Not your ordinary boob job!

Each Monday night, I hold a children’s group while their parents are learning about Loving Our Kids on Purpose. I currently have 8 kids from 3 years to approx 7 years old. Tonight I took them to the Primary playground (it has a gate they can’t open and this is important!). For the past 3 weeks, the older boys have been playing “Super Secret Agent Assassin Ninja Zombie Heroes” and this week one of the SSAANZs was under the lowest part of the fort.

“What are you doing under there, Ninja Assassin Zombie?” I asked.

“I’m making a booby trap!” he replied, happily.

“That sounds fabulous,” I said. “All the bad guys better watch out!”

“Yeah, anyone who comes under here gets their boobies chopped off!”

😲🤤

I’m not kidding. He wasn’t being cheeky, not silly about being able to say “boobies”, just an obvious answer when you’re 7, apparently.

When I could contain my laughter and breathe normally again, I couldn’t help but broach the subject again. I’m a teacher, it’s kinda my job, you know?

“Did you know that even though they’re called booby traps, it doesn’t mean that boobies get chopped off?”

I had not finished speaking before he jumped in, shocked that I would even suggest such a thing,

“Yes, it does. That’s what happened to my dad!”

“Pardon?” This I have to hear.

“Yes. That’s what happened to my dad in First War 2. He went in a booby trap and got his boobies chopped off. That’s why he’s got no boobies any more!”

I’m not often speechless.

Veritas,

Eski.

PS. Thanks to Dee Hudson of Striving to be Kind for the “Conversations” idea.

Anniversary Truth…and love.

Neal and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary yesterday.

Much to the disgust of our children, we did not go somewhere romantic, have a dinner out or holiday somewhere advertised as a couples’ getaway. Instead, he slept so he could work again last night and provide for us while I spent the day with my mum and aunty and the kids.

We bathed dogs, made Anzac biscuits, sat in aircon, picked up my cousin’s car, moved furniture and made dinner. The day before we bought a car, which, contrary to registry lists and romance novels was not platinum and was fully financed after a slightly nervous wait. We will pick it up sometime.

Hopefully prior to me taking the small kid away for the weekend to see friends and have a Wild Mountains adventure.

I decided not to post to Facebook yesterday as Neal already had and he’d written some really honest and lovely things about me and our time together so far. People have congratulated us and I really appreciate that.

This morning though, I saw one of those copy and paste and share posts and, as I read it, felt the honesty of it and decided to share it here instead. I don’t want to get too caught up in the idea of writing for likes.

If I’m really honest, which isn’t easy, even some of what’s written below isn’t always the truth of long term relationships, be they friends, family or spouses.

Sometimes it’s weeks of being irritated with everything the other person does and not wanting to admit that it’s more because you’re irritable than anything they may or may not do. It’s about not having been effective budgeters, again, and trying really hard not to argue about that. And sometimes succeeding. It’s about figuring out your life isn’t a romance novel or movie and being ok with that, even when you love them (books and spouses). Sometimes it’s about having one person always giving massages and the other one pretending to for about 3 minutes each year to ‘balance things out’ even though they never intend to change the status quo. (Let’s all make assumptions about who does what in my relationship and be kind to the author, ok?)

Sometimes long-lasting relationships are about reading books or going to seminars that will help, in the hope that some of your newly-found knowledge will transfer to the other person by osmosis, because they clearly need to learn this stuff! It’s about awesome kids you’ve created together who you now disagree how to raise. Or loving one another even if you don’t always like one another.

Despite my many qualifiers above, it isn’t all tiptoe and testiness; compromise and buts. Sometimes it surpasses rom coms by miles! Sometimes you say the right thing at the right time and your spouse really understands how you feel about them…in a good way. Flowers and chocolates are always good, so are Xbox Gold passes and 3D printers and pies or Coke at the right time.

We’ve found love exists in silently agreeing to listen like you care to stories of ‘a student of mine’ or admiring ‘the best blood-spatter painting’. Or just knowing that you cook and I fill in all forms. Ad infinitum.

We’ve found love is hanging onto God because you can’t hang onto anything else and make it. And if we can struggle and succeed through like this, you can, too.

Thanks to Catherine for sharing.

