Driving Mr Daisy

In South Africa kids have to be 18 before they can get a driver’s permit.  And even if they get it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can drive, it merely means that they passed an assessment that tested their ability to parallel park without any other cars present, not stalling the vehicle and keeping the car on the road at the required legal speed.  This test doesn’t teach them the subtle nuances of driving that a person acquire over many years.

The important driving skills like how to flick a bird at the stupid driver who cuts you off and which are the appropriate swear words to use when the driver in the fast lane is either looking for parking or just simply prefers to drive at the speed of a dying snail.  Not to mention the important ability of selecting a great playlist in preparation for a road trip.

Irrespective of what Dude may know or doesn’t know about driving, he still managed to pass the test last week on his first attempt, and no-one was more surprised proud than his dad.  He is now a legal driver on the roads of the world because contrary to popular belief, a South African driver’s permit does allows you to drive ANYWHERE you want to.  Except on the pavement.  The problem with this newfound ability and sense of freedom is that even though he has the legal document to operate a motor vehicle, he is yet to own said motor vehicle.

Now just calm down and here me out before you start blaming me for not providing the child with a car.  The reality of him reaching the legal age for driving in South Africa came at me faster than Superman when he hears Lois is in trouble.  And then the actual date for the test came even faster.  I’m not stupid, I knew he was going for his license, I was the one who had to pay some poor driving instructor who had to sit through the terror and anxiety of teaching him how to drive.  We did the basics but due to the fact that an instructor who leaves claw marks on the dashboard and has difficulty in releasing blood-curdling screams every three minutes should rather quit whilst he is ahead.  Which is what I did. And then I got a professional. And it worked.

Back to the fact that I have a serious problem excepting Dude is growing up.  Wait. What?  Yes I do.  I have a really hard time accepting that the Dude will be leaving the house at the end of the year.  There are so many things happening, very quickly.  He calls these achievements milestones and I call them landmark heartaches.  It’s just easier to ignore them, to be like an ostrich with its head in the sand.  Avoid the inevitable.  I’m trying to ignore how much I am going to miss that damn kid when he’s gone.

Hence my reluctance in getting him a car. I’m a selfish bastard.  I feel like me giving him a car is just me giving him permission to spread his wings a little more, to explore a little further, to be just that little bit more independent.  I’m giving him permission to go and live his life with less of me in it.  And that is probably one of the toughest things a parent will have to do in their entire life.

For the moment he is basically taking over driving duties in our house.  If someone even hints about going somewhere he volunteers to drive.  It’s weird to be the passenger because I still see my boy behind the steering wheel, not the young man who is chatting, listening to music and having the time of his life, as he is Driving Mr Daisy.

But don’t worry, I’ve agreed to go car shopping this weekend. Under duress of course.

He’s drinking ‘big man’ coffee now.

Dude always loved coffee.  Probably since birth.  Maybe even before that.  And the Internet was much smaller back then, so we didn’t have a million opinions on how to do parenting properly.   So we fed him coffee.  And decaf is only consumed by the spawn of Satan, so we gave him the real thing. *insert gasps of a thousand moms

Relax.  He’s fine.  Sort of.  He has a weird twitch every time someone says ‘coffee’ or when he sees a Starbucks. Even though I suspect the Starbucks-twitch has nothing to do with the fact that they serve coffee but more with the fact that girls hang around the place like antelope around a pool of water during the dry season. Continue reading

Our little Heffalump, all grown up

The day has finally arrived.  Shit. Shit. Shit.

Our little Princess has reached an age where she’s forced to jump into the cesspool of hormones, commonly known as high school.  By the way, may I still call you Princess? What am I saying, I’m your father and I can call you Princess until the day you die. I’ve earned that right after changing numerous soiled nappies and burping you in the middle of the night.  O-kay most of that was Mom but I did manage to squeeze in a few parental duties during your formative years, like allowing you to wrap me around your little finger.  So you will remain my Princess irrespective of how many years you move away from your birth date.

Back to the shit that happened today… Continue reading

This is a new one. The old wife was stolen.

Imbeciles.  Delinquents.  Degenerates. Despicables. Vermin. *Fu.. Assholes.  All words that accurately describe people who take what they want even if the thing they take doesn’t belong to them.  *Frigging thieves…

Have you seen me?

Have you seen me?

I became another statistic last week.  And here is the short version simply because I’m tired of telling the long one.  Five colleagues went on a business trip.  They stopped for lunch because I was hungry.  Some *lesser human jammed the car’s remote signal.  The five got back with their stomachs full and the car empty.  The car was missing two laptop bags. Continue reading

The first time she baked brownies

We were driving home after a two-hour shopping spree.  We were both drained, emotionally and physically.  Two human raisins sitting quietly, wondering how we survived it.  Again.

It is something we do once a year, as a result of feeding our kids.  You see when you feed them, they grow.  They get bigger.  Which implies that the only warm garments that still fit them are the two scarves and one beanie they have tucked beneath the heap of t-shirts.  South Africa is preparing for winter and that implies we have to ensure our kids have sufficient protection against the bitterness of the howling, freezing cold.  Unless of course you force them to wear what they have left from last season.  But then you have to accept the reality of other people thinking that they are auditioning for the chorus line of Annie.  Or Tom Sawyer. Continue reading

Who are you? And where’s my Son?

 

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“Hi dad.  How was your day?” He said as I walked through the door.

