The last day

I know I haven’t posted in a while but this is a big day.  Huge.  Ginormous.  Gigantisaurus.  You get the picture.  It is a day that was twelve years in the making.  For a guy who can’t sit through the first ten minutes of Up, I’m surprisingly non-emotional about the whole thing.  All I feel is immense pride.  Dude wrote his final high school exam today and even though the results will only be available in a month from now, I know that it was his last day of high school. SHIT!

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Dashing like his father

Maybe I am slightly emotional. Give me a minute.

*Returning a day later with red eyes and thirty seven empty tissue boxes and a desperate need for a plumber.  Too much tissues can result in clogging.  Who knew?*

Dude, I have written countless posts on what you mean to us and how you’ve changed our lives. Technically you would be able to count them but it sounds more affectionate if I create the impression that there were more than ten posts about you.  The general theme has always been about how great you turned out because of our excellent parenting skills.  And the grace of God.

Jokes aside.  Looking at you, I’m astonished at what you have accomplished in such a short time you’ve been on this planet.  Your high school career is a testimony to that.  You’ve overcome challenges, made friends and broke hearts.  Albeit mine.  This was an hectic year.  You turned legal, you got your driver’s license, you attended prom, you finished high school… Eighteen must seem like such a big number to you but believe me, this is only the beginning.  You have reach the end of this chapter and now you stand on the brink of a new one.  It feels like yesterday when I wrote a post about high school and now you’re going off to university. WTF!

It’s painful to think that you would be leaving our nest soon and the thought of not having you sharing daily clips and hugs and stories is pretty daunting.  Thankfully you’re not there yet and we can keep all that emotion for another post.  This post is simply a celebration at the end of an era.  I must admit, I tried my best to bribe the headmaster in an attempt to keep you for another year but she’s a tough cookie and in the end we simply couldn’t afford her final number.  What did you do?

Dude, you are one amazing human being.   Words fail me every time.  The best son any parent could hope for.  We couldn’t be more proud even if we tried.  The hard work is done, so go and enjoy that last holiday with all your mates.  Have fun and stay safe.

Fortunately I still have a couple of weeks to torture you with parental stuff.

Love ya.

Driving Mr Daisy

In South Africa kids have to be 18 before they can get a driver’s permit.  And even if they get it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can drive, it merely means that they passed an assessment that tested their ability to parallel park without any other cars present, not stalling the vehicle and keeping the car on the road at the required legal speed.  This test doesn’t teach them the subtle nuances of driving that a person acquire over many years.

The important driving skills like how to flick a bird at the stupid driver who cuts you off and which are the appropriate swear words to use when the driver in the fast lane is either looking for parking or just simply prefers to drive at the speed of a dying snail.  Not to mention the important ability of selecting a great playlist in preparation for a road trip.

Irrespective of what Dude may know or doesn’t know about driving, he still managed to pass the test last week on his first attempt, and no-one was more surprised proud than his dad.  He is now a legal driver on the roads of the world because contrary to popular belief, a South African driver’s permit does allows you to drive ANYWHERE you want to.  Except on the pavement.  The problem with this newfound ability and sense of freedom is that even though he has the legal document to operate a motor vehicle, he is yet to own said motor vehicle.

Now just calm down and here me out before you start blaming me for not providing the child with a car.  The reality of him reaching the legal age for driving in South Africa came at me faster than Superman when he hears Lois is in trouble.  And then the actual date for the test came even faster.  I’m not stupid, I knew he was going for his license, I was the one who had to pay some poor driving instructor who had to sit through the terror and anxiety of teaching him how to drive.  We did the basics but due to the fact that an instructor who leaves claw marks on the dashboard and has difficulty in releasing blood-curdling screams every three minutes should rather quit whilst he is ahead.  Which is what I did. And then I got a professional. And it worked.

Back to the fact that I have a serious problem excepting Dude is growing up.  Wait. What?  Yes I do.  I have a really hard time accepting that the Dude will be leaving the house at the end of the year.  There are so many things happening, very quickly.  He calls these achievements milestones and I call them landmark heartaches.  It’s just easier to ignore them, to be like an ostrich with its head in the sand.  Avoid the inevitable.  I’m trying to ignore how much I am going to miss that damn kid when he’s gone.

