Category Archives: Observational Musings

The Lies We Tell

Butter Wouldn't Melt in his Mouth!

Butter Wouldn’t Melt in his Mouth!

The lies I told today when making a booking with the ‘pet friendly’ hotel today:

Them: “Is your dog a small dog?”

Me: “Well, you know he’s not teeny small, but he is a small-ish Labrador.”

(Lie #1. He weighs 40 kilos and he can easily put his paws on my shoulders when on his hind legs. He’s huge. In fact I’m not so sure he’s not part Great Dane or Mastiff.)

Them: “Oh, well we usually only accept small dogs. Is he very well behaved?”

Me: “Oh yes, he’s an angel, he is quiet as a mouse and doesn’t chew. He’s basically like a guide dog but we’re not blind.”

(Lie #2. He’s terribly behaved. He eats shoes like he’s on his last meal – prefers expensive designer brands –  He howls terribly if we leave him alone for more than a few hours because he’s used to me being with him all day (I work from home). If he were a guide dog the blind person wouldn’t last a day,he’s the most (happy) undisciplined dog I’ve ever met.)

Them: “And is he used to travelling with you and being left at the hotel if you go out?”

Me: “Oh yes, he’s a regular traveller, we travel with him all the time. He loves it and he’s just a part of the family, waits patiently for us to return when we’re out and gives the hotel and it’s patrons no trouble at all. All the places we’ve stayed love him.”

(Lie #3. He’s never been to a hotel with us before. It’s really hard to find pet friendly hotels in Australia (God Bless America – so much easier to find them there) and  because he’s such a pain in the ass to take places we leave him with my sister who he adores nearly as much as he loves shoes. Or as a last resort, in a kennel where he pines and has been known to attempt suicide. Really.)

The thing about him, he’s adorable. We’ve actually just signed him up to start stem cell therapy for his elbow displasiya and osteo-arthritis – ground breaking stuff in the animal world. He’s sweet and loving and funny….and not very well behaved.

All this for a last minute quick trip away, oh the lies! Blogging is my confessional.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Darwin Award Contender?

Following on from those ‘mentally challenged’ males who seek out danger and make stupid decisions that seem to exist en mass in Australia that I mentioned in my last post on the Anti-Venom shortage, here is a classic example of one such creature that was arrested a few weeks ago in the same state we live in.

This is an actual  police report that was released to the media about the incident:

ASSAULT POLICE/HRPCA

About 3am 4 April 2013 Police were about to leave the Station when they noticed a 2011 Holden Commodore sedan driving in a westerly direction at about 10klm/h.

The driver of the vehicle has allegedly leant out of the window and given Police “the bird”. He travelled for another 50 metres and then ran out of petrol coming to a stop. 

As Police approached the 38 old male he has become abusive towards Police. The male has advanced towards Police allegedly threatening assault. He was subdued with the use of OC Spray and due to his continued struggling he was handcuffed and conveyed to the Police Station. 

The male appeared to be affected by alcohol and was subjected to a breath analysis which returned a reading in the high range. A check of his licence revealed that it had expired on the 20 March 2013.

He was bail refused to appear at the  Local Court today.

Did I laugh my ass off when I read this? You bet I did!

Giving some cops the finger is dumb. Doing it when you’re running out of gas is dumber (running that low on gas is a whole new kind of dumb), running out of gas after giving cops the finger is bad. Being agressive and abusive towards them when they approach you is epically bad.

Doing all this while drunk and driving a vehicle with no valid licence is just plain stupid.

I suspect this guy will hear about this from his friends and family for a very long time. (Plus I hope they throw the book at him).

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Faux Pas

5652724063_de2b6d2ee5_zI wasn’t sure I wanted to have a child when I was younger.

I spent my 20′s traveling, working, eating at great restaurants and generally enjoying life. I had a good job that paid well with a company car, laptop and phone. My personal expenses were almost zero. I lived in an apartment just steps from the beach, and I used my 4 weeks vacation a year to travel overseas as much as possible.

I ended up giving up the well-paying job and moving to Ireland and then England to travel, before finally settling in the USA with my (now) husband. It was so much fun! Living in and experiencing new countries and cultures should be a rite of passage for all 20-somethings. I met so many interesting people, visited so many fascinating places and wanted more and more of it. I wasn’t sure that kids and the kind of travel I envisioned for my life would mix very well…

Then my son came along. After a few years of misery (the kid was born 3 months early, spent 4 months in intensive care and never slept through the night until he was three years old due to a feeding disorder – so yes, I can honestly say it was often miserable), he became one of my primary reasons for a good laugh.

