Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Mother of a Man-Child: Trouble on school camp! March 25, 2011

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“Hello Mrs M (that’s me, Mother of a Man-Child), it’s Mr Y from the Z school camp.  There’s been an incident involving your son!”  This phrase is enough to propel any parent into a momentary panic attack. My first irrational thought: “OMG, is he okay?”  This is followed shortly after by “Right, what the hell has he done now!!!”

And so it was that Man-Child II found himself on a “retreat” with the school, designed to give 15-year-old boys some time to reflect on their adolescent journey, and to grow up a little as they enter the serious end of their education.  Clearly my son decided it was an opportunity to demonstrate that he wasn’t quite up to the task!!!

It seems Man-Child II had successfully thrown an aerosol can into the fire on camp, which naturally enough exploded about 10 seconds later.  Apparently it sounded like a shotgun going off, so you can imagine the initial panic by the teachers.  He tells me he was the only one of his friends who volunteered (stupidly) to throw it and that it was a pretty lucky shot from a distance!

Once calm had been restored, and it was clear what had happened (yes with my son the only culprit) they then had to decide how to respond.  Since the incident was deemed serious enough, especially since it could have resulted in an injury to someone, the decision was made to send him home early from camp.  Hence their call to me, the lucky parent.

My first thought: “Great, a trip to Healesville and back on a week night.  Fabulous, can’t wait to spend two hours in the car tonight!”  (Sadly we all sign a form agreeing to fetch our wayward children in the event of any such incident like the above.   You hope they’re not at the snow trust me!)  My second thought was “Gee, I wonder if this will be enough to have him asked to leave the school?”, since it’s not the first time he’s come to the attention of the vice-principal.  However, whilst they considered it a serious error of judgment on my son’s part, they also acknowledged it as a “stupid teenage boy thing” so he received a Saturday detention and was sent home early as punishment.  Along with the mandatory lectures from a few different teachers along the way, oh and of course Mother and Father of a Man-Child!!

Ironically he thought that it was far better being driven home by one of his teachers than having to sit on the bus.  Lucky for me, said teacher was attending a dinner on their last night and so was able to bring him home and save me a trip.

His brother Man-Child I left for his retreat this week.  As he got out of the car I simply said “Please don’t get sent home from camp, I couldn’t bear it”.

P.S.  Apologies to those subscribers who received a blog notification three times last week via an unexplained glitch – clearly WordPress shared my excitement about the boys moving upstairs!!!



Mother of a Man-Child: A space to call their own! March 18, 2011

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renovationWell it’s been almost seven months in the making but the boys finally have their space upstairs and our renovation is almost complete.  Since one of the men-children has officially relocated upstairs I couldn’t wait to share the news. 🙂

It’s become clear to me that renovations are a bit like childbirth – over time you forget how painful, disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming it can be (a renovation not a child), and next thing you know you’ve jumped right back in and suddenly find your house turned upside down.  Our last reno was 13 years ago, so we’ve had quite some time to forget the original trauma.

Once the builders moved from working upstairs in the roof cavity, which was relatively painless I must admit, to downstairs IN the house, we very quickly got sick of the dust, dirt and constant stream of tradies through the house.   Not to mention living with one small bathroom between five of us, having the new bathroom fittings and accessories living in our hallway for a couple of months, my daughters temporary bedroom (in the study) hosting hoards of teenagers on the PS3 every weekend, a port-a-loo in the driveway for the builders (yes I know the alternative is far worse), bathtubs and scaffolding in the backyard (very attractive) and a laundry chock-a-block with furniture overflow.

Add to that a couple of hiccups with delays in delivery of orders (the custom windows took two months to arrive), and our two new bathrooms look great, but we’re still waiting for the cabinets and basins (so bad luck if you want to wash your hands), and a few other things that just didn’t go my way.

Like making it to IKEA to order the new Queen size beds for the men-children (an earlier promise for our growing boys), only to find they were out of stock of one mattress (of course I need two, they’re not sharing a bed!).  So having queued at the checkout, then queued at the merchandise pick up counter, then queued at the home delivery counter, I have to go back and do it all again this week for the second mattress!!

Or having the electrician drop something on his foot the day he was supposed to come and do all the power, air-con etc, which meant the boys having moved upstairs anyway had extension cords running up the stairs with more power boards than Bunning’s.  I was sure we were going to short-circuit the entire house with the set up they had.   Naturally it was one of the few hot weekends in Melbourne, so no air-con and broken blinds (don’t ask) made it just a little toasty for them!

But all of the above aside, I’m delighted to say the results are fantastic and we are all thrilled with the new space.  The boys love their bedrooms, bathroom and sitting room.  They have Foxtel, their new flat screen TV, and PS3 upstairs.  The only thing they want is a bar fridge (yes you heard right) and they think they’ll be set forever!!  Oh and a dumb-waiter so we can send meals up and they can send their dirty dishes and clothes down – SURE!  Thank goodness we got a solid door at the foot of the stairs – they took it off temporarily and I was shocked at the noise travelling down the stairwell.  No more doof doof music and wrestling SFX for us – bliss.

Even the younger sister of the men-children loves her new bedroom (her brother’s old one), with so much more space for everything.  Just as well because the other day she ventured upstairs and the boys positively freaked out that she was “in our space”.   She wasn’t even allowed to sit on the new bed!  Naturally I’ve promised the boys the novelty will wear off for their younger sister, but I’ve also explained that they don’t OWN the space and told my daughter that whenever they’re not at home she can use it as much as she wants.  Peacekeeping skills also being a requirement of Mother of a Man-Child.

