Saturday, August 20, 2011

Give yourself a break

When mum is the one who needs to untie the apron strings
There’s something wrong with me. I’m sure of it.
I have an opportunity to this week to have a night out - just for me - sans kids, sans husband (aka babysitter).
But I’m reluctant to go because I worry that my little family will fall apart without me and my conscience is having a tug of war. 
Get a grip Shannon, your husband is perfectly capable of looking after his children, and has done so many times before.
But it’s arsenic hour, and there’ll be screaming for sure.
So what if they’re all screaming, he can handle it.
But, but, but...
See, it’s a ridiculous argument. I’m with my children all the time now since I quit my office job and work from home.
I don’t know when or why my anxiety came along because only a few months ago, both my children were in long daycare at least four days a week.
I felt guilty, but I didn’t stress about it, because it was just a part of our life, and I was happy with the carers they were with.
These days I play games with them, push them on the swings, cook, clean and dress them, change nappies, and read to them every night.
And there’s the rub.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How not to get a splinter out of your child’s big toe

It all started with a small splinter in her big toe, and ended so badly that I’d call it one of our biggest parenting failures so far.
The screams from our house were so bad that it’s any wonder the neighbours didn’t call DOCs (thankfully we’ve got lovely neighbours with small children, so screams from either side of the fence are quite normal).
Our eldest daughter had been playing in the back yard, and quite happily showed off the little splinter she found in her foot and said proudly “it doesn’t hurt”, but we knew it had to come out.
After her bath in which we could thoroughly wash her dirty feet, my husband tried to get the splinter out with tweezers and a sterilised needle (as it had gone in quite deep), but one look at the needle was enough to send her into complete hysteria.
She was like a child possessed. Her face turned red and the panic in her eyes was something I’d never seen before.
So then it was time for strategies: my job was to distract her with singing, stories, books, TV, while hubby worked on the big toe.
But this was hopeless because she still knew there was a needle somewhere and it was going to go into her foot.
So she continued to scream and flail her arms and legs about, desperate to keep her toe away from our big grown-up hands holding a needle the size of a samurai sword.
Then things went from bad to worse.
I very stupidly tried to reason with her, and then inadvertently put more fear into her when I explained what would happen if we didn’t get the splinter out.
I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I know I used the words “infection”, “sick”, and “your foot might fall off”. What was I thinking?!My husband and I told her stories of when we were little and had splinters, and of how very brave we were while our Mums got them out. She kept saying “I’m trying to be brave, but I can’t”. 
That’s when we should have stopped, but we were so frustrated by this seemingly simple task turning into a complete nightmare, that this scenario continued on for another five minutes with us yelling “Stay still!” and her screaming “NOOOO!” 
The next day I popped over to the neighbours house to apologise for all the ruckus. She said she didn’t hear anything (whew!), and asked if we got it out in the end.
“No,” I said, “only half of it came out because she was wriggling so much, so there’s still half of it stuck in her foot.”
“Why didn’t you wait till she was asleep?” my neighbour said, “that’s what I do with my kids.”
Well, why didn’t we think of that? A simple google search on “how to remove splinters in kids” will find many parents recommending to wait till they are asleep. No pain, no screaming, and no fear.
Sometimes this parenting gig really does require more common sense than anything else, but on this particular day, ours was sadly lacking.
I’d love to hear your tips for removing splinters!

Pageant passe

Why are our babies being turned into showgirls?
When I was a cadet journalist I was asked to judge a baby competition run by the newspaper I worked for.
I was happy to do it, but had then heard that the reason I was asked was because the previous year had ended with the judge in tears after she was accused of favouritism since she personally knew some of the entrants.
I was only 22 and didn’t know anyone with a baby, so the boss thought it would all be fine this time around, plus they decided to not to let me know any of the names of the babies, in case one did ring a bell.
So I carefully looked through dozens of photos of cute little babies and picked one who I thought shined the brightest in their photo.
And then I found out who the baby was.
As it happened, I did know a couple with a baby, and I picked their son!
Thankfully no one put up a fuss, and there were no tears from me, but plenty from the winning baby who had a full blown cold when he was photographed for the next day’s cover picture - snotty nose and all - and certainly didn’t look as cute as he did in his winning portrait.
The point of this little story is that every baby is cute... they just sometimes have their snotty days, just like bad hair days! 
I’ve since judged other baby competitions and found it always hard to pick a winner, but delightful to look through pictures of smiling babies because the look in their eyes is of pure innocence. They are completely unaware that their round cheeks, dimply fingers and bright eyes are being judged by everyone.
Now take a look into the eyes of Eden Wood, the six-year-old child-beauty pageant queen from the US who I saw performing hip-thrusting dance moves on Channel 7’s The Morning Show.