So Something Exciting Happened Tonight…

 

I am currently looking after the two girls from next door tonight while my neighbour rushes her husband to the hospital, his war wound? He managed to drill a hole through his finger. My son rushed back from their house, the two girls in tow, told me the story and I let them in and trotted next door. After I barged in there and found him squeezing his finger with a tonne of blood soaked tissues while his wife was in the process of getting the whole tissue box I got down to business! I went and got their first aid box out from the top of their pantry, grabbed a bandage and began wrapping it tightly over the top of the tissues while she searched frantically for the car keys. Then they were off to emergency! But this got me thinking, why was I so quick in this situation, but I sucked when it came to my own son?

A few months ago my son got a tool box for his birthday, he absolutely adored it! One of the prized and treasured tools inside this precious tool box was a Stanley knife. One day he asked if he could use it to cut a huge piece of cardboard left over from a flat pack outdoor table. I said,

“Yes, but be careful. Cut away from yourself.”

Now before I go any further I want to tell you why (in my defence, not that is it a good one) I walked away from him while he was using it. My step dad had a Stanley knife and for years, from the age of 9, my brother and I used that rusty old thing for all sorts – carving our initials in trees, cutting back the plastic on the brake cables on our bikes, cutting ropes down to size while making our dangerous, structurally unsound cubbies, also cutting windows into our own large boxes. We were creative and unsupervised and you name it, we probably used it for that purpose, and we never cut ourselves with it, not once, not even a scratch. I assumed my son, who has always been quite handy with every tool he ever picked up, would be ok to use it.

So my son was outside cutting the box when after a couple of minutes I heard him yell,

“Muuuuuum, I cut myself!”

I ran out there not knowing what I was going to see. There were drops of blood on the cardboard and on the brick paving, and when I saw his arm and hand I saw a stream of blood, still dripping from his finger tips. I tried to get a good look at it but I was just so distracted and panicked by all the blood that was coming out and that horrendous feeling in my tummy and that creepy feeling the back of my legs under my bum. It looked bad, real bad because I couldn’t see the cut at all, the blood was coming out too fast. Luckily, my friend who is a carer knocked on my door at that moment, I urgently yelled out,

“I need a bit of help hun!!”

She rushed in, saw his arm and quickly tied it off with a clean tea towel. It stopped the bleeding. I then thanked her so, so much and rushed off to the nearest walk in clinic. The cut was only half a centimetre long, but it required a local anaesthetic and two stitches. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I had let him screw around with that Stanley knife! The guilt I felt was the worst I had ever felt in my life. And I deserved that horrible feeling.

Needless to say I have hidden that Stanley knife (in the bin which got picked up months ago) but it made me wonder and worry. I have had countless encounters with people who I have had to administer first aid to. My brother took every pill in the house one day so I had to keep him alert on the drive while rushing him to our nearest doctors clinic in the country, the longest five minute drive of my life, with all of the pill packets, for medical help and to wait for an ambulance. Another incident I recall was where a friend slashed her wrist in front of me. It was the same thing – first aid box, gauze, a bandage, and straight to the hospital. I was fast, clear headed, focused, yet I had a major brain fart and froze up when my OWN CHILD had much more of a minor cut by far! I was like a dear in the headlights and I was a fumbling mess! Why? I will probably never know. Maybe it was because he was my own flesh and blood. I can only speculate.

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The Sensitive Ones

If you read my last blog you will remember I babysat two girls for a friend for 12 hours while she was at work, one of the girls, although I don’t like to play favourites, I have a real soft spot for because she just seems so vulnerable.

This little girl, Miss 8, with the wild curly hair, the pleading eyes and the warm, compassionate, cuddly, sensitive but also boisterous nature reminds me very much of Master 7.

Her sister, Miss 10, has Asperger’s Syndrome, and she needs a lot of medical treatment and physiotherapy as when she got sick with the flu a year and a half ago something horrific happened. All of her muscles wasted away so she needs a lot of help balancing and doing every day things inside and outside of the home, her parents also spend extra time working with her at home to help her to regain her strength so that when she is older she is independent, this time needs to be spent with her now, and she is making great strides in her progress thanks to her parents dedication. This wouldn’t leave a lot of personal time for Miss 8, and while her parents do their very best to make sure she gets included and has some personal time spent with just her and one other parent as often as they can, she simply cannot be their number one priority at the moment. An adult can understand this, but to an 8 year old this would be confusing.

