A CASE OF THE UNWANTED PEE TUBE

Reflection from 28/6/20 – prior to the second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.

My kids are always pestering me to go for overnight stays at my parent’s house. And why wouldn’t they? TV on demand, hand delivered snacks (hand feeding also optional), vegetables are decorative garnishes, bedtime is when you nod off, two-minute noodles is a breakfast option, and NO is as elusive as seeing me exercising or spotting a unicorn. Visiting my parents is like visiting the Candy House from the tale of Hansel and Gretel, and we can all guess how that really turned out.

Not to mention that my parent’s house is a death trap waiting to happen. I’ve mentioned this before but to newbie readers… my dad is a prolific collector – a hoarder if I can be so bold. He has six fish tanks, glass furniture everywhere, shelf upon shelf of breakable ornaments and electronics galore. He’s gotten worse with age but neither my brother or mother are willing to do anything about it.

Anyhow, for sleepovers, I insist on being there for supervision and that’s why they are few and far in between. With the pandemic and limited outdoor activities, we’ve all suffered from cabin fever and I thought the kids would benefit from a different scene. I was quickly reminded why we don’t do sleepovers at my parents.


“What is that?” asked my seven-year-old daughter, Mandy, pointing at a clear perspex tube sitting underneath the taps of the bathtub.

My three-year-old son, Henry, made a move to grab the metre-long tube.

“Don’t touch it!” I yelled at him. “Mum!”

The kids were having a bath at my parent’s house. We were having a sleepover for the first time in years.

My Mum poked her head into the bathroom. “What?”

“What is that?” I asked my Mum, looking at the suspicious tube and the nearby glass vase. You never know with my parents. Their house is full of strange, random, embarrassing, and dangerous-to-children things.

“Uh. Don’t touch that. It’s your Dad’s pee contraption,” replied my Mum, shaking her head in disbelief.

“EEEWWWW,” exclaimed Mandy, “Why does he have a pee tube?”

“Your Grampa is too lazy to go to the toilet at night. He made THAT so he can pee into it and pours it out in the morning. It stinks. Why do you think we have separate rooms?” explained my Mum, shrugging her shoulders as if we should have known better.

“Can I use it as my horn?” asked Henry, reaching for the offensive tube.

“NOOOOOO!!!!!” I screamed, pulling his arm back before he could connect his mouth to the tube. “Did you not hear? It’s a PEE tube.” I can’t believe those words have come from my mouth.

“It’s clean.” My mum replied in a matter of fact way, like it made a difference.

“His room is right next to the toilet. Why is he being so lazy? It’s not hygienic!” I cried out.

But then I peeked into his room and understood why he created the pee tube. He had two TV’s mounted on the wall, massive loudspeakers lining the perimeter of the room, a couch and a wall to wall table. All squeezed around a wooden platform bed in his three by three metre room.

No wonder he doesn’t want to make the nightly trek. It makes the Kokoda Trail seem like a walk in the park! He’s likely to lose a leg against a sharp corner or two.

You know that proverb… Like father, like son? I’m glad I’m a daughter.

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

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SQUARE CUT

Most people will fork out the money to have their hair cut and styled by a professional. Why? Because unless you have eyes behind your head and extra limbs, it’s pretty hard to give yourself an even trim or a styled haircut. A DIY dye job? Yeah, achievable for the majority. DIY highlights? Doable for some. For most people, the cost of a trip to the hairdresser is insurance against sporting a hair fail that will take months to grow out. That’s not to say that disastrous results don’t happen at salons but you’d think the odds are lower.

So why are we quick to grab the kitchen scissors and offer our services to hack someone else’s hair? Why do we think we can do the job a professional is trained to do?

When my daughter was two-years-old, I convinced my husband that trimming her hair would be easy peasy. It would save us money and time, and spare her the trauma of facing a stranger wielding sharp scissors. Luckily, I succeeded in giving our daughter a decent hairdo. As a result, my husband readily agreed to the next cut.

Only something terrible happened. Maybe it was the pressure of expectations. Maybe I had a bad pair of scissors. Maybe the three cups of coffee I had prior made my hands shaky. If I’m being totally honest with myself, the first time was probably a fluke.

Whatever the case, I gave my almost three-year-old daughter a sixteenth century Trappist monk-like haircut, minus the bald spot. You know the one I’m talking about? AKA a mushroom cut or a bowl cut. I kept trying to correct the uneven bits and instead of cutting my losses, I pressed on. Eventually, I had to stop because I ran out of hair to cut.

My poor little girl lost her wavy brown tresses and had to sport a Dumb and Dumber look for months. A beanie became her best friend. Suffice to say, my haircutting privileges were revoked, never to be returned. We learned a valuable lesson from this mishap.

