children

Freeze Your Family for Easter

This conversation just happened.

“It’s the long Easter holiday weekend. I’m looking forward to our camp at the beach with the kids, aren’t you?” he asked.

“No. I’m not,” she said. Actually, it was more of a ‘she snarled.’

Surprise. “Why? What’s the matter? It’s a holiday! Time to relax and enjoy family time,” he said. Still clueless.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve been at home with four children going on four straight weeks now. First, they were home because the pinkeye epidemic cancelled all the schools, then it was time for school holidays, then two went back to school but the other two have runny noses and an ear infection.” (pitch and tone of voice getting louder…higher…screechier…bordering on manic)

“Oh,” he said. Subdued. “I see.”

But she’s not done. Hell no. She’s still going. “I don’t think you DO see. You leave the house everyday. You only have to be with these demons for an hour or so at the end of the day. I have to listen to them, referee them, organize them, clean up after them ALL FREAKIN DAY. And when I lock myself in my cave so I can write, they keep knocking on my door, pestering me. Wanting to breathe my air. I hate this.”

He listened. He  pondered. Then he had a bright idea. “I understand. You need a break. Why don’t you go out for the day on your own, leave them here with me?”

“No. I don’t want to have to go somewhere else to be happy and alone. This is my cave, my space. I hate going places. I want to breathe and think and savor my space by myself. Right here,” she wailed.

He had another bright idea. Because he’s a decent man and he does try. “I’ll take them all out for the day and leave you on your own. How about that?”

“It’s Easter Friday. There’s nothing open in Samoa today. Where are you going to take them? What are they going to eat? What are they going to do? All day?” she demanded.

“Don’t worry. That will be my problem. You can just sit in your room and ummm… breathe your air…talk to imaginary people in your stories…or whatever it is you need to do, without anyone bothering you.” He was trying extra hard to be helpful and hopeful and understanding.

Too bad it didn’t  work.

“Nooooo! What kind of a mother would I be if I kicked all my kids out of the house? You can’t take them and just wander the wilderness all day – because I want the place to myself. That would mean I’m selfish and horrible. Its the holidays. I should have fabulous activities planned for them. A good mother would think its fun to be with her children. I don’t want to be a bad person.”

He was well and truly bewildered now. “So what the heck do you want then?! I don’t get it.” He threw his hands up in the air. “Having us here is driving you nuts. But chasing us away makes you a bad person? You can’t be the worlds best mother AND want to get rid of your children at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. What do you want?”

“I want a freeze machine. So I can zap them like Han Solo in Star Wars. That way I can have them all at home with me but keep them in cold storage. Just defrost them when I want a hug. Or need them to do the dishes. Totally painless of course.” And then she mused on that happy thought for a while.

While he was horrified. “You want to freeze your children?” Then an even more dreadful thought. “And your husband too?”

No reply.

“Whaat?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Who does that? Who even thinks of stuff like that?”

Who indeed. ..

Please tell me somebody, somewhere in the universe – has frozen thoughts like this? #BadMother conversations like this one?!

 

 

 

When your Six Yr old Wants a Boyfriend.

Some conversations with a six year old just NEED to be preserved for posterity.

This morning, Bella was feeling wistful. “I want a boyfriend.”

I was horrified. “What!? Why? You’re too little. You don’t need a boyfriend.”

“You have Dad. I want my own boyfriend,” she replied indignantly.

I tried to be understanding. “But why? What do you want one for?”

“Because a boyfriend can clean the house for you and help you do all your work. Then you won’t have to do any jobs. If I have a boyfriend I will have a super helper to do all my work.”

“Whaaaaat?!” Where did this child get such an idea from I wonder?

But she’s not done. There’s more. ” And I will get a clever builder boyfriend so he will build me a play house and a playground and a castle with a slide and a movie theatre in it. And he will snuggle me whenever I want him to. And go clean the house whenever its dirty.”

