Saturday, May 28, 2011

The ADD meltdown...

I had cause to relive Erik's meltdowns in the past week or so, and it wasn't pleasant.

Image from www.magnificentourage.wordpress.com
Between the age of 15 months and 7 years of age (maybe later, I try not to think about it often), Erik had literally thousands of meltdowns. They weren't tantrums, he wasn't ever prone to temper tantrums - none of my children were until I had Ari (now I know what people mean when they speak of the two year old tantrum). Erik's meltdowns were never like tantrums. For one thing, they always started out off a clear blue sky. At first we had no idea what they were, one minute he'd be laughing, then his bottom lip would start quivering and the crying would begin. We'd try to hug him and ask him what was the matter. He'd pull away from us as if we were hurting him. Then the screaming would start and his eyes would become wild and frantic. The more we tried to comfort him, the more and louder he would scream and his arms would flail and he'd seem horrified as if we were attacking him.

Around the age of 18 months, he had a night terror, and after that we would refer to his meltdowns as day terrors because they resembled the two night terrors he had in total to some degree. The only difference was the night terrors were quite a bit shorter and sitting in front of a tv with the sound turned down seemed to bring him out of them in about 20-30 minutes. When we tried this with the day terrors it didn't work. They usually lasted 45 minutes to an hour.

During his day terrors, Erik couldn't see or hear us. He went into a zone, and it was a frightening place for him. He would only surface from the zone once his body was worn out, and then he'd sob himself to sleep and sleep for up to three hours.

By backtracking, we found his most common trigger was over-stimulation. Unfortunately, it didn't take much to overstimulate Erik. When he was little, something as small as a new person entering the room would set him off - not screaming right away, though. Usually, his symptoms started with him getting excited, then excitement would turn to hyperactivity. He couldn't come down from his high and he'd overdose on adrenalin and then the crying would begin. Any more than three quiet people in one room was always risky! Outside was better, outside usually calmed Erik.

I found this out when he was four months old and had a daytime crying jag. I couldn't settle him with feeding or rocking (he was overstimulated, but I didn't realise this), and then I started to worry what the neighbours might think I was doing to him so I took him out into our front yard, and immediately he started to calm down. It was like magic.

So, his day terrors usually started with giggling, and because of this, I often received funny looks and comments of "He's just happy" when we were out in public and Erik was giggling and I was telling him to calm down, to breathe, to look at me. People probably thought I was overly controlling, but they couldn't see the day terror barreling down on us tornado-style.

I was talking to mum about this today, and she told me I used to do the same thing as a child - and even as an adult. I can't remember doing this, but as zoning out is a symptom, I guess that isn't really very surprising.

As I've mentioned before, I have Attention Deficit Disorder. I have always suspected Erik also has ADD. I did try for a diagnosis some years ago, but as soon as I mentioned I had ADD, the doctor seemed to decide Erik didn't have ADD. Apparently because Erik was advanced in his drawing (drawing 3D objects at age eight - usually something eleven year olds do), his frontal lobe was developed too much for him to be a candidate for ADD. I suspect the doctor thought I was seeking to medicate Erik (I don't take medications myself, I certainly wouldn't medicate my child). Considering that my own brain structure suggests I shouldn't be able to walk or talk, I doubt an ability to draw in 3D automatically precludes the diagnosis of ADD.

My mum also checks of most of the boxes for ADD, but has not had any sort of diagnosis. Today she told me two anecdotes of her own meltdowns that she is able to recall. The first was from when she was nine and her mother had to go to the theatre one night and mum didn't want her to go. She remembers hanging onto her mother's ankle and screaming, but moreso the feeling of not being able to stop screaming. She also remembers a year when she received 16 Christmas presents (which was uncommon for Icelandic children at the time) and when she had finished unwrapping them all she wanted more and basically lost the plot when none materialised.

To both of us, these stories reflect two things ADD sufferers experience. Hyper-focusing, the inability to let go of a concept or repetitive thought, even if you really, really want to because you are aware that it isn't serving you; such as wanting her mum to stay home, but just not being about to let go of this thought even though she was aware that her mum was getting very angry about having a nine year hanging onto her ankle.

The other thing it reflects is Over-stimulation. Too much adrenalin in the system from being excited and not being able to "come down" from the rush without crashing into the zone of screaming.

From the outside though, these events are often viewed as the person being "spoilt". In fact, not so long ago, mum was reminded of the second anecdote when listening to Icelandic radio and hearing a family member recalling the "Horribly spoilt eleven year old who threw a tantrum because there were no more presents to open after she'd already open sixteen!"

I was watching Parenthood the other night. One of the characters on the show is a boy with Asperger's (a mild form of Autism). In one scene of the show, the boy had been taken out of his daily routine and promised as many rides as he could handle on a roller-coaster at a theme park. The child had to wait in a long queue to get on the ride and was obviously very excited about finally being allowed to ride this particular roller-coaster. Then as he and his father were finally seated in the roller-coaster there is an announcement over the loud speaker than the ride is broken and will not be operating for the rest of the day. The child is devastated and is shown having a meltdown while screaming "You PROMISED I could ride it as often as I wanted to!" which from the outside would look like a massive tantrum from a spoilt child.

These days meltdowns, particularly in older children, are commonly linked with autism and Asperger's, but many symptoms of autism, Asperger's and Attention Deficit Disorder, overlap, such as over-stimulation and hyper-focusing. Unlike autism and Asperger's, Attention Deficit Disorder is often still put down to parenting skills, or lack thereof. Ir is still not uncommon to hear, "He just needs some boundaries", or "I wouldn't let my child get away with that kind of behaviour".

These days, Erik doesn't have meltdown or day terrors. From the age of about six, they declined in frequency from 4 or more a day, to one or two a week, and then one day Dave and I realised Erik hadn't had one in more than three weeks. Partly this was because we'd expended a lot of energy shielding him from over-stimulation, and partly because he had learned to recognise his own triggers. He still only has two dominant modes; very sedate (often hyperfocused on television or an activity) or hyped up. We still have to separate him from other people when the giggles set in (because they often lead to reckless behaviour like running through the house at speed - think small house, lots of bodies including a toddler who can't dodge oncoming traffic easily), but more and more, he is learning to regulate himself.

Sometimes he withdraws when he's not coping and then I find him in his room and there will be terror in his eyes like before, but now he screams on the inside. He never wants to talk about it, but I persist in teasing it out with careful questions. Sometimes - often - he'll cry when he finally releases whatever is winding him up, but afterwards he is always a bit more relaxed.

