Thursday, August 26, 2010

step away from the red and no-one will get hurt...

I went shopping this week, which in itself is quite something because I hate shopping. Despite the fact that this might make me a bit manly, I did find some cute dresses for little girls. It could have been my need for variety – because I have sons and all – but I was excited enough to mentally to through my list of deserving-little-girls to see who’d get one.

Then I remembered. Little girls have a more of a porno-slash-kitsch attitude to clothes. They wouldn’t be caught dead in the black and white gingham that I was all worked up about. Generally, there are clothes that parents would like kids to be wearing ... and then there’s all the other clothes ...

I think I’ll start with colours, namely pastels. I’m not even sure adults should wear pastels. Unless that is, you’re trying to pull a sickie and hope to get sent home from work because you’re looking a bit wan. You know, like wan of the sick wans.   Maybe babygro designers hope that vomit is somewhat camouflaged against pastels, but truth be told, the sour smell gives it away.

Let's not forget the proverbial navy, green and khaki - a riveting choice - for little boys.  Because like, they’re NEVER going to have to wear those colours once they’re grown men. Couple that with some very fetching prints of super-friendly looking wrestlers (the type you really want to take home to mum and dad), these tees are real style-makers. No really, I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to have a picture of an earring-wearing wrestler (whose expression looks like he’s suffering from bad constipation) on my t-shirt. I can only imagine this started of as a bad joke.  Hideous, is the first word that comes to mind.  Followed swiftly by hideous again.

I don’t even think we need to discuss those “people-branding” kind of prints.  For sure, Barbie, Hannah Montana, Ben Ten and the Jonas Brothers have their place in the world.  But it’s not on t-shirts, nighties or god forbid, dresses.  They shouldn’t even be on mugs or satchels. I might settle for them on the cover of a school file.

This entry would not be complete without mentioning pink. Pinkness is a big concern to me. Not because it’s pink, but because there’s SO DANG MUCH of it around. Seriously. I have noticed that unless it is pink, preferably with Liberace-type bling and made out of what I can only assume is slimy fabric from the future, little girls will simply not wear it.  Also, the fact that girls only give attention to pink things is bad news for things like stop signs, which once they have their drivers license will be ignored, just for being red. It seems that unless given round Yuletide, don’t bother with giving a cute red outfit. I’ll just be put in the “re-gift” drawer. It’s enough to make you want an emo-kid, honestly. Just for the variety.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the kitchen's closed...

Celebrity parents. It’s enough to make you want to chew your arm off, really.  Of all the truly mind blowing things that celebrities say, the most irritating have to be the things they blab about parenting. 
For starters… “We’re very hands on and don’t have a lot of help.”  Um, riiiight.  Let me get this straight. You have like, three to six kids and you don’t have a “lot” of help?  Puh-leeeease.  You and Mr Handsome-pants are away for work (modeling, singing, acting, designing your fashion range, getting caught philandering) for what, 4-8 weeks of the year?  Even if you fly the coop at different times, that would mean for roughly 8-16 weeks of the year, only one parent at a time is responsible for the whole shebang?  

I can only assume that their idea of  “not a lot of help” is very different to mine.   I’m sorry, truly I am, but I simply cannot believe, nor picture, one celebrity parent doing the hard yards with two, let alone six, kids. On their own.  With not a “lot” of help.  Given that they also have to take time out to learn lines, have meetings, socialise, get pampered and preened, rehearse, practice, smoke joints, get pampered and preened, go to the gym and get their plastic surgery done, it would seem that they may just be pony-ing up the truth.  Just a bit. Cheeses. We’re hands on… gimme a break.

My favorite quotes have to be the ones on nutrition.  Heidi Klum – bless her tiny size six bum – was quoted saying something like: “We all eat the same meal, right from the baby to the oldest.  And when the kitchen is closed, the kitchen is closed."  (She did say, in fairness, that the baby’s food is liquidized.)  Given Mrs Seals svelte form, I’d say the kitchen was probably never really open in the first place.  And if it was, it couldn’t have been for very long.  Anyone who has tried to get a baby, toddler or child to settle when they are still hungry, knows that it is a daring statement to say, “the kitchen is closed”.  Unless, that is, the “little bit of help” is getting up to fix a snack for the offending hungry child while the folks aren’t looking.

And then, folks, there’s Tom Cruise.  Poster boy for the Vitamins to Cure Post-natal Depression Campaign.  And all this time I thought he was an actor and not a world famous Psychiatrist!  Shame on me.  Er, Tom dear, it’s called Complimentary Medicine.  It’s supposed to compliment not replace, the other medicine you might need.  Geddit?  You can tell that his split between spending time in the real word and on a set is not quite equal - that green screen may finally be getting to him. Vitamin advice, dear friends, from a man who hasn’t even had the balls to age gracefully. Perhaps I should write him a note telling him that anti-oxidants, vitamins and good nutrition are recommended for staying youthful? Plastic surgery, Tom? Nope, not me. Botox Tom?  Bo whaaat?  Fillers Tom?  Never even heard of them!  Real natural, Tom.  No really, we can tell. Nice one.

Monday, August 9, 2010

give me the sensory deprivation room, please...

I was nearly famous last week.  Actually, that could be a bit of an exaggeration. I went to watch “Men who stare at goats” and swore (quite loudly, in fact) that in one scene, they'd stolen my idea.  The one idea that could have made me famous. At least I thought they stolen my idea... till I Googled it and read that not only isn't it solely my idea, but its already famous and a true and horrific fact.  

I’m getting diverted – sigh, George Clooney has a way of doing that to me.  I won’t reveal the whole plot, but I will go so far as to say it’s set in some godforsaken deserty place with lots of US soldiers running around.  Could be Iraq or Afghanistan (locations make a big impression on me, you can tell). Anyhow, there’s this Guantanamo Bay type scene where you see an inmate in the “hole” (why is it called a “hole” and is there such a thing as outmates? And while we’re at it, they’re really not treated like mates at all). He’s kitted in the usual outrageous range overalls, there’s a strobe light strobing and a music playing.  LOUDLY.  And which music would that be?  No, not The Prodigy. No, not Metallica, Korn or ACDC either. But … the Barney theme song.  So then I knew. Like for sure, sure, sure.  It’s not just me.  The whole hot damn world finally recognises the damage created by torturous nursery rhymes and tunes composed for kids television. Most grown ups will do anything for break from the monotonous caterwauling. They may even go so far as to sit in on a neighbour doing DIY with a angle grinder.

