Category Archives: Politics

Left Wing rants, Andrew Wilkie for Bennelong, Down with Dubbya.

For the teachers

This is a shout out to my teacher peeps.

This week, my kid expressed his unhappiness at school in a way that could not be ignored, and it couldn’t be misinterpreted.

And the response from the school has been heartening. Teachers who have worked with my boy have been shocked, and distressed, and they have made the time to set things in motion for change.

There have been teachers in his past that have ignored, minimised and disregarded his challenges, and his feelings about school, and my advocacy for my boy. But the last two days I have seen three teachers go above and beyond to make sure that this situation gets turned around.

And one special teacher, who happens to be a friend to both Squid and I, who took time out of her busy life to make sure we are supported and informed, and nurtured – you can’t know what your advocacy has meant.

I am hopeful that things will change really soon. And if it does, it will be down to great teachers, working passionately within a system that constrains and stifles where it should lift up and celebrate these wonderful people.

Thank you for the work you do.

Gainful Emloyment

The New Zealand government has a philosophy that all kids should be catered to in the school environment.  

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association describes school policy as a framework that integrates culture and practice, values and actions. Inclusive schools ensure that the principles of inclusion are embedded in their policies, plans, and actions. They develop specific policies for the inclusion of students with special education needs…”

Which is great, right?

So Squish’s school has approached me to ask if I might consider helping out as a teachers aide for a few weeks while they get a more permanent person in to work with a new kid.  I’ve started back at uni, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to juggle work and uni and family in the longer term.  

The new kid has a global developmental delay, and he needs an aide with him the whole time while he is at school.  I did my first shift today.  

And it was fine.  He’s a lovely kid, responsive and keen to try new things, and he has loads of energy and enthusiasm.  It was hard work, but I can see that working with him has the potential to be quite rewarding in the long term.

But yesterday, a teacher in the same school told me that there simply wasn’t enough resources to be able to give my kid the differentiation and attention that he needs in order to be integrated into exactly the same school.  That he would need to be home schooled if I wanted his learning to be tailored to his needs.

So much as I hate the whole “my kid is a precious snowflake” syndrome, it is rather a double standard to claim that the school can be all things to all kids – except the ones at the wrong end of the bell curve.

At the Mind Plus information session we went to last week, I asked about emerging research and best practice in the field of teaching gifted kids.  Internationally, more countries are starting to have classes just for gifted kids, and that these classes give kids the best opportunity to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.  

NZ policy is to cater to everyone, and giving extra support where it is required within the school setting – just not to kids like Squish, who struggle at the other end of the spectrum.

Sydney Siege

Squish Kitten
Here is a picture of my kitten with a Hello Kitty face. To distract from the awful crap I am about to talk about.

A lovely friend just asked me to sign a petition asking for bail laws to be toughened so people like Man Haron Monis won’t be able to put innocent lives at risk in future.

I chose not to sign, because I believe that we must choose between a justice system that is there purely to punish wrongdoers, and a justice system that rehabilitates. If we believe in a rehabilitation model, then we must allow bail. And that will always carry a risk that someone will reoffend. Or, as in this case, take his vendetta against “the system” out on innocents.

Far better, would be a justice system, and a family court system that treats violence against women as a real crime. If his history of sexual assault had been taken seriously in the first place, is it possible that incarceration could have prevented these other crimes that he has been convicted of, and therefore avoided this siege in the first place (ostensibly in protest at he “wrongful conviction” for said crimes).

How is it that he faced more legal trouble over sending offensive letters than for the sexual assault of multiple women while in the role of a mentor and spiritual advisor?

Frankly, the last two days have really rattled me, but I think we are asking ourselves the wrong questions about why this happened. Let’s throw more money at refugee support services, mental health initiatives, and change the way we think about violence towards women.

And now, I am going to spend some time with a gin bottle, and search the internet for cute bunny pictures.

In which I shamelessly brag about my kid

I get it. Every parent thinks the sun shines out of that poorly wiped bum. And every non parent rolls their eyes at the beginning of every anecdote.

Believe me, I know I am boring. And your problems are bigger than mine. I know. And I care.

But I have no self control.

I wish I had three kids to brag about. I wish I could mix it up a bit. But I can’t. I only have the one kid to dote on, and I am going to keep doting on him.

