Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

New Adventures – So Far So Good February 22, 2013

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When your children enter a new school, whether it’s as a preppy full of anticipation and enthusiasm on the first day, or a year seven starting the journey that is secondary school, just a bigger version of a preppy really when they’re going into “big school”, there is always some anxiety on the part of parents.  Will they like it, will they find friends, will they get lost, will they do well, will their teachers be good, will they make the most of every opportunity they have, and give back to the school as much as they get?

As we have discovered ourselves, each of your children is different, not just at home but at school.  That’s part of the wonderful journey as we watch them grow as individuals and find their place in the world, first at school, and amongst their peers, and later at work, in the land of “grown-ups”.  And as we know, one size school does not fit all, and the challenge is to find options that meet the needs of your child, so they can continue to grow and excel in whatever area they choose.

toolbeltNaturally as our own man-child headed off to TAFE this year to pursue his passion for building, leaving behind mainstream school, we were a little anxious.  All of the same fears are still at work even when they are nearly 17.  But really we shouldn’t have worried.

  • Will he find friends?  In fact he already knew a few boys doing the same course and then bumped into someone he knows well in his own class.
  • Will he meet new people (not the “wrong crowd”)?  It didn’t take him long to be part of a small group that organised a gathering one Friday night.  Great to see them all getting to know each other.  I wasn’t that surprised to learn that they’d already found some nice girls, naturally doing the hairdressing course!!!
  • Will he find his way?  No problems, got himself sorted, early right down to smart tactics to secure a locker for all his gear, and knowing where they offer the free sausage sizzle for lunch or bacon and eggs for brunch.
  • Will he be engaged in learning at TAFE (he wasn’t at school)?  Up early every day, leaving early, getting the work done – all music to our ears!
  • Will he like his teachers?  And will they be good?  He seems to think so, and one of them is already talking of next term when she can offer them building work on-site if they are interested – which he is!  All good.
  • Will he do well?  As we have said to him, if this is what you really want to do, then go for it and work hard.  You want to be the pick of the bunch when the employers come knocking looking for apprentices so aim high at trade school.  The great news is in his first assessment doing a practical task he got 98%.  He was delighted, as were we. 🙂

All of this comes off the back of a moment of panic, which saw him diagnosed with Glandular Fever on the first day of TAFE.  We were waiting for the assault on his body that would lay him low for 2 weeks, but thankfully he seems to have missed that blow.  That said, we will make sure he doesn’t run himself into the ground, for fear it will recur.

As they say, so far, so good.  Our man-child is off to a great start, ticking all the boxes to allay our fears, and by all indications seeming to have found his niche.  We are confident it will continue, and are thrilled to see the first signs of success, because as we all know, success in itself it can be such a great motivator.

Did your kids start at a new school this year?  As a preppy or Year 7?  How did they go?  Did you have the same anxieties as me?

I have written about my own memories of school here following our recent 30 year reunion:  School Memories.  30 Years On.



The great Costco Adventure…… February 15, 2013

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shopping trolleyLast week I promised I would take the kids to Costco, in an attempt to fill the fridge and pantry with enough food to stave off 3rd world hunger in our house, at least for a short time, and keep the men-children temporarily sated.  So off we went on Sunday, to the land of the giants as my daughter described it.  I actually thought “Bunnings/Ikea for food” was pretty accurate once we arrived.

The first thing I noticed – everything about Costco is super-sized.  The trolleys (so you can fit all the stuff you don’t need in it), the shelves (they really do go up to the roof), the size of the aisles (to allow for the big trolleys), the produce on the shelves (you either buy massive sizes of everything or multiples), even some of the customers. 🙂

Our first task was to work out the layout and get ourselves oriented – no easy task at Costco.  Hats off to Bunnings with their numbered and labelled aisles and knowledgeable staff – you can always find your way to what you want.  Unlike Ikea – similarly well planned (by the Swedish masterminds), although in such a way that you just meander forward (or occasionally in circles), passing every item on the way so that you will invariably buy countless useless things for home.  A very different strategy, but equally effective.

