Sunday, April 28, 2013

When The Things You Teach Kids Come Back to Bite You

Today The Bombshell has a little friend over. As much as possible (without completely neglecting them) I try and not listen to their inane and competitive chatter. It’s usually infuriating and better for everyone if I’m not there.

But sometimes I can’t help but get caught up in their conversations.

‘Do you know that you are born with eggs in your tummy?’, the Bombshell suddenly announced to her friend over vegemite toast.

Her friend put down her sandwich. ‘I don’t have eggs in my tummy.’ She paused. ‘How do you know that?’

The Bombshell wiped her mouth, ‘My mummy told me.’

Awesome, I thought. Don’t drag me into this.

The friend shook her head. ‘I don’t want babies. I don’t have a baby in my tummy.’

It was the Bombshell’s turn to shake her head. ‘I want babies. Mum, even if you don’t want babies do you still have eggs in your tummy?’ she asked.

I had to get involved now. Direct request for information. ‘Yes. All baby girls are born with tiny eggs, although not every grown up lady goes on to have babies.’ Curious, I persisted. ‘Why don’t you want babies?’

The Bombshell – fountain of all knowledge – clearly thought she had the answer: ‘Because she doesn’t want to look after them.’

*  *  *

Not much later on they were doing my head in. One wanted to do a, b and c and the other wanted to do x, y and z. Clearly it was time to build a ring around them and hand them a pair of gloves. Fool.

‘Why don’t you kids watch a movie,’ I asked, rather stupidly. We had tried this last night, and it ended in tears. Three kids, five G-rated movies and no one could agree. Obviously the cold light of day would improve their negotiating skills. Fool.

The friend wanted to watch Strawberry Shortcake

But The Bombshell said she didn’t like Strawberry Shortcake. She wanted to watch ScoobyDoo.

But the friend didn’t like ScoobyDoo.

I had to get involved, and my preference was towards the munchkins dressed up as food products.

‘Why don’t you like Strawberry Shortcake?’ I asked the Bombshell.

‘I get scared when people get lost and upset,’ she told me.

I sighed. ‘But ScoobyDoo is full of zombies and witches. You’re not scared of them…’

It was her turn to sigh: ‘I’m not scared of zombies and ghosts because they’re not real mum.’

Complicated child.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Brutal Truth About the Third Child: The First Birthday Party

First Baby
For your first child, you start thinking about their birthday party from the moment your newborn is handed to you. This will be the type of party lifestyle magazines write about. You spend the first six months researching matching chair covers and tablecloths and have them shipped in from the US together with co-ordinating bunting and serviettes. Prior to being a parent, you didn’t even know what bunting was.

You get professional photos of your baby and have them made up into invitations which are hand delivered by courier, and when they are opened, live butterflies come fluttering out of the envelope.

You invite all the family, your entire mothers group, your husband’s colleagues, the obstetrician who delivered the baby, half a dozen midwives and your lactation consultant. Three months prior to the big day, you start interviewing catering companies who will need to provide platters of teeny tiny food to your guests.

Your husband assists by handing over his credit card and suggesting that you get cupcakes decorated with your baby’s face made out of icing. You think that is brilliant. Not that the baby is allowed to have anything with sugar in it.

On the day you have a bouncy castle despite the fact that your baby is too little to appreciate it, and you wouldn’t dare let her near it anyway. You decorate your house with two hundred helium balloons, and when one pops you spend half the party consoling your crying baby.

She receives dozens of very expensive, impractical gifts and the only thing she wants to play with is a scrunched up ball of wrapping paper. She sleeps through the speeches.

Afterwards, you realise the party cost as much as a second-hand Getz.

Second Child
For your second child you are determined not to go into debt to throw their first birthday party, and instead plan a low-key, family only event. Then you remember you have a toddler who doesn’t believe in ‘low-key’ and is more excited about the party than you are.

You love a good ‘learning opportunity’ so you get your toddler to help make all the decorations and even though they’re essentially cut out shapes covered with glue and glitter, you’re pretty proud of them.

You decide you will take your own photos this time round, but when you print the invitations, you realise there is not a single photo of the birthday child as the toddler has photo-bombed them all.

Two weeks prior to the big day, you write a menu that involves predominantly toddler-friendly food and ask all the relatives to bring a plate. Your husband assists by handing over $50 and reminding you that last time you were eating party leftovers for a week.

On the day you have a bouncy castle despite the fact that your baby is too little to appreciate it. Everyone knows it is to keep the toddler amused so she doesn’t hijack the party.

You decorate your house with a dozen helium balloons and even when half of them pop, the baby doesn’t mind at all. She has learned to tolerate all sorts of noise with her older sister in the house.

You notice that the toddler is getting as many gifts as the baby, but luckily this baby is only interested in eating, and as long as you keep a steady supply of birthday cake in front of her, she is happy. Bugger the sugar, she’s quiet.

