Friday, December 31, 2010

Making Judgments.

You wouldn’t bloody believe it. We were out at Bubs Baby Shop looking for a booster seat so that James can join us at the dining table for meals since he’s started protesting at his IKEA high chair. It was mid morning and he should’ve been at his best, but hey, he’s a toddler now and they’re prone to going off the boil without warning. Not that there wasn’t warning, he was happily playing at the sample Thomas the Tank table. Moving the trains around, imagining himself to be the new fat controller in town, while Mrs AHD was getting the sales pitch on the numerous options available. We (James & I) were then summonsed to hear the re-interpretation of the pitch in relation to the 3 or so models that passed muster based on fiduciary considerations and functionality, and James was needed to take a position in each of the chair add-ons in a mock meal-time scenario. Well, buggered if he was going to be a party to that activity when there was a train full of coal on the Island of Sodor that needed shunting somewhere else. So, that’s the background to the flip out that ensued. Not quite nuclear. Wouldn’t rate a 9 either. But it was the biggest that we had seen him throw. We tried to cajole him. We knew it would only take a minute to work out which chair would best seat his backside but he wasn’t in an amiable state of mind. There were tears. There was yelling. There was writhing in my arms. There was lots of ‘No, Daddy, No.’ And there were lots of looks in our direction. Judging looks. Looks as if to say, ‘Can’t you control that child of yours.’ Mrs AHD and I did what all good self-effacing parents would do. We beat a hasty retreat for the door and the safety of the car park knowing that we could come again another day, in a month or so's time when they’ve forgotten our faces and someone else’s child has gone berko in between time. In the car on the way home, Mrs AHD and I were recounting the events. Having a bit of a laugh about it. And we both, almost simultaneously mentioned the looks we had been getting. ‘You noticed them too?’ I asked. ‘How could I not?’ she replied. ‘How rude!’ I exclaimed. And that’s the point of this post. Where, if not in Bubs Baby Shop, is it more acceptable for a toddler to go mental and chuck a tantrum? I mean, every parent in that shop should have been empathizing with us, not judging us. And thus we decided, those who had cast a harsh gaze in our direction must have been first-timers who were still only up to purchasing teething rings and jolly jumpers, or worse still, they were the couples with their first on the way and they were shopping for the perfect nursery furniture for their utopian vision of what family life will be like, well, I hope they enjoyed a glimpse of the future... Ouch, now I’m coming across as the one making judgments.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I’m finding this return to blogging a bit difficult. I’m not too sure what to write about. And I feel like it’s a struggle finding my voice again. I used to have a stack of story ideas on one side. Each one had a sentence here or a paragraph there that I had jotted down and which I found useful for getting me started. I can’t remember the movie but there was a character that would reach into his pockets and pull out scraps of paper, beer coasters and cigarette packets that had phrases and words and sentences written down to jog the memory. I wasn’t quite that rumpled, I stored my ideas on a USB.

And then I went back to work as a teacher and I wasn’t disciplined enough to develop those ideas that I had started, although I did add to them as I remembered things, and I would take the USB backwards and forwards from home to work, just in case I got the time or the motivation, or whatever it is that gets you doing something.

Then one day I was marking some Power Point presentations that my Grade 5 class had completed as part of an assignment and I thought how much easier it would be if I just saved them to my USB and then I could take them home and mark them at my leisure. And so I handed out my USB and each student was to save their work and pass it on.

I should point out that I had never taught as young as Grade 5 and as my time with this class progressed I found myself revising downwards my expectations of what they should be capable of, to the point that after 2 weeks I decided that there was a need to run some remedial lessons in how to rule up their books and how to cut and paste efficiently.

But anyway, knowing their love of Play Station and Nintendo DS and Atari (ok, that one’s from my generation) and all things compooter-like, I thought I was fairly safe in giving out the USB. I was only asking them to plug it in, save their work, and then pass it on. Well, I think you know where this is heading. I was helping one boy when another approached me with the USB in his hand, then I noticed that there were 2 pieces to the USB. It was broken. How could it be broken? Was there a maximum number of plug ins and pull outs it had that I didn’t know about?

Although I’m sure my facial expression betrayed my disappointment I told the boy that it wasn’t a big problem and we could always get another USB to save the Power Points to etcetera, etcetera. Meanwhile, I was thinking, that’s my freaking USB with all my blog ideas, blah, blah, blah.

So, there you have it. I’m coming to grips with my loss. I’ve been jotting ideas down again. This time I’m saving them to the hard drive of the lap top and if that doesn’t make them safe from accidental annihilation at the hands of an 11 year old, then it will be the scraps of paper, beer coaster method for me too.

It’s The Little Things …

So, Mrs AussieHouseDad and I have had another little boy, our second. He’s three and half weeks old now and we feel very blessed. He’s in tip top shape for the life that lies ahead of him (touch wood). Now, I’m tempted to tell you about his arrival into our lives but I fear that story might take a bit of writing as it was some day indeed. And since I’ve just returned from the wilderness of working parentdom I think it prudent to just get a few blogs under my belt before I tackle the meaty topics.

So, in the meantime, I figured I might just bounce around as the ideas take me, and to prove I don’t always have to be verbose to the max, I think this might be a short blog about a revelation of mine.

It’s dawned on me, not for the first time, but certainly again most recently with the arrival of another child that our wheelie bin will continue to have the pong of baby shit about it for another good few years yet.

And it’s the nappy bin that’s the source of ‘eau de baby shit’. This bad boy sits away in the corner of the room beside the change table. With its lid on it’s quite benign. But it’s the cumulative effect of 24 hours worth of contributions that multiplies the stink exponentially. And the chore of changing the bin liner on a daily basis is fraught with the greatest danger of all. You see, when you put a single bagged nappy in the bin, the lid is off for a millisecond – still long enough to assault your sense of smell. But when placing a new liner in, the old, full liner must come out and it needs to be tied off, and it is during the tying off that a sudden shot of fetid air can be exhaled from the garbage the bag into your face, particularly if you tie off with vigour.

The advice in this for young players is clear … get someone else to deal with the nappy bin.

It’s these little things about parenthood that you discover as you go along (that you had no way of knowing about before) which are the signposts marking the changes in your life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From Russia With Love.

I’ve been feeling guilty. You make all these grand statements and promises about how often you’re going to post, you get people reading your stuff and then you go all quiet for half a year. And you know it’s been a long time since you posted a blog when you can’t remember your login and password and you need the systems administrators help to get you going again... I should feel guilty.

So, where have I been? What have I been doing? Would you believe … visiting … say … Russia. What’s that? You don’t? Well, while it may not be strictly true, it’s not totally a lie either, but I’ll get to all that a little later on.

Ok then, here’s the drum, I was doing the house dad thing and really enjoying it, although with all jobs there are bits that annoy you, but all in all it wasn’t like other jobs because, hey, I was caring for my son. Then one Saturday I was looking through the job ads and I came across one for a 6 month teaching contract, well we’d had Number One Son in daycare 2 days/ week while I did some supply teaching, so this didn’t seem like too much of a stretch, and in some way I wanted to see if I could get another job.

