PANDEMIC PETS

With ongoing pandemic lockdown, I decided that if we couldn’t leave the house in search of food and fun, I would shop online and bring it to our doorstep in the form of a pet. Great idea or what?!

My seven-year-old daughter wanted a fluffy dog. My three-year-old son wanted a fluffy cat. I wanted a pocket-sized chihuahua. Lucky for them, I was willing to compromise with a fluffy pocket-sized chihuahua that had a passing resemblance to a cat.

“No inside animals! Pets should live outside.” Regrettably, my husband was opposed to the idea of an inside pet. Bah, what a party pooper!

We argued that our fish once lived in the house and they were considered pets! Well, until the unfortunate fish massacre. Since we lost our treasured Zane (greedy angel fish) and Archie (chilled albino catfish), my husband has been reluctant to return to pet ownership.

Due to the lack of a proper backyard, we agreed that our pets needed to be hardy and low maintenance. While it was my intention to have the children be responsible for looking after our new pet, realistically I would be the chump lumped with the task. So, I wanted a pet that didn’t need regular exercise (because I hate sweating) or grooming (because I’m lazy) and could survive not eating and drinking for a few days (because I’m sketchy at best).

We are now the proud owners of a thousand new pets. You read correctly, a thousand, give or take a few and they only cost us a measly fifty dollars. Have you guessed it? Worms. Wriggly, slippery and icky worms.

They came packed in some worm bedding inside a plastic bag and packaged in a cardboard box. In true Kathy form, I threw away the instruction booklet and in doing so, inadvertently discarded the troubleshooting pages. I could have saved myself a gigantic amount of pain if I had taken the time to read the ‘what can go wrong’ pages, for I’ve encountered a great deal of problems.

There’s been the Great Plague of the Vinegar Flies caused by my overzealous feeding with organic waste. FYI, flies really love banana skins. I tried vinegar/soap fly traps, moist cut up paper scrap barriers, removed big food scraps, conditioned and aerated the soil and changed the order of the trays. I stopped adding organic waste for a few weeks and eventually, most of the flies have disappeared.

Next came the Invasion of the Black Ants caused by the worms hibernating instead of eating during a short period of blistering cold weather. I ended up googling and putting trays of water around the legs of the worm farm to prevent ants from entering the trays. I also tried to drown the suckers with extra watering.

And because of my lack of restraint, I have a problem with potworms. Turns out, an overly moist environment, abundance of rotting fruit and vegetables and ungrounded eggshells have encouraged the growth of these unwanted worms. Originally, I thought these tiny white worms were finally the results of my worm farming mastery and happy worm bliss coupling. Not the case. Again, I consulted the wise ol’ Google and was advised to put a stale piece of bread drenched in milk to entice the potworms to the surface for disposal.

Now, I have another attack of the Black Ants AND a healthy population of Prolific Potworms. Sigh. So much for low-maintenance pets. Anyone got any ideas other than gifting it to my dad?

It’s a good thing that we live in a world where information is at the tip of our fingers. For without YouTube and Google, these worms would have already died a painful death from my mismanagement and negligence. Can you get a fine for worm cruelty?

The children want nothing to do with the worm farm, complaining that it stinks (It doesn’t!). The husband isn’t interested in co-ownership, even with supposed “benefits” thrown in. I’m on my own folks.

I know people say that a pet is for life and not just for Christmas… ahem, I mean lockdown, so now I have only one question. What’s the lifespan of a worm? Or in my case, a thousand worms?

Copyright © 2020, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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

READING BETWEEN THE LINES

Parent teacher interviews are an important time when parents can find out more on their child’s progress at school. It’s a time when parents get an insight from someone with an objective view on their child’s academic, emotional and social development.

Why are parent teacher interviews necessary for me?

I know nothing. My child’s after school conversations starts with a grunt and ends with a monosyllabic word.
Me: “How was your day?”
Mandy: noncommittal grunt
Me: “What did you do?”
Mandy: “Stuff.”
End of conversation.

