Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mother in laws

What a loaded topic. Half of us have the potential to attain one or worse yet, become one. I've gone one better, IV had two and I'm a defacto one (if that makes sense). The first mother in law I got was when I was still fairly young. At first, she later revealed, she wasn't at all sure of me, but we grew closer. Personally, I don't blame her for being dubious about me. I was very dodgy when we first met, but I got my shit together once I had her grandchild. The relationship with her son didn't end up going the distance, but it gave her 2 grandchildren amongst 12 (plus 3 "step" grandchildren theat she treats no differently from her biological grandchildren, 2 of which are mine). I think she's been eternally grateful that I continued to keep in contact with her after the relationship ended. My oldest will be 25 this year and we still keep in touch, even though we live interstate. The 2nd mother in law (cue gothic organ music) is my husband's mother. We fist started going out 20 years ago and have been married for 15 years. I will be retiring with this man, but my relationship with his mother fits any number of cliches. After we got married, she felt the need to tell me about her life from her childhood up. Now, I've seen and heard some amazingly bad things as a nurse, but I started wanting to put my fingers in my ears and loudly say"la la la, I'm not listening". Without going into details, she has had one fucked up life and as a consequence has trouble forming relationships with women and is pretty bitter towards most people because her life has been shit for so long. In typical abused child fashion, her boys were her world and she has not reacted well to them growing up and finding their own partners. As a rule, she (whom I will call M from now on) doesn't like her sons partners, with the notable exception of her 3rd sons wife, who moved in as a pregnant teenager, after her mother kicked her out for not getting an abortion. I think for M, it was the first time she got to have a relationship with a female. As I've been the longest running daughter in law, other sister in laws have at different times come to me, bewildered, asking "what did I do? Why is she so nasty?" to which, I can only explain my thoughts. At the time of writing, G is the only one of the brothers still with the mother of his kids. Up until recently, we had a firmly uneasy, but civil relationship. Then, the phone call came. M rang G's phone, but G was out. She wanted me to give him a fairly nasty message to him, to which I jacked up and promptly started an arguement with her. In my defense (and this could be an excuse), I was only about 5 weeks post brain surgery, which, I believe she knew, but the only thing that ended the loud arguement was his phone going flat. In the meantime, kids were hiding from the shouting, others were being woken up after night shift and my head was pounding. I think it was a couple of decades of frustration and miscommunication coming out from both of us. When G finally got home from his leisurely walk, I told him of the fight and how it started, but I've left it in their hands to help heal this. I've offered to sort things out, but so far no response. I really hate feeling responsible for the rift between G and M, butive learned how not be a mother in law. So when miss 24s bf accidentally pulled apart my 7 pice puzzle ring, I restrained myself. I was dying to insult him, but I do like him, so I let it go.....and took it to a jewellers.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I will freely admit that I'm no expert on teenagers, but having been one myself, raised 2 and worked with them, I guess you could see I'm experienced with them. The teenage years are an exciting time aren't they? Particularly if you're the teenager. If you're the parent, exciting an only be used with quote marks. I have two children to go through this stage still. One almost 12 and another almost 9. Both girls, hmmmm. Freud called this the genital stage. No, no, far as I'm concerned my children don't have genitals. At least until 25. Eric Erickson called adolescence the stage of fidelity, with identity VS role confusion as the main tasks to be completed. Aah, high school. Hopefully by the time they get there, children are pretty independent and you've trained them up to help you around the house. Well take advantage of it, because it may not last. By the time they hit high school, most girls are in the thick of puberty and the boys tend to follow a year or two later. There is quite often a fairly dramatic increase in the amount of homework your kids will get. Unless, of course they go to a school where they don't get a lot of homework. Best to check that with the school. A lot of kids (including myself) will try to get out of homework with great fervor. Just do the damn homework and save being nagged! Midway through high school the choices will start happening withthe subjects. Don't panic, we live in a country where it doesn't matter if you don't know what you want to do for the rest of your life at 14. Miss 24 is still at uni. So help them pick general subjects if they're still clueless. The big things for teenagers are: hormones and growing. By 13 a lot of girls are the same height as their mumsand boys the same height as their dads by 15-16. They're quite happy to remind you of this too. If you're wondering when a girl will enter menarche (first period), take note of her mood. If it reminds you of PMT that lasts a long time, it's real close. When I was expecting miss 11 and miss 24 was in this stage, I tripped over her bike on the pebblecrete verandah. As I limped in, trying to staunch the blood I asked her to move her bike. She replied that she hadn't put it there, her brother had. I shot back that I didn't care, just move it as I had tripped over it. She replied "well if you'd learn to lift your legs up properly you wouldn't trip over things". I do believe my jaw dropped a foot. I can still remember that 12 years later. When Mr 21 was 15, I was known to offer him and my husband boxing gloves and to let them at it in the yard, as they clashed frequently while he tried in vain to assert his dominance. I remember telling him to do something and when he said no, I thought 'fuck!!what do I do now???'. I managed to coerce him into whatever it was, but by then he was bigger than me. Knowledge. They think they know it all. Especially by 17/18. Consider if you will the human brain. Apparently it does not finish growing until 25 and particularly the frontal lobe, which is mostly responsible for abstract thought, reasoning and impulse control. So a teenager may say something that seems completely reasonable, but as an older adult you know it's completely ridiculous. I cringe over some of the things I said and did as a teenager. I was stupid enough to tell my mother that drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana were similar, one was just not legal. I still think it should be legalized and controlled, but know what the differences are now. Social life. It's hard to realise that when your beloved child becomes a teenager, his/her friends become just as if not more important than you. You are no longer the light of their life. Rejection stings. I took miss 24 to get her navel pierced at 16 (she paid). I drove her and her friend. When the technician asked if anyone wanted to come with her, she picked her friend (whom I didn't really like anyway)while I sat fuming outside. Then there is the gathering. Personally, I hate that phrase. I'm not the only one. It's basically code for "I want a party, but I'm too chicken to ask outright". They often want 20 people over, a bonfire, loud music and alcohol (underage of course). Gaaaarh. Then they hit 18 and can legally go out to pubs and clubs and stagger home all hours. Independence. Yes, they think they don't need you to accompany them anywhere and can do it all....Until they need a lift home. Often you end up witha car full of kids all trying to squash into the back seat of course. It's fine to gradually let them have independence, but please don't stop them from taking the bus into the city during the day at 16. They'll be driving themselves in their soon enough. You're not helping them. Kids get their licences at 17 or 18.sleepless nights follow. The worst? They're know it alls. They lie. They don't answer their damn phones. They're ungrateful and unrealistic. They're lazy if you let them. The best? You can hang out with them. They kinda keep you young. You can have fun with them. It's really nice seeing them grow up. They can be helpful and compassionate. Now, I just have to prepare for having 2 future teenagers....

