Kids Bounce. Don’t they??

 

Now we get to the guts of what this parenting page is all about; how a VB swilling, rollie smoking, ute driving, footy watching, barbequing yobo like me actually turned out to become a half decent, single dad of three screaming shit machines.

Basically all you have to do is be into your kids and accept the fact that life as you know it has just been flushed away like the result of a dodgy vindaloo.  Sure it’s hard work to start with, but once you overcome the DT’s which tend to arrive when you start getting blood back into your alcohol stream, it gets easier.

Not that it will go smoothly.

There will be times when, hypothetically speaking, you take your new addition to the hardware shop during the first week you get him home. As you no doubt know, the sooner you get a young bloke into a hardware shop, the more likely he is to turn out to be a decent sort of bloke you can get to build you a shed a bit later in life.

As usual I got out of the car and walked into the shop in search of a decent hammer……my previous one was last seen flying over the fence into the overgrown spare paddock next door after one too many misses when cracking the taper on the Commodore’s ball joint. Geez it hurts when you knuckle sold metal doesn’t it?

Anyway, there I was perusing the choices on display, weighing up wooden handle versus plastic, when a nagging doubt started to work its way into my head. It was almost like I’d forgotten something. Quick check of the back of my pants….nuh wallet’s there. Quick check of the front of my pants….nuh old fella’s still there. “What the bloody hell have I forgotten?” I asked myself quietly.

“Oh shit” I muttered as it suddenly occurred to me that I may have (I’m not saying I did, but I may have), forgotten the little bugger and left him in the car. I walked out of the store as nonchalantly as possible, or so I reckoned at the time. Upon reflection I probably resembled someone trying to sneak out with un-paid for products shoved down my pants. Maybe that’s why the cashier gave me that quick up and down glance. And I thought she must’ve fancied me or something.

So, I got back out to the car, practising the excuses I was going to give the constabulary when my negligence was reported. “Honestly Officer, I was drunk when I put him in and just forgot.” Yeah, that probably wasn’t going to work.

When I unlocked the car, poked my head in and checked, the little turd was just lying there looking around as though I hadn’t aged 10 years in the last 2 minutes. He didn’t even have the decency to have raised a decent sweat.

You may be forgiven for thinking that all the mistakes get made on the first kid, and by the time the others arrive you should have a handle on this parenting thing by now. But you’d wrong, oh you’d wrong. There’s a whole new batch of mistakes that you didn’t have time to make the first time around.

Like that mistake of feeding your 4 year daughter a big hunk of cheese to help her make it through her brother’s first footy training session without starving to death. Things were going swimmingly to start with. Mortimer was off training, both Brenda and Kertrude were off playing with the younger siblings of Mortimer’s team mates. Time for me to sit back and bask in the glory of being the super dad.

Looking over towards where the girls were playing I could see Brenda running around, rolling on the ground and spinning around in circles, again and again and again.

“Aww isn’t that cute?” I thought to myself. “If I did that, I’d be shouting for Ralph* by now” and resumed my basking.

Shortly thereafter, Brenda was seen to be walking towards me.

“Aww, she wants a hug from Daddy” I thought again.

“Daaaad, I feel ……..BLUUUUURK”.

She was considerate enough to wait until she was really close to me before letting fly. Otherwise all that half-digested cheese would’ve ended up on the ground. Instead I wore the lot. So I did the only thing I could possibly think of to make the situation better; I gave her a nice big hug to comfort her. The fact that it also wiped some of the globs of cheese off me was just a fortunate side effect.

Lesson learnt. Light meals before potential active sessions, and wear a rain coat at all times.

Then there are the occasions when things you’ve been doing regularly are all of a sudden not so good, due to one small change.

Kerturde, that sweet little child whose birth and early days were so peaceful and serene, had found her lungs, and her attitude. Even before she could roll over, she figured out if she screamed loud enough and long enough she would eventually get her way. And if that didn’t work, she’d start head-butting the ground. The head-butting came to a rapid halt once she could roll. On the last occasion, thinking the soft carpet was underneath her, she lifted her head and bought it crashing down. Not onto the soft carpet, but onto the slate tile in front of the fire place. She decided that hurt, and never did it again. And I laughed, oh how I did laugh.

