The Recap.

How my week went : A Recap.

Me: I’m a shit human being.
Therapist: You have too much compassion. You should use some for yourself. Do something you enjoy.
Me: But I’m a shit human being who doesn’t deserve to do things I enjoy.
Therapist: Our time is up.

Me: Writes list of ten things to do this week. Sets about to complete all ten things in 24 hours. Completes little. Panics on Friday that hasn’t completed ten things.

Me: Edits baby photos while rewatching Prison Break. Begins to emulate Michael Scofield’s complete lack of tone in voice. Says everything in monotone husky whispers. Drives children mad with disinterested voice. Wonders what Wentworth Miller’s friends call him since his name is a mouthful. Takes question to Facebook. Discovers they call him Wenty. Feels satisfied.

Me: Says can help friend test presets using photos. Realised every photo I’ve ever taken is shit. Panics and sends partner on wild goose chase for newspaper, lollipops and balloons. Takes photos. Panics they’re shit. Sends them anyway.

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Me: Buys lingerie for midweek getaway. Ignores lingerie and wears beige cotton underwear.

Me: Takes children to work. Picks children up from work. Repeat 50000 times.

Me: Forgets to put petrol in car. Partner borrows car and is forced to put petrol in x3.

Me: Tackles rogue bikini line left neglected for two months. Despite having birthed six children without pain relief wishes for epidural during bikini wax. Swears a lot.

Me: Meets up with friend from Melbourne for flying visit so I can coo over her pregnant belly. Sees pirate ship. Finds book in second hand book store explaining hangovers. Feels like I’m reading an excerpt from my brother’s escapades. Reminds me of the time my brother installed security cameras for outside fridge as he suspected neighbour was drinking his beer. Turned out he was drinking his beer.

Me: Cries hysterically because Google Drive won’t upload images. Tells daughter I’m too tired for sleep to fix. Requires mini coma.

Me: Friday afternoon. Drinks.

That time my daughter needed an exorcism.

Do we even like being parents anymore? I’m joking, obviously but I go through memes and photos and posts every day taking about a) how hard this gig is and b) how we all need to self medicate to survive parenthood.

And the funny part is, almost all the things complained about are the parts of parenting I secretly don’t mind so much. Like the fact my five year old will come and ask me something and use a word that isn’t correct or say a sentence that doesn’t make sense, and when I say I don’t understand she will repeat the EXACT SAME WORD just slower or louder like she is speaking to someone of incredibly low intelligence.
“What day is tomorrow?”
“Friday.”
“No. What DAY is tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is Friday.”
“No. The day after today. WHAT DAY is it?”
“Dude. It’s Friday. I don’t know what answer you want.”
“The day after today.”
“Tomorrow?”
“Yes. What DAY is that?”
“Tomorrow is Friday.”
“No. WHAT…DAY…IS…IT?”
“….you need to go play.”

It’s infuriating. It makes me want to stab myself to death with a spoon. But it’s absolutely hilarious and that’s what I love about parenting.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been on this whirly-gig for almost two decades now. But all those things that drive you insane today? Funny as shit in 5-10 years time. Trust me. One day your house will be clean, your car won’t have smashed milk arrowroot on the carpet, your kids will hold conversations that actually make sense and you will MISS this insanity.

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Let me tell you a story. It’s one of my favourites. To set the scene my eldest daughter is 7 years old. You wouldn’t know it to look at her now but she had this incredible temper when she was little. In fact, most people unless they experienced one of her infrequent but volatile rages wouldn’t have believed me then. This particular day it is summer and I am getting the kids to school. My Nanna took us because I didn’t drive back then and I was about 25 weeks pregnant with my first son and fourth child. Nanna was waiting in the car with E who was 3 and going to go swimming with her auntie that day. I am walking a 7 year old J and 6 year old B into their catholic school. Everything is fine.

I think I need to stop here and explain that I carry large with boys. Like, I’m big. With girls I have a teeny compact rockmelon under my dress, with boys…let’s just say that I was once stopped at 15 weeks pregnant with R and asked how much longer I had. (I may have growled at them).

