Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My son was an orphan

Last week my eldest made his stage debut in the Launceston Musical Society production of "Oliver". It was an amazing show, with a huge cast, and over the last 3 months it has been rehearsed and organised with military like precision. The experience, for J and for all of us, has been inspirational.

It has been quite a journey. I booked J into the initial audition without asking him. Knowing the production was coming up, I made a mother-style executive decision. And I informed him that he was attending only 2 hours before the audition started. You might think this a little unfair but it was a precautionary measure, as I sensed that the anxiety of aniticipation might overwhelm him otherwise. Like many of us, young and old, he fears change. and the unkown. We arrived at the audition with me still telling him "Oh no its not an audition, its just a workshop. It'll be fun." He complained and protested,
"I don't wanna be in a show. I'm not getting up on stage. I don't want a special part, Muu-uu-um! I can't believe you are making me do this " et cetera et cetera. But, under protest, in he went, signed up and then disappeared into the audition room full of fear and excitement.

Three hours later, I returned to pick him up and I was a little bit nervous. I was having doubts that I had pushed it too far this time. "Maybe he does know his own mind best. Maybe I'm just living out my own missed opportunities" and so on my worries worried. However, I was confident that we had not plucked this idea out of thin air. The lad has been singing for as long as he could speak. His rendition of "Arabian Nights" from Aladdin when he was less than two was breathtaking. And when I hear him sing the Glee versions of 'One Love' or 'The Only Exception' in the car, I tear up, every time.

When he finally emerged from the fate that I had condemned him too, he was beaming.
"How was it J?" I tentatively ventured.
He looked into my eyes, I held my breath and he whispered, "Heaven!"
"Mum, I really hope I get a part."

The process, for him, has been like training for a 10 km run (I was going to say marathon, but I have no idea what that would be like). It has been three or more months of dedicated all day Sunday rehearsals and a few long evenings and for the last few weeks its been 7 hour days and late nights. Not to mention the repetition, the doubts, nerves, boredom, frustration and thrill. It's been quite a wild ride.

We had to workshop him through the bit in the middle, when he stared to protest and wanted to drop out. I again questioned my judgement at this point. Along the lines of "Is it too much for him? Is he too young? Are they not taking care of him? Has he not made any friends?" Against my desire to contain my helicopter mother tendencies, and in order to find out what the problem was, I asked the director if I could sit through a rehearsal with him. Parents were usually strictly forbidden. The Director was extremely supportive and so along I went. I am so glad I did. Happily, I discovered that he did not, in fact, hate every minute of it and was not dying of boredom. He was sitting with his eyes glued to the performance for hours and burning with frustration that he hadn't got the part of the Artful Dodger or one of his gang, as they had so much more time on stage. A true thespian. Appropriately, for 'Oliver' it was not less he wanted, but more.

Despite the ups and downs, protests and frustrations he did it. He committed to a long and challenging project. He performed as an orphan in an outstanding show and discovered the love, the applause, the camaraderie and adrenaline of the theatre.

Now, I would never say to him " I told you so."
And I am overflowing with pride.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happiness is a new zine

"Happiness. This is an uncomfortable word, too full of associations of cheerfulness and mindlessness. I prefer fulfilment. The goal is to have a fulfilled life, which means enduring periods of great difficulty, but in the name of something worthwhile. Also, it feels vital to conceive of happiness as something one might, at best sample in 10-minute bursts. To imagine a decade of happiness seems insane- happiness is a rich food that we can'[t stomach for very long. We're creatures built on anxiety and apprehension. That's how we survived." - Alain de Botton

I found this kernel of wisdom in a new mag I stumbled across. It's called "The Smith Journal" and markets itself as

With a name like that how could the luthier not love it?   He did like it, but  he is suspicious that it contains mostly writing by women about men rather than real men talking real men's business. However, it has great pictures of cars and shoes and sheds made from upturned boats. The photos are beautiful in that Frankie-style sepia way, and there are some great short stories. The piece by Monsieur de Botton, my favourite modern philosopher, is entitled "Ten things I Believe" and worth a read if your are feeling a little philosophical.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

