Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Diverse paths March 1, 2013

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

headphonesSomeone asked me the other day if the men-children are getting along better now that they are spending more time apart.  It was a good question, and my initial response was to say yes.  But on reflection, it probably hasn’t made much difference to them.

As they are so, so different (just as my twin sister and I were) they really haven’t spent much time together in recent years, except when they both trained and rowed in the same crew last summer (ironically even sitting next to each other in the scull).  The fact is they played different winter sports (footy vs rugby), they were in different sport houses and classes at school, they never travelled to school or home together, and didn’t spend time on the weekends together as they have different circles of friends.

This year of course one has left school to pursue a trade, whilst the other is doing VCE with plans to attend university, which will no doubt send them on even more diverse paths over the next few years.

Again, it is pause for reflection on my part as to how my twin sister and me were at their age.  We shared a bedroom for at least 15 years (god forbid the men-children should have to do that), and I don’t ever recall asking her about her friends, or her hairdressing course, or her job.  Are we all so self-absorbed as teenagers to not even care?  I can only assume so based on my own behaviour and that of my sons.

On the home front, some things certainly haven’t changed between the boys.  The arguments over jocks and socks, the fights over food supplies, or missing drink bottles or clothing, or the state of their shared bathroom or sitting room (one likes tidy, one comfortably lives with mess – a repeat of my sister and me ironically).

Just last night we enjoyed a raging argument between them over the TV.  One wanted to watch TV, one wanted to listen to music in his bedroom. Even with closed doors, it was impossible for the music not to drown out the TV.  I can vouch for that, as we regularly complain about the doof doof sound effects that come from one’s bedroom above to the family room below.  Even with extra insulation put in when we built upstairs (for that exact reason), the heavy sound of the bass penetrates the floor.

We looked for a solution last night – put in earphones (“I don’t have any”) or turn down or off the music – of course not!  So the argument continued between them, with shouting eventually over-taking the music and TV!  Thank goodness for the door at the bottom of the stairs. 🙂

I found my own solution today – their birthday is around the corner, so I have bought wireless headphones for the TV and/or computer.  That way one of them can listen to the TV or music without annoying the other one.  I wonder if we’ll go back and buy a second pair at some stage to stop them fighting over the single pair of headphones, or so that we don’t have to listen to either of them being entertained?

Or will Father of a Man-Child decide that with the in-built noise reduction he is going to claim them as his own and listen to Fox Sport in bliss for the rest of his life, without the sounds of all of us in the background?  Now that is a very big possibility.

Are we alone with fights over TV and music?  What do you do to manage it, and who wins in your house, if anyone?


A bit on the nose after camp! September 23, 2011

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

socksThe men-children returned from camp on Tuesday after five blissfully quiet days without them.  We almost didn’t know what to do at night while they were gone – there were no arguments over the dinner table, no demands about homework, no screaming to pick up stuff or begging for help at home.   Father of a Man-Child and I even enjoyed several long, uninterrupted conversations (it’s been a while), and Sister of a Man-Child was simply in heaven (as you would be being an only child for a few days with the undivided attention of your parents).

If you didn’t hear the men-children soon after they arrived home, you could definitely SMELL them!!!  Pity Father of a Man-Child who had to collect both boys (of course they didn’t arrive home together or leave together – the joys of twins) and endure them in close proximity for the short trip home.  Trust me they absolutely stank; I imagine his car will carry the odour for weeks.

By the time I saw them both at home they had showered thankfully, probably for a good 30 mins each, and fair enough too.  My only sample of the smell of boys after five days of camping was the clothing that came down for a wash, the sleeping bags that needed airing and/or washing, and the socks and boots that were so vile they had to spend the night outside because they could stink out an entire room in seconds.  It really was a very rude shock to the olfactory senses.

Man-Child I did change his jocks on occasion although he didn’t shower at all on camp.  And Man-Child II (and all other cadets apparently) simply wore their cadet uniforms for the whole five days.  So naturally, since they didn’t shower, they didn’t bother changing their jocks or socks either……..gross!!!  Perhaps I should just throw those ones out?

Both of the boys came home thoroughly exhausted, but having really enjoyed the challenges of their respective camps.  That would be with the exception of the last night, during which they both endured gale force winds and driving rain.  It was actually so bad on Cadet Camp they had to abandon the camping ground at 10pm at night and all hike back to the barracks, where they got to sleep in dorms (relative luxury), without bedding though, as that had all been left at the site.  Thankfully the school put the boys’ safety first – strong winds in a camping ground full of large trees being a recipe for disaster.   Man-Child I also endured a close encounter with a leech one night in his sleeping bag – ewww.  Nasty little suckers!

