teenagers

Are You a Sex Ninja?

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There are those who like to boast about their sex adventurous selves. They get busy on planes, trains and buses. Skyscrapers, ski lifts and roller coasters. In stadium crowds, nightclub dancefloors, and public swimming pools. (Eww) They revel in being Sex Daredevils…
We did it up against a tree while we were mountain hiking!’
‘Oh yeah? Well we did it hanging off the side of a cliff UPSIDE DOWN while we were abseiling, so there!’

Oh puh-leeeaze, you bore me.

Sure, people who get their thrills sexing it up in various exciting places simply because ‘we’ve never done it HERE before!’ …have some great death-defying (not to mention shame-defying) sex and yeah, we could all do with a few more death-defying moments in our lives… BUT you know who really deserves our awed admiration for their sexifying skills?

Sex Ninjas. People with kids. People who must overcome extreme odds and excruciating adversity (i.e the company of children) – so they can get busy.

Ask any couple with children living in their house, particularly young children – ‘So how do you manage to still have a sex life when you’ve got a crying baby that doesnt sleep…a toddler who keeps coming to sleep in your bed…teenagers who stay up half the night playing XBox…?? Sex must be impossible for you two!” Sometimes they will snap at you “What sex life?? We dont have one.” (And then you must offer to babysit their children immediately so that poor couple can go out and have sex enjoy a romantic date.)

But other times, a couple with too many children will give you a wise look and say, “Ahhh but nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough…we find ways to make it happen…” Listen and learn young grasshopper…listen to the Master…’

These people – are Sex Ninjas. They have mastered the art of quick quiet sex ( in cupboards, showers and garages)…urgently satisfying encounters when babies are sleeping or children are watching a Disney cartoon…secret sensual meetings in cars parked in the driveway (praying the neighbors dont call the police)…They can find fireworks in a laundry room and blow your mind in a kitchen amidst dirty dishes. (Daayum, dont you wish you could do that? I myself cannot ignore dirty dishes in favor of mindblowing activities.)

For Sex Ninjas, ‘anytime anywhere’ must be their mantra – the unpredictability of children dictates it. They have no time for all that Cosmopolitan stuff about #GettingInTheMood and #SettingTheSexualTone. Ha. Those things are like fluffy bunnies and pink cotton candy – cute if you can have them but not essential.

Not only that, Sex Ninjas are so dedicated to their craft that they can soldier forward and complete their mission – even after being interrupted by a puking child with a sore tummy, the smell of smoke as a teenager burns the dinner, or two feuding siblings banging on the bedroom door demanding their parents referee their battle.

When Sex Ninjas get the house alone to themselves – the most earth shattering things can happen because that time, space and privacy is so precious and strange to them. Heck, just being able to do it in your own bed is so exciting that rollercoaster sex just cant compare. The same happens when Sex Ninjas get a weekend or a holiday away from their children. That couple at the next table who cant keep their hands off each other? Probably Sex Ninjas who have successfully escaped from their prison wardens children. Cut them some slack. Buy them tickets for the nearest roller coaster.

In conclusion, Sex Daredevils are very nice to be with – if you are planning on spending a lifetime on roller coasters, planes, trains and buses…in nightclubs and stadiums…and abseiling down mountains UPSIDE DOWN.

But if you’re planning on letting some children live in your house then I recommend you find a Sex Ninja. And learn how to do the wild thing together in cupboards, showers and garages. Even better – find a Sex Daredevil and introduce him to the ways of the Ninja. It will require much training, mental and physical exhaustion, and most of all – that indescribable thing called LOVE (because let’s face it, the only reason why you would WANT to still have sex with someone when you are knee deep in diapers/poop/tears/dishes/laundry/XBoxArguments- is because you reeeally love ’em)

So yeah, the path of a Sex Ninja aint easy.

But it’s worth it.

(Or so they tell me. Im still an ASPIRING Sex Ninja-In -Training…)

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.

Sex Talk in the Samoa Observer

My second column in the Samoa Observer went live while I was there for the book launch…

As a Samoan woman, I know it can be difficult for us to talk with our parents, children, friends and our partners about certain things –  things like intimacy, emotions and relationships. But the world is talking about them all around us and we are bombarded with messages about sex every day in our media, music, Facebook, TV and more.

Who’s teaching YOUR kids about sex? If your horrified answer, is “not me!” then be afraid.

Be very afraid. Because your kid could very well be learning about sexuality from such stellar examples as Robin Thicke (a sleazy singer who gyrates to songs about the dangerous and illegal thrill of crossing ‘Blurred Lines’ of sexual consent) and Miley Cyrus (a once cute kid, Hannah Montana, who now wears a flesh-colored bikini so she can mime sexual acts on stage with the aforementioned much older and much-married singer. Because she’s just so cool and every girl should be like her.)

