Love and War

My daughter hates me.

“I hate you.” E-Bomb isn’t vehement. More matter of fact, cold.

“I love you.” It is all I can say and I mean it.

“I don’t like you and I don’t love you.”

It’s an important distinction. There is a clear delineation between those you love and those  you like. You are not always going to like the people you love.

Sometimes, I don’t like E-Bomb.

She can be a thoroughly unreasonable person. Multiple personality disorders are suspected. Loving, cuddly sweetness can give way to foot-stomping tantrums before you have even thought of dropping the hat. Life can end up being lived on egg shells. Well it could, except we don’t.

We, as a family, are more or less immune to the carry-on. So far, with numbers One and Two, there have been no real dramas. Both have been relatively compliant, adaptable, can be reasoned with. Their demeanours might best be described as sweet. More or less.

Everyone has their moments. times when things will just not go right, the piece just won’t fit together. The whole woke up on the wrong side of the bed thing. This is especially true for kids I think, little ones to those become real people. by real people, I mean young adults.

So much is new, so much untried. Everything is testing, a challenge and kids are in such a rush, in a hurry to skip the small; steps and go straight to leaps and bounds. Because they do, develop and change and grow so fast, too fast at times and when you can’t find the words to express feelings you don’t understand, it is a frustrating thing.

And then it is easy to hate.

You hate your brother. You hate your sisters. You hate your Father. You hate the T.V, hate the rain, hate the sun, hate your dolls, hate music, hate the dogs. Poor dogs. Very rarely do you seem to hate your mother. I think that comes later.

So much hate, delivered with so much conviction.

But, she likes me a little bit. She likes me, even loves me. And hates me. And that is ok. The E-Bomb is a three-nager, a child. And a female. Show me the guy, no matter how enlightened, who can keep up with the vagaries of a females emotive state. it just means I am comfortable with it. I have to be.

A hateful attitude just servers to make all the kind, caring and loving moments all that sweeter. Because the E-Bomb, like her big sisters before her, can be a gorgeous little bundle of love and light, all cuddles and giggles and fun.

Making the most of these moments is the key and we do. No tiptoeing on eggshells, just get in. They want last, as cliched as that is to say.

When the E-Bomb goes off we don’t duck for shelter, don’t run and hide. We don’t placate either. Somewhere in the middle ground, between giving in and discipline, is the road we have to travel. She knows, we know and with a little patience and a whole lot of love, we can make it happen.

All smiles

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Lover Boy

I’m online shopping. For wife Number Two.

I’m not looking for a trade-in deal. That wouldn’t be wise.

I am not seeking to upgrade. Saying so would be a grave error.

A mistake you say?

Yes, most certainly. My dear wife, wife Number One, is well within earshot. She is sitting not more than a few meters from me, sipping wine and doing her level headed best to quell a stroppy toddler ( Boob in mouth is her go to method).

It amazes me how I can throw the biggest wobbly the great wide world has ever known, yet I have never been offered a breast, as a means to calming down. I think most women/partners/wives out there will find it a most effective technique for getting their Husbands back in line.

It is just after 9pm, Monday. The first day back at school for our two eldest, after the mid-winter break. (note: these blogs have slipped from chronological order.) Their return to school coincides with the return of the sun. Not to say it didn’t rain, because that really would be something noteworthy, but at least it wasn’t the persistent torrential stuff we have been subjected to for more days than I care to remember.

Enough about the weather. I would rather tell you about Yulya.

Yulya (Julia) is just one of many. I am aware when I say that, just how studly that makes me sound and naturally, I am not going to deny it. I am absolutely positive Julia will find me impossible to resist.

Julia is a thirty-two year old, multi-lingual, well educated, single, platinum blonde, busty Ukrainian. She is feminine, tender and caring. Traits I obviously rate highly, or Julia would not have attracted my attention.

Yes, of course it was her ‘traits’ that caught my eye. What else could there be?

She is a romantic. She likes to watch the stars, is kind and calm and caring and believes she would make a fantastic wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia is active. But I knew this. How, you ask, your interest peaked.

