Watching, Listening, Reading #5

How’s it travelling out there? What have you been scanning with your eyeballs, cramming down your cakeholes, sucking down your earholes?

Oh, this opening is making me feel a little nauseous. My apologies. (note to self: lift tone.)

Reading

I adored Ann Patchett’s Amazonian tale State Of Wonder, a one-more-page-while-the-bath-is-getting-cold type of read. Also the late, wonderful Oliver Sacks autobiography On The Move:  charming,funny and idiosyncratic, like the man himself. Look at him here, so young and gorgeous.

I also loved broadcaster Simon Scott’s memoir ‘Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother and The Lessons Of A Lifetime‘ about time spent at his mothers bedside. She is a racy, witty and kind-hearted showgirl, he’s a moving writer, and their relationship is beautiful. (I must add here while trying to remember Scott’s name,  I thought the book was called ‘Surrender’ and so I googled ‘Surrender memoir’, where I was directed to a Salon.com article called ‘Rectal Romance’ in which ‘Toni Bennett talks about her new anal sex memoir.’  I mean. No.  I know that the young people say that the rump is the ‘hot spot’ of the moment, but Ms. Bennett… think of your legacy!  )

I’ve read some excellent 1980′s tales lately: the astonishing, unputdownable story Octopus by Guy Lawson about Sam Israel and the stockbroking world of the 80s, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman, about her trip to China as a young girl in 1986, when everything goes catastrophically wrong.

Keith has just finished the last of the Narnia series with the kids, and they are embarking on Swallows and Amazons. I’ve been reading the first 2 books of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, which are super fun, punchy, high-octane spy-tales. Great for reading aloud, especially because you get to punctuate  every chapter with ‘Duh duh DUH!’, which happens less often in life than it should. We’ve just moved on to calmer fare though; and I am loving re-visiting My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell; one of my own teen favourites.

Watching

I’ve been doing a bit of the OJ Simpson story and loving my old fave Nurse Jackie on Netflix, but I’m not finding much time for TV at the minute.

I really love both Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb, and so their short, snappy show When I Get A Minute  is right up my alley. These short, chatty programs cover books, TV, podcasts and general media, they are delightful and everything they discuss I have either read or watched, or plan to as soon as possible. Also on iView, Luke MacGregors series Luke Warm Sex was almost unbearably candid, as he goes on a sort of 6-episode sexual vision quest to try and get over his own hang-ups as a shy and anxious person. He is such an unusual comic, disarmingly sincere and immensely likeable, and so it made for wonderful television, provided that you can see through your fingers.

The kids have moved, well and truly, into the Doctor Who zone. Also they love the Slow Mo Guys on YouTube, and the girls and I are partial to a bit of RPA (the more intense the surgery, the better. )

Together, we are loving Survivor, one of my own favourites for at least a decade now. It’s an excellent family show – much strategising, much excitement, a lot of communal maths as we work out numbers and alliances before eviction. (Nerdy good times!) Tonight we stuffed ourselves with spicy bean burritos, then had a special dessert; coconut pannacotta with fresh pineapple, in honour of the tropics.

Friday night Survivor – it’s one of my favourite things.

Listening

Keith and I are really into historian Dan Carlin at the minute; his history podcasts are amazing but we also love his current-affairs show. (Interesting Trump analysis.) The New Yorker politics podcast is also great on the US election. I’ve been enjoying Only Human and The Memory Palace, and as always, Double X, Radiolab and Freakonomics are reliably cracking shows.

On Spotify I’m really liking this indie playlist with the crazy title Skäggiga snubbar sjunger skönsång, which translates to ‘men in beards singing sweetly’ or similar, as well as a bit of Barbra Streisand. T-Bone is very into ‘It’s Raining Tacos’ (do not explore, earworm of epic proportions) and I’ve been pulling out some of the old favourite Dan Zanes for the smallest. (If you have pre-schoolers, Zanes is the best – try Catch That Train.) Here’s a cracking one: Prince’s own party-mix as a Spotify playlist. 

Happy weekending, my friends. May the road rise to meet you,  the wind be at your back, your pannacotta coco-nutty and your earworms brief and manageable.