Yes, the American Video Music Awards are just screaming with many wonderful examples of sexual behaviour which our youth can emulate. Oh joy.

You can read the rest at the online edition of the Samoa Observer, click on this link:

Lets Talk About Sex

First Born of My Heart

Big Son turned eighteen the other day. I cried. (Of course.) He rejoiced. Of course. As we helped him celebrate the occasion with a social gathering of his friends (aka a party), I reflected on the journey I’ve taken with this first born child of my heart. There are pro’s and con’s about being the first. You get your parent’s undivided attention and all their enthusiastic energy as they discover the joys of caring for a puke-poop-tears machine. But you also are the guinea pig for their mistakes, their earnest yet misguided devotion and the full suffocation of alllllll the advice of those fifty-something birthing and parenting handbooks your mother ruthlessly ingested while growing you.

I was twenty one when I got pregnant and I had no experience with little people whatsoever. (My mother had three housekeepers and a revolving team of caregivers to help look after my three little siblings so I never had to pay attention to them at all. Not until they were old enough to be useful – do chores and play Little House on the Prairie with me.) I thought the baby would pop out and I would take him to lectures with me in a fashionably accessorized backpack. No problem. (true story) The Hot Man and I were students in Wellington at the time, so every day in between lectures, I would sit in the library and read every single book on pregnancy, infants, nutrition, breastfeeding, immunizations and more. I knew every single thing that could possibly go wrong with my unborn baby. Every single neural defect he could possibly be born with. Every single infection he could possibly get. All before he was even an emergency C-section delivery at 30 weeks. I was so busy with research and mental preparation that all we had ready for that premature mewling baby, was a bottle of Napisan for soaking nappies.

It took awhile for my heart to catch up with my research. I fell in love with my first born slowly, over many nights painfully shuffling to stand over his glass box incubator and watch him sleep. Watching nurses feed him through a tube in his nose. Watching them cut his tiny foot every day and squeeze out tiny droplets of blood while he screamed, so they could check his jaundice levels. The feel of his precious paper-thin skin against mine as they let me hold him. They said, ‘Lay him on your chest so he can hear your heart beat, feel you breathing. That will help him breathe on his own.’

Are you sure? I’m so big compared to him. My heart beats too loud. My breathing’s too panicked. I held him close, terrified I would hurt him. But slowly, slowly that tiny child felt right. Slowly slowly, our hearts beat in time and we breathed in unison. And slowly, slowly, a spoilt self-obsessed clueless 21 yr old found inside herself – a mother’s heart. By the time he grew big enough and healthy enough for us to take him home, I was fierce formidable Mother-Extraordinaire. (And Fiapoko Supermother as well.) Ready to take on the universe to protect, teach and nurture my son.

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Big Son has endured much as our firstborn. Here’s only a few of the “Things I know Now which Big Son wishes I Knew THEN…”

1. Don’t spend many hundreds of dollars trying to organize a momentous 1st birthday party for your kid that is so stressful you and your poor husband almost get divorced. Because your kid wont remember any of it and he will go to sleep twenty minutes into the massive party anyway. (Hugging his new teddy bear from Uncle Cam.) And its a good thing he wont remember because you will be so stressed and on the edge that you’re mean, nasty and awful anyway.

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2. When your 5 yr old kid gets invited to a fancy dress party, don’t slave over a historically accurate, authentic Hercules costume complete with battle regalia and then force him to wear it even when he cries. Because you’ll get to the party and discover all the other kids are just wearing raggedy old Superman t.shirts. Or a pair of fairy wings. And your poor kid will be miserable and feel totally out of place and cry harder.jade2

3. Yes you should teach your kid all about the sanctity of their physical bodies and even use all the correct terminology for their bits’n’pieces, very important with helping them to stay safe and confident. But you shouldn’t forget to also tell them there are appropriate times and places for shouting out such information. Otherwise, your 4yr old will be at the extended family gathering after your grandfather’s funeral and inform his cousin in a very loud voice, during the quiet of a prayer to bless the food – “See that? Its the pig’s penis. Wow, thats a really big penis!”

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4. When your 11yr old son has a Christmas present exchange in his class at school and you are to busy to take him to buy a gift for his classmate…don’t assure him, ‘don’t worry, I’ll bring the present to the class party already wrapped for you. Trust me!’ And then you buy a lovely sparkly ring and matching bracelet and gift purse from your mother’s shop Plantation House (because you don’t want to drive all the way into town) and your mother giftwraps it in organza bows and ribbons. And you both sigh over the perfect loveliness of such a gift. DON’T DO THAT. Because your unsuspecting son will give his classmate the aforementioned gift and she will unwrap it IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS and everyone will start teasing him about giving her an engagement ring. ‘ooooh, he loooooves you!’ And the girl will try not to cry. And your kid will try to macho through it while dying inside. And be very mad at you for a long time after.

jade6Yes, these are only a few of the horrors my son has endured with me as his mother. To protect the guilty, I wont share any others… Let me just say, Big Son announced the night before his birthday, “Mum, this is the last day I’ll be a child. Tomorrow I will be a man!” And I said, “Oh yeah? You planning on moving out tomorrow and getting a job?”

