Monday, October 10, 2011

In the meantime..

Hey peeps, You've probably noticed it's been very quiet over here, and I'm trying real hard to find my mojo again and get back to this blog, but in the meantime, you might be interested to see what I'm up to over here on my new blog.

I've been focussing a lot on my health and fitness and getting foxy (Oh, God, another bloody weight-loss blog I hear you say), and I wanted a blog that was just focussed only on that, so rather than hijack this blog, which I'm still very fond of and can't wait to get back to, Fox on the Run was born.

Please check it out and let me know what you think!

And I promise I'll be back on Quixotic Life real soon, ranting away at no-one in particular. =D


Friday, December 31, 2010

Tantrums and other Terrorist Tactics

My mother thought she’d found a lost child the other day. There was a little girl, standing in the middle of a crowded shopping centre, bawling her head off. Mum was sitting on a couch nearby, and asked her if she was lost? Did she know where here Mummy was?

“Right here” was the grim reply a woman nearby, who had been seemingly ignoring her.

“She’s not lost, she just ‘having a moment’”, explained the Mum.

Ahh, tantrums – don’t you just love ‘em?

Erm, no actually. Detest them.

Then yesterday I was watching The View and heard Sherri talking about her son having a meltdown because she wouldn’t buy him a video game while she was in a computer store. All the other women asked her how did she cope, and she simply said, “I just let him have it”. For a heart-plunging second I thought she meant she let him have the game, but she meant she just let him have his tantrum, paid for what she had to get, and left (well, dragged him out). Thank God, an American with some common sense.

One of the other women, Joy, asked her why didn’t she use something other than “No”, like “Not today”, or “Mummy can’t afford it” or “We’ll see” or a million other bloody tiptoeing methods of not actually being in charge of the conversation. God forbid a child should hear the word “No” directed at him. I mean, that’ll never happen in his adult life right? And imagine if it does, won’t it be a lovely surprise for him?! I’m sure he’ll know exactly how to cope with being told no by his boss, his bank manager, his wife, given all the coping skills he learned in childhood, watching those Baby Einstein videos (whenever he demanded to, of course).

I loved Whoopi Goldberg’s reaction to Joy explaining she was just thinking of way to “avoid the tantrum”. “There is no ‘avoiding the tantrum’, if they’re gonna have one, they’re gonna have one – no matter how you phrase it, how you say it - even if you give them the damn toy! They might be tired, hungry or sometimes they’re just in a funky mood. Some days I’m like that, you can’t take me anywhere!”. Amen.

To be honest, tantrums were the one part of parenting that really had me scared when I was pregnant. I’m not good at dealing with overly emotional people at the best of times. I tend to explore my emotions in writing; in real life I don’t do touchy-feely at all. My husband is one of those rare and incredible men who talks openly and often about his feelings, and it makes me so squirmy and uncomfortable when he starts talking about how he’s feeling that I just have to jump him rather than listen to him talk. How would I cope with some little person having a meltdown and being all unreasonably and flamboyantly emotional?

And boy howdy, does Gorgeous Girl know how to chuck a nuclear-grade tantrum. Not so much these days; being 3 and a half, she’s all about the backchat and arguing and “well, what about...”. Sometime I’m really impressed at her logic and problem solving abilities when she’s trying to get what she wants, but most of the time I’m resisting the urge to duct-tape her mouth shut.

Most of the time though, she only really persists when she can sense that I’m wavering about whether or not to say no, I’m doubting myself, or second-guessing whether it’s really a big deal. The minute I show I’m serious and take charge by telling her, “No. Now I’ve said no, and I mean it. When have I ever said no and changed my mind?” she usually gives it up. And there is the secret, one thing I am inordinately smug about is the fact I have never, ever said no to GG and then gone back on it, no matter how big a tantrum she threw, because I knew the minute I did all I was teaching her that no doesn’t mean no, it just means you have to throw a bigger wobbly til you get what you want. I have trust capital now.

It means I have had to drag a screaming child out of many a shopping centre, leave a nearly-finished grocery shop and manhandle a squirming, screeching and kicking alien life force out of the store. It means I have had to stand at a door behind which I had confiscated something fun to play with (like a power saw) and physically hold it shut while a nearly 2yr old GG hung from the handle screaming with more decibels than a jet engine. (I can’t even remember what I put behind that door, but God I remember that tantrum! Curse door handles that don’t lock and freakishly tall toddlers that could reach them!!)