Do jingle writers deliberately do this?  Don’t they know that - musically speaking - what parents need is something like chilled out jazz or Reggae (joint optional) or some perky pop (Simply Slim optional)?  You know who your true friends are by the music they give you. If they give you nursery rhymes etc. they may secretly be keen on watching you launch yourself over a cliff.  You see the truth is this. Adults assume that kids want to listen to music that sounds like kids i.e. a bit deranged, manic with too much soprano and falsetto.  They don’t. They’re more than happy to hear good old rock with maybe a bit of punk thrown in there.  Sound evidence that kiddies’ sing-along music is plain frightening can be found in scary movies.  Have you noticed that if they really want to scare the living shit out of you they always use tinkly kids voices singing in the background? It’s normally a song like Twinkle Twinkle or Ring-a-ring-a-roses. (BTW.  Death by firing squad to the bastards who wrote 10 Green Bottles and Alice the Camel.  Simply heinous. Horribly hateful.) 

If it will set your mind at ease (as you plan your Nursery Rhyme CD torching strategy ... New Years bon fires work very well) they’ve actually done research on how it’s not a certain type of music that stimulates your child’s brain, but more that they listen to a wide range of music.  Apparently kids can hear the melody behind the electric guitar even if their parents can’t. Maybe because they’ve no preconceived ideas about what the “right” music to listen to is.  True story. Google it, it’s out there somewhere. Just maybe lay off ACDC, Korn and Metallica.  I mean really, no one understands their music.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

apgar shmapgar...

When babies are born, they’re immediately whisked away for an Apgar test.  Sigh; their first 5 seconds of life and they are already being tested.  And this test, I daresay, is hardly one they’ve had time to prepare for.  Does in vitro life make you Apgar fit? I think not.  Lets look at what the Apgar is all about...
A = Appearance.  There has been absolutely no opportunity for the newborn to spend time on a tanning bed.  Thank goodness what they’re looking for is “pink” and not “golden-brown”.  BTW, if your extremities are blue - sorry - you’ve lost a point.  This is the last time in a child’s life that it will be considered a plus to be pink. 
P = Pulse.  The poor infant doesn’t know if they are supposed to be working up their pulse (75% of their max) or working towards an impressively low “resting pulse” (domain of the super-fit). Sheesh, talk about a surprise test. 
G = Grimace. This is probably the most telling part of the test that indicates what you, the parent, is in for.  If Wikipedia is to be believed, the scoring on “Grimace” goes somewhat against what most parents are hoping for in the long run. In the world according to Apgar, Grimace is a plus.  Again, the only time in your life this will be considered a winning sign. The infant that scores the highest is the one who cries and pulls away when stimulated.  The average achiever grimaces or gives a feeble cry when stimulated and a poor-performance-could-do-better infant scores nil when they don’t respond to stimulation.  This is both rude and unfair.  You’ve been in a warm, quiet cocoon for 9 months with nothing but the sway of your mother’s hips to worry about and now they expect you to perform like a circus seal?  If a newly-borns wakeup attitude is anything like mine, I don’t blame them for scoring nil.  At best I give a mumbly grunt when woken up before … well, before I’ve woken up. Additional note: the scoring on “grimace” is measured also by the words: reflex (ok, that’s ones fine) and irritability (of course they’re irritated and guess what, they’re going to stay like that for at LEAST 3 months.)
A = Activity muscle tone.  This one I have a real problem with.  If you were lying in a hammock for say 9 months, maybe spinning it around every couple of days, you wouldn’t develop much muscle tone.  I fear I that even at my age I’d score horribly low on the Apgar test in this department. I know they’re been swimming around in water, but there’s hardly enough room for laps.  And even in vitro athletes would loose their fitness for sure in the last 8 weeks when things become too cramped.  Yoga?  Maybe.  Pilates? Very unlikely. And heaven knows, no weight training whatsoever.  It’s a miracle any newborns score at all.
Finally, the most mysterious of all.  R = respiration.  Now honestly, I ask you with my palms facing upward!  Newborns have really, really NOT had any chance to practice this.  Much like the “Grimace” part of the test, a strong, lusty cry is considered a plus. Top Score in fact. And since when is a cry considered breathing? Go figure. 


Best-Kisser and I alway used to have the same argument when we’d watch a military themed movie.  We could not agree on whether they were saying Hoorah, or Oohray, or Oohaah.  If I’d just Googled it earlier we could have saved ourselves a lot of heated debate. As it turns out, we were both kind of right. 

Ooh-rah is said by the Marines, and originates from when the submarine was about to dive; the PA system would announce DIVE DIVE, followed by the Klaxon alarm, which sounded roughly like AARUGHA!  All I can say is thank goodness the sound was passed down verbally and not written, otherwise we would have had a lot of interesting versions of AARUGHA which may have sounded more like drowning Marines, instead of alert Marines.  Given the tricky spelling of the word, it has evolved into what is now Ooh-rah or Hoo-rah.  Much simpler. Much more, um, alert sounding.

Hooah, on the other hand,  is said by the Army and comes from the acronym, H.U.A, which stands for Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.  And it is this attitude, my friends, which I am looking for in my household. There can be no confusion when you hear Hooah.  It has all bases covered.  Heard?  Yes, I’ve heard.  Understood? Yes, yes, I’ve definitely got it.  Acknowledged?  Yes, acknowledged. In another words...“action to be taken imminently.”

I have wondered many times if my children also Googled Hooah vs. Ooh-rah and stumbled instead upon AARUGHA, because this is what it sounds like when I ask them to do something.  Yes, I get the drowning marines version and not the choppy, yippy version.  Please put on your shoes and socks. AARUGHA!  Please go and brush your teeth. AARUGHA!  Please go and do your homework, like now. AARUGHA!  Please tidy up your toys. AARUGHA!  To make matters more convincing, they have coupled their AARUGHA! with an appropriate drowning-marine face.  They give me a look like I’ve just asked them to complete a commando style obstacle course, blindfolded, backwards, in the snow.

