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Death and Questions

Last week we experienced loss in our family. My husband lost his father, my kids their Poppa. I lost my father in law.

It was a trying and emotionally wrecking week for us all, involving a lot of travel at very short notice. The kids were tired, we were tired. And, to add to it all, we were dealing with the grief that comes with such an immense loss. My father in law was an amazing man, not in the best health but healthy nonetheless, in his spirit and his happiness and attitude towards life.

Princess has a fair understanding of death – she has always been curious and empathetic to the feelings of others in a way that is beyond her seven years. BoyChild has an innocent and literal approach to most things. And BabyGirl lives in her own, three-year-old world.

Through the process of the week, from finding out about the death, to telling the kids, to deciding to drive through the night to get home, to seeing Grandparents and Aunties and Uncles that we hadn’t planned on seeing for some time, to the funeral itself, the kids came and went with their feelings and emotions.

Had it not been such a sad situation, it might have been interesting to observe how they dealt with things, in their own ways.

Princess was silly and over-hyped, from the moment I told her. I knew this was a defense mechanism and so watched her very closely, waiting for the inevitable crash.

BoyChild didn’t seem overly concerned or interested at all, until two or so hours before the funeral when the questions took on a more serious tone and he found comfort in cuddling his Grandad (my step dad).

And, the questions. Right off the bat I was certain I would answer them with confidence, honesty, and to the point. I knew the kids would ask some doozies, and I wasn’t wrong.

Why did he die? How did he die? What happened when he died? Did he know he was going to die? Has Poppa got a new family now? Does Nana need to find a new Poppa? How can I read a poem to Poppa at the funeral when he is dead and won’t be there? Did he die by zombies? Did he die by snakes? Is he in a new world? Is he a Dolphin now? Is Dad sad? Are you sad? Are you going to cry? What if I don’t want to cry? Do I have to say goodbye? Can I telephone him? How will he hear me? What will happen to Poppa now? What is cremation? Will he have a gravestone? Can I sprinkle his ashes?

What will happen now that Daddy doesn’t have a Daddy? When is Daddy going to die? When are you going to die? I don’t want you to die.

I don’t want to die.

I only hope that I was able to aid the kids enough in answering their questions that they are able to look back and think of their Poppa in the great light with which he deserves, and dwell on the good rather than the funeral and the sadness.

Princess did cry eventually – right at the very end of the funeral, as her Daddy carried her Poppa out, she finally gave in and let herself grieve. She sobbed and I held her and she whispered that she didn’t like this at all, and I said I didn’t like it either. And, once we were the last two people in the room, I asked her if she was ready to go outside. She stood up, wiped her eyes, smiled at me and ran from the room to chase her brother up a tree. Literally ten seconds later she was laughing and clowning around again.

The questions have slowed but they certainly haven’t stopped, and we will just keep on doing what we’ve been doing. Answering the questions as honestly as we can, and encouraging the kids to ask and talk about it as much as they need to.

I talk about parenting and the hardest parts – I would now add losing a loved one to that list. It was never going to be easy or fun, but as the kids get older I have realised that their grief requires a lot more energy than perhaps we feel like giving, but is also something that we, as parents, need to give them so as to ensure they learn the skills they will need as they grow and develop as individuals.

Rest well, Poppa – who is, apparently, a dolphin riding trains in the sky, alongside his pet unicorn.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hardest Part of Xmas

Christmas comes with many challenges.

What the heck do you (slash Santa) buy the kids? And, how do you even make sure it’s balanced? One kid was easy. I’m pretty sure when Princess was a baby she got a random mix of practical things and annoying toys.

Three kids are hard to shop for. Especially when two are girls and one is a boy. What do you even buy for a boy? Does anybody even know?????? The challenge isn’t so much is what you buy, but rather in how to make sure you have the same amount across all three kids. Obviously it is never going to be an exactly equal stash, but you desperately don’t want to fall into the trap of buying one kid six hundred things, and buying the other kid a book. Lest they grow up feeling less equal to their sibling.

