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Fusion parenting revisited!

I’ve moved 9 times since I last posted in Fusion Parenting and I’ve had another child!  I’ve moved from the Beautiful Alice Springs to the crazy city (for a country girl like me) of Brisbane!  So much has happened in that long time,  too much to filter in fact!  I’ve just sat down with a beer and thought about you all.  Let’s do this again sometime.

Love Pip

13 insane catastrophes

  1. If I have a bath with baby when no-one is at home and I slip with her in my arms and hit my neck or become unconscious she might drown!
  2. I shouldn’t leave that can of spray on it’s side – what if it explodes and shoots around the room and hits someone in their temple?
  3. Train derailments while waiting at the boom gates.
  4. Prams without brakes near water
  5. Walking with a knife from one side of the kitchen to the other… If I trip…
  6. Walking with a glass in the kitchen … must swap glasses for plastic.
  7. Wet feet in the hallway after a shower… what if I have to run?
  8. Being alone in the house… madmen attack
  9. Plane trips – have convinced myself the day I don’t think about a crash is when it will happen.
  10. Husband working in the mines on large machinery – need I say more?
  11. What if she’s allergic to something we haven’t come across yet?
  12. Suffocating blankets/pillows/teddy bears/fluff
  13. Cords and buttons on children’s clothing

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Wordless Wednesday

ULURU

Men at work…

I’m trying to make a point here so let’s get to it – My husband works in a male dominated industry (mining).   I work in a female dominated industry (early childhood education).   I take our two year old to work with me and I work part time.  I travel a lot for work and I sing to her in the back of the car.  I take her to meetings, conferences, lectures, and networking opportunities where I am always surrounded by lovely women who smile and laugh and we all get on with our jobs.  I always make sure I am at home for 4 days out of 7 and then every second week full for our girl to be with her dad.

Now for his story…  My husband has just started out in the mining industry over the last three years.  He works a lot of overtime and is surrounded by men who also work a lot of overtime and probably have children at home.

Recently my husband refused some overtime to spend a Sunday with us.  Over the weeks leading up to this particular Sunday he had been away … then I had been away … and we had seen each other for one week out of six when his parents were visiting – not really a time of marital bliss.  Come Monday and dear husband is getting ‘pineappled’ at work (that’s his term for being in trouble with the boss).  He is sat down, given a warning and then the BIG boss is on the phone also telling husband that it is in his contract to work reasonable overtime.
My husband asks, “what do you consider reasonable overtime?”
“10 hours a week or one full day.”
“well I worked all day Saturday and overtime on Friday.”
“look… If you want to work in this industry you have to expect to work overtime whenever asked”…

My husband, being a gentle soul leaves it at that and accepts the warning.  He is even convinced that he had been in the wrong.  Until he got home and I had something to say about it.  I say – People make an industry – it doesn’t make itself.

Here is my biggest issue…  It’s almost a feminist issue (leave it to me to make anything a feminist issue).  Well actually it’s a humanist issue that impacts negatively on women as well as men – but the men within the industry are the only ones that can really change it.  THE ISSUE – It is the fact that we have a huge mining industry here in Australia that is mostly full of men.  Most of those men are probably fathers with wives who might happily be stay at home mums (part time in my case) but who still want their children to see their fathers.  However, the head honchos who make the industry are anti-family and therefore anti-woman.  So, are they promoting bad parenting towards our future generations?  Are they promoting negative relationships between man and wife?  Are they reiterating their own outdated beliefs by assuming that women should be the ones to raise children generally alone?

There has been a shift in choice in the world of feminism.  Before it was the choice to work and be liberated from forced domesticity.  Now it is the choice to stay at home and have the well earned support of society or to work with that same respect and support.  However, for those of us who have chosen to stay at home – with a partner in this industry (and many other male dominated industries) we could be taken for granted.

Although … in the end I think my husband is really getting the crappy end of the stick.

‘Ya can’t change film with a kid on your back…’

Roger Miller was right… Nor can you change a tyre with said child on back…

As part of a new job I have to do 4X4 training (even though I have been working out bush for the past year and practically grew up in the back of a car… damned gypsy parents).  Usually I take my daughter with me to work but this week she has been in the care of a fantastic stay at home mum who has child care certificates, family day care experience, foster caring experience and two children of her own.  Obviously this woman is worth her weight in gold to the average working mum.