Kids are funny, they just are. Even better, most often they aren’t trying to elicit a response so their hilarity is even more endearing. Like when we were driving by a large cemetery in a city far from our town and the headstones could be viewed as far as the eye could see. The 8-year-old said:

“WOW, it looks like a whole lot of people have died…”

Yes it does son, yes it does.

images

However, the biggest laugh my husband has had of late can be attributed to me when talking about my son to his teacher during a school interview a few months back. About halfway through the interview all was going well with the teacher until I came out with the following;

“Sorry he hasn’t completed all of his homework over the past few weeks, we’ve just moved house and getting internet hooked up in this town is harder than scoring cocaine…he’ll get it finished as soon as we are back online.”

Yeah, I really said that. It sounded a lot better in my head than it did after it came out of my mouth and I saw the teachers response (she did not smile). I couldn’t see my husbands response, his head was already in his hands by the time I looked over at him.

The conversation in the car afterwards went something like this:

Hubby: ” I can’t believe you said that! It’s possibly the number one thing you should never say to your child’s teacher!”

Me: “Oh come on, she had to know I was kidding, I volunteer in class every week for Gods sake! Surely that buys me a little credibility? Surely I can get a pass based on my history of good works? It just explained the situation so well. We moved weeks ago, and the damn telco company still hasn’t been able to get our internet hooked up, it’s ridiculous!”

Hubby: “I’m sure she’s reporting us to DOCS.” (Dept. of Community Services)

Me: “Oh well then, judging by the copious quantity of cigarette-smoking parents towing bare-footed children behind them with snot running down their faces and coughs that sound like the death rattle in the middle of winter – along with the large display of grammatically incorrect cuss words spray painted on the bridge heading out of town, they seem largely useless at their jobs – so I suspect it will all turn out just fine.”

Kiddo (little voice from the back seat): “Why is cocaine so hard to get?”

Hubby and I (in unison): “Because its dangerous, don’t ever try it!”

Hubby has since announced I am banned from future interviews until he has time to redeem our family name.

With him on the job it could take decades.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lynx, cleans your…(yeah, I can’t say it)

One of the things my husband particularly enjoys about Australia is that he finds it a fairly liberal society. No one is talking at election time about gay marriage, abortion or things of that nature. Issues on the table are jobs, taxes, environment, ‘boat people‘ (illegal immigrants) and so on. Personal ethics are not publicly debated as profusely on the political platform here as they are in the USA.

He finds the culture here very free, unpretentious, a live-and-let-live kind of mentality that he enjoys. That said, they may be such a thing as being a little too liberal.

The latest example was presented to him recently on prime time TV during a major rugby match (free to air) by LYNX shower gel.

(Please if you are easily affected by sexual innuendo, do not watch this ad – I’m certainly not trying to offend anyone here, but if you think you can take it, this is an ad well worth seeing – if only for the discussion it will probably inspire within your household!)

Here’s the ad in its entirety:

So now you’ve watched the ad, what did you think? Would you be surprised if I told you that after a few weeks (yes, weeks) of airing, the ad was pulled due to complaints?

You probably wouldn’t be.

What would probably shock the hell out of you (as it did me) was the reason it was pulled.

First, let me tell you the advertising commission had a total of 150 complaints about this ad from a population of about 25 million people (another nod to our liberal society) and they were ‘taken very seriously’ by all accounts.

The advertisement was finally pulled on the grounds that it was ‘ageist’. That’s right, this ad’s biggest faux pas was that it discriminated against the elderly!

Other than this glaring act of discrimination, it was a perfectly acceptable ‘prime-time’ advertisement according to the advertising watchdog. (I’ve been laughing about this for weeks.) Here’s the best part – the statement they made about why the ad was being pulled:

The advertising watchdog has banned an ad for Unilever deodorant Lynx for demeaning older men – but was cleared of degrading both sexes, racism and bad language.

The part of the ad deemed unacceptable came at end, when an old man produced two deflated medicine balls and asks, ‘Can you help me with these saggy old balls? Nobody’s played with them for years.’

God bless Australia.

We may not be the smartest country, the largest country, the richest country, the most progressive country.

But if you ask me, we sure are the most entertaining country – the country that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – and yet to us, we think we’re perfectly lucid and capable of making such mammoth judgement calls for the betterment of the self esteem of our aging population.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Mothers Day

1 Day old. Not much bigger than the BIC brand ballpoint pen shown on his back. 1 pound 7 ounces.

8 years ago, I had my first Mothers Day. My son was 3 months old at the time, but in reality, was not even due to have been born!

Born at 28 weeks he was not only 3 months premature, but small for gestational age (SGA). At 1 pound 11 ounces (765 grams) and dropping to 1 pound 7 ounces (652 grams) he was what is considered ‘micro-premmie’.

Micro premmies are babies born less than 2 pounds and/or less than 26 weeks gestation. The list that the doctors give you as a parent of a micro premmie of things that may be wrong with your child, is both large and fear-inducing.

70-75% survival rate with 50-60% of children having lasting disabilities, with a much larger proportion of boys than girls. Disabilities range from cerebral palsy, mental retardation, blindness, deafness, developmental delays, behavioral issues, and more.