*Lifelong commitment is not what everyone thinks it is. It’s not waking up early every morning to make breakfast and eat together. It’s not cuddling in bed together until both of you peacefully fall asleep. It’s not a clean home and a homemade meal every day.
It’s someone who steals all the covers. It’s sometimes slammed doors, and a few harsh words, disagreeing, and the silent treatment until your hearts heal. Then…forgiveness!
It’s coming home to the same person everyday that you know loves and cares about you, in spite of and because of who you are. It’s laughing about the one time you accidentally did something stupid. It’s about dirty laundry and unmade beds without finger pointing. It’s about helping each other with the hard work of life! It’s about swallowing the nagging words instead of saying them out loud.
It’s about eating the cheapest and easiest meal you can make and sitting down together at 10 p.m. to eat because you both had a crazy day. It’s when you have an emotional breakdown, and your love lays with you and holds you and tells you everything is going to be okay, and you believe them. It’s when “Netflix and chill” literally means you watch Netflix and hang out. It’s about still loving someone even though sometimes they make you absolutely insane.
Living with the person you love is not perfect, and sometimes it’s hard, but it’s amazing and comforting and one of the best things you’ll ever experience.
(Go ahead and share a picture of the person you love and copy and paste this, make their day.)*

Love and veritas,

Eski 🐛

Mind Your Language!

It may not come as any surprise to you that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for words, meaning, phraseology, etymology and all things language. Due to Mummy interference, I expect, my kids learned to read very early on, the latest taught himself. I can validate just about anything; waffle and buzz words are a specialty and my poetic license renews quarterly, but I think this shortest kid, currently 5, is going to outstrip me. The imagination is amazing! I’m actually thrilled! 😚

Tonight’s moment:

VERY SMALL CAT (VSC):

Hiss! Scratch!😼

MASTER 5 (M5):

Ow! Aargh! (Genuine fright and real tears follow) 😢

VSC: exits quickly stage right 💨

M5: is gathered up by next youngest brother and mummy for cuddles

Sniffle. Sniffle. (2 minutes maximum)

M5: I want VSC to apologise! 😡

MUMMY: How would you like her to do that, sign language or meowing? Has an ‘I am hilarious’ look on face.

M5: 😠 I just want her to say sorry for hurting my foot and my feelings.

MUMMY: I know, but how can she do that? ‘Meow-ry, M5’?

M5: I have to tell her she’s not being pleasant and when she does that, I feel like she wants all the love and doesn’t want me to have any love.

MUMMY: 🤤😲😨 Pardon? (Apologies, but WTF would seem appropriate here.)

M5: repeats previous statement, with feeling and lip quiver. 😭😢

Where does he get these things?!

Last week we caught up with friends at an indoor play centre. M5 appeared to be immobilised in a very small ball pit by an unknown Miss 3 waving/hitting with a small kids’ book. From 3 metres away, I could see the look of surprise, shock and indignation on M5’s face, “Why would she do that?!

I called to him to move away, a few times actually, before he shook off the apparent petrification and took two steps backwards. Miss 3 followed, book raised. By this time, all five of the mums with me were watching, interested in the stand off. Miss 3’s mum realised what was happening and stepped in to move her daughter.

Noticing all of us watching, M5, totally serious, raised his still tiny forefinger stiffly and intoned with purpose,

“If she does that one more time…

REVENGE!

I am thankful that I was sitting on the floor. We all fell about laughing, much to M5’s disgust. He walked away to more mature interactions in the cubby house.

I did feel the need to tell my friends, still laughing, that we don’t teach revenge as a matter of course in our home.

Love the odd little being so much!

🤣 Eski

My Mum the Shearer

It seems that I’ve inherited my mother’s ability to find, be found by and adopt any lost sheep. In some cases, her ability is literal. We adopted a large, lost sheep. We were in Central Australia, the year I turned 9. We’d been travelling for 6 months around the country and now had taken up residence in a single carriage of a converted silver bullet train (something like this). My bed was over the hot water service in the ‘laundry’; Mum and Dad had a fold out bed in the lounge room so my brother and sister could share the double bed in the single bedroom that there was.

When cattle or sheep were rounded up, little ones would often be brought into the community, almost like a toy, and, as toys often are, they’d be discarded and forgotten. This had happened to Sheepy. He had been around the place for a while. He was no longer little and cute, but full grown, fat and fluffy. Well, he would have been had his overgrown wool not resembled a large and fibrous tumbleweed, complete with spinifex grass and felted matting. Sheepy had wandered into our yard one day and, as I mentioned, Mum is genetically predisposed to be unable to resist something or someone in need of assistance. Sheepy became her personal project. She blunted the few pairs of scissors we had, regardless of their original purpose, trying to create a coiff from a conglomerate. The community thought it was hilarious, but I could understand her concerns. Desert days are not cool and Sheepy was lumbered with inches of filthy thermal insulation. Each day, scissors of various sizes and Mum waged war against Sheepy’s many extra layers.