Now, needless to say, I got the job and becoming a contract teacher resulted in an obvious change in our household. No longer could I leisurely get the child fed and watered in the morning. No longer was I able to decide which of the two days this week I would choose as ‘shave day’. And gone were my mid morning showers just in case someone dropped by because being in your pyjamas at eleven is loserish, even if your pj’s are well disguised as daggy home clothes in the form of tracky dacks and beer t-shirt from Thailand.

We had joined the phenomenon that KRudd badged as ‘working families’. Mum, Dad and toddler all needing to be organized and out the door by 7.30 each morning. And basically I couldn’t get my shit together. I’ve never been any good at juggling and I’m buggered if I know how that ‘Julie/Julia’ chick blogged about cooking every day.

So, there you have it, the explanation as to why I haven’t blogged for months. I have been working Monday to Friday out of the home and any activities beyond the basic tasks for survival were too difficult to juggle. I did manage to lose a few kilos by getting back to work and therefore not having a fridge or pantry at arm’s length. But the yard has gone to crap, the blog ideas have built up, and so has the guilt.

But in the mean time much has happened. Most notably, and therefore, THE BIG NEWS, Super Wife and I have brought home our second bundle of joy, another little boy for his big brother to whack in the head (pecking order has already begun to be established). And why the Super Wife moniker, well I think it’s worth noting that in this modern day and age with maternity leave entitlements, there aren’t many women who work on the Friday and the following Thursday are having a baby sans epidural, but hey, that’s all good fodder for another blog at another time.

So, there you have it, a very quick précis of life over the last few months between postings. Hopefully I can turn on some regular writing as I do enjoy doing it and I also enjoy the feedback, but that’s been the double edged sword and source of my guilt.

I’ve re-emerged with enthusiasm. And it seems that since I last accessed my account, the ‘BlogSpot’ mob that provide a forum for my observations have added some extra apps, one being the ‘stats’ option. On closer scrutiny of this feature it would appear that it’s not just me registering hits on my own blog or even my friends and family for that matter. The data capturers tell me that I have registered 629 in the ‘page views all time history’ category. And although that’s not a massive number, I was surprised to see from where I’ve been getting visits. Turns out the communists are big into the aussiehousedad thing, with 8 brave Chinese souls risking all by busting through the great firewall. I’m even bigger in the former Soviet states with a dozen Latvians digging my stylings along with 14 hits from the Ukraine but with 27 hits it is definitely a case of From (or To) Russia with Love.

So in order to avoid a meltdown on my in-built Catholic guiltometer and perhaps more importantly, so I don’t receive a hit of my own from some connected Russian Mafioso, I might just need to become a more organized blogger.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pinching a Minute

When James was a 2 sleep a day baby, I used to wait until 10am when I’d put him down for a morning sleep before I’d go about my morning ablutions. Now he doesn’t sleep until after 12pm that routine doesn’t work.

Some days I try and shower before he gets up, admittedly, however that doesn’t happen on most days. Sometimes I wait until he is engrossed in a program on ABC2 and I’ll jump a quick shower. Some days if he seems like he’ll get up to no good I’ll plonk him in his cot and if I leave the bathroom door open and crane my neck I can see him while I shower. Other days if I get the sense that neither option 1 nor option 2 will work I’ll get him in the shower with me, even though he had a bath the night before. Ahhhh, the things we do.

But that routine doesn’t work for another part of our daily ablutions.

I’ve developed a routine, like a lot of men, where I enjoy the peace and quiet that can be achieved when in the smallest room of the house. I am known as a reader in this location too. I know, many find this activity abhorrent, but many don’t, so don’t judge me harshly.

In any event, these days a call of nature requires a degree of subterfuge on my behalf. I’ll set James up with an activity and then I’ll loiter discreetly in the background and when I sense an opportunity I’ll try to quietly disappear while James is occupied.

But, do you know what? It must be like a parent’s sixth sense. You know the one, where quiet children means they’re up to no good and we go to investigate. Well for kids it seems like its same same. The minute I sneak away with weekend magazine folded under my arm, James’ radar goes off, ‘Where’s Daddy?’

I envisage he goes from room to room looking for me. Kitchen – nope. Laundry – nope. Bedroom – nope. And then I hear the shuffle of his feet on the carpet getting closer and closer. “Noooooooooooooo.” I just want a minute to myself. And then he does it. A hand holding some hard plastic or metal toy bang, bang, banging on the toilet door. ‘Daaaaaaaad’ ‘Daaaaaaad’ “Yes, James, in a second.”

I take a moment to re-calibrate where I’m up to in the article, saving it for next time. And as I re-appear, James gives me a look as if to say, ‘Where were you? I missed you terribly’, which is nice, but how I miss the luxury of being able to go to the loo in my own time and on my own terms.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Great Escaper (or Stair Master)

From the time that James could free-range around the house Kylee and I were conducting risk assessments.

When researching for this blog I came across a selection of safety audits from our filing system. Typically they revealed the following information.

Item: Power Points
Potential Risk: Death
Remedial Action: Plastic Plugs

Area: Kitchen
Potential Risk: Sickness and/or Death
Remedial Action: Safety Fence and Gate

Location: Stairs
Potential Risk: Broken limbs and/or Death
Remedial Action: Barricade

More telling though is the insight they revealed about the anxiety levels of first time parents. And I’m not going to point the finger but one member of the parenting partnership is an accountant who has tended to overuse excel spreadsheets for organisational purposes in her civilian life. But I digress…

So, on a daily, nay hourly basis, James would test our defences. Kitchen fence, no luck there. Flicking power points, yes, success. Sticking a fork in it … wait a minute … “Hey kid, who gave you that fork?” (tussle occurs) “Thankyou, I’ll take that.” (kid cries). And he would test for weaknesses of the jogger pram that had been placed at the base of the stairs as a barricade.

James would push the pram without luck. Brake on. He would try to scale its heights. No foot holes. He would attempt to tunnel underneath. Ouch, sore head.

Surprisingly, we had discovered a sentry that would watch those stairs vigilantly and would foil any break out attempts. Mr Jogger Pram went about his business without any fuss for months and months.

But like ‘The Great Escapists’, James had been hatching a plan. It only required him to grow a bit and get a bit stronger. Once again, time was on his side, and operation Tom, Dick and Harry was put in place.

I should have been alerted to the little mounds of dirt that were appearing on the grass, but like the Germans I was clueless and I had put those down to the ants. I had just thought it as cute when James was playing with the treadle of the Singer sewing machine table, who knew he was mocking up SS uniforms. And he was whistling all the time too.

Like Steve McQueen, James Garner, Lee Marvin and Co, James waited for the good weather of summer to make his break….

I was sitting at the dining table keeping an ear out for James. There was huffing and puffing and groans of exertion. Nothing really out of the ordinary with that. Then the alarm for all parents went off, the sound of silence.

I turned and out of the corner of my eye I saw James’ feet disappearing around the corner of the return landing. He was half-way up the stairs, the land of milk and honey beckoned. Freedom. I channelled Sgt Schultz, “I know nusssing.” (Sorry, wrong reference point, that one’s a WWII German parody) I composed myself, “HALT … or you will be shot.”

James stopped. He looked back at me and our eyes met. We both realised that a significant event had occurred and that life would change from that moment on.

And, so it did. We kept the jogger pram barricade for a few more weeks after the first breakout, although it did need some reinforcements. The nappy bag was brought in, as were some cushions.

