Tuesday 20 April 2010

I'm Sure Even Mother Teresa Thought School Concerts Should Always Have A Bar.

I'm not a kiddy person despite having popped out a couple of rug rats of my own. Babies don't make me clucky.  I'm not overly impressed when they can roll over or get thier first tooth.  I prefer my kids speaking and toilet trained and perferably with a decent return policy, as in not mine so I can give them back to their parents.  On second thoughts scrap the speaking part.  I now have two argumentative, hormonal timebombs, otherwise known as teenagers, and I would do anything to install a mute button on their foreheads right now.

Now I'm not saying I don't love my kids, cause I do (just after you give birth, when your senses are dulled by pain and exhaustion, they put a chip in your brain to ensure this), and if anyone hurt them in any way, I would rip their head off and beat them senseless and dispose of their bodies in a wood chipper, Fargo style.  I also think they are kinda special, but I maintain a carefully crafted air of nonchelance regarding their evident brilliance.  (Crap, I hope they don't read that.  I have been working hard on my "your the world's worst mum", "you're so unfair", "you just don't understand", "everyone else's mum would say yes", "you suck", persona).   But I also have many days where I think that woman in The States who stopped her car, shoved her wingy and fighting kids out the door, and drove off, was a genius.  Truth is, I have come to believe that the whole mummy gene appears to be missing, or at least not quite right, from my repertoire.

I enjoy time away from my children.  I want time away from my chldren.  I NEED time away from my children.  When they go to the grandparents for a week I do  a dance of joy.  If they don't ring I don't mind.  The best part of the school holidays is the Sunday right before the Monday they go back.  Its a toss up if I was more impressed when they learnt to use the coffee machine or when they finally learnt how to hold a note on the trombone (now that was an excrutiating, paracetamol filled, few weeks).  I have also been informed by said children that I have been known to do a fair impersonation of the mum on Malcolm in the Middle.  I fear I have failed on the mumminess test.

When the big guy (or girl, or spirit dude/dudette, universe or however you swing) was handing out the mummy vibe, I was obviously out having a glass of wine and spending my lifesavings on the perfect pair of shoes.  Incidently I was also MIA when he handed out the co-ordination skills and technical know how, much to the amusement of my husband. 

I'm sorry people, but all children aren't inherently cute and many should come with a warning sign stappled to their forehead.  I will admit occasionally one will do something to deserve being called cute but these are very few and far between, and I generally require that they be related to me by blood.  And even then if they jump on my couch with their shoes on ( I don't care if they are showing me their dance moves) or draw on my walls (this is not them expressing their artistic talent) I have to restrain myself from picking them up by their ears and threatening to feed them to sharks.  Yes I know, I'm a bad bad person.  But hey at least I don't actually do it, I just play it over and over in my head.

I loathe school concerts, where 80,000 grades of 20 five to 12-years-olds are forced to sing some schmaltzy song in bad costumes.  There's little in the way of singing and much in the way of nostril exploration, dress lifting, pants investigating and screaming.  And why must they go on for hours?  Primary school-aged kids are really upleasant at 11pm.  Especially after hours of waiting, not touching their makeup and too much sugar.  We popped a celebratory bottle of bubbly when the youngest was finally out of primary school and the torture was over.  At least at the high school level there is a chance that one or more of the kids can hold a tune, though I'm enough of a realist to not expect Glee level tunefulness.  I can sit through my own kids' efforts but I do not find other kids cute and I most certainly do not get clucky.  I pray for the day when you're not looked at like the spawn of Satan because you suggested to the other mums that you all make a run for it and head to the nearest bar; or, at the very least, put some vodka in that special mummy juice box. 

I have sat through years of excutiating instrumental soirees.  Hour after hour after mind-numbing hour of Three Blind Mice, played by tone deaf offspring, on everything from a glockenspeil to a tuba.  My eldest played trombone for many years and let me tell you trombone practice/concerts makes Chinese water torture feel like a day at the beach.  Yeah it's great that little Johnny is giving it his all and that he has the guts to get up on stage, but he is tone deaf, not a child prodigy and I don't want to be subjected to an impromptu concert every time I come over for coffee.  A couple of years ago the organisers started selling alcohol at these events.  A wise move by the fundraisers who know that the ability to endure these events and maintain sanity is reliant upon the ingestion of large amounts of fermented grape juice.

I want to throttle people who live vicariously through their children (and yes I mean you Band Nazi woman).  Who put Little Johnny in 15 after school activities just so they can tell you that Little Johnny is in 15 afterschool activities.  Who spend every second of dinner regailing you with every single aspect of little Johnny's achievements.  Who make you feel like the shite parent because your kids only do two afterschool activities and spend the rest of the time using their imagination to entertain themselves or learning social skills.  (Mind you I can't help thinking that if Little Johnny was such a genius he would've learnt the words 'please' and 'thank you' (no doubt in 12 languages) and the concept of sharing).   I really don't want to hear about breast pumps, toilet training or be hit up to buy chocolate bars for Scouts.  There is a time and a place people.  Don't these people realise that you go out to dinner to get away from your kids?