Any tips for me? Whats good in your world?

x

Watching,Reading, Listening #1

Watching, Reading,Listening #2

Watching, Reading, Listening #3

Watching, Reading, Listening #4

 

Finite And Fleeting Moments

(Last Days Of Shanghai, 1949, Life Archives )

I love this useful bit of mental arithmetic, especially during the school holidays!

“In the course of each bedtimes bedlam, try to see into the future. The next time the clamour crescendos, but before the din dims, imagine your biological parenthood clock wound forward to the time they have grown and left home. Picture their formerly tousled bedrooms as neat, clean and empty. See the tidy backseat of the car, vacuumed and without crumbs or Cheerios. Playroom shelves neatly stacked with dusty toys. Laundry under control. Then wind the imaginary clock back from the future to now, and see those moments of mayhem for what they are, finite and fleeting moments. Never to be reproduced. Precious.”

Dr. Harley Rotbart

The Near Poo Episode

From the book I’m writing, here’s a chapter. It’s in draft stage, not tidied and completed.  There’s stuff I’m trying to explore that is deeper, more serious and intense, stuff about identity and pain and motherhood, but this is not it; rather, here we have a charming tale of the time I nearly pooed my pants at Aldi.

I feel nervous! But I’d love any feedback you guys have. Thanks. x

 

It’s sad, but years of growing humans who won’t let me sleep are taking their toll on my face. There are lines getting etched in there that I can no longer cover up, and the greys are taking over my head. When I let the roots of my wild brown hair grow out I look like an old witch. Add that to the permanent cranky-frown between my eyebrows and it’s probably just a matter of time until the local children are afraid to pass my driveway in case I run out to hit them with sticks.

Having kids has taught me my place in the evolutionary totem pole. Keith and I have replicated ourselves (and added a spare)and so our usefulness is over. What need now for a fresh face and perky young buttocks? What point trying to trap a mate? Move along now, Mother Nature is clearly telling us. The new generation is here, and your time in the sun has passed.

In lots of ways Keith and I are super happy to be settling into mid-life. I feel like I partied enough as a youngster, prolonging my adolescence well into my twenties, and even (cough, pathetic fist-bump!)my thirties. I’ve done my time interpretive dancing on bar-tops and throwing up into pot plants. I don’t long for more freedom, or miss nights on the town. Life on the couch with a cup of tea, a bag of nuts, Netflix and a kindly physicist to cuddle is as rich as I ever hope to be. I hope I can do this until the curtains come down.

But getting older brings up a lot of fears for me about health. My chosen method of dealing with health problems is denial, and it’s getting harder. Middle age approaches loudly. I see it in the mirror with my creases and lines and I feel it in my creaky old bones. I can hear it coming: tea at 4pm, complaints about young people, a slight whiff of Eau D’Incontinence (say that one out long with a French accent; you’ll be glad you did.) For me, my fears centre around my back and its inorexable decline into crunchy rigidity, but every once in a while I am served a preview of what other joys might be in store as my body falls apart. I get one of those hints this week when I nearly shit my pants at the supermarket.

Normally, an Aldi shopping trip is a low-to-medium grade thrilling event for me. It’s pretty impossible to get out to the real shops with three small kids in tow, so Aldi, with it’s middle aisles of fantasy, is as good as it gets these days.

Depending on the state of the household budget, I sometimes have to put the invisible blinker on. This prevents me from looking left or right and keeps my mind solely on spaghetti bolognaise and blueberry porridge, but today, we’re in a great mood and grabbing our fun where we can. A trip to Town! What ho! How spiffing!

George is in the baby seat, Ted inside the trolley and Ivy wandering at my side. Everybody is in a delightful state of equilibrium, all the more precious for its rarity – all kids sufficiently fed and toileted to give us half an hours time free of the demands of the body. Even the baby! It’s wonderful.

We travel the aisles and I muse aloud.

‘Shall we make some little burgers, kids? This organic mince looks nice. Tacos?’

The baby gurgles, Ted mutters nonsense and Ivy chats to herself about Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Everybody’s happy. I am too, except for a slight gassy pain in my tummy. I try to fart silently (one of the greatest blessings about having children is that there is always somebody to blame for bad smells, which gives parents incredible gastro-intestinal freedom). It helps a little, that release, and I turn my attention back to the shopping and pick up my pace a little.

