Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Jodie Foster* Was Onto Something

I’m upstairs in the bathroom and half way out of my nightee when I hear feet thumping on the stairs. I brace myself.

‘Mum, do you like my picture?’ asks the Bombshell breathlessly.

I look at the explosion of colour in front of me and admire it appropriately.

‘Why is the Mop crying?’ I ask.

‘She asked me if I liked her picture but I was working so I ignored her.’

‘But you then come all the way upstairs and interrupt me so you can ask me if I like your picture?’ I point out.

‘Oh,’ she says. The Bombshell turns and leaves.

I struggle into my dress when I hear thumping again.

‘Mum! She hit me,’ the Mop cries indignantly. I peer around the door, where the Bombshell is sitting contritely on my bed. I respond with a vague threat about taking away her canteen money and to stop hitting her sister, yada yada. I am standing with my dress bunched around my shoulders, otherwise just in my knickers. I am sick of this.

‘But she hit me first,’ yells the Bombshell, whacking her sister in the arm.

‘Is that true?’ I ask the Mop, who has the decency to look appropriately ashamed.

‘So you came all the way up here to dob on your sister when you started the fight? Grrrr,’ I finally pull my dress on.

‘I love you, Mummy,’ purrs the Mop.

‘Get out, both of you,’ I tell them. Someone punches someone else and the shrieking starts before they even walk out of my bedroom.

‘If you two wake the baby up, I am going to… to... I’m going to ban Christmas!’ I threaten wildly.

As if. Sometimes my mouth works much faster than my brain, but still, the idle threat did the trick and they make it downstairs with only minimum ruckus.

‘She’s already awake,’ the Bombshells yells helpfully up the stairs.

I figure I have about one minute to finish getting dressed before things implode downstairs so I whack on some deodorant and wave a mascara wand near my eyes.

A scream from the stairs.

‘I’m going to tell Mum,’ a voice threatens. ‘She’s gonna KILL YOU.’

I walk out of the bathroom and lock the bedroom door, then go back to the bathroom, and lock that door as well.

My own private panic room. Sometimes it’s the only way.

All mums should have one.
* apologies for the obscure reference, but I'm guessing most of you got it http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0258000/ 

Monday, November 11, 2013

What I Learned from My Day from Hell

I didn’t realise I had become so complacent.

I also didn’t realise how lucky I am.

I came home from an appointment today, pottered past the letter box, unlocked the front door, and dropped my handbag on the bookshelf.

It was then I noticed that my laptop and iPad were neatly placed in a large bag sitting on the high chair.

I was confused. I had left my computer and iPad on the dining table. My corner, where I work. Plugged in.

It was then I noticed the spray of wood shards near the laundry door.

And then I noticed that the laundry door - a three pin, supposedly ‘criminal safe’ metal security door - was ajar.

Someone had broken into the house. The question became: were they still in the house? I stood there for a minute thinking: do I grab my bag and the phone and go outside and call the police, or do I go and walk through the rest of the house.

I called out in my best I’m-not-afraid-voice ‘if there is anyone there, you need to leave now.’ I walked into the first bedroom: no one. The door of the spare room was ajar, I kicked it open. No one. I did the same for the two front rooms, thinking in that none too rational way when adrenaline is coursing through your body, that if they were hiding behind the door I would squash them.
Good thinking Shan.

I also reasoned that since the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs was still closed, they hadn’t gone upstairs because when was the last time I (and here comes some stereotypes) a man, let alone the type to break into a house with a brick and screwdriver, opened and closed a baby gate. He would have just ripped it out of the wall, right?

So after I had reassured myself there was no one in house (and I don’t even know what I would have done if there had been someone there) I called the police.

While I was on the phone giving my details, someone knocked on the front door. A lady I had never seen, older but not old, with a sun hat and long white hair said: ‘are you on the phone to the police?’

She was a neighbour from across the road, and had happened to be walking past when the man jumped over my back fence and bolted down the road towards the train station.

She had gone inside her house and written a detailed description of the man, had a drink of water, grabbed the magnet with the phone number of the police and come to my house. If I had not been home, she said she was going to call the police herself and make a statement. It was a hot day, she had prepared for a long wait.
For a family she had never met.

As she gave me the description and the policeperson on the other end of the phone listened and typed it all down, it occurred to me that the reason he had left in such a hurry – and without my computer and iPad – was because I had come home. He had seen or heard my car pull in the drive and he had bolted. He was probably in my daughter’s bedroom (the only thing he took was one of her money boxes), and had seen the car pull in through the window.

I had come home at exactly the right moment.

He saw me and was able to leave. I didn’t walk in on him. I came home early enough so that he hadn’t enough time to finishing grabbing everything.

How lucky am I?

Six policemen and one forensics guy then descended on the house. Two of the cops wanted to see the kids’ rooms. We stood in the door looking at the mess of clothes, dolls, books and other assorted crap spread across the floor and bed.