But she persisted with the screaming, for hours on end. Sometimes just because she could. The only thing which would have a hope of stopping her was a harmless smack on the bum through the nappy. Now, before all the bleeding hearts jump up and down, casting judgment on me for smacking a child rather than letting them grow into little shits for the police to deal with in later years, this was a soft open handed smack through thick nappies, just hard enough to be felt through the nappy. No pain, but effective.

Fast forward a couple of years and nappies had become only a part time concern. The screaming had abated to a degree, but was still an issue. One night, for no particular reason, Kertrude was going off her nut. The neighbours must’ve been hiding in their bunkers thinking an air raid siren was being sounded. After an hour or so, I resorted to the old last resort. A smack on the nappy, just hard enough to be felt through the thick, absorbent layers.

Only there was no nappy.

The sound of the slap on a near naked backside was closely followed by a different kind of cry from Kertrude. A cry which said “Holy shit that hurt”. The subsequent hugs and profuse apologies totally destroyed the perceived discipline I was going for, but she eventually calmed down.

Come to think of it, that may have been the end of those tantrums, so maybe it did work after all.

But the point of this whole thing is this. No matter how often your negligence scares the shit out of you, no matter how much cheesy vomit you have to endure, no matter how many screaming matches drive you to the point of insanity, allowing yourself to turn your life over to the little bastards and convincing yourself that every moment with them is precious, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, these little incidents combine to become the stories which you tell them over the years to build an unbreakable bond. They prove to them that you have always been involved, not always successfully, but at least you’re giving it your best shot.

It also gives them something to take the piss out of you with, when they get older. And this is the real bonding. Letting the little bastards know that you’re not above a bit of joking will endear you to them for life. Just as long as you give as good as you get.

Stand Proud My Bogan Brethren.

BOGAN. The word conjures up many images and is usually used in a derogatory manner, as though someone who is a “bogan” is somehow a lesser human being. Upon hearing the word we probably all picture Jonno with his black AC/DC t-shirt with the packet of Winnie Blues in the sleeve, ripped jeans and thongs with a nicely plaited rat’s tail hanging on the back of his head.

But is this really the case? These days when walking around our towns and cities you’re likely to come across a bunch of soft-skinned, well dressed men who spend more time in front of a mirror, or clothes shopping than their girlfriends do. Is referring to those of us who are happy enough with a number 2 haircut and a three day growth a bogan, merely a way of trying to make themselves feel more masculine despite the hair product and facial moisturisers?

In short, is this a case of the “wanna-be-pseudo-European” types versus the “happy-to –be-a-typical-bloke” type?
As you’ve probably guessed by now I happily, nay proudly, refer to myself as a bogan. I drive a lifted Hilux (well I did before I drowned it out the back of the Glasshouse Mountains, oops), go off-roading and camping whenever I can. I consider thongs, shorts and a Jackie Howe singlet to be formal wear. I no longer smoke, but when I did, it was a rollie made with the good old Tally-Ho paper. I prefer good old VB or XXXX to any of that overpriced imported rubbish. And don’t get me started on wine – wine is usually what is created after a good night on the Veebs.
My idea of the perfect social gathering is a few good mates, a bbq, a trestle table in the back yard with all the salads sitting on it, with a couple dozen coldies sitting in the ice in the laundry tubs. Or alternatively – a few good mates, mud spattered four wheels drives in the back ground, a camp fire with a few charcoaled saussies on a bit of bread, some dead horse and onions and a couple dozen coldies distributed among a few eskies.

Yep, you can forget all your fancy resorts, 5-star restaurants with some clown dressed up like a penguin asking if you’d like freshly ground pepper with your fillet mignon, as if shaking a bit of pepper requires an intensive four year apprenticeship. All the while sitting in an enclosed space with a hundred other people all sucking in the same recirculated, air conditioned air and paying $50 for a 50 cent sized piece of steak. All for the dubious honour of emulating our more “sophisticated” European counter parts.

