Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Nostalgia Central

With all the baby girls that have been arriving around here both at church and at school, I woke up with a deep desire to see this little girl again. Praise God for video cameras and parents who transfer the hundreds of segments of tape onto DVDs. I sat myself down with a box of tissues and a disc entitled 1999 and listened to my beautiful baby with her funny little English accent telling me about her sore back and opening Easter eggs and birthday presents.

When the 17 year old version emerged from her lair at 9am with long, tousled hair and sleep laden eyes, she plonked herself down on top of me like she used to do, and I slowly lost feeling in my legs.

Even Himself observed how weird it was to see her there, like that, and here, like this, at the same time.

What would our ancestors have made of it?

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sage Advice From an Expert!

I thought this article from psychologist Kirrilee Smout was worth sharing. Her website is:


Why are Teens Rude?

I saw a mum, Tina (names/details changed) this week who was despairing about the rudeness of her 15 year old daughter, Jess.  Tina said Jess was polite and friendly to her teachers, other adults and friends, but as this ended as soon as she walked in the door at home.  Tina told me that Jess  would often rudely make demands, grunt when she was asked questions or just ignore her. 
Unfortunately, this is not an unusual story.  Teens are often surly and disrespectful with parents.    There are many reasons for why rudeness happens – and I thought it might be useful to outline a few of them below.
Social tiredness:  Teens often spend many hours of their day thinking about how they are perceived by their peers, trying to be liked by friends, thinking about past and future conversations and what to say, the intricacies of teen relationships, comments on facebook, how they look to others and who is going to invite them out next.  The social thinking and planning teens have to do to survive these days is extensive – and exhausting.  Some teens don’t have much energy left for more social interactions with their parents – and rudeness results. 
Lack of understanding:  Most teens aren’t fully aware of the impact of their rude behaviour on their parents.  They don’t really know how parents feel when they are ignored or snapped at.  They don’t fully appreciate or understand that their rudeness seems like a rejection or a lack of caring or appreciation.  Having not experienced  parenthood themselves, they are often ignorant of how much their parents care about having a positive relationship with them, nor how much it hurts or disappoints them.
Lack of practice in switching attention:  Teen brains are not good at changing focus or switching attention as quickly as adult brains.  When teens are in the middle of another train of thought, or absorbed by something, they are physically less capable of quickly changing their focus of attention onto what a parent is saying.  This often feels rude to observers.
No costs to being rude and no benefits of being polite:  Some teens live in families where they are regularly rude and never experience any problems or costs to this rude behaviour.  Mum or Dad don’t like it, but they don’t talk about it or respond to it.  At the same time, if they do make the effort to be courteous, no-one seems to notice.  From a teen’s perspective, there is not much point exerting effort and energy into being courteous when it really doesn’t seem to matter either way.
Lack of skill in being polite:   at times, polite behaviour is more complex than we think.  For example, as adults, we are practised in asking questions of others, responding to their emotional state, being aware of effort people have made for us, knowing how to apologise without grovelling – and so on.  These skills are not that easy, and given teens have had much less practice in them than adults, they often simply don’t know what to say or do.

So now what?  It helps a lot for parents to play detective and figure out which of these factors are impacting on a teenagers’ rudeness.  Once parents know what is contributing to the rudeness, it helps them feel less guilty, less angry, less frustrated – and they usually have a few more ideas about what to do in response. Options as to how to respond include:

Ignoring the behaviour (if it’s relatively minor) and carrying on as normal.  We are all snappy with family at times, and sometimes it’s not worth making a slip up an issue.  This doesn’t mean we are condoning how the teen has spoken, but it means we are allowing for it being a bit harder to be polite for the teen than an adult.

Making a very short, extremely calm statement at the time about how the comment made you feel:  “I’m sure you didn’t intend it that way, but that felt quite harsh to me”, or “When you ignore me, it feels as though you really don’t care about what I’m saying”.
Walking away from the teen – very calmly and without showing anger – sending a message that we don’t appreciate the way they have spoken.

