Bad Medicine; 21 Steps To Get Your Kid To Take Their Antibiotic

You've misled us, Mary. Thanks for nothing.
You’ve misled us, Mary. Thanks for nothing.

The scenario: your child is ill and needs antibiotics. It is particularly critical to get them better as you are hosting Christmas lunch at your home in 4 days and have a heavily pregnant relative attending. The stakes are high. The kid knows it. When Mary Poppins sang her classic line “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”, she hadn’t met my children. If she has given you false hope and, like me, you’re having trouble getting your kid to take their medicine please follow these clear steps.

Disclaimer: I did not say ‘easy’ steps, I said ‘clear’ steps. Good luck.

But before we start I have a gift for your eyes:

The original 'Bad Medicine'
The original ‘Bad Medicine’. You’re welcome.
Step 1

Tell your child it’s time to take their medicine. After they protest loudly, complaining that it tastes like sand, bribe them with the promise of lollies, chips, ice blocks or lemonade if they take it happily.

Step 2

When they reject your bribery offer, you will start to lose patience as you look at the clock and realise you need to leave for work soon. Tell them they MUST take the medicine and you can do it the easy way or the hard way. When they look at you blankly, explain that the easy way is for them to take it voluntarily and then get a treat. The hard way is for you to chase them, catch them and hold them down whilst trying to squirt the syringe full of medicine down their throat, knowing that they will then spit 90% of it up on your clean outfit.

Step 3

The child runs away and hides, screaming. You chase them, grab them and carry them (lovingly) to the couch in an attempt to hold them down with 1 hand whilst holding a dripping syringe style medicine dispenser in the other hand. Child screams and develops octopus limbs and the strength of a lion. Their open screaming mouth moves like a clown’s head at a carnival but with the accelerated rotation speed of a ceiling fan.

Step 4

You feel like an abusive parent and are filled with shame and let go of the child. They run away and hide under a bush in the backyard, sobbing and curled up in the fetal position.

Step 5

You resist the urge to drink wine at 8am as you realise your syringe is still completely full of medicine

Step 6

Take a deep breath. Collect your thoughts. You think you can still talk the child into taking the medicine voluntarily.

Step 7

Approach the delinquent child carefully, like you would a wild deer, so you don’t scare them away. They see you coming and start screaming again. Check the neighbours aren’t watching. You feel a new wave of shame wash over you. Child runs away again and hides under the trampoline.

Step 8

Admit this isn’t working. Reassess and change strategy. Lightbulb moment occurs in your head.

Step 9

Prepare 3 milo drinks. Squirt contents of syringe into cup 1. Call out to runaway child and tell them “It’s OK, you don’t have to have the medicine. I’ve changed my mind.” Child cautiously comes out of hiding, then seeing you look sincere and given they are unable to locate medicine, skips into the house triumphantly.

Step 10

Call out “Who wants a yummy milo?! Milo for everyone, sit up at the breakfast bar”. Ignore the guilt that is pressing on your conscience. When your child asks suspiciously “is there medicine in my milo?” it is prudent necessary to lie. Appropriate responses include: “No, of course not! Drink up! It’s a competition! Whoever finished their milo IN FULL gets a lolly!!!”

Step 11

As the child still looks a bit suspicious, make a joke about butts or someone farting so they will laugh and forget all else and start drinking.

Step 12

When child complains about the lumps in the milo, rummage through at least 5 kitchen drawers to locate sieve and strain the drink. Start the process over again.

Step 13

When child complains they don’t really want the milo, invent link between health benefits and victory. E.G. “This milo is so healthy! It’s full of vitamins and minerals! You must drink the WHOLE THING to win the game”

Step 14

As child continues to drink for the sake of the ‘game’, despite not enjoying it, whilst other children continue to whisper and snicker, ignore the nagging feeling that you’ve produced a child who isn’t very bright.

Step 15

Softly threaten chattering older children with iPad ban for the next 3 YEARS if they don’t keep silent.

Step 16

Push down the feelings of guilt that continue to wash over you.

Step 17

When child spills the drink on the bench, try your best not to lose it. Carefully scrape drink back into cup despite legitimate hygiene concerns due to the questionable level of cleanliness of benchtop and stand by them chanting “Skull, skull, skull!!!”

