Tag Archives: family

the family thing

not my family, so chill.

(I’m probably getting too old to say so chill. Or something.)

Was talking with a friend recently about “Why exactly was Twilight so good?” Yeah, that old chestnut. To give context, I discovered it randomly at a bookstore in Berlin just as I was reaching the end of a looooooong, dark winter. I had never heard of it, and much as I tried to tell everyone I knew that they should read it, no one would listen.

I got to experience it in a vacuum, at a time when it was most welcome, and, yeah, I loved it.

Why though, and why so much?

One of the reasons I came up with was the whole family vibe. What I mean by that is that the disparate characters come to be this sort of family together – and it’s a family you want to belong to, spend time with.

Reading J R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series at the moment has brought this home to me all over again. Even a book and a half into the series I still wasn’t sure whether I even liked it – but I had to keep spending time with the characters.

She’s built such a solid – if out-of-this-world disfunctional – family that I just couldn’t put them away for ever. I wanted to hang out with them.

So I guess the moral of the story is: don’t underestimate the powers of loyalty, love, and I-will-do-anything-for-you,-you-are-my-family on a reader.

Oh, and I think more often than not, that kind of love is expressed through fights, insults and punches.

goodbye/goodnight

when I was about ten I was called to my older sister’s side because she was inconsolable.

“She read your diary,” Mum told me, “and now she thinks you want to die.”

After looking in a kind of despairing wonder at my sister’s red and crying face, the penny finally dropped. I had written I hope that I die peacefully in my sleep. Meaning, of course, when I die, far, far off in the future. I explained matters to my sister.

A couple of days later she smiled smugly at me and teased me about Francis Simmons, who I’d written about in my diary.

I am lying in bed beside special k (facing me this time, his book fallen against my arm, his sleeping fingers holding the page) and just wanted to write a goodnight message. The first thing to come to mind were those lines from Romeo and Juliet:

eyes look your last!

arms, take your last embrace!

but I thought that without the above anecdote some confusion might arise from the sentiment.

sibling rivalry

aren’t siblings weird?

There are these people you don’t necessarily have anything in common with, or even know, beyond the fact that your bodies are made of the same stuff.

But what a difference that makes. A tiny physical difference we can’t even see and it may as well be loyalty and love (if not always like) making up the fabric of our being and winding from my bones to theirs, effortlessly. There is an unquestionable alliance, the I Am On Your Team No Matter What.

This is a long-winded way of saying: my family are in town. My two brothers and sister.

Now I am Third Child, and today I don’t really mind. Today being third means I’m not responsible for anyone else, but I am allowed, by having no responsibility, to do everything I can to make them happy and to entertain and encourage them. I get to be court jester.

It also makes me smile to sit here with my two brothers, my father and my husband watching the World Cup final.

(We’re in the half-time ad-break, talking about the awfulness of a fourth Shrek movie, and the brilliance of the Hubble Telescope footage they’ll be showing in 3D at the Imax in October.)

day two: silence is golden

My mum (hi Chez!) is a priest. During her annual family camp there’s this wonderful hour in the middle of the day called Golden Silence, when all the kids bunk down and the adults get a rest.

What my sister-in-law Kemi very cleverly did was keep Golden Silence going after the camp ended this year. So when Ella sleeps in the middle of the day, Benji knows he has to be quiet.

Ah, peace.

This morning we went to the zoo, which was mostly fun. Lions roared, elephants chucked dirt at each other and one little peccary ran about like mad for no apparent reason.

Then there were the fun moments of me saying “This way kids! I’m reading the map, and it definitely says Baboons this way!”

And them running off the other way saying “Two against one, you have to come!”

Then me looking at the map again and realising, of all dreadful things, that they were right, so I didn’t even get the satisfaction of bending them to my grown-up will.

By the time we arrived home I was fresh out of patience. Patience was not so present today.

And then, blessed be all things quiet, Golden Silence arrived.

Ella went to bed with my stuffed mouse, Boo, after tears of protest, because she really didn’t need a sleep at all. Benji wallowed on the couch for a while till my repetitive tapping at the keyboard sent him off too, his cheek pressed into the cushion, sprawled flat on his belly like a baby furry thing.

(Do any baby furry things sleep on their belly? Probably not. Sloppy metaphor. It’s late again.)

I worked for two-and-a-half hours, and by the time they woke up I’d worked enough spit back into my mouth for the next round of questions.

[A quick post-script: If you can, check out Cheryl's response to the previous post. She's got some really good things to say, especially for those of us staring imminent parenthood in the face.]

I apprehend the day

special k wants me to write a post about him going on an adventure. So far he’s wandered into a forest, found magical bees with magical honey and gotten into a fight with a bear over it.

I might leave that for another day.

What I feel right now is that apprehension the day to come casts over the present moment. Just to clarify: I’m not entirely convinced about philosophies that tell you to “live in the moment”, so that’s not what’s bothering me.

But it does make sense to me that if the future I’m imagining has such pull on the now, so could a future I imagine differently with a very different kind of pull – one to get up in the morning for.

Does that even make sense? It’s late.

Anyway, I’m looking after the niece and nevvy for the next three days. My little bro was meant to fly to Melbourne and help me out, but in the grand tradition of Stef he missed his flight.

As he said, at least he didn’t lose his passport and have to pay $600 US to get it replaced. That did happen, among other things such as being apprehended for being a suspicious person. He’s not suspicious, just vague, and there’s that word apprehension again.

So he missed his flight, my three days with the kids are unrelieved. I love em, I just don’t know where I’m going to find the saliva to keep up with three days worth of questions.

adventures in a(nother) country town

this time I’m in Ballan, Victoria, with my brother and his two kids. In the way of country towns, this name is not pronounced the way you’re saying it in your head – the locals pronounce it to rhyme with Milan, as though it were exotic somehow.

Maybe it is…

All I’m saying is, there are cows.

This morning we went to visit the mineral springs at Daylesford. I’ve never drunk real spring water before, and I tell you what, it’s zingy. Until you get to the really sulphurous stuff and then it bypasses zingy and goes straight for a battery-on-the-tongue effect.

After that we ventured into the old bathhouse cafe – a beautiful, dilapidated building with cold tile floors. We arrived on the tail end of a government function and scored free scones with jam and cream, which we scoffed down sitting in front of the fire.

Then Ella and Benji climbed the walls.

We drove through a cloud to arrive back at the little brick box of a farm house and now the kids are off to sleep for the afternoon, but first I need to read Benji the next few chapters of The BFG.

That’s all for now, no moral or thoughts or anything!

Oh, and good news from the frontier: my niece appears to have forgotten that she hates me.