The Cairns Show

I am a big, big kid at heart.

Once a year, the show comes to Cairns and stays for three days.

Is it a waste of money?

Yes.

But do I love it?

Oh yes.

I love the Show.

And when I say love, I mean I totally absolutely positively LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the show.

I have always loved the show.

The crowds.

The noise.

The rides.

The food.

The showbags.

It’s awesome!

Growing up in a small country town it was such a big deal when the show came to town. In the days proceeding the show, we all began looking at the highway for the show trucks passing by. It was even fun just trying to guess just what the truck was – could it be the hurricane – or the zipper – or the gravatron?  What rides were going to be at the show this year?

I can only remember missing out on going to the show once, and that was because we were out of town.  (My stepbrother had the audacity to get married in Bundaberg on our show weekend! Grrr!).  I honestly don’t know how my parents managed to afford taking three kids to the show on one wage, but I am pretty sure that we went to the show every year.  Of course, we hated looking through all of the boring stuff in the pavillions, and were grumbly little buggers until we finally were able to spend some time in sideshow alley.

But once I turned into a parent, everything changed.

My love for the show has not changed.  I will always love it the show.  I swear.  But financially, it has been hard to be able to justify going to the show.  In the last 10 years, we have probably gone to the show about 4 times.  We didn’t go to the show last year. This year was also destined to be another one of those years that we decided to not go to the show.

But the little kid in me kept on niggling at me.  I really wanted to go.  I wanted to take the kids so they could have some rides and get a showbag.  I really wanted Miss O and Mr S to be able to join in conversations at school about how much fun they had.  AND I wanted to see the stuff in the pavillions too. I wanted to see the dogs and the horses, the agriculture, the birds and cattle, the photography and the artwork. This is how i know I am an old fogey!  How the times change!

Financially, there were better things that we could have spent the money on.  Things like the phone bill and credit card payments.

Also, the kids had been so naughty at the shops lately, that I feared taking them into the crowds.  Could I handle the whinging for every. little. thing? What if they wandered off?  Would they behave?

On the morning before the show holiday, I talked it over with the hubster, and we decided that we would go to the show after all.  Hang the expense.  We would spend modestly, but it was time for us to all have some fun.

But the kids didn’t know we were going yet.

That afternoon after work, hubby was at the gym and the plan was to go shopping for some supplies, and pick him up from the gym, and when we got home we would tell the kids that we were going to go to the show the next day. But this didn’t all didn’t go quite according to plan.

I finished work and picked up the kids from after school care and daycare, and immediately Miss O began to whinge and whine about wanting to go to the show and how it wasn’t fair that we weren’t going.

We headed into stockland where I was going to pick up the supplies we needed, and I remembered I had to get a new pair of shoes for Mr S (again!).  So I headed to Big W to find a cheap pair. At this point all 3 kids decided to be ferrell.  Mr J and Miss O nicked off to go and look at toys. Once I got them back, they both decided to whinge about wanting new shoes too.

After finally choosing shoes for Mr S, we headed towards the checkout and I decided to look at a few things that took my fancy.  I chose a novel to read (thanks to the gift card that mum bought me for my birthday) and picked up a hair rinse as well.  At this point, Mr S  and Mr J both decided to run amok in the books. My patience was running very, very low. Miss O began whinging continuously about wanting every. single. thing that took her fancy and was very very put out that she wasn’t getting anything.  In fact, apparently her whole life is unfair because she never gets anything.

By this time I had enough and when hubster rang to say he was finished early at the gym I was extremely happy.  There was more whinging and naughtiness from the kids on the way back to the car and by the time we reached the car park, I lost my shit.

While I was driving to get the hubster, I gave them a total blasting.  I told them that their behaviour was not only making me extremely angry, but was the reason we didn’t do fun things, and the reason why we were not going to the show.  I told the boys their constant running around and naughtiness at the shops was disgusting, and I could not trust them enough to take them to the show becuase they were so naughty.  I told Miss O that I was disgusted by her attitude of always wanting everything and that there was no way I was going to take her to the show because she would drive me mental asking me for things every 5 minutes.

I am pretty sure there were a fair amount of expletives in my ranty tanty outburst.

Not exactly my proudest parenting moment.

By the end of it all three kids were crying.

I picked up the hubster and explained what I had said.  And quietly I said I wasn’t sure what we were going to do now, considering we really did plan to take them to the show.

Then I had a plan.

Seeing as I hadn’t bought the groceries yet, I still had an opportunity for the kids to redeem themselves and prove that they were, in fact worthy to go to the show.

