Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Letter To A 23 Month Old Music Hall Star

Darling Tricky

This month you decided to try putting toys into your cot.

From very early on you have been a nay sayer of the toys in bed movement. I find this hard to understand, I was a toy packer from way back and indeed have many memories of being swamped in bed by a variety of dearly loved teddies and dolls. But any attempt to pop a teddy by your pillow say, or introduce your extravagantly expensive toy monkey from Aunty AJ in New Zealand to a cot corner, would be met by fierce resistance and much shrieking, and the offending item would be quickly ejected over the side.

Sometimes this might get you started on a freakishly efficient de-clutter of your cot, and then your doona and pillow would also go over the edge..

Imagine my amusement when one morning you took every single stuffed toy out of the toy box in the bedroom and, one by one, talking to each in turn, threw them over the rails and into your cot.

Cut to later that evening when I went to bath you and discovered the plug had disappeared. And half an hour after that when I discovered the recalcitrant plug, plus three bath toys, plus a red watering can and my shower cap, all safely stowed in your cot with the rest of your toys.

It was a one off I'm glad to say. Toys (and bath accoutrements) have since been rebanned from your cot.

Like mushrooms, new words and phrases are appearing where new words and phrases have never been before. Or maybe they were always there and we just weren't listening.
So for instance, a couple of weeks back when we were in Newcastle you suddenly started saying “What’s this one?” while pointing at the mystery item.

It’s not just words, it’s songs. R tells me that when you lie in your little cot for a nap at daycare you spend at least the first half hour singing to yourself and “making up new songs”.

Making them up?

Possibly, or possibly R does not have the finally attuned ear of your father and I.

Witness the brilliant translation effort we did when we were driving to the shopping centre and you sat in your car seat merrily singing “pennia peeeessss” over and over to yourself. If this wasn’t cryptic enough you also alternated this with “bowl a bowl a bowl a bowl a bowl”.

Your father and I knitted our brows and made little mmphing noises as we tried to work out what you were saying.

“What is bowl a bowl a bowl?” I asked. “And why a pennia peeesss?”

“Bowl a bowl a bowl a bowl!” you shouted gleefully from the back.

“He does love balls, maybe he’s saying ball a ball a ball” I suggested.

"Pennia peeesss!” you trilled. It was all sounding way too genital for me and I was ready to suggest a rousing chorus of Old McDonald Had A Farm when your genius father put it all together and mumbled: “….bowl a bowl a bowl a pennia peeeesss…”

Suddenly, the pennia dropped.

“It's Roll or bowl a ball, a penny a pitch!” we gasped. To test our theory we both sang loudly: “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!”

To which you immediately gave the traditional reply: “ava a bana.”

But this isn’t, say, a Wiggles song, or a traditional nursery rhyme, or even a made up Mummy song, it’s a funny old song from Grumpy Grandad’s era which we have sung in the car maybe twice since you were born. It makes me shudder to think of all the other stuff you may have absorbed, not nearly so quaint nor as tuneful, and will no doubt come oozing out this week when we have taken you to Perth to visit your other grandparents Papa and Gramma.

This month you have told me many things: that Charlie has a little sister Lola, that your friend T can be a bit rough, that B at childcare did a poo in his pants, and that Poppy drives a red car. You stroke Daddy’s chin and say loudly that Daddy has a beard and then you stroke my chin and I hurriedly rush for the tweezers. You ask me to walk with you and to blow your nose and to jump on the trampoline and to give you another biscuit. Sometimes you say please and thankyou. You said happy birthday to me this month and hip hooray.

I love you so much, my little boy. Your bright eyes and your naughty face and your soft curls. You are nearly two years old and so much has changed in such a short amount of time.

Except time isn't that short, is it? Time twists and stretches, splinters and compresses.
When we have story time just before bed, it could be three books, or two and a song. And always a cuddle. And when you weren't here we had all the time in the world.

And we're often tired, or stressed with work, or pressed for deadlines.

But truly, this time, with you, has been the very best.

I love you.