Our son is 8 years old now, he is in 2nd grade and is on par for all his subjects, except Math and Art. He excels at Math and has won awards for his Artwork. His sports skills leave a little to be desired (but that is much more likely a result of being my son – a less co-ordinated person you probably could not find than me!)

He is smart, funny, kind and compassionate. He reads and writes well and is also learning both French and Japanese at school. He has no behavioral issues. He is our miracle boy!

He was placed on a ventilator the day he was born. A ventilator is a machine you often see that breathes for the person – it puffs air into the lungs via a tube. It it often means your child will be diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease. (Something my son has been diagnosed with – though I suspect since our move to Aus, if he were to be re-evaluated he may have the diagnosis reversed – he’s so healthy here!)

Moments after birth, the doctors hand seemed so much larger than his head!

He spent a little over 3 months in the NICU and the fun times included (in addition to the day-to-day dramas) Pneumothorax (Collapsed lungs), Full Blood transfusion, various infections, feeding difficulties, almost daily bradycardia incidents (heart beating too slow), breathing stopping on various all-too-frequent occasions.

Fun stuff!

Holding Hands – holding my pinky finger the day after he was born

Holding babies these small is not usually an option right at the beginning, their skin is so fragile that movement and touch can be physically painful for them. ‘holding hands’ is the closest we got other than a few family photos for the first few days.

Nearly 3 weeks old and his fist still fits in daddys wedding ring

I wish I had taken this ring photo earlier, he was nearly 3 weeks old here. Had we taken it the first few days after birth he would have been wearing it as a bracelet. FYI my husband has small fingers, this ring is a size 7.5 women’s (I know this because I am a size 7 and this is only slightly large on me.)

Pacifier is getting smaller!

In the photo above he is nearly 4 weeks old! As you can see the pacifier is getting smaller….or maybe… he is getting bigger!

9 Weeks old! Pacifier is IN the mouth and shrinking!

And… a few weeks after he came home (4 months old) at just over 5 pounds:

Lastly, a photo take today.

8 years (almost to the day) that he was released from the hospital, and here is the very same brand and style of pen that was in the original photo. How 8 years changes things!

8 years old. The same brand of pen. How things change.

So Happy Mothers Day to me and all the mothers out there ! I have a happy, healthy, growing and thriving boy – what more could a mother ask for?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s The Post About Nothing That Makes It Really Something

Unknown Cystic just wrote me a rather chastising comment bringing my attention to the fact that I had only written 3 posts this year.

Of course I made an un-spellable sound, something like pffftttttsshhh, and tossed my head as though the mere thought was absurd.

Then I logged onto my blog and began scrolling. Which, if you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know means that I didn’t even get one full swish on the Macbook mousepad in before I came to the end of my posts for 2012.

Because there were only 3 posts!!

I knew I had been neglectful of course, in fact I previously dedicated a whole post to my neglect, but I didn’t realize that I was four days from the 5th month of the year and only had three posts to show for it – meaning that I couldn’t even claim a post a month!

(A dismal failure in anyone’s world, but one that I was prepared to tell myself was acceptable.)

He told me to ‘just write about what’s happening in life’. So here I am, with nothing of value to say, but posting nonetheless.

I’ve been working on an article on Organic Chicken Farming for days. Days! It should have taken me about 2 hours at most. I cannot seem to make it come together. I have never farmed a chicken (organic or otherwise) so I know nothing about it. Of course this requires me to research it in-depth, and then write about it as if I know what I’m talking about. What fun! I hear you say.

My husband calls it the BS factor and says I have it. It’s one of the nicest compliments he’s given me this year. I’ll leave it to your imagination to decipher what the “BS” stands for.

So I’ve been toiling over this article – so much so that once its done my hourly rate will end up being less than I’d make working the drive-thru at McDonalds – I’m sure of it. But at least I’ll know all about how to farm chickens. One must always remember, the rewards are so much greater than what shows up in the bank account.

My sister interrupted my afternoon of floundering through figurative chickens and their coops, by sending me a copy of her resume and asking me to check for errors like spelling, grammar and these things: ; ‘ ” , . :. (that would be punctuation).

I started reading and her resume went something like this:

Degrees:

Administration

Business

Agriculture

Environmental Planning

Marketing

Law

Running the Country

Experience:

Administration

Corralling Bosses

Sorting Out Industrial Disputes

Solving Environmental Issues

Calming Down Psychotic Staff

Working with Big-Time Lawyers

Pacifying Angry Executives

Pretty Much Running The Country

The thing went on for about 15 pages and used intricate phrases I couldn’t even comprehend like, “….external stakeholders to ensure the organization meets its natural resource management outcomes…”

What the hell does that mean? What’s natural resource management and how does one measure the outcome?

All in all I ended up quite dizzy from the vast majority of complex information on the pages, and had to lie down for a spell. I rallied though and got myself through it, offering key support on the refinement of such an important document.

I contributed things like ‘this would look better with a comma’ and ‘there was a period missing there’ and my favorite, ‘if you switch these two words around, it will look much better.’

