The Walking Talking Dead

I would like to this opportunity to introduce you all to Jake.

Jake is three. He is a little boy that lives in the forest.

Jake does not attend school, Pre-School, Creche, Kindergarten or Play Center.

Jake owns a car but does not drive. Jake drinks beer. Jake only eats Lolli-pops, Lollies and Chocolate

Jake is my daughters best friend. As far as I can tell he is invisible. It could be that he is more fantastical than I am giving him credit for. Perhaps he has cloaking devices or magical disappearing shrouds or perhaps he is hypnotising me (and everyone else too).

You see, I am not entirely sure Jake exists. Having said that, I think Jake is very real. He certainly has a great impact on our days at the moment. We all get to hear a great deal about Jake and just what he is up to.

This weekend we had a BBQ and socialised with the nieghbours. Jake was invited, but as my darling daughter put it so eloquently, he was not available.

Jake is an imaginary friend. I feel the need to spell that out, in case there are those out there beginning to believe my daughter has supernatural friends. Or perhaps, sees dead people. Jake is however, all too real as far as the E-Bomb is concerned.

She knows we are on to her and the E-Bomb is not silly.  Several attempts have been made by the family to meet Jake, but conveniently, he has always had other things on at the time. I don’t believe Jake is intentionally avoiding us, but he certainly seems unwilling to make an appearance.

Jake and his exploits have become a bit of a running joke over the last couple of weeks, since he appeared on our doorstep, seemingly out of nowhere. However, I am becoming increasingly wary of belittling his presence. It has in fact led me to question some things; is our daughter bored? Is she lacking social interaction, so much so she has to invent some? Is she not challenged, is she  fearful of others and therefore has become too insular? Is our daughter a headcase?

The answer to the last question is pretty simple. No. The E-Bomb is not mad, she does not have ‘issues’. She just has an imaginary friend. I have heard stories of parents having to go so far as to set a place at the dinner table for a child’s little invisible mate. Seats need to be made available for the mystery one in the car, an extra ice-cream has to be bought. While we have not had to go so far as placating to Jake quite to that extent, I can understand the need or desire to.

To our little one, Jake has rapidly become as much a part of her world as anything ‘real’ or tangible.  He is in her life, very much so, and therefore in ours. Jake has become a part of the family and that in no way concerns us and I don’t believe it should. If we are still hearing from Jake in ten years time, if Jake is still accompanying us on family outings, if we are still needed to BBQ an extra sausage or two, when both he and our darling daughter are in their teens and beyond, then there might be an issue or two worth discussing.

The E-Bomb does not see dead people. She does not have visitations from ethereal beings from the ‘other side’ and she is not cavorting with mythical creatures like faeries or pixies or anything of the sort. And Jake sure sounds like no fairy.

Our daughter is not delusional. Well, no more so than anyone else in this family; her mother still thinks we are going to win lotto, I still think I have my baby-faced good looks. I would hope that she isn’t lonely. We are a fairly tight-knit family, our third daughter gets on well with her older siblings and with her little brother. Gone are the days when she was doted over by her sisters, but she is still very much a part of their day and theirs to her.

We live in a small country town. That means we lack some of the facilities and extras readily found in metropolitan areas. Child care is one of those things. But there is a playcentre the E-Bomb attends twice a week and she loves it. There are some other kids in the neighbourhood she gets to hang with every now and then and, as has been proven by the arrival of Jake, she has a vivid and active imagination. She is a great little communicator, good with language and has excellent comprehension. With our little E-Bomb, there seems to be a great deal of excess, rather than anything lacking.

All the while she seems to have some form of telepathic means of communication with Jake. She knows what he is up to pretty much at all times and where he is at. She knows what he has been doing over the last few days and where he was doing it and she knows what his plans are for the coming days. I don’t think Jake is alive. But I do think he exists, if that makes sense.

Then again, maybe the E-Bomb does see dead people. Perhaps, Jake really is real. Either way, welcome to the madhouse.

 

  a53

 

 

 

Love and War

My daughter hates me.

“I hate you.” E-Bomb isn’t vehement. More matter of fact, cold.

“I love you.” It is all I can say and I mean it.

“I don’t like you and I don’t love you.”

It’s an important distinction. There is a clear delineation between those you love and those  you like. You are not always going to like the people you love.

Sometimes, I don’t like E-Bomb.

She can be a thoroughly unreasonable person. Multiple personality disorders are suspected. Loving, cuddly sweetness can give way to foot-stomping tantrums before you have even thought of dropping the hat. Life can end up being lived on egg shells. Well it could, except we don’t.

We, as a family, are more or less immune to the carry-on. So far, with numbers One and Two, there have been no real dramas. Both have been relatively compliant, adaptable, can be reasoned with. Their demeanours might best be described as sweet. More or less.

Everyone has their moments. times when things will just not go right, the piece just won’t fit together. The whole woke up on the wrong side of the bed thing. This is especially true for kids I think, little ones to those become real people. by real people, I mean young adults.

So much is new, so much untried. Everything is testing, a challenge and kids are in such a rush, in a hurry to skip the small; steps and go straight to leaps and bounds. Because they do, develop and change and grow so fast, too fast at times and when you can’t find the words to express feelings you don’t understand, it is a frustrating thing.

And then it is easy to hate.

You hate your brother. You hate your sisters. You hate your Father. You hate the T.V, hate the rain, hate the sun, hate your dolls, hate music, hate the dogs. Poor dogs. Very rarely do you seem to hate your mother. I think that comes later.

So much hate, delivered with so much conviction.

But, she likes me a little bit. She likes me, even loves me. And hates me. And that is ok. The E-Bomb is a three-nager, a child. And a female. Show me the guy, no matter how enlightened, who can keep up with the vagaries of a females emotive state. it just means I am comfortable with it. I have to be.

A hateful attitude just servers to make all the kind, caring and loving moments all that sweeter. Because the E-Bomb, like her big sisters before her, can be a gorgeous little bundle of love and light, all cuddles and giggles and fun.

Making the most of these moments is the key and we do. No tiptoeing on eggshells, just get in. They want last, as cliched as that is to say.

When the E-Bomb goes off we don’t duck for shelter, don’t run and hide. We don’t placate either. Somewhere in the middle ground, between giving in and discipline, is the road we have to travel. She knows, we know and with a little patience and a whole lot of love, we can make it happen.

All smiles

2371.Jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

images

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.

 

 

Screen_Shot_2016-06-12_at_12.15.09_PM.png

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.