I began keeping watch as time and again James was able to breach the secure perimeter. He demonstrated ingenuity for overcoming my cunning placements of obstacles. Pushing, pulling and climbing were his usual strategies. And all for an opportunity to engage in his natural instinct of seeing what there was to see. Obviously he didn’t know it was just the other side of the mountain.

A parenting decision about this new juncture in the road was needed. Debating lines were set, the argument for the affirmative team was clear, “As, we have a house with stairs, he just has to learn how to use them.” While the negative team argued like a true opposition putting up the scare campaign of, “What if he falls?” It was an emotive topic and both arguments had compelling points to consider, but with an eye to the future, the adjudicator came down on the side of the affirmative.

The crowd, of one (James), gathered at the bottom of the stairs. It was a smaller crowd than the one that gathered in Berlin to watch the Wall come down, but it was no less symbolic. On this day, the barricade that had been preventing the re-unification of toys was removed and access to the upwards and downwards thingies was granted.

Slow, tentative steps were taken at first. Actually, James was quite adept at the going up, but guidance was needed for the coming down part. In true parent-child teaching fashion, child ignored parent who knew best and tried to tackle said problem his own way. The inevitable tumbles (under controlled conditions) occurred, but through trial and error a degree of proficiency was achieved.

Today, James fairly flies up the stairs, likes to try to walk down them with the aid of the balustrade, knows that sliding backwards on his tummy is the ‘careful’ way and is also the quickest method (especially useful if a favourite treat is on offer). He knows that a hasty retreat to the stairs will provide a delay to the inevitable activity he is attempting to avoid. And on the rare occasion that he does take a tumble, James will usually pick himself up, look a bit surprise, hold his hands out and say “I know nusssing.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Babymoon

Let me see, James was born in November, so I suppose this happened in the October before he arrived.

I can’t remember whether I was being a renaissance man or if Kylee had dropped so many hints that I finally twigged to the idea, but in any event I booked a quiet weekend away for us to enjoy each other’s company before our couple status would change forever.

I had seen O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat featured on those good weekend programs and thought that it would be a perfect destination. I even booked a picnic lunch hamper from their vineyard on the valley floor to enjoy on the riverbank along the way. (I know ladies, 1, 2, 3 … altogether now …. ‘awwww, how romantic’)

We hadn’t coined the phrase ‘Babymoon’ (a derivative of the honeymoon concept) at this stage. That happened when we received a text message from friends enquiring as to our whereabouts. When we told them what we were up to, they enlightened us to this new concept. And since we liked the term, we’ve been running with it ever since.

So, here we were, enjoying a lovely spring day in the Gold Coast hinterland. The sun was out, the birds were singing, we had just enjoyed a delicious lunch of gourmet deli delights and we were about 30k’s from our idyllic mountain destination.

Did I say mountain destination? Ah yes, that’s right, 30 kilometres up a winding, single lane strip of tar, almost no room for on-coming traffic, side of the mountain, goat track. I’ve recently seen an episode of Top Gear where they drive through the Andes and the roadside is prone to giving way here and there and slipping into the canyon hundreds of metres below. Well this was not dissimilar.

And have I told you about Kylee’s neuroses before. I seem to recall describing Kylee’s impersonation of Marge Simpson to my Homer-like bluster. Well this was another of those situations where Kylee was uneasy with the circumstances and thus approached the experience as would Chicken Little.

On we went, higher and higher, windier and windier. We would speed up to 50km/h on the straight sections and then another corner would halve our speed. And as we travelled we encountered more and more on-coming traffic that was heading down the mountain. Thus we deduced there were a lot of day trippers who go for lunch. Well, that would be ok, if like us they were travelling in sensible little 4 cylinder sedans, but they were even more sensible, they had travelled in bus groups so they could enjoy a wine or a beer. At least keeping to the left side meant we would only fall off the mountain second in the event of a mischief.

The fact that I am recounting this tale clearly indicates that we made it to our destination but not without much sucking in of air through clenched teeth.
As I had calculated our arrival time by distance to be travelled and not by windiness of the road, we were now cutting phase 2 of the Babymoon, an afternoon of pampering for Kylee in the day spa, very fine indeed. (Cue more sucking of air through clenched teeth, but not by me.)

You know, it’s funny when you think about it. The types of conversations we get ourselves involved in. Even though I was acting under instructions I still found myself learning far too much about day spa treatment than I would ever have anticipated I would need to know.

“Did you book me a massage?”
“What type?”
‘I don’t know? A back massage.’
“Did you tell them I’m pregnant?”
“Well, how are they going to give me a back massage?”
‘I, don’t know, maybe they have a table with the tummy cut out so your belly can hang through.’
“Oh don’t be so ridiculous.”
‘Look, I’m sure when you waddle through the door they’ll be able to adapt a procedure for you.’

And even though I received that whack, they did adapt a procedure and Kylee duly came out some hours later feeling quite pampered and relaxed, but not altogether happy with me. (Note to self, waddle is not a suitable adjective to describe a pregnant woman’s walk.)

We were enjoying the serenity now. No traffic noise. No hustle and bustle. Just the relaxation that nature and a good view will bring. We were enjoying the vista across the valley from our balcony as the sun began to set.

“What’s that cement with ‘H’ painted on it down there?”
“Down there, in front.”
‘Oh, that’d be a helipad for emergencies.’

And that’s all it took to set the little rattle off.

“Oh my, what if I go into labour?”
‘You won’t.’
“People go into labour early you know.”
‘I know that, but you’ll be alright.’
“I could.”
'But we know, your mother was late with all her pregnancies and daughter’s closely follow their mothers.’ (I was making this bit up, I don’t know if that’s true, but said with confidence it seemed to placate.)
“Hmmm, I don’t know if that sounds right.”
‘Anyway, the helipad is a good thing, at least we know we can get you down the mountain if you do go into labour. I should imagine there would be an extra cost if we need to ring reception asking for some hot water and extra towels.’ (Ben laughs at his own joke.)
(Why do I do that to myself?)

And so it came to pass that we had a lovely time away. We tossed around baby names, I had a bottle of wine (less half a glass) with dinner, Kylee did not go into unexpected early labour and I learned that should we go on another Babymoon then I won’t be booking a place that requires the use of a sure footed donkey as our transportation.

Bonjour, bienvenue.

I’ve been away for a while, haven’t I? I won’t worry about checking the dates but it has been more than a month, maybe even close to two. I feel neglectful. And when I’m told by family and friends that I haven’t blogged for a while I feel guilty too.

I enjoy remembering the little things and writing about them and I worry that I might forget a precious moment. I think that’s why I feel some guilt. Couple that with the fact that I know people have been tuning in on a semi-regular basis, I have been feeling as though I was a neglecting a friendship.

That’s why I’ve affixed a title to this blog that has a bit of whimsy. Hopefully it will mask my sheepishness as I return to chronicling life since the arrival of James.

There is another issue too. It’s not a big problem. I’ve got stacks of one sentence ideas in my draft folder and I don’t know where to start. I can’t really remember what happened first so tackling them chronologically won’t really work.

I hope you will be able to follow events as I go back and forth with memories of the last 18 months or so.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stream of Consciousness

I've been beating myself up for a few days now. I've become a blogger and with that comes a certain amount of discipline to, get this, actually blog. I know, a massive surprise isn't it.

