IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

Mayhem. Manic. Madness. Mental. Monkeys.

So many M words to describe a play centre on a weekend.

To children it’s a happy place to run amok. A place where they can gorge on junk food. A place where they are given more freedom while still under the parental eye. Supposed relaxed parents sit around savouring good coffee nearby. It’s a safe and secure place. Idealistically a parent or carer’s refuge.

In reality, it looks more like a jungle of mayhem with children of all ages running in random directions, hyped up on sugar and a teardrop away from epic tantrums. Obnoxiously loud music reverberates around the cavernous room coupled with the cacophany of sounds from excited children. If you didn’t have a headache upon entering, you’re bound to leave with one.

Once you relinquish your child at the entrance of the gym, sighting them is as rare as a deep sea Oarfish in Japan. Unless of course, you have a toddler that needs your assistance then you must enter the jungle, fight your way through suffocating high and low terrains, breathe in the cloying smell of sweat and inevitable get stuck in some netting.

Not to mention the minefield of social etiquette for ‘playing nice’ and ‘taking turns’ because really, it’s a free-for-all when we’re dealing with young children.

So when I find myself crawling through an uncomfortably small tube after Henry, sweating like I’m dying in Bikram yoga, I momentarily imagine being stuck. I figure at least I might get a quick nap in while management tries to pry my ass out. My daydreaming is shortlived as I see Henry pushing another toddler over. I rush over and grab Henry’s hand from striking the poor kid again, who is wailing on the floor next to his mother.

“I am so sorry. Is your child ok? Henry doesn’t normally hit other kids. I’m not sure why he did that.” I ramble out an apology, make Henry say sorry and hightail away.

After the third victim of Henry’s outlash, I call it day. There is only so much glaring from parents (rightfully so) and apologising I can do.

I drag a screaming and kicking Henry away from the gym.

“Sorry mummy. Sorry, little boy!” Henry wails.

I sigh in defeat as I carry my mad monkey out of this jungle, envisaging a bunch of laughing chimpanzees throwing their poop at the back of my head for not predicting this tantrum.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

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FUDGE

Swearing, cussing, cursing, using profanities…

Some say it’s a form of expression. Some say it’s great for social bonding. Some say it’s a democratic right. Some even say it offers stress and analgesic relief!

Most people would agree that it’s considered foul language and that it’s socially unacceptable to swear in front of children. I’ve spent a good number of years retraining myself to say “fudge” instead of “f#@k” and “sugar” instead of “sh*t” so that my kids can keep their virginal ears intact.

I’m not naive. I knew that one day Mandy would learn it from friends or from the schoolyard. I just wasn’t prepared for it to happen so soon.

“Mummy, I know the F word. Teagan told me today,” says Mandy excitedly, like she’s just unwrapped an LOL Surprise. I hate those things.

Astonished with Mandy’s revelation, I spin around to face her, “What F word?” I’m in total denial mode.

“The F word,” Mandy exclaims, using her fingers to air quote.

“Oh the F word,” I say, pretending to understand her meaning. “Yeah fudge is a pretty cool word.”

I turn back to the kitchen counter and absentmindedly prepare dinner. I silently pray for this discussion to end.

“That’s not the F word,” Mandy says with indignation. “Teagan has a sister in grade five, and she told her.”

Mandy pulls me down and whispers conspiratorially, “It’s friggin hell.”

She looks at me for confirmation. I release a huge sigh of relief, “Yes darling, that’s the F word.”

I give her my most serious looking expression. “You are a big girl now Mandy and you will hear bad words that adults sometimes use but it’s important that you don’t use them.”

“Why can adults use bad words but kids can’t?” asks Mandy.

My mind searches for the most appropriate answer but my mouth just blurts out, “Because you’ll get in trouble if the teachers hear you say them.”

Ah sh*t, did I just say that? That’s the best I could come up with? Too late now, I just have to run with it.

I momentarily hold my breath, waiting for a barrage of questions.

Mandy gives me a suspicious look but reluctantly agrees and saunters off.

Phew! Thank ‘fudge’ for small reprieves.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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LAME

Mornings. Every day is the same. The children clamber on top of my slumbered body and I fight a losing battle to stay in bed. I don’t need an alarm. They are overrated. I send my bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kids to the TV for a momentary reprieve. I need to get up but every single fibre of my being battles against my willpower. The warmth of the bed is ever so enticing. I’m not perky in the mornings. In fact, it’s like I wake up on the wrong side of the bed every single day. It’s part of the reason why morning school runs are so much harder for me.

I drag my weary self out of bed and trudge to the kitchen. I am grumpy. Being tired has that effect. I need coffee. The morning is getting on and I need to get Mandy ready for school and Henry ready for library time.

