How To Cope With An Internet Outage With Millennials

bruno-gomiero-94171-unsplashMy sympathies lie with the businesses that were affected by Telstra’s latest outage last week. My own family has been at their mercy for the past two weeks, effectively in lockdown.

Any parent will tell you that there is no greater pain than watching a child suffer, and that is exactly what we have been forced to endure during the outage. While for the old man and myself – hardcore Generation Xers who were brought up on The Famous Five, Cats Cradle, conkers, and – dare I mention – books, it has proven to be more of an irritation than a personal loss, our two young adults have experienced immeasurable grief.

While Kurt’s body has completely lost the ability to function – withdrawal seeing him pace the house like a caged animal to metamorphose into a frightening hybrid of Gollum and the Hulk – NC has refused to come home or return my calls.

And yet, perhaps more terrifying than the sight of two young adults in a perpetual state of despair is the grey pallor and twitching of the parent that is responsible for fixing the problem.

Suffice it to say, the old man has been forced to use his home blood pressure monitor more than usual over this past two weeks. So, when a friend caught him chained to the fencing of the golf club, refusing to go home, and promised him that “cable is three times faster than anything else, mate,” desperation forced his hand and he made an uncharacteristically impulsive decision.

He ordered cable.

In hindsight, I will admit that our expectations were stupidly unrealistic, not helped by the events of the night before during which Kurt managed to use up five precious gigabytes of data within the space of an hour – apparently, that is a lot in data-speak, particularly in a house that prioritizes data over food. So it was with bated breath that we watched cable guy do his ten-minute reconnaissance of our joint and set to work, first in the lounge, and then up a pole on the other side of the street – which foolishly, I interpreted as a positive sign.

And when, finally, he placed the magic card in the old man’s hand with our new passcode – which, it is no exaggeration to say, was the equivalent of Charlie’s golden ticket, (so much so, the old man has since tattoed had the number tattooed his chest) – I can only compare the euphoria to seeing Buble perform his complete collection of Christmas songs live…and naked.

Obviously, being ever the practical one of the family, he held cable guy captive a little longer as he tested and ran through every nuance of the new technology with him, and cable guy was generous enough to humor him, even when he asked some (frankly) very stupid, Generation X type questions.

But I will admit that the sound of my husband’s whoop of joy upon his discovery that the new speed of our new internet thingy, (insert appropriate technological jargon here), far exceeded our expectations was a beautiful thing, comparable I would say to his reaction to the births of our children – although he didn’t do a celebratory lap around the block naked either of those times.

In fact, we remained high on life even when cable guy left our home to save some other poor family in similarly dire straits.

Until, the call from upstairs the wild, that no father wants to hear.

‘DAAAAAAAAAD! The Internet doesn’t work on my phone!’

We are back in lockdown. An immediate state of emergency has been called in which we have hourly meetings to discuss possible emergency action such as new routers, a different bedroom… perhaps even a new house?

I am confident that we will work through this difficult time, folks, but in the meantime, we would be grateful for your prayers.

*Reaches for wine.*

 

Not Exactly Leaving The Nest…But Close

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I drove NC to the airport at stupid o’clock this morning. They might not have flown the nest quite yet, but it turns out we have two budding explorers in the family, and from the perspective of two parents that rarely leave the house these days, I see their recent adventures as a reaffirmation that not only have we done something right as parents, but that we also haven’t passed on our anxiety about passing on our anxieties about flying, leaving our suburb, or indeed our house, onto our children. It is rather a lovely surprise to find out that your kids have some talents after all.

 

Lucky NC! She is about to embark on a two-week science trip via ship from Perth to Tasmania. The focus of the trip is …I’ll pretend I care …is for this fine group of young academics to take ocean samples and readings, review currents and then analyze all of their exciting data for entertainment in the evenings. Ie. Nerdy stuff that I suppose someone’s got to do to educate us about how to best protect our dying planet.

 

As long as she doesn’t take us through her photos when she gets back, I can deal.

