project jumanjii – putting my, ummm, artistic skills to use?

It seems inevitable to point this out. But I know I tend to get a little heavy with my writing. In fact, heaviness seems to be the main theme by which I run with. I’m not entirely sure why I do this, or what that says about me, or if it is some kind of indication of the type of character or person that I am. And I’ll be completely honest with you. Even I tend to raise my eyebrows as I skim over my words, wondering at this god forsaken ability I seem to have, about taking myself back there and being able to re-live long gone memories as if it happened just the other day. When I’m in a good frame of mind, I read my words, and its like glimpsing into the mind of some ominous, sad woman who needs to lighten the fuck up. And then that realization – oh shit. That’s me.

So I’ve delegated myself a little challenge. Of writing more, well, light and uplifting stuff, I guess. And believe me, this is gonna be HARD. I keep all that’s dear and special to me close to my heart. Frivolous, light, carefree or glossy superficial topics hold very little interest for me as far as my writing goes because I know that’s not where my strength as a writer lies. Diving into the depths and stirring up emotions, thats more my thing, as this is a place where I tend to dwell a lot. Gets tiring, though, you know. Being this serious ass person all the time. So I wanna give the lighter side of life a shot. On piece of paper, anyway. Besides, I always said that, if I were to come back to this blog, I would try be a bit more versatile with my topics.

Which brings me to Project Jumanjii!

My girls fifth birthday is coming up soon. December 23rd, two days before Christmas. Good Lord, time has gone by fast. Too fast. Seems like not even that long ago when she descended upon my life and turned it inside out and upside down, and I mean that in the best way possible. I love being a mama. Love it more than life itself. Fulfilment seemed just an illusion, until I had her. Of all the people in my life who attempted, and failed, to control me, who would have known that this little fucking peanut would be the one to do it, and without even trying, too? At times she can drive me to koo-koo land and beyond, and shes the ONLY one that’s allowed to do that. I call her my biggie girl. Because even though she’s going to be five soon, she already has the size, build – and attitude – of a kid much older.

...my biggie, afro-haired baby girl... only four years old...
…my biggie, afro-haired baby girl… four years old…

I had a conversation with her the other day. About painting up her (unpainted) bunk bed for her birthday. This bunk bed has been sitting in our room for two years now, and is more a dumping ground for washing than it is for sleeping on. Just the other day I managed to dismantle the humongous thing and it now sits outside my house, ready to be glorified and magically restored into either a beautiful piece of art…or a bumbling mess? We’ll soon see which one.

...the start of Project Jumanjii...
…the start of Project Jumanjii…

Those draws, I dragged up the hill from the neighbours. Amazing, the shit you find on the side of the road here in Kangaroo land. I’m a big fan of verge shopping. My entire house is decked out with verge junk that cost me just a twenty dollar gas and a trailer fee from Bunnings. Just a few items that I’ve grabbed, cleaned and varnished, that now sit in my house, looking for all the world like they were purchased from some high value antique store.

IMG_20151028_083713 IMG_20151028_083738 IMG_20151028_083805

Going off topic there. So anyway, I’m sitting there, talking to my girl, showing her these pages upon pages of themed ideas for her bunk. Pink, purple and anything girlie or along the line of ‘princess’ is out of the question, as that is most definitely NOT who my girl is. Frozen, Dora and dolls have never really been her thing, and I think I still have a dozen be-headed, armless and legless barbies lying around here somewhere that can attest to this fact.

Like mama, like daughter.  And yes, I am proud.

…no barbies for my girl…

When I narrow down her interests and what she gets into, it would be that she loves play fighting and punching me and her dad up (shes got some sore punches too. Wondering if I should enrol her in karate?) Also, she loves, loves, loves any Marvel character as long as it flies, has a sword or possesses super powers.

…more my girls cuppa tea…

‘I want that one!’ she yells out, pointing to a super-man themed bedroom off the side of the page where I am attempting to find super awesome bunk bed themes on google. Before that, it was Batman. And before that, a room decked out in pure Marvel style with a huge mural of wolverine and Cyclops splashed on the wall.

