Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Art of the Practical Joke - A Dads perspective

                  Practical Jokes

Call it what you want. From a very young age we learn that there is humor to be found in seeing others confused by what they thought should be - but isn't.

It started when I was very young, my Dad would look behind me and exclaim that he had seen parrots out the window and when we turned around to look, vital parts of our dinner went missing. He still does it and now with the kids he has had an new audience. They catch on quick so you gotta stay sharp.

Mind you he once said to the Bride to Be, there was no way she could carry two bales of hay up to the cows in a paddock, the bales were grabbed belligerently and off she marched. Boy did we laugh watching her struggle away with a bale in each hand up the lane(they weigh about 15kgs each). She still married me.

Anyway, I took to this new found wonder like a duck to water. Practical jokes appealed especially to me as I love to laugh and the jokes often have an element of engineering and physics to them. Buckets of water balanced on doors, buckets of water thrown out windows the spiders swinging down on fishing lines, the fake amputated finger in a matchbox, the list is endless.

I was always open to new ideas and would search for jokes in everyday situations. I went to magic stores and I saved my pocket money to buy all sorts of gags. Paper that went into a tooth brush to stain your teeth, joke soft drinks, fake gum - they all went into my bag of tricks.

Its important to note that you should under no circumstances use fake cola on your mother who is trying to sleep after a night shift at the hospital.

On I went trying everything and anything. It got to the point where in order to keep my edge, I took a Mars bar that my sister was saving, removed the chocolate bar, then filled the pack with sand so it resembled the mars bar in weight and feel. But the look on her face when it was opened was priceless.

All these were done in front of an audience, because with out that there was no point.. There needs to be viewers to your grand mastery. That is where the satisfaction comes from.

As the loyal readers know it all ended abruptly one day for my sister during this incident so I had to find a new audience.

Where better than your workplace. It's a whole new world of potential victims and not to mention the audience reach. I can remember at one office, we organised a DVD copy of a movie that one of the managers really wanted, but the video on it was the behind the scenes footage from the "Men of NRL Calendar".

The same workplace once waited for the manager to ride his bike home so we could replace his suit and clothes for the next day with a dress. So when he rode back the next day that was all he had to wear.....
Being the good sort he was he put it on.

See how easy it is ?    Now days I select my targets based on the joke.

I do it to The Organised One when I'm  feeling dangerous.
I once got a jug of water and stood on the toilet and then poured the water in to the toilet from a height while pretending to groan in pain.

I do it to the kids when I can.
Picture this - Junior is complaining about a bad smell and I tell him that he can get his nostrils to close by sticking his fingers in his ears and breathing in quickly. My delivery was so good Mr Elder who claims to be an expert at detecting when I'm fooling, put his fingers in his ears and started breathing heavily.

Mind you it kinda back fired once when I pretended to see something interesting in a drain hole and I was going to say "boo" to Mr Elder when he looked in. Trouble was he lent over so far that he fell in head first.
Luckily there was sand at the bottom of the drain so there was no damage, but his little legs were waiving out the top furiously and it made me laugh out loud.
When I pulled him out of the hole - he absolutely gave it to me.

I secretly still laugh at this one.

I've lost count at the number of times they come to me with a bump or scrape and I proclaim it to be Ebola or that we need to go to the hospital to amputate straightaway.

I know that these are minor compared to movies such as Jackass and shows like Punk'd that take it to a whole new level, but I'm a Dad and I know I'm expected to always think about the outcomes. I spend 99% of my day reminding the minions that everything they do has ramifications and think carefully before you do something stupid, so I have to live by the same rules.

And on the flip side I also am absolutely a great victim of jokes. I encourage the minions to practice on me on any occasion.
And it is true that recently The Organised one slide a plastic coat hanger along the ground causing me to jump in the air and squeal like a girl who has just seen her first cockroach.

So I will continue to tell terrible jokes in front of their friends, I will continue to try and prank them whenever I can.

I'd like to say I do it to teach them that people will always try to get the better of you and you should watch out in the world, but the reality is I just like to laugh

Wise words indeed !

It's Wednesday and this just came out of the vending machine. I guess it's now dispensing advice as well !

Go spend some time with your Dad

Go on.......

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dad can we go fishing ?