Hence my reluctance in getting him a car. I’m a selfish bastard.  I feel like me giving him a car is just me giving him permission to spread his wings a little more, to explore a little further, to be just that little bit more independent.  I’m giving him permission to go and live his life with less of me in it.  And that is probably one of the toughest things a parent will have to do in their entire life.

For the moment he is basically taking over driving duties in our house.  If someone even hints about going somewhere he volunteers to drive.  It’s weird to be the passenger because I still see my boy behind the steering wheel, not the young man who is chatting, listening to music and having the time of his life, as he is Driving Mr Daisy.

But don’t worry, I’ve agreed to go car shopping this weekend. Under duress of course.

Princess and I broke the law.

We took a week off last month.  It was during the winter break and that meant Wife, Dude and Princess were lounging around the house for three weeks, whilst yours truly were still grinding away (in a non-sexual way), working myself to death in the harshness of an air conditioned office.  Albeit in a very comfortable leather chair, streaming music and a cup of coffee every now and again.  Life is hard.

We love music festivals so we decided to take a week and head up north to attend Innibos.  A wonderful festival of music, food, art and wine.  Or beer.  The festival is even more fun if you are a fan of Afrikaans music.  If you’re not, or you don’t understand the language, then you probably won’t enjoy the festival as much as we did.  Keeping in mind there is still beer.

Whilst we were up there in the Northern corner of our country we also checked out a few of the sites and skipped through the Kruger National Park.  Technically, we drove through the Kruger National Park because skipping through it might imply suicide.  Lions tend to go for easy prey and a family of white South Africans, skipping through the bush, might just be, what they would consider, a take-away delivery.

During our little tour of Mpumalanga, which is the name of the province we were in and not an exotic dancer, Princess and I broke the law.  The place is called Bourkes Luck Potholes and as I’m not a travel agent, you are more than welcome to Google it, or do a quick browse of a few photos of the place by clicking on this word.

It is truly beautiful and there’s a lot of footpaths scattered across the site to take in the scenery from every possible angle.  There is also quite a few signs scattered across the same footpaths, warning pedestrians not to go beyond certain points.  Mainly because falling of a cliff can be detrimental to your health, even if it is a waterfall.

I might seem like your typical handsome, dashing and extremely strong middle aged man but in actual fact, I’m terrified of heights.  I’m not sure how I will die, but I’m 1000% convinced that it won’t be from falling off a cliff or a three story building.  Or the big slide at the park.  I become a paranoid banshee every time one of my family members venture to close to the edge of any higher ground.  That includes arguments.  Based on past experiences, the safe distance is 2.63 meters, which is even further when you measure it in foot.  It is a very specific distance because anything closer than that makes my voice disappear, as my hysteric screams of panic reach supersonic levels.

Back to me breaking the law.

Whilst strolling along the footpath, away from the cliff, I suddenly felt an urge to do something impulsive, to break rules, to feel some adrenalin pumping through my veins, to feel alive!  So I ventured off the footpath we were on and ignored the sign that was trying to save my life.  I went off the beaten track.  And here is the evidence of that wild moment.

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I saw the sign but chose to ignore it

So ladies, if you’re looking for someone who will ignore authority, break the rules of bureaucracy or ignore the rules that keeps society from becoming animals, but in a way that won’t get him arrested or killed, I’m your man.  Even though I’m taken.

A true rebel with a conscience and a sense of responsibility.  And I even convinced my daughter to join me in my life of crime.  What a day…

He likes big romantic gestures.

They say the best time to write something is when you’re emotional because it allows you to focus all your energy, so you don’t end up sobbing in front of collegues.  I’m not sure who “they” are but it works for me.

