He inspired me.

Most of us would agree that a big part of being a parent is to motivate, encourage, support and inspire our kids, especially when life decided to throw a few lemons their way.  It’s our duty to make sure they get up again after that bump on the knee.  Or the punch on the chin.  We run when they fall from the swing and clean up the wound, apply the bandage and wipe their tears.  Sending them off with words of encouragement so they can get back on that swing.  It’s true what Wife says, “A parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child.

But there are rare occurrences when the roles of parenthood is reversed.  When your kid lifts his mask and reveal a small glimpse of the man (or woman) they are destined to become…

***

I’m doing an MBA.  Because I’m (1) Insane, (2) In desperate need of attention, (3) Seriously bored and/or (4) Entering menopause.  Doing an MBA at my age is like eating your own vomit. Only less fun.  I’m tired, fed-up and cranky.  (And that was before I started.) Two weeks ago I reached rock-bottom when I considered giving it all up because I didn’t think the reward was worth the effort and sacrifice I was making.  Besides, my marks suck.

***

Rugby is religion down here on the southern tip of Africa, even though our pope is completely clueless and our players look like they’re scared of a ball. A fanatic love of the game is imprinted once you breathe your first breath of our air.  Some kids get so energized by the whole thing, they’re actually willing to sacrifice their bodies and play. That is a tremendous moment for any father, seeing his little Dude run around with a ball in hand.  Then they reach high school and you realise the boys they play against are slowly turning into muscular men it becomes a bit more daunting.  Moms normally start advocating for other sports like football or field hockey, simply because it’s less dangerous.  Dads just keep quiet and pray more often.

Dude loves rugby.  Even though he technically doesn’t have the physical build for the game. (Thanks Dad!)  The best part of him being in school is having the opportunity to play rugby with his mates. And making the first rugby squad is simply THE greatest honour any kid can achieve. Nothing is bigger or better, at least in the mind of a 16-year-old boy.  Not even girls.

Dude didn’t make the cut.  A lof of his friends did.  His name didn’t appear on THE most important list of names ever published in the history of man.  Princess informed us of this unfortunate development.  I knew he was going to be crushed and I could relate in some way because it was during the kicking-the-MBA time of my life.  I was trying to think of things to tell him as I was driving home.  Nothing came to mind.

I stepped into our home, expecting depression lurking around the corner, only to hear laughter irrupt from the lounge. To say it was unexpected would be the understatement of the century.  It’s like saying Meryl Streep is overrated.

Long story short: Dude was very disappointed but instead of sulking and complain about the unfairness of his life, he was determined.  Determined to do better.  Determined to work harder.  Determined to get his name on that list; no matter what it takes. (Hopefully short of assassinating anyone!) Dude got up by himself.  Dusted himself.  He wiped his own tears, cleaned his own wound and walked straight back to that swing.  Without a bandage.  He’s not giving up.

And as he was saying these words to my face, I cringed.  For he spoke straight into my heart, addressing my own negativity, my own doubt.  He told me to get up and stop sulking.  To go out there and do what needs to be done.  I was fighting the tears as they welled in my eyes, being struck down with the greatest feeling of pride I have ever felt in my entire life.

I pulled him close and I didn’t want to let him go.  Ever.  This was my son teaching me a lesson in life.

He’s still not on the team but he’s still trying, doing his best, dodging the ups and downs of the tough ride he chose until he reaches the day when all his efforts will be worth it.

I still have 18 months to go but I’m trying, doing my best, dodging the ups and downs of the tough ride I chose until I reach the day when all my efforts will be worth it.

And only because Dude inspired me to be a better man.

Ah Dad’s guide to parenting teens.

Lately I have gained a lot of new followers of which some are trapped in the midst of the stress and anxiety associated with parenting.  I’m kidding!  Being a parent is the most ungrateful, toughest job in the world. I’m kidding!  The money is not good either.

But it’s rewarding.  In a don’t-make-me-come-over-there-and slap-the-stupid-out-of-you kind of way.

Then there’s teenagers.

Therefore, a drafted this simply guide for raising teens based on three years of governing my beautiful, darling, little angels through the monster-phase maze into adulthood.

You need teenagers.  Don’t worry if you don’t have any, toddlers are basically the same.  Or if you don’t have those either, then have you ever cleaned up after a dog or fed a cat?  Yes?  Well then you’re qualified too.  No pets yet?  Well then, do you drink wine?  No?  trust me, you will.  (Cats are better for the preparation of teenagers, for this will prepare you for the condescending attitude that’s common among teens.)

