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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Name Game

A customer looked at my name badge today and cried out, “Bruce! What a manly name! I have a cat named Bruce. It’s a girl.”

I’m one of the few people in the world who doesn’t mind their own name. I don’t even mind the nicknames associated with it. I’ve always been called Bruce The Goose or Bruce The Moose, but as a teenager my favourite was Loose Bruce, which I always wished I’d had the opportunity to earn.

I love having kids.  Admittedly this may not come across during homework or at bedtime, but it’s true. Like all parents I love the hugs and the little kisses and the hilarious things they say borne out of innocence. Like when Master6 told Tracey her bum was fat. Hilarious.

Without a doubt the best thing about having kids, though, is naming them. I’m picking names from the moment we conceive.

In my humble opinion, the world’s worst baby namer is (was) Frank Zappa, father of Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen. Makes Gwyneth’s young Apple look un-newsworthy, doesn’t it? A friend of ours worked in Africa as a teacher in the eighties and had students named Shower Rack and Chlamydia, because the parents didn't speak English and liked the way the words sounded. And people got upset when I suggested Texas Katie for Miss7 ?!? 

Tracey considers herself quite busy enough making eyebrows and getting the fingernails in the right spots to bother with names. However she did insist on naming the last one – and it was a very frustrating process for me because she took forever.

Making the whole thing even more time consuming is Tracey won’t allow us to use names we’d chosen for previous children. Names we’ve loved and then discarded as good-as-used have included Charlie, Harley, Emily and Lachlan. Feel free to use them. We won’t be.

Funnily enough, my wife’s one suggestion this time around for a girl’s name has been Grace. Until she realised she already had a daughter with that name. Ladies, can I just say it is both a privilege and a pleasure to watch a baby brain in action.  It was pleasing she was finally making a suggestion though, because her input is usually confined to single word responses – yes or no. Mainly no.

I’ll say Mary, she’ll say no. I’ll say Siobhan, she’s say no. I’ll say Mary, she’ll say no. I’ll say Kitty, she’ll say no. I’ll say Heather, she’ll say no. I’ll say Kimberly, she’ll say no. I’ll say Mary, she’ll say no.

I've been trying to have a girl named Mary for 19 years. I had a dog named Mary in PNG. I loved that dog.

One thing Tracey is especially good at is avoiding baby naming potholes – she’s really good at word association. I’ll say Charlotte, she’s say harlot. I’ll say Beatrice, she’ll say Beetroot. I'll say Jane, she'll say Plain Jane. I’ll say Mary, she’ll say no.

I have no less than five baby name books in the house which I’ve picked up at book sales and garage sales, and there is usually a baby name website open on my laptop. We (I) like to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl fairly early in the process because it halves the workload. This time is a little different because although we won’t find out if it’s a boy or a girl until next week we've sorted the boy’s name at least – Christopher, after a dear departed friend of ours.

But as much as I really want to name a boy for my friend the real reason I want a boy is I’m about three months and a few hundred no’s off having a girl’s one ready.

Although it’s just occurred to me lots of people name their kid’s after themselves. And apparently Bruce is a girl’s name. Right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mummy & Daddy Sitting In a Tree

"I know what sex is," our young Miss7 announced in the bath tonight, and Tracey and I froze dead in our tracks.

I've always held with the notion that the time to talk to the kids about s.e.x. is when they ask. This worked really well for Master19 & Miss16 because they didn't ask until they were into the double digits. Their Birds & Bees talk involved a whiteboard and several coloured markers, with topics ranging from 'No Means No' to 'Don't Rush The Bases'. It took an hour and there was the threat of an exam if they didn't listen up.

I am not ready to discuss all this with my seven year old. Or my six year old. Or my three year old. The likelihood of having to go into the S-word with all three of them suddenly seemed a possibility because Miss3 and Master6 were also in the bathroom when Miss7 made her statement, and they seemed as startled by her outburst as we were. Well maybe more interested than startled.

Tracey recovered first. "And what do you think sex is?" Good. Good question. She wasn't giving anything away. I'd have botched that one.

"It's lots of kissing," Miss7 informed us all. And we breathed a sigh of relief. Until the next question came out of her mouth. "You guys have lots of sex, don't you?"

You know I wouldn't usually condone telling fibs to the kids but I didn't correct Tracey when she told them that yes, we have lots and lots of sex. That settled, we continued to dry and dress the kids.

"And you take your clothes off," added Miss7. I knew her mother and I were doing it wrong.

Master6 had heard just about enough of this ridiculous topic by this point, demanding to know, "What have you guys been teaching her?"

Seriously son, I'm starting to wonder myself.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Something Old, Something New

A workmate rang me this week from down the coast and said she was sending up a bag of clothes for me to go through for our kids. It turns out a friend of hers had passed on the clothes but it would be years before her little Miss could wear them so rather than keep them in a cupboard she thought of us.

The bag arrived today via another mutual friend and work colleague (the social network at it's best) and it was full of wow. I mean every time Tracey pulled out another skirt she would literally go, "Wow."

