This Is Our Life, This Is What We Look Like

G is still enthusiastically donning lycra in the morning before riding his bike for an hour or two each day. My MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) now has thighs as hard as rock and a constant supply of talcum powder. He reads nothing but cycling articles and emails me each morning with the details of his Garmin tracking device, this way when he’s eventually hit by by a passing land cruiser I’ll know exactly where he was when it happened. This is our life now, life is what we look like.

Henry Hotdog is missing his two front teeth which is perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit, I’m not sure if it’s all he wants though as there has been talk of loom bands (I cannot believe we’re still doing this) and wii games. He is desperate to learn how to click his fingers and practices continuously. Did you hear that Mum? he says with great excitement while wielding his fingers closer to my face only to flick me in the ear “Whoops! Sorry Mum” but did you hear the one before that one, it was the best one. He loves to eat sploshy eggs for breakfast with toasty soldiers. He has found a genius way to keep clean by turning his shirt inside out before he cracks open the first shell. This is his life now, this is what he looks like.

Fred has faced all fears of death via baseball. He’s fronted up, gone back to training and now waits for his first game this weekend. He had me sign a form this morning explaining how he’d forgotten to do his homework, “and while you do that can you sign this note on why I didn’t do my homework yesterday?” His tone is light and bright, his hair bounces as he talks, his eyes wide and blue. “But how, how can you forget and then just not bother to bring it home?” As I ask the question he looks at me in pity, as if he wants to massage my shoulders, hand me a joint, and tell me to just relax man – it’s all going to be okay. A girlfriend confessed that she had a soft spot for Fred, that he had something. It is this something that keeps him alive. This is his life now, this is what he looks like.

Annie will make her stage debut tonight. Well not quite the stage but she will stand in front of an audience to perform in a one act play. Her rehearsals have slotted in between her basketball practice, clarinet blowing, and general OMG AMAZEBALLS I’M IN MIDDLE SCHOOL AND EVERYTHING IS A DRAMA. She is distracted by all that is social: who said, what happened, where did they, how do I get. I watch her mind race as she talks to friends, following the conversation but hanging on by her fingertips. Keeping up with what’s happening is constant, because it has all changed. Movie nights and carnivals have been replaced with school dances, email threads and FaceTime. You hold the power of a laptop, but are powerless in a second with your search history. This is her life now, this is what she looks like.

Lizzie is 14. Shall I just finish there?

I fear the sideways glance, the deep sigh, and the sullen how did I end up with you losers look of exasperation. While reading book 32 of series 108 of the latest fantasy series she has one ear piece inserted for the tones of 5SOS . School is endured while she is forced to learn about maps, rivers and mountain ranges, french vocabulary, and algebra – these activities are exhausting. She talks about physics and chemistry with the level of enthusiasm of a chicken invited to a schnitzel lovers conference. But there are moments, moments of beauty where we smile, laugh, giggle and co-conspire. She is witty, scarily sarcastic, and a loyal friend. She has found her feminist straps. While talking about the sexist and overt suggestions yelled by a group of young men towards her and her bikini clad friends she reminded me that if they were dogs they would be castrated. I watch her navigate the world differently now, sometimes I’m there by her side, other times I follow, but mostly I look on admiringly. This is her life now, this is what she looks like.

I was devastated with the news that my lecturer didn’t like my final assessment as much as I did. I’ll admit it, I sulked and considered a curt email. It was then that I clicked on a story of women giving birth in Africa and realised I was doing okay. I passed, I have food, decent medical care, and transport. I’m doing okay. I’m off to London for a blog conference this weekend, I will know no-one and will walk in to a room filled with people on my own, this excites me rather than terrifies me. I will apply for a job in media communications and take the result as fate rather than destiny. These are the benefits of hitting your 40’s.

It was just me and my little travellers in the department store. Henry and Fred played hide and seek amongst the racks of clothing, the girls stood by my side debating on their fathers girth. He’s lost that much weight now that we have to draw new pictures in our minds of what will fit and what won’t. We left the store giggling, Henry Hotdog ran up the down escalators and squealed out loud. “You’ve provided the perfect picture for birth control Mum, this is why I’ll never have four children” said Lizzie as she rolled her eyes but smiled. As Henry walked along with us he kept trying to click his fingers, over and over. Annie raced ahead of him so that she could walk backwards while facing him, she clicked her fingers while dancing to her own tune. Fred raced to catch them both joining in on the dance, clicking as well. “See, they’re crazy?!” said Lizzie.

“I like crazy”. I watched their faces, this little snapshot in time, knowing that next year it would be different again. New teeth, a different breakfast, something new to master and a new phase to move onto. Right now though, this is our life now, this is what we look like.

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