As for me. One of my meltdowns led to seizures (I only learned today that the seizures had been preceded by a meltdown - I must have zoned out) when I was 31, so I guess they do still happen. I certainly know I have a lot of trouble sleeping because of over-stimulation of adrenalin (the flight or fight response - I'm a fighter). As we get older we learn to recognise and mediate our physical reactions, and to try and be aware of hyper-focusing as well (with mixed results). It's a journey, and sometimes, if we're lucky (like today when I talked to mum) we'll see a helpful road sign that makes the way ahead a little clearer to see.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Gender-less...

This article popped up on my screen late last night. In short it is about a Canadian couple who have decided to keep the gender of their third child secret. Not just for part of the pregnancy, not even for all of the pregnancy, no, this child is already several months old and only a few close family members know the child's sex. The child is named Storm, which is a unisex name (though the two Storms I know are both women).

Issues surrounding gender stereotypes are important to many parents today. On parenting forums you will find countless threads about girls clothing being pink or purple, with occasional splashes of orange or apple green being thrown in for variety. Meanwhile boys clothing comes in navy or grey and sometimes brown. Nappy ads have girls being clean, and quiet and whimsical, and boys being grubby and noisy and boisterous.

Bloggers blog about their boys playing with dolls and having their fingernails painted in attempts to breakdown stereotypes, which other discuss whether or not to take their seven year old daughter to a "SlutWalk" demonstration, so she will learn that men can't rape her because she chooses to wear anything less than a burqa.

Yes, this is definitely a topic of discussion around the parenting traps.

A study was done years ago where people were handed babies to interact with and those babies were dressed either in pink or blue, regardless of their gender, and then the interactions were observed. Blue babies were jostled more, and interacted more boldly with than pink babies. This showed that adults tend to make assumptions about children's needs based on their identifiable gender. Adults stereotype.

Many parents are not comfortable with their children being boxed into a stereotype, being expected to be a certain way based solely on whether their have a Y chromosome or not. As a parent, I understand. I have four boys, and I want them to be able to wear whatever colour they choose, and do whatever activities appeal to them, be it basketball or ballet. I have been criticised for dressing my little boys in girls clothing, "What does HE think about that?" one skeptical mother asking me one morning when I showed up at the school gate with my toddler son in candy striped leggings and a jacket with a hot pink furry collar on it. "He likes bright colours and looks great in pink!' I said. She smiled at me in a way that unmistakably said, "You're trying to make your son into the daughter you've never had."

My boys often says, "That a girl's colour/toy/movie", despite my constant assertions that colours, toys and movies don't care whether they're enjoyed by girls or boys.

Photo sourced from Yahoo! UK and Ireland
So, back to the Canadian couple. Is what they're attempting - to bring up a genderless child - brave and inspiring, or an exercise in futility. Is gender about genes or is it only social conditioning, and can they truly stand outside the conditioning they must have inevitably received themselves, or can they only rebel against it - create a different set of warped conditions. Is their old son wearing long plaits and supposedly gender neutral clothes actually making his own choices, or is he attempting to fulfill a hope his parents have that he won't be stereotypically boyish? When we are pushing against something, can we truly be neutral?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wells of Inspiration...

What inspires you?

You don't have to be a writer or some other kind of artist to answer this question. Inspiration in handy in all sorts of situations, relationships, parenting, business, education. What inspires you to clean the kitchen floor? Or maybe - if you're like me - what would it take for you to feel INSPIRED to clean the kitchen floor (for me it would have to be that by cleaning the kitchen floor I had a better than even chance of revealing a golden ticket to the lifestyle of my dreams - sometimes I wonder if there might be a golden ticket hidden under all the toast crumbs and grime dragged in by four grubby boys from the back yard)?

Wouldn't it be great if we could ring a 1300 number and just order inspiration?

"Hello, yes, I have a submission deadline coming up and I need inspiration for the 3000 words short story. Also, my 12 year old has started moping about the house and slamming doors erratically, so a little inspiration for handling that situation would be good, too. Okay, so it'll be here Tuesday - any chance of sending it express, I'm happy to pay extra!"

Yeah, that'd be great, wouldn't it?

Yes, well, if you come across the classified for that Inspiration 1300 number in the paper, pass it on, would you?

I find a lot of my inspiration comes from the net. Yes, I know that's still not kosher. Living a full and blogworthy life is the "in thing", but I'm hanging onto hope that one day sitting-around-in-your-pjs-in-front-of-the-computer will become a completely acceptable alternative as well (seriously, it costs so much less, and doesn't discriminate against agoraphobes either).

The internet world of blogging, forums, Twitter and Facebook provides many wells of inspiration to dip into whether you need a story idea, business management strategies or parenting advice (just don't let someone else's ideas about your child supplant your own experiences and intuition - there you go, parenting advice right here!).

Of course, if you aren't a fan of flannelette and polar fleece, and like to actually leave your house and mingle with people (really???), then first hand experience with the world can also be immensely inspiring (I have tried it once or twice, when the weather was favourable and there was a promise of good coffee and friendly faces).

Warm, sunny days inspire me.
I hear nature can be very inspiring. Personally, since that time I led my Scout troop into a bog in the forests of Norway, I haven't been a huge fan of nature, myself, but occasionally I do enjoy a colour sunset and the feeling of the sun on my shoulders...

Travelling to new places is supposed to be inspiring - and you don't have to go to Nepal, just somewhere you haven't been before that teaches you something new about the world and those who inhabit it.

Family members can be inspiring - especially dead ones, because they always had really hard lives and got on with it anyway, and were stoic and found joy in the simple things, you know...

So, what inspires you?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TV revolution...

What do you like to watch on telly?

Television viewing is not what it used to, with families gathering in the evening to catch up on the latest episode of their favourite show as distributed by television broadcasters. No, these days - at least amongst my friends - the viewer is in the control seat of what they watch and when they watch it.

Years ago, I watched an episode of Oprah where she raved about a new gizmo she had just acquired where she could program her device to seek out and tape shows of interest to her while she was out of the house doing other stuff, and then when she was home she could watch the shows of her choosing at a time that suited her. She could even save up a few episodes of a drama and watch them consecutively. She was, of course, talking about a TiVo, and I decided there and then that as soon as this virtuous device was available in Australia I would buy one! A couple of years later, I did just that, and I haven't regretted the purchase for a moment. More than ever before, we are in control of when we watch our favourite shows on free to air television - no more having to be home at a certain time to watch that show, or staying up until 1am when a broadcaster shows contempt for their customers.



