Week 213

Dear Genevieve,

For the love of all things Pete, can you JUST. STOP. TOUCHING. YOUR. BROTHER! Every time I turn around you are grabbing him and pulling him over, practically strangling him as you drag him around or moving him such that he will do just what you want. HE IS NOT A TOY. He is a little boy and he is learning to do all the cool things you can do but he is still HIS OWN PERSON. I’m sure it has gotten to the stage that we look like helicopter parents (or perhaps that was lawnmower parents) when it comes to you and your brother. Sometimes we can go spare at you on a moment’s notice but you do try my patience girl.

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I LOVE that you love your brother. I think it’s awesome that you are not jealous and that you are always excited to see him. I appreciate your compassion when you try to comfort him or help him. I would rather however that you smothered him a little less than you do. I am trying to learn to just take a big step back. I keep reminding myself that turnabout is fair play and as soon as he gets a decent command of language and his arms and legs, he is going to monster you every chance he gets. Just like you do to him now. And you are probably not going to like it. I also know that you are a lot less violent and possessive than some other children are towards their siblings. I try to give him the same opportunity to learn though that you had when you started to move and to talk although I guess it’s really not the same at all.

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You started off as an only child and that is different in so many ways to being the younger sibling. For all that you try to do for him (as opposed to letting him do it for himself), you can show him things that we can’t. He looks to you to know how to be a kid. He picks up mannerisms from you. He wants what you have. He is content to have time to himself and to latch on to mum or dad but there is a certain camaraderie that he cannot experience with us. A sense of being part of something that he gets precisely as a result of the way you include him in your games. So I am sorry that we give you such a hard time. But to be honest, I’m probably not going to stop rousing on you when you are clearly annoying your brother. Just so as you know.

And I am also not going to stop trying to teach you the art of accepting gifts graciously and not assuming that you are entitled to them. Which is a hard thing to grasp, I know. In less than a month, you experience a birthday and Christmas and you’re young and cute so we tend to spoil you rotten. Which provides much short term gratification on our part but is perhaps not really helpful overall. Especially as you have begun to keep a tally. You know that family almost always provide presents and when your Granddad told you that he would save your birthday present to pass on to you at Christmas when he saw you, you remembered. It was one of the first things you remembered once you got there. And you weren’t ashamed to say it. Unfortunately.

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Then, as gifts were being passed around on boxing day, you whispered to me that your Aunt had not given you anything yet. Which was correct but no, you cannot ask her for one. You cannot tell her you want one. You cannot point out to her that she has not in fact given you one. That is rude. And as it happened, her gift was to be a belated one and not a tangible one anyway. She wanted to gift you with an experience and offered you a girls outing when we were next available. That took a little wrapping your head around. As did the idea of a familial gift. As you pointed out, Bepi didn’t get you anything either. No she didn’t, she got us something.

But these are lessons that many adults still need to learn so we are going gently. Understanding that the appearance of something is not tantamount to comprehending the situation as a whole is not an easy concept for a four year old. We also haven’t made it easy for you to understand that you are privileged and not poor. But all this is now getting too heavy so I shall tell you a story that would most likely embarrass you when you are older…

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We spent New Years with some friends of ours who have a three month old baby. As children are wont to do, they copy what they see and you and their other son (who is one month older than you) decided to play at breastfeeding. Each other. When we realised that this was what you were doing, we decided to invite you to try caring for dolls instead – in the living room – but you were both having a ball paying at being a baby, crying and feeding and rocking.

I also had to laugh that at times, you get very frustrated with your imaginary friends who refuse to tell you things. This is usually in the car when you just chat to yourself (sometimes on a pretend phone) to pass the time but the other day you were telling me all about Queenie and when I questioned you further on one point, you very exasperatedly told me that she wouldn’t tell you the answer. The girl that you made up in your head was acting stubborn by refusing to provide you with the information you wanted and had specifically asked her for. Ok. I love the conversations you seem to have in your head. I must admit, I love them a little less over an hour after I have put you to bed but you have a pretty big imagination there little lady.