Anyway, I’m waddling along and I mention to B that it is water play at her class today. She had swimmers and a towel and her class was going to play with sprinklers and buckets of water and have a grand old time. J says, “Why does she get water play and I don’t?”
I explain that her class is having a water play day, I don’t know, I don’t make the rules. She immediately launched into how unfair this was. B getting water play and E getting to go swimming.
“I can take you swimming at Nanna’s after school,” I say.
Not good enough. J is saying that is also unfair because then her sisters have done two water things and she has only done one. Her friends wave hello. She glares at them. She is beginning to melt down. She starts screaming she doesn’t want to go to school.
“I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!”

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I kiss B goodbye and push her towards her classroom and away from her sisters wrath. People are staring. The bell rings and it’s assembly day so kids begin to move towards the hall. Throngs of children and me clutching my demon child’s hand while she struggles to free herself all the while screaming at the top of her lungs, “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!”

At the doorway to the hall the Principal comes up to us and tries to talk J into coming inside and – I shit you not – she HISSES at him. Then screams in his face those same words. He retreats. I don’t blame him.

At this point basically every head in the school is turned towards my daughter wailing. People whisper to B who is sitting placidly with her class. Privately she looks pleased because she will forever be known as the ‘good sister’ and also because she will have mad street cred for living with such a crazy person and surviving.

I realise I cannot take her in. This temper tantrum will run it’s own course but she absolutely cannot go to school today. So I turn to J and I say, “Okay. We are going home.”

But I do it in that mum way. You know the way. Like, your voice is totally calm but the kid knows shit just got real. And J looks at me and knows this so she starts screaming, “No! I WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!”

She’s hysterical. I half drag her towards the exit. She’s screaming the whole way, “LET ME GO TO SCHOOL! LET ME GO TO SCHOOL!”

But I can’t back down because I made a call and kids smell weakness.

She is digging her heels in and I’m so big and pregnant, you guys. But it becomes clear the only way I’m getting her back to the car is if I carry her. So I heft up this 7 year old on my belly while she is kicking and screaming and yelling, “LET ME GO TO SCHOOL!”

I am headed towards this little path behind the church and there are colourful flower beds. I see the parish priest walking a visitor around them, both marvelling at the roses while I am heading towards them with a kid that looks like she needs an exorcism. Just before we get to the priest and companion, J does this wild whole body buck that because of my centre of gravity being off due to massive belly sends both of us sprawling on the concrete, my shoe breaks, my skirt rides up and I skin a knee. I burst into tears.

Here we are. Both of us crying, me bleeding, one shoe and the priest looking on in horror. J sniffles and looks at me and says, “Please mummy. I don’t want to hurt you…..but I will.”

The priest recoils and retreats to the safety of his rose bushes.

Five minutes later I am hobbling back to the car, broken shoe in hand, both J and I crying and Nanna jumps out and says, “What happened?!”

Where to begin?

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Now, as far as shitty parenting days go, that was right up there. It was so far up there. It’s one of my top 5 Shitty Parenting Moments.

But now we laugh about it. So I guess it’s also one of my top 5 Most Hilarious Parenting Moments.

What I’m trying to say is the real shitty stuff is the stuff you will never laugh about. Sickness, broken hearts, those heart stopping moments when you think ‘there but for the grace of God, go I’. You’ve probably all had one of those. The day to day with kids is hard work, I’m not devaluing that, but it’s fleeting, man. It really is. But it’s so fucking good as well. The hard stuff is part of the tapestry of your parenting journey. It just wouldn’t be the same without it.

So, yes. Drink your wine, eat the chocolate, sneak the good ice cream. But try to think, “Will I laugh about this one day?” “Will I miss this when she is walking out the door on a date at 18?” For me the answer is almost always, yes.

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Miscommunication.

So awhile ago my mum and I were on the phone and I asked if she would mind having the kids overnight that weekend. At the time I had visions of escaping to a nice hotel with my partner for the night, ordering room service and perhaps we would sit on a balcony with drinks and talk about the world before we went to bed and got sexy. What actually happened was we were both so busy and tired he ended up working on an engine while I sat in a fold out chair and we talked about things before I went to bed early because I’m a piker like that. Anyway, mum says, “No worries, Dad had a bit of a cold but he went with Grandad on a run so he mustn’t feel too bad.”