I am speechless. I think this child is making an overly astute observation of me and the Hot Man’s relationship.

Why You Need to Film your most Painful Moments

I never filmed any of my baby deliveries. Not the twenty-two hour labor with suction, forceps and episiotomy – the one where I alternately begged to be put out of my misery and yelled at the Hot Man to go find a different doctor who would know what to do with my misery. Not the three emergency c-section deliveries with their associated suffering and traumatization – especially not the one where a very young, not unattractive orderly said, “Hey I know you, I think you taught my sister!” Just before they numbed me from the chest down and whipped off my hospital gown for the entire room to check out (and cut up) my very naked, very pregnant self. #KillMeNow

Nah, I wasn’t interested in recording that kind of stuff for posterity. But if I’m being totally honest though, its because we were poor students and didn’t own a camera. And it was before the internet and mobile phones were invented. (Yes, Im that dinosaur who remembers a time BEFORE mobile phones…)

But now, I’m wishing I recorded my suffering.

Because today Big Son comes running upstairs from his gym set-up in the garage, full of excitement. “Look mum!”

He pushes his sweaty T.shirt out of the way and points at his bicep. I look. All I see is a sweaty arm. “I’m looking. And I’m smelling. You need a shower. You reek.”

He brushed aside my critique of his hygiene. “No, look at that! I have a stretchmark.” He points to a miniscule thread-like squiggly mark on his skin. So tiny and faint that it wouldn’t even qualify as ‘worm-like’.

“So what?” I say.

“It’s a result of all my training. A sign of my muscular development.” He flexes for extra muscular emphasis. So I can get the full impact of his rippling muscular self. “It means I’m getting ripped!”

I roll my eyes. “You call that a stretchmark? Boy, you have no idea what real stretchmarks are.” I roll up the cuff of my shorts revealing the side of my warrior-woman thigh. In all its spangled glory of patterns. “See that?! Now that’s what you call stretchmarks.”

I’m not done. Oh no. Not by far. I heft up my shirt and gesture grandly at my midriff. Well, if it had a tapering indented waist it would have a middle and thus classify as a ‘midriff.’ But it doesn’t. It’s just lots and lots of squishy RIFF RIFF RIFF.  And stamped all over it in intricate, epic style – are bold centipede tracks. “Check it out son!  Your wimpy squiggle is pathetic. Put it away.”

Big Son isn’t happy about having his stretchmark upstaged. “Mine is different mum. Mine is from hard work and struggle and endurance in the gym. You didn’t get those marks from anything like that.”

“Excuse me? These are from pregnancy.”

He nods sagely. “Exactly my point. My stretchmark is like a  battle scar. A sign of my gym WAR. You didn’t work hard for yours.”

What. The. Stretchmarked-hell??!!!!!! 

“You did not just say that…I cannot believe a child of mine just said that.” My voice starts to climb a mountain of outraged horror. “Growing an elephant baby is hard work. Do you even know the kind of trauma that inflicts on a woman’s body? It’s ten months of endurance training, it’s an alien life force ripping through your insides, shredding the abdominal wall, pressuring and tearing the skin of your stomach and thighs…and boobs! And since you were the first, you were the one who inflicted the most damage. I used to have abs dammit. Before I sacrificed myself to give you all life…blah blah…”

Big Son is rolling his eyes like he’s heard all this before. (He probably has. Growing too many babies also does funny things to your brain. Compromises memory retention.) I resist the urge to slap him. Or body slam him with my outraged squishy self. “Don’t you ever show me your pitiful stretchmark again, you hear me? It’s an insult to true warriors who have gone to hell and back to give stupid eighteen year olds life.”

By then Big Son is suitably chastened, convinced of my fierce warriorhood and contrite about his insensitive and offensive remarks. Or at least he’s pretending to be. The child knows how to behave when there’s a war he can’t hope to win. “Okay, okay. Forget I even mentioned my measly little stretchmark.” He slinks away.  To go shower hopefully.

