Category: LGBB

The following is an old trip down memory lane, originally posted on Sept. 5, 2008.

 

Sitting at the kitchen bench this morning, the LGBB was chatting to her Little People and making them take turns with each other (“No, iss not your turn, iss MY turn…” “No! Not MY turn, iss MY turn!” Geez, are they bossy… and slightly confused) while I was writing in her baby book for the first time in ages.

I was full of happy, recording some of the things she had done, when Lolly came up to me as I was taking a sip of tea and held out her curled fist. Wassat? she asked, curiosity in her voice. What’s what? I answered. And then I did a dumb thing. I held out my hand to receive what was in her little hand.

That’s when she unfurled her fist and let a little pebble drop out into my waiting palm. A strangely organic-looking pebble. Hmmm…. animal, vegetable or mineral? Oh. Actually, last night’s dinner, I think.

“Ummmm, darlin’…. that’s poo,” I said calmly, my mind ticking fast. She’s not become one of those kids who reaches in to her nappy and does a bit o’ painting has she? She’s such a neat little girl, that’s so unlike her. As I looked past her slightly worried and concerned upturned face, her eyes searching mine to see if this was a good, bad or indifferent interaction we were having, I caught sight of another larger “pebble” on the floorboards over where she’d been playing.

I rolled up my sleeves for a bout of impromptu cleaning, sighed and then carried her to the nearest bathroom. Poor little poppet was SO sure she’d done something wrong that I had to stifle a giggle as she lay there making the sweetest, most obviously embarrassed, distraction-tactic small talk, complete with little chuckles over garbled words and hands flying to her mouth in mock shock over whatever it was she was trying to relay. But I had to correct her when she said very clearly that she was silly. I explained what had happened and she listened intently as I let her know she had not done anything silly or wrong and that her nappy had, well, malfunctioned. Although I think I probably said it was her nappy that was the silly one, or something like that.

Best start setting to and clean her up, I thought, looking down at her still twittering away to herself (probably trying hard to imagine herself anywhere but here). I braced myself and began to delicately unwrap the present so kindly laid by the LGBB for me. But there was nothing. The nappy was empty. This was a case of *cue dramatic music and echoey microphone* Phantom Poo. I saw the track marks down both her legs, which promptly reminded me of Mr Hanky bouncing all over Kyle’s bathroom and leaving brown squelch marks wherever he lands as he sings merrily… but no more pebbles. Anywhere. It certainly was curious. For some reason, “On Top Of Spaghetti (all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed…”) started playing in my head. Those little pebbles couldn’t possibly have made such happy trails on their own, down her little legs and out the door. Could they? I was certain it must be at least meatball-sized, whatever I was looking for.

Before my brain could command control of my hands, I shook the pj’s I was holding at the exact split-second when my brain registered they were a tad heavier than they ought. Why? Why did I give her pants a flick, dear reader? Of course you know what happened, don’t you? The weightiness was all made perfectly clear as it flopped onto the floor at my feet.

TA-DAH!

I could have cried. But it was so funny that I almost whistled while I cleaned.

I am going mad. Can you tell?

 

 

Sometimes we just sit and think. But mostly, we just sit.

There was once upon a time a little golden-haired girl who loved nothing more than… doing nothing.

She grew up and moved through various days at occasional care – where she began to accept that personal space was something that could and would be intruded upon, often, by peers who wouldn’t take her determined little hands held at arms’ length (or a simple “No”) for an answer – then kindergarten,  where she learnt that to be friends in a group, there was always going to be one… or two… or even three or more… of your friends who wouldn’t, could not possibly, compromise.

Growing up is tough. Watching them grow up is tough too. How can it be that I haven’t tainted her? When I stop and think back to her time in my belly – yes, even all the way back then – I knew I was in for a ride. This kid, this slow, steady, solid old soul, would be a salve. I knew it. Recently, I have forgotten it. If I am not careful, I run the risk of overlaying too much of my own “stuff” on her. It is time to get responsible again. I am going to detox my ‘tude!