Costco however, wasn’t quite so obvious.  It was a big open space, with the most amazing variety of stuff – I am told they even sell diamond rings! – and no obvious layout when we first arrived.  Apart from electronics we noticed the mounds of clothing in the middle (expensive over-runs), and eventually found our way to the general food area.  So we headed to one “end” and worked our way down the first set of aisles, the boys picking up lots of stuff they thought they wanted, then putting half back when they realised they probably wouldn’t consume that much American mustard in a year.

Naturally half way through, they got hungry, so they had a pit stop at the “food court” (surprisingly small compared to everything else at Costco), and rejoined me and Sister of a Man-Child at the Deli and Bakery end where we shopped the fresh food.

So what did we buy you ask, and would I recommend a trip to Costco?  Well, we were pretty clever, and really only bought stuff we know we already use a lot of – pastas, cheese slices, cereals, sports drinks, deodorant (with 3 men in the house, a 6 pack was a no-brainer), muesli bars, muffins and croissants (supersized of course).   And then mega bulk packs of washing powder (you don’t want to know how many loads a week we do).  The fresh deli, cheese and meat section had some very nice produce too – even Father of a Man-Child was happy with his Boscastle pies!

I kept reminding the boys it was only useful if we would eventually eat it, or use it, or could store it somewhere in the house.  Apparently my $385 bill was NOTHING compared to some of my friends, but hey we were Costco virgins after all.  I do plan on going back on a regular basis – the boys have been delighting in the overly full fridge all week.  And it would definitely be handy if you were entertaining a lot of teenagers.  Either way, it has saved me some money in the battle to feed hungry hordes (as does Aldi versus the other two supermarket giants).   BTW, if you are expecting super-cheap, it’s not.  You do need to know your prices, and then you will save money.

Next time I plan on going alone – just me and my supersized trolley.  I will take time to explore every aisle, and really see what’s there, and find the hidden gems and real bargains (oh and the diamonds).

It’s a shame it’s in Docklands, but I hear they are opening one in Ringwood which would suit me better.  Anyone who wants to come for a trial run, please let me know.  I am happy to take you on a guided tour. 🙂


Teenager starving in Kew! February 8, 2013

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plateAny mother of a teenage boy will be familiar with the relentless appetite of an adolescent, especially one that plays sport.  The “hollow legs” that just cannot be filled, the starvation that overtakes them 10 minutes before dinner, and sees them consumer several toasties before then sitting down to a full meal.

So the other morning, it was no surprise, although somewhat annoying, to hear man-child standing in the pantry complaining “there’s no food”!  Of course that’s not quite accurate, I am a dedicated mother who does ensure that we have food in our house – as I pointed out to him, you’re not exactly starving like some poor child in Ethiopia, they would be amazed at the variety and abundance of food in our home.  To be more precise and translate, it was not the sort of food he wanted!!

I mentioned that I had recently bought enough hot cross buns to feed the remaining Catholic population in Australia, along with other food for school lunches, and that I didn’t really think there was “no food” at all in the house.

Naturally the conversation continued (he would call it a lecture) as we got into the car for the drive to school for the 6am rowing start (yes, I repeat dedicated mother), that if there was some particular food items he wanted, perhaps he could go down the street and get them himself, or at least leave a list so the next supermarket visit could be spent buying his lordship the required supplies.

He told me he was busy with school, then rowing after school, then doing homework, and couldn’t possibly do it himself.  I told him I was busy getting up at 5am to make school lunches, fresh fruit salad, before going to gym and then to my own full time job before coming home to do domestic duties and late night work and would he like to swap!!!!

So the solution you ask?  Apart from sending him to Ethiopia for his next work experience project, I have suggested we finally venture to Costco.  He loved this idea, having heard about the vast packs of frozen pizza and various other items you can buy.  So I’ve got my membership, and recruited the entire family for a visit on Sunday.  Even sister-of-a-man child is excited about the treasures she might discover at Costco.  It seems there is no end to the “useful” things we might find in the sky high aisles that await us.  Do you think one trolley will be enough?

