Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Excerpt from Tricky's Upcoming Book: The Keys To Driving Your Parents Insane Are In Your Chubby Little Hand
Clever Ruse For Making Mummy Come When I Am Meant To Be Having A Nap.
1. Peel off one sock. Now peel off other sock.
2. Throw socks over edge of cot. Try to make one land on the heater and one mysteriously disappear under the chair.
3. Now call loudly: Mummy! Socks Gone! Socks Gone!
4. When Mummy comes into bedroom heaving heavy sigh of the hard done by, smile winningly.
5. While Mummy is scouring floor for socks say Get up now. Mummy will say Sleepytime, make with the shushing noises, replace socks on feet and attempt to wrap doona round your body. Resist and instead call for teddy: Bramwell Brown
Louder: BRAMWELL BROWN! Try to inject a note of hysteria.
6. Mummy, now making irritable huffy noises, finds Bramwell Brown and puts it in cot.
7. Stare in surprise at Bramwell Brown, pick him up and wave at Mummy saying No!
When Mummy says in exasperated voice But you said you wanted Bramwell Brown, screw up your eyes and chant: put it away, put it away.
8. Mummy will snatch Bramwell Brown away. If possible call loudly for Rabbit, Sleepy Bear or BoBo. Repeat step 7 above until Mummy exits room calling for stiff drink and saying she doesn’t care that it’s only 1pm.
9. Wait 30 seconds then repeat all as above.
Friday, August 22, 2008
At the beginning of their chat she announced cheerfully that she wasn’t going to ask him any of those dull questions about his actual writing process and this made me want to throw something very hard at her.
Instead, we heard about their shared disquiet for (too) public toilets and cell phones which then allowed her to combine these things into An Hilarious Anecdote About Herself using a telephone on the toilet.
I expect I’m being unfair about her inadequate fan/love questioning but I don’t care. She had her hour in the Green Room to brown nose David Sedaris and tell him hilarious anecdotes about herself, I wanted to hear about his frigging writing.
My friend and I sat in the front row which was close enough to see the motifs on David Sedaris’ ankle socks and observe the neat row of pens peeking out of his breast pocket.
“But were you close enough to see him touch his penis?” someone asked me in the book signing queue. “I hear that when he does readings he compulsively touches his penis.”
“Um no, “ I said. “I saw a bit of pelvic rocking behind the lecturn but no actual hand/penis connection, no.” He seemed disappointed and soon after this conversation I left the queue without having my book signed.
It was a long queue and I was pretty hungry.
This week I went with one of my playwrighting compadres to the university where we are doing a big collaborative theatrical presentation of TSZ (ie. a play). We met the students. We talked to the students. We watched the students as they improvised around aspects of the text. We reminisced about being drama students ourselves.
Some elements of student impro; loud shouting, taking your clothes off, going for the big pash... never grow old.
He asks if he can pee instead on the mat, in the “big bed”, and even “on Mummy”.
He has also decided he no longer wants to take a bath and became quite angry if any attempts to even sponge him are made.
I didn’t think they went through this stage until high school.
I was speaking to a parent with two kids who are 19 and 21. One of his kids was very calm and responsible but the other was a total party animal with some obvious alcohol issues.
“But you could see all that when they were really little,” he went on. “Tim was always very responsible and cautious and Cathy was wild.”I had started zoning out while he was telling me this, my face wearing the concerned expression of a parent who doesn’t really care that much because it’s not their kid, but this last statement struck a nerve.
“My toddler has this plastic motorbike,” I told him, “and he loves to ride fast down hills on it. He’s always saying go fast and go down big hill. Even when we’re just driving in the car. That’s not what you mean is it?”
The other parent nodded.
“Sounds just like Cathy,” he said. “She started off rolling down the stairs.”
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Now I am noting another foodstuff break away from the pack: the craison or dried cranberry. Tiny, red and wizened, not unlike the testicles of a small garden gnome.
I mentioned this to my friend George. He's American and thus has a good working knowledge of the cranberry.
“Ah yes,” he said. “I saw the way you were staring at the ones Dass gave me.”
I drew in a short sharp gasp.
I laughed at this but it was the uncomfortable laugh of someone who thinks maybe they really are a freak after all.
“Well they were a very popular band in the 90s,” George pointed out.
“Yes, but didn’t the lead singer go mad?”
I told George about the Chunky Dip phenomenon. He waved this off. “Don’t worry, “ he said “it’s just your obsessive nature.”
I thought about this. My obsessive nature.
"So really I’m just collecting cranberries," I said to George. "It’s like at the moment I’m in the middle of a cranberry craze. And last year I was caught up in a Chunky Dip craze."
