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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

First of the Month Fiction - Easter edition

Getting in slightly early, again, because of Easter, as I want to try to be offline for a few days (HA!).
So happy Easter to you all, or happy public holidays to those that don't celebrate this festival.

First of the Month Fiction is short stories - less than 30 words or 100 words exactly - see examples here.

Add your offering in the comments, then link your blog to the linky thing so we can see how sensational your work is when you don't have a word limit.

Mine is of the 100 words:


He crept down the hall, having broken in through the window.
No one stirred as he passed the couple asleep in their bedroom.
When he reached the child, he paused, watching her sleep. Silently he crept closer. She breathed heavily but didn't stir.
Nervously he looked around, then found the perfect thing. This was his big moment. He only had one chance, and he couldn't afford to get caught.
Gingerly, he reached over her slumbering head, towards the window sill. Out of his pocket he took the perfect, shiny egg. He placed it in the corner and hopped silently away.

Enjoy the break! Linking up With Some Grace for FYBF.



Monday, 25 March 2013

Irony

Last week I wrote about noticing when someone goes quiet on social media then promptly lost all internet access and for some reason twitter no longer works on my phone. So I will be very careful today and try not to anger the Gods by throwing out statements to tempt them to punish me...
A quick story on the history of chocolate. Cadbury's marketing genius was the one to make chocolate part of Valentine's Day, and a symbol of romantic love. In 1875 they sold the first chocolate Easter egg, as a way to mark the end of the Lenten Sacrifice. Both Cadbury and Rowntree were Quakers.
(I am reading a book that tells of the terrible abuses in the chocolate world...quite an ugly side of human history)
Happy Easter to you all, to those going away, drive safely, and the first of the month fiction will be round again over the break, for those that want to try their hand.

Linking up with the lovely Jess at Essentially Jess for IBOT


Thursday, 21 March 2013

It's Too Quiet..

Has anyone noticed on social media, when someone goes quiet it either means they're really busy, away or not happy?
I've approached a few friends when they've gone quiet to check they're alright, as their silence rings loudly in my ears. Interestingly, one friend in the States was surprised I asked but admitted they were depressed. My noticing across the airwaves made them happy, as they felt the need to cover it up in person.
I asked someone the other day, and she said she was trying not to be a 'Negative Nellie'.
Why are we allowed to share so much on social media - photos of kids, sporting success of kids, meals, what we're doing, but not really share how we're feeling? If we are friends, isn't that part of the deal?
The bad with the good? Doesn't that sharing the bad take a weight off our shoulders? Problem shared is a problem halved and all that?
Obviously there is an aspect where you don't want to share problems with the whole world, so maybe the problem is the social media audience is too big, but I always feel for my friends feeling shut out (by their own making) from people happy to support them through whatever it is.
A while back I was having a bumpy time and my fb reflected an overly-aggressive anger towards the mechanic who had hijacked my car for 4 days, requiring me to walk between 4 suburbs twice a day. Only one person picked up that it wasn't just about the car - but I felt better for venting hostility at the world, and even better that someone was astute enough to notice it wasn't my normal voice.
I don't really have a solution, but perhaps if one of your friends is quiet, check in on how they are, privately of course. Think of this as R U OK social media day...


Monday, 18 March 2013

I'm not paying to listen to your children

I'll open with 'I have three children, and I understand what they can be like at times'. If your kid goes nuts in the supermarket, I'm the sympathetic nodder not the judgmental eye roller. If your child is lost or something fishy is going on, I'm the butt-inner checking up things are ok or will keep your child safe until we track down the parent. If your child is screaming on a plane, I'm who you want next to you, as I'm relieved it's not my kid screaming, and I still remember that's the WORST feeling, and there is not a lot you can do to control it. But this business of kids having more rights than adults and no common courtesies has to stop.

I went to see Oz yesterday, and while it is a kids flick, the cinema had 6 children in it and the rest of the audience were adults. Two little kids about 5 kept talking through it. Loudly and frankly, stupidly. I didn't hear the mother tell them to be quiet once. Not one time. I have a wee tot and if she talks in a movie I am quick to whisper harshly "You can't say a word - no one is paying to listen to you!". Before the film starts, we always run through the 'you can't make any noise in the cinema' speech, which includes a part on sitting still in your seat.  I even do this at kids films, because how do they learn how to behave in society if they think there's one rule for some movies and another rule when it's a show you like. I paid $20 and my experience was ruined by these 2 little kids. Should I have asked the mother for my money back? Should I have told the kids to shut the f%*& up? I did neither. I sat and seethed, debating about what to do.

