FIRST CRUSH ADVICE

Do you remember your first crush? Or the first time someone declared their undying love for you?

I was eleven-years-old when a boy plucked up the courage to ask me out. I’m not sure what the young kids these days think ‘going out’ means but back in my day, it meant stolen kisses behind the school shed, holding each other’s sweaty hands and hugging real close. Innocent kid stuff.

I remember that day like it was yesterday (clichéd much?). Almost three decades on and the memory is as fresh as a daisy (I’ll stop with the clichés soon, I promise!).

I was the new kid on the block (again)… an awkward and shy girl, just moved houses in a different suburb, attending a new Catholic school, and starting sixth grade. It was the first time that anyone had shown any kind of interest in me, and I guess that made an impact on the memory bank.

The school bell had rung, closing another day of learning. All of the school children were rushing out of classrooms and making their way home. I was this meek-as-a-lamb girl, sporting a thick monobrow and an unfashionable blunt fringe, wearing secondhand uniform and lugging a heavy bag full of books home. I reeked of loneliness and sadness. Not really a boy’s pin-up girl.

This scrawny boy with pants a smidge too baggy, chased after me with his two friends in tow, calling out my name. After stopping next to me, he shifted nervously on his feet before spilling his guts. He liked me and wanted to know if I’d go out with him.

My mother had prepared me for boys and their interests. She had given me her version of the birds and the bees, which was simply to avoid those bees altogether. She had taught me what to say in these events.

I recited her words. “Thank you. I’m trying to do my best in school. I’m not interested in a relationship.”

I might have been this poor boy’s first crush and he was my first admirer. Two kids on the cusps of teenagerhood and its burgeoning hormones. The situation was utterly embarrassing for both of us and made unbearably awkward by my odd response. So much so, that two decades later when I walked into a burger joint across from work, we immediately recognised each other and the awkwardness continued.

This guy ran a fantastic burger joint, serving perfectly seasoned fat cut chips that were fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. And the burgers had you salivating in anticipation. It was such a pity that the owner couldn’t look me in the eye and I couldn’t stand the weirdness of our conversations. My relationship with the burger joint ended prematurely. We didn’t stand a chance!

I’ve learnt from my experience with first crushes. I vowed that if my children came to me for advice, I would do better than my dear mother’s attempts.

Not too long ago (before school closed due to the pandemic), my seven-year-old daughter let me in on a secret and asked for my advice. This was how the conversation went.


Mandy: I think a boy likes me.

Me: OOOOHHHH, first crushes! Be cool, be cool Mumma! What makes you think that?

Mandy: He put his reading box next to mine.

Me: Uh… ok… Anything else?

Mandy: (shrugs) He always sits next to me on the floor.

Me: Hmm… need more to work with here buddy. Ok, anything else?

Mandy: He tugs my hair and calls me Mandy Moo Shoo.

Me: Ah… teasing, telltale signs. How does that make you feel?

Mandy: (shrugs) I don’t care. He also hugs me a lot.

Me: Wait a minute! What the hell? How does he hug you?

Mandy: He hugs my arm. And smacks my butt.

Me: What the?! Oh hell no, that is not cool!

Sometimes people can do strange things like tease or pull your hair to show you that they like you. BUT, that does NOT mean you should let anyone touch you without your permission. There are boundaries.

Mandy: Are boys just stupid and do stupid things?

Me: Try not to rant. Keep it simple. You can do this without preaching. Don’t waffle!

Uh, sometimes. Just remember that if anyone does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, you tell them to stop and if they don’t stop, you tell the teacher. Remember that your vagina, your bottom, your chest, they are your private areas and no one should be touching those areas.

Mandy: Eww. Why would anyone do that?

Me: Um… not for this conversation. It can happen. You understand what Mummy is saying?

Mandy: Yeah.

Me: You know you can tell me anything, right? I will always listen and try to help you.

Mandy: I know Mummy.

Me: (Hugs) And no more hugging with this boy. We’re in a pandemic for Pete’s sake.


I think I did a decent enough job. Let’s hope I don’t accidentally come across my daughter’s blog post in future and read how she could have given better advice on boys.

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

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

SUMMER SLEEP CYCLE

Every summer school holiday (six weeks – a week before Christmas to the end of January), I dream of sitting on a secluded island, surrounded by waitstaff topping up my fruity mimosas and hand feeding me grapes. I laze around a pool (no sand), food belly (not just my fat belly) protruding from underneath my tankini and reading steamy historical romances on my kindle (stop judging!). Not a care in the world. Not a soul (besides the discreet staff) to see me at my worst.

