Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dream Vacations, Gap Years, Slapping, and Permissive Parenting

1. Dreamed that, Tim goes to Australia with my mom and some other people. I feel that I'm okay about not going with them. But when they come back, I'm somewhat jealous that I didn't go.

2. Dreamed that, we're planning a trip that includes Australia. Tim talks about the pre-Australia part of the trip. He wants to go to a film festival. I'm not too thrilled, but keep my opinions to myself. I'm wondering if we could just see one movie instead of attending a whole festival. I also wonder if perhaps Tim could go without me. 

3. Thought about Halls Gap— kind of for a nutty reason.

I was thinking about how I have these idealized vacations in my mind, sometimes. It's like I want something, but I don't know what. 

For example: Lately I've been thinking I want a Great Barrier Reef vacation. I'm realizing, though, that what I want is to have one of those mindless, spoiled, relaxing vacations. We're going on a family cruise in two years. That will probably satisfy my desires. But what do I desire?  It has something to do with getting a tropical drink. Now I'm trying to figure out if it's the drink I want; or is it the waiter/waitress coming to my deck chair to take my order?

Anyway, I was thinking of all this and thought of how Halls Gap met some of my other idealistic wishes. It still does, actually! It's a small tourist town with free-roaming kangaroos, various parrots, friendly Magpies, ice-cream shops, small cafes with pies and chips; etc.

The weather was close to perfect when we were there.

There are places to take long interesting walks.

There's an Aboriginal Cultural center where you can get delicious bush tucker food.

When I think about our future Australia trip, I often think I want to find a place that's LIKE Halls Gap.  So far, I haven't heard of anything, that's enough like it, to make me satisfied.

Why not just go back to Halls Gap? Maybe we will. The thing that scares me is, it was too perfect. I worry it's going to change in the next few years. What if it becomes more crowded? What if the cute cafes and ice-cream shops are pushed out by McDonalds and Subways?  What if we go back, and the weather is awful?  

4. Started watching an episode of Neighbours.

5. Read expat Nikki's post about America's enthusiasm about their kids finishing high school and heading to college. 

In one part she talks about a school banner that lists which college each of their graduating students is heading to. Nikki says, What happens if you don’t get into College – lots of focus seems to be on where to next? Don’t you wish just one said Bar tending and surfing for a year with accompanying picture of a long board or is that just me?

And what happens if you WANT to take a gap year?  I know it's not a popular thing in the US. I never heard of it until I started learning about Australia.  But is it at all acceptable here?

What do American universities think of applicants who aren't coming directly from high school, but instead took a year off to work and/or explore the world?

6. Saw that there's a whole website for US gap years.  Maybe it's growing in popularity here? I hope so.

7. Thought it was interesting that Amy on Neighbours (Zoe Cramond) got mad at Kyle (Chris Milligan) for being sympathetic towards her single mother life. She says it's better than being in a failed marriage, and she's sick of people feeling sorry for her.

I guess I can see her point. Being a single parent isn't a guarantee that you and your child have a very difficult life, and having a co-parent doesn't mean you always have it very easy.

A single parent might have an easygoing and helpful child. He/She may have a good support system—people eager to babysit and help out in other ways.

A co-parenting mom or dad might have a partner that's often away at work or busy with other things. They might have a lack of outside support.  They might have a child that's very active, needy, and/or strong-willed.

8. Started thinking, well it's hard on single mothers because they have to be the caretaker and also the one who brings home the money. But then I remembered there are co-parenting families where both parents work and struggle to balance their job, childcare, and housework.

9. Started watching episode one of The Slap.

10. Wondered how much this show is going to remind me of my own family.

Probably a lot, unfortunately.

11. Thought it was quite gross that Hector (Jonathan LaPaglia) sticks his hand into the garbage can to fish out his cigarettes.

His wife (Sophie Okonedo) threw them in there, because Hector told her he was going to quit. She took the first step for him. When she said threw them away, I assumed she meant the whole pack—that the cigarettes would still be in the package. Then fishing them out would be less disgusting. But each cigarette is lying among the trash.

12. Saw that Sophie Okonedo is a British actress, and she's been on Doctor Who!

I wasn't sure who that was at first; but with some nudging from IMDb, I think I remember. She was the queen person on that episode where people lived on a giant space whale. A living Moya!

