Facing the sun and heading into the wind

Trying to tidy up the nuclear test site that is my office I came across a letter I’d started writing to an old friend a few years ago when I was lost in the random and slightly deranged land of toddlersville and she was a corporate geisha girl flying round the world buying apartments and art and drinking quite a lot. In a few weeks she’ll be a new Mum and I thought I’d send her a card and write something inspiring on it. Instead, I decided the lunatic scribblings written from the frontline of new Mumdom might be more real and so I fished the letter from the bin.


“I know I’ve been the lost in space friend for the last couple of years – planet motherhood takes your brain on an amphetimine lift to nappy land, pupils dilated, your focus becomes a 2 metre radius around your offspring (which you are privately convinced is special and second only to the baby Jesus) who may have been born for some higher purpose like saving world fish stocks or something. In retrospect, once the hormones have run out you realise that the object of your mothering fetish has the brain of a mullet and was really lucky (given your mothering skills) to make it to the pupae stage. Meanwhile you scurry around like a cross between a prize milking cow and a Chinese courtier preventing the mullet from their constant suicide missions.

I have condensed these few years to a mathematical formula which you may use should you ever have kids.

It is: “The distance between you and your child and your child and something life threatening is proportional to said object’s danger level. That is; the more dangerous the object of the child’s desire, the closer they will be to it and the further you will be from them. You will notice that mothers of more than 3 children have an inbuilt ‘shield of indifference’ which prevents the true level of panic to penetrate fully. They glide along in a fog of distraction which allows them to slap a child on the back to dislodge a coin they were choking on, put out the fire that has started in the fry pan in the kitchen while grabbing another kid as he chases his brother with a kitchen knife - and still manage to make you a cup of tea.

Unfortunately this hormonal survival device does not click on till at least the third child so new Mums either fake it or get chemical help.

Note: You can get seriously hung up on the whole nutrition thing. Basically: babies don’t do cheezles and insects ingested are not necessarily toxic, just not on Plunket’s recommended nutrition guide.

Keys shoved in sockets are not good even if child is making entertaining ‘brmmm brmm’ noises as she does this.

Children who get caps off child proof bottles containing bleach may be gifted but may not live long enough to have this recognised.

If collecting windfall apples with toddlers fulfills all your fantasies of Laura Ashley designer motherhood – remember to teach them to distinguish between apples and dried dog poo before you set them free and you come back to find a big dog turd in your willow basket.

Children will embarrass you. That’s a given. They’ll throw up on a work colleague’s new carpet. They will throw a wobbly with a whole supermarket looking on and they will throw your self respect out the window as they shout ‘Mummy’s Milo!’ as you open a bottle of red – thereby convincing everyone you have a secret drinking problem.

You will think that you will write a novel between nappy changes. You will think you’ll take up Tai Chi. You will convince yourself TV is the soft option for people who don’t want to spend time sharing their thoughts with their two year old. Don’t be too hard on your new self if you find her reading the Da Vinci Code while eating chocolates on the sofa and letting the two year old find happiness with La La and the other Tubbies.

The old self got to sleep a lot and spend her days doing pretty much as she pleased and therefore had more time to be judgemental – whereas your new self, will just have enough time to be mental.

Most of all, take lots of pictures and enjoy the mayhem because when you have time to clean out your office you will suddenly realise that you have well and truly left the land of the random and the deranged and you know you’re really going to miss it.

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World Cup Fever

We are about to enter the twilight zone. A time of disproportionate swearing at the television set and vehement curses and dredging up of historical national grudges and crowing over victories long past. A time of travelling insane distances at 11 o’clock at night to spend time with other males who share the same lingua espana and tribal affiliations. Ritualised abuse will be shouted at each other and then at the television screen so that the historical grudges and long dead victories can be resurrected and reburied in public thereby creating some dubious form of unity and sense of well-being. It is a time of endless poring over team combinations and discussions on strategy that look like old flicks of world war two where old generals frown and bicker and move pins on maps. It is a time when I will graft a sprout of interest onto my sport dead soul and feign ecstasy or dark depressions and I will jump mindlessly on the spot shouting ‘ole ole ole’ whenever Argentina scores a goal. I will do this for love. Actually I won’t. I will do it because it is less painless than the excruciating explanations why I should be moved to do this of my own accord. In the same way that the deaf enjoy going to rock concerts for the atmosphere and the general vibrations I will fake soccer hysteria because it’s kind of fun and also, because I have already survived 2 world cups with the mad Latin and I know what it costs if I don’t show some form of enthusiasm.
I look forward to World Cup time because I know someone will wheel Maradonna out of rehab and he will invariably say something completely ridiculous and his genius be declared by his besotted followers. If Argentina wins the Cup he has already said he will get butt naked and run nude round the obelisk in Buenos Aires. I fail to see how this could be construed as an honourable demonstration of undying patriotism rather than the more likely explanation, being; that the cocaine has finally got to him. I would also fail to see how people could seriously build a church to a footballer with more than his fair share of vices and worship him every week if I hadn’t lived in Argentina for a few years and realised that they are actually all completely bonkers when it comes to football. I still haven’t been forgiven in some Latin quarters for suggesting that Maradonna might have been up to more than coaching when he was found off his trolley and in the nude with those taxi boys by the local Buenos Aires constabulary. Call me cynical possums but I swear that’s the last time I’ll call Saint Maradonna a nancy boy - I probably should have taken heed of the fact that Maradonna, Che Guevara and Jesus occupied one entire wall of the living room before opening my mouth anyway.

We like to think we are sports mad here in New Zealand but trust me – we are absolute novices. This week most of South and Latin America will be grinding to a highly strung halt. I still remember showing up for work when an English/ Argentine World Cup Test was on. I was the only one on the carriage in my train and the only one on a completely desolated street. It was 1pm on a weekday and an unholy silence reigned. By the time I let myself into the completely empty building I had convinced myself that someone had dropped an atomic bomb and that no one had bothered to tell me. It wasn’t until I heard the communal roar of ‘Gooooooooaaaaaaaalllllll’ ricocheting round the neighbourhood that I realised that I was the sole person in Buenos Aires who had turned up for work that day. So I headed to the local bar – where I found my students who were not drinking – but jumping with one arm in the air. “You have to jump! You have to jump like this!”they shouted. And so I did. I was Alice and this was a pub full of white rabbits. Vamos Los All Whites! I’ll be jumping for ya!

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