I tease him but I know all too well the clock is ticking. My days with this child are numbered. Next year, he will be at University and we will be many miles away living in Samoa. He will do all those things young people do when they first leave home. Rejoice. Eat a lot of junk. Stay up late. Skip class. Party a little. Experience what being ‘broke’ really feels like.

And I will be far away,  doing what most parents do when their kid first leaves home.

Missing him. Wondering if he’s getting enough to eat. Worrying if he’s warm enough. Chastising myself for not preparing him better to be on his own. Praying for his safety. Sending him money when I already agreed with the Hot Man that we shouldn’t spoil him, ‘You need to learn how to budget son…’ Ha. Calling him every so often and striving to sound casual and happy, ‘Just wondering how you’re doing son?’ (Instead of bawling my eyes and heart out on the phone and begging him to please come home.)

So each day I have left with him in my control care, I will celebrate all that this First Born of my Heart is to me. The baby that he was, the child that he sometimes still is, and the young man he has become.

Yes you’re ‘a man’, Big Son. I’m proud of you. Thank you for teaching me how to be a mother.

But it doesn’t matter how old you get – to me – you’ll always be that little boy who needs the beating of my heart to help you find your way, to help you breathe on your own, to help you stand alone.

When you’re so Pitiful that Your own Kid Tells You off.

You know what I hate the most about being an author who publishes her own books? Having to be my own publicist and promoter and network navigator. Not only does it require that I leave my cave, it also requires that I talk to strangers about my work in an assertive and confident way….which makes me feel vaguely ill. Especially when I don’t do it right and it blows up in my face.

Its one thing to be humble and shy and unassuming. Its quite another to just sound and look like a complete loser – BECAUSE one is too shy and meek and scared to assert otherwise.

Case in point. I was invited to attend a Commonwealth Short Film Premiere thingy. I’m not quite sure why I was invited. Its either because I’m a Samoan that’s written some books. Or because one of my stories got an award in a Commonwealth thingy a few years ago. (Or because they heard I never go anywhere and I have no friends and so they felt sorry for me.) Either way, I was very tempted not to go. Even though it would be an opportunity to meet with decision makers in the NZ/Commonwealth film and creative arts industry – the thought of hanging out with a bunch of strangers was not  my idea of a good time. (I mean, heck I havent finished watching every episode of The Good Wife yet…) But, I reminded myself that I am a big girl. You can do this. How hard can it be?    Big Son offered to babysit because “You need to go and network and promote yourself Mum.” When your own kid is trying to pep talk you – how can you chicken out? I put on clothes that hadnt been slept in and housework’ed in.  I even brushed my hair and put makeup on!

I invited my fabulous niece to go with me because the Hot Man is away in Samoa.  So there we were… We watched some interesting short films from different countries around the world. Then we attempted to mingle in an artsty, intellectually stimulating fashion with all the artsy, intellectually stimulating folks.  The urge to bolt from the room was very strong. I tried – and failed to score myself some Diet Coke – so I was sorely missing in liquid courage. We ended up beside a lovely silver-haired lady in a very elegant black suit dress. I mistakenly assumed she was feeling ‘out of place’ and a little overwhelmed (like me.) We started chatting. I offered to get her a drink. She reassured us ‘it’s alright, thank you – my husband is getting one for me.’  We talked about the films. She asked which one we were connected with. I said none of them. She asked if we were in the film industry. I said no. You could tell she was trying to figure out what the hell we were doing there….the moment screamed for me to introduce myself with confidence and glowing assertiveness as ‘the author of the contemporary Pacific romance series Telesa’….

But I didnt. Just kept smiling like an idiot. Sipping juice wishing it was Diet Coke.

We talked about how important it is for Pacific stories to be told, to be shared, to be funded. She said, “I know there are many Samoan writers out there besides the great Albert Wendt, with stories to share. The Commonwealth Foundation wants to help get those stories told in print and on screen.”

Did I maximize that perfect moment? No. Shyness/stupidness/fearfulness all combined to make me say nothing. I kept smiling like an idiot. Sipping juice wishing it was Diet Coke.

Then the lovely woman’s husband joined us. It so happened that he is the former NZ Governor General. Who has just been appointed the new Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation (in the whole wide world.)  With him was one of the NZ Film Commission bosses. The lovely woman greeted them eagerly, “I’ve been talking to these nice young ladies about the films. They really enjoyed them! They aren’t involved in the film making and just came because they were interested in the program. Isn’t that wonderful?”