So we headed to the local coles.  When we parked the car, I said in a very serious voice ” Ok you kids, be quiet and listen to me right now.  We are all going to go shopping for groceries now. And you will prove to me that you can behave.  When we go inside, you will stay next to the trolley.  You will not ask for things.  You will not run around.  You will walk next to the trolley, quietly.  If you do this, if you prove to me that you can behave, that I can trust you to behave, then Daddy and I will take you to the show.  If you be naughty, even once, that will be it, we will not go to the show and you will miss out.  Do you understand?” They all nodded in agreement. “Do you understand?” I asked again. “Yes” they all answered.

The shopping trip was a success. I barely had to remind the boys to behave and they stayed next to the trolley, without fighting, without running around the whole time.  I wasn’t too sure whether to be proud that they could actually behave, or annoyed that I hadn’t lost the plot sooner.

The next morning it was time for the show.  Everything was planned with military precision.

Each person had a backpack with:

  • A frozen bottle of water
  • 2 cans of lemonade
  • 3 small packets of chips
  • A snaplock bag with 5 cream biscuits.
  • A light jacket in case it was cold and windy

Hubby had my jacket in his bag and in my backpack I also had 5 pieces of freshly baked apple cake and 10 sandwiches.

We arrived at the show just after 9.30 am. The weather could not have been more perfect.

It cost $45 to get in the gate (Mr J was free because he was under 5 years old).  Once in the gate, we decided that we wanted to have a look at the plants and animals first.  We scooted through the pavilions and horticultural displays before heading to the dog arena where we sat for almost two hours watching the dog show.  Then we had a look at the livestock and the birds.

By this time Miss O was eager to get a showbag, and we decided this was probably a good idea before it got too busy or they were sold out.  We were in for a shock!  Although the traditional Bertie Beetle showbags were about $10, all of the licensed showbags were $25 or more – with very little to show for it.  I was determined I wanted the kids to get value for money with their showbags, and I soon realised this was not going to be the case.

Eventually, Miss O chose a ‘Monster High’ showbag that contained a shoulder bag, cap, stickers and a few other bibs and bobs.  Mr S and Mr J were also set on choosing a licensed showbag, such as spider man, but one of the stalls had some showbags that were a bit cheaper and filled with some pretty cool stuff.  In the end, Mr S chose ‘Army Nation’ and Mr J chose ‘Ninja’. These showbags were $20 each.  The toys inside were pretty crappy quality  but I must admit they have been constantly playing with the toys from their showbags since they got home from the show.

After we finally chose the showbags, we headed to the grandstand to watch the horses showjumping competition and eat our sandwiches.  Amazingly no one was particularly hungry (the boys had already had some of their chips and biscuits when we were watching the dogs) but I laid down the law and said we were not going to visit the rides until everyone had eaten a sandwich.

After we had eaten, we packed what we could from the showbags into the backpacks. (Note to self – for future reference –  Some showbag items may be  too tall to fit in the backpacks so maybe leave it until a little later to get the showbags unless you want to carry the kids showbags around for the rest of the day).

Then we headed to the pavillions for a proper look around the businesses that had displays.  Hubby and I bought a coffee (we were dying for one) and Miss O bought herself and the boys a big lollipop with her own pocket money.

Finally it was time to head down to the rides.

The prices of the rides were a little higher than I expected.  The going rate seemed to be about $8 per ticket.  I wanted to take the family on the massive ferris wheel, but it was $25 for two adults and two children, plus we would have also needed to pay for Mr J as well, so we decided against that.

The hubster took Miss O on the Alpine Express.  It was her first time on it so she was super excited.  The tickets were $8 each or two tickets for $15.

After that I took Mr S on the dodgem cars, and Miss O took Mr J. Each ticket was 7 dollars.  Mr S got behind the wheel and spent the whole time trying to turn the wheel left.  I had to continuously keep turning the wheel outwards so that we would actually drive forwards and not just keep turing left.  Mr S was quite cranky at me touching the wheel and kept yelling at me to let go of the wheel because he didn’t need any help to drive.  Needless to say, I was pretty glad when that was over!  Miss O and Mr J had a great time though.  I think Mr S did too, despite whinging about me touching the wheel.

Hubster bought a cup of chips (Five dollars!) as we searched for a while to find another ride that they boys could go on.  We thought about the roller coaster, but Mr J was just a bit too short to go on the ride.  The kiddy rides were all a bit too tame but many of the other rides were too fast.  Eventually we found a super big slide and this cost $10 for 6 slides so the boys got to have 3 slides each.

