On the 27th of April South Africa celebrates freedom day. This year the commemorative day falls on a Monday. Which means…LONG WEEKEND! And as most working people know, long weekend is a synonym for GETAWAY!
Whilst most South Africans were celebrating their freedom by listening to boring speeches from countless politicians across the country, I was spending mine being freed from my normal daily routine, which can kill you, by the way.
We eloped to the East coast of the country, known for its pristine beaches and the warm Indian ocean. Warm water becomes important as one gets older. Especially considering that there might be a change of you entering the sea when the scorching African sun takes its job a little too seriously.
By using the word elope I don’t imply it was only the Wife and I. We took our kids along for the ride which is something good parents do every now and then. Dude took a friend, who’s actually more like a third child, and Princess being a female, decided to wing it on her own. Her level of patience with friends is directly proportional to the time she has to spend alone with them. She’s quite happy to be on her own, frolicking outside in nature, most probably making birds explode and tying snakes in knots. Only a few more reasons why she resembles Princess Fiona, in her human form off course. Princess looks nothing like an ogre.
During our blissful weekend of funsunsea reality dawned on us. Came down like a mud slide. The Wife and I are now at a stage where we’re starting to smell funny, which was the only explanation I could come up with, as to why our kids were semi-avoiding us.
We try and raise decent human beings, but unfortunately on the road of becoming exactly that, kids have to cross an abyss where the reception becomes poor or doesn’t exist at all. The abyss of adolescence. During this period of their journey they exhibit weird behaviour and in the presence of friends, are only willing to talk to their parents when they are hungry. Or when they need money.
The three musketeers seems to be equip enough to have conversations with other humans of their own size and conviction. This resulted in the trio growing into a herd rather quickly. The bigger the group, the more oblivious they become about the existence of parents. In their minds we evaporate like clouds after a thunder storm. The extent of our smell and subsequent invisibility became apparent when we went down to the pool, lied down on the sunbeds and took out our old-school magazines. (We’re not reading on tablets) The herd was chabbering/playing in the pool. It might have been my imagination but Princess, being the youngest in the herd, cracked a brief half-smile in our general direction, indicating she was having a good time. (Not being thirteen implies that her aromatic receptors are not sensitive to the smell of parents, yet.)
The stink gets worse. The herd got out of the pool and signalled they were heading to the beach. I know it wasn’t an unfortunate coincidence, as their decision to get out of the pool was timed perfectly with us entering it and hanging on one another like a honeymoon couple.
At some point we got curious and decided to go
check see what the herd was up to. We casually strolled the two miles to the beach hand-in-hand. Laughing and joking and having the best time doing so. Our foul smell was carried by the breeze, for as soon as we arrived, the herd informed us that they were returning to the pool. We sat down in the sand, wanting to commit on our “fake” reason for being there and felt like the king and queen of a lepper colony. It was comforting to see how many other lepper-parents were suffering the same fate as us, being left alone on the stretch of beach. Whilst we were digging our toes in the warm, white sand, chewing up the serenity of the moment, with the only sound being the waves crashing on the beach…We had our second revelation.
Having a little bit of a stink is great! Because even though we’re considered parents, we are CHILDFREE parents. No babysitter required. As long as we know where the herd is, with compulsory check-in’s, and they stick to the agreed curfew, (which are three non-negotiables when dealing with hormone invested teens) the smelly parents can do what they want. We don’t have to incorporate the need of other humans in our schedule. Like getting up when we want, making coffee for two and drink it in bed, have romantic walks on the beach and then have lunch and adult conversations at the same time. Let me tell you, it sounds like bliss because that is exactly what it was. We could act like the happily married couple we actually are, without embarrassing our kids, as they were never around. We were even able to show moderate affection without hearing words and phrases like “Yuch!”, “Jeez, don’t you want to get a room?”, “Eeeeew” and “Do you have to, like now?”
It’s odd, but I believe when you’re old enough to make babies, you should have a firm understanding where babies comes from. It’s called parents talking to their kids. It remains funny to see them react when we act like a married couple. Those moments when Mom and Dad migrate from their traditional roles of dishing out money and food to an. Actual. Loving. Couple. Do they not get that we had to do “certain things” in order for them to exist in the first place?
In the end my message is a simple one. Love the funny smell. As soon as you reach the stage in parenting when you’re smelly enough to be avoided, turn to one another and grab the opportunity to rekindle that flame that fades in the moments when kids are the most important entity in your lives. Just be warned that the more lovey/dovey you become as a couple, the smellier you are bound to be. Embrace it. And each other.
For once the stink has passed, it will be your kids turn to invite you for a GETAWAY, but most probably as babysitters to your grandchildren.