The Film Commission boss lady asked, “So how did you hear about it? Did you just walk in off the street?”

That’s right. She thought we must have crashed their artsy party – for free juice and appetizers probably. I died inside. I babbled, “Umm, no, I heard about it…I got an email…” The Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation and his lovely wife and  the NZ Film Commission boss lady all nodded. Encouragingly. Probably thinking, ‘This woman is a loser.” I know that’s what I was thinking.

I smiled like an idiot and sipped juice – wishing it was straight shots of Jack Daniels so I could blame my idiocy on drunkennes.  Or rocket fuel so I could set myself on fire in a blaze of humilation. Hey, maybe that’s why they only serve wine at these events? So people can get an alcoholic buzz and be brave enough to network?

I skulked away from them after that and drowned my shame by eating cake appetizers. I did no networking. No creative arts connecting. Nothing.

At home Big Son was not happy with me. “You didn’t introduce yourself? You didn’t network? You didn’t say ANYTHING about what you do? What a complete waste of time!”

I whined, “Its not easy for me to go out there you know. Baby steps. I went, didnt I? That was something? Give me some credit for that?”

He was bristling with outrage, “No it’s not. You always tell me, there’s no point just sitting in a class if you’re not going to engage with the material and with the teacher. That’s what you did last night. NOTHING! All you did was waste petrol getting there. I’m not going to babysit anymore if you’re going to be useless.”

“I looked nice though! And I smiled a lot. That’s something.” Was my lame defence.

Big Son’s response was curt. “Nobody cares if you looked nice.” He mimicked, “I wrote nothing on my exam paper but I was dressed really good and I smiled a lot during the exam. That counts doesn’t it?”

I had nothing to counterattack with. Why must this child be so incredibly clever?  It’s very annoying.  He left for school with these parting words, “I don’t want to hear anymore about it. I’m getting so mad thinking about how pitiful you were and how you wasted those opportunities.”

He was right. I was so depressed I had to go get donuts for breakfast to choke my sorrows.

What do we learn from this? Next time I get invited somewhere faintly strange and artistic – I should just stay home. Watch ‘Good Wife’. And drink lots of Diet Coke.

My Muscles Are Busting Out of My Shirt

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Big Son came to tell me that he had gotten Bigger. Over the holidays. He was wearing his school uniform. He stood in the doorway and flexed a muscle boy flex pose. “See Mum? I think I need new shirts. My chest, my back, my arms – they’ve grown and I cant fit these shirts anymore.”

He is triumphant. Because the boy  doesn’t want to be Big Son. He wants to be Bigger Son. And to that end, he works out every day. Consumes disgusting protein drinks that his father bought for him. And eats way too many egg whites. (He also pesters me to buy steak and take him to Burger King everyday which is supposedly meant to be rocket fuel for big muscles in some teenager boy’s fantasy universe – but dont worry, I’m not stupid. I dont fall for it. I tell him to eat cornflakes for dinner like all the rest of us. I mean, heck, its working for me. Look how much bigger Im getting?)

So yes, Big Son has been working very hard on his muscular development. And is rather pleased with himself and his progress. I look at his shirt that is streeeeeeeeetching to the point of wardrobe malfunction and yes, I can concede that Big Son is indeed getting Bigger.

But I’m not happy about it. Because school shirts are expensive. Like chop my arm off and sell it to science expensive. And this is Big Son’s last year in high school so I don’t want to spend precious dollars on new shirts that he will only wear for a mere twelve months. (I mean, how am I supposed to get my nails shellac’d if I buy this child new shirts? Pay for hotels and lovely dinners in lovely restaurants? There goes my plans for expensive illicit nights out with the Hot Man…)

So no. I dont want to buy Big Son new shirts. “You dont want to get bigger shirts son.”

“I don’t?”

“No, these shirts better emphasize the contours and definition of your new muscles. If you get bigger shirts – how will all the girls SEE your fabulous new build properly? Trust me son, I know what I’m talking about.”

He is unconvinced. “Whatever Mum. You just dont want to buy me new shirts.” Why does this child have to be so clever for? He shakes his head and walks off.

I dont give up. I call after him, “Hey, just think, with tight shirts like that, you could have a wardrobe malfunction at school like Sonny Bill Williams! And we all know how much buzz THAT caused. That could be you! Go on,  imagine you’re standing in school assembly and your shirt rips to bits and now practise taking your shirt off in a very athletic way…”

He makes a puke face. Big Son is not a SBW fan. I try again and yell after his retreating buff’d back. “No, you know who you look like in that shirt? The Hulk! You could be the Hulk of your school. No girls will be able to resist you. Go on, do a pose – say it, ‘Hulk Smash!'”

For some odd reason, Big Son doesnt want to listen to anything more I have to say on the matter.

I cant imagine why.