‘Uhhh, was this… do you think someone has been in here?’ one of them politely asked.

‘Hard to tell,’ I said. ‘But the kids made this mess, not the burglar.’

They seemed to take forever looking around, while my lovely neighbour sat patiently at my kitchen table waiting. Eventually she was able to say her piece and go home to rest. As she left, and I was thanking her, I asked her if there was anything I could ever do in return.

‘Just be a good neighbour,’ she said.

A good neighbour. She is the ultimate neighbour.

Soon it was just the forensics guy dusting for prints. He called me outside.

‘I need to show you something,’ he said. We walked around to my kitchen window, where my fairy garden is.

‘Why do you have a hammer sitting near the window?’, he asked.

‘Because the builder left it behind and I thought he might come back for it,’ I replied.

‘And when was that?’ We both looked at the rusted hammer.

‘About a year ago,’ I admitted.

‘And why do you have all these bricks stacked here?’

‘The builder was meant to take them away,’ I muttered.

‘The thing is, first these guys use them to get into your house, and then they used them as weapons,’ he said pointedly.


So I learned a few things today. One is not to be complacent.
Another is to disconnect the external hard drive from the computer and put it somewhere else, otherwise it kind of defeats the purpose of saving all your precious things.
Don’t leave weapons outside the house.
And I learned what being a good neighbour really means.

Thank you Kathy.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why You Should Think Twice Before Opening Your Mouth

‘Dear Fairies,’ the Bombshell wrote. ‘Do you have an adventure for me?’

The letter was sealed and deposited in the Fairy Letter Box. She eyed me intently. ‘I wonder what the fairies will tell me to do.’

Crap, I thought. An adventure? How are the fairies going to come up with an adventure that can take place in the real world, where people don’t actually fly and pixie dust is a little hard to come by.

So naturally I forgot all about the letter until about 11 that night when I was lying in the dark willing myself to sleep.

The letter. Crap. The look on the Bombshell’s face when the fairies don’t answer her letters is heartbreaking. But 11 o’clock at night was no time to go find a fairy to write a letter. I needed a stop-gap measure.

I had recently been to a swap meet where I came upon some fruit carved out of marble. I had bought three pieces thinking the fairies might need a snack and promptly forgot about them. I bundled out of bed and armed with a torch, located some marble grapes and put them in the fairy letter box. No letter. No explanation.

What? It was really, really late.

The next morning I couldn’t stop the Bombshell from checking the Fairy Mail as soon as she sprung out of bed, and of course there were the grapes. I knew they were grapes, but apparently this wasn’t so clear to a six year old.

‘What do you think it means, Mum?’ she asked, bewildered.

‘I don’t know,’ I replied. ‘I guess it’s a mystery,’ I added honestly. I had no idea where this was going to go.

Over the next day or two she started writing lists about what this thing was. Was it a miniature tree? A musical instrument? Some sort of bobbly fairy wand. The on the third day, a marble pear arrived in the fairy mail box.

‘Look at this Mum,’ she said. ‘Now what do you think it means?’

‘I don’t know,’ I replied, still honestly. ‘It is a mystery adventure,’ I said stressing the word adventure.

Finally on the fifth day, with a little forethought, the mystery revealed itself. The three fruit with their magical qualities were being sent to us for safe-keeping, because a wicked goblin was trying to steal them.

Suddenly there was a real life adventure. The fruit needed a safe place, we needed to keep an eye out for goblin footprints, and a fairy charm needed to be hung by the door.

I really got into it.

But, as tends to happen, it backfired.

One morning goblin footprints were discovered at many of the doors and windows around the house. They looked suspiciously like white and green chalk and tended to disappear when you rubbed them, but I assured the girls this was the magic of goblins.

The Bombshell and the Mop thought it was awesome, knowing full well the fairies had put a protection spell on the family.

Unfortunately, no one remembered to tell the Mop’s little three year old friend about the protection spell.

‘Look,’ declared the Mop to her friend. ‘A goblin was here last night,’ she said pointing to a footprint in the backyard. ‘He’s trying to steal the fruit.’

‘A goblin?’ said the friend, eyes wide, slinking towards her mum.

‘Yeah,’ added the Mop for good effect. ‘They’re really evil.’

Her friend promptly ran to her Mum. ‘I want to go home,’ she said tearfully.

She would not budge from her Mum’s lap, thus negating our nice coffee and chat morning, since she had an extra appendage who would sob intermittently about being scared of goblins.

There was eye-rolling, though I suspect it was directed at me.

I spent the next hour treading a fine line between trying to convince the little girl that the goblin was of no consequence without outright ruining the fantasy for the Mop who thought it was ace she had a stinky goblin prowling around her yard.  More importantly, I knew she would happily out me to her sister if I had claimed that I had made the whole thing up.

‘I’m so sorry,’ I mouthed to my friend for the tenth time as she tried to wrestle her daughter off her.

More eye rolling. Yep, definitely directed at me.
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