My Crazy, Curious, Kind, Compassionate, and Rarely Quiet Kids

I’ve had four kids, and am raising three. One lives with my parents as his needs outstrip our ability to manage him. The three hilarious and strangely well-adjusted parasites that remain in the care of my ex-husband, and our formidable and fantastic tribe, make me laugh every single day. They are aged 14, 12, and 5. Two of them have my face, and one looks a bit like Will or Mike (those two look sooooo similar) from Stranger Things. He also looks a little bit like his father did at his age.

Daniel enjoying some deliciousness in 🇯🇵 Japan spring 2019

We are a motley crew. Most of our public outings include dance routines, ad-libbed singing to whatever songs may be wafting through the mall, supermarket or amusement park lucky enough to host the hobbits West. We. Are. Loud. We are kind, complimentary to strangers, observant of hilarity wherever and whenever it presents itself, and we are perfectly happy to catch the eyes and confused or slightly scared looks of strangers. We are a team of tyrants who will not tolerate injustice, insist on honesty, and aren’t afraid to have a laugh at our own expense.

Daniel rocking my vintage Prada shades while Steph makes noise… while I survey the beauty of New Zealand 🇳🇿

I’ve been home now for about four days or so since my last major overseas jaunt for 2019.  The Love I have for my chosen homeland bubbles up and exploded out of me in an expletive laden rant as I traversed through the mighty Waikato on our way to the Bay of Plenty for a rhythmic gymnastics competition that Stephanie-Jane actually kicked some serious ass in.  Coming up over the saddle between the Hauraki plains and BOP sent me raging loudly with such colourful collogues as:

“Jesus Mary AND Joseph Daniel and Steph, just look at those HILLS! They don’t even look real. That hurts my brain. How are we so blessed to live here? OMG! OMG! OMG! Do you see the light beams bouncing off the forest over there? LOOK AT YOUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY! LOOK AT IT!”

My enthusiasm is always met with utterly unrelated observations about brain hemispheres, grave social injustices, or, sometimes dark jokes about ennui and depression from Daniel.  Steph is more prone to shrill yelling, because she pretty much yells at the top of her lungs when she wants a thing, until she gets the thing, then simmers down until a wave of desire for the next thing takes hold and the yelling resumes.

Luckily, this bullshit behaviour is reserved only for me.  They don’t even pull out the big guns of assholedness I have been privy to this weekend for their dear old dad.  They save it for me, I am assuming, as a punishment for the vast swathes of time I spend abroad, and a clear reminder that they do indeed, Love me dearly, and my own eccentricities have not gone unobserved; rather clearly noted and expertly simulated with sardonic stealth.  These kids are comic geniuses with very different schticks.  They are also unafraid to speak freely of their fears and feelings, no matter how fucked up either of these things may be at any given time.

Accurate portrayal of me reading their memes

Now, don’t even get me started on my kids’ friends. They are all kinds of clever and quirky and fantastic. There’s something about being the mom who simply does not give a fuck what other people think or say that has earned me a firm foothold of trust and tenderness in the hearts of all of the kids chosen tribes. Well, we’ve kinda established that Daniel pretty much doesn’t have any friends except for Ben (the incredibly detail oriented, and perhaps slightly OCD tour guide who joined us on Daniel’s 14thbirthday trip to Japan) because he’s pretty much only ever had room for one friend at a time for as long as any of us can remember. Steph, on the other hand, has several gaggles of gregarious and gloriously giggly guys and gals. Mostly gals to be fair. Her social circle is vast and varied and she hangs with creative kids who now reside around the planet. Her two major social circles in New Zealand are her Gym girls and her Junior High posse of perfectly pained pre-teens. These girls are shoveling all kinds of shit and insecurities, while Steph wafts wanton through her weeks, shrieking at me and me only when she neeeeeeds something to happen. I adore her very loud friends. They are all taller than me, they are all very clear on the fact they will always have a home and a hug with the super weird West clan. They remind me in many ways of my own group of friends, only far more vanilla. None of the kids nor their social circles have any interest in veering very far off the tracks. They are drug and alcohol free, do not drink coffee and only “spill tea” (this is what their ritual of spilling secrets and sharing their deepest fears and problems among a safe and secure circle). I Love each of these kids like they were family, and for most intents and purposes, they actually are family. We have found each other in a crazy world, and I suspect I will support and cherish them all in one way or another for as long as I breathe.