Step 18

Child finishes drink. Hip hip freakin’ hooray! Before falling into an exhausted heap, distribute sugary reward and hope to goodness the child ingested at least 50% of the required dose of medicine.

Step 19

12 hours later: drink heavily and repeat process.

Step 20

Lie in bed at night and hope that you gave the medicine-spiked drink to the right child.

Step 21

Wake up to a new day. Start again and hope that your child really isn’t that bright so you don’t have to come up new strategy. Repeat all steps. Then sob into coffee.

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5 Signs You Need A Holiday

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-11-47-15-amThe end of the year is nearly here, hallelujah! The kids have finished school, most workplaces are about to shut down and the Christmas mayhem is nearly at its climax. As I see the end in sight, I feel like a desperately thirsty person crawling through the desert who has nearly reached the oasis. I really feel like I need a holiday. Here are some signs I have hit the wall, do any of them sound familiar?

1. Parenting Fails

My son came to me for a hug the other night. I embraced him tightly, like the loving and devoted parent that I am. I said, sincerely, “Mate, I’m so proud of you for a great year. How does it feel to finish year 1?”

He looked at me incredulously and said, “Don’t you mean year 2?”.

Wow. I can’t remember what year my kid is in. You know you really need a break when this happens.

2. Forgetting Stuff

My life is losing stuff. Sunglasses, reading glasses, keys, wallet. The joke of the office is that I leave, then come back 30 seconds later EVERY time as I’ve forgotten something. It never fails. As I left on Friday they called out “we’ll be seeing you again in a sec.”

“Not this time guys!” I replied confidently and skipped out. I was wrong. Back in I walked with my tail between my legs to grab my swipe pass, welcomed by their applause. This is my life. It’s been getting worse and I know people have noticed because a group of friends gave me this the other night as a Christmas gift. 

My friends know me well.
My friends know me well.

3. Forgetting Really Important Stuff

We took 2 cars to church the other day as I was on morning tea duty which meant I’d have to stay later. George wanted to go home with the kids but our eldest wanted to stay longer to play with her friends and asked if she could come home with me instead – no problem. After clean up, I drove home. I walked in the door and was greeted by my loving family. Or rather, most of them. George looked at me and asked where our eldest daughter was.

Oh. My. Goodness. I had forgotten her. I called a friend hoping he was still there, which he was. I said sheepishly “I’ve forgotten something, can you have a look for me?”

“Sure, what is it?” he replied cheerfully

“Uh, my child,” I said.

George rushed off to pick her up. She was playing, gloriously happy, with friends and hadn’t even realised I’d left. She found it hilarious. “You’re not going to let me forget this are you?” I asked. “Nope!” she replied with a twinkle in her eye. 

4. Losing It

I’ve been unwell for the past week and in some pain. Combine that with busy days and not enough sleep and the she-beast rears her ugly head. I have lost it several times at unwitting family members who have committed only the slightest transgression. For example:

  • We are about to walk out the door for school and I realise someone hasn’t: put their shoes on, done their sunscreen, packed their lunchbox = ‘losing it’ style rant.
  • I am driving and someone has parked across 2 spaces or can’t use a roundabout or just generally drives like a moron = ‘losing it’ style rant.
  • I go to the freezer and someone has eaten the last of the ice cream = ‘losing it’ style rant.

The following video is basically me at the moment if provoked (sorry about the quality but you get the idea):

My usual pattern is to explode then feel immediate remorse and spread sincere apologies like fairy dust. But it’s not a great way to live. 

5. Uncontrollable Laughter

This can be a sign you’re really losing the plot. I recently watched this video:

I have literally never laughed so hard in my life. My whole body convulsed like I was having a fit. I snorted. I cried. More accurately, I wept a river. My son ran into the room to see what was wrong with Mummy. I watched it again immediately and got the same reaction.

Later that day I was at the osteopath lying on the table. He is a serious man and had his hands under my lower back making some adjustments. Not really the best time to be giggling. But I thought about the video…Oh no, it was happening again. I literally couldn’t control myself. I started to shake with laughter. Tears started to roll down the sides of my cheeks. He looked at me like I was crazy, which was not out of the question. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I began. And I lay there thinking “Don’t think about it, don’t think about it…”. Do you think I could not think about it? Nope. It all started again and continued as my personal battle throughout my the entire appointment. I paid the bill and left feeling completely embarrassed knowing he thought I was either a nutcase or just weirdly kinky. When I watch this video now, I do find it pretty funny but I think my initial response was evidence of a woman near breaking point.