Your very own

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I have blocked this from my subconscious so effectively, wallowed in nostalgia and ooh hoo I'm turning 40 drama so completely that I have forgotten to say that we are going away for a couple of weeks. This will be lovely of course but it is the five (is it five? Is it more?) hour plane trip with Tricky on our laps that will take us there and back.

Help me. You who have travelled long distance in planes with under twos. Give me some guidance. My sister in law has suggested bubbles for take off and landing and any other time child must be kept still. But then someone else said, no, they won't let you take liquid on the plane? To Perth? Really? WHAT ABOUT THE WINE?

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's My Party And...

It was lovely, it was lovely, it was lovely.

It may well have been the best birthday ever.

And it was sunny all day and I didn't completely lose my voice overnight and I received many many lovely thoughtful gifts and felt very much loved.

And my baby said "'appy burrday mumma."

And my nephews made me cards.

And the digital camera that was doing the rounds at the restaurant taking ridiculous pictures of everyone turned out, the following morning, to be my digital camera, being my present from Tricky and C.

And Naughty Nephew the 2nd, spent at least two hours (which is a very long time when you are a busy 8) yesterday working out how to play Happy Birthday on his trumpet.

And when the cake was brought out after a lovely family dinner, he played it beautifully.

And of course it made me cry.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Last Day Of Not Being 40

So today is the last day of Not Being 40 and I have marked this special occasion by walking in the park with C and Tricky, eating leftover pumpkin soup, gargling with ti-tree oil and water to try and make my viral ridden throat fit for conversation, and having a nap because I am an older lady now and such things are right and proper. Also because C has arranged a special posh dinner out tonight and I don't want to be tired.

And of course a certain special quiet time of the day was dedicated to reading through Part 2 of Thus Spake Zarathustra (ie. on the toilet). If it wasn't for the upcoming meeting with the other six playwrights on Tuesday night I could happily dedicate all my Special Quiet Time to reading more of Mr N's marvellous words but I simply cannot produce enough poo between now and then to get through the whole of Part 2 and so I foresee much of Monday and Tuesday being dedicated to Philosphy. (Sunday obviously being spoken for.)

I also read through some of my old notebooks which is always cringeworthy and sometimes quite illuminating. (Dare I compare it to a certain prophet baring cupcakes? No, not really.)

In one book I write about a trip to Spain with C, staying with a couple of actors (she was Australian, he was French, they met when she did a play in Paris oo la la etc). This couple were incredibly poor, living on theatre gigs and translation jobs and him being a waiter on a boat restaurant, but his stepfather was filthy rich. He owned this beautiful villa on the Mediterranean coast and so we had, all four, flown there (them from Paris, us from London) for a week together.

They lived the most extraordinary bohemian lifestyle, I remember, in a tiny one bedroom flat in Montmartre, overlooking cobblestone streets and growing blue geraniums in their windowbox (everyone else grew red ones), all their friends were actors or painters, they had a transvestite prostitute as their concierge and they lived on cigarettes, coffee and wine and they were passionately in love.

I wrote about one long game on the huge old baby-fut (foozball) table at the villa, with rows of leaden men in faded red painted jerseys (goalies in yellow) heavy wooden handles spinning frantically and the blip bling blam of the ball as it pinged into place. In between the pings are snatches of our experiences in Europe (this was a six week long trip) like leaving Edinburgh after the festival and hearing the news that Princess Di was dead and then listening to snatches of Elvis and reports over and over all that long drive back to London. I could hear their voices shouting excited ly as I read on, the swearing, the taunting, the laughter of the game.

It was a fantastic week of wine and games and talk and bright pink blossoms and shouting at the moon and walks along the beach, and reading about that week today I thought about how, years later, after two babies in that wee one bedroom flat, still living on not very much, it all finally fell apart and that dream was over.

And I went on to read about more trips, more people, more experiences, some of which I felt the resonance or the irony or the satisfaction that comes from looking back.

I spent my 30th birthday in a cabin in Tasmania.