Leaving me wishing, wishing that I had a video of me getting cut open to birth his ungrateful self.

Note to all women out there who might have a kid one day. Make sure you film the whole thing. Get audio of the screaming and cursing too. Close-ups of the blood and sweat.

You never know when it might come in handy.

Love that Blows Your Mind

“I love you Bella. My love for you is more than alllllll the stars in the universe.” I say lovingly as I hug and kiss her at bedtime. Because I’m a writer and I can’t ever just say, I love you…No, I have to add in some beautiful poignant imagery as well.

Her response?

“I love you Mum. More than all the children in the universe love their mums, more than all the animals childrens love their mums, more than all the childrens of all the living things in the universe love their mums, more than Jesus loves his mum, more than all the stars in the universe that ever lived and got burned up and even all the stars in the universe that haven’t been borned yet. I love you more than all that.”

Conclusion? Bella out-loves me. (And her six year old creative brain power freaks me out. Where in heck does this child get this stuff from?!)

Love Your Body. (or try to)

I stopped at the store with a van full of children (don’t ask me where they all came from…pesky pests are like mosquitos you can’t get rid of)  – to buy stuff to make a salad. I left them in the car ( of course) and dashed in.

Where I was promptly distracted by sugar cinnamon donuts that were on sale, and a luscious assortment of lamingtons. Which I had to buy. Of course.

Back in the car, the teenagers proceeded to lecture me about my purchases. “Aren’t you on a diet?”

I was proud to tell them, “No, I’m not. This is the new Lani of 2013 who doesn’t go on stupid diets every other month. Because I’m happy with myself just the way I am.”

They were unconvinced. I carried on, reciting the various mantras of ‘Love Your Body’ experts. “You see this body of mine? It’s beautiful. Strong. Healthy. Vibrant. Luscious…”

Then a voice interrupts, bellowing from the back seat. Bella. “And FAT!! Your body’s fat, Mama!”

Clearly, someone didn’t get the ‘Love Your Body’ memo.

Which the teenagers thought was hilarious. Of course. But that’s alright, because I didn’t let them have any donuts.

They were delicious.

Why I don’t take my Kids ANYWHERE

There are some parents who have jam-packed activity schedules for their children. Every day. All the time.  They go to art galleries…museums…rock climbing…harp lessons…wildlife reserves…kayaking…wine and cheese tasting…flower arranging classes…skydiving…snake pit dancing… They take them everywhere and their children have lots of fantabulously exciting and intellectually stimulating experiences. I don’t actually KNOW any of these kinds of parents personally, most probably because they are far too busy taking their children everywhere to have a spare moment to talk to me. Or it could be because such parents would never deign to be friends with a loser like me because:

I don’t take my kids anywhere.  (Heck, I don’t even go anywhere myself. The cave is a scintillating place to be, why do we have to go out for?!)

But that’s because the few times that I do try to take them somewhere…really irritating things happen.

I decided to take the three daughters to the library. Sounds simple enough, right? Ha. First drama erupted when Bella decided her regular shoes were just not good enough to go the library in. ‘I want sparkly glitter shoes. Why don’t I have any pretty shoes?’  A five year old having a fashion crisis meltdown  is a horrible thing.

Then the trio couldn’t find an overdue library book. Much searching and yelling ensued. Much messing up of an already messy house was involved in this hunt for the elusive book. Bella cried because she couldn’t find it. Big Daughter snapped at Little Daughter because “its all your fault the book is missing. Why didn’t you take better care of it?” Little Daughter cried. Then Big Daughter asked, ‘Why don’t we just tell the library we lost the book and pay for it?”

“Do you have money to pay for it?” I snarled.

“No.”

“Well, then don’t make such ridiculous suggestions. Get out there and FIND THAT DAMN BOOK!”