I can’t help but take her under my wing, and she has really taken to me too. She spent most of the day with me yesterday, while I cleaned and looked after the other kids. She is also an animal lover so she absolutely loved helping me tip out the bowl with the tadpoles inside and giving them fresh water. I really enjoyed her company.

She did struggle with the other children yesterday, because Master 7 is not into any girl things and doesn’t like to get wet under the sprinklers, and because Miss 10 is Master 10s girlfriend and they were spending most of their time chatting on the trampoline she really took it to heart that no one was spending time with her, I consider this a symptom of her day to day life.

Before she left she said she had a really good day with me and asked if I could look after them all of the time. I had to explain to her that I could only do it once in a while because I work, but I would take them as often as I possibly can. I just hope I helped to make her day a good one and that she felt like she got a personal day with another caring adult.

Drawing The Battle Lines – Boys And Girls

I agreed to look after my friends two girls today while she was at work and having them around changes tho whole dynamic! Master 10 is walking around being all surly and bossy. Master 7 is having trouble co-operating, he is frustrated as he likes rules, he has a lot of them and girls like to challenge them by asking a lot of questions and Master 2 is loving the water fights outside and being adored by the girls! He’s just going with the flow. There has had to be quite a bit of adjustment on both sides as they all try to figure out how they all tick together.

I am noticing that with the girls that they have a lot of temper tantrums. Miss 8 flies into a rage, cries and runs away, and Miss 10 stands there with her arms crossed and passively aggressively talks to “herself” about how and why the situation sucks. A far cry from my boys who get into a punch up which I have to break up and sending them into different rooms to cool off, then they’re friends again after saying sorry to one another. Girls seem to seethe and harbour for a lot longer.

Honestly I have idea how to mediate right now! With the boys I can talk to them about an incident and they take it in their stride, the girls are more intent on being the victim in the situation. I’m just down to ignoring the behaviour I don’t like at this point as I don’t like to argue, it goes nowhere, we all seem to be able to come to an understanding.

With this said, however I know that everyone is different, really it just comes down to personality and what the group dynamic is. I’m hoping this will remain as relaxed and happy as it has been for the most part for the rest of this 12 hour stint. I may blog later on the progress, and by that point the tone may have changed quite a bit!

Tired Children With A Degree In Energy Assault And Word Weaponry

Yesterday we went to the beach and that was a lot of fun, but like any trip out like this it tires them out, yesterday was no exception! As you may well know a tired child is a grumpy, emotional wreck, they get riled up about lots of little things, this could be natures payback for when Mummy is tired 90% of the time.

So we had to step out again in the afternoon to get ingredients for dinner, upon arriving there Master 10 was complaining that he didn’t want to be there, can he stay in the car, his socks were itchy, he wanted to go home, he needed to go to the toilet, he had tears welling up in his eyes towards the end of the barrage of questions and complaints. Yep, he was tired, and it was the first clue that this was the start of a fun shopping trip.

We got inside the shopping centre and Master 2 decided he wanted to walk, but not with us. He kept running off to look at anything and everything so I gave him his warnings and on the third I picked him up and carried him the rest of the way. He spent that two minute walk to the supermarket kicking his legs and screaming.

When we got to the trolley bay I thought I would give him one more chance, I put him down and warned him that if he runs away that he would have to sit in the trolley. He responded with “Otay.” I then wrestled with the trolleys, trying to find one which doesn’t veer off in any direction but forward. I found a half suitable trolley and we all headed in. Again, Master 2 was running off and on his third warning I picked him up and told him he was going into the trolley for running away. I then proceeded to wrestle with him for another minute while trying to get him into the seat, legs spread, feet on the sides of the trolley, more screaming, I just desperately wanted his legs to go into the damn holes at the front!! Master 7 and 10 then grabbed a leg each and pulled them through. I held this wiggly screaming mess down as I fumbled with the safety strap and belted him in so he wouldn’t fall (or jump) out. I didn’t think it was possible for him to scream any louder than he already had been on the way there, but he certainly had some reserves left, and he used them all up over the next five minutes. Some strangers looked and laughed, others avoided looking in our direction. This display of crazy was the first I had encountered from this child, and I just had to keep walking so we could get our shit and go home!

Towards the end of the shopping trip Master 7 took off. I just turned around and he was gone! I told Master 10 to go and find him, he returned and said he looked in the lolly section but he wasn’t there, I told him to go look through all of the aisles. When they both returned I told Master 7 that he knew the rules, they can walk away but they have to stay in my aisle. He was now not allowed to get a lolly at the end of the shop today. He looked at me, his face read, tears in his eyes and yelled with a passion I hadn’t seen from him before, the words

“I HATE YOU!!”