High Tea

On my Saturday afternoon off last weekend, I was picked up by my buddy who appeared, looking hot, in couture of her own making. Speeding down the street in the Volvo, we flipped the luthier not only the single, but the double bird, as we bolted past him. He was wearing a surly look on his face or as my mother would have it "he was wearing a turd for a brooch"  as he loaded the kids into the family wagon. Giggles and swearing and chatter burst out of us escapees like the corks had popped on our bottles. We cruised off eagerly to our idea of a hot Saturday outing. - The Launceston Horticultural Society Flower Show.

I know, we are WILD!

The show was held in the same hall that hosted my Grade 12 ball. That night, 20 years ago, when I cut a fine figure in my black, raw silk strapless frock with electric blue tulle underneath and sporting a black velvet bolero jacket. My hair, thankfully, had calmed down from its unfeasible heights of the late 80's by then. The immense spiral perm had mostly dropped out. So that night I was crowned with  a shoulder length bob,  tame compared to previous hairdo eccentricities.  I was El Presidente of the Ball Committee that year (the only school office I ever held) and while the hall has changed it remains full of memories. I remember the preparations for that night of nights, including filling and tying ribbon on 100s of helium balloons in black, silver and grey, that floated across that ceiling then painted with stars. And I recall the shyness, the touch and the laughter that accompanied the  compulsory progressive ballroom dancing under those stars. I cringingly remember being pulled up on stage with the band to sing along tunelessly to one of the hot hits of the time - I don't recall the song now, it wasn't Black Velvet by Alannah Myles but that's the only song from that era I can remember.

On this Saturday, the hall was in bloom, hosting a Nanna event extraordinaire, Full of the fresh, oxygen-sweet air of a room bursting with flowers and plants. The atmosphere was sublime. All around blossomed varieties and blooms I had never seen before with exotic Latin names that I will never remember. We wandered around and chatted to bloggy friends, garnering knowledge and advice from our friend from Killiecrankie and imagining midnight guerilla gardening escapades with Suburban Jubilee.  We cruised the blooms and chatted to the sweet aged people around us. We took high tea which was quite a spread for the princely sum of $4 - tea and a plate.  Over tea were shared stories of misspent youth. Hugging ours sides, we laughed uproariously over the distasteful escapades of university days and share house shenanigans. (I hope no offence was caused to the dear Nanna's around us, that they did not catch foul snippets with their tea and biscuits. Although I am sure they would all have tales of their own.)

Times have changed considerably. The wine carrier is now recyclable and full of seedlings. The cup is full of tea. Not a dirty dart or a Zippo in sight. The plants we purchased were to be planted freely in our gardens not surreptitiously in our cupboards under foil and harsh lights. This picture would have horrified 18 year old me.  It was all booze and fags and bands and the boys in the bands and dreaming of life's potential, back in those days of my youth. Those days now glow golden with hindsight but I paid little mind to their glory then.

These new, slow days have simplicity and its greatness in them. I love that they are here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I love painting and drawing with the kids. Even though sometimes the effort and mess daunts me a little. Once we get cracking its such good fun.  (Its annoying the number of times I have let that inertia stop me from doing things that I know, once I start I will love. Here's to efforts to get over that ol' chestnut.)

So this morning, while the luthier took his wise ass off to Symmons Plains to ride his saucy Italian mistress around the track, me and the kids manifested our inner artiste, and here is our exhibition or  exervishun (as Sophie calls it).

Below is my study of a thick-lashed plonker and the subject.

And now, like Mary Poppins, I get Saturday afternoons off, so I am heading out the door, yes out the door sans enfants, off like Mum's undies on Father's Day, to seek out adult company and look at plants and probably eat cake.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Wisdom of The Luthier

Last night the luthier reminded me that sometimes I don't have to search very far to tap into the wisdom of the ages. He asked me about the book I was reading - "The Happiness Project" and I explained it was a a book describing a woman's research and actions undertaken over a year to change her behaviour in small ways in order to become more happy and generate more happiness in those around her.
"It's a self-help book, isn't it?" was the reply.
" Well, yes and no, ... well yes, I guess it is."
" It's easy to be happy" he went on in his matter-of-fact way
"Really? How's that?" I said intrigued.