It wasn't a rustic log type cabin out in the wilderness it was a prefab thing that was built in the grounds of a pub in a very small very dull town in the middle of nowhere whose heyday was sometime in the 1800s. (This would have been fine except a few whopping great bushfires had completely flattened the place and it was rebuilt quickly and cheaply in the 1970s, an era well known for its marvellous architecture. ) Also it was fucking freezing of course.

I remember having a bit of a mini crisis as 30 approached and I think one of the main reasons was that we were so isolated, no friends or family, although on the plus side it was the work of a moment to nip across the yard for a beer.

Schmutzie whom I need not link to as you will find her in the list opposite is doing something very beautriful for her 40th year, writing about people who have touched her life, one for each day of this year. I thought about doing the same but maybe something different will present itself. After all, the end of not being 40 starts tomorrow really, when I am 40, so I still have a few hours to think something up. Some way of using my writing to acknowledge the passing of those years. When I whinged about being 39 for only a few days more to one of my playwright friends, H, she said that the years with 0 or 1 or 2 are always good, it doesn't matter about the digit's those 8s and 9s that make you fret about what you've achieved or not. So actually, 40 is a fresh start.

I'm on for that.

And so now, while my husband takes my baby for a walk along the beach, in an attempt to exhaust him before the babysitter arrives, I am going to do my nails and pick my dress and get ready to say goodbye to what went before and hello to what comes next. With my friends. And my family.
And with my darling C who I hope will be planning my suprise 80th another 40 years hence.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

3 days left of Not Being 40

Yesterday, hooplah!, I got the first draft of my tv episode in to the script producer.

This is only a small hooplah! because frankly I have no idea how it will go, it may well hit her computer and come bouncing straight back to me tonight with WE HAVE TO TALK emblazoned on the bottom in red.
No actually it won't do that because that sounds a bit threatening and spooky and she is neither of these things which is, you know, a pleasant surprise.

From her it goes to the producers and then to the network and then I get more notes and on I go to the second draft. But at any point WE HAVE TO TALK (the non spooky, non threatening version thereof could blink up on my screen (receive notes, insert notes, submit again).

I have actually very much enjoyed writing (and rewriting and rewriting) thus far. And how nice to have it in with 3 days left of Not Being 40 to play.

So far I have spent my non-script writing time farting about with my blog and putting this thing on the side that lists about forty blogs that I enjoy at various time. The 10 most recently updated show up on the list otherwise you can click to read more.

Having a blog roll is something I have meant to do for a while but I am a stupid fuzzy headed sort of internet person. I did manage to once put one on as a sort of example but it all seemed a bit hard. Luckily, blogger likes to keep up with all the stupid fuzzy headed people and so now they have this new...thing...that makes it very easy to do a list such as you see here. And in about seven and a half months I predict they will develop a "blog post generator" which will make blogging even easier.

Computery business is one thing that makes me feel stupid and another is Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra (what a fucking brilliant segue.)

I am part of a sort of magnificent seven of playwrights (a playwrights' alliance we actually say) who like to gather and write stuff as a group, it's a sort of reaction to the whole playwright in the garret sort of thing and the sad little lonely person one is at those times (also the terrible tracksuits one seems to slop around in all day) but also we are pitching for projects that seem a Bit Big and suited for 7 people to have a bash at, together.

And so, we are having a bash at Nietzsche.

Some of us playwrights already know a bit about Mr N, some of us, for instance had not only read Thus Spoke Zarathustra but also attended courses on said fellow.

But others of us had not and our whole experience of Thus Spake(or spoke) Zarathustra was recognising it as the book that the sullen teenage brother is reading in Little Miss Sunshine.

Hello, that playwright was me.

Because, as I told the others at Tuesday's meeting: I would not pick this book up in a pink fit.

Kicking and screaming is perhaps an exaggeration of my reaction to having to closely read things like: Of The Despisers Of The Body or Of The Bestowing Virtue which are but two of the little chunks of creative wisdom Zarathustra likes to spread around to his ever increasing disciples in Part One. Each segment contains a little homily or lesson and now and then a tightrope walker or perhaps some dancing beast or floating butterfly and each pithily ends with the line:

Thus Spake Zarathustra.

