I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hair Today

I got a haircut last week, and now I am in emotional turmoil. Not because the haircut was bad, but because it was the haircut-before-the-haircut and this means I have only five weeks to come to terms with my hair decision. A decision which includes getting rid of most of my existing hair, and changing it's colour in a somewhat dramatic fashion. Those who are in the know, let me just say that my next haircut and colour will involve a product called fudge. I'm not sure but I think I'm about 20 years too old to be using it, but what the hell, right?

A brief history of me and my hair is as follows: my Mom has a "thing" about hair, and short hair in general. She just doesn't like long hair, and so it took until I was an adult (okay, a teenager) before I was allowed to grow it anywhere past my shoulders or even below my ears. I have some seriously horrendous school photos. Once I got old enough to grow my own hair, I grew it and grew it and grew it until I realised that long hair requires some serious maintenance. And then I cut it, and cut it, and cut it, and then lost enough weight so that a pixie haircut was actually flattering. And then I gained the weight back and the hair came back, too. (Fat people + short hair = mushrooms. Just sayin'.)

I have very odd hair in that it cannot decide if it is curly or straight, mousy or highlighted, oily or dry. It somehow manages to be all of those things at the same time. I also have a love/hate relationship with hair products - love to buy them, hate to use them. The same is true for hair appliances like straighteners and whatnot. Love to say I own them, hate to have to take the time to use them. Anything more than 2 minutes hair prep in the morning is officially too long for me. It took until my late 20's before I realised haircuts need to happen more than once a year in order to actually be effective. (Okay, I lied. More like my early 30's.)

Last year I had to divorce my hairdresser. She had looked after me from the very first minute I landed on Australian shores, but 12 years later she had to go. Our relationship had lost it's shine, it's bounce, it's spin-around-in-slow-motion gloriousness and it was time to move on. It took a year but I finally found someone ... and now I'm about to let her cut all my hair off. It's time. I'm bored with the soccer Mom look, particularly since none of my kids play soccer and I can't justify the haircut. Plus after 10 months of actual effort on my part, I'm mostly thin enough in the face to justify fun, flirty, short hair again. The deed is also going to be done about a week before I see my Mom, so I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a certain amount of brownie points getting to be done. (Not that my Mom would love me any less with longer hair...it's just that she's a Jewish Mother and all Jewish Mothers love being able to tell you that you did exactly what they wanted, and it looks amazing, and if it weren't for them we'd all be up a creek, and why didn't we listen to them earlier?)

So. It's 5 weeks to hair-chop-and-fudge day and I'm vacillating between a) terrified and b) thrilled and c) what-the-hell-am-I-thinking type of thinking? (can you vacillate between 3 things? Or does it have to be only 2?) All of these are odd thoughts, since it's certainly not the first time I've gone to the hairdressers and had a complete and total change. I've had my hair coloured everything from blond to black, had lengths from total pixie to below my bra line. Hair grows back, and that's what's so fun about it. This time, though, I'm putting my trust in someone whose own hair is at several different lengths, colours and shapes all at the same time.

At this point I would normally end with something snappy like, "Don't worry, I'll post pictures." ... but since my faith is wavering, let me just say: Don't worry, I'm not getting my personality cut and coloured. That's already beyond change.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Report Cards

This weeks marks the end of Term Two - here in Australia the school year is broken into 4 terms, or 2 semesters of 2 terms each. At the end of this term we get school report cards as well as parent/teacher interviews.

Suffice it to say I really kinda hate both of those...

A long time ago my sister (herself a veteran primary school teacher) told me that if you read you kid's school report, and you're surprised by anything in it, your teacher isn't doing their job. So each time I get a report, I read it hoping that there are no hidden surprises in there - which thus far there have never been. We've been pretty lucky.

But here's the part which annoys me. My kids go to a private school. A very small private school. There aren't that many kids who go there, less than 100. I know teachers are human, and I know they're busy, and I know they often write school reports in their personal time.... but, really, the cut-and-paste is pissing me off. I know it's hard to come up with 100 original ways to say "X child is enjoying math this year" ... but, people? I read THREE reports. In a row. And when they all say the same thing, verbatim, I begin to think these reports actually have very little value. I have begun to think of reports as the stack of paper the school gives you to prove your kid is learning something, should you wish to sue them on the grounds of them NOT teaching your kid anything. The bits of paper are their bona fides... and that's it.

In one case, DD2 was referred to by DD1's name. So maybe proof reading is not that teacher's strong point...but... this just makes my opinion of school reports even lower than they were in the first place. Even sorrier is that all these teachers believe (probably rightly) that all parents want to hear is the good stuff ... and so even "your child is a narcissistic pain in the ass who will grow up to be a serial killer" can be sugar coated to "your child is extremely confident and will find a rewarding, long term career in people management." *sigh* What are these reports actually worth, other than the value of the paper on which they are written?