Now at the time this didn’t seem to phase me, I just kind of accepted that my dad was going for a run with Grandad even though my dad – while always seeming to take pretty good care of himself – has never ran on the regular (or irregular) to my knowledge. Still, after I got off the phone and I had a bit of time to process this information I was a bit confused because while my dad running is strange, Grandad running was really next level.

Firstly, Grandad has had a hip replacement and uses a cane. He has used a cane for so many years now I can’t remember him not using a cane. I pretty sure Grandad wouldn’t walk to the shops that are only a street away. In some ways, Grandad is like my spirit animal in that respect because I try not to walk anywhere unless I’m hatching a Pokemon egg and even then, I do it grudgingly. One time before they sold the farm Grandad couldn’t find the car keys so he drove the tractor into town to get the paper. That story delights me and I tell it to everyone. I am so impressed by his problem solving attitude to the paper situation and his complete lack of give-a-fucks as to what people thought when they saw this man riding on top of a tractor down the main drag of town to fetch The Courier Mail.

Anyway, on the weekend I am sitting at my aunties after mum had the kids for me and I say to her tentatively, “Mum, you said that Dad and Grandad were going for a run and….Grandad runs?” My mother bursts out laughing and my brother has tears in his eyes and slaps his knee in hilarity. “Oh, god no!” Mum chokes out between fresh peals of laughter, “It’s a sausage run! They go to Bunnings and get a sausage from the sausage sizzle!”

Sausage run. I told you he was my spirit animal.

ps. I don’t really have a photo to go with this. I had grand plans of perhaps partaking in a sausage run myself but unfortunately my kids were away this weekend so I felt more strongly about wearing sweatpants and refusing to put on a bra. Also I have a complete avoidance issue with stock photos. I just can’t bring myself to use them even though I sell stock images – or maybe that’s why, I don’t know, it’s neurotic. Anyway, the best I could do is a random photo I found of my daughter trying to convince this chicken to get down from the tree. We had such trouble with this bird, to be honest. We clipped her wings and she still managed to flap and struggle her way to the highest a branch. I admired her tenacity. I’m far too lazy for that myself but I think it was a good quality to have. Peace out, folks. Happy Sunday.

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Three Stories.

Sometimes I take out little random memories like jewels from a treasure chest and examine them in the light. Ahh, here is the time I was about 5 and got shy and accidentally hugged the Tupperware lady instead of my Mum. And here is the Christmas Day I got given not one but two kittens. Recently I found three stories that seemed completely unconnected at first and when I went to write them down I realised that my life actually has this theme to it. I’ll put them below. Three Stories.

~1~

One time when I was about 15 I was in my kitchen partaking in one of the great Australian traditions of eating Milo directly out of the tin. I had just put the world’s biggest tablespoon of Milo into my mouth and was busy trying to breath carefully through my nose lest I succumb to Milo Lung which is the greatest tragedy to befall all Australians partaking in the great tradition of Milo eating when suddenly there was a knock at the door. Wait, let me explain. * Milo Lung is where you accidentally inhale the granulated Milo into your lung while eating it from the tin and immediately begin to cough, spraying Milo all over everything within a 2 metre radius and try not to die while asphyxiating on chocolaty goodness. It’s a dangerous sport but a rite of passage. * Anyway, there was a knock at the door. I stop mid chew to see if mum or my brother would answer the door but they’ve all gone somewhere and I can’t not answer the door. I know it’s for me anyway because it’s that time of day when someone would knock at my door. I peek around the corner and it’s my partner who is basically getting a glimpse of his future twenty years down the track when he will catch me in all manner of compromising food situations where I’m stuffing my face just as he walks in. But back then I’m not really ready for him to see me with Milo all stuck between my teeth because we don’t have that sort of relationship yet. So as I dash by him I am holding up one finger in the universal “just a second” gesture and I have to dash to the bathroom and brush my teeth about five times because Milo is the most tenacious bastard you have ever met. It took about 17 years for me to come clean about that moment. Finally, I’m sitting there with him and I say, “I don’t know if you remember this but this one time you came to the door just as I’d started eating Milo and I was horrified and had to rush to the bathroom to brush my teeth and when I came back you asked what I’d been doing and I lied and made something up.” He has one of the most fickle memories – he can recall every song lyric he has ever heard but can’t remember this one time when we were about 14 and went into the city and he pinched a monorail from the Expo 88 exhibit at the art gallery. I’m like, “How can you NOT remember that? It was a MONORAIL!” But he forgets things. Meanwhile through some miracle of mind he manages to recall one arbitrary day nearly twenty years ago when I ran past him with my cheeks puffed like a squirrel full of Milo. “Oh yeah, I get it though. Milo can be such a bastard to get out of your teeth.” Seriously? 17 years I held on to the shame of a covert Milo eating mission and he just accepts it as normal.

