Family Language Blog Post - Money Dollars

My Family’s Secret Language

Family Language Blog Post - Playing Cards

The Conk

When I was growing up, in our family, the third game or round we played to work out the overall winner – if for example I won one and my sister one the other – was called ‘The Conk’.

Yes, ‘The Conk’.

I guess it is some shortened form of conqueror but I don’t really know and I am sure if I asked, no one in the family would know either. It was normal thing to say ‘lets play The Conk to decide the winner’.

Unfortunately I had no idea that this phrase was unique to my family’s lexicon and not widely known. After a couple of fierce lunchtime games of 500 with high school friends, suggesting ‘we play The Conk’ was met with lots of serious mocking and laughter.

Teenage humiliation now far behind me, I really like how we had made up words and used them naturally between us. We have even started to do this in my little family with some of the mispronunciations and cute ‘kid-made’ words that Dylan has said.

 

Correct Pronunciation

Like any young child, Dylan often gets words and phrases wrong and not all of these have ended up as part the natural language of our family. Sometimes we make an effort to correct his speech.

So, par-cark has been changed around to car park and bake-cano has slowly been corrected to volcano. I thought it important to teach him not to say ‘eel’ instead of ‘seal’. We are still working on putting an ‘n’ at the start of ninja.

 

Cute but Short-lived

Some of Dylan’s interpretations on words and phrases are too cute and we have repeated them back to him and even used them ourselves sometimes. But over time, they have corrected without much help from us. Cute but short-lived words and phrases uttered by Dylan include:

  • ‘parrot shute’ instead of parachute
  • washing lion for washing line
  • eye growl for eye brow
  • swimming gobbles for swimming goggles
  • flag instead of tag (the label inside a t-shirt)
  • machos for nachos
  • chicken pops for chicken pox

My four and half year old boy can now clearly tell me that he loves me, and that is exceptionally nice to hear. It is just not as cute as the first couple of times when Dylan said “I Bove You Mummy”.

 

Our Family’s (Now Not-So) Secret Language

Some of the things Dylan says have stuck. We have embraced them as a family and now say them as well. Why do we have to use the proper word when Dylan’s altered ones are so much better? I like how we have started our own family traditions. I can not only pass down ‘The Conk’ to my children, but they can pass a unique lexicon onto theirs – a kind of inter-generational secret family language.

So in our home if we play pretend shops and want to buy something, we use our ‘money-dollars’. When we hear an insect buzzing around, it is probably a ‘shoo-fly’. And when there is a loud noise, Dylan goes off to find his ‘ear-mupps’ to wear over his ears.

A few times when either my husband or I were going out, Dylan would ask us in a slightly worried tone ‘but who is going to keep me?’ It took us a while to realise that he was asking who was going to stay at home with him or look after him.

I now think this is a lovely turn of phrase and sums up what he asking perfectly. Well Dylan, who is going to ‘keep’ you? My darling, gorgeous boy, I will always ‘keep’ you.

I would love to hear your ‘kid-made’ words that have made it into your family’s secret language or unique lexicon. Post them in the comments below.

Family Language Blog Post - Money Dollars

 

What I will Miss About Being Pregnant Blog Post - Rose Color Glasses

What I Will Miss About Being Pregnant

What I will Miss About Being Pregnant Blog Pos - Julie Pregnant

 

Newborn Tidings

On the 1st of May 2015, a momentous event occurred in our lives – our gorgeous daughter, Eloise, arrived in the world. She will take centre-stage in many blog posts to come, but I would like to dedicate this one to the nine months that preceded her birth. It seems a bit remiss if I do not capture what the experience of being pregnant has been like for me.

 

The Bad Stuff

A couple of weeks after Eloise was born I started jotting down the main things I remembered about being pregnant – and it was all negative.

At times, I felt nauseous, bloated, breathless and exhausted. I suffered weird and unexpected pains including calf muscle cramps that would awaken me in an agonised state at 2am. My ankles swelled and I found lifting my three year old and walking up stairs increasingly difficult. Towards the end of the pregnancy, between the somersaults baby girl was doing and the sheer uncomfortableness of it all, I barely slept.

However, I don’t want to remember just the bad stuff. So I have dug a bit deeper and decided to look back at those nine months with only rose-tinted glasses on. I want to not just remember my pregnancy, but also celebrate it.

 

In the Spotlight

Firstly, I loved feeling special. I liked that people often seemed happy and joyful around me. Strangers would spark up conversations and friends seem genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. As my bump grew, so did the attention on me. I will never again be asked if I have any weird cravings or whether I have thought of any names. It is highly unlikely that a stranger will want to pat my belly. I miss all the compliments – that I looked glowing and that I looked tiny. Who knew I had to get pregnant to get so much praise about my svelte figure?