"It is not dissimilar to GodSpell," I said brightly at our meeting and this seemed to please some and concern others.

Like individually moulded cupcakes with brightly coloured icing and special little sugar doodads upon their sugary peaks, Zarathustra passes out his special thoughts and words although by the end of part one he seems to have run out of cupcakes and told his now rampant followers to piss off for a bit.

There are so many questions to be answered.

Is God really dead?

Is the Superman actually better than the Batman?

What will happen in part two?

Will there be more cupcakes?

Will I compare it to the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Can there be another tightrope walker please? (I bet not, because that first one fell off and died a horrid death)?

Why did no one tell Nietzsche to do something about that ridiculous moustache?
There was a moment during my wrestling of Thus Spake Zarathustra when I was vividly reminded of a nasty moment in Honours at Uni. Midway through my James Joyce class after having written three HD essays about JJ and various chapters of Ulysseus I said jovially to the small class of Joycean Fans: "yes but how many of you have actually read the whole book?"
I shall never forget the strange brittle silence that followed those words.

Apparently Nietzsche sees struggle as a Good Thing, afterall his hero seems to wander up and down mountains to make a point and so I grimly perservere (because a) the team is depending on me and b) I have already spent the grant money) and c) I think I am learning something.

To my suprise, I have found some revealing and rather resonant thoughts and moments.
Stuff seems to glimmer for me and every now and then I find myself murmuring...ooh I do that...

Will I be a better person after working on this project? I don't know. But I think I could be a different one. We shall see.

I think that this is a pretty good project for a Person About To Turn 40.

Zarathu himself went into the mountains and kicked about on his own for ten years when he was thirty and now, ten years on, he's back, baby, he's back, and check out his cupcakes.

Thus Bakes Zarathustra.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cheese and Whiskey

Life seems soupy just now or perhaps just broth-like but with added chunks thrown in for taste and texture.

All of us are at various stages of the current winter illness; hacking away merrily and filling our tissues and handkerchiefs with gay abandon. Tricky's latest command to us is "Blow Nose!"

We spent the weekend with my parents in Newcastle which delighted Tricky who had long given up his daily mantra of Aphwa, Poppy, Jimmy (respectively his grandmother, grandfather and their dog) and spent many long happy hours following Aphwa and cuddling Jimmy and a few scant minutes kicking a miniature soccer ball with Poppy.

My poor dad, all those years he wanted a son and now when finally he has a grandson in the same country as him, he has to stand third in line for affection after the staffordshire terrier.

This weekend I celebrated my soon-to-be-40th birthday and my how my fingers skip trippingly over the keyboard as I write that. 40 40 40... I shall have to write more on this but it will be a work in progress I fear. In the meantime there were cocktails, champagne and pizza and I lost my voice which is generally a sign that I am having a good time and in the other meantime I still have 4 days left of being 39.

This weekend also, I cut my grandad's hair. This sounds an easy enough task, after all he has special clippers for the job, but actually it's not that easy a task if you haven't done it before and his only advice is to "cut it in a line from the top of my ears" and if you express a little nervous doubt to say tersely: "a good soldier never looks behind." And lucky for me, I say.

Add to this a considerable amount of custard coloured scalp matter and a rather irritable request for whiskey and cheese and you can see the sort of pressure I was under.

I did try to strike up a sort of 'ye olde worlde barber' type conversation by saying loudly "So how bout this weather?" as the locks began to fall and to my surprise he took me up on this and suddenly we were right back to the war and the little motorised bicycles and the gas cylinder things on cars and the ration books and his wedding suit. But things went a little awry when he gave me the aforementioned shopping list as the clippers were still whirring loudly:

"I want whiskey and I want some CHEESE."

I was concentrating on flaking some unsightly business over his left ear and I missed what he was saying.

