NEW YEAR, NEW MAN, NEW PLAN

And so it is 2018. A summer recharge, and right back into it…

Time to establish some ground rules, for me and for the whanau. (whanau is Maori for family, in case you were wondering. Bet you didn’t know I could be so cultural)

Right now, with the 2018 school term a little way off, I have got it easy. Many hands make lite work and all that. So surely this is the time to assess what had been happening, re-assess what has not been happening well, take stock of all of the good, the bad and the ugly-I count myself firmly in the latter category-and freshen the approach to things.

By ‘things’ I mean all the stuff required to raise kids and run the household you are raising them in. It is summer, a bloody good one at that, so the season is doing a good job of surrogate parenting for me. Time will come soon enough though-kids back at school, weather turning cooler and wetter (the wife is already back at work)-when I have to get my shit together. So why not start now, establishing few ground rules along the way.

Vacuuming is a work out. If it isn’t already, make it so. 

You are never going to ‘get back in shape’. What shape that was, is frighteningly similar to the one you have now, so how is that gonna work out for ya?  Besides, four kids and and wife, who spends the majority of her time either physically at work, or on call for it, and where is the chance to ‘work out’? Vacuum like you mean it.

Rotate the clothing in the little one’s draws. 

No one likes shopping. It doesn’t matter if I am New Zealand’s version of The Rock, all rippling muscle and oozing masculinity. Nor would it matter if I was a frilly fairy princess clad in pink. I do not, have not and will never, like shopping!

So be warned. It is not a favourite top. Those are not a pair of favourite tights. They are just the items on top in the draw. Okay, a little one might have a preference or two, but a fashion show it is not (it kind of is, but I do what I can to ignore that). When the laundry is dried and folded-not to her standard I might add-slip those lemon fresh items down the bottom of the pile in the draw, thus meaning you attract the little ones attention to the array of other clothes she has available. Eventually, nothing is going to fit, no matter how worn and tatty the clothes and as the E-Bomb is the last in her chain, the last of the females, meaning no more hand-me-downs, keep cycling them around. The longer you can put off the shopping trip, the better.

Get down and dirty. 

We have good kids. A big part of this is because all kids are born that way, good. Sure, there may be the odd demon as an exception proving the rule, but generally there is nothing wrong with a child until we start putting it there. The key to keeping them good is communication. Which is kinda the key to every relationship in life.

So get down at their level. I don’t mean dumb yourself down. By no means, because let’s get real, you are most likely dumber than them anyway. I mean, get on the floor. Be a part of what they are, see it all from where they are at. Change the perspective. Literally do not talk down to your kids. Sure, it might take a while for this old body to protestingly get up off the floor, but in the meantime, it is really worth it.

And while you are there, talk to them like humans. Treat them like the people they are. Little people admittedly, put fully functioning people nonetheless.

Buy a pig.

Okay, actually going out and purchasing a pig may be a touch extreme. We have the space for one and the time required to look after animals, stock. Most living the suburban dream can’t say the same, so stick with your insinkerators and your composting and all the other techniques you employ so your rubbish doesn’t stink, making for a good breeding ground for maggots. What I am trying to say is, don’t be the one cleaning up the scraps…with your mouth. I said buy a pig, don’t be the pig.

We get the kids to eat what we eat. The idea is for them to develop a wide pallet, stop them being fussy, help them learn to identify what is good and healthy and nutritious. It also makes meal preparation so much easier, but that is just Mum and Dad being selfish. (note the capitals…you deserve to be in capitals) We try, as much as is possible, to get them all involved in the process of preparing, cooking, eating and cleaning up after a meal. Number One takes great delight in cooking for the family, now and then and Number Two is just starting to get into things more, now she can reach. With a bit of luck they will learn some independence and not be completely inept, when the time comes for them to push off.

Did I say push off?

I meant spread their wings.

 

 

 

It’s Up to You

Sometimes people, it is your fault. And that is okay.

Stop it.

Stop the blame. Stop the dodging and the deflecting and the recriminations and the pointing of the fingers and the obfuscation and all the rest of it.

Every now and then, just maybe, it is ok, as a fully functioning member of society, to put your hand up and say ‘Oops, my fault. I did that, sorry.’

That last bit is the key, the apology. But we will get to that.

Because before I go any further, on what will fast become a rant, I need to make it clear that I am not quite old enough for the ‘Back in my day’ rhetoric, yet I am one of maybe the last generations that is prepared to accept fault, to acknowledge blame.

To accept responsibility.

