A sense of humour is like a bum…

A sense of humour is like a bum – everyone has one, but everyone’s is different.  My sense of humour has helped me to get through some very difficult times in my life,  it gives me a difference perspective on things, it’s allowed me to laugh until my cheeks spasm and my tummy cramps, and, much like my bum, I couldn’t imagine living without it.

I suspect that my sense of humour was inherited from the Irish and English side of my family because I grew up in a family that took the piss out of each other regularly – in an affectionate way.  Most of my family share this Irishness – dry wit, sarcastic and self depreciation.

For example, whenever  I bought a boyfriend home, my middle brother, Michael, would say:

“Mate, can you leave your guide dog outside? Mum will lose it if another one shits in the house.”

To which the confused  boy would reply,  “but I don’t have a guide dog.”

“Oh, thank god for that,” Michael would say.  “Give me your white cane then. You can pick it up on the way out.”

Some boys would get it and laugh. They were welcomed into the family. Those who didn’t understand that Michael was insinuating that any boy who found me attractive must be blind, didn’t stick around for long because we didn’t have enough in common. (Unless he was really good looking, because we all know that teenage hormones are no match for intellectual commonality).

My sense of humour has helped me to find the best friends of my life – simply because we laugh at the same things and can be ourselves around each other.

Home alone one night, and not feeling well, I rang my friend, Zoe, to see if she could come around and help me.  She raced around and caught me as I passed out on the front door step. I was in my nightie because it was past midnight. In my delirious state I said to her;

“I’m so glad I put my undies back on before you got here.”
“Not half as glad as I am,” she said, causing us to burst into laughter.

Humour has redefined my perception of embarrassment. What would have horrified me in my teen years, now has me in fits of hysterics.

Twelve years ago my hubby and I took our two Golden Retrievers, Bodhi and Bailey, for a walk. Bailey was a bit of a scatter brain and would often change direction without warning. This particular time he stopped abruptly and then reversed into me, causing me to completely lose my balance. He startled and got out of my way quickly. Bodhi wasn’t so fast.

Like all good falls, it happened in slow motion. I felt myself falling through the air and put my hands out to catch the ground. But they didn’t catch the ground. They caught Bodhi – and clung on for dear life. His silky hair was in between my fingers as my knees buckled and my entire body weight was transferred onto my hands – onto Bodhi.

He stayed strong. I could feel all four of his legs begin to tremble under my weight as he  struggled to stay upright, but the more of my weight he absorbed the more his legs shook until they gave out all together. He was flattened like a pancake. A big, soft, hairy pancake. I landed spread eagled on top of him. For me it was a luxurious landing- very comfortable. But for him it was less dignified.

The worst thing, although Bodhi may have argued this point, was that the position in which I landed looked as though I was trying to mount him from behind.  The ten kids playing in the street thought it was hilarious, as did their parents –  as did Jason. He had to wipe the tears out of his eyes prior to helping me back up.

Humour has helped me to move through very painful and difficult times of my life. Many years ago, my step father told me of his wish for his ashes to be cast out to sea, in line with his Buddhist beliefs.  He said that he had organised this with the funeral parlour already. I told him that I would do it, because the thought of some stranger performing something so personal  was wrong.

Five years ago, my beloved step dad passed away. I fulfilled every promise I ever made to him and was fortunate enough to be holding his hand as he began his eternal life. But when the time came to scatter his ashes,  I just couldn’t do it. I still haven’t.  I’m not ready yet. So, dad is still in my laundry. He always said he loved the water, but I don’t think the washing machine is what he had in mind. Mind you, he is on the top shelf, so at least he has a great view.

I am so thankful that my husband has the same sense of humour as me – I wouldn’t have married him otherwise- and that our children have inherited this Irishness. It gives me hope that whatever they face in their life, they will have the strength of a great sense of humour behind them , because, like a good bum, it will always be with them.

A boy’s emotional depth…the shallow end of the pool…

Like most other parents over the Christmas school holidays, I’ve been a taxi driver for my boys. They’ve attended sports days, had days at their friend’s house, been to the beach to do a spot of surfing and yesterday, attended a ‘Zookeeper for a Day’ activity at our local Zoo. Needless to say, we’ve spent a lot of time in the car getting from place to place with some pretty interesting conversations taking place.

Yesterday, the boys asked me why we have to wear seat belts when driving in the car. I explained that the seat belt holds you in your seat in the event of an accident and that it is the law.

“So what would happen if you weren’t wearing one?” Lachlan asked.

“I would probably go flying through the windscreen and end up badly injured,” I replied, not wanting to be overly graphic, but not tap dancing around the subject either. It’s important for them to be aware of safety. “And that wouldn’t be very good for you boys, would it?” I finished.

“No, definitely not,” said one son. I felt kind of chuffed, albeit in a morbid kind of way, that he was so protective of me. Then he continued, “because we don’t know the way home from here and none of us are old enough to drive the car.”

Really? That’s the worst thing? You won’t be able to get home? Gee, sorry to ruin your travel plans. Where did I go wrong? They are supposed to cherish and adore me – boys always love their mums. What about something like, ‘that would be bad because we love you more than anything and would never want you to be hurt’???

“Are you kidding me?” I said. “That’s why it would be bad for you lot? That’s the only reason?” Come on! I know that you are boys, but seriously…

Lachlan added, “don’t be silly.” Ah, thankyou – someone who cares about me. “If mum crashed the car then no one would be able to drive it anywhere, because it would be, like, all broken and stuff. “ Five year old logic at work.