I think I have proved my case: I need a holiday. Do you?

Night Terrors: Just when you thought it was safe to put your feet up…

What do you think the best song intro of all time is…? Surely Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ has to be up there. It’s a song about exploring the fear of going to sleep for what lies beyond. I’ve included the YouTube clip here so you can listen to this musical masterpiece as you read this post. You’re welcome.

When I was a kid I remember lying in bed pretending a witch was coming up the hall. I’d get right down under the covers and hide, completely still and quiet, until the witch was gone. Technically I wasn’t scared, just pretending to be. But some kids have things that freak them out, monsters under their bed and what not. As an adult, the things that freak me out at night have changed. Picture this: House is tidy and quiet; Kids have been put to bed; You’ve poured your glass of wine or tea; You have a bowl of ice cream that is just melted enough to be soft and delicious but hard enough to avoid using a straw; You sit down and turn on the TV and put your feet up. Guaranteed, within 2 minutes, a night time monster will come out to get you…

Let’s take a look at the top 5 night terrors that now haunt my evenings:

1. The Camel

kids-water

Regardless of how much fluid children drink throughout the day, you can guarantee that as soon as they are put to bed, they will need more. In fact, their dehydration appears to be equivalent to that of a camel at a trough, storing fluids in preparation for a lengthy journey across the Kalahari. And be warned that water consumed 10 seconds before lights out has no bearing on the fluid needed after lights out. Even 1 drop of water can be enough to calm the camel, so long as it involves you getting up.

2. The Scheduled Poo

Although the toilet is there all day and children have unfettered access to it, their bowels will only start working 3 minutes after they have been tucked into bed. I can pretty much guarantee every night that my youngest child will be up for this reason within 5 minutes of being put to bed. It’s quite uncanny, I’m not sure how she does it. But you can bet she will. And if there is not some parental involvement you can bet it will end up with an incident that will rival the clogged toilet scene in ‘Along Came Polly’ (google it, it’s pretty funny). I am not sure if this is actually a ‘scheduled poo’ or if it could possibly be a ‘defiant poo’, one that is determined to be noticed and will not appear until after dark. Either way, you’ll be getting up.

3. The Haunting Footsteps

Have you ever been sitting down with a book, or watching your favorite TV show and all you hear are the pitter patter of little feet up and down the hall? But when you finally get up to check it out, nobody seems to be out of bed? But then you sit back down and there they are again. You get up to check…again, nothing. Like a ghost, the footsteps come and go. On some nights it appears that nothing is actually happening but it’s enough to disturb your tranquility. Other times, something is happening and you only find out the next morning when you find the carnage of squeezed toothpaste or that your blush brush that has been used to create art with your moisturiser. 

4. The Agonising Pain

My youngest daughter called me in last night and flipped me the bird. I soon realised she wasn’t meaning to be rude, she was just showing me her sore middle finger by alienating it from it’s friends and sticking it out in front of my face, tall and proud. It was a wound that she felt warranted the emotional response and immediate medical attention as that of a gangrenous limb but was, in reality, a minute graze. Of course, it hadn’t bothered her all day until lights out. With any pain after this time, band aids must be administered to enable sleep. It is the same with all other ailments, they are exacerbated after lights out. Heads hurt, tummies ache, feet itch, eyes all of a sudden have sand in them…the list goes on. You will never have a child so sick or in torturous pain until you tuck them in and turn out their lights out.

5. The Important Communication

Many times I have been called in after lights to be told something incredibly important. It usually goes something like this…

Child (calling out): Mum, come in, I need to tell you something

Me: I’ve just sat down. Is it important?

Child: Yes, yes it’s really important!!! Come in now!

Me, wearily: OK, coming…

Child: Can we go to Flip Out for my next birthday party? (in 9 months)

OR: Does a boy bird have a penis?…Where is it??

OR: I wish I had pink eyebrows. I really want pink eyebrows.

As you can see, it was lucky I rushed in for those little nuggets. What I’d really like to say is:

If only it were this easy
If only it were this easy

So as you tuck those little munchkins in and then come out to the comfort of your child-free lounge, just don’t jinx yourself and celebrate too early or get too comfy. Heed Metallica’s warnings and watch TV with one ear open, gripping your cushion tight til the Sandman he comes.

