Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Case of the Missing Underpants

Perhaps this is fuelled by my underlying laziness, but I strongly believe that a family should be a team. No one person should do all the household jobs to keep everything tickity-boo. Everyone needs to play their part in making the house and family run smoothly. Like every other family (or are we really the only ones?) we go through phases of doling out jobs to our boys and phases of just getting on with it because it isn't worth the tumultuous battle.

Recently we have been in a 'jobs' phase. I realised that Toby (#1 son) is super organised and actually relishes the prospect of cleaning or tidying. It is never a fight to get him to do a job and he carries it out with careful precision. I also realised that because he is like this and Max (#2 son) is the total opposite, we never ask Max to do anything. Asking Max to clear the table and load the dishwasher would be like asking a pig to clean up it's own pigsty. Instead of cleaning, the mess would be spread more thoroughly around the room and the dishwasher would be loaded up so that it doesn't shut. You may think I exaggerate...... you should see his bedroom.

However, this is no excuse for Max not to learn how to help around the house. In fact, it gives us even more reason to teach him. He needs to learn to think of others. He, more so than Toby, needs to learn about planning and organisation and doing a few small jobs will help him with this. I do not want my boys to leave home without learning how to run a house. I do not want them to have to rely on another woman to cook for them, do their washing and clean up after them. They need to learn responsibility.

To combat this I decided to give Max the job of laying the table and putting his own clothes away after I have washed and (occasionally) ironed them. I leave them in his bedroom on a Monday morning, and on Monday evenings he puts them all away. Toby has been doing this for about 3 years without any hiccups. In fact, I think Toby privately enjoys the putting away process. The first week, I showed Max how to do it. The next week, I watched while he did it. Since then, he has done it without complaining and seems to enjoy the responsibility. This week, he even put away Jonah's clothes too.

Therein lies the problem. In putting away Jonah's clothes, he seems to have confused the process. I now find Jonah's shorts in Max's pyjama drawer and Max's socks in Jonah's t-shirt drawer. Not only that, but Max's underpants seem to have totally disappeared. We have looked through every drawer, on every surface and under every bed but the pants are not there. This leaves us with a dilemma. Whilst we want to encourage Max's brave attempts at organisation, we do not want to keep sacrificing essential items of clothing each week to the bottomless wardrobe of lost clothes. Perhaps they are with the odd socks that seem to magically disappear out of the washing machine. Do I go out and buy him more pants, only to find the old ones on my return, or do I keep searching?

We will continue with the uphill endeavours to teach our boys these important things. Despite lost clothes; dusting that spreads the dust instead of wiping it up; hoovering that misses out enormous chunks of a room; table laying that gives us back to front cutlery and folded clothes that get squashed up and squeezed into drawers only to become creased again; we will press on with our arduous mission.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Frogs.... again...

Frog catching season has begun again in earnest. The hunter / gatherer instinct has kicked in, although thankfully we will not have to eat the catch. I know, for some, this may seem strange or even cruel, but actually this activity has unseen benefits for our boys. (And, from what Jared tells me, this is nowhere near as cruel as the things he used to do to frogs when he was younger.... Come on men, admit it, you all killed slugs with salt and burnt other insects with magnifying glasses in the sun...).

Frog Catching Reason #1
A selfish reason, yes, but they all go outside and they go for a long time!

Frog Catching Reason #2
For the whole time they are a-hunting, they do not argue. This means hours on end without silly squabbles and "I'm telling Muuuum". The reason for this is because they are all focused on the end product.

Frog Catching Reason #3
The teamwork they exhibit is second to none. I have never seen them work as a team in any other situation as they do when they are frog catching. They work together, they congratulate each other, they even , and this is your time to gasp, speak kind words to each other!

Frog Catching Reason #4
Believe it or not, they actually learn how to handle 'animals' (I know, for all you clever people, a frog is not actually an animal but for the purposes of this document....). They have to hold their catch gently (sometimes this is taking it too far for Max, but he does try) and they learn about the frog's habitat. They make little homes for them with water in so that they don't burn. I even caught Toby talking lovingly to one, but don't tell him I told you or his hard sought after macho image will be ruined.

Frog Catching Reason #5
It is fun, and boys enjoy it. There is nothing like a good hunt to get their adrenalin levels racing and when they have found one there is great rejoicing and excitement.

It is hard for me, as a girl and a mum, to actually let them do this, but I am now convinced of the benefits even if, when they present their finds to me, my insides churn and I cannot look upon the frog for too long without feeling rather queasy. It is in their nature to hunt and this helps them express it. Come on men, let me hear your frog (and other 'hunting') stories...

Thursday, 6 May 2010


My days have been so filled with mud, den-making, fires, filling hungry boy's stomachs, Electricity birthday parties (don't ask) and a busy-ness of life that I have not had alot of time to write recently. I have missed it. It does not even matter to me whether anyone reads my ramblings or not (go on... now is your opportunity to delete me from your list...), there is something in me that needs to write. I write to explore my own thoughts and feelings. I write to bring clarity to myself (as clear as the mud that Max rolled in after he had taken off all his clothes).

I have had a pensive morning. In between making mega-block houses for cows and dancing to The Wiggles, my brain continues to function on a different level. It churns over and over and, because I am busy creating Mr Potatohead's different faces, I cannot ever come to any proper conclusions to my thoughts until I can sit and write. I find it very hard to be in this situation when my brain is working overtime and yet my hands are tied to babywipes and runny noses.

Forgive me if I am making no sense. I am (yet again) deliberating my future and wondering what the next step will be once my littlest boy is at school. Whilst I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity, having been at home with my boys for 8 years, I am more than bored of doing the same things over and over and need to find a way of expressing myself in a different way. When I look at women who work, I am overwhelmed by the adult language they use and the confidence that oozes out of them. I feel child-like in comparison and if I was ever to go for a job interview up against anyone like that I would not stand a chance. After all, I may be an expert at nappy rash, toddler tantrums and feeding a family on a budget, but this just does not seem to transfer to the world of work.

What is the hope for mum's like me who stay at home to give these years of their lives to their children? Which politician in today's election is going to support a mum like me who chooses to stay at home? While other women are advancing their careers, we are cleaning up puke and teaching children how to put their shoes on. When, finally, it will be my turn to enter the world of work, what will I have to offer them?

I know this is deep, and possibly fairly melancholic. As I have said in previous posts I do not wish to offend anyone, especially working mothers, whatever your reason for working. I know that everyone makes their own choices and I am not intending to put any guilt trips on anyone! These are purely my own thoughts and ramblings which I needed to write down!

Aaaah, that's better. My mind is almost clear again now. Back to sorting out the laundry then.....