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.



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.




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.



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.



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.


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.


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!!!!!!!!!

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..









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…









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.


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.





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.









Shits and giggles

Except it isn’t, all shits and giggles, though there is plenty of both to go around.

They come as a combo normally. Mr Wriggle-Pants needs encouragement to stay still while his nappy is being changed. The best thing, get him laughing.

I’ll utilise one of the bigger two if they are around. Silly faces, peek-a-boo, maybe some tickling is the order of the day.

So that takes care of the shit, and the giggles. But what about all the in between? Every now and then, I admit, I cheat. There are a few babysitters I have been known to turn to during the day…Nickelodeon and Disney chief among them. Sometimes, I even feel guilty about it.

Television is never a long term solution. Wee-man is too little to be captured by the pure bollocks that passes for children’s entertainment these days and what is broadcast to our kids is such tripe, I wouldn’t leave the E-Bomb sitting in front of it for any longer than I have to.

Esme is three, and no matter how hard I try, she sometimes struggles to find any interest in the laundry, does not feel the same fascination for the dishes and is more destructive than helpful in the garden. Regardless, things need to get done and according to Claire, they need to get done now. Right now.

So the chores are done, the kids are fed and entertained. What next?

What else is there you might ask and for most parents, that would be a perfectly reasonable question. More often than not, there isn’t a ‘what next’. By the time all of the above and a bit more (sometimes a bit less) has been ticked off, there might not be a lot of day left to play with.

What next? Time to start dinner…

But when the time comes, when the giggles have ceased, the tantrums too, the E-Bomb is somehow, miraculously, entertained, you can often find yourself at a complete and utter loss.

Then the boredom.

It isn’t like you can go anywhere…just head off for a wonder, take a walk, a paddle a swim, a stroll down the pub for a quiet pint in the garden bar.


Much of that, if not all, can be done with kiddies in toe. Provided that is, you have their approval. Generally, no problem. What lacks is the informative and philosophical debate that takes place over a cold one.

85f081959de5973efbb51f84b7f342d9Adult contact, stimulating conversation and all the manner of pursuits that you, as man and/or woman, might want to get into. The kids are fun, don’t get me wrong and there is no way my little whinge on here is a new com

plaint. But some stimulating conversation with an adult a bit more regularly would be great.

I can’t ring my Mother. She spent forty odd years as an early education teacher. Twenty to thirty rabid screaming, salivating, shitting bodies under the age of five in her presence each and every day, has meant she thinks and acts just like one of them. Sorry Mum, I love you, but…they’ve driven you mad.

Part of the problem is location. Rural living means there isn’t the same sort of off-hand distractions immediately available. But what of the great outdoors? I hear you ask and again, a fair question. We live in the ‘Winterless North’, right on the edge of a beautiful, ever changing expanse of water. The options, the potential, limitless.


But you don’t just dive in (pun intended). That sort of thing involves high levels of supervision and sometimes, I just don’t care. I know that sounds bad, but guess what..? I don’t care.

You get too tired to care, too disinterested to care, too wrapped up in that scant moment where you, finally, got the opportunity to do something on and of your own. Only to have that moment robbed from you by a baby waking, a child losing interest in her drawing.

So it is back to the shits and the giggles, even when the latter is sometimes forced. Slowly the ebb of sanity slips away.

If my sanity keeps on slipping, fading, drifting away with the tides of the Hokianga, I don’t think I mind…


No pressure

We all have our passions, the things we care about greatly and get fired up over. How much of that is foisted onto our kids and is it fair to do?

I love music and I have my own taste in genre and artist. Wide and varied, eclectic styles, none of which are what the ‘kids’ are into.

No breaking the religious strictures Katy Perry, no meat clad Lady Gaga and no, I am not a ‘Belieber’ or whatever it is.

Just mentioning the above names most likely shows I am not ‘with it’. Sure, I am probably behind the times and I am happy enough to admit it. I was behind the times when I was one of the ‘the kids’, rocking away to Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones while the world went crazy to Madonna and Michael Jackson.

I wasn’t ignorant and have never been shy to admit there has been the odd pop sensation that has grabbed me. I think I was blessed because I took things on a song by song, album by album basis and therefore never got too hooked.

My little bro had a thing for Duran Duran for a while there and even now there are a few tracks of theirs from that era on the playlist. But Billy Joel convinced a young Mike Bracey that he was an Innocent Man and David Bowie said Let’s Dance.

By the time I hit my teens I had found like minded individuals, peers, who were on the same path or could be convinced to walk along side. Now, many many years later, is it fair to hope that my progeny are going to be as equally like minded.

I am proud of the fact one of Kennady’s favourite songs hails from 1981, Soft Cells Tainted Love. I love it that Hazel sings along to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird.

Sometimes I have stop and consider if maybe my hand is too heavy in shaping the girls tastes. Okay, I have had no part in them listening to whatever latest fly-by-night chart topper is out there at the moment. Nor have I inflicted them with too much of my more fringe flavours. I doubt my little princesses are ever likely to be fans of Tool and while they like a fair bit of Macklemore, N.W.A would be new to them.

Wouldn’t it be great if our kids could be as enlightened, fired up and full of wonder, the same way we were, when their eyes are opened to the same things we fell for? Kenny and Hazel love Oasis, but have no time for the Happy Mondays. They can get a groove on to Young MC. They don’t get Wu Tang Clan and won’t go near The Dead South.

Told you I was eclectic.

They won’t croon along to the old school stuff their Mother puts on now and then. Old Frankie Blue Eyes doesn’t seem to do it for any of them even if I don’t mind a bit of Deano now and then.