The situation where I hadn't blogged for a while crystalised last night when Kylee casually said to me, 'you haven't posted anything in a while.'

"What the ..."

You see, Kylee is an infrequent reader of my stuff and for her to notice, well, it clearly has been a while.

It's not like I've been doing nothing in between posts. I'm quite meticulous when it comes to jotting down ideas for posts, in fact I have several folders that I use in my writing process. I start with an idea, a few words or a phrase. I then write a paragraph or two, leave it for a period, come back and draft some more, polish it a bit until I post my blog. I just haven't been very good at steps 2, 3 and 4 of late.

I was reminiscing the other day, back to the early months of being at home with James when his day was predominantly filled with sleeping and I toyed with the idea of doing some further study because I had all this time on my hands. These days I have a one sleep a day boy who has a great skill at devolving the good order of the house.

So, here I am today, blogging away out of obligation, realising that I need to use the time after James goes to sleep at night more wisely, otherwise there will be no drafting process and the words that are read will be as they are today, unedited, straight from thought to page in this great stream of consciousness.

End result, more random, babbling, meandering writing than usual.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Westfield Chermside and Frank Bloody Lowy

I’ve never really been in a minority before, I mean white middle class male in western culture, you don’t get much more dominant paradigm than that.

And being of conservative liberal political stock I’ve never been against a business venture from maximising its fiscal position with entrepreneurial spirit. Maybe then it’s the fact that I’m a little ’l’ liberal with a social conscience, not a neo-Liberal, that my current world view has shifted.

“What’s he on about?”

Well, on a regular basis I find that the position of ‘parent to young child’ and the concept of ‘free market imperatives’ collide and when this collision occurs, it is us ‘parents to young children’ that are thrust into a minority, put up or piss off position.

“Hurry up man, you’re speaking in riddles.”

Ok then, so this is the issue as I see it. Kiosks. They’re the bloody problem. A modern day scourge I tell you. Bloody kiosks popping up everywhere. I can’t stand them and my biggest gripe is with Westfield at Chermside, probably happening at Westfields everywhere so I blame Frank Bloody Lowy. Because their kiosks aren’t those little fruit cart ones, they’re huge, multi-roomed even.

“Good Lord, that’s a bit of a rant. You’re still not making sense.”

Alright then, let me set the scene. Young(ish) dad, beautiful wife and robust toddler venture to mega-mall to run errands. Young(ish) dad parks car, beautiful wife places toddler into pram. No problem so far. Young(ish) dad wheels pram to automatic sliding doors and enters mega-mall. Problems commence. The procession around mega-mall requires stop, start, stop, start as the masses of humanity walk around, in front of and between this family.

Dad thinks to himself, there aren’t that many people here, why all the bottlenecks on the thoroughfares. Ah, bloody, pissing kiosks. They’re everywhere on the concourses now. Once upon a time it used to be just the key cutting guy, now you can get a mixed berry frappe, a massage, assorted trinketry, mobile phone accessories, hell, these days you can even get your teeth whitened in front of the multitudes.

So, well done Frank Bloody Lowy and Westfield Chermside. You’ve seen that under used space in front of shops, the space that people used to walk along, and you’ve plonked kiosks there. Well done, you’ve just made some more money.

And what else used to inhabit this space? Ah, that’s right. Chairs. Chairs? What a useless, out-dated, antiquated, old-fashioned idea. Chairs in a shopping mall, how ridiculous? People don’t come here to sit, they come here to shop. And spend their money … at the bloody, pissing kiosks.

Well guess what, people, namely parents with kids and prams do use chairs. A good place to sit, they are. You know, to rest for a bit, feed the young toddler, wait for the missus while she tries on a new outfit. Because you know what happens these days? Young(ish) dads find themselves standing in the walkway between the boutique and the crazy popcorn kiosk, bottlenecking the space for those walking past.

This young(ish) dad has tried following his beautiful wife into said boutique but a) it’s a women’s shop and 2) the pram often doesn’t fit between the racks. (Another problem identified.)

So the end result is the pram pusher is constantly apologising because there isn’t enough space for parent and pram. And older people complain and mutter that no wonder kids turn out so bad these days when their parents are so selfish. And the teenagers who are scoping out the mall in their four abreast packs aren’t too keen to give way, in fact they don’t even really know the road rules and are prone to keeping both left and right.

These days when I’m shopping at the mega-mall and I’m part of the minority that is ‘parents with prams’ I’m able to exchange a knowing nod with other members of this group and because we know the difficulties attached with pram pushing there is invariably the courtesy of space given.

And since I often need to have a bit of a sit, well as much as it pains me, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and now toddler James has the whitest brightest teeth you’ll ever see and his dad has rested feet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Terrible Twos

Before I was a dad, back when I had less of an idea than I do now, I used to think that the ‘terrible two’s’ actually commenced when a child reached the age of 2. Crazy, I know.

So, through the first 12 months I have been cruising along thinking to myself that all of the ups and downs we have experienced are good prep for the ‘terrible two’s’. I have also been contenting myself with the belief that we were still a ways off that marker, you know, James is 15 months, take that from 24 … we are still 9 months off him becoming a monster.

What’s that I hear? I think it might be the sound of parents down through the eons of human existence laughing out loud. I know, I know, again I’m guilty of being naïve, but give me a break, James is our first and I’m kinda learning on the run.

Courtesy of the clinical trials that James has been running and the observations that he has allowed me to make, I have acquired new knowledge in this subject area. So this is what I now know. Just as babies learn to walk gradually, or just as speech requires a progressive development, so too does their understanding of how to crack a wobbly.

“It is through a series of incremental, yet precise developmental stages through which the subject is able to suitably adapt their behaviour in order to finally exhibit the complete ambit of traits that are associated with the ‘terrible two’s’.”

Well, that’s how it would look if I were writing some scientific tome on the subject. So, what does all this mumbo jumbo mean? It means that my 15 month old toddler is becoming, how should we put it … disagreeable. My mother on the other hand would probably describe it as him developing a sense of independence.

In order to support my hypothesis I’m aware that you require some evidence of James’ change in behaviour.

James has always been a terrific eater. He has been happy to ingest all food prepared for him and consequently he has grown very well indeed and has been near the top of the class in the weight for age category. (That’s the proud parent coming out in me). Lately, however, he has not been such a good eater, spitting food out, throwing it on the floor, pursing his lips, turning his head away, waving his arms and generally saying ‘no thankyou’.

I had been prepared to put that behaviour into the ‘fickle eater’ category but when coupled with other new characteristics you will see a pattern emerging.

As previously recorded in an earlier blog, James has learnt the word association of ‘ta’ as a request for whatever the object is that is in his line of sight. As we know, there are some things that 15 month olds should not be allowed to handle, scissors, hydrochloric acid, dynamite … James, unfortunately doesn’t understand this and no matter how gently the negative position is put him, it can suddenly and inexplicably result in tears, bottom lip quivering and shrieks that make you consider giving him that acid just to stop the noise.

In the past there have been all sorts of things that James has mildly object to, but of late, his objections have become louder, more forceful and sustained. Previously I would put these responses down to a tired baby who needed a sleep. These days I know it’s just a toddler who is frustrated that he cannot communicate what he wants. But all the same it can drive you mental.