How does she stay active? She likes to dance. How does she maintain her figure? She is into sport. Just what sport in particular, Julia fails to enlighten us. I’m hoping it is rugby.

My current wife is chortling in the background as I read out one profile after another. The spelling is terrible and therefore the messages, at times garbled and lost in translation, can be confusing and awkward to decipher. In those moments, I tend to look back on the traits. You know the ones I mean.

But despite the monitor currently being awash with displays of exotic flesh, that isn’t what I am interested in. I am still interested in my wife.

So if Yulia is keen, if her or someone like her could ever possibly be tempted by the likes of me, that would be great. All Yulia needs is to be just as tempted by the kids, all four of them.

Yulya needs to be keen to take on not just me, but the whole family package. She needs to be just as devoted to the cooking, baking, cleaning dusting and vacuuming and never ending laundry as she is to her fitness regime. Yukya needs to commit to snotty noses and bumps and bruises and scraps and she needs to display a keen desire to wipe poo streaks off a toddlers bag from an exploding nappy.

If Russian beauties like Yulya are going to get online and tempt me with their charms, she needs to be the whole package herself. Her ‘traits’ and ‘talents’ will have to extend to childcare. Then I can have my wife back and she can have me.

Thanks Yulya.

 

 

“Sometimes people are looking for a lifetime, and Sometimes you find a day. Sometimes we are waiting, and sometimes forcing others to wait. Sometimes we agree to something and it seems to us forever, and sometimes escorts and understand it and had to be. Sometimes we seek to communicate, expand the circle of acquaintances, somewhere in a hurry, in a hurry to meet someone, but sometimes you just want to close your eyes and do not need anything else – just you and the silence … Sometimes we are looking forward to a stormy passions of love in the novel, and sometimes a kiss is enough to feel the tenderness and passion … And sometimes we rolls up in a blanket and have no way to warm up, because we really cold at from the outside, but from within the heart … … sometimes we also need something to hug and to hear only three words “Everything will be fine …” LonelyLove2016

 

Cake and Candles

Wee-man has turned one! A mighty milestone and its killing me.

I don’t play favourites with the kids.

That is to say, I try not to.

I have three girls and a boy. My Wee-Man. Even the dogs are bitches and my wife, well…

For years I have been outnumbered, out hormoned and it has gotten increasingly prevalent as time, and breeding, has gone by. When they are little it is pretty much irrelevant. Really young, and the differences in genders are very non-specific.

Toys are used for whatever purpose, most often nothing to do with what the toy-maker might have had in mind. Cartoons are this or that and as long as they are bright, colourful and fun, then they will be watched regardless of the targeted demographic. Little activities like drawing and building blocks and excursions are all the same; just go ahead and get stuck in.

There is no emphasis placed on what the little ‘uns are into. Number One and Two have an influence on the play-time of the E-Bomb, the three-nager and will undoubtedly do so more and more for Wee-Man. If his big sisters end up tucking him into dresses and skirts, doing up his hair and touching up his make-up, so be it.

Most likely, the day will come when he just will not be into what his sisters are. His attention will be drawn to trucks and diggers and power tools and rifles and fishing rods. And rugby. Wee-Man will be into rugby.

Until that time I have no favourites. When my boy makes his own calls, starts to express his own interests, shuns his sisters, then I will swoop, envelop him under my wing and make him my own. Not a carbon copy, not his Father living vicariously through his son’s deeds.

Then he will no longer be Wee-Man. He will be my man.

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The simple reality is, there will soon be things going in the lives of my eldest children, my girls, that are pretty much beyond my comprehension. They are growing and developing and changing and all those horrible words that signal it is time for their Mother to step up. I don’t believe I am being weak when I say there is just so much I can handle. And I am sure, only so much the girls are going to want me attempting to handle.

Good. I am a spectacular Dad, which in turn makes me an incredible bloke. We all know that. But I have two feet and pretty soon I am going to have to start putting one of them down. Make my stand. Draw a line.