With time and perseverance, Mum won the war against the wool. Sheepy bore his new, attacked by vicious lawn mower, wool cut with lightness and freedom, if not pride. His accepting personality was overcome, layer by layer, with the more realistic taciturn nature of a scruffy, hot male specimen. So Sheepy left his temporary home and ran off to rejoin the community at large. And, not long after, and not shared with the shorter siblings, Sheepy made a guest appearance at a local barbecue. Such is life, I suppose.

Not my story, obviously.

I can see why some people aren’t sure if Sam’s story is real or not. I mean, I’m a 41 year old woman, not a 16 year old boy. I don’t have the requisite parts to have testicular cancer. This is true. And so is Sam’s story.

“Nuts, A Ball and other 4-letter Words.”

He’s a real person. Not his real name for the sake of privacy. This is his journey for a short/horrifically long period of his life so far. This is the story, too, of anyone who has been dealt the punch to the face (knee to the groin?) that cancer is. It’s also the story of winning. Of not spelling cancer with a capital C. Of making it. Of living life anyway, of growth and regrowth. Of sharing instead of hiding. Of kissing and sex. Of separation and belonging. Just Life. It’s the story of family and yet it isn’t.

I spoke to most of Sam’s family while his personal story bubbled in my head and came flowing out in words both his and mine.

I spoke to his big brother who, although uncomfortable in some ways talking to a relative stranger, made his love love for his family, even an annoying younger brother, very clear.

I spoke with his little sister, who thought I was a little crazy and made a rude comment about my shoe choices….fair call, though. The two of us forged a friendship that was close, for a while, and sang the real lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ ‘Little Lion Man’ really, really loudly, just because we could. Now she’s not a ‘little’ sister any more, but a beautiful, engaged young woman with whom a coffee date seems elusive. And I spoke with Mum.

I wondered if she thought I was odd, a teacher and mother of children of my own, befriending her kids. Apparently not, thankfully. And I loved them. Hearing their stories; getting a little into their lives.

Weird, isn’t it, how quickly that depth of feeling can come? And go. Not the feeling, just the actual spending time. It just drifts off sometimes. I don’t really know why. Happens far more often than I’d like, that sort of fading. Anyway, I’m getting morose.

So Mum let me hang out. And talk to her kids. And to her. She told me all of her experiences of Sam’s diagnosis, treatment, surgery and eventual recovery. I think I expected more tears, more drama. But you’ve already read that’s not her style. So it was fact and explanation of both circumstances and emotions.

I always meant to write the whole story. The whole truth for the whole family, but I couldn’t write Mum’s perspective. When I voiced her, my pen stopped. I, who had children of my own and knew how mums felt when their children hurt. I, who could scrawl out the story of a teenager’s masturbation and fantasy, couldn’t find the words to share this mother’s battle for her boy.

Why?

I’m sorry that I couldn’t find your voice with my pen. I’m sorry that I couldn’t express your fear, or the knowledge that you just had to do what you had to do. I’m sorry ’cause I wanted to tell of your courage, your love. I wanted to write more. I don’t think I could go there, you know, because it would have been bloody hard. I haven’t looked at my notes in years, but I have one thing that I’ve always remembered.

When mums hug their children, we often put our hands on their heads, ruffle their hair up a bit. And it’s a sign of affection, of casual ‘love ya, mate’ warmth. But for you it became more. Discreetly, under the guise of casual, you’d check your not-so-little boy’s scalp and neck for the telltale heat of fever and bumps of possible infection. I already knew how I felt when I held my ‘babies’ and I think I couldn’t find your voice cause I didn’t want to even imagine having to watch them so closely, so scared. I knew I didn’t know, couldn’t even guess and I didn’t want to do you or your feelings injustice.

So there it is. Honesty. I’ve finally made myself look at it as more than just writer’s block.

If you haven’t read Sam’s story yet, you could start here.

Love,

Mandy. 🐛<<
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Nuts, a ball and other four-letter words. A young man’s journey with testicular cancer. Part 5.

This is Part 5 in a series. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.

I admired Sam’s casualness and candour when I asked him to read the fictionalised (my best guess) version of what thinking about sex and masturbation might have been like after going through chemo and trying to come to terms with one testicle. I said that it was really a way of asking him some of the tough questions – had hair grown back? How had sex been? What did he feel like at the time?

He took it in his stride, especially since we were in a food court at our local shopping centre at the time. He gave me some straightforward comments during reading –

“We haven’t. Ever.”

“I only threw up once during chemo.”

“We couldn’t kiss while I was having chemo, my white cell count was too low and I could’ve caught anything.”

“Is this supposed to be me masturbating?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Nah, couldn’t do that either during chemo, all the chemicals going down there and everything.”