I dropped my bag with a loud CLANG.  My first instinct was to rush forward, take the little imposter by the throat and spread his legs against the wall, demanding to know where my beloved Son was being held hostage.  Fortunately I kept my cool for a second and remembered that we are getting these chirpy greetings more often.  And we like it.  So maybe we should just accept this person who is using Son’s body.

You see, the oddity of his behaviour is based on the fact that, listening to other parents of teenagers, he should only growl.  He should act like a wounded animal, hiding away in the dark.  Only coming out to feed on the raw meat we throw at him, and hope he doesn’t bite your head or arm off in the process.  But Son is proving the theory wrong.  He actually formed a personality.

Continue reading

An open letter to Father Time

Dearest Father Time

Guardian of moments, Provider of anguish, Governor of opportunity, Healer.  I would have liked to mail this letter to you, but as you’re always on the move and have a habit of never leaving a forwarding address, I had to revert to the only mode of communication I think you might end up taking a glimpse of.  Here’s hoping, anyhow.

It is important for you to browse the words, meticulously crafted together in one marvellous apology.  An apology on behalf of the human race.  I have to admit that I didn’t get permission or a proxy to represent mankind in this endeavour, but I’m sure they’ll thank me later.  This apology has been overdue for a very long… well, time.

From that very first moment when our naked bodies are plucked or squeezed from our mother’s womb, you become an integral part of our existence.  Right up there with oxygen and breast milk.  As crying, wriggling infants we might not be aware of that fact, but our parents are.  They’re already thinking of the day when we won’t wake up eight times in the night, poo ourselves and cry, just because we can.  They’re going through the motions and wait anxiously for time to pass so that we can turn into bigger versions of ourselves.  Upgrades who can sit, shit, talk and walk, by ourselves.  Please forgive them, as every parent has done it at some point, but it’s a normal reaction as a result of little or no sleep, limited knowledge and heaps of frustration.  Every parent in those early years of our kids existence are just happy they made it through another day.

Point is we’ve been on your case to move.  We’ve been urging you along.  Maybe even sitting on a horse, threatening you with the long, rolled up whip in our holster.  Encouraging you to run a little faster.

And it continued for a few years.  Just when we think the next era of raising children would be better than the previous, we sit anxiously discussing the risks/challenges of the next phase.  What would they be like as teenagers?  Will they make good friends?  Will they find love?  Will they be happy?  Instead of taking the time to exhale and enjoy the moment.  And I’m sorry.

But one day we wake up, and it’s a seemingly normal day.  The sun shines brightly in the clear, cobalt blue sky.  Birds chirp happily, greeting each other enthusiastically as they watch the butterflies partying on flower petals.  And man knows instinctively that something changed.  There is a shift in the cosmos.  Man feels it brewing deep in his soul, and his body tenses in anticipation of the event.  Then the kid walks into the room and it hits him.  A ton of bricks crashes through the ceiling.  An eruption, the likes last seen by the citizens of Pompeii.

The children have grown up!  Little adults has taken over the bodies of the toddlers that was living in the house the day before.  And it hurts, not like being punched in the gut by Dwayne Johnson, No, it hurts like when your heart is suddenly withering away, and the agony spreads through your limbs.  For in that instance man knows that his lost something he didn’t realise he had in the first place.

And we blame you.  Again.  This time we’ll be throwing insults and emotions at you, like an African hippo spreading his shit in the water. Futile and senseless.  For those moments are gone forever.  The sand has flowed through the opening and is now laying on the bottom section of the hour glass.  Moments will rush into memory, moments connected to all those missing years, the lost opportunities and the countless times when we should have cherished time.

We will blame you for following our wishes; for speeding up time.  And I’m sorry.

And then there is the blasphemy, the biggest sin we commit against you; when we pray for our weekends to arrive.  I’m sorry that we are ignoring the fundamental gift of a day, for taking that opportunity and throwing it carelessly over our shoulders.  A spoiled brat who doesn’t like the Christmas gift he received from his uncle.  We all sit in a heap of wrapping paper and a wide array of toys, but we’re unappreciative.  Just race past the five days we have to get to another weekend.  In so doing wishing away more than three-quarters of our life.

We want you to be Usain Bolt for five days and then sit on the pavement like a homeless person for the next two.  I’m truly sorry that we can’t make up our minds.

The ironic thing about this apology is that there are no guarentees that mankind will stop our behaviour and take a moment to truly appreciate the awesomeness of life and the opportunities you provide daily.  And you might ask what is the value of an apology if the behaviour is not going to change. For that I do not have an answer, but know this: I might be the only person who wrote you an apology but many other great humans have commented on the value of your existence and acknowledged your body of work.

People like Abraham Lincoln who said:  “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” or

CS Lewis who wrote: “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an  hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

(Many more snippets of wisdom have been sprinkled across centuries, and the Internet was kind enough to collect most of them.  Just ask Google or Firefox for access.)

Mankind may never fully understand how important time is.  We most probably will continue throwing wishes and insults at you for being too quick or too slow.  However there is one fundamental truth:

At the end of our journey you hand the baton of life over to the Grim Reaper who’s waiting for every human on this planet, or any other planet for that matter.  Here’s hoping that for every baton you hand over, you’ll be doing it with a smile, for that would imply that the person you’re representing in those final moments, understood the concept of time at least once in a crucial moment of his life.

Yours sincerely

Ah dad…

PS – I know I’ll make you smile.  At least once.  And it was today.