Whilst they both survived on the food (army rations and dehydrated noodle meals for the most part), they were certainly thankful for the large steak we served up to them upon their arrival home.  Nothing like a few days camping to appreciate a home cooked meal, a nice warm bed, a hot shower and a toilet that’s not a long drop. J

As for the parents who chose to let their boys stay home and not attend camp – far too soft!!!  This is the stuff that turns boys into men – the adventures that shape them and make them realise they can survive, and that they are stronger and more resilient than they might otherwise believe.  Good old-fashioned male bonding – bring it on.

PS.  Off on holidays next week – so forgive me if I don’t post a regular update.  Am seriously considering going away without a laptop and am too busy to have prepared anything in advance.  Sorry folks.

Read about pre-camp preparations here: Man-Child Free For Five Days – Woohoo!  


Do The Men-Children Actually LIKE Each Other? July 15, 2011

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

yin and yangAs those who know my men-children will tell you, they are extremely different.  Not just in looks but also in personality.  They have different friends, are quite opposite in their natural strengths, have diverse interests (except playing sport), have completely different fashion approaches, and like all siblings they fight a lot.

This year a couple of their individual friends moved to a different school together.  Not surprisingly new allegiances have been formed amongst these boys, thrown together in a new environment, and as a result new relationships have developed with my men-children.  One day I seemed to have one man-child talking about a mate regularly that plays in the same sports team, the next week he’s here with my other man-child and moreover now seems to be a permanent fixture with the latter.

The big surprise came when Man-Child II asked if he could stay over at a friend’s – who just happened to be the BFF (“Best Friends Forever”) of Man-Child I – go figure!  I was so taken aback I said he could stay as long as he told his brother first – I thought that was at least fair.  Man-Child I didn’t seem to mind at all.  And went so far as to lend his twin brother a jumper – yet another first in our household.  Trust me normally there’s a complete shit fight over the Bonds jocks, school shirts, footy shorts, Skins, and socks every morning – they just don’t do the sharing thing well at all.

So whilst my boys show disdain for each other often, at least at home, obviously their friends find them both good guys, and maybe not so different after all?  Or they enjoy their differences and uniqueness, just as they do with all their friends.

So is this a sign of things to come?  A new era of loving, sharing, caring men-children?  Based on the fighting going on upstairs at the moment and the charming language filtering down the stairs whilst I write this post, I very much doubt it.  But hey, mother of a man-child is always open to surprises. 🙂

Read more about the boys “play-fighting” here:  Testosterone Power Surge in Melbourne Suburb



Mother of a Man-Child: Planes, Trains and Automobiles! June 17, 2011

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

As I publish today, one of my men-children has been stuck in Adelaide for the past week, thanks to the qualms of nature and a certain volcano spewing ash across the globe.  What started out as a long weekend away for a teenage party has turned into a week-long stay – who would have thought!

Such is the irony, that having initially been stranded in Adelaide due to the closure of Melbourne airport, the ash cloud then travelled backwards across Australia to Adelaide airport, grounding my son and his friends for even more time.

For the first time ever (and never again) he flew Tiger Airways.  Yes, very cheap and god-awful flight times, but who cares when you’re a teenager?  Except when there’s been an Act of God that closes the airports, and suddenly the “busted-arse” airline has NO priority in the aviation skies, and so no planes can get off the ground.

So after expecting our darling man-child home last Monday (I admit I was looking forward to seeing him even after 3 days) it’s now Saturday (at best) before we will see him.   Naturally buses and trains have been explored, but as you would imagine they’ve been booked out, and I’m not that keen on teenagers doing that without adult supervision, so we’ve decided that the fall back is now Father of a Man-Child and another Dad driving to Adelaide and back to bring the boys home, if all goes pear-shaped again on Saturday.

Whilst I am missing him, naturally Man-Child II is delighting at missing school and spending time with a family who apparently like him so much they’d happily adopt him!  Regardless of how they behave at home (typically badly), all is forgiven when you learn from another parent (and I quote) “Man-Child II has been amazing…Dishes in sink, making bed, helping out…Tidying up after the party.”  Why is it that none of that happens here at home?

Naturally as time has gone on, I’ve shuddered to think that he didn’t take the bath towel I asked him to take, and only had two pairs of jocks, but I know that they’ll be well looked after, and just be treating it as a “camping” trip = minimal hygiene required.