“Mandy! Henry! Breakfast!” I yell out. I hear the stomping of little people from the lounge room to the kitchen.

“Good morning,” I say as cheerfully as I can muster, giving each a kiss.

“Mum, I want noodles,” Mandy demands as she sits on the stool.

I shake my head, “Try again love.”

I plop Henry into his highchair and potter about getting his Weetbix and toast ready.

“Scrambled eggs?” Mandy asks.

“That’s a negative Chief,” I say spreading margarine on the toast.

Mandy huffs and crosses her arms, “What can I have then?!”

I spoon Weetbix into Henry’s mouth and look at Mandy, “We’re running late so you can have a toast or Weetbix.”

Mandy groans dramatically and puts her head onto her arms and slouches on the kitchen countertop. She mumbles something.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Toast!” Mandy grouses.

“I’m sorry I thought I heard toast but I didn’t hear a please!” I reply, frowning at her lack of manners.

“Please!” Mandy retorts, knowing I wouldn’t give up until she relented.

I make her toast and get myself a cup of coffee. Grant left for work early today. It’s a shame he’s not here to help with breakfast. An ally comes in handy with tough negotiations.

We’re ready and out of the door in record time. It’s a miracle given how slow Mandy eats and the time it takes me to catch Henry for a nappy change. I reverse out of the driveway, make it down to the end of the street when Mandy yells for me to stop. I turn to face her, worried by the distress in her voice.

“We forgot my book for book week!” Mandy exclaims.

I silently curse. We have exactly twelve minutes until the bell rings and it takes us five minutes to get a park and five minutes to walk to class. We were cutting it mighty fine.

“Can we not worry about it?” I ask, praying she’ll agree.

“No Mum! We need to go back to get it!” Mandy argues heatedly.

I groan in frustration. I am at the end of the street, facing a busy main street. It would take ages to turn around in this traffic. I decide to reverse and do a three point turn, silently hoping that cars wouldn’t come in either direction and give me the stink eye. We get back to the house without incident. I park, open the door and get Mandy to run in to find the book.

She runs back in a fluster, “Where is it? I left it on the counter.”

“I think it’s on the dining table,” I suggest.

She runs out again, “It’s not there!”

I do a mental head slap. Of course it’s not there. It’s in her school bag. Exactly where I put it this morning. Dammit.

“Sorry I remember now. I put it in your bag this morning,” I tell her, embarrassed by my forgetfulness.

“Mum, seriously! You’re so lame!” Mandy says and gets into the car.

When the heck had she learnt this word? And when did I become a lame? I sigh inwardly. I didn’t even get a chance to drink my coffee. Now that’s lame.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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THE WATER BOTTLE

The morning school run is the bane of my existence and the after school assault is akin to corporal punishment, especially if you take into account the dreaded “tantrums”. Bring home an exhausted prep child from school, add in some “hanger”, plus some poorly received words from just about anyone and you have yourself the formula to a ready-made explosion waiting to be unleashed onto some poor fool. Namely, Mum.

Mandy is always on the precipice of a meltdown after school, so I tend to tiptoe a little in order to keep some peace. More importantly, to cling onto any shred of sanity I may have left for the day.

“Darling, would you like a piece of fruit as a snack before dinner?” I ask sweetly, hoping for the first time she relents and takes the healthier option.

“Can I have chips?” she asks, expectantly.


Henry hears the word chips and sidles up to his big sister, hand reaching out expectantly.

“No sweetheart. How about some Vegemite cheese sandwiches?” I counter offer, praying that I haven’t set off the bomb. I’ve still got to prepare dinner, get their lunches ready for tomorrow, bathe the troublesome two and help with school readers. A gigantic tantrum would be a setback. One that I could do without.

Mandy’s face starts to collapse in untold pain at my sheer audacity to refuse her the one thing she ever wanted in her life. Tears start streaming down her flushed cheeks. The wailing begins. Henry looks at her in confusion. He’s not sure why she’s crying, but he’s become worried. He mirrors her behaviour and starts crying himself.

I look to the heavens above and ask why? For the love of my sanity, why?!

I look down at my crying offspring and debate the merits of relenting with a few chips versus my sanity.

Giving in will mean I’m reinforcing bad behaviour. Bad saturated fats and salts aren’t good for growing bodies and minds. It’s almost dinner and it will ruin their dinner.

A slew of thoughts crosses my mind in a frantic disorderly manner.

The wailing becomes louder. There’s screaming involved now. Slamming of doors is probably not far off. I don’t think our doors can handle another beating. Ah heck! I don’t want to deal with this. I need a wine, possibly a long tropical island vacation, away from any wailing.