"That’s all it is," he said.
I found this new understanding of myself to be…comforting. Collecting cranberries wasn’t strange at all. It was just something I did. Like parking badly. Like hiding in theatre foyers. Like kissing my baby.
And now having thought about all this, I can even sense my appreciation for cranberries beginning to wane. There’s only so much wholegrain salad you can eat in the middle of winter.
Those little windup toys though….
Monday, August 18, 2008
Because, twenty minutes later, when you have completed your meal and are now all sitting in the icecream parlour for dessert, your toddler will go ABSOLUTELY APESHIT.
And just to ensure you get the message, you smug cow, he will wake you in the middle of the night, screaming at the top of his lungs: ICE CREAM!!!!!
Friday, August 15, 2008
I have already had versions of this conversation with my friends ScreenWriting Mummy and OperaSinging Mummy and the answers in short were: “missing in action” and “behind the clothes dryer, oh wait no, I thought you said socks…”.
So that I don’t sound like I’m completely obsessed I moderate this a bit with my sister and change it to Where Did The Sex And The Talking Go?
We agree that when one is knackered at the end of the day, having been awoken by a Screaming Tomato at the start of the day, one often chooses Sleep over Talk and almost always over Sex.
But this was bad, AJ and I determined.
This was to be strongly resisted, because as the levels of Talk and Sex dropped, so too did the level of Getting The Shits With Your Husband exponentially grow, leading to general shouting and much stamping of feet and shaking of fists and gritting of teeth.
"It’s like, when you stop having sex, you start to notice all the irritating things they do", I had said to OperaSinging Mummy. "All the idiotic, infantile, purile things that seemed so charming, so quirky, so downright hilarious in the courting years."
"Indeed", said OSM. "I had sex with my husband the other night for the first time in ages and it put me in such a good mood I decided not to be cross with him for the next two days."
Sex was a win/win situation for all, we agreed.
The hump in the road (so to speak) was actually 1) having the energy to do it and 2) overcoming all the residual irritation that was still hovering from the previous sex-free epoch.
"I blame it on having a child", I say to my sister, "and having no sleep in two years, but also feeling like all the …ahem… equipment has been, well, left out in the rain."
My sister agrees that this is true; she has had three children and so she feels like the equipment’s been left in the driveway, rained on, chewed by the dog and accidentally been driven over. Even now she’s not fully convinced that it all got put back in the box.
"But still," she gave me wise counsel, "you must find the time to get it all out and give it a good hard polish from time to time BECAUSE YOUR MARRIAGE DEPENDS UPON IT."
Leaving aside the coy metaphors, she goes on to tell me that one of the most romantic things she and her husband had done was to install a lock on their bedroom door.
"Ah yes," I say, "good plan. But I hope it’s a decent lock because your eight year old is pretty good with a screwdriver. "
"Mmmm," she says, "he takes after his father."
We leave this confusing and slightly troubling thought alone and then she tells me that, because this was indeed a vexed issue between her and hubby, she had even gone so far as to purchase …some porn.
There is a long silence.
Ooh, I say finally. What sort?
It’s a dvd, she says, and I bought it online because if anyone ever saw me in a shop I would die of embarrassment.
"Just say that again," I respond, "I’m writing this up for my blog."
"The thing is," she goes on, "I researched. I didn’t just get any old dirty movie. I wanted quality. I went onto a special site that sells movies for women. Good movies. With stories. And good lighting. The one I bought has won an award."
"What, for good lighting?" I ask.
"No, for the story," she insists. "That’s what I’m saying. I don’t want to just see a bunch of people rooting. I want to watch a story."
"And then you want to watch a bunch of people rooting," I clarify.
My sister, who had never bought any form of porn in her life until now, then gives a strangely impassioned argument for the worthwhileness of the modern porn industry; the way they were now catering for the married couple, for the discerning, needy, loving couples who just needed a little stimulation now and then because they were sad, time-poor, sleep deprived, irritable parents.
I want to laugh at this but deep down I suspect it might be true and maybe we aren’t the tiny niche audience I think we are.
"Even so," I persist, "you cannot tell me that your porno dvd has a story. It may have good lighting and it may even win an award for just that, but I find it impossible to believe it would have a strong narrative, dramatic tension, believeable plot, engaging characters and a bunch of people rooting each other."
"There is a story," she argues, "and it is something about pirates, but I can’t remember the name."
"Butt-Pirates 0f The Carribean?" I helpfully suggest, just off the top of my head. I have no idea if such a film exists but I think it might have a market.