13. Thought that Hector reminds me of Peter Barlow from Coronation Street.  They're both married men who have a thing for a younger woman.

14. Learned that the girl who plays Connie, the object of Hector's affection, is Sophie Lowe.

Lowe played Alice on the TV show, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

Lowe was born in the UK, but moved to Australia with her family when she was ten.

15. Disgusted with Hector. He gives Connie one of the cigarettes he took from the trash.

16. Saw the kid (Julien Mineo)who's going to get slapped.  I thought that, in the book, he was three.

The kid here looks older than three to me.

17. Read article about Australian doctor, Ric Gordon, using the Holocaust as an argument for dieting.

He said, There were no overweight people in the concentration camps.

Yeah. Because they were starving.

I don't think Gordon is the first person to say something like this. I remember someone saying something similar a few years ago.

Yes, I think most people will lose a ton of weight if put on a very strict diet.  The problem is, it's not easy to stick to such a diet.  I did for a short while.  I lost a ton of weight. But I could have that much willpower and obsession for only so long. I gained the weight back. A few years later, I lost my appetite for a few months. Food was very unappealing to me. Again, I lost a bunch of weight.

Then there's our cat Mu Shu. He was pretty much fat all his life. He loved to eat. A few months before he died, he became a very thin cat. Illness can do that to you.

The thing is, most mentally and physically healthy people (and other animals) are not going to be able to stick to a concentration camp diet.  For those who stick to it, they might die of malnutrition. Really, though. Death and malnutrition are trivial matters when you compare it to the plight of getting a body that looks good in a bikini.

18. Had a question in my mind. For the people who survived the concentration camp, how many of them remained super thin throughout their lives?  Did none of them gain their weight back? Did any of them get fat?

19. Thought of Hayley on Coronation Street.

She used to eat a fair amount and probably didn't have the type of body that would be admired at Bondi Beach.

But now I'm seeing her do a fantastic job at dieting. She's refusing full meals and most snacks. In fact, all she wants to eat is a small amount of strawberries each day.  Hayley is now able to fit into clothes she hasn't been able to wear for years.

Wonderful! Except poor Hayley is due to die of pancreatic cancer in a few weeks.

20. Felt bad for Aisha on The Slap. She and Hector have Bali plans.Then her in-laws give Hector a family trip to Greece for his birthday. The trip to Greece interferes with the Bali plans.

First of all, the trip is one of those gifts that is very generous, but incredibly controlling. It would have been very nice for the in-laws to give Hector and Aisha money for a trip, but to dictate where they go and when?

Well, actually my parents have done that, and I quite appreciate it. But they ask and/or invite us before buying the plane tickets. They don't just throw tickets at us and say, Here! We're all going to Italy next summer!

Actually, I probably wouldn't mind that either. But I WOULD mind if we already had plans. For example, let's say we already had plans to go to Australia. I wouldn't be pleased if my parents bought us tickets to go to Spain.  I'd be especially unhappy if I was pressured to give up the Australia trip for the Spain trip.

21. Saw that when Hugo bites another child at the party, he's not scolded. Instead his mother Rosie (Melissa George) comforts him by breastfeeding.

I have absolutely no problem with mothers who skip the whole premature weaning thing (I was one of them), but why not scold the child for biting; then breastfeed him?

I believe in sustained breastfeeding. I also believe in scolding children when they've done wrong. Or at least talking to them to figure out what's going on.

22. Thought about situations where the mother feels her child hasn't done anything wrong. Or at least they believe the wrong done to their child outweighs what the child has done. I've been there.

I've also been in situations where someone believes my child deserves the full blame, but I feel other children are to blame as well.

Tim and I were once called permissive parents, because we fought and argued with an adult who was loudly, passionately, and angrily yelling at our child.  I guess some people feel that, as the customer is always right, it also goes that the adult is always right.  Well...unless it's their child who's being yelled at. Then suddenly they change their opinion about the matter.

There have been times, though, that I've been the one to judge parents as being too permissive. There was the kid at our house who was a little too free-spirited with our play dough. I think I gently asked him to stop. His mother said nothing.

