The Benefits of Boobs

My wife is a strong supporter of ‘breast is best’. And I have to agree.

Jugs.

Melons.

Jars.

Hooters.

 

Tits, boobs, breasts. I think that about covers it.

It doesn’t matter how you describe them, how you refer to them. Boobs are boobs, in all their varying shapes and sizes. Impossible to ignore, inappropriate to comment about.

Well, I am going to do just that. Comment. I am going to, ahead of The Big Latch On, take note of, and explore, some of the things that are truly wondrous about the relationship between a female mammal and its offspring.

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The first thing that strikes me…convenience.

Ever tried breast feeding a stroppy baby on a bus? A train? No, nor have I and I am never likely too. Just imagine trying to placate said little one without the benefit of body temperature milk on tap. It is going to take a pretty accommodating driver that allows you to plug in your travel kettle. All those bottles and bits and pieces that need sterilizing, the milk that needs heating.

Okay sure, that is a slightly ridiculous scenario, but I have been in many others, accompanied by my dear wife with any number of little ‘uns in tow and rest assured, it can be no mean feat getting a feed in a baby at the best of times, let alone when out and about.

Where was that last holiday you had? Lovely wasn’t it. Now picture it with a hungry baby. How about the last time you went to the movies. You found all the explosions and flame in the latest Hollywood blockbuster quite artistic. Now head back to the cinema with bubs…

I can see you are getting the idea. The convenience factor. Boobs can accompany you to the movies, the stadium, they can just jump in the car, or on the bus, or a tandem pushbike. Boobs can hike and row boat and boobs can go to a bar. Boobs fit whatever clothing you might like to bring for the occasion or as the weather permits.

Boobs are so handy, don’t  you think?

And even then, after all that simplicity boobs bring to everyday life, there is still so much more.

Here is where I mention all the documented health benefits of breast milk. However, that is all I will do, make mention. I am not the expert in the family. I am married to a Midwife/Lactation Consultant, complete with all the knowledge and training and passion. I have heard so much over the years, I could probably quote a good deal back right now. I won’t though, suffice to say breast really is best.

Boobs look good. That is as an established and accepted fact and yes, I could maybe be sold on the idea that they are functional and should therefore be de-sexualised.

How very liberal of me. How very new age or hip or on trend or whatever. Certainly very politically correct.

Liberal of not, I’m a bloke and as such I see boobs, breasts, jugs, nang-nangs as a little more than a means to feed a baby.  A woman’s breasts are also a big part of the ‘shop window’ and while that might sound shallow, I can assure you I am only talking skin deep. Boobs look good to guys, fact. Big, small, somewhere in between, great big, low slung swinging things and yes, engorged, hard, full breasts.

Personally I think a woman looks stunning when pregnant. Watching a body change and adapt to the parasitic creature growing inside is impressive and a beautiful thing to behold. All that taught roundness, the genuine ‘glow’ and yes, boobs…where before there may have been none!

All of which means people look.

Breast feeding mothers can have it rough. What is a perfectly natural process, one that every mammal does and has been doing since Adam gave up a rib, can be viewed with displeasure, even disgust. It can also be viewed with a little too much pleasure. I’m not going to go there, whatever floats your boat and all that.

I never gave it much thought, but I know there can be concerns from both mothers and their partners about getting a boob and accompanying nipple out in public.

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Your own sensibilities aside, as a mother, there are many out there that are not fond of the idea of a boob, no matter how subtly presented, being offered to a hungry, fussy bubs. Sadly, these are the same types that are most likely going to complain when your child does kick up a starving stink on a plane, in the library, the cafe. At the other end of the scale, there are whole communities, mostly in the dark recesses of the online world, that like nothing more than a lactating boob.

Somewhere in the middle is where I sit. A baby can be fed compassionately and without the need to spray warm, sweet milk all over walls and ceiling and those seated nearby. Nature in action, at it’s very best. And if you don’t like it, don’t look.

Some do. Look.

I have caught oldies not looking impressed, as one of my crew sucks on my dearest. I have seen teenage boys more than a touch curious, ogling eagerly in anticipation my wife will inadvertently flash a display of perfectly rounded, pert, milky white breast at them.

And it has happened. More than once folk have seem my wife’s boobs. Not normally in tandem, as a pair, but if they know us well enough, they will have seen both her breasts on multiple occasions. My wife has breast fed our children, all four of them…wherever and whenever. Some have recoiled at the sight…a mate freaked when he saw her distorted nipple through the opaque rubber of a breast pump. I even had guys comment on how much ‘fuller’ she looks.

