wings and things

Sibling rivalry

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Ming adored Gutsy9 to begin with but over the weeks I have noticed a subtle change in Ming’s attitude. He’s been saying things like this:

– Get RID of him, Mum!
– He’s making a mess!
– No, I don’t want to babysit him!
– How come you’re always cuddling him – what about me?
– Why do you have to take him everywhere with you?
– You’re turning him into a spoilt brat!
– You love him more than you love me!
– No, yes, oh okay I am a bit jealous – WHO WOULDN’T BE!

Tonight is Gutsy9’s third night camping outside with a couple of new friends and I am just as anxious as I was the first night. When I mentioned my concerns to Ming, he yelled, “Well, good riddance and I hope he stays out there forever!”

“Wait until you have a child and you’ll know what it feels like,” I muttered under my breath but, unfortunately, Ming heard me.

“Mum, please, seriously, who do you love most – me or him?”

I pretended to think for a bit … “You, Ming.”

“THANK GOD!” he said, giving me a hug.

[Note: For anyone who doesn’t realize, Ming is my 19-year-old son and Gutsy9 is my 4-month-old peacock.]


Anthony and Gutsy9 today

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Yesterday afternoon I made a sudden decision to put Gutsy9 outside for the night, so Ming and I took him out to the chookpen, where he has been spending most of the afternoons lately, and put him in the big cage with food and water.

At dusk I snuck out to see how he was coping and sat at a distance, so he couldn’t see me. He was trotting back and forth in the cage and making his little howling sound, but he was also eating and drinking.

Eventually, when I could see that he would cope, I went into the pen, sat on the ground next to his cage and poked my finger through to stroke his head and he made a little trilling sound – happy. And even when I left him, he didn’t howl. But I came back into the house a bit teary.

Well, he was absolutely fine this morning! As soon as I let him out, he galloped after me into the house, straight to my office, flew up onto my lap and went straight to sleep while I did some writing.

He’s outside again tonight, but he isn’t howling – phew! He is becoming a peacock finally and the adult peas have almost stopped pecking him.

Don’t look back, my little changeling.

(Note: the pic. is nearly 4 months ago – G9 is a big boy now!)


“Playing” dead (don’t worry – he’s fine!)

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Gutsy9 (baby peacock for those who don’t know) likes playing dead and I keep getting a fright! Of course he is not really playing dead, he is just playing.

When Anthony was still living at home, he used to do this (not intentionally of course), and I would find him slumped in his chair, apparently asleep but looking as if he were dead. Sometimes I couldn’t wake him up but he would still be breathing. This happened at least once a day over the year preceding his admission to the nursing lodge. Since then, I have had to get the ambulance three times when this has happened on a home visit.

The cause? Advanced Parkinson’s disease. The cure? None.


Dementia is confusing

Anthony’s encroaching dementia confuses both of us and sometimes I am more confused than he is. That’s why I am so glad we have such an honest way of talking with each other.

When Ants was home yesterday, and I mentioned that he had dementia and he winked at me, I was surprised for two reasons. Firstly, his Parkinsons disease prevents him from blinking, let alone winking, so that wink was weirdly wonderful. Secondly, when he and I talked about the dementia of his PD, and I laughed about the taxi mishap, Ants was fine – not distressed and quite okay with the fact that he has dementia now.

I’m confused.


Anthony’s acceptance

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One of the most difficult things about Anthony moving into the nursing lodge has been accepting this dramatic change.

Ming (now 19) was the first to accept this change willingly, whereas it took me nearly a year and mine was an unwilling acceptance laced with grief and guilt.

Anthony’s own acceptance has taken longer but yesterday it just happened and I am so relieved. This is how:

I booked the wheelchair taxi to pick Ants up from the nursing lodge at 2pm, then I rang his nephew who lives around the corner, and left a message that Ants would be home for a few hours.

Then, at 2.30pm, the nephew rang to say Ants was at their place! Apparently Anthony had convinced the taxi driver that our address was wrong and directed him to go to the nephew’s!