I play golf because the wife does. I'm not good at it and it certainly has increased my blood pressure a number of times. But something I do love is  fishing.

I really love it.

Before the minions came along we both used to fish all the time, driving into all sorts of places and getting up at stupid hours chasing fish around. Mostly me setting up and her catching the fish.

However, as you are aware fishing is about patience. It's often long waits - punctuated by short bursts of activity and I can assure its nothing like those bloody fishing shows that make it look like all they are doing is catching and not fishing !

Anyway along came the kids and fishing changed quite a bit. It became more interesting and they will test you.

We have had many memorable trips out in boats and off the shores of this countries great lakes and oceans. The eldest just seemed to have this knack of catching the fish I couldn't get anywhere near.

I remember taking them out on a little boat chasing Flathead in the bay. He selected the stupidest looking purple plastic lure I had in the tackle box and flicked it out. I turned away and began to make the beloved a coffee.
He shouts out "Hey I got one !" sure enough, in 1.7 seconds on a piece of purple plastic he caught a fish.

Very demoralizing for me.

Just as this is demoralizing for all of us.

The eldest seemed just to like it for awhile but as he caught more fish it seemed like he had decided in his mind that he had achieved what was required and that he was done with it.

And just like that he stopped.

Not the junior son, oh no he embraced it. I mean he really embraced it.

Every where we would go we would take our rods and tackle and find a spot and get fishing. The problem with this is he started to realize that you get more fishing done the earlier you get up.

Can you see where this is going ?

[quiet footsteps] "Dad ?" [pause] "Dad, are you up?" [pause] "Dad, is it time for fishing yet ?"

So off we trot to fish and shortly after leaving the house, the questions start.

"What kind of fish will we catch?"    " How long can we go for ?"           "Whats the biggest fish you ever caught ?"

Once we set ourselves up, the next trick is to get him to not constantly wind the bait back in every 10 seconds. If you are fishing on a lovely sandy beach then that's fine but  with most fish living in among snags well.....lets just say we take plenty of tackle.

The next challenge is to get him to not keep moving the rod around while I'm baiting the hook, so the hook is not dragged firmly into your fingers. I am quite adept at removing hooks now.

More questions follow "Why aren't we catching anything?       "Can we play in the water ?"

"Can I throw in more berley ?"

And even with all this activity, we still catch fish and we still have so much fun. I look back fondly on the the fun we've had and look forward to all the fun we're going to have.

I just wish I could catch something......

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being a new Dad - the first years

I noticed that all of my posts thus far are about my semi-grown up kids and not so much about what it's like when they are first born / younger, which for a lot of you is probably going to be helpful information ( if you want to avoid the feeling of "what the hell am supposed to be doing" that I felt )

So I thought I'd reflect on some of what I went through ( over a couple of posts) and hope it helps. After all we look at Brittany Spears and marvel that if she can raise a kid whilst being completely nuts there's probably hope for us all.

I'm not going to bother with the birth because it seems everyone has a story to share and really there's not much you can do but be there, hold hands and marvel that later you can tell your wife that you saw the inside of her during the surgery to remove a stuck kid.

Its certainly nothing like the Lion King with everyone showing up to marvel the newborn with music and song. What actually happened was the doctor handed me the kid with his leg bent the other way and his foot facing the inside of his leg.

The doctored chuckled and said "that's how he was in the womb, look... " and proceeded to refold him like an accordian and then unfold him.

The next 20 mins were completely surreal as I was just standing there holding my son with absolutely no idea what to do so I did what  I always do when I'm stuck - I started to just talk to him. It's probably the only time he has ever listened completely.

Anyway eventually they let us take the kid home and I decided to go back to work straight after because there were too many women in the house and I felt so useless. I think it worked well as they eventually left and we could get down to the serious business of parenting.

Because it was winter we assumed that the house had to be warm so we heated it up. Oh boy, did we heat it up. Every heater was turned on.
The first heating bill was more than my salary as we kept the house so hot for the kid to avoid any issues. From then on we used blankets and clothes.

So time began to pass and I must of demonstrated some responsibility because I was told that I would be left on my own to manage the kid whilst a dinner was attended.
As you know she has always been organised so when I was finally left alone with him - there was a list.