It’s my fault, really.  Instead of teaching them the simple Hooah I want to hear, I have been teaching them manners instead.  And quite honestly, if I have to choose between manners and an obedient Hooah, I’ll take the Hooah any day.

the sidewinder sleeps tonight...

Here is a little known fact about newlyborns.  Shortly after their Apgar test, they are whisked away to an Intensive Training Course.  This course teaches them, in an accelerated learning style, to use up as much bed space as is infantly possible.  The class top achiever is the infant who has been able to “train” their parents to sleep on a section of bed not wider than a gymnasts balancing beam.  The infant that manages to hoof a parent completely off the bed, will graduate maxima cum laude.

There are quite a few tactics that they’re taught.  The fist one, which I’m sure was the inspiration behind the song “the sidewinder sleeps tonight”, is where the infant wriggles, and squirms so much that it is impossible for any co-bedders (note, I did NOT use the word co-sleepers…) to get any sleep at all.  And if they do get some shuteye, it is just that.  No REM, No deep restorative sleep.  Just 40 winks la la Churchill style.  BTW: the person who wrote “the sidewinder sleeps tonight” did not actually stick to the theme, if you read the lyrics.  They went totally off track, probably because they were so tired, having shared their bed with an infant or small child the night before.

The other tactic is called “Rugby-Posting” (if you have two parents in bed), or “T-Baring” (if there is only one parent left).  Here, the infant it taught to lie parallel to the headboard, stretch back with their head till it hits one parent in the stomach and kick their legs out sharply, until it connects with the other parents sternum.  They have to continue doing that all night regardless of the parents moving further and further away from the head and/or foot end.  Many parents have tried to thwart this strategy by maneuvering themselves to sleep parallel to the infant again, but this has proven unsuccessful as they invariably set off the infant’s sleep-to-move alarm and then they end up having to reposition themselves all over again into the H or T bar position. They also end up with no blanket.

Probably the most effective tactic is one called the “Rotating Starfish”.  Here, they are taught to first kick off all bedding, then find their way to the middle of the bed, where they will spread out like a star fish and rotate round and round pretty much all night. This is highly effective because it means that the parent has to continually adjust their position.  Once is never enough.  Don’t underestimate newborns and infants. They are born with their game-face on.

Friday, August 6, 2010

a whole mile o' trouble...

Clearly, it was called the “Fan Mile” and not the ‘Family Mile’, for a reason. It should have been called, “The Optimistic Mile”, as upon arrival I saw many optimistic faces.  And why not?  After all, if nothing else, soccer is a game for optimists.  Where else will you see fierce, agile men battling out with the very real possibility of ending up with a nil-nil score?  Thank god for sudden death shootouts.  OK, not really, but you get my drift.  
We (that is to say us and the rest of Cape Town) just felt it would be a moment our kids should know they were part of.  Their sketchy soccer heritage if you like - a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Naively, we should have anticipated that’d we wouldn’t be the only family who flirted briefly with soccer mania.  Seemingly,  250 000 soccer fans brought their kids (and some cousins) who by the look of things, weren’t ‘feeling’ it at all.
What we saw, in fact, was very fake-happy looks on parent’s faces.  Gritted teeth as they carried whining, whinging children, toddlers and shorties of various sizes who clearly, had abso-effing-lutely no sense of decorum whatsoever.  A once in a lifetime event?  Couldn’t give a dang.  Can you feel the love tonight?  No, not really, mostly I’m just hungry dad. I think most parents thought they’d be able to show their shorties a photo of themselves (family portrait a- la-fan-mile style) one day and be able to say:  You were there.  You felt the gees.  You loved the vibe.  But nooooh, what were the shorties after?  Crappy snacks and psychedelic drinks.  
Can’t say I blame them.  If you were shortie enough you got to ride on a parent’s shoulders or back.  If you were a middly shortie, you had to walk.  And what did you see?  A whole bunch of stranger’s waistlines or crotches (mostly from the back, admittedly) maybe a few flag ponchos, a weird wig or two;  but that’s about it.  Were shorties feeling boastful, show-offy and smug about SA winters?  No, not really. Because when you’re a kid hot is hot, cold is cold, and comfortable is comfortable - there’s just no talking yourself into believing you feel great when you don’t.
And as I gazed at the parent’s faces, I saw longing.  There was an unwritten camaraderie based on knowing that whilst you thought you were being sportishly noble, all you really wanted to do was chug back a few lagers and discuss how fabulous SA is with some random foreigners.
I’ll never do a sporting event with shorties again. Not till they’re biggies. Hell, there were even 70 year olds having more fun, I shit you not. Beers in hands, blue rinse and all, wandering round the fan mile looking right merry and jaunty.  Lucky bastards.

children are mistrustful, especially at bedtime...

