Neck Skin is Detachable

babe22We last left Cricket wondering who was at the door and thinking how beautiful her mother is…

There is seriously no-one beautifuller in this entire world than my Mum… her legs have freckles on them that look like chocolate drops, and her arms are so chunky and strong that even when I’m too tired to hold my head up she can carry me anywhere I need to be.

I bang a cupboard door open and closed, open and closed repeatedly because Mum didn’t even leave me a toy to play with. She’s such an enigma. And then there’s a weird yelping noise and I wonder if Hoot brought Mum another pet dead bird. I strain my neck to see down the hall. All I can see are Mum’s bare feet and another pair of feet in sparkly shoes. I can’t wait any longer for Iris to be in front of me singing Let it Go. And I can’t sit here with nothing to do but bang a stupid brown (brown means poo) door. And I can’t wait any longer to touch those SPARKLY SHOES so I start to wail. I start off slow and quiet because I’ve learnt there’s nothing more dramatic than a build-up. I’m only midway through when a giant, sparkly, Christmas bauble with legs comes running down the hall, straight towards me, shouting CINNAMON CRICKET!! at the top of its voice.

GRANDMA IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s too much. I fall backwards and bash my head on the floorboards. I go quiet and Grandma stands over me and we’re both stock still for a few seconds and I’m starting to realise that hurt quite a bit and it wasn’t what I wanted to happen and maybe I’m in shock, but before I can wail, Grandma scoops me up in a shiny, glittery, perfumey hug and then hangs me upside-down to look at those sparkly shoes. What a rollercoaster!
I’m hanging upside-down with my head dangling close to the floor and all the blood in my body rushing to my eyeballs when Mum walks in.
‘Mum! What are you doing?!’
‘Showing Cricket my new shoes.’
‘Mum, don’t dangle her, you’ll break her ankle!’
‘You can’t break a baby, darling.’
And now Mum has me under my arms and Grandma has my legs and I’m suspended in the air and Mum is looking like she looks when she thinks I’ve swallowed a carrot stick without chewing it (never happens, never will, but Mum thinks it every, single, time) and Grandma looks like she’s just won the lotto.

This is going to be GREAT!!!

Mum wins and yanks me free of Grandma’s twinkly hands. She has rings on EVERY FINGER! She schmooshes my cheeks.
‘Oh my sweet girl, look how big you’ve grown!’
I launch into a dissertation about how big I am and how I can’t crawl yet and how frustrating it is and how Iris poos in a bucket and how Hoot is sort of my friend now and how glad I am that she’s here.
‘Yes indeed my talky girl! You are big and I am very happy I’m here too!’

IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!! GRANDMA UNDERSTANDS BABY LANGUAGE!!

I squirm ferociously in Mum’s arms, throwing myself towards Grandma as hard as I can.
‘Guess she wants you.’
Mum hands me over and so much is twinkling I barely know where to start so I grab dangly earrings and pull. Turns out Grandma’s lobey things are much stretchier than Mum’s lobey things and Grandma doesn’t even care that I’m stretching them down REALLY far. I pull harder. It’s the best fun ever!
Mum starts making coffee and Grandma kicks off her sparkly shoes and sits cross-legged on my play mat and let’s me keep trying to slide her ears off of her skull.
‘You’re not mad are you darling?’
Mum looks around at Grandma and smiles her I’m-fine-but-not-actually-smile that only dad and I know what it means.
‘Of course not! It’s great you’re here. I’m just surprised. I thought the show was still filming.’
‘Well you’re meant to be surprised! Filming finished yesterday and I just couldn’t wait any longer to schmoosh these little cheeks.’
Grandma schmooshes my cheeks again and I grab her nose and turn it. I have a theory that noses can actually turn upside-down if you twist hard enough. I’ve also worked out that it’s better to test this theory on old people because everything on their bodies has more give. Grandma doesn’t seem to mind, which hasn’t been my experience so far when I test out my nose theory. She must be a very tolerant person. I make a mental note to test out my other theories on her tomorrow:

  1. Lips are detachable
  2. Eyelashes are food
  3. Bellybuttons are homes for teeny tiny people and must be filled with food to save the teeny tiny people from starvation
  4. Knees bend the other way
  5. Ears are detachable
  6. Elbow creases can be microphones as well as vomit receptacles
  7. Eyeballs can come out
  8. Tongues aren’t real
  9. Neck skin is detachable
  10. Boobs need to be slapped in order to work.

