life in New Zealand

Are You a Sicko Child-Snatcher?

Little Daughter’s school sent home a notice, warning parents about a ‘strange white male who tried to entice one of the students into his car while they were walking to school.’ They advised parents and students to be extra careful.

I’m not too worried because the Hot Man walks Little Daughter to and from school every day. Little Daughter IS worried – but not about the ‘strange white male’ who may or may not leap out of the bushes to abduct her. No, she’s more worried about her Dad.

Because the Hot Man is on fire. He read the notice and he is raging and roaring, ready to beat the crap out of any and all “sickos who dare to try hurting ANY kids.” He did this warrior killer man routine that involved lots of pacing, clenching of fists, vehement waving of arms and displaying of fists and accented by ferocious facial expressions. “I hope I see him. Just wait till I see someone trying to grab any kids on the way to school. I’m going to pull them out of their car, chuck them on the ground and hurt them so bad. Sick people who hurt kids that way make me so angry… I hope I find one! I’m going to look out for any strange looking man talking to a kid on the way to school. He’s going to be sorry!”

Little Daughter was aghast. “But Dad, what if you make a mistake and its like a parent of one of the kids? Or a teacher?” But her Dad is on a rampage and cannot be appeased. She turned to me and whispered, “Mum, what if someone thinks Dad is the dangerous one? They might report him instead. My Dad will get arrested and all the other kids will think I have a weird Dad.”

Which is why Little Daughter asked ME to walk her to school today.

Notice for Parents and teachers in Te Atatu, West Auckland – please be aware, there is a very vigilant brown man out on the street, looking out for sicko child-snatchers. We assure you he is NOT dangerous. Unless of course, you are a sicko child-snatcher. In which case, don’t even bother running because this vigilant brown man is very fit, fast and furious.



How to Cope with the pestilence called ‘Sales Reps."

I miss my dogs.

I am gutless. A wimp. Since moving to NZ, I have had this re-affirmed even more. Why? Two words for you.

Door Salesmen.

Those people that ring your doorbell and then don’t leave until you promise to give them your blood/marry them/bequeath them with a spare organ. Or buy something. I’m hopeless at saying no. As soon as i open that door and see a smiley, businesslike, firm and forward person with a clipboard, a briefcase, a dog collar – I get that Titanic sinking feeling. Oh shit. I’m doomed.

HRH doesnt understand why I’m like a cornered Prison Break-er with sales reps. “Its very simple. You just say – Thank you but we’re not interested.”

Ohmigosh are you kidding? That’s far too difficult for me. That’s just like saying, I eat kittens for breakfast. Or, I hate babies. Or, I daydream about killing Dora the Explorer. Or, I’ve got a bomb in my shoe. You just can’t say stuff like that. It’s bad. Wrong. Twisted. Evil. It guarantees you a seat in hell. Right next to the heartless fool who shot Bambi’s mother. I cannot say those words. (strangely enough, I have no problem saying NO to my children. In a variety of creative ways. Get lost. Go play on the motorway. Stop breathing my air. Get real, of course you cant eat cookies and ice cream for breakfast, only slave mothers are allowed to do that.)

No, I have a variety of strategies to deal with salesmen. All of them require telling lies. And none of them work very well.

#1. Play the dumb housewife card. (Offending feminists everywhere. And betraying my degree in Women’s Studies.) Tell them you can’t make a decision because your husband is at work “and he’s the one who knows all about stuff like that. I can’t buy anything without his permission.” Big sigh. Doeful and woeful. I’ve never been as humble and submissive as I am when using this strategy. The only problem with this is that these salesmen are relentless. They ask, “When will your husband be home? We can come back and talk to him then.” And when you tell them, “oh reeeeeeally late. Like 7 or 8pm” they leap on that gleefully. “Oh we’re working in this area until 8.30pm. I’ll be back then. It’s an appointment then! Its a date!” And off they go, skipping and prancing. Argh. Foiled again.

#2. Deflect and detour. Tell them, “Oh, I’m sorry but we were just going out.” And then they stakeout your home, lie in wait. And jump out at you when you drive back in from your fake excursion to the dairy. Two minutes up the road. Tell them. “This is not my house. Im just a visitor.” or “I no spikkin the english. I very big Samoan coconut” or “I don’t know if my car needs a maintenance check. In fact, I dont even know if I have a car.