Friday, June 1, 2012

The golden years

I've been reading a number of posts on three year olds and those who've read my blog would know, I have kids that range in age from 8 to 24. This has given me a wide range of "experiences" with children. I'm not going to do babies, toddlers and preschool age children. The topics have been done to death and quite honestly I'd feel obliged to write a scholarly piece and research it properly. So I'm turning my attention to school age children. I'm currently living this "dream". Compared to young and older children, it's a time of relative calm. As I've said before, I call it "the golden years". They are relatively physically independent (they can dress themselves,use cutlery and the toilet), are not really in the grip of hormones, still actually like you and can be fun and interesting. Freud called it the latent stage of development. This as opposed to the oral, anal, phallic and genital stages. Erick Erickson describes this also as a latent stage, with competence (industry VS inferiority)as the main "task" of school children. There's more, but really enough with the psychology. By now, hopefully you've built up a good relationship with your kids, can have a good chat, play a board game or watch a (age appropriate) movie with them. The dark side, of course is that they're confident of your affection for them and will ruthlessly exploit that, because they can. That language development you've helped with by encouraging reading, yes it gets used against you when they argue with you, using logic. Of all things, the cheeky buggers. Therefore, their lies become harder to pick, they learn to go silent approaching bedtime. Until you look at the clock at 9:30 and slowly realise that a light's still on in their room, or they're still sitting quietly on the couch. You then look accusing at your spouse.... Then there's after school activities, which most people start their children on in an effort to help them be more "rounded individuals". Sports, you travel for miles each weekend, wash uniforms and clutter up shelves with plastic trophies. In the case of swimming, you get up stupidly early and the laundry often smells like a pool. Don't get me started on pony club. Dance. Gaarh! There's FAD (fitness and dance), it's cheapish and there's lots of branches. Then there's ballet, jazz and tap, as well as the newer hip hop (often resembles strip/pole dancing). Being a former ballet mum, I can tell you, it's an experience. It's expensive, time consuming and the teachers, who are often referred to as "miss" often have a stick for some inexplicable reason. Lading up to exams and the end of year recital, the demands ramp up, along with the costs. Exams require new tights, leotards and shoes. Pointe shoes are insanely expensive. Roughly $100-120. Miss 24 broke her first pair the first pointe class. Double gaaaarh! Then there's gymnastics, ice and roller skating and so on. Music, not as demanding for quite some time. A couple of instruments do provide a special kind of torment initially. Violin and saxophone - Nuff said. Worse than the recorder. Music can include singing. I advise getting them to join the schools choir. Altogether I enjoy this phase of parenthood. Apart from the whining and asking for lollies. You get to teach them to be even more independent? Then they get to the end of primary school and you start to get wit sentimental about how your baby is growing up. You pick some nice pants and a good shirt or a dress for their primary school graduation and see how the girls are towering over the boys and actually looking a lot like teenagers. Then there is high/secondary school..... To be continued.