I do try to tag all of my doting posts under “Spawn” so if you want to opt out it’s easy not to read those posts and stick to my political rants and cooking. You’ll probably think I am a much nicer and more interesting person, that is fine with me.

And in person, I’ll try to keep my adoration of the firstborn down to a dull roar. But here, on my blog, there will probably be a lot of Squishyness.

So. Best Start.

Inigo spent an hour with Mrs D. I waited outside the classroom. Usually the parent goes in for a while until the kid feels comfortable, but Inigo and Mrs D go way back, they met in school transition, and it was pretty much love at first sight for him. He wandered off without a backward glance, and I was happy that Mrs D was the teacher with him, I trust her too.

I spent an hour with Wolf Hall, and then he popped out, Mrs D said, “He did really well. Really well”.

He had a little snack while I talked to another mama outside the class, and on the way home I asked him what had happened in the class. As usual he got cross. He finds it hard to tell stories about his day because he can’t remember every detail, and gets frustrated when I ask.

So I let it lie.

Then he piped up with, “Mrs D asked me what would happen if we took the M away from the word MEAT. I said ‘eat”, and she did a little dance”. “She said it was her happy dance and that she had never had a kindy kid get that before”.

And I was happy.

Not because my kid is extraordinary (I am sure there are loads of other clever kids about to start school this year!), but because my kid has a teacher that takes real joy in teaching, in learning, in achievement. This anecdote illustrates that she cares about her job, and that she cares about the outcomes, and that she cares about my child.

Starting school is a big step for me. But I know he will be ok.

Thank you Mrs D, and also to all of the other teachers who care enough to do such a tough job. Public schools rock!

Making it better


Project-L Song can be purchased on iTunes – I did!

It absolutely flabbergasts me that someone like Magda STILL has to think seriously about coming out. She is a massive star, loved by all Australians, and yet she waited till 2012 to publicly talk about her sexual orientation.

Just for a minute, think about having to make that decision, think about having to decide, worrying about how you would be perceived, whether you would every get the same job offers, the same party invitations.

Think about what it means to be so vulnerable to the whims of public opinion. I was born in the 70′s, when David Bowie wore make up, and Elton John and Liberace were “flamboyant”, but no-one was ever openly gay.

Then in the ’90s, AIDS came along, and the hatred and fear was out in the open. In the last decade, the heteros started going to mardi gras, and it was cool to have a gay boyfriend (if you were a girl!).

We’ve come a long way, but obviously, watching Magda tonight, not far enough.

There is no point talking about being “almost equal”, Australia needs full legal equality, so that our kids don’t have to deal with this crap.

It’s great to say “it gets better”, but it’s far better to fight to make it better. Today.

Marriage inequality is the last remaining barrier to legally entrenched discrimination.

I wouldn’t be happy with a civil union.

Would you?

Happy Valentines Day. I love youse all.

Putting myself out there

A few weeks ago, at a local rainbow picnic day, a photographer came up to my friends and I to ask if they could take a picture of us for an anti homophobia campaign. I’d seen the website publicised, and immediately said yes. Zenia came up with our punchy message, and we shared our vegetarian picnic with the poor staring inner city vegetarian hipsters who had come to work without a picnic – they were glad of an alternative to charred mammal flesh.

And here we are.

We’re all people, people! Unfortunately they got Squish’s name wrong, but I hope they will fix it soon.

Then, Australian Marriage Equality contacted me to ask me if I was interested in travelling to Canberra for a full day of meetings with politicians about same sex marriage. Would I? You bet.

Next Tuesday (if Mark gets his leave approved), we’re travelling to Canberra. And on Wednesday, I’ll spend most of the day in meetings with politicians.

And in an entirely unrelated note, people keep asking what we are planning for November. I don’t feel up to doing anything amazing to commemorate my boys on the anniversary of their birth, or the anniversary of Archie’s death. Last year I lost a friend because my grief didn’t follow her guidelines, this year, I am just going to do what feels right at the time.

I am very fortunate to be officiating at a wedding on the 6th, so on Saturday we might go to the cemetery, on Sunday we’ll be focussing on the love that Archimedes and Aubrey brought into our lives. Then going to a rocking wedding :)

_________________________________________

UPDATE – they fixed the spelling of Inigo’s name, so the link changed. Fixed now, thanks Meg!