My job requires me to travel out to remote locations and getting to this point (a few weeks into the job) has been a roller coaster of will I/won’t I feelings.  Firstly there was the old feelings of neglect.  Am I doing what is best for my girl?    Then the feelings of self doubt.  You know, the ones that seem to be ingrained into us against our will by some chromosome more often linked with X’s rather than Y’s.  Then the feelings of personal gain –  money, experience, doing what I love, open roads, sing along opportunities in the car – all the really important things (obviously this feeling was the winner … I can’t resist an option that has a sing along).

But now I have landed and am trying to make it work.  I have days where I appear at the office with a screaming child and interestingly I get more done in two hours than I usually would in a day without the beautiful little smudgekin who has the voice of a feral cat fighting a broken violin.  I worry about where I might be next week.  I worry about the conditions that I might be facing.  I worry about whether or not there will be a suitable spot to park a developmentally delayed child with special needs.  Will I be adding to the chaos or creating a positive learning experience based on catering to young learners with varied needs?

And then I remember …  History repeats itself doesn’t it?  Isn’t this the story of my life so far?  Wasn’t that me in the back of the car all of those years ago?  Isn’t that where the sing along was invented?   So all I have to do now is ponder one thing – Was my upbringing good enough for my daughter?  I think the answer is inevitably yes.  Yes to covering the land.  Yes to meeting new people.  Yes to taking in different cultures and ideas.  Yes to bringing about positive change and learning.  Yes to sharing life on the edge, in the middle, and everywhere in between with your children!  It’s not as if you are letting the tiger in your car or  rollerskating in a buffalo herd.

So as Roger reckons ; ‘Knuckle down buckle down do it do it do it’ because  ‘you can be happy if you’ve a mind to‘ …  and who said you can’t just change the film when the kid is sleeping?  Or get a digital camera?

house work work work

I hate housework!  My husband usually potters around (he is a potter-er) and cleans and I make mess.  But he has been away for the last couple of weeks and shame on me I had to bring in reinforcements!  I was starting work last week so I had an excuse for bringing in my mother who looked after our little girl AND she completely cleaned our house!  each night I got home things were more and more wonderful!  I thought “this is what it was like for a man in the 1950’s getting home to a wife!”.  Better even – because my mother is also full of stimulating conversation that a man might not have allowed back then. I wasn’t surprised to find that my mother was in fact super woman since she completed a degree while she gave birth to three of us and kept a steady job all at once.  She is the queen of multitasking!  Now why didn’t I get that gene?

Starting today I have four days where I am the sole house cleaner and I am feeling the pressure!  I actually thought about hiring a cleaner and pretending that I coped with the whole thing tremendously.   Since mummy dearest has set it all up for me to ‘maintain’ I decided that I must make the effort to keep this place in working order…

So I went grocery shopping and left the stuff that doesn’t need refrigerating on the kitchen floor.  Left a load of washing in the machine for a few hours.  Made two meals and used almost every dish.  Left said dishes on the sink.  Played in the lounge with the baby and decided to give her biscuits there too.  Changed in and out of a few outfits just to go for a walk.  Got on-line and talked to other mothers and fathers who are probably trying to clean the house.  Built a blanket house out of the lounge and all of the freshly cleaned blankets provided by mum.  Had a one sided food fight at the kitchen table.  And then I finally hung out that load of washing!

So I recon I did pretty well!  So tomorrow I hope that I am cleaning.  But who knows what fun might mysteriously pop up instead!?

Sing Along!

I thought I would do a bit of a light-hearted thing this week and it turned into an emotional roller coaster!  Being a ‘music person’ I was thinking earlier this week, “what is the soundtrack to my parenting?”.  So I made a small play list of songs that talk about parenting and had a little think about them…  This happened to come to me when I was analysing an Alanis Morissette song called Perfect. It’s about how some parents hand out love like a reward instead of giving it unconditionally. It is also about parents living vicariously though their children by shaping them into miniature versions of themselves… That was the first of the emotional swings that had me crying in the car and singing like a freak at the traffic lights (note to self : don’t listen to Alanis when you are pre-menstrual). This bit is what got me:

I’ll make you what I never was,

If you’re the best,

then maybe so am I,

Compared to him compared to her,

I’m doing this for your own damn good,

You’ll make up for what I blew,

What’s the problem … why are you crying?

By the end of that bit she is screaming “WHY ARE YOU CRYING?”. It reminds me of when I was teaching and I had a child in my class who wouldn’t respond to any kind of negative behaviour management because what he received at home was so much worse. So obviously this song shapes my parenting in a “I’ll never do that” sort of way.