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brown means poo, green means goo

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Cricket’s story continues…

I heard Mum crying last night. She’s a private crier. She doesn’t even let the co-manger hear her crying. She only cries when there’s no answer. If there was an answer she wouldn’t be crying, she’d be fixing the problem. That’s why she’s the Manager, because she fixes things. And that’s why Dad’s the co-manager, because he helps fix things. But when things can’t be fixed, Mum doesn’t want people trying to find the solution because it annoys her, she just wants to cry alone.

Mum was crying because she’s worried I’m not going to have a brother or sister and she feels bad for me. Thing is, I don’t know what it’s like to have a brother or sister, I only know what it’s like not to have one, and I like it just fine. And really, a brother or sister might be more trouble than they’re worth, I mean, look at Tony Soprano, his sister was CRAZY and Meadow Soprano and Anthony Jr Soprano hated each other. So really, I think she was crying because of guilt. Guilt is like cauliflower. It’s truly awful and pointless and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Guilt – like cauliflower – should be spat out in great, gooping gobs. Guilt and cauliflower have no godly business being on this earth.

Iris loves cauliflower. I don’t get it but I don’t hold it against her because she’s fabulous. Iris is coming over today and I’m going to play my xylophone and she’s going to play my drums and we’re going to put on a Frozen concert for Mum and Mrs. Iris. They’re not going to believe their ears!

Before Iris arrives Mum said we have to clean up the kitchen and cut my nails. I’m not sure why she says ‘we’ because we both know my helping just makes things messier. I don’t even know why she bothers. When Mum puts everything away I can’t see anything and I have no idea what I want and so my limbs just flail about and do nothing, which isn’t healthy.
‘Come on Cricket, let’s clean up.’
Mum picks me up and puts me on her hip and starts moving dishes around the kitchen. There is no rhyme or reason to this and I try very hard to tell her this.’
‘Yes darling! That’s right! We’re going to do the dishes!’
I tell her I don’t want to do dishes and that I don’t believe she really does either, so why don’t we just put the dishes down and practice our music for our Frozen concert.
‘And now we’re going to do the dishes, do the dishes, do the dishes.’
Mum’s singing about doing the dishes. I think she thinks if she sings everything she’s doing it makes her a better mother. It doesn’t. I worked out ages ago that she’s doing it because of guilt. Mum thinks if she’s not stimulating me I won’t know my colours and will never learn to read. This is dumb for several reasons:

  1. I already know my colours. Brown means poo, green means goo, pink means me and yellow means wee. Black means sad, blue means Dad, white means nappy and orange means happy. See?
  2. Mum singing all the chores she’s doing in the same tuneless tune every single day is about as stimulating as a house with no cats in it.
  3. Guilt never gets you anywhere, ever.

I tell Mum I don’t want to sing the dishes song anymore.
‘Yes darling! And now we’re going to do the dishes, do the dishes, do the dishes.’
Please, someone, kill me now.
But then there’s a knock on the door! Saved! Iris has come to do the concert early! I kick my legs as furiously as I can and almost fall off Mum’s hip.
‘Cricket, wait! Why are they here so early? The house is a mess. God damn.’
And then she does the thing that annoys me the most – she puts me down instead of TAKING ME TO THE INTERESTING THING. If she wants to stimulate me, this is definitely not the way to go.