‘Ummm…’ quickly scrolling down. I always let her exercise the right to be herself, but a superman themed bunk bed for my five year old daughter is a bit much.  Marvel toys and XBOX games is as far as I’ll take it.

She shoves her chubby cheeks in my face. “Muuuum, what about a Ninja Turtles?”

This is turning out to be hard. I do not want my GIRL sleeping in an underground sewer of New York City, with four turtles as sleeping companions. That doesn’t seem ideal at all.

And then a brainwave comes to me as I recall her recently jabbering on a bit about going to the zoo. I quickly type in ‘animal themes’ and hit enter. And the silver lining appears.

“Yes, yes mum!” she jumps up and proceeds to roar and make lion noises. “That’s it, my mum! I wanna go to the zoo! And I’ll have monkeys, and a lion and a tiger and a giraffe!!’

She’s now super excited about her upcoming birthday present. And I now have a super sore head just from thinking how I’m gonna pull this off. So far, all I’ve done is drag the stuff under the garage, which is going to be my workshop. Given that I am the least artistically inclined person that I know, this is going to be an interesting challenge!

Let PROJECT JUMANJII BEGIN!!

...the end result???
…the end result???

biggie girl problems…

At the young tender age of four, my girl had her first taste of bullying. Fortunately for her, that is an age where, thank God, she is still innocent to a five-year olds cruel jibes and taunts and has no idea what ‘fatty watty’ even means. Unfortunately for the girl’s mother, it just so happened to be MY daughter on the receiving end and, after ten minutes of listening to this little brat chanting ‘fatty watty,’ poking at my girls protruding gut, as well as waving and pointing a toy gun in her face, I snapped as politely as one person could possibly be expected to snap if witnessing their kid getting pushed around in a not-so-nice way.

“Hey, hey. Don’t you bloody do that? How would you like it if I poked you in the stomach and shoved a gun in your face you wouldn’t like that would you?”

The brat had the cheek to look crestfallen. I thought I had used a really nice tone, even if there was an underlying threat in there. I look at my baby who is giggling at the brat and also chanting ‘fatty watty, fatty watty’ in a sing-song way. Then out of the corner of my eye, I glance at the mum who is peering at both girls with what I can see is a tight smile on her face. I know I’ve offended her. My baby pranced back inside to her daddy while the brat sits in the corner, staring at me as if I am the wicked witch of the north.

Meanwhile, I attempt to brush away the awkwardness that has all of a sudden permeated the air by picking up where we left off from our conversation, but I know I’ve blown it. I’m aware that the woman sitting across from me, whom I have only known all of three weeks, is not happy that I’ve just told her daughter off. Not happy at all.

Honest to who. I mean, what would you have done?

This was three months ago. I haven’t seen the mother since, and I’m not really surprised. I guess it can now be stated as fact that my tendency to blurt out things that I should maybe not say, or at least learn to re-phrase, is one of the many reasons why I find it hard to keep friends. I still say I wasn’t that harsh though. Or at least I don’t think I sounded as harsh as I felt. Additionally, it can also be stated that, lately, the FACT that I lose friends at a rapid rate when I do this hasn’t been bugging me as much as it used to. Which, I think, is a good thing

Anyway…moving on. Of course, when I say ‘brat’ I don’t mean that in a nasty, evil-ish kind of way, even though it sounds like it. I love kids. Let me just point that out. But there were two reasons why I told this girl off aside from the obvious fact that she was just being downright mean. One – no parent likes to watch their kids get picked on. If the shoe was on the other foot, I’m positive that mother would have done the same thing. Furthermore, if my daughter was teasing another kid in front of me, I would have told her off myself, as respect for others is something I hope to teach her, and teach her well. The other reason why this brats antics got up my ally is…well, a bit more personal…to be completely honest with you.

I’ve been a victim of bullying. Being overweight and tipping the scales at ninety something kg’s at the age of twelve, as well as wearing hearing aids, AS WELL as being fitted with braces in Intermediate through to third form, made me a juicy target for schoolyard bullies. When I put it in perspective, I guess watching my girl getting prodded and teased brought back memories. And feelings. And painful ones at that.