I take us up the final aisle. Eggs, frozen blueberries, orange juice. I pause at the fish freezer. ‘What do you think about these prawns, Ivy? Are they from one of those anti-biotic Vietnam fish farms, or are they maybe OK?’

Ivy likes being consulted about these things, and she is thoughtful for a moment.

‘Great, I think Mummy,’ she says but I’m not listening. I’ve been suddenly hit with a desperate need to go to the toilet. Specifically, I need to poo. And even more specifically, to poo Right This Second.

I breathe through what appears to be some sort of bum labour pain, and when I can walk, push the trolley at speed towards the checkout. Party’s over. Time to get out of here.

‘Do you have a toilet?’ I ask an assistant as I pass by. He gazes at me with his dead eyes. ‘Across the road, behind the car park,‘ he says.

He may as well be suggesting Uzbekistan. I thank him through gritted teeth, make it to the checkout and start unloading my trolley.

There is an art to shopping at Aldi. Heavy things first. Fragile stuff last. Get it all up on the moving track and then start refining, adjusting and finessing, all before the checkout assistant actually starts ringing up your goods. When that begins, you move immediately to the position behind your trolley and as the products are flung at athletic speed you catch and arrange them, so the eggs are not smashed, the feta is not leaking on the gluten-free olive foccacia and you can create a flat platform on which to rest your Outdoor Room Daybed on the top (you have, of course, failed to block the temptations of the middle aisle.)In silent partnership, you work with the checkout assistant to beat some invisible and utterly pointless speed grocery record.

Today, I am incapable of managing any of these Aldi Athletics. Rather than thinking about the Tetris-style game, I am totally focused on not shitting myslef. It is actually that bad. A vision leaps to mind. A meerkat sticking it’s head out of the cave to look around.

‘Just get to the car’, I tell myself, breathing deeply. ‘You can shit yourself in the privacy of your own car.’

The pain and pressure in my belly is intense. Farting is no longer an option. I can easily blame a bad smell on the children, but the inevitable follow-through would leave physical evidence on my own pants, and it would be much harder to blame that on the baby.

I can feel beads of sweat on my forehead as I throw items into the trolley, willy-nilly. Should I just run? Abandon the shopping? This is tempting, but really, creates more problems for me in the long run. We need nappies. Snacks. Dishwashing liquid. Possibly, specialty adult undergarments for what may be an ongoing health issue. If I don’t pick up these things, the delicate balance of my small household will fall apart and all will be chaos. ‘You can shit in the car’, I remind myself, breathing through this yogic mantra like a Buddhist in intestinal crisis.(What would the Dalai Lama do?) “You can shit in the car. You can shit in the car.’

The baby is whimpering, Teddy is asking for an apple and the supermarket is busy and noisy. But all of these things have faded to a background hum behind the mantra pulsing in my ears.

Don’t. Poo. Your pants.

Don’t. Poo. Your pants.

I am transported to a daydream, a future reality, where I have, somehow, ended up with colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohns disease. My bum, which has before always ticked along, barring the occasional codeine-constipation or gastro episode, really successfully.

I’ve never really had bum or gut problems before. I’ve never appreciated the smooth running of my downstairs lounge. Is this the start, I think in panic. Is it? Is that what’s going to start happening now? Sudden urgent bum crises? Am I going to have to pack adult nappies and spare pants for me too, as well as all the little bastards?

This future, she is grim.

But finally, at least, the shopping is all rung up. It’s a devastating mess in that trolley, but not in my trousers. I pay the lady, who must be wondering what kind of mental demons I am struggling with as I blink and sweat while I work the card machine. I drag the trolley awkwardly out to the car park,legs trotting spastically like a marathon runner in lactic overload.

‘Get in!’ I squeak at the children. Once we are all in the car, I release a glorious, cleansing fart. It’s probably the best fart of my life. I am fully prepared for terrible things to come once I have opened those sphincter gates, but – miracle of miracles! – there is no follow-on effect.

Sitting in this private box, having made it through what seemed with every passing second to be certain humiliation, I feel elated. I still need, desperately, to shit, but I am not going to do it in public. It’s a near-poo experience, I made it through, and both my dignity and my trousers are unsullied. ‘Let the records show that Mummy has avoided middle-aged humiliation for one more day,’ I announce to the children. ‘Let’s go home.’

