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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Putting the toys away

My kids are a constant contradiction to me in what roles we are meant to play in each others lives.
Parents are meant to be the role model, teachers and carer's in their
children's lives and our offspring, the recipients of our wisdom, life experience and most importantly our love.
But my kids frequently turn the tables on me.

I had kids later than most in life but now see that as a huge advantage. I think
I've nailed it down to one thing, I was ready for them.....
What I didn't expect was the fantastic journey of discovery it would be for all of us, and I think I'm learning as much as they are if not more.

I think we are universally selfish beings evidenced by the greed and plunder of the planet, the unacceptable level of child abuse in our country and the lack of regard there is for human life virtually every where we humans
habitate. And lets not suggest that selfishness stops when you have kids but I think they provide a welcome diversion if you allow them to.
Where am I going with this?
The kids arrived and suddenly it was time to put away the childish toys and
attitudes that pervade our lives as the huge responsibility of raising kids loomed. I suddenly felt I had to grow up and set aside those things that I hadn't achieved or stifle the creative parts of me that languished under the pressures of work, family and life in general. And bugger me, life does have a habit of throwing the odd curve ball at you, and sometimes they all arrive in little groups of life changing crises .... relentless in their efforts to unsettle you and steer you in directions you never thought imaginable.
But life is a journey, not a destination as the saying goes and my 2
dwarf's are a constant reminder of that.
I tweeted a while ago about my 3 year old daughter eating a
Tamarillo for the first time. Not a big deal by world standards but I was able to sit there and take the time to watch her face as she experienced something for the first time. Wow.. how cool to watch the facial expressions and smiles as we sat there at the table discovering things together.
Kids have that untainted ability to live in the now without fear of consequence or self
consciousness. An ability to laugh and laugh and laugh, to play, to sing, to act and express themselves through whatever medium is at hand.
It takes an effort for us as we get older to lose those inhibitions and to have the 'now' moments, to dance like a nutter in the
lounge, to not be too perturbed at turning up to work with the remnants of finger nail polish your daughter has plastered you with and to enjoy the limp from the torn leg muscles after racing the kids down the beach.
Living in the now is not something we do by nature.... life just isn't structured that way as an adult, but it has its merits.

The now moments come thick and fast with children because all they really want is you.
It took me a while and a lot of wasted money to discover that all the best toys don't mean diddly if you don't join in and play.

The now moments are subtle too, you
don't always know that the 'Daaaaaaad' that you hear 27,000 times a day will lead to the coolest little moment. Stopping, listening and most of all smiling at your child's discovery is all they seek. Whilst I've been writing this Ella has been at my side drawing caterpillars. I've lost my train of thought a million times but can't help to admire how far she's come in what she draws and how she expresses herself.

As we continue on our journey of self discovery I'm getting to know myself more and more, unlocking those parts of me I thought I had put away and to offer my children more of what they want...... me.

Things my kids have taught me:

Laugh.... more
Paint washes off
So does dirt, sand and mud
Cars can survive sticky lollies, drinks and milkshakes
I dance like a nutter
I can cry with joy
The amount of poo is disproportionate to body size
Life isn't always about caution and consequences
Naps are good
Love is unconditional
You can love someone so much it aches
The promise of
Ice cream gets things done

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happiness within Fragility

I came across a website recently ( which reminded me what a darn lucky life I've had so far.. (personal stuff-ups aside).
I didn't want to use the word 'blessed' because I still have a few issues to sort out with the big guy and the rationale behind an apparent warped sense of humour this whole God thing has.

I was born with OI Osteo Genesis Imperfecta or a condition more commonly known as 'Brittle Bones.'
Now you might think poor bastard.. but you'd be dead wrong. It has its upsides.... being known as one of the original X Men is kinda cool .. having a mutated gene gives one a unique point of difference amongst a populace of uniformly normal individuals. Be wary, we are among you living and waiting for our day.

To my parents eternal credit, they picked up stix and emigrated from the UK to New Zealand thinking that the climate and lifestyle here would be better for my two fellow sisterly mutants. (I came along a bit later) ...They were right.

We led a fantastic life running around the countryside and beaches of provincial New Zealand in Dads assorted company cars ... (go the HQ holden).
In saying that we also developed an intimate relationship with the various A&E departments of the cities we frequented as invariably one of us would bust a leg or arm jumping off cliff faces or speeding down driveways on our home built go karts.
It always amazed me, the calm response my Mother maintained when one of her kids was lying in a heap with limbs at angles they weren't designed to be. "Go ring your Father and tell him he needs to come home" was normally the first thing uttered to the uninjured siblings whilst splints and slings were arranged accordingly for the injured party.
We were then bundled into Dads car for the bouncy and painful trip to Hospital to wait 6 hours for some bright spark Doctor to tell Mum, "I think he's broken a bone"
I always wondered if my Mum coined the phrase "No Shit!" as it was frequently used in front of Tauranga's medical professionals.

I once worked out that I've spent a solid 4 years of my 40 years in a plaster cast of some form and had so many X-rays my aura has a half-life of ten thousand years.

When you're born with something, you don't know any different so our fragility was just an accepted thing. A few rules were established for our benefit like no rugby, no ice skating, no horse riding and no skiing.
Over the years, my sisters and I have accomplished all of our banned activities with the exception of rugby... (Jo and Ange just didn't take to it) with the odd mishap here and there.

One such mishap of mine unfortunately happened whilst I was skiing with a friend of mine who was a cameraman for one of the National News Channels.
The nasty wee man filmed a nice little news segment of me arriving at the field hospital on a rescue sled after breaking my leg jumping off a 'small' ledge. Unfortunately it was the channel my parents watched every night and my attempt to have a 'quiet wee break' was undone.

Having OI takes on a completely different face when you have children as there is a 50% chance that any of your offspring will inherit the condition. When we had Ella, I knew fairly early that she had it.
She's made it to almost 4 years old now and only had 3 fractures, she knows she's got 'glass' bones as she calls it and it worries the life out of me when I see her climbing trees and running around with her brothers knowing at any time she could do what I did so many times.

As a father you naturally want to keep your kids safe from pain and suffering and its such a temptation to wrap them up in cotton wool and protect them from danger, but I'm reminded about what I learnt from the pain, the process and the people along the way.....

Make the most of every day, your situation is better than you think, and life MUST be enjoyed even if some of it is covered in plaster of paris.