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My life in ruins

“You’re ruining my life,” M1 screams at me as once again I am sending her to her room for a bit of ‘time-out’.

It’s not really time-out for anyone because she’ll spend the next ten minutes banging and stamping her feet and yelling at me. However at least she is not in my direct zone and that is best for all of us. I know she will calm down…eventually, and be pleasant for a moment or two.

How I am ruining her life at age five and almost three quarters I am not sure. Maybe me telling her she can’t have another packet of tiny teddies will stop her saving the world from a meteor strike that might happen on 27 August 2027 because those very tiny teddies might have just been what she needed for brain development which leads her to create the antidote for stray meteors. Sorry world. I’m ruining your lives too.

Maybe I am ruining her life because her not swinging on the monkey bars after school for ‘just five more minutes pleeeeeeaaaaase mum’ means she won’t develop into an Olympic gymnast. Sorry AOC. Sorry all you people hanging for Australia to win gymnastic gold at the Olympics.

Potentially I am ruining her life because not letting her eat chocolate cake for breakfast means she will not get the sugar rush that will prepare her adequately for some addiction later in life! Sorry to those who have to hold back her hair.

Maybe me telling her not to sing in such a shrill fashion that I am forced to face scrunch (thus causing me wrinkles) is ruining her life because there is a career for her in opera singing and I am obviously not recognising it. Sorry Opera Australia.

Maybe me telling her not to push her brother is ruining her life because without building upper body strength he won’t get the skills to become a key midfielder for the Sydney Swans and she won’t get to sit in a corporate box at a home game to watch him play in the 2033 season. Sorry Swans fans.

Perhaps I am ruining her life because I don’t let her have canteen money every day which means she wont have any concept of how to spend in the December sales. This of course will lead to a down turn in the Australian economy and imminent depression from around 2024. Sorry Australian economy and taxpayers.

I know I am ruining her life when we walk down the Barbie aisle saying ‘no, no, no, no…’ because she may not develop body issues with limited exposure to the plastic goddess, and well we all need those issues so we have something to blame our mothers for.

However, it’s Barbie who is in part responsible for all of this – or at least Barbie as she appears in Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus. I discovered this lovely role model – in the guise of a teenage ice skater called Annika – tells her parents they are ‘ruining her life’ when they ask her not to leave the castle – for good reason I might add – they have already had another daughter turned into a flying mythical horse by an evil wizard.

So for fear of my daughter being ‘winged’ I expect I will keep ruining her life. Bring on those teenage years…

The set up

Recently I read an enlightening article by Bianca Wordley, which deals with the ‘things people say’, and in her case it’s those comments which suggest having three young children of the same sex – girls – somehow makes life easier. You can read this very funny article here.

It got me thinking about more of the things I have been told with three young children. Anyone who had read my blog in the past knows I like to analyse these pearls of wisdom. One thing in particular really stands out. Unlike Bianca I have two girls and a boy so I don’t get the life must be easier comment, but my favourite has been, ‘you must be happy now because you have the full set’. This got me thinking about what constitutes a set.

According to my trusty dictionary¹ there are at least 68 definitions for set. Let’s examine just a few of them.

Put or lay a thing in a certain place. Unless you’re not keen on finding it again the certain place needs to be over five feet high and no where near any thing that may be used as a climbing device (which for children can be any reasonably solid object).

Set or adjust an alarm clock to sound at a certain time. I ask, with three young children, who needs an alarm clock?

Fix, arrange or mount. Fix – either that or you end up throwing it out (okay so they don’t mean that kind of ‘fix’ but when you have kids all you seem to do is fix things – hence my confusion), arrange – don’t mistake this for tidy up, and mount – refer to definition above re five feet high.

Set a table. Just make sure all your cutlery and crockery match unless you want to start the ‘I wanted the pink plate’ war.

Insert a jewel into a ring. Except that now you can’t afford jewels and the only ring you have comes with the telephone.

Arrange hair while damp so it dries in a required style. Does pulling it into a ponytail count?

Set things in motion or set a fire. With the adventurous nature of my children there is a pretty good chance something will be set on fire. And we are always in motion, always…

To harden or solidify. Can it get any harder? And solidify? You mean like play dough (my least favourite toy) that’s been left out of its container?

Appear to move towards the earth’s horizon. I call this falling into bed at the end of another crazy day.

Represent (to set the scene) as happening in a certain time or place. It all seems to be happening in my kitchen, under my feet.

Start doing something (set things in motion). But just don’t expect to finish it.

Set a task. Ha! See point above.

Set the pace, take the lead in. We always seem to be doing things at pace but I never feel I am in the lead.

Establish a record. I think I have the world record for the most yelling one person can do.

Set bones. Oh please I hope not!

Assume a hard expression. I often try this. It never really works, except to enhance my wrinkles.

A collection of implements. Implements used for torture? Wooden spoons perhaps?

The way a machine or device is adjusted. Just don’t come back any time in the future and expect it to be adjusted the way it was.

A television. If only I had watched more television….

A sequence of songs. Let it go, for the first time in forever, do you want to build a snowman, in summer… Yes, the deranged ranting of a sleep-deprived woman forced to listen to the Frozen soundtrack over and over and over….

A set in tennis. Who has time for tennis? Fortunately I am pretty rubbish at it anyway. Maybe I can push my children in to playing it, they can become world champions and I can be their coach. We all know how good parent-coaches are.

Prescribed or determined in advance. With three children there is no other way to be. It’s not like I can turn to the Cliché and say, “honey, how about we fly to Buenos Aires next week,” any more.

A setting. Picture this: a winter evening, front door opens, children enter and all that can be heard are cries of “I wanted to come up the steps first”, “I’m hungry”, “I want to watch Peppa”, “well I want to watch Frozen”, “that’s my seat”, “I was there first”, “mum, we need to take jewellery for show and tell”…

A number of things or persons that belong together. That’s us.

In retrospect maybe I do have the full set.


¹ The Australian Concise Oxford dictionary (8th Edition), Oxford University Press, 1993