People fuck up. We all do. Make mistakes, errors, slip ups. From the tiny little oops moments to the big stuff ups, with cataclysmic results. Doing so is part of the course we have to plot in life. Therefore, it stands to reason, the young are going to do it more than most. It is how we learn, grow and develop. Much of who we become is due to the mistakes we have made and the learnings we take from that.

So how are we, as a society, meant to grow and nurture the coming generations if we spend more and more time giving credence to the enabling culture that seems to be pervading every aspect of our current and future lives?

The recent trial in the states of Michelle Carter, the vindictive little bitch that sent messages to her ex, encouraging his suicidal thoughts and indeed, his eventual claiming of his own life, caught my attention, as it did many around around the world.

What struck me, quite apart from the callous disregard from this sad individual, so remiss in being aware of the sensitivities and sensibilities of others (and the manner the youth culture in the U.S.A, from an outsiders perspective, seems to be so wayward), was the comments from the Judge.

His claim that Miss Carter ‘killed’ the poor boy in question, is bloody ridiculous. Did she pull a trigger? No. Did she force feed him enough pills to poison him? Mix anti-freeze into his cereal? No. Did she push him over the edge of the precipice he was so precariously balanced on. Possibly. And on that possibility, she has been charged, prosecuted and sentenced.

Rightly or wrongly is not for me to decide and I am not in a position to debate the merits to the laws, the American judicial system, that lead to such an outcome. What is up for debate, is how we seem to readily accept what the judge has stated. That Michelle Carter was at ‘fault’.

Yes. She carries some of the blame. A lot of it. And a huge whack of guilt one would hope. But with this ruling, the boy in question has himself been let off the hook. It was him that claimed his own life. Him and him alone, that cashed in his future. I am sure he felt justified in his reasons and felt the dire need to take such a drastic step to cure whatever it was that ailed him so. A tragic decision and ultimately, a final step he made on his own. Yet we, as a society, enable that. We tut-tut at the girl and her horrendous behaviour and so we should.

But by saying it wasn’t the young mans fault, which is as much the implication as anything else to be taken from this sorry state of affairs, is tantamount to that hoary modern chestnut….enabling.

God, how I hate that term. But it is real and it is happening all the time. More so, as the power and influence of people my age begins to take hold and wield more influence.

Enabling. An insipid creeping thing that has slowly but surely established itself over the course of the last decade or so, maybe a little more. We are letting those that follow, our offspring, get away with anything and everything.

Sure, we punish when the law is broken. I wonder, if that is soon enough. Are we punishing enough in our homes, our schools? Are we setting standards and boundaries and standing by them? Sadly, I don’t think we are.

I like to think of it as our Health and Safety culture. Okay, there is nothing wrong with being safety conscious in the work place, especially if that awareness is going to lead to the prevention of avoidable deaths. There has to be a limit though, a point where self responsibility kicks in, a stage where you can point the finger and go hey, mate…that was your fault, your complacency, your inattention, your arrogance, your responsibility.

 

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To that end, it is in the literature for all work place health and safety statements. The biggest threat to your safety is…wait for it…you. So why hasn’t that ethos filtered through, permeated, into wider society? Why are ‘we’, as a growing populace, being mollycoddled?

Out clauses are given every teetering step of the way. Our youth are told the problem lies with their upbringing. Perhaps, in many cases, it does. Then they are told the issue is the education system, or the health services letting them down, or their diets are poor, or our politicians are not listening, or there is too much foreign ‘gangsta’ influence, or their is no spiritual guidance, or their role models are sports stars and not scholars. Too much T.V, too much pop culture, too poor, too catered to, too ignorant, too privileged, too neglected.

It is not their fault.

There was a time, it seems to me at least, when people were encouraged to put there hand up, admit culpability, apologise, and everyone moved on. Now, it seems to me at least, there is more emphasis placed on the thing at fault, than on the solution. No one seems to be sorry anymore. No one is apologetic. Instead, they are accusatory, seeking to shift the direction of the pointed finger from aiming squarely at them. They all want to be forgiven, to be allowed another chance, a third one.

So when does anyone stop and acknowledge their own role in proceedings, when things go so wrong?  We are all quick to pat ourselves on the back when we achieve success, and rightly so. Be loud and proud when you do it well, when you get things right. Accept the praise with grace and dignity. Maybe, just a thought, we could try to do more of that with our failings.

Saying sorry is a good start. Everyone looks on that sort of thing favourably. I was taught to, so were you. Let’s teach the same thing to our kids.

Arrow SIgns - Not My Fault Shifting Blame