Vital stuff.

We all know when she applies for a job and gets it, who she’ll have to thank, don’t we? In typical family member fashion, I’m sure she wont be greasing my palms with my percentage of the salary increase though.

Just for kicks after I sent off my corrections, I pulled out my resume to review the past 20 years of my life. It went something like this:

Degrees:

None that count

Experience:

Rep for an (evil) Multi-National Pharmaceutical Company

Repped for an even more evil Big-Pharma Company

(got a company car and a business card and thought I’d hit the big time)

Moved to Ireland to drink beers with Will and Pamela at the Crown Bar

Moved to England (Cambridge) to drink beers with Wingnut at The Eagle Pub

Moved elsewhere in England (Near Oxford) to drink Tequila shots with Lucy and look after her children (a brilliant merge)

Moved to Denver, Colorado to elope with my (now) Husband

(seemed like a good idea at the time)

Started a business

Got pregnant and deathly ill and closed the business

Had a kid

Started another business

Sold it 2 years later for a very nice profit

(this was the pinnacle of my career, it’s all downhill from here)

Moved to Texas

Started to become green, Texas version of a hippie

Spent 2 years learning that Y’all means You all, and not some guy called “Yoll.”  (Y’all coming to dinner… Y’all welcome to use the pool, Y’all going on vacation. For a long time I thought I had just never met “Yoll.” but knew he was sitting pretty when it came to the invitation department. Seemed everyone, everywhere wanted him around!)

Started Writing with some Focus

Moved to Australia

Decided it was a great idea to study 4 degrees at once

Current Day:

Realized my sister is 8 years younger than me and has achieved more than I will in the next 40 years!

As you can see, if its good times and fascinating stories you’re after, I’m your girl. But if it’s an educated woman with a brain, my sister might be a little more up your alley.

Still, we can’t all be smart, who would all the men marry?  Who would fulfill the black sheep roles?

Every role is important, lets face it, we all really value that our trash collector comes every Wednesday. He is a vital part of our world, he is not unimportant!

I’ll leave you with that deep thought.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Halfway Dead

Cover of "Happy Birthday to Me"
Cover of Happy Birthday to Me

I am 38-years-old today, that’s right 38-years-old! 38 years!!

Happy Birthday to me, right?

This reminds me of Bill Cosby on the ‘Himself’ tour, talking about being in first class on a flight, and little ‘Jeffrey‘ running up and down the aisles announcing “I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old!” throughout the duration of the flight, driving everyone crazy for hours. It ensured they got no sleep, and it was the worst 2 thousand bucks they have ever spent traveling between New York and LA.

I reminded my husband of this when I repeated my age 12 times before breakfast; “It could be worse, at least you aren’t on a plane with little Jeffrey.” He didn’t seem to feel there was a whole lot of difference.

By far my favorite line from the show was this one;

“I said to a guy, Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful, and he said, because it intensifies your personality. I said, Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

I know a few of those cocaine snorting assholes, and so the statement rings even more true now than it did back in the 80′s, when I first saw the show. It never loses its humor to me, and that’s one of the many brilliant things about Bill.

Bill Cosby - Quinnipiac Law

Bill Cosby, comic God.

I’ve seen that “Himself” video (yes video, it was released in the dark ages, otherwise knows as the 80′s) dozens of times – and if you haven’t I highly recommend you rent it out – I guarantee your sides will hurt for days for having had the experience, and it’s much more enjoyable than a Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred workout (yes, I speak from experience on this one), with arguably the same result.

Moving on.

I’m 38-years-old today, and my husband tells me I don’t look a day over 37 and 11 months, (he really knows how to flatter a girl). 38 is kind of a big deal, because in just over 2 years, by the law of averages, I’d potentially be halfway dead.

In fact, though I like to pretend our move to Australia was for more noble causes, the actual reason I hopped up and moved, was I saw the latest life expectancy statistics in the US.

The average life expectancy for a woman in America is 81.3 years, but here’s the kicker, the average life expectancy for a woman in Australia is 84 years, the third highest in the world following Japan (not sure that it’s accounting for the recent disasters) and Hong Kong.

Do you see what I just did there? I added almost three years to my life, just by packing up and moving to the other side of the world!

Genius? I think so!

Right now, I am a full 4 years from halfway dead! So awesome! (Of course this precludes terrible accidents like being hit by a bus, or my stalker hiring a hit man to take me out.)

It’s weird isn’t it, when you begin to see your life in terms of how long you have left.

Granted, there probably aren’t a lot of 38-year-olds that think this way, but they should. I suspect people would be a whole lot more productive in life if they made decisions based on how it’s going to affect them in the afterlife – or in the few months or years before they get to the afterlife.

I for one, am determined to be a lot nicer to my son.

