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With all due respect?: Packing a baby

Every Issue

Cite as: (2008) 82(10) LIJ, p. 82

Over the years I have used this column to dispense the sort of advice you just can’t get anywhere else, except possibly inside very cheap fortune cookies.

There might be a good reason you cannot find this advice anywhere else (indeed, there are many – the advice is wrong, badly misguided and may well get you into trouble), but at least the advice is useful to young solicitors, in that it assists them in being made fun of by old solicitors, meaning me.

However, the column can – and does – have another function. I can use it to provide practical advice on all facets of life and hopefully use it to my advantage.

In fact, on my understanding of the taxation legislation – which is based on a very solid 55 per cent for tax back in 1988 – as long as I mention stuff about babies and the upbringing of kids, I can deduct the cost of my daughter’s formula, nappies and eventually her school fees.

Sure, it may be that there are a few problems with this approach – the fact that I don’t get paid for this, and that it would seem the tax rules may have changed since 1988, could create some difficulties – but I think I should be able to get around them. I base this on the fact that I am reasonably certain that no one ever reads my tax return, and I base that on the fact that I am not writing this from prison.

In any event, one of the things that I have noticed about having a child is that there is no longer any such thing as doing anything on the spur of the moment. This is because a simple trip to the shops requires packing the car with more stuff than most of us took when we moved out of home for the first time, which often leads new parents to stay at home and live off things that can be delivered such as pizza, Indian food and junk mail.

Come to think of it, that is the same diet most of us adopted when we moved out for the first time (for all the Generation Y kids out there, “moving out” is something we did back in the olden days; also, sorry for all the correct spelling and grammar, but don’t worry – U L get YUZ 2 it).

Of course, once you actually get to the shops, your child will recognise that it is in a place where it has never actually had its nappy changed before, and so immediately take action to remedy that situation. For fathers, this is particularly worrying because this means a trip to the mothers’ room.

Yes, I am well aware that in this enlightened day and age we actually refer to this place as the “parents’ room”, but that is only true in the sense that it is true that insurance companies exist to give you money when bad things happen. As we in the law know, insurance companies actually exist to think of as many ways as they can to avoid paying money to anyone, and when they run out of ideas they ask us.

Walking into a parents’ room when you are a person of the male gender is similar in atmosphere to those scenes in western movies when John Wayne pushes open the swinging doors of a saloon and the place goes quiet, all eyes immediately turning on the newcomer, except, at least, the Duke got to carry a gun.

It isn’t all bad, of course – for a start, it means guys don’t spend a lot of time changing nappies at shopping centres. It isn’t all good news, however, as this means that I need to wander cluelessly around the baby goods section of the store, which makes me look somewhat like a deviant, which is not a great feeling.

Anyway, for that reason I tend to move away from the baby section and wander through the shops, which is a great way to convince yourself that one kid is enough by virtue of the fact that you see so many examples of what kids will be like when they grow up – a truly scary prospect.

For a start, it would appear to be a federal law that all kids over the age of five must be provided with a mobile phone, which they must use to text 24-7 and up from which they must never look, even if they are crossing a four-lane highway in the middle of the night; usually they are also listening to ipods. No, I don’t really know what they are either, but apparently you can use them to listen to music, although kids only use them to listen to what seems to be live recordings of the damned being tortured in Hell with a drum machine backing. At least, that is what it sounds like to me, and I can always hear it very clearly because kids play it at a volume so loud I doubt the CIA would use it to negotiate plea bargains with terror suspects.

Well, I figure that should be enough to get some decent tax deductions, so tune in again next month, when I figure I will mention something about travel so that I can get a rebate for unused frequent flyer points.

SHANE BUDDEN is a legal officer with the Queensland Building Services Authority. This column first appeared in the Queensland journal Proctor.

Dear Miss Demeanour

At the last Commercial Bar drinks, I hooked a winner – gorgeous, single, likes his career, not a psycho. We’ve been on the dating track for a few months now, and everything’s going swimmingly. There’s just one problem. Following a recent thirtysomething birthday, my biological clock has emerged screaming from the rock it was hiding under in my 20s. How do I get this relationship from introduction to reproduction as quickly as possible?

Regards, Tick-Tock

Dear Tick-Tock

Apply to enter your relationship into the Fast Track List as soon as possible, “young” lady. This program, run by the Federal “Centre of Innovation” Court, allows for certain hook-ups to be resolved quickly and does away with many of the formalities traditionally associated with emerging relationships, such as pretending to be interested in early childhood anecdotes, and rigorous waxing. The consent of your baby daddy will speed up the process, and the first directions hearing is known as a Scheduling Conference, so bring your calendar – both Gregorian and ovarian.

Oh, and make sure you’re in the correct jurisdiction – the Fast Track List only operates in Victoria, so if your paramour is in Queensland you’re stuffed – although you probably wouldn’t want to produce a sprog with northern genes in any event.

Miss Demeanour’s guide to life, love, law – and disorder


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