Let Me Entertain You

Remember Robbie Williams belting out ‘Let me entertain you’? Well, I feel that is what my kids think is going through my mind each and every day. They get up out of bed and look to me to either amuse them, or let them be amused on a device.

I recall ranting to my kids a while back ‘when I was a girl, we didn’t have screens. We had one tv that we watched on weekends and the rest of the time we had to go outside and PLAY.’ My son, about 6, looked horrified and simply said ‘that’s awful!’ My children seem to have lost the ability to amuse themselves. I think they expect me to be an event co-ordinator, party planner and court jester. All the screens kids have access to these days seem to have detracted from their ability to sit down and focus on other activities for any length of time.

In the last school holidays this reality really hit home. We had been on various outings and one particular morning we’d spent time with some friends. Driving home, my 10 year old daughter asked ‘what are we doing this afternoon?’. ‘Nothing!’ I exclaimed. ‘You can play quietly at home and amuse yourselves!’ as I muttered ‘unbelievable’ under my breath.

I realised that they expected to be led through life from one exciting activity to another. And evidently I was responsible for providing all this. My kids aren’t great at just playing. They will only play with something like lego or toys if I force them to (and then they do enjoy it). But it’s always with the idea that after they’ve served their time, like a prison sentence, they’ll be eligible for parole with rewards of screen time that will come like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They feel that by playing outside, reading a book or drawing etc they are doing me a favour and need to be rewarded by getting copious amounts of time on a device.

I should add though that the only times they are excellent at doing something creative alone are: a) When I have asked them to do a job. At that point, they are completely engrossed in writing the next great Australian novel or drawing a masterpiece and much too busy to be disturbed, thank you very much

Or

b) When they are busy doing something naughty (like ‘painting’ with my lipsticks) or extremely messy that will involve a lot of clean up participation on my part. Eg. moving all the cushions, bedding and mattresses in the entire house to make the world’s greatest cubby in the lounge. They will spend an hour creating it, play in it for 2 minutes then abandon it hastily like burglar who has just pulled a bank job.

I grew up with 4 brothers. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we had simple toys and games but a huge backyard. We had a TV but weren’t allowed to watch it much, only on special occasions, like for Disneyland on the weekend (anyone remember this? It was the highlight of my week).

The rest of the time we were expected to amuse ourselves. I read a lot as a kid and we regularly got banished to the yard. Here I am playing dress ups, old school style. But whenever I try and force my kids to spend time in the yard, all of a sudden they have the bladder control of Octomom and bladder capacity of a thimble. Every 5 minutes one of them will need to come in to use the toilet. Then

Move over Betty, there's a new mean mum in town.
Move over Betty Draper, you’ve been usurped

the fighting will erupt. Or they will wait on the deck looking mournfully bored at the back door like the dog in a thunderstorm. Anything other than peaceful playing in the yard without my involvement. To put this torture into perspective, we have a trampoline, a swing-set, slippery slide, a huge Japanese Maple climbing tree and a cubby house, not to mention a dog AND a cat. But it’s evidently SO boring out there. They make me feel like the worst mum on earth by forcing them to play in such conditions.

Fellow parents, am I the only one who is struggling with this? Do your kids expect you to provide entertainment for them? If screens aren’t an option are they bored constantly? I oscillate between wanting to see them spend a whole day without a screen on wholesome, creative activities ON THEIR OWN (aka without me) and feeling guilty for not spending 3 hours playing My Little Ponies on the floor (somebody please get me a chardonnay, stat!). How did we get here?! They get restricted screen time and are encouraged to read and do other things. As a child I didn’t expect my mum to entertain me. There were regular times she’d spend with us reading to us or some other activity but by and large my siblings and I were in charge of entertaining ourselves. 

This is my future
This is my future

What is the correct balance of screen time, amusing-yourself time and mother/kid intense activity time? How can I get my kids to expand the talent of amusing themselves? After some reflection, my thoughts are that, like a muscle, this talent needs to be exercised, possibly even against their wills, kinda like my glutes. And I think I will start to use the phrase ‘when I was a kid…’ more frequently. They will probably get so sick of it they’ll run from me and inject themselves into any other activity. That…and forced manual labour if they need an ‘activity’ provided to them on a silver platter. My mother tells me this was always a winner: Bored? Need something to do? Wash the windows please. Or *insert other boring yet simple chore here*.

