Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Cooked geese and the like.

Cooked geese and the like
9 July 2012

So we’re six months into the year and there have been requests for a teenage, indeed, a parenting update.  So this is where we’re at:

My beloved teenager is “suffering” through high school.  However the only thing suffering is his marks, because on every other front he is thriving.  Luke has settled remarkably well into high school.  He is still friends with the same gang from last year, but has also made a few new friends along the way.  Academics are predictably not very high on his agenda.  A while ago they did a test series in preparation for the upcoming June exams.  Each time I nagged Luke about studying, he would claim that “I have already studied sooo much!”(behind closed doors – he could have been planning overtaking the world – well no not really, I suppose, as that would need lots of planning and concentration – a near impossible feat at age 14) and that “I know my work – it is sooo easy”.  However, my top prize for teenage studying excuses has to go to: “You can ask me my work to see how well I know it”.   Which is actually code for:  I don’t know Jack, and hopefully by you asking me, you’ll be teaching me.  Hah!  Not so easily fooled, besides which I have absolutely NO INTEREST in Gr 8 Geography, History, Life Science, Physical Science, Maths, English, Afrikaans, Technology, Economic Management Science, Life Orientation and Design.  You pretty much get the picture.  I do “test” him sometimes, but I often feel that the only person really being “tested” is me and my patience.  Grrrrrr!  Anyhow so after due time, I kept on pestering Luke about his marks and if he’d gotten any results yet.  Says to me very blasé whilst we’re driving away from school the other day, that he got twenty for Geography.  To which I replied “Out of what?”.  And the response I got was “percent”, as well as a bit of guffawing.  I suspect that in time the bruises will fade…

Luke is still absolutely passionate about his hockey.  He truly lives for it.  It is a complete win-win for him.  He gets to play his all-time favourite sport, running around like a lunatic with a stick chasing a little ball and he spends time with fellow lunatics, also known as friends.  And well done to my boy, he’s in the u14A team.  A huge achievement and a marvellous boost to his confidence.  It also probably doesn’t hurt when it comes to pulling in the chicks if you’re in the A-team.  When he’s not playing hockey with his friends, he’s playing hockey in the back garden.  Great excitement a while ago was playing an away match against Hermanus and the whole team having to travel by bus.  The reason for the excitement was the much anticipated bus-initiation by the u19A team players.  Go figure!  The boy actually likes torture.  As was the case in the beginning of the year, Luke simply loved all the initiation faffing.  It definitely gives the kids a sense of belonging and camaraderie.  Deep-heat over his mouth, nose and chin, having golden syrup and toothpaste massaged into his hair, toothpaste on his eyebrows, singing silly songs, carrying hockey paraphernalia for the u19A boys the whole day, to name but a few things.  Maybe I should employ some of these same tactics at home?

At the beginning of the year, Luke asked me if he could play Indoor hockey and foolishly I said “Yes!”.  I thought it was a marvellous idea.  It would help him expend some restless energy.  I‘d rather have him into sports, than spending time on the computer and in front of the TV.  It will keep him off the streets so to speak as well as the whole healthy body, healthy mind thing.  So after the first practice he tells me that he needs an Indoor Hockey stick – no evidently it’s not the same as a normal outdoor hockey stick.  So what can we do – we need to equip the boy.  Entry level indoor stick – R550.  Next hockey practice he tells me he needs an indoor hockey ball (no, apparently it’s not the same as a normal ball and yip, you guessed it, it’s more expensive) – R50.  Naturally he’s outgrown his shin pads – R200.  He’s been selected to play a hockey tournament – R180.  A-team players need to wear the official school sports vest for matches – R185.  The tournament is being held on the coldest weekend of the year thus far, so a school tracksuit is needed – R265 + R170.  Hockey socks – R50.  Because Luke just got braces, he needs a new gum guard – R200.  So a grand total of R1 850 – and that all just because I said “Yes!” (don’t think I’ll be saying “Yes!” all that often anymore).  Bloody ridiculous if you ask me!  Luke did also tell me that he needs special Indoor togs for hockey as he slips when he plays.  I’ve told him that he can play in his slippers for all I care.  The buck stops here – because there simply is no buck anymore.  In hindsight, I think I should have encouraged him to take up a non-contact “sport” like Chess.  Why there’s hardly any gear required for it.  I could make him a lovely chess board out of old cereal boxes.  And with just a little bit of creativity, some glue, khoki’s, milk bottle caps, and the like, I’m sure I’ll be able to make some unique one-of-a-kind chess pieces.  The only protective gear he could possibly require would be a glove to protect his hand when he has to push that timer-thingy (sure I have an old egg timer lying around somewhere).  I would hate for him to develop calluses.  Note to self – need to steer Cole in the chess direction.