Then I was listening to Little Green by Joni Mitchel (I should have known right then and there that it was a bad idea). It’s a song Joni wrote about having to give her child up for adoption when she was young. Another heartbreaking song that makes me a bit teary. Especially this bit:

Child with a child pretending

Weary of lies you are sending home

So you sign all the papers in the family name

You’re sad and you’re sorry, but you’re not ashamed

Little green, have a happy ending

That one just makes me really grateful for any time I have with my daughter. But it also makes me sort of aware that people see us as semi-young parents and there will always be a generalisation and sometimes judgement attached to that. I can’t help but try and break through any generalisations people form. So even though I am actually not as young as Joni was I’m still aware that I am the only person in my social circle my age that has a child – it can be quite isolating especially when friends seemed to drop off the planet once I was pregnant!

I thought I might have to try and find some positive parenting songs and Jeannie C Riley comes through with Harper Valley PTA. It’s about a single mother who is being judged by the PTA (Parents and Teachers Association) and she walks right into the meeting and calls them all hypocrites who have no right to judge her on her parenting. I love it because I remember my mother coming in to school and being a real advocate for us and for our way of life. Then I realised good ol’ Tammy Wynette was on that play list with D.I.V.O.R.C.E

watch him smile he thinks it’s Christmas

or his fifth birthday

and he thinks C.U.S.T.O.D.Y spells ‘fun’ or ‘play’.

I spell out all the hurting words

and I turn my head when I speak

‘cause I can‘t spell away this hurt that’s drippin‘ down my cheek

You just can’t go past those lyrics… It would be quite sad if it wasn’t sort of funny (it probably isn’t funny for people who have experienced divorce but I just love the song!). Country and western lyrics always crack me up! For me it really does explore the fine line between censorship and protection (but mostly it just makes me sing at the top of my lungs). So these are my random picks … you would usually think of cats in the cradle or father and son when it comes to songs about parenting but I think these are pure gold.

Breaking girls hearts.

I was recently shopping in a large chain store that has a huge array of kids clothes in two very separate sections.  One of very dark sturdy warm looking clothes and one that resembles fairy floss.

I live in the desert.  At the moment it is cold and dusty.  Due to the limited selection and the light coloured fairy floss wear – I am often told by women on the street that my daughter will “break a few girls hearts one day“.  This is because she is wearing the dark sturdy warm looking alternative.  Not because they have a sixth sense for sexual orientation in toddlers.

The comments aren’t the problem … She might ‘break a few girls hearts someday’ (I hope that she doesn‘t break anyone’s heart actually) … The problem is the thin, pink, short, inadequate and sometimes inappropriate clothing range for little girls.  You walk in and it is almost an assault on the eyes that would make Holden Caulfield want to ‘puke’.  And it is depressing.  Especially for someone like me who must analyse it…

Firstly, my major problem is the sexualisation of little girls – the innocent vixen look that is being pushed by our major chain stores.  Walking through this section makes you think you have just stumbled into the dressing room of a sick and twisted pageant where children give the sexy eye to and flirt with judges to allure them into some sort of pre-teen verification.  The thin clinging stockings and short shorts as an alternative to a good ol’ pair of tracky dacks.

Secondly, these clothes are restrictive by comparison.  The tops are often much shorter than the male alternative and putting short shorts and skirts on the very active child does run the risk of underwear being seen.  Also the manufacturers must think that little girls will never play outside because there is no way grass and mud comes easily off pink.  And looking at the quality in stitching I’d say they also think little girls only wear things once.

This whole section of clothing that seems to remain unchanged every season is perpetuating an image of girls as passive observers in life.  Seen and not heard.  Needing their innocence protected instead of allowing them to explore and get their hands dirty.  In short it represents repression.

Don’t think I’m just hung up on the girls though – what about the image we are creating about boys?   The clothes in this section (while they are much sturdier and warmer) make the statement that boys are little animals.  That they are apparently uncontrollable nutcases that need extra knee padding and millions of pockets.   With slogans all over their chests saying things like “lock up your daughters” in a size 2.  The other end of the spectrum of sexualisation – the predatory male (in which case the ‘break a few girls hearts someday‘ comment becomes more offensive).

Why is it that we must subliminally and consciously stereotypically gender our children?  How much is Anne Geddes to blame?  Should I be worried that no one else seems to notice?  Why can’t there just be one big kids section that has no genders or stereotypes attached?