She does, look fuller. My wife looks great and guess what, so do the kids. Each one of them a healthy and happy, content, little creature that thrived on what was provided to them directly from their mother. Nutrient and nurturing.

Fellas, it ain’t sexual.

PCers, it ain’t immoral.

Suckle, wet-nurse, nurture, nourish and feed. call it what you will, breast feeding is all natural, all good and happening near you, today.

So get out there ladies and give everyone a thrill….especially those little ‘uns of yours.

 

Fire It Up

Here we go again, the big game…bring it on.

I can be a fairly random bloke at the best of times.

Breaking into song, some sort of white guy boogie to accompany my dulcet tones. I’ll spring out of my seat, yelling at the top of voice ‘Let’s bake’ to no one but a surprised toddler and an excited three-nager that has no idea why everything got so suddenly loud.

Spontaneous drives to no where in particular and back again. Games of this and playing with that, out of the blue just because…that’s all, just because.

All the word I have heard says putting structures and routines in place is the way to do things. Begs the questions, what things?

I am not training my children. They are little people, not pets. Okay, booting a puppy (our latest addition to the family) outside when it pees on the carpet and commanding ‘outside’ is remarkably similar to lifting a little one up and plonking her on the toilet. It’s a process, one my dear wife and I provide guidance and advice throughout. There are no whips and chairs and whistles. There is the occasional threat, an even rarer treat.

So we, as the adults in the relationship, like to talk to our children like they are people. Little people admittedly, so it has to be acknowledged that the conversations might be a little random, a little incoherent, a little awkward and odd. All good by me.

It’s easy with Number One. She is not just a little person anymore, but a little adult. The fact that she is not quite twelve can be difficult to remember. I like to think that is because we have done a good job encouraging independent thought, bringing out her own way of thinking, her own voice.

Number two is a bit different. Just that, a bit different. Her own way of thinking is borne of her special way of observing things. There is a lot that goes on before she opens her mouth to comment or query. Not a lot of it is all that relevant at the time but hey, does that matter? Not to her. Not to me.

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The E-Bomb and Wee Man are their own distinctive little characters too, so no goo goos an gaa gaas in this house.

Adding it up, we can see the people in our immediate lives as just that, people. Not ‘our kids’ but autonomous Human Beings. Experiencing and learning and developing all of their own accord, independently of their parents. We talk to them, have conversations with them, listen and in the process, we learn a fair bit from them too. There are boundaries in place, there has to be, for everyone’s sake. They are flexible limitations, custom made for each individual.

What has any of this got to do with tonight’s big game?

Absolutely nothing. Told you I was random.

Except to say the kids know there is going to be growing tension in the house as the day progresses, random shouts and hollering. They know I am expressing myself and they are okay with it, do not bat an eyelid.

Do they get? Sporting support that borders on fanaticism… not really?

Do they care? No. Not for the sport, being a fan or for their Dad’s mad, blind, one-eyed fervent support either….see you all in the final

C’mon the Highlanders!!!

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Look and learn

I’m drunk. (Well I was when I started this…)

Not so drunk that I don’t have motor control, or have lost focus, or my basic functions are making a fool of me. There is but the one monitor in front of me, my fingers are about as co-operative with the keyboard as they ever are.

So, I have had drink but I am not blotto.

Perhaps too drunk to blog.

I drink. Not to excess (read occasionally) and not all the time (read regularly).

The reality is, as I age, as I am handed one health report after another ( I have visited the doctor more times in the last year than I have in my entire life) I can no longer handle drinking to excess, in the one sitting.

Notice how I quantified that?

I no longer have the ability, or time, to recover from drinking to excess, which is now a multi day process. Sink a few on the Friday night in front of the footy…Monday at best. Down one or two extra on Saturday as my team (Highlanders by the way, in case you didn’t know)…Tuesday, afternoon. At best.

It is an aging thing. My tired old body, all aching joints and tortured internal organs, just can’t process my lust for my younger days anymore. Back then, in the so called good old days, I could smoke, smoke, drink, smoke some more, drink some more and get up a mere few hours later and do it all again.

In between I could hike, swim in the surf, play sports, work and do whatever took my fancy and not really care that I might be able to do it all that bit better, if I wasn’t supplementing my diet with alcohol.

Now, I don’t get on the piss and I don’t really know anyone that does. I drink and we all do and we don’t call it that anymore.

We imbibe.

Well, fuck that, I don’t. I ‘have a few’.

I can always ‘go one more’…

One for the road? I ain’t eating those ghost chips.