By roger, I may have solved it people! And if not, at least I’ll have a cracking clean house 😉

Winter Woes

No Barbados hair!

There is a lot I love about winter – the cool dry air, how my hair behaves itself with the lack of humidity and I enjoy a winter wardrobe as my ideal outfit is a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans and a pair of converse. I recently had a checkup at the dermatologist and as he looked over my body with his magnifying glasses on he said ‘you really were born for the northern hemisphere, weren’t you’.

My wardrobe guidelines
My wardrobe guidelines

If my skin could talk it would beg to be kidnapped and kept in a basement. Winter is OK but summer can be troublesome. Although I love the balmy air and enjoy things like outdoor entertaining after dark and dusk walks on the beach, the hot sun is the enemy of those with skin prone to cancerous sun spots. But if I cover up I’m too hot so it sux either way. In a sense, winter is my oasis. But right now I’m a bit over it. Here are the things I am not enjoying right now:

1. Shower Shivers

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 4.44.14 PM
The trauma I feel when getting out of the shower

Winter showers are beautiful with our new instantaneous hot water system. I can stay in that shower for way too long and half my body is red and baked by the end. The cat watches me the whole time and enjoys the show. But getting out of the shower in winter is horrific. Nipples that can cut glass or possibly get you out of a speeding ticket, cold air assaulting every surface of your body and forget your towel once and you’ll be sorry as you do a nudie run up the hall covered in goose bumps. 

2. Toilet Seat Iceblock Trauma

I regret nothing.
I regret nothing.

Having both an insatiable thirst and a bladder the size of a thimble, I have to get up most nights to pee. Sitting on the toilet seat is like sitting on a block of ice, very unpleasant at 2am. I recently bought these toilet seat covers on eBay and it’s solved the problem. They go on at night and come off in the morning and are machine washable, I’m pretty happy with this decision and wonder why I’ve waited 38 years to implement this system. It’s extremely tacky and something you may expect to see at Kath Day-Knight’s place but I owe it to my rear end to commit as a proud long term user of this item.

3. Wardrobe Wars

I have a 3-year-old child who wishes she was a princess or possibly believes she already is one. It’s all about frills, tiaras, sparkles and dress ups. Every day we have had disagreements over her wardrobes choices due to the cold weather. She will emerge from her room triumphantly in a beautiful summer dress or a matching pretty singlet/undie combo or even a pair of swimmers. I looked at her outfit this morning, which was a short, glittery skirt and t-shirt with sewn in wings and told her it wasn’t going to cut it on this cold day and that she’d have to put pants on. She burst into tears and sobbed ‘but I just want to look beautiful’. We compromised with a jumper and tights. When summer comes, I will not have this problem anymore. I recall being on holidays in Queensland one year and seeing a woman shopping in Woolies in a bikini, pushing her trolley down the aisles. Add some frills and a tiara and this would my daughter’s idea of Xanadu. I genuinely cannot wait for warm weather, if only to have a peace with my little gal.

4. Life is an Open door

Please don't make me use my nose
Please don’t make me use my nose

In winter, open doors are a problem. We have stacker glass doors at the back of our house. The kids are in and out of the house and forget to close the door, turning the house into an igloo. In summer the doors can be left open all day and everyone’s happy. But during winter with the heaters on I am constantly telling the kids to ‘SHUT THE DOOR’. Cedric sits at the back door all day looking longingly inside, wishing and hoping to gain entry. At some point, he will decide to take matters into his own hands paws and opens the door with his nose. He then slinks in looking very guilty and flops. Either too lazy or too incompetent to close the door behind him, icy air will penetrate the house. 

5. Heaters, Here and There

I'm hot just looking at this.
I’m hot just looking at this guy.

Most old homes around here are not made to deal with any serious cold weather and heating solutions are patchy at best. At my house we have a gas heater in the lounge, a reverse cycle air conditioning unit on the wall and various oil heaters in bedrooms. At times some are on, some are off and there are cold rooms and warm rooms. This leads to a market for products such as the ‘Snuggie’. I don’t own one but wouldn’t knock one back. And everyday my kids fight over who gets the prime spot in front of the gas heater. Sometimes violence ensues as a result. Between the two pets and three kids, someone is always unhappy at their proximity to the heater. I’m sick of the fighting! Maybe a snuggie for everyone would solve the problem?