As you can imagine, none of these lies work. All the sales reps just go away. And come back. Again. And again. And again. Until they are unlucky enough to meet HRH. Who opens the door and tells them firmly. “Sorry but we are not interested. Thank you.” And then shuts the door before they even have a chance to ask him for his right kidney. And then he gets annoyed with me and my wimpiness.

I never had this problem back home in Samoa. Because I lived at the end of a pot-holed road. In a fenced compound. Guarded by very loud, very ferocious looking dogs. Nobody ever tried to sell me anything then.

I need to go back home where I belong. Or else get tougher. Meaner. More assertive. The next time a sales rep comes to my door I shall imagine they are one of the Fab5. And when they try to sell me something, I shall say, nicely but firmly –

No! Get lost. Go play on the motorway. Stop breathing my air! Get real, of course I dont want to buy anything!”

Booty Shakin’ at the Market.

I thought applying for a job (and being unsuccessful) was the biggest way to feel like a loser.

I was wrong.

Selling stuff that you have made yourself at a Saturday market when nobody wants to buy it? Thats the biggest way to feel like a total waste of Earth-space. L O S E R.

Last night i spent three hours baking trays of cinnamon buns and assorted other treats. Then this morning I was up before the crack of dawn so we could score ourselves a good selling spot. My table display was colorful and attractive. Everything was labelled. Me and my helpers were apron-ned and sterile gloved. And we had super smiles plastered on our faces. (The smile was the most difficult part for me…) We waited. And….?

An hour passes by. Nothing. Nobody even sniffs in our direction. The desire to shrivel up and disappear grows within me with every passing minute. Nobody wants to buy my cinnamon buns or my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I am a loser.

Then a woman stops at our table. YES! But she doesnt want to buy anything. She has a suggestion, “You should let people have a sample so they can taste your food, so then they will know if they want to buy it.”

Good idea. What a nice woman! Graciously I offer her some cookies. She nibbles. She looks thoughtful. And then she shakes her head. “Im sorry dear, but I dont like it.”

Oh. Okay then. (The loser knife twists a little deeper in my heart.) I smile. Graciously. “That’s alright! Thanks anyway.” I want her to get lost now. So I can mope. But she isn’t finished.

“Aww..nobody is buying anything! Look at you, poor girl. Im so sad for you. Nobody wants your food.”

I think I hate this woman. Why doesnt she just go away?

She then proceeds to tell me all the things i should do to make my food edible and sell-able. In a really loud voice. Because she’s such a nice and helpful person. “These cookies need coconut. And maybe some peanuts.And your signs need to be bigger. And this is the wrong kind of food for this market. And you should put condensed milk in that icing instead of cream cheese. And blah blah blah…”

My smile is getting a little forced. All my graciousness is fast deserting me. But she’s not done. Oh no. She’s got more friendly tricks up her sleeve. She starts calling out to people passing by, “Hey you, come and buy some food from this girl eh! She’s made all this stuff by herself and she’s not selling any! Hey you, come try this one. This poor girl, oh I just feel so bad for her!” They all give me pitying glances as they speed up and hurry past, in a rush to get away from me and my horrible cookies.

Now I know I hate this woman. Not only am I a loser with crappy cookies, I am also a loser who is providing a LOSER LIVES HERE free show to everyone at the market. Oh the shame of it. I want to self-combust. Or choke my new best friend to death. With cookies.

She prattles on for a while longer. Telling me her life story. Telling me how she is a pro at selling curry and roti at the markets. Telling me how I am such a good listener and she just loves talking to me. And she’s just so glad she came to the market today so we could meet. I dont think i can take much more of her soul-killing friendliness. Then just before she finally walks away, she gives me her phone number “So you can call and order some good roti from me!” Lady, there aint no way in hell I’m buying roti from you. Ever.

She leaves me in a state of existential disappointment – whatever made me think that i could sell stuff at a market anyway? This isnt me. Im not bubbly and smiley, I cant ooze with charm. I have zip sales skills. I’m not tough enough to handle the rejection. And my cookies are awful. I want to go home.

I text HRH with my sad tale of woe. He txts back. “She doesnt know anything. Your baking is the bomb. And we will eat whatever you dont sell, so there.”

I love this man. He is better than Ryan Reynolds,Sonny Bill Williams, Edward Cullen AND Jacob all smushed up together in one steaming hot Harrison Ford combination. With my shaky confidence restored, I stick a silly smile back on my face and bravely go back to the world of market commerce.