Throw in the towel. Wave the white flag.

When that time comes I will have my buddy, my support, my back-up. My man. Whatever it is he and I do, to fill in the time we spend together, father and son, we will do so out of earshot. My Dear Wife will be there for her girls, just as she always has been, just as I have always been.

But right now it has been all about another birthday. The actual date has passed but the party is not going to be until this weekend. Such as it will be for a one-year-old. I mean, how carried away do you have to get? Not like he is going to remember a thing, though we are not one of those families where the birthday celebrations become more of an excuse for the parents to have a leer up.

There will be another round of cake and candle blowing and gifts wrapped and we will laugh and sing and eat junk food and it all signals the passing of yet another year. Wee-Man will blow out those candles on his own, or at least give a good impression of doing so. He will feed himself at least 40% of his treat lunch. 40% will be devoted to the floor in an attempt to feed the dog, that will have already been booted outside and

I’ll struggle to piece together his gift, following the woefully inadequate instructions, while Dearest stresses herself out in the kitchen baking  another incredible creation that no one will properly appreciate until it is cut up and stuffed in our gobs. Fun for all.

I will smile and I will sing in my best baritone (I have no idea if that is my singing voice or not…wounded water-buffalo is more accurate probably) and I will clap and laugh along. None of it will be forced and yet I will be dark on the inside.

Another moment gone. another blip, another monumental occasion, never to happen again.

I don’t mean to get all maudlin on it, I don’t mean to wallow and I certainly won’t be that guy at the party everyone mutters about when they think he isn’t looking. ‘What a drag’.

It is just that every step my son takes, literally, he moves things on ever further in my life. And it isn’t only him, they are all doing it, or have done it. Some of the craziest things too, that suddenly strike  you, or creep up on you later.

Number One won (say that five times quickly) her first cross-country event today! Beat out a bunch of other competitors, even some boys. One proud dad.

Number Two broke her first bone a couple of years ago. The first and only so far among the kids. And yes, I was a bad Dad because there were a couple of days of ‘you’ll be right’ before we finally got her wrist x-rayed. She sprained it in a fall just the other day and there I was reminded of that originally injury. The first decent knock the kids have had.

The letting go of the bike seat, the first dive off the edge of the pool, the first solid feed, the first teetering steps, the first words and all the other obvious ones.

What about the first hug…do you remember those?  The first time they reached out for you, not as some automated need for nurture or warmth, but because they wanted a hug. I do.

So while my cholesterol sky rockets and my ever increasing weight holds me firmly on the ground, while my hair line recedes from my scalp but finds other patches of bare skin to colonise, while my joints creak and groan and my muscles atrophy, I sit and think of all the things I will never see happening again.

I am thankful for each and every one of those very special moments. Cherished moments of wonder ad joy. The type of stuff that keeps the cynical at bay, the grumpy subdued.

The love stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Up to You

Sometimes people, it is your fault. And that is okay.

Stop it.

Stop the blame. Stop the dodging and the deflecting and the recriminations and the pointing of the fingers and the obfuscation and all the rest of it.

Every now and then, just maybe, it is ok, as a fully functioning member of society, to put your hand up and say ‘Oops, my fault. I did that, sorry.’

That last bit is the key, the apology. But we will get to that.

Because before I go any further, on what will fast become a rant, I need to make it clear that I am not quite old enough for the ‘Back in my day’ rhetoric, yet I am one of maybe the last generations that is prepared to accept fault, to acknowledge blame.

To accept responsibility.

People fuck up. We all do. Make mistakes, errors, slip ups. From the tiny little oops moments to the big stuff ups, with cataclysmic results. Doing so is part of the course we have to plot in life. Therefore, it stands to reason, the young are going to do it more than most. It is how we learn, grow and develop. Much of who we become is due to the mistakes we have made and the learnings we take from that.

So how are we, as a society, meant to grow and nurture the coming generations if we spend more and more time giving credence to the enabling culture that seems to be pervading every aspect of our current and future lives?