Then, there are my kids friend’s parents.  Love, respect and earnest strain and parenting pain bind us together.  There’s no need for anyone in the world to know what troubles these kids are facing, nor the lengths their legendary parents go to protecting and guiding the greatness that is contained in their offspring.  But we share our struggles openly, honestly, and without judgement. I suspect the reason my kids’ parents confide in me so readily, is that I am so open with being a complete fuck up a lot of the time.  We are all doing our best, with unique and challenging children.  Some of them are feisty, some shy, some angry, some have a tendency to lie.  But they are all actually really great kids, and not raging too far in the face of social conventions or norms, rather, they are all kids with convictions, unafraid to disagree with the world, their parents, or society.  They even have the ability to respectfully stand up to one another, which, at this stage of development is very rare indeed, as this is the stage in our lives when friends and social acceptance are the holy grail of existence. They’re a good bunch.  I just hope that their disinterest in all the trappings and poor choices presented through peer pressure continues.  

I may be downplaying some of the heavy shit we have been through together over the years.  My kids are far from perfect.  My eldest son is a proper pessimist, daughter is a diva, and my baby boy Jamie has absolutely no ability to use an inside voice in any situation.  He’s possibly the cutest and cuddliest human I have ever met though.  This kid will rage at you for a solid 30-40 seconds when he’s overtired or hangry, and then come bounding up into your arms apologizing for his mean words and expounding his undying adoration for his less than perfect parent (that includes his other mum and dad, the Nanny Lou and her husband Mike).

So, tomorrow I am off again on an epic road trip with two of my goddesses across the country finalizing the details for an international EV extravaganza in November.

Three more nights away from my babies, and home for two nights, then down to Wellington with my magnificent ex-husband Phteven.  This time next year, I have every intention of taking my children out of school for a semester and settling for a month in each of their favourite cities, and just being their mother and writing every day. 

Stuck in the 90’s Again

Stuck in the 90’s Again

I truly Love being back at school.  The penny drops and some readings sink in every once in a while, and for just a moment,  I feel like a fucking academic rockstar.

academic-project

I could spend the rest of my adult life languishing in books and journals and online resources all day.  Words are delicious and reading and writing is a special kind of heaven for a logophile like myself.

Being an adult student pisses all over my undergrad and postgraduate diploma experiences.  I actually want to be there now.  It is the least stressful and in some ways most rewarding part of my life (sorry kids, husband, job and activism) right now.  Probably mostly owing to the fact I know it will all be over by August.  I felt the same giddiness about the first few events I managed when I got back to work, and the first weeks of my youngest children’s lives.  I guess I like variety.

Anyway, what was I on about again?

Ah, yes, so I seriously love being back at school.  I was in the library all day yesterday and today, and I’m up on the all but abandoned 4th floor that smells of books, and ink, and laptop fans and coffee.  This is lucky, as the main floor smells of young people.  You know the smell, like the 7th form common room.  Lynx and sweat and raging hormones.  So much yuck.  Much prefer the musty smell of books to that of millennials.  Nothing wrong with young people, we were all young people at one time or another, I just rather prefer being a feisty middle-aged mother of four.

I have earned my stripes in this life, and have crammed a decade worth of living and adventure into each and every year since striking out on my own (mostly) at the age of 16.

One of the nice things about getting/being older is the reminiscing.  I wouldn’t want to do my teens or twenties over again for all the tea in China (China, CHINA… can’t help myself… Trump memes are like brain worms) but I do like thinking back on my incredibly interesting coming of age.