After all, it’s he that will make or break me, when it comes to crunch-time. When I’m begging him to let me live with him, and not send me to that dreadful home – promising not to soil my adult diaper ever again – I’m going to remind him of all the times I let him have a day off school just because, and the times I paid out his pocket money even though his table-clearing and dishwasher-packing skills, left a lot to be desired.

And I have a backup plan – you simply cannot be too prepared when it comes to your inevitable demise – I’m going to be rich.

In the unfortunate event that I do a terrible job raising my son, and he wants to dump me in a home quicker than I could say “geriatric neglect,” I will use the undervalued power of manipulation. I will wave the all-desirable will in front of his face with threats to leave it all to the pygmies in Africa.

I don’t actually know who, or what, the African pygmies are, but my grandmother has spent her lifetime sending them all her money, and they still don’t seem to have enough, so they seem as worthwhile of a cause as any.

As for the riches, I don’t actually have a concrete plan for how I will be building the massive wealth, but you know, you can’t get too caught up on the details – do you think Steve Jobs made his money overnight? – Of course not! So I’m not sweating the small stuff in my master plan, all in good time.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my 3rd January on a beautiful summers day here in Australia, Happy New Year to all my friends all over the world who followed in the footsteps of Australia and finally made it into 2012.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Hello 2012, The Year Of Contentment.

sydney habour bridge & opera house fireworks n...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m naming 2012, ‘The Year of Contentment,’ is there really any better goal in life?

To be rich, beautiful, famous, successful… whatever your desire, we see these people splayed over our TV’s, ipads and computers. Attaining these goals has not made them more content, nor more worthwhile individuals. Do we really think Kim Kardashian is content? All that (plastic) beauty, money, fame, travel, clothes…not for one minute do I believe she leads a full and contented life.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, J-Lo,  when I look at these people – and the train-wrecks that are their lives – I see nothing even resembling contentment. It’s been written about, and proven time and time again, money doesn’t buy happiness, but what about reaching ones hotly-desired-and-worked-for goal?

Whether it be fame, riches, notoriety, publishing your first book, building the dream home, buying your first new car, a laptop, phone, holiday…. people dream and wish and hope, and gruel-it-out at their jobs just to get to the goal.

When they finally do, they are left with a stark reality. They are the same person – with the same struggles, angers, frustrations and flaws – as they were before they attained the goal. Goals are not a terrible idea, but placing all your life’s hopes and dreams on one ultimate goal, may well set you up for disaster.

In gambling we all know that riding all your money on one hand can make or break you – and the odds are not good, of it making you. Non-material goals are probably going to work out a whole lot better than the material ones, they bring a sense of self-satisfaction that a iMac just can’t compare with.

The only way to truly become content is to be happy with who you are, and the choices you are making right now. Who knows what 10 years will bring? Sure its good to have your 5-year and 10-year goals – we all have them, and it often helps us focus and not get lost or overwhelmed with day-to-day life – but be careful not to live for your goal.

You may find your life has passed you by, in your desperation to get to the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow – or worse -  you may find that it was all a fairy-tale to begin with and the pot of gold doesn’t even exist. It was built-up to such a frenzy that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype that was created and it’s not nearly as satisfying as it was supposed to be. (Kind of like Google +.)

So my ‘goal’ for 2012, is to be content, just the way things are.

I still have a way to go, but I know I am closer to it than I was 12, 18 or 24 months ago, and that’s an achievement in itself. I make my choices for me and for the betterment of our family, and have zero concerns about outside influences and their opinions of my choices.

So what are my goals for 2012, other than contentment? (A heady goal, I know!)

One of the foremost long-term goals I have, is the kind of son I want to raise. Sticking him in school to get an education, and exposing him to a few sports for team camaraderie, while feeding him 3-minute pizza and mac ‘n cheese, simply isn’t going to cut it for me. In recent years we have made some tough decisions for what we believe is his benefit.

On an ethical level, we wont’ take him to the circus, even if ‘everyone else is doing it,’ because our family will not play a part in contributing to the suffering and abuse of animals.

On a moral level, we have removed people from his life who were dysfunctional, choosing to further their own agenda, at the expense of him and his betterment.

On a physical level, we moved him to a new environment – 1/2 way around the world – in part, to help with his health, and his lungs have never been better! He hasn’t seen a doctor in over 12 months, a first for our family where we have been used to bi-monthly visits.

On a nutritional level, he eats a 90% organic or biodynamic, home cooked, wholesome diet – because without it – we believe his mind and body cannot operate as it was intended.

But what about character?

I have a clear path and direction that I want to lead him in. It is not one of achievements, trophies and awards (though those things are of course nice, and even admirable), its of a greater achievement for which there is no adulation, no award and no prize.

My goal is to raise him to be a person of integrity and clear values. A kind, considerate and empathetic person, someone who will sacrifice of himself to help another. To see a need, and move to fill it as a matter of habit. A person who will evaluate the cost of a decision and make a choice – even if it is to his detriment – if it accomplishes a greater good.