So I haven’t changed it, cause apart from those comments, the ideas are right and the fears are very true. Just so you know, this 5th part, then, is fiction, for story sharing and understanding of emotions. Sometimes it’s hard to put words to the exact truth, especially when your general description of emotions is, “Like crying and stuff.”

On his better days, he wanted more than to just hold her. On his better days, his mind was clear enough to let him think at all. Ordinarily this would have been a good thing. Any thing to get out of the cloudy fog of the drug haze he was in much of the time. But right about now the only thing clarity was good for was helping him see what he was missing.

As the hours drifted by and his mind cleared, he could see her face. She was so pretty, all blue eyes and beautiful smile. She was more than pretty and she wanted to be with him! Bit unbelievable sometimes. During the chemo – when he was feeling his worst, he couldn’t think of why that was. Why would she want him? Useless body couldn’t even keep itself together, wasting from these foul chemicals, not much to look at. And that was on the good days. On the worst, he was too weak to hold his own head up while he threw up. Over and over. Hadn’t eaten a damned thing but it didn’t make any difference – he’d vomit til he felt like he was about to turn inside out.

But still, when he returned to school, she was still there, still his. He could barely believe it when she’d let him kiss her; when she’d linked her hand with his and kept it there even as the duty teacher walked by. He’d known they’d been seen; he could see it on the teacher’s face and was torn between jumping up from the bench and shouting that he didn’t need the pity, and closing his eyes and hoping they wouldn’t be reminded of the ‘daylight’ rule. Didn’t want pity, but he didn’t want to let her hand go either. Her hand was so different to his. Long, slim fingers as opposed to his shorter, thicker ones. Beautiful clean nails, beautifully soft skin.

On the bad days he imagined holding her hand even as the needle pierced his skin. It was almost enough to make him forget about the chemicals that would push him over the sick/well border line. On those days, he rested his own hand on the sheet draped over his own thigh, wishing, imagining it was hers. It had to be above the sheet, not only cause it would look suss – not that he could imagine doing that in a shared room; let alone with that damned cannula in the back of his hand. Not only because of what it would look like, but because if he touched his own softness, lack of muscle, lack of hair. Shit, he hoped that grew back! Wasn’t so bad on his head – lots of guys got around skin head and no one cared. Josh was doing it even now and he was getting along ok. No, but most other places, where there was meant to be hair, no one would think that was normal. If he touched his own hairless, smooth skin he could no longer imagine her touching him. Why would she want to? He certainly didn’t. He had. Before. Not that he’d readily admit it.

He’d been home on his own. More out of boredom than real need, he’d tried to imagine her there. He could manage that bit ok, she was easy enough to picture, even though she’d been in her school uniform in his imagination – weird! Oh yeah, he could definitely imagine her there. He’d run it through in his mind a time or two; he’d seen enough to know what it was supposed to be like. In his mind, she put her hand on his and he’d pulled her gently towards him and kissed her. That bit he knew. That bit was true. But in his mind, that wasn’t the end. At home, by himself, he felt her lean over him, push him back on his pillows and stretch out on her side beside him. He closed his eyes and felt her hand (his) run down his chest and onto his stomach. Even as he felt the satin of his boxers, he knew that she wouldn’t have done that, not yet anyway, but hell it was his fantasy, so why not? So he continued, willing himself to believe she was really there. It was easy at first, the satin slid under his hand so easily. He closed his eyes and felt her fingers stroke him. He pressed up and felt himself stiffen against the satin fabric. In a very short time that wasn’t enough. He pressed up again and breathed in hard as he felt skin against skin under his boxers. Just thinking about her hand on him made him harder and his grip tightened. Ah, if only. If only she was here. If only it was her hand on him right now. If only she could be moving against him like this, just like this, and like this…ah.

It was only afterwards, eyes open, frustratedly aware that she wasn’t there and wasn’t going to be any time soon. It was only then, as he washed, that he could see it clearly. He’d heard the expression, “In the cold light of day” but suddenly for him it was, “By the cold dampness of a washcloth.” She’d never be there. Her hand would never hold him like he wanted her to. You needed to be normal for that sort of thing to happen and he wasn’t, not at the moment, not anymore, maybe not ever. He looked down at himself. Friggin’ chemo – meant to kill off the sick cells – killing off his body hair as well. Smooth as a little boy. Smooth and hairless. What the hell would she want with a little boy? Fuck it, she wasn’t going to be holding someone there. If she did, it wasn’t going to be him, smooth and hairless.

It wasn’t that he never got hard at the thought of her again. That did happen and how! But he couldn’t even bring himself pretend it was her, skin on skin – and it wasn’t even easy in the dark, under cover.