As the years have drawn on, I have sat on my hands (by and large) and let the winds dance between her experiences and when (or if) she chooses to tell me about them. To this day, she has the space at home to pause, contemplate and gaze out a window of her safe house. I daren’t interrupt her during those times. I must remember not to see that as her being idle in those times. This is the recharge. This is how it is ordained to happen for her.

I muse from time to time that, even though there is angst and there are tears over the fact that there are no other siblings for her in this house, ultimately, the setup she has right now has untold advantages for her. How am I to know what is in store for this child (how are we to know that for any of our children)? There are times when, as she moves through her days and I try my best to gently guide from the sidelines without inputting or overriding too much of my own instilled insecurities or grievances or agendas on her, I wonder how any of us blossom into who we are truly meant to be. Untainted.

All I know is, as much as it is within my power, I will not burden her with views that are my own, sayings that were my mother’s (and hers, and hers before her), lessons from my father (and his before his), patterns of behaviour that are too weighty for her to take on. I feel sometimes as though I am straddling existences; one is me as a girl my daughter’s age and recalling how I used to react to things that my daughter now sometimes finds herself the recipient of; the other is the adult me, with the knowledge of all those years it took to unburden myself from the layers heaped upon me (not bad, not unworthy, not ever wrong…. but just simply now redundant for me in my new adult life).

How can I knowingly pile similar sayings and lessons upon her, when I can already see her responses to certain things are different to my own (at her age)? I can’t. I can’t go in with my sword held high and give her the script. It would be entirely inappropriate for her to deliver a line that I have fed her. This is her impromptu play. The one, the only version of that play called Life that she will act out.

I want to sit back and enjoy the show, not heckle from the audience. Not taint her with my love. For while it is only through deep love for her that I want her to be her best, and while I am always here, cheering her on and more than happy to guide when she comes to me, it is not my play. It is this knowledge that heals me further. She heals me. For one thing, she shows me daily that there is not an ounce of People Pleaser in her. I’m gobsmacked I have had a hand in creating someone who doesn’t do that, frankly. But it also shows me how far I have come. That you can heal (and change) yourself, that you can raise a child free from the shackles that held you back.

Anything is possible. And if you ever think it’s not… well, then, there is always the option to just sit. The way forward will reveal itself soon enough.

 

The day looks like any other.

I get up before the sun, pull on shorts and a tee, grab the dog’s lead, tie my laces and we’re away. Half an hour later, I check plants in the front garden. Check for new shoots on the baby gum we planted around Christmas time. Come inside, flick on the kettle and the radio.

After the school dash, I return home. Work a day. Pay some bills, hang some washing. Clean mouse shit out of the pantry from an unexpected visit – for when are rodents expected? Really? – and restack the shelf. Admire my handiwork with those Ikea shelving units I bought a few months back. Collect the LGBB from school again, take her to her after school sport. Come home, give her tea. Say goodnight to Dad via the phone, tuck her into bed and marvel at the skin on her forehead, all rosy-smelling from her bath.

I helped bring that skin to being. This flesh and blood. My own. My only. Her brow furrows. I forgot to read her the story of Little Ella, she reminds me. Ulp. Forgot or conveniently overlooked in the hopes you wouldn’t remember I had promised, I wanted to ask her. [It was the latter, by the way]. So I trudged up and got the story out, brought it back to her bedside and began reading.

Half way through, changing words and skipping some of the harder bits (for her) here and there, she sits up. “Where am I?” she asks. “I want to see my name in there.” I grapple with my maternal instinct that wants to tell her to give her sister a turn…. It’s impossible. I have to try and explain to this kid that sometimes, it’s right for us – her, me and her dad – to give Ellanor some of our conscious attention. Some brain time. A loving thought. A gesture like reading the story about her is one way we do this.

