Hairy situation

It’s been ten months since Devin’s last haircut. More and more strangers are referring to him as ‘she’, which is just… I mean, he looks like a boy, doesn’t he? Just because his hair is a little overgrown…

Just because he likes to try my skirts on…

… and wear necklaces to pick up sushi…

Anyway, I just reply, “Thank you, yes, he does!” whenever someone tells me that “she has such a lovely hair colour!”

He rarely tolerates the headband, but these were particularly windy days and his frustrated grunts about his hair were driving me nuts. Even when we say, “see, Devin, it wouldn’t get in your face all the time if you had a haircut…”, his response is always, “No!”
But it’s getting hotter, which means the hair has to come off soon… Man, this hair business is like Groundhog Day.
(I bought the headband from Eeni Meeni Miini Moh, after seeing Georgia‘s adorable daughter wearing one in this video, and crossing my fingers that they came in neutral colours.)

This made me giggle because he looked like he should be in an 80s glam metal band.

So, what else have we been doing?
We went to the town’s city’s multicultural festival, but I guess by the time we got there all the multiculturalism had left, and all the things we saw were blandly… not multicultural. The best we managed was catching the end of the belly dancing.

We also went to the ‘Family Fun Day’, which I guess would have been more fun if it wasn’t just me and Devin. And we had money to do anything.

But we did see a big, talking tree. So, yay?

I need to have more kids to fill those holes…

The weather has warmed up quite quickly, and Devin is wearing the same shorts he’s been wearing for the last two years. Whoever said that kids grow fast? Maybe they didn’t have to buy such ridiculously oversized ‘size 1’ clothes.

We went to the pool with Dev’s new $5 body board, and my new half-price swimmers. It was a little chilly, but he loved it.

(Devin was in the change room with me. He liked the fruits. )

Inspired by Slow Your Home, we made chalk paint and painted the garden rocks. It washed off when it rained a few days later.

We tried to bathe Ruby, but…

And, I pulled out a t-shirt that I wore as a little tyke.

It’s extremely worn and thin, and there’s a running hole near Mickey’s ear, so I’m hoping Devin can get some wear from it before it completely disintegrates. (Actually, I’m hoping to catch it before it does that so I can frame the image.)

And that’s about it. I’m also trying to find a job without resorting to working at the abattoir again.
It’s as delightful as it sounds. The abattoir and the job searching.
But more on that later, maybe.

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A few weeks ago Devin came with me and my mum to Kites For Kids Day, an annual event held by Early Childhood Intervention Australia. For $2, we were given a kite, string, tail streamers, and stickers, and set loose on the fields. Overall, Devin was more interested in the food we brought than flying the kite, but I had a great time – my general impression was that most of the parents there were having as much, if not more, fun than the kids. It seems to be kind of a lost pleasure.
We’ve since taken the kite out a few more times on our own, and it’s standing up remarkably well (though it did get a bit battered during our last outing on an especially gusty day). Devin’s not fixated on it or anything, but he likes holding the string and running with it. My recommendation is still that every household should have a kite.
Oh, the black and white photo is by Devin. He’d changed the setting himself. I was impressed when I found it.

Overcoming anxiety and being rewarded with an awesome outcome…

… I could stop and think of a snappier title, but that sums it up, really.

Play School is an iconic Australian television show for kids. It’s been running since 1966 and is the second longest running children’s show in the world. Two presenters sing, dance, tell stories and make crafts on a variety of simple sets, with the aid of equally iconic toys with names like Big Ted, Little Ted, Jemima, Scrap and Humpty.
(Excuse the dry introduction, I’m trying to lay some background details.)
There are also often live Play School performances that tour the country – and they really tour it, they don’t just visit the capital cities. I remember my mum taking us to at least one of these, and of course we grew up watching the show on TV.
I knew there was going to be a show here, and I was so excited to take Devin, but by the time we had money to buy tickets, they were sold out. I was extremely disappointed; this is not a city where live entertainment abounds, let alone live entertainment for kids. Every time I saw a poster or heard mention of it for the next month, I would sigh heavily and relive the disappointment.