There are three main perpetuated images of children in our society.  They are that of the innocent, that of the monster or animal and that of the embryo adult (just small adults).  All of these images are damaging, restricting and pigeonholing images that are constantly bombarding children and shaping our interactions with them.  The objectification of children is even more sickening than that of grown women and yet it is more socially acceptable.  (That is a big statement coming from a ‘raving feminist‘).  Think about it in terms of race.  If we had sections specifically based on generalisations about race … actually we don’t even have to go that far. Think about it in terms of adults.  Tomorrow you go into the store to get some winter gear for yourself.  All you have to choose from is 500 shades of pink, short shorts and stockings, tops that you can’t lift your arms in without showing midriff.  It sounds like a nightmare for me so why would be okay for my child?

Like any marginalised group in society children are individuals who deserve respect and consideration but the scary difference is that children must rely on adults to advocate for them.  There is so much trust that is being taken for granted in decisions that may be as simple as buying your kid a jumper!

Poo – focus on the positive!

Give me a medal – my child has not done a poo in a nappy for months.  Since she was 5 months old she would give you that look.  A wink almost. To let you know what was coming.  She is sill in nappies at 20 months (for the pesky wetness) but she is so regular that toilet training has become a daily pleasure – if you will – along with walks and tummy time.  But I’m not just one of those mothers that MUST tell you about their child’s bowel movements … well I am actually but there is more to the story!

My daughter, Charlotte, has some pretty serious developmental delays due to seizures.  Kaz Cooke , was once a source of comfort to me (especially as a teenager) and suddenly her descriptions of normal baby development were affronting and scary!  There was a disclaimer that these rates of development varied but surely not in every single area except poo!

Everything becomes a little more sketchy when you find out that your child has seizures for unknown reasons.  The tests upon tests that don’t seem to give you too much more information.  The drugs upon drugs end up like a cocktail that would put anyone off their food.  The doctors visits and the specialist scene want the same story you gave the last one and you hope you don’t forget that time she did this or that! What did I say that was irrelevant? What did I say that made them write on the record? Was that a twitch in their eye?

Things seem to have settled down a lot since those first few months of meetings and greetings with medical personel.

Seizures have stopped.

Dosage seems right.

Jobs have been got.

There’s more sleeping at night.

But still there aren’t any real answers about how all this occurred.  Now the next wave of specialists are waiting in the wings to assess Charlotte’s walking, talking, moving and grooving  inability.  Kaz’s poor neglected developmental guide book never gets a look in anymore.  Especially as 18 months + includes walking, understanding the purpose of objects, throwing balls, climbing, intentionally pulling faces, understanding directions,  using simple sentences, copying sounds and actions, or having any kind of consistent verbal communication. Among all of these things that Charlotte can’t do I like to take the time to focus on the positive.  One of those positives just happens to be eating more solids, swallowing, digesting, holding, waiting, making a face at mummy, getting put onto the toilet and doing a poo!

So give her a medal too … and tell Kaz Cooke I still love her!

Babies Born!

Today we celebrated the birthday of the first baby boy born (say that three times fast) in the Alice Springs Hospital!  He’s 70.

We had Charlotte in a hospital in 2007 on the Queensland coast… one word – Shenanigans!  When I fell (*trip* oops!) pregnant again last year I was going to have the baby in the Alice Springs hospital.  Unfortunately that last pregnancy was a molar pregnancy, but the options open to women having babies in Alice Springs are pretty impressive.  Home birthing options are the most surprising –  You get full support and your own home birthing midwife for free!  Do they stay on, do the washing and make you a cuppa tea?  That would be sweet! I don’t know if I would have gone for it but I am glad the option is there.  I was one of those mums screaming for the drugs by the end.  The words – “numb me up woman!” may have been uttered/yelled.

It is a much smaller hospital than the one in Qld and it is used by people from miles around in an area where health issues are a hot topic.  So, I think it is excellent that they provide such a great range of services for pregnant women.

The old Aboriginal man who turned 70 is trying to get the hospital to acknowledge him as the first boy born there (on the plaque outside it only has the first Caucasian boy born – it was 1939).  Once that racism issue is cleared up I wonder if the woman who was born before both of them will want it changed!

Argg!  I am torn between my anti-racisim and anti-sexism feelings! Actually I think they should share the glory of the plaque!  I think I might write a country and western song about it… watch this space for my no.1 hit – the glory of the plaque.