However, most of my friends have gone a step further in their television viewing, and now directly download whole seasons of shows they like - many of which are not even broadcast on free to air television - directly onto their computers and watch whole seasons in the span of a week or two. The other day my son asked me why we don't do this, and the only answer I had for him is that I haven't learned how yet. Certainly, I believe it would help overcome some of the lack of quality viewing offered on free to air television, and I can see it becoming the primary nature of television viewing in the near future for those with the means to access this mode.


What I've discovered in the past year or so of my friends really getting into downloading viewing content off the net is how different people's tastes are - well, certainly mine in relation to theirs anyway. Most of my friends love dramas. I find myself far more attracted to sci-fi and fantasy mystery.

I have, in the past, be a huge fan of the various Star Trek series (old and new, though moreso new), Babylon 5, X  Files, Millenium, Flash Forward (such a shame this only lasted one season) and, of course, Doctor Who. I love a good meta-narrative (in this context, I'm using the term to refer to an overarching narrative that refers to itself), especially a mystery. Doctor Who has been extremely engaging since it took on this facet to its narrative - I love theorising with others about "what is actually going on"!

So, what kinds of shows would you watch if you had ultimate control over your television viewing - or if you already are into downloading directly from the web, what do you watch and why?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Short attention span and maintaining enthusiasm... A quandry.

I have attention deficit disorder, and so it's pretty much par for the course that I have a short attention span.

I have a tendency to undertake interests and projects with enormous enthusiasm and then quickly tire of the same interests and projects. I hate committing myself long term to anything because I'm really afraid of letting people down when I eventually and predictably lose interest in whatever I was committed to. I realise this probably sounds terribly fickle and selfish, but I definitely don't feel that people should simply accept this about me. 

I guess I love the thrill and challenge of starting something - like, just recently, I started playing Gardens of Time on Facebook. It was fascinating and I loved the challenge of the hunt for objects in pictures. I loved setting up my Garden and designing it, but after the first fifteen or so levels (which I played with almost obsessive enthusiasm), it all started to just run too slowly. The learning curve had dropped away and I realised I couldn't just keep playing by building pretty gardens - I was going to have make them ugly and overcrowded to level up - I lost interest. Then friends were talking about it and the group enthusiasm was a little contagious so I went back in, but it felt like I was wading through molasses, the thrill wasn't there for me anymore, the game felt conquered.

I came to thinking about all of this after reading Leanne's blog at Deep Fried Fruit this morning about drive and having too much of it. This post really resonated with me, except that I lose drive, or get sidetracked, and I find it all very frustrating because I'm naturally a very driven person. I find being still, not having a goal, being passive, torturous - that is probably exactly what you would expect of a person with attention deficit disorder.

This short attention span often leads to me feeling as if I fail at a lot of things. I never really become very good at anything because to do that a person has to stick with beyond the acquisition of basic skills and know-how. Once I basically know how to do something, or have a basic level of achievement, I often want to move onto the next interest or skill.

I can knit a hat, scarf, socks (if I remember where I sourced my basic pattern) or a blanket but I can't knit a jumper or do anything fancy like lace knitting - and I lack the enthusiasm to really pour myself into learning those skills either.

I can blog and Twitter and Facebook with the best of them, but I fall short when it comes to networking because I lack the enthusiasm to really dedicate myself whole-heartedly to building a blog empire.

And so on, the list of things I've started enthusiastically and then let peter out when I was distracted by some new and shiny pursuit is as long one of my son's school yard tales (and believe me, they're epic)...

However, I don't want to give into to this facet of my condition because I am a driven person, and more than anything I'm driven to making something of my scrappy little patch of life. Maybe if I focus my efforts on devoting short spans of focus to one of five projects at a time, and give myself time limits so that I don't have the chance to become tired of one thing, maybe that would work? It would look something like this...

For the next hour I will work on Classroom Rep stuff, but once that hour is up, I will stop NO MATTER what stage I'm up to, and then I can pick things up again for an hour another day. For another hour I will brainstorm short story ideas for upcoming writing opportunities, but I will not start writing any of those ideas out in brief - this hour is only for brainstorming... And so on...

I'm going to try that this week, I'll let you know if I'm more productive than usual - with less burnout of enthusiasm...


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Change is Inevitable...

I'm a fan of change. I get bored easily and tend to embrace most change - even challenging change, because I view it as something fresh and wonderous and, well, exciting... I've been noting the changes around me this week. Some are beautiful, some are inspiring, and some are just a teensy bit scary for this mama...

We have a number of maple trees around this area. In our previous house we had a giant maple. She was the reason I applied to rent that house. She was the first thing I saw that crisp spring day, and she was magnificent in her luminous green crown. Several months after we moved in the weather turned cold and with that her crown turned a multitude of glorious golds and reds. I was enthralled! I loved that tree, she made the cold weather bearable. We don't have a maple in our yard, but we have one on our side nature strip. She isn't a mature as the queen we left behind, but her beautiful autumn shed has cheered me up in the greyness of the past couple of weeks. She has made the cold change a little bit more bearable.


I have always considered myself a lucky person, and not only because I'm born under the influence of the expansive Jupiter, but because, on the whole I am an optimist and I believe every happening in my life is a positive and will benefit me in some way (even if I can't see that way at the time). That said, in the past two years or so, there have been a few times when I've struggled to see how lucky I am - how well provided for I and my family are. This week, though, I won a competition run on My Little Drummer Boys blog. These four pacls represent something like $280 worth of Lego. I'm divvying these up between the boys for their birthdays (they have no idea, so Shhhh!). I, honestly, burst into tears when I found out I'd won. It felt like some sort of curse had been broken for something this nice to happen to us. You see, I really wasn't sure how I was going to afford presents for the boys this year at all - financially, things have never been this tight. However, we are provided for!


Speaking of birthdays... Erik is turning twelve in about 6 weeks time. Slowly, but ever so slowly, he is changing from a child to a young man. Luckily for me, he is an innocent and still likes to play with toys (he'll be so excited about the Lego!), but change is inevitable, and he is starting to mature and take on more responsibility around the house. He organised his first lay-by today, on his own. He is organising to do extra work around the house to pay for it. I don't like to "pay for housework" as such, the boys know they are expected to help around the house for the sake of our small "community", as so he still has to clean his room and the tidy the lounge every day, and set the table on his night without expecting payment, but he is going to start doing the laundry and washing the dishes for a nominal fee to earn some money to pay off his lay-by. I guess some of the changes also have to come from me (relaxing my attitude on pay for housework).


