Tag Archives: dancing

All the Noise Outside My Mind

Quiet

It’s a typical afternoon at the Eberhardt household.

Five year old Big Brother is telling a story. He’s put together a good one. He’s got a whole world set up on the dining table — grass and trees, a mountain overflowing with lava, and a castle perched at the top of the mountain. Inside the castle is a Princess. On the far side of the world is a knight.

“Look, Mummy!” Big Brother says. “The knight is going to rescue the Princess! First he has to climb over this wall of rocks. Then he has to cross the bridge over a river of lava, but it’s guarded by a fire-breathing dragon! And behind the dragon is a snake that can’t be killed by anything and it has poisonous venom and if it bits you, you turn into dust. And die. And then there’s a forest full of poisonous trees…”

He keeps going, but I don’t hear him. There’s something about monkeys and poison and flying gorillas and a heap more obstacles for the knight to overcome if he’s to win the love of the Princess trapped in the tower.

It’s not that I’m ignoring him. Or that I don’t care about this particular incarnation of his oft-created hero’s journey. The problem is Little Brother.

Twenty-0ne month old Little Brother has realised his brother is the one getting all the attention, and he’s decided to remedy that situation.

Immediately.

With noise.

“Mummy!” Bang! “Mummy!” Bang! “Mummy!” Bang! “Mummy!” Bang! 

In between each shriek of my name, he slams both hands against the tray of his high chair. (Oh, did I not mention he was in his high chair? Sorry. He’s in his high chair because I’ve had enough and I just can’t take it anymore and all I want is five minutes of peace and quiet.) He’s not calling me because he needs something. He’s calling me because he likes the sound of the word. And because he gets a little thrill every time I look in his direction. And because he likes tormenting me.

Okay, I may have made up the last bit.

Big Brother starts telling the story of his brave knight’s quest. Loudly. It has to be loud so he can hear himself over the sound of Little Brother yelling.

“Once upon a time there was a knight who was very brave and very bold–”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

“–find the Princess. “I can do it!” the–”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

“–with his horse, Dashing. When he–”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

I start looking for the wine.

My husband arrives about then. It could bes because he’s just getting home from work. It could be because he’s working night shift and is just waking up. In either case, he walks into the room and asks, “How’s your day been?”

At least, I assume that’s what he asks. I can’t actually hear him.

“”–stop you!” the dragon growls. Mummy, do dragons growl?”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

“Mummy? Do they?”

“Sure,” I say.

“That doesn’t even make sense,” says my husband.

“Huh? What?”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

“–fire! But the brave knight–”

“–was your day?”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

“Great. Perfect.”

“What did you–”

“–dragon died. The brave knight–”

“Mummy!”

Bang!

It’s about now that I decide to take control of the situation. I have to. I can’t even hear myself think. So I do the only thing I can if I want to keep myself sane amidst all the noise outside my mind.

As they say: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So I crank up some music, sing loud enough to drown out the rest of the noise and dance like nobody’s watching until the rest of the family joins in.

Works every time.

How do you survive a house full of noise? 

 

10 Comments

Filed under Life With Kids, Random Stuff

More Versatile Things About Me

It’s been a few months since I was last linked to a blog award — I was starting to think you all didn’t love me! — but the award train is back. Mommy Rotten awarded me the Versatile Blogger award a couple of weeks ago. (Thanks Ms Rotten!) As my regular readers know, I don’t do chain letters, chain emails, or chain blog awards (or chainmail, but that’s a different story). But I do have a compulsion for talking about myself and the attention span of a gnat, so I thought I’d (hopefully) amuse everyone with 7 fun facts about myself.

Plus, I’ve been goaded into it. Mommy Rotten said, “I picked those versatile individuals who I thought would have the funniest things to say about themselves.” Really, Mommy? Funny? No pressure or anything, right? Mind you, I was at the bottom of the list, so perhaps you’re only expecting me to be mildly entertaining.

I can do ‘mildly entertaining’.

1. I am totally a cat person… When I was 2 1/2 years old, I decided I wanted my own cat. Every day I asked my parents, “Please can I have a cat?” And every day they said no. Because we lived in a caravan park, because we didn’t have space for a cat, because we didn’t have the money for a cat, and because (above all) my Dad is allergic to cats. But day after day I asked the question. “Please can I have a cat?” After several years (or possibly weeks), I stopped asking. I got smart. I got cunning.

I didn’t ask for two days. Two. Whole. Days. And then, when I was grocery shopping with Mum, I asked, “Please can we buy some cat food?”

“Cat food?” she repeated. “Why would we buy cat food?”

“Because if we buy cat food, Daddy will have to let us have a cat to eat it!”

I got my cat the very next day.

2. … because even nice dogs can be scary. I’m not a dog person. If a dog starts sniffing at me, licking me, or looking at me with cute “puppy dog eyes” I have to fight the urge to flee, vomit, or cuff it upside the head. If it’s your dog doing any of those things (and you do nothing to make it stop) my esteem for you starts plummeting. I don’t like dogs. They’re too dependent, too overtly affectionate, and too eager to please. (I’ll take my cat with a mile-wide independent streak and a subtle hatred of the world, thankyouverymuch.)