After thirty minutes of emotional upheaval, the book was found. Hallelujah. We traipsed downstairs and got in the car. Which is when I noticed my car registration had expired. Just fabulous. The library parking lot is always riddled with parking cops, eager to hand out tickets and fines.

‘Don’t worry,’ the Hot Man said. ‘Go pay for the registration online and print out the receipt. You can put it on the dashboard when you go in the library.’

I went inside. I got online. I paid the registration. I tried to print the receipt. But I couldn’t. Because the printer had run out of ink. Just fudging fantastic!!!!

I went back outside. I slammed the door behind me. It didn’t make me feel any better. This day sucks. Who’s dumb idea was it to go to the library anyway?

For one tremulously wonderful moment, I contemplated cancelling the trip. Telling them all to ‘get out of my car, go inside and watch TV and don’t talk to me for the rest of the day. Not if you want to live…’  I thought about how crappy an ordinary thing like going to the library can be when one leads a messy, disorganized life like me. Those OTHER parents who take their kids everywhere can do that because their kids have sparkly shoes, they have a special shelf for library books so they never get lost (probably bar coded and GPS tracked for extra organizational wonderfulness points in heaven), their cars are ALWAYS registered on time, and their printers ALWAYS have ink in them (with extra cartridges stored for emergencies. Like the Zombie Apocalypse.)  This is the problem with taking my kids out of the house. It’s a reminder to me of what a loser parent I am. Why am I even bothering?!

But then I looked at three hopeful, patient, excited faces. In the car. Waiting. Anxiously. Because I never take them anywhere. Because a visit to the library is about as exciting as their lives get.

So I took them to the library and resigned myself to getting a ticket. What the heck, every other annoying thing has already happened…ticket me! Come on, do it!

And you know what? We had fun at the library. In spite of all my dark threats, there was no overdue fine to pay because little kids books don’t get fined apparently. Everybody got lots of books. All three of them found friends from school to talk to and look for books with. Bella played games and did puzzles. And I watched them all and asked myself, ‘Why don’t I do this more often? Its nice in here…’

Oh – and we finally caught a break – and didn’t get a ticket.

That night, I sat and read library books to Bella. She snuggled in beside me, listened avidly, laughed at all the funny bits and made me read the best books twice. Then she said, ‘Mama, this is so fun. I love you.’

Which of course had me all choked up on equal amounts of happiness, love and guilt.  And promising, yes I will take these children to the library more often. Possibly to the park. Maybe even rock climbing! (yeah, lets not push it. Keep it real Lani.)

And resolving to get some blasted spare ink cartridges for the printer, never be late with my car registration again, buy some sparkly shoes for Bella, and DON’T LOSE ANY LIBRARY BOOKS.

How about you? Please tell me I’m not the only one who dreads taking kids places?

To Dance with My Heart

If we were living in Samoa, my children would dance the traditional Samoan siva at school and it would be no big deal. Because everybody does the siva in Samoa at some point, either for a school culture activity, or church/community/village event. And sure, I would go watch them and clap and cheer for them – but only because I’m their mum and that’s what mums have to do. Watch their kids and clap enthusiastically when they perform nice things in public.

As a kid, I had to dance the siva all the time, even when I didn’t want to…*sigh*…for my father’s village, for school culture day, for Independence celebrations, for taupou duties and even for a “Miss Tausala Soccer Pageant”  (ugh, don’t ask.)  It never occurred to me that dancing the siva was anything very special, because everybody did it. Every body HAD to do it at some point…kinda like riding a bike or making a flower ‘ula’ lei or cutting grass with a bushknife machete. (You’ve ALL done those things, right?!)  So how could it be special then? How could it be a real skill? How could it be a true ‘measina’, a true cultural treasure or precious part of my Samoan heritage – when it was no big deal??