She’s striding down the hall now, hands flying all over, fixing her hair, pulling at her clothes. I’ll never understand this pulling and picking and fixing. There is seriously no-one beautifuller in this entire world than my Mum. Her hair looks like honey and spider webs and her skin looks like milk and she has amazing ridges around her eyes that look like the veins on leaves, and her tummy is squishy like a soft cushion, and her legs have freckles on them that look like chocolate drops, and her arms are so chunky and strong that even when I’m too tired to hold my head up she can carry me anywhere I need to be.

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A bob, Mark, a BOB.

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We last left Cricket witnessing a discussion between her parents about whether she should have her own mobile phone after she carefully dunked her Mum’s phone in the cat’s water bowl. Hoot was so alarmed, he wrote another letter to the Management announcing his intention to roll a poo across the familial abode.
… ‘I know it seems ridiculous, but this generation will be connected from the very beginning, so maybe it’s not such a big deal, Mark.’
‘Yes, but I’m not sure the very beginning needs to be before Cricket can even talk.’

Talking is going to be the most epic thing that will ever happen to me. I’m going to call the CEO of the world the day I start talking. I’ve always wanted to talk to Mem Fox.

‘Well obviously it’s not to make phone calls on, it’s just so she isn’t so obsessed with mine. She can have my old iPhone 4 and we can just have music and photos and videos on it for her.’
‘I don’t know sweetheart, it seems wrong to give an 8 month old a mobile phone.’
‘Yes, it does, and I’ve already acknowledged that and I don’t disagree, but you don’t have to spend all day wrestling with her and then find your phone in the bottom of Hoot’s water bowl.’
‘Did you put it in rice?’
‘It was immersed, in water and cat spit, possibly for hours, I’m pretty sure it was beyond rice.’
‘You didn’t look at your phone for several hours? Really?’
Mum gave Dad a withering look. I know what withering looks are because I’m usually the cause of them.
‘The empathy is overwhelming Mark. And no, it probably wasn’t hours, but it was at least one hour. I do have other things to do than stare at my phone all day.’
‘I don’t doubt it, but I do wonder if you hadn’t used your phone so much around Cricket in the first place we wouldn’t be having this problem. Wasn’t it one of the mums from your mother’s group who said you shouldn’t expose a baby to a mobile at all?’
Gasp! My life without the magic rectangle would barely be worth living.
‘Yes, darling, the very same mum who sews her own baby wipes and thinks the 100% organic veggie pouches from Coles are devil’s food and most likely sterilizes her own nipples in 500 degree steam baths before each feed. The mum I’ll never ever ever match up to, whose breasts are gravity-defying alien life forms, who wears perfectly appointed make up every day and has a blonde bob. A bob, Mark, a BOB.’
Mum burst into tears. Not the pretty, quiet, Hollywood tears where people smile kindly and hot air balloons drift across an orange sunset – the loud, snot dripping kind that sound like Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter.
‘What you mean she makes her own baby wipes? How do you make a baby wipe?’
Even at 8 months old I know that that’s not what Dad should’ve focused on from all the things Mum just said. From my vantage point sitting on the floor, it’s hard to see Mum’s face properly, but I can see her feet and she’s stuffing them into her shoes with some ferocity. Shoes means business.
‘You’re an arsehole. I’m going for a walk.’
It took me a few precious seconds (I was still musing over ‘arsehole’) to realise Mum was going for a walk WITHOUT ME.
WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH!
‘But she’s crying now!’
‘Yes, she is, you need to comfort her.’
I strain my whole body as far as it will strain towards Mum. I move about an inch. My existence is just one, big exercise in frustration.
‘But she wants you.’
‘So she does. Good luck.’
And she’s gone and I’m beside myself with grief. Dad picks me up and I scream into his face as loud as god will allow, IS SHE EVER COMING BACK?! Dad looks alarmed which confirms my suspicion that’s she’s never coming back, so I cry louder and harder then I ever have in my long and illustrious career. Dad panics now and grabs his phone out of his pocket (I guess he’s not keeping it in his Doodle Bag today) to ring Mum to come back but it doesn’t connect and I shove three fingers hard into his right eye socket and scream into his left eye socket as hysterically as I can – I DROWNED MUM’S PHONE IN HOOT’S WATER BOWL, REMEMBER?! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? WE’RE DOOMED!!
And just at that moment, Hoot walked past us pushing a big round poo in front of him like he was an elephant in the circus pushing a barrel of monkeys.