Not long after, he’d been back at school and she noticed his flinch when she put her hand on his thigh,
“What? Ticklish?” she laughed, bright eyes lit up as she danced her fingers down his leg. Her pretty fingers walked over the bare skin of his knee. He couldn’t breathe – did she notice? That he was hairless there, too?

“So soft,” she flicked a glance at him, cheeky. She couldn’t know what she was putting him through. Not soft, nuh uh. Don’t say it, he silently begged, don’t ask me if this goes all the way up. Just keep dancing your fingers over me. Don’t say soft. She obliged unknowingly, circling his knee cap with her nails,
“Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear….”
He breathed in slowly, don’t say soft, don’t say I’m soft…
“One step…” Her fingers left his bare knee as she goose stepped them along his thigh and he could breathe out again, for the moment.
“Two step…” She looked up at him as he drew in another breath, her eyes showing a teasing light. His eyes locked on hers, his breath held now. What if she stopped? What if she didn’t?

He knew the exact moment that she remembered where they were – in public, at school – and where her teasing, dancing fingers were headed. He knew exactly where her thoughts went as she laughingly began the next line,
“Tickle you under…oh…”
It was her breath that left in a rush then, her face flushing as she drew her now still fingers up to her mouth. Her eyes squeezed tightly shut and then opened just as quickly as he repeated her last word,
“‘Oh’ Yeah, I reckon.”

Neither of them spoke again for a moment. What was there to say? Too soon the bell sounded, signalling the start of afternoon classes and they were surrounded by classmates. Now what? Some invisible line had been crossed, now there was THAT between them.
“Later?”
“Later.”

She couldn’t believe her own stupidity! Now what? What if he thought she’d meant to say it? What a ridiculous come on would that be? Tickling! Yeah, that was exactly what guys wanted. Actually, how would she know what guys wanted? But she was pretty sure nursery rhymes weren’t high on the list.

House Sitting – Rules & Contradictions

As a house sitter, I’ve mopped more floors in someone else’s home than I will EVER do in my own! I’m a much better house sitter that I am house keeper and, because of that, I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share with you.

If you’re a house sitter, always be a better house keeper than the owner. Not ALL the time, just when you’re in their home…or at least on the day you leave.

If you’re a house owner, realise that your home won’t really look the way you left it. If you’re lucky, they might be a better house keeper than you, but…….probably not.

Communicate. This is so important for both sides. Ask questions! Lots and lots of them.

Do you want something done, or not done, while you’re away? Write it down. Write everything down. Where is the vacuum cleaner? Where on Earth is that tiny white on white button that turns on the dishwasher? What does the dog eat? Write it down.

Uh oh. Broken something during your stay? A cup? Plate? Door knob? Write it down. Text if necessary, but at the very least leave a note and an apology.

Be honest. Before during and after the experience, be honest.

I’m bringing 4 kids under 10 and our own inside Dalmatian. We were hoping to have just one person stay with our anxious Shi Tzu.

I’ll be out every day from dusk til dawn. Our pets need someone all day, everyday.

Be realistic.

If your house owner says, “Help yourself to whatever you’d like,” they don’t actually mean that you should eat them out of house and home. Sure, have at the pantry…in moderation. Perhaps don’t eat all of their chocolate stash and drink all of their boutique beer or feed yourself for the week on everything they own. If you had to shop and replace it all before you left, would the grocery bill frighten you? Hmmmm.

If you say, “Help yourself to whatever you’d like,” don’t be surprised if you come home to no milk, bread or chocolate. Say it, mean it.

Be prepared for weird.

It doesn’t seem like much to mind someone’s house and maybe pets, does it? And most times, it’s not. But sometimes…..

Last night, the little old terrier I’m hanging out with this week had a bad night. She’s been fine for the rest of the time, but last night she couldn’t sleep for some reason. Her insomnia and dementia had her pacing her garage bedroom, yipping. Loudly. She’d been fed, watered, taken outside for the necessities, but nothing was working.

So, what to do? It’s now 10pm. Let’s try it all again. Is she too warm? Too cold? Needs to go out? Needs to come in? Water, check. Food….bit more, check.

30 minutes later, it hasn’t worked.

So, what else might work?

I’d turn on the light, but she’s blind.

I’d turn on some music or white noise, but she’s deaf, too.

What to do? What to do?

I’m a mum of 4, I’ve got this.

So now it’s a little past 1am and I’m sitting by the dog’s bed, patting her tiny little self as she circles and pads and sniffles and, finally, falls asleep.

They say there are rules for this house sitting business. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. What do you think? Tell me what I need to know for next time.