You don’t bother with speeches.

Afterwards you can’t recall a single thing that happened.

Third Child
You decide early on you won’t bother with a first birthday this time around, after all the baby won’t remember anyway. But the older kids are relentless in their crusade to have a party, so you give in and plan a small family affair. Then you realise your eldest has invited half her Pre-Primary class.

The house already is covered in paintings and sparkles courtesy of the older kids, so you don’t need to decorate, and you invite everyone by text message the day before.

Your husband assists by watching the three kids while you pop upstairs for five minutes to shower and dress for the party. But just five minutes.

Your family and friends are well-versed in kids’ parties by now, and everyone arrives with a plate of sausage rolls or fairy bread. You just supply the beer and champagne.

You have your own mini-bouncy castle these days, and a swing set and cubby and trampoline. You set up a playpen in the corner for the baby so she doesn’t get trampled by the older kids.

You blow up a few balloons on the morning of the party and are so busy trying to stop the older two from fighting, the birthday girl is still in her pyjamas by the time the party starts. She’s used to it.

No one knows what to buy your third child – you already own every toy known to mankind – and you are secretly glad that she doesn’t get many presents.

Afterwards, you realise you mixed up your kids’ birthdays so you actually held the party on the wrong day.

Easy and innovative new fundraising ideas at

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Vulva Monologues

How do you talk to your daughters about their vulvas?

Have you ever even whispered that word to another adult, let alone your small child? Until yesterday, I don't think I had said the word vulva aloud. Vulva. Vulvaaaaaaa.

As it turned out, the universe conspired against me yesterday. We were all on the tail end of a rather icky gastro bug so personal hygiene was at the front of my mind, I had just read this fantastic article by Joyce McFadden about teaching your daughters about female sexuality, and I was watching my three year old wipe her bum after doing a wee.

'The wee comes out the front, sweetie, so if you do a wee you need to wipe at the front,' I told the Mop.

She automatically removed the wedge of toilet paper from her bottom and began wiping at the front.

'No no no no,' I cried at her. 'Front to back! Use new paper.'

She just stared at me.

'Look,' I said to her. 'Just come out to the family room when you're done. I have something I want to show you.'

I called out to the Bombshell to bring me some paper and a pen.

I buckled the baby into her chair: if I was going to do the vulva talk, I may as well get bang for my buck. The Mop and Bombshell gathered around as I drew a rather crude girl 'front bottom', which was the technical term we have always used in the past.

I'm assuming this doesn't broach indecency laws...

'These are your legs and this is your front bottom. Does it look familiar?'

The Mop hadn't bothered putting her knickers back on so we all looked at her, and yes, my picture looked vaguely accurate.

Then I drew a rather perky bottom and some legs.  I scribbled in a small dark dot.
I would suggest seeing a doctor if your bottom actually looks like this

'And this is your anus. Your bottom where the poos come from.'

'Front. Back,' I told them, pointing. 'Wees, poos.'

I took a deep breath and plunged onwards. I drew a rather awkward spreadeagled pair of legs with a small dot at the front and a bigger dot at the back.

'Now this is what it looks like between your legs...'

Suddenly the Bombshell interrupted, pointing at the small dot. 'That's your bag-ina,' she said proudly. 'Boys don't have a bagina. They have a willy.'

I nodded sagely, and drew a third dot, surrounding it with a teardrop. 'Actually, your vagina is in the middle. Wees come from your urethra at the front. Can everyone say 'urethra'?'

'Ooo-eeef-wa,' attempted the Mop. The Bombshell almost mastered it.

I blundered on. 'You can't actually see your vagina because it is a hole. But you can see your vulva, it's a bit like lips.  Can everyone say 'vulva'?'

'Vulva,' sang my three year old and five year old in unison. 'Vulva!'

The Mop sat down on the floor and opened her legs. The Bombshell and Baldy baby all peered at her with great interest. 'They are like lips,' agreed the Bombshell. 'But they don't kiss. Or talk.'

'Vulva,' cried the Mop.

Oh god, what have I done, I thought.  But I had better finish, or else this will all be for nothing.

'So when you do a poo, you can't wipe towards the front, because you might get germs in your vulva and vagina...'

'... and germs are bad,' said the Bombshell.

She reached in front of me and took the pen. When she had finished she had added a piece of toilet paper to my diagram and an arrow pointing from the front to the back of my dodgy anatomical diagram. She turned to the Mop.

'So when you do a poo, you need to wipe at the back or else you get germs in your bagina. Is that right Mum?'

I nodded. I might make it through this in one piece, I thought.

'So what comes out of your bagina?' asked the Bombshell.

'Babies,' I told her. 'But that's a conversation for another time.'
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