 

As you can possibly imagine, personally I would prefer to give birth naturally whilst having my wisdom teeth removed than sail through what is renowned to be a treacherous channel of water, and as a fussy vegetarian with no alcohol on board for the whole two weeks with which to sustain her bird-like frame, I fear I may miss her if she accidentally stands sideways in the baggage hall when I go to collect her.

 

Meanwhile, Kurt, not to be outdone by his sister, has displayed some similarly impressive home-pigeon skills this week.

 

Understandably, since our move out of the city and into the sticks, it has taken the boy a few weeks to accept his fate of living in Woop Woop to get his bearings and adjust to the slower, less reliable public transport system on offer here. And, needless to say, he has faced a few challenges getting home.

 

Fortunately, however, one of the positives about the ADHD brain is the sheer will and determination to follow through to the end with stupid decisions once you make them, and never before has he demonstrated this as clearly as last week’s return journey home from a mid-week party, approximately eighty kilometers away.

 

What you have to understand is, I can probably count on one hand the number of times Kurt has actually stayed over at a friend’s house or party. His intention is always to sleep on the couch, but as a full paid-up, middle-class Millennial with anxiety and OCD issues, couch-surfing is never really gonna happen.

 

I did remind him of this problem as he left for the party. ‘Well, I’ll have to stay,’ he grunted. ‘How else am I going to get back?’

 

How else indeed? I remember thinking.

 

He phoned me just after midnight to ask if I would transfer the money for an Uber because he couldn’t stay at the party. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘It’s complicated,’ he replied by way of an explanation. There followed half an hour of wrangling about the financials – my reasons of why he had to stay versus his reasons why he wouldn’t.

 

Any parent will know that sleep is much more important than instigating sound parenting policy at 1am and so by 1.30am I cracked, living up to my Weak McWeak nickname – kindly given to me by the old man – and I transferred a loan, upon which my son’s phone died and the old man threatened divorce again.

 

The money got Kurt about twenty kilometres from home – a fact I was ignorant of as I lay in bed worrying – after which he decided to walk the remainder of the journey until he found an old bike on the side of the road (regular readers of my blog will know that this is becoming a familiar story) and then proceeded to cycle what is predominantly an uphill journey over the sandstone rock landscape that much of Sydney is built upon.

 

Stopped by the police a few kilometers from home and asked the usual question – ‘Got any Cannabis on you, son?’ – Kurt suggested that their inquiry wreaked of harassment, and they let him go. Kurt has a psychopathic distrust of the police due to a humiliating and highly unorthodox body search in the back of a police van a year or so ago.

 

My son walked in the door at 4.30am, straight into the shitstorm caused by being such a selfish twat the arms of his loving, very understanding mum.

Millennial Sickness, Hypochondria and Snot Levels

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There is something vaguely ironic about the recent discovery that Kurt is allergic to grass. After years of watching his eyes stream and his chest heave at certain times of the year – symptoms I originally put down to Karma for abusing his body, (because I’m compassionate like that), and the sad reality that none of the five fruit and vegetables make up Aldi’s Chocolate Pillows breakfast cereal – it turns out that the culprit is hay fever.

 

Those of you that have kids on the Spectrum might not know that it makes them much more susceptible to allergies for some reason.

 

Inevitably, the old man passed has down the man-flu gene to our son, but what not even I realized until today, is just how difficult it is to persuade a Millennial that what they have is a just a case of the common cold, which doesn’t entitle them to a sick day.

 

When you come from a one-parent family background that relies on that one salary to put food on the table, a day off work is not really an option. You dose yourself up, shove a loo roll in your handbag, and you muddle through. That is what we were taught in the UK, where an inherent toughness is vital to survive the possibility of invasion at any time or a colder summer than winter. The cold is an accepted part of life over there, almost a badge of honor, the natural order of things – a bit like how trains stop running when it snows.

 

If everyone took a day off each time they had a sniffle, unemployment levels would skyrocket and the country would face a much greater national disaster than Brexit.

 

Australians are somewhat less resilient, I’ve discovered. While we Brits know that if you have the flu, you can’t actually get out of bed without losing control of your bodily functions and scaring people away, Aussies turn up to work, sneeze in your face and use “the flu” as an excuse.

