A celebration of parenting with Katrina Roe

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Photo by A Badenhop

One of the ironies about being a blogger is that just when life gets most busy, most hectic, most interesting, you find yourself with no time for blogging.  I didn’t manage to write last week because I spent three days at Westmead Children’s Hospital.  Birdy had a cyst on her chest that got infected.  The cyst has always been there, but when she was younger it was barely noticeable.  Then last Saturday it just suddenly swelled up to the size of a golf ball.  It was really quite alarming.  So we were referred to Westmead Children’s Hospital.  The first thing they did was put her on antibiotics to try to bring the infection under control, then they had to drain the cyst and then in a month or so they’ll take it out altogether.

We finally got our operation last Friday after waiting around all day Thursday. It was only because more urgent cases were coming in that we kept getting bumped.  First they were going to do the operation at 2, then at 4, then they were talking about 6.30pm, then 7. And then a baby came in who couldn’t breathe so then they said they’d do it at 9pm, then a child came in with an obstructed airway so after that they sent us home.  It was a long time for a child to sit around at hospital without any food or drink, but to be honest, by the end of the day I was probably more exhausted and upset than she was.  I shed a few tears as I waited for my husband to pick us up late in the evening.

So we were back the next morning at 8am, and at 10.30am they came to collect Birdy for theatre.  As soon as my husband put on the hat and gown (the scrubs) she lost the plot – just went hysterical.  And right before she went under, she started kicking her legs.  The anesthetist said it’s a normal response but it looks quite distressing to see a child crying and thrashing their legs around (so my husband tells me, I wasn’t actually there).  When she woke up she was quite hysterical, which is apparently also common with children who have night terrors.  So it took her about an hour to calm down, but once she calmed down then she was fine. Yesterday we went back for a checkup and everything’s healing up really nicely, which is great.  The only downside is that we’ve got to do it all again in four weeks’ time.

Before I go, I just have to say how great the Westmead Children’s Hospital is, and how friendly all the staff and volunteers were.  If you happen to live in Sydney and have to take a child to hospital, the Children’s Hospital is such a nice environment to go to.  The toys, the murals, the climbable sculptures – all these little touches make the kids feel at home.  Yesterday morning Birdy woke up and exclaimed excitedly, “Dad I’m going back to the hospital today!” like it was a big adventure.  What more could you ask for?

Have you taken your child to hospital for an operation?  How did it go?  How did your child cope with the hospital environment?  How did you cope with seeing your child in pain?


Photo from the Say No 4 Kids website

I just want to let all my readers know about a campaign to get pornography out of the faces of our kids.  It’s so normal in this country that we don’t even notice that our kids are exposed to pornographic images every time they go to the cornerstore, the newsagent or a service station.

Although there’s been a lot of name-calling in the mainstream media, you don’t have to be a ‘wowser’, a ‘religious nutter’ or an advocate of a ‘nanny-state’ to support this campaign.  You see, it’s not actually about stopping adults accessing porn if they so wish.  But just as alcohol is sold in bottle shops, pornography should be sold in adult shops so kids don’t have to walk past it to get to their colouring books.

The internet is a bigger problem, I know that.  But parents at least can exercise some control over their kids’ internet usage.  These mags are just on display for everyone to see.  If you’re concerned, sign the petition and find out more at the sites below.  I’ve added my name to the petition.

Say No 4 Kids and Kids Free 2 B Kids

Anyone would think we were big drinkers in our house, judging by some of the comments that come out of Birdy’s mouth.  (I assure you, we’re not!)  I recently noted on Facebook that I was lost for words when Birdy asked me: ‘Why can’t monks go to the pub?’  Seriously, how do you answer that question?  (The funniest answer I got on FB was something about sandals violating the dress regulations!)

But even more alarming (or amusing, depending on your point of view) was this little conversation she role-played with a couple of dolls.

Doll 1:  What’s your name?

Doll 2:  Um, I forget.  Because I was out very late at the pub last night.

Doll 1:  Why would being at the pub make you forget?

Doll 2:  Because I just had a drink that makes you forget things.

As you can imagine, hubby and I nearly fell off our chairs when we heard that.  I’m hoping it’s just one of those flukey coincidences; that Birdy made something random up and it just happened to make sense.  If not, I’m wondering how she’s sneaking out at night without anybody noticing.  Should I be concerned?

My neighbour and I recently started our three-year-olds at occasional care together.  I don’t why, but starting Birdy in daycare was a really big deal for me.  I was sooo anxious about it I nearly cancelled the whole thing.  I suppose you could say I had a bit of separation anxiety.

We were supposed to go down to the daycare centre for a trial the day before Birdy started.  In my mind, I secretly hoped that smiling saint-like pre-school teachers would greet us by name at the gate, emanating peace and light and blessed assurance; that Birdy would be instantly drawn into some amazing creative activity and that all my anxieties about leaving my daughter with a total stranger would melt away.