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Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

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Week 209

Dear Genevieve,

It’s your birthday time of year. You know how I know this? 1. Because I am your Mama and I am totally supposed to know these things. 2. Because you mention it all the time. That and your party. Which seems to have a different theme every five minutes. When you turn 4, you are going to have a minions party. No, wait, an Angelina Ballerina party. Actually, you would like a Cinderella party. But you might like a Sophia the First party. Maybe you should have a Princess party. You could have a pirate party. Then again, maybe a Mickey Mouse party would be better?

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You couldn’t fix on one thing at all. Which for the most part was ok cause I could just smile and nod and not put any significant effort into trying to theme the party cause there wasn’t a consistent theme going. Then we had to make a call. Which became remarkably easier when we saw that the Cinderella Party paraphernalia was at least half price and then slightly more complicated when we realised that the majority of your friends are boys. Thus we came up with a Cinderella / Jake and the Neverland Pirates themed birthday, heavy on the princesses. And we bought a whole heap of stuff, most of which we probably didn’t need.

I still have dreams of creating a pintrest worthy party. Lovingly handmaking food and games for beautiful children to enjoy. I know that in reality, if I was to try such a stupid feat, I would get pissed off, leave half-finished projects lying around and end up buying a number of things anyway so we saved a little stress and less money and just went to the party supply shop. We are looking forward to the party though. Your aunt is coming and your best friend so that pretty much takes care of your happiness for the day. The rest is just sugar and sunshine. Hopefully.

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And in other news, you are definitely laying on the love with your brother these days which is both pleasing and frustrating depending on the time of day. One of the things you have started to do is sing to him when he is upset and neither your father nor I are in the room. A couple of times we have heard you sing the Doc McStuffins song to him:
Hey, what’s going on? Tell me what’s wrong.
I know there’s something we can do…
Tell me what’s wrong, what’s going on?
So choosing to ignore the fact that this may mean we let you watch too much tv, it’s really cute. It doesn’t work of course. When he is already upset, he is really not interested in you singing him a song but we think it’s quite lovely. What is not lovely is that sometimes you just can’t leave him alone. If I had a dollar for every time I have asked, pleaded, ordered and yes, yelled can you just stop grabbing your brother from behind! I know, I know. Sounds kinda bad out of context…

Sometimes we would like you to let your brother do things for himself. He is learning and we would like to afford him the same opportunity that you had, except you didn’t have any older siblings. You constantly take over for him and he will have to get used to that. You are also sometimes possessive of what is yours and if he picks up something that you are playing with (or not playing with occasionally) you will just go ahead and take it back. I can see that is going to happen a lot in the next couple of years. What is really frustrating for me to watch though is when you grab him from behind and essentially pull him over. Sometimes you are trying to cuddle him, other times move him and sometimes help him but he never seems to like it. You are constantly doing it though so we are trying to curb that behaviour.

We are also trying to curb the constant asking of the same question when you have already received an answer. And for some reason this happens both when you get the answer you don’t want and the answer you do. I can understand the playing off one parent against the other although the execution somewhat eludes you. Like when we were in the card waiting for Dad and you asked if you could listen to Playschool. I said no, not this time, we will listening to my music. Five seconds later, your dad gets into the car and you ask if you can listen to Playschool and he says sure honey. That one did not work out the way you had planned. You did not in the end get Playschool.

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At other times though, you might ask if you can have something specific for lunch when you get home. I will say yes and then shortly thereafter, you will ask your dad (or even me sometimes) the same question. Do you forget that you received the answer you wanted? Or do we seem that fickle and changeable that you fear 10 seconds is enough time for us to change our minds and rip the carpet out from under you so to speak? I know that the more times you ask me can I have something, the more I am tempted to say no. Even if I first said yes.

And then there is the thing where apparently you can only receive an answer from the one to whom the question was originally asked. Whilst we are all together, you might ask a question of your dad but I will answer in his stead. You then continue to ask your dad. Either he or I will tell you Genevieve, you already have an answer to your question but you are all no-ooo, I asked Dad in that threenager way you have that is so rolling your eyes, disgusted with dumb parents that don’t get it, hardly done by attitude. I’ll show you attitude in a minute…

And then we just go back to thinking that you are gorgeous.