One hour later, just before the rain starts pouring down, my team has told every single cinnamon bun. And most of the cookies.YES! My baking is worth cold, hard cash! I have meaning and value in this universe. I turn off the neon LOSER sign flashing on my forehead. I am jubilant.I want to sew myself a skanky dress made of all my two dollar coins and dance a Showgirl victory dance where that annoying woman is selling her roti, SEE! MY BAKING IS GOOD, SO THERE! YOU HAD NO CLUE WHAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT, IN YOUR FACE LADY!

But she had already gone home. So I had to be happy just fantasizing about it.

Shakin my booty at the markets.

Pyjama Mysteries

Sometimes, the workings of HRH’s mind are a mystery to me. Which is not always a good thing when you’re supposed to be co-captains on this battleship through life.

Last Saturday I went to the mall. Unsupervised. Which was not a good idea. An array of sales called out to me. Not only did they know my name, but they were also in tune with my deepest, darkest yearnings and desires. Like, they totally knew that I had secretly been longing to buy HRH a pair of flannel pyjamas. Since winters knocking on our door and this Samoan warrior is freezing his (usually very hot) butt off. So there i was, strolling through the shops, minding my own business when BANG! A 50% off pyjama sale basically attacked me. I was defenceless against its sirensong. Especially when serious men’s pyjamas were teamed up with some absolutely stunning PJ’s for women. Hot pink and gold ones. With matching fluffy slippers. I paused to remember we were on a very strict NZ budget. But overwhelmed with love and concern for my beloved spouse – I did it. I bought him some warm nightwear. And then some gorgeous ones for me too. Of course. And while i was at it, i had to get these aromatherapy candles that were ALSO on sale. That promised to add a whole new dimension to my bedroom. And then the purchasing experience made me really hungry and so i had to get a hot chocolate with a raspberry cream muffin. But I knew that HRH wouldnt begrudge me some sustenance. Seeing as how I had just bought him some beautiful (and warm) pyjamas. I smiled as i thought about how grateful HRH would be. How touched he would be by my thoughtfulness. Perhaps he would even get a little misty eyed at my devotion to caring for his every need. Sigh…

I was wrong. HRH wasnt ecstatic with joy. Yes, he admitted I was thoughtful. But apparently he would have been far happier if i had remembered that we are living on a strict budget. And cant be wasting money on such frivolous fripperies. $14 for a cocoa and a muffin?! What the hell? Instead of an exuberant reaction to my purchases, I got a brusque request – Please dont buy me anything. Ever again, okay?!

I was suitably chastened. HRH was right. As usual. We are on a BUDGET. I resolved never to be swayed by financial temptation again. This Saturday I went to the mall. To buy a pair of boots. Since this Samoan tropical flower only owns seevae kosokoso. I bought the cheapest pair of winter boots available. $19.95! Score. How thrifty is that!

I proudly took my budget boots home to show HRH. Who was not impressed. Instead of praising my frugality – he said, “What did you buy that cheap crap for? You should never cut corners on footwear. See my running shoes? They cost $295.00. I take good care of MY feet.”


Like i said, the workings of HRH’s mind are sometimes a mystery to me. Which I suppose can be a good thing. It ensures this battleship ride is never boringly predictable.

I am certain of one thing though. HRH is usually always right. About everything. Because these new budget boots of mine?

They hurt like hell.

The key to greatness in rugby league.

Do you think they ever paint their nails?

I have only ever been to ONE rugby league game in my life. This morning – to watch Little Son’s team play. ( Te Atatu Roosters Jnrs vs Waitemata. And yes, we won. Yaaay.) And yes, Little Son was quite impressive. Running. Tackling. Never dropping the ball once. And I was buzzed to bits about him. Except when it was half-time and he came running over for water, I noticed his fingernails. Painted three different colours…pink, green and glitter yellow. What the Hell?! I thought maybe his sisters did it to him. But no, he said quite proudly, “I painted them myself!” Before running back onto the field. And I was groaning. Because how are you supposed to smash people and intimidate the opposition with sparkly pretty nails?!

But nails aside, I now know the KEY to inspiring succcessful rugby. Five minutes into the game and a little boy with the speed of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon dashed through the opposition and scored a brilliant try. We cheered. The little boy stood up, looked at his proud Dad and yelled out, “Twenty bucks right Dad?!”

