Thursday, March 19, 2009

Letter To A 32 Month Old Wanted Man

Darling Tricky

It's March already which means I have completely missed over February in my efforts to record your own fabulous self in its ever changing, ever growing real life drama. Never mind, sometimes I also forget to put a banana in your daycare bag. And while we're on true confessions here's another little something that I need to get off my chest:

There are no "Broccoli Police".

This all sort of started last month around the time you loudly insisted that the big orange highchair was for wuss pussies and also that icecream was your birthright. 

Broccoli, which you had previously loved and devoured had suddenly become hated and loathsome and no matter how many colourful little side bowls I use to decant the poor rejected vegetable you were adamant that no no no pankyou none of its little green trees would enter your lips. Once again you reckoned without Aunty N who lifted you up and plopped you in your chair mid protest and then told you that indeed you must not eat your broccoli trees because if you did, the Broccoli Police Would Come.

Cut to Naughty Nephews around the table all nodding solemnly at this surprising news and to me, mouth open, at this obviously ridiculous bit of reverse psychology, and then to you reaching out slyly for a broccoli tree, waving it about in the air and then shoving it in your mouth.

Mine eat bockli tee, you confessed smugly.

Oh no! The Nephews were aghast. You ate your broccoli tree! Now the broccoli police will come!

You nodded, laughing dangerously, and then without anymore fuss finished the contents of the little pink plastic bowl.

Honestly. Strap me to a pack rat and call me squeaky, I have never seen such a blatant yet effective lie (although there was that weapons of mass destruction porky a while back). 

Aunty N then told me (under cover of icecream) that this lie had been passed down from some wise and obviously highly creative friends and used very effectively on all the least for a short window. We're well in that short window now and I'm clinging to the teeny weeny flyscreen for as long as I can. 

Because you can be, there's no denying it, a little picky with your food. If you notice something suspicious in your bowl (and it's pointless to really list these things because this list will change like the wind and also they call the wind Mariah and how confusing is that?) you will peer at said object, then carefully extricate it from surrounding, and acceptable, baked beans or rice, and then you will fling said object over the table or perhaps, if you're feeling particularly revolted, over the side of the verandah.

If by some chance you are distracted, by your cousins practising the Tumpit or surreptitiously sliding their bowls of pudding onto the table because as well as being picky you are slooow, and Said Object finds it way into your mouth you will suddenly stop chewing and then, expressionless, you will delicately tilt your head and let the previous, now horribly tainted, mouthful plop back into your bowl. It is a gesture as graceful as it is contemptuous.

These past two months have seen your language skills go skipping and leaping forward, no broccoli police needed here to encourage your chit chat. 

There you go Mummy, you say as you hand me a train or your Charlie & Lola dvd or the slipper I asked you to pick up. And you tell us about your friends and family; We are driving Mummy's car and Daddy is having a shower and Papa has a beard but Grandma has a chin. Toby was a bit rough, Ruby went to Sweden...

And you love to run and shout and whoop and dump dump dump on the trampoline. You rough and tumble with your cousins. And you sing. In the bath, at the dinner table, in the car, even in the aeroplane as we began to land in Perth and you let rip with Tinkle Tinkle Little Stah.
(Compared to our last plane trip this is a joyride - another development)

But for all that I realise, you're a shy child.

In the park at Fremantle you rush to climb the slippery slide but you pull up short when you see another child loitering at the top of the slide. I watch your face as the gleam of excitement suddenly melds into a polite, expressionless mask of sudden indifference.

Iss another little boy, you run back to tell me and I nod and smile and say yes that's ok, just say Hello my Name Is Tricky and ask if you can have a turn on the slide. 

But I feel like a hypocrite telling you this because the truth is, I was a shy child too and a shy adult and it is only in the past few years of my life that I have felt more confident, more able to strike up a conversation with a stranger. There have been times I have hung back or turned away because I was unable to say hello. And this is not something I wish upon you.

