• Back in the old days

    My future family is going to be very different from the family I grew up with. Part of it’s a culture thing, part of it a generational thing, and part of it is just down to personality.

    There are SO many things that annoyed me about my family growing up. Everybody thinks their parents are weird. But mine weren’t just weird weird, they were annoying weird.

    I’m talking:

    • My dad’s anal obsession with locking every. single. car door before driving off. If you didn’t lock your door, he’d reach over and do it for you. There’s nothing else that makes you feel quite as much like a two-year-old.
    • Neither of my parents EVER picked up the phone (apart from my dad’s business line – that, everyone rushed to get.) The premise was that my mum hated telemarketers and wanted to screen all calls; hence, the machine would pick up after just two rings, which also made it impossible to pick up anyway unless you happened to be right next to it.
    • No presents. I don’t know why, we just didn’t do gifts. I’m assuming neither of them really got presents growing up, and carried on the tradition.
    • No holidays. No trips to the beach, or the snow, etc. Although they just took a trip over to Australia with my little brother – maybe times are a changing?
    • And finally, it used to embarrass me that my parents gave me money to buy ten-trip bus tickets for the journey to school. You know, cause all the cool kids paid full fares, every day, in cash. And even worse to the 11-year-old me, they’d give me $21 to pay for a $11 pass. SO embarrassing, when a 20-ride pass was $22 and people would ask me why they didn’t just give me the extra dollar (God only knows). But why $21, exactly? Because it saved the driver having to count out $9 in change – he or she could just whip out a $10 bill and have it over and done with. Which in hindsight is quite considerate, actually.

    I’m under no illusion that my kids are going to think they have the coolest parents in the world – we’re going to embarrass them no matter how hard we try.  But one thing’s for sure – we’re going to have presents every birthday and Christmas, and we’re going to make holidays a priority. I want my children to get to experience lots of different things, not just listen enviously to their friends recounting their great vacations back on the first day of school.

    So, what’s your family going to be like? What quirky things did your own family do when you were younger?

  • Quitters

    This month T sat his final test for his course. Depending on his results, he may or may not be guaranteed entry to university. Whether he decides to carry on with that… well, that’s another matter.

    They’ll have a graduation ceremony in late November – exactly a month from now for friends and family. Obviously I’ll be going. But I asked him who else he was going to invite… and he said no one. Not even his mum? No, not even her.

    Apparently, he said, she doesn’t think he’ll end up going to uni.

    “Why not?” I asked

    “She thinks I’ve quit too many things before.”

    Now, I think that’s a little hasty. I think that’s completely unfair, actually. What has he started and not completed? He didn’t finish out school, and joined the army, which he decided wasn’t for him. So there’s that. Then he got into a good line of work, and got laid off after two years. (No dropping out there). Then with some prodding from me, he enrolled in a foundation course so he would have the option of going to university. Even if he doesn’t, it’s a fantastic thing to have under his belt. And it’s a darn sight more than any of his siblings have.

    Even going further back, what else has he started and not finished? He decided not to carry on with high-level athletics. That’s not uncommon. And let’s be honest, a career in sports is not the best of career plans anyway. I can think of so many activities I did throughout my school years and never carried on with… violin, badminton, debating, tennis, soccer… I got a kick out of all those while I did them, sure, but I didn’t want to keep going with any of them on a regular basis.

    Sure, he’s messed up a lot of things. Some of it is due to being naturally carefree, or careless, even. He’s never relied on his family to bail him out, although they have helped him out on countless occasions. And yes, he’s 21 now, and it’s time to start getting serious about something, especially with people bleating about the recession ending and things picking up. But he certainly isn’t the first, nor will he be the last, 21 year old to be drifting, to not have their shit together. Maybe more is expected of him, because he has possibly the most potential out of anyone in the family.

  • Tidbits

    – T’s aunt and uncle won the grand prize in some competition run by Coca Cola – $250,000 and a bunch of tickets to the Rugby World Cup. Crazy! You never actually KNOW the people who win things like that. Well, until now. They’re lovely and deserving people, so I’m glad they won and am happy for them.