Errr… maybe not.  We stayed for about an hour, and the whole time not one staff member spoke to Birdy or tried to engage her in any activity.  I think they took the attitude that we were just there to observe.  But by the time we left, I was beside myself, thinking, ‘how can I leave my child with people she’s never even met?’    It’s not that I thought Birdy wasn’t ready for daycare.  It was more that I wasn’t ready for it.  I wasn’t ready to forfeit the luxury of knowing my daughter spends all day every day with somebody who cares deeply about her.  Fortunately, my husband convinced me to give it another chance or two.

So the next day I dropped Birdy off with fear and trembling, reminding myself that I was only leaving her for a few hours.  Even if she didn’t have close, personal attention for those hours, she would still have her little friend with her.  This time the staff were far more attentive and although there were a few tears, overall she coped fairly well.  The second week the goodbyes were far more traumatic as the teacher wrestled my thrashing, weeping child off me so I could get out the gate.  However, I couldn’t leave her like that.  I had to keep going back in and giving her more kisses and cuddles until she was ready to let me go.

Now, five weeks later, I’m so glad I stuck it out.  I’ve seen Birdy growing in confidence and in her social skills.  I’ve seen her joining in more with other children, showing more maturity and listening to instructions – all skills that will be useful for starting school.  Last week, she was actually excited when we arrived, and when I picked her up she was having so much fun she didn’t want to leave.

I think I can safely say that Birdy has settled in at daycare.  I actually feel quite proud of her for how well she’s coped.  I’m sure it helped that she started at the same time as her little friend.  So far, we’re still only doing one half-day a week.  We’ll probably add another half-day when Mummy gets used to the idea.

Do you remember how you felt when your child started daycare or pre-school for the first time?  Was it a big deal for you?  How did your child cope? Do you think there is a ‘right’ age to start?  Was there anything you did that helped your child to settle in?  Or if your child didn’t settle well, how did you deal with that?

When you become a parent you have to learn a lot of new skills.  Besides the obvious things like learning how to change nappies and bath a baby, you also learn to be patient, to problem solve, to multi-task and to show leadership.  But there are some things you never really master no matter how hard you try.  And for me that something is CRAFT!

I’m not sure why I hate craft so much, but I think it goes right back to the third grade, when I was actually awarded the craft prize at school.  I probably would have been quite happy about that, except that my teacher told me that I should have won the academic prize, but because I already had the craft prize, they had decided to award the brainy prize to somebody else.  Hello?  Why would I want a dumb old ‘you’re good at sticking’ prize when I could have had the smarty-pants prize?  I know I really should JUST GET OVER IT, but ever since that moment I have struggled to enjoy craft.

Of course, now that I am a parent, I can no longer avoid it.  For her last birthday, Birdy was given a whole stack of craft things including a brightly-coloured assortment of pipecleaners, pom poms, paddlepop sticks and goggly eyes that you are supposed to make into creative critters.  On the packet, there are all these inspiring-looking pictures of giraffes and cats that you’re supposed to create.  But from the first moment I looked at those animals on the packet, I knew there was no chance that anything we made would even vaguely resemble one of those pictures.  But Birdy really wanted to do it, so the other day, I gritted my teeth, got out the craft glue and unpacked the pipe cleaners.

Needless to say the final result was disastrous.  Disastrous. What I want to know is… is it really possible to stick two fluffy pom poms to each other without first setting them in wet cement overnight?  Cause frankly, I just can’t see how it is physically possible for two fluffy things to stick together.  There’s no surface to attach to.  I held those pom poms together for about ten minutes, and they weren’t even slightly stuck.  Then I tried to put the paddle-pop legs on and again, I can’t see how you can attach the end of a stick to a pompom without a staple gun.   So after half an hour of sticking and glueing and reattaching and holding and trying to break paddle-pop sticks into two equal halves, all we had were two uneven legs that looked completely deformed and a pair of goggly eyes that wouldn’t stay on.

When Daddy got home from work and asked Birdy if she did some craft, she actually sighed and said, “No, Mummy couldn’t do it.”   So I’m very sorry Birdy, but “I will not ever NEVER be good at craft.”  But that’s what pre-school’s for, right?

Do you enjoy doing craft with your kids?  Are you naturally crafty or have you had to learn the hard way?  Do you have any helpful tips for me and all the other un-crafty parents out there?  Are there other activities that you have tried to master for your kids, but just haven’t been able to get interested in? (eg baking, sports, keeping pets, painting?)

Recently, Birdy had this conversation with Dad, which I thought was worth recording…

BIRDY:  Henri’s in heaven.  (Henri was our dog.)

DAD:   Really?  Who told you that?

BIRDY:  God did.

DAD:  Really?  How?

BIRDY:  God talked to me.

DAD:  How did he do that?

BIRDY:  God lives in my tummy.

DAD:  Is that right?

BIRDY:  Here, Dad.  Listen to my chest.   Can you hear my heart beating?  That’s God talking.

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