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Doodles are amazing

IMG_5486-755958When we last left Cricket, she’d just heard that Grandma might be coming in a few weeks! There’s a chunk of text missing between that last post and this one because I haven’t finished it yet. Basically it’s a bit of background about the Mum thinking about doing IVF again.

Dear Management, 

Electronics in my water bowl. Really? This is really how much control you have over your mutant spawn? You really want to watch me shuffle off this mortal coil with sparks flying out of my whiskers? You’re not the people I thought you were. I knew life would change, you would change when the mutant barreled it’s way into our lives, but you care so little about me that you’re ok with your phone taking a swim in my water bowl? I repeat – really?

            The funny thing is I don’t feel all that injurious towards the Cricket; my murderous feelings are faced squarely towards you, Management, for your increasing and inexcusable lack of control.

            I’m currently feeling too sensitive to demand emolument. I’m going to do a poo in the kitty litter and then flick it out of the kitty litter and then roll it across the floor to an as yet undisclosed location. This is extreme, granted. I do not enjoy dealing with faeces, even my own. But I feel the need to roll some across the length and breadth of the abode. My food and water must not be trifled with. The very core of my being has been profoundly disturbed. Ergo, it is my biological obligation to execute an act proportionally disturbing. It’s biology. May you soon feel the wrath of my biology. Biology.

Insincerely,
Thiha Archibald Hootentoot the Third

Hoot and Dad are both boys. Boys are funny. They have doodles and doodles are AMAZING. They carry a HANDBAG! I wonder what they put in there?! I hope it’s books. I love books. I also love phones. Phones are magic rectangles that play music and have VIDEOS OF YOURSELF in them! I think Dad might carry his phone in his doodle handbag because I don’t see his phone very often. But Mum’s phone is FAIR GAME because she always has it out and I always want to play music and see videos of myself.

Mum’s starting to get very frustrated with my insistence though. Now I have the manual dexterity of a human being instead of a Labrador it seems she doesn’t want me phone-fiddling anymore. Sigh. We used to share everything. But that’s ok because I’ve demanded my own phone. I did this by hiding Mum’s phone so she’d realise she’s officially lost control of the situation and the only solution is for us to have our own phones. I very lovingly placed Mum’s phone in the bottom of Hoot’s water bowl so it would take her a while to find it. It turns out that Hoot found it first and he let Mum know by puffing up into a puff-ball and circling the bowl, making these funny growly noises. I thought it was hilarious!, but Mum didn’t. She was still upset when Dad got home from work.
‘I know it seems ridiculous, but this generation will be connected from the very beginning, so maybe it’s not such a big deal, Mark.’
‘Yes, but I’m not sure the very beginning needs to be before Cricket can even talk.’
Talking is going to be the most epic thing that will ever happen to me. I’m going to call the CEO of the world the day I start Talking. I’ve always wanted to talk to Mem Fox.

… stay tuned …

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kiss me back

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I just found this. It was written almost four months ago when Charlie was four months old.

I want to stop time. Today, yesterday, last week, tomorrow. Before you came into the world I had no idea how much I’d want to stop time. I had no idea that every age would be the best age. I want to stop time and stare at your milky 16-week-old skin forever.

I wanted to stop time at 11am this morning when you giggled at my song and my heart exploded at the sound. I wanted to stop time yesterday when you snuggled into my neck the way a new kitten does because you were tired and I am the only thing that still truly gives you comfort.