Tonight he told me he told his teacher to take his name down from the rewards list on the class board because he didn't feel he should be "rewarded" for behaving himself in class - as in behaving oneself so everyone can get on with their work should not be done for a reward. His teacher offered him a reward anyway, and he said he didn't need it, so the teacher told him he could give it to anyone of his choosing, so he gave it to the child sitting next to him. I am so proud he has taken this on board!

In other changes, this morning he asked if he could wear my Docs because they fit and he thinks they're cool! I love my Docs, so I didn't want him wearing them but I'm keen to get him his own pair! I'm glad he has decent taste in footwear, too!



Friday, May 20, 2011

Self-publishing from the Writer's Perspective...

Image from istock
Self-publishing is still a dirty word in many circles - whether you're a bookworm or a writer (or both).

I've been investigating self-publishing a fair bit this week for several reasons. I want to know what my options are for the future. I want to know how well a self-published book might be received by readers and peers. I'm not rushing to publish my novel myself (for one thing, I don't have the money), I'm really just testing the waters.

Why would I even give self-publishing a second thought? The reasons a many and varied.

The publishing industry seems to be very closed. Certainly, the major publishing companies seem quite conservative, and why wouldn't they be, they don't spend much on market research, so every publication is a punt. If they take a chance on a writer and that chance pays off big, they will keep going back to that writer until sales of their book sales begin to decline. Publishing companies have also discovered the rich soil that is celebrity publishing. Find a hot celebrity, someone whose name is already in lights and publish something by that celebrity - sales are almost guaranteed!

As a writer, I must keep my ear to the ground for opportunities to submit my unsolicited manuscript and then I must hope my manuscript doesn't end up on the slush-pile. Publishers receive thousands and thousands of unsolicited manuscripts every year, and most of those manuscripts are not well written or edited. Many are rip-offs of the last best selling book in their genre, and so on and so forth. If you write something with a competent level of skill and it's fresh, but not too different from what has come before, then you're in with a slim chance of being noticed and picked up.

If you do get noticed, they will sign you up for a contract, help your edit and polish your manuscript and then they will publish a small run of your books (I think about 1000 copies - I could be more or less wrong about that). After this it is up to you to sell the book. That's right, the writer is responsible for a lot of the promotion of their own book. Even when submitting an unsolicited manuscript, writers are asked how they would promote their book. Once the writer has promoted their book to the best of their ability they receive a very small percentage of any profits (if there are any profits).

So, considering how hard it is to get noticed in the first place, and how publishing companies seem to limit their support mostly to paying for the cost of publication itself, it doesn't seem so far fetched for a writer to publish their own work, promote it, and keep whatever profits they manage to make. Once an author's book is published they become eligible for so many more competitions and awards than those available to unpublished authors.

Now, obviously, the strongest stigma surrounding self-publication is the quality of the work that finally sees the light of day in book form - or rather the presumed lack of quality (because it is assumed a brilliant writer will always be picked up by a publisher). However, poor quality writing or editing is not something that must be true about a self-published book.

I remember a lecture about falacies during my Communication degree where our lecturer said there was a relatively easy test for spying a falacy. If you invert a statement and it doesn't remain true, it's probably a falacy. For example:

"Self-published books are poor quality books."

Inverted that would be...

"Poor quality books are self-published books."

or you can test it by seeing if the opposing statement is also true...

"Books published by publishing companies are good quality books."

Is that true? Absolutely not! Many, many books published by publishing companies, including well known and well respected publishing companies, are poorly written and riddled with typos and other mistakes.

Writer's centres offer manuscript assessments and Publisher Submission Appraisals (basically letters to publisher stating the publishable quality of the manuscript), and so a conscientious writer - and let's face it, if you're footing the bill, it pays to make sure your book is the absolute best quality it can be - can have their manuscript appraised and use feedback to edit it to a point where it is at least equal to work published by the major publishing houses.

The First Tuesday Book Club this month talked about how books and reading are changing with the rapid change of technology. One comment made by a panelist was that with electronic book writing, people are writing prolifically and possibly not valuing their writing. This was the old quantity versus quality argument which plays into the idea that because a writer can publish a book from home, and do so relatively quickly and easily, the process of this accessible kind of publishing may not value the end product.

I believe this depends on the writer. Virginia Wolfe was a self-publisher because she valued her own work so greatly she couldn't bear for others to mess with it. Self-published works can be of great quality and artistic merit if the writer chooses to be meticulous about their craft and their final product. In a world where it can be very difficult for an unknown writer to be published, and where publishing companies expect writer's to do much of their own promotion, I can see more and more writers opting to self-publish high quality work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Price of Integrity in a Capitalist society...

We had a very interesting conversation around the dinner table last night when Erik announced that his teacher had bought a huge pile of lollies for the class and would be handing them out for "good behaviour".

He enthusiastically relayed the breakdown of "points and prizes" and I'll admit, my hackles rose at the speed of light!

Apparently, the students in his class receive points every day for being helpful and co-operative, for two points they can receive a Chuppa-Chup, for five points they can receive a Push-Pop, and so on. It is up to them whether they collect the smaller prizes more often or the larger prizes by saving up points.

On the face of it, I can see lots of people - including the teacher, himself - arguing that this all about teaching children to work towards something, to have a goal, to feel appreciated for the effort they make to build the community. Having goals and working towards those goals is definitely something I want my children to learn, but not in a "pay me or I don't see the point in contributing to the welfare of my community".

Seriously though, I have to ask, what is the real reason the teacher is taking his hard earned money - from his meagre wage - and buying his class lollies? What is the reason Luey's teacher has a box of toy prizes in her room   that she hands out to children who have consistently read and recorded their reading on a sheet for four consecutive weeks?

Could it be the same reason twice as many prep students in Queensland were suspended from class last year than two years earlier? (although, punishment is the opposite side of this same coin)

Janet Hamlin -Associated Press
To me, bribing children - and that is really what this is, if we're completely honest with ourselves - is the last resort of the desperate. Parents do it all the time - I do it sometimes myself - when you just need the child to co-operate and nothing else seems to be working. When you feel powerless to effect change and time is of the essence, you pull out a carrot, you skip to extrinsic gratification. Teachers feel powerless to effect change in their classrooms without resorting to "extrinsic rewards", possibly because they can no longer appeal to children's sense of "doing the right thing", as so many children are more concerned with their own "rights" as individuals than the common good of the community.