We’ve just christened the bath (as big as a small plunge pool – I promise in all other ways we’re water savers), and we’re still trying to fill the fantastic under stair storage area (okay, cheap thrills I know).   I’m hoping the shutters will only be six weeks on a slow boat from China, or the boys better get used to early morning starts once daylight savings ends. 🙂

So if anyone is taking the plunge and wants some reno tips, let me know.  Sadly I’ve developed some amazing project management skills in the absence of those promised by the builder, so I could be of use to you.


Mother of a Man-Child: Masterchefs in the Making? March 11, 2011

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As promised (or threatened depending on your point of view) I have been endeavouring to teach the men-children the art of cooking.  Not your high-end Masterchef type of cooking, but some simple dishes that will equip them with basic skills to survive in the kitchen, and that might even mean on a busy night we could call on the boys to help with preparing dinner.

A month back they had basically one meal in their repertoire – bacon and eggs.  No surprise when you’re a teenage boy.  Oh and two-minute noodles, if you count that as a “cooked meal”!  They’re adept at making a hearty (or heart-stopping?) meal of fried eggs and bacon coupled with toast and lashings of that great Australian tradition – tomato sauce.  Sadly they’re also adept at leaving the splattered remains all over the stove and the dirty frypan on the bench for Mother of a Man-Child to clean up.

So we began our own “Masterchef challenge”.  Each week I have been trying to teach them a new meal to make.  So week one was Mexican – pretty easy these days with the availability of kits, at least it has some salad greens in it, but go easy on the packet seasoning boys!

Week two was a curry.  Again made easy with great curry pastes these days, and pick virtually any meat and vegetable combo and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal.  And week three was a tuna pasta – again, nothing fancy, but a good carb-based meal for budding sports stars that can be put together readily with standard pantry items.

I’ve decided to tackle it one man-child at a time, one meal at a time.  It’s too hard to have both of them trying to make a meal with me in the kitchen – as they say “too many cooks…..”.

And the results:  so far we’ve had no food poisoning, and the meals have tasted just like the ones I make – since I’ve been standing over them, I guess that’s no surprise is it?  And the boys have actually embraced the idea – I think they realise it’s not a bad skill to have, and of course mentioning that it might also impress a girl goes a long way too.

Now the challenge is to make them realise that cleaning up after you cook is actually part of the job, especially Man-Child II, who seems to spill as much onto the stove as into the pot when he cooks!!!  Thankfully the need to earn pocket-money generally means we can convince them to also do the cleaning up, albeit reluctantly.

As we go along, we will no doubt move to more sophisticated meals.  But before you think I’m aspiring to grandiose things, I mean sophisticated for a 15-year-old, not a 30-year-old.  By the way, the men-children just turned FIFTEEN.  I for one cannot believe that I am the mother of two 15-year-old boys.  I had lunch recently with an ex colleague who asked about the boys, and when I told him how old they were, he kept repeating “fifteen, fifteen” with such incredulity I knew exactly how he felt!!

So Happy Birthday to my Men-Children, and happy cooking too!  Of course, recipe suggestions from my blog readers are welcome at any time.  🙂



Mother of a Man-Child: A Princess Tale. March 4, 2011

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When I am not being Mother of a Man-Child I like to think of myself as Mother-of-a-Princess.  My seven-year-old daughter is my princess, and she is an absolute delight.  Like all good seven-year olds, she still believes in all the wonderful magic of Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and of course the Tooth Fairy.

She is so enamored with these magical beings that at every opportunity she leaves a gorgeous, heartfelt, hand-written note full of all the sincerity and love only an innocent seven-year old can muster.

Each time she leaves a note for the tooth fairy, she asks some personal questions so she can understand a little more about their magical lives.  So the first time, she wanted to know how tooth fairies knew that children had lost their tooth (a special homing device of course).  And then she wanted to know how old the tooth fairy was (10 fairy years) and when her birthday was  (we made the executive decision that it would be January 1 in the event you want to join my conspiracy).   Most recently (see pic) she wanted to know the particular tooth fairy’s name (Daisy).  For some reason we always refer to the tooth fairy as a girl, although perhaps next time it should be a boy to ensure some equality of the tooth fairy sexes.

As we discussed the note and the fact that the fairy had cleverly found one of my daughter’s special magical Textas (amazing isn’t she), the next round of questions began.   How big do you think they are (we both imagine they are very small)?  How do they get the tooth out of the water?  I mentioned they might have scuba gear! What about their wings?  How do they fly if they get wet?  They’re waterproof of course!  Or maybe they just use a fishing rod?

No doubt she went off to school with her head buzzing with the possibilities.  I for one had hysterical visions of a miniature tooth fairy clad in said scuba gear with wings protruding from the wetsuit and goggles on looking for a pearly white at the bottom of the deep glass.

It really is such a delightful time of innocence and joy to see the absolute belief they have in all things magical and make-believe.  Fancy those naysayers who espouse it is wrong to “lie” to children at a young age and say they should not be told fictitious tales about Santa and the Easter Bunny at all.  Party poopers!

Believe it or not we actually got the men-children to 10 years old before we broke the news about Father Christmas to them.  And that was only because we were travelling in the car with the kids pre-Christmas and we had no way to hide the boxes of presents without them becoming suspicious.  Of course we swore them to secrecy as their sister was only three and threatened them with near death if they ever ruined the fun for our “Princess”.  So far so good.  I actually think the boys enjoy being part of the conspiracy.  And so the magic continues. 🙂