Saturday, March 27, 2010

More knitting

I finished Ben's hat - it's hardly a piece of design brilliance, but it does fit the brief. I started with this pattern, and then changed it completely. For starters, it's for a toddler, but Ben's head is the same size as mine. So I had to guess how much bigger I needed to make it. I took a punt and cast on my stitches.

Also, Ben didn't want contrasting colours, and I figured a brim that looked exactly the same as the rest of the hat was going to be a bit dull, so I decided to change it to k2p2 rib. Of course, better knitters than I have already spotted the flaw in this plan - it's a good idea to decide what style of pattern you are using before you decide how many stitches to cast on. For example, if your pattern is 4 stitches long, it's a good plan to have a multiple of 4 stitches cast on. But that would be dull, really.

Finally, the pattern wanted me to switch to straight stocking stitch at the point at which it starts to decrease - but since I already had two stitches, I didn't want a 3rd, so I randomly decreased in k1p1 rib. It looks a little odd because I didn't put any thought into it, but it doesn't look terrible. And most importantly, Ben likes it, and his head fits into it.

Finishing this clears the way for me to start a new project (wouldn't like to have less than 5 or 6 on the go), which is a shrug for me. I'm about a third of the way through it at the moment.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Knitting pics

A very long time ago, I started to teach myself to knit. I did so by knitting garter stitch until I got bored, and then alternating stocking stitch with garter stitch. After about 2 balls of wool, my tension was vaguely reasonable, and I decided the learner project was going to be a scarf for Crash. The only problem was that he wanted it rather long, and it was a rather boring design, so it has taken me until now to finish it. The edges of the thing were a hideous mess, so I turned it into a tube.

This is not a great photo, there was too much light coming off the white background, but there is only so much time I am prepared to spend to photograph a scarf. Still, you can see in the foreground how the scarf widens at the end - that would be the end I started on. You can't see that the other end doesn't widen. I have suggested he wear it with one end in front and one on his back. Anyway, for better or worse, the Very Long Scarf is completed.

Also, some time back I finished the drunk scarf. The only problem is I don't know what to do with it. I don't really need another scarf myself, but this thing is a touch bold, and I'm not convinced anyone would want it as a gift. Nevertheless, I think it's kinda cool.

Current projects include a shawl which I hope to finish before I die, a hat for Ben, which is probably about half done, another shawl which will find a home once I know how big it is, a scarf that had some stitches drop off the needle so I haven't been game to deal with it, a cardigan for Elissa which needs sewing up, and then the edging knitting, and a beaded headband which is waiting only for the elastic to finish it, and has been that way for over a month now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Elissa's song OTD

"How does the moon go to sleep?"

I'm in the dining room
But Daddy's not
How's the moon go to sleep?
Because we need to have a rest after dinner time.
The moon has to go to sleep
Mummy's beautiful
Mummy's in the lounge room

Friday, March 19, 2010

Things I have done recently:
  • Skipped belly dancing
  • Chosen not to go to the pub
  • Avoided answering my phone
  • Skipped the gym
  • Not read any blogs at all
  • Dropped Ben at school without going in to avoid other people
  • Mostly avoided Twitter
  • Cried. A lot.
I suspect this points to a less than fabulous state of mind. Right now, I seem to be waiting for my fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and make it all better. I suppose at some point I am going to have to take responsibility for myself and do something about it. But I have to take Ben to school, so that will have to wait.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is your child a bully?

I recently discovered that my child had been on the receiving end of behaviour that could definitely be described as bullying. My response to this was threefold.

1. Has it happened more than once?

An isolated incident is so prone to misunderstanding, mis-reporting and mis-remembering as to be unworthy of action*,

2. Have you told your teacher?

Since the answer to 1. was "yes". Since this answer was "no" I told him to tell his teacher immediately if it happens again.

3. Did you do anything to provoke this? (ie excluding or ridiculing the kid in question)

I don't know the answer to this question, and it isn't important that I do. It's only important that my kid considers whether he conrtibuted to bullying that may now be bouncing back on him. Bullying is never justified, but it might be explicable. Lots of bullies felt bullied themselves. As young kids, there isn't even necessarily a separation in time.

I've been really surprised at the number of people who have been uncomfortable that I asked the third question. There seems to be a strange assumption that if I see wrong in my child's behaviour, that it somehow absolves the behaviour of the other child. There is no logical imperative there. A situation can have essentially an infinite number of wrongs. None of them excuses another.

