Boss Baby

Is it possible to rule the roost and rule the country? Our Prime Minister thinks so.

Jacinda Adern is clearly a very ambitious women. She has become the darling of the political world, both nationally and around the world, in relatively rapid time. Her rise through the Labour Party ranks may not have been as meteoric as the media might have us all believe, but her ascendancy to the top job, elected or not, came on a rocket-ship.

And thus, Jacinda Adern was thrust into the limelight. Prime Minister. Leader of a political party, leader of a nation. Our nation. My country and the one I am raising four children to live, love, grow, work, fade and die in.

Now our Prime Minister and her First Man, Clarke Gayford, will shortly be doing just the same; raising a child to grace these shores with it’s beautiful presence. Congrats and all that are due. Never mind whether it is appropriate or not for the leader of a nation to be taking some time out for the birth of a child. Don’t worry over the rights and wrongs of not informing the populace, effectively her employers, of any pending pregnancy.

Adern will stand by her right not to have to divulge that information and on principal, such a stand has to be accepted and applauded. She must have faced quite the dilemma, discovering her pregnancy at a time when the political whirlpool was in vortex, sucking everything and everyone in, as the last election seemed to do. She made her call, it can’t be changed now and to my mind, Mark Richardson’s abilities as a clairvoyant aside, the point is kind of moot.

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Richardson got lambasted in all this, complete with stern, unhappy teacher face and waggling finger, and while it is important to avoid the temptation to make cricket analogies, it seems our First Man has been left out of the playing XI all together.

Clarke Gayford should be offended . Miffed at the least. The question keeps getting raised, time and again, in our mainstream media, in opinion pieces and blogs, in twitter rants and wherever…will the Prime Minister will struggle to do both jobs.

Damn right she will. She is clearly an ambitious and extremely hard working woman and must come with the verve, drive and energy required to get to the position she is in. It is going to take all of that and more, to get through the next year or so from here, relatively incident free.

But, I ask from the cloistered confines of full time fatherhood, why is it we seem to be neglecting, no…failing to herald, Clark Gayford’s role in this?

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Hasn’t the man put his hand up, stating his intended lead role in the raising of the Clarke/Jacinda bub? Are his abilities so doubted we have to question his wife and hers?

Let’s get real here, it ain’t easy raising a child, no matter who you are, what gender you have assigned yourself (that’s how it’s done these days isn’t it?) and certainly no matter what you do for a living. I don’t imagine the Clarke/Ardern household is struggling financially, I can’t see them being under a great deal of pressure in providing all that is needed to give their little one every opportunity. I would also like to think they have a nurturing, close and supportive wider family and social network. Our nations Prime Minister will not be flying solo.

And neither will  Clarke. If nothing else, a rapt nation will be kept well and truly over informed on the progress of bubs, Mum and yes, maybe, just maybe, Dad will get a mention too. Breakfast show TV will be all over it, Mark Richardson or not. But in reality, this baby is going to spend the first few years of it’s little life, essentially without a strong Motherly influence.

Adern will be busy running the nation, a task I am sure does not leave a huge amount of time for full nappies and rolling over and sitting and those all important first steps. Not to mention teething. I wonder how much time it leaves for breast feeding. Are we going to see our P.M. with a baby on the breast in parliament? Not for the first time and bloody good to see being accommodated and readily accepted, just as it should be.

So, to my mind, there is no question of whether or not Jacinda Adern will be able to cope, juggling motherhood and the leadership of this nation. She is only going to be doing the one job full time. The one with the paperwork and the negotiating and the press conferences and the pressure and stresses. The pressure and stress her husband will be under are far different, but you sure as hell won’t catch this guy belittling them.

The real debate is who is going to be working the hardest. I reckon I know the answer.

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Selfish Guilt?

An impromptu day off. 

My wife is ill. Quite unwell in fact.

Not only is she suffering toothache, the first time that dastardly infliction has struck her down, but she has copped whatever horrible affliction that lowered our kids over the last week or so.

One after another, they dropped like proverbial flies, hit with the spray of seasonal fever, cough and cold. And it ain’t over yet. The Wee-Man is yet to come down with anything serious, and the big one, me, has seemingly dodged a bullet…so far.

Enough cliches.

My wife is a battler. She works long and hard and is a dedicated professional. She is a mother, a chef, a house-cleaner, a chauffeur and a counselor. She pushes hard and lately, has been pushed hard. So when she gets crook, it hits her hard too.

