What Are You Passing On To Your Children?

I don’t mean in the “germy-germ” sense. I mean behaviour wise. Are you teaching them manners by always being polite to strangers? Are you teaching them that it’s okay to shout when they’re angry? Or that it’s fine to pull the finger at slow drivers on the freeway? Because let’s face it – kids are sponges. They watch and they listen and they learn a whole lot more than most of us grown-ups give them credit for. Anything Mum or Dad or Grandma or Uncle Andy says and does is going to teach them what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable.

I shudder to think what I could teach to my future children. Things such as: It’s okay to bottle up negative feelings and then blurt them out when it’s most inappropriate. That most people are dangerous and you should be frightened of them. Stepping onto an airplane means certain death. Yeah, I’ve really gotta work on all that before I have a baby!

So anyway, I know this girl, (Okay, truth be told, it’s the same one from this post), who has subconsciously taught her little girl to be a bundle of anxiety and emotion. Take for example the picture she just posted of the poor six-year-old in a state of utter distress because, wait for it, her grandparents were going away for a long weekend. Yep – a long weekend.

Four days.

There had been a whole series of distraught FaceBook updates leading up to this acquaintance posting the photo of her daughter. She had been writing things (on behalf of herself, not her daughter) like, “Saying goodbye is going to break my heart,” “This is too painful to bear,” and “I’m in so much pain – they can’t go and leave me, I’ll die without them.” So I think it’s safe to assume the daughter didn’t get a tad upset on her own accord. She obviously picked up her mothers distress (real or fake to garner attention, I’m honestly not sure) and is so upset she’s been crying her eyes out for hours and even vomited in the garden when Grandma and Grandpa drove away.

Kids that young don’t fake distress that enormous. Seriously, I wish some parents would be more mindful of the traits and behaviours they’re passing onto their kids.

A Cry For Attention vs. A Cry For Help

I’m cynical. I can’t help it. I think I may have been born that way. And the introduction of the internet has intensified that x1000%.

There are blogs, there are forums, there are community boards, there’s Twitter and FaceBook and five thousand others ways to talk to the world anonymously (and sometimes not so anonymously).

People share their joys and triumphs and frustrations on the internet. Some also share their anger, their sadness, their grief, their horror.

A friend was told her mothers cancer was back, and this time it was terminal.
Another friend shared her news that her baby was going to be born with a disability.
A blogger told her readers that her husband had died.
An old school mate shared her sadness after her fiance called off their engagement.

These are truths. These are from people sharing their life and their reality.

But sometimes, there are the attention seekers. The people who cry wolf. These people need to know that there are other people paying attention to them by liking, commenting on or re-tweeting whatever lie they’re peddling this week.

So occasionally when a stranger tells the internet things like….

He forces me to have sex.
I want to kill myself.
I throw up everything I eat.

….I wonder. I wonder if they’re telling the truth. Especially in a forum thread or blog post unrelated to their issue. If the forum was on a health site and someone admitted they’re bulimic in a thread marked “Eating Disorders” then they’re probably admitting the problem and hoping for some support. Same with a blog discussion on domestic violence – if someone is sharing their horror story, it’s most likely the truth.

But in a blog post on a non-sex-related topic and someone admits to being forced into sex, my cynicism can’t help but rear up and think, “I bet they’re wondering how many comments they get.”

There’s something about the anonymity of the internet which makes me a tad uncomfortable with these random admissions. Perhaps it’s because they’re often anonymous? Perhaps it’s because I can’t verify the facts for myself? Perhaps it’s because I can’t read their body language and their facial expressions and determine for myself whether to believe them or not. Perhaps it’s because I don’t know them and their character and can’t work out whether they’re telling the truth or fishing for attention.

So, where does one draw the line? How do you determine who’s telling the truth and who’s crying wolf? Do I ask everyone who blurts out a shocking admission if there’s anything I can do to help? Do I ignore it? Do I possibly give an attention-seeker the attention they desire? Is there a middle ground?

Is there a right way or a wrong way to handle things?

 

I’m Too Busy / Important

Whatever happened to catching up with friends?

No, seriously – have you found it increasingly harder over the years to arrange a small get-together with about five or six different people? It’s harder than a bloody stealth military operation.

Two months ago, a group of old work-place friends tried to catch up – there were six of us. Four have young children. Two work full time Monday to Friday. Another two do shift-work. One is a stay-at-home mum. And then there’s me.

The emails (and there were DOZENS!) went back and forth like a really long tennis rally between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“I can only do weekends.”

“I can’t do Sundays after 2pm.”

“Little Charlie does football on Saturday mornings.

“How about dinner Saturday night then?”

“I work every second Saturday night.”

“I’m a single mum with no access to baby-sitters – it has to be a child-friendly event.”

We eventually agreed that either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning would be good times. But then came the “date” fiasco.

“I can’t do next weekend – we’re going camping.”

“I’m working on the 7th and 21st.”

“I’m busy on the 7th, 8th, 14th and 22nd.”

“I have a wedding to go to on the 14th and a 60th birthday party on the 29th.”

There was about a week of emails like this. I shan’t bore you with the rest. But it was like everyone was having a competition of “I’m busier/more popular than you.”