You’ve heard the saying “youth is wasted on the young” well I think that’s stone cold bullshit.  Youth is not a waste.  It is very important.  Doing dumbass shit and becoming self aware and connected to a bigger purpose than ourselves is a destination only possible through the trials, heartache, laughter, tears, dramatics, awkward sex, fleeting first kisses, epic adventures and learning how to be resilient through all of this shit.

quote-it-s-a-pity-youth-is-wasted-on-the-young-george-bernard-shaw-53-27-79

Youth is best spent in a body that can handle the punishment that comes with making many bad (and some fabulous) decisions.  So, it is not wasted on the young.  It is perfectly suited to them.  And they can fucking HAVE IT!

So today’s soundtrack was exclusively 90’s fare.  I listened to Counting Crows, and Lisa Loeb, and then the COMPLETE Third Eye Blind collection.  I was transported to the University of Calgary and our four bedroom apartment in Castle Hall.  They’ve since torn that whole complex that was built for the 1988 winter olympics down.

castle-hall

Chain smoking, beer for breakfast and working a full time job at a coffee shop on campus called (ever so originally) The Coffee Company.  I Loved that job.  I got another “foreign” student friend a job alongside me there.  We’ve all but lost touch now.  Her name was Sarah and she works as an events manager or something in Queenstown.  I see her shit come up on Facebook or Instagram occasionally, but we’ve taken very different paths and don’t have mutual friends anymore.  I see the other fabulous Australian Jess online a lot, we share a lot of political views so I like reading her status updates and shit.

So this trip down memory lane got me thinking. If I could go back and give skinny, insecure, campus bicycle (just about everyone had a ride) Dee some really solid advice it would include:

  • Listen, like ACTUALLY FUCKING LISTEN to that voice that says “that isn’t a good idea Dianna…” but listen MORE to the voice that says: “HEY!  You should DO THAT!”
  • STOP SMOKING.
  • Give less fucks about what people think, most people whose opinions matter to you today will fall into obscurity (even with social media) and be replaced with people who are smart, kind, caring, quirky, wonderful and treat you with Love and respect.
  • Definitely go out with the sweet short guy you’re going to meet in a few years named Steve, and definitely do tell him that you can’t be bothered dating anyone who doesn’t want kids (together you’ll have four)
  • Love the shit out of everything and do not be ashamed.  Your passion and enthusiasm will take you all over the planet, and it will be amazing.  It does run out though, so use up every morsel while you can before it does.
  • Dance and sing and go on a lot of road trips.
  • The freedom you have right now is something you’ll not think of as a gift until it is replaced with the trappings of being an adult and all the responsibilities contained therein, so be free (and wrap up every single time if you’re feeling randy)
  • Enjoy your own company.  You won’t realize how precious and wonderful being by yourself is until your mid 30’s and you almost NEVER get to be by yourself for any length of time ever.  Seriously.  Even going to the toilet will include an audience when you have four fucking kids, so go sit under a tree somewhere and just fucking be, because you won’t be getting a lot of those moments with a young family in tow.
  • Be confident and humble.  You’ll figure it out…

So, seeing as I do not have a time machine to go back and tell me these things, I will instead hope that my kids benefit from the wisdom bred from my many adventures.  Sprinkle on top of this Phteven’s own vast and varied life experience, and the kids will have a lot to draw on if they ever need advice.

So I am going to leave you with a song that my husband and I listened to on countless road trips and adventures together (before and after we had kids) from one of my top three favourite obscure Canadian bands.  Do yourself a goddamned favour and listen to the whole thing, because it is CRAZY how history repeats and some things do not change, while others totally do.

Here’s “Stuck in the 90’s Again” by my main men from Eastern Canada (who are WELL over 30 now BTW)

MOXY FRUVOUS!

Thank you for reading.

Goodnight.