How to embarrass your teenage daughter

Embarrassing your kids is a privileged bestowed upon parents in exchange for having to feed them.  But it is an art form because you still want them to speak to you every now and again.  The aim is not to scar them for life, you merely want to cause moderate, temporary discomfort and show them who’s the boss. You certainly don’t want to be the reason why they take up unhealthy habits like smoking crack, kicking puppies or end up as someone’s bitch in jail.

In days gone by it used to be a simpler activity.  Dads could simply lie around on a sofa, watching Friends, wearing your favourite T-shirt resembling the battle ground of a QuarterPounder and a SloppyJoe. Nowadays kids have Facebook and Instagram and they might just post a photo of your protruding belly with a hashtag #OMGlookatmyDad.  (And with my luck that post would go viral, unlike my blog or tweets.) Continue reading

What I miss the most 

Travelling is part of my life like the hump on that cartoon character from Notre dame. It’s uncomfortable but probably makes me more interesting. I think…

Getting to the end of the year, this hump of mine is becoming a life crushing burden.  I hate carting the damn thing around everywhere.  And I’m not referring to the hump, I’m referring to the fucking suitcase. Focus.

I hate slugging it around as if my life depends on it. Continue reading

Ah Dad… and Prom (or Matric-farewell) dresses

This post might offend fragile fathers and fanatic feminists.

It is the silly season.  It is time for Prom.  Or as we call it down here in South Africa, the annual “Matric-farewell.”  It is exactly the same thing, an extravagant themed ball where kids all over the country celebrates their final year in school.

It’s that time of the year when daughters go wild with dress designs and credit card limits, when they’re frantically shopping for shoes and small useless purses, and sit wide-eyed at hair salons trying to find the perfect do that would match that perfect dress and the shoes and that small useless purse.  It is the time of year when boys go crazy with anxiety at finding the perfect date, only to end up sweating profusely as they now need to find the perfect ride. Continue reading

I’ve got tickets to see One Direction. Here’s why.

No, this is not what our Rugby players look like.

No, this is not what our Rugby players look like.

So there’s this little known boy band who had a few international hits.  They decided to visit South Africa.  And a million kids across the country fainted.

And I bought four tickets.  For the whole family.  Well, technically I didn’t buy them myself.  My mate bought them on our behalf.  I was on a plane and had to make a plan. So I phoned him.  There was an initial silence.  It might have been borderline resentment from his part.  But he agreed, for he’s a really great friend, and bought an additional four tickets.  For his family as well.

Don’t judge us.  Don’t you dare. Continue reading

Rapunzel, Ariel, Cinderella and Co. They’re all living in my house.

Yes, they're actually all one person

Yes, they’re actually all one person

Sugar and Spice and All things nice.  That’s what little girls are made of.  But let’s not forget about oestrogen.  The hormone that scares the hell out of every living man.

We understand that daughters are the Achilles heel of every dad.  It’s the weak spot in the armour of parenting, where the smallest hug is a lethal knife that penetrates into your heart and make the greatest warriors fall.

The best way to describe raising this lethal mix of sugar, spice and oestrogen, would be being locked up in a cell with the personifications of intrigue, interest, exhaustion, hilarity, love, passion, empathy, frustration and a few other unpronounceable characters.  Our daughters keeps us dazed and confused for most of the time.  Manipulating us with the greatest love known to man and a father’s twisted sense of protecting them against the cruel world.

As any father would happily admit, MY little Princess is the most beautiful girl in the world.  She’s the sweetest little complicated piece of work you’ll find south of the equator.  Because she’s unpredictable.  And once that hormone starts surging through their bodies, fathers just stand back, for there is no sense in trying to find any logic in their behaviour.  It’s like trying to understand how planes stay up in the air or why Kanye West is famous.

It’s good to know that this is an ancient mystery.  As long as little females were born, fathers were trying to make sense of the confusion and exhilleration and love that took over their lives.  The first people to document their experiences were Hans Christian Anderson and the Grimm brothers.  Cleverly disguising their comments as fairy tales.