Drinking has made me learn some very valuable lessons in my life. Ones I might not have learned otherwise. Many, however, I would have never needed to learn. And there are bound to be a few I have forgotten.

Like I say, the binge drinking, the getting ‘on the piss’… all gone. Long gone and not missed. Now don’t go getting me wrong. I can still party, can still be the life of said party and I would like to think, I can do it without having to ‘imbibe’.

I have always struggled stopping at one but, I have come to notice, only when I am out. I can have a beer or a wine with lunch, feel very continental about myself, and never has my wife come home from work to find me comatose on the floor, the kids having made one wall of a fort from of my prostrate body.

But if  I meet said wife in town…well okay, not here town, but somewhere metropolitan town, then it is all on.

Ok, got me again. I just finished saying that it is far from being ‘all on’ ever again. Put it this way…you can drive, I won’t be able to. All going well, I ‘ll struggle to negotiate a straight line on foot.

I guess, in my own rambling, awkward to follow ‘what the fuck did he just say?’ manner, I am slowly working towards a point.

Responsibility.

It comes in all forms, all shapes and sizes and manners. Being responsible for your own actions, your own interactions, responsible for how you are perceived. The last one is difficult, a grey area when you consider a great deal of how one is perceived, comes down to the perceiver-not a word, but it should be.

At home, how you look, act and behave is very much something you are responsible for, something you have to be highly aware of… I will debate till cows come home the merits of people in our society being role models. People like sports stars, pop culture idols or musicians and the like.

As a parent you are the ultimate role model and as such, you have an inherent responsibility, to at least be seen to be doing the right thing.

To be right, correct, getting it all spot on all the time, is an impossible ask and beyond anyone. No one should, or indeed is, expected to live up to standards that are beyond us. All you have to do is stay aware and remember that everything you do, every step you take, every move you make (thanks The Police) they are watching you?

They, you might ask? You might not, but i am working on the assumption you did. The more perceptive among you know I am referring to the the great ‘They’…the kids.

They imitate. They replicate. They idolise. Kids, obviously, literally look up to you (unless you are my dear wife, who is starting to get taken over in that department) and it is vitally important you set the right example, the right standard.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is no sanctimonious, ‘my life is perfect’ rant. If you need examples of how I roll then sure…

I swear around my kids. I have even sworn at the them. The mild stuff of course, the type of thing that probably isn’t even considered swearing any more.

I knock my kids. In a very un-P.C way I give them all sorts of grief. Don’t worry, they give it back. I’m an easy target.

I mock them too. I put them down, I drag them through the mud and wring them out at the other end and you know the best part of it? They love it.

The thing is their mother and I have made it clear that it is all in jest. That there are boundaries and never be afraid to let someone know when someone is approaching them. The biggest lesson we have taught our kids, without actively doing so, is the importance of a sense of humour.

Kids don’t take themselves too seriously…for now at least. In their teens, way too seriously, but those days are yet to come. In the meantime all we can hope for is that our kids stand back and have a laugh now and then.

Yes, there are limits and yes, you need to be aware not just of yours, but of others. That is where the responsibility part comes into play.

So my kids see me drink, even drunk, but not a blithering idiot. They know the effects of alcohol and they know the detrimental side.

So my kids hear swear words. They recognise them as such and they know the time and place for them, know that it is lazy English. Know not to use them. They know that poking a bit of cheek at someone for a laugh is just that, having a laugh. They know that picking on someone is bullying. They know to be responsible for their own behaviour.

My kids know I drink responsibly, if there really is such a thing. Hopefully they will know to do the same.

And we know we are responsible for their responsibility. If that makes sense.

 

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Pride

A major, life affirming moment has occurred. 

School holidays have arrived and contradictory to popular opinion, it is not the headache inducing time of year many people make it out to be.

Admittedly, the winter break is that bit more awkward. If the weather doesn’t come to the party, you can be screwed. A bunch of misfit, stir-crazy nutters, running around in the house, as frustrated as they are frustrating.

Solution? Shunt them off to their Grandmother.

 

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That is what we did and, for the last nine days, numbers one and two have been down south.

Yep, that’s right, middle of winter and we pack our northern kids off to cold southern climes. We leap to the top of the parenting tree right there.

To make matters worse, it isn’t the first time we have done it.

A big shout out to Air New Zealand and their wonderful service for unaccompanied minors. This is the second time we have wrapped the girls up and bundled them off on their own. A big adventure they get very excited about.

Rightly so. They are travelling virtually the length of the country. It is all day journey, by the time we take the four hour drive to Auckland airport from home. The length of the latest excursion was exasperated by the thunder and lightening storms delaying all and ever flight.