Grant and I seriously don’t have a social life.  Firstly we’re so busy with our kids and their hectic social lives and secondly there’s the ever present financial strain.  Why do we feel guilty spending money on ourselves?  It is ridiculous is it not, when we continue to fork out large sums for our children?  So Grantie and I decide to have a rare treat and go and watch my brother-in-law, Robin’s gig at Bertie’s Mooring last Sunday night.  Simply one of our all-time favourite muso’s and most fabulous acts to see and yes, we do have a vested interest, I admit.  Occasionally we do a Bertie’s gig, supporting one of my various talented family members and invariably we go solo with another family member so that one of us stays at home with the kids.  Well – bugger that!  I happen to like my husband – a lot if you must know.  Going solo to a gig at a pub/restaurant is not my favourite.  I seem to have a drunk/creep/older-man magnet somewhere on me.  If there’s a drunk loser out there somewhere with a paunch, receding hairline, bad taste in clothing and glazed expression in his eyes, chances are he’ll be really attracted to me.  Which does not say much for me I know.  Don’t seem to pull so many hot, young, surfer dudes anymore.  Alas, I seem to regress a bit.

So Grantie and I are going on a “date”.  Finances are few as is often the case, so we both solemnly swear to suck on the same drink for the duration of our stay – “One sparkling water and one Heineken, barman, please!”.   The perfect solution to our babysitting dilemma is our darling little Luke, who at age 14, is more than capable of holding the fort.  Everyone gets read the riot act about behaving, staying calm, not fighting (a favourite pastime), not opening the door to strangers, not being overly bossy, not hitting the liquor cabinet, not hosting parties in our absence, no long distance overseas phone calls, etc.  You know, the normal run of the mill type of stuff.  Everyone has something to keep them occupied with – either a DVD, computer game or Play Station game as well as the multitude of toys at their disposal – enough to stock a lovely second hand toy shop I’m sure (why some things have hardly even been played with!).  They’d been fed, watered and we’d left them some popcorn.  Basically, we had covered every eventuality.  The threat of a near-death experience upon misbehaving had the desired effect and all of them were 100% okeydokey with being on their own.  So my little “darling” Lukie sidles up to me and asks me how much we’re going to pay him to babysit.  I very calmly told him that I would let him keep his arms and not charge him board and lodge for the past 14 years.  However, my very wise sister, has showed me the error of my ways.  I should have let him keep only one arm, thereby rendering the other one null and void.  Just think how much I would have saved.  With only one arm, there would be none of those pesky sporting expenses and events.  In fact, I might even make a little bit of cash on the side, selling some no-longer-needed sporting gear.  In addition, I think I will not charge him for Sunday’s board and lodge, but will keep tallying the preceding 14 years, 4 months and 14 days up until Saturday.  As well as continuing with my tally from Monday again.  Sanlam, Old Mutual, Discovery Life - eat your hearts out.  You’re not milking me for a retirement annuity.  No ways – I’ve got my very own little “retirement investment” plan all sewed up.  There’s a reason that I had 3 kids.  By the time they all leave home and pay me back, I’ll be able to lie around on the white beaches of the world being served exotic cocktails by hot, young, surfer dudes.  Alas, I seem to have regressed again.