My child forgets to relay important messages about classroom changes.
Me: (eyeing the tumbleweeds blowing past in the wind) “Mandy, why are you the only kid lining up?”
Mandy: “I don’t know!”
Me: “Are you sure you’re supposed to line up here today?”
Mandy: “Oh yeah, we’re supposed to line up at the gym.”

I’m assuming (and you know what they say about assuming things) that my child hears and conveys messages accurately.
Me: “Where is your school reader?”
Mandy: “We don’t have to do them anymore.”
Me: “Did Ms France say that?”
Mandy: “Not exactly in words.”
Me: “What does that even mean?”
Mandy: “Mum, trust me. I know these things.”

Also, I’m an introvert and uncomfortable with ad hoc meetings unless it’s necessary. Plus, I don’t like discussing awkward or sensitive matters with other parents nearby. So these parent teacher interviews are imperative to finding out what and how my daughter is doing at school and for me to relay any important information to the teacher.

We all know that parents can be sensitive when it comes to any perceived criticisms of their progeny. It’s no surprise that teachers would try to be tactful with their choice of words when describing their pupils. No teacher will say ‘your child is a nightmare to deal with!’ instead they might say ‘your child is full of life, vivacious’. They aren’t going to say ‘your child drives me nuts with their endless stupid questions!’ but they might choose to say ‘your child has a curious mind’. They might really want to say ‘your kid is a chuckle head’ but to limit death threats, they resort to ‘your child has untapped potential’.

As parents we are too close to the subject, too invested, too attached, to see any flaws and might expect to hear positive feedback. I wonder how much of the spiel that teachers give about their students are individualised and not a regurgitation of the same old, just to keep the peace. And if it isn’t a blanket statement that they give all parents, are they really saying what they mean or is it code for something else?


I enter the classroom, excited to hear news of my daughter’s progress. We do the obligatory small talk before delving into proper discussions.

“Is there anything you want to know about Mandy’s progress?” asks Mandy’s grade one teacher, Ms France.

I only have one burning question on my mind, I want to know if my daughter has told porkies about wearing her new glasses for class.

“No. Mandy told me she didn’t have to wear them anymore!” informs Ms France. “Sometimes when I see her sitting at the back of the room with her friends, I’ll ask her if wants to come sit closer but she’ll refuse. She doesn’t seem to want to wear her glasses and sometimes, when I ask about them, she tells me it’s not in her bag.”

Translation: I tried a few times but really, it’s not in my job description.

I should have trusted my gut. My Princess Porkie Lies will be getting a stern talking to tonight.

“Her writing is good. She found a way of finish the tasks quicker by writing lists. So now, I prompt her to do more writing and get her to think of other ways she could write. Last time, she conceded with doing a letter,” says Ms France, hesitating between sentences.

Translation: Your daughter is a Shortcut Sally.

I nod in understanding. This sounds like the Mandy I know.

“Her math is good. They are learning about addition, subtraction, fractions and a bit of division. Maybe you could do additions at home and make it fun with money. Kids love money,” says Ms France.

Translation: She sucks at maths. She needs help otherwise she has no hope with the other concepts.

Again, I nod in understanding. Her dad has some work cut out for him!

“Her reading is good. Just to warn you in the report, her progression isn’t the same as last time as the reading material has gotten harder,”

Translation: I’m telling you this in case you’re a high achieving parent and expect your child’s trajectory to be linear.

“She’s doing well,” says Ms France, leaning back and pushing out her chair.

Translation: Your time allocation is over. Please don’t ask anymore questions. I’d like to finish on time to go home and eat dinner. I’m starving!

Mirroring her body language to leave, because it’s plain as the nose on one’s face, I bid farewell and go pick up my gem. I’ll need to pull up my sleeves, put in some elbow grease, and do a bit of polishing to make my prized treasure shine bright like a diamond!


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

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

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.

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