Suckerpunch

We used up the last of Mark’s Birthday movie tickets last night (thanks Bev & Ted for babysitting), and saw “Suckerpunch” in Gold Class.

I had seen a few posters, involving chicks with guns, but beyond that I was clueless. Perhaps I should have taken a hint from the fact that we were the only ones in the cinema?

As we walked out, I said to Mark, “Well, the last time I saw a movie that incomprehensible, I think it was 12 Monkeys. But I enjoyed 12 Monkeys”.

In its defence, it did have great art direction. And the costumes were awesome, as long as you have no problem with the objectification of women.

As to the violence, much of it was implicit, and when we got home, we discovered that the film has a PG 13 rating. Far out. There is loads of violence against cartoon like characters, but all of the “real” violence is not shown on screen – just implied. Still not something I’d want my 13 year old to see.

Well, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t want my 13 year old to be watching anything so objectifying, unless it was to illustrate a point being made by Andrea Dworkin….

Today, a politician argued with a policeman

and then another politician pointed out that this was poor manners. Which is all very boring, except that I was there.

Our playgroup is held at the Granville Library, and the new police station has just been built next door. And today was the official opening. There were horses…

IMG_1067

And a band…

IMG_1065

And a premier…

IMG_1072

But then the speeches started, so Squish and I went inside to run around like idiots and eat fruit. But it was nice to see a real live double bass!

IMG_1066

FFS…

I believe in freedom of information, and I believe that everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

That is the preface to a brief rant I am about to share about the whole wikileaks palaver.

I blame the new morning presenter on 702, who keeps alluding his opinion that Julian Assange is innocent of whatever he is being accused of in Sweden. Even though he hasn’t been accused of anything. So, yes, it isn’t fair to comment on a case until both sides have been revealed, and even then, it is possible for the truth to still be elusive – but still, you need both sides of a story to form an opinion. And the only people that have been talking publicly (that I have heard) in Australia, have been lawyers for Assange, who vociferously state that the sex was consensual, and therefore extrapolate that there can be no case to answer.

But think for a minute about consent. Just because you agree to have sex with someone with a condom, does that mean you also agree to have sex without a condom?

If you agree to sex at 1am while you are awake, does that imply consent at 5am while you are asleep?

I don’t presume to know the facts of this case, but I do think that the women making the complaint against Assange deserve the same presumption of innocence that he seems to be getting in the Australian media.

And every time you say that a rape charge “can’t be proven”, or it’s just “he said, she said”, you’re telling another victim of rape that it isn’t a good idea to report a rape. You’re telling women that the rights of a man to have sex are more important than the rights of a woman to say no.

Is that the message you want to give your daughter? Your sister? Your self?

It’s been said far more eloquently elsewhere, for example – here.

The Governator has a heart

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has filed a legal motion to allow same-sex marriages to return in California.

And in news closer to home, Im now almost 25 weeks, baby is still going strong, Im still (relatively) sane, and I am expecting visitors this afternoon. I am going to enjoy my last week of freedom!

And yesterday was magical. Dad spent the afternoon at my place with Inigo, and we had a lovely time together. I dont get to see him much at the moment, but I was reminded yesterday just how gorgeous he is. I have some pictures, but they are still on the camera. I might be able to get Mark to transfer them for me on the weekend so I can print some pics to take to hospital with me.

The Business of Being Born

I heard about this doco ages ago, but never got a chance to see it. Rikki Lake, traumatised b her first hospital birth, went on a journey to discover more about birth options, and after the homebirth of her second child, set out to make this film. It explains a lot of the issues with medicalised birth, and looks at alternatives.

I have just found it online, and it is worth 80 minutes of your time if you have an interest in these issues.

Off to bed now

But I just had to stay up to see once more a really powerful bit of TV. I’ve been watching Glee for a few weeks, just because it’s on after Masterchef, and have become a bit engaged with the characters.

Kurt is gay, and his dad is super macho guy. Burt, Kurt’s dad, loves his son, but isn’t comfortable spending time with him in a meaningful way, and this has been difficult for Kurt. In this scene, Burt overhears another character using the word “Fag”, and takes serious issue. It is the most powerful expression of love and respect for his son that Burt is capable of, and very moving.

And even after all that, he still can’t hug his son.

Sleep tight everyone.