6. Birthday Blitz Attacks

I am not sure what was in the water in the ‘Springs’ of years gone by but I seem to know an extraordinary number of people with winter birthdays. It feels like at least half my extended family is born in winter. Which means birthday after birthday. Whilst birthdays are enjoyable, it can be difficult for a disorganised person to keep on top of presents. I buy a gift along with card and wrapping and then before I know it another birthday is upon me and I’m on the back foot again. It’s like being in the surf and getting dumped, sticking your head up to gasp for air and being dumped again. Repeat, all winter (I really need to shop in advance, maybe I can’t blame this one on Winter??).

7. Garden Graveyard

My garden in winter
My garden in winter

We bought our house from an elderly couple fond of gardening. They spent a lot of time in the yard and had beautiful established gardens, a lot of which have been trashed by our brown thumbs and lack of time. Even though it’s far from it’s former glory, in spring it all blooms beautifully with flowers sprouting up all over the place. But in winter, it looks like a creepy graveyard. Our Japanese maple tree, along with many others, loses its leaves and has creepy eery branches that look like they belong in a horror movie. Not that attractive.

I think the only thing left to do is beg: Winter, what we have is a love that is skin deep only. I have no lasting commitment to you. I am a fair weather friend and I’m done with you now. Please send spring to brighten our lives as soon as humanly possible, many thanks. And now I must go to purchase a ‘Snuggie’ online and sit in front of the heater until it is delivered.

Good evening.

 

Pearls of Wedding Wisdom

Today George and I have been married for 13 years. Happy Anniversary to us! I love weddings and my own was magical – I look back with fond memories. Last weekend I attended my cousin’s wedding in Noosa. Creative, fashionable and classy, the wedding reflected the impeccable taste my cousin is known for. I’ve never seen so many flowers and candles. As far as the eye could see there was beauty and elegance. After a river cruise flowing with champagne, we dined into the evening at a gorgeous waterfront restaurant as the sun set over the Noosa river.

Recalling the weekend wedding plus my own nuptials, I have some reflections to share with you:

1. It’s normal to be nervous. I was super jittery the morning of my wedding and couldn’t eat a thing, an extraordinary phenomenon for me as I can always eat. But that morning my stomach was in butterflies. I wasn’t nervous about entering into holy matrimony with George. I was petrified I would fall over walking down the aisle. I had been to a wedding previously where the maid of honour took a header walking into the reception. She actually fell right over like a bowling pin, banging her head on the wall. Embarrassing and potentially life-threatening. She came out of the coma just as the bride and groom returned from their honeymoon and I believe she can now feed herself with a spoon. Just kidding – she had a lump on the noggin and a bruised ego but that’s it. But that day haunted me. Entering into vows that will bind me for the rest of my days on earth to my beloved – not a problem. But the thought of walking in a straight line in heels had me shivering in my slippers. Not just falling over, but doing something stupid, saying something stupid and being the centre of attention for the whole day. Anyone who has been a bride or groom will probably agree that it’s totally normal to need close and unfettered access to the throne room in the hours leading up to the ceremony.

2. Be very careful which wedding tasks you assign to your groom. At the wedding I just attended I got the impression that the groom’s job was the music. The bride walked down the aisle to ‘XO’, a Beyonce song covered by John Mayer, which I adore. At the reception there was a musical duo who sang a range of music all night long and were great. Good job groomie! At our wedding, George’s assigned jobs were limited but important. He was in charge of the photography and videoing. He chose a photographer and enlisted a competent friend to video the ceremony. The photographer was a total dud. The photos he took had bad lighting, no creativity plus he spent most of the reception smoking in the side alley and chatting up some of our more attractive female guests. On top of this, it took George a long time to organise to get the prints. I think it was 11 years before we got the photos back. I’m not joking. We got one semi-decent photo out of the lot, the one pictured here and it’s hanging on our dining room wall. The little mini-video cassettes are still in a drawer . Maybe for our 20th anniversary I may get a DVD of our wedding produced if I’m lucky. #groomfail

3. Fashion fads will date. Take a look at the groom’s hair in our wedding photo. Believe it or not, this spiky gelled look was very common and desirable back in the early noughties. As was the little bush of chin hair. But in 2016, most people who come into our house and see the hanging photo laugh at George’s hair without restraint. I have a suspicion that in 15 years there will be a lot of chuckles over the current slick hipster do’s with the side part. But hey, looking back on wedding fashion is part of the fun of reflection. The big meringue dresses of the 80s, men’s suits from the 70s and basically anything from the 90s. I’m not saying you shouldn’t embrace today’s fashion fads, I’m just saying that one day a room full of dinner guests may enjoy a laugh at your expense. But what goes around comes around so c’est la vie!