At present we’re also putting a 4th child through school.  No, not really, but at R850 per month for Luke’s braces over a period of 16 months, we’re in all likelihood putting one of our orthodontist’s children through school.  Luke has only had his braces for four months, medical aid has already dried up and so now it’s up to us.  With any luck we’ll just finish Luke off with his braces before he passes the proverbial dental baton to Amber and she carries on where he’s left off.  I am quite convinced that in all probability, Dr Slabber is going on a lovely holiday to Mauritius on us, or perhaps he’ll do those final renovations to his holiday house.  This little revelation has led me to believe that I should not look for a rich eligible doctor for Amber to marry, but rather an orthodontist.  None of those nasty after-hour calls from patients, emergency surgeries, etc.  If that marriage plan, however does not work, we will start trolling the polo fields over weekends.  I’m sure we’ll be able to find her some or other titled young man somewhere who would just love to spend “Daddy’s money” on Amber and her parents.

Now as for my darling little Amber-Berry… ten and a half, she is now what is termed a tween.  I read her diary the other day (yes, I snoop – get over it!) and she wrote “I’m having boy problems – and I’m not too old for boy problems, you know.”.  I am very, very, very scared.  That one is going to be hard work and lots of it.  She has discovered the wonders of a BlackBerry and continually hijacks mine.  Loads of constant pinging with messages between her and her BFF.  Not that they’re having any form of meaningful conversation, mind you (yes, I snoop – get over it!).  It’s all “So wat r u doin?”, “wat room r u in?”, “tel me somethig”, “hahahahahahahahaha”, “I mite fone u latter”, “hahahahahahahahahah”, as well as a plethora of smiley faces.  Spelling – she’s not big.  It’s like an intricate form of hieroglyphics and abbreviations all rolled into one.  They’ve cottoned on that their conversations are not all that private (yes, I snoop – get over it!), so they’ve devised a “cunning” code.  Yeht etirw sdrawkcab (for those of you not yet schooled in this, “they write backwards”).  Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha – well the joke’s on you, Amber-Berry!  They’ve also developed a more meaningful code and for this one I’ve got to give them a big up.  When they discuss boys, they refer to them as “wall”, “desk” or “chair” and unfortunately I am not sure which boy is “wall”, “desk” or “chair”.  Meanies!  I mean give a mother a break for goodness sake.  How am I supposed to know what’s going on?  But given time, diligence and my keenly honed investigative skills, I am sure that I will crack this code too.

The order of the day is layering of clothes, numerous earring changes in one day, an intense interest in Justin Bieber, a love affair with make-up, drooling over clothes of a more mature nature (high-heeled shoes), loads of experimenting with hairstyles, an obsession with nail polish, decking herself in jewellery and zhooshie clothes to go to any shop whatsoever (even Pick ‘n Pay to come and buy Milk with me), loving tween-type magazines, a dislike for Barbie, moving away from her 10 yearlong love affair with the colour pink, doodling on anything, an understanding of sms abbreviations and loving teeny-boppy music.  I shudder at the thought of what she’ll be like when she’s in complete fully fledged teenage mode.  She has a penchant for cut-off clothing and loves showing off her midriff – this is however strictly for home-wear.  She every so often hacks at a pair of shorts or a shirt with some scissors and permission from me to do so.  She is very creative and often gets lost in her own little world, by going off on some design fad or other.  The other day, she decided to make her own magazine.  Copious quantities of white paper stapled together.  Glaring front page all doodled out – the title of her magazine is “Bad Girl”.  As said before, I worry.  And the whole book is filled with pictures cut out from magazines of shoes, “cool” hairstyles, The Bieber, teeny-bopper music stars, tween actors and actresses, nail polish, jewellery, etc. etc. etc.  She loves designing clothes and spends hours drawing pictures of lavish outfits for very skinny girls.  She has a penchant for lots of bling, leopard print, off the shoulder dresses and tops, ridiculously high heeled strappy shoes, accessorizing jewellery, sunglasses and bags in her clothing designs.  Loads of giggling is also the order of the day and she has a lovely knack for annoying Luke in particular.  She knows exactly which buttons to push and uses them relentlessly. 