"Whiskey..and what was the other thing? Cheese"

"I said CHEESE."

"Was that cheese?"


Frankly it made trimming his fingernails an absolute pleasure.

My grumpy grandad who loves whiskey and cheese and who is not allowed to have either has a bookcase in prime position, set up in his tiny room at the I Can't Believe It's Not A Nursing Home. He made this bookcase himself during the woodwork group and it took him several weeks of slow careful sanding and staining and loud shouting and cursing. It holds his entire family. All of us, his son and wife and his grandchildren and stepgrandchildren and great grandchildren and distant nieces and nephews. All of us smiling and neat from our rectangular black frames which are the only kind he will allow on the new shelves.

Each week "a girl" comes and dusts his photographs and each week he tells her over and over who we are.

My granddad's life is becoming soupy too but this is a soup that gets progressively thicker and cloudier. And each time I see him and he dips in his spoon and brings up fragments of his life they seem smaller and further away.

And soon, I think sadly, it will be quite quite cold.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

All Aboard The School Bum

Now that Tricky attends childcare right near the School Of Naughty Nephews we take it in turns with N and K to do the school/childcare run.

These short morning cartrips can be very amusing indeed, with all the songs and small boy jokes and Tricky doing the animal noises in Old MacDonald Had A Farm.

Hilarity can always be had, for instance by simply replacing innocent words in songs with Bum, Poo and Sausage.

Old MacDonald Had A Bum EIEIO And on that bum he had a ...sausage EIEIO

or perhaps the less well known:

Put a bum over here, and a bum over there,
put a bum in your ear and a bum in your hair!
And a lot of little bums in the air, Everywhere!
It's a bummy kind of day!

There are also long meaningful discussions about climate change and the history of the boy scout. NN2 is always a good source of information, this morning he talked candidly about the art of tea leaf divination which was only slightly less impressive when I realised his research into this area was limited to his Harry Potter reading.

Now and then if the questions become probing or personal we might gently steer the discussion onto respect or manners or more likely start another rousing chorus of Put a bum over here! and then suddenly there we are at the school.

C and I have got into the habit of both doing the dropoff together and then going for a coffee on the way home. Ostensibly this is meant to be couple-catch-up time but in reality it is couple-reading-the-paper-and-eating-chocolate-croissants-and-barely saying-two-words-to-each-other time which is sort of fine actually especially if we're having, say, a bummy kind of day.

After a few days of having their dad take them in, yesterday C told NN2 that we would take him and his little brother to school.

NN2 looked at C, puzzled. "Both of you?"

C affirmed that indeed yes both he and I would be doing the taking.

"But you don't need to both go," NN2 pointed out.

"Yes we do," said C mildly, "there needs to be two adults because we want to CONTROL you."

NN2 was in a particularly helpful mood.

"You don't need two people for that. You could just threaten us."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Have Never Not Ever Caused My Toddler To Become Addicted To TV And I Will Not Feel Guilty

As I write this Tricky is sitting on the floor behind my desk.

He is quiet, he is concentrating, he is sitting nicely and he is doing all these things because a couple of weeks ago he was introduced to the crack cocaine that is Charlie and Lola.
He is starting with I Am NOT Sleepy and I will NOT Go To Bed but will quickly progress to But That is MY Book and eventually end with You Won't LIKE this Present as much as I DO!

It's the dvd, not the book, shamefully enough. It's not even as if we had the cosy literary experience first and then the brightly coloured movable feast. We went straight to the made for tv version and now we're hooked.

Sorry, did I say 'we'?

Because the truth is that we're hooked too, that's C and I, big great grownups that we are.
It could be the pleasant musical background to our computery-work, it could be the amusing way that Tricky leaps up at the appropriate moment to get His Toothbrush or To Check The Bath For Whales but if I dig deeper I think it's because we're all deeply deeply in love with Lola.

Lola, for those who don't know, is Charlie's little sister. She is Small And Very Funny. In this series she is voiced by Maisie Cowell (seventy sorts of gorgeousness in the name alone) and in subsequent series by her sister Clementine (and they all live in a little thatched cottage with yellow roses climbing over the door, no not really, just, hello? the cuteness?).