~2~

My first break up was a truly horrendous affair and occurred when I was 10. I’m about to revive good old Peter Brown for this story because he was my first boyfriend or what passed for a boyfriend in fourth grade – which basically meant we played together at lunch time. We had a whirlwind love affair that lasted approximately one month. That was because his usual friend who he played with had up and gone to America for a month to visit some NASA camp leaving Peter to his own devices. Peter attached himself to me and my best friend and we had a grand time that month, catching ladybugs…actually I can’t remember what else we did except catch lady bugs but I assume we did something. He sang me Beach Boys songs. I gave him a matchbox car which was actually one of my very best matchbox cars so this was A BIG DEAL. Anyway, fast forward a month and his regular gal comes back from America and he just DITCHES me. I was so mad, you guys. I GAVE him my CAR. Right so I write him this note and I’m like, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore because you are mean.” And I give it to Peter. And he is like, what the hell is this? And I’m like, what’s it look like, asshole? And he is like, I’m taking this to the teacher. And I was like, oh shit. (I’m paraphrasing, neither of us swore). And he goes and stands in line behind a bunch of kids getting their work checked and I’m FREAKING OUT. I’m sure I’m going to be in so much trouble for writing this mean note. I end up cutting in line and telling the teacher I’m sick and need to go home and off I go. Every day for about a week I freak out after lunch that Peter is going to tell the teacher about this note and I have to go home because I can’t deal with the anxiety of this hanging over my head. Finally mum gets the shits with having to pick me up early and takes me to the doctors to see if there is actually anything wrong with me. The doctor says my lymph glands are up a bit and I probably feel poorly and I think it must be a miracle and I’ve made myself sick but feel completely well somehow. Mum now believes me but I know the jig is up and I’m just going to have to face whatever music is coming. The next day I go up to Peter and I’m like, “Look, are you going to tell the teacher or not?” And he looks at me bewildered and goes, “Tell the teacher what?” And I’m exasperated and say, “About the note!” And he goes, “Oh that!” And waves his hand, “I threw it out. I don’t care.” And I walked away completely amazed I’d made such a big deal about nothing. The next day I open my tidy tray and my matchbox car is sitting inside.