 

Now, I’m not going to tell my son to ‘man the fuck up’, because I believe that sort of sexist comment encourages male toxicity and misandry, however, I do believe that I may need to introduce my children to my mother’s snot level guide, the way she distinguished how sick we really were as kids.

 

You see, back in the day, before we had modern gadgets such as thermometers, Neurofen and Dr Google, our mums decided if we had a temperature, usually by feeling our foreheads or by watching how much we ate. Another means – and one that my Mum was quite partial to for sniffing out the hypochondriac, was the snot test – and I can still remember those terrifying moments during her lengthy examination of my snotty tissue that I knew would determine my fate.

 

If the snot was at the clear end of the scale, we were fine; yellow and stringy – leaning towards green – it was a cold; I imagine that red snot would have made my mother’s brow crease with… could that be worry? Fortunately, one ever had red snot from memory, because that might have involved a trip to the doctor and woe betides anyone who was sick enough to see the doctor.

Empty Nesting: I Know I Will Miss Them, But Will I…Really?

As we approach freedom the next stage of parenting with mounting trepidation, I do question whether I’m ready. I adore both my kids and I will miss those rare moments of family harmony when the four of us sit around the table, laughing and joking together and I can almost forgive them for drinking my wine.

 

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For the most part, I think we’re all ready and my easy acceptance of this change to our living arrangements has very little nothing to do with my children’s living habits that mean I have to clean the cooktop at least five times a day, wash towels after one use or am still woken up at all hours of the night when they come back home after a big night, quietly.

 

You reach a point in middle age, (and as a couple), where you need your lives back. I am ready to embrace the next stage of my life and as the chicks strive for more and more independence in OUR home, I assume that the resulting friction must be part of the natural order of things and it’s their way of telling us they are ready.

 

I have many syndromes, as many of you know, but I would bet my life that ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ will not be one of them.

 

54717ba4da0dd117796895bc3ab37b24While the buggers have shown some signs of a move towards independence, it is still very much on their terms, so sometimes it feels as though we live in a frat house. Not that I continue to mother them. I don’t cook especially for them – although there is still that assumption that I will knock up something wonderful to suit each of their exacting requirements and tolerances at the drop of a hat when they are at home, even on those nights where I’d prefer to replace food with wine. I don’t clean their bed linen or do their washing.

 

I realize I sound selfish and that some of you will be mumbling in horror, ‘you’ll miss them!’ And I know that I will. But I yearn for the day I can find a clean towel in the linen cupboard when I need one, or when I can stand in the shower and the shampoo and conditioner gloops stuck to the glass screen after my daughter’s daily altercation with them, don’t affect me.

 

When I see them in my newly empty nest in the future, I envisage it will be on my terms, on special occasions of my choosing, (like Christmas and my birthday), when we will finally be free from the deep-rooted resentment that cohabiting can exacerbate. Or until that day, I am told, when the first returns, tail between their legs, to beg for their room back.

 

While they need to escape my nagging, I crave silence and a time when I don’t have to be on call twenty-four hours a day; a time when I don’t have to worry that their friends drunken exploits will wake the neighbors or if they’ll leave the gate open for the Princess’s Great Escape. To be frank, I don’t know how families in other cultures continue to live together until their children marry. Some species of the animal kingdom have a “hatch and leave” policy, which sounds far fairer.

 

Right now, a solid eight hours sleep, a kitchen that doesn’t need to be hosed down each morning and a break from the bleats about our fucking Internet, sounds massively appealing.

 

 

 

Bumbling My Way Through My First Dating Site

It is perhaps a sign of my increasing immaturity that one of the most exciting things I’ve done recently was to scroll through “Bumble” with my daughter. I still feel slightly miffed that I missed out on a way to date without having to leave the house.online-dating-570216_1920

 

For those of you unfamiliar with Bumble, it is one of the newer dating sites, for the older, more discerning millennial, not yet ready for RSVP, looking for something more holistic than casual sex or the best avocado on toast. It has been described as the “The Feminist Tinder,” a dating site that “gives women respect and autonomy”. (Kristin Magaldi)

 

As Bella Pope says, ‘It is unlike Tinder, which has become known more for its hooking up aspects than for its relationship matching. The truth is, many people on Tinder just want to get laid… Bumble puts women in charge, the guys on this app are looking for more than a one-night stand.’