We chose half a dozen items and the rest I'm taking into work for the other parents to look through. We could keep them all but there was more than enough quality Pumpkin Patch in the bag to go round.

This afternoon Tracey ducked down to Target with the skirts to match up some nice new tops and guess what? The tops were on sale for $4 each.

I loves me a bargain.

Thank you Karen for being so thoughtful x

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Home (almost) alone

Tracey was called into work tonight so I got complete control of the remote and fridge. Happy days :)

First things first though - had to get the kids fed and bathed and teeth brushed and into bed.

Then homework done and then kids back into bed. Then dishes done, tidy the kitchen, change a dirty nappy, put a wandering four year old back in her bed, threaten chattering seven year old, feed the dog and lunches made.

Then make a tea, raid the fridge (found an apple), sit down and watch...."Hi Tracey. How was work?"

Ah well, maybe next time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Life As a Soccer Mum

Cousin7 & Miss7 - same team, different ball game

My immediate response upon arriving at the soccer fields yesterday was to cuss my wife, who was at work, for managing to avoid the one weekend the kids were playing, judging by the smell, on freshly blood & boned grass.  Because of the foul stench my kids spent the vast majority of their time complaining about having poo on their shoes and then trying to scrap it off on my jeans.

This is the first year we’ve enrolled our youngest kids into sport. We asked the kids what sport they wanted to do this year and Miss7 said gym, Master6 said he wanted to be a Pokemon Master and Miss4 chose ballet. I don’t know why we asked. No two of our children have ever chosen the same things under any circumstances, whether it be Sunday night movie or breakfast spread. So after much deliberation we went for the middle ground and signed all three up for soccer.

Master6 (green shirt) in one of the few moments he had his hands out of his pockets.

Of prime consideration this year were the purse strings - for less money than it would cost to enrol Miss7 alone into gymnastics we signed up three kids to soccer.

Unfortunately, though, it hasn’t been a universally popular decision. 

Little Miss4, for example, was young enough to be in squirts this year. Since the second week I’ve had to bribe her with hotdogs and sour sweets to get her to take off her tutu and join us in the car. All season she’s had this embarrassing mantra-isque thing going on whereby every time she kicks the ball she mumbles, “boring.” Only time she got excited about squirts was in one exercise where they had to spin around before kicking the ball and she got to execute some delightful pirouettes.

Of the three, Master6 is the one who genuinely enjoys his Saturday morning of sport. Although we’re never altogether sure he’s going to play soccer when the game kicks off. At the beginning of the season Master6 had a signature move which involved adopting a karate stance for the kick off and yelling catchy warcries at the opposition, like “We’re gonna kill you!”

Fortunately we’ve managed to talk Kung Fu Beckham down from treating each game like street fight.

This week Master6 seems to have developed a new move whereby he jumps at the ball, swings his foot in an upward arch while tossing his head back, inevitably missing the ball entirely, nearly topples to the ground before catching his balance at the last second with a beautifully executed 360 degree spin. By this stage the ball is generally in the net and the opposing team is jumping up and down and high fiving each other.

The other thing he does now is to play the whole game with his hands in his pockets. While he assures me he only does this because it’s cold no one else on the field ever seems to have an issue with the weather. I seem to recall his older brother spent much of his teens ‘keeping his hands warm’ in his pockets.  They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Miss7 playing with her hair and giving me the 'can I come off now' look.
Master6 is a lot more into soccer than his sister, although they've both scored goals during the season. Miss7 managed to score from a defending position. Unfortunately it was an own goal, but it was the first time in the season she made contact with the ball, so I was torn whether to praise her or not. On the field, my sweet Miss7 isn’t so much a defender as an obstacle to be circumvented. It’s not that she doesn’t try while she’s on the field, she just doesn’t try to play soccer.

This week Miss7 spent much of her game time playing shadow puppets with her hair. She nearly kicked the ball on one occasion - racing up to it in an uncharacteristic moment of focus and burst of speed - but stopped short mere inches from the ball as though she had no idea what to do with it now she'd caught it. More in character was the thirty seconds after the game where she stood statue still in the midfield staring at the clouds before realizing everyone was going home.

I’m probably the only parent in G-town who would be happy for his girl to have nil game time. All season I’ve wanted to ask her coach to just let her stand there on the sideline in the bright yellow jersey looking like she’s part of the team but without any chance she'll singlehandedly lose the game.

Master6 looking for shade, his hat being one of only a number
of things he forgot  to bring with him, like his waterbottle & nunchucks
Afterwards an announcement was made there would be regular training sessions over summer for anyone who wanted to practice - this was met with thunderous cheers from the kids.

Then the coach said next week would be the final game for the season, at which point my daughter air punched the sky and yelled, "Yeah!!" all by herself.

Miss7 showing her Mum how excited she is about the season coming to a close.
So I think we’ve learnt our lesson this year that you can’t put a square peg in a round hole and there are some things we just have to suck it up and spend the money on. Despite the cost I think next year we’ll be enrolling Miss7 into gymnastics after all.