I was taken aback! It must have looked like I got a slap in the face because that just blew my mind! This was the first time any of my children had ever said that, or anything even close, to me! I thought I still had at least four years to go before I would hear it and I was totally unprepared for it. I paused for a minute and said,

“You know you’re not supposed to run off so that’s your problem buddy! You know how it goes.”

As I ran down the last couple of aisles with that phrase running through my mind I thought back through the day. At the beach I spent all of my time watching Master 2, making sure this vulnerable little toddler didn’t get taken by the waves, and watching Master 10, making sure the little dare devil wasn’t taking any huge risks with the waves. Master 7 would just sit in one spot and wait, or he would run away from the big ones. And the whole shopping trip had been mostly all about Master 2’s tantrums and a little bit about Master 10’s emotional questions and complaints and I realised, almost all of my attention had been on the other two children, Mr Middle Child may as well have been invisible, I gathered he was acting out because he was tired and he wasn’t getting the attention he needed, a double whammy for him!!

When we got home I explained to him that saying “I hate you” is not a nice thing to say, especially to family, that I understand he was very tired and feeling left out but his words still hurt my feelings. He nodded, gave me a cuddle and said,

“I’m really sorry Mum, I wont do it again.”

So we ate dinner and I sent the children to bed early – Billy Badass included. Hopefully they get a good nights sleep, and I will continue to live by the mantra ‘Tomorrow is a new day’.

Living In The Shadow Of Bipolar Disorder

Life at home for me and my brother when we were younger was different to other kids, but I didn’t know it yet. My Mum had undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder and so she was either over-medicated with Valium for agitation and anxiety and would sleep or be completely out of it all the time. She would become addicted to this medication. Or she would be un-medicated and all over the shop, swinging from anger to pure hopelessness and helplessness. She would also swing from overly controlling to neglectful at the drop of the hat. If we did something naughty the belt would come out and she would unleash a torrent of anger. One thing I am grateful for is the fact that children are very resilient.

My brother and I would spend a lot of time out of the house, at parks, at shops, we would spend time around other friends, we made some wonderful memories and got to experience life to the fullest while out and about, exploring, mastering our outdoor environment and going on our little missions and adventures.

As I got older I realised things were not right. Mum would go on her anti-depressants, she would be ok for a while, but then she would end up having to come off them because they made her feel like, and I quote,

“Throwing rocks through all the windows and screaming.”

My brother would run away from home at least twice a year and sleep in abandoned cars at the rubbish dump or on top of the school lockers. I was an angry teen at home but I was so out of touch with the way I felt, I didn’t know why I was so angry and spiteful. At school I was horribly bullied because all my life I learned I wasn’t allowed to behave the way I wanted to, I had to do what I was told and agree with everything others said and doing that at school makes you a target because you are seen as weak. I look back now and realise it was because I felt like I was a burden and therefore I didn’t feel like I had the right to be who I was.

In 2007 my brother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He was spending his fortnightly pay within two days on polo shirts, expensive colognes, DVD’s, expensive lunches, he would sit down with a bunch of strangers at a pub and shout them drinks, and then he would run out of petrol, not be able to get to his job, and then he was fired. It was a vicious cycle which endured for years. He had at one point been homeless and before that he always bouncing from house to house because his housemates couldn’t deal with him.

One day my Mum of all people suggested he may have Bipolar. So off I went to the doctors with him for support and added my two cents worth as to why he may have it. After a psych appointment it was confirmed, he has Bipolar Disorder – Type 1, the most savage of them all, with rapid cycle and mixed moods. It was this diagnosis which sent Mum back to the doctor and psych, and it was confirmed, she has type 2 Bipolar.

Looking back I think my Dad may have had Bipolar as well. I would sometimes wake up at night and hear him sobbing, and when I tried to comfort him he would push me away. The last time I saw him I was 6 years old, then we moved to another state, we had a couple of phone conversations, then I never heard from him again. My brother rang me last year and told me he died from lung cancer, I was so sad that I never got back in contact with him again but there’s nothing you can do about that when they’re dead, I just had to move on.

For whatever reason, I seem to have so far escaped this curse but I carry around a bit of ‘survivor guilt’. My brother has recently lost his marriage, his house which he and his wife bought, he doesn’t get to see his son as much as he would like because she has moved on, she is happy and she now lives 4 hours away. He is now living with my Mum and our Step Dad who don’t really get along like a house on fire, in fact, I thing my brother sometimes wants to set the house on fire when they argue. He is on Government Payments. He can’t get a job yet because he is rapid cycling at the moment despite being on medication, and there is no way he will be able to hold onto a job at this time. I can’t bring up any painful memories otherwise he breaks down, shuts off and pushes me out of his life for a couple of years.