"No," she says. Her voice seems a little strained. "It's nothing like that."
"Pearl Divers 0f The Carribean?" I am starting to feel like I could be onto something here if the tv writing gig doesn’t work out.
"That’s it," my sister huffs, "I’m going to get it."
A few minutes later she is back. The film is nowhere near as luridly named as I have suggested and she reads the blurb off the back cover which sounds half way intelligible and promises adventure, passion and even humour. Also hot extras.
"What, like a story?" I ask.
My sister ignores this. "You know what the sad thing is though? I haven’t even taken it out of the plastic yet. "
"Oh dear," I say. "That is sad."
"Even sadder," she adds, "I’ve got the receipt here and I actually bought it in May."
I tut and say mmm mmm and make other sympathetic noises. "See this is exactly what we started off saying," I tell her. "You know, what’s the point of putting a lock on the door if you never have to use it? Or ordering a dirty dvd online if…"
My sister is galvanized into action. Perhaps it’s all the discussion, perhaps it’s my pity, perhaps it’s because she can’t stand to see good money go to waste. There is a sudden crinkling of plastic over the phone.
"There," she announces, "I’ve now opened the pack and WE WILL WATCH IT TONIGHT."
"Ooh," I respond. "Good luck with that. Don’t forget to report back about the story."
My sister makes a sudden cry. "Oh no! Oh God! Now that is really sad. How embarrassing!"
"What is it?" I ask, alarmed, wondering if she’s discovered some unexpected freebies.
"It’s the receipt," she groans. "I’ve just realised I actually bought it in May... 2007. "
We laugh about this and then we sort of stop laughing and we end the call pretty quickly after that.
My sister's got the kids to pick up and worries about their family business and various health concerns about to rear their ugly heads and I've got to get back to the deadlines and pick up Tricky. And we're both still tired. And both here, and there, our houses are still a mess.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
This is sad of course, with much kissing and weeping on the part of Le Nephew and much squirming on the part of Tricky, but probably best, especially for Sydney's drivers.
I don't really know what's happened to my driving in the past few years.
Actually the driving is ok, it's the parking bit that seems to have gone into rapid decline. Generally I manage to laugh gaily as I admit this, I have other skills I announce, as if a well written birthday card is indeed a suitable substitute for a reverse park.
But this week, as I forced my visiting French sister-in-law to get out onto the road and measure the distance between my car and the car in front so I could exit the space, I realised I had reached a new low.
The French sister-in-law is not herself a paragon of good driving and is infamous for her three billion driving tests before achieving her licence but then again, that was in London.
I got my licence in Raymond Terrace which in those days was neatly summed up by having its highest star acommodation entitled "The Sleepy Hill Motel".
And I failed the first go round. Damn those reverse parks, I say.
As I apologised profusely, French SIL repeated various soothing mantras to me like Take Your Time, and You Are A Good Driver Just Not A Very Confident One and Don't Worry We Can Turn At The Next One. She also took it as read that everytime I stopped the car she would need to get out and measure the distance for me and then wave me into the parking space. I don't know how she thought I parked the car when I was the only one in it but then again I did tell her that once I couldn't find a space in an underground carpark that I was completely comfortable with and so I simply drove home again.
Once parked, my anxiety faded and we then proceded onto frolicsome japes...right up until those last fifteen minutes before the meter ran out.
Then it was time for Le Nephew to come into his own.
As I scurried the party through the city, scouring the streets for parking rangers and mentally preparing myself to tackle them to the ground, a loud piping voice asked me how many minutes remained on the meter.
Oh, about ten, I told him.
And how many minutes will it take us to arrive at the car?
Oh, about fifteen, I told him.
Le Nephew did some swift mental calculations and made some tutting noises.
I'm sure we'll be fine, I said as chivvied them all just that bit harder.
Well, said Le Nephew, this reminds me of when my dad parked the car in London and put some money into the meter.
Very similar, I said.
But, said Le Nephew, the money did not register and then when we came out, the car was gone. Then my dad had to find where the car was hidden.
It was impounded, I said with a fixed smile.
Yes, impounded. And, he went on struck with yet another similar situation, there was the time when my dad put some money in the meter in Bulgaria and we went to buy my mum a birthday present and it was very expensive and when we came out the money did not register and there was a ...yellow thing...on my dad's wheel.
It was wheel clamped, I said between gritted teeth.
Yes! Le Nephew laughed jovially at the memory. Wheelclamped! And so that meant my mum's birthday present was very expensive indeed!
My how I laughed at this, in between the shooting pains from the stitch in my side.
By now we had rounded the corner and were on the home straight for the car.