But, it’s a blimmen snowball effect. And I already can see the same pattern emerging this year that I went through last year and the year before. It goes something like this:

Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Oh-shit-I’ve-got-so-much-stuff-for-her-and-nothing-for-the-others. Buy for BabyGirl. Buy for BoyChild. Buy for BabyGirl. Buy for BoyChild. Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Buy for Prin—oh-shit-I’m-doing-it-again. Buy for BabyGirl/Boychild/BabyGirl/Boychild/BabyGirl/Boychild …. crap. Now they have more stuff. Next year we do it differently! Write lists for a start. And stick to them.

Aaaaaaaand repeat next year.

But no. That inevitable hole that I dig for myself is not the hardest part of Xmas.

The hardest part is WHERE THE HELL DO I EVEN PUT ALL THE PRESENTS??!?!?!?

I mean, when they are little, you can put them in the middle of the freakin table and they would be none the wiser come Xmas morning. But as they get older, they get smarter. And they know there are presents hidden. Little sneaks.

At the moment I have them hidden in some very creative places, if I do say so myself. I have to say, it’s hard work staying ahead of a savvy 7 year old!

At first, I had the presents at the top of the laundry linen cupboard. Until I got a towel out and was showered by Thomas trains and a (very heavy) doll. I swore, Princess came a-sniffing.

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And then, I had the GENIUS idea to use a suitcase. I know, right?! Pure genius. Until husband has to go away for work.

I’m just grabbing my suitcase from the ——-
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DON’T OPEN THE SUITCASE THAT IS EMPTY AND NOTHING IS IN THERE BUT STILL JUST DON’T OPEN IT

Smooth. They didn’t suspect a damn thing.

I transferred the stuff to another suitcase. And when that was full, into another suitcase.

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And then I think, hey – I got this xmas thing sorted. Santa ain’t got nothin’ on me.

We got Princess a bike. And BabyGirl a giant stuffed Seahorse. I know. Sigh. I’m goin to be swearing at that on Boxing Day. For now, I was cursing because where on earth do you hide a damn bicycle??????

The answer? In plain view. Kids are smart, but they also can’t see things right under their noses. I mean, anyone who has ever tried to get a kid to find their shoes can attest to that.

In the corner of our house is a shelf. In front of that shelf, there is a mattress leaning against the wall. Behind that mattress, if you were to look closely, is a brand spanking new bike.

Genius.

See? I got this Xmas shit sorted.

Now to figure out how to wrap the lot.

Methinks there will be wine for that.

 

 

2

Be the bigger person

There are two things that stick around well into adult hood, that would horrify my fourteen year old self.

Pimples.

Yea, sorry to say it, dear teenagers – you will continue to get pimples well into your 30s and beyond. I know. I KNOW. What the actual. Stupid hormones.

The second thing?

Mean girls.

You know, those girls who just made your life hell when you were at school? That made your stomach knot up when you walked into a room that they were in? They still exist well into adulthood.

Of course, they don’t always fit the same aesthetic as they did in high school – back then, the mean girls were often the “popular” kids. The pretty ones with all the friends. Nowadays, they are often the ones who were picked on by these same girls when they were are high school. They are women who, for whatever reason, thrive on drama and survive by making themselves the victim. Or, they are simply women who don’t know the effect of their behaviour.

It’s natural to meet people in life who you don’t like. It’s natural that there will be people who don’t like you. It’s part and parcel with growing up – there will always be people who, for whatever reason, don’t gel with you. And that’s okay!

I make my kids well aware that they don’t have to like everyone. But what I also make clear is that they must be nice and kind to everyone.

Which is hard to do, when someone is being less than nice to you. It’s really hard to be the bigger person, when all you want to do it bow to their level and bitch about them to everyone. It’s hard to smile and be in the same room as them, knowing that every single time they walk past you, they will whisper, at a volume only you can hear, something horridly scathing that brings you and all of your anxieties right back to your fourteen year old self at high school. That they will complain and bitch about you to anyone who will listen, whenever you are around. That, despite your best intentions, they will make you cry every time you see them. Just like in high school.

And so, how to teach your kids to be the bigger person, to walk away no matter how shit you feel, to pick your battles and be prepared to raise your hands and say, “I’m done, I’m out. Whatever battle you are fighting, you win”? That, despite your differences, you are trying your darndest to put that aside, for the sake of everyone?