Capitalism is based on the same idea of "rewards".  If you do A you will be rewarded with B short-lived satisfaction. The satisfaction must be short-lived to then propel you on to doing more of A to receive more of B. "More" is the key! We live in a "must have" society at this point in time. We are constantly being told we must have "this technology", "this look", "this lifestyle" to be happy. We're told it's all good and well to live a simple life without trappings, but WHO WOULD WANT TO. What we want is what is important, and what we want is the ring in our nose by which others can lead us to do for them - "If you do this for me, I'll give you what you WANT!" is the eternal promise of the Capitalist, and this is what children hear from the get go. The flip side of that is, "Well, if you WANT me to do this for you, you'll have to pay me - in Chuppa-Chups!" Co-operation has a price in Capitalist society, as does generosity, compassion, and welfare.

I asked Erik how many points he had accrued, and he told me four and said, he'd rather have a Push-Pop than two Chuppa-Chups, so he hadn't claimed his prize yet.  I asked him what he was doing to "earn" his points. He said cleaning up the room at the end of class with the other kids, and not mucking around in class. I asked him why he thought his teacher was rewarding the kids for being co-operative. Erik didn't know. I suggested that perhaps it was because his teacher has a mountain of work to get through each day and he is desperate for the kids to pay attention and help get through the work quickly. Then I suggested that even though Erik can muck around in class and still get average marks on his report, some of the other kids might need to concentrate more to get those same marks and when he mucks around with his friends, he makes learning harder for other kids.

Erik argued that he didn't muck around much, that it was other kids who did. I then asked why he didn't muck around and he said he wanted more points. I asked him if he'd muck around if he wasn't getting points and prizes, he thought of a few moments and let out an uncertain, "No?"...

So, I steered the conversation in the direction of "doing something because it is right, and good, and fair and not just because someone is paying you to do it:". We talked about how hard it is to be a teacher, to try to keep 23 or more students focused so they can get through the mountain of work set by the Government each year. We talked about how, at the end of the school day, once the bell has rung, his teacher doesn't get paid for all the preparatory work he has to do for the next day, and so he wants to get that work done as soon as possible, which is why he asks the class to help him tidy the classroom before the end of the school day. We talked about how, if he is spending $30 or so a month on lollies, that's money from his rather small wage that isn't going to his family. We talked about how co-operating and being considerate is something we do first and foremost for the people around us, so that everyone's lives can run more smoothly. We talked about how Erik could even tell his teacher that he didn't need points or prizes to behave because he understood that it was for everyone's benefit to just do it without needing a reward, and how much his teacher would probably appreciate that.

Erik came back with, "But just me doing the right thing won't change how the other kids behave. Just one person doesn't make a difference in a class of 23 kids!" (Honestly, I couldn't have written myself a better opportunity!)

I said it wasn't his job to change the other kids. He could set an example, but they wouldn't necessarily follow that example, and that wouldn't be the point of co-operating with his teacher. The point of co-operating with his teacher was to show respect and be kind and understand that even just him not mucking around could make his teacher's job easier. If Erik did his work, and helped out when asked, that would be one less person his teacher would have to worry about, and that would mean his teacher would have that much more energy to help students who needed his help.

Capitalism teaches children that they are important, they are individuals and what they need and what they want is important. I'm not saying their needs and wants aren't important, only that they are AS important as those of everyone else around them. Everyone is an individual. Everyone is equally unique. Teaching children integrity is teaching them to have values, to value something (in our family we teach valuing relationships) and to be true to those values. Certainly, children can value personal gain and be true to that as well, but where does that leave society?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bloggus interruptus

Yesterday was a fun day - we had one broken glass, a broken bottle of
red (these breakages were unrelated - the glass was broken while
setting the dinner table, the bottle fell off the top of the fridge
late last night), and the most fun of all, my computer contracted a
deadly virus!

That makes four dead computers in two years! Okay, my computer isn't
completely dead yet - we're hoping to download an antidote off a flash
drive tonight - but I can't use it for the time being, so it might as
well be dead.

If you remember, my phone is also mortally injured. Still waiting to
be able to afford to get it fix, in the meantime, it's a less-than-
glorious iPad - without speakers.

So, I'm spending time doing reading...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Recipes for trouble!

Linking up with Kate Takes 5's; Listology - Bad Combinations because it looks like so much fun!

Here we go!


  • Four noisy children/introverted parents
  • Four noisy children/any kind of study/small house
  • Seasonal Adjustment Disorder/Melbourne, Australia (nuff said)
  • Co-sleeping/4000 drinks of water/parents forgetting to change night nappy
  • Engorged F-cup boobs/feeding on demand/supermarket/hungry newborn
  • Chips/me/my clothes
  • Icy cold rainy weather/my plans for walking everyday/ectothermia
  • Cityville-Cafeworld-Gardens in Time/no pressing commitments/creative writing
What can you come up with...

Things I know - the late edition...

  • When Blogger is having a sickie and it's Fiction Friday, I'm kind of relieved...
  • When Blogger is having a sickie, I still manage to spend all day on the computer...
  • When Blogger is having a sickie, Wordpress bloghers become kinda smug (and I start reconsidering my options - hear that Blogger!)...
  • That's enough about Blogger having a sickie - better not happen again any time soon!
  • It hailed no less than three times last night and each time, I thought our windows would surely break!
  • I have hail induced sleep deprivation today!
  • I definitely have the cutest and best looking kids in the world!
  • Despite having the cutest and best looking kids in the world, I still have days when I wonder what I might get for them if I could trade them in...
  • In the span of an hour, I can travel lightyears away from Wonderful Mum, to the darkest reaches of Crap Mum of the Millenium.
  • Kids lives aren't determined by our very best and our very worst moments, but by the blending of every single moment we have with them, resulting in an average that usually isn't as good as we'd planned, but no where near as bad as we feared...
  • There are only a few short hours until the next delightful episode of Doctor Who - my reason for loving Saturdays at the moment!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...

A cold day in May...
Linking up with My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday.

I have to confess...

I get irritated when I see people misuse language...

I was just on a forum and read about someone receiving "exuberant bills" - she meant "exorbitant bills".

