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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

 

Roar

There is a tension in the house and it is my fault.

How much of how you are feeling reflects on how your kids are feeling, do you think?

I reckon your attitudes, feelings, emotional output, has a huge and powerful effect on how the children feel about their day.

A girl like Kennady, sensitive all her life, excessively so at times, is old enough to have a bit of a sense about that sort of thing, one that goes beyond a feeling, a vibe she may be picking up on. She has learnt to recognise the signals that I display.

She knows.

Hazel is a bit more blase, a bit more wrapped up in her own thing. Hazel has always had her own take on what is going on around her and at the moment, there is nothing different about her reaction to me and my edge. That will change. In slightly less than 24 hours from now she is going to be just as fired up as I am. Or at least she will make out she is, for the sake of her old man.

Esme doesn’t get it and I can only hope that in time, Arlo will. The Wee-Man, the prodigy.

Claire gets it. Claire hates it.

She hates the nervous tension, the pacing, the yelling and the excited-ness and the explosive displays of emotion; from anger to shock to joy. There will be joy. Elation.

Victory.

What the Highlanders did signaled it. The way tomorrow night will be, before and after.

It has started now, already. Started early in the week, was exacerbated by the selection announcement and now I can barely keep a lid on it.

The Lions.

C’mon the All Blacks!!

lions

 

Slippery Decks

These are the days you dread. I do anyway, for a multitude of reasons. 

A great day for writing. I need it like this, find it inspiring or whatever it is that gets the creativity in me bursting to get out.

It is an easy mix. All you need is a tin roof and some rain, the heavier the better. Throw in, like today, a smattering of thunder and the odd streak of lightening and I am away.

Sounds great you think. Go for it, you say. But it won’t last. Right now I can hear the morning debate taking place in the kitchen as the older two are motivated by a mother that claims to be taking it easy this morning. Translation: itching around the place with not enough to do before her working day begins. A baby slumbers, stirring but not giving in to the reality of a day dawned just yet. The E-Bomb is still asleep too, sprawled upstairs on her drool stained mattress.

She will stay that way for ages, a champion of the sleep in, because her mother and I are bad parents. Kenny and Hazel give us pecks on the check and head up the creaky, spiral staircase around half eight. Esme returns to her slack parents after they have all done the teeth, toilet, pj’s routine.

And there she stays, fussy and cuddling up to one or the other of us and if she is lucky we read a story or two. Otherwise she has to put up with whatever dross is on the television while she vies for attention and snuggle space with her little brother, who is most likely fast asleep himself by this point. Esme will toss and turn, bitch and moan and eventually, thankfully, begin to doze. When she is out to it I will hoist her in my arms and carry her, precariously, up the stairs and into her bed, sweeping the hair of her face so she doesn’t snuffle herself awake.

butter does melt

butter wouldn’t melt? 

We are scared of her. It is that simple. The threat of the E-Bomb is petrifying and not something I want to encounter in the evening. Does that make Claire and I a pair of wimps? Are we too soft? Or are we new age, touchy feely, letting our child be the ‘person’ that she is, allowing her to shine and develop as she will. Such a strong will it is too.

None of that. We are pragmatic. It is about us at that point, Mum and Dad, Claire and Mike, Husband and Wife. Man and woman. Or at least, it is supposed to be.

So much for ‘parent time’. It is a term I have been known to throw out there, a mythical time and place, supposed to eventuate at some stage in the late evening. A place without the sight and sound of children, when my naturally inappropriate tendencies can shine, have their time and place. A time and a place when my wondering hands, my lewd comments and salivating eagerness can meet the standard, stone-walled ‘get a vasectomy’ response they are so prepared to receive.  And after all of that, the little bastard ends up in our bed!

Just as an aside, Kenny is the only potential bastard. She was at the wedding though, so I am not sure if that counts. Her mum carried her there, across the sands to the sea-ward side of the Island where the ceremony took place. In her belly. Barely a swell. We both wore rings by the time she was born, Kenny’s birth story a bloody good yarn in itself and one I will share one day, maybe the next time it is raining.

The sky is brightening now, the kids edgy to get to school and the bomber still asleep. Wee-Man has rolled into happy smiley existence and the day is off to a good start. Claire will drop the kids off and I will be left to it.

To my frustrations, my ineptitude, by inabilities and disabilities and to back pain and a sore knee and smiles and dog pee and baby poo and dinner ideas I can’t complete and lunches I forget to make and snacks at inappropriate times and too much television and not enough reading and rolling around on unclean floors and not enough layers for treks outdoors to puddles too deep and mud too muddy.

Today, despite the rain setting the mood, I will not get a thing right.

Today there will be arguments and recriminations and fights and yells and screams and bitching. Today there will be yelps and shouts and leaps and lunges and trips and falls and dancing and singing and laughter and more tears.

Today, I can’t put a foot wrong.