I don’t always feel in control of my life and my direction as a Mum. I frequently question my decisions. I wish very much that I was better at different parts of the job, and some days all I can see are my failings. But, just like when my mother-in-law said to me that the key was to just keep the children alive until the end of the day, sometimes you have to celebrate the small wins of life.

My name is Rachael, I am a mother of small children, and today, I did not shit my pants in the supermarket.

 

Mother And Son

(sweet pudding-bowl boy photo source)

This column was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, April 2016

Recently I took my seven year old son T-Bone on a solo date. The day was equal parts charming and exasperating, because, like me, T-Bone lives a significant portion of his time immersed in his own daydreams and regards the actual, practical world as a bit of an intrusion.

We are both, in some ways, like heads on a stick, and I have to tell you, my friends, I have huge sympathy for my own mother now that I am engaged in the everyday work of raising that kind of airheaded child.

T-Bone combines his father’s scientific precision and logic with his my own enthusiastic absent-mindedness. He is, possibly, your classic nutty professor. This is wonderful, of course, and in my greatest dreams I stand, a proud mother, at the side of the Nobel Prize stage as I do up my middle-aged son’s shoelaces and ask him if he needs the toilet.  In everyday life, however, raising T-Bone can be very tiring. Like so much of parenthood, it is bittersweet. That invisible string between mother and child is so profound, so gratifying and, sometimes, such a painful tether. It forces me into my better self, as I swallow my rage and frustration, look for the comedy in it all, and learn the art of patience.

T-Bone is both diabolical and brilliant. In the car on our date, he suggests a game. ‘Mum! Truth or dare?’ ‘Truth’, I say. ‘In the future you will die,’ he says. ‘I don’t think you understand this game,’ I reply. Next, he sings to me. ‘If you’re happy and you know it, pull down your pants! If you’re happy and you know it, blow up the universe and everything in it!’  He asks me about babies. ‘Mum, you know how little babies cry in the night and you have to feed them?’ I remember, I tell him.  ‘Well, can’t you just put them on an IV drip?’ he says.

When we get to the shopping centre we are halfway through the carpark when I notice T-Bone is wearing only one shoe. ‘What are you missing there, T?’ I ask.

‘What?’ he says.

‘You all put together there for shopping, buddy? Missing anything?’

T-Bone looks down at his outfit. ‘My book?’ he says.

This is a standard conversation with Ted, who is a clothing-optional sort of person.  He will appear before me totally naked. ‘Mum, I’m cold.’ ‘Well, put some clothes on!’ ‘Where are my clothes?’ ‘In your drawer.’ ‘Where is my drawer?’

At the end of our shopping-date, which is packed with comedic highs and frustrating lows (T-Bone! Don’t touch that! T-Bone! Get off the road! T-Bone! Put your book down!’) I try to validate our parking ticket. To my consternation, the machine jams when I insert my card.  I spend some minutes doing that unsatisfying young-child-present swearing: ‘you…bugger! What the…. far OUT!’ etc,   until I realise I have been forcing my credit card in the wrong slot, and seem to have broken the machine. I apologise to the long queue that has formed behind me, but T-Bone doesn’t notice. He’s too busy trying to read ‘Zombie Bums From Uranus’ while he walks up the down escalator.

I am he, and he is me, at least in terms of this particular aspect of his genetic inheritance. I hope, at the very least, that I’ve also gifted him with interpretive dancing and lasagne-making skills, as well as woolly-headedness.  And the patience I am learning through mothering this unique person is his great gift to me, in return.

My Dad Frank Is Offended By My Bad Hair

Hair: Before

There’s been a lot happening, and my hair has been neglected. It’s reaching Peak Witchy.  I know this, and it’s been my list to fix, but I had not realised it had become so offensive to others until my father called me to order.

Now, let the record show that Frank is not a fashionista. He buys his clothes from Ebay and Vinnies and the greatest accolade he can give an item is that it cost less than $2. His collection of hats would make the Queer Eye crew weep. And yet, he was outraged by the state of my hair. That’s how bad it must be.

On his front deck last week, Dad was idly filling me in on Henry 8th, his project out the back and the latest family gossip when he suddenly said ‘But what is wrong with your hair?’