 

And if this is how our youth date, who am I to judge? It certainly beats standing around at a disco in the community hall talking to some numbskull who can’t string a sentence together, for the sake of a free Cruiser.

 

At almost twenty-three, a staunch feminist and busy proving the twat-dom of Trump and Turnbull when it comes to climate change, NC has not fully decided if she needs a man in her life. Occasionally, however, she dips her toe into the Bumble site to test the IQ of her male peers, while I, like a dog in front of bacon, beg for a morsel. And finally, after the bribe of a week of gourmet vegetarian meals and the cleaning magic of the old man in her bedroom, she agreed that we could play together.

 

downloadThe way Bumble works is the girl gets to scroll through photos of men and swipe a certain way to make a match and then they contact the guy – which is, frankly, where it gets a bit awkward. In my opinion, the best part is scrolling through the sweetie shop – similar to when we used to browse through the Argos toy catalogue before Christmas as re kids, only this catalogue is essentially full of male models.

 

Let’s be honest here, at our age, any male under the age of forty-five looks attractive and these spunks were all between twenty-two and thirty. That’s right –, between the ages of twenty-two and thirty!

 

Obviously, you are meant to focus on the bio, and once I had reeled my tongue back in from off the floor at the sight of so many perfect abs and so little body hair – most of them *swoon* even had hair on their head as well – I did check out their personalities for someone for my daughter with that elusive combination of brawns and brain.

 

Anyway, for those of you with daughters poised to begin online dating for Mr or Mrs Right, here’s what you need to know about Bumble:

 

If men can’t write a bio, you have to ask yourself how easy it’s going to be for them to make conversation?

 

Men are not shy about objectifying themselves and obviously believe that their body shots – surf, gym, beach, ie. Muchos CHEST – are their biggest selling points. I kid you not, NC’s nerd filter threw up a bunch of biochemists and physicists that looked like they’d walked straight off the Milan catwalk.

 

Men are not as stupid as they look and have caught on that if they hold a puppy or a baby in their arms, ovaries burst – although one man had one of each and we decided that he was pushing his luck, AKA, desperado.

 

For some very strange reason, some men believe that posting a photo with their ex is a good idea. These silly boys should go back to Tinder or to playing football in the yard, and NC says that if the girl is ‘hotter’ than her, it’s a complete non-starter.

 

For some reason, men don’t think we realize that if they post a photo of them in a group photo, it is very likely that they are the ugly one. Likewise, if they wear sunglasses.

 

They also think that we don’t realize that if they put themselves in a group shot with women, they are probably short or gay.

 

Men in this age range who believe that photos of them in dress up or drag will attract women should probably go back to Tinder or a fetish site.

 

Men believe their height is a huge influence and many of them post this information within the very limited bio. You may have to go back to Tinder if you want dick size.

When Your Millennial Wants A Birthday “Gathering”

Kurt is having a birthday “gathering” this evening, to celebrate his exit from the second decade of his life, and as we hurtle into his third with unbridled excitement and anticipation. This has been a particularly long stage in (our lives) his development and you might sense the resignation/fear, or hope in my voice when I say the word “gathering”, which is what we have agreed after lengthy Brexit-style negotiations, which historically are disbanded around 9 pm. 

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My idea of Kurt’s party.

 

 

I’m not sure why we have agreed to this “event” – he has promised me, IT IS NOT A “PARTY”  – and Kurt’s ‘chill, Mum,’ each time I freak the fuck out, has done little to assuage my innate terror.

 

If I look up the parenting strategy of “consequences” in any of the thousands of parenting manuals that adorn my bookshelves gathering dust, the cancellation of this “gathering” should have been a triumphant “win” moment for us. But it’s never that clear cut with kids with ADHD, and the thought of his one childhood memory being that time his bitch mum canceled his party, is something even the bitter old menopausal witch inside me refuses to contemplate.