Then I clicked on another thread and read about someone who wanted to hear from people who had "brought" a house - she meant "bought a house".

I once laughed - out loud - at Luey's prep teacher when she told me she was "mortified" to find he'd dug up the dead and buried class hermit crab - she meant to say she was "horrified".

I get irritated because I try very hard to use the right words for the right context, and to know the meaning of the words I use.

I know language changes - I did a unit of linguistics during my undergraduate degree. I understand that it is fluid, and that "oriented" is now "orientated", whether I like it or not.

I just find it disturbing to think of bills dancing and whooping their way through my house, or having to lug my house around with me, or dying of embarrassment when a five year old does what five year olds do even though I had nothing to do with the five year old choosing the horrifying act of digging up a dead hermit crab.

I'm not perfect. You'll more than occasionally find a "there" where I meant to write "their", or a "to" where I meant to write "two" or even "too", but it saddens me because one of the great things about the English language is the vast number of words we've developed to distinguish the smallest of nuances in concepts. English is a hodgepodge of languages with a terribly inconsistent set of grammatical rules - it's neither phonetic, nor logical. So, the very best thing about this language is its amazing range of vocabulary, and the ability to pick a word that is so precise it can only pertain to one concept. If we decide the discrete meaning of words is not important, then we will lose the greatest asset the English language has - it's words!

Cartoon sourced from www.pawneeschools.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The fine art of doing nothing.

illustration sourced from http://blog.prospect.org

Mum said to me a number of weeks ago that I'm quite lucky in as much as I have nothing I have to do right now. At the time, I thought she was nuts (sorry mum, you know it takes a while for me to catch on)... I mean, sure, I wasn't doing a course, but I have this PhD to prepare for and some kind of publishing to achieve, and then there is my novel - that novel I worked my arse off (Oh, I wish it was that simple!) to finish before Christmas.I've been living in a state of panic for the past few weeks. It's quiet panic, you wouldn't notice it if you just looked at me casually, but it's there simmering under the surface, and occasionally bubbling over when I think no one is looking too closely.

So, yeah, Panicstations'R'Us set up camp in the pit of my stomach and have been partying on like it's 1999 ever since.

Last night I went to bed at 1am, and I didn't get up again until 11.45am, and even then I could have slept another three or four hours at least. That, right there, is not a good sign. It's a sign that I'm slipping into that old familiar rabbit hole with the black dog.

Something did occur to me last night, though...

I really don't have to be doing anything right now. There really isn't any kind of deadline on me. All this angst is really unnecessary. It's that other lesson mum is always reminding me of, "It's never too late." I'm not going to run out of time to get published, or to do my PhD. You don't run out of time until you die. All this angst, however, could be the death of me!

I suffer a lot of anxiety about not achieving - not being seen to be doing, to be more specific. It's an ego thing, a self-esteem thing. I love to Wow! people. I'm a bit hooked on, "I don't know how you do it!"  Kind of explains the four kids and the two Masters degrees (and the need to constantly refer back to the four kids and the two Masters degrees).

But now I'm thinking. What if I purposely did nothing. What if I actively practiced the fine art of doing nothing - well, okay, maybe not absolutely nothing, but what if I actively didn't try to achieve anything concrete for a while. What if I just read about writing, and read writing, and went to a few events and seminars and workshops and didn't think about getting published just yet? What if I just spent some time with my baby and enjoyed him while he can still be called a baby?

That wouldn't be the death of me, and maybe it would make it easier for me to achieve those things I want to achieve down the track? I'm going to try achieving nothing for a while - actively achieving nothing (as opposed to the achieving nothing that naturally occurs when I'm in a constant state of panic induced apathy).

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Twelve years ago, I was very pregnant, and I received my first Mother's Day card - from a friend. At the time I thought it a very strange gesture, perhaps a bit jinxy even - you know because my baby hadn't been born yet. I know I certainly didn't feel like a mum twelve years ago...  Fast forward to know, and I have four children, and I STILL often don't feel like a mum! This makes me think about my mum, she had me only 3 and a bit months after turning twenty-one! She was so young! She was living in a foreign country with her new husband and her family was about to move back to Iceland! That was 40 years ago (nearly). I wonder if she feels like a mum after 40 years of being a mum (I'm sure she'll tell me!)?

One thing I know about my mum - that is that there is so much about her I still don't know, and I suspect I will never know! Our children never really see who we are, do they? So, when I think of my mum, I think of a woman who is probably the most resourceful person I know! My mum can make something out of NOTHING, I swear, if you dumped her in the outback with nothing but a backpack, not only would she survive, but she'd probably get to know every soul within 100kms and start some sort of co-op so that everyone else could survive as well. That's my mum!

One thing mum taught me, mostly through modeling, is that it is never too late. It's never to late to start, to learn, to change, to stop, to do anything you need to do to survive. There simply is no such thing as too late. This is something I hope to teach my children...

Today my boys brought me breakfast in bed, and a whole heap of pressies!


1. Green scarf 
2. Purple scarf 
3. Two lavender scented candles 
4. A swish teal notebook with bling on it 
5. A poem by Anon 
6. A handmade coaster 
7. A handmade cupcake
8. (not numbered) A bracelet with a heart


The other side of the bracelet! This is JUST my sort of thing, silver and chunky with a heart (I'm kind of amazed this came from a Mother's Day stall at school! I may also be the only mum who receives this bracelet and actually WANTS to wear it!!!)


One of the teachers at school is a cupcake whiz and helped some of the students make cupcakes on Friday! Despite being stored in a school bag for two days, this cupcake was VERY YUMMY!


I don't know that I've ever left a plate of food at a neighbours (or that any neighbour would appreciate me doing so - considering my cooking skills, or lack thereof!), but I do love a bit of poetry!


I might get Luey to make more of these coasters, maybe a matching set with all our faces on them!

I know a lot of people think Mother's Day is an invented holiday aimed at promoting consumerism, but personally, I love a day that makes me the special person in the house! Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Meanwhile... Things that aren't BLAH...

This post - being about things that aren't BLAH - will contain images and sentiments too saccharine for some, you have been warned!

Life is never all bleak, even when - in the moment - it feels like it is, and all you want to do is scream at the universe like a toddler tantruming that this is "NOT FAIR!!!"... So, here are some of the things that I've been noticing through my foggy SADs...

