Friday, August 31, 2012

It's fine he's 9 ish.....

This reminds me of the old days that seem so far away. Helping calm crying babies. Staying out of the way of crying babies, you get the picture.

I'm lucky. My kids are old enough now to :

1) get their own breakfast
2) not require round the clock surveillance attention.
3) manipulate articulate what they want

On the flip side they're old enough to probably burn down the house with a wayward piece of toast.

Anyway after recently attending an adolescent talk provided by the school, delivered to ensure we are appropriately terrified of the oldest sons future behaviours, I was fondly remembering all the fun we had when he was younger. Don't get me wrong he's still fun but just punctuated with random bouts of surly teenagerness (yes that is a word). It's like a little peek into what's ahead.

And I still have the little one ( 9 yrs old  trying to be 12) and thankfully he still needs me for all sorts of things. I did however notice that I kinda just do things for the little guy as if in some vain hope that he will just be always this way.

Whilst I'm supposed to be assisting him to begin to make decisions for himself, I'm just having trouble letting go right now.

So I'm off to tie his shoes laces and make sure his lunch is packed, because he is only 9 ish and he needs his Dad.

And no amount of comments will dissuade me otherwise.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Etiquette of staying at someone else's house

As I walk home past the park full of children football playing in the twilight I am reminded that it will soon be Spring and that brings about the prospect of holidays. As an evangelical proponent of family holidays and driving holidays for that matter, it's inevitable that you are going to have to stay at some point in someone else's home. After all travelling and not visiting any friends in the area would be a little rude, not to mention embarrassing if they find out. (And yes we found out )

Having been on both sides of this delicate coin I can tell you it can go wrong really quickly and really spectacularly. So to avoid this we have developed a couple of strategies.

Staying at someone else's houses really requires a bit of chameleon like behaviours from everyone as you are going to need to assimilate yourselves in to someone else's routines. Not to mention the acceptance of their idiosyncrasies.

The first thing to do before arriving is shopping. No -  not for shoes or clean underwear, they should already be packed. You need to bring food.

In saying that showing up with 36 eggs and 2 kgs of bacon may be interpreted as  "We're concerned about what you are going to serve us for the rest of the day so were filing up early."

Its also not a great idea to request meals other than the one being prepared. It's not a restaurant eat it or don't eat it, I don't care. I'm not meaning to sound rude about it but if you're on holidays the last thing you need is to spend hours in the kitchen.

And no I am not separating the components of stew to only the bits you like, so don't bother asking.

As good a cook as you are , you should only intervene in cooking if the dish/meal is in real danger - of catching on fire.
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And of course the golden rule - never touch another mans barbecue unless invited. Even if he severs part of his arm during the cooking - wait until invited as he may choose to cook on through.

In regards to sleeping arrangements, be prepared is my motto for this. When people stay with us we have spare mattresses everywhere, but not everyone has this or the space to accommodate them.
I never have laughed so much at the kids starting out on a nice inflated bed only to wake up in the morning as part of a giant blue child sandwich.

If you have a favourite pillow or have paid more than $10 for the pillow you currently use, by all means take it along.

Cleaning again is something that you should only help where you can. Unless you have the wording of a  career diplomat I would avoid telling someone you are going to mop the floors as this may just come across as a criticism of their current living conditions.

That being said if you have just finished a meal with children and there is more food on the floor than the table it may be OK. Unless they have a dog or a baby- both of which are viable alternatives to vacuum cleaners.

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One of the odd things we noticed has been our/other children travelling in kids travelling in someone else's car to destinations. Nothing is quite as odd as children deciding which car they are going to drive in. This is made all the more amusing when they choose a couple without children. And by amusing I mean for the couple as the children divulge all manner of private conversations about you and your daily routines.

I'm now almost home and the evening sky has started to show some stars and the smell of dinners cooking is creeping around the quietly parked cars. I know that for the time being, I wont have to adjust my routine and that - for the moment - is just the way I like it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

People take Football very seriously

I watch the cameras being tested and focused, the camera men making sure all the angles can be covered and nothing missed.
I watch the coaches and assistant coaches with magnetic boards in deep discussion with football managers and other support staff on final player positions.
I watch intently as the players complete there drills and warm ups and move into their final huddle before the game.

These are all the things that we love about AFL football. That pre-game excitement.

Then - the bell goes and the ball is bounced.

What ? What do you mean it's a siren and not a bell ?

You know I'm talking about under 9's footy right ?

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    Confused ?

    And all of those things described above actually happened. Not from our team of course.

    Picture this, there's a coffee gently warning my right hand and my jacket is clutched firmly in my left as I look out over the field. It's Sunday morning and time for footy. The Youngest and his team are peppering the goals with footballs and the parents are chatting away on the sidelines.