She’s just finished a two week long dancing show at the Playhouse and it was just so blerrie cute!  It was such an amazing experience for her.  Her excitement was palpable and it was a huge ego and confidence boost to the system.  She simply loved every moment.  The rehearsals, make-up, hair faffing, outfits, music, dancing, etc.  It is however a huge commitment for the parents of a dancer.  I felt as if I spent about a month at the Playhouse what with all the rehearsals before the time, photo calls, and the works.  It is also not the cheapest exercise.  One of my buddies, is a very Afrikaans Oupa, who takes his grandson to the same swimming school that Cole goes to.  Cole and Joshua have now been swimming together for seven and a half years, since they were both six months old.  And the Oupa and I have become firm friends.  We natter away twice a week while the boys are swimming and have gotten to know each other quite well by now.  So in conversation, I tell him that Amber is doing a dancing show at the Playhouse, to which he replied “Nou hoeveel betaal hulle vir haar om te dans?”.  It was an utterly charming comment to make.  To which I replied, in Afrikaans, that “No, she is not being paid to dance.  We pay for dancing lessons for her to dance.  We pay for the outfits for the dancing show (R700) – luckily we only had to do two as Amber was only in two dances.  We provide snacks and drinks for the opening and closing night as well as helping to serve and do kitchen duty on these nights.  We help backstage getting the kids ready, and helping the show run smoothly.  We help with making and painting props.  We provide all our own make-up and hairstyling gear and do our kids’ hair and make-up.  We buy DVD’s of the show and photo’s of our own children.  And then we buy tickets to watch our own children in the show.”.  So the question is, “Are we getting ripped off?”.  Of course yes!  It’s a complete understanding between the parents and the dancing school.  We go into this with our eyes wide open.  And in hindsight, Chess would have been a lovely sport for Amber.

And then there’s Cole.  What can one say about Cole?  Well, lots.  Cole is the family clown and has just turned eight.  He has a marvellous sense of humour and is very quick with his tongue.  He calls Grant “Grumpy Grantie” when he’s been in trouble and often refers to him as “Baldie”.  The other day he told Grant “I’m going to take a khoki and draw a line down your bald head and then your head will look like a bum!”.  He has boundless energy (I mean, why walk if you can run instead), a passion for every single type of sport and a deep love for animals.  He simply always smells of dog, because he just can’t stop hugging and playing with our dogs.  He loves school and seems to be a very popular little boy with loads of friends.  The sporting thing helps a lot with his popularity and then of course there is also the fact that he is just sooo cute and extremely caring.  The flip side of my darling little Cole, is the moody Cole.  He is very sensitive and takes everything to heart.  He is emotionally very manipulative and his excellent verbal and acting skills help him to milk this to the full. 

He excels at sport.  He is in the A squad for swimming, plays A-team rugby, hockey and cricket and has been identified as a tennis player with talent by the school and gets private coaching once a week by a professional coach – luckily at the school’s expense.  The other day they had a mass cross-country race that the whole school participated in.  And would you know it, my little Cole finished in the top five for his age group.  Which apparently means that he is now in the school’s cross-country team?  I mean, seriously!  He’s taken to the stage and has done two Eisteddfod’s reciting poetry.  This year he got a measly Gold, but last year, he hit the mother lode – he got an A++  Cum Laude – top of his age group, medal the whole works.  But to be honest, his Eisteddfod career has not been all plain sailing.  When he was one of the lucky five kids to get chosen last year, Grant and I said “Our Cole – a poem – Eisteddfod – are you sure you’ve got the right child?”.  We could not believe they had chosen him.  Oh ye of little faith, I know.  Anyway, much to our surprise, he learnt his poem in one sitting and loved saying it.  Very expressive little face, fabulous enunciation, intonation, the whole works, and to be honest, he also had the cute factor working for him.  So the day before the Eisteddfod in Stellenbosch, as a sort of dry run for the big day, they have all the kids say their poems in the hall in front of the whole school.  Finally Cole’s turn came up and he quite simply said “I’m not doing it.”.  Well, that was awkward all round.  The teachers begged, pleaded, cajoled, but he was having none of it.  Eventually the big cheese of the Foundation Phase at school, Mrs Saayman, called Cole aside and asked him to please say his poem.  Cole however held steadfast and simply said “I’m not doing it.”.  Now clearly Mrs Saayman is no fool and is not the head of the Foundation Phase for nothing.  She was not inept at the gentle art of bribery.  She asked Cole what he liked and my darling little 6 year old, apparently looked her straight in the eye and said “I like money.”.   Well Mrs Saayman whipped out R10 and Cole said his poem without a further qualm.  Of course I am none the wiser about any of this, so imagine my surprise when I fetch Cole from school that afternoon and upon asking him how his day went, he elaborates about the chocolate brownie and cold drink that he bought from the tuck shop!  “But Mommy never gave you money for tuck shop, my boy.”.  I was mortified!  Needless to say his tactic work and the following day, Grant and I paid him R10 to say his poem at the Eisteddfod – little con artist!

