Don’t Dream It’s Over

Someone shoved me toward the dance floor.
“Go on, you haven’t had a dance yet.”
Confused I wandered toward the faint strains of All You Need is Love by The Beatles, a song Learner Dad and I had agreed was a ‘must play’ for our wedding reception.
I tried dancing with some of the other people on the floor – a friend who seemed to be inexplicably back with an ex-boyfriend, cousins I hadn’t seen for years – but they all looked at me strangely.
I wandered outside.
People were milling around, many of whom I didn’t recognise.
‘Must be Learner Dad’s rellies,’ I thought, confused.
I glanced down at my wedding dress.
It looked dirty.
And I was wearing a cardigan I hadn’t seen before over the top.
“You don’t know what’s happened, do you?” a tall woman asked me smugly.
I looked at her blankly.
“You passed out under a tree, five minutes into the reception,” she said. “It’s all over now.”
I began to panic.
Was this true?
I’d only had a couple of champagnes.
Had I missed our whole wedding reception?
I ran around outside in a panic and eventually found Learner Dad.
“What’s going on?” I asked hysterically.
He sat on the ground and pulled me down to sit next to him.
OMG! I was wearing jeans UNDER my dress.
“You got drunk, abused the crap out of me and passed out,” he replied.
I stared at him open-mouthed, not only because of what he’d just said but because I realised he had hair!
If you haven’t already guessed, this was a dream.
Thank god.
A nightmare.
I woke up sobbing with regret, desperately wishing I could get my wedding reception back.
Thankfully I can.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a drunk bride and it hadn’t even occurred to me whether or not I’d drink on my big day, so the nightmare came out of nowhere.
And it’s not the first.
In another, I walked down the aisle only to realise at the other end I’d forgotten to write my vows.
Then there was the one where I glanced down at my engagement ring on the day to find my rock had gone, leaving only an empty claw where it used to be.
I’ve had that one more than once actually.
And then there was the one where I was clad in a red dress with my hair out and crimped, beside my dad who was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and runners.
What does it all mean?
The dreams have come regularly over the year and a bit I’ve been engaged.
None of them have happy endings.
According to one dreams dictionary, dreaming of a ‘wedding’ indicates you’ll soon be attending a funeral.
Hmmm yuck.
Dreaming of a ‘bride or bridegroom’ means I need to take a look at my relationship.
That perhaps I have feelings of jealousy.
Well, unless Nic Natainui is finally responding to Learner Dad’s man crush, I’m not sure I have too much to worry about there.
And dreaming of being ‘drunk’, according to the dictionary, indicates I’m worried about embarrassing myself in front of others.
I’m not a stressed bride-to-be.
If anything, I think of my upcoming nuptials with a grin, and sometimes, I’m embarrassed to add, even a girly giggle.
But maybe it’s a touch of excited anxiety that’s generating the dreams.
They’re certainly not memories of weddings past.
Let’s hope they’re not predictions of a wedding to come.
Otherwise I’m in trouble.
And our guests could be in for a treat.

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Look who’s talking!

“Mum why are you wearing your pajamas to school?”
I was picking Master Seven up at the end of the day.
Standing with a big group of mums, I frowned, struggling to glance down at my clothes with Li’l Fatty in my arms.
Track pants, baggy jumper.
“I’m not…” I stopped.
That’s right, I did wear that to bed last night.
It had been really cold!
“These aren’t my pajamas,” I muttered to Master Seven, pushing him forward and out of the way of the other mums’ bemused expressions.
Kids say the darndest things don’t they?
I told Learner Dad about it in the bathroom the next morning.
He could think of plenty of funny things Master Seven had said, but nothing that had particularly embarrassed him.
“Really?” I asked.
Maybe it was because he hadn’t met Master Seven until he was four.
I had plenty of horror stories to share.
It started off innocently enough.
“Why that lady got hairy face?” – man with ponytail and beard
“Why that man wear a dress?” – short-haired woman
Then they reach bum height.
“Poppy that lady has a really big bottom doesn’t she? Poppy? POPPY DID YOU HEAR ME?! LOOK AT HER BOTTOM”
That really happened.
My dad said it had been a really long wait behind big bottomed lady in a really long queue.
By that stage, I could usually see it coming.
I walked into a pharmacy with a three-year-old Master once and spotted a morbidly obese woman standing at the counter.
I dragged him out the moment his eyes widened, his finger rose into a point and his mouth opened.
It was a close call.
Then there was the walk to kindy when he was four.
“Grey person, grey person, grey person…” he’d state loudly and proudly, almost counting them out, as we passed a family with African origins.
(Anyone thinking right about now that I might need to test Master Seven for colour blindness, it’s on the agenda!)
Then there was: “Mummy, have you ever seen a lady with no neck before”, as we approached a lady with no neck.
“Look, we just went past one. Turn around Mummy, quick.”
My mother likes to recount the time Master Seven proudly told her neighbours: “My nanna can burp the alphabet.”
I had little sympathy.
If you’re going to do THAT in front of a child, be prepared for the consequences.
I’d love to say I’m looking forward to more of the same from Li’l Fatty.
After all, it’s pretty funny in hindsight.
But those cringeworthy comments aren’t so funny at the time.
I do however look forward to the first time I see him embarrass his father.
The first time BOTH of them embarrass their father.
If he’s lucky, it might even happen at the same time.

Facebook? Or just plain book?

