Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sinterklaas vs Santa Claus - cross-culturalism in our household

So Christmas is becoming a topic of discussion in this house.  Quite understandably as there is two five year olds here SO of course they are getting excited... but this is also where it gets kind of interesting.  My heritage is Dutch (and I was born there) so for me it's also about Sint.

Now when we moved here in the early 1980s we had to pretty much assimilate into Australian culture.  Mind you we did also move into an area where there weren't that many Dutch people around.  So suddenly Sint became Christmas (we did have Christmas or Kerstmas in Holland but Sint is the big one) and Santa started bringing us our presents.  Now my brother and I are pretty cluey - I was 8 and he was 10 when we moved here so we kind of figured that Santa wasn't the real deal.  Mum and Dad did try to convince that we now lived too far away for Sinterklaas to deliver our presents and that Santa would deliver them instead.

Let me pause for a second...

Now logically...
Sinterklaas lives somewhere in most likely the Netherlands Antilles and Santa Claus lives in the North Pole.  It's much of a muchness as to who can deliver presents to a couple of Dutch kids in Brisbane, Australia.

So we basically did figure that Santa wasn't real.  We humoured Mum and Dad though until Dad gave up the pretence of Santa (which was pretty much the Christmas after Mum left).  I know it's silly but there is still a little part of me that does believe in Sinterklaas.  As a rational adult I know he's not real but the kid in me still believes in him.

Now for the background for the Sinterklaas vs Santa Claus discussion in this house.  Facebook is wonderful.  So it has allowed me to actually reconnect with some of my cousins in Holland (because we're from the south of the Netherlands we actually refer to is as Holland - because well we're from Holland).  Last year De Ruijter released a coffee chocolate hail and I asked one of my cousins if she would mind sending me some.  My cousin did as well as... (she blew me away to be honest!) a whole bunch of Sint goodies.  One of the things she sent which has been very much appreciated in this house is a Sinterklaas picture book - Louise and Olivia have already been asking me to read it to them.  Which has given me the opportunity to discuss my childhood and Sinterklaas with them.  We're raising cross-cultural kids!  It's funny I had both of them ask me when we were going to get some more Strooigoed (small biscuits with marshmallows).

So because I have been going back over the Sinterklaas thing with them - the topic of Santa Claus came up.  As in why does Sinterklaas only deliver presents to Europe?  Why can't he deliver them here?  Why does Santa have to deliver presents to the rest of the world?  Now these are obviously questions that I don't have answers too but it is kind of fun exploring their wonder behind it all.

I had to stop yesterday though when Louise told me that she didn't believe in Santa.  I was like YIKES! I am not ready for this!!! But I didn't have to worry - she believes in Sinterklaas.  I actually suspect it's an underhanded way to trying to get two lots of presents.  She was amazed when she found that my birthday is the same day as Sint.  YOU GOT TWO LOTS OF PRESENTS!?!?!  So that may actually have something to do with it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

So have you ever had to "come out" as a heterosexual?

I'm angry...
There's a certain Australian "parenting" website that's run by a woman who used to edit women's magazines here in Australia that decided to report that Sir Michael Parkinson asked Ian Thorpe if he was gay.  Now because she used to edit women's mags they might have thought this was news... for my american readers think national enquirer with dieting tips.

I have a hate/hate relationship with it.  I also do keep trolling it - but I get bored and I need the laughs.

I think it's more that the site tries to bill itself as being inclusive.

So I got my back up.  I was on facebook and saw that a friend had commented on an article that this site had posted about Ian Thorpe being asked by Michael Parkinson if he was gay.  That was pretty much the crux of the "article".

Now that got me to thinking...
If you look at recent history.
Tom Daley had to deal with so many questions around his sexuality... as did Matthew Mitcham...

Now when was the last time someone was asked if they were straight?

Why do people need to keep being asked if they are gay?

I understand that people feel the need for gay role models.  You know as a society we shouldn't.  We should just accept that people are people.  And it really does come down to why are people who don't fit into the norm are asked why they are "gay" - I don't get it.

I have been an out gay man for 23 years.
I still don't get it.

People are people.
Asking someone if they are gay is rude.
Same as asking someone if they are heterosexual is rude.
It's not something that should be done.

/end rant

Monday, June 30, 2014

So I was taught an important lesson by my kids

I'm a parent to twins.  It's hard.  It's complicated.  It's a struggle to work out the relationships and everything else.

Olivia has been a bit funny for the past couple of weeks and I couldn't work out why.  Larry and I have had discussions in the past about favouritism and the fact that I favour Olivia more over Louise.  Which I tend to - I think it's my protective instinct - Olivia is smaller and has been since birth, and I guess also being the younger sibling myself (I'm not a twin though) I feel for her.  The elder sibling can soak up a lot of attention - which if you've met Louise you'd understand that too!  I think part of it as well is that Olivia is very introverted (like me) but she's always been capable of entertaining herself.

So try to make up the imbalance between time I thought I was spending with Liv and the time I wasn't spending with Louise - I was spending more one-on-one time with Louise.  Unfortunately I wasn't spending much time with Liv one-on-one.

Olivia has developed this habit of tilting her head to one side if she's upset.  Now for the past couple of weeks when I have dropped the girls off at school Olivia has been very withdrawn and doesn't want to move.  None of the educators could draw it out of her and Olivia has said a couple of times that she was "sick" and just wanted to stay home with me.  Which being the awesome parent I am I just ignored (I did the usual checked her temperature etc...).

So yesterday driving home I finally pushed the point and asked her why.  So she actually admitted because I wasn't spending any time with her.  I was shocked.  I had that moment where I went WOAH I have made a mistake as a parent.  I try to do the right thing by one and I stuff up with the other one...

So we talked about it last night and she did say just wants to spend time with me without Louise.  So Olivia and I are having a Michael Daddy and Olivia day on Saturday.  So far it seems to involve Lego, puzzles and watching iPads.

It was funny this morning...
So I got the Lego Simpsons House for the *cough* girls.  Louise doesn't really have that much interest in it so Liv and I have been building it on and off for a little while.  We started on it again last night and we were doing a little bit this morning before I took the girls to Kinder.  Louise dragged Larry into the bedroom because Olivia and I were having some "alone" time.
I am amazed that my kids get it.  We have two very smart little monkeys.
But yes I learnt a lesson.  There's something my GP suggested that she does with her kids (although they are a bit older) is that her and her husband try to spend 20 minutes each day with each child without their siblings around.  Maybe that's something Larry and I need to consider.