And Lola screams with laughter and makes up stories and exasperates her kind hearted big brother no end but the world is a better place with her in it. I guess I don't have to dig that deep to realise that I wish we had a Lola too, a real Lola for her big brother Tricky.

And for me.

But in the meantime we have this dvd which we all love and Tricky most of all. He talks about 'big boy' Charlie and 'his sissa Owa' and checks for whales in the bath and now and then he decides to have a little break and post some plastic coins in Miss Piggy or camp out in his cowboy tent but he always comes back to his cushion for more.

And to assuage my guilt at letting him watch the thing each morning, every morning, while I tap on the computer I make him get up in the jaunty music between episodes and dance raucously, and I get up and dance too and we shout and throw our hands in the air and run once around the kitchen table and jump back down on our seats.

I have this toddler Tricky.
He is small and very funny.
And I am grateful.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wet And Wildly Exciting

These days, a shower for me is a brief affair (not even an affair really - more of a quickie behind the photocopier) which allows me to wash myself, or shampoo, or condition my hair, but never all these things at once.

The shower ends when a small brown toddler appears on the other side of the shower door and shrieks for me to give him breakfast/milk/Charlie and Lola dvd/books.

Sometimes, as a variation, the father of the small brown toddler will also appear and try to drag the toddler away and this will result in tears. Mostly I try to put my head under the shower to block the noise but this is not always successful and then usually the hot water runs out.

Still, if the father has already taken the small brown toddler and his cousins to school/childcare then I may have a slightly larger window for showering.

And that's how I read this on the back of our new shampoo bottle:

Wildly Exciting Is Our Normal

I quickly checked that my husband hadn't made a mistake while shopping and accidently selected the shampoo made with real Bourbon or fragranced with crystal meth. But no, it was the same old chamomile and passion flower combination that we usually get - out of laziness rather than any real herbal preference.

I felt a wave of concern. Why did my shampoo need to be Exciting? Let alone Wildly?

I wanted to warn my shampoo that it was playing a dangerous game, that it was ok for Normal to be well...normal. Sometimes, Wildly Exciting is just another term for 'irritating discharge'.

Because time was not pressing and my shower was still hot, I read on, intrigued, to find I also had a rather coy invitation to "enter a world of botannical bliss."

There was nothing on the bottle about whether I had to snort, inject or simply meditate on my shampoo to achieve such bliss but once there I would find my shampoo "embracing like a meadow of fresh flowers.."

At first this freaked me out a little bit, the thought of that embracing meadow with all those tiny green stalky hands but then I thought: I'm never going to go to one of those swinger clubs - apart from anything else I find it hard to stay awake past ten o'clock- so this could be a good substitute.

And, then, as if all this were not Wildly Exciting enough, the shampoo would also take my hair "to a place it's never been before."

Rome, hopefully.

What have I got to lose, I thought. Bring on the bliss. The whole experience, the bottle promised, would leave me "deeply quenched".

I think truthfully my quenching of late has been feeling a bit, well, shallow.

I had put this down to an unpleasant but inevitable side effect of childbirth but now I realise it must have been the old shampoo.

The old shampoo was neither Wild nor Exciting and the bottle said nothing about orgies in flowery fields but it did ask me: "Does your hair have a mind of its own?"

My original answer to this was 'no', until I started getting emails from my server saying I had been downloading too much over the month and would I like to pay more for a 'top up.'
I then realised my hair had been surfing the net while everyone was asleep and downloading pictures of naked scalps and rom-com screenplays from Drew's Script-o-rama.

The shallowly quenching shampoo also claimed to be able to tame "rebellious" hair.

I had only just that day had a slapping fight with my ponytail over Saturday night curfews which ended with me uttering a few sharp words and my ponytail telling me to go fuck myself.

It had been the promise of discipline but the scent of real fruit that sucked me in that time. Half a bottle of old shampoo still remained on the shelf in the shower.