Anyway, I’ll let you know how our trip to Costco goes.  If it’s anything like Bunnings and Ikea, already I know I won’t leave empty handed. 🙂

I have written about their appetites before (The Locust Plague) and about how good they have it (Hotel Kew – Room for Rent)



Joy Riding Men-Children? Not Happy! February 1, 2013

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As you know, we have two Learner drivers in the house.  Almost a year on, so far so good.  They are learning to drive.  They are putting in the hours to reach the required experience milestone (not quite as fast as their friends since there are two of them to share the driving opportunities).  And to date, we have had no bingles or near misses (although perhaps a few more grey hairs for their parents)!

However, not all is as it seems.  Father of a Man-Child was recently made aware by a neighbour that she had seen one of our sons behind the wheel of his car – alone!  Yes, an UNLICENSED 16 year old driving a car!!!!!  We have since deduced it was during our holiday last year when we left the boys in Melbourne with my sister for a week.  Hmmm, next time we won’t be leaving the car keys will we?

Suffice to say a bit of investigation led us to discovering that in fact BOTH of the men-children have driven their father’s car without an accompanying parent in the car.  (One accidentally dobbed the other one in – that went down well as you can imagine).  Almost as well as the knowledge of their offence.  At this point in time they are both probably thinking it would have been preferable to be caught by police and given a warning than to be caught by us.

As they deserved, we went absolutely nuts when we found out and spelt out for them just SOME of the potential consequences of their incredibly STUPID behaviour (which from discussions with friends appears to be solely a male trait, not a female one).

  • For starters, if they have an accident, the car is not insured, nor is any other damage to property covered.
  • Even worse, should they injure a person in an accident, they could be convicted of a criminal offence (there goes your future), and also sued for damages (their goes our house/future etc).
  • Of course, the likelihood of ever getting their precious license if they are caught driving unlicensed diminishes somewhat doesn’t it?  Great for the tradie who wants to be an apprentice driving a ute in about a year’s time.  That might be a career limiting move?
  • Plain common sense (not common in teenage boys as we know) is that they are still learning to drive, hence the reason experienced adult drivers accompany them.  Accidents DO happen, and not just in Dandenong!  So whilst they think they are good drivers (with only one hand on the wheel), adults know they are not.

What made us feel even worse was their defence of their behaviour – we know how to drive, all our friends do it, blah blah.  The fact that this behaviour is rampant amongst their friends makes me furious.  I could understand (even expected) that at some stage they would take our car without permission one day, once they got their licence, and drive somewhere they shouldn’t, but we certainly didn’t expect they would do it whilst Learners.

1982 Toyota CelicaI must confess to taking my mother’s super shiny, new and very cool Toyota Celica sports car (with sunroof) in the early 80’s to Portsea for the day without my parents’ permission.  Naturally (as my friends came to expect), I got caught!  Two simple things gave me away:  a very sunburnt forehead (the downside of a sunroof), and a speedo with an extra 200kms on the clock – yep, my father was way too smart for me! 🙂

As for our boys, they have been warned about EVER thinking about driving unlicensed again.  And of course, they will be punished for their stupidity.  One is still trying to negotiate his way out of his punishment (not on your life), and the other is still awaiting his – it has to hurt so we have to wait for the right opportunity.  I know it sounds pretty mean, but they just have to understand it cannot happen.  And sadly, it also means that we cannot trust them and so can’t leave any car keys in the house again.

It is not often we think our boys are stupid, but in this instance, common sense has certainly been absent.  It is when you realise that the feelings of being invincible, and knowing everything, and having your whole life before you is the stuff of naive youth (and our men-children), and that one day they will look back and know how wrong their behaviour was, and realise just how right their parents were.  In the meantime, we will just wait for the next hurdle to leap over in the steeplechase of adolescence.

I have written before about our Learner drivers:  read more here and here.