I wanted to stop time last week when you said your first word and it was Mum. I’ll want to stop time tomorrow when I wake you up after your first nap and you uncurl yourself like a cat in the sun and smile a sleepy smile at the curtains. I have no idea why you smile at the curtains and not me, but even that makes me want to stop time and marvel in the uniqueness of you.

I wanted to stop time when you were 10 days old and I was still in a bubble of a love so astonishing my heart seemed to crack open further and further with every day.

I wanted to stop time when I placed you in your grandfather’s arms for the first time and I wept with joy that you had a Grandfather when I never did.

I wanted to stop time on the operating table when the doctor brought you to me and my first whispered words to you were “you’re safe”.

I wanted to stop time when I saw you discover your hand. I could see the concentration on your face and almost hear your little exclamation – look Mum, a hand!!

I wanted to stop time the day after you were born when I heard a funny sound from my hospital bed and looked over to see you in your Dad’s arms as he sobbed with joy over the top of your tiny, perfect head.

I wanted to stop time when we brought you home from the hospital and showed you your nursery I’d spent so many years imagining.

I want to stop time every time I see you fresh out of the bath, naked and perfect on a warm towel, skin glowing and eyes big.

I wanted to stop time when I saw you in my sister’s arms. One day I’ll tell you what IVF is and how your Aunty was one of my biggest supports for those six, long years.

I’ll want to stop time in a few months when you heave your determined little body forward into your first crawl. I’ll want to stop time on your first birthday when everything will be pink and green and there’ll be too much cake and I won’t care if people think I’m silly.

I’ll want to stop time when you take your first step, wave your first hello, eat your first food, kiss me back.

I want to stop time so I can remember all of these things. There is you and me, and daddy makes three. And that’s enough. You are enough. You are my light and my joy and my heartsong. So I remember all I can – all the minutes of joy, each second of wonder and fear and surprise. And it’s ok if I never get to repeat them because I had them with you, my miracle, my heartsong. My love.

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Art and Life

Mum 60s

Mum in the 60s in her amazing boots.

I don’t know if it’s a case of life imitating art, or the other way around, but Grandma really IS coming to visit! I told Charlie and she threw her chicken, apple and cinnamon mush up over her shoulder and high into the air in excitement. Ok, so it may not have been because she understood that Grandma-Dawn (GD) was coming, might just have been because throwing things in the air is a hoot. Or maybe she thought chicken, apple and cinnamon mush has the same result as salt when thrown over one’s shoulder. Who knows what babies are really thinking?

Mum hasn’t seen Charlie since she was about three months old and obviously a lot has happened since then – she’s solving complex mathematical problems, she’s joined a band, she’s ompleted her first ultra-marathon, and she’s now an apprentice chef. Ok. Ok, she’ll look at a book with numbers in it, she bangs things together, she can smoosh across the floor in a weird, crawly, snakey type way, and she’s now eating actual food. What? That’s close.

The thing about Mum is that I’m starting to think of her as the Grandma from my new book (as yet untitled) and that’s confusing. The idea for the book did actually start with my Mum. Mum and Charlie have been texting each other from soon after Charlie was born and some of the texts are really funny and both Mum and I really enjoy them. It’s also been a great way for Mum to feel involved in the day-to-day goings on of Charlie’s life. I remember laughing over a funny exchange between Mum and Charlie about me saving some of my clothes from this era for Charlie to wear twenty years from now and Mum telling her about an amazing pair of boots she had in the 60s she wished she’d passed down to me, and I thought it would be lovely in a book. Of course you can’t really write a book of text messages and Charlie is a very easy baby so some artistic licence was needed and suddenly I’m writing a novel half based on Mum and Charlie and half pure fiction about a famous dancing Grandma and a baby who understands the English language. See my confusement?

It’s great fun though, looking at these two people I love so fiercely and then making them different – louder, softer, naughtier, funnier. Who knows what either of them will think with the finished product, but hopefully it’ll be a tribute to them both and something they’ll enjoy.