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Alles Liebe,
Lexelah

Week 205

Dear Genevieve,

This month you introduced us to “My Sweetie”. Or rather, you didn’t formally introduce us but she has started to make regular appearances during your play. Dependent on where you are and what toys you feel like playing with, My Sweetie could be the doll you have so far grown up referring to as Baby or an imaginary friend of your own creation. My Sweetie could also be someone you can interact with (so I would assume close to your age) if you so choose or merely someone that you have to care for (i.e. a baby). My Sweetie, bless her, is often sick or needing a nap or sometimes just a cuddle. It’s quite sweet.

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It’s also cute that you have chosen her name (I can only assume) as a result of the endearment that your father and I both use with you. We frequently refer to you as sweetheart, sweetie or sweet for short. You know it for a name only ever used with love or affection and that’s what you choose to have for a friend. Zebby was incredibly short lived but My Sweetie has been a regular visitor around these parts and you are always generous and helpful to her.

There are times when you are especially generous and helpful towards us as well. Especially with money. You are starting to gain an understanding of the basics whereby you spend or give money to someone and you get something in return. You know that having money is a useful thing and you enjoy the occasions when you physically have money in your possession that you know to be yours. You don’t really have a concept of what it is worth and act like it sort of burns a hole in your pocket because you long to spend it but you are not selfish with it.

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There have been several occasions where your father and I have discussed the shopping list of items to be purchased at the supermarket or we have talked about something particular we want to buy and you have been the first one there saying you can use my money. You desperately wanted to contribute to your bike helmet. In fact, you thought you could just about afford your bike helmet (as opposed to the box that it came in). You have even been very disappointed when Daddy didn’t get you out of the car at the supermarket so you couldn’t go with him and provide whatever funds you had on you at the time.

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You don’t often have a lot of money and usually it is less than a dollar, a small handful of silver coins. It’s a proud moment for you to contribute though which I want to applaud at the same time as I want to say thank you but keep your money baby girl because you deserve to spend that for yourself. So I occasionally compromise by taking your money and putting it back in your moneybox later. As I said, you still have no concept of what it’s worth or what you can afford with it so it doesn’t seem at all strange to you to find coins you gave away previously.

It’s in these small things here and there that I see you growing up. Day to day, you look the same to me but there are times when you appear to grasp a concept I didn’t think you understood or I think when did you learn to do that. Like the colouring in thing. Like most kids, you like drawing and “colouring in”. Most of the time, this consists of circles or zig zags of pencil across a page or seemingly indiscriminately over the top of an outlined drawing. The other day I was colouring in something with you though and I was watching you concentrating on trying to get the colour inside the lines. And you were quite good at it. I have never seen you do that before. Some people might think that you are three and not supposed to do that. We are turning you into a little conformist or something. I just say way to go on your motor control. If you can do it, that’s awesome. Whether you want to do it, that is still up to you Sweetheart.

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Alles Liebe,
Lexelah

Week 200

Dear Genevieve,

Do you know, I have the most obnoxious habit of the “Hm”? As in the non-committal sound that is just barely acknowledgement of someone else having spoken? This is the response that covers a plethora of options from I’m not sure what you just said but I have to respond with something through to yes, I understand what you have said, please let me consider my next response.

It could be a not on your life but I don’t want an argument about me saying no type of answer or it could be a that’s surprising, I never would have guessed type of answer. Its never really a hmmm? Sorry what was that? type of answer. Or a hmm, I’m right in the middle of something but yes you can have that type of answer. Its not a hmm? Really? Are you sure? type of answer either. It’s a “hm”. Whether or not it is intended this way, it usually comes across as a judgemental, condescending and a little bit self-righteous type of answer. And do you know how I have come to the realisation that I have the most obnoxious habit of the “hm”? Because you have picked it up and you do it all the freakin time!

