Tales from a member of the Sandwich Generation

I’m part of the sandwich generation. Caught between young children and elderly parents. My parents have reached somewhat of a crisis in their lives. So this week, being school holidays in our state I’ve spent time being ham and cheese.

I’ve gone from someone telling me their legs were bored as they watched me look at clothes in Myer to some difficult and futile conversations like this one:

Me: “You will lose your driver’s licence because you have severe memory loss”

Parent: “I’ve never had my memory tested”

Me: “Yes you have, twice in September – you’ve just forgotten”

If it wasn’t real, it’d be funny.

Well insured

Today I was once again reminded how much my health insurance means to me. My mum is in hospital. She doesn’t have private health insurance.

To be fair when I took her in to the emergency department on Friday I couldn’t have asked for more. They took her 81 years and her bad asthma symptoms very seriously. A Social Worker who sees everyone in emergency over the age of 61 had a chat with me and told me about more support services available to her. She was admitted and is being looked after.

But she shared her room with another elderly woman who is in hospital because her granddaughter threw a heavy book at her as she wouldn’t give her money for drugs. And the blow on her hip has caused repercussions to her health that I don’t think she could ever have anticipated. This woman is also raising her granddaughter’s child.

While recovering from this injury her son, who is an alcoholic, has been visiting her demanding money from her. He got some yesterday, came back for more last night and then more again today. This after the lady asked the medical staff to not let her son out of the psych ward knowing full well he’d turn up at her bedside demanding more money.

When I visited my mum the lady was being moved to a different room so her son couldn’t find her so easily and she could have some peace.

I started thinking – how did this family become so dysfunctional? And not just one child but generations, and what future does the great grandchild have?

I understand addiction and the hold it can have on a person. From my experience, aside from the trauma that can be involved, it robs that person and their family of choice. Choices that involve where you live, who you live with and so on.

Perhaps this family didn’t have a someone to make their life normal, to give them other options & choices and it would seem that through the generations their chances are getting thinner.

I hope the lady gets some rest and to be brutally selfish, I hope the son doesn’t return to look for her because I hate to think of my mum being in a place where she should be safe and feeling scared.

That’s why I’ll always have private health insurance – at least I’ll have choice.

Ear Worm

This wasn’t the post I set out to write today but during the course of writing that post, the song “I’ve Never Been to Me” by Charlene has come in to my head and won’t leave me alone.

I suppose I should be glad that it’s driven out “G’Day G’Day” by Slim Dusty.  For those of you who don’t reside in Australia, this is a classic Australian country song.  It was re-introduced to me by Bruce who has been learning it at school and likes to sing it (nay shout it out), at the top of his lungs while sitting on the loo.  As I’ve mentioned before that boy can occupy a toilet for a LONG time.

Are you ever tormented by ear worms and if so how do you get rid of them?

Making a community

There was a horrid ad on the radio tonight.  Someone pretending to be an old woman, bemoaning ‘today’ and fondly remembering the past.  When you could leave your back door unlocked, when you knew your neighbours – blah blah.  

We moved to our suburb in the year Squidge turned two.  We didn’t really know anyone.  We nodded at our neighbours, said hello but had no real connections in the area.  While the suburb isn’t a new one, it’s taken a while for it to take off and it’s only in the last few years that we have a little shopping centre that we can walk to.  Before that, everyone drove out of the suburb to get what they needed, even just if it was milk or to post a letter.

I met a lovely lady at the park one day – both pregnant with our second child.  We chatted, found out we lived near to each other and later on that day dropped my phone number in to her house.  She’s moved out of the suburb but we’re still friends.  Our boys started kindy together, our second babies born 2 months apart.  Our children still go to the same school.

It’s been through school that we’ve made most of our connections.  First with Squidge’s class.  The connections we made in kindy are still strong now which is good – for us and the kids.  As Squidge progressed through school his friends often resulted in friends for us in their parents.  And now Bruce.  It didn’t really happen in kindy like it did with Squidge, but in pre-primary I’ve again found a lovely group of people to connect with and forge bonds that I think will last a long time.

We’ve grown close to some of our neighbours – again the bond being our children, their strong desire to play with their peers ensuring the parents connect (the occasional Friday evening drinks on the front lawn don’t hurt either!).

I love that I have friendships which mean I can call on them or they me to collect kids after school because something’s cropped up.  I love that our children can, to some degree, wander freely between houses on our street and we know they are safe, having fun and are well fed (always well fed).

I really enjoy our little community that we’ve found ourselves in and have built around us and I appreciate that my boys, through making friends, have in turn made friends for us too.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Easy Peasy Party Food Cooking

This month my baby turned 6.  6!  It was his turn for a party this year.  It’s fair to say that by mid July I was pretty much over party foods that involved cereal and puff pastry.

But you know, while I made most of the food myself, it wasn’t hard because I had two basic criteria – I had to be able to make most of it ahead of time; and it had to be simple to make.

Bruce’s party was on Saturday at 10:30 – I had a plan of attack.

Wednesday:

Made the Mars Bar Slice.  Nothing easier than this microwave version.  I doubled the quantities as we were expecting 20 kids (plus parents).  We came home with 6 or so squares left over.  It kept in the fridge really really well.

Thursday:

I work a half day on a Thursday.

I made the Honey Joys/Honey Crackles before I went to work – they are that simple. The recipe came from the side of the Cornflakes packet and Kelloggs have it on their website too.