I had younger sisters, much more feisty, much more confident than me. And at school they dealt with bullies and meanies on my behalf. They did the shouting and the loud negotiating. And you have your older cousins who are all like brothers to you and if you go to school with the youngest he will still be in Grade Six when you are in Grade One. But you have something more valuable still and that is your father's side; optimistic, gregarious, confident and sociable - all things I can be when I try really hard or, alternatively, drink.

You go back to the slide and you say, wavering a little, hello... and I hover nervously on your behalf and suddenly you are laughing and sliding and climbing up again. And later when we are back in the same park and your father takes you over to the slide the same thing happens again. But this time you know what to do and it's all a bit easier but also this time you suddenly know all the kids names and their mothers and where we can contact a babysitter last minute - and that's your dad in action. 

As we leave the park you pick up feathers, soft and white. They've been shed by the huge flock of noisy corellas that perch in the magnificent Norfolk pine trees. You catch these feathers, skimming the grass, with glee and wave them triumphantly and I make an effort to supress my immediate response - drop them, they're dirty/covered in lice/allergenic blah blah blah and instead watch as you delight in the texture, the light flimsy fly away essence that is feather.

You are growing so quickly our darling little boy. And your silly, loving, fallible parents watch you grow and we wonder and we marvel and we fear and we hope. And we love.

So forgive us our games and our falsehoods. We so want you to have all the things that we know are good for you, the exploration and courage, the sensitivity and compassion, the confidence and the optimism. 

And the broccoli.

Your very own

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

In fact we're over on the other side of the country because I have a play opening tomorrow night. When I say "a play" it is basically "the play" and if you casually peruse the photos on my side bar of various productions it's the name that comes up a few times. Just to add to the excitement I am typing this on someone's computer in the theatre office while the director gives the actors their notes. This is cutting edge, seat of your pants blogging my friends because I told the administrator I was just going to check my emails. Not only that, i wasn't in Kansas to begin with.
We're like that, us Sydney blogging theatre types. Dirty liars.

Monday, March 09, 2009

This scalp's not big enough for the thirty billion of us

It seems that for now, Tricky is nit free. 

His Aunty N is quite the Headlouse Wrangler and armed with a fine tooth comb and a bottle of tea tree oil conditioner she let loose a flurry of splodging and combing that wreaked havoc and dismay in the follicle settlements.

As she combed she wiped the residue conditioner upon a neatly folded paper towel and showed me the body count. 

I saw adults, nymphettes(which I believe are the 'sullen teen' variety), eggs and assorted scalp debris that was left from Tricky's babyhood. The adults were the real problem (as ever), eggs and nymphettes never done no one no harm but those dirty big adults were whooping it up; leaping from head to head, sucking blood, fornicatin', and spittin' eggs aplenty. 

Just another day in Deadwood really.

The Naughty Nephews also went under the comb and a pleasant and jolly sight it was to have them lined neatly up on their barstools, hair slicked back, eyes bright and fixed on the mini-dvd player where Charlie and Lola were up to usual hijinks. 

Memo to BBC: Charlie and Lola. Possible episode (with book, plush toy and plastic lunchbox tie in) where Lola gets nits from her friend Lotta and passes them onto her big brother. "I have this little sister Lola. She is small and constantly scratches her head. My friend Marv says she's doing a lot of hard thinking but I say she has been possessed by Beelzebub...." etc etc) 

Mini dvd player/C&L combination worked a treat for all of them, ensuring stillness and quietness with little to no whinging that the comb huuuuurts.

But this was Thursday and the lifecycle of the nit rolls merrily on.

On Sunday they were all back up on the stools for further inspection. 

This time, they also underwent a herbal treatment, a sort of natural napalm for headlice, except it was foam not flame and also had a pleasant aniseed-y scent. 

Amongst the Nephews a couple of adult headlice were retrieved, unsurprising since the Nephews had been back at school- that great big headlice melting pot- since Thursday's teatree conditioner massacre. Tricky who did not have daycare on Friday, boasted little more in his coiffure than a couple of eggs and a swaggering nymphette. 

