Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The last word! June 5, 2014

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twins at 18In January 2010, I was inspired to start this blog.  As I stated at the time, it was prompted by a number of events.

  1. I had endured yet another encounter with one of my twin teenage boys (just starting to push the boundaries).
  2. I was in between full-time jobs, and looking for some relief from the relentless grind of job-hunting.
  3. I had a long-held and untapped desire to put pen to paper, to exercise my creative side.
  4. I was interested in social media and “blogging”, so no better way to learn than to do.

Who could have imagined that 4.5 years later, I would still be writing weekly blogs about my “men-children”, having survived their teenage years.

I must apologise for my recent absence, but life has been seriously hectic, and the blog for the first time has been neglected.  It’s most unlike me to let my disciplined approach to blogging wane, but there was another underlying reason which permitted this.

You see, in March of this year, my darling men-children turned 18.  We had a wonderful celebration at home, with family and their Godmothers.  It was a lovely intimate occasion marking their official entry to adulthood, and we delighted in sharing our collective pride in our young men.  It also gave cause for me to reflect on the blog, and the stories of their teenage years, and what we had jointly “survived”.  And although there remain stories untold (some that would make excellent reading I assure you), I decided that the time had come to hang up my man-child blog, and let the boys be.  As “children”, I thought it was quite acceptable to share my stories, albeit “anonymously”.  But as they crossed the threshold to adulthood, I decided that it was no longer appropriate for me to continue to share their stories on their behalf.

To some of you, this sentiment may seem a little misplaced, after airing so much personal information for the last 4.5 years.  But for personal reasons, it just feels right.  So this will be my last post about the men-children (and their sister for now).  Who knows, when Sister of a Man-Child hits her teenage years, the blog make get a second run, but for now, it’s time to rest the keyboard.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a blogger.  I have loved the feedback and comments from my readers.  It has been in equal parts cathartic, reflective, amusing and enlightening.  I hope you have enjoyed reading our stories as much as I have enjoyed penning them.  My final thanks go to my subjects, the men-children, who allowed me (kind of) to share glimpses of their lives with the world (okay, not quite the world, but 24,000 views is pretty cool).

The blog will remain live for the time being, whilst I consider the task of self-publishing the posts into a book for posterity (funny, how I’d still like a tangible “book” isn’t it?), so you can still find it when you wish, as can others who stumble across it on the web.

Signing off for the last time,

Mother of a Man-Child.

 

The birds and the bees November 9, 2012

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baby Sometimes an opportunity just presents itself for the birds and the bees conversation, and before you know it you’re halfway in and there is no stopping.  Suffice to say Sister of a Man-Child is now a little wiser than she was a week ago about Mother Nature and babies!

We were heading back from a long weekend away, listening to the radio, and they were chatting to callers about being pregnant and not knowing it.  Even our 9-year-old daughter could understand that it was a bit odd.  “Mum surely someone would know if they were having a baby wouldn’t they?”  And the average person would agree, yes surely you would know you were having a baby.  And if you listened to one caller, you would still not believe her story that she didn’t know until she delivered the baby that she was pregnant!!!!  Personally, I am really not sure how a 9 month pregnant women could not think she was having a baby – regardless of what the doctors said about not being pregnant – either that or you would be seeing an oncologist about a massive growth in your stomach.

But I digress.  As we drove home in the quiet of the car, I had a split second flash back to 9 years ago, and then out of my mouth popped my response: “Well not necessarily actually.  Because it happened to me when we were having you”.   And so the story about our daughter’s small beginnings unfolded.  From the discovery at 16 weeks that I was pregnant, to her amazing arrival at 41 weeks into the world.  She was keen to know if she was planned, or an accident.  I told her emphatically she was very much planned and wanted, but that it was a bit of a surprise to learn I was pregnant.

For readers who themselves are itching to know how someone who had already had twins could not know she was pregnant, here’s a small list of reasons:

  • No morning sickness (yes I am someone who breezes through pregnancies without any problems at all, no queasiness, no sore body parts)
  • A body whose menstrual clock was so out of kilter, I was convinced that I could not possibly be pregnant
  • An earlier diagnosis of potential early menopause and a single functioning ovary
  • And the firm belief that it would almost border on an immaculate conception!!!

