Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Letter to a Man-Child June 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

letterDear Men-Children

I know it’s hard to believe, but I have been a teenager before.  I well remember thinking my parents were the world’s strictest on the earth, and in fact my friends would probably tell you they were.  I also remember thinking that I knew an awful lot, and could take care of myself, and that they didn’t really understand what it was like being a teenager, especially since they were soooo old (in fact my parents were a lot younger than many of my friends parents), but guess what, they were teenagers once too!

I know you want your independence and that at almost 18 you think you should be allowed to do whatever you want, but as you live under our roof, it goes without saying that you really are obliged to do what we say, play by our rules and RESPECT our decisions.  It may be that you can’t wait to leave home, and sometimes part of me can’t wait either, especially when you are being quite revolting towards me and rebellious and won’t take no for an answer, but you need to know you are very much loved and there is always a place for you at home.

You need to know that our job as parents is not to be your best friend.  I have always maintained if I am mistakenly doing that during your teenage years then I’m probably not being a very good parent.  I am not interested in being “popular”, I’m interested in your welfare and well-being.  So if we actively discourage you from doing certain things, or making the wrong choices, it’s because we’ve either learned from our own experience or as outside observers are concerned about what is going on.  I know some things you just need to experience and learn from yourself, but sometimes parents will and should step in, and as you know, we aren’t afraid to do that from time to time.

I will nag you along the way, especially if I need you to do something.  Why?  Because you need to understand your place in the world, and your part in it.  Sometimes it’s necessary to conform or co-operate, even if it goes against your nature.  If you are to succeed later in life, you need to be able to adapt to the environment and make appropriate decisions.  That starts in the small world called home, and extends to the school world, and eventually to the working world   Our job as parents is to guide you and give you lessons in life, in the same way your teachers do.

I do like your friends (even if I can’t remember all of their names), I enjoy a house full of young people, I like to see you spending time with them and they are always welcome in our home (and to our food – but not our grog)!  I am always happy for small gatherings, provided you are honest about how many are coming, and when, and for how long.  And I am excited about an 18th birthday party (for each of you naturally), if you would like one.  It’s a milestone to celebrate – and we promise we won’t embarrass you at your own party (will we Father of a Man-Child?).

I do like to know about your day, and how you spent it.  You might think it’s boring, but I want to know what you did at work, or at school, or on the sporting field – the more detail the better.  You are our children – hence our biased view and hunger for information about your lives.   Perhaps take a leaf out of your younger sister’s book – she recounts everything in so much detail you could write a small book – but at least we know exactly what she thinks and feels. 🙂

I like you coming on holidays with us, and spending time as a family, and I honestly think that you enjoy it too (although one of you is seriously borderline).  I know sometimes the thought of spending your holidays with your PARENTS is not your idea of fun, particularly if it means missing out on something special with your friends, or a big event, but perhaps you should be grateful for the wonderful holidays we have, and the places you have seen, and the number of times you have holidays each year.  Many people are not nearly as fortunate as you.   When you are 18, and working, you can go on holidays wherever you like.  But we’ll still invite you on our holidays and again, you will always be welcome to join us.

Lastly, I know you don’t really like each other much at the moment.  I am not sure why you haven’t really grown out of this phase.  Of course you are both very different (something we love), but I think it’s time to put your differences aside (even celebrate them), and start getting along.  We’re pretty tired of the constant fighting and arguing amongst you – it’s really unpleasant for all of us, and imagine how your sister feels with you both yelling and then us (parents) both yelling?  Madhouse or what?  I am sorry if you learnt how to yell from me – I wish I could change it, but I can’t take it back.  But we can all try to yell a little less.

I know you have heard all of this before, but sometimes it’s better to write something down than to say it (again).  It doesn’t involve any yelling and you have to listen!  A bit like text messages. 🙂

All my love

Mother of a Man-Child


Independent (sort of) June 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

alone childThe men-children are starting to carve their own paths in life. They are developing clearer ideas of what they want in life, where their career prospects lay, who their friends are, what they like and what they don’t. Naturally, they are fiercely independent, and to varying degrees among our twin boys, think they know absolutely everything (and conversely that we know nothing).

Now I know you will think I am self-indulgent, but part of me loves it when the so-called know-it-all who didn’t want my help, involvement, or meddling suddenly demands assistance. I secretly smile, and offer my help willingly, knowing that one day they will not even consider asking me for help (old, grey and useless?)!

Here’s a few examples for you (okay, yes, I am gloating):

  • Version A: I know how to catch public transport. Of course I can get there on my own.
  • Version B: Which bus is it I should catch? Where did you find that timetable?
  • Version A: I can fill in the form myself. It’s a waste of time anyway.
  • Version B: What does this mean? What should I fill in here?
  • Version A: I don’t need a myki/concession card. I can save you hundreds this year – I will just grab a ticket when the inspector gets on.
  • Version B: Can you pay my fine for me (twice)!!
  • Version A: I can sell stuff on eBay and make money myself.
  • Version B: Can you post this for me at the post office? What do I do about someone that won’t pay for the goods?