4. Cherish things that go wrong as endearing anecdotes. At my cousin’s wedding, the officiating minister (who also happened to be my father, a retired minister) not only dropped the rings but also forgot to say ‘you may now kiss the bride’. Everyone was waiting for it and I sat in my chair boring my eyes into my fathers, giving enthusiastic kissing gestures but to no avail. Finally, the maid of honour said tentatively ‘aren’t they supposed to kiss now?’. A stuff up to be sure but now they have a funny wedding story to tell their future children.

5. Speaking of wedding kisses, it’s best to figure out what you want yours to say. You don’t want it to be too sterile. I watched Gilmore Girls the other day and saw Rory & Jess give each other a pathetic little kiss which Lorelai described as like two chickens pecking each other. But on the other hand, you don’t want to go too far the other way. At my brother’s wedding, he and his bride had the longest, most passionate kiss I’ve seen outside of a Nicholas Sparks movie. Save it for the honeymoon lovebirds. Best to work out a happy medium beforehand and you may even have fun practicing!

6. Marry someone kind. I have no idea how on earth I’ve managed to find someone so kind. I don’t think I’m a naturally kind person, I have to work at it. But George is kind by default.  He will come home from a long day at work and forbid me from cleaning the kitchen after dinner. He’ll instruct me to go watch TV and relax as I ‘must have had a long day with the kids.’ If you are going to share your entire life with someone, marry someone kind if you possibly can. That kindness is contagious and it’s easier for me, a villain by nature, to be kind to him because he was kind first.

I’m sure there is more wedding wisdom I could bestow but I must leave you to go get ready for my hot date – just me, George and Matt Damon. I should clarify that we’re dining out then seeing the new Jason Bourne movie, my idea of a perfect night out. George may be kind but I’m one classy gal, no doubt about it. I may even sneak a few Heinekens in for the flick.

Night all x

Pet Peeves & the Parking Police

On a long car trip once I asked George what his pet peeves were. He began listing them. They all involved some transgression or other of mine (eg. after he has cleaned the kitchen, I get ice cream and leave the dirty scoop on the clean bench). The list went on. I felt the need to clarify that I didn’t just mean things to do with me, just pet peeves in general.” “I know” he replied. Ouch.

When it came to my list he didn’t really feature at all, other than constantly squeezing toothpaste from the TOP of the tube. Come on dude, it’s just common sense. To my surprise, as I thought out my biggest pet peeves I realised that apart from people who film smartphone videos vertically (seriously, what shape is your TV?!?), they nearly all involved driving or parking:

  • Drivers who can’t merge
  • Drivers who don’t give you a wave when you let them in
  • Drivers who won’t move over lanes when you need to merge
  • Drivers who don’t use their indicators
  • Drivers who park in the ‘parents with prams’ car spots who don’t have a baby/toddler.
  • And the big one…Drivers who parallel park too far from the car behind or in front and take up 2 spaces.

There are no words to describe how much this last one annoys me, particularly around schools or high traffic areas. Are these people blind, inconsiderate or just lacking spatial awareness? Even as a pedestrian, when I see a car taking up 2 spaces I start to boil internally, muttering obscenities under my breath, regularly vowing to sneak up in the middle of the night with a tin angry woman drivingof white paint and paint some vigilante style parking lines. My brother actually did this outside his home, which was near a busy university and it solved the problem. Awesome!

I was at school one afternoon running late for pick-up and a driver had parked right in the middle of 2 spaces, making the spot in front slightly too small for my car, whilst the space between the back of his car and the car behind was incredibly generous. I don’t love confrontation but sometimes I can’t help myself when passionate about an issue. So when I saw him return I said politely “Excuse me, next time could you park closer to the car behind you, so another car can fit in front.” He looked surprised, then annoyed. “It’s not my fault. I was here first” he said, “they should have parked closer to me.” I tried to gently point out to him that the first car to arrive should park in one of the 3 spots available and not in the middle of 2 spots. But he just didn’t get it. Looking confused and angry, he continued to proclaim his innocence. So I simply had to stop flogging the dead horse. 