So, with this epiphany realised by myself, my question for the experts is this: By its name, i.e. ‘terrible two’s’, I was lead to believe that this stage lasts for the period between their 2nd and 3rd birthday. Since this is clearly not the case, as it has commenced prior to James’ 2nd birthday, for how many years will my son exhibit symptoms of terrible two-ism?

Signed: Confuddled Aussie House Dad

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


There was a time when I barely saw daylight on a Saturday or Sunday, certainly I wasn’t familiar with mornings on those days of the week. These days I really look forward to family time on weekends and I hate wasting this precious time.

Sometimes it’s just errand running, maybe a trip to Bunnings and a sausage, if I’m lucky, other times it’s a day trip to some destination of child and parent interest.

So last Sunday was a fairly ordinary sort of weekend day. We bundled into the car bound for Officeworks, a shredder was apparently necessary for our household to operate. Silly me, I had been under the misapprehension for all these years that you could dispose of paper by way of ripping it to pieces, but apparently clever identity burglars are able to jigsaw your rubbish back together and bish, bam, boom, you’re stuffed.

After purchasing the cheapest option and with the world again spinning correctly on its axis, I suggested that we check out the children’s adventure playground we had been told about in a well to do suburb of Brisbane.

I have come to realise that there is a hierarchy in children’s adventure playgrounds, with some offering far superior methods for kids to break bones compared to the boring old swing and slippery dip parks of my own youth. Soft fall matting I laugh at you.

Ok then, that’s the back story to this particular blog.

So, we’re checking out this new park, there is full scale adventuring going down. We were playing on the swings, on the fort, down the slippery dip, having laughs, engaging in problem solving, generating grunts of exertion. All good signs.

And while James was toddling from equipment piece to equipment piece I happened to notice a kid and his mother being dropped off by one of those European 4WD, then the dad drove off, probably to run his own shredder errand.

Anyway, James, Kylee and I continued our playing. Mum and Dad each holding one of James’ hands to steady him as he defied death and walked up the slippery dip. We steadied him as he walked across the wobbly bridge and then caught him as he was about to slip into the abyss between the webbed funnel contraption.

And so, as our time in the park was nearing an end, James decided that he would have a go on one last piece of equipment. It was one of those springy rocker thingies. Mounting it from the head on direction caused some difficulties of the slipping and bumping variety and at the moment James let out a cry of frustration the aforementioned European 4WD kid raced by with his mum close behind. Hearing James’ cry, Nelson, as I will now call him, gave his impression of his namesake from ‘The Simpson’s’ as he let out a ‘Ha ha’.

Our response was automatic.

Kylee and I spun around and as we did so, we met the eye of Nelson, who had turned on instinct to continue to soak up the enjoyment of the situation. Unfortunately for Nelson, he discovered that Kylee and I had morphed into parental defence machines.

It happened in some sort of Matrix style slow motion, but as our eyes met, daggers were shot at Nelson in unison. The eye daggers cut the air as they tumbled end over end towards their target. And Nelson was momentarily paralysed…. Fffffftttt … Fffffftttt…. Both daggers hit their mark square in the chest.

I’m sure that Nelson wasn’t unfamiliar with the look of derision that he experienced when he saw Kylee and my response. He just seemed to be one of those kids. Proud I am to say that Nelson was shut down and castigated in one stroke.

I realised where Nelson was running as he passed us by. The European 4WD had returned and as he now shuffled to the family car, Nelson continued looking back in our direction with a look of disappointment that somehow we had ruined his fun. And although surprised by my own response I couldn’t help but feeling good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What’s In A Name? (Number 2.)

From my teaching days I can inform the class that a noun is a naming word. In the case of the original ‘What’s In a Name’ blog, James’ name is a proper noun. This blog, however, is about a common noun and the name it is to be given.

James has discovered something and it gets his attention every time it’s exposed. It’s the thing that separates the boys from the girls. That’s right folks, James is aware that he is a boy and this is now a source of curiosity to him.

At every nappy change James’ hand shoots south. As he sits in the bath, invariably, one hand holds his toothbrush, the other is below the water line. And Kylee and I are now in the process of discouraging this behaviour.

‘James, don’t touch yourself’ I heard myself saying. ‘Don’t touch yourself’. Hmmm, that’s a bit abstract for a toddler. What is ‘yourself’?

We have been learning the names for things, so it seems time to introduce a new noun.

If I might quote from the genius of Ivan Reitman’s ‘Kindergarten Cop’ on the subject, “Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina”. So, ‘penis’ would be the anatomically correct term. Thanks Ivan.

I know a lot of parents take the view that children should be taught the correct names for anatomy. They also tend to be the type of parent that have their kids call them by their first name. That’s all a bit too lentils, tie dye and new age for me.

I’m a bit uncomfortable with the use of the word ‘penis’, so I fall into the second camp that seeks out an alternative name.

We worked with ‘willy’, but I like the name William and if we were to ever have another boy I’d hate for his older brother to tease him because of the word association between name and nether region.

Kylee and I convened a special meeting on the subject. What were the other options? We needed a name that we would both use for consistency. I put forward ‘tool’ and ‘member’. Too low brow apparently. ‘Sausage’? No. ‘Todger’? Too Benny Hill. This was becoming problematic.

The answer however was staring us right in the face (so to speak). ‘Doodle’. Not to vulgar. Socially acceptable if needed to be used in public. So, doodle it is.

Bath time now gives rise to conversation along the lines of, ‘James, hands off your doodle.’ ‘Good boy, well done.’

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hey Kid, Don’t Mess With the Cat!

Before we had James, in fact before we were remotely ready to consider a child, we decided to share our life with a cat. We trundled off to our local vet who runs a cat adoption program and that’s where we were introduced to a ginger domestic long hair (cat version of a ‘bitsa’) that we were to name Keith.

So Keith had the run of the house for a good number of years before James came along. Such was his ownership of the facilities that Kylee and I often wondered whether we owned him or whether he was just gracing us with his presence.

When we brought Baby James home from the hospital we wondered how Keith would go with the new addition to the house. After all, in his mind, Keith was higher in the pecking order.

To the most part Keith wasn’t too interested in the new kid. Occasionally he would sniff at the little human in the bouncer as he walked by, even rarer he would lick the foot of the human as it dangled in the air. But to the most part life hadn’t changed too much for Keith.

That of course was never going to last forever.

As Baby James aged and his awareness of his surroundings developed, he came to realise that he not only shared the house with Kylee and me (the people who comforted him with food in the night) but there was another member of the house. From his seated positions on the lounge room floor Baby James would watch as Keith meandered from one sleeping location to another.

Sometimes as sign of his superiority (based upon his ability to move), Keith would swish his tail in Baby James’ face as he cruised past. However, sometimes as a portent of future exchanges, Keith would linger a little too long in Baby James sphere of influence and would come away from the meeting with a little less fluff on his tail.

As Baby James became mobile, we would often discover him setting a course in Keith’s direction. We still had little to worry about, as Keith not only possessed speed, and nimbleness, he was also blessed with the ability to put vertical distance between himself and his pursuer. He would look down with a yawn at Baby James on the floor as he lounged across the top of the sofa, safe in the knowledge that he could be on Everest, such was the logistical impossibility of Baby James scaling the 3 feet between them.

It would be interesting to read Keith’s blog (if he could type) to get his view of the period when Baby James learnt to pull himself to stand with the assistance of the furniture. For it was this great leap for mankind that put Keith’s safety on shakey ground.