My Mum can’t remember anything in between 1990-2003, she has lost a lot of her precious memories during the most crucial and formative years of our lives due to her long depression cycles. I know she mourns for the parent she could have been, wanted to be, but just couldn’t do it in her undiagnosed state, and for that I feel truly sympathetic towards her. I know if she could go back and change it all she would. I imagine she has times where she cries and begs God to take her back in time so she can fix everything. This is why I could never resent her or hold a grudge against her, she was truly helpless, more so than us when we were children.

And here I am, my husband and I have been together for nearly 11 years now, married for almost 6 years. We have three beautiful, well adjusted boys. We don’t take drugs, we don’t drink, we don’t bash each other, we have been doing the same jobs for the duration of our relationship, we have a very loving relationship. We’re not perfect but we work well together. All five of us. I try so hard to change the cycle of neglect and abuse for my children, and I am so proud that I think I may be achieving that! But the guilt remains and I don’t know why. I love to help my Mum and Brother, encourage them, I love to love them! They are my family. Watching them fail is hard, and watching them rebuild themselves again is met with mixed feelings of pride but also uncertainty.

I guess I just wish so much happiness for them, and I guess that because I am so happy with my life at the moment, how things have gone right for me so far that I wonder, “Why it am I so lucky? What did I do to deserve it?”

Looking Like The Perfect parent

 

I am one of those artistic, creative mums who is disorganised and dishevelled 90% of the time. I don’t have any routines in place and I struggle to find a balance in the home between cleaning, sewing, working and spending time with the children. I do however, look longingly at the parents who look as though they can do it all. All their children are nicely dressed with pigtails, plats and spiked hair and the mums themselves look relaxed and in control, they seem to know all the right things to say, they cook elaborate meals for their family, they have a mortgage with nice things in their neat and tidy home, beautiful gardens, they work, they play and I have to say, looking at my mismatched pieces of furniture in my rental, my budget for my fortnightly pays which don’t go very far, my piles of ‘stuff to be sorted’, texta on the walls, being an uninspired cook in the kitchen, my children with fold lines on their shirts and brushed but unstyled hair, I’m a little jealous!

It makes me wonder why I am the way I am. I think the problem lies at my core, I’m not an especially patient person and while most people take comfort in them, I don’t like routines as I like to feel inspired before I tackle something, routines do not allow for that. It means I have to wait, and by the time I get around to it I don’t feel like doing it any more and it becomes ‘just another job’ on the to do list. It’s a feeling similar to that of being my own star in the Groundhog day movie. I think the next reason is probably because I’m a perfectionist, I like to go that extra mile to make my projects and duties special, they have to be just right but that means I put a lot of extra effort into the things I am doing, and this means extra time needs to be taken to achieve satisfaction.

In the grand scheme of things maybe being disorganised isn’t so bad, my children are happy, well mannered individuals with their own thoughts an opinions, I don’t pretend to be awesome at anything in particular, in fact I will have a laugh with my friends about how disorganised I am and I love this as these are true friendships which are hard to find. I am an open book. I love how the people in my life can take me as I am and still love me for all my ‘flaws’. I may not be rich money wise but my family and I are rich in spirit, and at the end of the day I wouldn’t swap it for anything!

 

The Magical (And Slightly Terrifying) World Of Toddler Shows

 

As I sit with my toddler and watch Yo Gabba Gabba, Teletubbies and The Night Garden with him I look at the characters and wonder…

“What the hell are those things?!”

As they dance around, teaching children about situations and how to handle them I realise I can’t even define them. Visually, they don’t represent an animal or a human in any way. Yes we had “Gumby” as a child but that show made no mistake, it was just plain abstract and weird, the soundtrack included. I grew up with Sesame Street where you could say,

“That’s a fairy, that’s a vampire, that’s a bird, that’s a woolly mammoth…”

So as I watch the fat teddies with human faces, the dolls which talk but their mouths don’t move, and the green monster with the extra long arms I look at them and wonder, are these weird looking things supposed to make small children comfortable about looking under their bed at night, and not worry about what may be lurking in their closet? Because honestly, if I saw something like that hanging around outside my window at night, or saw them in my room doing their thing, or if I came across one of them in a dark alley, I would without a shadow of a doubt… shit my pants.