Get unlimited WiFi.  It’s THE most important single item you will ever need when raising them.  Not only will you be able to Google everything about the weird shit you will be asked about, but you will also find solitude and something to read in those times when you lock yourself in the bathroom to avoid them.  They will spend endless hours on YouTube watching random people doing even more random things without bothering, or more likely, acknowledging you.  (On second thought, you might not even need Google because teenagers know everything already.  Just ask them.)

Stock up on cereal or any other non-perishable foods, like cardboard or rubber soles. Puberty implies the standard three daily meals becomes totally insufficient in sustaining the human body.  It basically turns into one loooooong continuous meal that never ends.  Or begins.  If teenagers are awake, they eat.  All. The.  Time.  Especially boys. They will raid your fridge, pantry, car, cupboards and sock drawer. It will feel like you’ve missed an announcement of an impending Apocalypse. You will panic.  They also develop an acute, super-human sense of smell, so don’t think you can hide food from them.  This ability improves exponentially when they arrive in a pack.  A grunt of teens.  Like locusts ascending on crops.  And don’t even mention the possibility of a sleep over because then you might as well get that second bond now.

Buy block-out curtains/blinds.  There’s nothing worse than waking a teenager on a weekend.  Just like vampires, teenagers prefer to stay up all night and sleep long enough for normal people to get bedsores.  But there’s nothing normal about them.  My advise is to leave them, as their grumpiness have been known to tear down the strongest, most patient parent into a screaming, raving lunatic.  Not waking them also have two distinct advantages:  1. You don’t have to feed them and 2. You don’t have to feed them.

Say goodbye to your playlist.  And television remote.  And computer.  And choice of movie.  And anything else that might make you feel like an adult or the kind of parent who used to have a choice in the kind of entertainment the family will enjoy.  Your reward for not killing your toddlers or tweens, is having no say whatsoever in the choice of any movie, song or television program you are allowed to watch and/or listen to.  Unless off course you secretly binge watch your favourite series when they go to bed.  But who watches Stranger Things between 3 and 5 am in the morning?… (I see your hand mister!)

Get used to the sound of your own voice because you will have to repeat whatever you have to say often.  And not just twice or thrice but more like a bazillion-ice.  The more you repeat your sentence the louder the volume will become.  It’s a well documented basic human law. What’s not well documented is the accompanied increase in your blood pressure.  And when you descend with the rage of Hulk and the sound of your heartbeat ringing loudly in your nostrils, you realise it’s not that they’re hard of hearing, or spiteful or purposefully ignoring you, it’s just those damn headphones that’s constantly glued to their ears.  (At least I think it’s the headphones…)

Accept the fact that your clothes are not your clothes anymore.  This is a tough one because one would think that teenagers wouldn’t want to be caught dead in their parents attire.  This might be true under normal circumstances but having teens inevitability means you’ve reached an age where some of your clothes have returned to fashion and are now considered “retro” or “vintage”.  And it’s not a compliment.  Don’t be fooled.  It simply means you are really, really, really old.  And if the scavengers find ANYTHING vintage in your cupboard, even if it’s your favorite shirt, you can kiss that shirt goodbye, just like last year’s election.  It is what it is and no amount of protest will change the reality.  Yes, you can try and take it from them but it will always find a way back on their bodies.

Bride them for hugs. And this is the only way you’re getting any.  Like being married for a long, long time.  Hugs is not compulsory for showing love to parents.  A different standard exist between friends, they hug all the frigging time and you stand there like a lost puppy, reminiscing about the time you got them hugs too.  *Cue When she loved me*  So we normally use food as our go-to-item for getting hugs from them.  Other things that’s also proven successful are money, the WiFi password and a request for a sleep-over.  Offering clothes doesn’t help if the clothes are not retro.  Dressing up as one of their friends also didn’t work.

Lots and lots of alcohol and not because I’m using this blog to lobby for underage drinking.  This last item is especially for you, the suffering parent.  It doesn’t matter how well you think you might be coping, there will come a day when you need an escape and if alcohol is not your passion poison, then you need to find something that is.  Some people run, others become president of their PTA, others ride bikes and some even climb mountains.  But most of us just end up on a coach with a glass of wine.  Don’t judge yourself for having these moments of serenity because if not for them, you run the risk of kicking dustbins, empty cans, puppies or maybe even your own children.  And that’s kind of illegal.