Calmly refuse to help them out with something after they have been rude:  For example “Sorry mate, but I’m not really in the mood to drive you to Sally’s/help you with that essay/wash your uniform/make tea now, as I feel quite upset about our conversation just then.  Hopefully we will have a better time tomorrow night and I’ll do it then.”  Don’t yell and talk angrily – say it matter of factly.  But don’t back down either. 

Asking the teenager questions about the rudeness later, when they are in a better mood:  “It seemed you were a bit grumpy earlier tonight.  I know you don’t mean to talk in a rude way to me.  Is everything okay?”  OR:  “I noticed that you were talking in kind of a short way yesterday, and were forgetting to say please etc.  I know I can do that sometimes when I’m focussed on something else.  Was there any reason you were talking like that do you think?”

Being really, really specific and clear on what polite behaviour you would the teenager to work on.  It might be that we actually give them the actual words to say, for example, “I’d really like it if you could give me a brief apology when you forget to put your plate on the sink, like “sorry Mum” or something like that”.  OR, “It would be great if you could remember to ask me about my day most nights, after I’ve asked about yours.  It would make me feel like you cared”
Making sure you "model" polite behaviour:it goes without saying of course, that it is essential that we behave politely and courteously to teens ourselves.  Unless they see it in action, they are not going to learn it.
These are several equally valid options (and these are not the only ones) but the most important move you can make here is to stay calm and not take it personally.  Try not to yell, snap or be overly upset with the teenager. 
Rudeness in teenagers is not your fault – you are not a bad parent – and it’s not entirely their fault either – they are not bad teens.   Helping your teen act in courteous and kind ways takes a lot of patience, persistence and time.  Don’t give up on it, but don’t feel like it has to be accomplished tomorrow either. 
Good luck!

As Time Goes By. Or Gallops Past.

This week we have celebrated the, somewhat astonishing, passing of the 17th anniversary of my Baby Angel's birth.

I mean, not really astonishing, after all, last year she was 16 so I can hardly claim to be surprised. But when I think back on the event in question- the number 17, especially when associated with the word 'years', leaves me with a surreal feeling.

Time messes with your head.

I mean, how did this

become this?

If nothing else convinces you of the existence of a divine plan, the glorious emergence of a full person from the tiny creatures we birth must surely come close.

Last year we had many proclamations of neglect:

"I didn't even get a birthday party!"

Well BA, let me remind you what you did on your birthday

Sorry. Was the whole Formal experience not enough??????

What about the cake?

Was not enough attention paid to you?
Welcome to the life of someone born ten days before Christmas! But enough about MY issues.

This year was a 'big one'. After all, seventeen means driving, and finishing school......and to tell the truth, perhaps I was feeling a little guilty over last year. Plus, as I reminded myself, we had always done a bigger birthday on the odd years.

So I started planning. I booked an Italian restaurant, because that's the type she likes. I ordered those concert tickets online for her, getting an extra one so she could take a friend, and finally I facebooked a few of her oldest friends (from the 978 she apparently has!!!!!) to meet us in town at the restaurant for a surprise.

Her birthday dawned and she had a package to open in the morning.

The gang were there to meet her at the restaurant.

Boyfriend was on hand, attentive and had bought her nice things!

Even if he does look a bit cagy here. In his defence, apparently the flash was quite bright. I assume this means he has not spent most of his childhood being photographed by his doting parents...I mean...does the BA look fazed by the flash??

And LOOK! We had the Small Boy with us!!!! (Also looking slightly cagy and fazed by the flash.
Maybe it is a boy thing? )

Great silliness ensued. Boyfriend looked on indulgently. Really, he is incredibly indulgent. I would have got fed up with all that giggling months ago!

Gotta say they are pretty gorgeous kids though.

The only minor downer was that I actually ran out of time and space and had to buy her a cake.