Another area Cole really seems to excel in, is the girlfriend department.  We first started noticing this at Chatterbox (his beloved Tyla) and then again at Happy Days (Sofia, Rebecca, Samantha as well as a whole bevy of other beauties).  He always plays a few at the same time and for some odd reason, the girls are quite happy to share him and don’t mind not being the sole object of his devotion.  Cole naturally takes the adoration as his due and basks in it.  Such a typical man!  So in Grade 1, the love of his life, is a little girl called Rachel.  Cole seems to like strong women.  Personally, even I was a little bit scared of Rachel – she’s quite the bossy one.  So Cole’s buddy Griffin, was bemoaning the fact that he didn’t have a girlfriend – bear in mind that these kids are all six and seven years old.  Cole a.k.a. “The Love Doctor” came to Griff’s rescue.  In his infinite wisdom, Cole picked Griffin a lovely little girl called Nicola and set to work.  Griff is quite shy and didn’t know how to go to work capturing the affections of Nicola, so Cole advised him.  Griff should walk in front of Nicola, pretend to trip and fall and that caring, sweet little Nicola would come to Griff’s rescue, help him up and naturally fall madly in love.  The stage was set and so it came to pass – Griff walked, tripped, Nicola rescued and Cupid struck his arrow.  And for a few weeks everything went smoothly, until one day, when Nicola got in trouble at school and had a time-out.  Cole told Griff, that he should not bother with a girl like Nicola because “you don’t want to have a girlfriend that gets into trouble”.  Griff should rather have a good girlfriend like Cole’s beloved Rachel.  Once again Cole a.k.a. “Machiavelli” set to work.  Cole told Griff that he should break up with Rachel, which Griff did stating the reason Cole had supplied him with:  “Nicola, it’s never going to work between us.  I’m too old for you, because I turned 7 in the first term and you’ve only turned 7 now in the third term.”.  Can you bloody believe it???  I am happy to report that after a few weeks, Griffin and Nicola managed to patch things up despite their age difference and are now once again making a go of their relationship.  It’s simply too bizarre for words!  I fear for the womenfolk of this world as he grows older.  Mothers with daughters – you have been warned.

I absolutely adore my three and vehemently wish that I could have another child.  Oddly enough, my Grantie is not biting despite loads of hinting.  They drive me completely bonkers and batty, but I wouldn’t change them for the world.  They’re quirky and funny and I firmly believe that I am learning much more from them than they are learning from me.  I’d like to hope that I’ve grown as a person in compassion, love, understanding and caring.  They have taught me about forward planning, crisis management, problem solving, going with the flow, relaxing and letting some things go.  I’ve become more inventive with loads of things, from meals, to school projects to making everyday things fun.  Mostly they’ve taught me the wonder of loving and being loved unconditionally as well as the importance of maintaining an excellent sense of humour.  Because without the humour, your goose is well and truly cooked.

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