After three weeks of emails, we eventually decided on a date and a time. Then, a week before the get-together……

“Ummm, I may not be able to make it on Saturday now.” This from the girl who just accepted a last minute FaceBook invite to another event.

“Little Abby has been invited to her best friends place that afternoon for a pool party so I have to take her to that – I’m not looking good for Saturday either.” This was from the host of the event.

Two others quickly pulled out and accepted invitations to “better” events.

After so much time and energy spent organising the bloody thing, the get-together was cancelled.

WHAT THE FUCK?!

I know you’re all busy. But whatever happened to WANTING to spend time with old friends. In the case of the two who pulled out at the last minute – they made other plans with people they see ALL THE TIME! It’s like they only committed to this particular social occasion until something better came up. I hate that! It’s really rude. If you commit to something, then you commit to it, you don’t wait for something better to come along! (Although I shouldn’t be surprised that people don’t 100% commit to things anymore – have you seen the recent divorce statistics citing “infidelity” as the reason?)

Yesterday, a second attempt was made to organise a get-together. But organising six women, four kids and social lives which only have time for the most exciting things is going to be damn near impossible.

My final email: “I can’t do anything on Mother’s Day. Apart from that am free as a bird. Let me know when you sort out a time and date. x.”

That was my version of, “I give up.”

Overwhelmed

I’ve been feeling a bit run down lately. Yes, maybe it has something to do with Husband needing surgery and the stress that came with waiting for the results.

But I run a house and my husband and I each own a small business. I also have this blog and my other blog.

I enjoy my other blog, but since it’s very subject specific I feel like I can never be myself. Which is where this blog comes in.

Then there’s my business. It doesn’t make much money, but it’s more than a hobby. I find marketing to be the most difficult thing – getting the name of my website out there is very time-consuming.

And Husband’s business – well that’s what brings home the bacon. I do his networking, online marketing, advertising, admin and paperwork.

All of that, plus renovating bits of our house, looking after three pets, some aging parents and grandparents and trying to keep up with some kind of exercise regime plus doing things like showering, eating and occasionally catching up with friends.

I feel overwhelmed. I’m exhausted. My body is telling me to slow the fuck down.

So, I’ve been thinking of winding up my subject-specific blog which I’ve had for about three years. And the feeling of guilt is horrible. If I stopped writing for that blog and tweeting from that associated account, I would feel like I’d failed.

I’m not really sure what to do at the moment. All I know is that I can’t do everything. If I’m struggling to keep on top of everything now, then how will I cope to keep on top of everything when I have a baby?

Bridezilla on Steroids

So, I’ve previously written about the Wedding of the Century that’s taking place in Switzerland later this year (if you missed it, go here to have a squiz) and since that post, things have taken a rather interesting turn!

Bro-in-law and his wife-to-be popped over for dinner on Easter Sunday. Partly because it was Easter, mainly because they wanted advice from someone with a university degree in common sense (ie: Husband).

It turns out they think the wedding is costing them a bit more than they’d expected…..

Husband and I are straight-forward people. So we made a list. We extracted every single little piece of information out of them.

What is the church hire costing? What is the reception costing? Does that include a drinks package? What about flowers? What will the suit hire cost? What has been paid for? What hasn’t been paid for? How much have you got in your bank account? How much can you save between now and then? Are you getting financial help from the parentals?

That took a long time. Wife-to-be was very, VERY reluctant to admit how much some things are costing. And, having been married myself, I knew to ask about things such as music (string quartet for the ceremony, live band for the reception), if the bridesmaids are paying for their own dress/shoes/hair/make-up (they aren’t) and the wedding rings (platinum, of course, with a row of small diamonds for the bride).

The cost for the wedding (remember – this is Switzerland at Christmas and wife-to-be is having a reception at a chateau) is a measly $55,000. This does not include the honeymoon in the Maldives (another $12,000) or things such as boarding their dog at a kennel while they’re away, the mortgage repayments they’ll need to make whilst they’re away (for 8 weeks) or other bills that will come in during that time.

So including all these things (such as pesky mortgage repayments which they hadn’t thought of), ideally they need about $75,000 to cover all their costs.

Have I mentioned that Bro-in-law has a fairly standard job – pays well, but not great. His wife-to-be works in retail three afternoons a week. This wedding (and the other expenses) will cost them nearly an entire years salary.

This came as a shock to Bro-in-law. Wife-to-be had told him how much certain things had cost but neither of them had added anything up.

They have already paid deposits for a lot of things and already bought the wedding dress. They do have some savings. They are getting a little bit of financial help from wife-to-be’s parents. But they’re still short about $38,000.

However, they have a mortgage and two car loans. They do not earn a six-figure salary. I think they may actually be financially fucked.

Their only other option is to get a bank loan. A rather large, unsecured bank loan. I got out my laptop and Husband and I put their numbers into the online banking calculators. They’ll be lucky if a bank will lend them half what they need at an extortionate interest rate of 14%.

At the end of the meal (and after quite a few glasses of wine), I tentatively asked them, “What will you do if the worst happens and the banks won’t lend you the money?”

Wife-to-be said, “Well you guys are rich, you’ll lend us the money, right?”