I watch the world we are creating for our kids. A world of processed foods, high-tech TV and video games, instant gratification, and selfishness. One where people no longer matter unless they contribute something to us of value. The term “networking” has become the new way to find employment all over the globe. People pass out cards and promote themselves endlessly. What about reputation? Integrity? Hard work and consistency? Honesty? They seem to have fallen by the wayside in favor of a buck, (or saving a buck).

I don’t want to forget to teach the basics, opening a door for a lady, saying “please” and “thank you,” standing for an elderly person, or pregnant woman on a bus. Respecting your elders, even if the conversation seems boring and out-of-touch.

I don’t care whether he grows up to be a Jew or a Christian, a punk, or preppie. I don’t care if he chooses to be a janitor or a doctor. I care about the impact he makes on the world around him, however small that impact may be. I want him to leave this world a better place than he found it.

He will have flaws, it is of course, impossible not to.

Acknowledging his mistakes, and making an effort to do better is as important as never committing the mistake in the first place.  A lesson without a mistake to learn from, is not a lesson – it’s a tutorial. (Personally, I never learned too well from tutorials.)

To this end, this holiday season, after reading the wonderful post by Southern Sea Muse, we researched children’s homes in our area. Unfortunately, we are in a small country community and the do not exist here – though we do have the contact details to use for some in the city, come Easter and next Christmas.

We made the decision instead, to call our local public nursing home run by the Salvation Army. They service both low-care and high-care patients, and after talking with a wonderful lady, we agreed to bring gifts and cards to 8 elderly people with no family. 4 women and 4 men.

We arrived bearing our gifts, plus flowers for the ladies. My son had made cards for each and every person, and they loved it. He was in fact (as far as I could tell), the closest thing to being treated like a Rock Star, without the microphone and sell-out crowd.

 

The Kiddo, Bearing Flowers and Gifts for the Elderly

Oh, I watched him cringe when the first old lady with long whiskers sprouting from her chin wanted to hug and kiss him, and I also watched when he softened at her delight and he hugged her just a little bit harder. We laughed together at the 96-year-old man wanted me to ‘come back tomorrow’ so he could bring me some roses from the home garden and ‘take me out on a date.’

We felt somber as we visited with the elderly woman with no hair and a body swollen with  fluids who, we were told, would not survive the next 48-hours. We patted her hands, left her with the last Christmas card she would ever see, and her last human contact from someone who wasn’t earning a paycheck to be there.

We wondered out loud, how one is unfortunate enough to end their life this way.

My son received an education in the theory ‘it is better to give than to receive,’ and in the harsh realities of life for those that have no family who care, and whose friends have all passed on long ago.

Did he leave his experience so impacted that his life would be changed forever? I suspect not.

The indicator? On our way home while I was extolling the virtues of the experience, I suggested we do the same thing every year. He responded with ‘uh, how about every second year?’ Clearly my job is nowhere near complete. He is a child after all, a 7-year-old boy who has no true understanding of loneliness, old age and death…. and as it should be.

But hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? This is why my goal for raising him must never lose focus, never deviate.

It is the nature of the beast to want to satisfy ourselves, turn a blind eye and pretend we didn’t see that thing we should take action on, and fulfill our own empty desires. It is the nature of this 21-st century to tell us we deserve it, we deserve it immediately and without sacrifice – and should anyone else get in our way we should cut them off at the knees – it’s a dog-eat-dog world, after all.

This is what parents these days have to contend with. It’s a crap-shoot people – we’re just rolling the dice, hoping for the best – and praying we did our ‘homework’, that the job we have done is enough, and we won’t see them on the channel nine news in a police chase inside a decade.

I jest of course. I will be content this year if I fulfill my role to educate and guide my son, to be better than what the world tells us is acceptable, even desirable. If I guide him to want more than what is on offer from the media, and the ‘cool kids.’

Oh, what a goal I have undertaken!

Lets face it, whether you are rich or poor, beautiful or homely, healthy or sick – we only have one shot at this year that is 2012 – let’s make it count for all the right reasons.

Happy (Australian) New Year!

Tagged , ,

Loyalty Cards

English: Different customer loyality cards (ai...

Image via Wikipedia

At this time I have about 53 loyalty cards either crowding my keyring, overflowing my junk draw or cramming up my wallet. They are the bane of my existence for two reasons;

1. I hate all the extra crap I have to carry.

2. I cant not have them because I’m possibly missing out on a discount, a rebate check – or worse – a free set of blunt steak knives made in China, from some kind of cheap, toxic plastic and quasi-metal.

I went to the local grocery store the other day and as I was checking out, the lady asked for my loyalty card. As I searched in my bag for the card I said to her; “I’m not sure if I have one, Im not really that loyal.

Of course what I meant, is that I wasn’t that loyal to that particular store. I usually shopped at a grocer much closer to our house. I dug around in my purse a little more, and then looked up at her to find her staring at me oddly.

I immediately realized what I had just said and stupidly decided to explain myself further.