‘What?’ I said. ‘I need a haircut.’

‘No, Rach’, he said. ‘It looks really bad.’

‘I know, Dad!’ I said. ‘I’ve been really busy. I’ll sort it out.’

He looked closer. ‘Rach, it’s like three different colours!’ he said. ‘It’s all fuzzy! It  looks terrible! ‘

‘Easy, tiger,’ I said.

‘No, it’s really rough’, he finished. ‘Do you understand? It looks very, very bad.’

I thanked him for helping me sort out that pesky high self-esteem problem I’d been grappling with. Dads eh? At least he forced me to sort out my hair. Now I just have to make sure he doesn’t find out how long it’s been since I waxed my legs.

Pants around Frank, self. Always wear pants around Frank.

Hair, After (with added confused quizzical expression of the four-eyed git and uncomfortable selfie-taker)

.

And so, on with life! I may  be all over the place like a mad womans shit, but at least my hair doesn’t give me away.

When My Baby Became Creepy Dude

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, March 2016

 U.S. Daughters of farmers near La Forge Project, Missouri, 1938
When my first child Peanut was born, I felt a yearning, desperate urge to know who she would become. ‘Who are you?’  I would whisper to her beautiful, inscrutable little face. ‘What kind of human will you be?’

It felt impossible to believe that this tiny, blinking baby would morph into a full and complex person. And I’m almost certain that in all the different possibilities I conjured, I never imagined that one day this child would like to inhabit the character of a guy she called Creepy Dude.

At nine, my Peanut is in the full and spectacular bloom of childhood. She’s a delight – so utterly herself, in the calm harbour between the worries of her younger, more sensitive years, and the approaching maelstrom of puberty.  She’s in this wonderful place where she’s old enough to bodysurf the waves, and young enough to be swept up in a fierce towel-cuddle by Daddy afterwards.

There’s a lot to love about this age. Peanut and her equally offbeat friends have created a club they call the Nerd University of Unicornia. They call it The UUN (rhymes with tune).  Spelled backwards, just for kicks. The UUN spend a lot of time planning their meetings, at which they march around the backyard saluting like tiny Communists, except that their marching song is about pizza rather than the uprising of the oppressed working classes. The UUN anthem is a sight to behold. It’s performed to an awkward boy-band style dance routine and contains this chorus: ‘We’ll fight for the freedom! We’ll fight for our love! We’ll fight for the power! We’ll fight for our lives!’ In between choruses, each member does an introductory rap, using their UUN name.  Peanut’s UUN name is Beaver. Short for Justin Beaver.  Because she sings all the time. Peanut’s rap goes like this: ‘My n-n-n-n-name is B-B-B-B-Beaver. I am quite like a golden retriever.’ (This is about the point at which I am overcome with cuteness poisoning so severe I have to sit down and put my head between my legs.)

Peanut has another character that we call Creepy Dude. She loves pulling out Creepy Dude because it freaks me out, and messing with her mother brings Peanut great joy.  Creepy Dude likes to pluck and pat my shoulder. ‘Hey, lady,’ Peanut says in a low and weird voice. ‘Hey, sexy mama.’

She also has an impersonation she calls ‘Dumb Person Shaving’. It’s hard to describe in words, but suffice to say it is both strange and wonderful.

This kid, this age, is the absolute best. It might be even sweeter because next on the list comes puberty, those mythical Badlands to which Peanut will certainly bring the theatricality she has displayed since childhood. That flamboyance, mixed with a few thousand microliters of estrogen, may make for an interesting cocktail. Fingers crossed that Peanut will keep the comedy, as well as the drama.

I’m looking forward to it, all of it. I adored that sweet baby version of Peanut. I adore the creative comedian of her childhood. And I think I’ll enjoy the adolescent version too.  It’s the coolest thing, being ringside for the slow unfurling of a person. I’m incredibly grateful that I get to watch it. I could not have anticipated, nine years ago, that the answer to my question ‘Who are you?’ was going to be, among other things, ‘Creepy Dude’. So I can’t really guess what teen-Peanut, or even grown-lady Peanut will be either. I can’t wait to find out though.

 

Cultural Earthquakes

Yeah, so Donald Trump may be the next American President!

I mean.

Come on.