Before Man-Child II had even got on the plane to Adelaide a week ago, I should have known there was trouble brewing.  I had the host mother on the phone just to confirm if it was true that I had given my permission for my son to have his eyebrow pierced (his mate was opting for the lesser ear-piercing).  I said absolutely NOT, but feel free to let him know that if he has his foreskin pierced then he can also have his eyebrow pierced!  With much hilarity we both agreed that given this option he probably would. 🙂

That didn’t stop Man-Child II texting me furiously to try to convince me why he should be allowed to have the piercing.  Needless to say I remained adamant it not happen, both verbally, and to ensure no “misunderstanding” via text  – I guess time will tell!

All said and done it’s been interesting to have Man-Child II away for the week.  The dynamics of the house have changed significantly – sister of a man-child has no one annoying her, and Man-Child I has no one to fight with – it’s been positively BORING!  And I admit, I’ve missed him as I do any of my children when they’re away for an extended period of time.  As they say, absence does make the heart grow fonder – but only if it doesn’t have an earring in it!!



Mother of a Man-Child: The Hurdy-Gurdy of Life February 25, 2011

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

The only thing guaranteed in my life at the moment is the never-ending ride on an emotional roller-coaster, as we journey the ups and downs of adolescence with our men-children.  You never know quite what you’re in for on any given day – it could be a pleasant conversation where they actually respond to questions civilly (as opposed to the expected grunt) or an early morning screaming match because they’ve decided to start proceedings with an argument about stolen jocks whilst getting ready for school.

Why is it that so often I now think of my own parents, and my own adolescent behaviour as I parent my children?  Life, like history, has a way of repeating itself.  Teenager behaviour, just like toddler behaviour, is fairly predictable after all (give or take a few interesting events that will become family lore in our little part of the world).  So around and around we go, just like a hurdy-gurdy, with life invariably repeating itself over the generations.

We actually have our very own hurdy-gurdy (see pic).  An ancient piece of playground equipment, that I remember fondly as a child, with hours spent spinning wildly around and around with the neighbourhood kids.  I assume it’s called a “hurdy-gurdy” because it resembles the round disc-like version found at playgrounds.  But our hurdy-gurdy is particularly unique, and very much a part of our family history, and a special part of our lives.  We still talk about the time my sister managed to get her finger caught and mangled in the inner workings of the hurdy-gurdy – it wasn’t a pretty sight trust me.  Hence the plastic ice-cream container designed to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself again (low tech but effective).

The hurdy-gurdy spent years sitting out the back of my parent’s house, no doubt awaiting grand-children.  When finally they arrived, it took more than a little convincing for my husband to allow the junk/scrap metal to be bought to it’s new home.  And so began the painstaking process by Mother of a Man-Child to replace the rotted timber wooden seats, a sparkling coat of paint and new rubber handles for grip (not that we ever had anything that fancy).  And yet another generation (my boys) benefited from the joys of the hurdy-gurdy.  On the odd occasion, my adult siblings would climb upon the hurdy-gurdy late on a Christmas Eve, with much hilarity and recklessness, spinning far faster than they could remember it going (you definitely don’t do rides like you used to as you get older do you?).

As the boys grew, the hurdy-gurdy was cast aside again (parked down the side of our house) with occasional requests by my husband to remove it permanently.  Thankfully we didn’t, because along came our daughter, and only recently the hurdy-gurdy is enjoying life yet again, this time accompanied by the squeals and delights of small girls, who all gaze in wonder at this strange toy, and when they finally understand it’s workings have a wonderful time enjoying wind in their hair, and un-abandoned, dizzying freedom.

Now that my younger sister has a baby and a new house with a good backyard, there is talk of handing the hurdy-gurdy on in time for the next generation to enjoy.  By then it will probably need a fresh lick of paint and a nice new set of handles, and be ready to entertain yet again.

The origins of the hurdy-gurdy remain a little unknown.  My 90-year-old grandmother recalls her husband bought it for my mother and her siblings when they were young.  By all accounts he bought it from a bloke who we think might have made it himself – it almost looks like it’s been fashioned from parts of a Hills Hoist.  In our lifetimes none of us has ever seen anything quite like it.

