend them. What? So what if it’s your sister?

Are you listening to anything I am saying here???

“I know my kids aren’t angels, but…” Yes you do. You think they are angels and mine are the devil’s spawn. These people are just leading into a rant about how bad your children are compared to theirs and  well, while we’re at it…let’s look at the way you’re parenting too. Stop them first. Stop them at “I know my kids…” and say, “That’s good, they’re peeing in my front yard”. Right. Sorted.

“I am not a violent person, but…” You don’t want to hear the rest of this. Immediately stop anyone who says this and say “Oh that’s good, neither am I…biscuit?”

English: An SVG rendering of cup of coffee wit...“This is not like me, but…” Who is it like then? Wow, this one gets me every time because you know it’s  possibly not about you and you relax…only to hear the most tawdry, inappropriate unveilings or it is about you and the qualifier is a ruse. Your conversation partner has begun their rant under false pretences and should have begun with ” I didn’t want to say anything ,but…” or “I’m not one to gossip, but…” If it

is the first instance, ignore the qualifier and remember you are not a gossip. Be supportive. If it is the latter, you have several ways to go here. Out the window. Out the door. To the kitchen. To the bathroom. If you choose the escape option, you have cemented it in truth. Better to feign total ignorance/incredulity/disgust/nausea/disbelief. Unless your friend has betrayed you and we all know what happens to betrayers.

“No offense, but…” Seriously? You don’t mean to offend me but you’re gonna do it anyway? Thanks. What are good friends for? I would suggest a counteroffer of the same caliber just to make yourself feel better. Then go to the kitchen and make coffee and spit in your guest’s cup. If you have been brought up better than that – silently cry or pound the bench. Or wait until your husband comes home and say ” Do you know what so-and-so

said to me today?”  and share the pain.

I do not have any pointers for the sexist, racist, homophobic qualifiers because I tend to go straight for the throat when people unleash those little gems of  atrociousness. Yes, I grab my throat and pretend I’m choking, having a coughing fit or going to be violently ill. Works every time. In fact, works for everything.

Mum, you’re a toolbox – thanks for the memories

Tonight,I decided not to do the dishes or the laundry and ignored my dirty floor. Instead, I played with my son.

I love the nonsense times, the uncontrollable giggling and the ridiculous words that ensue. Tonight was no different.


Master 6 is still young enough to enjoy the silly use of words, nonsense rhymes and a good old tickle session. I know that perhaps by this time next year, he will not. Sitting on the couch tonight, we were making up ridiculous names for our body parts. With each new expression came loud bursts of laughter and goofiness and some of it was him too. Our legs were labelled body-transporters, our arms became go-getters, our bellies were described as recycle bins and our bottoms are now affectionately called waste disposal units. Ears are earba speakers (he used to say earba when he was a toddler, instead of ear) and eyes are radar readers. Utter silliness that probably doesn’t sound all that funny to you, dear readers but, to us, we were absolutely the next best thing in comedy.

But wait. Master 6 points to his head and asks, “What do we call this Mum?”  “Hmmm”, I said “That is your toolbox”

“You’re a toolbox, Mum” he said to me with a huge grin and eyes fixated on mine. He may as well have told me I was the best Mum in the whole world because at that very moment, when my son told me I was a toolbox, he told me how much he loved me.

Playing with your children and making memories. That’s just about the finest moments parenting offers. When your children grow up they will not remember if the dishes were done on time. They will not remember how dirty the floor was some days and nor will they remember if laundry was sitting, waiting to be washed ( please, please don’t read Mother Guilt now). Children remember stories told,fun times, adventures taken, great memories made and they should all involve you. It is not too long before they get older and don’t want to be around you that much. They grow up and spend less time at home and they move out. Then they come back.

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