Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

A Wednesday afternoon in Mt Eden

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When you are a stay at home mum, so much of your time is taken up with thinking about how to entertain your loin-fruit.

I am not the kind of mother who enrols my children in multiple classes. Exercise, music, swimming and learning French are all fine past-times, but to my mind the stress of actually getting preschool kids there, hoping they like it, and dragging them home again is often not worth the effort.

Having said that, they are probably very apt preparation for life as an Auckland school child. If I ever want to feel tired, I listen to the crazy roster undertaken by most mothers of primary, intermediate and high school kids who traipse, with their kids, from one after-school activity to another constantly. And it's not just rugby or netball practise or debating any more either. It can now be anything from Nepalese lessons to water polo to learning the Japanese tea making ceremony.

Neither am I, however, the kind of mother who bakes bread with the two-year-old, spends two hours dancing with him to Neil Diamond and then lies on the grass with baby and toddler, staring at cloud patterns. I wish I could be like this - spinning out ordinary things into extra ordinary learning experiences for my children - but I've had to realise I'm just not that kind of person - reluctantly. I recall my babysitter telling me once that she and my son had spent almost an hour staring at pukekos by the side of the road. I'm still trying to get my head around how she made that interesting for him!

I do take my children out to parks, museums and playgroups a lot. These to me seem like a good compromise - not too prescriptive about what fun should be, but also saving my children from having to be entertained by me - and my rather low level of imagination - all day long.

However, there is one activity that my children get dragged to on a too-frequent basis I'm sure.

An activity that is almost guaranteed to restore Mummy's sanity level.

And that is cafe-hopping.

But it's not really an activity that children need, or even probably want, though it is a very common activity for those in my neighbourhood. Mt Eden children who throw a wobbly at the sight of a vegetable, or scream when they have to tear themselves away from Bob the Builder, can be perfect little angels when they're seated at their favourite cafe, fluffy in one hand, marshmallows - which accompany the fluffy - in the other.

(If you're not familiar with the term, a fluffy - known in Australia as a baby cino - is basically a tiny cup filled with froth and sprinkled with chocolate for the pint-sizers, allowing them to think of themselves as coffee-swilling adults.)

The inanity of this activity was driven home to me today when I found myself stood at the counter of one of Mt Eden's most trendy cafes, listening to my two-year-old requesting, in a loud voice from across the room, a fluffy

"Is that what you want... a fluffy? Sweetheart, do you want a fluffy, is that what you said?"

A young woman was in front of me and turned to me and smiled. She claimed to find it funny, but at that moment, I felt like an utter goose. I actually apologised to her for how ridiculous it sounded to be conferring with my two-year-old child about ordering a frothy confection in a cafe when there were kids in the world without school shoes.

And certainly many more who had never had - and would never have - a blasted fluffy!

Dita Di Boni

Pictured above: A 'fluffy' enjoyed by Kya Arthur at Waihi Beach cafe The Porch. Photo / Sally Gibbs, Bay of Plenty Times

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