And as for where the hurdy-gurdy will end it’s life?  Provided it doesn’t continue to be passed along to countless generations of our family (spending the odd hiatus parked in the corner of the yard neglected), I have always insisted it be donated to a toy museum, where for future generations people will wonder at the strange toy that children from another era found enjoyment with.  Just imagine the stories the hurdy-gurdy could tell?  What great wisdom would it impart to us?  Likely it would say the only thing guaranteed is that the circle of like completes itself time and time again, with all the reliability of a spinning hurdy-gurdy. 🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: The Masters of Low Maintenance October 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 12:30 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,



As the mother of two teenage boys I find it interesting to observe their “practical” approach to all things related to clothing.  It’s definitely the low maintenance variety for my two.  Unlike my young daughter who already changes her outfits several times a day on the weekends, boys are more likely to wear the same thing for several days – until it walks itself to the laundry!

Some examples:

  • They only wash clothing if you ask them to clean their rooms or literally collect items off the floor.   Otherwise they would leave them there indefinitely – I kid you not!
  • In Man-Child II’s case, if you don’t wash it in time he will happily retrieve it from the dirty clothes’ basket, for another wear or five.  What’s a little bit of dirt anyway?  Doesn’t deodorant cover up everything?
  • Man-Child I recently added his school jumper to the washing basket.  When I asked if it was actually dirty after only three days of wear in term four, he explained it was “ages” since it had been washed.  Yes, you guessed it, the recent three-week school holiday wasn’t a good time to have it laundered!  It obviously spent that time in his bag, probably alongside some moldy sandwiches – gross!
  • I noticed an unfamiliar pair of runners at home this week.  It seems the common practice at school is if someone leaves something unattended, it’s finder/keepers.  So Man-Child I is the temporary owner of a pair of second-hand runners (hence we bought him some new ones today).  When I asked if this happens often, they assured me only if you left stuff lying around at school (no doubt the evolutionist Darwin would think it was perfectly normal behaviour).
  • We also seem to have an odd assortment of spare jocks at our house, destined never to be returned to their owners.  I am constantly assured that they were “gifts” – I certainly hope new and not second-hand.
  • And I am regularly washing other boys jumpers that my men-children have borrowed.  On the average weekend they leave home ill prepared for Melbourne’s four seasons in one day so invariably return with additional belongings.  What annoys me most is when I wash them ready for returning to their rightful owner only to see my son wearing it again.  Grrrr.

You may be thinking, don’t sweat the small stuff.  What does it matter – I don’t have to wear their dirty clothing?  And if it’s not washed because it hasn’t made it to the laundry, it’s not my problem is it – they’ll soon learn where the laundry is?  And if random clothing enters our house – again, not for me to worry about.

My problem is I like clean – clean boys, clean clothes and clean bedroom floors.  It goes with my clean house.  Ask anyone who knows me – I don’t like mess, I like my orderly, organized life.  Oh well – we can’t all be perfect can we.  🙂


Mother of a Man-Child: Travelling Light Teenager Style September 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Have you ever watched a teenager pack to go away?  Girls being girls they pack everything except the kitchen sink.  I mean you can never have too many pairs of shoes can you?  Boys on the other hand are in the minimalist camp – why take something just in case – that’s excess baggage!

Typically as a mother I always worry about what my Men-Children pack to go away.  If it’s a school camp, I insist they take absolutely everything on the list provided (yes, I was always very obedient).  If we’re going on holidays, I like to have a list so we don’t forget anything.  They on the other hand are always aiming for light and lean – why take long johns on a winter camp to the foot of the snow ranges – it won’t be cold Mum.   Clearly they didn’t attend the Boy Scouts (motto “Be prepared”).

My favourite is overnight stays.  That takes packing light to another dimension.  Basically, my boys pack nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  They go in the clothes they have on their back, and come home in the same clothes.  They don’t take a change of jocks, or a toothbrush, or deodorant.  I thought it was only my two but when their mate turned up at the door the other night to stay, I was greeted by a boy with the same approach.  His mother didn’t seem phased by it, and surprisingly nor was I – I was actually amused and quietly relieved that I don’t have the only unhygienic children in Melbourne.

The funniest was Man-Child II who recently travelled to Tasmania to play rugby.  As they were representing school they had to travel in their school uniforms (yes they were not impressed) and appear in them each day, before the match.  Both my son and another boy who were billeted out decided the only sensible thing to do was to sleep in their school uniforms!  That meant they didn’t have to change from boxers into school uniform into rugby uniform twice a day.  I guess it’s efficient, but not what I call normal.  I can only hope their hosts assumed they were eager to get dressed each morning, and didn’t realise they had actually slept in their school suits.  Just as well I wasn’t there to see my son looking decidedly dishevelled in his uniform each day! 🙂