The warning signs were all there. Dark, rolling clouds, smothered the city-scape in a sense of foreboding, then that first look at the departures board, highlighted by delays and cancellations.

 

 

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Dunedin was still up for grabs, so we dutifully checked in. And waited. And waited.

Just a note to the few grumpy bastards, who seemed to be desperate to jump on a plane and go flying throw streaks of lightening, obviously desperate to be a part of the rolling clap of thunder. Leave the lady on the desk alone. As much control as she has over the status your journey, she has none over the weather. I was sitting there with two children growing ever more restless, impatient and nervous. Yet not a peep. There were other families too, in the same predicament, three or so hours into what turned out to be a four hour wait for boarding. One group in particular, young kids, not a problem; cool, calm and collected. Get a grip people.

That’s right, we are in Auckland Airport and have been for hours longer than we expected. The threat of boredom and restlessness abounds. No worries, nothing a bit of junk food can’t cure.

Allowing our big girls the opportunity to develop and progress by feeling brave and responsible, is awesome. They are monitored and watched and accompanied and thoroughly looked after on a journey such as the one they have just undertaken, but at the end of the day, they are doing it all on their own…and loving it.

I guess it felt a little like we are loosening the reigns, but that is sanctimonious drivel. We are not that progressive as parents, not that open and honest and positive in and of the world. Certainly not when it comes to throwing your kids out among it. We are all for a bit of a sink or swim attitude, the throw them in at the deep end approach. Only when the appropriate safety nets are in place.

So right there is the first dose, the first flush, of pride. I bundle my first and second born beloveds onto the delayed flight, with who knows what form of convoluted travel plan ahead of them, with nothing more than a brief hug and a peck on each cheek. Not single a tear shed. Not even from me!

The next shot in the arm for my charming dearest and myself, the next ego boost, the next confirmation that despite all the pitfalls, all the mistakes and the lessons we have failed to learn, despite the lack of patience and our inability to fully empathise with the coming generations, even the ones we have created, it seems as if we may have gotten a few things right. At least according to other people.

I’m not naive. I know it is the way with most kids. Out of sight of Mum and Dad and they are sweet, loving, kind, caring and courteous little angels. Not exactly polar opposite from the fallen, crooked halo celestial beings we know and love.

When the confirmation comes from a source that, while you don’t crave their approval, it is bloody nice when you get it, you can only feel a swell of ‘Damn skippy, you know it!’

Fast forwarding (picture the video tape era, with its flickery, scrolling screen, not the digital swish of the modern ear) and we find ourselves over a week down the track and the kids are nearly all set for the return journey home.

Speaking of the digital age, having the crew being able to update us back of their holiday, virtually every step of the way, was awesome. Girls One and Two were kept well entertained by their Nana and love hanging with their cousins. By all accounts, temperature aside, a good time had by everyone.

I get a message from the the girls Nana, not unexpected and full of all the stuff you would want to hear; had a great time, was a pleasure, will miss them. It was one particular line buried in the message that caught me thought. One thought, one sentiment. One compliment. My mother told me that my girls were a delight…expected, we knew that already.

My Mother, Grandmother to my children, told me that my kids were a credit to us.

To us. Their Mother and Father.

Not a big moment. A massive one. A little trigger in the chamber of life, letting us know we have loaded our kids well and, when the time is right, when our aim is true, we can fire them down the barrel, out into the world.

Job well down.

 

Sacrifice

How much have you given? Given up, given away?

Now before we start, maybe I should state the above is not at all how I see things.

Everyone makes sacrifices for what it is they want to achieve and gain from whatever path they are on in life. Parenting is no different.

But to say you gave up, gave in, gave away…?

That sort of language is perhaps too strong and is, in my exceedingly humble opinion, way off the mark. Like the glass and the argument over its capacity, I like to think more along the lines of what have I gained.

Now, having said that, embarking on creating a big brood of little ‘uns does mean there are limits placed on just where you might have pictured your future self, twenty or so years ago. I never thought I would be washing so many dishes, doing so many loads of laundry. But then, I also never figured I would have rekindled the joy of Lego blocks or re-found the fun of cartoons.

Ok, so I don’t have a 4WD ute (pick-up for the Americans among you). Not even a double cab one. I don’t have a boat. Stretching to a couple of Kayaks was a financial milestone.

We don’t dine out, we don’t even add a lot of spice.  We don’t go to the movies we want to go to, we don’t go on a lot of holidays, we don’t do a lot of things that those without kids do.

