Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Facebook is killing my parenting skills

And thank God I bought myself an oven timer in the nick of time.

These days (ie today and yesterday) I'm limiting my own facebook time. I round the clock to 30 min and can't check anything online til the buzzer goes buzz. Cool huh. Small step but a goodie!

So yesterday I turned that buzzer on and sat outside with Belle's for an afternoon tea. And I looked at her. Up close and personal. Beautiful. Lovely.

I haven't done that in so so so long. She kept grinning coz she was wondering what on earth I was doing out there with her. I was twitching and wondering what was happening online. So I counted her freckles. One by one. And the tension from my shoulders dropped and I smiled with her.

So why don't I do it all the time?

My guess is that it's all about hiding away. The problem with having 3 (and I'm guessing this is the same whether you have 1, 3 or 7) is that it tends to be quite a bit like herding cats. You scream. They run. In the opposite direction.

And you want to run too. Right over to the computer screen. It's safe there. You type, people listen. People type, you listen. Such a civilised way of communicating.

But lately facebook and cyberland has started to wedge its fat cyber butt right in the middle of my non cyber life. Need to race out the door? Oh just let me check email quickly. You want to play? Oh can i just catch up on facebook first. Need dinner? Here, here is some weetbix coz there is some very very important chat going on on some forum somewhere.

The wedge is deepening as facebook extends to links, as links extend to google, as google extends to blogs, as blogs extend to online articles, as online articles extend to twitter, as twitter sends you back to facebook. A cyber merry go round and round and round and round. And before you know it's a new day and you only have 3 hrs sleep left before the chaos of the morning begins - round about the same time REM sleep was just about to kick in. But your attentions are a bit wiped. You exhausted them in the wee hours in front of that civilised screen.

And it's not just cyberland. We lost connection on the computer for a week once and after initially calling the doc for some panic pills I soon realised that I didn't actually care. I just exchanged one screen for the next and discovered Greys Anatomy and a couple of other shows I've since forgotten. Same thing happened when my phone fizzled a couple of weeks ago. I just didn't care. Like chocolate. Don't need it. Love it, but don't necessarily want to gorge myself on it. Til someone drops off a box of Ferraro Rochers and I gorge plus. And then I realise I overloaded. But damage is already done...yep, same same.

These days I am noticing a direct correlation between my improving typing skills and my deproving (I know it's not a real word) parenting skills. My middle sons way of having fun with mum? Crawl in to my lap as I type away and sit quietly til I'm finished 2 hrs later (he is such a people pleaser that one). My daughter has given up and just hands me the Play School DVD with a flick of the hand and a roll of the eyes. My youngest just belts me from behind, but he's my third so I just ignore him, coz he's used to that.

I miss them. I miss watching them. I miss talking to them whilst they still want to do that (I rekon those days are numbered). I miss them lying on my belly and staring at me like I might just be the most magical person on the planet and they may just want to marry me themselves one day.

Most of all I just miss looking at them. Their skin, their dimples, their button noses. The freckles that pop up just when you're not looking.

Freckles. In the sun. That's all it took.

So less facebook time for me. I'll parent more and I'll blog more (that's for you Em). The rest of cyberland I'll still see you around, just a little less.

Til Friday,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

'Tis the season

Howdy all.

Well it's been a coupla weeks coz it's that silly season where we all go off to drink, eat, be merry and buy a ridiculous amount of stuff.

Christmas nearly killed me this year. I'm not good at it, at least not til Jan. I grew up in a house that didn't acknowledge santa except for in the plastic form in the $2 shop. We got a small kmart christmas tree some time in my early teens. No pressies, just a 2 foot tree with some gold tinsel and some wrapped up empty boxes sitting beneath it. I didn't mind, hadn't picked up in all the years leading up to that christmas tree that we were ever supposedly missing out on anything. Now we'd moved to a street full of Aussies and I think my parents had cottoned on to the fact that this festive season came with festive bits and bobs.