On Thursday, the day before the show, we made a spur-of-the-moment change of plans and went out to eat lunch, rather than stay at home. So spur-of-the-moment, in fact, that I had to drive all the way home and back (a twenty minute round trip) because I had forgotten my wallet. By the time we were eating it was almost 3:30pm.
Just as we were finishing and gazing around the shopping centre food court, Jene said, “Hey, that’s Jay Laga’aia.”
And so it was, just he and another man (actually Bill the piano player for the show) wandering around the (quite small) complex.
I stared and thought. Should I take Devin and speak to him? Maybe ask for a photo? This was a rare opportunity. I’d never encountered someone well-known before. But no one else was approaching him – did they not recognise him, or were they just as shy as me? My heart was pounding as I grappled with conflicting feelings of anxiety and urgency.
Jene continued to urge me to do it, and finally, as they were heading out the doors, I found myself walking in their direction almost without thinking.
I had Devin by the hand, and I ushered him ahead of me as I apologised for interrupting. I introduced Devin to Jay, and Jay to Devin. Jay asked if we were coming to see the show, and I said that we’d missed out on tickets, so we were saying hello now.
“Oh, no! Hmm, well, I’ll you what Devin – you bring Mum along tomorrow anyway, get her to give me a call, and I’ll get you both in, free of charge.”
At this point my hands were shaking uncontrollably and I could barely grasp the card he handed me. I could feel the familiar flush spreading from my chest to my face. I thanked him very much and said we’d see him tomorrow, and just as we were walking away, Devin asked me, rather loudly, “Who’s that?”
Double flush.
Throughout the encounter Jene had taken himself off out of sight, and the first thing he said to me was how red I was. Wonderful.
Regardless, I felt incredible. I could scarcely believe I had done that. Me.

That night, I suddenly realised I would need a phone with credit to make the call the next morning. Frustrated with credit recharges and possibly feeling the last pulses of adrenalin from earlier, I impulsively ordered a phone on a plan before arranging to take Jene’s mobile with me in the morning. This is noteworthy because when I made the call and it went to message bank, I tried to hang up – and couldn’t. The phone wouldn’t respond. Jay Laga’aia would’ve received a voice mail of me saying, “Ohhh, it won’t hang up, Devy!”, frantic tapping and fumbling, Devin whinging and me hissing, “Devin!”, before I finally resorted to switching the phone off.
I bravely turned it back on and tried again; this time when it went to voice mail, I was able to hang up, glory of glories.
(I didn’t leave a message because… well, I froze. I can hardly deal with answering machines in normal circumstances, let alone incredibly unusual ones like this.)
A few minutes later, Jay called back, and soon Devin and I were in the auditorium, waiting for the show to start.

Devin picked a Humpty and shared his Le Snack… while making faces. Because, I don’t know. He’s a three-year-old.


The show went for 45 minutes, which is just about perfect. You can see the emphasis is on imagination – the washing basket was a tractor and a boat.

Devin was becoming rather fidgety by the end, complaining that he was hungry, but I wanted to wait for an autograph and thank Jay again. We didn’t have a long wait in line – they were lovely and friendly to everyone but still moved quickly because they had another show to perform soon after. We reached Abby first, she signed a card for Devin and slid it over to Jay as he was finishing with the kids in front of us. When he saw Devin’s name, he looked up to find him and gave him the most enthusiastic greeting.

Though they hadn’t really been stopping for photos, he told me to put Devin up on the table so I could get a picture. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get Devin to look away from the signed cards, but he did at least nod and say “yes” when Jay asked him if he’d enjoyed the show, which is more than the blank stare that he usually gives people. I said we’d had a great time and thanked him very much, and we said goodbye.

After a quick regroup on the stage and a closer examination of the autographs, we headed out to get some morning tea at the cafe downstairs. (Well, eventually, after Devin had watched the glass-walled lift go up and down a few times.)
Just as we had almost finished, both of us feeling calmer and refreshed, I got another call from Jay. He said he hoped we’d had a good time, asked what we were doing for the day and told me what his day entailed, and passed on his best wishes for Devin.
Such an amazingly nice guy!

I felt incredible after all of that. Proud of doing something for Devin that resulted in a positive chain of events for both of us. I really can’t articulate how significant this was for me… All I can say is, the me of even three months ago would not have done any of this.

I felt so buoyed by the experience that I let Devin ride up and down the carpark lift (a novelty in this city) for a while, and when we got home I registered us both to volunteer for National Tree Day – which is a story for another post.