Suffice to say I was indeed pretty shocked to be sitting in the doctor’s rooms to discuss my ongoing concerns about feeling “bloated”, having also been to the naturopath for some assistance, when she passed me the pregnancy test results – positive!!!!  Fortunately the 6-year-old twin boys in the room were too pre-occupied to notice my shock and our subsequent discussions.   Although they did notice that I became a bit vague for the rest of the day, walking up the same supermarket aisle several times and getting lost on the way to a good friend’s house.  Yes you could say I spent the day in absolute shock.  I didn’t ring Father of a Man-Child in case he had a car accident when I told him, so waited until I saw him later that day.  Our initial shock was mixed with absolute delight and then temporary panic, as the threat of twins was very high given my family history and an existing set.

Fortunately the scan revealed only one healthy baby (and the fact that I was 16 WEEKS PREGNANT), and the subsequent amniocentesis test (not a pleasant prospect but a necessary evil under the circumstances) revealed a girl – much to all of our delight.  Suffice to say it was a lovely (and short) pregnancy, enjoyed by me, hubby and the boys, and the excitement around the arrival of a baby sister was lovely for the men-children and family and friends.

Sister of a Man-Child then asked me how soon can girls get pregnant, which of course led us further down the birds and bees discussion, to talk of eggs and periods and when it would all happen.  As she is 9 years old and some girls unfortunately now start menstruating by 10 years old (far too early in my book) the timing is probably pretty good.   I explained that sometime between 10 and 14 she would indeed be producing eggs, but that didn’t mean she would get pregnant.  And I also explained that no you couldn’t get pregnant just lying in a bed with a boy (she did ask), but that when she had a partner, and they planned it, they would hopefully get pregnant when they wanted! 🙂

She also asked about how old you could be which is interesting, given some of my friends have had babies in their mid-late 40’s.  I explained that was possible, but also told her about eggs ageing and that physiologically you were better to have them a bit earlier if you could.  It’s amazing sometimes how they see the world, and how they manage to piece it all together.

So there you have it, the story of Sister of a Man-Child’s beginnings.   We have always said she was a Gift from God under the circumstances (but then really every child is), and most definitely a planned and longed for daughter and sister, not a “happy accident”!   Does the distinction matter?  Maybe not to some, but I think to my daughter she somehow wanted to know as we drove in the car and heard amazing stories from other women, that she wasn’t an “accident”. 🙂

I have written about Sister of a Man-Child before:  A Princess Tale.  She is such a delight!

 

My 8 year old has a Facebook account! July 13, 2012

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facebook logoYes, the headline is true, to a point.  She HAD a Facebook account, until I found out and shut it down faster than you can say “Sometimes I hate the internet and all it allows”.  The problem unfolded when I received a call from another Mum, letting me know that her daughter had mentioned Sister of a Man-Child now had a Facebook account.  Thankfully the Mum called me and let me know, as she was concerned that she would even have one, and rightfully so.  She also explained she’d expect me to do the same if the situation was reversed – and she was absolutely right.

To be honest I was pretty surprised to hear that our daughter had a Facebook account.  I actually think for the most part she’s a very mature young girl, and also highly trustworthy, so I was genuinely shocked to learn what I did.  So what happened next you ask?    Angry, scary Mummy walked right in to where she was on the computer (again) and asked her “Who set up your Facebook account?”   “Me” she said, looking absolutely terrified.  I immediately asked her for her access details and “deactivated” the account on the spot, with a very teary Sister of a Man-Child beside me.  She got even more upset when the damn password wouldn’t work and we had trouble even getting into the account and I got madder and madder at her and Facebook.  Interesting, they only “deactivate” you, and tell you they’ll be waiting patiently should you decide to come back.  You never get to really “delete” the thing, of course.  So there’s her “signature” already on Facebook just waiting for her when she’s actually old enough to use it.

I asked her how she got around the age issue, and she told me she just lied about it. Now this is where the situation needs further explanation, and where I hold myself to blame.  You remember our problem with her iTunes account, and my fortune (insert extreme sarcasm) in seeing (and hearing) every iMessage she sends to her friends on my iPhone.  We finally managed a work around, which I admit did involve creating an email account for her with perhaps a little white lie about her age so we could have the account in the first place, and then another little while lie about her age to get the iTunes account.  Problem finally solved, however, behaviour also easily mimicked by an 8-year-old.  If she’s seen her mother and brother do it, then it must be okay!  Damn.

I naturally also asked why she wanted a Facebook account in the first place.  She told me she’d been jealous of her friend and how many “things” she had in an online game, and when she saw that she could earn more “things” herself if she simply logged in to Facebook she did just that, creating the account along the way.  Aaaarrrgggh.  They don’t call it “the web” for nothing, it’s a web of intrigue and danger and invitations that little minds just fall in love with.  We then had a discussion about what she’d learned at school about the internet, and all the things she knew NOT to do, and that setting up this account was totally against the rules (both at school and home).  As only an innocent 8-year-old could, she explained through more tears and half breaths (yep, very, very upset) that she had been on school holidays for a few weeks and forgotten about all the school rules.  We had hugs and made up (angry Mummy now forgiving Mummy) and agreed that it would never happen again, and that she could be trusted not to make another error of judgement like that.

