Cloud dough

My friend Awanthi recently pointed me in the direction of something new to try for my girls, particularly Elspeth: Cloud dough! It’s a little bit like playdough, but softer and silkier. It’s almost a bit like sand. The idea is to give kids a different sensory experience, something new to touch and feel and interact with.

I made a small batch of it this morning (2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of baby oil), and Elspeth loved it. When I finally said we had to put it away and have lunch, she threw a tantrum because she wanted to keep playing with it! The only drawback is the mess; next time I think we’ll use it outside!

Freshly made and patted down

Experimenting and crumbling

Engrossed

Forever young

Immortality. It’s a concept that has been around for decades in science-fiction, but you might be unaware that the SENS Foundation are working on it for real. They are careful on their website to use terms like ‘rejuvenation’ and ‘restore youthful … structure to aged tissues’. But immortality is essentially what they mean.

A friend of mine – well, an acquaintance, anyway – is very keen on SENS’s founder, Aubrey de Grey, and his ideas. He’s very keen on the idea of living forever.

As for myself, I can’t help thinking that my friend, along with SENS, has failed to really think this through.

To be sure, having the ability to extend human life, possibly indefinitely, would be a pretty amazing scientific breakthrough. But what would it mean in practical terms? Having the ability to live longer would not magically change the world. It would not change things like political systems, social structures, or the economy. All you would be doing is living longer in the world as it is.

You might say to yourself, if I could live forever – or even just a few extra decades – I could do so many things! I’d travel, I’d learn to sword-fight, I’d reduce pollution, I’d… whatever.

But no. I’d say you’re actually more likely to seek out all those adventures and goals if you know your time was limited. If you thought you could do them whenever, you’d keep putting them off, wouldn’t you?

But the main thing is, you would still have to work. You still need to pay for things: food, clothes, housing, electricity, entertainment, and so on. The longer you live, the longer you need to work. Looking forward to retirement? Yeah, right! How much superannuation would you need to last you for, say, eternity? Even having just a few extra decades of life to pay for would require working for a sizeable chunk of it.

Your actual day-to-day life would not be any different. It would just… continue.

A change of attitude

Late last year, I blogged about emotional control. I essentially said that we all have a choice in how we react to things, and it really isn’t too difficult to remain calm.

I forgot all about that yesterday. Yesterday, emotion controlled me.

But today I have made a deliberate decision to be calmer, to react better, to be happy and to keep my kids happy. They react to me too, so while I might think my mood depends on them, theirs depends on me just as much!

Elspeth is still dirtying her underpants. But that’s ok. It’s not the end of the world; it’s just dirty underpants.

I’m allowed to not cope

I am World’s Worst Mum today, and I’m okay with that.

Nobody is perfect, and nobody does everything right all the time.

So I’m comfortable with admitting that today, as well as having some wonderful fun with my children (like our Neil Diamond Dance Party in the living room), I’ve also cried and screamed at them. I’ve been angry and frustrated, I’ve struggled with them and with my temper.

I should be quite accustomed to telling somebody the same thing twenty times a day only to have them forget it just as frequently. I am, after all, married. Oh, and I’ve got kids. But today it is getting to me, largely because the thing I have needed to say over and over is, “Do your poo in the toilet, not in your underpants.” I’ve asked her, I’ve told her, I’ve begged her, I’ve bribed her.

Once I got to reward her. I even made up a song, to the tune of ‘Sex on the Beach’:Ellie did poo in the loo, then she got some chocolate! Poo in the loo, it made her mummy happy!

And of course I’m not just saying it over and over, I’m also cleaning the damn underpants over and over. That is a major contributor to the frustration. I don’t know if you’ve had to clean poopy underpants six times in as many hours, but it gets old fast. Worse, perhaps, is the knowledge that if she’s smearing her undies, she almost certainly does need to go properly, but she just won’t!

So yeah. I’m not really coping very well. I am going batshit crazy. But it’s just one day, and tomorrow cannot possibly be worse. Right?