So thanks, Jay Laga’aia – your kindness had more of an impact than you probably realise.

When I feel scared I imagine I am a tree. They don’t get scared. They are just trees.

I haven’t written anything substantial in a long time and I’m having a bit of difficulty so please, if you’re still here and still interested, bear with me.

I’ve been taking anxiety medication for about three months now, and so far, it’s helping a lot. The positive change is not actually something I’m fully aware of until I properly think about it – for example, I realised today that I would answer a phone call without a second thought. That’s HUGE. For years now I would only answer my mobile when I was expecting an important call, and I never, ever answered the home phone. I’ve also stopped involuntarily flinching away from people whenever they pass me – at home and in public.

What’s more, I took up a job offer! My dad sees his massage therapist regularly, and mentioned once that I’d been thinking of taking that path myself. She very kindly offered to let me spend the day with her so I could see first-hand what she does and whether it was something I wanted to pursue. At that time, though, I was still in the worst grips of anxiety and becoming discouraged about the future, so I didn’t go.
Recently, she told Dad that she needed some casual help for reception and cleaning, and that if I was interested, the job was mine. I heard the news on a Wednesday night, and the next morning at 8:30, I took myself down to the business and basically said, “Yes, please!” Pre-meds, I wouldn’t have slept that night, and I probably would’ve put off accepting until it was too late. I was still a little nervous, of course, but I did it. And I felt great. Now I’m just waiting to start.

This also means that Jene will be accompanying Devin to Kinder Gym and music classes* from now on – something that, I think, will be great for both of them. Despite having attended Kinder Gym for three terms and music class for one, Devin is still very shy and reluctant to participate. Much more so than any other child we’ve encountered. Though I do like going with him, I have to admit that I’m likely a big part of the problem – I’m the Comfort Parent. I’m hoping that Jene (being simultaneously more no-nonsense in discipline AND sillier in play than me) will bring out a more outgoing side of Devin.
*An early childhood music class. Rhythm, movement, singing, listening… Devin does not sing in class, but will sing the songs when we’re in the car. Often weeks after hearing a song for the first and only time.

I’ve been reluctant to write about these little glimmers of progress because hey, I didn’t want to jinx them. My instinct is to keep things quiet because of the part of me that’s waiting for everything to fall through… The past few years have been frustratingly stagnant.
I’m very tired of waiting, though, so here it all is.

Some more brief ‘news’ before I give my lazy brain a rest – this MooGoo oil cleanser is performing miracles on both Jene and I; the suspension in my car seems to be getting worse by the day; a Korean/Japanese takeaway finally opened here and we’re all in heaven; a few weeks ago I sat in duck poop while making sure Devin didn’t fall into the river; Devin is obsessed with Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy and also –

– he still needs a haircut.

That’s Entertainment

Every night, the three of us watch a movie for the half hour before Devin’s bedtime. It helps to wind him down away from the general activity of the house, and it’s just a nice little routine. Obviously, it takes about three nights to get through one movie, which sounds like it stretches out nicely, but it also equates to finding two appropriate movies every week, and that’s not as easy as it might seem. We (especially Jene) were watching a lot of the same movies over and over before we really settled into the ritual and started planning ahead.

Ponyo – Devin loves it. I adore it. There’s nothing too scary, there are no real ‘bad’ guys, Sôsuke is a relatable and responsible little boy, and Ponyo is cute and cheeky. It’s a really, really good movie for young kids. We also have Kiki’s Delivery Service – it wasn’t a real hit with Devin, but I liked it ok. Howl’s Moving Castle is waiting in the wings – it became one of my comfort movies when I bought it years ago, but Jene and Devin haven’t seen it yet. It may be a tad abstract for Devin yet…

Despicable Me – Perhaps a bit mature for Devin, but he really likes it, and I enjoy it, too. Admittedly, more so the first three times than the latest six…

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – I hadn’t heard a whole lot about this before I bought the DVD, but I ended up really enjoying it. All the food was especially amusing to Devin, and the clever humour was amusing to me. The scariest bit in this is probably giant roast chickens. (On a side note, I had a dream once that I had a pet roast chicken. Like a dog.)