As for Miss4, well gymnastics is a bit like ballet, isn’t it?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pet Hates

Over the years we haven’t had much success with pets, whether we’re talking an epileptic dog or our inbreeding guinea pig program. The guinea pigs were horrible pets – they’re just manure factories. Their Tic-Tac shaped output somehow seemed far in excess of their green leafy input.

Our poor pet history has come to the fore again this week because Miss7 has decided she wants a budgie. We've said no, but of course that's only made her more determined.

So what does a seven year old do when she wants a budgie but the parents aren't forthcoming? Well she makes a nest, takes a few eggs from the fridge and then ... waits.

The reason we don’t want a budgie is we’ve had one before, when Master19 was a mere Master8, and it was messy and loud and painful. Not that the budgie was particularly loud, but my protests at having to feed and water and sweep up after it were. Plus the silly thing wouldn't sit, or rollover, or balance a ball on its beak or anything. Worst pet ever. Anyway it obviously didn't think much of us either because it went all 'Great Escape' on us after a couple of days and flew away.

Escape artist pets aren’t novel in the Devereaux household. We seem to inspire them somehow. We have a pet – a wonderfully well behaved and sweet natured fluffy white dog named Jazz – who one day may rival Houdini for her disappearing acts.

Jazz came to us when she was less than a year old, from a good family with an unsuitable home, and without fences she was always running away and licking the neighbours. Our fence has only slowed her down, rather than stopped her, from roaming the neighbourhood. We play this game with her where she runs up to us in the morning with dirt all over her white coat and we spend the next several hours trying to work out where she’s tunnelling. I feel like Colonel Klink to her Colonel Hogan.  

A friend of ours stumbled across an ad seeking a good home for Jazz just at the time we were thinking we needed to attend to our young children’s fear of dogs. So we got a free pure bred dog for nothing where we’ve friends who pay hundreds, or indeed thousands, for their four legged pals. Okay, so we didn’t get to enjoy the fun puppy stage where they pee all over the place and chew on shoes, but it was a trade off I was prepared to make.

As for the whole ‘fear of dogs’ solution, we’ve cured two out of three. Our Jazz just wants to be loved. Unfortunately for her, Miss4 thinks Jazz wants to eat her. When Jazz licks her though Miss4 is convinced it’s more the sort of lick you give a Paddle Pop before you take a bite off the top rather than a dog-kiss sort of lick. Still, Jazz The Infinitely Patient remains calm despite Miss4’s howling screams of protest which bring close neighbours running to their windows.

I’d really like to claim she’s a great dog because of all the time we put into her, but my pants would burst into flames and engulf my nether regions. It’s simply that her previous owners have trained her to such a high level we haven’t been able to undermine it (yet).

I haven’t been able to teach Jazz many tricks yet, although I entertain thoughts where we send film of her dancing around on her hind legs into Australia’s Funniest Home Videos and we win stuff. So far the only trick she does is where food falls off the kids’ spoons onto the floor and she licks it up. I call it The Dustpan.

My parents were not a lot better at pet owning either. I remember dropping in to their house as they were packing to move house and my mother marched past me with her goldfish in a plastic bag.

“You aren’t moving for three days yet. Will they be alright in that until you set up their tank in the new place?” I asked.

“Oh, they aren’t coming with us,” my mother answered, opening the freezer and shoving the bag in.

So I’m guessing genetically I wouldn’t be any better at fish ownership than I am at dogs, or was at guinea pigs or budgies.

I saw a woman on the telly the other night who had a pig for a pet. Tracey scoffed a bit but my first thought was, “That’s brilliant!” Afterall, we don’t eat dog and in a post apocalyptic world it’d be handy to have an extra food source trotting around the house.
She looks so hopeful :)

I have ‘a thing’ (Tracey calls it ‘a problem’) where I can’t see animals as anything other than the sum of their meat cuts. When we go to Underwater World I get seriously hungry looking at all the potential Chilli Crabs and sushi scampering around the tanks. And the fillets on some of those fish!  If I worked there all I’d need to bring for lunch would be a deep fryer and a spud, and maybe make a nice aioli.

There’s also a lip-smacking good time to be had at petting zoos. If we go to a petting zoo it’s not so much an opportunity to let the kids touch animals as it is an opportunity for me to teach them where bacon, drumsticks and meat pies come from. Sometimes the kids won’t eat their dinner for days.

Miss7 has just walked up to me with her bird’s nest and asked if she can put it next to her bed tonight. I think she’s worried I’ll put them back in the fridge while she’s asleep. She’s also concerned we’ll have nowhere to keep the little budgies when they get here.

But we're very supportive parents so of course we've told Miss7 we'll buy a cage and some seed the moment the chicks hatch.

And if there’s no movement by Wednesday maybe I’ll show her where omelettes come from.

For more evidence of how poor we are as pet owners, try this post Oh my dog, what have we done or for more on my dog-fearing screaming children All that Jazz.

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