It’s dusk.  The sun is rising lazily in the East, throwing a warm glow over the darkness below.  I step into her room, watching Sleeping Beauty lying in a circle of blond curls, serene and peaceful.  And I have to wake her.  I’m scared.  I walk closer and touch her face.  I call her name softly.  Twice.  She turns her head and groans.  I see her blue eyes, sleepily locked on mine. And I realise that I’ve just woken Malificent.

I leave the room quickly.

I pour the coffee, anxiously looking down the corridor for her to exit the room.  Should I dare call her again?  I decide not too.  As I finish the coffee, the girl from Brave walks out of her room, with a bright pink blanket in tow.  Her hair is all over the place.  She walks past me and slumps in the sofa.  Takes the remote and with the happy disposition of the Wicked Witch of the West, scans for the Disney Channel.

She finally locks onto the 17th repeat of some Disney show.  Like Aerial sitting in her cave day-dreaming about having feet, whilst cuddling a fork in her little cave surrounded by all the thing-a-ma-jigs she’s collected.  Lost in her own little dream landscape.  And I find myself sipping coffee and staring at her.  Seeing her composure dissolves whilst sipping on her hot chocolate.  Until she finally cracks a smile and Cinderella starts chatting about the things she needs to do today.

But then we need to move.  She needs to get dressed and eat and brush her teeth.  All those things cruel parents expect of their kids.  Like Rapunzel locked in a tower, forced to tie down her wild curls in a ponytail of sorts.  And she shifts momentarily into a grumpy Snow White, receiving no recognition for all the hard work she has to do everyday of her life.

A few minutes later little Red Riding Hood exits the bathroom, all skippy and jolly, ready with her basket of school books and a lunch box, eagerly waiting to get to school and share another amazing day.  Our own blonde Dorothy, eagerly waiting to meet the Wizard of Oz.  And off she goes.

Then the anticipation starts.  For we never know what the Wizard will tell her.  If it’s good news, Dorothy clicks her red heels and comes home with hugs and kisses and so much laughter that the whole house shakes.  But when the wizard tells her to go to hell, she basically does and returns with enough fire and brimstone to make dragons squirm.  Like a very pissed off Fiona.

My princess (with the help of Oestrogen) has the determination of Rapunzel, the sweetness of Snow White, the adventurous spirit of Pocahontas, the stubbornness of Merida, the curiosity of Ariel, the work-ethic of Cinderella, the beauty of Aurora, the sensitivity of Jasmine, the wisdom of Mulan, the love of Belle and the kindness of Tiana.  And I’m powerless.

What else can a father do with an ambush of hugs?  Or when she clings to me like she’s never letting me go?  Or when she cuddles in my lap and treats me like her very own Prince Charming?  What can I do?  I’m weak.  I’m stuck, motionless under her spell.  And I want to stay there forever.  Her hero.

But that’s why raising a girl is not a fairy tale, for you’ll fight to keep the dragons and witches at bay, until her real Prince Charming comes and steals her away.  And I’ll have to let her go.  I’ll have to open the door and release my Princess… Just like Hans and the Grimm brothers warned us, all those centuries ago.

But for know, she’s mine.  All mine.

Dinner or dance?

What pops in your mind when you hear this song?  Big hair, neon colours, shoulder pads, pointed shoes?  What about food?  Yes, does hearing this song trigger your taste buds or let your stomach growl? If not, by the end of this post, it will.  Fair warning: If this song conjure any special memories that you would like to retain, STOP READING NOW!

I  guarantee that I will reprogram your memory and by the end of this post, every time you listen to this song you will think of Italian cuisine.  OR your money back.

Our family enjoy watching the reality show “Got to dance” that is currently airing on South African television.  There are some truly amazing acts, from animated guys who makes me check whether I have accidentally pressed the slow motion button of the remote, to groups with kids that remind me of those amazing Russian female gymnasts who grew up to become teenage Russian boys.