His Dad gave him the thumbs up-you rock-signal. “Yep thats right son!” Then the father looked at us and explained, “I told him that for every try he scores, I’ll pay him twenty dollars.”

Aaaaahhhhh….the lights came on in our heads.

When we got home after the game, I told Little Son – “Boy, when you score your first try, I’ll buy you your first pair of real rugby boots.” (He’s currently wearing borrowed old shoes from his cousin.)

Little Son’s face lit up. “Can I have bright orange ones?!”

“You can have bright orange ones with flashing red lights on them if you want.” Little Son was speechless with joy.

Then i told him – “Boy, when you score FIVE tries, I’ll buy you a PSP.
And when you score ten tries, I’ll buy you a bike.” I was getting carried away. “And then when you score TWENTY tries I’ll ummm…whats better than a bike?”

Little Son piped in hopefully, “Take me to Disneyland?”

Which brought me down to earth quick smart. “Hell no! Dont be ridiculous. I’m not made of money! Whenever you score 20 tries, I’ll be very proud of you. And give you a hug.”

(Which did not transport him into another dimension of bliss…)But now with visions of electronically marvellous rugby boots, flash racer bikes and hours of Playsation fun – all dancing in his mind, the Little Son is well on his way to rugby league glory. Show me the money!

With or without sparkly pretty fingernails.

Black and white

I have a confession to make. I am not color blind. When I take my daughter to ballet class – I notice that she’s the only brown child in the entire academy. When SD is busted for an episode of rough play(aka :bullying) – I notice that the unfortunate little boy who ran crying to hide in the bathroom is white. And SD and his friends are all brown. Hmmm…When JB tells us about his new friends at school, I ask – are they ALL islanders? Are they ALL brown? And when he says yes – i roll my eyes at him and say, ‘Well, you need to make friends with some white ones, and Asian ones too. You hear me!‘ (Especially Asian ones…i hear they’re really academically focused and brilliant and you need some of that to rub off on you…)

No, I am not good at ignoring what ingredients people in our melting pot are. Maybe its an inherited trait. When my sister comes home with a very white boyfriend and we all go to the beach – the rest of us siblings watch them together and croon ‘Ebony and Ivory…sing together in perfect harmony!’ And when they strip down to their swimsuits and lie down on the sand for a little sun, we hum Michael Jackson’s ‘She’s black! He’s white!’ And we ask my sister – why in heck are YOU suntanning for?! And we think its funny. (okay, she got a little annoyed, but shes our sister and so she accepts that its her turn to get picked on this week and next week it will be mine…) And we tell our little brother that the only reason he plays on a rugby team made up entirely of Indians – is because everybody knows Indians cant play rugby and so he wants to make sure his brawny Samoan self will stand out. And we think its funny.

Our mother ( who is brown on the outside but white on the inside) goes to regular ‘Contact’ meetings. This is a support/network group for non-Samoan spouses of Samoans. And when she invites us to go with her, we reply – “Oh no we cant go to Contact, we’re not white enough! We’re not worthy!” And we laugh. We tell our mother she’s being too palagi – when she serves a little portion of food for dinner. We tell our dad hes being a ‘typical’ Samoan chauvinist – when he washes dishes with the lights off because he’s worried people will see him from the road and be shocked that his family would let a matai do such menial labour.

In a roundabout, twisted way, what Im trying to say, is that stuff like race and ethnicity and all that jazz, was never really a big serious deal to me and my siblings. Maybe because we were very mixed up brown people and raised to be totally at ease in our own mixed up skins – and totally at ease with everybody else and their skins. We joked about it, teased each other about it and generally thought everybody else thought it was no big deal either. We were mixed up brown. Some people are whiter than white. Some are blacker than black. And the list goes on. So what? It was never important enough to be anything more than a passing thought.

Well. Now I am living in NZ. And in this country, questions of black and white and brown are no longer funny. When I talk about Maori ‘stuff’ my niece gets a horrified look on her face. And tells me that Im not pronouncing the word right and I sound like a colonialist. And of course what makes my mistake even more awful is that Im a quarter Maori. Oops.

When a co-worker at HRH’s sheetmetal shop saw his Holden, he exclaimed, “Man, how can a black fella like you afford a car like that?!” HRH thought it was funny. My family thought it was hilarious. But more cultured, refined and politically correct individuals were disgusted, “Thats outrageous! The racism! The ignorance! The insult!” Oops.