Kids get all suspicious at bedtime. Holey shirt, they have bigger trust issues than the Kennedy family.  I was at a friend’s house for bath time/dinner time/bed time (a.k.a pass me another whiskey time) and thought I’d earn sterling points (big guy up there, you’d better be watching) by offering to put her two year old to bed.  I just felt it was the nice thing to do.  My shorties are nearly middlies, and I thought how I would have loved it if  someone had done that for me back in the day (sniff sniff, sad violin music playing). I know the family well.  Like really well.  I know their shortie well too.  Like really well.  A few times a week well. You’d think this would count for something.  Apparently not.
Dinnertime is out the way and serotonin is on the way up.  Sleepy little eyes make me feel super optimistic and I think ha, I am armed with “The Snail and the Whale”  - I simply can’t go wrong.  Bob Marley’s “every little thing, is gonna be alright” is wafting around in my head.  The sweet scent of un-interrupted grown up time is imminent, I just have to get shortie to sleep.  Things are going swimmingly. Holding hands I walk said shortie down the passage to his room.  We’re smiling, chatting amiably, exchanging conspiratorial nods of the head.  Yes, nod nod, sleep sleep.  I can so do this.  Lie on the bed, another smile, another nod and some suggestions for favourite pages.  Ooooh goodie!  Was that another eye rub? We pass the part where the snail and the whale hook up, we move beyond their adventures to far off lands and golden sands; we look shocked when the whale gets beached (fake sadness from me of course, I know he gets saved, duh!)  At the turn of the last page I give my mandatory THE END (which sometimes actually appears and is sometimes written in invisible ink that only parents can see). OK, so I take it we’re ready to snuggle in for the night?
The little bugger.  He starts waving the book in the air and I think perhaps he is asking for a second round. I’ll do it if I must.  But noooooh.  He is asking for mommy- actually crying, no less - and looking me as if I’m a stranger that’s just broken into his room.   No memory what-so-effing-ever of the fantastic book bonding we’d just shared.  You’d swear by the look on his face that I’d slipped him rohypnol.  Blast it.  So close and yet so far.
But here’s the mystery.  He has the Alzheimer’s audacity to mistrust me when he’s just bought into an extremely far-fetched story about a highly questionable relationship between a snail and a whale.  WTF!!  Now that’s a relationship that’s going nowhere for sure!  And while we’re at it, lets take a look at the other inconsistencies that shorties trust without question.  Pooh bear wears a jacket (not even a jacket, a bloody bolero for pete s sake!) but no pants.   Sorry, but given a choice I’ll take undies over a bolero any day.  Exposed bum VS exposed boobies?  Simply no question about it.  Poor Rabbit gets to wear nada. Same goes for Tigger.  Maybe it’s because they both bounce (were they originally drawn with bouncy bits?)  Piglet gets to wear a very naff romper (hello, pink and stripey = screaming queen!) It makes him look both feminine and infantile at the same time – no wonder no-one takes him seriously.  Eyeore only gets a tail ribbon, which hardly hides his sensibilities and pompous owl wears nothing.  Being the intellectual he is, I daresay I expected more from him.
But I’m the one that shortie mistrusts.  Not the non-underpanted, non-trousered animals that can talk. Makes me wonder how the little blighter sees me.  Best not to go there...

an Ode to Shorties...

To get me into a positive mind-frame (it being school holidays and all) I wanted to find a way to talk about some of the wacky stuff kids have come up with that make me laugh. I really didn’t want to stray too far from my normal hardcore profile and sound all sweetie-pie and gushy, so I’ve put it into very lame prose instead.  (Just be grateful I didn’t choose limerick style.  It seems you can’t make up a limerick that has no swearing and that isn’t rude! Well, I sure as hell couldn’t come up with any!) I even wrote it without whiskey in hand.  Such progress.
This Ode is to shorties to show that although
I whinge and I moan and I treat them as foe
I think they’re quite cool - they’re honest and funny
And can still make me smile as they milk me for money
Only shorties can ask, without fear of scorn
When a paunchy man’s baby is due to be born
They think blind dates are for people who’re blind
A bonus if you’re ugly, as your date won’t mind
They see the upside of things that are normally glum
Like wheelchairs and crutches and a big wobbly bum 
Everyday I’m in awe of how they never get tired 
Of fish fingers and noodles - how the hell are they wired?  
They think Spinach is the language spoken in Spain
And when you let them have coke, you’d swear its cocaine
I overheard that the Ironman is an actual competition
For men who have a fierce ironing ambition
Repeat DVD’s are no worry for them
As junior Alzheimer’s is cured by age ten 
They think I’m a teen coz I cycle and run
Clearly they think oldies can’t get this done
I was asked if the golf ball or club travels faster
Will Google be able to give me the answer?
Smart little buggers, they know I don’t know
They’re just trying to tell me they know that I’m slow
Even when they say “you can’t come to my party”
Ten seconds later they’ll still give you a Smartie
And though I know they’re naughty and full of kak*
I still think that mostly, kids really rock
P.S.  Theses are real things that have really been said. I shit you not, true story. From the mouth of babes…
* kak... afrikaans word for nonsense

yes, what exactly are little girls made of...

School holidays.  God’s ultimate way of testing our love for our kids.  Day one was deceptively fine. So fine in fact that it gave me reasonable hope that we might all survive the next 5 weeks with all our limbs intact. That was until day two - The Party. Or should I say, the little girls party.  Goodbye ears.
Just to clarify things, I love little girls.  As a mother with two sons, I’ve always had little girl envy.  The clothes, the pink, the gingham, the makeup, the sweet maternal nature, the ballet, the girly bedrooms, the long hair, the shoes with bling, the hair goodies, the cuddles, the girly smell; you name it.  It took one girly party to make me feel grateful for my masculine lot in life.  
A friend of mine once said to her daughter (well, only once in front of me, she may say it daily for all I know), it’s not what you’re saying (clenched-teeth face); it’s the PITCH of your voice (fierce-face).  At the time, I didn’t fully grasp what she meant, but after witnessing, or rather hearing,  the fairer sex is en masse; I now know what she was on about.   It shouldn’t be allowed.  They clearly try to out-soprano one another.  One’s enough, two’s The Mikado, three is an auditory assault. Their pitch makes Vuvuzelas sound like Bach.  The Unbearable Pitchness of Being is what I call it.
I’m kind of peeved with myself for going in the first place. I know better.  Unless the host is a good friend, children’s parties are the pits.  Before I had kids I thought they’d be delicious fun. They’re not.  You have to look all friendly and interested and ooh and aah over the birthday kid and his/her mother, who is trying desperately to win the over-achiever of the year award. Know what I mean?  
I normally don’t know any of the other moms. Conversation is stilted. I end up consuming copious amounts of coffee in an attempt to fuel dialog. Add to the mix several half-eaten cupcakes that get tossed my way and I end up feeling entirely queasy (my body being the pure temple that it is.) Nowadays when I open a kiddie’s party invitation, the queasiness sets in by way of association.  The worst thing is that most hosts refuse to serve booze (necessary to counteract the effects of the coffee, nothing else), as it’s deemed inappropriate.  Inappropriate!  I ask you! Bloody party poopers!  And while we’re on hot-tips for parties, why do we bother serving the cake part with the cup cakes?  The only thing that gets eaten is the icing.  Yes, save yourself the hassle and just tube some icing into a cupcake paper thingy and top it with a smartie.  No waste, no crumbs, no PT.  
So, my big achievement for this week is sending in my submissions to the Oxford Dictionary of Collective Nouns. Along with a grunt of men, a thug of boys, a grumble of old farts, a moan of farmers (this one is true, really) and a mad of mothers, the new collective noun for a group of little girls is…yes you guessed it, a pitch of girls.  And I dearly, dearly hope, that the next little girl’s party I am invited to includes the game “let’s learn sign language”.  Ouch. Adieu.

how to freak out a g.o.f.