Wall-E – this is one of Jene’s ideal Devin Movies, and I have to agree. Most of the story is told through action, not dialogue, and it seems to be easier for Devin to comprehend than other movies. He loves it.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – a magical car, singing, Dick Van Dyke… What’s not to like? Sometimes Devin randomly bursts into the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song.

Toy Story 1, 2 & 3, Finding Nemo, Cars – Now, Devin likes these well enough. The thing is, when you watch something like Ponyo and then put on, say, Finding Nemo, the overly-loud, bright, shouty, stylised Hollywood-ness of the latter is quite jarring. It’s  noticeably more excitable and sensational, to an almost absurd degree, and isn’t great for evening viewing. In our household, anyway.

Robots, Bolt, The Polar Express, Up and Shrek were also enjoyed by Devin.

There was already a small collection of kids movies on DVD when we moved back here – they were accumulated by my sisters. We’re adding to our own collection more now but, as usual, it’s proving to be somewhat difficult to find the movies we want in this Town City. Internet shopping to the rescue once again.

Next, I’ve got some recommendations for books… We go through four to six a day at nap- and bedtime alone.

November, I hardley knew ye.

I feel that suspenders are a disappointingly overlooked accessory for boys – I couldn’t find them in stores anywhere, I had to buy them online. (Actually, that’s the reason behind practically all of my Internet purchases. So take that, anyone who wants to complain that online shopping is killing local stores – maybe if you actually stocked good things, I wouldn’t have to take my business elsewhere. I can’t buy what you don’t have.)
I’m still annoyed that girls have much better clothing options than boys, but lately I’ve been having fun choosing things for Devin – it just means I have to be a bit more patient, creative and thoughtful when I buy his clothes.

There was a surprise echidna at Storytime recently – the perks of living in a city with a major zoo. I mean, it was there on purpose, it’s not like it wandered out and found its way to the library.

Not only was she terribly cute, but Devin was one of the few kids who actually wanted to touch her – he was up and stroking her before I’d even finished nodding permission, and went back several times. Understandably, I have to admit – the spikes feel a bit like a broom, I guess, but quite smooth. It was kind of relaxing.

It became quite hot for a little while there in November and we could finally use the pool, much to Devin’s delight. It lasted about a week and things have been cool and rainy ever since…

But, with the wet weather comes visits to the Japanese and sensory gardens. One, it’s nice to go out in the rain. Two, most people don’t venture outside in cold and rainy weather, so the gardens are empty.

And three, the sensory gardens still have some flooding issues (although now it’s more ‘puddles’ and less ‘impromptu lakes’), so Devin can splash around with his gumboots.

Devin decided to take to a shrub with a plastic knife.

When I said, “The tree probably doesn’t like that, Devy. Poor tree”, he gave me this face and stopped his ambitious sawing attempts.

This was supposed to be a Christmas tree – a green triangle with paper woven through. When I’d finished weaving the paper for Devin, he blasted it off into space and gleefully declared that it was a “wocket!” It was one of the most awesomely cute things I’ve seen him do, so I quickly added some boosters and wrapping paper flames. It’s on his bedroom door now.

 

We finished the month with more puddle jumping.

FYI, jumping in pools of dirty water in an uneven driveway is unlikely to result in anything but this –

Not pictured: when he fell over for the second time and cut his hands and arms, effectively ending puddle time.

Yes, my thoughts exactly, Devin.

Devin Hawk

One day, when the playground was beginning to get crowded, I convinced Devin to leave and come with me across the sporting fields so I could look at this mirror mosaic.

I think he only came because there was a tractor mowing the the fields.
He stuck around long enough for me to take a few (smudgy) photos, and then he was off. To this –

The outside of the skate park’s full pipe (apparently, it was the first one built in Australia).
At first he was content with just running up and down the hill, and then he wanted to see what he was actually running around…

… which gave me heart palpitations. He wanted to go into the bowl, but I was not prepared for that kind of physical activity. Plus, I was expecting the local truants to be around at any time. Really, I thought we were lucky that it happened to be deserted that day.

But I guess sometimes kids actually do go to school, because it was empty when we went back the first time.

And also the second time.
I wasn’t planning on stopping this time, but Devin saw it from the car and got excited.

And no, he is not happy when it’s time to go.