Stay strong.  And remember, they’re going to give you grandchildren and that’s the sweetest revenge in the world!

Love ya! Love them! Love yourself!

I severed a third of my left foot.

so-my-foot-is-bleeding

Like this but on my left foot.

Holiday at my house implies camping. With a caravan.  I’m not a savage.

Some feel that camping is just a rich man’s way of understanding how homeless people live. I tend to disagree.  Camping is just my way of avoiding beds that had countless sleeping bodies on them before.

Another reason for using a caravan would the access to electricity, a roof and running water.  It’s something the Wife requires. She’s fancy like that.

Setting up camp is nearly not as much fun as it may sounds.  It’s hard labour and involves lifting, hitting, unfolding, holding and screaming at the rest of the family for not moving as quickly as I want them too.  Hence the reason why we choose camp sites where they provide assistance in setting up camp.  It frees my time to take care of the important stuff aka drinking the beer before it gets too warm.  Dehydration is a serious condition.

Taking down the campsite and packing up is even worse.

It normally happens just before we leave.  Or more accurately when the holiday is over.   When the jovial spirit has left the building and is replaced by a deflated, depressed energy that looks like the moment when you pull the tent poles and the whole tent comes crashing down in a spectacular fashion.  The appearance of this deflated energy normally coincides with the disappearance of my two kids.

Before one can pull the poles, one has to pull the pegs.  It’s the little iron hooks, slammed into the ground which kept the tent from becoming a hot air balloon or a kite.

Due to my self-diagnosed ADHD, I start with this process way too early.  This decision implies that I normally do this on my own.  I started removing a few pegs and ropes, cleaning them and shoving them in a bag, before putting said bag in the caravan.  On route I forgot about one specific peg.  But my feet didn’t.  As I like to walk at the speed of white light, I kicked the peg with the full force of my left foot.  Right between the toes!

I went primal and used more swear words in 27 seconds than I’ve used in my entire life.  I was dropping f-bombs like I was the star of a Tarantino movie.  It’s certainly not my proudest moment but Wife, Dude and Princess were nowhere close.  There was a couple who was hiding their small children but that was because I was shirtless and sweating like no adult has ever sweated in the history of man.

It was excruciatingly painful and I believe I am now ready to give birth. I was still carrying the bag so after my emotional outburst, I walked it off like the trooper I pretend to be.  It was only when I got back and saw the bloody footprints I left behind that I bothered to take a moment and look at my foot.

It was like that scene from Saw.  Actually it was like any scene from Saw.  The gash between my toes extended almost up to my knee.  Blood was pouring from the wound like urine from a Russian prostitute on a bed where Obama was sleeping with the president watching…

I stated my shock and C threw me with a first-aid kit like I was a leper.  I washed my feet, dozed my toes in antiseptic and threw him with the empty bottle.  Then I bandaged my toe.  Not successfully, I might add.  The bandage came off as soon as I got up.

I had a slight limp.  A merciful neighbour saw me and offered me monkey-blood to put on the wound, so it can dry out.  No bandage required.  Monkey-blood is not real monkey-blood, we just call it monkey-blood because it kind of looks like monkey-blood.  The mercy of my neighbour didn’t extend to her willingness to touch my feet, so once again I became my own doctor/assistant/nurse/trauma surgeon.

15781625_10209677434591523_7404369666214792931_n

The photographer couldn’t stomach the gash, so she photoshopped it out.

I got back to our camp site where the Wife decided to grace me with her presence, only to have her burst out laughing, the moment I turned the corner.  Turns out, I might have used a tad too much Mercurochrome.  Okay fine!  My hands looked like I lost a fight with a printer, not to mention the red sock on my left foot…and the traumatized neighbour I left behind.

What can I say, I was left to my own devices and if I decide to do something, I’ll give it 94%.  *This figure is discounted for age and skill.

It’s moments like that when I remind myself that she’s the mother of my children.

PS – I did exaggerate my injury and limped for as long as I could get the sympathy I needed.  And that blissful period lasted for an hour.  Give or take 56 minutes.

Audrey has body-snatched my son

To everyone reading this, just bear with me for a second…

Kids, the reference to Audrey is a Venus fly trap with an insatiable hunger for blood as portrayed in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors.”  And this was not posted from Wikipedia.

So consider yourself informed because that’s what Fathers do. Now let’s continue…

Audrey was dying until Seymour accidentally discovers the plant needs blood to survive.  After that first feeding, the plant starts craving blood and demands more, even murdering a couple of people.  The plant turned out to be an alien.  Ooooops…Spoiler alert.