I had a near run in with not one, but two GOFs this week (for the unenlightened few, this stands for Grumpy Old Fart), which left me feeling not only grumpy but also bummed that I’d left my GOF sniper at home.  OK, I don’t really have a GOF sniper but I’m thinking of getting one. The ad in the classifieds will read: sniper needed for ad hoc work, mostly required for mall outings and restaurants.  Must be sympathetic to children and mothers.  Must be extremely good shot.  Must be practically invisible to GOFs. No track record necessary, just a passion for your calling.
I know GOF snipers don’t really exist, but it did get me thinking.  You see I obviously don’t look fierce or dangerous or intimidating.  I’m sure that Dad’s don’t have problems with GOFs when they take their kids out.  I think their masculine disposition seem to communicate “HIGH IN TESTOSTERONE.  POSSIBLY OVERSTRESSED. DON’T FUSS WITH ME.”  Now that I’ve realised that I clearly look nicer than what I really am, I have decided try out some new approaches.   
Option one: Dress as a ninja and when people bother me or my kids, I’ll adopt a squatting stance with hands in front of face (martial arts style), hissing loudly at them while squinting viciously.  The downside to this approach is that I think ninja suits are quite hot, which is fine for winter but not so much for summer.  Also, it might scare the kids, which isn’t the idea. Upside: black is slimming.
Option two: Dress as Goth, complete with new tattoos and lots of dark nail varnish and lipstick.  Summer suit will include fishnet tights (ventilation) and in winter I’ll wear stockings with sculls on them.  Big, buckled, biker boots mandatory. The tats will have to seem convincing though. No naff flowers or butterflies and stuff.  Perhaps a merciless looking dragon on my forearm (note: will have to roll up long sleeves in winter so it’s visible) and love/hate on my knuckles will do the trick.  Ooh, I could get a few piercings too.  Yes, this one could work.  I’m absolutely positive Goths and Punks take no schtick from GOFs.
Option three:  Dress as witch (again; black, slimming, BIG plus) and when GOFs give me uphill I’ll wiggle my fingers at them, flutter my eyes and mutter curse sounding words under my breath.  I might include some real curses and cunningly disguised swear words, “like eff you loser”, and “up your’s lame-o”.  This might not be overly convincing and I also don’t know if I could keep a straight face.  Not sure if the pointy hat is at all fetching either.
Option four: Dress in flowing white linen, as in esoteric, peace-loving, Gandhi type.  This could really work well for me (i.e. fake the inner calm till I make the inner calm) and I’m sure to un-nerve the living shit out of the offending GOF.  When they start whining I could turn round, hug them hard and say something like:  blessings oh troubled one, please contain your venomous speech, I have undamaged goods with me that wish to remain untarnished by your brutal energy.  Heaven knows I’d give this a shot just for the hell of it!
Option five:  Dress as mad scientist.  I already have the corduroys and as my hair’s natural tendency is a lot like Einstein’s, I’m half way there.  When the GOF starts up I could just look their way, glaze over and calmly say “do you know most imbeciles talk before they think.  Now where did I leave my potbellied pig”?  The final touch would be to pluck a non-existent piece of lint of the GOFs shirt, giggle, nod, and then walk away.  If that doesn’t leave them disarmed then I just don’t know. I could complete the deranged genius look by wearing my bra (PEP, not La Senza) on top of my chunky jersey.  Wicked.
If any of these have already been tried and tested, please let me know which one works best. Am desperate.


Flaming shrimps!  What the hell was I thinking.  I decided to go road tripping this weekend – only to Wilderness mind you, not like it was to the outer Hebrides – and I thought it would be a breeze.  After all, it’s only about 5 hrs away and my shorties aren’t that short any more; at 5 and 9 it should be easy peasy. No bottles, dummies (a.k.a. sticky lint collectors) or nap schedules to worry about.  Just good music, a sense of adventure and a few snacks (I took my chances with MSG laden chips instead of psychedelic coloured sweets. BTW, chocolate milk is considered a health food on road trips).
But hell and damnation, I’d forgotten about “when do we get there”.  I ask you, what kind of stoopid parent forgets about “when do we get there”?  Aaron (a.k.a. Rainman) was kind enough to rephrase; how long have we been travelling mom?  Such a considerate soul.  He even did the time subtractions all by himself so that I didn’t have to un-necessarily tax my brain.
There were a couple of other things I’d forgotten about.  Namely that my buddy, who thank the pope is a very understanding, loving, chilled, hippie type - has two girls.  I have two boys. Geddit?  I know that Rainman sort of fits a girly profile quite well, but Boys-Town Oliver does not.  He’s wild, busy and quite frankly ‘woes’*.  Fortunately, my mate’s two-year-old daughter gave him a run for his money.  Phew!  I prayed every night when she was pregnant that she would have a feisty little devil and apparently there is a god (and he listens) because her littlest girl is the foil to her older girl’s angelic demeanour. But I mean, she’s 2.  You allowed to be cocky when you’re 2.
The other thing I forgot about was toy allocation.  It should be mandatory that when you purchase toys (the more fun the toy, the stricter the rule) that you pledge allegiance to the “rules of the toy”.  Something like:  I do solemnly swear that under no circumstances, will I take these toys out if there are not enough to go round. You see, kids don’t like to share.  The only reason they share is for the possible reason that should the situation arise in reverse, that the sharee will become the sharer.  I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to share.  Raise your hands, anyone who is happy to share her husband, her wedding ring or her Jimmy Choo’s?  
Also, lets bear in mind that things like roller-blades are very tricky to share.  One blade each?  No, that sucks.  15 minutes per turn?  That bloody well sucks too, because someone always looses track of time and there is the inevitable time extension request when it comes to handing over the gear.  I think back fondly on the days (I don’t personally remember them, but my old queen has told me that this was definitely how it rolled back then) when all that children had to play with was the grass (big field, not just a couple of blades), the trees (big enough to hold several kids, not just one) and perhaps a piece of string (which we cunningly wove into daisy chains) and a box (for really cold days when the grass and trees weren’t an option).
The last thing I forgot, was that when winter-weekending with a dear friend and four kids of various ages who due to inclement weather have to be indoors, remember to pack the milk thistle.  That should definitely be a mandatory ruling.
* for our international readers... “woes” roughly means “wild”

mother's, naaat!