The ingenuity of my children. They're completely obsessed with Doctor Who at the moment, and just before Christmas we found out we could actually buy replicas of the Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver (an all-purpose Swiss Army Knife-ish implement the Doctor carries with him at all times). Unfortunately, while the full size replica was reasonably prices at $39.95 a piece, with four children - who would ALL want one - we were looking at $120 worth of Sonic Screwdriver! So, that plan was shelved. It didn't take the boys long though to figure out how to make very cool looking Sonic Screwdrivers out of lego!

11th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver...

Luey's homemade Sonic Screwdriver!
Last Saturday night was the first screening of the first part of the first episode of the 6rh Doctor Who season (of the revived Doctor Who), and we all gathered together as a family! (Dave officially hates me and has cancelled Mother's Day because I'm posting this pic of him, so be kind - it was the end of a long, hard day of excitement waiting for the new season to start... Might as well have been waiting for Christmas Morning, as far as the boys were concerned!)


Last Sunday morning Erik and Luey went to the park, and when they came home, they brought this chair with them! Someone had put it out on their nature strip. Besides a couple of small cracks in the leather at the front edge of the seat, it's in great condition, and SO much better than the old backless officechair I was sitting on before!

I've paid my "parental sleep deprivation" dues, so I'm going to boast about my sleeping baby, and how much joy he brings with his love of sleep! He was completely weaned off his day nap until the Easter holidays, but then took to them again because the boys managed to tucker him out by lunch time and he'd go feral and need a sleep, which means he's up later at night at the moment, but hey, 9pm isn't that late - not compared to many I  hear from! So, here's to the sleeping baby! The pics with the red blanket are from this afternoon, and he was all rugged up against the cold, and using Buddy to keep his face warm by the looks of it! (our room is FREEZING in winter).


I picked up some very cheap acrylic yarn at the Reject shop, and knitted Ari this elf-cap. I have to bribe him to wear it (he is decidedly anti-hats!), but oooheeee, he's so cute in it, and the colours are so cheerful! I have a heap of this yarn left if anyone wants an elf-cap for their baby!


This week Dave signed up for a short course which is 99% guaranteed to see him in the workforce by the end of July. I can't say anymore about it, but I'm very excited that we might see a real income in this household in the next few months. I honestly believe it will make a HUGE difference to our every day!

Dropping the ball a.k.a. impatience for the sun.

Hi guys,

Thought I'd check in and explain myself...

Winter really came down a thump this week, didn't it? I'm enjoying wearing opaque black stocking with dresses and boots, so that's a good thing (and in the cold you can wear those gut sucking undies to keep up your stockings and smooth the lines of your dress and you don't have to think twice about *all those layers*!!!).

I'm trying to deal with the psychological fall-out of the sun being shrouded by clouds day in and day out. I suffer from Season Adjustment Disorder (SAD), but a great chunk of that is purely psychological - the anticipation of long months of darkness and cold - so I'm trying to change my thinking, and we all know new habits can take a while to establish.

This week I've dropped the ball on a number of things because my energy has been directed at just getting out of bed, and doing those things we all need to do to get through the day with four children.

Walking - I did an enormous amount of walking on Wednesday - 12kms in all, 21 000 steps! - that was to make up for not walking at all on Sunday and Monday, but then I didn't walk on Thursday, and only did as much walking as it takes to get the kids to and from school, and to do the grocery shopping yesterday. I feel very drained this week, but the guilt of having bought new shoes specifically for walking will get me back on track. Walking is good for me in that it helps to stabilise my mood, and gets me out of the house (which is very important when you're an agoraphobe!). The cold is harder for walking though because I feel cold so layer up, but then I get too hot, so end up stripping back down and walking with layers tied around my waist - not my preferred way to walk. I'll figure it out though.

Writing - Oh dear! I've really, really dropped the ball on this. So much so that I was blaming the walking (and resulting tiredness) for it at first, but considering the number of days this week when I've really just sat at the computer and played games or browsed, I can't seriously blame not writing on walking. I've been thinking about a couple of short stories, but haven't even written any notes. I also haven't read any more of that anthology I need to read in preparation for writing a short story. I have some writing events coming up which I hope will renew my mojo...

Blogging - Honestly, because I've been feeling BLAH! I haven't been blogging. I don't enjoy writing blog posts when I'm in the *just want to crawl into bed and sleep* mood because I feel, no matter how much I fake it, the BLAH seeps through my writing - and who wants to read BLAH? I have a whole bunch of photos and snippets of things I've thought about blogging, but in the end they remain in stasis waiting for the sun to come out.

Life feels full of take at the moment, and not a lot of give, and I'm angry about that, but I know anger really is the position of weakness in any situation, so I want to move past it - I just don't want to move through it, and I suspect the only way past it is through it, but through it is frightening so instead I wrap myself up in BLAH as a some sort of pillow suit that will shield me from the rage and protect me from feeling weak and helpless and impatient for the sun.

Pillow suit by designer Maja Ganszyniec 
Sorry about the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, my next blog post will be brighter...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thankful Thursday!

Today I am thankful for:

  • A gorgeous park to walk in - we chose the area we live in for it's great range of local parks!
  • Having opportunities to make connections with other parents at my boys school.
  • The Emerging Writer's Fest events being cheap enough that I can afford to go to a couple of them - I can't wait!
  • Our gasheater!
  • The ability to recognise the transience of bad feelings and hard times and the knowledges that all things are cyclical. Which means I'm also thankful for the cognitive behavioural therapy I've learned over the years that now allows me to let go of catastrophising when things aren't the way I would wish them to be, and work through the bad feelings and know they'll pass in a few hours or days.
  • No news on the building front from the landlords. I was expecting to have had to move house by now, but so far, so good...
  • Dave's course only taking 10 weeks! He'll be in paid work in no time!
  • A husband with no sense of clothing co-ordination and a cute kid who makes me laugh. Dave believes that as long as the colours "match" then it's a great outfit (patterns just don't come into consideration!).
If the t-shirt looks a little short, that's because
it's a size 0 (for 9-12mos) and Ari is 2.5 YEARS old
and my husband thinks close enough is good enough
Linking up with Kate at Kate Says Stuff: Thankful Thursday.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Rewards gone wrong...


Yesterday Julia Gillard announced the roll-out of the first bonus payments for high-achieving teachers in the Australian school system. Teachers aren't paid enough, that is the long and the short of it, but a one off bonus payment for only 10% of teachers whose students have achieved high scores on tests such as Naplan is just ridiculously unfair, and if anything might create a disincentive for school leavers considering a career in teaching.