Well I am loyal, you know…..in life. I’m just not that loyal to your store. I’m really a very loyal person by nature, I mean, I’m not having affairs all over the place on my husband or anything….but, you see, all these grocery stores are so close together, and they all have a card, and there are so many cards, its so hard to keep track, and well….”

My voice trailed off as much for breathlessness as for lack of a really plausible explanation, that would clarify things, and get us on a better track.

You know that moment where you know you are rabbiting on like a raving lunatic, and you know the other person is thinking you’re a total whack-job? Yet for some reason, you can’t seem to stop yourself rambling aimlessly, in a desperate attempt to sound like a lucid person?

This was my moment.

Of course I intend to reward her for my humiliation by showing absolutely no loyalty, and never visiting that grocery store again.

Tagged , , , , ,

In The Spirit Of The Holidays And All Things Good

Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

“You Must Be The Change You Want To See In The World”

Mahatma Ghandi

Though I spend most of my time making this blog one of light, airy humor, there are times where something of a little more substance is warranted – today is one of those times, and I do hope you read on, because this is vitally important.

One of the most poignant and valuable writers I have found on the web today is Southern Sea Muse.

She is a clinical therapist to ten broken children. Children that we – humanity – have broken. They were not born this way, but it has been their unfortunate lot in life to have the hope, faith, joy and happiness extracted painfully from them over time, by the very people who should have protected them.

SSM takes it upon herself, to spend her days doing what she can to restore their faith in us, willing them to give us another chance.

In her spare time, she portrays in such vivid detail on her blog, the lives of these children – I feel like I have stepped into their world – if only for a moment. In response to her herculean efforts, it’s up to us (yes, you and I), to take up the baton and do what we can to help her on this mission to restore what she terms as their “disintegrated hearts.”

Especially at Christmas.

SSM writes very openly in her blog about how she sees these children and their experiences, and it is insight into a world I personally cannot comprehend. A world, I need to hear and learn more of, because without education there is no understanding, and without understanding there is no call-to-action.

This being the case, I thought it a perfectly worthwhile venture to repost her latest post here (with her permission), in the hopes that more people will not just continue to stop and be thankful for a moment about how fortunate we are, but more importantly, take action and do what we  can for the forgotten children who exist in our cities.

To pave the way for a better future for them and children like them.

Without further ado,

The Sequestered Angel Tree

by Southern Sea Muse

In a land far away from our minds stands a lone angel tree today, seen by few, known by fewer. This tree is different from the rest.

You know of the others. Right now in stores across the United States stand hundreds of “angel trees,” decorated with carefully disguised identities of needy children in the community. These are children who through no fault of their own are in situations which render them financially less fortunate than other children on Christmas day. These children may live with their families or perhaps are foster children, but they still have the freedom to live with a family, attend school, and, although challenged, have a fairly typical daily routine in the daily world.

Allow me to introduce you to a similar, but rarely-seen angel tree.

This tree also has the names of carefully disguised identities of needy children, but these children are apart from the community. These children are the emotionally less fortunate who, through no fault of their own, have been subjected to and somehow survived unconscionable circumstances which have scarred their souls so badly, that they are unable to function in society as we know it. These children cannot live in a home, neither with family of origin nor foster home. These children cannot attend school due to their disintegrated hearts.

These children are locked away in an institution, both for their safety and for the safety of the community, or because they are the most emotionally fragile of children. They simply cannot handle life as we know it. They are there to mend their hearts and souls, and remain there until they are fit for society. This may take days or weeks for those in acute care; months, or even years in the long-term residential facilities…all of which are eternities, in a child’s eyes.

There they spend their days and nights, eating and sleeping, playing and fighting, wondering how they got there, and contemplating what they need to do to get out. There they try their hardest to get through each day with the shadows of their past following and haunting them, trying to do what schoolwork they can, trying to get along with others, with varying levels of success.

Some try their hardest because they have hope. Others do not try because they have given up hope, and need encouragement from one moment to the next. Still others try their hardest to show others their very worst, because if they can be disliked or violent enough, they can reject others before others have yet another chance to reject them…at least it is one thing in life they can control.

Their angel tree sits quietly in the corner of the small, empty lobby, the only unlocked room in the building. Other than the receptionist, it is only seen by the few still connected to these children who are able to visit: the state worker who must ask the child to choose between a voucher for clothing or a voucher for toys and who will be home with their family on Christmas; the ashamed, distant relative who is reluctant to be involved but wants to make a good show, the occasional lost driver who took the wrong turn down the end of the long road; the tireless staff and nurses doctors. Oh, and the UPS guy and mail carrier, neither of whom bring things addressed to specific children living there, except on rare occasions.

The requests for needs for these children seem somewhat unusual. The angels on this tree bear wishes for things like socks, because their roommate flushed their last good pair down the toilet during another one of his nightly rages, with enough bone-rattling shrieking to create a new nightmare for another child down the hall on the unit, unable to sleep…and not a shred of memory of the crisis, come sunup.