    – My mum just got back from a quick visit back to Malaysia. I’m feeling EXTREMELY unaccomplished after hearing all about what family/family friends are up to. Doing postgrad in San Francisco/Switzerland/Hong Kong, travelling to Milan, getting married etc….

    – I mentioned to her we were looking for a duvet/vacuum. She responded by offering to buy both for me as an early Christmas present. KBV40_1largeSo, so awesome. I don’t know how much she got the duvet for (queen size goes for maybe $60 to 100+, but she wouldn’t have paid that much) and got a blinging vacuum ($270, down to $110). It is seriously awesome. It is the best vacuum I’ve ever encountered – barring Dysons which I’ve heard so much about – and is so hitech it looks like something from Transformers. It’s going to be unbelievably helpful this weekend when we get to cleaning up the old place. I am SO grateful and better make sure I get her an awesome Christmas present. I was planning on putting together a big hamper for the whole family, which I think will be useful because…

    – She just told me (after giving me the gifts) that she almost lost her job. To elaborate, she’s gone from two days a week to one day a fortnight. That’s a 3/4 cut.  They may as well have laid her off!

  • Maternal instincts

    I got to play happy families this weekend – sort of! In the wake of Kashin’s death (the zoo’s beloved Asian elephant, who’d been there 40 odd years) the zoo had free entry on Sunday. We bundled up T’s nieces and little brother and packed them into the backseat for what we anticipated would be a fun day out.

    It wasn’t, by the way. 17,000 people had the same idea; the lines ran from the entrance to the end of the carpark, and were standing still, it started pouring down buckets and we had to take shelter under a puny shrub while T sprinted all the way back down the street, round the corner and up a massive hill to where the car was parked.

    I did get a bit of a kick out of taking the kids out, though. We blended right in with all the other parents and their offspring around – walking from the car to the entrance was no mean feat, as it involved navigating around countless prams and toddlers running loose (if your child isn’t old enough to be at school, they should be firmly attached to your hand, IMO). At the same time, though, I kept looking around to make sure everyone was keeping up. And I was terrified of turning around and finding one of them gone. There are a lot of things I never want to go through, and one of those is most definitely telling someone that I’ve lost their kid…

    I never used to have much of a maternal instinct. I couldn’t stand crying, screaming children and babies terrified me. I made snide remarks about parents bringing tots to restaurants, events or even on the bus and comment on how they should leave their offspring at home (which of course I realise is unrealistic, but we’ve all experienced frustration at a meal out being ruined by someone’s whinging toddler).

    Somewhere along the line that changed, though – pretty rapidly in fact! Now when I see babies and little kids out and about I ooh and ahh and gush about how cute they are. I get the warm fuzzies when I see their dads carrying them around on their shoulders. I still sneer at baby-size Crocs (why would you inflict those on your child??) and mock designer baby gear (why would you waste that much on stuff they’ll outgrow in a heartbeat?) But now, instead of thinking “God I never want to have to deal with that”, it’s more like “I hope that’ll be me one day.”

    I don’t by any means approach strangers and start admiring their babies. Hell no. Babies still scare me. I don’t know how to hold them (T will testify to that) and I sure as hell don’t know how to change a nappy or feed them (see previous parentheses).

    The other day I was handed a bottle while I was watching T’s latest niece in her walker, and not wanting to look like a complete loser, I gave it a go. I didn’t want to drown her, you see. I was tentatively holding it to her mouth at about a thirty degree angle, expecting a stream of milk to gush out at any minute and flood the poor baby. Little did I know that the baby actually has to such on the teat to get anything out.  (Cue laughter from onlookers at my pathetic efforts and removal  of milk bottle from my hands.)

    Spending time around her made me realise babies don’t, in fact, spend every minute of every day squalling. She’s actually pretty quiet. I could watch her for hours – she’s so entertaining, and so cute, despite the fact that she can’t talk yet.

    In fact, I’d wager she cries less than one of her older sisters. Observing the sibling dynamics between two little girls only a year apart is almost painful. You’ve got the big sister syndrome – the smarter, classically prettier one, who also happens to be stronger and can inflict more pain on the little one when they get into fights. I never really know what to do when that all ends in tears – try to comfort her, or just let her cry it out?