I changed the channel.
I’d been watching Learner Dad gaze at his phone for the past seven minutes.
He clearly wasn’t watching the footy.
Knowing it to be true, he didn’t complain.
When I couldn’t find anything interesting to watch on TV, I picked up my book.
Several minutes later, I noticed Learner Dad staring at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Can’t seem to get your head out of it,” he replied.
“What? My book? What’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong with looking at my phone?”
“Oh come on, a book is different.”
“Why?”
“I’m using my imagination. I’m READING.”
“That’s exactly what I’m doing on my phone. I’m imagining what people are doing by READING their tweets.”
I thought about it.
Was he right?
Could a phone possibly count as an intellectual pastime?
I’d always felt far superior curled up in bed with the latest from book club while Learner Dad lay next to me scrolling aimlessly through Facebook.
“I’m not ruining my eyes though,” I blurted out desperately.
“How do you know? People were wearing glasses long before iPhones came along.”
Shit.
I’ve ranted on here about my disdain for gadgets before.
Many times.
While I still pester Learner Dad about burying his nose in his phone in front of the boys, I’ve become accustomed to his little pocket mistress.
But are smartphones really, well, smart?
Let’s look at it from his perspective:
– He is indeed reading
– He is also socialising
– And he is keeping abreast of world news
Now let’s look at it from mine:
– The ‘reading’ consists of a random string of abbreviations and symbols with no punctuation.
– How can it be ‘social’ when he’s oblivious to the physical goings on around him?
– And does Kim Kardashian’s new baby count as real ‘world news’? (Don’t play dumb Learner Dad, you excitedly told me this bit of news the moment you read it)
Now let’s look at it more deeply:
– Maybe this online lingo isn’t a dumbed down version of English but just a modern one? Isn’t language always changing? And the number of characters to a Tweet may be limited, but then so are the number of lines to a sonnet. Who’s to say tweets aren’t poetry?
– Learner Dad is socialising with dozens of people every night from the comfort of his fluffy socks and disastrous tracksuit. All while I lose myself in trash like Law and Order. Perhaps watching telly and reading books is more antisocial?
– Is the state of affairs in Syria more valid world news than the birth of a celebrity baby? Of course it is but I’d say that and then go bury my face in New Idea.
I’m not sure I’ll ever embrace gadgets.
Because while ever Learner Dad has one, he’s not totally concentrated on me.
He’s reading about and socialising with all the people I compete with on a nightly basis for his attention.
To me, iPhones mean distracted conversation, private jokes and one-handed foot rubs.
But, with a phone fanatic hubby and two young boys, I can’t resist the iTrain forever.
I mean, won’t I be texting, tweeting and cyberstalking my teenage sons in years to come?
Yes.
Yes, I believe I will be.
And then it’ll be the pot calling the kettle black.
Or the reader telling the Tweeter to get a life.
Having said all this, I still can’t see myself one day smiling fondly around the dinner table at the three men in my life, faces glued to iPhones, as they ‘read’, ‘socialise’ and ‘catch up on the news’ while tucking into the lasagne I spent all afternoon making.
But then maybe I won’t notice.
Because maybe, having long given up on competing with electronic gadgets, I’ll have my own face buried in a damn good book.

Don’t poke your nose in

“How do you like it, hey?” I heard from the car.
Standing at the boot, I looked through the rear window to see the woman poking my seven-year-old in the face.
She wasn’t doing it aggressively, but it wasn’t affectionate either.
Master Seven had been poking Li’l Fatty in the face only moments before and this woman clearly thought it her place to teach him a lesson.
I hesitated, taking a half step forward.
But then she stopped, and resumed installing the car seat, a humbled Master Seven sitting on the back seat next to her, red-faced and unsure where to look.
I didn’t know how to feel.
It wasn’t a question of whether her tactic – doing to Master Seven what he had been doing to Li’l Fatty – was the right way to teach him.
It was a question of her being the teacher.
I didn’t even know this woman three minutes ago.
I’d come across nosy parkers before.
Even among my own friends and family.
Most of them stopped sharing their parenting tips the moment they actually became parents and realised how hard it can be.
Like the one who couldn’t believe I’d let my child have a toy at the dinner table.
And then, when she had her own, had to make a dance out of every mouthful to get hers to eat.
Then the one who protectively shielded her baby from the other kids, only to have him burst out and become the playground bully.
And we all have friends who’ll frown, sometimes even growl, at our children in order to protect their own.
My Master Seven has always been a gentle child so I’ve usually been taken aback if a friend tells him off.
Is that just me being a protective mum?
I’m not usually.
I’m ashamed to say I’m actually one of those weak parents who instantly apologises and then quietly warns poor Master Seven to back off anyway.
Then, when my friend’s child gets aggressive, I’ll not only fail to berate their child, I’ll make it seem like a good thing.
“That’s ok, I’m sure Miss Six didn’t mean it,” I’ll blurt out. “Master Seven could use a bit of toughening up anyway.”
At which point he’ll pick himself up from the ground and stare at me open-mouthed.
“But Mum, I didn’t do anything,” he’ll say on the way home. “She whacked me around the head.”
“I know honey,” I’ll reply, reminding myself to set a better example next time.
We’ve all seen or read The Slap by now.
I’m not sure I’d take a man to court for slapping my child (a swift kick in the balls and a slap around his own face ought to do it) but it brought up an unspoken question.
Are there any circumstances where a stranger can discipline your child?
How about an acquaintance?
A teacher?
A friend?
A relative?
The grandparents are allowed full reign on our boys.
In fact I don’t think they discipline them enough.
But maybe that’s why it’s never been a problem.
And as far as teachers are concerned, what happens at school stays at school.
We have to trust them on that one.
I won’t be prosecuting the woman who poked Master Seven in the face.
He did kind of deserve it.
But I just might install my own car seat next time.