A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thor (2011): Every Mum and Dad's Fantasy

I'm not sure why the superhero genre puts people off. It's oodles of fun and mums should be the first people to embrace their geeky side especially when you consider how much children love the genre. Harry Potter was pretty popular even among parents and really, when you get to the guts of it he's really a kind of superhero.
I've been told it's the brightly coloured, tight-fitting costumes? I don't know... they've never really bothered me.

Thor, the mythical Scandanavian god of thunder, found his way into comic book history in the early 1960s and has now become the subject of a major motion picture. I believe the intention by Marvel is to release an Avengers movie in couple of years which is why we're getting a whole spate of Marvel comic adaptations such as Thor.

Never read the comic books but I remember watching Thor cartoons as a child. They were fairly ordinary stuff... especially compared to the good stuff coming out of Disney and Hannah-Barbera. I remember stills... lots of stills and speech balloons containing "Pow", "Bam", "Wham". Potently cheesy stuff.  But that hammer. I loved that hammer.

The hammer is second the best thing in the new Thor film. It is pure cool.  And I've discovered after 30 something years that it has a name -- Mjolnir. Cool. I suppose if swords have names, why can't hammers, right? After giving it some thought, I reckon it's the real protagonist of the film.
Why? Well, because without it, Thor's a mightily tall, blonde Chippendale clone that kicks rear ends. But not like when he kicks rear ends in Asgard because that is when he has his trusty Mjolnir.

The best thing about the Thor film is the Brent Spiner lookalike (reference for Trekkies) Loki. He's the second son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and whaddya know, even gods have family problems like the rest of us. With all the CGI and amazing effects, the thing that makes the film work is because it is about family... rebellious kiddies, sibling rivalry and why kids should ALWAYS listen to mum and dad. Daddy really does know best. Thor is a hothead and suffering from an overdeveloped sense of boredom. Peace time, admittedly, is rather ho hum for superheroes which is why there's Loki to make mischief and stir things up.

Thor gets banished to earth for wrecking a tentative peace deal with the Ice Giants and in the process learns humility a la Excalibur fashion. And yah... he bumps into the pretty Natalie Portman which makes his brief sojourn to earth less tiresome. And surprise, surprise, they even kiss.

Those of us parents know that Thor, despite his tendencies to leap before looking, is really not a bad kid. We know the type... daredevil, showman and doesn't really take "no" for an answer. In fact, "no" is usually red rag to a bull. Unlike Odin, however, we don't have the power to banish them to another planet and take away their ability to do further damage so they can learn the hard lessons of responsibility and humility.
Us plebs, on the other hand, are stuck with ours on Planet Earth and have to exercise discipline the arduous, no short-cuts way.
But it's obvious that time-out works.

So when we peel away all the layers of movie magic, it's obvious that Thor is really a parental fantasy for battle weary mums and dads: How to discipline your kids without having to discipline them yourself.

Just another day in Asgard... don't you know...

Published Elsewhere

It may interest you to know that I was recently published on the MOPS Australia blog.
The post, entitled "Appreciating the Differences" may be found here.

I also had a short piece published in Footprints magazine, a faith-based Aussie mag for women available only in hard copy from this place. 
Contact Janet the editor if you'd like to subscribe. It's only $12 a year.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can I Please Have A Toy-Free Zone in My House?

You know what they say about cleaning... it's like the ocean... never turn your back on it. It has a way of getting out of hand.

I have a confession to make.
I hate toys... I know, I know... it's a necessary evil. Keeps the kiddies occupied except that it often ends up being the root of other evils.
Earlier on I was under the misguided impression that children are territorial. But toys appear to be exempt from such meaningless boundaries such as rooms and designated play areas.
Which goes some way in explaining why a toy hair dryer keeps popping up in my kitchen.

We have coloured wooden blocks of varying shapes but they're never used as building blocks. They end up being scattered all over the house and occasionally make an appearance in purses and handbags.
Privacy is evidently an adult concept... and not sacrosanct where children are concerned.

Our study... supposedly mum and dad's final refuge... the master bedroom has been a lost cause a long time ago... is home to a litter of toys that hangs around like a bad smell.

You know... those cheap, fairly useless plastic toys from the fast food places are at the end of the day... clutter. They seem to show up everywhere like Gremlins who take a bath. After a while, when the kiddies forget about them, they get the flick. I doubt even the op-shops would have any use for those.