So recently it was Mothers day, right? Naturally, I have to write about it.  I’m not going to get all Julius Malema on you and talk about my deemunds ez ay mutha, but I thought it might be interesting to swop notes on how all the mothers out there ekchewally spent their day.  
I personally can’t whinge at all. I was spoilt.  Not spoilt in an “all expenses trip to Tuscany with a 26 year old personal tour guide called Antonio who is there to grant your every wish” kind of spoilt. But spoilt all the same.  The day started off great. I got: sushi for breakfast, homemade cards (oldest son Aaron, a.k.a Rainman of cars, signed his ‘love, the Stig’) and more smellies then is strictly necessary (if I were to actually use them all, I would quite possibly become radioactive... Shit, maybe I need them and it was, like, a HUGE hint ?!!?!?)  
For most men, including Best-Kisser, mother’s day is kind of stressful.  Although you’re not technically HIS mother, he kind of has to step up to the plate until the kids are old enough to step up to it on their own (little buggers better, when they’re older, dammit).  For years Best-Kisser has come up with Mothers day suggestions like: lets all go to lunch, or let’s all go for a hike (weirdo) or, um… lets all go to lunch.  A coupe of years ago I finally had to quietly admit to him (in retrospect, it might have been quite loudly) that although it’s called Mothers Day, no Mothering is necessary.  In fact, the idea is more about (um, how to put this) getting away from “being a mother” for just one day.  Like, a total sabbatical from your normal mumsy routine.  I mean, we celebrate Christmas without Christ actually being there, in the room, for his own birthday and I think it works rather well.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Seinfeld was right; there’s really is no such thing as fun for the whole family.  
Normally, I get a chunk of time out from the mayhem. But this year (only because the weather was so god-awful) I wasn’t in the mood to go outside and seek un-motherly happiness.  It was fab. I pretended I was wallowing in good-motherliness all day.  Apparently, along with all the other Capetonians, I’m not a very rain-fit mother. You’d think I would be. I mean it does come round every year.  When it rains I normally get really excited about all the indoorsy possibilities – loads of gluhwein, a stack of DVD’s, a game of 30 seconds (ja, the excitement never ends) until I remember that I have actual children who don’t share my passion for those kinds of things (although knowing Oliver, he’d probably gladly knock back his share of gluhwein).  So I’m finished my sushi, I’ve bathed and smellied and am now stuck inside with nothing to do. Kids are hovering dangerously.  So what do I choose as a diversion?  Why, to de-silicone and de-mould the shower of course!  Yup, it’s all living the dream here folks.  If it weren’t for the pieces of Lindt dark chocolate (elixir for all ills) that I sucked on periodically, I may have felt very sorry for myself.  
But you know what, I felt extra stoked about my mothers day when I spoke to some other moms about theirs. Some really sucked. Like they actually neither did anything nor got anything (nice one; isn’t there a ‘Mothers day for Dummies’ we can hand to their sorry-arsed husbands?). The winner of the “How to get away on Mothers Day” award went to a woman who did a half-marathon.  In the driving rain.  In the howling wind. The lengths some mothers will go to for some alone time.  


I think it’s time to talk GOFs, otherwise known as Grumpy Old Farts.  A major drawback of having kids is that it brings out the GOF in, what normally is, a “sweet old dear” (SOD).
You see, you don’t really notice GOFs before you’ve had kids. Its unlikely you’ll have had any major run-ins with a GOFs, as prior to the arrival of kids, we seem to be, well, not really on each other’s radars.  Kids are the catalyst for turning a SOD into a GOF, so consider yourselves warned.  
My first worst kind of GOF is the genius (normally found wafting round shopping malls) that mutters under their breath “that child needs a good hiding”.  Do they not see that you’re at your wits end? Can they not see you grinding away the enamel on your teeth? Can they not hear your silent prayer to any deity who’ll listen? Can’t they read by the very look on your face, that you’d dearly love to take harsh action but are trying desperately not to make a scene?  Surely experience has shown them that if you actually want to stop said kid crying/tantruming, whacking them is not the way to do it. Been there, done that, got the wailing-even-louder child. 
To make matters worse, said wailing-child is normally insisting on some hateful toy from the Crazy Store that will break exactly 30 seconds after you have left the shop.  You’re using your calm, serene, Waldorfy-mom voice, hoping like hell your child will see reason when all you really want to do is smash every shirty Chinese made toy in the store, so that you will never have to repeat this scenario again. And then the GOF pipes up.  You toy with water-pistol whipping them but only manage to muster up a deadly glare.
My second worst kind of GOF is the one that goes to restaurants that actually have a kiddie’s menu, and expect not to see or hear any children.  Um,  if that’s not enough, surely the wild-west theme is a big enough hint about who this restaurant is meant for? These are GOFs from the “children should be seen and not heard” era.  How to I explain to them that GOFs should neither be seen nor heard?  That although the sound of my kids may offend them, the very sight of them offends me. To the bone.  Strikes a cord of terror that I too, will look, hear (and in some nasty circumstances, smell) like them one day too.  
There should be warnings for GOFs in family restaurants.  Real live children. Will talk.  Will chatter.  Will bump your chair.  And GOFs should be handed a manual before leaving home.  Dining out 101:  Avoid restaurants that have kids menus dumbo.  Go to the Mount Nelson if you don’t want to see kids you bloody plonker.  You know, that kind of thing.  How do I diplomatically say to them that if you’re a GOF you’d better start looking cute (remember, you’re up against some very cute kids) and behaving quietly (like a sweet, SILENT, garden gnome) if you don’t want the living Zimmer frame kicked out from under you?
My real whinge with GOFs is that they are low on tolerance and high on advice.  If I can be tolerant for 6-8 hours of the day with my kids, GOF’s can suck it up for an hour or so. And if they can’t suck it up they need "Sweet Old Dear" off. And lastly, if they’re going to dispense with advice, they can make it … nah, on second thoughts, they can actually just shut up, I’m already doing the best that I can.

er, what's with that, weirdo?