The recent trial in the states of Michelle Carter, the vindictive little bitch that sent messages to her ex, encouraging his suicidal thoughts and indeed, his eventual claiming of his own life, caught my attention, as it did many around around the world.

What struck me, quite apart from the callous disregard from this sad individual, so remiss in being aware of the sensitivities and sensibilities of others (and the manner the youth culture in the U.S.A, from an outsiders perspective, seems to be so wayward), was the comments from the Judge.

His claim that Miss Carter ‘killed’ the poor boy in question, is bloody ridiculous. Did she pull a trigger? No. Did she force feed him enough pills to poison him? Mix anti-freeze into his cereal? No. Did she push him over the edge of the precipice he was so precariously balanced on. Possibly. And on that possibility, she has been charged, prosecuted and sentenced.

Rightly or wrongly is not for me to decide and I am not in a position to debate the merits to the laws, the American judicial system, that lead to such an outcome. What is up for debate, is how we seem to readily accept what the judge has stated. That Michelle Carter was at ‘fault’.

Yes. She carries some of the blame. A lot of it. And a huge whack of guilt one would hope. But with this ruling, the boy in question has himself been let off the hook. It was him that claimed his own life. Him and him alone, that cashed in his future. I am sure he felt justified in his reasons and felt the dire need to take such a drastic step to cure whatever it was that ailed him so. A tragic decision and ultimately, a final step he made on his own. Yet we, as a society, enable that. We tut-tut at the girl and her horrendous behaviour and so we should.

But by saying it wasn’t the young mans fault, which is as much the implication as anything else to be taken from this sorry state of affairs, is tantamount to that hoary modern chestnut….enabling.

God, how I hate that term. But it is real and it is happening all the time. More so, as the power and influence of people my age begins to take hold and wield more influence.

Enabling. An insipid creeping thing that has slowly but surely established itself over the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little more. We are letting those that follow, our offspring, get away with anything and everything.

Sure, we punish when the law is broken. I wonder, if that is soon enough. Are we punishing enough in our homes, our schools? Are we setting standards and boundaries and standing by them? Sadly, I don’t think we are.

I like to think of it as our Health and Safety culture. Okay, there is nothing wrong with being safety conscious in the work place, especially if that awareness is going to lead to the prevention of avoidable deaths. There has to be a limit though, a point where self responsibility kicks in, a stage where you can point the finger and go hey, mate…that was your fault, your complacency, your inattention, your arrogance, your responsibility.

 

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To that end, it is in the literature for all work place health and safety statements. The biggest threat to your safety is…wait for it…you. So why hasn’t that ethos filtered through, permeated, into wider society? Why are ‘we’, as a growing populace, being mollycoddled?

Out clauses are given every teetering step of the way. Our youth are told the problem lies with their upbringing. Perhaps, in many cases, it does. Then they are told the issue is the education system, or the health services letting them down, or their diets are poor, or our politicians are not listening, or there is too much foreign ‘gangsta’ influence, or their is no spiritual guidance, or their role models are sports stars and not scholars. Too much T.V, too much pop culture, too poor, too catered to, too ignorant, too privileged, too neglected.

It is not their fault.

There was a time, it seems to me at least, when people were encouraged to put there hand up, admit culpability, apologise, and everyone moved on. Now, it seems to me at least, there is more emphasis placed on the thing at fault, than on the solution. No one seems to be sorry anymore. No one is apologetic. Instead, they are accusatory, seeking to shift the direction of the pointed finger from aiming squarely at them. They all want to be forgiven, to be allowed another chance, a third one.

So when does anyone stop and acknowledge their own role in proceedings, when things go so wrong?  We are all quick to pat ourselves on the back when we achieve success, and rightly so. Be loud and proud when you do it well, when you get things right. Accept the praise with grace and dignity. Maybe, just a thought, we could try to do more of that with our failings.

Saying sorry is a good start. Everyone looks on that sort of thing favourably. I was taught to, so were you. Let’s teach the same thing to our kids.

Arrow SIgns - Not My Fault Shifting Blame

 

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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