We do get spontaneous, gorgeous smiles. Just because we open the hands from our faces and say boo, we get chirpy giggles. We do get ‘I love you guys’, unbidden, from a snuggly 3-year-old. Ever see a child open a present? Well there you go.

I was lucky that I made the call to get some travel in earlier in my life. I got to see and do some wonderful, life affirming things. For I start, I went all the way to London to meet a girl from Whangarei. I married her, but not before checking into places like South America and Southern Africa.

Do I wish I was still travelling? Hell yes. And we still will. It will be different though, a new challenge and maybe we will be able to see things a little fresher, from a less jaded point of view; through the eyes of our children.

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Perhaps we won’t pitch a tent on the banks of the Okavango River, in between grazing Hippos, watching the sun set over war torn Angola. We’ll book a room somewhere instead.

Maybe we will book a bus ticket or six rather than huddle together on the roof of rickety stock truck, weaving its way through the misty slopes of the lower Andes.

Of course, if we didn’t have kids, we could probably afford to fly. But where is the fun in that?

A good mate once said to me that kids ruin your life. He was, is, so wrong.

Life changes, of that there is no doubt. You, as people, are forced to change and adapt when you become parents. To an extent, having children changes a little of the very essence of who you are. Certainly, who you perceive yourself to be.

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Yes, the likelihood of me running off to the pub on a regular basis to drink excessively and watch sport has vastly diminished. Even while, with four kids in the house, the temptation to drink to excess has risen dramatically. The chances of my wife getting to share the bed with just her husband increases with every passing day, but the outlook for sleep-ins is grim.

Sometimes, all we want to do is throw a little extra chili into the mix, but we have four other mouths to feed that are relying on us doing just that.

Our lives as parents are not ruined. Just different, a life enhanced.

I gave up a motorbike so we could have a second family car. I gave up a drum-kit so we had room for an extra bed. I gave up hitting the tops for a family tent and a camping ground.

I saw the wonder on a child’s face, my child, when I let go of the seat and they rode a bike for the first time on their own. I see the furrowed brow of concentration and the untapped joy of discovered talent as a child bangs away on a keyboard, or plucks away at a guitar.

My kids love camping. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, doing anything else.

Frantic Fan

I was nervous leading up to the weekend. Now I am petrified.

A 20 year old rookie that can’t tackle in the younger Barrett, for a proven test performer and the only player that has looked to challenge out wide, Naholo.

A player dropped after two seasons of nothing, Savea, to provide what…more of the same?
Ioane went missing last weekend and now will not be given a chance to atone. Instead, replaced by a player, in Savea, that has been missing for quite some time.

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J. Barrett has potential, I think anyone and everyone can see that…but he is no better as the last line defense than Dagg, possibly worse.

Maybe he will be asked, on debut, to kick the goals. He has the skills in that department, but what a big ask that would be. I saw Jordy Barrett as a potential future AB, was surprised he made the squad. He wouldn’t have made my selection criteria though have a young man like that around during a time like this is no bad thing. Playing him though..?

He under-performed in the big clashes this season, namely against the Chiefs and BIL. I wish him luck. this is a make or break opportunity as they say and you have to give the coach and selection panel credit for backing not only the player, but themselves.
I wish Laumape luck too. At least he fits the game plan and will be part of a full compliment of teammates…he has a lot to prove and this weekend is more his chance than last. Defensive frailties aside, he is one of only two backs that have shown any thrust or ability to get overt the game line in a black jumper this series.

The other one was dropped.

There has been much talk about Cruden having no effect of the bench and yes, his option to kick late in the game was poor. But he does offer a different dynamic to B. Barrett and one that maybe the incumbent could take a look at.

Cruden takes on the line more, runs at the defense, something Barrett has not done this series. He needs to. It is as if he is looking for the cross-kick option first and foremost, trying desperately to negate the in your face defense of the Lions. Outside him he has had firstly SBW and now Laumape, two players who are going to draw defenders. Surely that leaves the occasional opportunity for Barrett to expose even the slightest of gaps he is normally so explosive at exploiting.

Up front we can match them but good to see Kaino back. His go forward and brutal physicality was missing last weekend, through no fault of his own.

Selections suggest the game plan hasn’t changed and now, even if we wanted t our our attack, I don’t think we have the personnel to achieve it…
In Hansen we trust.
Now Eden Park…hate them. Just bloody hate them.
C’MON the ALL BLACKS!!!!!!!!!
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Harden up

How far do you push for a healthy lifestyle for your kids, vs staying warm and keeping your feet dry? 