Genevieve, get your shoes on, we have to go.
Hm. (As in really mum? What is your hurry woman? I’m gonna do it already, just quit being obsessed by my shoes. The world has bigger problems.)
Genevieve, do you really think that was a smart thing to do?
Hm. (Or you are clearly upset mum but I really didn’t see the problem with it. Like nobody got hurt, nothing got ruined and life goes on, you know?)
Genevieve, do you want toast for breakfast or weetbix?
Hm. (I suppose I could do breakfast but that is like only two options you gave me and you are pressuring me to make a decision right now and I’m not ready. Just because you want to rush through this part of the day right here, I’d prefer to take my time.)

And I want to go No. Not Hm! Hm is never an appropriate response to a yes or no question. Hm does not give me a clear indication of whether you actually understood what I was saying. Hm in no way lets me know that you are taking me seriously. Damnit. It really sucks when people Hm you doesn’t it, kid? It also sucks when you are trying to make your way in the world and it feels like you never get a break. Which is a little bit how your dad was feeling this month and a little bit how you ended up feeling too.

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Although you were both pretty wrong in this, you were both a little bit right in it as well. You have started asking of late why is Daddy always mad? Which breaks his heart when I let him know that his stress is overflowing on to you and it has been noticed. All of a sudden behaviour that was fine yesterday will illicit punishment and reprimands today and its not consistent. You think its great to make your brother laugh in the mornings, sort of by yelling at him. Its quite an aggressive sound to our ears but with the sibling bond the two of you have together, its clearly entertaining to him. You have been both told off for it and encouraged to do it however, and its confusing to you. The lead time from fine to cranky is shorter than it was and you seem to feel like you’re more in trouble than not.

To be perfectly fair though, your behaviour is not stellar. You still whinge constantly. You don’t talk about decisions that you don’t like. You immediately whine and turn on the waterworks seemingly at the drop of a hat. You want other people to share and compromise for you but you are not really prepared to go the other way. One of your favourite Veggietales episodes is a lesson in thankfulness but the moral of the story still seems to elude you on occasion. Your Dad is working on his side though. He is trying to communicate with you more than control you but it’s a work in progress. Know that he loves you unconditionally though and never wants to damage the relationship he has with you.

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Other than that, this month there were some pretty cool highlights. The first was when we took you to Cirque Africa. Your first real circus. You have never truly seen live entertainment before and you LOVED it. The acrobatics were amazing, the atmosphere was awesome and you had a great time. We went to opening night on a Tuesday and then for the rest of the run, you wanted to know when we could go again! Which was pretty often as they were set up just down the road and we had to pass the tent almost every time we went anywhere. Unfortunately though, its not like playing a dvd. Your options to view the spectacle are not unlimited and given our current budget, they are really the complete opposite – extremely limited. $25 a ticket is very different to $50. We got front row seats though which was pretty cool and also possibly why your dad got picked for audience participation.

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Your father dislikes making a spectacle of himself. He gets terrible stage fright. On the other hand, he is also gracious, prepared to try new things and a little bit too proud to do a half arsed job. So when they picked him out for audience participation he figured in for a penny, in for a pound. He wants you to know that its ok to make a fool of yourself in a situation where people are laughing with you just as much as they are laughing at you. He said he has never been more embarrassed in his life but he wants you to always be brave enough to give something unfamiliar or uncomfortable a go. And to truly see how air guitar should be played.

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And then there was playgroup. Your dad’s brainchild to fill the void for 0 to 5 year old children in the school holidays. As is the case for a lot of programs, they just shut down in school holidays to make way for school aged children who need care and / or something to do. Now that you have a stay-at-home-dad, he has noticed the lack during these periods and thought, you know what? I can do something about this. So he did. He tried last school holidays but due to red tape and public liability which ruins as much as it protects sometimes, he could get no more than 4 or 5 kids together to hang out and play with some toys. This holidays, it was a whole different ballgame.

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There was a jumping castle, toys, play dough, drawing, craft and morning tea. Some friends turned up with a poddy kid so we had a quasi petting zoo as well. There was glue and paint and all sorts of things to get you messy and there were friends. Many friends. A lot you knew already and some you didn’t and you had a terrific time. They were long days for you as we would be there early to set up and stay late to tidy. And we do recognise your patience with that. It was partly the cause of the stress that your dad was going through this month too but it was also a blessing. Especially as you weren’t stuck at home for two weeks with nothing to do. And we would never want out threenager with nothing to do!