Etiquette says that one uses up the old bottle before scrabbling for the new but surely in this case I could make an exception. After all, it wasn't about whether I was going to have clean hair or not, it was a choice between botannical bliss and mentally autonomous hair follicles.

I watched, vaguely aware that the shower was rapidly going cold, as my slender fingers wavered hesitantly, this way and that, over the top of each lid.

Not unlike an embracing meadow of wildly exciting camomile stalks, I decided.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Death To The Earworm

The Nephews have been singing a song this past month.

I have no idea what it’s about, it is a song in another language, something possibly Scandinavian, but it sounds like it has something to do with Picasso and fetta cheese and it’s annoying as all get out.

They love this song and after watching all the one billionty multiple versions of it on YouTube they sing it around the house and in the car on the way to school ad ear-bleeding-spontaneously-from-brain-nauseum.

(At this point I could link to this song or perhaps even plop it right here in the middle of my post but frankly I don't want to add to the power, so you just have to imagine the ghastliness, or, if you know it, you'll have started humming it already. Oops.)

The other day, despite all my best efforts with Old McDonald Had A Farm, Naughty Nephew the 3rd started singing what I call the Hellish Scandinavian EarWorm Song in the car on the way to school.

In vain did we beg him to stop.

In vain did I try to sing that Abba classic: Nina Pretty Ballerina back at him, hoping the euroclash of Scandinavian pop would cancel each other out.

Finally, I lied to him.

Do you know, I said, what you’re actually singing?

NN3 stopped a minute to consider… hello hello? he suggested.

Yes, hello hello, I said, yes. But the next bit goes like this:

I hate icecream Yes I do.
I hate it. I hate it.
Please will you never give me icecream again.
I hate it. I hate it.

And because the tune had been seared into my brain I actually appeared to make the words scan.

NN3 looked at me, slightly horrified. He loves icecream. I ruthlessly pressed on with the second verse:

I hate chocolate. Yes I do.
I hate it. I hate it.
Please will you never give me chocolate again.
Or icecream.
I hate them. I hate them.

I stopped. Do you want to hear the verse about sausages?

He shook his head. What’s that one about the ballerina?


*post updated: until last night. WHEN THEIR MOTHER STARTED SINGING IT.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Letter To A 22 Month Old Star Gazer

Darling Tricky

This month you boldly went where no Tricky had gone before.

This place was the zoo and because we have paid to become Zoo Friends you have boldly gone twice.

Your dad and I discussed this, how when we were children, the zoo was an enormous treat. An enormous and exhausting treat, perhaps once every five years - which means twice in total because after the age of 10 the zoo is BOOOOORING (until you're old enough to smoke a joint in the car with your friends before you wander in and then it totally rules again).

Going to the zoo, for us as kids, meant lugging our own food and drink in a backpack and spending hours trudging through miles of zoo poo, looking at every single bloody animal on the free map because the cost of getting three kids and two adults through the gate was so expensive.

But lo, see how things change.

We arrived with nothing but a small water bottle and immediately wasted precious zoo minutes lining up for espresso coffee and chocolate brownies (which we hid from you) and banana bread (your god-given right). Whenever you hear the word “coffee” you immediately counter with “banna bed” and if you are in a good mood you will qualify and say patiently “banna bed coming.” This is useful if we’re already sitting at the table and have given our order but if we’ve only just strapped you into the car seat then sadly we’re in for some pain.

But meanwhile, back at the zoo, post coffee, banna bed, brownie and…I’m sorry to say…tantrum, it was time to observe our fabulous furry friends. We saw the chimpanzee (Bobo!) and the gorilla (Other Bobo!) and the elephant and then THAT WAS IT, HOMETIME.

Our parents would have seen it as a scandalous waste of zoo time but actually the mini visit was marvelous. You lingered at the chimps, you clapped at the gorillas especially the big bosomed mama with her tiny baby, you stared with dull tired eyes at the elephants and you were asleep before we got back to the car park.