I’m not prepared for nights like these. There have been plenty in Lolly’s young life – but probably not as often as you’d imagine or expect – and they still grip me by the heart. Twist my insides. Keep me close to my fears over Lolly’s own mortality. It reminds me how close underneath the thin surface they lie. Lurking.

Today, I found out about a technique – kinesiology-linked, I believe? – that gets a body in touch with where it is holding its trauma. And helps the inhabitant of that body to actually release it. I’m thinking my current health issues are related to the ongoing post-traumatic stress I have. Most days, months, years, I can walk with it and I’ve learned to walk with it and chip away at it. Sometimes, I even pretend it doesn’t bother me that others in similar shoes to mine seem to be able to “move on” far more quickly and not bring these things to the surface.

Then I slap myself around a bit and remind myself this can’t possibly be true. They just choose to surface it in different (and likely more private than a blog) ways.

“I just want a sister.” My beautiful blonde-haired girl is sobbing deeply into her Scrapsy. His ear gets gently rubbed across her cheek, a comfort move she has done with her little soft dog since she was twelve months old. Thank God for that bit of fur and stuffing. Where would we all be without Scraps, I muse. And how the hell do I reply? So I tell her honestly.

“We tried, darlin’. And you were the only one who stayed. Out of all Mummy and Daddy’s babies, you are the only special one who stayed with us.” And now I’m dripping silent tears I hope she can’t see in the dark.

“I’m sorry, Mummy,” she reaches her hand out and cups my cheek, rubbing it slightly.

“What for?”

“You’re crying,” she says, crying herself. Damn. I assure her my tears are not for her to worry herself over. She goes to sleep knowing she is loved. Holding Scrapsy tight, a smile on her lips.

Each time I think I might turn away from this blog, that it is too morose, that I am not putting enough “fluff and light and funny stuff” here, I am pulled up sharply. By my reality, by my responsibility to actually help to balance out the rest of the privileged world’s crud and fluff and light (and gossip and obsession on material things and image and looks and gains and wins and competitions with each other). There are plenty of places for those things to be found and tapped into.

I’ve got to be real. This is my reality. I can’t say yes all the time, be all the things to all the people. The more peripheral, the more likely they’re the first not to be said yes to, their gaze not going to be met by my eyes. I can’t engage all the time. I’m in constant preparation for the energy it takes to sit by the side of my daughter who hurts in bursts.

I don’t begrudge any of this, regret anything. This is my daily grind. And it is – truly – beautiful.

 

One of my oldest memories of my Dad is associated with the radio.

I know this because just this morning, as I was driving home from dropping the LGBB to school, I was in such an alpha-state of thinking that the sound of the news “anthem” on ABC Classic sent me back to being a youngster, hearing that same tune, as Dad probably pottered about doing dishes in the kitchen. I can remember being on the floor playing with something or other and hearing it. I can remember boxes of breakfast cereal (and being taught how to meticulously roll-fold the plastic bag and then fold it down so that it stayed fresh in the box…) and hearing it, little cups of pineapple juice – my favourite as a child and like liquid gold – being poured and hearing it, the realisation that juice and my cereal milk do NOT mix… and hearing it.

That theme heralding the beginning of the news.

I remember hearing it as he would drive me each morning to the station so I could catch the train to school when I lived with him and my stepmum during my final two years of high school. They were two of the happiest, most fulfilling years of my entire life. You know when you look back in retrospect and realise an underpinning theme in your life that brings you a sense of comfort even now?

For me, it is this – synonymous with my father – composer Charles Williams’s Majestic Fanfare (give it a few seconds, the music comes in eventually):

 

Such a seemingly insignificant 18 seconds. One that shouldn’t have factored much in a child’s day. But there you have it. It seeped in.

And I wonder now, as Lolly enjoys so much the Tears On Toast spot each morning on ABC Classic FM (this year it’s with the lovely and affable-sounding Emma Ayres), if this memory is being created in her too. She does love a bit of fanfare herself and breaks into comedic opera stylings.