Most of you might understand the rollercoaster ride I’ve been on lately, i.e coming to terms with Dude leaving the house at the end of this year.  Fortunately for me, life is making it easy, reminding me of numerous milestones he’s reaching throughout the year.  Little signals that taunt my soul.  Like him turning eighteen or him being accepted by a university, albeit a provisional acceptance, or him asking a girl to be his date at the prom.

Their high school only allows final year students to attend this annual event, so there is a lot of compulsory pairing going on at the moment.  And it’s a big thing. Like a wedding.  But without the cake and the bridesmaids and the white dress and the in-laws and the church and the honeymoon.  Maybe it’s nothing like a wedding…

Dudes have it easy when it comes to putting together an outfit.  They need a suit, a tie, comb their hair, splash on deodorant and Bob’s your uncle.  Unless you’re offended by the name Bob, then Tim could be your uncle.  But if Bob was married to your mother’s sister then he will remain your uncle, irrespective if you like the name or not.  Where was I?

Oh yes.  Dude. And prom.

The only other thing Dudes need to worry about is the transport.  And since my Dude’s father owns an SUV,  the father in question has not been asked to play chauffeur.  I’m slightly offended.  Who wouldn’t want to drive to the ball in a SUV?  I’ll even wash it for them.  Or maybe just get it washed.  He is still looking for an alternative.

What got me writing this post was the photo of the happy couple after she said yes.  Which I never doubted for a second…

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Pretty people.

I got a little teary eye because he made an effort.  He did something original.  They have been friends since the beginning of time and everybody sort of knew they would hook up for prom.  Even so, he wanted it to be special, something she would remember.  Now that might not seem like a big thing but coming from a guy who basically hangs around the house, waiting for his next meal, it is huge.  Ginormous.  Maximum effort (Thanks Deadpool).

He made a poster. He brought flowers and chocolate. He showered.  He got dressed.  He made a poster. I know I’ve said it already but he made a poster!  With a heart.  He asked her dad to drop her off at a designated spot, where he stood all dapper and debonair, ready to get the yes.

Which he did. Obviously.

We call him Mister Dude

There once was a boy who lived in a village that time forgot.  It was a fabulous place to live, a place filled with happiness, laughter and love.  Where the other villagers took care of one another.  They were considerate and kind.  And this boy stole the hearts of all the other villagers.  Some visitors of the land would carry tales of his kindness or his humour or even his handsomeness but they all couldn’t stop telling the story of how he was loved by all the other villagers.  He might have been the most loved person in the village.

The mayor of the village was especially fond of him, and even had a special name for the boy.  He called him Dude.  Because why not?  When a person gets a nickname made of love, then one doesn’t consider the amount of time that was spent scanning through countless books of baby names, just to try and find that perfect balance of manliness, meaning and pronouncability.  Not to mention the ease of spelling the damn thing.

The tragedy of the village was that time moved a lot faster than in the normal world.  What feels like a brief moment turns out to be months or even years in real time.  Moments that fly by at the speed of light, moments that turn into memories faster than life itself.  And then one random day in a year, the villagers wake up and realise that their short stint in time turned out to be a whopping 18 years of real time!!  And that my friends, is fucking ridiculous. (Sorry readers but it is what it is.)

The problem with reaching 18 years of real time is that the boy is no longer a boy.  When a citizen of the village turns 18, it implies that he will be leaving the village shortly.  In a few months from now he will have to say goodbye to the other villagers and then he will only be able to visit them every now and again.  (And let me tell you dear boy, it better be more now than then!)  But there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  The mayor have tried to stop time or even slow it down but there’s no stopping the inevitable.  Time is a heartless bastard.  The man-boy will have to leave the village and face the real world which is a horrible place filled with things like responsibilities.  A place where he will have to stand up and face all the consequences of the many decisions he has yet to make.IMG_2378

The good thing is that Dude is well prepared for life in the real world.  He has grown into the most amazing man in all the land.  He is kind, and generous, and wise, and disciplined, and courteous, and funny, and responsible and dare I say, ladies, dashing as hell.  And even though he might leave our little village, he knows that he’ll always have a place to call home.  A warm place where the other villagers will support him and encourage him and love him until death and beyond.  And they will wish him well on his journey and on this landmark birthday, a soon as they finished sobbing and are able to speak.  Once they have dried their tears of joy and pride.

