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.
Our 3-year old boy has just started swearing. Now we are not talking about the little minor swear words that you often hear from mothers and aunties when they get a little annoyed. That wouldn’t be so bad and we could just deal with the problem by ignoring the word and hoping it will go away. Instead our boy has gone straight to the highest word in the land and has started dropping the “F” bomb whenever he feels the need. He has used it a couple of times in public and frankly it is embarrassing. Whoever, taught him this word is a master of linguistics and correct pronunciation. The ‘F’ is pronounced strong and true and there is a real kick on the finishing ‘K’. To all who hear there is no confusing this word for truck, muck or even puck.
I was raised in a relatively conservative protestant family where using a swear word is almost as bad as signing allegiance to the Nazi Party. Any swearing was dealt with severely and this has had an effect on me. Even now the minor word ‘crap’ is still an issue for me to use in public, although writing it in a blog seems okay with my conscience. Therefore, this kind of behaviour from my own child comes as a big concern. Added to that is the social embarrassment from having your 3-year-old child use language that is frankly disgusting and socially unacceptable.
The first thing you ask when your child starts swearing is where did they learn such language. You then start to retrace your steps and hope that it wasn’t you who inadvertently let a bad word slip, during a crucial All Black game, and now your child is copying you. After you realise it can’t have been you, questions and statements are naturally direct at your wife or husband.
“You are the one who talks like that around home.”
“They are only mimicking the way you speak when that sport is on.”
Ultimately however, such language is either learnt through the one of life’s key education settings; Television or in the playground. After I had interrogated my child I found that he had learnt the word at his Day Care. This came as a relief as I was therefore off the hook but it has raised some concern about our child’s friends and the quality of the Day Care.
After you are off the hook the natural thing to do is really analyse swearing and try and work out its place in society. The reality is that virtually all people swear, and they swear consistently throughout their lifetime. The latest statistics show that we swear on average from 0.3% to 0.7% of the time — a small but significant percentage within our overall speech. When you consider that on average humans speak 16,000 words a day this equates to just under 160 swear words spoken be every person every day. Let’s not beat around the bush, swearing is more common than you might think.
One important point must be made with the above statistics. Most men reading this would struggle to remember the 16,000 words they spoke today. That is because, although 16,000 words is the human average, 13,000 belong to women and 3,000 to men. Therefore, using the Labour Party School of Statistically Analysis, women are over 4 times likely to swear than men.
After realise swearing is an important part of our society you then to strategize how you will deal with the problem when it spurts forth like a cascading river next time in the supermarket. Ignoring is an option but I often find that futile and seldom does it work in a public place. Something more direct needs to be used if you ask me. So I looked on the web and found that while smacking is now not an option, nowhere in section 59 are the words soap and mouth used in the same sentence. With this news I have bought a small ‘soap on a rope’, and have it hanging around my hand, just in case the wee boy wants to show the word his expanding vocabulary.
I am happy to say that this technique worked for a while and apart from one ugly scene in the local petrol station the soap on a rope worked well. This was until I was watching the news with my son just the other night. One Network News led with a story about Paul Henry calling a musician a ‘retard’ which prompted this conversation.
“Daddy what’s a retard.”
“It is not a very nice name for someone. You shouldn’t use it.”
“Daddy are you are retard?”
“No, and I don’t want you to use that name again.”
“Retard, Retard, RETARD, RETARD.”
Fortunately the next news item came on which seemed to disrupt my child’s thought flow and made him sit down. Equally fortunately was the speed I moved with when the news reporter opened with this sentence.
“ John Key has come out publically and said that Hone Harawira must prove to the public that he meant his apology for his “racist, hurtful” comments where he called the Pakeha of New Zealand Whitemother…” CLICK
“Dad why did you turn off the TV so quickly?”
“Just because son. Do you want to go and play soccer?”