Thursday, March 22, 2007

Letter To An Eight Month Old Water Baby

Dear Tricky

This month you have spent much of your time on your belly scooting around the floor. It looks like you might not bother with the crawling stage, the belly scooting is such fun and so fast. In fact you might miss the walking stage as well and just go straight to the pogo dancing stage or perhaps the legs in the air skanking stage.

Thus will your love of insane bouncing up and down and fast music come together.

You have been spending a lot of time with your dada this month while I have been tearing out my hair and tippy tapping at the computer. These have been lovely days for you both, hanging out at the local ocean baths and swimming.

Or at least, he swims, backwards, and you hover on his chest and happily spit out seawater. You have become a tiny little celebrity at those baths, people approach your father and ask for his secret because their child only has to look at the ocean and they start screaming.

I’m sure the regular visits help as does your father’s patience and determination that you learn to love the water and learn how to swim. Your mother on the other hand, while also loving the water, is afraid of it and sometimes would rather sit on the sand with a book then go for a swim. Most days in fact. I blame those two near drowning experiences as a child and my lack of proper, consistent swimming lessons.

Anyway, you, your father, water. A truly lovely combination. Especially because you come home completely knackered and usually sleep very well that night.

You sit up now, easily, playing with your toys, but you can also just as easily roll to one side and pick up a book. We try and read to you everyday and your favourite is currently entitled “Commotion In The Ocean”.

I’ll be glad when this fad passes. I’m not expecting Encyclopedia Britannica but geez, talk about factual errors?

The crab likes walking sideways
And I think the reason why
Is to make himself look sneaky
And pretend that he’s a spy.

When have crabs held any ambitions for espionage? What sort of testing was done to come to this conclusion? Is this finding published anywhere? (Apart from in Commotion In The Ocean?)

It goes on and on, scurrilous comments about jelly fish (“loves to jiggle”) octopus (eight arms purportedly to “hold all my children and tickle each one on the tummy.”) and swordfish (alleged to enjoy chasing small fishes and when hungry to “skewer a few on my sword.”).

I have been curious about the book reading, which we do everyday, because to be honest, although you sit quietly for a while, as a book is being read, you haven’t seemed to enjoy it as such. Large books have worked well, perhaps because of the large bright pages, perhaps because the size provides a useful barrier for trapping you on my lap and preventing you pitching forward onto the floor.

I use silly voices and hand gestures and point out the pictures but it’s actually only been in the last few days that I have noticed you responding to things on the page. This morning you saw that flimsy missive of lies, aka Commotion In The Ocean, and you began to gurgle and reach for it and when I picked it up and showed it to you, you laughed. Then you sat very still as I read it, silly voices and all. You stroked at the dolphin, you shrank from the shark, you giggled when tickled ala octopus offspring on the tummy.

I think that maybe my determination with the reading is like your father’s with the swimming. I love that we are each sharing something special with you, teaching you and guiding you.

And although I go swimming with you too, and your father also reads to you, it’s nice to have an activity that maybe one day will be a lovely memory for you… “when I was little my dad and I used to…” “when I was little my mum and I used to”…

I hope you love reading as much as I do.
As much as your dad loves the ocean.
As much as we both love you.

And that’s a lot.


your very own



Monday, March 12, 2007


Things have become way way waaaay more manageable thanks to the following:

Rescue remedy

Acupuncture session
More sleep

Whinging to writer friend who then gave stern advice re prioritising and knocking over website stuff ("which should be skeletal not agonised over and all overwritten to buggery") before attacking book stuff "which is what you want to be doing".

Dinner party with grownup type conversation about art and politics and hilarious George Bush joke told by precocious 11 year old which for the life of me I can't remember. Something about the definition of tragedy. Meanwhile, baby looked after by sister in law N who was up every half hour as he squarked.

Weekend quicky type stand up sex in the bathroom while baby having nap.

Coming up with not one but four potential book titles and emailing them in on deadline only to discover Editor is away at conference till tomorrow.

C deciding he will not be going away again without me and Tricky and he will take baby with him EVERY DAY so that I can work. Hooray! More quicky stand up sex for you!

And for some reason, the other thing that helped was taking out Naughty Nephew 3rd (he with the once fluffy chicken hair-now buzzcut smooth, and the big blue saucer like eyes) for his birthday outing over the weekend.

His birthday is on Wednesday and when the girl at the teddybear factory asked how old he was he said, quite truthfully, 4.
But you will be 5 on your birthday, I said.
Oooooh yes that's right, fiiiiive, he smiled winningly, earning himself TWO TEDDY BEAR STICKERS for being so gorgeous.

I remember when the family first came to Sydney, from London via the rest of the world, and NN3 was a small tot-in-arms, sitting in highchairs with bowls of avocado and mashed banana, gurgling happily and being bathed in plastic containers.
I know that very soon the time for teddy bears and stuffed toys will be gone. NN3 started school this year after all and he is all about his Pokemon cards and tennis and also, humiliatingly, beating me in chess! (Yet with the most charming smile.)