We also agreed that she has no more computer access until we go away, and the iPod has also been confiscated for an indefinite period.  I am disappointed in myself to think that our behaviour wouldn’t be copied by my daughter, and I’m also annoyed with myself that I got so angry about it and with her.  Father of a Man-Child would have been much calmer about it (he always is).  He’s definitely the Yin to my Yang and where I am generally the yelling parent he is generally the talking parent (anyone who knows us both will not be surprised by that at all).  At the end of the day I should have been angry with the internet, and the social networks that allow us all (including our children) to so easily create fake accounts and personas, whether for a good cause or not.

So, that’s our Facebook drama.  What do you do to stop the hideous infiltration of the world-wide-web into your children’s lives?   Do you have rules about using the internet, and other devices?  Should I have handled things differently?

It does seem Sister of a Man-Child is getting quite a look in on the blog these days.  Perhaps one day I’ll have to rename it?  And what of the Men-Children you ask?  Well being school holidays, I’d love to tell you how they are, but we’ve seen them so infrequently I barely know.  I think we’ve had ONE meal together as a family in the whole school holidays.  Yep, at 16 it’s just not where they want to be.

As we’re off on a little holiday with Sister of a Man-Child, you may not hear from me for a week, unless there is exciting breaking news about the Men-Children whilst we’re away!  And no, we are not leaving them home alone – what do you think we are?  Crazy?

I have written about the joys of Facebook before.  Can you be Facebook friends with your kids?

 

Technology – A privacy invasion? July 6, 2012

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video cameraI love technology don’t get me wrong.  It makes our lives easier on a daily basis, it has revolutionised the way we communicate, and no doubt will continue to make incredible advances that we haven’t even dreamt about by the end of the year (one might have said decade but it moves so fast I have to condense the time frames)!

And just as well I love technology – with two teenage boys who can’t get enough of it, and their sister, a true “digital native” at only 8 years old – it’s very present in our lives.  It’s fair to say Sister of a Man-Child’s use of technology took a quantum leap when Father Christmas generously gave her an iPod Touch last Christmas (Nintendo DS are SO last century)!  As a result, she was no longer reliant on borrowing the iPad, or one of our iPhones, or the Macbook, but had free reign of the App store – she was like a kid in a lolly shop.   Thankfully, the bulk of them are free, and she’s been trained to ask if she can download one that costs money (yes even 0.99c – it’s the principal of it), so it’s relatively under control.

Of course the clever iPod Touch does everything the iPhone does in a wireless environment, except make phone calls.  I mentioned when she got it that having put it under my iTunes account (very logical at the time), I now have the joy of “sharing” all the conversations she has with her friends via iMessage.  Which can be insightful, but also very annoying when you’re in the office and your phone keeps pinging you every time another inane comment from an 8-year-old enters cyberspace!!!

My daughter is now so with the program, she can thumb type faster than me, and create a video on her iPod in about 1 minute flat.  No wonder YouTube has so much content on it – they create it constantly.

Sister of a Man-Child discovered the joys of Face Time too, so you can often hear her and a friend talking to each other about absolutely nothing really, for 30 mins or so.  It’s their version of a telephone call naturally, but you can’t pick your nose discreetly or roll your eyes when it’s on video can you?  I was recently stuck at home for the day, having survived the hideous man-cold that is doing the rounds at the moment (it’s earned that title, it’s not a nice gentle cold that a woman-cold would be, it’s a dead set bastard of a thing that king hits you and bang – you’re out for the count).  Anyway, I had kindly said my daughter could spend the day at home with me while I worked with my germs close by, instead of sending her off to holiday program.

Trouble first set in on the Sunday night – she was reluctant to give up her iPod Touch, and kept wanting to chat to her friend well past bed time.  Alarm bells rang when I noticed the message on my phone between them agreeing to FT (short for Face Time) each other at 10pm!!!!  Thank you, there’ll be none of that, I’ll just take that iPod for the night.  I was pleased to see her friend tell my daughter “Shore (sic) but I think it’s a bit naughty to do that”  – yes it is!!!!