Much like the thing that lives in our house now.

Audrey has taken over the body of Dude.  And lets be honest, it’s a very handsome body.  (No surprises there, the kid takes after his dad.)

The first clue to the presence of a floral body-snatcher was the growth spurts. Dude doubled his height over the last six months and are now also being harassed by housewives who want groceries from the top shelf in the supermarket. (I once spend so much time in the nappy isle, I completely missed my birthday.) His sudden growth is also evident in our clothing bill because child services will rock up at your house when you sent a naked kid to school. (I know that now.)  Accompanied by his increased height, there’s also the constant need to be fed.  Fortunately he hasn’t developed a taste for my life source, even though he is severely damaging my life savings.

The second clue was that after sixteen years of parenting, education and providing a loving environment, his total vocabulary has shrunk to a mere three words.  I. Am. Hungry.  In that order.  And he eats everything! All. The. Time.  Nothing is too good or too bad.  Cereal, fruit, bread, glass, left-overs, chips, yogurt, cardboard, cheese, bubble gum, his sister’s chocolate,  my missing slipper… Dude has actually perfected his three-word-expression to the point that it actually sounds like one word:

Imungry.”

When Dude stumbles out of his bedroom with the most spectacular head of bed-hair ever seen on a human boy and I fake my chirpiness with a friendly greeting, he’ll grunt back:

“Imungry.”

When I arrive home from work and find him in front of the computer, because where else would you expect to find a teenage boy, and I fake interest in his game and ask him how his day was, he’ll smile and reply:

“Imungry.”

When I show him an attractive girl in the mall because I think it’s important that parents have some kind of say in how their grandparents are going to look one day, he’ll merely shrugs because he’s cool and says:

(all together now)

“Imungry.”

The third clue to the presence of an alien life form only became evident when Audrey evolved. It’s obvious that Dude’s limited vocabulary is moderately annoying.  At certain stages it can become excruciatingly annoying.  Audrey is wise enough to understand that asking for food is one thing but asking for food to the point of parents shutting down and purposefully ignoring you; is quite detrimental to receiving a meal.  So instead Audrey makes Dude hang around his parents while they are in the kitchen and dish out hugs and compliments and love you’s to the point of it becoming awkward.  We are parents which implies we’re not stupid, so we know it’s only to soften us up, preparing the ground for the inevitable Imungry-bomb.

Even though Audrey took over our son, I have to admit that until such time that he has to move out and fly off into space to make out with other aliens, leaving us in a crying, weeping mess (like the first ten minutes of Up!), we’ll be more than happy take ANY and ALL the hugs and compliments and love you’s we can get from him.

After which Wife will feed him with a smile.

How to embarrass your teenage daughter

Embarrassing your kids is a privileged bestowed upon parents in exchange for having to feed them.  But it is an art form because you still want them to speak to you every now and again.  The aim is not to scar them for life, you merely want to cause moderate, temporary discomfort and show them who’s the boss. You certainly don’t want to be the reason why they take up unhealthy habits like smoking crack, kicking puppies or end up as someone’s bitch in jail.

In days gone by it used to be a simpler activity.  Dads could simply lie around on a sofa, watching Friends, wearing your favourite T-shirt resembling the battle ground of a QuarterPounder and a SloppyJoe. Nowadays kids have Facebook and Instagram and they might just post a photo of your protruding belly with a hashtag #OMGlookatmyDad.  (And with my luck that post would go viral, unlike my blog or tweets.) Continue reading

Why 2016 wasn’t so bad.

I know for some of my friends who live on the other side of the world, 2016 has been kind of a let down, realizing they can now look forward in having an Oompa-Loompa as president for the next four years.  Not that our turtle is any better at being president.  Most of us would agree that things went from strange to total bat-shit crazy during the past year.  This reality required some internal reflection from yours truly.

Truth be told, 2016 wasn’t really that bad as I still have a lot of things to be grateful for.  It’s important to look back before one can go forward. It’s the only way to get out of a parking.

During the past year… Continue reading

What I miss the most 

Travelling is part of my life like the hump on that cartoon character from Notre dame. It’s uncomfortable but probably makes me more interesting. I think…

Getting to the end of the year, this hump of mine is becoming a life crushing burden.  I hate carting the damn thing around everywhere.  And I’m not referring to the hump, I’m referring to the fucking suitcase. Focus.

I hate slugging it around as if my life depends on it. Continue reading