Because starting tomorrow, we will call him Mister Dude.

And with that, I wish you the greatest, happiest and best 18th birthday.  May your future be as bright as your own being.  May your day be filled with a thousand chuckles and a million laughs.

We love you in a way you may never fully comprehend.

Mom, Princess and I (aka the Mayor.)

 

Life happens

*on my knees

I’m really, really, really sorry for not sticking to some kind of routine when it comes to my posts on this blog but it’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just, well, you know, life.  It happens.  Like shit.

There are so many things that happened in the last few months of my life that it’s becoming rather difficult to keep track.  I opted out of the rat race, sat down and took a breather (and two glasses of wine because some things never change).

So this is me, taking a breath.

I changed jobs. Yes, I did.  It’s my third week in my new office.  I switch from a job where I hopped around the globe to one that has basically no travelling.  And I love it.  I love being home.  I love seeing every game my kids play.  I love not having to plan my life around a business trip and an important event involving my family and friends.  I love not missing anything anymore.  I love the different environment.  I love the challenge.  I love meeting new people.  I love the change. What I don’t love is the fact that I might never see New York again.  But I’ll survive. *cue music

I’ve entered the final year of my MBA.  Yes, I did.  Can you believe it?  A journey that started two years ago has reached the final stretch, albeit the toughest part of the race.  I have to complete a thesis.  And thesis stands for the-headache-ends-shen-Isubmit. (”When” didn’t work in the context of the acronym.)  I’m ready to do this thing, head down, pushing forward but before I continue, let’s me just use this opportunity to clarify an issue:  The reason for my absence from this, or any other blog for that matter, is because of those three damn letters. Even the wife has mentioned how she misses me sometimes…

Dude is a Senior now.  Yes, he is.  “This is mind blowing”, he says, as he slowly shakes his head, taking in the picture in front of him, grey matter splattered across crisp white floor tiles and a fluorescent ceiling.  Yesterday Dude was still running around in nappies and now he is running around in his final year of high school!  And he is turning out to be an amazing and mature young man, despite the example he got from his Dad.  We had to apply for a university and low and behold he got accepted, at least provisionally, depending on his final marks.  He plans to study commerce.  Or accounting.  Or law.  Or not.  What person truly knows what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they’re 17?  I mean I don’t even know what I want for breakfast tomorrow and I’m supposed to be a Dad with all the answers.  (Please don’t let the cat out of the bag, it took me three hours to stuff it back in.)

Princess is stunning.  Yes, she is.  I don’t understand how one person could become prettier by the day but yet, there she is.  Living proof that beauty is in the eyes of the father. And not only is she gorgeous, she’s intelligent, independent, organised, responsible and she doesn’t take any crap from guys.  She calls them out on their shit, without any hesitation. And this is probably her most endearing quality, in my humble opinion.

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Brother and sister forced to pose together by Mom and Dad.

Wife is still amazing, running the household, keeping everything together, taking charge of her two kids and her wonderful man-child.  She does get a little less enthusiastic about the idea of Dude leaving the house at the end of the year, but like any responsible and loving parent, we simply avoid discussing the issue.  Kids don’t like it when both parents are bawling their eyes out in a restaurant or mall or church service or rugby game.  We know this now.

So if you were worried, don’t.  Everything is fine with me and everyone I love.  I promise to try and find the time to write more.

I’m Ah Dad and I have a problem

It seems that I’m losing the urge to (1) Stab a certain coworker in the throat or (2) Wanting to down a bottle of wine at 10 in the morning or (3) Both of the above in quick succession of each other.  But I do have another problem.  Or more accurately, an addiction.

Addiction is a dependence on something in order to sustain normal behavior.  There are many forms of addiction.  Examples include heroine, cocaine, sex, alcohol, Facebook, Jennifer Aniston and/or Britney Spears. And before this post turns into a fifth grade report on substance abuse, let’s just all agree that the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. Continue reading