I think parking makes many people crazy, as you can see by the Seinfeld & Curb videos at the end of this post (enjoy, btw) and by something I witnessed yesterday. At preschool drop-off, I was in my car waiting to leave because a woman in a mini-van was attempting to drive front first into the space next to me. It was separated from me by a little garden bed and a kerb. A man was in the passenger seat. It’s a poky little car park and her car was long. Nevertheless, it was taking her a lot longer that it should. She couldn’t get the angle right and kept having to reverse and re-try. Another car and I were both waiting patiently to exit while this lady did the car version of the hokey-pokey around the carpark. Her male companion was getting frustrated and I saw him gesturing to her and then attempted to turn the wheel from the passenger seat. She looked increasingly upset and I thought I saw her wipe her eyes. He looked more annoyed as this debacle went on and in desperation she finally just drove straight over the kerb and plopped into the space. She then put her face in her hands and sobbed. I watched with interest and compassion. But this didn’t make me burn with anger as other driving transgressions often do. She was simply incompetent, not inconsiderate.

I have a friend who often parks in ‘no parking’ or ‘no stopping’ zones. He gets semi-regular parking fines and pays them with no complaints. Just the ‘cost of doing business’ is his attitude. This doesn’t bother me. He’s not parking anywhere others would park and is actually freeing up legitimate parking spots for other more conscientious drivers. His self-imposed rules for illegal parking are as follows: You must not inconvenience anyone except the local government. Handicap parking = OUT. Parking across driveways = OUT. No stopping zones = IN. I may not go so far as to say ‘bravo’ to him but I get the logic. I’d be too worried about getting a fine to do this myself but I tend to enjoy living vicariously to this ‘throwing caution to the wind’ attitude when we’re ever out and about together.

What does get up my goat are inconsiderate parkers who take up too many spaces or spaces meant for someone else. A few weeks after my school confrontation, I was dropping my daughter off at a music lesson. I wasn’t staying, just hopping out for 2 minutes to walk her in, then leaving. I backed into a space right near the entrance. As I walked away, a lady parked in a disabled spot, with a majestically displayed disabled pass, called out to me piously “I think you forgot to display your disabled sticker.” I stopped and looked around. Sure enough, it was a disabled spot, darn. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see it” I replied truthfully but snippily. “I’ll only be 2 minutes”. “You could get a fine of $500.” she said. “I’ll risk it, thanks.” I said shortly, feeling patronised. I walked off, feeling like a naughty child after a reprimand.

The thing about me is that I have a quick temper. I get annoyed fast but it abates equally quickly. And I make apologies regularly. Not sheepish ones. I will lay my heart bare and beg for forgiveness in the manner of Anne Shirley if that’s what’s required but with more genuine repentance. In the 2 minute walk to music and back, I realised that this lady had done nothing wrong. I was parked in a disabled spot without a sticker. So what if she had been a bit self-righteous? She was technically correct and I wouldn’t have parked there had I known, in case a disabled person needed it or in case of a fine, a less altruistic reason admittedly. As I neared her car I knew what I had to do. I tapped on her window. She reluctantly wound down the window, perhaps wondering if I was going to throw hot coffee at her. I began sincerely “I’m very sorry for being short with you before. I didn’t realise it was a disabled spot. I won’t park there again and I’m sorry if I was rude to you.” She was incredibly relieved and grateful that I think in that moment, we bonded. I’ve never seen her since but I regret nothing.

That apology felt good and I went home to polish my halo. I usually try not to make myself the hero of a story. More often than not I am actually the villain. But I vow to you now that I will always make sure to be the hero of every parking story. I will not be a hypocritical parker again! But my dilemma is this: what is the socially correct way to point out someone’s parking faux pas? How can it be done without giving offence? I got offended when I was in the wrong and yet I still struggled with the criticism. So I can only imagine how annoying I was to the guy I spoke to when his transgression was moronic rather than illegal. 

I believe I have the answer: there is no way it can be done. If you want to avoid conflict, just keep your trap shut and accept that the world is full of parking douchebags. Just try not to be one of them.