In reality, I am the full-time carer of two wayward children that constantly bicker over nonsense and defer to violence at the drop of a hat. My husband likes to comment that if he was the stay-at-home parent, he would treat parenting like a job. He would have a schedule. He would have activities. He would go for walks to nearby parks. He would have the kids preoccupied, therefore reducing the chances of fighting. The implication here is that he would have these children under some semblance of control. Insert a loud sigh. I really hope my poor deluded husband gets to test his theory one of these days – and soon.

Last I remember, having a job meant getting paid real money, enjoying hot coffees, eating uninterrupted lunch with both hands, clocking on and off, and not rushing through potty time to break up arguments. You actually have a moment to yourself. To breathe. To think. To relax.

The debate of who has it harder – the stay-at-home parent or the full-time parent – sometimes surfaces during school holidays. We are different in many ways; parenting styles, approaches to discipline and play, personal strengths and weaknesses. But regardless of our differences, we understand and respect the other person’s contribution to the family unit.

The summer school holiday just past was brutal, more so than usual. Due to the ongoing bushfires raging in many parts of Victoria (Australia), there were days where the air quality was hazardous, and we were stuck indoors. There were days of extreme hot weather, leading to three perspiring bodies laying prone in front of an overworked and underfiltered air-conditioner. The emergence of Coronavirus meant I was wary of taking the children to public places like shopping or play centres. Uncle TV came out to watch the kids now and then but the side effects of square eyes and delayed meltdown was not a worthwhile trade-off, so I avoided using this form of babysitting where possible. And there was only so much art and crafts that we could handle.

Ultimately, we suffered from cabin fever from being inside, sleep deprivation from the heat and the dreaded boredom. We were all a bit tetchy by the end of school break.

Like Tom Jones says “It’s not unusual.” It happens EVERY year. It’s nothing new. You would think I’d have my act together by now. You would think I’d have action plans in place. But every year there are add-ons, creating new challenges that throw out any expectations.

This year’s add-ons included late nights from visitors, daylight savings, transitioning our three-year-old from cot to bed, and overnight potty training. There were midnight requests “Mummy, can you do me a favour and hold my hand?” “Mummy, can you cuddle me? I’m scared.” There were early morning visits to the loo and problems with resettling. There were many potty accidents (the carpets will never be the same). These add-ons further impacted on everyone’s quality of sleep and made the summer school holidays infinitely harder.

Recently, a friend commented on how she loves school holidays and spending time with her son, and that she misses him when he goes back to school (how sweet!). I could only nod in parental unity and mask my face with understanding. But in all honesty, after sending my children back to school, I did my jazzy happy dance, waved my arms in the air like I just didn’t care and screamed… I’m freeeeee!!!!

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

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

MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO

It’s a common understanding that part of good parenting involves modelling good behaviours. Children are imitators, so you can’t tell them to do something but not do it yourself. The mentality of “do as I say, not as I do” is simply unacceptable. You have to lead by example because your children look to you as their role models, they learn how to behave, act and deal with life situations by watching you. If you want your kids to have good manners, show them by saying YOUR pleases and thank-yous. If you don’t want your kids swearing, don’t curse in front of them, even if a moron cuts in front of you and nearly side swipes your car. Your children are a reflection of you, in the emotional and behavioural sense. Effectively, you are on public display, open for view and imitation twenty-four-seven.

In writing all that, I can admit that I am not a great role model. I act on whims, with logical and rational reasoning often taking a backseat. I can be a sarcastic, pessimistic, undisciplined, glass-half-empty, stubborn type of person. My epitaph would probably read “Consistent in her inconsistencies”.

So I can’t really complain when my seven-year-old throws her wet towel on the floor or grumble when I have to unravel underwear from her inside out pants while sorting laundry. I can’t call her a slob because I would essentially be calling myself one, seeing I can’t adhere to my own rules.

I’m constantly nagging my kids to drink more water but I happily drink coffee and tea instead. Talk about being a hypocrite!

How can I scold my daughter for being a hoarder, tucking away her possessions and never being able to find anything when she is a by-product of my habits? My father in-law just the other day asked where the old relic of a juicing machine he gave me was, and seriously, it could have been misplaced in the linen closet for all I knew!

And when my toddler started to point his tiny finger at me and say, “I want you to do it right this minute young lady!”, who do I have to blame for that?

Like most parents, I make sure my children feel loved and supported, are well-fed, dressed in clean clothes, help with school readers, try to volunteer where I can, take them to social events and extra-curricula activities.

I know that I’m not a terrible mother, but I struggle to focus and I find it exhausting being mindful as a parent. Despite it all, I continue to try.

This week when I found myself with homework that tested my patience and ability, I was quick to chuck a self-pity party and throw in the towel. I had spat the dummy and thrown an embarrassing toddler tantrum. My daughter started homework that same week and when prompted, her responses fell between “I don’t want to do it” and “it’s too hard”. Coincidence much?