Oh well. She wants to do a 'gathering' at our place later in the year so perhaps I will do one of my tacky homemade cakes then? I mean, a tradition is a tradition!!!!

Happy Birthday my beautiful and precious girl. I can't believe it is 17 years ago. A lifetime. Literally.
Certainly the best part of mine.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

You Know My Methods Watson!

As I savoured the last minutes of my 'lie-in' this morning, I heard Himself exploding at the other end of the house.
"BL***Y CATS!!!!!!"........
There-in followed the thump of feet up the corridor. His enraged visage popped around the door jamb, the steam fairly issuing from his ears.
"You know those sausages we left out on the counter last night (I know, I know....don't say anything....)? Well the BL***Y cats have EATEN THE LOT! There were about TEN of them!!!!!!"

I processed this information.

Firstly, it was unlikely that there were ten left over, but I decided to let that anomaly pass.
"Well,  surely they wouldn't have eaten all 10? Surely No 2 Son might have come home late and had some?"
"There was one left out on the counter!!! No 2 Son wouldn't have done that!!!" Himself roared.
"To be fair, he might have if he was....ummm....indisposed."
The thunderclap clanged shut and Himself humphed, set his jaw and stalked back down the hallway muttering under his breath:
"Bl***y cats. You can all go and live outside. Waste of bl***y space all of them. Bl***y cats. Mutter mutter mutter. Animals don't belong in the house! Mutter mutter etc"

Slightly perturbed, and concerned for the safety of the cats if nothing else, I levered myself out of my prone postion and wrapped myself in a dressing gown. As I pattered down the corridor towards the kitchen I tried to analyse the situation in my mind. Firstly, Pippin doesn't eat real meat, raw or cooked. He rather likes the idea of raw meat and hangs about my feet if I'm cooking (he's way too savvy to hang about Himself's feet!) but if I toss him a sliver of raw chicken, or open a tin of tuna when the dry cat food has run out, he looks at me in confusion. Surely that jelly like stuff cannot be the source of that delicious odour? He paws at it and walks off in disgust. So the culprit was unlikely to be Pippin.

Now Mortisha leans a little more towards whole foods. She is our mega hunter, bell and all, and frequently brings home a mouse or a bird. Mind you, she never eats the whole thing. We are frequently dodging a mouse head or pile of disembowelled, slightly sticky feathers in the laundry, or outside the bedroom door; highly dangerous whilst barefoot first thing in the morning! The thought of her scoffing ten whole sausages (or even the more likely count of 6) seemed highly unlikely.

Now, Lily. Lily is a wild card given her feral beginnings. She has been known to get up on a bench, she certainly enjoys a bit of raw meat, but she too never finishes the whole mouse and if truth be known, she's often out at night.

By the time I reached the kitchen I was feeling less and less convinced that the cats were to blame. This feeling was confirmed as Pippin dashed in, squalling and rubbing up against me, ready for food.

"Sweet heart, I really don't think the cats could have demolished all of those sausages," I said as I surveyed the lone sausage which had obviously been dragged across the bench. "For one thing Pippin is waaay too hungry to have pigged out on sausages last night." I glanced around at the scene of the crime.
"Oh, and also," I said, my eye lighting on a large, nearly empty glass bowl nearby,
"I really don't think they would have eaten the salad!"

We have yet to catch up with No 2 Son to confirm my suspicions. Nevertheless, the cats get to live indoors a bit longer :-)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Hello Ma Baby, Hello Ma Honey, Hello Ma Ragtime Gal

She inevitably goes off to parties dressed like this: a bit short on the skirt but otherwise modestly covered.

Then I find the hot pink, bandeau bra top in the wash the next day and know that the modest look had not been the predominant style statement of the evening.

It's a minefield, this value laden judgement we place upon our children. I mean, if I had to think back upon the things I wore way back when.....mind you, I think my belly was mostly covered but that may have been due to my complete absence of melanin.

Nowadays I would be happy to have a stomach which was worth uncovering!