Before then, whilst my migrant parents were still mixing with migrant friends, there was non of the colour enhanced christmas we see today (hello China :)). Yes there probably was in other families, even probably right next door to us but they didn't speak Serbian so it didn't count. We were still doing the orthodox thing of going to church on the 7th Jan (the day good old Jesus was born according to the old testament calender or something like that), visiting friends, sharing food and solemn stories and .80 alcohol content 'Rakija' shots, and then heading back home in the Kingswood for a rest - christmas, beginning to end over in a single day. Was always a day I remember very fondly, no tinsel needed.

So, no fuss, no pressies, no 12 month saving accounts to support the season. All that was needed was a pressed polyester suit for the fellas and new frock and a good perm for the ladies. Having graciously farewelled communist Yugoslavia not too many years earlier, church at Christmas and Easter was a good opportunity for folks like my parents to have a twice yearly chin wag and meet up newly welcomed Aussie Serbs and rejoice in their roots and faith. And us kids? We just had loads of fun running around in our new frocks and pressed suits too.

There was, ofcourse, probably more to it than that, but not in the storeroom of my (possibly not greatly reliable but can't be far wrong) memory bank.

Now my kiddies are here and I struggle to find the christmas mojo that was never cemented in my own make up. No big family gatherings, no extravagance, no reels of wrapping paper, no pork roasts to reflect on and gain insight from. And so now I fail dismally every year in the traditional Aussie Christmas sense. Hopefully my kids don't notice and R doesn't seem to mind that I'm crap at it (though he reminded me this year about 13 hrs too late that reindeer eat carrots and santa appreciates a glass of milk and cookies - there you go, one additional childhood memory my kids miss out on). To be honest, I crave the simplicity of the days my memories feed me with.

What I do get about Christmas is that it is an opportune time for lots of people to get together where it may not happen otherwise. A season with abundant opportunities to reflect, share and love. It should happen all the time of course, and doesn't. And sadly, far too many miss out on the opportunities for joy. But we know it's the aim, so this year, with none of R's very christmassy family around we decided to take our family christmas spirit down south to Melbourne, which is quite possibly the most glorious city on the planet and my home town naturally.

We started off hanging with the gorgeous godparents to my middle child (who I am pretty certain have since been prescribed Valium to help with the post traumatic stress disorder triggered by having 5 under 5 for 5 days in their otherwise organised home) and then we had our final night at my dads. And wasn't that a hoot. Crazy chaotic household like one big jigsaw puzzle where you are sure the pieces couldn't possibly fit but they all strangely do.

In Rory's words...

"um, Di, do you, um, realise that we have just spent the evening in a room with my 7 yr old brother in law, a fiesty Serb, my Chinese mother-in-law who is younger than my wife, a Sri-Lankin who rents a room somewhere in the house, an ex drug user, a Swedish Iraqi Moslem who is now the husband of your other brothers ex girlfriend and has arrived with your brother whilst I bounce my little girl with Down Syndrome on my knee as we wait for dinner to be served at 10pm".

And I hadn't even noticed. Diversity. Aint it sweet when it hits you in the face and just looks normal to you. Coz it is folks, it is. And that's Christmas too. It doesn't have to be one size fits all.

Hoping you enjoyed yours however you spent it. And hoping 2010 turns out to be your best year yet. It's gonna be a goodie. I can feel it.

For me, next year I promise I'll try and remember the carrots.

Dovic xx
PS It's the 7th in 2 days! And that will be my day full of special accumulated memories. If you know a Russian or Serb by birth or background, shout them out a 'happy christmas' I'm sure they'll be tickled by it :)
PSS ****This is a next day PS - my cousin, in Bosnia no less, JUST posted piccies on facebook with christmas trees and kids with stockings full of pressies. Wow. Santa has made it all the way down there too (with a wee little break for a shot of Rakija himself between the 25th and the 7th). Gonna have to investigate whether this is a new phenomenon or whether my memory is just shite or whether we really were the only ones without a tree all those years ago.
PSSS Could ya, would ya, tell me what your christmas memory circa 1978 was?


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