“Fine!! Only a handful. I mean it,” I say with as much conviction as I can muster.


“Yeah right. I’m such a bloody pushover.” I think to myself.

“Please watch your brother for a minute, so I can get dinner ready and your lunch organised for tomorrow,” I plead with Mandy.

“Yes Mum,” Mandy replies, walking away with her brother and the chips. The tears stopping as quickly as they began.

I turn around and potter about in the kitchen for a few moments. I’m about to wash Mandy’s school water bottle. It’s a silly expensive Smiggle bottle that she insisted she needed otherwise she couldn’t possibly go to school. This bottle had a flimsy soft body that was collapsible. The darn thing was hard to open and clean.

As I am about to lift the lid, I see in the corner of my vision Henry pushing his high chair towards the counter. As quick as a flash, he uses it to climb up onto the counter top. I squeeze that damn bottle upon reflex as I race over to grab Henry before he falls off the counter and hurts himself. Water ends up everywhere. I look at my cheeky giggling child and the watery mess on the floor.

Blast that stupid water bottle.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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100 ROCKS

There is half-eaten toast haphazardly tossed on plates, spilt orange juice and smeared Weetbix on the countertop. Crumbs everywhere. I shudder at the thought of having to clean up this mess.

“Mandy! Hurry up with getting dressed! We’re leaving in fifteen minutes!” I yell over the noise from the TV.

“I am! Stop yelling!” replies my cantankerous five-year-old.

I look down at my toddler sitting happily in his high chair, his cherubic face smeared with Vegemite. With a heavy sigh, I quickly wipe him down and go about getting his nappy changed. I sniff then peek in. No gold nuggets. A win!

While the children leisurely make their way to the car, I lug a heavy school bag, keys, jackets, Henry’s snacks and a nappy bag.

The minute I park the car, my daughter asks, “Mum, is the hundred days party today?”

A trickle of doubt seeps into my mind until I catch sight of other prep children walking to school dressed as old people.

“Yes sweetheart, it’s today,” I reply, confident.

“Mum, did you pack my hundred things?” Mandy questions.

I look at her, drawing a blank. A vague memory pulls at my subconsciousness, but I can’t quite grasp it. It feels familiar.

“I told you a few days ago? A zip locked bag of a hundred things like beads or sticks?” Mandy prompts.

Ah heck. That’s right. I finally remember. And I had completely forgotten. I frantically rummage around in the boot for this magical bag that I know doesn’t exist. Nothing. I grab Henry’s plastic disposable nappy bag. This will do.

“Honey, I’m sorry but I forgot. How about we quickly find something to put in this bag?” I say, trying to appease my daughter.

“Mum! You never listen to anything I say!” Mandy starts to grumble.

I flinch at her accusatory words and search again for a zip locked bag. Luckily I find a couple of coin bags in the console. Score! Fist pump!

We race around the car park looking for suitable things. Time is slipping. I am sweating from fluffing about like a mad chook on steroids. I silently pray that I don’t have embarrassing sweat stains visible under my armpits.

We walk to a nearby crafts store. The door is locked. Of course it was closed! With heads hung in defeat, we walk back to school. There I see a pile of small rocks discarded out front of a construction site next to the crossing level. Bent down, filled with mortification, I count and collect the rocks while other parents pass by. Mandy grabs the filled bags and without a backwards glance or thank you, races off to join her friends.

I look at my daughter’s retreating form and sigh. Some days being a mum is a thankless job. I glance down at Henry who is pointing at a dog and saying, “duck!”

I laugh, relieved to have survived yet another morning school run.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

Thanks for stopping by! Let me tell you a bit about myself and how this blog came to be.

I started journal writing as a form of cathartic release from all of the stresses of being a mother of two young children, working, and day-to-day living.

I found that many of my journal entries were funny snippets of my day spent with my two adventurous and cheeky cherubs. Oftentimes, I’ve found myself in rather amusing and outright unbelievable situations. Of course, there have been times upon self-reflection where the entries speak of the darker moments in my life, like my struggles with mental health issues and parenting.

Journal writing re-awakened my love for creative writing and storytelling. I found a desire to share my words with others. And so after much deliberation, this blog was born. My very own blog journal!

If you choose to join me on my journey, you’ll probably read short stories based on my personal experiences in life and as a parent. Most of the time, they’ll be funny and relatable, maybe even inspiring! Other times, you might read some words that are hard for me to write but find the courage to share.

I’ll aim for a weekly post. Maybe even two! Subscribe to my email list if you want to be informed of any new posts. I hope you enjoy reading my words as much as I love writing them.

x Kathy