Same day (it was 'treat yourself day' - husband had been away on boys weekend and I got the afternoon off on his return) I used a gift voucher I'd been given for a visit to a pool in a fancy hotel. The voucher is worth $50. I was sitting in the spa, reading my book when some kids got in with me. The pool was completely empty at this point. The kids start swimming about, kicking my legs in the process repeatedly. I let it go. Then they started jumping in, and splashing me and my book. I told them not to splash me, they continued, I told them again. At that point, the nanny or mother gave a very half hearted "swim over there" meaning the other half of the very small spa (not the big, empty pool??). At the point the kids started eating IN THE SPA, I got out disgustedly.

I know kids love spas, but I have sent my own kids out for splashing too much when other adults are using it, and when the adults leave, they are allowed back in.

Kids should have rights, but in the current climate, they seem to have more rights than adults. They don't seem to have to be aware of the social courtesy towards others. Restaurants are expected to offer a menu that they charge less for, though the child is taking up a seat and the kitchen's time, and the child may or may not run around the restaurant disturbing the full paying guest.

Women are allowed to breast feed where ever they choose, and should a negative comment be made, it becomes something of a civil rights issue, instead of something where you just think "What a jerk" and go home and tell your friends.

Teachers are harassed if the child doesn't get the grade they want or the part in the play. Everyone is expected to accommodate the child, but the child is not asked to accommodate anyone else in return. Why not?

In the '70's, kids were not factored into the equation much. The parents did what they wanted to do, entertained as they wanted to, went out where they wanted to, and the kids were dragged along and expected to behave accordingly. You were lucky if there were other children present, if not, you were to slink off and find a tv or sit at the table quietly for however long it took, without complaining. I don't think this was such a bad thing. We survived it, and it probably did us good not to think the Universe revolved around us and our friends.

I have a another speech that my kids unfortunately hear often, firstly due to their behaviour, then as they get older, as a reminder. It constantly points out that the other people have paid a lot of money to do whatever it is we are doing, and they aren't paying to listen to us. And I do mean US for while I know they don't want to hear the kids argue/screech/talk, I'm pretty sure they don't want to hear me telling off the kids either.

I get kids are learning how to behave in society. I get kids have little consideration beyond their own immediate whims. The point is, they never will, if you the parent don't teach them to. You don't just suddenly think about others as you get older. It needs to be taught and modeled, like everything else. No one would put up with the talking of teens in the cinema, no one would shrug off a drunken adult talking loudly in a restaurant. Why are kids given carte blanche to behave in equally socially unacceptable ways?

I would have been more tolerant in those situations above if I'd felt the 'supervising' adult was doing just that, supervising. Had there been a 'get away from the lady' or 'shh', I would have thought it was just badly behaved kids and irritatedly shrugged it off, but understood that kids don't always do what you want them to.  However, if you don't tell the kids they're doing the wrong thing, how do they know?

About 8 years ago I (& my kids) went away with a girlfriend from England and her daughter. We went out to dinner and the kids, in my opinion, were very badly behaved. They kept getting out of their seats and running around our table. I kept telling them to sit down, and didn't noticed it was only me doing the ticking off. As we left, I commented on a poor couple who had arrived after us and left before us, thus having no time without our children ruining their evening. My friend responded "Well, children are the future. People have to understand they're going to be around." I was stunned (which is why I still remember it verbatim). I pointed out that perhaps that was true in the sense of providing public education with their tax money, but not necessarily in a restaurant. We agreed to disagree.

My kids are by no means perfect. I am not an expert on parenting. I do call my kids out, when I need to and I don't think I should be able to ruin the experience of others by my children's selfish or noisy behaviour.  This generation is being done a disservice by their parents, and I get the feeling that some parents don't want to actually parent. Sometimes we have to be the bad guy. Sometimes we have to be the one who says no, when they want to hear yes. Sometimes they won't like you for it. At the end of the day though, we need to remember we are raising citizens of the world, not just an individual.

Looking at the current world climate, there will be a heavy load for these future citizens to carry, so we need to make them the best they can be. It needs to start with the small stuff when they are young, so they can change the big stuff when they are adults.


Linking up with the Lounge.



Sunday, 17 March 2013

Listmania 9 - Favourite spot at home

My favourite spot is on the beanbag on the deck, reading on a sunny day (or if lazy, watching the wee tot blow bubbles). There is no better place for me. We live in the inner city, and we lead very busy lives - we spend the weekends catching up with friends and family, so are rarely around the house. If we do have a lazy day, if not at the movies*, then I like to read in the shade on the deck, looking at the sunny outdoors.