The other weird aspect of this that I can't get my head around, is that it feels like people divide kids into "good kids that might get bullied" and "bad kids that might bully others". Of course, I don't think anyone thinks their kid falls into the latter category. But just because my kid was being bullied, doesn't mean he wasn't doing his own bullying. I don't believe my kid meant to hurt anyone (wow, you'll be stunned by that) but then, I suspect the other kid involved in this situation just thought his behaviour was hilarious. I very much doubt he meant to hurt anyone either. But if we draw the battle lines now, at age 7, between those who we deem as "bad" and those deemed as "good" instead of recognising that bad behaviour begets bad behaviour, irrespective of motives, we create the environment that fosters a "hurt them before they hurt you" bullying mentality.

Later on, there is definitely a disconnect - those bullied rarely "provoked" the attack. But everyone, always, stands accountable for their actions. Two wrongs certainly don't make a right, but one wrong is even less likely to define a right on the other side. When A and B disagree, if I conclude that A is wrong, there is no logic that implies that I think B is right. This is possibly one of the most dangerous, and divisive failures in logic, and it invades our lives daily. I mean, I couldn't possibly fall foul of it, I am way too smart. (Yeah, right)

Most importantly, if we don't recognise the fuck ups of the past, on all sides, we can't move on and stop repeating them.

*Clearly, this is exempting extreme actions, I am discussing playground nastiness, not criminal behaviour

Day care update

We started at the new day care centre on Monday. I can't say it was a complete success. Elissa didn't sleep at all and was a horror that evening. Charlie said he'd had fun, but gave a flat "No" when asked if he was happy to go back next week. Charlie also came home without all of his spare clothes. His bag was completely empty. So far there is no sign of said clothes.

Elissa went back on Wednesday (Charlie only goes one day a week) and screamed the place down when I left. Apparently she was crying on and off in the latter half of the afternoon, and still only slept for 45 minutes. This morning she started whinging and refusing to go before we even left the house. That's never happened before. It wasn't looking good. When we got there, she was still reluctant, but when we left, rather than screaming tragedy, we just got hang dog miserable face. I'll take my improvements where I can get them.

This afternoon, however, she was all bubbles and asking when she could go back. Apparently something clicked today and she felt more comfortable. I don't know how long she slept, but at least she wasn't that fragile, irritating child that lack of sleep normally induces.

I'm cautiously optimistic that this will work well. I'm definitely happy to be down 5 lunches a week and only 5 minutes from day care.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Simple steps to reduce rape culture

This post by Tigtog at Hoyden About Town is fantastic. It cites studies that show that non-violent rape may be perpetrated by men who are repeat offenders much more so than by otherwise good blokes who make one-off bad decisions.

What I love about this post, though, is that it makes sensible, practical suggestions about what everyone can do to never validate the kind of thinking that justifies rape, as well as how to protect vulnerable people without expecting those people to restrict their own lives in response to the threat of these sort of predators.

If you don't already read HAT, do read this post. Keep the tips in mind and share them with your friends. This is the kind of thing that can actually change our culture, if we just all accept responsibility for it. It's worth noting, though, that the points about not validating comments that denigrate women are much more powerful coming from men. A bloke who already hates women is unlikely to care much if a woman fails to validate his misogynist remarks. So this is a specific call for men to act to counter rape culture. Are you up to it?

Is it 2011 yet?

Monday was ok, I think. I can't actually remember it.

Tuesday at 5:30pm I found out that our child care was ending on Friday, 2 weeks earlier than anticipated. I also discovered that despite months of assurances that they were looking for a new family day care place for Charlie and Elissa, the organisers had not actually started looking until that day. We had missed all the opportunities as new carers had started and kids had moved on to school.

Tuesday night Elissa got croup, so as well as an hour up with her waiting for the steroids to work, she couldn't go to day care the next day. I put off my client and rang around long day care centres. Most of them told me they had 2 year waiting lists. One told me they had places and I went to see them. The only time I could get there was during rest time, so it was hard to gauge much about the kids, but the staff seemed friendly and warm. On the other hand, it smelled more strongly of disinfectant than I would like. It was the only place that was an option unless Family Day Care came up with something plausible, and the woman had not sounded confident.

On Wednesday night, the steroids got Elissa through the night without incident, but Charlie woke with a leg cramp that took quite some time to resolve.

Thursday I got a call from Family Day Care telling me they had only one possibility and it was at the absolute limit of the distance I had originally (2 years ago) specified. That was before I was taking Charlie to preschool as well. Looking at what the drop offs would be like on the 3 mornings that Charlie is at preschool, taking this option was guaranteed to add significant stress to the morning routine. So I now had a choice between two child care options, neither of which I was wild about. And I had 36 hours to resolve it.

Either way, I rushed off to see Ben be the assembly leader at school. After inviting the parents in to the hall with his co-leader, he was looking distressed and then disappeared. Painful moments went by while his co-leader stood in front of everyone wondering what to do. Eventually he reappeared and I was called over. Standing next to the sick bed, his teacher asked him if he was ok, he said "No" and promptly threw up all over the floor.