  • Watching the Bachelor = like watching a train wreck

    23792_jason-mesnick2I find it really hard to understand how the girls on the Bachelor can fall so fast in a matter of weeks….and I find it hard to believe that real relationships can be forged in front of a TV camera. I know I personally could not be myself if I was being filmed, let alone be comfortable alone with a guy, out on dates and stuff. It’s almost painful to see the rejected girl/s going home in the limo, trying not to cry and ruin their makeup, saying things like “I really thought he was the one. I’m ready to settle down. My heart is broken. I just think I’m better off alone.”

    Other things I HATE about the show:

    That dude coming out every time just before the final rose is presented, just to remind everyone that it’s the last rose of the night and someone will be going home.

    That dude having man-to-man talks with the Bachelor before the ceremony and asking inane questions about his state of mind and how his dates have gone.

    The girls standing there clutching their roses with beatific smiles, waiting for him to walk out the rejected girl/s and return to them.

    Group dates!!!! Enough said.

    I also thought it was REALLY weird that he went out and met all of their families when there were still FOUR girls left in the running – I thought they usually did that for the last two? That would make more sense. The point of meeting the family is when you’re getting serious, and if you have that many girls to choose from, how serious can you be?

    It got me thinking, though, about just how much of a role families play in romantic relationships. One of the girls’ parents didn’t want to meet the Bachelor – they weren’t comfortable with the “publicness” of it all. (You know what? I don’t think I would be either, personally. I felt bad for the chick, but I totally sympathise with her family. Some people are very private, and if they don’t want to meet their prospective son-in-law and have it broadcast on TV, fair enough!) It seemed like a really big deal for both of them, to not be able to introduce him to the family. He asked her friends all about her parents, and thought it was really strange that they’d never met them and dind’t know anything about them (hey, my friends and parents are totally separate! Does anyone else think it’s more unusual to have your friends and parents be close? Or is it just me?)

    BF’s never met my parents, officially. Once when we ran into my mum out and about, I introduced him by name. He’s never met my dad. I’m happy to keep it that way as long as…ever? I’m not really close to them – haven’t been since I was tiny. It’s not a big deal for either of us that he hasn’t met them yet, though I know it’ll have to happen some day.

    They say you can tell a lot from someone just from meeting their family, because parents are such a huge influence on their children. I think that’s true for BF, who still lives close to his family and sees them often (sometimes even a few times a week). For me, I don’t know if that applies as much. Personality wise, I guess I resemble both parents, but in terms of my outlook and views and culture, we’re vastly different.

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I don’t identify that closely with my family, although they are still important to me, we’re not exactly the Brady Bunch. So it doesn’t matter to me that they don’t know BF yet despite us having been together for years, and vice versa. And I don’t think he needs to know them, in order to understand me. OTOH, it was important to BF that his family liked me, especially his mum (and thankfully she did). What do you think?

  • Standing on my own two feet

    I’ll admit I often go on about having received no parental help (financially) in my adult life. I started out with a guitar and amp, my clothes, and $2000 – which may sound like a decent amount, but consider the costs of securing somewhere to live and the bare essentials  for someone starting from scratch – then made my own way from there. It’s both a point of pride and a point of bitterness, I guess. No money, no car, etc, apart from small birthday gifts.

    But at the same time I owe them nothing.  I can do what I want and live my own life completely my way. Whereas friends of mine have free accommodation, food, cars and sometimes more, but most of them (not all though) pay for it by having to live by the rules. There’s less freedom and a fair bit more living under the parental thumb.

    I think that I just like to be able to say that I’m self made, but accepting help means I won’t be able to say that anymore.

    Where is the line?

    I think I’ve already started down that slippery slope. First, accepting help with replacing my stolen stuff (half of the cost of my laptop/camera – they would’ve paid for it all but I just couldn’t do that). Now an offer of cash to start up a Rabo account to be eligible for a free $100 opening cash credit.