On Saturday afternoon a watery sun sort of poked through a grey winters day. Sort of.

It was all the window we needed. It was time to get the girls and their little brother out the door, regardless of the weather.

The signs were all there; the arguing, the requests to watch T.V turning into demands, a desire to eat for the sake of eating, the bitching and whining and moaning.

The kids were going a bit stir crazy too.

I geared up one of the girls fishing rods and we tucked the little ones into gumboots and jackets and the rest. This time of year, the threat of rain is ever present. The dogs tagged along, young and old, and we took on the mud successfully, making our way down to the waters edge.

The trip was really about introducing the new addition to the family, a puppy we have named Tui, a Black Labrador x Weimaraner, to the water. And no, owning a pet is not an attempt to make the kids learn responsibility or any of that. They do share a few small chores around pet ownership and care, but we don’t over do it. The pets are for fun, love and companionship, not to be resented.

It wasn’t a warm day. Not cold, because it never gets really cold where we are, but a long way from warm all the same. Plus, there was mud to contend with, four kids and two dogs to supervise at the harbour’s edge and two dogs, romping about in their bid for freedom and fishing hooks and a knife and sharp, broken shells and slippery rocks and fallen trees and fading light and Oh My God why did we leave the house?!

But we had left the house and if one, or even all, of our lovelies had slipped and ended up with a muddy butt…bummer, more for the washing machine. If one, or all, had gotten themselves entangled in the Pampas, covering themselves in stinging little cuts…out with the band-aids. If one of them had taken a tumble on those slippery rocks, crash landed, splitting their forehead open before rolling semi-conscious into the cold, salty waters of the Hokianga, to float face down in a silty pool of their own blood, then we scoop the poor unfortunate, scarred, waterlogged creature up, cuddle and cradle her/him, and gingerly negotiate our way back to the comparative safety of house and home.

I say comparative because there is no guarantee that your dear little ones are any safer inside the four walls of your house than out. A variety of kitchen implements and utensils, a bath tub full of water, or the toilet bowl, chemicals and power points and ornaments and toppling furniture and stairwells and glass doors and all manner of shiny things that don’t belong in mouths.

You can child proof your house all you like but if they want to hurt themselves, they will. The little ones do stuff that is very much related around what can go in their mouths, the older ones jump onto and off stuff simply not designed for the purpose.

I am a sports fan and the term that pops up in the world of professional athleticism is ‘wrapping in cotton wool’. Protecting. For the coach, that might be fair enough. Save your key players from harm so they are fit and rearing to go come the big game. For our children, everyday is the big game.

There is a bump, a bruise, a scrape or graze around every corner. There is always a scar waiting to happen. A child will fall off a bike and yes, that is partly your fault because, eventually, you have to let go. There will always be one bright spark that decides to go up the slide and down the steps, rapidly and at the risk of a broken limb. There is always the limb on a tree, a branch, that just isn’t going to take their weight.

And most of that isn’t your fault.safety2

Finding fault, isn’t really the point though is it. The point is you can put as many measures in place as you can possibly think of and find, and then a helicopter crashes through the roof.

A big part of learning, of developing, is bleeding. A black eye, at some stage in your young life, preferably not caused by another’s knuckles, is almost a rite of passage for a boy. A hockey stick might hit you in the mouth and split your lip. Does that mean you shouldn’t be letting your kids play the sport? I’ve seen guitar strings cut open the players fingers…ban your little beloved from learning music?

More often than not, your kid is going to bounce. Sometimes it might hurt and occasionally it might be serious and each time a lesson learned, for them and you. This is the way we find our limits, establish our boundaries.

All you have to do in the interim is hold pick them up, wipe away the tears and hold their hand. Sometimes, just every now and then, you might want to give them a push too..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caveman

Tonight is our chance, fellow men, to be just that, manly men.

It has been a bit of a bugbear of mine for a while now. The emancipation of man. Not humankind, men.

I guess first you have to ask yourself, as a man, do you feel oppressed, downtrodden, neglected, swept aside, ignored? Harsh language, even excessive maybe, but to my mind, a necessary question.

Manhood, for want of a better term, has been trapped in a kind of malaise, a trick of the space-time continuum. I feel it, not as a loss, but something missing nonetheless. A lack of definition, that quintessential ‘thing’ that it means to be a man, in this modern time of change.

For a large part this is a very personal question on a very personal level. I was raised in a single parent household, an absentee father very conspicuous by that very thing, his absence. Not a hurtful thing then, nor now. Just the way I grew up. My Mother was legendary in her efforts, as most single Mothers must surely be. But she was just that and no more…a hard working, dedicated and above all, loving Mother.