1. Less is more.
2. Know when to quit.
3. Sometimes accepting mistakes is better than trying to fix them.
4. Some things are best left to the professionals.

When my three-year-old son needed a haircut last week, I didn’t think twice about booking an appointment. Unfortunately, our usual hairdresser was fully booked for another month and given that Henry’s fringe had started impinging on his sight, I felt the urgency in getting the task done. We visited two hair salons before dropping into the nearest barber.

Poking my head into the shop, I asked the man if they catered for children. The man looked at Henry and said, “It depends. Will he sit still? Will he behave?” I should have listened to my ‘this is a bad idea’ instincts and backed the fudge away but I hadn’t wanted the time spent searching to be in vain.

After reassuring both the man and Henry, we proceeded with the haircut. My only stipulation was that he didn’t use a hairdryer or an electric razor as Henry is sensitive to the noise. The last time Henry visited the hairdresser, he spent the entire time with an anxious scowl, watching for any movement towards the dreaded handheld hairdryer.

The man complained that it would be difficult to execute a good cut without them. That should have served as a second warning from the Universe but like a stubborn mule, I ignored the tingling bells.

This man was like Edward Scissorhands reincarnated. He snipped and clipped at a furious rate. Poor Henry had his eyes squeezed shut and shoulders bunched for the whole duration. I could understand his reaction because it was terrifying to watch. I kept saying, “You’re doing so well buddy. The man’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing and he WON’T cut you.” I was tempted to pull the plug half-way through.

Ten minutes later, twenty bucks down and Henry walked out physically unscathed but sporting a professional crooked square haircut. You know the one I’m talking about? Unintentional blunt bangs that was in desperate need of some texturing and a leveller, and jagged sideways lightning bolts around the outside of the ears.

I don’t know what is worse; a DIY Trappist monk inspired haircut or an expensive haircut from a barber with the fine motor skills of a preschooler.

Anyway, it was my bad. Again. If I’m not prepared to drop into any old salon and get my hair styled by an unknown hairdresser, why did I subject my kid to that treatment? I chose the fastest way to solve a problem at the cost of my son’s comfort. I learned another valuable lesson here.

When my son asks, “Where are the photos of my first days at kinder?”, I’m gonna have to say iCloud got hacked but only those specific photos got deleted.

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

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MY KINGDOM FOR A BISCUIT

The traditional ANZAC biscuit, a sweet biscuit made from rolled oats and golden syrup, is my favourite biscuit. I love the crumbly, crispy outer texture and the slightly chewy centre. I adore desicated coconut mixed with that buttery taste.

So when my husband suggested that we make ANZAC biscuits to commemorate ANZAC Day, I was all on board. I sent him off to the supermarket with a photo of ingredients needed for the recipe.

He came home with a packet of Monte Carlos, a packet of Butter Snaps and all of the ingredients for ANZAC biscuits except the most important ones – golden syrup and desicated coconut.

It appeared that every other Australian was commemorating in the same way, which was fair enough. This pandemic had restricted Australians to holding dawn services at the end of their driveways and baking ANZAC biscuits. We were just too late to the party.

Almost a week later, I tried online ordering golden syrup, coconut and treacle (as a substitute, just in case). I had my heart (and stomach) set on making and eating ANZAC biscuits. Plus I had a surplus of rolled oats that would never be eaten otherwise. Imagine my disappointment when only coconut made an appearance.

I thought to myself, “What kind of weirdo conspiracy is this?”

By this stage, it became a matter of principle. I was getting that golden syrup. I wasn’t about to let a pandemic or supermarket shortage stop me. I spent days trawling aisles at different supermarkets. I visited local grocers and natural food stores.

It was as though the Universe was taunting me. “You don’t need those biscuits, love.”

After searching for almost two weeks and on the verge of throwing in the towel, I finally found the object of my desires. By chance, while at my local supermarket, I found two precious bottles of golden syrup tucked right in the back of the top shelf. The only problem? I could not reach them.

Being vertically challenged, I had to get creative. Tippy toes. Jumping up and down. Using my phone and other grocery items to tease the bottles forward. Trying to chase down unwilling and unhelpful store assistants.

In the end, an elderly lady who was browsing nearby took pity on my short ass. She reached over, grabbed a bottle of golden syrup and put me out of my misery. We had a lovely chat afterwards about ANZAC recipes.

When I finally sat down with a hot cuppa and took a bite of the biscuit… well, let’s just say it was worth the wait.

So to my neighbours and friends who received a pack of my home-made ANZAC biscuits, the secret ingredient was… time.

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

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