By simply doing. No matter how hard it is, no matter how many tears are shed, you will be the bigger person, for the sake of your kids.

Why?

So that, when they are in their 20s, their 30s, they too have the strength to walk away from toxic situations. That they too have the strength to be nice, kind people.

Because that is what makes it all worth it.

You wanna change the world? Raise your kids to be kind, respectful and compassionate. But don’t just tell them to be that way. Show them.

– anon

 

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Please

Please don’t be mad at me

I’m sorry that I yelled 

I’m sorry for the tantrum and the tears 

I’m still learning; I’ve never been this age before. 

Please be patient with me

I don’t always understand what you want me to do, but I’ll do my best. 

I get tired some days, hungry some days. 

I need to be able to do things by myself, I appreciate your help but I need to be independent too. 

I know you rely on me, I am obsessed with you too. 

I do hear you even though it seems like I’m not listening sometimes

I know you are listening to me even though sometimes it feels like you can’t hear me 

I’m sorry for growling, for scowling 

Please don’t tell me to go away

I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon. You and me, we are a package deal. You, me and the others. 

I’m sorry I frightened you when you didn’t know where I was. I knew where I was! 

The world is so scary!  But we are a team.

Thank you for asking me if I was ok when I looked sad. Thank you for kissing me and saying you missed me when I was away. 

Thank you for loving me. 

As the years go by, our relationship will change as we grow older. 

We’ve never been this age before. 

Please remember that I am doing my best. I know you are doing yours. 

To my child. 

To my mum. 

Thank you xx 

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Poos, Wees, Diddles and Bums

Hey, Mum!
Yes, son?

POOOOOOOOOOOOOS in my BUUUUUUUUUUM

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I mean, I get it. For a kid, poos are funny. Farts are flippen hilarious. Even adults find them funny.

I didn’t think I would ever be a mother who would find poop jokes and bum jokes annoying. Let’s be honest – I was the kid who used to sing, “Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the DIDDLE”. I was hilarious.

BoyChild was a relatively late developer in discovering the hilarity that is toilet humour. Bt when he found it, boy did he find it. Everything, literally everything is a toilet joke.

In the car.

I faaaaaaaart
I fart in the caaaaaaaaar

My bum does faaaaaaaaarts

My bum farts in the caaaaaar

At the dinner table.

What was your favourite part of your day, son? 

I did a poop fart in the toilet HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Poop fart. Classic.

While visiting an Open Home with potential to buy it.

I do weeeees in the loo I do poooooos in the loo

Weeeeeeees. Poooooooos. Weeeeeeees. Pooooooos.

In my bed.

Good morning, Mum.

Morning darling

I’m going to pee on your face

Please don’t, darling. 

At home.

Hey, Mum! Come quickly to the toilet! I need you please mum QUICKLY!

*rushes to bathroom* What’s the matter? 

I did a poop and it made a big splash HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

And, my all-time favourite. The best of them all. In the supermarket.

*lifts up my top* Mum! Did you do a FART?

*blows raspberrys on my back* You DID you a fart Mum! Poo Mum! Oh mum, that’s a bit rude. Say ‘scuse me, Mum. Gosh Mum. Gross.

Here’s hoping it’s a passing phase. And here’s hoping there is a bit of a lag before BabyGirl discovers farts and bums.

At least when he’s on the computer, he seems to forget about –

Hey, Mum! Guess what’s really funny! There are POOS in comPOOter! COMPOOOOOOTER ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Never mind.

 

 

0

Nobody Said It Was Easy

Nobody said it was easy, this parenting gig.

But nobody said it would be this hard.

Nobody told you how tired you would be.

I mean, they talk about newborns not sleeping. But nobody mentions that kids don’t miraculously start sleeping well on their 1st birthday. Some do. But many don’t. Some do, and then stop again when night terrors/bad dreams/toilet training kicks in.

When a child is unwell, they don’t sleep well. When three children are unwell, they don’t sleep well but do so in a seemingly coordinated roster system so that they are never all asleep at the same time.

Which, in part, means that mum and dad don’t sleep.

Nobody talks about how the tiredness goes beyond anything coffee can fix. That you get tired to your very core. Your entire everything is tired.