Of course by 8am the next morning they were both up, so what better time for FT.  Next thing you know I am in the kitchen in my PJ’s (after a weekend of man-cold it’s very fair to say I was not looking my best) and I hear my daughter’s friend, and then her mother, saying “Good morning” to her.  What the?  Can’t I even have breakfast in peace?  Nope, it’s like Big Brother in our house.  They’re hearing AND seeing what we’re doing in the morning, and vice versa.  I think not.  I explain to my daughter that she is welcome to share her life via FT to anyone she cares, but that I have limits for our family.  And that means I don’t really want to see the school mums over breakfasts – regardless of how well we know each other.  It’s just a little too invasive for my liking.  But then again, maybe that’s just me.  I admit it, I absolutely HATE Big Brother, and always will. Obviously I am not Gen Y or Z!!!

So that’s our life with technology at the moment.  There are days that I have to tell Sister of a Man-child “no more screen time”, which she knows means don’t touch the iPod, iPhone, or Macbook again today.  So of course she’ll plonk herself in front of the TV – not yet an iTV, but coming soon to a home near you!  Am I the only one who hates this invasion of technology sometimes?  Do you set limits in your house?

I have written about technology before:  Fighting the Technology Tsunami.  It’s an uphill battle!

 

Sister of a Man-Child: Here comes the Attitude. May 11, 2012

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OMGIt’s been a while since I wrote about Sister of a Man-Child.  She’s a darling 8-year-old most of the time, and really a very easy going, and thoughtful child.  But sometimes she can take me by surprise, and cause me to reflect on the world around her and just what impact the behaviour of the Men-Children and we as parents have on her, considering she lives in an “adult” world a lot of the time.

Of course, there are other influences in her life also – the media, her friends, her teachers.  I can only guess as to the source of influence for a recent text message I received from her whilst at work:  “I hate my life!”  I kid you not – that’s exactly what she wrote.   I rang home immediately in case she was seriously suicidal, only to find out that a small incident had occurred with her brother/father and she was basically having a sulk.  I am confident she learned to be a drama queen from the countless Foxtel/Disney teenage shows she watches – some saccharine sweet, but clearly some not quite so.  Most of them drive me insane and I regularly demand they be turned off.

I totally blame these shows (and also the Men-Children) for her latest outburst.  Upon learning we were going out for dinner and she would need a babysitter (admittedly we had an unusually busy week and I had been “out” every night at some function or meeting) she declared at the dinner table “Are you serious!”  (insert indignant tone of voice).  I was gobsmacked to say the least, and immediately angry, and said she was NOT to speak to us with that attitude again.  Cue tears – suddenly a small 8-year-old girl not a teenager with attitude!

She also recently started walking around the house, saying to me BTW, blah blah…..so not “By the way”, but literally “BTW”.  When I asked her why she was talking in abbreviations, she said she liked it.  Hmmm.  Just like teenagers like it.  You may have noticed that “OMG” and  “LOL” are not acronyms any longer, but “words”.   I said please talk to me in proper English and save the text language for the iPod/iPhone thanks.   I really wonder what we’re breeding some days and whether or not our children will be able to write or speak using correct English.   Was I being too mean?  Was she just experimenting with language?  Or am I right to nip this in the bud?

When it comes to her brothers, Sister of Man-Child doesn’t want much from the Men-Children – just their love and a little attention from time to time so she doesn’t feel like an only child.  It’s so rare that they are nice to her, that the other day she came running in to tell me that they had BOTH been really nice to her, and that she was SO happy.  She even asked one of them why he’d been nice to her four days in a row.  I have made a point to let them both know how she feels, so they might begin to realise what impact they have on their sister’s feelings, and how easy it is to earn her adoration and make her feel wonderful.  It takes such a small effort on their part to be nice to her, I hope they think twice about it and change their behaviour towards her.

As I say often to my daughter, just wait until you’re 15 years old.  Your 22-year-old brothers will be VERY interested in you and your girlfriends, and probably fighting to drive you everywhere and even chaperone you to parties.   Bring it on I say!

You can read more about Sister of a Man-Child here:  A Princess Tale

 

The Men-Children Really Do Love Me! February 24, 2012

birthday cardI celebrated a birthday recently.  The best bit about the day wasn’t the presents (which I’d shouted myself anyway), or turning a year older (definitely NOT a highlight), or the warmth of birthday wishes from friends and colleagues (you’ve got to love Facebook for reminding them all don’t you), it was the birthday cards that my family gave me.