But there was one dog, once, whom I came to love. 

His name was Bundy, and he was a Rhodesian Ridgeback cross (I don’t know with what). My family inherited him when I was 17. He had been abused and then abandoned by his previous owner, and was on the way to the pound when my Dad saw him and brought him home. Mum hated him. She made it clear that he could stay one week. One. And then Bundy started sitting behind her when she hung the clothes on the line, “protecting” her from the birds of the neighbourhood, and one week stretched into two. Then three. Then a month. Then ten years.

Bundy was big and aggressive. He bit more than one idiot who decided that coming into our yard without one of the family was a good idea because “dogs like me” or “Bundy’s met me before”. He was big and aggressive, but oh so gentle and caring when it came to “his people”. He’d grasp us gently by the wrist and tug at our arms, dragging us to see his latest treasure (which was often a dead animal that had dared enter his territory) without so much as denting our skin. He’d sit guard whenever we were outside, chasing away birds and insects that tried to get too close. (Mind you, when we were inside he’d just lie there and watch those same birds eat the food out of his bowl.)

He was big and aggressive, but I was never scared of him. I never had reason to be. And then one night, when I was 18, I staggered home at 2:00am, a few drinks sloshing in my belly, and decided to sneak in the back way so as not to wake my parents. I walked as silently as possible to the side gate, reached over, and clicked the latch up.  I was about to push the gate open when out of the darkness came a massive, growling, frothing monster.

The beast slammed into the gate so hard I was sent sprawling backwards. But not before I felt his hot breath on my face, his teeth barely missing my nose as they snapped closed.

I landed hard and let out a gasp of pain and surprise and (need I say it) fear.

The snarling stopped. Silence. A questioning sound from Bundy.

“Bundy?” I said, my voice quivering a little.

He whined apologetically, his tail swishing slowly and rhythmically against the fence. I got up and called his name again before I reached my hand over to unlatch the gate. He pushed his muzzle against my hand and licked my palm gently before backing off every-so apologetically. He was extra-attentive the next few days.

I learned two things from this experience. (1) Never try to sneak into a yard with a dog, even if he loves you. (2) Being terrified for your life does wonders to sober you up.

3. I am often unnecessarily verbose. I know. Shocking, isn’t it?

4. My brain lives in a historically mythological dimension. Did you know that Cupid was Aphrodite’s son? Or that after Loki cut off Sif’s golden locks of hair, he had actual golden hair made for her as a replacement? Did you know that Easter is variant of the heathen festival of Ostara? Or that in the year 1000, Iceland voted to adopt Christianity as its primary religion in order to be allowed to continue trading with the mainland? Did you know that the Dreamtime has no past or future? Or that the Celestial Bureaucracy has hundreds of gods and goddesses who operate within an organisation similar to an old Chinese political system?

I know all those things and more.

What I don’t know is anything about current events, reality TV stars, modern political figures, and the name of that actor who played the bad guy in that movie with the girl who sang the song about the flowers.

5. If you want to know something, call me. My sister does this. We live a long way from each other and communicate sporadically (once a day for two weeks, then not for six months, then a couple of times a month, etc.). It’s not at all unusual for our first phone conversation in months to go something like this:

*Phone rings*
Me: Hello?
Sis: Hey. What’s goulash?
Me: Goulash?
Sis: Yeah.
Me: It’s a type of food. Like stew.
Sis: Cool. Thanks.
Me: No prob.
Sis: Bye.
Me: Bye.
*Hang up*

Or this:

*Phone rings*
Me: Hello?
Sis: It’s me.
Me: Hey.
Sis: Spaghetti or lasagna?
Me: Lasagna.
Sis: Thanks!
Me: Bye.
Sis: Bye.
*Hang up*

You may be thinking that these conversations make more sense in context. But here’s the thing: there is no context. There is just this.

6. Don’t come to me for sympathy. My husband once (famously) told me that I was as sympathetic as a plank of wood. He complains that I’m not sympathetic if he’s hurt or sick. Even the boys know not to come to me with whinges and complaints and expect me to give them a cuddle and feel sorry for them — and one of them’s only just a year old. No boys, if you want outpourings of vicarious pain, go talk to your father. He’s the sympathetic one.

All that being said, I don’t think I’m unsympathetic. I care a lot about people (sometimes too much, in fact) and have a tendency to take their pain on to myself. I just have no patience for people who don’t help themselves.

Got a headache? I’m sympathetic. I really am. What can I do to help?

Wait. What do you mean you’ve had a headache for hours and you haven’t (a) taken any painkillers, or (b) stopped staring at the computer screen? Yeah, so my sympathy’s all dried up.

Or, in the words I use with my four-year-old: “I’m really sorry you hurt yourself. Do you need a kiss? Now, what did you learn about jumping off dining room chairs? What are you going to do differently in the future?”