Then I grew up and discovered that actually, lots of people don’t know how to dance the siva. (Just like lots of people don’t know how to make a flower lei, or cut grass with a bushknife! No way…serious?? ) And lots of people go take lessons from experts so they can learn how to dance at their weddings and stuff. Hmmm, interesting…

And then we moved here to New Zealand and I realized, my children probably weren’t going to absorb the Samoan siva out of thin air or via cultural osmosis and if I wanted them to be halfway useful at a cultural event – then I’d better teach them myself. So two months ago, I started teaching the daughters how to dance the siva. Even Bella was in the lessons. They weren’t always very enthusiastic about it and I wasn’t always very excited ( or loving and kind) about it either. But, we persisted and sometimes we actually had fun with it.

Tonight, for the first time, we danced the siva together in public, in front of other people. I thought Bella would chicken out at the last minute but she stuck with it and bravely danced the entire performance with the rest of us. She stayed very close by my side and looked up at me as a guide for her hands, feet and heart, carefully patterning her dancing after mine. She was afraid, nervous and at times unsure – but she trusted me to show her the way. In that moment I realized, I am a mother literally handing down heritage to my daughters. Generations of taupou before me have learnt the same siva from their elders – grandmothers, aunties and mothers and then danced to the same song that we danced to. And maybe, hopefully, one day, Bella will teach the siva to her children, dance alongside them – and have them look up to her as a guide for their hands, feet and hearts.

I had to try really hard not to cry up there – because I was so very proud of my three daughters and so very grateful I could be dancing with them, in a shared ‘cultural’ experience.  I have danced the siva many many times in my life. But tonight, for the first time, I felt like the siva was truly a ‘measina o Samoa’, something precious and essential to who we are as tamaitai Samoa, Samoan mothers, daughters and sisters. Something that links us to the women who walked before us and ties us to those who will come after.

And in a funny sort of way, I have New Zealand to thank for this experience because if we were living at home in Samoa, I would have left the siva teaching of my daughters up to cultural osmosis and the siva would have been just another ordinary thing everybody in Samoa does. Nothing special. Nothing skilful. Nothing precious at all.

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How to Be a Shaamaazing Parent.

The Hot Man was sad today. Bella had ‘Fairytale Day’ at school and her class was having a shared lunch. She had to dress up in her funnest fairytale clothes and take a plate of yummy treats to share with the class.

The Hot Man is new to this kind of thing. It’s 8am and Bella wants to know, “What am I gonna take for shared lunch Dad?” Panic mode from the relatively new to the job, SuperDad.

So I step in briskly. “No problem. Get a six dollar sponge cake from the bakery on the way to school.”

The man is relieved and off they go to school. He comes back decidedly less happy. “I felt like a loser. All the other kids had really nice plates of food. Homemade cupcakes, platters of sandwiches, pies, cakes. All these mums with their fancy dishes like this.”

acup

“And there I was with my pitiful cake from the bakery in a ugly box. Like this.”

cake-bakery-box-half-sheet-19-x-14-x-5-50-csI comforted him with nuggets of wisdom from my many years as a wannabe SuperMum. “It’s all about the presentation. I bet you some of those parents bought those fabulous treats from a shop and then beautified them on a plate so they would LOOK homemade. So they could outshine all you loser parents.”

He was unappeased. “Now I know why you would go all out baking things for Big Son and Big Daughter when they were little and they had to take food to school. I thought you were over the top with it but now I get it.” I am happy the Hot Man has seen the light. But then he adds, “You don’t bake anything for the younger three kids schools though. Ever. What happened?”

I got older. And wiser. Food is food. Kids don’t care what it looks like. I give Little Son a two dollar big bag of chips to take to school for HIS shared lunch day and he thinks he’s in heaven.

And I got tougher. I don’t care anymore what the other parents do or think. If some woman (or man) wants to slave for hours over an intricate, divinely inspired gourmet creation for their kid’s class shared lunch, then let ’em. And all the power to them. I stand in awe of them. And am happy to sample their fabulous food concoctions.