Do you know what though? GG learned pretty quickly that tantrums don’t get you anything except a time out. She’s not bratty, or demanding. She’s learnt that the best way to get a treat is to behave nicely when we’re out, and then at the end of the trip ever so sweetly remind me how good she’s been and do you think she could maybe get a lollipop? I had fallen into the trap of doing this pretty consistently, so she then expected a treat every time we went out. Nowadays, it’s more of a haphazard thing, sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn’t. She threw a couple of wobblies when I changed that up, but nothing dramatic.

So why are so many parents afraid of their children? Why do they jump through hoops and turn themselves inside out, lest their darling progeny chuck a fit and act all unseemly? I think part of it is this whole indulgent parenting movement, you know, where parents seem to be an insipid servant, catering to their indulged child’s every whim, rather than actually raising that child and teaching them important life lessons, like they can’t have everything they want. Think Veruca in Willy Wonka.

I get how hard it is to see your child upset. We’re their parents, we want to make them happy. We also want to avoid the Judgy McJudge-Judge looks you get from random strangers when your little one chucks a tantrum. And of course there are ways to help avoid your kids chucking wobblies when you’re out and about – avoid going out when they’re going to be or already are tired, or hungry, or whatever. Sometimes, though, life does not fit neatly around nap time and you’ve simply got shit you have to do. Even then there are things you can try – bring a favourite toy along, let them ride in a stroller or trolley rather than walk, or give them something that isn’t such a big deal, let them have a ride on those carousel things in the shops, rather than let them have a chocolate or soft drink.

Of course, Whoopi is right though, some days there is no avoiding the tantrum. You can have done every thing “right” and still end up with a melted toddler puddle screaming at your feet or chucking cans off the grocery shelf. This is a terrorist tactic, to see how quickly you’ll fold, and I don’t negotiate with terrorists. I’ve seen parents croon and try to console their children mid-tantrum, I’ve seen them laugh it off and try to jolly them out of it, and I’ve even seen them give in and let them have the thing they wanted, or something else, or an ever better toy. I’ve also seen that none of those things work. The only thing that works is to keep your energy low and calm (if somewhat threatening in my case – hey, that’s just how I roll when I’m tense) and ignore it. The best thing to do is leave immediately, but I get that sometimes you just have to get bills paid, food to eat, etc. I’ve done it. Ride it out. The only big social rule I really believe in is that if your child is throwing a tantrum in a cafe, restaurant or movie... LEAVE!!!! Don’t look round smiling apologetically, don’t laugh it off, just get the hell out, we’re trying to relax and eat here! Come back later when little Timmy is acting human again, okay?

How did I cope with all these lavish displays of emotion? Pretty good, I think. As hard as it is to see your little one upset and crying, part of you realises you are doing it for their own good, in a big-picture kind of sense, and I just kind of grit my teeth and work hard to act like I’m calm, unmoveable, a boulder in a stream, with a river of emotion just washing around me. I am unchanged, although maybe a little worn down at the end.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

In which I put on my big girl knickers...

Confrontation can be... well... confronting for me.

Actually, that's not completely true. Surprisingly, if I get wound up enough, getting really angry and tearing someone a new asshole is pretty easy, I dont't have that thing where you walk away and suddenly think of all the things you wish you'd said, I tend to walk away thinking, "Oh, wow, you made the truckie cry, maybe you should have gone a bit easier". What I find hard is to find that middle ground between being a avenging Fury, and meekly accepting something you're not happy with.

Assertiveness, I believe it's called.

And so today, I am strutting around quite proud of myself, because I have finally put on my big girl knickers and faced an awkward situation, and confronted my hairdresser.

While all my female readers let out a knowing, "Ahhhh...", let me explain for any male readers out there.  Hairdressers are like priests, you find yourself confessing secrets and chatting away about very intimate subjects (like, just today; sex, body image, weight loss, miscarriage and celebrity fake tans) and when you find a good one, you will go to extreme measures to stay with them.

I have been bereft of a good hairdresser relationship since I moved from Brisbane ot the Gold Coast, and so was thrilled when I turned up for an appointment today at a new salon. The vibe was welcoming and stylish, with a homespun feel (the salon is a converted house, the flowers were fresh and the CD playing was Megan Washington, i.e. perfect). I was further thrilled when I immediately 'clicked' with my haidresser, B, and we were soon chatting away like old mates.

So, when I left not feeling like I had got my money's worth, I was a little shattered. I have quite dark black hair at the moment, after a short-lived fascination with wanting to look like a Latina bombshell,

and want to start going lighter, as I have been most of my adult life, ending up something like this...