On your second visit you fitted in some red pandas and a grey gibbon and went back to see your gorilla pals. We hope for many jolly mini visits in the months ahead. We hope to be more than just Friends with the zoo by the time our money runs out. Indeed at the rate we’re going we'll be Zoo De-Factos by Christmas.
This has been a month of many words, much more clearly pronounced. Some of these occur very loudly between 6.00 and 6.30 in the morning. Those particular words go in this order: Mama, Daddy, Get Up! Big Bed. Milk! Poo poo in mumpy! Change Mumpy! Get Up! Get Up! Mummy! Daddy! Milk coming! GET UP!

The first time this happened I lay in bed, astonished at such a miraculous string of loud, clear, articulate demands. Then I Got Up! One morning I may even record your commands and use it as my ring tone, such is the thrill of having your toddler harangue you like a medieval slumlord, or alternatively a television producer.

Your grandmother in Newcastle showed you the stars the last time we were there and so now, each night you ask to be taken outside to look at the Tinkle Tinkles and sing their little song.

Sadly, there are not a whole lot of Tinkle Tinkles in our Sydney night sky, being so full of cloud or light or laser beams. When do we spot one or two or three, it’s a miracle and the cue for more singing and much celebrating. Mostly we see aeroplanes, lights blazing, engines roaring, and these are almost as a good as a tinkle…almost.

The other day we were walking by the beach and a cool busking dude was playing his saxophone and when we went to have a closer look he played Twinkle Twinkle for you. I tried to get you to sing but you just stared silently in amazement. I turned to the cool dude and thanked him saying, amazed, that’s his favourite song as in…cool busking dude how on earth did you know? He just smiled as I slipped him two bucks.
It’s actually quite a popular tune, he informed me.
Memo to self: nobody likes a smug busker.
This month your new best ever book is called Sleepy Pendoodle which you call “Slippy Pinddddddng”. It is a delightful tale of a little girl and her “wee pup!” which is so tiny that at first its eyes are shut fast, until her Uncle Hughie tells her the Secret of Waking. In your case it seems firmly connected to how little sleep your parents got the night before but in this story it involves stroking the pup’s back from floppy ears to fluffy tail. When this moment comes you turn and present your back for a stroke too. When the puppy finally opens its eyes, without fail, you say wow and smile with glee. And I just like saying Sleepy Pen DOOOOOODLE in a stupid voice.
So everyone's happy.

This month also, we have had to do emergency shopping on your behalf. Babies grow. Fast. Who knew? Your funky trousers, the ones that look like they’re made of fifties curtains (because they are) once naturally skimmed your fat little feet. Now they’re capris pants.
Those groovy yellow cord too-big trousers your dad bought you nearly a year ago are no longer too-big but sadly are still way too long and frankly are totally unrollable. Quite soon they will also be unwearable. And after weeks of wearing lovely soft leather booty things and then a pair of soft leather sandals you have finally graduated into big boy red boots. With laces.
Daddy bought these because it is cold and R at childcare was pursing her lips at us and making pointed comments about your poor cold feet in their socks and sandals. I was more concerned that they were making you look like a tiny German backpacker but hey, whatever it takes.

If you haven’t seen either of us for a few hours, being at childcare say, or a mini zoo visit with the other parent, you become Prince Charming when finally you do see us, coyly grinning and flinging yourself down the hallway and leaping into our arms.
It is the most wonderful feeling.

Sometimes you call me or you look across at me and smile and I wonder what I have done to deserve you. That sounds like some ghastly Bert Bacharach lyric but it’s true. You seem so happy to play with me or read with me. You take my hand and sit me down to watch Playschool with you, or alternatively gently guide me to the biscuit jar. And sometimes you put your arms round my head and kiss me or present your own soft cheek to be kissed and the thought he loves me flashes through my mind and I am astonished all over again.
Because of course I love you, love you till my heart hurts with the enormity of it all, but to have you love me back seems utterly miraculous.

A bit like finding stars in a cloudy Sydney sky.

your very own