I went to our local shopping complex today. Hideous. It’s one of those constructs with a centre point and arms of shopping stretching from it in some weird homage to one of the sea creatures that inhabit the beaches that flank the eastern boundary of the area of Sydney in which I live. It doesn’t have a roof per se but ‘sails’ to provide too little shade in summer and inadequate protection from the elements in winter. Needless to say, I hate the place.
The only reason I agreed to meet Chef there was because we both needed new sneakers as a matter of urgency rather than appearance and there are a number of options all in the one place, which means that yes, we play completely into their hand in terms of how these places capture any audience whatsoever.
But however much I detest the place, I truly hate it at this time of year. The time when an unfettered, unashamed period of gross consumerism threatens to destroy your very soul. Christmas.
It starts in the carpark. Already full early on in the day, people driving with a steely glint in their eye that is some form of ancestral throwback to when such eyes were scouring plains and grasslands looking for prey. Suddenly spots reserved for disabled people or people with multiple children are fair game as if your disability or the risk of one of your kids running off as you try and tether the other lot into their car seat count less at this time of year.
The ugly underbelly of human nature starts to appear as we collectively start one gigantic roll in a delicious bowl of shiny new things just as a dog would tumble about in a patch of dirt it had scrapped around in for hours.
Then you venture into the shopping area itself. People swarming in and out of this shop and that. Windows filled with lurid coloured bits of fabric that apparently women are wearing today. Personally I prefer more fabric less skin and preferably not in any colour with any association to ‘coral’ or indeed colours on the wheel normally reserved for safety signs. I also don’t really like the idea of my clothes providing instructions to others. Get over your self (sic) indeed.
Everyone has about eleventy gagillion bags with them.
You can see the stores have fattened up to deal with this gluttony. Piles of totem tennis sets, ensuring all of us have at least one rusting in the backyard for the next five years after the first game reveals how infernally torturous this game actually is so it is never played with again. Cricket sets, pool gear, books, games, DVD box sets, new TVs and on and on it goes. It is terrorism on a whole new level.
Then there are the food ‘halls’.
A little piece of me dies every time I have to even pass through these constructs. All these people sitting surrounded by bags and bags of things they’ve purchased. Kids going feral, teenagers perfecting their emo sitting slouch, parents looking worn out by life, carers with adults with special needs, old people eating McDonalds. It is single-handedly the most depressing reflection on modern society. With a naan bread on the side.
I endured this today because I was tired, it was lunchtime and we were there. Again, I KNOW, playing completely into their greedy tentacled hands. I was about halfway through some very average sushi when I reached saturation point. Almost Michael Douglas in Falling Down and definitely Bill Murray after one too many repetitions in Groundhog Day.
I couldn’t stomach it – the sushi, the people, the place – anymore.
I could smell the scent of frenzy on the breeze. I could feel my heart starting to race and that compulsion to spend spend spend speeding up from behind, ready to overtake my very being.
I’ve already been feeling decidedly grim about the whole festive season and the costs that seem to come with it and been working out how we can sidestep the whole consumerist blamange it has become. We’d already decided that yes, we will relent and get Felix some handheld electronic toy/console/thingy and Oscar some sporting paraphernalia (like a mini soccer goal net and even more balls for our backyard to be littered with) and Jasper a Thomas the Effing Engine backpack and other detritus, but I’m trying to see if we can limit it to that. As in, otherwise gifts will be books and things for imaginative play (I really want to buy the boys a dolls house – a quest for another post). All adult relatives and friends will be receiving homemade produce. If I get organised and can face going into those weird shops where those crafty types hang out and know how to ask for lengths of material or types of wool, then they may even look more lovely with ribbon on them and cute little labels featuring my pathetic attempts at hand lettering. The produce that is, not the weird crafty types.
So, as you dear Internet readers as my witness, I shall not be returning to said shopping mall again between now and the New Year.
So yes, the snipper is snipping on Monday and I am way weird about it all. Surfing Free nailed it for me when she said it’s one thing to decide to not have anymore children, it’s another thing to not be able to.
If I’m really honest – I don’t want to close the door completely because what if in 5 years, hell 3 years even, we decide to try for the girl.
Yeah I know, we’d end up with identical twin boys.
There have been several intense discussions in this house about Felix maybe repeating Year 2. He is one of those kids bringing up the rear in his year in terms of chronological age, being a May baby with a 30 June cut-off. But as has been the case everytime we talk about this, his maturity far outstrips that of many his age and indeed that of the older kids in his year group.
The reason we’d do it is pretty much solely for his literacy skills. He has come on in absolute leaps and bounds this year but I just get this sense of him always playing catch-up with his peers.
I spoke to his teacher today.
She was adamant. Resoundingly adamant it was a bad idea. In fact, almost agitated we were even considering repeating him.
She thinks he’s one of the most emotionally mature kids in his entire year and indeed moreso than some of the Year 3s (he’s in a composite 2/3 class). While his literacy has needed extra help this year, there is no way he could be considered as behind or even at the bottom of the year in regards to it. His numeracy skills are apparently excellent. She thinks so long as he has a good teacher next year (subtext of the conversation, she is ensuring he is in a good class for us) who keeps pushing him, he will be fine.
So no repeating for Felix.
Unless the school counsellor convinces us otherwise at our meeting on Monday morning. Before the snipsnip
While on the subject of B-boy #2, Felix is currently doing the school’s swimming program that most Government schools do. The bus one of the groups were travelling on was in a minor accident yesterday on their way back to school.
Felix asked me today if I would have picked him up early from school if he’d been on that bus.
We had a chat about shock and how sometimes it takes a little while for it to kick-in and that yes, I would have picked him up.
I – ahem – took the opportunity to tell the
embodiment of capitalism dear child that it’s easy at this time of year to lose sight of what is the most important thing in life – each other – and to get caught up in what’s the latest toy, who of your friends has what gadget or gizmo and so on.
And just to drive the message home I told him how his Dad and I think we have the greatest kids in the world and wonder each day what we did to be so blessed, and that something like that bus accident makes us remember just how much they mean to us and how devastated we’d be if anything bad ever happened to them.
Yeah, I am so very very good at the whole maternal guilt thing.