I love where we live as we're five minutes from everything, and often zip off at a moments notice to see a show or free activity in the city. We gladly sacrifice the pool, garage & big back yard for proximity (though ours is big for here).

I'll be honest, I'm not really interested in home decorating - even paint colour bores me, so my partner chose the lot (I'm concerned with the cost, I'd always ask "Are they the same price? Then I don't care, you choose.") But the outdoor beanbag was my choice, and I adore it. I am gradually filling up the house with beanbags, to lie by the fireplace and read (the armchairs aren't comfortable) and for the kids to watch tv on (real furniture is permanent - beanbags can be piled up out of the way until needed). The favourite of all though, is the faded outdoor one, which lives on the deck, reminding me to make some time and come and read...in fact it's sunny so I might head there now.

* The cinema is my other favourite place, but it's not in my house - lotto win pending, maybe it will be in the house in the future.

Linking up for Listmania at Homelifesimplified

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Don't be scared of your Blue Horses

The very wonderful Eric Carle, of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame, wrote another brilliant but lessor known book, called The Artist who painted a Blue Horse. In it he tells the story of Franz Marc and Carle's own art teacher who introduced him to the wonderful work of Marc, at a time when it was not safe to do so.

Eric Carle spent his childhood in Germany, at the time when the Nazi regime forbade modern, expressionistic or abstract art. One day, his art teacher showed Carle some 'forbidden' art, saying "Just look at the looseness, the freedom and...the beauty of these paintings". At the time, the young Carle was shocked and thought his teacher had gone mad, but the lack of realism and animals of the 'wrong' colours that Carle is famous for now were "really born that day seventy years ago".

I only discovered this book last year despite owning almost every book Carle has published -  you could say I'm a HUGE fan - and I instantly fell in love with it. It made me stop and think. We inflict so many arbitrary rules on children, on what is acceptable and how they should do things. Sometimes we need to remember that some things are just ahead of their time.

My son is doing a project on a food chain, and he is putting himself in the marine chain. He decided, rather than draw land for the diorama, he'd put himself in a submarine. I am torn between telling him that's not really the right thing to do, and thinking it's hilarious. As it is his homework, not mine, the submarine is staying. I hope his teacher feels the same way.

We should never be scared of the blue horses...












Monday, 11 March 2013

Flat

We hit a pothole in the middle of nowhere - it was dark, no street lights and virtually no verge to pull over to.

We called the NRMA who initially said they'd call a tow truck - with three kids in the car it was going to be a costly hassle (ie 2 taxis home...) but with a bit of maneuvering the NRMA guy managed to change the tactic, and the tyre was changed.

While in the grand scheme of things, this was a minor blip, I noticed a few things:

1. Things seem worse in the dark.
2. When you are tired and in a bad place, things seem worse than they are.
3. There is always someone to help you, waiting in the wings, as long as you aren't afraid to ask for help.

While in this case, it applied to a tyre, a minor inconvenience and the wonderful roadside service of the NRMA, I think it's applicable to life.



Monday, 4 March 2013

Spontaneity

I like to think I'm flexible and adaptable. I've discovered that with three kids, I am not.

Due to some upheavals, my partner decided we needed to go on a holiday, it had to be overseas and had to be next week (he has a boys weekend coming up so had to be back for that).

There are rules about proximity to purchasing an international air ticket and the departure date, so the whole thing had to be organised in 24 hours.

Now I know what you're thinking, who wouldn't be happy about a holiday? The problem is, we are going away in April, so I really didn't want to spend the money. Finding 5 cheap airfares to anywhere was the first mission. Even Bali was starting at $4000 for the airfares alone.

Then, once availability was found and the trip booked, came the cancelling everything else. I had a class to teach (thus replacement to organise), tickets to a show, a lunch. My kids had lessons to cancel, schools to notify (and high school does not take kindly to absences), and assignments to get done prior to leaving.

The whole process was time consuming and my stress levels shot through the roof in the course of time, and I'm not proud to say a little resentment also kicked in. I'm now out the other side but with the realisation I'm not that flexible. I also learnt it's probably not so much that kids need routine, but that we, the parents, need the routine to keep the balls in the air and things running smoothly...I'm not quite the person I thought I was.

So I'm off the air a few days & up in the air for a few hours...and you'll be glad to know, now that all the stressful crappy organising is sorted, I'm beginning to look forward to the break.

Linking up with the lovely Jess for IBOT - join the entertainment here