This was my week for remembering phrases to do with kids and families, that are nothing less than weird. The phrases are weird, not the kids and families.  Some of those are weird too though  It would seem that there aren’t any substitutes for these phrases, as they’ve stood the test of time (but not in a fuzzy Charles Glass kind of way, if you get my drift.)  Maybe they’re just such fun to say (not nearly as fun as swearwords, mind you) that we can’t hoof them from our repertoire.  
Put the baby down.  WTF!! Even me, the child-lover I am, thinks this is a truly atrocious phrase. I mean did it start off as some kind of a sick joke?  “I’m going to put the baby to sleep and if it doesn’t then I’m going to put it down”?  Maybe it started because, as we all know, you can’t technically PUT anyone to sleep (without the help of some kick-ass narcotics that is), especially not a baby.  It’s really not a funny phrase at all - we simply have to stop saying it.  Put the baby down. I ask you.  You put sick animals down for Pete’s sake!  Perhaps that’s why some poor parents stared rocking their babies.  Just so they could say “I’m going to rock the baby now”.  
Adult time. Um, if I follow the train of thought for phrases like Adult Movies, Adult Interests etc. doesn’t it follow that kids will (eventually) assume “Adult time” is associated with, like, “Adult” activities?  I think it’s high time we really called it what it really is - tired time - a much more accurate description.  Also, I really don’t want to field a thousand questions when they reach puberty and finally ask what the word “Adult” really means.  Consensual sex, window envelopes and mortgages.  
What do you think you’re doing?  Drawing on the couch you imbecile, what does it look like I’m doing?  If we really expected an honest answer we would never ask the question.  Though it would be refreshing.  I mean, just for a change.  Mostly, I get the cunning answer… “Nothing”.   You’re kidding you little shirt, you’re not doing “nothing” because it looks pretty much like you’ve drawn all over the sofa with an Artline pen.  What we should really be asking them is “So, where do you see yourself in 2 years time?  Boys Town?”
Do you want a smack?  Sure mom, I’d love one.  I mean it’s been at least 4 days since my last one and I just feel like I need one more hit, if you’ll excuse the pun.  The worst thing about this phrase is that although actions speak loader than words, the action doesn’t work at all.  Bugger it.
For crying out loud! Like there’s any other way that kids cry.  What would be the point, the whole point is to be loud and heard.  It’s not long before kids twig that “for crying out loud” really means “f..k it”. Actually, I see now that along with “for crying in a bucket”, this saying better stay.  We really can’t have cussing toddlers, after all.
For Pete’s sake!  Who is Pete and why does he have a sake?  I mean, I’m the mom and I don’t have any sake at all!     
Before I get totally carried away I’m going to “give me a break”.  Not a green stick break, not a fracture but a nice, fat coffee break.  On my own.  In the bathroom. With the door locked.

parenting is not a skill, dancing is a skill...

I’m just sitting innocently at my computer this week, when my inbox alerted a rogue newsletter.  I don’t feel very good about forwarded newsletters.  Firstly, they don’t present as spam, so you can’t just hit delete (could be important - like the bank telling me I’m overdrawn again).  Secondly, it’s probably been sent by someone you know and, horror of horrors, they may expect an actual response.  Like a clever, thoughtful or sincere response.  Hateful hooters and scratchy underpants to them!
This newsletter, was written by a woman who is – wait for it – a parenting skills coach (PSC’s - very good friends with clinic sisters a.k.a satan’s medial corps.)  After reading it I assumed that the dear woman is, in fact, childless, or she would see how very obsolete her title is in every possible way.  Touch-typing is a skill.  Archery is a skill. Rhythmic gymnastics is a skill. Dancing is a skill. Heck, even Jenga is a skill. Parenting is not a skill but instead more of a blindfolded shot in the dark during a sandstorm. I’ll bet our parent’s generation thought they were skilled parents. Pfft, as if!  How do they think psychologists have been managing to make a living over the past 20 years? 
It’s a nice thought though.  A noble thought. And an honest intention. But I can’t help thinking it might be a bit like Weight Watchers. You all get together to talk about what you should be doing, and then you go home and don’t do it the way you promised you would.  PSC’s help desperate parents and their money part. But with my venomous tongue I digress.  The newsletter was titled  “The fantasy of Father Christmas, The Tooth Fairy and The Easter Bunny”.  Shocking fact number one! You’re telling me they’re not real? ) The writer (is is actually NOT childless) has an 8 year old who asked about the truth behind the legend and, whereas I personally see no reason shatter the myth, she chose to reply: When your head is presenting you with questions about things that are not adding up for you, you should listen to that small voice in your gut driving those questions, because there is probably something there.  Double whaaaaat?  Sheesh, even a voodoo hoodoo hippie chick like me doesn’t know what the hell that’s supposed to mean - especially as I’m at constant odds with my own  “small voice in my gut” (i.e. shut up, there’s no possible way you can be hungry again) 
Now I’m in a panic and think “How will I manage without the fantasy?” I mean if generous St. Nick, kindly bunny and said fairy don’t exist then I’m out of amo.  I need those fantasies.  Without them have no tools to threaten my kids when they behave badly.  I long for November (er, make that late… ok, early October) when I can say “If you don’t behave... you know the line, I know you do...
And just as I am feeling like the ghastly, negligent, insufficient, sneaky mom-of-many-lies that I am, my prayers were answered.  I rediscovered a treasured book I bought a while ago and realised I wasn’t alone in dressing up the truth.  It’s called (and I shirt you not) “Loads more lies to tell small kids”. Andy Riley (author) I bloody love you!  It’s a whole book about lies to tell kids, and not even for reasons of trading on good behaviour!  Just for fun! Bloody brilliant!     
So, although there are PSC type of parents, I feel infinitely better knowing that there apparently, is also room for Andy Riley kind of parents and I’m starting to think that maybe the only skill required for parenting is a healthy sense of humour.

life isn't all Charlie and Lola...