By the time the rather flustered taxi driver arrived here (around 2.45pm) I was in such fits of laughter that I could hardly speak as he got Ants out of the taxi. I hugged Ants, still spluttering with hilarity, so much so that Ming took over wheeling Ants to the front veranda while I paid the taxi driver who was now laughing too.

Okay, frivolity aside, the bemused taxi driver left, Ming went to milk the cows and Ants and I shared a beer and some snacks I had painstakingly prepared (chips). Here is our conversation:

Ants: It’s good to be home.
Me: So why did you go to the nephew’s?
Ants: I got mixed up.
Me: Yeah, you have a bit of dementia now.
Ants: I thought so. Am I staying the night?
Me: No!
Ants: Why?
Me: Because, Ants, you are too sick, I can’t lift you, and you need nursing care. How many times do we have to have this discussion? You have to accept it Ants – please!
Ants: You’re right.
Me: What?
Ants: You’re right.
Me: Okay, so the wheelchair taxi is coming to take you back in a few hours. Are you okay with that?
Ants: Yes, Jules (winking).

We then shared another beer, laughed again about the taxi mishap (well, I laughed and Ants looked at me as if I were crazy), then he began to droop badly and agreed to get the taxi earlier.


PS. I’m off on my bike to tackle the road now!


Nose aerobics

Every morning for the last week, I have been doing an average of two hours of nose aerobics. My nose is so keen, it wakes me up early sometimes.

The exercise routine never varies: 50 sneezes, half a box of tissues, a dose of antihistamines, 50 more sneezes, the remaining tissues, another dose of antihistamines until, eventually, my nose begins to relax.

As a result, my nose is now twice the size it was last week due to increased musculature.

Oh how I loathe summer hayfever!


Cycling confessions

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I haven’t cycled as much as I’d hoped to over the last few days and I have lots of excuses, but my main excuse is that my new bicycle scares the hell out of me!

Okay, for those of you who may not have realized, this bicycle has a little motor. If you turn the settings to 0, it is an ordinary bike, but if you switch to 1, the motor kicks in and assists you; if you turn it up to 6, the bike takes off like a rocket ship, pedalling becomes almost unnecessary, and you may find yourself catapulted into a handy hedge.

I just love it, but I am still learning how to manage the settings and gears on our driveway. I plan to venture out of the driveway onto the road on Sunday.


The shortlist

I have discovered something wonderful and I’m sure Oprah will be contacting me soon to make me rich and famous.

Okay, we are all familiar with the list thing – shopping lists, chore lists, goal lists etc. But you know what the trouble is with these lists? They are too long!

My extensive research, case studies and social experimentation over the last three days have produced extraordinary findings! Yes, indeed, I have found the cure for lethargy!

The two candidates for this study were a teenage son and his mother who were becoming more and more depressed and, yes, lethargic, due to the grief they were experiencing when the husband/father figure went into a nursing home.

Neither the wife or son had been able to adjust happily to the new home dynamic despite having a close relationship. This was compounded by the son having to have major surgery and the mother losing her job.

Even a year after the husband’s admission to the nursing home, the son’s surgery and the mother’s loss of employment, all three were still struggling to accept the new status quo. All three were grieving in different ways and this resulted in numerous arguments with emotions running high, particularly between the mother and son. Both became exhausted and fell into a state of lethargy.

Then, three days ago, a plan was devised. Each day, the mother and son would write down a 3-point shortlist for the following day. This was done in a special notebook, almost like a contract. There would be one task that required both (we called that ‘mutual’), one task for the son, and one task for the mother.

The beauty of the shortlist is that it is ‘doeable'(is that a word?)

Okay, tongue out of cheek now – this is working, so watch this space!


A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand

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Have you ever had a tug of war with your child over a piece of plastic?
Have you ever stopped your child from munching the remnants of a Morteined cockroach?
Has your child ever bitten you hard on the finger in a fit of temper?
Has your child ever smashed your nose with his when you try to put him to bed?
Have you ever had a child who likes to bite his toenails?
Have you ever had a child who refuses the food you lovingly prepare?
Have you ever had a child that prefers rolling around in the dirt to anything else?

If so, you probably have a baby peacock on your hands!

Note: Gutsy9 is a typical adolescent, which is great because he is getting his independence.