Nobody tells you that you might not like your child every day. That there will be days when you look at your child and want to scream at them, “GO AWAY! I DO NOT LIKE YOU!”. Nobody tells you that, when pushed to your very limit, you might actually utter those words to your child. And nobody talks of the guilt that sits with you for days, weeks, years.

Nobody tells you the despair you will feel when your child is sick or confused or upset and no body around seems to care. When your child is scared and crying and gets told, “Stop being silly”. And all you want to do is scream “HE’S NOT BEING SILLY. HE IS AFRAID AND NEEDS SUPPORT RIGHT NOW. I. NEED. SUPPORT. RIGHT. NOW”.

Because nobody tells you how isolating parenting can be. How, when your child is throwing the tantrum to end all tantrums, there is no body there who can take the child into their arms and magically calm them down. That you sit there and look around, hoping that this child’s real parent will show up soon and take over the show.

Nobody tells you that there will be times that you just want to cry. And there will be times when all you can do is sit in your car and cry. There will be times when you yell and stomp and scream and then wonder why your kids yell and stomp and scream. And you know that the best thing is to keep calm and collected. But you also realise this as you are yelling and stomping and screaming.

Nobody tells you how magical it feels to stand in the pantry and scoff a chocolate bar. One you don’t have to share.

Nobody tells you how much fucking laundry you will do.

But.

Nobody can describe how it feels when you see your child achieve something. Nobody tells you how much your entire everything, that same everything that is exhausted beyond repair, will melt into a puddle of proud tears when your child gets a certificate at school, or reads you a story, or writes you a book.

Nobody tells you how it feels when you return from a weekend away and the kids scream and holler and clap and exclaim with glee when they see you, running towards you and hugging you in the best of all hugs. Nobody tells you that, less than an hour later, you’ll be missing that time that you went away.

Nobody tells you how much you will laugh. How crazy you will feel. How you will view the world from a different angle.

Nobody says how valuable the important people in your life are. The people who are actually there for you when you need them. The people who you are there for as well. And that these people pop up in unexpected places, and the people you think you can rely on, aren’t always such.

And.

Nobody asks you whether, if given the chance, you would go back and change things. Not have kids. Do things differently.

Because the answer is no. Without hesitation. With 100% certainty. No.

Nobody tells you how much these crazy little critters will suck you in, completely encompassing your heart and soul and mind and body and everything. That same everything.

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

But everyone will tell you it’s worth it.

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0

F*** It

The first time your child swears, you think that surely you misheard. I mean, yes, it was clear. And yes, the context was dead on. But where on earth could my cherub have learned such language?

And then, you giggle. Because although it’s wrong and bad and naughty and all that stuff we say to make ourselves seem like legit, on-the-level parents, it’s still f***ing funny.

BabyGirl picked up a bowl of chips the other day, and realised it was empty.

“Oh, bugger. All the chips are gone” she mumbled.

And then the dog ran through the room. “F*** it, dog, you nearly spilled my drink!”

I don’t swear in front of my children. I certainly don’t say it enough for them to pick it up.

It must be their dad.

Or their preschool.

Oh! Maybe it’s the neighbour.

It’s everyone but me, that’s for damn sure.

Wait.

I didn’t.

Oh.

Goddammit, it’s occurred to me that maybe I say f***ing swearwords more than I bloody realise. Bugger it.

Kids. Sponges.

Swearing doesn’t have the stigma it used to, that’s for sure. I distinctly remember my sister telling me, when she was 13 and I was 11, that when I got to high school, I would learn that dick isn’t even a swear word. When she said it, I gasped, whispered, “don’t let mum hear you say that word!” and looked around furiously for mum to appear at the door in a way that Mums tend to do (it’s a sixth sense, you just know when your kids are misbehaving). My uber cool, 13 year old sister rolled her eyes at me. Children.

And then I went to high school and, well, I’ll be damned. Dick wasn’t a swear word.

And today, I say the occasional “shit” or “feck” in front of my mum, and she doesn’t seem too phased by it.

But that’s enough about me – back to my darling children.

I don’t know who taught them to swear, but shit, when I find that person, I will give them the Mum Glare to end all Mum Glares.

Because it’s not me, that’s for f***ing certain.

*shines parenting halo*

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