Yeehaw!  Charlie and Lola is back on CBB’s!  I know, I know;  its probably been back for a while, but the sneaky buggers changed the slot and I’ve only just recently twigged.  Charlie and Lola is one of the only reasons I agreed to getting DSTV.  That, and also that I have some semblance of a life when there’s peace and mind-numbing quiet coming from the TV room.  Restricted TV hours?  Pah!  That’s for people who have au pairs!  But getting back to Charlie and Lola, I was watching it last night (no seriously, 2D animation is the new 3D animation) and it got me thinking.  Why isn’t real life more like Charlie and Lola?
The main thing is, it’s only runs for 10 minutes 3 or 4 times over a 24 hour period.  Very bearable.  I just know I would get Mom-of-the-Year instead of Mom-the-Uber-Bitch if I only saw my kids for 10 minutes 3 times a day.  I’d actually and honestly have a real chance to really miss them.
Another thing; you never, ever see their parents.  This is a good sign, because they play, chat and interact very well without them.  They don’t invade their parent’s toilet privacy; in fact they hardly seem to need the loo themselves (super-plus).   When they do mention their parents, they are mostly, actually and really obeying them. You never see them back-chatting or ribbing their old lady, in fact, I have a suspicion she may be permanently out to lunch.
They live in a not so big flat and manage quite fine thank you. Their furnishings are Spartan (though the funky wallpaper makes up for it) and as far as I can see there’s hardly ever toys decorating the floor. Well, sometimes Lola’s room is a tip but it’s fine; that episode is about playing tidy-up. (Playing tidy up, now there’s an oxymoron if ever there was!!) Their white couch actually stays white! There’s no fighting about what they’re going to watch on telly, the only program they really want to watch is Bat Cat. And BTW, why don’t we get Bat Cat?  
They actually play in their bedrooms.  Their actual very own bedrooms!  Such a novel concept.  There’s no toy encroachment and it seems their clothes manage to stay in the spot allocated to them. Close to miraculous, I’d say.
They have nice little friends who are entertaining and funny.  Marv has a voice like a rusty, old French film star and Lotta sounds like she has sinus all the time but doesn’t sniff or have snot candles (another miracle).  Marv’s dog, Sizzles (who wouldn’t want a pet called Sizzles?) is very obedient, doesn’t bite and has never done a pooh.  EVER.  My best is Soren Lorenson, Lola’s other best friend who is actually and really imaginary.  What could be better than that?  A play date that doesn’t eat doesn’t leave a mess and needs no supervision near the swimming pool.
They’re seldom taken on outings and never nag to go to MacDonalds.  (I don’t think MacDonalds actually exists in their world.) When they do go on outings with their parents, it’s to the library, grocery store or the zoo (zoo outings are very rare though, I think they’ve only been once). They don’t fight in the middle of the store, or the library.  They generally don’t fight at all and there are no signs of violence e.g. scratches or bite marks.  They are actually and really quite quiet in the library too.   Incredible!  They’re also able to take themselves on outings, un-chaperoned.  They go to the park, ice-skating, bike riding and to Mr.Patels on the corner all by themselves.  Can you imagine. 
Lastly, they thrive, regardless of the fact that they have no culinary restrictions.  Pink milk?  You got it! Bangers and mash?  Staple diet. Ice-cream at granny’s? All day if you like.  If only...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

children have strange powers...

We had house-guest’s this week and my house of 2 kids swelled to 6 kids.  Through the madness and mayhem, I was able to confirm one of my theories - that children are magic.  I thought it was just my kids, but it turns out that it’s all of the little buggers.  Just to make it clear, they’re not magic as in magical. Ryk Neethling is magical, deep fried Camembert with cranberries is magical and being able to sleep late is magical.  Nope, children’s magic is more a magic-mushrooms kind of magic.  As in oh crap, I’ve had enough of this trip and I want to get off.  
Take their toys for example.  Kid’s magic definitely rubs off on their toys.  I’ve just tidied up the cluttered kitchen table a.k.a general dumping ground for scrap that doesn’t belong to me.  All rescue helicopters, Formula 1 cars and bits of lego have been parked in their rightful bays when blow me down and bob my hair if they don’t reappear the moment I turn my back. Flaming shrimps!  It’s tidy-up déjà vu the whole dang day!  Ah, the table’s clean at last. Get milk out fridge and put it on table.  Whaaat?  I thought I just packed that car away?  Oh well, tidy-tidy, move-move, pack-pack.  Ah, the table’s clean at last. Go to loo. Come back from loo. Whaaat?  I thought I just… you get the idea. Mmm, Toy Story might be factual. Clearly, they walk among us.
Kid’s magic also extends to their ability to withstand extreme heat and extreme cold.  Me: for Pete’s sake, take your Ben Ten sweater off; it’s 32 degrees outside!  Offspring: No, I won’t! I’m not hot, I like it and I’m not sweatin’!  Me:  Get out of the pool, your lips are blue and you’re going to get sick. No! I’m not cold and I like my lips blue and I don’t care if I get sick.  (Ja right, you little ankle-biter, I’m strangely not in the mood to nurse your fever at 3am tomorrow morning - all night clubbing’s infinitely more restful.)  
They also have a very deceptive kind of magic where they are able to adopt alter egos whilst looking pretty much the same.  Traditional introductions like “I’m Hannah” go out the window.  Instead, they introduce themselves by their alias, which changes from moment to moment.  Hi, I’m hungry.  I’m thirsty. I’m cold.  I’m tired.  I’m bored. Er, I’m sick of this, pass me my whiskey.  
Their most impressive magic to date, involves illness.  One minute they’re playing a raucous game of pin-the-tail-on-your-brother-with-a-real-drawing-pin, and the next minute they’re puking all over the lounge. There’s no nausea lead up. No “I think I’ll just lie down and gather myself”.  This special illness magic means that they can resist symptoms till the very last moment, giving you no warning or time to reach for a bucket.   Pure genius.  And to think, adults actually try and avoid throwing up.  
Their last kind of magic, I figured out, is very scientific and relates to noise.  Turns out they can cook up noise from almost anything.  A bottle opener, a blade of grass and a bag of cotton wool are all equal instruments of noise.  What’s more, it seems the sum noise of 6 children is greater than the number of children themselves.  I never was good as science or I may already have known this. 
But enough about magic for now, I’m off to turn my iPod on full blast for a bit of peace and quiet.