It isn’t like her to want to take a day off work. She is not the type to cash in her sick days…for any reason, let alone that she might actually be unwell. Right now she looks like death warmed up and even then, barely. She is certainly not heated through. If she was a sausage, I would be putting her back on the BBQ.

So today, she didn’t go in. Others are covering the more important or urgent aspects of what she does and she is taking the time to wallow, to mope, to sloth and to generally take on all the images that come to mind when you think of a Zombie.

I went fishing.

Am I bad person? Because I viewed my wife’s tortuous condition as a day off for myself. Does that make me selfish? Or opportunistic?

With her home, the kids suitably supervised if not fully appreciated, I took the chance to slip the kayak into a glassy, still, incoming tide. I paddled around the head of the peninsula, trolling the main channel in the vain hope I might bring something fresh home.

I beached, grabbed a bottle of water and then sat on the tide and took in the ambiance of Rawene, as viewed from the water: The comings and goings from the Four Square, cafe goers at the Boatshed, strollers and cyclists and traffic heading to or from the ferry, plying its trade on the still waters.

It was magical. Rawene is a gorgeous town, but not more so than when viewed from the water. I soaked in the brilliance of it all and marveled at how grand life can be. I let the ferry slip away from the jetty, slung out the line, and headed back for deep water and home.

I took my time too. I had no real idea of when I set out and no clue as to how long I had taken so far. The wind didn’t get up, the tide was against me, but only making a token effort and the sun shone brightly. Heaven.

I don’t think you can catch Mullet on a line. Flounder aren’t interested either. Ideally, I would have pulled in a Kahawai and if Tangaroa had been smiling upon me from below, then I would have hooked multiple Snapper or maybe even a Kingi or two. Instead, I came home with nothing but a touch of sunburn.

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Wifey was hanging the washing. She looked like she might collapse. I dutifully took over, fed the kids their lunch and sent my little woman to bed. The Wee-Man joined her for a nap, a bonus to what had already proved to be a great day off.

Bring on the weekend! Oh wait…it isn’t the weekend already?

I had no idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the Piss

I sit down to pee.

I don’t throw like a girl. I never had a great arm, but nor was it a bad one. Besides, I preferred to field in closer to the action. Cricket is a great way to ruin an entire Saturday anyway.

If I have a feminine side, and I don’t believe I do, then I am not ‘in touch’ with it. Even typing it sounds a bit rude. I am not a woman trapped in a mans body, I am not experimental with my sexuality/gender. However, more often than not these days, when the need arises, I sit down to take a piss.

Part of the problem lies in the fact there is no latch on the toilet door. Anyone, even little toddler sized little ones, can push the door open.

I am not precious. Mike Bracey is not the type to suffer from ‘stage fright’. While I agree there are some things best done alone, I am still capable of doing them in the presence of others, if need be. What bloke hasn’t been to a urinal? But a toilet bowl in an en-suite bathroom is no urinal. Theoretically, I should have the place to myself. I don’t.

I’m all for a little up and coming man being taught the ropes of manhood by his male seniors. Isn’t that part of being a parent, the point of being a Dad? Raising the next generation, training and guiding and encouraging and mentoring and all that.

Yes, I hear you all chorus, so is the way of the world. Man and boy. But the way to teach a man to urinate is not to shower him in my own steamy stream.

“For goodness sake boy, get your head out of there.”

My Wee-Man (suddenly that moniker has taken on a whole new meaning) has a fascination for all things wet. He loves water, in all its forms. Cool. I am a bit of a water baby myself. My love of the water, however, does not extend to the toilet bowl.

Wee-Man will lift the lid, stare intently, drop this and that in, lean too far and threaten to take a dip. And if he hears the tinkling sound of piss, he is all for the yellow waterfall.

So I have taken to barricading myself in. I sneak away, careful to make my departure is as unnoticeable as possible, suitable distractions in place. I close the bedroom door, then the bathroom door, then due to the lack of a latch, place the heaviest available item up against it. That item isn’t the scales in case you are wondering. They don’t get heavy until I put my feet on them.

Seems excessive just to avoid pissing on my sons head, but at least it avoids the inevitable clean-up and any awkward questions from the Mrs. His time will come. Right now, he is vertically challenged and is yet to fully master the concept of balance.

At least he is yet to wriggle his way onto my lap why I am reading the sports news.

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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.

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.