Alles Liebe,
Lexeah

Week 196

Dear Genevieve,

You are such a poser. It cracks me up to see all the funny faces you pull when I take photos of you. Sometimes you start to pull faces because your mother has yet again stuck a camera in your face and you are a bit fed up with feeling like a show pony. However, sometimes you are just in a really goofy mood and you put on your “dancing face” so I can click away and save these moments for posterity. Or, you know, your 21st birthday. Either / or.

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You certainly seem to have character in abundance and you enjoy making people laugh and smile. Especially if this is by being cheeky. You have now taken to curtseying when you are prompted to say please. You will open discussion often by saying I want [something] and after a raised eyebrow at worst or an oh really at best, you will revise your statement to a question – can I have [something]? When we point out that you still haven’t managed to appropriately display the manners that we know you possess and which we have most definitely taught you, you float your hands outwards on either side and bob demurely in a sweet curtsey and say something like please can I may have [whatever it is that you want]. Little minx.

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At these points you are somewhat cute. Not so much when I am trying to get out your bedroom door at night. I tell you what baby girl, you just don’t stop talking! Its question after question after question. Usually about a range of things, none of them pertinent to bedtime or particularly significant but nonetheless prolific. I will tell you that you may say one thing before I leave you to go to sleep. I ask you to think about what you are going to say because after that, I am just going to walk out. I want you to make sure you only ask what is the most important to you so that I can escape and then, sucker that I am, I end up answering a question that begets a question that begets a question before you run out of steam or I get fed up and walk out on you talking.

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And when I try to talk over you to enforce the one thing rule, I get Mama, can I just say one more thing? Because you’re not letting me say the thing that I wanted because I just wanted to say that, well…which I also find rather frustrating. You prevaricate like your father my child and fail to get to the point about as often as you make one it seems. If you were less concerned with trying to tell me off because you thought I wasn’t being fair or amenable or accommodating, you might see a little more go your way. Or maybe not. Much as I love you and give in to you an awful lot and just like to please you, sometimes, I am just gonna say no. I am supposed to be your mother not your BFF so they tell me.

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In other news, your father spilled caustic soda all over the bathroom this month which was a catalyst for him buying new toothbrushes for the entire family. This was particularly notable for you because he decided to buy you a Disney princess themes toothbrush head for the electric toothbrush instead of a standard brush. Rather than go into detail about the poisonous chemicals however, we told you that your Batman and your Winnie the Pooh and your George Pig toothbrush (yes, you did have three separate toothbrushes on the go) were old and no longer doing an adequate job. An idea you latched on to like nobody’s business. At least once or twice a day for a week you would tell us all about the new toothbrush that daddy got you because we had to throw out your old toothbrushes as they were old and would not work properly. This was very important and riveting information right there.

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The other thing you have latched onto this month is the live pause on the tv which you use ALL THE TIME. If you have to go to the toilet in the middle of a tv show, you press pause. If you want to find me to come and ask me something, its not before you have hit pause. If you decide you’d like to play with a toy at the same time as you watch tv and have to leave the room to retrieve it, you make sure that you hit pause first. And if we ask you to go and do something, you ask us to press pause for you! I think you should know that we did not have this when I was little Genevieve. You either watched tv or you missed it. You didn’t have a PVR that could record or not at the drop of a hat and you had to weigh up how upset you would be to miss a couple of seconds of tv vs hanging on for the next ad break and darting out to take care of business then. Besides which, its not the end of the world if you miss a minute of tv. Trust me.

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Although, sadistic as I am, I do find it vaguely amusing that you have yet to comprehend that live pause only works while you stay on the same channel. When you decide to channel flick to see if there is anything better on offer, you eliminate the delay in the channel you were previously watching and can no longer return to your place in the original show. You seem to think that I should be sympathetic to your plight when this happens, and yet. First world problems, kid. First world problems.

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But as much as I laugh at you sometimes (that is totally one of the perks of being a parent – I am sure mine laughed at me!) and you can be exasperating, you are a pretty cool chick and I love you big time my little pirate.

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Alles Liebe,
Lexelah