Head down, pen up, it’s time to write another MICF show Part I
I am a fundraising fatigued parent,still spattered in fat from the last sausage sizzle. If I have to have a current licence to handle food,why did no one ever ask me for a handlers certificate when it came to raising my children? Recently between chocolate drives, I have taken to studying Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and the nutritional advice on the back of the Cheerio box. But will this extra reading help answer the ultimate poser in my life: Why don’t children eat their crusts?
Bread without borders
Time had a strange way of slowing down, then speeding up during the first five years or my children’s lives. One minute it was saté poohs and let downs, the next minute I am in charge of the mango drive. There is the quantifiable bit of time – the birth, that took around 14 hours. The whole thing felt like a rave party full of e’s: episiotomy, epidural, exhausting,The elastic nature of time during those first five years of life is not unlike an aged maternity bra: saggy, unkempt and a bit whiffy.
There is a plethora of parenting literature to plough through that is meant to help in the navigation of these uncharted waters. I discard: What to expect when you are expecting, and dismiss Keeping your breasts buoyant and your perineum perky and opt instead to read Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Cup if tea in hand, a carpet of biscuit crumbs at my feet, I begin.
Piaget calls the first two years of life the sensorimotor stage. During this time, the infant builds an understanding of themselves and reality (and how things work) through interactions with the environment. It is able to differentiate between itself and other objects. Learning takes place via assimilation (the organisation of information and absorbing it into existing schema) and accommodation (when an object can not be assimilated and the schemata have to be modified to include the object.) During this time my arm feels like it is just an appendage to the pram. I begin to spend less time rocking and pacing and more and more time driving greater and greater distances to induce sleep. I replace the word baby on the baby on board sticker with the word phenurgan,hoping that drowsiness will occur. I then pencil in the word sleep is so over rated stage into Piaget’s theory.
I am a stay at home mum and no amount of paid maternity leave makes me feel particularly valued. After I wave James off to work each day, I say: happy affidavit writing, hope it’s not too litigious before lunchtime, hope you have lots of cogent arguments with your clients. Then I close door and watch the minutes tick by slowly.
During the slow tick of time phase,I have the door bell dismantled, the dog debarked and I begin to eat only very quiet foods:no slurping, no crunching and no munching. Despite all of this I still can not control my own crying. Though I can not find mention of it in Piaget’s works, my children soon spend a lot of time smearing yogurt onto walls and doors, hopping onto the toilet train and forming strong bonds with soft toys. The fur of the toys become so manky that it carries a rare strain of the e boli virus on it. We slip out of the sensorimotor stage and into the pre operational stage. This time slipping is akin to watching the egg timer on a down load in the dial up days.The pre operational stage I soon discover is also known as the playgroup stage. The first week that it is my turn to host playgroup I go on surface patrol at sunrise.Armed with a sponge and a baby on my hip I walk through the house putting things into groups and piles.The overall effect is that there are teetering piles of crap balanced next to teetering groups of crap. To make it a bit easier on the eye I put a bunch of greenery from the garden into a jug onto of a group and next to a pile. In readiness for the arrival of the playgroup mums, I place opened packets of biscuits: Tim Tams,Vo Vo’s and Peppermint slices at diagonal angles on the dining table. I unsheathe each packet equally – four biscuits down. I arrange an assortment of teas in a variety of ways, until I am satisfied that the display implies that I am a competent parent. The first playgroup mum to arrive has four children under the age of four. The mum, let us call her Liz, heaves her emmaljunga pram into the hallway and hands me a Tupperware box. Inside the Tupperware box is a home baked banana bread, made with organic brown flour, cooked using a recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s Cooks Companion. The cake is still warm from the oven. All I can say, as I take it from her is: You sanctimonious bitch