Baby James now had legs. He could cruise around the lounge much quicker than his crawling allowed. And cats being cats, Keith was more interested to find his favourite snooze place. So, Baby James often surprised Keith with an ambush. He would slink around from the blind side and before Keith knew it, Baby James had a handful of tail as his trophy.

Now, Keith is certainly no Horse (for those who need a reminder or a point of reference, Horse is the tough cat from the Footrot Flats comics) but he wasn’t going to let a surprise attack go unchallenged. So, inevitably as an emboldened Baby James headed back for more fur samples, he often found his second foray was met with a swipe of claws across his hand. Which would then result in quick succession with the dropping of Baby James’ bottom lip, a tear (or tears) appearing in his eyes, a search for Daddy, followed up with a loud cry once Daddy was spotted in order for comforting first aid kisses to be administered. Stat.

As I type this account of Baby James and Keith’s fledgling relationship it occurs to me that you, the reader, might be thinking that I’m a bad parent for sitting back and watching these exchanges take place. Allow me to clarify. Keith was often removed before a situation could escalate. Fights between siblings are inevitable. Baby James was often informed of the possible consequences. And I was often home alone and in the kitchen preparing dinner when the events referred to happened. And anyways, things that happen to us should be turned into positive learning opportunities.

The learning for Baby James would seem obvious.

To the most part Baby James adheres to the Victorian maxim of look but don’t touch (clearly we neglected to inform him that children should be seen and not heard) when it comes to Keith. He has even taken to extending gestures of goodwill to Keith in order to ‘BFF’ the relationship.

These days James will put forward his own food and drink as peace offerings. But, occasionally he forgets that he is dealing with a wild animal and the ginger ninja strikes with speed and accuracy as a reminder to James of the previously learned life lesson. And it’s left to me to put it in human language … Hey Kid, Don’t Mess With the Cat!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

As The Days Go By

Summer is almost over. The last game of cricket is on TV tonight. It’s a Twenty20 game starting at 6.30pm so James will only get to see half an hour, should be long enough to reserve TV rights though.

That kinda shows where my head is, at the moment. Christmas and New Year are becoming distant memories and I’m getting back into the routine of life.

James has been going to daycare on Fridays, but I’m yet to pick up a supply day. Mostly my own fault since I’ve only let one school (my old one) know that I’m available. That’s by design though. I haven’t been in a class for 18 months and I’d like to get the groove again in a place I know. Its gotta help to know the kids, the layout, the timetable, the staff, where the toilets are …

Kylee came home yesterday telling me about a big win she’d had at work during the day. I feel guilty now but I couldn’t muster much enthusiasm. I’d had a nothing sort of day. My biggest achievement was hanging a swing in the mango tree and pushing James for five or so minutes. Oh, and I did get annoyed when I discovered a tissue was left in the dark wash, if that’s an achievement.

I’m taking James to his swimming lessons these days. I’m finding it similar to my Gymboree experience. He loves being in the water but it's hit and miss how he’ll take to the formal stuff. I hope it’s a stage but I’m beginning to wonder if he’s got ADD. Probably not but you do wonder.

James is communicating with us more and more. Sometimes he’s just mimicking but other times there are cognitive processes going on.

He’s learnt how to ask for things, ‘ta’ being the appropriate word. It gets re-pronounced as ‘da’ but we know what he means. Only thing is James seems to think that if he sees something and wants it, then ‘Da’ is the magic word … always. So, there it is for James, ‘Source of Frustration # 80632’.

He’ll see a knife on the bench. ‘da’. ‘Da, Da, Da, DA, DA, DA, DAAAAAAAAAAA.’ And then comes the adult explanation. ‘No, James, it’s sharp. Little boys don’t hold knives.’ A look is shared like he understands, then, ‘DA, DA, DA’ … you get the drift.

So I’m getting it more and more now. The life of a toddler is full of daily frustrations. I can’t wait until he can help me peel disintegrated tissue off a dark blue table cloth. Arrghhhh.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rocket Man

As I sit here preparing to write this post it’s dawning on me how long ago these events occurred. We’re talking about Baby James when he really was a fragile little baby. I hardly even remember that time when his head needed supporting and his movements seemed like they were in slow-motion and he needed burping after each feed. That’s a world away to where he is now, a robust, fast-moving, eat-anything machine.

So these are my recollections around 12 months after the event.

As with all parents, and I’m sure it’s doubly so with first-timers, Kylee and I observed Baby James in great detail. We watched him in our arms, we watched him in the arms of others, while he slept, and I would smell him all the time. We were taking in his being with us. It was fantastic. I was both amazed and proud, its clichéd because it’s true. Anyway, as it was, we started noticing something, his soft head was developing a flat spot.

We had read about this phenomenon and had followed the advice of the books. We had routinely switched the end of the cot Baby James was facing, apparently this will cause the infant child to turn towards the door. He didn’t though, he had a definite preferred side to sleep on. So as we noticed the development we would ask our friends if it was normal. Of course it is they’d tell us, followed by their own experiences of their child with a slight flat spot which sorted itself out as they grew older. So we continued using our book-smarts to address the flat spot issue.

And then we went to the paediatrician for Baby James’ six week check up. Doctor examined his patient, checked his hips, did some other poking and prodding and then announced at the end that Baby James had a flat spot on his left side. Yes we know, we told him, like this was news to us, the helicopter parents from hell. Hurry up and be the second opinion to the suburban medical advice that we’ve already received and tell us that it’ll sort itself out is what I was thinking. But he didn’t say this. Instead, we were referred to a physiotherapist who specialised in infants as the doctor was concerned that the favouring of one side to the other might also result in the shortening of Baby James’ neck muscles.

This is where we met Wendy our physio. She was fantastic, and as a new mum herself, she approached her patient with the same care that she would her own. It’s funny because you would obviously prefer not to have to need a health professional for your eight week old child but I really enjoyed appointments at the physio. At our first appointment, Wendy enjoyed Baby James’ smiles. At our next appointment she commented on his sitting ability. At subsequent appointments she marvelled at his rolling and then worming ability. All the time I felt proud that I was somehow a catalyst in these events.

Anyway, our physio advice at appointment one was to continue what we were doing but to also place a wedge under Baby James’ hip and shoulder while he slept in order to roll him off his favoured side and we would monitor his flat spot for a month. If there was little or no improvement we would be referred to an orthotist who specialised in remedial helmets for such conditions. When we were being shown the type of helmet that Baby James might possibly need, both Kylee and I went, ‘oh, we’ve seen other babies at the shops wearing those. That’s what they’re for?’

We left this appointment and we tried to be optimistic that the flat spot would right itself. We tried to be positive about the remedial helmet if it was required. But speaking for myself I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the potential prospect. Again I can only speak for moi, but I guess there was an element of wanting your child to be ‘normal’, whatever that is.

Well, as the month did pass Kylee and I would often discuss whether improvement was happening. We were often subjected to the trick of the eye, one angle we believed that we could see a change and from a different angle the flat spot looked the same. Baby James’ condition certainly wasn’t helped by his lack of hair as his shiny bald scone had nothing to hide its bumps and quirks.

In the end we decided against worrying and whatever would be would be. As it turned out we did take Baby James to the orthotist, her name was Bianca and like Wendy the Physio, she took great interest in her patients.