Obviously, this will be a bit of a process... "It won't happen overnight" etc. Still, I did think after dropping THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS at the hairdresser, I might see a noticable difference! I know it a massive amount of money, but this was my little reclamation of my 'old self' and my treat to myself, a little luxury and pampering now that I am working and slogging my guts out during the week. Plus, I am starting to feel more like my old self, not the dark, stressed girl of late, so want my outside to reflect that too.

Anyhoo, enough validating. When we had finished at the salon, I was pretty dissapointed to see that, yes, my hair was a bit lighter overall, but not so noticeably so. I had expected, after our discussion in the beginning, that I would see more caramel pieces, rather than just an being a slightly lighter shade overall.

I brought it up at the time, but admittedly in a fairly wishy washy way. I had come to really like B, and I hoped to become a regular of the salon, so I didn't really want to rock the boat too much, or make her think I was mean, or unappreciative. Is it just me or does it seem slightly silly that I am comfortable paying so much money out for something as ultimately trivial as hair, but I can't have a grown-up conversation and say I'm not particularly happy about a service?

Anyway, B assured me that as my hair dried, I would see it actually is a fair bit lighter. I am really happy with the cut she gave me, and my hair feels lovely after the treatement, so I swallow my reservations (hey, maybe that's the real reason we put on weight???), thnak her, pay my staggering bill and leave.

Half an hour later, I feel terrible. I go to my Aunt's house to pick up GG and notice her surprise that I spent 4 hours at the hairdresser and still look essentially the same. I check out my now dry hair in the mirror and yep, I can notice it's a little lighter, but just barely.,

By now I feel awful, regretful, horrified at the amount of money I had spent and hating myself for not speaking up. I really wanted to go back in time, or else go home and eat chocolate and pretend it never happened.

Instead, I slapped myself upside the head and gave myself a stern talking to. "Quixotic, you are a grown woman. You are smart, accomplished and resourceful. Stop acting like an insecure teenager, and get your 33-year old butt back there and tell them you appreciate the effort she made, love the cut, but feel you haven't got value for money, and want either half your money back, or another head of foils for free.".

Feeling absolutely terrified, I front back up to the salon. B sees me and grins, heading toward me with a questioning look.


I feel 3 inches tall, but the thought of all the things I could have done with $300 dollars keeps me from trilling maniacally "Just forgot a card!" and bolting out the door to safety.

I gather up all my courage and speak... I tell her this is incredibly awkward for me, I love what she's done, but for the amount of money I paid, I would have liked to see a more noticable difference. I smile. I giggle a little bit hysterically (so shoot me) but essentially keep it together.

B is an angel, She stays calm, and friendly, brings her manager over and asks me exactly what I'm unhappy with.

I am dying, plus now I have another person present, but swallow hard and again re-iterate that I love my cut, and am happy with what she's done so far, but would've expected to see more of a difference.

B explains exactly what she did for me, and the manager agrees that yes, that's what she would have done, but also agrees my hair colour doesn't look that different.

I tell them I understand not everyone's hair reacts the same to colouring, but nonetheless, I would like to see more of a difference.

B suggests another head of foils in a few days, with a more 'piece-y' look and some caramel highlights.

I resist the urge to tongue-kiss B.

The manager agrees and I book another appointment, feeling a rush of happiness that I have actually acted like a grown-up, proper big girl and calmly and assertively solved a problem, rather than just slink home and dump a bottle of peroxide through my hair and avoid ever going within a 10km radius of that salon again.

B even thanked me for coming back, because she'd have hated for me to just leave it and be unhappy with her work, now she gets a chance to give me what I want.

REALLY resist the urge to tongue-kiss B.

I felt empowered, magnificent and not a tiny bit proud of myself. I was also IMMENSELY pleased with the great service and professionalism B and her manager showed. They have a brand new regular that's for sure!

The best part of all this? That GG was with me during the whole conversation, and got to see a woman stand up for herself, confront a problem calmly and assertively and get a result, all without being overly dramatic, passive-agressive, abusive or shouty. Win/win all round!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Have a little faith...

Well, hi there! After another marathon session of blog-abstinence, I thought it high time I wander back on over.

So how's things? Everyone good? Yeah... cool. Oh me? Oh you know, not much, this and that, running round after GG, the usual... oh there is one little thing - I GOT A PERMANENT JOB!!!!!!!

Honestly, the relief is amazing! I feel a sense of security, and hopefulness, now that I can actually plan out a budget and do all those little things, like buy food and electricity.

It's very full on, I get up at 5.30am and rush, rush, rush til I put GG to bed at 7.30/8.00pm. Then I try and get some stuff done around the house (quietly!) before I pass out at a nanna-worthy bedtime. It's not ideal, but it's what we need right now, so I imagine I will stick around til GG starts school in a little over a year.