When I read about a 4 yr old found wandering in the mall alone who then has to hang out at the police station for an entire day before someone realises shes missing and comes to look for her – i exclaim, “ohmigosh, i bet you they’re islanders!” And my NZ friends look aghast. “How can you say that? That’s so racist!” And i say, no Im not. Im just guessing at the most obvious choice. Were they brown? SEE! I was right.And they all shake their heads at my political incorrectness. Oops.

So I have been chastened. I am trying very hard to be on guard now. To be more sensitive. To be more politically correct.To not offend everybody and anybody. (Except after reading this post, most of you are probably utterly disgusted with me…) It is not easy to be appropriately serious about matters of race and ethnicity when youve been so used to it being ‘no big deal’. Its not fun.

And you know what’s really not funny? In spite of all its multicultural awareness and politically correctness – New Zealand is the ONLY country where i have ever been given a straight up racist insult. Out on the town one night back in my Varsity days and some white idiots screamed out – ‘you black b – i – t – c – h!‘. And i wanted to correct them – umm actually Im a brown bitch thank you very much…

Obviously they had a little bit of color blindness going on there.

Fantasy Island

Ive been in a slump of self-pity. Apathy. Otherwise known as “I miss Samoa and I want to go home.” So I’ve been doing things like weep a little weep – when nobodys looking. Sceam a little scream – when everybodys unfortunate enough to be listening. Whinge a lot of whinge – to whoever will listen. Complain a lot of complain to everyone who doesnt want to hear it. And eat a lot of eat. In other words, Ive been a rotten miserable person to be around. Some of my whinges go like this …

“I miss my housekeeper so baaaaadly its not even funny. You know in Samoa i had a fulltime housekeeper and nanny that worked SIX days a week, she was a gem, a priceless gem. She cooked, she cleaned, she washed and she made sure i never noticed that my children were complete slobs. Not only that, but she entertained my beastly 3 yr old so well that i never ever saw her throw a tantrum, never heard her scream “I DONT LIKE YOU MAMA!” and I never ever knew that she absolutely hated having her hair washed. ( ohmigosh, the neighbors are going to call 111 the next time i wash this childs hair because she sounds like shes being flayed alive.) In Samoa i had time to live, time to rest, time to go running, time to think, time to laugh, time to actually enjoy my children because i wasnt so tired from cleaning up their mess. I miss my life in Samoa. And I miss my chequebook in Samoa. Whenever i wanted something, i just wrote a cheque from the construction company ( and didnt really stop and think how HRH was going to cover it) and i didnt have to do things like make a shopping list before i went to the store. Or plan my purchases for the week. I miss my life in Samoa!”

The other day I was going on like this to a very dear friend of mine. Who took a deep breath and said,

“Just stop it. You sound like a spoilt Princess. Face it – your life in Samoa was like living on Fantasy Island. You were like a Desperate Houswife! And now, you’re living in the real world. So get over it. Stop whining. This is your life. Welcome to reality!”

Well. That shut me up, didnt it!? What did I do? I told her she wasnt my friend anymore, so there! And perked up and asked “Oh really? Which desperate housewife do I remind you of? Please dont say Gabi ….”

No seriously, I thanked her. For giving me the kick in the butt that i needed. Yes i had a super blessed life in Samoa. But now here in NZ, I have the opportunity to really get to know my children. To experience the frustration and joys of having to provide for their every need all by myself. To see what its like when my whole family works together every Friday to clean the house from top to bottm and then relax together over fishnchips takeaway – our treat for doing all the chores. The satisfaction when i can successfully get my budget to streeeeeetch and make it to the new week. Here in NZ, we are spending way more time with our children then we ever did in Samoa – because back home we were too busy. Making money and spending it… ( well HRH was making it and i was spending it.)

So, Ive had my butt kicked. My whinging days are over. I dont live on Fantasy Island anymore. And Im not a Desperate Housewife.

Im Lani Wendt Young. And Im going to be happy living in New Zealand. Even if it kills me.