All the things I had to do were laid out and the foods to feed him were in individual containers. So it's simple right ?

I put him for the first feed in the high chair and opened the container. Kiwi fruit , too easy.

I get the spoon put some fruit on and hand it to him. I turn around to do something else and then turn back to the kid

The spoon is clean.
Sweet. All good.
So I repeat.

5 minutes later and the bowl is empty. I am on fire here. All I need to do is wipe the excess fruit off his face now.

I felt a drop on my shoulder. I wipe at it and see that it's fruit. I look up.

Who new kiwifruit could get on the roof ? Who knew how hard it is to clean fruit off the roof ?

I'll leave you with one last thought.

Kids will learn routines and you will change.

The eldest was about two and quietly playing on the floor whilst we were heatedly discussing our finances. After a while we both looked around the room and we realized Chris was no longer with us in the room.

We started frantically looking around and found him standing by himself in the dark in his bed room waiting to be put to bed. He knew when to go to bed and we had completely missed it.

Both of us hung our heads in shame and we realized from that point on it was no longer just about us.

It was about our family.

So don't worry and definitely don't panic because after all you're not Brittany Spears-  you're a Dad !

Friday, November 4, 2011

Face it Dad, you are not a plumber....

I had an physical altercation with the dishwasher. I know it was wrong  but it was giving me the irits. For the 900th time it had just refused to start and was sounding an annoying alarm complete with a "not listed" in the manual error code.

So now not only did the dishwasher not work but it also now had a series of dint's across the front. These small fist and knee sized marks had caused much heated discussion and angst in the house, so it was decided that a new unit was required.

Being the handyman that I am I confidently declared that not only could I negotiate for the new dishwasher, but that I would save the $95 and install it sans plumber.

After all how hard could it be. I just take out the old unit and slide the new unit in after connecting the hose and the water outlets.  They're all the same after all

Right ?

So a new dishwasher was procured and brought home. (I am not paying $50 for delivery when I can do that myself as well)

An apprentice was selected ( Mr 11) and the cupboard under the sink was cleared so pipes and drain hoses could be disconnected and then the new hoses reconnected. I am constantly amazed at how many vases we own and they all seem to live under the sink ? What are they for ? I certainly don't buy flowers !

1st Problem - the hose could not be disconnected as the spanner was too small. So off to Bunnings we go and these were purchased :

(Now try and show me a tap I can't disconnect !)

So I took out the old unit and left it in the yard appropriately disposed of it and the apprentice and I carefully appraised the situation (opened a beer )

2nd Problem - The new dishwasher has a water  filter/pressure modulator on the end

 ( the big square thingy)

And it doesn't fit in the current hole from the previous dishwasher hose.

A drill and a larger hole is required. So a series of holes around a measured area were drilled and a hammer was employed. The apprentice gets into the cupobaord to ensure that perfection is acheived.

3rd Problem - There is two layers of chipboard where the hole needs to be. The hammer is'nt working, so many more holes are drilled and  the situation appraised ( a second beer is opened) Then more vigorous hammering in undertaken.

The hole is now sufficently large enough to fit.

4th Problem - The hose now fits so I clean the edges of the hole with my hand to ensure nothing impedes the hose or casues problems later on.The cabinet maker used pretty much every nail he had and I felt a sharp pain in my finger. No  time to worry we had work to do. But now blood is dripping on the floor and getting on everything. The hole in my finger was tiny but the blood just kept going.

So after a first aid stop, the situation was appraised ( yep another beer).

The taps are now connected and the drain-hose is fitted (two hose clamps and a heap of four letter words)

Now all to do is slide in the unit and test.

Clunk. The dishwasher hits the bench and stops. We re-angle and try again, Clunk and stop. This can't be happening how can it be too tall ? I measured the gap and compared this with the manual. We get the measuring tape and remeasure the hole and the dishwasher and they are indeed different.

Time and and a lot more cursing goes by.

The apprentice asks about the screw in feet. He is immediately hailed as a genius. The feet are lowered and in slides the unit. We have 10 minutes to get everything back to normal including putting away all those vases, before the lady of the house gets back.

The apprentice says "I can see you love doing this stuff Dad but you're no plumber"

So I have learned an important lesson - Never get into a fight with a dishwasher as they will have the last laugh.