Miss O chose the Ghost Train for her last ride. The ticket for this was also $8.   It had a pirates of the Caribbean theme and she said it was ‘alright’.  Although she didn’t admit it think was a little disappointed  – it wasn’t very exciting (not scary enough?) and it was over really quickly.

We decided to have a look at the Dairy Farmers Baby Animal petting zoo before going home, however we got separated from the hubster, who didn’t stop when we all stopped to get a bottle of water out of one of the backpacks. Subsequently, he turned the wrong way and got lost, and we spent a frustrating half an hour trying to contact each other. Even though we both had our phones, and there was plenty of signal, our phone calls were not getting through to eachother.  Perhaps due to too many people trying to call in the same place?

We finally managed to meet up and decided NOT to wait in line to pet the animals.  We were all tired and hot and when I looked at the time I was shocked to find the time was after 4pm.

We had been at the show for almost 7 hours!  So with that we headed walked back to the car and headed home.

Was I shocked at the prices?

Yes!

Was it a waste of money?

No!

Altogether we spent $157 and I don’t think it was a waste of money at all.   The kids were excellently behaved all day, and we all had loads of fun.

Do I still love the show?

Yes!

I am thankful that we said to heck with it all and had a great day.  We have heaps of awesome memories of the day. Who can ask for more than that?!

Linking up with Kate from Kate Says Stuff for Thankful Thursday.

3 Little Bitches

As parents, we want our children to feel loved and secure. We want them to have confidence. To have friends. To be happy. But what should we do when we find out that they are not happy.

I was short and skinny child with brown eyes, thick eyebrows and short brown hair. The minute my hair started to get longer, I was taken to the hairdresser to have it cut. I didn’t have a choice in this. I felt like I looked like a boy. I felt ugly.

Although I participated in many extra-curricular activities, I was mostly always a loner at school. I never really quite ‘fit in’. I was never in the popular crowd. Even as far back as grade one, playing a game of hide and seek with my classmates, I went to ‘hide’ and was never found. I was in the middle of the playground crouching behind some kind of playground equipment. Eventually a teacher came along and asked if I was alright. At this moment I realised that the game had finished. Everyone had moved onto something else. I was alone. I had been forgotten. Or maybe I was never really included in the game.

When I was 10, I had a birthday party. Quite a few people from my class were invited. Only two people from my class sent back the rsvp and only one person actually came. Luckily for me, mum had invited my cousins and a couple of her friends had kids and they came too. Mum had made an awesome cake for me. I got some cool presents. I had fun. But there was something I was feeling – deeper under the surface – that I never talked about. Something that I was sad about. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I would never be popular.

Over the course of primary school, I had a couple of close friends. They were never part of the popular group either.

Once I got to high school, things changed a lot. I was still ‘ugly’ and skinny, flat chested, with short brown hair and thick eyebrows. But I was thrown into a new group of people and for the first time ever, I had a group of friends. I wasn’t in the popular group by a long shot, but I had a group of friends and it felt great. I felt like I belonged.

Then about half way through grade 8, one day, I was ‘out’. I tried to join in with my friends and I was told I was out of the group. Just like that. With no warning. Needless to say I was devastated. I went home that night and cried about it.

Ironically only a few weeks before, one of the main girls in the group had invited me to a youth group event at the local uniting church. Now she was kicking me out of the group. I told mum about it and she told me to tell her that for someone who was meant to be a Christian, she wouldn’t even make a Christian’s bootlace. The next day, I confronted her in anger, and yelled at her, including my mums insult (even though I didn’t really understand what that meant until much later).

When Miss O was born, I worried for her and how she would navigate this world. But as she grew from a baby into a toddler and then into a young girl she was beautiful. Perfect with her fair skin, long golden hair and shiny bright blue eyes. Everything that I wasn’t. And more importantly, she was beautiful inside too.

By the time she had started Prep I had hope that she would be able to glide along and everything would work out ok. But I wasn’t prepared for the bitchiness that she was about to encounter at school.

I was shocked the first time she came home and told me that she was fighting with friends at school. In Prep. Doesn’t this stuff happen when you are much older? Not so! Apparently “I am not your friend! You can’t play with us” is very common!

Over the course of the next couple of years there were a few ups and downs with this problem. By the time she was in grade two she had a couple of lovely close friends. They had the occasional falling out, but it only lasted a day before they were best friends again. I breathed a sigh of relief that everything was going to be ok.