"your girly bits"

Theres a lot of really dumb ads on television these days. And one of the dumbest is the ad that tries to make brown women go have a cervical smear test. Because brown women have the lowest test rates and some of the highest cervical cancer numbers. In the ad, a bunch of bodacious, colorfully attired, loud and cackling brown women are sitting on the rocks by the ocean. (Because thats where all brown women go to hang out, didnt you know?) It is rather vague what their purpose for sitting on these rocks by the ocean actually is. It could be:

a. they’re doing their laundry. ( because theyre too poor to afford a washing machine/laundromat like most of us brown women are)
b. they’re gathering assorted shell mollusc-like creatures to eat. ( because theyre too poor to buy them all clean and disinfected from Foodtown like the rest of the world)
c. they’re getting together to smoke dope.
d. theyre sitting there because they got nothing better to do since theyre all on the dole and spend their time idly gossiping and harvesting seafood illegally.
( I vote for C myself because theyre all so darn CHEERFUL and LOUD and GIGGLY in the ad that it makes one long for a gigantic white shark to leap out of the depths and consume them all. In one cheerful gulp.)

The ad seems to be aiming for a cosy, warm cuddly kind of feeling as the women chat about their smear test experiences. And encourage another to go have one. Sitting on the rocks by the ocean, they launch into a discussion about why everybody in the little gaggle needs to run along and ‘get her girly bits looked at’. ( I have never met a real live brown person who called their vagina a ‘girly bit’. Maybe Im just hanging out with the wrong brown people. But then, come to think of it – Ive never heard a white person talk about their ‘girly bit’ either.)

The ad is inane. I’m brown. Slightly bodacious. Sometimes really loud. (But never cackly…oh no.) But I never sit by the ocean and do any of A or B or C. I know lots of other brown women. And they never sit by the ocean and do any of A, B or C either. If i was real sensitive about such things – i would say that this ad offends my brownnness. And my womanness. As it is, Im just annoyed by it.

To the makers of this ad, I say – Im not stupid. I dont need vapid chatter and screeching laughter to make me go have a cervical smear. Dont lie to me that its all fun and games. Tell it like it is. Tell me –

‘At least 200 women in NZ get cervical cancer every year. Approximately 70 will die. You could be one of them. Get tested regularly and your chances of being okay are over 90%. Yes the test can be frightening. Taking your pants off and spreading your legs for a complete stranger to poke around is not everyone’s cup of tea. Having a cold, steel instrument stuck up your vagina ( note, NOT your girly bit.) aint no picnic either. But the good news is – its quick. Quicker than a quickie. Truly. Breathe in and out and its all done. And the test is almost always done by a very nice, very careful woman. Who has a vagina herself ( note, NOT a girly bit) and so she knows how tense the whole experience can be. And the great news is – in NZ, its FREE. Well, for brown women it is. Whether or not you hang out all day on rocks by the ocean.

So there’s my public health message to all the female readers of this blog. If you havent had a cervical smear in the last 3 years, then get your butt in gear and go book one today. To all the male readers of this blog ( if youre still reading…usually mention of ‘girly bits’ will have you all shaking your heads and backing away with a slightly panicked expression…) – if the significant women in your life…mothers, sisters, wife, girlfriend/s havent had a cervical smear recently, then encourage them to take their bits over to get checked out.

High School is a Warzone.

My English Teaching Competition.

I am currently in the process of applying to be a NZ registered teacher. (I confess I have given up on the fast food industry ever wanting me, big sigh) Its a simple enough procedure. Fill in some forms, send them all my certificates and glowing references ( minus the bits where i swore at some rugby boys for putting condoms on my windscreen) and pay a large registration fee. In four weeks I should be legally allowed to teach in a NZ secondary school.

Except, I dont think I will be able to cut it. Times have changed since i was last in the workforce. High school is a warzone now and you have to be a warrior to make it out alive. Case in point – JB’s English teacher is a virtual demi-goddess to her teenage class. She has tattos everywhere and numerous body piercings, including some in her neck. (See how lame i am, i never even knew that people were piercing their necks these days…) Not only that, she has a black belt in Kendo ( think long swords and kickbutt women in Kill Bill)and she likes to recondition cars and motorbikes in her spare time. And she has a Facebook page that she wants all her students to be-friend – ‘if you’ve got any questions about the homework, just FB me!’ She’s all that and more. She’s a genius who started at university when she was 15 and she’s currently working on her PhD thesis. While teaching packs of adoring teens. JB is not the only one who’s in awe of her. While he’s raving about her qualities, HRH has got an amazed expression on HIS face – ‘Wow son, she sounds like the perfect woman!’ ( I am overwhelmed by an inexplicable desire to kill the Kill Bill teacher. With a wooden spoon.)