After work I made the sausage rolls based on this recipe I found on Taste.com.au  – I did make a change to this one.  I don’t like sausage mince much so instead of the meat they suggested I used 500g pork mince and 500g veal mince.  It made around 36 which seemed to be more than enough.

After dinner on Thursday I made the pizza scrolls.  Again – too simple.  5 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted.  Spread a tablespoon of pizza tomato paste on each.  Scatter with chopped up ham, grated cheese and crushed (drained) pineapple.  Roll up tightly, cut each roll into 8 slices, arrange on a tray lined with baking paper and cook in a hot oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Friday:

After work I did the cake.  IGA make big slabs of vanilla sponge cake.  I bought one of these and chopped it in to a monkey shape and then decorated it.  A few problems – I should have left the coco-pop “fur” until the morning (they were all soggy) and I ran out of icing to properly cover all of him and ensure they stuck.  He looked a bit like a moth eaten toy monkey but Bruce didn’t mind.

For the parents to snack on while the kids were playing (we went to Jungle Gym in Willetton) I had tea & coffee supplies, a packet of Tim Tams and a yummy, but basic, lemon loaf that I had made as part of a big batch of loaves a few weeks before and frozen.  The night before I pulled it out of the freezer, iced it and chopped it into squares.  It was still delicious and moist.

Saturday morning only involved chopping up watermelon and strawberries for some fruit platters, packing the car and we were off.  He had a great party, celebrating his birthday with some wonderful friends.  Not a lot of food came home.  Perfect.

The birthday boy moving so fast, the camera could barely catch him

Things I Know about Boys – Chalk and Cheese

I have two boys, Squidge and Bruce.  I read Mrs Woog’s recent post – Genetically Non-Gifted which got me thinking about my own two boys and how different they are in personality.

By coincidence they were playing a ‘board’ game that day.  It was an A3 piece of paper with a game about recycling that Squidge brought home from school following an ‘incursion’*  by some people from the Henderson Waste Recovery Park.  Re-enforcing their message of re-use, they didn’t provide counters or a die with which to play the game – we recycled the bits from our Wiggles Snakes and Ladders game.

So Anthony and Murray were being pushed around the board.  At a stage in the game the boys had a choice.  Take the short – but risky – cut, or go the long – but safe – way round.

Bruce took the short cut.  It paid off for him first time and he won so he persisted.  Squidge, each and every time went the safe path.  Squidge won more than Bruce but that didn’t stop Bruce.

And that folks, in essence you have it – their personalities personified by a board game.

Are your kids chalk and cheese?

 

* one of my most HATED words is incursion.  Had the people who chose to use this word in this way bothered to look it up in a dictionary?  A hostile entrance into a territory.  I feel uneasy every time I’m asked for permission for a child to participate in an incursion.  Just what am I signing them up for?

Things I Know About Boys – Illnesses

This post should really be called Things I Know now that I’m a Parent as I’m sure that these equally apply to girls as to boys.

I have been surprised in lots of ways since becoming a parent.  Who knew that little baby boys could wee so much, so often and with such force as you change their nappy?

However, it would have to be ‘conditions’ that kids end up with that have been most surprising.  I remember as a child having mumps (should have listened when my Mum told me not to go and talk to my friend waiting in the car who had them), measles and chicken pox (that was a bad one – I went in to hospital with chicken pox).

Sure, my boys have had colds, flu, gastro (where DB has shown his true colours – didn’t ever have him pegged as a vomit catcher but he’s very good at it – doesn’t dry reach at all).  But it’s the other stuff that people don’t tell you about.

Squidge has been on the receiving end of a general anaesthetic 3 times, Bruce once. I’ve sat with them as they went under, struggling, jerking as if in a bad dream, and coming out of it crying or just hungry and grumpy.

It wasn’t until Bruce was born that I understood why when a baby, even only slightly premmie, has trouble breathing it’s not so much that they could die from a lack of oxygen. Instead the chances are greater that they’ll die of exhaustion as their little bodies work so hard to get sufficient oxygen.

Via Squidge I’ve come to learn not to trust asthma.  Sleeping in a chair next to his bed in the observation ward at our children’s hospital, he was ok and then suddenly he wasn’t and was being rushed to a resuscitation bay as a precaution.  I’ve learnt that a cocktail of ventolin, adrenaline, oxygen and steroids can pick them right up again and just about have them climbing the walls when all you want to do is cry and sleep.

I didn’t know about croup.  The first time Squidge barked when he coughed scared us to death and we rushed him to hospital.  We were taught croup first aid (sitting in a bathroom made steamy by the shower on hot and full) and as he kept getting it we were prescribed a steroid to give him at home.  I didn’t hesitate when I had to call 000 because he was just so much worse one time even after the steroid and I didn’t hesitate two more times after that.

I didn’t know about hand, foot and mouth.  When DB rang to tell me daycare had sent Squidge home with it I was speechless.  He’s not a sheep I thought.  And by then I was at the end of my tether having taken more sick leave in a few months back at work than I ever had in a few years of employment (and I only worked part-time).

Then there were school sores (impetigo) and streptococcal infections in places I didn’t even know you could get them (until I’d watched Everybody Loves Raymond I’d never heard of strep throat let alone strep other bits).

Throw in constant ear infections for Bruce in his first 18 months of life, debates with a GP about how many doses of antibiotics is too many for a baby not yet 12 months old (I still say 8 is too many) and the feeling that we alone are subsidising our pharmacist’s end of year Christmas function and this parenting lark has been a steep learning curve.

I’m sure there’s more to come.

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net