I want to whack the children in supermarkets, restaurants, meetings, movies, planes etc who scream and run around and kick your chair and throw food and....  This is not cute. Your child is not learning by exploring the world.  Your child will not end up in years of therapy or sitting in the corner sucking their thumb rocking because you told them 'no' or made them use the increasingly foreign words 'please' and 'thank you'.  Your child is not a mini-adult and does not need to be included in adult conversations.  If I am paying good money and getting out of the house for the first time in a year, to eat food that I don't have to prepare and clean up after, I don't want to listen to Little Johnny scream and throw his plate across the room becasue he didn't like the shape of his potatos (true story). 

However, every now and then the little buggers do something and I am overwhelmed with a big case of "Awwww", and my best laid plans to be the rational woman who just happens to have kids are thwarted.  I've tried to raise my kids to have a social conscience and not care or define a person by their religion, race, sexual orientation etc, and to instead focus on whether a person's behaviour reflects a heart of truth and love.  Shock horror, I find that despite repeatedly getting the look of "here she goes again, time to bring out her soap box", they have actually listened.

My youngest has decided he is going to save the world one inch at a time.  When he heard that our elderly neighbour's kids didn't bother to visit her for Easter (all five live within 10 minutes) he offered to help her and is now sweeping her steps and front path and spending time chatting with her.  When he was on camp he gave all his left over money to the Salvation Army, as they needed it more than he needed more lollies.  When his friend (the only Asian child at his school) was surrounded and being bullied he was the only kid to stand up for her and tell them to stop.  How can you fight that stuff.  It brings out the mummy pride and awwwwness in spades.  It makes you feel like putting a full page ad in the newspaper and putting it on the loudspeaker for all to hear.  

(Yes it's a girl but hey it was late, I was tired, and well damn it it's close enough)

I should probably add, before I get another course of "you love him more than me", that my eldest also does these things.  When I'm ill he brings me drinks or makes me snacks.  He doesn't complain if I can't drive him somewhere due to dizziness and will often say "sit down and I'll make dinner" (he makes a great spaghetti carbonara).  He sticks up for the kids with challenges at school and is always ready to help someone in need.  When it comes to girlfriend's birthdays he searches to get something personal, including many hours shopping to find the perfect stuffed elephant, for the one who liked elephants (I never want to see another stuffed elephant as long as I live).  For me that kind of caring heart is far more important than a top grade in math, or getting into the state sports team.

Now having said that I will continue to loathe kiddy concerts.  I will continue to buy a glass of wine to make it through every ear splitting violin solo, un-co dance routine and voice-breaking version of Leonard Cohen's Halleluja.  I will continue to want to throttle the "look at my kids" parents.  And I will continue to sit back and be very grateful for my two offspring and the fact they haven't turned out too bad despite getting the mum from the shop-soiled seconds sale.

Lois Michelle :)

Mother, Mother, Tracy Bonham (1996).  A touchy feely interlude. Well touchy feely for me.


  1. Thanks for your honesty! It irritates me that so many mothers are so delusional that they can't see their kids have no talent. It's a shame -- subjecting a child to that because of selfish needs. And you're right about the excessive after-school activities. Children need free time to learn to use it creatively and find their own passions, talents and FUN.

    It will be so awkward for you if you end up having to attend some concert starring untalented children! The other mothers will know how you feel! Hahahaha. That definitely sounds like an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. Don't worry, I'm sure you're much nicer than that mom.

  2. This is EXACTLY why they invented insulated travel coffee mugs....that hold delicious bloody maries with none the wiser.

    Just meandering about blogland and stumbled in--thanks for the laugh!

  3. my mum would tell the truth to us kids, no matter what. no sugar coated fibs. however she would let us be kids, help build tents in the garden, pack picnics up, explore. and when she said no, there was no bending her. no meant no.

    both your children sound good souls. well done. xx

  4. Dude. I love you. For real.

    I'm not a child person AT ALL and if I was a mum I'm pretty sure I'd be terrible at it. Plus I would be biologically unable to not lie to them or prank them. Trouble is, little kids always seem to love me. I don't get it. I don't encourage them AT ALL yet they all want to sit on MY damn knee.

    People always assure me their babies are cute but I can rarely see it. They're generally bald, cross eyed, drooly little fatties that look like old men. There I said it. :)

  5. Loveable - I think you can love your kids and let them know how special they are without making them think the universe exists just for them. This doesn't do a child any favours. These parents need to watch the auditions for shows like 'Idol' or 'So You Think You Can Dance'. Watching the delusional repeat contestant 'Sex', on SYTYCD should scare them into changing their parenting methods.

    Chantel - I like your thinking. Thanks for stopping by, and with ideas like that you are welcome any time :)

    Em - I kinda like my kids, well some days. I think you owe it to them to be honest. Sounds liek your mum was pretty cool.

    Veg - I love you to dude. You forgot to mention babies always smell like wee, poo and old rancid milk UCK! I did the crime and I've done the time, I have no need to experience it ever again.


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