Is anybody else trying to get a handle on this crazy cultural moment?

The Trump campaign is being frequently compared to the rise of Hitler in the 1930′s.  Hitler, like Trump, was excellent at packaging ‘hate as hope.’ And as humans, we seem able to ignore any number of madly chiming warning bells as long as some Big Daddy says that he’ll take care of everything.

As in, Catholicism. As in, George Pell.

Deep breath. Deep breath!

*beautiful tropical island, gentle waves lapping over toes* *SERENITY NOW*

America currently seems to me a bitter and demoralised country, hobbled with economic inequality, divided on issues of race and religion, and grappling with a shifting paradigm that Hanna Rosin calls ‘the end of men’. The ‘black swan’ theory describes ‘unexpected, unprecedented, cataclysmic events that overturn established ways of thinking. ‘ (Great article about that  here).

It’s madness, an entirely new type of politics, and all we can do is watch it unfold.

Other things are unfolding right now – the endless summer we’re having here in Australia, for instance. The endless summer of a warming planet. The new wave of feminism that is shining a light on the everyday sexism that infuses Australian culture. That sexism that begins with lighthearted humour and ends with domestic violence (11 women dead so far in 2016, and a breakdown of the current state of play by my brilliant friend Jane Alver) The next revolution is coming. That is, unless Trump wins the Presidency and we are all catapulted into some kind of Hunger Games post-apocalyptic universe.

Here at home, in my own little nest on the warm planet, the earth has been shifting too. There is heartbreaking sickness in the family, and there have been worrying and complicated school dramas for one of my kids.  It’s taken a lot of thought and careful navigating, and a lot of poking around in the dark.

In the meantime, I’m crafting with the 4 year old, playing Monopoly with the 7 year old and laughing with the nine year old. Chop wood, carry water, cuddle children, eat chocolate.

In big things as in small, it’s like Kierkegaard says: Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. Also:  Better out than in. And finally: When your mans outa town, the shit will go down.

Come home quick and safe K Dog. We miss you.

That’s my rant over for the morning. Deep breath out.  Thanks for listening, and if all those earthquakes get a little too much for you, come with me now:  *tropical island* *mojito* *young Jack Kerouc* *SERENITY NOW*

 

 

Honest School Notes #9

God there’s heaps on my to-do list this week. Photo source

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, February 2016

 

Dear Office,

I’m sorry the children were late for school this morning. I am as surprised as you are, to tell you the truth, because I made a chart for the children to help with the school-run, and I thought that would fix the problem. Shockingly, this Morning Chart did not work.

We’ve been away for five weeks, as you know, Office.  I’m transitioning from Road Life, where everything is managed on the fly and clean undies are just some kind of fancy dream, to Real Life, where every day I have to bang out lunchboxes and spare clothes and signed paperwork for three small children.

I know I’m no rocket scientist, Office. But I’m ashamed to admit that the school run feels just a hair beyond my skill set. Yesterday morning, our first day back at term, was a shambles.  I couldn’t find the hats, which is fairly standard, but I also struggled to find shirts, trousers, shoes, socks, underpants, bags, water bottles and my will to live.

I finally packed all the school stuff, but then four-year-old Pudding started to cry. She had lost Elsa, the dead caterpillar she had been keeping in a Tupperware container, and she had set her heart upon showing Elsa for news at day-care.  We ransacked the bedrooms looking for the poor creature and finally found her in the laundry basket, under the school hats. (Double win!)  I strapped the girls in the car, and then realised that seven year old T-Bone had taken his shoes off and gone back to bed to read Zombie Bums From Uranus.

I took action, Office. After the drop-off, I picked up a powerful wand of organisational magic (new texta) from the corner shop and created a Chart when I got home. I ignored the towering piles of road-trip unpacking and washing. The school run had so unsettled my holiday equilibrium that Chart took priority over all else. ‘The Happy, Chilled-Out, No-Stress Morning Checklist’ I titled it. My husband Keith raised one eyebrow at this. ‘The kids are already totally chilled out,’ he said. ‘You’re the only one that’s stressed.’

This is true. The kids are oblivious as the clock creeps ever forward to nine am, and so is Keith. He’s just as likely to try and squeeze in a quick piano lesson as check teeth-cleaning status.  I’m the one with mayonnaise in my hair and an eye-twitch.