  • The always-thoughtful card from Father of a Man-Child.  I swear he missed his calling – he should have worked for Hallmark.  Every card he writes for me (or someone else for that matter) always seems to say just the right thing, injected with genuine warmth and emotion that brings a tear to your eye, and words that cause you to stop and reflect on your life.
  • The gorgeous home-made card from Sister of a Man-Child, whose excitement was palpable, even days before.   “Mum, what’s your favourite colour?  Is it green, and yellow?”.  Of course I told her knowingly.  And on the eve of my birthday, almost bursting with pride: “Can I PLEASE just show you the front cover of your birthday card Mum”.  Patience won!
  • The wonderful card from Man-Child I , “long” by his standards (although he’s an amazing writer, I don’t think he enjoys the very personal stuff much), telling me I’m the best Mum he could have, and thanking me for everything that I do for him.  Perfect!  In a moment you forgive everything of a child when they say this.
  • And last but not least the surprisingly mature card from Man-Child II, talking about his own attitude as he grows up, and the fact that he is enjoying the company of his parents more and more, and doesn’t mind spending time with us.  And of course loves his mother, and all that she is.  This attitude change is a turning point for an adolescent, and really does represent a shift in the parent/child dynamic, an indication that we’re on the way to “coming out the other side” with at least one of the boys.

I know, you’re thinking gee, what will Mother of a Man-Child write about if they turn into nice people?  Don’t worry, they’re still adolescents.  One beautiful card doesn’t mean the trouble is over……

My wonderful day ended as it should with a simple dinner out with our children.  Pizza and pasta provided the perfect opportunity for the boys to carb up ahead of yet another rowing regatta, and Sister of a Man-Child was in gelati heaven, just proving that you don’t need a fancy restaurant to enjoy a night out and the simplest things in life can bring you much happiness.

Here’s to the next birthday – I can’t wait to relive the joy and love I felt on that day in another year’s time.

 

 

Back to School!! February 3, 2012

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twins at schoolAs our unusual “summer” enters its final month, the kids this week returned to school.  And we returned to the daily grind of making lunches, 6am rowing starts, music lessons, and countless loads of washing every week – I haven’t missed it I can tell you.  Nor the peak hour traffic that results!  Whilst there was no excitement evident amongst the men-children as they headed back to school, I know they were happy to return and catch up with their mates after a few months off.  And they’re both pretty pumped about a big year of sport in Year 10.  (Let’s hope it’s also a big year of study for both of them!)

It seems every newspaper carries a mandatory image of twins or triplets or even better quads in school uniform, as they head to school for their first prep year.  It reminds me of our own front page photo of the men-children some 10 years ago (that’s it pictured for you) which was pretty exciting at the time, and really is a great moment to have captured for posterity.  I still remember the boys wearing their school uniforms home from the store, such was their thrill at owning one.  And of course the pride I felt whilst blinking back tears as we stood in the prep classroom and launched them on their school journey.  No less joyful was repeating it all 7 years later with our daughter.  They are moments you could relive a thousand times over and each would be as wonderful as the first!

In contrast to the boys, Sister of a Man-Child’s excitement was palpable at entering Year 3.  She even sent me a text message yesterday when she got home “Hay (sic) mum first day of school great.  Thumbs up”, complete with thumbs up images!  Now before you think our 8-year-old daughter has a mobile phone, not quite.  For Christmas she was lucky enough to get an iPod Touch (as a modern-day alternative to the Nintendo DS).  Whilst most people would think she would use it for music, it comes with so many other features she’s barely had the earphones on.  Why would you when it also has countless games free from the App store, a camera better than mine, access to YouTube, and most importantly the ability to text (via iMessage) and use Facetime with other iPhone/iPod users.  The ONLY thing it doesn’t do is make phone calls – seriously.  So when Ruby’s in a wireless environment, she’s practically got her own iPhone.  A “Digital Native” in the making!

emoji imagesShe recently found some friends with iPods or iPhones, and now they’re madly texting each other and doing Facetime.  The only issue is that Ruby doesn’t have her own email address, so she’s using one of mine.  As a result, all her messaging appears automatically on my phone too.  It was fascinating to observe the conversation unfold between three young girls, and see them helping each other text and use Facetime.  And then installing Emoji (an app for texting icons).  Now they seem to send each other hundreds of smiley faces and other images.  Although the other morning I was sitting at work with a stream of messages (complete with sound notifications) going off at my desk which got a little out of hand.  I ended up joining the conversation and asking them to stop, which took a while because we had to convince one of the girls that it really was the “Mother” texting.  Not surprisingly, we have now banned the use of the iPod before school and not until after homework is done in the evenings – like all fun and highly addictive “toys”, good in moderation.

So back to school and back to the routine.  And back to family meals which are a nice change, especially since during the holidays we rarely had both men-children at home for a meal.  No doubt the novelty will wear off quickly!! 🙂