And then there’s my regular favourites, proving they still need a mother (okay slave):

  • Can I have some lunch money?
  • Can I have a lift?
  • Can you wash my clothes?
  • What can I eat?
  • What can I put in my sandwich?
  • Can you sew on a button?
  • Does this look good?
  • Which shirt looks better?

Soon enough, they won’t need my help at all. Their peers, house-mates, partners will provide them with all the support and advice they need. But the door will always be open – after all, we never stop being parents do we?

Sister of a Man-Child will be an interesting future case, already showing her independence. She often asks me for advice (“what should I wear today Mama?”) and then proceeds to pick the exact opposite. Hmm, challenging times ahead. 🙂

Here’s a similar theme albeit a few years back: Bereft of Brain Cells?


A life lesson with family pets June 14, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

rabbitsA little over a year ago we finally took the plunge and got the first ever pets in our family. The men-children were a little peeved by the fact that Sister of a Man-Child was actually allowed to have pets, when they never had been – clearly a moment of weakness by us, influenced by some very cute baby rabbits at a friend’s house one weekend. We were soon afterwards the proud owners of Hazel and Squeak, two very cute Mini-Lop rabbits bought from the pet shop – we even got two because we didn’t’ want them to be lonely (yep, totally sucked in).

Like all good pet-owners, we bought everything – the hutch, the pen, the toys, the special bowl and drink bottle. At night we were so worried they would be cold we initially kept them in the laundry, then when eventually we realised they stank out a small room pretty quickly, we put them outside, and covered the hutch in an old blanket. In summer, it was ice block containers to keep them cool and wet towels – yep, totally besotted.

The up side of rabbits is they clean themselves, eat the grass, and don’t make a noise. But as anyone with pets knows, there’s always some responsibility. They need feeding regularly, they should visit the vet at least once a year, they need their hutch kept clean, and they need to be kept safe.

Of course, like all good plans, they are prone to fail. So you can imagine pretty quickly who ended up feeding them, cleaning out the hutch, and caring for them – yep Mother of a Man-Child and Father of a Man-Child!!

When you have a pet, you learn about animals through close observation. We learned their joy at freedom – they would literally pirouette with excitement as they ran around the garden, and we knew when they were angry or scared – thumping their feet. Like any child caught doing the wrong thing, they knew when they were in trouble (Squeak caught digging again)! And they knew just how to nibble at your ankles to make you forgive them everything and give them an extra treat.

We did make a funny discovery some months after we got our two female rabbits from the pet shop (the owner even double checked the sex at my insistence), when we worked out that Hazel was actually Hamish!!!! A very angry call to the pet shop resulted in him paying for the snip for Hamish, fortunately before Squeak was pregnant (much to the disappointment of our kids). Seems Mr Pet Shop also didn’t tell us that these Mini-Lops were anything but Mini – they’re bigger than any rabbit I’ve seen!

Anyway, Hamish (post-snip) was actually pretty placid, but Squeak was a bit more work. I wonder if she was in need of the “snip” herself, as she became an incessant digger, constantly trying to dig her way out of their enclosure. When we eventually relented and let them be free range, she naturally dug her way into the next-door neighbours, with Hamish following close behind – never mind the dog. Ratbags!

When we overhauled the backyard, replacing the never-growing grass with a wonderful deck, it did create a challenge for our rabbits. Initially they had a ball, under the deck and house constantly, always coming back for dinner, until we discovered they’d eaten through the telephone wire!! Our Houdini’s seemed to find a way everywhere, including out into the front garden one day as well.

Eventually as we kept them confined to the backyard and realised they were slowly eating the garden, and digging their way to China, we decided the side of the house (100% concrete) was to become the rabbit run. And so it was, until just recently. Not ideal, but the best option we had. And then the last straw – we discovered that they had started eating the weatherboards, probably in protest and boredom, not in hunger I assure you!!!

It was then we finally discussed getting rid of the rabbits, for two reasons, one, to save our home and two, because quite frankly it was a bit cruel keeping them in a concrete enclosure (even though they were well fed and kept). And as you would expect, gradually Sister of a Man-Child spent less and less time with them too, which was a sticking point every weekend when we cleaned out the hutch.

So we broached the subject with our daughter, who understood our point, but was adamant they stay. Eventually, we made the decision for her, and said they had to go. Our ad for two free rabbits along with all accessories was responded to very quickly (Gumtree + “Free” guarantees success), and they were picked up the same night, with tears from our daughter and also some genuine sadness on our part. It was like giving away your children. I spent a sleepless night worrying about them – did we give them to the right person? Would they be well looked after? Were they cold, hungry, scared in unfamiliar surroundings?