My girl – she has always been on the chubby side. She was the type of baby that strangers on the street ooh-ed and ahh-ed over because her multiple layers of rolls and balloon cheeks were impossible to resist. Fast forward to a few years later, and she’s still getting the oohs and ahhs as well as the occasional side-looks that clearly say “oh my god, what does her mother feed her??” Her fifth birthday is in December, two days before Christmas, yet she constantly gets mistaken for a six-plus year old. Despite the fact that she’s still a toddler, I find myself shopping more in the Girls area in shopping stores, but if you ask my honest opinion, I think Australian clothes sizes are inaccurate anyway. Shopping here reminds me of when I would walk my size twelve self into an Asian clothes store in New Zealand and feel like a giant because even just a fourteen was a tight squeeze. Plus Australian kids are too skinny anyway. But maybe I’m just making excuses.

It used to be cute, watching my baby get attention from strangers due to her overflowing chubbiness. What’s not so cute is listening to her breathing at night. Or watching her run (or attempt to run) after kids her own age. Previously, it made me giggle when watching her get her waddle on, but these days it’s about as funny as cancer. If there’s one thing I realised after witnessing my baby getting taunted, it’s that I don’t want her to go through what I did. Ever.

It’s possible I am blowing this up into intergalactic proportions and over-reacting (what else is new?) It’s been, what, some fifteen years since my school days? Yet this experience just brought it all back like it happened yesterday. It’s not the bullying itself that sticks out like a green bush in a brown hay-field. It’s the way it makes you feel for, like, yeeeeeears afterwards. Worthless. Hopeless. Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Never going to amount to anything…and the list goes on. As you get older, you don’t realise that bullying is a major contributor to self-doubt – the same self-doubt that has followed you throughout your life like a faithful lap dog. Sure, I put on a show of being untouchable. Sure I chose to rise above it and keep on keeping on, because that’s what the experience taught me to do. But the pain, the anger and the resentment was always there, throbbing away underneath it all. It took fifteen long arse years for the rawness of that wound to heal, but at least it got better. At least I overcame it. Some people never do.

In a way, I’m grateful to my bullies from days gone past. Not just at school, but within my home life as well. The lesson I learnt here is this – that it’s the bad experiences that shape you into either two moulds. One, a bitter person. Or two, a better person, and I believe that this is what I am no matter what any tom, dick or harry may think. So I may not be on this brat’s mother’s favourite people’s list anymore? She’s hardly the first one I’ve pissed off because I’ve my tendency to be blunt. I’m probably on a lot of lists of ‘Most Unfavourite People’ and right at the top too. On the other hand, maybe I do need to learn to zip my mouth in the heat of the moment. But the important thing is I know I mean well, even if that is hardly ever obvious. I know my heart is in the right place. I know my intentions are pure. And I like to think that’s all that matters?

I’m proud of the head-strong and determined woman that I am today. Some things I never learn. Other things I’m still trying. But this lesson I learnt very well – that even though life can be utterly beautiful, it can also be a downright bitch. And it’s the bitch times that make you stronger. Still, despite all this, the whole point is I would not wish any of what I’ve been through on anyone, least of all my daughter. I’m probably being overly serious and possibly paranoid about something as trivial as some little girl poking my babies gut with a toy gun, trying to ‘pop her.’ But I can’t help it. Like most parents, I want my girl to lead a sweet charmed life, but that’s just not the way the world works. Times like this I just want to wrap her, tight and snug, in a cocoon and keep her out of harm’s way for all eternity.

But I know I can’t do that. I may not be able to protect my girl forever. And I may be looking a bit too far into the future here. But if there is one thing I hope to install in my daughter, it would be to have supreme and utmost confidence in herself so she can stand tall and proud in a world that isn’t always so kind. And isn’t that what we all want for our children???

Correct me if I’m wrong on that one.

In the meantime though, I think a lifestyle overhaul is in order for her. Because, after all this banging on, the truth is…yes, she is a fair bit overweight. So the brat had a point. Too much noodles and not enough physical activity. If I could chuck her on Herbalife I would, but I think I’ll chuck her on some kind of physical regime instead. I’m getting onto her health now. Honestly, its hightime I did something about it anyway.