~3~

When I was 18 I had two daughters. My youngest was a couple of months old and despite not managing breastfeeding with my first daughter (lots of issues with prematurity and my own inexperience) I was totally smashing breastfeeding this time around. Still, it was all new to me and I didn’t really have a good grasp on how my boobs really worked at that stage and I was still pretty shocked at the amount of force a let down would have. For the uninitiated when you breastfeed at some point during the feed you ‘let down’ which is where the milk starts just flowing of its own accord. I didn’t realise this occurred before I had kids. Like, I’d read about it but reading and seeing are different things. The milk comes out in multiple sprays and just SHOOTS out. Like a water pistol under extreme pressure. I can’t really describe it. Sometimes the milk runs out so fast the babies can’t swallow quick enough and they’ll pop off because they’re only small but that know this is crazy. By this stage though my baby had gotten bigger and learned to cope with the flow but I’d discovered that babies are also really distracted and if something is interesting they’ll just come off and have a look around the room with absolutely no regard for the fact your boob is now exposed to the world. So here I am. Sitting on the couch in my living room and my then partner has invited his work mate around for a visit and this is the first time I’ve met him. The work mate whom I shall call Paul is sitting at right angles to me on a separate couch and he seems nice enough. Paul is impeccably dressed and very gay and hasn’t had a lot of experience with babies or boobs but he politely ignores the baby I’ve just put to my breast which is nice for me because I was still kind of getting the hang of this myself. My then partner and his work mate are chatting away and I continue to nurse and just as I let down and the milk turns into a fire hose they start laughing at something and the baby pops off to check out the situation in case it’s something she might be interested in. My boob is now free and seriously shoots milk across the room on a trajectory that’s going to land it straight towards poor suspecting Paul’s arm. I clamp a baby wrap down on my boob to stop the flow but it’s too late and some has definitely landed – if not on him – near him. I’m mortified. I’ve just met this man and I’m squirting milk at him. I’m not sure what is the socially acceptable thing to do in this situation. Firstly, I’m not sure he has seen, he is giving me no outward signs of having seen. But if he is just being polite and HAS seen and I say nothing he is going to think I just go around shooting milk at everyone. So I should definitely apologise. On the other hand, if he hasn’t seen and I apologise I’m drawing attention to a fact that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. I really only have a second to decide so I go with an apology. “Umm, I’m really sorry about that…the milk, I mean. And how it kind of….shot…at you. I didn’t mean it.”
Paul is perplexed and has no idea what I’m talking about. So now I’m forced to explain about the lactation process and how it’s unpredictable and babies are inquisitive. Paul is now thrilled with this knowledge, “You mean it just SHOOTS out?! That’s amazing! That’s hilarious! I’d be squirting people for fun. Don’t even worry about it.” While Paul didn’t have much experience with babies or boobs he knew exactly the right thing to say.

Three stories. And you know what I learned? Most of the time nothing is as bad as you think it is.

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Just another article.

Another day, another article about empaths and narcissists.

People need to stop overusing the word narcissist.

There, I said it. It seems like every time someone breaks up with someone else that person is a narcissist. It’s unreal. If you just read the amount of articles out there you would have to statistically believe that 50% of people are narcissists and 50% are empaths and they just WILL NOT stop getting into relationships with each other.

Here is the reality.

Your ex probably isn’t a narcissist which is a personality disorder and you probably aren’t qualified to diagnose them with it. Hot tip – sometimes people don’t need to have a personality disorder to be a jerk. Sometimes people can just be jerks. Sometimes you can be a jerk. Sometimes I can be a jerk. We are basically all jerks sometimes.

Narcissism is characterised by a specific set of traits of which I’m not going to tell you because you will immediately see those traits and think you recognise them in your ex. You know when you punch in your symptoms to google and it automatically comes back with the worst case scenario?

“Headache. Sore neck.”

“You have meningitis.”

Actually, you just had one too many wines before retiring to sleep in a funny position.

Telling folks the traits of a narcissist means they automatically become Google and every ex they ever had is walking around with a personality disorder and they are the empath falling victim to them all. Actually, you guys just broke up and you don’t like them anymore and there is probably a reason why they’re your ex but for god’s sake, people! Stop being Google!

Ahh, how I long for the days before people became armchair psychologists and when someone broke up with their partner we just called them an asshole.

Now here is a picture of my cat because I didn’t know what photo to stick with this blog post. He might be a narcissist though, tbh, he really does believe the world revolves around him.

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Fire and Ice.

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It was cold in Queensland this week. Some antarctic shit blew up from down south and made everything nippy – I’m pretty sure that was the technical explanation from the weather people.

When you live in Queensland you’re not allowed to complain that you’re cold because some southern bastard will remind you how much colder they are. I keep trying to tell them that Queensland actually does get cold, and they always say something like, “Oh yeah, maybe in Stanthorpe” because for some reason all southerners seem to think that Stanthorpe is the only place in Queensland that ever drops below 24 degrees.

Out west it gets cold, you snowmen. I’ve suffered through minus 10 degrees a measly 200ks from Brisbane. We get frost, we needed to scrape the ice off our windscreens, the diesel froze at the petrol station, it was a problem.

