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.


For two.

We go to the indoor playground fairly regularly, because there’s not a whole lot else to do here. It’s a bit dilapidated, but I suppose it’s more exciting than being at home for Devin. At least until we install the giant slides and tunnels…

I order a cappuccino when we’re there, and a milkshake or juice for Devin. Lately, though, he’s been more interested in the froth on my coffee, and while I’m perfectly happy to share my food with him… hey, sometimes I want some of that froth, too.
So a few weeks ago, I swallowed all of my preconceived ideas and a bit of my pride, and ordered a babycino for Devin.
You know how opinions form in your head and get stuck without you really thinking about them? I try not to let that happen, but trivial little things like this can slip past. And my opinion was that babycinos were ridiculous and unnecessary.
But they’re not. They’re fantastic. Especially when they’re 65 cents and come with two big marshmallows.

But this isn’t a post about hot drinks. It’s about what Devin does with the marshmallows.

He shares with me. Without being asked.

I’ve never asked for a marshmallow, but he always gives me one.

I don’t know if I can convey how awesome I think that is. I get proud tears.

Little things like that are what keep parents going, I think. Moments that bolster confidence and reassure that you’re doing a good job. That he is doing a good job. That really, everything is ok.

I don’t really like marshmallows, by the way, but I eat the ones he gives me. They taste better.

Keeping up appearances

If I may have a slightly more light-hearted and self-centered moment…

I think I did things backwards.

Before I had Devin, I mainly dressed in jeans and t-shirts. All the time. Even in summer. There were peasant blouses and floaty skirts in there, too, but overall I didn’t stray far from a pair of jeans. When I went to university in a climate much colder than I was used to, I started honing my creative layering skills – I didn’t have money to buy many new clothes, and I was constantly going between lecture theatres that were either over- or under-heated – but still, I generally went with safe choices.

I don’t know if it’s a manifestation of a subconscious desire to maintain my identity (whatever that might be), but since having Devin I’ve become a lot more… adventurous? Well, no, that’s probably not right.
I’ve become more confident in what clothes I like, and confident in my ability to wear them. I’m not nearly as self-conscious about my body as I was before pregnancy, due in no small part to the fact that it handled the whole thing so well. And look, it’s just a body. Bodies are great and funny things – mine is ridiculously pear-shaped. My thighs and hips and butt need a wide-load sticker (honestly, I frequently swipe things off tables and run into furniture with my hip-al area) and my legs basically skip knees and go straight from thigh to calf, but my ankles are so thin that I have to punch extra holes in sandal straps so that they stay on. It’s like walking on chicken drumsticks. And I think that’s kind of amusing.

Of course, I need to take better care of it. But as far as appearances, I’m not so fussed any more. I just buy clothes that I like and that I think reflect how I see myself.

This is pretty standard Liss, and probably what I feel most comfortable in. I’ve also just realised that a lot of my favourite items of clothing are the ones that I almost didn’t own. I saw that skirt at Kmart when I was out with Devin one day… I came home and gave Jene a summary of our outing (as I often do), and said, “And there was skirt that was SO nice and twirly, but it was forty bucks”. I mean… forty dollars was (and still is) a big deal for us, especially forty dollars for something from Kmart. Jene told me to just buy it. I said, “But forty dollars!” He said, “So? You obviously like it.”
It IS so nice and twirly, and Devin really likes it, too.

Jene made fun of me for buying those gold sneakers, just like he did when I bought the silver glitter sneakers. I was drawn to them but didn’t buy them straight away because they did seem a bit… street. But do they look street on me? Pfft, no.

This style of dress is ideal for me – tight on top, flared on the bottom. When I tried it on here, it was still full price at $80. I couldn’t afford it. I went back to Myer a few months later and happened to find one left on a sale rack. It was my size, and it was marked as $35 but came up as $20 at the register. I like to think it was that exact dress, waiting for me.

This was my first foray into what’s a pretty common default for me now. And those stockings… I’ve been through four pairs of those exact ones. I’ve given up now, the quality became crappy and the last two pairs ripped the first time I wore them.

Shirt tucked in to floral skirt, incarnation #89.

Well, that is purple suede clogs (Funkis) with white floral stockings and a green paisley wrap skirt. Don’t think I’m not thinking it when I put these kinds of things on… I absolutely look at myself and think, ‘this is a bit silly/whimsical/odd/mismatched’. And I wear it all anyway.


I dig interesting stockings/tights. I bought these ones (that you can barely see in this photo) from We Love Colors when they had free shipping to Australia and…  I’m a bit disappointed in them. The silver paint flaked off all over the place, and there was none left on the upper legs by the end of the first wearing. They look a bit weird now, half-flecked and half-plain.

The purple stockings are another We Love Colors pair. I’m pretty sure the colour is Rubine. (Here they’re worn under a separate patterned pair.)
I read some iffy things about quality after I’d ordered from there, but I’m pleased to say that these are still completely intact and in shape after repeated washing and wearing. Good thing, since I waited for-freaking-ever for them to arrive from the US.

And the final pair of We Love Colors tights. (Again, under a patterned pair.) Comments as above, so below. These are Olive Green.

Mixing patterns? Yeah!

My high school group of friends once had a 70s themed party, so we all went op-shopping together and one of the girls found this skirt. She bought it for something like $4 and wore it to the party, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it as everyday attire. I sidled up to her at the party and said, “Ellaaaa? Do you think I could buy that skirt off you after this?” She told me not to worry about buying it, I could just have it. It’s a wrap skirt from Malaysia. Still one of my favourites.

I don’t often wear the green tights on their own, partly because my thighs make them so sheer, partly because I feel like She-Hulk in them. Every time I wear them I ask Jene, “Are you sure I don’t look too Hulk-ish?” (Which seems to imply that I’m ok with a certain level of Hulk-ivity, just not too much?)
He always replies, “You just make me want Jolly Ranchers.” Which is unfortunate, because I don’t know where to buy Jolly Ranchers in Australia.
It was Jene who put the Hulk idea into my head in the first place, by the way. Because somehow I missed that connection on my own.

I am still a bit partial to jeans and graphic t-shirts, though.

Individually, we get a fair amount of second-glances when we’re out. Devin is a two-year-old boy with almond-shaped eyes and an unusual hair colour. I’m a young (and even younger-looking) mother with orange hair and a penchant for wearing lots of things at once (be they patterns, colours, items of clothing or all of the above). Jene is a long-haired, army-pant- and metal-band-shirt-wearing Asian. We don’t seem that odd to me, but we also live in a fairly conservative and insular country city. When we’re all out together, goodness me… It’s not like it’s gawking as such, it’s more that we garner a bit more interest and attention than most others.
And I cop plenty of up-and-down looks from other women.
Our previous town is much smaller than this one, but it’s a university town – there is a lot more cultural and personal diversity, and we didn’t stand out there.

Naturally, somebody thinks I take too long deciding what to wear, and that I should just “pick something and put it on… and keep it on.” It’s so easy for some people who have straight bodies and wear the same thing every day…