A Very Disney Beginning

Today isn’t the first time I’ve wished for a brother. An older brother, big and strong, to look after us. Instead, it’s just me and my little sister Minnie. Yeah, as in Mouse. Our mum has kind of a thing for Disney. It gets worse though. You wanna know my name? Wait for it. You’ll laugh. It’s ok, I’m used to it. It’s Bambi. Yeah, you heard right, Bambi. Who names a kid Bambi? My crazy mother, that’s who. I just tell people to call me B, and they figure it’s for Belinda. Suits me fine.

So anyway. I was wishing for a brother. In a Disney movie, I bet we’d really have one already, but he’s off saving princesses or something. He’ll be back to announce his marriage to, I dunno, Pocahontas or Ariel or someone, any day now. We’d have to teach Ariel to write, though. Having no voice wouldn’t have been a problem if she’d been able to write.

Minnie’s crying again. She does that a lot, even when nothing’s happened. I don’t think she remembers what it was like before dad died, but she’s not stupid. She knows our lives aren’t what you’d call ideal. I try to tell her, the original Bambi lost a parent tragically and still managed a happy ending. But she just says she’d rather be Jasmine, because she’s a princess right from the start. That’s Minnie’s favourite movie, although I think she closes her eyes whenever Jafar is on.

It sounds like mum’s woken up. She doesn’t know we can hear the squeaky cupboard door from our room, but it’s pretty loud. It’s the first place she goes when she gets out of bed, even though she tells us she never touches it until midday. She’s talking to someone, too, so I guess that means Mike or Brad or Dave or whoever it was stayed over last night. They always have names like that, but since none of them ever last, I don’t bother remembering. You might think that’s rude, but they don’t care. They never remember our names either, if they even knew them to start with.

Minnie’s listening to them too, I can tell, even though she’s still sniffling. She’s staring at the door, and I know she’s hoping the same thing as me: that it stays closed. I offer to read to her to distract her, but she shakes her head sullenly. I forgot about the last time one of mum’s boyfriends – or whatever they are – found us reading. He called us fancy-pants intellectuals, and said we thought we were better than him. And then he hit us. Mum just watched and didn’t do anything. So I don’t blame Minnie for refusing now.

Footsteps start coming towards us, slow and heavy. That’ll be Dave or whoever. Minnie’s face goes kind of pale, and I can feel myself tense up too. But they keep going, past our door, into the kitchen. The shuffling sound coming along after is mum in her slippers, but she goes right by us too. We relax a bit, and now Minnie wants to read.

A few pages into Alice in Wonderland, the front door slams shut, and we know Mike or whoever is gone, so it’s just mum to deal with for the rest of the day. Brad or whoever didn’t hit her or yell at her, and they even had coffee together, so she’ll be okay today. I guess we don’t need a brother today.

Spoke too soon

It was only yesterday I blogged about sleep, and how good Evelyn has been to me of late. Sleeping all night, sleeping later in the morning, just generally being Little Miss Sunshine.

I’m pretty sure she read that post, and decided she was being too easy on me.

Last night she was restless, unsettled, and woke up at ridiculous times. From 4am onwards Aidan and I took turns holding her, walking her around the house, trying to get her back to sleep by any means possible. By 6am, it seemed she felt it was morning, time to get up properly.

Fortunately for me, Aidan isn’t working today, so I brutally forced him to get out of bed, while I stayed in the warm cocoon of my doona for another couple of hours!

Making demands

Everybody wants things. That’s normal. I want some peace and quiet to finish a cup of tea before it goes stone cold. I know I’ve got two chances: Buckley’s, and none!

But some people seem to want things even more unreasonable than a hot cup of tea. More than want: demand, and expect.

A sentiment I have seen recently expressed several times is that banks are evil. Banks are evil because they won’t give large loans to people on limited incomes. Banks are evil because they don’t help out parents. Banks are evil because they charge interest and impose fees. Banks are evil because… well, because they make sound business decisions in a capitalist society, apparently.

I boggle at the notion that a business should be required to be charitable just because somebody feels themselves to be deserving. You might be Mother Of The Year with nine officially gifted children, but if you’re living on Centrelink payments I don’t see why a bank should trust you with their money.

The world does not operate in a way which is fair or right or just. I believe that anybody over the age of sixteen should be able to grasp that. You might not like it, and yes you’ve got a right to complain or – even better – to try to change things. But I’ll tell you this for free: you’ll never get anything just because you want it.