I attacked Chart with zeal. Clean teeth! I wrote. Make Bed! Find Hat! Put Lunch in Bag! I added cheery exclamation points to all these tasks in order to add a sense of zany fun to the whole sordid exercise. And then I pinned all my hopes and dreams to the bloody thing. This morning: chaos as ever, with the added addition of my screeching ‘Check your chart! Check your chart!’ as the children wandered about, free as sparrows, happy and unencumbered by responsibility of any kind.

I have a creeping suspicion that a Chart has never, ever been shown to actually work in the history of modern parenting, Office. Surely it cannot be so? Hopeless optimism maintained through all contrary reality is my primary parenting tool, Office. If I lose that, who am I?

Apologies again, Office. I’ll keep trying.

Yours sincerely,

Rachael Mogan McIntosh.

Honest School Notes #1

Honest School Notes #2

Honest School Notes #3

 Honest School Notes #4

Honest School Notes #5

Honest School Notes #6

Honest School Notes #7

Honest School Notes #8

Let The Sexy Dancing Begin!

Model is reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s iconic feminist tome A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women.

 

The big girl is doing tumbling this year, which she loves, and her class follows directly on from a dance class. Lots of the kids do both classes in a row, and Peanut has been asking to do dancing as well.

I had said no, but I’m wavering after catching the end of the routine they are learning this week. It was just so delightfully erotic and fun! Now I don’t know about you but I think there’s just not enough sexiness in the pre-teen dance scene. If my nine year old is going to do dancing, I want her learning sassy, flirty numbers. Forget backflips and contemporary routines. That’s old hat. I want her strutting across the stage, twerking and pointing her fingers accusingly at the audience with a sulky and arrogant expression.

It helps that the music is so cool! It was so fun watching the whole room of pre-pubescent girls dance to the lyrics ‘I don’t want to go to school, I just want to break the rules.  Going to the discoteque, getting high and getting wrecked’.

Funky!

Fingers crossed the girls will be dressed in some slutty-schoolgirl attire, like Britney did. That sexy schoolgirl stuff was awesome for Britney before it caused her to shave her head and suffer a massive emotional breakdown. Maybe I’ll offer to help with the costuming.

I think it would be very dramatic and show-bizzy if the girls started in clean and tidy sexy-uniforms before the part where they dance about getting wasted in nightclubs. Then they can rip off the skirts, and show the vomit and incontinence stains on their dance tights. The lighting should really evoke a party-drug feel, and maybe there’s room for dance that expresses  bad sexual decisions made while intoxicated. Perhaps a morning-after- remorse moment?

I’ll be signing Peanut up straight away. She’s nine after all, and it’s really about time she started absorbing all these important  lessons about her feminine worth and value!

ps – here’s what I’d like Peanut to be learning: some hard-core moves of glory. Check out Tom Jones and Janis from 1969, and clock the dancing in the background. Potential spinal injury, sure. But Funkymeter set to 11. Rest in peace Janis, you legend.

Throw A Flaming Bra At His Face (and Other Valentines Day Tips)

Why not stage a retro cat-fight this Valentines Day? Fun!

I have done something most unsexy to my back and am out for the count, temporarily. But I have booked a romantic night out at the theatre with Keith for next weekend, so I have a deadline to whip my body back into shape.

If you are trying to keep things unusual in the boudoir this Valentines Day, some advice: you might like to ‘sexually surprise’ your partner by, f’instance,  putting a g-string on the roast duck or hiding chocolates in your vagina. Just like Jane Austen would do!  These and other excellent tips here.

This article cracked me up, and it  reminded me how much fun I used to have writing my Sex Tips From The Past series. Might have to bring that one back!

Sex Tips From 1924: The Sex Impulse Is Like A Fiery Horse

Sex Tips From History: Hair-Sniffing and Cat-Nipping in 1936

Sex Tips From History: Masters and Johnson

Sex Tips for Medievalists or Modern Multi-Taskers

The Hairy Joy of Hairy Sex

Sex Tips From 1962: Register your reluctance to do ‘unusual practices’ by outraged, silent acquiescence

Sex Tips to Avoid (doughnuts, forks.)

Happy Lover Day, Comrades, and, as always, all the best with your climax.