10 year old has taken to collecting Gomu... If you haven't already been an unwitting partaker of this mania, they are rubbers that resemble iPods, mobile phones, lava lamps, lipsticks, thongs and other misc representations of cuteness . Since I've threatened to start my own collection with her strays, she's kept them pretty much to herself. You realise, of course, nobody actually uses these things... it's entirely a bragfest and for "trading purposes".
The Smiggle phase lasted about a year and a bit... wonder how long this particular one will go for.

Better go now and inspect the damage that's been done since I've been sitting here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our Mummy is a Volcano

Lately I find myself erupting all-too-frequently like a parenting volcano.
You know the signs... Shouting, yelling... melodramatic threats... big blow ups. Plenty of anger leakage.
It's like I've turned into a paper version of  Bruce Banner aka The Incredible Hulk.
Haven't turned green.
Sadly I can't blame it on some kind of dastardly science experiment gone wrong either.

Sure the kiddies test ya and try ya... Of course they do... it comes pre-packaged with the umbilical cord. It's in their DNA.
The head knows this full well. The heart, on the other hand, is constantly frustrated.
And yet... we can't, for the sake of the human race, understand why they don't get it after being chastised for the tenth time over the same o'l same o'l.

Anger management is hard labour for life compared to that bit of pain I endured to bring life into the world.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Post-Mother's Day Ramblings

Do you find Mother's Day a non-event?
Not that it matters, of course. But with a lot of these celebratory events, it's rather dependent on mum to organize everyone else. And with small children thrown into the mix, who haven't the sense that this is a day set aside to give mum a break... there's no rest for mum with small kiddies.

Even with big kids... they need a bit of prodding. But I ain't doin' it.
The trick is, I imagine, to keep expectations pretty low. Ground level low.

It's one day in 365 days... If I'm going to be really calculating... honestly, I'd rather have well-behaved kids 364 days a year than have one day where I'm treated like a Queen of a constitutional monarchy.

I know... tell me I'm dreamin'...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kids and Parties

Last Saturday, we threw a party for the 10 year old at the local pool. Yeah... she's officially 10! Frightening prospect for her poor parents to have to think about when those young 'uns reach the double digits.

Anyway, we don't do parties every year... and we've decided to confine ourselves to milestones. Otherwise it gets a bit much.
Organizing a party is okay. It's hard work, not exactly fun for mum and dad but the logistical side of things is the least of our problems.
The hardest thing about a birthday party can be about keeping the peace between different factions. There's the friends from school contingency, friends from church, and then there are the cousins. Everyone wants a piece of the birthday girl on her special day. The take-charge types wants her to do this, that and the other thing.... NOW.
Kids... well... are kids... and not terribly considerate. 10 year old is the soft-hearted type and would rather everybody hold hands and sing kumbaya.

Sitting in the car on the way home, we ask the 10 year old what happened that caused her to dissolve into tears at one point. A few of the others had had their say. Apparently somebody wanted to do this, and then somebody else wanted to do another thing. She was a bit torn, I think.

So I said:
"Next time, you should say... We'll take it in turns. For the first 10 minutes we'll do such and such and then afterwards we will do this."
10 year old lets off a big sigh. "Why didn't I think of that? Parents know everything. Mum you have such good ideas."

So I grinned but modestly said... "Well, not everything... But more."
The husband piped in, "The operative word is 'mum'."

Can't wait till she reaches her teens and then she'll think that we know nothing.

I'm glad her next party isn't until she's sixteen. ;-) Or eighteen... Better still, when she's twenty-one.

Royal Weaving: The First Institution

Jokes regarding tawdry fashion aside, the Royal Wedding as a cultural event touches something in those of us who believe in traditions and institutions.

Hardly a monarchist in any meaningful way, even I can appreciate the elements of the Wedding of the Year that once made Britain great. It isn't the monarchy per se... but the institutions on which the nation was built.

That wedding on Friday night exemplified all too well the loss of a bygone era in light of cultural relativism and political correctness. Nothing affirms age the importance of institutions more, in my opinion, than a wedding.
Certainly, grand weddings are no guarantee of marital success but when a society celebrates publicly the coming together of a man and a woman to form a family unit, it declares that marriage and family has value and priority in a culture. Children are also valued in such a culture because we insist that mum and dad firm up their commitment to one another to protect their children's long-term interests.

Sadly though, in a day and age, where many are deliberate about flouting convention, a wedding complete with frills, pomp and ceremony is fast becoming a quaint gesture.

Marriage should be celebrated, not just because so many are opting out or that we want to glorify marriage for marriage sake. Marriage is God's idea for humanity so it's universal and it functions, like it or not, as a thermostat for the health of a society.