Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Open Mouthed Toddler Kiss

It has taken me four years and three children to capture this fleeting moment in child development.

For weeks Miss Olive has been presenting me with her cheek whenever I ask for a kiss, until last Friday, when instead of a gentile head turn she responded by turning into a pocket sized basking shark and very gently trying to eat my face.

Call me a sucker, but I have a real fondness for the open mouthed toddler lunge, despite the inevitable string of slobber it leaves. 

Like this mama, I blame the dog for setting an example no human should be asked to follow; but regardless of who came up with the idea, this first active demonstration of slobbery affection is worth its weight in re-applied foundation.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Be Still My Beating Heart

So, it's probably the painkillers talking, but I was going over the photos I took at the weekend and I thought I would share this photo.

On Sunday we went to Te Papa to see the Tyrannosaurs exhibition. We lost Alfie at one point and eventually tracked him down making notes on dinosaur behaviour courtesy of a CGI wall that superimposed various beasties interacting with the Wellington scenery.

After lunch we blew off some steam wandering around the museum's incredible outdoor space, which is where I snapped this moment of utter gorgeousness.

My heart pretty much exploded seeing these two walking ahead. I lucked out big time when that lanky oaf agreed to start a family with me.

To see the rest of our adventure, I'm trying out something new

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Day The Universe Kicked My Ass

I took the girls out on a trip to the swimming pool at the weekend, followed by a trip to our favourite cafe.

We had an amazing time, in fact we had a perfect time. So much so that as we sat enjoying our perfect desserts, after our perfect lunch I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe I didn't completely suck at this parenting lark.

The Universe is quick to punish arrogance of this magnitude.

Come Monday I was back to my usual position as working mama who gets to walk through the door just as the witching hour is really cranking up a notch and referee between over tired children.

As I sat on the sofa listening to Alfie beat Olive over the head with a balloon, and trimming Esme's nails, I felt my patience pick up speed on the downhill course towards me utterly losing my shit.

Despite having been asked repeatedly to stop, Alfie was determined and so after the last nail was trimmed I vaulted over the back of the sofa to confiscate the balloon.

I scuffed my toe on the way over and I knew as soon as I landed something was wrong because it felt like my little toe wasn't there and more.

What would maybe be a more accurate description would be to say it was no longer in the right place or, in fact, the right shape.

I told Keith I thought I needed to go to the emergency room and he started laughing.

Because he is an asshat.

Sorry husband, I love you, but laugh in my face when I'm screaming at you that I need a doctor makes you an asshat.

Extra asshat points for suggesting I "just pop it back in" myself while still laughing.

So anyway, long story short is that I somehow managed to dislocate AND break my toe on the back of the sofa, because I couldn't just calmly deal with Alfie's overtired antics like any sane parent would have done.

Clearly I, too, am an asshat.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Wellington has a bit of a penchant for street art. I’m not complaining, I’m a sucker for a paper pigeon, and I actually think it is an amazing way to communicate with residents in a really relevant way. 

Take the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI; there are any number of very formal ways that the city could have marked the occasion. Instead, they have pasted images of ten soldiers with their personal stories around the city, near the places they lived, worked and went to school.

There was no fanfare, they just appeared one night where there had been blank walls and stand, ghostlike, silently watching over the city they once knew.

Every time I see them I’m reminded of the last lines of my favourite war poem.

Actually I’m not sure favourite it the right word, but it’s definitely the most enduring piece of my school education and the moment that I realised two important things; that a passionate teacher is a rare and precious gift, and that I was hopelessly in love with writing.

It was an alignment of stars that led me to that point, orchestrated by a wonderful teacher called Mrs Hughes. 

We had to study poetry for our English GCSEs, and we were given the rare opportunity to pick the collection we would use. We took a vote, and after a landslide in favour of War Poets, we were all sent away to buy our anthology.

A few days later Mrs Hughes stood in front of her recalcitrant audience and asked us to open our books.

After taking a deep breath, she began to read:
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind. 
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
By the time her voice cracked over the last few lines I was sitting up straight, the hairs on the back of my neck hot and prickling. 

We all were.

This was no jingoistic anthem, this was a visceral calling out of every army general and politician who had tried to sell the British public on the "glorious" war they had waged.

It was, quite simply, the most gut wrenching piece of literature I had ever heard.

Mrs Hughes led us on a journey through WWI through the words of the people who fought it. From the early romanticism of Rupert Brooke, to the sucker punch of reality dealt by the likes of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon we met them all and felt as if there were alive today as they had been in the war.

The memory of her classes stay with me, even today.

And I may never be able to get through Dulce et Decorum Est without my own voice cracking ... no, I hope I can never get through Dulce et Decorum Est without my voice cracking .. because passionate writing, like passionate teachers, should never be forgotten. 

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