    Yet the opposition team seem to have an entire support team to rival any AFL teams, busily preparing for the match.

    But I digress. Watching these kids play is great because -

    a) They're outside and in running around in what Melbourne mostly passes as fresh air.
    b) They're playing a team sport which is forcing them to work together to get an outcome.

    I can not ask for any more. Well I can, I need decent coffee. But as Grandpa on the Go always said - "if you want it done right then you're probably going to have to do it yourself. So I now make my own coffee in a travel  sippee cup.

    The Youngest has been put in the mid field which seems to mean anywhere on the ground the ball is. It also seems to mean go where ever all the wettest and stickiest mud is and tackle people there.
    He does well, except for a couple of moments where he skips around a bit looking like he is having way to much fun.
    image courtesy of

      I'd say the opposition will have to edit that bit out of their very serious post match review, before the other kids find out.

      Anyway despite being a few men short and facing a difficult slope in the ground away from the goals they notch up a win.

      They march off the ground arms around each other singing the club song at the same decibel level of air-planes taking off, smiles wider than the grand canyon.

      There is a post match game discussion which seems to be more about giving out chocolates and footy cards than the serious business of post match dissection. But everyone gets praised and all achievements are duly noted - including The Youngest attempting to ride the full back like a donkey head first in to the ground.

      We wrap him up in a towel and off we go home.

      And next Sunday I'll do it all again, because after all this is bloody serious you know.........

      Friday, August 3, 2012

      Toilet roulette and road trips

      We all know how fond of road trips I am. I see them as the last great travel method (apart from trains which I love). When I think about the road trips I've taken I always have a smile on my face. Don't get me wrong, there are portions of these trips I am sure that my brain has deliberately suppressed- the mind numbing stretches of straight road and more recently the kids niggling each other as we get close to the 10 minute concentration span they currently possess. So we have developed different ways to pass the time in the car  to ensure my blood pressure stays at a reasonable level.

      Before I do that lets picture this  : Grand Pa on the Go and the family driving through The Death Valley into Nevada and to keep us entertained ( there were no radio stations) constantly re playing  Sesame Street cassette tapes that we could sing along to.

      All 9 of them. Over and Over. Here's an updated version of one of these little treasures

      How my parents stayed sane still mystifies me to this day. I see this as the true definition of hard core parenting.

      image courtesy of

      If you wish to avoid this and are not interested in an in-car DVD's (or hard core parenting ) you need car games. Here's just two that we use :

      The test of Patience - See how many games of eye spy you can play before you lose it completely.
      The Crudity test - How many number plates you can turn into words before you resort to vulgar or slang words.
      You get the idea.

      Many years ago Grand Pa on the Go decided that we were all going to go to Noosa Heads. He was to attend a conference and we would stay on for a while as a family holiday.
      This was back way , way, way before it became the thriving Mecca for tourists it is today.  The plan was simple we would drive up the Newell Highway on the way there to arrive quickly and come back along the coast on the way home.

      Imagine my delight when I was told I was to sleep on the couch in the living room. Right in front of the TV.  Nothing can go wrong, its bolted to the wall - right ?

      I'm sure my disappointment was evident when he trotted off to the car and produced a set of spanners, unbolted the TV, wheeled it into their room leaving me alone in the dark. It still ended up a great holiday and due to the very large pile of beach towels strategically placed between my sister and I by our wise parents the trip home was fine and by now we had graduated to the soundtrack of Grease - The movie.

      One of the other treats of the road trip is discovering things. Like discovering that the red food dye in skittles made the Eldest break out in hives. A short trip to a doctors and some anti-histamines rectified this and we soon were back on our way.

      Toilet stops are an inescapable part of the travel. You can say 100 or even 1000 times to your children - "take it easy and don't drink that 600ml Coke/Big M/ Gatorade all in one go"

       OR you could just not let them have it.

      But for a father of my considerable experience , that's just the easy way out. I like the challenge of the roadside toilet roulette.

      image courtesy of

      There is nothing like pulling up to a toilet like the one above and opening the door for the first time and in that split second working out  how bad you really have to go. The beloved has passed on many occasions.

      The reality of these trips is you will see more of Australia than you ever will by strapping yourself in a giant steel tube and allowing some guy you don't know hurtle you through the air at in-human speeds, to then bounce your way to another place.

      And with all the global turmoil and strife sometimes the simple act of taking a photo of the kids, standing next to a roadside marker that was left behind by Bourke and Wills, and the expression on their faces expresses the true gravity and boredom excitement of the moment, is sometimes just priceless.