But the real issues is – Queenslanders aren’t equipped to deal with the cold. Our houses are built for summer. Full tiled floors, air con, ceiling fans in all the bedrooms, no heating to speak of so we are left with tiny little air heaters. Do you know how much space a tiny air heater warms? About 50cm in front of it. And the cat is sitting there. It does jackshit. We don’t own proper winter attire. Women throw a cardi over their maxi dress, men might pair their shorts with a hoodie because none of them can bear to put on pants. Queensland men would wear shorts in the snow. No pants is a rule they have. Jacket? Coat? No one even owns a jacket or coat. I’m not even sure you buy one. Maybe Myer, I don’t know.

Oh yes, when the mercury falls, we are helpless.

But we own the summer. Queenslanders could stroll through Hell itself and barely notice. We were raised running on bitumen that melted beneath our feet and peeling our bodies off vinyl ‘leather look’ chairs. Zooper Doopers are a bona fide food group in the summer. There is so much moisture in the air thanks to the humidity that we can practically breath underwater. Poke fun at us now, southerners…but beware, the North remembers.

The Facts of Life.

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This week a note came home about how my year six son is going to be doing sex ed next week. He called it ‘health’ which was him sanitising it because he is awkward about it. Which I understand because I still vividly recall my sex ed talk in grade seven.

Allow me to set the scene. It’s summer, four year seven classes have been jammed into the front rows of our giant hall, a small bird-like woman stands in front of us. We have separately had discussions on puberty and all the interesting yucks that go along with that and now they have brought us together so the boys and girls can be mortified as one.

In year 8 we would get the more in depth talk that involved slides with horrifying examples of flaccid penises slowly becoming erect but they toned it down a little for 12 year olds.

The woman tried her best as we all squirmed in front of her, keeping her face impassive as she described erections and wet dreams and finally the briefest, most uninteresting description of sex that ever existed. It sounded totally dull and gross. I don’t think any of us were in a hurry to abandon Super Mario Bros and our rollerblades to engage in what she was describing.

Finally she came to an end. I swear every kid was perched on the edge of his or her seat ready to bolt from the stifling hall at the nearest opportunity and begin the process of repressing this memory as quickly as possible.

“Any questions?”

Christ on a cracker, lady, are you kidding? NO ONE is about to ask a question in front of our whole year about something like this.

A lone hand raises.

100 heads swivel to stare at the kid who I am going to call Peter Brown for the purpose of this blog. Peter was not a popular kid. In fact it was widely rumoured he picked his nose and ate it. Peter sang like an angel and was ribbed about it frequently. Peter loved Nancy Drew novels and once hand wrote out every book in the series and gave it to me as a recommendation. Peter gave absolutely zero fucks about everyone’s discomfort. Peter wanted answers, dammit. Everyone was like, “Shut up, Peter, what are you doing?! Put your damn hand back in your lap!” But Peter coolly stared straight ahead at the woman on the stage and waited for her to call on him.

Clearly she didn’t expect questions either. The first time in her entire speech that she looked a little rattled was when she said, “Yes?”

“Can you have sex even if your penis ISN’T hard?”

I got to hand it to Peter. He didn’t look embarrassed or stumble over the word sex. He said it like he said the word sex every day. We were all still calling it, “It”.

“Ahh….I…um….well, usually it’s hard.”

We all got ready to leave again. But Peter wasn’t done. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, cool as a cucumber, “But if you WANTED to do it and it wasn’t hard, could you?”

“It’s hard when you do it.”

“But what if it’s not?”

“Well, it just usually is.”

“But usually isn’t always. If it was soft, could you?”

“I don’t think that would work?”

“Why?”

She is red faced and flustering because I’m guessing exact mechanics of the sex wasn’t really part of the program. We are all half mortified by the exchange and half impressed by the fact Peter just won’t let it go. Our classroom teachers are chuckling awkwardly at the sides.

Finally, red in the face, she half yells, “You just can’t put it in soft! For one, it just won’t go in! You can’t just STUFF it in there! And secondly, it probably wouldn’t feel very good!” And then she stops, looks a little shocked at her outburst and blinks a couple of times.

“Okay,” Peter says, nonchalantly, “Thank you.”

And then before anyone else can ask a question she quickly tells us we can go.

And that’s the story of how Peter Brown became a legend and stopped me from successfully repressing all memories of my first sex ed talk.