So by now those who don’t know me are probably picturing a poorly educated red neck with more missing teeth than your average pommy soccer riot veteran, a skanky missus named Shazza and a bunch of snotty nosed brats running around the caravan park which we call home. Well you’d be wrong. I’m actually gainfully employed, an author and future business owner (fingers crossed), never been to university but am well educated (through study and personal experience). I’m a single father who has already successfully raised a son and daughter to graduation and am continuing to steer the other daughter in the right direction. My son was school captain in primary school, one daughter was vice captain and the other daughter received a mark in her year 7 NAPLAN test which was literally off the scale and is currently a Year 12 Prefect.

How’s that stereotype looking now?

As I alluded to in the opening, the term bogan seems to be used in order to denigrate anyone who doesn’t show the required embarrassment at being a “typical” Australian. This then begs the question, why? Why the need to denigrate a down to earth, laid back larrikin who likes his beer, bbqs, the great outdoors, footy and cricket? Is it a throwback to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when the members of Australia’s high society were ashamed of their own, or their family’s convict past?

Is it a part of what appears to be our ingrained inferiority complex. In our early years we attempted to emulate Mother England, to establish a European style society in a far off land. After Churchill was willing to leave us hanging and open to Japanese invasion and we realised Old Mum wasn’t really going to look after us, we turned to a new higher power. Like a child who progresses into adolescence we forsook the staid old parent figure of England and followed around a new, slightly dangerous older teen – America. Thankfully I think we’re starting to realise this exciting older teen is actually a bit of a dickhead and are beginning to move away from them.

Throughout this whole time, only one group of people (apart from aboriginals) haven’t tried to pretend that they belong to either a European or American culture – the typical Aussie, or bogan if that’s what you want to call us.
Isn’t it time we all stopped trying to be something we shouldn’t really be? Unlike Europe, we actually have a great climate down here. Why not get out and enjoy it, rather than locking yourselves away in climate controlled galleries and restaurants because that’s what the Europeans do? Why should we follow every trend which spews forth from Uncle Sam?

As Australians we may not be cultured in the traditional sense, but we do have our own culture. It is one which is the envy of a lot of the world. We have a freedom here which so many other countries can only dream of. It’s a freedom built on the concept of a fair go for all. A freedom which was hard won by the miners at Eureka, the great shearers strike in the 1880’s, the rum rebellion and countless other instances of ordinary Australians standing up to the delusions of grandeur of those who would impose another countries culture and values upon Australia. And not a hair product or designer brand shirt among them.

It has always fallen on the typical Australian, or Bogan, to maintain and sometimes fight for the unique culture and way of life this country offers. Whether it’s been the miner, the shearer, the station hand, the chippy, the publican, the soldier or those amazing pioneering women who bravely followed their blokes into the unknown, this country has been built on the backs of those who look to Australia for their inspiration, not those who look outside.

Long live the bogan and long may we reign.

Put ya bloody victim card away!

No doubt the following post will raise the ire of many, so before embarking upon it just let me state, up front, that I fully and unequivocally support equal opportunity for women. I say again in case anyone missed it, I fully and unequivocally support equal opportunity for women. If at any stage throughout the following paragraphs the urge to shout “misogynist” becomes uncontrollable, please refer back to the opening paragraph.

So, this is not so much a rant as it is a plea. A plea to all the militant feminists out there. Please can you refrain from being such piss poor role models for my daughters? I have spent the last 18 and 17 years respectively raising my daughters to be strong, independent and resilient and to accept full and total responsibility for all aspects of their lives. It is, however, getting more and more difficult to make them believe this is possible for them.

Why? Let me tell you.

In the current media frenzy of each outlet scrambling to assert their Political Correctness credentials, whenever something of an unfortunate nature befalls a woman the well-worn victim card is played with wild abandon. Didn’t get the job? Weren’t afforded the full respect you feel you deserve? Didn’t get your desired outcome in a plethora of various endeavours? Then scream ‘victim’ and look to someone else to blame. And who would that someone else be, I wonder?

Men.

Ah yes, the fashionable conspiracy theory of the enlightened feminist. The Patriarchy. That evil, clandestine organisation which apparently meets regularly to develop this month’s addition to the ongoing strategy for oppression of all womankind. It’s like The Illuminati, God/Allah/Yahweh, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one malevolently evil ball of testosterone. An all-powerful, all-knowing entity controlling the world and just like all those other fairy tales, it’s an entity which no one has ever seen or doesn’t have any credible evidence to support the existence thereof.