And at that moment, my French sister-in-law, gripping Le Niece by the hand, started to run.
French sister-in-law is not into running, or indeed physical exercise of any sort, and it took me a second or two before I clocked that she was running towards two men in yellow coats who were delivering brown envelopes to the cars on either side of mine.
I kicked Tricky's stroller into topgear and we sprang after her. F SIL meanwhile, I was quite impressed to see, had flung herself across the windscreen of my car and was saying to the two parking rangers in a pleading girlish tone that was unmistakeably French (nay, Parisien)
Stop what you are doing. I am here!
I wanted to save her the humilation of begging a parking ranger to stop issuing a ticket, knowing too well the futility of such a task, but I was curious to see if her accent and flickering eyelashes would work. Also, I didn't want a ticket.
As I approached, wheezing asthmatically and batting my eyelashes in a sort of hopeful B-Team backup attempt, the parking rangers smiled and waved and walked away leaving my windscreen, miraculously, ticket free.
Wow, that was beautifully done, I thanked French sister-in-law as she collected herself and also picked up her daughter from the kerb where she had been dropped.
Eagle eyed le Nephew stared hard at the ticket I had placed on the dashboard a scant 2 hours previously.
Actually, no, he informed us, this does not run out for fifteen more minutes. We don't need to leave straight away.
We do, I told him firmly. It will take me at least fifteen minutes to get out of this space.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Now they live in Bulgaria. They're taller. They're still cute.
On Friday Tricky and I accompanied Le Nephew and La Niece (and La Auntie V) to the museum. Here we had a fine time frolicking amidst the dinosaur bones and butterfly displays.
Tricky and La Niece settled down in the children's play area to make a picture of a wide mouthed frog out of paper plates which they were encouraged to paste over with coloured squares of paper.
Le Nephew frowned at this, knitted his half Gallic brows, and informed me that he was "much too old" to even be in this area which was for children. He went for a quick huffy walk around the space and glared at the dressup dinosaur tails and plastic starfish dotted here and there for childish amusement. Then he sat down and started pasting his frog with much dramatic sighing. This provided my own little childish amusement.
La Niece sat quietly and carefully stuck the correct coloured pieces of paper onto the correct areas of her frog picture. Blue for the water. Green for the frog, and so on. She even managed to curl up the red paper tongue that she had pasted inside the paper plate mouth.
Tricky meanwhile had discovered the pastepot. This pleased him far more than the actual frog. Despite my best efforts he gave all the love he had to the paste. Not to the actual frog. This puzzled me. Disturbed me even. I could almost hear his inner monologue as he worked steadily on his masterpiece.
What this sucker needs is a good coat of paste. Maybe two coats. Wait...what is the motherperson trying to do. Tongue? Why is she trying to stick a paper tongue into my frog. My frog needs no tongue. It needs paste. That's all. Leave it alone woman! Do you think Mrs Picasso kept hanging around her son, criticising? Being "helpful"? "oh Pablo...those eyes are pointing in the wrong direction, oh Pablo why must you make the woman weep like that. Make her smile, everyone loves a smile"....argh! Now she is taking the paste pot away. She's making me "share". Why must I share? Did Leonardo share? Did Modigliani share? I need paste! Give me the paste! It's not about the damn frog, I don't give a shit about the frog, the frog is merely a vehicle for the PASTE. Wait! Dear God in heaven! Now she is sticking COLOURED BITS OF PAPER OVER THE PASTE! MY PASTE! MY PASTE! MY BEAUTIFUL PASTE...
Yes, I did all those things.
I was tempted to leave the resultant monstrosity on the drying rack but French Auntie V would not have le bar of it and all three frogs came home to the Big House.
And even then I am ashamed to say I could not leave the thing alone. That night, quite absent mindedly I picked up a thick blue texta.
AND I DREW IN THE EYES.
Mrs Picasso would be rolling in her grave.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Lo you are Two.
This makes me want to sit very very still and gaze off into the distance for a good hour or so.
And also do some heavy sighing. Two. Yikes.
There’s a sense of graduation here, a lot of the how to baby books I inherited when you were born seem to be finished with you and your ilk. Your kid’s two years old already? Then we’re done, move along, nuthin’ to see here.
You’ve already been moved along in Target. Instead of fruitlessly searching Baby wear for clothes in your size that are not emblazoned with trucks, rockets or The Wiggles, I now get to extend my pointless and endlessly frustrating quest amongst Boy's wear.
And of course there’s the potty, use of which really sorts out the tots from the men.
We introduced the potty in a fairly ad hoc manner, by which I really mean: lazy but cunningly disguised as being casual about where you chose to put your wee.