If these bonus payments are not simply a bribe to keep Labor in Government (they don't get paid out until after the next election - so if you're in line for one of these payments, you'll need to vote Labor to secure it), and this becomes "the way of things" - paying bonuses for high Naplan scores - two outcomes can be predicted. The first is easy to predict, teachers who want the money will put pressure on their students to perform on tests (which is not the same as intrinsic learning), and that pressure will also come to bear on parents of low performing students - more homework, more children being kept in through lunch and recess for not doing reading homework (or forgetting to record that they HAVE done their reading home), it will for further pressure on families (the arguments that often occur between parents and children when children are tired and don't want to do homework but parents feel obligated to meet the teacher and the school's expectations), some students being ostracised because they cannot perform on the tests (notes being sent home to parents asking their permission to exclude their child from testing because it'll bring down the average score for the school).

Then there is the less obvious outcome. Being a teacher will become even more stressful. As it is, teachers must jump through multiple hoops each term to meet the Governments performance criteria (which doesn't seem to be improving literacy or numeracy in this country, anyway!); they must work through 20 cm thick folders of skills benchmarks, which often don't allow time for children to really enjoy learning, or teachers to really enjoy teaching - enjoyment is key to learning, by the way. On top of this now, if earnings become linked to a child's performance, then individual children might come to represent the reason a teacher feels (and is, honestly) underpaid.

Australia is not a country that values education - at least not based on how we remunerate our educators - it is a country that values outcomes, but at what cost? When we value all teachers, and we value the needs of all students, we will become a country that values education. While we remain focused only on the outcome, no matter the process, we will continue to see our literacy and numeracy levels drop. The United Nations Development Programme Report for 2009 had us ranked at 20 (along with 26 other countries), however, it is unclear if this reflects functional literacy (which is in rapid decline in Australia). The Industry Skills Council report, released last month and title "No More Excuses" found that 8 million Australian's in the workforce did not have sufficient language, literacy and numeracy skills to undertake training - that means they were functionally illiterate - so a 99% literacy level in Australia does not reflect functional literacy. Our functional literacy levels are not good, and they're getting worse, worse than when our parents went to school - before we improved Australia education... I personally believe this reflects the shift from valuing teachers and education, to valuing benchmarks and competition. We've lost sight of the big picture.

Monday, May 02, 2011

War talk...

Picture by Andrew Corbett
It's been a big day for war talk in my little world.

We all heard the announcement this afternoon that Osama bin Laden has officially been declared dead. There is a sort of "Wizard of Oz" feeling surrounding this announcement, and I half expect to see news footage of a couple of sandal clad legs sticking out from under a stone house on the television. It has made a lot of people happy, and also made people think and talk about the place of Capital Punishment in the world. Miss Holly over at Good Golly Miss Holly summed up my thoughts in her blog post today, so I won't reiterate those thoughts, just direct you over to her blog for a read... War brings out the worst in people, that's for sure, it causes people to feel justified in their own violent thoughts and feelings.

Then I had the opportunity to check out a preview of an hour and fifty minutes of the documentary called The Other Side of the Glass which is up for a short time at vimeo. The documentary is about birth, in hospitals and at home, and yes, it does juxtapose these position and comes to the conclusion that the medical model infringes human rights (the rights of the parents and the child). It looks particularly at the how men are treated in the birth arena, which is often overlooked, but it also looks at how many practices both in the medical and home model impact on the neonate.

One interesting point this documentary made was on how much war-language is used throughout our society, and also in relation to issues surrounding birth choices.  Elsewhere in the documentary there was talk of how in times of war, elders in communities are inclined to want to "toughen children up"; to prepare them to fight, and part of this process often includes separating the young infant from his mother and father to break the fragile empathy bond which begins to form in the first moments after birth (when the mother and father shower their helpless baby in unconditional love, and thus teach their child the first lesson of unconditional love-giving). Someone suggests that elders do this almost instinctively.

And so I found myself making the connection between the constant state of war our globe has been in since the end of 1950s, and how at the same time, the medicalisation of birth as grown in that period, possibly undermining the global development of empathy (as a core intuitive emotion, instead of one we must learn to summon because we know intellectually that it is better to try and understand where the other side is coming from). People used to talk about the coming of World War III, but I believe it is here, and has been here since global media brought every conflict in the world into our lounge rooms. So, our children are routinely separated from us at birth (unless home-born) and then grow up seeing war everywhere, and hearing war-language everywhere (the war on aids, eradicating disease, combating obesity), and when they then come home from school and say, "Osama bin Laden was killed today and my teacher said it was a good thing." How do we convince them that war only begets more war, and there is no justifiable reason to kill another person, no matter what they did to however many other people?

This has given me a lot to think about.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Is this it, then?

Life, I mean.

Do you ever have days when you think, is this all there is?

I'm not sure what I'm expecting, but there are days, like today, when I wake up and think, where's my glory?

Okay, about half of you have started thinking about moving on to the next blog or maybe even scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush around about now, I know, it's kind of pathetic and a bit whiney to think stuff like that, but I can't help it - it just happens!

I'm not a believer in reincarnation in the sense of the soul moving from one body to another body after each lifetime, but if I were I'd be prone to wondering if I wasn't some sort of Empress or Movie Star or Goddess or something in a previous life, because I seem to have this expectation of something more, something glorious or glamourous and exciting just around the corner. I've been waiting for it for a long time, my fame.

Instead, I have a husband and four kids - all very much wanted and dreamed about.

Life is pretty good.

It just feels a bit mundane - I guess.

I have this feeling something amazing is supposed to happen, something life changing and wonderful, but I don't know what, or why it would happen to us. I thought maybe it was writing and become a well known and respected author, but possibly, quite possibly that won't be it at all. I'm not at all sure I have what it takes. I'm not sure I have any kind of talent and less in the way of determination.

So, then what? Am I going to be just another mum and wife and home-keeper (well, kind of, I'm not exactly at the top of my field in that respect either) - not that there is anything wrong with those things, they just not enough for me, personally. Will life always be a bit of struggle and full of unfulfilled dreams?

What a downer, I'm being (I imagine by this point I'm mostly just talking to myself).

I'm sure I'll feel differently again tomorrow - though that feeling of expectation never goes away, it's just that some days it seems completely possibly, and some days (like today, obviously) I feel like I'm deluding myself.

Do you ever feel this way - are we socially conditioned to feel like this maybe?

Teenagers and the failing parent...