Silence from me, other than the sound of my heart breaking, and the suppression of a giggle.

“Ethan, do you have anything to add to this discussion, being the eldest?” I asked. He is a softie, an emotionally overt boy, surely he’d say something nice? “Ummm, it would also be bad because…ummm…well…Dad can’t cook and we’d probably starve to death if you weren’t there to make the food.”


“Well now, “ I say, “that’s just extra motivation for me to ensure that I buckle up properly, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want you lot to arrive home LATE for an INEDIBLE dinner, would I?”

So, what should I take away from this discussion? I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying that they like my cooking? And that they appreciate arriving places on time? That they know the truth about their father’s cooking? I know one thing for sure… I better get some real, super-loved-up, kick arse mother’s day drawings and cards next year to make up for this blunder. Emotional cripples.

Dogs are the four-legged family we choose…

When I first met my husband, nearly fourteen years ago, he shared his life with two blondes. One had the long, gangly legs of a teenager and although beautiful, was very, very dumb. The other took on the motherly role to the dumb blonde, being the older, more mature of the two. They both had beautiful brown eyes with the longest eyelashes I had ever seen, four legs and a long, plumey tail – Bailey and Bodhi – Jason’s Golden Retrievers.

Bailey was only six months old when Jason and I started dating, and Bodhi nearly two years. They clearly adored Jason and as much as he referred to them as ‘the knuckleheads’, he loved them too. And as our relationship grew, ‘the knuckles’, found a place in my heart as well.

Jason was sent overseas for four months, leaving the dogs and I together. Because I was a late addition to their family, Bodhi believed that the hierarchy of the house was as follows:

1. Jason
2. Bodhi
3. Bailey
4. Me

He wasn’t receptive to my suggestion that it was time to go outside at bedtime, or the following morning as I tried to leave for work. He would bare his teeth and growl at me as though he was about attack. I had never heard of a Golden Retriever attacking, mainly because I think they are too lazy, but I wasn’t about to risk it. He was a big dog and I was alone. So, he won the battle of wills each day.

Eventually, I got sick of it. Why should a bloody dog run the house? I was a responsible, university educated woman in my late twenties – why the hell was I letting a dog boss me around? Filled with determination, I told Bodhi that it was time to leave the garage and go outside for the day. He snarled and bared his teeth. Undeterred, I bent down to his level and let out a roar that would rival any king of the Jungle.

His eyes widened and nearly popped out of his head in surprise. He looked at me and I looked at him, not budging an inch. My heart was pounding, not knowing if this was about to become the first recorded Golden Retriever attack in history. Slowly, he retreated backwards and out the door into the backyard. Victory! I’d had a major victory and from then on the hierarchy of the house was as follows:

1. Jason
2. Me
3. Bodhi
4. Bailey

The dogs loved the beach and although Bodhi knew, instinctively, not to drink the salt water, Bailey wasn’t as wise. He lapped at the water and was then stunned to find water literally shooting out of his bum like a fire hose. I finally understood the term ‘go through you like a dose of salts’.
Bailey also had trouble chewing bones – he would often get them caught in his molars and was unable to close his mouth for hours at a time, until we found him and dug them out with our fingers. It was gross because his saliva had thickened to the consistency of custard and clung to anything it came into contact with, including fingers and clothing.

The two dogs were together all the time. Bodhi doted on Bailey and Bailey needed Bodhi to look after him – to mother him. It was all he’d ever known.
Ten years and three children later, Bodhi made the mistake of eating some rope that got tangled in his bowel. Jason rushed him to the animal hospital and they performed three surgeries on him. Eventually the vet rang, in tears, to tell us that there was nothing more that could be done for him. He was in terrible pain and the kindest option was to put him to sleep. So, tearfully, we did, because we loved him enough to let him go.

Bailey went into a depression for the next six months and would search the backyard several times each day for his friend. He would cry for Bodhi regularly and there was little we could do to comfort him, other than love him and bring him inside with us. But we knew that we couldn’t fill the void that was now in Bailey’s life, no matter how much we loved him.

Eight months after Bodhi’s passing, Bailey was struck down with lethargy and a sore front leg. A visit to the same vet revealed that Bailey had an aggressive form of bone cancer in his shoulder that could not be treated. Again, the kindest thing to do was to put him to sleep.

We all flocked to the vets and gathered around Bailey to say our goodbyes . He was in terrible pain, but was still his cheery, vague self. We all cried together; the boys cuddled him and told him how much they loved him, that he was the best dog ever and that they’d never, ever, forget him. My heart shattered, watching them say their farewells to our beautiful friend of so many years and so many memories.

I took the boys home while Jason stayed with Bailey as the vet administered the injection. He held Bailey in his arms until Bailey’s heart stopped and then he came home to a teary family and a home devoid of four-legged family members for the first time in thirteen years.

Some people say that dogs are just dogs. But I think that they are so much more. They are the four legged family we choose to love and share our lives with. They love us unconditionally, comfort us when we are down, and always brighten our day with their enthusiastic greeting. I’d never had anyone so excited to see me – and it wasn’t just once a day, it was every time I stepped out the back door.

I’ve read that dogs to heaven when they die, where they run in fields and on beaches all day before returning to the bedside of their loved ones to sleep each night. I think that’s kind of nice.