But on this day, he carefully chose his bear (actually a penguin) and entered into all the hoo hah of stuffing it and cuddling it to make sure it had just enough fluff inside, and then inserting a love heart and making a wish...all done very solemnly and enthusiastically as his uncle and I stood to one side, holding his little cousin, and squeaking with the cuteness of it all.

Later we sat around as he ate an enormous iced donut, waiting till he was half way through to remark "Mummy doesn't let me have these." About two seconds later he slipped backwards off his stool and hit his head on the floor.

I grabbed for him and half caught him but it didn't save us from tears and I held him close and rubbed his head and generally cuddled him and made soothing noises till he stopped and resumed donut duties.

It occurred to me that I was much more comfortable cuddling him now.

Not that I wouldn't have comforted him before, just that it would have been a bit more patting and shushing rather than automatically grabbing and cuddling him close and not only that being confident that soon it would be ok.

I was aware of the sensation but then also the accompanying thought: that's what mothers do.

And it was nice.

But I did feel guilty about the donut.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Insert Title Here

When did I first want to write?

I wondered about this hazily, at some ungodly not meant to be up hour of the…morning? Night? Fuck knows. For some reason all that great sleep training I did weeks ago has gone to pot. Something about all that physical and mental development in that teeny little body is affecting his sleep.

I was one of those kids who could read before they started school and, due to the wisdom of the education system, I was hence also one of those kids forced to sit quietly next to the non-reading kid beside me as they struggled through the individual letters that made up the enthralling tales of Dick and Jane and Baby Sue. I distinctly remember getting into trouble for trying to pry open the pages and see what happened next.

A couple of years later, different school, I was told that I was a “pest” because I finished my books quicker than any other kid and the teacher had to keep going back to the reading room to get me new books.

That was probably the same year that I got into trouble for trying to “running write”. We were all about printing our letters and I tried to write my name the same way I had seen my mum write, all curly and joined up. For some reason my attempt seemed to infuriate the teacher.
“Look!” she shouted as she flounced up to the blackboard. “Can you write this?” And in a horribly symbolic moment she wrote MY NAME in huge letters on the blackboard in cursive script. I stared, speechless, horrified and guilt stricken for being so terribly naughty that my name was being written on the board. “Can you write this? No, you can’t. YOU CAN’T. So stop wasting everyone’s time and PRINT PROPERLY.”

When I replay this moment in my head, sitting behind the seven year old version of myself, I shudder and then I get up and grab hold of that teacher and rip off her head. It makes me so fucking angry because I know how hard, how difficult is to write, and moments like that scar a kid, they don’t just perpetuate a lack of confidence or self esteem they actually kick start them into being. They are the poisonous seeds of self doubt.

At the age of thirty eight those seeds have well and truly born fruit.

As I type this, Tricky has just fallen asleep for the night which means I stop mothering for a short time and start writing. And it’s hard. I’m fighting for time here, to write and think and imagine, and that’s on top of all the regular stupid fears. It’s not his fault obviously. He’s not the teacher who told me I couldn’t write my own name, he’s not that first teacher who punished me from trying to read to the end of the book. He’s my bouncing, currant bun headed, creepy crawling, trying to suck on electrical cords, baby.

And man, he makes the writing hard.

This is a hell deadline month for me. Every Monday from now till April I have a deadline – title for book, then first draft of a new website on playwriting for young people, then final draft of book and then final draft of website. At the end of this month I have a new ten minute play on at a local theatre and mid month I start work on a new play with young people in Newcastle. And amidst all this, C is going to be away again for work.

Friends offer to take the baby but I feel guilty for being freelance and then taking on too much. Except that’s the point with freelance, you sometimes have heaps on and then you go for ages twiddling your thumbs and redoing your cv and writing yet another fucking play (and this is a whole other post, my building rage for the theatre industry and its attendant gatekeepers)…

The answer to that first question is that I can’t remember the time when I decided I wanted to write.

I just know that there’s never been a time when I haven’t.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

No. I don't like it.

The new blogger I'm talking about. Where does it get off forcing me to change L'Eggs Up to the NEW blogger when I was perfectly happy with the old blogger. Previously I had a choice as to whether I wanted to change but today, no, no choice at all. And why is newer better anyway?

See this is just like my so called new mobile phone. C changed our phone plan and so we were offered free upgraded phones. I have barely managed to learn all the doodads on my old phone, but no suddenly I have to use new spanking completely different brand phone with irritating whistling oaf ring and stupid side volume buttons that I press whenever I try to answer the phone. So then I end up shouting 'hello' 'hello I can't hear you...wait wait' as I try to push both little buttons (because of course there are two to confuse me).

The only good thing about the new phone is that it has camera phone on it. C is away for a week, much to his distress, he has only spent 2 nights away from Tricky before and he misses him terribly (bugger me, no not really, he misses me too but Tricky is cuter). Today, I rang C using the stupid irritating phone but using the cunning camera call thingy. He was able to see Tricky's sweet little currant bun face and I was able to see C's bed hair and too much red wine from the night before pallid skin.