A friend sent me this wonderful link called Unhappy Hipsters. It keeps me snorting, daily.
The hill had the perfect incline for rolling. And the trampoline was wildly exciting, at first. But crushing peanuts into the deck brought the grown-ups running, and was therefore deemed the most fun of all.
I've just had a lot of time with Bumblebee. He has an unfortunate history of becoming sick just before a major Fun Thing and thus missing out on it (we all remember the Queen tribute concert, with hideously expensive tickets bought months in advance, when we bravely tried to rally & attend, but he ended up sobbing in my arms at what the noise and the bright lights were doing to his head, even though they were playing his favorite song really well...).
He had a touch of the tummy wobbles just before camp last week, and we all took it very seriously, because we all really, really wanted him to go to camp -- B because it was CAMP, us because camp is a great place to make friends -- so we dosed him up on garlicky chicken soup, made him go to bed early, etc etc.
He made it to camp, and had a fabulous time, of course, and came back tall and happy and glowing, and reported that five kids had developed gastro-like illness and had to be driven home. The healthy, happy glow lasted until monday arvo, when he started womiting, and thus he's been ill for the last two days.
The first day, Tuesday, I dragged him along to Studio Duck so that I could hang out with Natalie, my resident student printer. As Nat printed her fabulous Super Mario prints and I constructed a box for my Mackay Libris entry, Bumblebee flopped on his beanbag playing gameboy and doing sudoku puzzles. When we were home he flopped on the couch to watch the Stah Waz Clone Waz dvds that he got from a fellow Canberra Stah Waz Collectors Group member.
Yesterday, when I realised we had to stay home if we were to defeat the tummy wobbles, I decided to make the day memorable for him. Instead of letting him have the usual flopping and playing kinda day, I marched into his bedroom and gave him all four books from Keiji Nakazawa's Barefoot Gen manga series about surviving Hiroshima. "Don't get up until you've read all of these," I said.
And he didn't. I brought him drinks and dry biscuits, made him soup which he ate with his head in the books, and then waited for his reaction, which came in the afternoon. In the meantime I worked on the computer, catching up on lots of small things I'd been meaning to do for ages.
He came in, not quite sobbing, but teary at the ending. No spoilers here, you'll have to find out for yourself if you can; Nakazawa is very clever in the way he's structured the story. The grand scale of the tragedy is brought down to a very personal level that forces you to engage emotionally. Bumblebee is a classic modern kid, hardened in the face of visual constructions of violence (is that the right way to phrase it? I mean movie & book violence as opposed to real encountered violence, which shocks the hell out of him), so the bomb dropping & drawn images of people suffering didn't engage him as much as individual characters from the story suffering.
He's now very interested in Hiroshima and we had a great talk about reasons why it happened and why the Americans thought it needed to happen. The more we talk about history, the more he digs it. I hope that has a lasting effect! Or at least a lingering half-life...
POSTSCRIPT: I just thought I'd respond to SCB's comment about my motherhood skillz out here, up front. I like to blog these nice parenting moments because they remind me that I can be a good parent when I'm not feeling like one. Last night I caught some of At the Movies and Margaret mentioned a character who was a 'good but slightly flaky' mother. 'That's me!' I thought with a flash. I didn't tell you, did I, the whole story about Bumblebee's latest vaccination?
There were two vaccinations on offer: Hep B and Chickenpox. I ticked both on the form, thinking to myself that B had had such a slight case of C'pox -- one spot -- that he might need a needle anyway.
The night before he was due to have the vaccinations, I stumbled across -- this was during my big cleanup -- an old diary stuck in the back of the filing cabinet. I took it back to the studio, wanting to put it together with all my other (scatty) diaries, and before putting it in the box, threw it open at a random page.
That random page recounted the day before my birthday in the year 2001, when Bumblebee (at the age of 4) had a really bad, crusty, oozing case of chickenpox. I'd planned a party, but only the stronghearted came, and towards the end of the (early) evening Bumblebee, who loves a party, was telling everyone to 'GO HOME, GO. HOOOOOME.' because all he wanted was less noise and more mum. We didn't get a lot of sleep that night, poor wee little man.
How could I forget something like that? The 'one spot' thing was actually ME, as recounted many, many times by my long-suffering mother, who had to nurse my poor crusty, oozing brother at the same time.
Luckily I could ring the school, and send a note to the administering nurse, and save B the extra needle. He was ever so grateful, and I felt like a more than slightly flaky mother.
And, for the record, I used to read What Katy Did in bed when I was sick too. And What Katy Did Next. Sometimes I still do.