This wondrous specimen of womanhood is not an aberration at my childrens school. No. Sade’s teacher is a cage fighter on the weekends. Thats right. She engages in free-for-all fights in front of screaming blood thirsty crowds. And apparently shes quite good at it. (They googled her.) And she also teaches the Bring it on Cheerleading dance club after school.

I dont understand. What happened to little old ladies with grey hair and sour expressions who would make you fall asleep in class? Back in the day when i was teaching, I was considered the cool teacher. The one who kids wanted to be like when they grew up.

But now? How can i possibly compete? How can i impress any kid and get them to listen to me now? ‘Hiya, mother of 5,coming right at ya…’ Doesnt really instill awe in anybody. I suppose i could lie and tell them : “Hi my name is Ms Young, but you can call me Blade – thats my stage name for when i compete in American Gladiators. These bags under my eyes? Bruises from my sparring session with Jet Li last weekend. This scar on my left knee? Bungee jumping off the Sky Tower last month and misjudged the rope a little…got a little scrape. Your old teacher was the stunt double on Kill Bill? Huh, wimpy stuff. Has she swum with sharks? Danced with crocodiles? Played chicken with the bulls in Spain? Thats what i live for – danger. I walk on the wild side. Every day. Your other teacher is the cheerleading instructor?! Pshaw – you wanna see some real moves? Check out my pole dancing routine on YouTube. Now theres some gymnastics for you! Here you all are, Im giving out free autographed copies of my latest rap CD. Where I do a few numbers with Eminem, you know, teaching him a thing or two about what real music skills are…”

(Hear that? Those screams of derisive laughter and ridicule? Thats the sound of my teenagers mocking my attempts to be BAD.)

No. I wont be able to impress teenagers with my coolness factor. But i do have a secret weapon in my armory. Its called – Lani’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.

If all else fails – food can always buy you friends and awestruck admirers.

How many wives have you got?

And do they each have their own bush hut?

HRH has got a job here in NZ. Unlike me. Who has now been rejected by so many employers that it would just be tiresome to blog about each of them separately…(Huge Hi-Five for Cleverness goes out to an Aussie called Kane for nicknaming me ‘Plunket Flunket’…Yes thats right, the latest employer to doubt my worth is the really awesome parent educator and baby help organization that basically saved my life when i was going nuts with my first baby. Which was not enough of a recommendation for them to give me a job. Sigh.)

Lucky HRH. Not only does he get to leave the house everyday for 8 hours. He doesnt have to endure people telling him how lucky he is that he can sit on his ass all day and “do nothing.” (I hate people who say that. Hate them, hate them. For the record AGAIN: I am not doing nothing! I am cleaning, cooking, writing a future bestseller novel, hiding from my annoying neighbors and killing my plants. I am intensely busy.)

But once again, i digress. This blog is about HRH. Who has a 6 week job at a sheetmetal fabrication workshop. Where he gets to meet some fascinating people. Like a man called John. Who grew up in a cult in the South Island back in the 70’s and 80’s. John and his cult lived in the bush somewhere and their leader was (supposedly) Jesus Christ. On his second coming to earth. Their Messiah happened to also be the father of quite a few of John’s contemporaries in the cult. They had tons of guns and ammo. And ‘lived off the land’. And at one point there werent enough women to go round and so they had to share them. And then they had too many women and so every man got to have at least two. They just built each wife her own little bush hut.

John helpfully told HRH – “but you would know all about that because you Mormons do it too right?! How many wives have you got?” HRH told him ( sadly), that he wasnt that kind of Mormon and no, he had only one. And he didnt think that he could handle two wives in a cult because the one wife he did have would not be very happy with living in a little bush hut anyway…(Damn straight!)

John shook his head sympathetically.

HRH then asked John how and why did he leave the cult? Wasnt that like, really hard to do? John replied, ” The cult broke up because our Messiah died. It was a shock. We thought he was Christ and so him dying was real unexpected.”

(Yeah, I guess that would kinda be a wake up call wouldnt it?)

And now i am SOOOOOOOO envious of HRH. Who has a real job. Because I want to get out in the big bad world and meet super fascinating people too. Totally. Totally. I want to get down and bond with former cult members.

Instead Im stuck here chatting to Dora the Explorer. And dancing along to the Wiggles. Not half way as interesting as HRH’s day.