    So tempting. I don’t NEED the money. You know, it’s not money I would have to use towards rent or bills. But let’s be honest, it sure would help, especially given that I don’t have all that much saved. (Another thing I struggle with. Everyone I know either has WAY more saved than I do…think  tons more, like closer to 5 figures; or virtually nothing at all.)

    Maybe it’s my turn, maybe I deserve it, maybe they’re trying to even it up considering they are giving my brother so much. Maybe it’s a present for not dropping out of uni so far.

    Would they be offended if I refuse? Would they keep trying, under different guises? It’s the only way they can offer me any help realistically, aside from bringing over food occasionally or taking me out to dinner.

  • Flashbacks

    Memories. They’re funny things, aren’t they? For me at least, I don’t actually have many memories at all, and they tend to be pretty vague. And the things I’d rather forget, well, they tend to be the ones that linger and crop at the most random times – like today at the BK drive thru.

    I guess by now it’s obvious my relationship with the parentals is uneasy. I’m sure it will ease as I get older. For now, I still get flashbacks to certain things, like being called (not quite in so many words, she couldn’t quite bring herself to say “prostitute”) a prostitute for hugging my (x)BF in public. Or being chastised for choosing photography as a subject “what will you do when he dumps you, eh?” Or in an effort to get me away from perceived bad influences and sort me out, suggesting a trip to the Gold Coast (which never materialised, incidentally) – “but can you be away from a boy for a day?” You might think this implied I was boycrazy but no, this referred to x(BF), whose name would not be uttered in the house. Yes, that’s how crazy my parents were, and how little they thought of me – I still cannot believe she thought that, oh, I don’t know, I might combust or have a breakdown or something should I be parted from him for longer than 24 hours. Sure, we spent pretty much everyday together. But why not? What do school age couples do? If we had been unable to for whatever reason, then we wouldn’t have. Like on days one of us was sick. Whatever.

    And being chastised for dating someone I ‘wasn’t sure I wanted to marry’. And having plans to travel in life which I may or may not have shared. Leading him on. And this all somehow implying that I had suddenly lost all ambition and would droo out, never go to uni, get married by 20 and presumably pop out some sprogs and go on the DPB.

    Time has dimmed those memories, but I guess I still hold a trace of bitterness.

  • All in the family

    I’m not close to my family. I guess I used to be when I was very young, up till say 8 or 9. (I got all emo and depressed and lame after that.)
    I would like to be now, now the bad blood has gone. But I’m enjoying life, its busy, its good, and it’s kind of exciting knowing I’m going to be finishing uni at the end of 2009, and I have a good job, and possibly plans after graduation to travel…it’s like I’m on the brink of something BIG. So I almost compartmentalise them out (family, I mean) mentally. It’s like, one of those things you have to attend to every so often (shave, self tan, water plants, take out bins, clean bathroom, go for a run, PARENTS)

    We’re almost like strangers. I always do look forward to seeing them, as it’s not often we do, and catching up, but too often silence ends up dominating. I just don’t know what to say to them! Our lives are so different. I don’t really have much I feel I can share with them…they don’t know about BF, at least I haven’t told them, I have to watch I don’t accidentally swear in front of them, they were very anti drinking (perhaps less so now I’m legal), and yadda yadda.

    I still occasionally think, on the bus or whatever, about the bad things that were said and done. But I think I have forgiven, though possibly not forgotten (obviously!). But the older you get, the more you come to realise that these things don’t really matter anymore. They fade over time. I wasn’t beaten or molested, and now that we’re all adults the dynamic is different – in a good way.

    I don’t think we’ll ever be close. We’re very different, and we inhabit quite different worlds, and have totally different tastes and interests. My parents aren’t that close to their families either, particularly my dad.

    Blood will always be important to me, though. I would help them however I could if needed. But it makes me sad to think my kids probably won’t be as close to them as I’d like. Sad that they won’t have close cousins to play with and go on holidays with. But they will have great relations on their dad’s side, well, maybe… at least three of their cousins will be a fair bit older! They already have three waiting for them, and I don’t plan on having kids for maybe 10 years….so they’ll be 10-17 years behind!