Which brings me to the main point of this post (so there WAS a point…!).

This Saturday in Melbourne’s Iwaki Auditorium, we are going to see Richard Gill – we love him! – and the MSO. We are going to be inspired and lifted by music, once again, and this time, for the first time at one of these live orchestral performances, by song.

I am so excited to see the LGBB’s reaction to the singing this time. I have noticed that when any operatic pieces come on in the morning on our drive, particularly the females, she stops speaking. Occasionally, she will exclaim at the end of one, “That was a lovely song!”

Singing is in the blood, after all. It is true!

Is it in yours?

 

Oooh look, is that my Orchestra Boyfriend, Benjamin Northey…? I love him too.

If you are in Melbourne, I highly – can’t highly enough! – recommend you take yourself and your children, whatever their age/s, to one of these MSO performances sometime.
Sing! is on every day for the remainder of this week. So easily accessible and you will not be disappointed if you grab yourself some affordable tickets for an impromptu outing.

In fact, I am confident recommending anything on offer under the Classic Kids banner. Truly, you will love it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably actually cry as well from being in the sheer presence of such beautiful, unified sound.

Ahhhhh. Bring on Saturday! I’ve gots me a hankering for some live opera now!

 

 

Sing! Get tickets.


Check out the 2013 Classic Kids calendar

* I received 3 tickets for the performance this weekend, but the opinions and gushing expressed here are all my own and would be done on any given day, regardless.

Can you believe it? We went to Japan. The land of earthquakes. And we didn’t feel one. Not a quiver.

Some of you may not realise that I am home from Japan now. As I sit and type, I can hear out of one ear and the other…. well, the other is not a happy little camper. See, on Sunday while standing in my brother’s kitchen waiting for the typhoon to reach us later that night, my left ear suddenly felt “funny.” I may have said something out loud. My brother may or may not have harumphed a half-answer in acknowledgement of having heard some noise emitting from my general direction (he was reading, on the computer, don’t you know not to interrupt him? Choh!). So I did what anyone would do – I stuck my finger in my ear and pulled it out…. I won’t describe what I fetched, but it wasn’t “normal”.

I played it down, blotted the slow leak with a tissue and put my sudden lack of hearing in that side down to “my stupid sinuses” and kept on packing.

That evening, we had to go to a piano recital for my 10-year-old niece (as you do when a typhoon is coming… sure, let’s all bunker down in the auditorium and hope the cars are still there when we come out! Sounds like a hoot!). Strangely, I was feeling worse and worse but I couldn’t put a finger on just what it was. Nausea? Pain? Not exactly. Just…. pressure. In my body. Perhaps I could feel the impending doom of what was to befall me the next day when I attempted to fly home. While we sat and joined in the polite quiet golf-clapping after each performance over the next hour and a half, for some weird reason my brother’s clapping behind me was ear-splitting. Certain frequencies were beginning to hit me in the short and curlies and it was very unpleasant. Still, I had no *actual* pain. Curious. I began to feel like an empty can buckling under unseen air pressure.

In the morning, I thanked the heavens that although I had felt as if I had spent the night in a boat what with all the rocking of the house and squally winds that threatened to shake the window shutters clean off, the house was still standing. Even if the long grass in the adjacent vacant lot was not (it had been flattened sideways overnight by the high winds).  I was on the final day of what had been our wonderful trip to Tokyo and surrounds. We were heading home.

That is, if the ENT doctor cleared me to fly.

While I sat in the waiting room next to my sister inlaw, she filled in a patient sheet for me. In Japanese. I watched as she deftly wrote out my details and explained my symptoms and I couldn’t decipher a thing on the page. A young boy who had gone in ahead of us was heard screaming out. I asked Kyoko if I could get a jellybean if I was a good girl. Chortle-chortle. Little did I know what awaited me.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this happy holiday ending. It’s already gone on far too long. And I haven’t even got to the bit about the trip in the ambulance.


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