Today I am taking the Inter-island Ferry from Wellington to Picton. Not really one for ferry rides, especially if the seas are running high. However, I don’t think things will get as bad as this. If they do this might be my last post.
Parenting is difficult at the best of times. However, in the school holidays it takes on a whole new level of stress. It seems to me that every holiday my children start to exhibit two disorders – the onset of ADHD during the day and then insomnia at night time. Individually these could be dealt with but when the two are combined it can be a nightmare.
Yesterday we visited an impressive World War One flight museum in Blenheim. Each aircraft had been impressively reconstructed into an impressive scene. There were crashed planes in trees, snow scenes and even a recreation of the crashed Red Baron. The results were outstanding. To keep patrons off these impressive exhibits there was an alarm system which emitted a loud, ear piecing buzz. Within 17 seconds of paying our entry fee our youngest boy had set the alarm off and already come face to face with the Red Baron, by trying to remove his helmet. Needless to say thesecurity guard kept a close eye on us for the remainder of out 2 hour visit.
With this kind of pressure it is not surprising that sometimes parents do some strange and silly things with their children. Sometime parents just don’t get it right with their children and fortunatley there is often a camera to etch that moment in history. The photos below are not intended to offend, so just enjoy them for what they are – parents dealing with children under the stress of holidays.
Today was the first of four days I have effectively termed ‘Daddy Day-care’. Other terms that I could have used are ‘Flying Solo’, ‘Minus Mum’ or even ‘Father Fun Day’. Fathers reading this blog will be familiar with these terms referring to times when the mother goes away for some reason and the children are looked after by their father. I am in that zone and for the next 96 hours Ozy Mandias is a single dad flying solo as Mrs Mandias has decided to leave our family holiday due to work commitments.
I have been vice captain of this team for some time now but this is the first time that I have been given the role of captain since the birth of our children. Before we analyse this with too much depth I think it is important to note how long this captaincy is for. A total of four days is not a just a token gesture. Baby sitting for 3 hours is a token gesture that some men are given from their wives. Ask any man and they will tell you that four days represents a sign that I am coming of age as a father. My wife has tested me with smaller, 30 minute slots over the last few years, and I have passed with flying colours. I have shown my ability to wash, feed and nappy change our children and my wife now considers me ready for the next step. This next step is the week away and is the last test in me completing my fatherhood license.
Passing the fatherhood test is no easy task, especially with Mrs Mandias as our previous captain. Most people won’t realise the role that Mrs Mandias plays in our family. She is the captain, coach, physio, cook, finance advisor, and everything else within the Mandias family. Her role is so far-reaching that members of our family have started calling her Daniel Vettori, in reference to her single-handed running of this family and crafty off break she bowls during our family backyard cricket games.
So you can see that to take over the captaincy will not be an easy job for me. I will have to step up in every area and raise my game to a level that I have not attained before. So how did things go today you may ask.
First up we had church in the morning. This turned into a nightmare when our younger boy deciding then rather us paper to draw a picture on he would use his face as a canvas. His mouth, therefore, became the ink well.
Next we went to the Arts Centre for lunch. This was great until the older boy decided to run everywhere yelling swear words at the top of his voice. He then used the KEEP OFF THE GRASS SIGN as a balancing object and finally he decided to use two sticks to attach every seagull in the area. Much to the horror of onlookers and the poor bird he caught on the left wing.
Our afternoon activities went well until the younger boy decided to try his hand at climbing every item in the house. In the process checked the density of our coffee table with his head. Needless to say that it is a little harder than his head.
Dinner, bath and bed time proved to be a difficult proposition and as captain I will be changing a few things tomorrow. Firstly, at dinner time when the first piece of food is thrown I will not retaliate and step in earlier. Today I left it until three pieces of broccoli had been thrown until launching a counter attack of my own.
Bath time was actually completed well but this was as expected as this is my domain every night.
The final aspect was bed time. Even with two parents working like Clydesdale horses this is a difficult job. Tonight with only one pilot it felt like I was piloting a 747 as well as being the air hostess and air traffic controller. I started by reading Hairy Mac Cleary and saying our prayers and this went well I thought all boxes had been ticked. I then turned off the lights and went through into the lounge for a well earned break. Ten minutes later I heard giggling from the room and upon entering both boys had swapped beds and where practising their 2012 gymnastic routines. I yelled and screamed and this seemed to do the trick until ten minutes later I returned to the room and found both of the boys in the same bed singing songs. I yelled at them some more and as of 7:56pm I have not heard from them again.
Sadly, as I reflect on my first day I would have to say that at the very least I have only passed with a ‘C’. Thankfully, under NCEA every person passes and I have another 3 days to get it right.
I am not usually a hugging person. In fact when God was giving out hugs I thought he said drugs and stayed well away. This fear of hugging has stayed with me from my birth until last week. You see last week the world was introduced to The Swine Flu Holiday (TSFH for short).
Swine Flu has been around for about a month and from about last week it has now become a legitimate way to get off work. The holiday works like this. Show your local doctor you have the bug and he will put you in isolation until further tests are completed. If you have the virus you then eat some Tamiflu and have to live in isolation until the symptoms subside.
For a slacker like me two weeks isolation is pure bliss. I spent most of my University life trying to master the system. Taking the easiest course, attending minimum lectures and working out that you can miss an exam at university and say that you forgot it was on that day. Rumour has it you can only use that excuse once!!! So the chance to get two weeks off work is just perfect, heaven here on earth.
Getting back to TSFH, the only way you can get this is by getting the Swine Flu virus. Therefore for about the last week I have been getting close to as many people as possible. My theory is this. The more people I have direct physical contact with, the greater my chance of contracting the disease. The greater chance I have of contracting the disease, the greater chance of a two week holiday.
So I have now banished my anti-hugging stance and am trying it on with anyone. Family members are now huggable, random pedestrians are fair game I even tried it on with a local policeman earlier this afternoon while out running.
While this system of random hugging works nothing beats the systematic approach I have developed at my workplace. Fortunately I work at a high school and this is the easiest place to get the virus. Around 1000 people turn up everyday and spend around 7 hours all within a 500m radius. This is a better environment than a test tube in a laboratory for Swine Flu to multiply and spread. Therefore, I have made it my job to talk to as many students and teachers as possible within the course of the school day. Students I haven’t even met before are suddenly long lost buddies and areas of the school I have never ventured, like the music block, have now become my second home. My social intercourse doesn’t end there, teachers who I usually avoid like the plague are suddenly greeted with a hug and peck on the cheek.
Some people may read this and think I have a blasé attitude towards a potentially serious threat to human existence. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I have consulted two well respected doctors within my immediate family and they can only admire my attitude. One of them actually commented. “Better to get Swine Flu early and let your body develop immunity before the virus mutates and becomes a DEADLY worldwide plague.”
So next time I see you walking the streets or we catch up after a long absence, you will need to think twice about hugging me. On that day I have probably already hugged around 600 potential Swine Flu carriers. I may even be a host for the virus myself. I will have banished my usually introverted self and be lining up for a hug and a peek. Will you be up for it????