Allan S-s-s-Seale

In the 1980s there was a well-known gardener on Australian television called Allan Seale. He had an almost imperceptible whistling lisp so his ‘S’s’ sounded like sslippery ssuckers. Allan’s dog sometimes made guest appearances on his show (that was my favourite part). My mother liked to watch gardening shows (and grass growing) so I practised my Allan Seale lisp after dinner to avoid doing any homework. One weekend in about 1984 I was a bored, dim-witted teenager visiting friends who happened to live in the same neighbourhood as this gentle man. As soon as I heard my friend say, “He lives about two streets away,” I was off to meet Allan, with my friends following behind me. I ran through his garden, which was filled with native plants before that was fashionable.

“Issh Blackie here?” I whistled when his lovely wife came to answer their front door bell. My friends stood giggling behind a tree.

“No, he’s not,” she said, failing to open the heavy chocolate brown imitation metallic lace screen door (they were de rigeur in the 80s). My confidence faded at this point.

“Oh, how about Allan?” I said realising I couldn’t show off my impressive Allan Seale impersonation with that sentence. She sighed as she shook her head to one side. We stood in silence staring at each other. I hadn’t prepared for this. Allan was out and Blackie hadn’t even bothered to come out of the house to bark at me. I felt like such a moron, I stood on her front door mat grinning like a village idiot for what seemed like half an hour before she shut the door in my face. Then I walked slowly to the corner shop to find comfort in a bag of 20 cent lollies. When Allan got home from work that night his wife probably didn’t bother telling him that some fool stood on their front doorstep impersonating his voice a few hours earlier. Looking back, I really should have tried harder to meet Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, she is my true TV hero.

More parental torture

My youngest child wants to bring her four best friends home for a sleepover. Why not invite the whole class? And hold it in a park. In winter. SLEEP over? Why does this pastime designed for maximum parental torment have that name? There is no sleeping involved. While her little mates stay up all night screaming and discussing the ramifications of the situation in Gaza, Mummy is visited by the Snark Fairy. Couple that with PMT (no, I’m joking PMT doesn’t exist) and you have a very chirpy, pre cocktail hour solo mummy. No, my little lovelies, I gave up sleep deprivation at the same time my babies gave up nappies. It is time to tell my children that our house has become a meditation retreat, on the weekends we will undertake a vow of silence. Nighty night kids, Mummy says sssshhhhhh.

We got married in a fever

Being the true romantic single lady that I am, it came to my attention that February 14 was a really bad day for a lot of mature people who are only five cats away from a sad and lonely life. The last time I gave a Valentine’s card was back in the late 70s when I ran to the house of a beautiful blonde boy I had a crush on to deliver my card featuring my carefully disguised handwriting. After I dropped my love note in his letterbox I set a personal best time running home from his house so he wouldn’t know it was me who’d sent him a declaration of undying love (that lasted about 3 weeks).

Apparently condom manufacturers love Valentine’s Day but for those of us who would like to forget this commercial celebration of romance, please remember that some highly successful marriages commenced today, including Elton John and Renate Blauel, Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid and Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

Five years ago today

I don’t think I really understood the term ‘Stolen Generations’ until I became a mother. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that someone could walk into your house and steal your children because they believed their way of life and thinking was better than the one your people had followed for thousands of years. Five years ago our then Prime Minister gave this speech as an apology to the original owners of our country. I remember crying as I watched the faces of the elders as they listened to him speaking, the pain of their history etched into their DNA.

“Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”

Monkey mother

As a Southern Hempisphere mother I become bery, bery happy in February; the weather is hot, the days are long and the kids are finally back at school after the endless summer holidays. To add to my excitement on the second Friday of the first term my kids came home from school and started scratching like mossie infested marmosets as they put down their school bags.

One sentence from my baby girl,

“Mum my head’s itchy, the teacher said it was headlice season,” had me reaching for my merlot medication hours earlier than usual. FORK! ‘ucken bloody head lice. Tis the season to be scratching and self medicating through the long lonely hours of picking. That night, like the model chimpanzee mother that I am, I stood over my children and combed and scratched and grabbed the critters with my pincer-like fingers.  I was so happy to give up a social engagement with a bunch of fabulous old friends so my munchkins could be egg free by Sunday night. As I toiled, I sang my favourite Dusty Springfield song, ‘Wishin’ an’ pickin’ an’ sprayin’ an’ hopin’ that they’re gone’.

I must have picked out around a gazillion of the little creatures. It was tiring, and I sacrificed a lot, but I am so proud that I achieved a personal best – highest overall headlice count in 15 years of mothering three daughters with long hair. I am on fire. And it’s only the second month of the year. I had to drink a long neck of VB to celebrate.

Great Expectations

When I was a tortured angst-ridden teenager (a few weeks ago) I had a crush on a boy and it didn’t work out. Then I read Great Expectations and I wanted to be Miss Havisham, dressed in cobwebs and gothic wedding finery. 30 years later here I am, a single mother style icon, dressed in tattered clothes, lying alone in my bed reading Charles Dickens.

“The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day,” said Miss Havisham.

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

Thank you Mr Dickens, we are never alone when we are in the middle of a great book.

Parental torture

My beautiful children have now gone back to their day release penitentiary after the longest summer break in recorded history and our school music teacher is helping me stay sane with gifts that keep on giving. She suggested that on my limited single mother budget I could buy my youngest child a parental torture device AKA a recorder. Why? Will it help her learn to be musical? No. Will it promote family harmony? A trillion times no. A moody teenager and an eight year old practising recorder in the next room are not a happy mix. I can already hear the howls of protest. I looked on youtube and there are young whipper snappers playing recorder while Celine Dion sings. Double torture. Please make them stop. Apparently there are different kinds of recorder, soprano, vibrato, psycho, they all sound like hell to me. Mummy says no.