In our laid back, Gen X way, we were all: ‘sure you can sit on the potty if you want but like…it’s cold…and boring…and you’re wearing nappies anyway, why wouldn’t you just wee in them, god knows we probably would if we had the choice.’
But you, you of the two years of age and of the driven, environmentally aware Gen Zeds, you’re all: wee in the potty, wee in the potty, wee in the potty… and frankly that was hard because we found the whole thing very cold and very boring, even with all the stickers I bought to decorate your potty whenever you managed a little offering.
You would sit at stool, but then you would get up to inspect the three drops you’d managed and when we tried to praise you fulsomely and encourage you to get dressed and let us go back to the computer already you would fix us with a look of distain and announce: “more wee wee”.
This can’t be good for his bladder I would mutter to your father and then try and body tackle you as, for the tenth time in as many minutes, you got up to stand at the toilet and rest against the porcelain and proclaim grandly: wee wee in the toilet! But there was no wee wee in the toilet and so after a minute of cold resting it was back to the potty to sit it out.
There were times, I have to admit, when both your father and I even forcefully removed you from your beloved plastic throne and attempted to attach the clean mumpy (your version of 'nappy') to your shrieking writhing body and both those times we broke and took it off again and let you sit back down and concentrate on the business.
And both times you came up with the goods and we felt like mean, impatient, bastard parents and now we’ve learned our lesson and if you need to sit there then fine, sit, and I’ll get on with my reading. Or sort the washing. Or have my shower. Or write my second book.
This past month saw you make a very long and arduous plane journey full of tears and teeth gnashing and extreme discomfort. Oh wait no, sorry that was me. You had a fine time. And once we got to Perth you threw yourself into the coffee culture and fine dining and fish admiring and all that comes with a visit to Gramma and Papa.
You are fearless, a trait you share with Naughty Nephew the 2nd, and unfortunately we have fed the fire by giving you the plastic push round motorbike for your birthday.
Love is not too strong an emotion for the affection with which you greet the plastic motorbike each day. During the first few nights it even had to be placed near your cot at night where you warmly wished it a “Doodnight Moderbike”.
Riding the motorbike has also extended your vocabulary you now say “Go Fast!” which is both an observation and a demand.
You also say “Go Down The Hill” which is both a demand and a cold gripping vice like hand upon my heart
Now that you are Two, you are also developing a certain formality in the way you address us.
Yes the old imperious command is still there, but there is now nuance in your commands which I put down to you realizing that actually we are people too. People whose glory days may well have been back in the eighties but people nonetheless.
I casually mentioned to you one day, somewhere between watching an old episode of Seinfeld, playing Twister and humming a classic Duran Duran song (Girls On Film if you must know) that though we, the motherperson and the fatherperson, are your Mumma and Dadda, they are not actually our real names.
And…it’s not my preference at all but I have to admit it is very cute when now and then you call out: “Nessa!” “Tisstafer!”
Although it loses its appeal somewhat when you follow that with: GET UP! CHANGE MUMPY, WEE WEE ON POTTY.
Current fave book is Duck In The Truck which Aunty AJ gave you and which you seem to have mostly memorized and Raven which is a book that Gramma and Papa brought back from Canada and is about tricky old Raven who wants to bring the sun to the poor people who live in the dark and the cold (obviously waiting for their toddlers to finish on the potty) and so impregnates the Sky Chief’s daughter in the form of a pine needle (same old same old assisted reproduction in indigenous mythmaking etc) and then when reborn as a toddler, is given the sun to play with… ahem. You love this book which you call: Waven.
Green Eggs and Ham, (Gineggsahum) also, still kicking goals.
This morning, when you got into the Big Bed with us, as you do every morning, we had a good old rave, you and us, about…oh…why we have snot in our noses and why we don’t kick people in the face or do wee in the bed and why we should have lots of cuddles and kisses and how the puffing billies are waiting at the station and where is the moon when the sun comes up.
That’s what I notice most about you and Two. We’re speaking the same language. I mean, we’re even on a first name basis now.
I just need to get you hooked on a bit of New Romantic music and watch some Seinfeld together and I reckon we’ll be best friends forever.
So Much Love (No really!)
Your very own
OvaGirl (aka: NESSA! WEE WEE ON POTTY! GET UP!)
Sunday, August 03, 2008
And in quite good news, the Very Hard First Draft having been, like the Three Musketeers Bar: whipped and whipped a thousand times, has finally been (re)submitted and KICKED ASS.
My face is glowing with the smile of the exhausted but satisfied.
And my ears are sparkling with the twinkle of tiny lights.