 

Statute of Limitations

Secondly, I miss the minutiae that are only associated with being pregnant. I could buy the most expensive shampoo out but my hair will not get that glossy, thick, and shiny again. I indulged in a lot more chocolate than usual without any guilt. The feeling of fluttering, tumbling and sometimes massive wallops in my tummy is already fading from my memory. I will also miss wearing maternity jeans – style and comfort all in one. Well to be honest, weeks after birth, I am still wearing them. What is the statute of limitations on wearing maternity jeans post having a baby?

 

Miracle

Last and very definitely not least, I am happy that I succeeded in having a healthy full-term pregnancy. Just over a year ago, I was recovering from a miscarriage and now I have Eloise in my life. What a difference a year can make. Pregnancy is a privilege and a gift that I know is not bestowed on everyone.

Erma Bombeck was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was asked what she would change if she had her life to live over. Her response has become much quoted on the Internet.  I am not particularly religious, but I think this part of her message sums up my sentiment in a beautiful way:

‘Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle’.

 

Never Say Never

Sure, I may be accused of romanticising pregnancy, but I do think it is like reading the news – you too often only get told the bad stuff. I am simply trying to counter some of the negative.

It is especially important for me to remember just how amazing and wonderful being pregnant is, as I am never intending to be pregnant again. As people say: ‘never say never’, but it is extremely unlikely we will have a third child (which surprisingly has been the most asked question post Eloise’s birth). Due to my age (ancient in fertility terms), the previous miscarriage and the fact that we always said we would be more than happy with two children, pregnancy is no longer on the cards for me.

When you are pregnant and people ask how you are, it is almost like a free pass to rain down upon them a litany of grumbles and complaints. If you are currently pregnant, I invite you to shock the next person who asks how you are and say: “I feel so grateful, I am excited and life is wonderful. Thank you so much for asking”. Then further surprise them by inviting them to give your bump a wee pat – it will make their day.

And if, like me, your pregnancy days are behind you, give yourself the luxury of basking in some rose-tinted memories of when you did your part in bringing a miracle into the world.

What I will Miss About Being Pregnant Blog Post - Rose Color Glasses

 

Grandparent Blog Post - Grandparent Image 1

The Grandparent Rule

Grandparent Blog Post - Grandparent Image 1

 

Tea for Two

A mummy in my coffee group told me a story the other day. Her little boy, who was not even one at the time, kept pointing at her cup of tea like he wanted some. She thought ‘well, I don’t think tea is the best thing for babies, but maybe he can have a couple of the drops in the bottom of the cup’. She was then telling this tale a bit shame-faced to her mother-in-law.

Her mother-in-law promptly told her that of course the baby really likes drinking tea as she gives him a small bottle of luke-warm tea on the days that she looks after him. Coffee group mum had thought she had made it very clear that the baby was to only drink milk or water, and was a wee bit shocked that her baby was being given a caffeinated beverage a few times a week!

 

Why?

This story, and many others like it, got me to thinking – why do grandparents do these things? They probably know that the parents of their grandchildren are not going to be impressed. They know that there are rules in place at home and they are deliberately deviating from them. So why do they do it?

And then I worked it out – it is because they can. Grandparents can do whatever the heck they like. That is what is so awesome about being a grandparent.

 

The Borg Rule

So what are we mere parents supposed to do about this?

Firstly, to quote from Star Trek: “Resistance is Futile”.   Don’t think that you can stop your parents or in-laws letting your kids stay up late watching a movie. Don’t worry that your children had unrestricted access to the chock-full lolly jar. If the grandparents have brought them back from a day at the beach, two hours late, extremely tired and dirty, just relax. They will be clean and in bed before you know it.

If you are lucky enough to have your parents around then UTILISE them.  Get them to come over and play with your child while you relax (or clean the house). Send your kids to them for a night or a weekend. Don’t ever feel guilty or think that you owe them something. You don’t. They love every second they spend with their darling grandchildren.

 

The New Rule

What we parents forget sometimes is that it is actually because grandparents will do whatever that heck they like that your children will ADORE them.

I remember visits with my grandparents as very simple but happy times. My sisters and I ran around outside, picking fresh beans out of the garden or washing our toys in a bucket of water and getting soaked. If it was rainy and we were trapped in the house, we built huts out of blankets and cushions in the lounge and helped Grandma with baking treats. This was always followed by a huge bubble bath in the evenings.