 

Not that he’s really a kid anymore, as he glides into his third decade with all the panache of a bull in a china shop. It is recognized that there is an ADHD age, usually three to four years below the norm, and that makes much more sense.

 

His mates are a good bunch of kids, really, and they’ve stuck with him. They all hate me because (they’ve only heard Kurt’s side of the story) of the years they’ve endured my wrath and frustration at not being able to mold my child into what I expected and each abortive attempt to teach him right from wrong that failed. They have been pawns in our wars – banned from our place at times, kicked out onto the streets at unseemly hours of the morning. I like to think that I’ve helped make them streetwise.

 

None of them have a great respect for rules; they’re not the Polo shirt and loafer crowd I used to yearn for, more the stick n poke tattoo crowd who prefer to pierce each other, “hang” out together, talk about music; way too cool for clubs and looking up girls skirts, thank God.

 

He has told me there will be six of them, maybe seven, which means up to twenty, and he is going to warn our neighbors that his mum will march out in her dressing gown and bed hair ranting and raving (like she did last year) to shut the gathering down at 11.30pm. And then they’ll carry on – quietly, they think – until they decide I really mean it.

 

Meanwhile, the old man and I will hold a private celebration, for endurance, for the prematurely grey hair I’ve earned (and he would have earned), for the fact that our son continues to tell us he loves us (usually when he needs fags), and in spite of the tornados that have pushed us against the walls of our home so many times, that have nothing to do with climate change. And because, very occasionally, he does what is asked of him… and there is only one dent on the car. We may also make a toast to this, our last house party for our young adults… until next year.

When The Education Of Your Kids Finally Pays Off

sKurt and NC move out of the family home in a few months time, when the old man and I move back up north, about an hour away, to an area they refer to as the hinterland of Sydney. It’s not quite the Outback, but it’s far enough away from them to help us get some semblance of our “lives before children” back, before we die. stork-838424_1920

 

Their imminent move out of the nest has unleashed a spectrum of emotions. While the old man has hung up the bunting, ordered the balloons and written his speech, my emotions veer between despair and embarrassing displays of unfettered joy at the prospect of sleeping through the night again, depending on what part of the month I’m in.

 

Although Kurt is ready in some respects for his first grab at independence, I know that he is far from competent in others areas. So even though I am heeding the advice of my therapist – who has reminded me time and time again that he will only reach the level of maturity required to fly, through trial and error – I have formulated some contingency plans.

 

I know I mustn’t enable him, but these safety nets may help him get through those early wobbles in his transition, at the first signs of the wind leaving his sails. I know from experience that homesickness can catch you unawares and most of us have experienced it to some degree at some time or another, with the reality checks that cleaning fairies don’t exist and that money only stretches so far.

 

My biggest fear is how he will cope when he finds out that the Money Tree doesn’t really exist. This vulnerability to want to believe in the impossible is a trait he inherited from his maternal side, and I know that it means he will have a distinct disadvantage in terms of survival, and there is a very real chance that he may starve.

 

We can’t bail him out with cash because we learned a long time ago that Kurt’s ideas of priorities do not match ours. So I have come up with the idea of an emergency food drop that I can organize online. That way, he won’t be able to convert food money for cigarettes… or anything similar… like the system he set up at school with his lunch money, that contributed to his second expulsion.

 

The old man and were discussing this plan the other night, when NC’s ears pricked up.

 

‘Will I get food drops as well?’ she asked, to which the old man replied that he believed it highly unlikely that she, like her mother, would ever allow herself to starve.

 

‘What about wine drops instead?’ she asked. ‘You could get a bottle of wine delivered to me each day…or maybe one in the morning and one in the evening?’ she said, thinking aloud.

 

There are very few times in parenting when you feel overwhelmingly proud of your offspring, but as I looked at my daughter I felt my eyes well up in a similar way to the day of her graduation a few months ago.