But who needs evidence when a mythical bogey man suits your cause better? Who needs evidence when you can throw around impressive sounding catch phrases like ‘pay gap’, ‘glass ceilings’ and the like. You can even throw in numbers to make it sound even more compelling, such as ‘a 17% pay gap’. The professional victim society loves that one. They don’t back it up with meaningful studies or context. Rather than critically reviewing the reasons why this figure exists, it’s just easier to say it is true because…..well….ya know……it just is you misogynistic bastard!

Analysing the real metrics behind this assertion may lead the feminists into uncomfortable territory, such as maybe it’s women themselves who are responsible for this gap. Maybe a majority of women simply aren’t interested in those higher paid roles, whether they be CEO roles, mining jobs or even dangerous deep sea diving jobs. Maybe they actually choose to put their careers on hold so they can stay home and spend some quality time with their children, and it’s actually nothing to do with an oppressive husband demanding that sacrifice from them.

“But you don’t know what it’s like to have to juggle work and raise a family, you insensitive male bastard.” That’s usually the response that works its way into any conversation involving equality at about this stage. Well Sista strap yaself in and I’ll tell you how painfully aware I am of the trials and tribulations of raising kids while holding down full time work.

Almost right from the start, the female DNA provider (I struggle to refer to her as a mother) in this story proved herself to be more of a liability that an asset with anything to do with our marriage and raising our three kids. So upon our divorce I was the one who took the responsibility of taking care of every need my kids had. I fed them, I clothed them, I cleaned up after them, I assisted with homework, I provided the shoulder to cry on when the bullying got too much. I did the running around to sports practice and games, the parent teacher interviews, attending school excursions, I sewed damaged school uniforms and did the weekly grocery shopping.

Even on the rare occasions when the female DNA donor actually deemed to take care of them for a night, or even more rarely a week, I still ensured I called in on them, just to say hello and enjoy those few minutes of their company on those days. And while doing all this, guess what, I also held down a full time job. No glamorous jobs, not particularly interesting jobs. I even opted out of applying for such jobs because they were going to take away my ability to give my kids the time they needed, even though they would mean more money in the bank account.

Unfortunately during this time, my nearest family lived over six hours away and although I know they desperately wanted to help, not only was it not practical but it also wasn’t their responsibility. My parents had already raised their five children, it was their time to relax and enjoy their lives, not to be further burdened by my poor choice of mother for my children. It was MY responsibility, MY bad choice and the only good thing to come out of it were MY children.

And here’s my point. At no time during this whole period have I ever run around and played the victim card. I took, and continue to take, full responsibility for my situation. I didn’t run around sprouting imaginary facts and figures, creating mythical oppressive societies and laying the blame for anything at the feet of other people.

I didn’t demand that the world in general change the way it was because it wasn’t working out exactly as I felt that it should. I accepted it, knuckled down and did what needed to be done to make sure my kids got the best start possible and as a result not only am I a stronger and better person for it, but I have provided an example to my children on how they should conduct themselves throughout their lives.

They know that the world owes them nothing. They know they alone are responsible for how they handle their situations. They know that if they want something, then they need to work bloody hard for it. If at first they don’t succeed, find out why and then work on it so that next time they try, they’ll win. And they will be stronger, more resilient and better people for it.

So when they see the feminist brigade playing the victim card every time something goes against them, it has the potential to chip away at the understanding my girls have developed. If the only ‘strong’ women they see portrayed in the media are the ones who are running around playing the victim then there’s always the chance that at some point they might just decide it’s easier to be victims themselves and blame the Patriarchy and stagnate in their lives, rather than dig their heels in and make themselves such an attractive prospect to any future potential employer that their gender will be irrelevant.

And they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing they got the position because they were the best candidate, not because their employer was too scared of the backlash from the feminists if they were to offer the position to a better qualified male.

So my plea to all the professional victim feminists out there, stop selling out my daughters’ future for your own agenda, your own confected outrage, and allow them the opportunity to grow into the strong, independent and responsible women that I have raised them to be.

victim-card