So I took him home, fobbed off the client again and had an email exchange that resulted in me needing to sack a contractor. By that time I was feeling just about as ill as Ben, and couldn't go to belly dancing. I also needed to make a decision on child care, and decided on the convenient unknown option rather than the inconvenient unknown option. Thankfully my kids are old enough to tell me how things are going at day care, but making such a significant decision with so little time and information is still stomach churning.

Friday morning I finally went to see the much-fobbed client, which didn't go as planned (due to a weird problem whose cause is still only guessed at). This would not have been nearly so bad if Elissa hadn't been sent home from her last day of day care (thereby removing the chance for Charlie and Elissa to say farewell to the carer they've been with for a year) because she was sick again. I needed to call my mother to come from Campbelltown many hours earlier than intended so that Crash didn't need to wake the sick 2 year old to pick up the 4 year old from preschool.

Last night I was going to the Singalonga Sound of Music at the State Theatre (which is why Mum was headed city-ward eventually). To say I wasn't in the mood would be world's greatest understatement. I've never actually seen the movie for starters, so I was already at something of a loss when it came to the audience participation. Add to that the fact that I'd had a splitting headache since 2pm, and the general shittiness and sleeplessness of the previous week, and what I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball. I did ok until someone wanted to know what was wrong with me, at which point I dropped my bundle and went home.

I'd just about got to sleep when Elissa woke very distressed and very feverish, which took another half hour or so to sort out.

So this morning I woke to realise that I had utterly failed to organise baby sitting for tonight.

This week I've pretty much failed at being a parent, a contractor and a friend. Maybe 2011 will be better.

ETA: My fairy godsister waved her magic wand and said "You shall go to the dinner", thus fixing my baby sitting fail. She is a wonderful being.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Bad parenting 101

23 plastic toys our house doesn't need: $11.75
Shiny red paper: $1.50

Poos in the toilet: Priceless

Easing hard decisions

I just listened to the Hack episode discussing organ donation. They spoke to a number of different people with a number of different perspectives. The main contention was whether relatives should have the right to veto a person's decision to donate organs. One guy said that having the right to decide to honour his little brother's decision to donate had been empowering and helpful to them. On the other hand, a woman spoke about how she had been the only person in her family who could emotionally deal with the decision to donate her father's corneas. One thing she mentioned was that she found the descriptions of the procedures involved to take the tissues were very, very hard to hear. She felt it only made it more difficult, and provided no benefit at a time when she was distraught.

This got me thinking - it seems reasonable that people should know what they are agreeing to (both family members and people signing up to be organ donors), but the time of someone dying is really not the time to learning it. I think that as part of personal development at high school, the subject of organ donation should be discussed. The technicalities of what the procedures involve can be covered in a more neutral way, and kids can consider their own position on the subject and discuss it with their parents.

The take-home message from the whole story was that the moment of the catastrophic event is not the time to be discussing organ donation - it should be the time to implement what everyone already knows is the understood decision. I think this applies to procedural information as well as the philosophical position.

And for all that, I am an organ donor that knows nothing of the procedures and don't want to. I haven't been in a position to authorise the donation of another person's organs, but I have supported people who have. Still, if I had been told this stuff at school, it would be filed away with those "things I know and don't think about" like the Pelopennisian wars and rice farming in Asia.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The triflings of childhood

This afternoon Ben asked me why the school was building a new library. He pointed out to me that there was already an interactive whiteboard in the existing library, so if they build a new one, they'll have to buy a new whiteboard (which is correct) and that they are spending a lot of money on something they really don't need (certainly an arguable position, at least).

In defense of the school, I explained that they weren't spending money that would otherwise go on other school resources, that rather, the Australian government had given all the schools in Australia money to build something.

"Why did the government give all the schools all that money?"

I tried to fob him off with "it's complicated" and failed. As a result I found myself explaining the GFC to a seven year old. Complete with sub-prime mortgages, but only alluding to default bonds and other baseless derivatives. I also covered why I think the stimulus package was the right thing to do. He claims to have understood, and he certainly asked enough questions to suggest he has some grasp of it all.

And so I sighed a great sigh of relief, only to have him ask me to read him the questions and answers from his Really Really Big Questions book. What's the first question in the book? "Where did everything come from?" So we did the Big Bang, the origin of time and (added in by Ben) whether or not God did it. I explained that all the evidence suggests the Big Bang happened in some shape or form, and that if he chose to believe God was the Big Pyrotechnician, that was up to him, but he didn't get to deny evidence. We also discussed the non-existence of "before" the Big Bang and other elements of Cosmology.

Then he asked about galaxies and what I'd done when I was an astronomer, and I drew a line in the sand and said "Some Other Time".

I'm buggered.

Oh, and Charlie wants to be an astronomer when he grows up and Elissa likes Mumford & Sons.