Then we had to move house to the other side of town. Which meant she had to change schools. When she started at the new school she settled in straight away with a friend. Then they had a major fight (the other girl punched her) and after that she began to say that she had no friends. I continually asked her teacher, and she assured me that she was fine socially and she hadn’t noticed any problems. Eventually things seemed to settle down.

The next year the whole class was in turmoil. There were a lot of disruptive children in the class and the teacher became unwell and had to be replaced by a relief teacher (this lasted about 5 months). Finally in the last half of the year they were given a new full time teacher. Miss O then started having problems with one particular girl in her class. I spoke to the teacher about it and she advised me this girl was a problem and they were dealing with it, delicately though because the girl didn’t have a great home life. At the end of the year, we were given a form for request about classes. I requested that Miss O be placed in a different class to this girl and hoped that this year will be better.

Miss O’s 10th birthday was in February (not long after school started) so I thought it would be great to have a party for her to establish friendships with the girls in her class as she did not know most of them. We invited all of the girls in the class (about 10 or 12 or them) as we didn’t want anyone to feel left out. To my absolute relief and happiness (but also my absolute terror) all of the girls wanted to come to the party and one by one almost all of their parents phoned to let me know their child was coming and was excited to be coming.

I took them all to the movies, before catching a maxi taxi and taking them down to the local water play park where we had a sausage sizzle and had the birthday cake.

I have to say this was one of the most stressful days of my life. The weight of being responsible for so many girls was overwhelming. The girls broke off into a few small groups and many of them refused to follow the few simple safety rules that I had laid out. It took all of my energy to not totally lose my shit and yell at them. I would have totally done it too but I didn’t want to embarrass Miss O. I will say that it really opened my eyes about the personalities of some of the girls in her class and I am very glad that Miss O is not easily lead and has chosen to be friends with the more sensitive and sensible girls in the class. Miss O seemed to settle in with her nicer friends.

Last term, Miss O began having various headaches, sore tummies and aches and pains and as a result had many days off school. Sometimes I was not convinced she was really sick and made her go to school anyway. But towards the end of the term I began to suspect that she was suffering from stress and began to let her have the days off if I felt she was genuine in her belief that she was sick. I emailed the teacher to let him know that I thought that Miss O was suffering from stress and asked how she was doing socially but he did not have a chance to get back to me before the end of the term.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we played hookey and went down to my Mum’s place as my nieces and nephew were visiting from Perth for the school holidays and were due to fly back home on thursday.

On Tuesday Miss O confided in her cousin that she is getting bullied by a group of girls and she hates going to school every day. Her cousin asked if she had told me so that I can help. Miss O said that she couldn’t tell me because it will only make it worse. After we went home that night, my niece told mum what Miss O had told her.

Mum told me the next day and it broke my heart.

It broke my heart becuase she is being bullied.

It broke my heart because all of the headaches and aches and pains and sore tummies now made sense.

It broke my heart because she felt like she couldn’t tell me.

She was suffering and she was hiding that suffering from me.

On the way home from Mum’s I told Miss O what I found out and I asked her to tell me about it. I told her that she should never be too scared or worried to tell me anything, that I am here for her, and that we will work something out to fix it so things don’t get worse.

It turns out that a group of three girls in her class (in my mind I call them the 3 little bitches) have been calling her names, “accidentally’ bumping into her, and making her feel worthless and life generally uncomfortable at school. They do it mostly when teachers are not around.

When we got home, I told my hubby and we had another long discussion about it. Miss O really wants to change schools. We said that we would consider it, as a last resort, but wanted to try some other things first. The first step was to be talking with her teacher. I asked would she mind if I went to her teacher and told him what is going on and said that I would make sure that he understood that she was afraid it would make things worse and that I would trust him to deal with it in a way that did not make it worse.

The next morning, we got to school a bit early and had a long chat with Miss O’s teacher. He was very distressed to hear about Miss O’s feelings and what had been happening to her. He was also NOT surprised when he found out who the girls were. Apparently they have been warned about this type of behaviour to other girls last term as well.

He gave Miss O some instructions on what to do if it happened again when there were no teachers about and promised us both that it would be dealt with. One day has now passed since the conversation with her teacher and it is too early to tell, but I am hoping that things will start to settle down for Miss O.

I want her to know how beautiful she is, inside and out.

I will move heaven and earth if I have to.

I want her to feel loved.

I want her to feel confident and secure.

I want her to be happy.

I want her to be free.