My Mum is a woman, funnily enough. A strong and capable one. However, as Eric Clapton said in his epic track Motherless Children, sister will do the best she can, but there are so many things a sister can’t understand.  

So what is it to be a bloke then? Define manliness, being a male.

It is easy enough to throw all the cliches out there, the stereotypes. There is nothing wrong with that kind of response, don’t get me wrong. After all, a stereotype can only come about because of what is deemed a norm in society. Being stereotypical is not inherently a bad thing therefore, it is just the common thing.

Personally I can’t help but feel that a great deal of the definitions already out there, telling us what it is to be a man, are made up by women. We, as in us, as in guys/blokes/dudes/fellas/bros have been convinced that what a woman would like to see or have in her man, is what defines him as being male.

And too many neo-liberal, politically correct, wishy-washy, feel gooders have meekly caved to that premise.

Before you all start (I use the term ‘all’ euphemistically-six followers does not an ‘all’ make), I am not referring to feminists or feminism. If I was referring to one or either of those things, I would have said one or either of those things. I sincerely believe that the ideal of feminism is not to denigrate, isolate or deflate men and manhood. Feminism, as has been established, is about equality and that is not what I am trying to drive at here.

Perhaps I am talking more about identity. Manhood is so diluted I feel it is difficult to actually pick where the issue begins and ends. So let’s take a look at the things, in this country at least, that might readily be and have been, associated with maleness.

Rugby – too broad and wide ranging an impact on this countries collective psyche, be it for or against, for me to want to delve into here. Besides, I made a vow never to touch religion in my blogging. Leave rugby alone then, set aside with the note of Colin Meads being the iconic image our national manhood benchmark could be set at.

*The above is done in the manner you might test for the most intelligent animal on the planet, excluding primates for having a perceived unfair advantage.

Colin Meads gives us terms like big, strong, tough, resilient, powerful. There are many other figures like that, presented to us in popular culture. Hollywood loves the strong, silent type. Think Russell Crowe in Gladiator, all long, slow and I am sure, deeply meaningful silences. The picture of a man being heroic, stoic and resilient. Of being right, morally superior.

But Hollywood also loves an anti-hero. The morally confused but ultimately good guy, the Han Solo. No better example than Chris Pratt’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy. The ‘cheeky chappy’ that the Brits fall so in love with. Robbie Williams.

Or are we meant to be Chris Hemsworth? All bulging muscles and gym honed body, not a hair out of place, smooth skim, maybe some designer stubble just to man things up a bit, a perfect fitting suit with matching accessories. But take a look at the images that come out from that guy. I have no idea how much he is told to do it, coached to, how much he is ‘touched up’ in an editing booth/suite or there is a little bit of his own thing going on, but those beautiful blue eyes are hard, piercing, just a little bit sinister, like there is the hint of an edge underneath all the metro-sexuality. A hint of manhood? Of manliness?

All that is more of what we, as men, are told to be. What we are fed by the image-makers, shaping far more of our society than they have the right to. We lap it up, don’t we? It sells watches and cars and beer. So enough of Hollywood and the marketing people, who will just take us to the other extreme with their next breath, giving us guys swinging chainsaws wearing short shorts and steal-capped work boots, wiping the sweat from their grime covered brows as they set about tackling ‘manly’ tasks.

Hair product means nothing to me and many like me. I have no hair. I have one suit in my closet but rarely do I have the opportunity to wear it.

Looks aside, imagery aside, what of intellect? What about emotive qualities and content? What about sheer personality? We are fed the idea that the academic is awkward, a clumsy and shuffling fool, bumbling about from one mishap to the next. Just remove his glasses and you have a hunk. Or has he got elbow pads sown into his sports coat, a peppered beard and silver hair, chin in hand as he leans in to listen, only breaking away so he can top up your Central Otago Pinot.

Either way, great strides apart from a sheep under each arm, straddling a fence in the middle of a paddock in rural New Zealand. But any less masculine for it? David Beckham, does he manage the cross over? Model, sport-star, bit of a poxy ponce, attentive Dad…

So much of what it means to be a man, the identity of manhood, has changed, dramatically, from generation to generation. How we are portrayed, how we are perceived, how we act and think. Some is voluntary and for the better. Some is placed up us and even then, quite possibly an improvement.

I have only asked half the question, let alone found any answers. I was kind of hoping you ‘guys’ could do that for me. With me.