Anyhow, as in any reality show the producers allow some people, who shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the house never mind get on a stage, to audition as well.  Those weird people who don’t have families or friends who love them, for if they had, those people would have told them to NOT embarrass themselves.  The few who then end up on tv, not only destroy their own reputations, but they bring shame on the family for three generations after they’ve left earth.

In defense of this specific show, the judges are always uplifting and find ways to give a positive spin on every performance.  That in itself is remarkable entertainment.  So along comes a 54-year-old woman who considers herself to be a whopping good dancer, without ever having training.  First off, she doesn’t look like a dancer.  She looks like my mother.  And she picks ‘Hot Stuff’ as her musical motivation.

Know this:  If you enjoy boogie-ing to Donna Summer, you are, just like the song, a Golden oldie.  Accept it.  Age is nothing to be ashamed of.  However, what you do in a drunken state, at a wedding, on the dance floor, IS!  Don’t try to repeat it on national television.  IT will NOT end well.  Her interpretation of dance was girating her muffin top, like no fat-losing-vibrating machine would ever be able to do, with hip flexing action that would be the envy of Elvis, and an awkwardly placed hand, way to close to her…well “That-part-who-shall-not-be-named”.  It was weird, something I didn’t want to see, but something I couldn’t stop watching.  You know those it’s so bad, it’s good moments.

(I did mention to my kids that if ever become so intoxicated in public and end up dancing like that, they should shoot me with a tranquilizing gun immediately.)

After all this reading, you might be wondering, “Why would this song make me think of food?” Well, here’s why…

Princess watched enough episodes to understand that dance is the interpretation of music.  So after viewing this torture sequence she asked us, with no hint of doubt:

“Why does the lady dance like that to a song that’s about food?”

The wife and I looked at one another flabbergasted, with a hint of serious concern.  (We had those, “It’s your child, not mine” expressions.)

“Why do you think the song is about food?” I asked carefully.

“Well she sings ‘I need some PASTA.. maybe this evening.'” was her confident reply.

WE LOST ALL CONTROL.  There were 10 minutes of total chaos in our household as the wife and I were basically rolling on the floor.  I have warned people about our parental skills, and yes we laugh at our children.  Eventually we calmed down and between giggles informed her that the correct words was “Hot stuff” .  We also recovered on the raising-children-index by explaining that it meant she was looking for someone sexy.

Then my daughter lost control, laughing at herself.  And we joined in.  (In her defence, English is our second language)

We had to listen to the song again and realised that ‘PASTA’ would fit perfectly in the song.  If you don’t believe me, click the clip again and replace the bold words of the lyrics below, with my daughter’s version. (PASTA)

Sittin’ here, eatin’ my heart out waitin’

Waitin’ for some lover to call

Dialed about a thousand numbers lately

Almost rang the phone off the wall

Lookin’ for some hot stuff, baby this evenin’

I need some hot stuff, baby tonight

I want some hot stuff, baby this evenin’

Gotta have some hot stuff

Gotta have some love tonight

It’s a pleasure.

My moment at a wedding

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No, it’s not the real McCoy it’s borrowed from
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

We recently attended a wedding of a nephew.  It’s really spectacular to be invited to these functions because at a certain stage of your life weddings and births slowly turn into funerals and eulogies.  And we are now in the in-between-phase.  That point in your life where jack-shit happens.  The only spark of a social event is a forty year-old birthday party every now and again.

Things haven’t change since I last attended a wedding.  The bride looked amazing in a big white meringue dress with a trail.  The groom looked surprisingly handsome, although even Frankenstein would look semi-presentable in a tuxedo.  At least he wouldn’t ruin all the photo’s.   All three bridesmaids looked extremely uncomfortable in their weird colour, same themed dresses, which they will NEVER wear again.  The three best men were standing big-chested, probably thinking about all the single lady reputations that will be ruined during the course of the evening.

