Archive for December, 2012

The human race …

December 14, 2012

The human race has been set up. Someone, somewhere, is playing a practical joke on us. Apparently, women need to feel loved to have sex. Men need to have sex to feel loved. How do we ever get started?

Thank you. Thank you, Billy Connolly. This really does sum up the conundrum of male-female partnerships. Throw in small children and you have… a mess, really.

If you have been with your partner for a few years and find yourself trapped in a cyclical pattern of harmony/disharmony, take a look at your bedroom habits. You may be able to plot the need for more “intimacy” simply by how annoyed you are with one another. Are you nagging? Defensive? Nit-picking? Irritable? Bordering on divorce? Take stock and prepare for rumpy pumpy. It’s base. It’s simplistic. It’s uncivilised. But it’s more than that. It’s essential. It’s the space where we reconnect after days/weeks/months of operating in parallel universes with separate atmospheres: a vital portal. The conduit for our connectivity.

What is needed is atmospheric preparation. The molecules need to be warmed up. Softened. This can take time. It may require technique. For Her – a loving technique. A patient technique. A night’s foreplay begins at breakfast. It might be different for Him. When we understand this profound difference we can begin to work on strategy: on the Means to reach the unifying End. It takes understanding, patience, and commitment. A good ear and a dab hand. Yes we are different, but we can connect and it is rewarding and it does sustain us. And it is worth it.

Of course there might be more going on. Problems of a deeper hue. But if, fundamentally, nothing else is broken, the “s” word might be just the grease to get the wheels back on track.

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The Class of 2013

December 11, 2012

This week we found out who our teachers are for next year.

Did I say our teachers? Ahem. I mean, we found out who the boys‘ teachers are for next year. To look at the reactions of the mums in the yard you would swear it was us going into a new class. In a way I guess we are. As our kids forge new friendships and cement old ones, so too can we as adults nurture friendships and acquaintances fostered since reception. It’s a special relationship. We entrust our kids to playdates, parties and sleepovers. We support the friendships which we hope will prove to be positive influences in their young lives. It feels good to be part of a group, and it’s exciting to think that many of these friendships – both the boys’ and our own – will persevere through the years to hopefully see us through their adolescence, when we’ll need all the support we can get.

Formulating tradition

December 6, 2012

I have found it useful over the years to refer to books for guidance on how best to parent the boys. Whether it be Steve Biddulph, Robin Barker or Kaz Cooke, it is always reassuring to dip in and read their tips and stories which somehow manage to make everything seem ok. With a laugh or a sigh, their books enable me to feel like I am on the right track with this parenting lark.

But lately I’ve discovered that there is an aspect of parenting that these reference books don’t cover, but for which I desperately need clarity. Of course the books can’t help me because I am talking about my own personal approach to a cultural factor of raising children in this society: I need clarity on how to manage the many typical cultural traditions that arise throughout the year.

I need a Policy on Tradition.

The impetus for this need came this year at Halloween. This typically American cultural festival has become so popular here – and so rapidly – that I felt caught on the back foot without a chance to work out what I like about it. Do I want the kids to go trick or treating? Do I want to decorate my house with pumpkins and cobwebs? Do I want to acknowledge the occasion at all? This year we did the decorations and trick or treating but I didn’t feel in control of how it was approached. I felt swept up in a conformist tide as we ravaged the shelves at Cheap as Chips for tacky skull decor. I think there are things about Halloween that I like, but I’m not sure this was one of them.

This got me thinking about the other major cultural traditions throughout the year – Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day – and how I, as a parent, approach them. What things do we do as a family on these days that are purely shallow, societal conformity and what are true, emotionally embedded and significant family traditions? For Halloween, I do like dressing up, the spooky elements, and have even been partial to carving out the odd pumpkin. Trick or treating? I’m still undecided. I quite like the idea of a party alternative, but I’m not sure I could be organised enough to coordinate it each year. I guess this is the thing with formulating family traditions: you have to be realistic about what you can achieve and what will be meaningful for the kids. 

With Christmas fast approaching I have been contemplating the traditions I would like to embed for my kids so they have a real sense of familiarity and grounding at this time of year. I don’t want to fall into a conformist trap again and find myself scrambling for the cheap candy canes and ugly Christmas cards at the Reject Shop. I want to have confident clarity on what this time of year means for us as a family; what our traditions are and why this time is significant.

I am not religious, but I don’t think this means that Christmas cannot be significant. Over time it has become a moniker for a time of year which is imbued with meaning and tradition which can be defined individually. Christmas lights, school holidays, summer nights, swims at the beach, jacarandas, bbqs and flies, a relaxed ambiance. These are all Christmas to me. It is exciting to think I can help shape what Christmas time is for my kids: to formulate traditions for them which will be part of a grounded foundation of familiarity and comfort as they grow up. What they choose to do then is up to them.