I, on the other hand, am far too busy doing other things that I’m good at. (Like watching an entire season of True Blood in one day. And eating a Dominos Shrimp pizza and hiding the box so the kids don’t find it when they come home from school and then have to eat cereal for dinner because their mother has been too busy watching True Blood to cook any food. Shhhh…don’t tell.)

No, after eighteen years of chasing after five kids, I hold this truth to be self-evident: a parent can’t be shamaahzing all the time…at everything… No matter how bad we want to be. And comparing ourselves to the cakes that look like these?

acake3acake

acake5Is just downright foolish. (And depressing.) Because if this is who you are on a cake plate –

imagesCASQQK18Then be smart and buy a cake in a box from the bakery.

And be happy to be shaamaaahzing at the OTHER stuff you’re kick-butt awesome at.

When Your Husband Runs Away From You

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I used to say that the only way I could ever get a holiday from my Demented Domestic Goddess duties – was to get pregnant. Because then I would have to go live in New Zealand for a few months before and after the baby busted out because I have a small problem with sustaining an alien lifeform (I nearly die every time.) A rather extreme way to get a little ‘me-time’…

Now, the Hot Man is our resident ‘Demented Domestic God’ for a few months and he’s decided to cross a few things off his bucket list while he’s at it: a triathlon and a Half-Ironman.  So in between laundry and dishes and making sure everyone brushes their teeth – he also bikes, runs and swims a lot. It makes him very tired. And a little grouchy too because he has to reach a certain weight so he can’t eat what he wants to.

He’s been doing a fabulous job with the Domestic Duties though, making it possible for me to write lots. ( And eat lots…) Until he tells me that he has to go to Samoa to run in a half-marathon and get some training done in the humidity there. He’s going away for ten days, he says. So I can acclimatize, he says. It’s essential preparation for the Half-Ironman in August, he says.

Okaaaay, I say.  So he makes his flight bookings. Excitedly.

Then he tells me, when he comes BACK from his half-marathon, he has to go BACK to Samoa nine days after that so he can do a triathlon there. And be there for another ten days. So I can acclimatize, he says. I can’t do the Half-Ironman later in the year if I don’t do this triathlon first, he says. You know the roads there are very different from here in NZ, I’m taking my racing bike so I can get used to the terrain there, he says. We don’t want me to have any accidents in the Half-Ironman, he says.

No we don’t want that, I say.

So he makes his flight bookings. Gleefully.

I watch him pack all his gear. The bike, the protein powder, the carbo bars, the energy gels, the shoes. He’s excited and I’m excited for him. For the most part. It would help if he didn’t look so damn happy about the thought of escaping from us and the laundry and the dishes and the making of school lunches…

I wish I’d won the lottery  so I could afford to go with him. (Actually purchasing a lottery ticket would probably have been helpful with that.) I wish we didn’t have five children who needed looking after so I could go with him. I could drive alongside him while he runs on the road, blasting encouraging music, throwing water at him – all while I eat panipopo from Siaosi’s shop. While he’s recovering from his event, I could be meeting up with my girlfriends, Kristin and Kathy  for sundaes and gossip at McDonalds. ( okay, so we’re too old to be ‘girlfriends’ but you get the idea…) What a shaaamahzingly awesome trip it would have been. If I had gone.

But I didn’t.

Because I’m not the one who’s an athlete. Because I’m at home with the five children I gave birth to just so I could go on ‘holiday’ each time. And get a break from the rest of the children.

I’m such an idiot –  what I should have done  – is take up running. And run AWAY instead.

 

When Daughters Drive you Nuts

Sometimes, daughters can drive you nuts.

Big Daughter is a writer and a poet. She is a disgustingly intelligent child. I can even concede she is far more intelligent then I will ever be. (Not that I’m biased or anything. What do I know, I’m just her mother.) I am very proud of Big Daughter and grateful I can be her slave mother.

But sometimes, I just want to smack her up’side the head.