It was during our time at the orthotists that we came to learn that the medical term for Baby James’ condition was plagiocephaly. We further learnt that this condition has become more common in recent years as one of the pieces of advice for parents from the SIDS movement has been to place babies on their backs while they sleep.

So Baby James was to receive a helmet. The fitting process involved plaster of Paris being applied to his melon, not the easiest of tasks when involving a squirming, unwilling participant. From there a mould was made and I was given a pattern book to choose a design from. I choose the gender appropriate blue with trucks, planes and randomly a ‘no dogs’ logo. And there we were, set for the next 8-12 weeks depending on how Baby James’ cranium responded to manipulation.

Kylee and I joked amongst ourselves about Baby James new headwear. At times he looked as though he was about to hop on his motorbike, other clothes made him look as though he was about to jump in the ring for a sparring session, but my favourite look was when we dressed him in his wondersuit. Baby James came across as looking like an astronaut; our little Rocket Man. And I would mangle the lyrics to Elton John’s song, singing with appropriate falsetto but tunelessly;

‘Oh, its gonna make everything be alright, cos you’re a Rocket Man.’

Baby James wore his helmet 23 hours a day for what turned out to be around three months. We took him to the shops in it and I remember furniture shopping one time when the assistant (a woman in her 50’s) came over and told us she thought the helmet was a great idea and that her grandson could use one too to stop him from bashing his head as he ran under the dining table. We had to explain the exact purpose to her, but to be fair I’m sure Baby James’ gained an undeserved confidence around hard surfaces as he avoided the bruises that would have come his way as we often heard a clunk that signified contact between helmet and house.

Mostly though people went about their business and if there was a comment it was mostly how cute Baby James looked in his headgear. Occasionally there was the odd question from mothers who had babies with the same plagiocephaly condition who were seeking information. And only once was my ire raised when some stupid Gen Y girls laughed at what they considered to be a comical look, fortunately for them they were faster moving in the crowd than I was with the pram and by the time I saw them again the heat had left me and the moment of their insensitivity had also passed.

With fortnightly trips to the orthotist improvement was discernable and Bianca was happy with his progress, as were we. At the ten week appointment it was decided that one more week would do the job, this turned out to be … hmmm …. what’s the opposite of a false start? A false end? A phantom something or other? Well, whatever it’s called, with a little bit of disappointment at having our eager anticipation dashed, we ended up having an extra week as it turned out.

Now, the end result is a much improved noggin for Baby James. Not quite perfect, but then who has a perfect nut, no-one in my family that’s for sure and that’s his gene pool. And now that he’s getting a fuller head of fair hair, nature is helping him disguise his uniquity (made that word up just now) and hopefully Baby James will have my hair genes and no-one will ever be the wiser.

‘Oh, its gonna make everything be alright, cos you’re a Rocket Man.’

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Three Is Not A Crowd.

Hi again. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? About 2 weeks by my calculations. Well, that’s the length of time that I was away with Kylee. She had a conference in Hawaii and thanks to the great deal that Hawaiian Airlines gave us I was able to bum along with her.

So, did James come along for the ride too? I have to be careful how I answer this as I don’t wish to give the impression that we were giddy school children making a dash for the gate on the last day of school and the freedom that it represented just because we were embarking on an overseas holiday to a tropical locale and we were to be childless. But, yippee, we were going to Hawaii and thoughts of nappy changing, feeding and sleep routines were to be replaced by surfing lessons, swim-up bars and Mai Tais at sunset.

I suppose most new parents would have automatically planned their overseas trip with child in mind. I mean, that’s fairly normal I guess. In fact, while we were on our jaunt, more than once we spied young couples with their young babies going about their tourist business. Us, on the other hand, well we had a precedent to follow, for you see Kylee’s parents had left her in the care of her grandparents when she was a one year old as they too had ventured to the U.S of A. And, family traditions are important to uphold and continue.

Now, I really shouldn’t be so flippant because we did have numerous conversations as to whether we should bring James or leave him with our families. As we prepared to jet off, we were able to thank our parents as we appreciated the opportunity to holiday as a couple and hoped that this would give them an opportunity to have some one on one time with James and to develop another version of their relationship with him.

Many was the time while we were away that we were asked about our family structure and whether we had children and each time it brought James’ absence front and centre to my mind. And after answering that we had a one year old and explaining where he was I found myself wondering how he was going. And at night, Kylee or I would ask the other, what do you think he’s doing, or, how do you think he’s going? Or we would entertain each other by reminding ourselves of his funny little habits, being careful to keep it light hearted lest we get misty eyed as we were missing him.

On our arrival at Waikiki we had some troubles getting our mobile phones to make a call back to Australia, which probably wasn’t a bad thing as I didn’t want to be ringing every 5 minutes like an anxious parent. As it was, my parents looked after James for the first week and we rang them a couple of times for updates. ‘All is well’ and ‘He is a delightful little boy’ were the themes of the responses we received. Well, I’m a teacher and I know how to write a report that doesn’t go out on a limb too, but to be fair, we were hardly going to get any negatives were we?

We continued our semi-regular check-ins after the hand over with Kylee’s parents and we even started receiving photos via text and email. The first one that was texted was a curiosity to us. James looked different somehow … older perhaps … a different expression on his face. I hadn’t figured on this development, but I realised then that we were missing stuff. I hadn’t been in this position before, I had never missed anything, I’m the House Dad after all, I’m with James every day, he and I are buddies. He’s my side-kick, my protégé, I’m his dad. So, what was this funny feeling I was having, maybe a twinge of jealousy or something in that area of human emotion.

I started doing some maths. Two weeks away. James is a bit over a year old, let’s call it fifty weeks for ease of doing the calculations, that’d give us 4%, give or take of his life to-date that we were to be absent for. A lot could happen in that time you know. And it did too…

We’ve returned to a boy who is definitely older, not just in the chronological sense, he’s more grown up too. James’ babblings are sounding more like language now. He interacts with more understanding now, as phrases like ‘come here’ or ‘sit down’ are resonating. He finds humour with the clinking of glass and sippy-cup teamed the word ‘cheers’ that Poppy has taught him. There is now cheesiness to some of his smiles as he plays up his facial expressions for our reactions. James has gained even greater confidence in his negotiating of steps and ‘heights’ in general. And he’s even quicker across the ground now, than ever before.

And after experiencing ‘Hawaiian’ time whereby delays caused us to have an unexpected night in Sydney both going and coming, we’re back home now and glad to be. Kylee and I had a relaxing time on our break, but we were certainly ready to get home because its not just Kylee and me any more, its Kylee, me and James.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time Management and Other New Year’s Resolutions

Ok, ok, I know. We’re almost mid-way through January. New Year is becoming a distant memory. Hell, if I listen to Kylee the year is half over. So here I am posting blog Number 2 for the year. I’ve actually been having a lot of problems with this post, trashing draft after draft. Apparently great literature takes time to craft. Don’t be misguided by that last statement, as I fear that it is closer to doggerel minus the verse.

So, why all the trouble writing this post?