Come on, if trying to prevent a repeat of the situation doesn’t qualify as “showing compassion”, I don’t know what does.

7. I’ve learned that dancing is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. And after three of Big Brother’s dance classes, he’s loving it more and more. We’re treated to daily dance recitals, and he talks about his next dance class all week long. But I’m not sure I’m really equipped to be a “Dance Mum”. There’s the time spent waiting outside the studio, the time spent preparing costumes and uniforms, the shoes, the fashion, the practice, and the money.

Oh yes, the money. I’d say I’ll need a second job to support the habit hobby lifestyle, but that would imply that I already have a paying job. Anyone know the going rate for a kidney? And what’s that in dance shoes?

I’m not going to forward this award on to anyone, even though I’m supposed to tag 7 people and then wait for the money love to come rolling in. Sorry. I should have added “I’m not much fun” to my list of 7 things.

12 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Random Stuff

Boys, Ballet and Becoming a Dancer

The dance studio had once been a warehouse, the mirrored walls and barre not enough to conceal its origins. There was no air-conditioning and the high roof was made of metal. The room was a sauna in the summer heat. None of the children noticed. While the mothers fanned themselves and drank bottle after bottle of water, preschool girls in leotards and flouncy pink skirts tied on their ballet slippers and giggled excitedly together. Another group of girls, these ones more experienced at six years of age, danced in a circle as they chatted about costumes and make-up and how much they’d practiced.

At the front of the room, abandoned by the excited girls, lay a veritable plethora of backpacks, drink bottles, shoes, tights, tap shoes, ribbons, skirts, and fairy-themed lunch boxes.

I’m the mother of two boys. I have never seen so much pink in all my life.

I hefted Little Brother a little higher on my hip, and looked down at Big Brother. He was holding my hand so tightly I thought my fingers would fall off. Was he worried? Intimidated by the glitter and sparkles and giggling girls?

He looked up at me, his eyes shining with the type of excitement only a four-year-old can muster. “Mummy! Look at all the dancers!” His words tumbled over each other, his lips barely able to move past the grin plastered across his face. His voice was strained, not with fear, but with a sheer exhilaration that brought tears to my eyes.

“I know,” I said, fighting back tears and trying unsuccessfully to match his enthusiasm.

“I’m going to go make some new friends,” he said, letting go of my hand.

I looked back over at the girls and their perfect pink ballet shoes and ruffled socks, their white tights and pale pink overskirts, pretty blue leotards and beautifully bound hair. Then I looked down at my little man with his tank top and shorts. “Hang on,” I said, fighting back the urge to flee from the spinning pink perfection. “Let’s just sign in first.”

What was I doing? What in the world would possess me to bring a four-year-old boy to a ballet class?

Big Brother has loved dancing since before he was born. In the last trimester of my pregnancy, he’d be still, unmoving, for hours at a time. But the moment I turned up some music, I’d feel him kicking me in time to the beat. As he grew, so did his love of music and dance. For the last year he’s been leaping and twirling and dancing around the house, desperate for a pair of ballet shoes and the chance to be a star. So when I came across a reasonably-priced dance school nearby I figured that, as a good parent, I should let him have a try; let him explore whether he really wanted to learn ballet, or whether he would be happier dancing around the house to the beat of his own drum.

It wasn’t long before the class started. Fifteen pretty little ballerinas sat down in two straight lines, their eyes fixed on Karen, the dance teacher. “Go on,” I said to Big Brother, trying to keep my voice light. That was all the encouragement he needed. Off he went at an excited skip, complete with pointed toes and a bright smile on his face.

He listened. He did as he was asked. He did some ballet running and some butterfly flying, he talked to the girls (who mostly ignored him), and he grinned excitedly through it all. Meanwhile, I sat on the sidelines watching him with a mix of pride and concern. Would he notice that he was the only boy in the class? Would he notice that he was one of only three boys in the entire building — him, Little Brother, and a slightly older boy playing with a football? And if he did notice, would he care?

Halfway through the lesson the children stopped to have a drink of water and change into their tap shoes. Big Brother hurriedly put on his shoes and then approached the bored-looking older boy who was there with his sister.

“Hello,” Big Brother said. “I’m a boy too. I really like your ball. How many years old are you?”

“Seven,” the boy said.

“I’m four years old. That means I’m a big boy.”

The other boy didn’t answer, just looked down at his ball.

“Alright girls,” Karen called. “Come and sit by the wall. Two straight lines.”

Without hesitation, Big Brother said goodbye and went to join the girls. He may have sought out the only other boy in the room, but did he care that he was in a class full of girls? Apparently not.

At the end of the class Karen said goodbye to us both and told Big Brother that he’d done well. Big Brother beamed like he’d just won a year’s supply of chocolate. “See you next time,” he said.

The he looked up at me with shining eyes. “Mummy! I’m a dancer!”

 

23 Comments

Filed under Life With Kids