Surely it is a generational thing. I don’t know how Kenny recites the lyrics to songs I have never heard her listening to, but I am glad she introduced me to people like Bruno Mars. If that is the commercialised, pop heavy route she is going to be drawn down, then fine. He’ll do. For me, it is still a wonder just how easily and readily accessible popular entertainment has become.

YouTube was, is and will continue to be, a revelation for me. The kids love it too. Now there is Netflix, live streaming and all the other platforms, right there in the palm of your hand. Our kids haven’t been afforded that privilege yet. We, as parents, still hold the reigns when it comes to the devices, the technology.

We will have to loosen those reigns eventually. When we do it will become a question of censorship, of monitoring. Spying? How we approach that as a family is a topic for another day, not necessarily one I look forward to. Oh, it will also be a question of budget. Start saving girls.

Claire and I are just stoked that the first thing the girls say when sent to bed, is to ask if they can read for a while. They then have to be encouraged to turn their lights off. All good. It is encouraging for us too, as parents, when they get as excited, if not more so, about the purchase of some kayaks, as they do about updating a notebook or phone.

If their Mum’s bum is anything to go by, the girls need to be careful. If their Dad’s belly is any indication, they need to be paranoid. So the more they get out into the great wide open, the better. I hope I can be just as influential there as I am in their dislike for the Blues, as much a guide as their singing along to the Heroes.

If just for one day.

PS: As tempting as it might be to start Barrett from the back, Dagg will shift there and Naholo will start on the wing. Now for goodness-sake can the Wellington crowd find a way to out-passion the Lions supporters as convincingly as the Hansen and his boys outplayed the opposition.

PSS: On the highly recommended list…toilet roll fight. Fun for the whole family.











What dreams are made of

Here’s that rain again. Inspiring sure, but not today…okay.

Not today because there are things on that could do without it. The rain will advantage others, or so it is said by those supposedly in the know.

Not today because this is the weather that should have me in the mood to write. The thing is, today, I am tired.

I woke up in a panic. Two things can stress me when I wake. The phone, and not knowing where the fuck I am.

A ringing phone stresses me because, more often than not, it means my dear wife will have to organise her shambolic morning head into some form of order and shuffle out the door at some ungodly hour. And boom, there goes my time off!

But let’s be honest, that doesn’t bother me as much as it troubles the Wee-Man. Arlo can be quite put out doing the crusty eyed roll over thing, only to discover the nipples he is clamoring for, are covered in curly, graying hair.

Ram some food in his gob and he is all good. A Wee-Man after my own heart. Though naturally, he captured my heart right at the outset.

The bigun’s will have an indoors day; reading, movies and whatever. All good until the noise escalates, as it will, and then it might be gumboots and raincoats.

Personally, I am going to need to get out and about at some stage. This is going to be one of those can’t sit still days. The pacing will begin soon, something my damaged knee will not enjoy, but is going to have to put up with. Neighbours new to us might pop down tonight, because we have Sky, and they will be enlightened about the fervor with which I follow my rugby…Claire will goad me with ‘It’s just a game’, the kids will tune in for the Haka, then lose interest, not batting an eyelid as I jump about yelling at the television.

Hopefully I won’t be so tired then.

Crawling into your daughters bed at whatever hour, beckoned by the warbled cry of ‘Daddy I need you’ tends to throw your slumber into chaos.

Unusually, it was Kenny calling out, our eldest. At nearly twelve, she is and always has been, the soundest of our charges. Not like her to wake in the night at all, let alone be driven from her sleep by her dreams. Kenny is the one that snuggles beneath the duvet, no matter the temperature.

A cozy snuggle with one of my crew is always welcomed and in Kenny’s case, the activity comes complete with a sprawling queen-sized bed. Sure, it is too soft for me and my back takes days to straighten properly again, but it is better than fighting that feeling you are about to plunge into a darkened abyss.

She is wearing her mothers shoes. She fits her wet weather gear. The same blonde sheen in her hair. Damn near the same height.

At a glance, one of those out of the corner of the eye moments you get when either I am entering a room or she is, Kenny looks just like her mother. Especially from the back. It is a realisation I have come to recently and it petrifies me.

Nearly 12. Not a child any more, still a kid. Not a women, not even a teen. Not a kid? Hell, I don’t know, but whatever it is, I am scared.

Scared because she has mentioned ‘cramping’. Scared because there are sports bra/crop top thingies in the washing I hang out despite the threat of rain.

I am frightened. She is growing up and I am beginning to wonder if I can grow with her, or will her Dad be left behind. Kenny is not going to mature into the world that I did. Things have changed. For the better or worse I do not yet know, but I fear it is the latter.

And just when does a Father stop snuggling? When is it a bit off for me to be crawling into Kennady’s bed, pulling her close and giving her the ‘there’ theres’? Is it ever going to be the wrong thing? Is it too late already…

I would hope I can cuddle, snuggle, kiss and tickle and giggle and roll around playing silly buggers with my daughters right up to the age they out-muscle me. Then I will pull the pin, the shame would be too great.

Is there a point where that behaviour is frowned upon? Do I even need to care, or do I care, about what the ‘norm’ might be? About what ‘society’ dictates?

In truth, the moment any frolicking and wrestling and general tomfoolery will come to an end is when the subject matter, namely Kenny, frowns down on her silly old Dad, no longer wanting to participate.

Perhaps that day is overdue. Perhaps it is a long time coming. When it does eventuate, I think I will be sad.

Briefly, to those that think the All Blacks will be troubled because it is raining…HA!

Good luck with that theory. We have a tight five that will man up, ball handlers across the park that will back their skill level regardless, a playing surface that can take it, a ball on a string wizard in Barrett-provided he gets the time and space-and the stamina to go the distance and beyond if required.

I, for one, am supremely confident.

Bring on the rain.