He replied "Just pull your head out of your arse."

I think he might be onto something.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sure Enough

As expected, the smalls hit the town in entirely inappropriate garb yesterday.

Today the largest was inexplicably unwell, had a sleep and recovered.
I spent 2 hours cleaning up my bedroom. Then made my bed with my favourite linen sheet bought en France and got into it and read 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin. I am really digging it. What makes her happy is not what makes me happy but I really agree that happiness is heightened when a little effort is made towards it. I like her ideas and the quotes and research she is basing her ideas upon.

“We must, therefore, pursue the things that make for happiness, seeing that when happiness is present, we have everything; but when it is absent, we do everything to possess it.” -- Epicurus

This idea of investing in happiness when things are going well in order to make you more robust when times are tough really interests me. I wonder if it works?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Colour and Happiness

I had a black and brightly coloured crocheted 'ruggy' when I was a small. It was my security blanket and I loved it. It inspired the colour scheme for this craft project and I am truly loving it. Completing one of the three-coloured circles in red, orange and yellow, or purple, red and pink. It makes me very happy. The pattern is great because you weave in the ends and attach the hexagons as you go. None of that awful sewing in of the ends which can sometimes be a job too big and too tedious to tackle.

The intention is for this hexagonal patchwork bliss to grow to single bed size when it can become a throw for the bed of my number one son. He is an amazing kid but plagued by anxiety (I have no idea where he might get that from, ahem...). I hope it works for him as a security blanket. A confidence blanket. He just scooted off to town on his own for the first time - to visit the luthier's shop. Maybe it is working already?

Number two son has declared it a pyjama day and was last seen eating Nutri-Grain out of the box. He turned 6 last week and celebrated with a lego party. He had fun AND he even invited girls! We made a Lego cake ( inspired by the Donna Hay version without any of her stylist, perfectionist finesse) and he received so many of the precious little blocks on the day, we thought he might like to build an extension to the back of our house with it. If James May can do it, I am sure Sacha could give it a crack.

Speaking of crack, turning 6 was a big day in the Smith household for Number two son as he has been promising for a long time that on the day he turned six he would take over the enviable job of wiping his own ass. I know, you can imagine how sorry I was to see that job deleted from my task list. How I loved to hear the inevitable call each day "Muuuuu-uuum, its Bum Wiping time!" Everyone's favourite time of the day! The lad has been true to his word and so far, so good on the solo bum-wiping performance.

How my boys are growing up!

Child number 3 is taking the art of arguing and negotiation to new heights. Bleurgh! She is too young for the Argument sketch, but she never wants the 5 minute argument, its always definitely the 10 minute argument for her. Important subjects to debate include, putting your jacket on, shutting the car door, eating your dinner, and of course, everybody's favourite, getting into bed. Granny kindly took her out and bought a delightful pair of pink, plastic high heels with matching accessories at the two dollar shop. I am guessing that the next topic for argument will be "Why you can't wear tractionless plastic high heels (and no cardigan)into town" and will end with me irrationally yelling, "Alright well, break your bloody neck then!" or similar effective parenting statements.

A few more days left of the holidays and then a whole new world opens up before me. Next week is my first official week as a stage mother! J makes his debut as ' an orphan' in the Launceston Musical Society production of 'Oliver'! " Teeth and eyes, kid, teeth and eyes!"


Monday, September 12, 2011


Gardening and bubbling with garden dreams.
A few games of cards.
Visiting friends, a market, two new skirts.
Hexagonal crochet.
A tantrum that lasted three city blocks and the whole drive home.
Oliver rehearsals for J.
The smalls playing kings and queens going to France.
The luthier carving up a cello back.

And the ever-present question - what's for dinner?