There was the family that went to the museum with us.Their child knocked down other children's buildings; he made a mess with an orange on the equipment; he did things against the rules at the dino dig.  His parents said nothing.  Like Rosie, they had the belief that children should have no rules. No guidance.

I don't like families like this. But as I judge them, I have to remember how stricter parents, than us, have judged us for the way we parent Jack. It's all a matter of perspective.

And who knows. Maybe these completely free spirited parents end up with adult offspring who are incredibly well-adjusted.  Maybe their way of parenting is the best way.

23. Saw that Diana Glenn plays Sandi, the wife of Harry the slapper.

I can't remember Sandi's reaction to the slap. Is she ashamed of Harry for slapping a child?  Is she okay with it? Understanding?

24. Felt totally on Aisha's side when she says, Dragging two kids around a country where I don't speak the language; visiting every one of your five hundred fucking cousins is not my dream.

She'd also be going with her controlling in-laws and a husband who will probably never take her side against them.

25. Thought about perspective again. The Slap narrator talks about how Hector sees his wife as a controlling bitch.  But from where I'm standing, she seems quite reasonable to me.

Well, throwing his cigarettes away was a bit much.  But besides that?

Though, from what I remember of the book, all the characters have an unappealing side. In this episode, we're seeing Hector's bad side. In other episodes, we'll probably see Aisha's bad side.

26. Saw that Aisha has her own episode. It's the seventh one.

27. Thought that The Slap reminds me a lot of A Casual Vacancy. They both have a bunch of hard-to-like Muggles.

28. Thought that the actor playing Richie (Blake Davis) looked familar. I looked at his filmography. He's the teen from Tangle.

29. Saw that maybe Hugo's parents aren't as permissive as I thought. They do pull Hugo away when they see him tearing up the flowers in the garden.

30. Thought of something else. Hugo's behavior might not be completely due to his parent's permissiveness.  Throughout the episode, they've shown Hugo being both destructive, violent, and ornery. He might be a challenging child who would still be a challenging child if he had stricter parents.

31. Saw the slap.

Harry intervenes when he sees Hugo swinging the cricket bat at the other children. He picks Hugo up. Hugo protests by kicking him. Harry slaps him across the face.

32. Felt so far that I'm more on Harry's side.

It's not that I support slapping young children. But I can sympathize with Harry losing his temper after seeing Hugo misbehave all day.  Plus, he was seeing his own children in physical danger from Hugo's behavior.

Being kicked was probably the icing on the cake.

I also think Rosie was over the top in calling the slap child abuse. Her husband (Anthony Hayes) takes it a step farther by suggesting Harry is a wife-beater. Maybe he is, though? I forget.

33. Felt that sometimes people lose their temper and lash out with a slap. It doesn't necessarily mean they're a bad person; that they hit often; or that they're domestic abusers.

34. Tried to remember how Rosie and Hugo are connected to Harry. Are they related? Or are they just two families who ended up at the same party?

35. Consulted Lord Wiki.

He says Rosie is a childhood friend or Aisha.

36. Saw that Gillian Jones from Packed to the Rafters is on the second episode of The Slap.

37. Saw that Ashley Zuckerman is in this episode as well.

38. Read The Singapore in Australia's post about skilled visa migration. He mentions that one must be under fifty years of age to apply. I saw that the other day when I was looking at visas.

I'm pretty sure Australia has raised the age limit. I remember, when we wanted to move to Australia, feeling that we needed to hurry because Tim was reaching that age limit.

39. Looked at a non-government site about moving to Australia. They say the age is forty-five.

Either sites like this have always had it wrong, and I was looking at the wrong information. Or Australia has changed the rules, and the site hasn't updated.

I think it's more likely the latter, because I think, for the most part, I looked at Australian government sites when we were wanting to move.

40. Started watching the second episode of The Slap.

The central character in this episode is Anouk. What I know about her so far is that she's a soap opera writer, and she's dating a soap opera actor.

I learned from Lord Wiki, a while ago, that she's friends with Rosie and Aisha.