And then there are the parent/teacher interviews, where they show you stacks and stacks and stacks of papers done through the year so far. Your role as a parent is to sit in the too-small chair and nod your head politely. Maybe ask a question or two (if you're feeling game) but basically, you sit and listen and pray like hell that they don't tell you anything you don't already know. In our case it's often a matter of "count how many times they refer to one kid by the other kids' name"... its most entertaining!

This year the kids decided that it wasn't fair that teachers get to write reports about kids, but that kids don't get to write reports about teachers. The kids' teacher is a brave (possibly insane) person, so she let them write reports about her... but, being a tit-for-tat classroom, they also had to write reports about themselves. Genius. Pure genius. When I went to the parent/teacher interview, she let me read the reports they wrote about themselves, and it was absolutely fascinating. Kids don't sugar coat, they don't cut-and-paste, they just put it all out there for the world to see. I actually learned a LOT more about how my kids are coping academically from their own reports... rather than the crap their teachers sent home.

So I think it's only fair that kids get to rule the world... because chances are they'll actually tell you a lot more useful information than you'll get out of the grown ups, and as an added bonus: there will be pretty pictures to look at!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Splish Splash

One of the things which commenters on this blog (and other parents I know in real life) llooovveee to harass me about is the whole "bath night" thing. For some reason they all find it offensive and weird and gross and dirty that my kids have specific bath nights. "Don't they get dirty on other days?" "It's disgusting not to shower every day!" and "You seriously only let your kids shower on certain days? Don't they smell?" are pretty common comments - although some have been far more rude than that... I'll just address this by answering WHY we have bath nights (as in more than one.)

Firstly, let me just say that if my kids wanted to shower EVERY night, they would be more than welcome to. It's not like we build a barricade around the showers or charge an entry fee. Secondly, if we all went rolling in mud but it was not a bath night, its not as though I'd say, "Whoah there kiddos! No washing today! It's not bath night! Much better to get in your beds covered in animal shit!" And thirdly, I'm fairly certain that a majority of the free world does not shower every single day, and there are several reasons not to (not great for your hair, skin, or the drought.) So not showing every day does not make ANY of us freaks of nature or society.

Seriously, people. Give me a little bit of credit here.

Imagine, if you will, what life with three babies is like. Three screaming, shitting, crying, eating, spitting, yelling, not sleeping babies. Babies who, while adorable, are very loud and very demanding. Then add a BIG MASSIVE incision right above your hoo-haa, and pack it with gauze and stuff and forget about taking any pain medication. I also want you to attach mechanical nipple-stretchers to your boobs several times a day. Then I want you to imagine you're just falling asleep when WWAAAAHHHH you get woken up by one or more of said babies. Hmmm. Now imagine trying to keep track of all those babies eating, sleeping, shitting, and bathing habits...especially when all those damn babies kinda look alike in the dark and you have no idea if today is Tuesday or not, or when the last time you ate anything was.

Not so easy.

The best advice we ever got from other parents of multiples was to put our kids into a routine from the minute they were born. It was advice that we clung to like Titanic survivors on a life raft as we negotiated our kids' early babyhood - and advice that we still follow even today. Having a routine makes your life and their life much easier to handle - everyone knows what's coming next, there are no battles over routine activities, and in general you end up with a happier and healthier family all around. So that's what we did - we developed a routine, and this routine includes specific Bath Nights. Not because we think you only get dirty on Mondays, but because that way, we KNEW that if we had built in 3 baths a week to the routine, there was no chance of anyone forgetting to do it. We had (and have) bath nights for one reason and one reason only: it saved us our sanity. Literally, DH and I were falling through those days and nights of babyhood - I'm talking thousands of diapers, hundreds of bottles in any given week. So if we knew certain things had to get done on certain days, well, it made everything a lot simpler.

Some of you reading this will wonder why, at 9 years old, we still have the bath night routine built in. Surely they are older and our life is more organised now? Here's why: I have no desire to get into a power struggle with my kids. I feel no need to beg, plead, cajole, demand, or even ASK NICELY 4 times for them to get washed. They just know it needs to get done, and they do it without ever being asked. This is a very far cry from a vast majority of my friends, many of whom need to remind, nag, beg, plead, and bribe their kids to take a shower. In our house, it's just a given.

There are plenty of times when I will ask one or more of them to take extra showers or baths, and generally speaking they don't argue about that either. With bath night, they know and I know what is expected and what's going to happen. We all maintain our standards and then some as needed. Simple. No arguing. I'm not sweating the small stuff, and neither are they. It's why we maintain the routine - so that everyone is always on the same page, and I can spend my life as a Mum enjoying my kids rather than having to feel like the fishwife.

The routine is also the reason why my kids don't watch heaps of TV, have (and complete) chores every single day, love to do non-screen time activities, and take responsibility for their pet, their home, their belongings and their lives in general. I'd gladly take ALL of that in exchange for one less shower a week.

And to those of you who, for whatever reason, still think our way of life is disgusting... tell me, how did you manage it with YOUR triplets?