What was that sound you wonder?? That was me falling out of my fucking chair that my tiny little baby will start school IN A LITTLE OVER A YEAR!!!!!!! The last year of kid-dom feels like it passed in oh, about a week, so it will be no time before I'm covering books in contact and trying not to cry at the school gate.

There's no way I will subject her to before-school care, going to school, after-school care and then maybe an hour or so with Mum before bed (all whilst I'm trying to get dinner, bath her etc.), so we will have to re-visit our situation then, it's just not fair to her, to start this major chater in her life without more support from me.

At least for now we can start paying off some debt and have a decent Christmas.

This really couldn't have come at a better time. I had been trying so hard to stay postive, to trust that everything would work out, but it had gotten to the point where I was starting to question myself. Was I a total idiot for thinking this way? To trust in God or the Universe or Dr Phil that everything would be okay if I had faith and stayed positve, what sort of ludicrous, deluded thinking is that? Shouldn't I be running around shrieking. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!", dissolving into hysterics and hating my life?

Nope, apparently not. Faith is the way to go it seems, it'll just test your resolve til you get there.

A bit of an asshole, Faith is, it seems. Playing with you like that, toying with your emotions.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seal of Approval

A disoriented New Zealand Fur Seal has been having a little holiday on the Gold Coast, hanging out in Tallebudgera Creek...

see here

I can just imagine the poor little blighter, peering over at all the holidaying school kids and soccer-mum paparazzi assembled, thinking to himself...

"What?! I can't have a holiday on the Gold Coast like every other Kiwi??"


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Second time's the charm.

Okay, calm down, calm down everyone, I know you're all excited to hear from me after so long, but let's maintain order, orright? You there, stop screeching...  that's better. And you lot - stop letting off those fireworks, you hear? It's just little old me, no need to get so excited... jeesh!!!

Okay, we all good? Back in your seats? Okay then...

So as you might have noticed, I have indeed been absent from this blog for a couple of weeks. Stupid irritating little things have been interrupting me and keeping me away - things like trying to find a job, keeping our house running on a shoestring budget, yada, yada, yada....

You may remember when my last job hit a surprise ending and knocked me for six. One of the upshots of that was telling GG I would be spending the next while hanging out with her and watching her little face absolutely light up as she threw herself into me and gave me such a fierce hug I thought she might burst! Since I had been working full-time, I noticed that she had become quite clingy, always (literally) hanging off me when we were home, and not even wanting to stay over at her cousins house - usually a favourite treat. She had also become quite whiny, but that could also have just been a "Hey, I'm three and this is how we three year olds roll" kinda thing...

So fast forward a few weeks, over 40 job applications, seven new grey hairs and a partridge in a pear tree, I find a job. It's a contract for a few months to cover a girl's maternity leave, though it may turn into something more...

It's also full time.

Yep, after the last job eff-up, and then having to turn down a full time job I was offered because the travel time meant I would have to be dropping GG off in the morning before she'd gone to bed the night before (cold meds may lead to slight exaggerations), I had decided to pursue only part-time jobs. Thing is part-time jobs are like hen's teeth, and there are approximately eleventy billion trillion women all wanting to work part-time.

So necessity over-rides good intentions yet again.

I have just finished my first week, and yeah, yeah the job is fine and all that, but more importantly, so it seems is GG!

Me being me, I had worked myself into a lather over the harm I would be inflicting on my poor, innocent child. Me and my selfish materialistic need to pay the bills would mean she would be flung back into a world of abandonment, clinginess, insecurity and wanting to stay up all night just to have my attention. Okay, okay, so my reservations may not have been entirely unselfish concern for my child.

Instead, GG did what she specialises in doing, she surprised me.

When I told GG that I would be going back to work, she was entirely non-fussed. When I prompted her about how she felt about it, she simply replied that, "Well I will still see you ebrey night, right?". I have been
spending the week on tenterhooks, waiting to some sign of her backsliding and... nothin'... she's fine. She's happy, independent, even at the kindy drop off which she's sometimes a bit teary at, she just charges up to the window that overlooks the car park so she can wave goodbye. She has even planned a sleepover for next week!

Maybe those horrible weeks of the first job were just her getting adjusted? Maybe the fact I finish earlier and am picking her up by 5pm and we get that little extra time together makes the difference? Either way, life is good right now and I refuse to sit around looking over my shoulder waiting for "something bad" to happen like I have been lately whenever life is good.  I'm just gonna enjoy it. And maybe send some wishes out to the Universe that the girl I'm replacing only wants to come back part-time and we can job share.

Not too much to ask, is it?