Like playing cards, since many of the games on the market, electronic or otherwise, further cause them to be unable to distinguish reality from fantasy, and may trigger violent flashbacks. Or reinforce their tendency to want to solve problems with disconnected sarcasm and indifferent violence.

Like soft, stuffed animals or dolls, since anything battery-operated requires batteries – and anyone who’s been behind those locked doors long enough knows that if you slam a battery in the door near the hinges just right, it will expose a very sharp object that can be found in the core of the battery, which can then be used as a weapon to hurt someone. Or, for the self-harmers, to cut on themselves and draw blood, and wind up wearing scrubs and on 24/7 observation for days as a result. It is unfathomable to think how a young child might learn such behavior, but there it is.

Hygiene products are also popular, since the hospital-issued products are not exactly kid-friendly, and it is much more fun by far to brush your teeth with sparkly bubble gum toothpaste, like most other children enjoy on a daily basis. A pretty ribbon for her hair. An emery board, since nail clippers are not allowed on the premises, and long nails can be used to gauge eyes in a sneak attack from behind. A SpongeBob blanket for a bed instead of the typical ho-hum hospital sheets. Warm Cinderella footie jammies. Or a visit from a volunteer big brother/big sister or mentor, an objective other who will play a game with them and listen to their story…a story most can’t bear to hear, a story which defies common sense and human rationality.

Food item requests are never found on this angel tree; some children are on strict diets due to side effects of medications. And besides, the child who roamed the streets for his next meal has been known to wheel deals with other children: “I’ll give you the coupon I earned for extra game room time, if you give me your snack.” Snacks are then discovered hoarded under mattresses, up in ceiling tiles or in the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom which the adults all assumed were locked and childproof.

Some children ask for earmuffs to block out the incessant noise, which may come from either side of their skull at any given moment.

How did they get there, anyway? It may be because their parents sold them for sex in exchange for drugs. Or left them for long periods of time to fend for themselves. Or perhaps they locked them in closets or entertainment cabinets for their convenience. Or molested them repeatedly over the course of years.

These are the children who don’t know where their parents are, and the parents are either dead from their misdeeds or are happily homeless, preferring drugs and alcohol over their child….or simply abandoned the child and left the state, never to be heard from again. Some children may know where their parents are, but their parents voluntarily turn them over to the state because they don’t want them anymore. These children may have been in 15 foster homes, with no stability or sense of permanency. These children may have been along for the ride and witnessed a drug deal gone bad, resulting in murder. Or witnessed murder in their very own living room. Or tried to murder their family during a psychotic episode.

The end result is a child who is unable to make sense out of the world, who relates to others as they have been related to, and who does not and may never know childhood, as it is supposed to be known.

These are the children we forget about because they are quietly locked away from the rest of us while they pick up the pieces of their bewildered, shattered lives. You will not see them in schools or on sports teams. You may spot them briefly at the store, at McDonald’s or on a playground closely monitored by staff, if they are deemed well enough to go out into public at the time and their medication and behavior are stable. If that is the case, you will likely not know it is them you are seeing, and it likely will not register in the moment you see them, just where it is they lay their head at night – a place where they must be to work out their raw feelings of depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis…their fear, their disappointment, their confusion, their rage

The angels on their tree represent a completely different type of need – a need that is real but often goes unknown and unheard by most.

Still needing and wanting to believe in something despite their inability to trust mankind, the younger ones hold fast to their belief in Santa. No, there is no chimney in this place, but they are assured that Santa has keys to the joint, nonetheless. Their lives may have taken an unthinkable course, but their anticipation and hope in being loved and cared for like any other human is entitled to, is no different from yours or mine.

I urge readers (and writers) to locate the nearest children’s psychiatric hospital in your area (and they are there, somewhere…I cannot point you in the direction of the children I know due to privacy and confidentiality issues). Please consider dropping off a small gift  for one of these children who will wake up Christmas morning behind locked doors…on the inside looking out, never sure when they will be ready, if ever, to be the one on the outside looking in.

This gift needn’t be material…write them an anonymous letter and tell them how brave they are, how proud you are of them for enduring all they have. Tell these children that they can do it, that they are loved, admired and respected. That they are believed, that their feelings are real and important. Tell them that they matter. Color them a rainbow with your words, that they might be assured that their world will hopefully not flood like that again.

Such a small gesture has incredibly meaningful ramifications.

For what is small to us, is huge to them, bigger than we might ever guess…whether or not we remember about their angel tree now and in years to come. Like a standout, cherished childhood memory, they will remember, and it may just be the one memory of hope and love that will help heal them on their horrific journey. It may be the one thing they have, hold, hang on to and refer back to as the biggest spark of light that brought them through their darkness.

God, help us all help the sequestered and forgotten children of the world, the ones least seen in our communities – the ones who most need miracles and a reason to believe again.

Tagged ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 795 other followers

%d bloggers like this: