it’s equal but is it fair?

One thing I've struggled with as the father of three children of different ages is teaching our boys the difference between equal and fair.

For example, only one our boys has homework to do each night from school so the amount of homework the boys each do is not equal; is that fair?

Sometimes the kids get different treats or different time spent with them depending on various factors including their needs and ages. This isn't equal; is it fair?

This also applies to non-parenting things: kitty and I share a small bag of chips: even though she is much smaller than me, do I split the bag of chips equally between us: is this fair?

Only recently did I truly understand that equal often seems fair but is often not fair. Just like unequal can seem unfair, but it's often fair.

For example, some organisations allow their employees to fly premium economy on long-haul flights only if they're over 190cm tall – is this equal? Definitely not. Fair? Probably – since if you're that tall regular economy seats on long haul flights are pretty painful for your legs.

I recently used the diagram from the Interaction Institute for Social Change Artist Angus Maguir to explain this to our oldest child:

The diagram uses the terms equality vs equity but I prefer equality vs fairness as I find it easier to use equal and fair, vs equal and equitable – especially with young children. I have found by simply looking at a situation and asking separate questions of whether it's equal and whether it's fair means it's easier to separate the two.

→ travelling with young kids

I recently read an article by Mariam Navaid Ottimofiore (via Kitty) about the benefits of traveling with young kids:

“If I had a penny for the number of times, well-meaning friends and family have looked at me and asked “why do you travel so much with young kids? It’s not like they’ll remember any of it!”

The words between the lines are of course this idea that travel is wasted on their young minds. That all they will have, are photographs to look back upon when they are older. That they won’t remember hiking up temples in Cambodia, or riding on mules to explore the lost city of Petra. They won’t remember feeding giant tortoises in the Seychelles, or visiting the memorial church in Berlin. That the true benefits of travel can only be enjoyed as a young adult. That the money spent on traveling the world with them is somehow wasted.

To this I usually respond tongue-in-cheek “well, then why take them to a playground or push them on a swing? Why read them a book or cuddle with them at bedtime? They won’t remember any of that either.”

Travel is the same. Except wait, it’s even better. It’s about the experience. Of making memories together. And this is the part they will remember.”

Overseas travel with young kids is insanely hard but we’ve found it very worthwhile. We’ve taken our young children to Malaysia (Junior Pixels), Los Angeles/San Francisco (Junior Pixels), Sri Lanka/Singapore (Junior Pixels and Little Bear), Auckland (all three) and San Diego/Palm Springs/Los Angeles (all three), and we still have fond memories.

And it’s not only about the kids: it’s about us having fun too. Why wait until the kids are old(er) to have fun ourselves?

We’re taking our three boys to Malaysia (via Singapore) at Easter this year to experience another culture, and we’re all looking forward to it already.

our kids’ quotes 2016

It’s that time of year which means I can finally publish the list of quotes we’ve collected from our boys throughout the year.

This year Junior Pixels was 6 turning 7, Little Bear was 4 turning 5, and Little Whale turned 3 during the year. My favourite quote this year is a tie between love in your heart and the itchy footprints one.

Little Bear: “can I do the mix machine for the cake?”
Mama: “sure”
Little Whale: “oh wait Orsie I need to put my ear mouse on cos it’s noisy”

Junior Pixels looking at fireworks
“explosions for celebrations? I’ll never understand”

Junior Pixels getting dressed himself
“now I know how hard it is to be you Papa”

Little Bear: “Mama makes the freshest pancakes”
Papa: “did you know some mamas don’t make pancakes at all?”
Little Bear: “yes, they get them out of tins”

Junior Pixels at the art museum looking at old paintings
Junior Pixels: “Mama Mama I studied this at Kindy! It was very famous! This is actually it!”

Papa to Little Whale: are you Winston Scott?
Little Whale: “no, I’m just Winton today”

Little Whale: “I not cold Mama. (Standing in dressing gown and slippers). I not cold. Look my teeth not even wobbling (chattering).”

Mama (to Junior Pixels): “if you walk across the log you can put your arms out like an aero plane to balance ”
Little Whale: “Mama aero planes no have arms!”

Little Whale singing to teddy’s toes before falling asleep:
“This little piggy stayed home…
This little piggy went to the shoppings and got the things…
This little piggy went to school to pick up boys…”

Stereo stops working in car.
Little Bear: “why has the music stopped Mama? (Thinking) I know maybe it’s the blue teeth not working.”

Junior Pixels: “Mama why is it in your heart that you feel love?”

A short story by Little Whale Scott
 “There was a long neck dinosaur who couldn’t reach the trees so it ate up the whole school. And when it did poo it had changed it into playgroup.
Then it changed back to school.
Then he drove in his monster truck to a different playgroup.”

(Talking about growing up and families)
Little Bear: “Winnie do you want to come and live with me when we’re older? ”
Little Whale: “yeah. I cuddle Orsie babies and my babies”
Little Bear: “you don’t lay babies. we’ll have to have a girl there to lay the babies and go to hospital to have them. ”
Little Whale: “the babies not be snotty.”
Mama: “I’m sure they won’t get sick if you take care of them and keep them warm”
Little Bear: “I saw in the babies movie you just wrap them tight and tie the blanket up with ribbon”
Mama: “ah I think that was just the family who lived in Mongolia and needed to get their baby home and warm on the back of a motorbike…”

Little Whale: “read this to me! (pointing to article not suitable for kids in the big issue magazine)”
Papa: “no, it’s for grown-ups only ”
Little Whale: “I grown up, I wear undies now”

Little Whale: “(driving along in back seat of car) Mama I’m a cloud”
Mama: “really?! Wow! What do clouds do?”
Little Whale: “they do this (puffs cheeks out and blows) like that”

Little Bear: “mama no I don’t want sun scream on! It hurts my eyes!”

Little Whale: “I’ve got itchy footprints”

Junior Pixels: “Orsie: the red poppies are for remembering people and purple is for animals in the war”
Little Bear: “Winnie: the purple flower is for remembering all the turtles that dies in the war”

Little Bear: “Mama: why did I have so many cries today?”

Little Whale looking at his shadow and waving his hands to make it move.
Little Whale: “Mama why does my shadow have no teeth? ”

See also: our kids’ quotes from 2015 and 2014

drawings of ducks

I love ducks, and Junior Pixels loves drawing ducks, so we’re match made in heaven 😍

For my recent birthday Junior outdid himself and made me a card with a duck and a cactus; it doesn’t get any better than this!

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Here’s a collection of some of the ducks he has drawn me:

He also draws a mean aeroplane when I have to go away for work:

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I love these all so much.

a barrage of questions

The youngest member of our tribe, Little Whale, has just turned three, and has begun asking what seems to be an endless stream of questions: “how you make jellybeans?”, “why you go to work Papa?”, “how you make oranges?” etc.

If you’ve been around kids you’ll have no doubt noticed that they seemingly never stop asking questions, which can get a bit annoying TBH, but I recently read a quote that put it all in perspective:

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question — you have to want to know — in order to open up the space for the answer to fit.

~ Clayton Cristensen via Jason Fried

This makes me realise that asking questions should never be discouraged; so I’ll do my best to answer each and every question they ask. After all they’ve made a slot in their mind for me to fill!

In that vein: Junior Pixels (nearly 7) recently asked Kitty:

“Mama, why is it in your heart that you feel love?”

good mistakes

Six year olds can be so wise:

“You know there’s good mistakes don’t you? Good mistakes are when you make a mistake but the mistake is still okay. Like if you’re reading a sentence and you get the word wrong but the word you choose still makes sense in the sentence. That’s a good mistake.”

~ Junior Pixels, age 6

Studying IT at university was a good mistake. I shouldn’t have done it, but the outcome still makes sense in my life.

hello again

I’ve decided to start updating this blog once again.

One of the things I saw looking over some old posts were links to ‘Indexed‘, one of my all time favourite blogs that just keeps on going.

Jessica’s two recent posts are very fitting to a proud father of three.

Children need boundaries, but you don’t want to restrict them too much. So achieving the right balance is mighty hard.

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I worry our boys have it too easy sometimes. Over time they need to learn and appreciate all the work that everyone does to make their lives so great:

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values

I recently read the somewhat ironically titled article ‘How to stop giving a F@$% what people think‘ (I think he should have actually called it ‘How to stop giving a FUCK what people think’).

One point stood out to me

“When you have your values straight, you have your shit straight.”

I’ve often thought about values but have never tried to articulated them. I had a go this morning on the bus on the way to work and this is what I came up with:

Quality over Quantity: I would much rather something of good quality than have anything at all.
Acceptance over Disappointment: I would much rather accept the things I have than be disappointed over things I don’t have.
Savings over Debt: I would much rather save for something than use debt to get it immediately.
Fewer close relationships over more shallow relationships: I would much rather develop a small number of more intimate relationships than have a large network of friends I hardly know.
Options over free choice: I believe I work best under constraints so I seek options over free choice. For example, I love the iTunes film of the week as I don’t need to make a choice, or a small lunch menu as it limits the choice I have.
Ordinary over extraordinary: As Bill Bryson says, the ordinary moments are what makes up the majority of our lives. I think we should celebrate the ordinary moments more.
Quiet over noise: the older I get the more I appreciate quiet (maybe now as the father of three small boys). I find noisy offices distracting, I find noisy cafe’s terrible and find quiet places great for both thinking and solitude.

What do you value?

the young ones

Often when I leave for work in the morning, Little Bear, now 15 months old, will cry for me not to leave.

It breaks my heart, but at the same time I love how close we have become in such a short time.

One thing I’ll never regret doing is taking a couple of months off when each of my kids were born to bond with them. I’ve not yet met another dad who has done this: either they think it’s pointless (‘they just sleep’) or have a large mortgage and can’t afford time off. But for me, it’s the best thing I have ever done.

Early infanthood and childhood is such an amazing time, but so critical in that you need to get it right otherwise it’ll have lifeline effects on your kids. That’s why I am continually amazed how modern society outsources raising of our babies to random strangers in childcare centers. I guess that’s what large household debt does to people.

Every day I am grateful that we have this amazing time with our two sons and no debt. We are also very excited to be expecting a third child in July.

cat & fish

We love the Cat & Fish books by Neil Curtis & Joan Grant: they have the most amazing illustrations and words. We bought two ex-library copies from BetterWorldBooks and Kitty cut out some of our favourite illustrations and framed them for the new sleeping room that Junior Pixels and Little Bear are now sharing. They look fantastic.

end of the line

In a week’s time I will delete this blog. Rather than let it wither and die, I’ll do it in one fell swoop.

This blog was always an experiment, write about anything and see what happens. I used it to write about a lot of shit that made me angry and I simply no longer care.

The Dalai Lama apparently once said:

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

I’ve written on here a dozen times how I used to want to buy a house. I used to get angry that young people couldn’t afford houses. I now realize it was all a ruse: you don’t buy a house, you just take on debt.

I somehow thought you couldn’t have a home without owning a house, which is complete bullshit. We have a wonderful home, and we don’t have a single dollar of debt to our names. It has meant we are blessed to make decisions we wouldn’t have been able to make if we had debt. Kitty has taken two and a half years off (so far) to raise two wonderful boys. We live in a beautiful apartment with a wonderful roof top garden, and when we get sick of it, like we did our last place, we give our notice and pay a few hundred dollars to move somewhere else that suits our phase of our lives.

I now truly believe you need to change your mind. I used to believe a lot of shit I no longer believe in, that’s how I know I have grown.

The older I get the more I believe that everything happens for a reason, no matter whether good or bad. It sounds harsh because some truly terrible stuff happens to very undeserving people, but it’s what I believe. When something bad happens, I see it as an opportunity to make things better. I dislocated my patella (knee cap) in November last year and saw it as an opportunity to focus on losing weight and living a more healthy lifestyle. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have made that change, and I would have been my same old self. I can now sleep on long plane trips because I don’t drink copious amounts of carbonated caffeinated beverages that keep me wired.

But the biggest change in my life has been having the two boys. Everyone told me (but I didn’t believe them) but it’s so true: everything changes when you have kids. It’s no longer about you, it’s now about them. It sounds negative but it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me (besides meeting Kitty of course) and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

little bear and dragon mums

Kitty gave birth to a new little bundle of joy this week: our little bear.

Little bear has been amazing so far, a real delight to see and hold.

I also read a very sad story in the NY Times this week about Dragon Mums: mothers and fathers of terminally ill children. It taught me to cherish every moment with little bear and junior pixels.

“This is a love story, and like all great love stories, it is a story of loss. Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is.”

suitcase rummage brisbane

We took Junior Pixels (who recently turned one!) for a walk to the city today, and stumbled across hipsters selling wares out of suitcases in Brisbane Square.

From the Suitcase Rummage site:

It’s a simple idea. Fill your suitcase with your wares, and travel to our designated spot on the day. Sell your wonderful goods old style. No hassle. No fuss. Good ol’ fashion markets.

It was a really cool idea, and was suitably popular. We saw some cool stuff being sold by some cool people.

It’s on the first Sunday of every month in Brisbane square, so next month you should check it out!

 

we went to the go between bridge concert

We all ventured down the street for the Go Between Bridge Concert last Friday night, Junior Pixels included as babies were admitted free! It was kinda weird watching a live music concert on a bridge, but the incline allowed us to have a very good view even when standing at the back. The night was a lot of fun, we ended up seeing Josh Pyke, Robert Forster and Angus & Julia Stone play. The Stones were our pick, which was expected, and when Angus sang The Yellow Brick Road I couldn’t believe my luck. As the fireworks began, we managed to hail a green cab (literally a three wheeled bicycle) who took the three of us home. What an amazing night!