Actually, I have raised more questions than I ever intended so I will, for now, leave it here where it lies and come back to it, perhaps as a bit of a recurring theme…

SO tell me, are you less of a man because you can’t service the car? Change the tyre even? Should we all be taught to shoot and stab, reclaim our role in the hunter/gatherer partnership? Does fumbling with the knot on the fishing line make you feeble, effeminate? Do real men eat quiche? Cry?…

Most importantly maybe, does raising my kids, being the home hubby, the go to carer, make me more or less of a man? I know my answer to that one.

To be continued…

Close+enough+redneck+6+pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You what?

Friday feedback, how you like the sound of that?

This week has flown by, for a multitude of reasons.

Not the least of which, these past few days signal my full immersion, belatedly, into the digital world of communication. I blog, I tweet…that’ll about do it.

Some of you out there have engaged and I have bounced back at a few. So far, so good.

At least that is my impression. What of your  thoughts, the faithful, limited, readership. By that I am no way implying that you are limited, in any way. It is me and my limitations that are in question…

So hit me. And not with your rhythm stick.

Give me your feedback…yell at me, abuse me, praise me, give me a shout out and some big ups…

Come on….I’m waiting…if it rolls, let’s make it a regular feature.

Friday feedback=your turn…

Was that you?

My daughters morning breath smells like a dead seal pup rotting in a hot summer sun.

Have you ever been to Cape Cross on the Skeleton coast of Namibia?  

It is a pretty unremarkable place, nothing more than a small headland on a sparse piece of coastline. You park up, step into the harsh, white light and cool breeze off the Southern Atlantic.

You have been struck already. That same ocean breeze, so fresh, so alive and vital, brings with it the decaying tang of death. It is only going get worse.

A short stroll later and you are there, on the coast. There, a swarming mass of blubbery bodies writhing over black rocks. Barely able to breathe, you want to puke. Seagulls, other marine birds of prey, circle and dive. The dead and the dying, once youthful, now crushed, innard-spewing grotesque representations of themselves, are everywhere.

I face this every morning.

images

Okay, not the visuals. I think we can all agree that might be a little too much. But  the scent, the stench of rotten flesh, that I do have to deal with. And not from just the one of them.

 

 

Hazel used to be the champion of stink, but as she has aged she has specialised. There was a cross-over period where she was going from both ends, never quite mastering either, all the while developing a quality and quantity of butt flatulence that can be nothing but admirable. Her morning fish breath has, thankfully, pretty much gone.

Kenny tries, can express oral flatulence to match the best of them, a number I count myself among. She doesn’t offend anything more than the ears though, for those that have sensibilities stretching that far. Her gasses just don’t seem to be as scented nor are they as expressive. As a bonus, my eldest is not one I have ever recoiled from kissing in the morning.

The E-Bomb? I don’t even want to lean in too close! Putrefying, revolting, gag-worthy. She smells like she was sick in her mouth, spat it into a bowl, placed the bowl in the sun for a few hours, re-heated it, mixed in some blue cheese, Parmesan, rotten fish heads and a dead rat or two for good measure, heated it again, to luke-warm, swallowed it then regurgitated, swilled it around like mouthwash before smiling sweetly.

One and Two have been in command of the tooth brushing thing for a long while now, even managing it without having to be reminded or encouraged. Esme can, to an extent, accomplish the task too, but generally needs guidance and assistance. Sure, she is three, so all to be expected. We, as a family, as a unit, need to ensure that brushing her teeth becomes routine, a habit. Not just for her own long term dental well-being. For our sake too.

I want to kiss my kids, to hold them close, to have them kiss me, to have my ear whispered into. I don’t want to feel sick to my gut when it happens.

For many things we are all for individuals finding their own path, developing at their own rate, without being forced or overly coerced. We would rather guide as opposed to order, advise rather than tell. But Esme is commanded to brush her teeth and if I thought she could do it safely, she would be gargling too…Listerine (considers merits of product placement) or whatever other product will kill the bacteria causing the nasty breath. Is it bacteria? Whatever, it must die.

 

 

Perhaps I should get the E-Bomb gargling a fine, aged, Single Malt Scotch. I can lean into one of those quite happily thank you very much.

 

 

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Just as a note, years ago we sat as a family in front of the 6 o’clock news, back in the day when TV1 was the only option. Images of Hillsborough filled the screen, a harrowing, haunting thing for a kid to see, anyone. News that the disaster has eventually led to the police seeking to prosecute a number of the people involved came out today. That won’t erase the memory of what I saw all those years ago, but I hope it does something for the families and people who shared and suffered in that tragic event.