Well, I started writing ages and ages ago about how much time I seemed to have in my day. I was new to house-dadding, still had a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 work mindset and I didn’t really know what my role was. Sure there was this baby that needed looking after, but that was fairly straight forward, eat, sleep, change nappies, nurse in arms or place in bouncer, all could be relied upon to facilitate contentment. Then there was some cleaning and I was managing to stay on top of that (it actually takes months of staying at home before you notice dust settling, scuff marks, sloshes, spills, et al, etcetera, etcetera). So, there I was sitting one day when this Rolling Stones song popped into my head;

Yes time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Oh, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
I said, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Oh, time, time, time is on my side
Yeah, time, time, time is on my side

I have an inkling that I’m not the first person who’s found themselves in my situation, thinking they have all this spare time and then leaping to the next obvious connection, ‘I should do some study, post-grad, or maybe something totally different. You know, treat this time as a hiatus.’ So there I was trawling through university web-sites looking for courses that might be of interest and then I remember something… I wasn’t a very good student in the first place. ‘Very poor time management skills’ would be the comment on my report card. I would always get assignments in late and needing to throw myself at the mercy of lecturers to accept my offerings. I even tried doing deals, “can you mark my assignment and no matter what its actual grade, I’ll take either a pass or fail.”

I decided I could do without that type of stress again so I didn’t enrol to study.

Anyway, that’s a synopsis of what Version 1.0 of this post was going to be about. Version 2.0 had my mind ticking over about the ethereal nature of ‘Time’. To most in society it’s a concrete concept. A concept that will result in chaos unless it is heeded and adhered to. To me, however, it has become more abstract.

The other day when I was tapping away at the keyboard on this subject I wrote, ‘Today is Thursday 7th of January 2010. I have to tell myself these things as I often lose track of time.’

And it’s true to. Over Christmas I had no idea of the date or the day. I didn’t have the usual markers to help me out. Kylee wasn’t at work, so I couldn’t tell if it was somewhere in between Monday or Friday. Gymboree was on a break so I didn’t know if it was Thursday. I was lost… Not that it bothered me, but it drove Kylee mad.

“How can you live like that?’
Shoulders shrugged “I don’t know? I just can.”
I pulled out the white board marker and tried to sit My Sweet down to further explain, “Time and its various denominations sometimes seem irrelevant when you’re the stay at home person.” I announced with authority, however, seeing her eyes glaze over, I felt it necessary to get her back onside.
“Don’t get me wrong, I count down until 7pm when its time for James to be in bed and I look forward to Fridays and the weekend help you provide. And I’ve never missed the immunisation days at the library.” Not entirely true, but since they jab kids there on the same day every week, it’s not like missing a ‘real’ appointment.
With the feeling that she was back with me, I ploughed on.
“For me, time has new units of measurement. From time to time I find it necessary to utilise the traditional hours, minutes and seconds approach, but I also have a new, creative system for measuring time. For example, if James becomes clumsy, tripping over his feet and comes up whingeing, its time for his morning or afternoon sleep. If I look in the mirror and see light stubble, it’s been around 3 days since I shaved.”
Kylee appeared unconvinced. More examples would be required to add substance to my new world view. I decided to head into safer territory.
“Ok, look at this way. If, say, I only vacuumed on a Monday, well that wouldn’t work, would it? So, traditional time does not dictate when I vacuum, however, ‘messy time’ does. Things just get done, when they need doing.” I saw a nod of agreement. I had Kylee where I wanted her. She was about to agree that ‘laissez faire’ house keeping was a good idea. That a ‘just-in-time’ approach could work. But, I am male after all and I tried to over-reach with a confidence that wasn’t backed with ability.
With earnestness I continued, “And take for example the sheets on our bed. They’re not ‘dirty’ dirty after only a week. With my approach to time I get a feeling … a sixth sense if you will … an instinct … its intuition that lets me know when its been an appropriate length of time between changes …..” Cut off I was.
“And what is this instinct, intuition, sixth sense if you will …” dripping with sarcasm “… is it when the pillow case sticks to your head when you get up in the morning or when you hear a cracking noise as you turn down the sheets at night?”
Point taken, another situation where my time-keeping ability had been challenged and had been found wanting.

And although Version 2.0 was coming along ok and could have been a post on its own, it wasn’t quite right. I was sitting down, trying to write a post for the beginning of the year. One that would excuse my tardiness for weeks without posting, particularly as I had started this blogging with lofty ambitions.

So, here I am writing Version 3.0 Since it’s the beginning of the year perhaps it’s appropriate for me to make a few New Year’s resolutions. First of all, I resolve not to use bad language around James, although he can’t talk, he will soon and I don’t want his first words to be ‘dead shit’. Secondly, I resolve to limit the amount of time that the TV is on during the day. And thirdly, I resolve to have better time management and be more organised for the sake of Kylee’s peace of mind and James’ well-being and as it pertains to this blogging thing, well rather than posting every other day as was my ambitious but fool-hardy goal, perhaps if I can manage one or two a week, then I will have done well.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year

Well it’s a new year now. Officially we are now eleven days into 2010. I haven’t exactly come out of the blocks flying with my blogging. Quite sluggish really. Can I put it down to all that left over pudding, ham and festiveness?

So much has happened over the last few weeks in the busy life of a house dad. Beginning with Christmas, where once again James was more interested in the wrapping than the actual present until he had time to investigate the whirring noises and flashing lights that could be produced.

We hosted as many of my family who could make it for Christmas this year. An excellent idea if I do say so myself. Kylee and I could dispense with packing for eighteen different contingencies and instead had the relatively simple task of catering a lunch for 8 adults and 5 children. The winner on the day was definitely James.

He had his pick of cousins to play with. There were boy games with Aiden, a few years older but happy to have a shadow, who could pass on his worldly knowledge. Switching to Lauryn, he had a big sister who ensured James played by the rules. And when tired of this Alanna, who is closest in age, was more or less a peer. Last but not least, Ethan, a two month old, gave James an insight into the world of babies as he took up a squat pose and watched him in his rocker.

James was certainly up for interactions with other children. Kylee and I had seen this at a pre-Christmas BBQ where he was able to hold his own and play with the other kids. And what a relief too. To have a child that you can now put on the ground, pat him on the bottom and coax him off to play instead of feeling the need to keep him on your lap because he seems too young to be able to interact ‘sensibly’.

There was more still. A few days away for New Year’s with other couples and their young children meant more opportunities for play with kindred spirits. I don’t know what it is about James but again he became the attention of a young girl who had the desire to mother James and ensure that he was ok. This scenario of course gave way to adult comments of boyfriend, girlfriend and impending marriage.

And so onwards and upwards it is for James in the socialising stakes. A phone call prior to Christmas announced that his name had come to the top of the queue and he now had a place in day care, if we so desired. I leaped at the opportunity, while Kylee acknowledged that she could see the benefits for James (and me). The big day came last Friday (I’ll hold back on some of the details, as it might be the subject of a future blog, who am I kidding, of course it will) and when Kylee and I arrived to pick up our son, we were met with the oft spoken words of a carer, ‘James, yes James, he’s around here somewhere’. And that somewhere was outside covered in chalk, investigating a new world that wasn’t his usual domain. And when he spied us from a distance, he smiled and toddled over to us. There was no great hurry, just a swagger and a smile that said ‘I’ve had a good day’.

And as we turned and looked over our shoulders while stopped at the lights on the drive home, both Kylee and I could see a new grown up boy in his seat. Ah, I think 2010 is going to be a good year for Kylee, me and Toddler James.