The wedding march struck its first notes and doors swung open.  People stood up in unison like a programmed robot army and the little girl throwing rose petals didn’t trip or fall.  Success!  Then the bride appeared in the opening and everyone gasped.  A few mom’s (and dads) cried.  The reverent spoke,  rings were exchanged and the groomed kissed his bride.  Popcorn replaced confetti. WTF?

The speeches were boring, but the MC was hilarious. (Yes, it was I) and the food was excellent.  Dessert was a buffet so the wife was in heaven and I was slightly annoyed at the constant queue at the bar.

In order to prevent the piece from becoming to cynical, there were moments of greatness like the groom singing a song, and the father dancing with the bride, very uncomfortable though because without the 27 inch heels, her dress was a tad too long.  It was time for the bride and groom to sway through their interpretation of a romantic song and the floor was opened.  They dimmed the lights to allow the people without alcohol induced courage to join in. The wife and I laughed as we spun around the floor in our own little blissful world.

Then came my moment…

I stood up and walked purposefully to her chair.  She was playing with her hair, twirling it around her fingers.  Sitting in quiet awe, watching everyone intently.  I pulled out her chair and asked her for the next dance.  She looked up, beaming with a blend of excitement and shyness, placing her hand in mine.  Together we walked onto the dance floor.

I told her how beautiful she was in her little black dress with the silver sandals.  I took her gently around her tiny waist and she placed her hand on my shoulder.  Then we danced.  And her eyes sparkled.

I knew the song would end and I didn’t want it to.  I wished that time could slow down, wished that our moment would last forever.  I wanted to keep her as close to me for eternity, never letting her go.  I knew it wasn’t meant to be.  One day she would become that striking lady in the white dress.  She will be a radiant and astonishingly gorgeous bride.  She will marry the luckiest man alive.  (I just pray that he doesn’t turn out to be a prick.) And then he will be the man who make her eyes smile, just like I did in that precious moments.

Our song ended with the last verse fading into silence.  She looked up into my eyes and grinned with a wide, happy mouth.  I lifted her high into the air and swirled her one final time.  She giggled loudly and before I placed her on the floor she said: “Thanks daddy, I love dancing with you.”

She scurried over to my wife and as my love caught my gaze, I had to blink to keep the tear from rolling down my cheek.

To my little girl, on her birthday. From dad.

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Some days on a calendar are just programmed never to be forgotten, like Christmas.  (Unless of course you have the Koran on your bed stand)  Then there’s Valentine’s day and all the other commercially driven days invented by Hallmark, sponsored by Wallmart.

And then there are days that’s unique to every individual.  Days we write down in our hearts and encircle with prostitute red pens on the calendar so we won’t forget.  (Wedding anniversaries)  Then there’s the birthdays of every family member and friend. Which makes me wonder if being a recluse doesn’t have it advantages.

It’s one of those days, today.  A celebration of the birth of our princess, our wondrously created, enthusiastically crafted and immeasurable blessing, our daughter given to us 11 years ago.  As a father’s gift, please find these few words, spilling from my heart.

I love your blue eyes and your long blond hair,

how you laugh from your belly without any care.

I love how you sing loudly whilst you play

and hope you retain your excitement one day.

I love how you plan and organise to the T,

celebrate any event, irrespective how small it might be.

I love how you always pray for those without food

and how you wake up in your foul little mood.

I love that you drive me insane with requests

and don’t worry, I love those new, bright pink specs.

I love how jump in my arms, running from far,

or refuse to sleep with the closet doors ajar.

I love that you appear confident, witty and strong,

knowing you’re fragile and delicate, they have it wrong.

I know that’s the reason you cannot sleep at a friend

but don’t worry my little one, it will change in the end.

I love that you’re mine and my heart’s filled with pride,

that your spunk and your zeal is impossible to hide.

I love how I’m able to see Mommy in you,

her beauty, laughter and love shining through.

You are my treasure and you make my life great,

but you’re growing up and that’s the one thing I hate.