41. Saw that Gillian Jones plays Anouk's mother.

42. Saw Rosie come into the house. She seems close to Anouk's mother. Is she Anouk's sister? Or is she a family friend?

43. Saw two Rush actors among Anouk's soap opera writing colleagues—Ashley Zuckerman and Paul Ireland.

44. Learned that Rosie and Anouk are friends, not sisters.

45. Saw that Anouk has something in her life that I don't have—a person, close to her, who's very supportive of her writing.  Although maybe he's a bit too supportive. He reads some of her manuscript without asking, and continues when she asks him to stop.  That probably is more intrusive than supportive.

46. Learned that Anouk's boyfriend is seventeen years younger than her.

That's quite an age gap.

47. Tried to imagine dating someone who is twenty-five.

48. Figured out that if Jack was going to one day date someone with that age difference, the woman would be thirty-one right now.  Yikes!  Well, and it would be very illegal.  But in three years, it will be legal. They'd need another five years or so to get my blessing.

49. Figured out if Tim dated an older woman with a seventeen year age difference, he'd be dating a sixty-five year old woman. Why does that make him sound like a nicer man, to me, than if he was dating a much younger woman?

And why would I not mind adult-Jack dating a much older woman, but I'd be disturbed if my adult-nieces dated an older man?

50. Felt that a young man dating an older woman is cute and fun, while an older man dating a much younger woman feels predatory.

I know. That's very sexist.

51. Thought of Peter Barlow on Coronation Street, and Hector on The Slap. They both seem yuck to me for being married and pursuing a much younger woman. But when Gabrielle, on Desperate Housewives, was having sex with her teenage gardener; I thought it was comical and cute. And the teen wasn't even of legal age!

52. Liked Anouk's dress.

53. Saw that it's not a dress, actually. It's a shirt that she wears with leggings.

I would prefer it if it were a dress, because I don't really like wearing leggings.

54. Thought there was a brilliant scene between the three friends—Anouk, Rosie, and Aisha.

Rosie brings up the slap. Anouk goes totally off on her—saying that Rosie shouldn't have gone to the police, Anouk's going to take Harry's side, and that Hugo is a monster lacking discipline.

Towards the end of the fight, Rosie holds her face as if she's been slapped.

That's the thing. We can verbally slap someone, and that can hurt just as much as a physical slap.

55. Liked the song played at the end of the second episode.

It's called "At the Hop" by Devendra Banhart.

It's lovely.

56. Saw that Uma Thurman plays Anouk in the American remake of The Slap.

57. Saw that although there's a seventeen year age difference between Anouk and her boyfriend (Oliver Ackland) on the show; the actors have only a nine year difference between them.

58. Went to the Triple J 2014 list.

Today I'm going to listen to the 13th song; and that is Vance Joy's "Mess is Mine".

I'm not sure if I've heard that song before, but I like Vance Joy a lot.

59. Started watching the video for "Mess is Mine"

There's a polar bear!

I feel like I'm watching a Coke commercial...or a global warning public service announcement.

60. Had feelings of love for Vance Joy's voice.

61. Did not understand the video, but I thought it was interesting.

I didn't appreciate the vomiting.

62. Started watching Georgia Pitt's cover of "Mess is Mine".

I like it, but sometimes the sound hurts my ears.  It might be the volume or equipment and not Georgia Pitt's voice.

63. Started watching Emily Jacoby's ukulele cover of "Mess is Mine". It's very cute.

I think I have a soft spot for people who play the ukulele. It's a magical instrument.

Emily is very cute with her braces.

64. Listened to Emily Jacoby do a melody that includes Vance Joy's "Riptide".

65. Started to watch a Neighbours backstage video. This one stars Rebekah Elmaloglou, who plays Terese.

And when she was a young girl, she played Sophie on Home and Away!

66. Saw that Terence Donovan is in the video. On Neighbours, he plays Elmaloglou's father-in-law. On Home and Away, he played her abusive father.

67. Pleased that Elmaloglou and Donovan mention working together on Home and Away.

67. Thought maybe I had a minor psychic moment. Because it's not like I think about and need to often mention that Elmaloglou was on Home and Away. But as I started watching the video, I had the urge; and then it ended up that Terence Donovan was in the video.

68. Saw that I did NOT have a psychic moment. It was just a matter of my subconscious picking up on something that the rest of my brain did not.

On the little icon picture for the video? Donovan is right there!