November 08, 2010

How to lose your dignity.

It seems that SawHole started a bunfight on Saturday when recalling her experiences with Playgroups. I went to a playgroup, where I met Liz Patrick and firmly cemented a bond over gin and tonics and the fact that we lived on the same block, both at home with a newborn and a toddler, and gin and tonics. She showed me how to get rid of nits and I showed her my slovenly housekeeping skills. And then she moved to New Zealand.

I met Mrs Woog behind the bike sheds at playgroup where she was also hiding from her kids. I spent 15 months as a stay at home mum before realising that 'imaginative play' and mother's group were not for me. I went back to work and it was a happy day for the whole family. Now I'm doubly-reviled as a working mum and someone who works for a bank.

About 2 years before kids came along, we went campervanning around the South Island of New Zealand. As well as inducing a flippant but ultimately life-changing statement (if John Howard gets re-elected, I want to move to New Zealand) this holiday also included a memorable trip to Hamner Springs.

Hamner Springs was once the honeymoon capital of the south island because of the hot springs and cool art deco hotel. If you forget your togs, you can hire some for $5 (because who wouldn't want to wear swimmers that a stranger has worn while sitting in a bacteria incubator). When you go in winter, you have to change out of 5 layers of clothes and then make a mad dash through the cold to get to the pools and then you just sit with your head sticking out and everything else underwater because it is about 2 degrees.

I distinctly remember getting changed in the changing room - it's so cold you can't just rock up in your togs and a towel. There was this bizarre behaviour that happens in every change room but is more exaggerated when you changing from five layers of clothes to one and then back again. Young girls with awesome bodies try to slide a bikini under a pair of thermals without the other ladies seeing their nipples. And old ladies saunter around naked with everything hanging out while they dry their hair, flick baby powder into their creases and under their saggy boobs and shuffle into their full briefs. At the time, as well as being amused by the girls trying to expose nothing, I did also wonder at the old ladies letting it all hang out and think "Have you no sense of dignity, nana?"
Then I had kids.

It started when I was in labour and my obstetrician said to me "There's no medical need for it but if I was you, I'd have an epidural because we need to move your cervix." I thought that was just some euphemism for a more complex medical practice but it wasn't. He just grabbed hold of my cervix and yanked it into a new position. When your body from the waist down is being lifted by a fairly small, and internally situated part of your body, it's pretty freaking undignified.

And that was really just the start. When my daughter was about 15 months old, I spotted her about to slide a whole shelf load of mayonnaise onto the floor. The only thing that saved the mayo, the floor and my dignity, was my rockstar knee slide across the floor of the fruitshop - see Mum, watching music videos did teach me something useful.

Then when she was about 2 and obsessed with undies, she lifted my skirt up in the line of the supermarket to show the people behind me my daggy cottontails. I turned to apologise to the person behind me, who was a nun. Even as an atheist, I don't feel right flashing my knicks to a lady of the cloth (is that a term?).

And then there was the toilet training with endless trips to the toilet. After three unsuccessful trips to the toilet, I announced to child (and entire waiting room of Drs) "I am not taking you to the toilet again. You don't need to go" "But it's POOOOO! And it's coming out NOWWWWWW!".

Then there was the terrified "you know I brought these toys from home. I didn't steal them" when there was a cop in front of us at the supermarket, the sliding around the shopping centre on line, attached to my leg and screaming (what is it with my kids and supermarkets), the telling daycare "I like it when dad puts me in our cage. The cage that he keeps in the cupboard" (it's a playpen and it is stored in the cupboard), screaming, flinging and foaming at the mouth in a shopping centre tantrum (foaming at the mouth is NOT a Hollywood special effect).

And that's just one child. I racked my brain to think of what embarrassing things my son has done and couldn't come up with anything. Not because he is well-behaved but because I don't think it even registers any more. I have officially lost all of my dignity - so naked change room sauntering, here I come.
Please share your most undignified moment, and make it a good one!

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