I had to dig deep and do some self-reflection. What was I teaching my kids? What effects were my actions having on them? Am I being the role model that I want to be? How am I shaping my children for the future?

If I want my daughter to face challenges with aplomb, to learn from mistakes and not be afraid of trying, to be resilient and persevere, I had to pull my finger out and set the example.

So I sat down, batted away the self-doubt and attempted to do my homework. I tried and failed multiple times. I practiced and practiced until I produced a piece that I felt content with. I had done my homework to the best of my ability. I gave it a go.

Not surprisingly, my daughter also decided to give her homework a go.

The results got me thinking… maybe I’ll become a vegetarian. Do you reckon my children will want to eat their veggies then?

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

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

HOW TO SURVIVE TODDLERHOOD

I love my children. LOTS. But sometimes, I wish I could find a really good hidey hole and not come out for a while. Children, especially toddlers are great at testing your limits. They like to push your buttons, incessantly, until your eye starts twitching, your mouth flattens into a hard grimace, and you explode like a nuclear bomb. Every parent or carer will have their own horror stories and tips for how to survive toddlerhood and/or parenthood. I’m no expert, but I have observed some interesting character traits.

They are fickle pickles.
Henry: “Mummy, close the window!”
Me: (closes the window)
Henry: “NO! NO! I said open the window!”
Me: (deep sigh, opens the window)
Henry: “I want it closed!!”
Me: “Make up your mind!” (closes the window)
Henry: (cue meltdown)

They have the memory of an elephant so don’t make promises unless you are going to deliver.
Henry: (pointing at a car ride-on) “Mummy, can I go on that?”
Me: “Sure, maybe on our way home.”
An hour passes.
Me: (arms overloaded with groceries, veering away from promised ride-on)
Henry: (pulling towards ride-on) “Mummy! Mummy, there is the car!”
Me: “Ugh, do you really want to go? How about we go home and do something fun?”
Henry: “NO! NO! You said so!”

They are the world’s best procrastinators.
Henry: (sitting on the toilet at five a.m.) “I have to take my time. I feel a poo in my bottom.”
Me: (every few minutes) “Are you done?”
Henry: “Not yet, I’m just waiting.”
Me: (frozen like a corpse on the cold hard floors after waiting for thirty minutes).

They become extremely thirsty at bedtime.
Henry: “Mummy, I need water!”
Me: “Here, now go to bed.”
Repeat cycle at least thirty times. EVERY NIGHT.

They like to push boundaries and limits, of the sanity kind.
Henry: “Beep, beep, beep!”
Mandy: “Henry, stop saying that. It’s annoying!”
Henry: “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!”
Mandy: “Stop it!”
Henry: “BEEEEEEP!!!! BEEEEPP!!!! BEEEEPP!!”
Me: “Just ignore him, Mandy. He will get bored and stop himself.”
Henry: (continues for another ten solid minutes)
Mandy: (breaks down crying)
Me: (whispering) “Soon. It will stop soon.”

What have I learnt so far? Toddlers are unpredictable and volatile. They are prone to indecisiveness and stubbornness. Passing strangers will comment on how angelic they look until they see the switch flipped, and the tantrum-throwing, fist-bashing, leg-thrashing devil in disguise rears its screaming self.

Based on my n=2 parenting experiment, I can offer the below suggestions:

  1. Tea is an old acquaintance but coffee is your best friend. Just don’t expect to drink it hot or warm.
  2. Perfect your eye roll. You’ll need it at all stages of parenthood, so better practice now.
  3. Pretend not to hear the screeching and crying. It will morph into whingeing, bartering and begging later on. If you work on your craft, instead of pretending, you’ll eventually just not hear it.
  4. Ignore that inner voice telling you that people witnessing your child’s meltdown are judging you. Of course, they are. Jeez, that inner voice could be more helpful by telling you something you didn’t already know!
  5. Bribe with TV or snacks if you must but make sure it’s on your terms and used sparingly. Like nasal decongestants overuse can lead to loss in effect and the dreaded rebound. You do not want to invite that misery.
  6. Become a counting expert. It’s not hard. You only need to count to three.
  7. Expect tantrums. They WILL have one, at home and in public. It is NOT a reflection on you or your parenting.
  8. Don’t compare your child to other children. They are all different and special in their own way. You might even get a runner, like mine.
  9. Do what works for you and your child. Remember to laugh. Remind yourself it’s short-lived. Accept that the struggle is real and that you are not alone.
  10. Whatever you do, never ever give in to a toddler tantrum. Once you do, they WILL own your ass. Trust me, my bottom can attest to this.

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

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