I still think I need to put all of Mum and Charlie’s texts into a book for them. I know all three of us will be glad I did down the track. Here’s an exchange between them from early February. How cute are they?

Charlie:     GD I ATE FOOD!!!! … It was awful!!
GD:              Oh no Darling! What did they give you?!! Poor poppet xxx
Charlie:     Carrot!!! I wanted cake and coffee. I’m not a farm animal. Stupid parents :(
GD:              Indeed my darling. I’m with you!
Charlie:     Thought so. Good talk, GD.

 

 

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GRANDMA IS COMING!

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Cricket has told us the story of her birth and now moves onto the things at hand, like GRANDMA is coming!

Turns out Grandma is in New Zealand because she’s famous in the REST OF THE WORLD TOO!! Grandma was in a movie about dancing a long time ago, when gay meant happy and Facebook was called visiting. Grandma’s movie made everybody feel very gay so now it’s got all these very happy people who like rainbows and kissing obsessed with it.

Like Auntie Jack. Auntie Jack is Mum’s best friend and she has boy hair and big boobs and wears lots of eyeliner and her Mum’s ITALIAN! How EXOTIC! Her Mum isn’t called Grandma, she’s called Nonna, and she doesn’t give me cake, she gives me torta. WOW!! Sometimes Nonna fills in for Grandma because my Grandma doesn’t live here. I think this might mean that I’m exotic by proxy.

Auntie Jack came over today to help Mum with laundry and cooking and me, which means Mum makes Auntie Jack coffees while she runs around doing laundry and cooking and Auntie Jack flicks the occasional toy in my direction. Auntie Jack doesn’t have any kids so she doesn’t understand how someone as small as me can make so many loads of washing and eat so many vegetables. But she also SINGS! Not like Mum sings, she sings like she’s swallowed a dinosaur! – a dinosaur who can SING! It’s REALLY LOUD! When I’m grumpy she sings me Ave Maria and it makes Mum cry. I don’t know why Mum cries, it cheers me right up!

Auntie Jack flicks me my phone with the big buttons. ‘Knock yourself out, kid.’
Seems a tad aggressive. Maybe I’ll just make a phone call. I think I’ll call Dad and tell him how I pooped out a fully formed Baked Bean this morning. I think that’s newsworthy.
‘Is your Mum coming over after New Zealand?’
‘Yeah, I think so. We’ve barely spoken since she’s been there.’

WHAT???!!! GRANDMA IS COMING??!! I’m so excited I throw my phone in the air and then faceplant my xylophone. It really hurts.

Auntie Jack is sitting on the floor right next to me watching Mum cut vegetables and my scream makes her jump two feet in the air.
‘Holy mother of shitting shitballs, that’s loud!’
‘Jack!’
Mum is already at me, scooping me up before Auntie Jack has time to retract her swear.
‘Sorry Saff. Cricket, my girl, would you like a song?’
I make it a habit of never saying no to Auntie Jack’s offer of a song, even when it hurts my ears and makes my eyes bug out a bit. I stop crying long enough to request Let it Go from Frozen and use my phone to call Iris so she can listen too, but Auntie Jack does Un bel di from Madame Butterfly so I hang up. It still cheers me up though.
‘That sounds amazing Jack. You been practicing?’
‘A bit, yeah. Soph likes that one.’
Soph is Auntie Jack’s new girlfriend. She loves Auntie Jack’s voice even more than Mum does. She’s always telling her to go on the stage, but Auntie Jack just laughs and says that’s over with now.
‘You ok, Poppet?’
Yes, Mum, thanks for asking.
Mum goes back to chopping vegetables and I bang my phone against Auntie Jack’s leg because I like the slapping sound it makes. I’m also praying to the God of Arendelle that there’s no cauliflower up on the bench.

Was there cauliflower on the bench? When is Grandma coming? Can you stand the suspense?!

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