The Samoa Observer newspaper was doing a series of feature articles for the week of Mother’s Day where people wrote about their mums and what they thought of motherhood in general. They ran an article from Big Daughter. It was an insightful, clearly expressed, and very ‘mature’ piece of writing. (Not that I’m biased or anything.) If I were still in my English teacher days, I would have given it an A. I read her article in the Samoa Observer and I was very proud of her and grateful I can be her slave mother.

Then a few days later on, I just wanted to smack her up’side the head.

My Uncle – otherwise known as Professor Albert Wendt – was specially awarded and recognized at the recent Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. There was an evening of readings, music, and tributes to celebrate him. I took two of my daughters with me to the event. So they could have a culturally aesthetic and artistically uplifting experience. Broaden their intellectual horizons. Get their brain synapses zapped in a way that maybe Hannah Montana just isn’t zapping them?

We went. We listened. We clapped. Ten minutes in and Little Daughter was half-lying down in her seat. “What’s the matter with you? Sit up.” I hissed at her.

“I’m bored,” whined Little Daughter. I considered giving her the pinch of death. You know the one where you smile lovingly at your child for all to see – all while pinching their arm and muttering threats of dismemberment if they don’t bloody well behave? But then Uncle Albert came out on stage and she perked up immediately. Thankfully he was scintillating and funny enough that even an eleven year old didn’t need to lie down on the floor and take a nap.

Then it was time for the music. There was a glorious opera number which transported us all to heavenly places.

Except for Little Daughter. Who had her fingers stuck in her ears and her head down in her lap. I poked her. “What’s the matter with you? Sit up.” I hissed at her. Again.

“The song is so loud it hurts my ears,” she whined. “She’s not singing English. How am I supposed to like her song when I don’t know what she’s saying?”

By then, the ruse was up. There was no way ANYONE in the audience could possibly mistake us for artistically literate individuals or connoisseurs of the fine arts. Please forgive us, we are savages who never go to the opera.  I glared at my child and didn’t bother hissing. “Stop being rude. Sit up straight, be attentive and smile. Or you’re going to get it.” She didn’t need a translator, she knew what “it” meant.

The child behaved herself for the rest of the program. Then it was time to wait in line to  congratulate Uncle Albert and “mingle”. In a manner which denoted our good breeding and exceptional manners. Except someone forgot to tell Big Daughter that patience and something called a SMILE are essential ingredients for aforementioned breeding and manners. I chatted to people I knew from the TELESA publishing journey, took photos – and Big Daughter looked surly and mean. “Why do you have to talk to so many people?” she complained.

Little Daughter said hopefully, “Can we go home now? If we drive fast, we can still watch XFactor on tv.”  Koekiki oe e…

Then some lovely ladies exclaimed, “Is this your daughter Sade Young? We read her article in the Samoa Observer. Wow, such a great piece…blah blah.” They were enthusiastic and generous with their praise. I was happy for Big Daughter. Now she can see it’s not just me who thinks she writes good stuff! What nice people giving her positive feedback!  I beamed.

Big Daughter said “thank you.” With a surly, disinterested teenager expression. One that said, ‘I’m sooo bored listening to your chatter and I have far better things to do with my time. Like watch XFactor. Or taking a Hannah Montana general knowledge quiz.

I wanted to smack her up’side the head.

And so it continued throughout the night. Later, when I asked Big Daughter why she looked like a bored brat when she was being given compliments, she was shocked. “No I didn’t! I was shy.”

Little Daughter’s justification for (almost) passing out during the program was, “I think I’m too young to go with you to book stuff. It’s way past my bedtime. Next time, you can leave me at home.” So I can watch XFactor.

I went home and told the Hot Man I wanted to smack his daughters up’side the head. He said, ‘Don’t be silly. You can’t do that.’

There’s no hope for us. I’m apologizing in advance. If you ever meet my daughters in public and they seem surly / bored / disinterested. It’s because they are shy. Out past their bedtime. And I can’t smack them up’side the head.