So just stop for a minute and think of the kind of memories and traditions that are being made for your child with their grandparents. Just this week, I called my in-laws from work to see how Dylan was getting on. That day he picked strawberries from their garden. He had also watered the plants and himself in the process. And he was just about to get into his giant bubble bath.

Before you know it, in what will seem like a blink of an eye, you too may be lucky enough to call yourself Grandma, Nana, Granny, Baba or Nonna (or the male equivalent). And you too will spoil your grandchildren rotten. Just wait your turn and you too will be able to unleash to power of being a grandparent and do whatever the heck you like.

Grandparent Blog Post - Grandparent Image 2

The Good Old Days Blog Post - Trampoline Photo

The Good Old Days

 

The Good Old Days Blog Post - Trampoline Photo

The 2012 Parent

What I didn’t realise until I became a parent is all the second-guessing and doubting yourself that occurs. No matter what I do, I am never hundred percent sure it is “right”. Is being a mummy never black and white?

And even when I think I am doing a pretty good job, I think about all the things that I don’t do. My son is over seven months old and I have probably read to him a dozen times in his whole life. They say that a child should be read to over one thousand times before they go to school.   What???

I very rarely remember to massage the baby. When I do I always think I am not doing it properly. Everyone around me seems to already be taking their infants to swimming lessons and I wasn’t planning to start anything like that until my child was at least two or three years old.

I read all the books, devour the baby and child magazines and go to all the parenting classes. I talk to friends and family who are parents and get their advice and when I am really stuck I call Plunket. Still, I cannot shake off the worry, concern and guilt that it is just not enough.

The 1980’s Parent

Then I think back to my childhood and realise that my parents never went to a single child-rearing seminar. They didn’t pick up a parenting book. They just got on with the job of being Mum and Dad to us.

In fact, back in the 80’s how we were brought up would bring about looks of sheer horror to parents today. My mum smoked through her pregnancies and all through my childhood. She didn’t breastfeed and slept us all on our tummies. All pretty standard thirty years ago and all considered not just wrong but abhorrent today.

Mum tells a story of when she was in the hospital and a nurse came in and asked her if she needed anything to be more comfortable and mum said she would like a packet of cigarettes. She then lit up in the hospital. This is so far beyond my realm of imagination I actually don’t believe her.

Another friend my mum’s age recalls that when you spent time in hospital after birth, babies were cared for by hospital midwives overnight. The particular midwife at her hospital didn’t believe that babies should be hungry overnight so if they woke up during the night they were fed only water. This lady said that by the time she left the hospital after a couple of weeks, her daughter always slept through the night. Horrible but effective.

When my parents took me home from the hospital, Mum held me in her arms while Dad drove all of us home without seatbelts on.  These days they don’t let you leave the hospital unless you show them you have a secure car seat.

I was brought up on dinners of meat and three veges (one of which was potato, the other two usually a choice of peas, beans or carrots) every night, except Friday when Dad would bring home fish and chips. I didn’t even eat pasta until I was a teenager. I didn’t try sushi, avocado or olives until I was in my early twenties. We pretty much only drank water except for the rare occasion when Dad let us sip the ‘ice-cream’ off the top of his glass of beer.

After school we were told to play outside. My mum didn’t want to see us until dinnertime. My sister and I, along with our neighbourhood friends would ride bikes, make huts in the trees, make up games and generally had fun exploring our own backyard. We ran around all summer and I don’t recall ever being told to put sunblock on.

My little sister was almost ten years younger than me and I thought she was my real-life doll.   One happy memory I have is of wrapping up little baby in a blanket and putting her in the back tray of an old rusty tricycle we had and zooming around in circles of our concrete driveway. How she didn’t fall out I have no idea.

Make Today Your ‘Good Old Day’

How come we are not scarred for life? For one thing, it was all that good old-fashioned playing outside. Also, my parents were always there – after school, on weekends, for birthdays. And although we were not a touchy-feely family, we knew we were wanted and loved.

I am not for one instant advocating a return to these ‘good old days’. Times have evolved – mandatory car seats, fewer people smoking and sun awareness are good things. What I am saying is try not to worry about doing it ‘right’ all the time. If your baby cries for a few minutes while you take a shower or watches a bit of TV, it is not going to permanently damage them.

So throw away all those parenting books for the night. Instead, blast the stereo with your favourite song (NOT a nursery rhyme) and dance around the lounge with your child.   Remember that you don’t have to do anything special with your child. Just being with them is sometimes enough.

And I will also try and take some of my own advice.

The Good Old Days Blog Post - Trampoline Photo