The next day I sent a quick text to the new owner, checking on them under the pretence of my daughter’s anxiety (not my own of course). Thankfully he assured me they were fine, and in fact because it was raining he had them inside. Music to my ears!!!! I was so happy they were in an environment where they will be cared for, looked after, and even spoilt, alongside his other many pets.

So is it a happy ending? Well sort of. We have experienced the joy of pets, good for all of us, and also the loss of them in a roundabout way. Our holidays will be easier, as we won’t need to worry about finding someone to feed/water them every day (I even had them booked into a holiday camp over Xmas), and our house and garden will remain intact. To appease my daughter I am framing some photos of her and her rabbits for posterity – they are all very cute!

She’s already asking if she can have a cat, or dog – NO!! Been there, done that. As I said, we’re all better for the experience, but also wiser. 🙂

So tell me are you a pet family? Did you stop at one, or is there a growing menagerie in your home? Who cares for them in your house – the kids or parents? Have you ever given away a pet?

Here’s my post when we originally got our gorgeous bunnies: New Additions to the Family


The Big Birthday Bash June 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

tambourineWe survived the Big Birthday Bash recently – not for the men-children though, but for Father of a Man-Child.  He decided at the age of 55 (yes he is WAY older than me) that the time was right for a birthday party, and not just a small, intimate, grown up gathering, but a proper Rock’n’Roll birthday bash, complete with a live band at the local RSL (oh yes, we’re talking very up-market)!!

To show he has grown up and is quite capable of being a fully independent thinker (he was definitely making a not very subtle point to me his controlling wife), he proceeded to organise the entire party himself, including invitations (pretty cool actually), invite list (yes, I got no say at all, luckily he did extend the invitation to my immediate family), venue, band, and food.

At some stage, I did manage to prise some details from him about the food menu he was planning, which is when I decided to exert my influence.  Now there is cheap and cheerful, and then there is downright awful.  I explained that if he wanted me to attend and not die of absolute embarrassment in front of my friends (yes he invited some of them too), that he was not going to serve 4’n’20 pies and sausage rolls and sandwiches from the local deli!   Yes I know it’s the RSL (in need of a serious update, but still a fabulous venue), however we can still provide gourmet food even if it’s not in keeping with the hideous carpet and outdated decor of the place.

I also gave him some tips about having hired help for food service – I for one wasn’t planning on spending the party in the bowels of the RSL, and I explained that the men-children were not equipped to manage the food either (unless you’d like every guest to end up with salmonella poisoning).

I was inspired to order some last-minute helium balloons to decorate the place, which was our little birthday surprise for Father of a Man-Child.  He definitely liked that, almost as much as Sister of a Man-Child who could barely contain her excitement for 24 hours!

So how did the day go?  Well I have to say I think it was a seriously fun party.  The food was a hit (only some gourmet snags leftover), the band was a hit (of course they were loud and you couldn’t hear yourself think, but hey, that’s what it was like when I saw INXS at the Prospect Hill Hotel all those years ago and you could feel the music vibrating through your body), Tambourine Man was a hit (aka Father of a Man-Child in superb wig and on song), and the venue worked well.  Like any successful party, naturally it continued on into the evening with a few ratbags who clearly didn’t have to get up for work the next day, unlike yours truly. 🙂

There was one small hiccup on the day, which centred on the dress code.  The invitation clearly stated “Dress Code: Strictly Status Quo, Rolling Stones and the like.”  Naturally, I ignored it completely, and when any of my friends asked, I told them it was optional, in keeping with Father of a Man-Child’s non-committal attitude. His advice – “just wear jeans and a leather jacket, that’s rock’n’roll anyway”.  Not surprisingly there was a mixed bag of dress code at the party, ranging from the likes of me (not an ounce of rocker), to the token t-shirt borrowed from a teenage son, worn under the leather jacket (I swear there were quite a few “originals” at the party), to my friend, Mother Who Works, who shamed us all with her fabulous rocker style on the day.  I thought she looked fabulous, definitely BOG, however it seems she nearly died of embarrassment and kept telling me she wanted to go home and change – I am sure there were many envious looks thrown her way for those killer boots and white faux fur jacket.

The men-children turned up for the party – one was very helpful, the other eventually arrived late and left early (sigh).  They looked thoroughly bored during the entire event, but I really don’t care – it was important they were there.

I’ve been dropping hints about how good the venue was hoping the boys might consider it for their 18th birthday party/ies.  I think I am delusional however – one probably thinks it’s the most down-market place you could ever have a party, and the other one would probably rather not have a party than have his embarrassing family at his 18th, such is his connectivity with us right now. Ah, the joys!

Anyway, Happy 55th Birthday Tambourine Man, it was a great bash!!

If you’d like to see Mother Who Works in her splendid outfit, you can read about her Bridget Jones moment here.