Following this treatment and more pitiless combing, they are all now pronounced CLEAN. 

At least, until the next time a child has head to head contact with another child and a high leapin', gun totin', baccy chewin' louse rides into town. Which will probably be... today.

In our suburb there exists a person whom I like to think of as The Secret Nit Lady. I have never seen her advertised, nor her name spoken aloud but she is whispered about amongst tidy people who don't like to talk about nits. (Which is not me, obviously.) The Secret Nit Lady comes to your house and de-nits your entire family. She carries her own comb. She drives an unmarked car. She charges seventy bucks an hour.

I realise how lucky I am to share a house with my comb wielding sister-in-law when two of my friends try to tell me that they think the Secret Nit Lady is good value for money. That's ridiculous I tell them, it's just headlice. It's not a disease. You just have to accept that you can't truly get rid of them because it's too easy to catch them and buy yourself a heavy duty comb. 

One of my friends made the universal wincing gesture for Can't No Yuck. Would rather pay someone else to do it than eat.

The other shook her head sadly.

It wasn't the nits, she explained. It wasn't the kids squirming when she tried to do their hair. It wasn't even the endless washing. It was trying to get her husband to comb nit treatment through her own hair.
As soon as he runs his fingers through my hair he wants to have sex.  

I'll see if I can get hold of that number I told her promptly.

Even by Deadwood standards, that's just plain wrong.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Milestone

When I was in Year Six my best friend's name was Julie. She had beautiful long blonde hair and I remember one day combing it with her little red plastic comb as we sat in the classroom. Her hair looked so pretty, shining under the fluorescent lights, almost hypnotic, and I absent mindedly twirled it round and round the comb, as one does with spaghetti on a fork, say.

Later, as I watched my teacher doggedly sawing through the little red plastic comb with a hacksaw and Julie wincing and holding onto her scalp in a vain attempt to stop the pulling, I realised that long hair, although pretty, was at times, also a heavy burden. 

Tricky's hair is long and bouncy with soft baby curls framing his face. I love it and although I have trimmed a couple of wispy straight bits from the back that detracted from the general curly goodness, there has been no actual "haircut". This, despite the subtle encouragement of grandmother and even carer, who make comments like...ooh your hair's getting a bit long isn't it?

When Tricky ran his fingers through his locks one day and said to me: My hair Too Long, mine need hair cut, I had to fight fire with fire. After a little coaching he was able to shake his head fetchingly and shoot back Mine have bootiful curls.

Last month we went to a birthday party for twin three year olds and as part of those celebrations the little boy had his hair ritually cut. They are a Jewish family and it was beautiful to be there at this important milestone for their child and to be invited by the rabbi to join in and bless our own children. 

I can't help but think it must have been an odd moment for the three year old, with his huge mob of abundant blonde curls, when first his parents and then friends and family in the crowd grabbed the scissors and snipped away but then, life for the toddler is full of odd moments. 

In fact life for the forty year old is full of odd moments too.

This morning I ran a fine toothed comb through Tricky's hair. I was pretty sure of what I would find. He's been scratching at his head for a couple of weeks, not manically, just every now and then. Just enough for me to shrug it off as being a debilitating scalp disease or a mild case of galloping shingles. But finally, I could put it off no longer and I reached for the 'Nad's Nit Comb' (with bonus magnifying glass) that I had thrown into the shopping trolley the week before.

As Tricky flicked his Thomas Tank Engine snap cards (there's Gordon! There's james, ooh there's two Jameses) I methodically combed and wiped the debris onto a piece of paper towelling - just as I had seen my sister in law do with the Naughty Nephews time after time. 

Outside, the sun was rising, the garbage trucks were rumbling. Black cockatoos swooped and dived. It was not an entirely unpleasant way to spend an early morning. 

Just me, my son and the small six legged friends who have taken up residence amongst his follicles.