Wednesday, 7 October 2015


If you are a parent or about to become a parent then guilt is something that you will become very familiar with from now until your kids leave home.  I think that hoping that the feeling of guilt will depart your life with your offspring leaving home is probably being a tad optimistic.  Just face it if you have chosen to procreate then for the rest of your existence you will more than likely be riddled with this feeling.

As a man you may be lucky enough to avoid that guilty feeling a bit longer than your suffering spouse.  I would say that you should not expect more than nine months grace or so before that guilty feeling kicks in. For the females in our lives that guilty feeling will be a permanent fixture from the moment they conceive.

At first the guilty feeling will be whether or not they are taking care of their bodies and the growing foetus enough.  Are they eating the right things; how many GMO’s are they unknowingly consuming, is a little addict growing inside them because they ate something laced with MSG and a host of other irrational thoughts designed to make them feel bad.  They will even feel guilty about the fact that they may not be getting enough sleep.  As anyone who has shared living space with a pregnant female can attest to; this is not a problem!

The pregnant female’s guilt in the beginning stages of pregnancy will also extend to her partner.  Is she paying enough attention to the father, is she being too mean to him due to her mood swings and is he missing sex since she started denying him that privilege for the irrational fear of damaging the unborn child!  But do not worry the guilt that is felt towards us men does soon dissipate as soon as the mood pendulum swings back to the Satan setting.

Once the child is born then the real guilt starts.  As a small baby the most things that you will feel guilty about are generally out of your control but this does not mean that you will not feel this emotion.  Mostly it is minor things such as waking the little one up when they were so contentedly sleeping; even though the little monster feels nothing to wake you up.  You will feel guilty that you left the little one to cry as you had no idea what else to do and you were at your wits end and just needed your own timeout.  You will feel guilty due to making them do things that clearly makes them upset but have to be done.  There are times when the baby requires medicine or those nasal sprays and even though you can see the distress they are going through you just have to administer the required treatment.

Then about six months pass and your guilt will kick in proper.  As a man you would have been dealing with this for a while.  Due to the fact that paternity leave is not a common thing you would more than likely have been at work from very soon after the birth.  As a woman you may have been lucky enough to have a number of months of maternity leave to spend with your baby.  In our case Julia had six months with both our girls.  After those six months you have to take this precious little child and leave them at a stranger with a group of similarly aged children for about ten hours a day.  This is heart breaking and leaves you wracked with guilt for most of those ten hours.

When you start disciplining your child you will feel that maybe you were too hard and maybe you shouldn’t shout so much.  Then you remember that often it feels that your little mini-me can really push your buttons and just be a little sod when they want to be.  Just when you think of this and start to feel better, then your mind will remind you that maybe they are only playing up to get your attention.  This once again sends you into a guilt spiral as you feel that you do not pay enough attention to them.

As your children get older they will learn about this wonderful tool at their disposals called guilt.  They will use this weakness of yours to their utmost advantage and get you to do spirals around their little fingers as you circum to their demands.  You will buy them toys and sweets and silly little trinkets as you try to justify it as rewarding good behaviour where we all know that it is just to pacify our guilt.

What we as parents need to realise is that we are the ones that are too critical of ourselves.  Our children do not expect us to feel guilty with regards to our short comings as parents.  They do not hold it against us when we have to go off to work.  They may tell us they do but that is just their coping mechanism.  What they do want from us is our attention and Love when we do get to spend time with them.  They Love us unconditionally and this is all they want from us in return.  Our attention is far more important to them than any material things.

So when that guilty feeling comes knocking on your mind’s eye then send it on its way as you have nothing to feel guilty about; you are trying your best and that is all that life can ask of us.  On the other hand make sure to try and make junior feel that guilt as I am pretty sure that all children are trying to kill their parents very slowly and painfully.  It is about time they felt a little bit of guilt towards their evil intentions!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Chalk and Cheese

We the unsuspecting parents are left in the dark about a lot of eventualities of parenthood.  We parents are excellent at having 20/20 hindsight.  This fact is what prompted me to start sharing my parenting adventures with the greater public.  I feel that I owe it to the parents that haven’t quite travelled as far down this path as I have, to give them a heads up about what they might expect to materialise in their near future.  Unfortunately though for other parents they must not rely on my information being one hundred percent applicable to their particular journeys.

This I have learnt on numerous occasions through the tough old teacher called experience.  The most notable lesson that we have received as parents was when we decided to add a second member to our little brood.  Now my limited knowledge of baking and biology suggested to me that if I was to use the same recipe and a similar amount of time in the oven then I should have a very similar result to the first one.  Thus we proceeded with mixing the same ingredients, maybe with a slight variation in the time of day and mixing setup but nonetheless the same basic elements as our first effort were all included.

Right from that moment is where all the similarity stopped.  Well okay I guess I lie slightly as the second one, Eden, is also a girl who is nearly the splitting image of her older sister Bella.  Apart from these two notable similarities they are truly chalk and cheese.  These differences were noted from birth.  You would think that as babies there are not many difference in the way they are; they eat, sleep and defecated; often.  This however is very far from the truth.  From day one we noticed the vast difference in personality and behaviour between our two little girls.  The first thing that we noticed was the way that Eden slept.

With Bella we could not put her down to sleep.  This was perfectly acceptable to us as we practice the kangaroo care method of raising an infant.  The problem with Bella was that she would not just go to sleep on you or in your arms.  She would have to be rocked to sleep while one of us wary parental units would pace up and down with her in our outstretched arms.  With Eden she was not fussed she would just happily lie down and go to sleep.  She was even against the kangaroo care method; she preferred to be left in peace in her cot.  The longer the two of them have lived with us the greater the difference in them we have noticed.  We believe though that we have figured out why they are like they are.

It comes down to a simple fact so we believe.  The behaviour can be attributed to left over influences from their respective past lives.  Unfortunately for us we have managed to invite two Souls into our lives that lived at totally opposite sides of the spectrum with relation to the social scale of life.  Without a doubt our Bella has in fact come to us in this life having being of high born breeding in her past life; yes we believe that she was in fact royalty before she joined us.  On the other hand young Eden we believe to have been a homeless person.  Let me illustrate why we feel this.

We will start with Bella.  From a very young age she has been extremely highly strung.  If something is not to her liking then you had better beware.  You almost get the feeling that she wishes to yell “off with their heads”, except alas for her she no longer has access to the royal guard.  We have breakfast stools for us to eat on.  Two of the stools have cushions and the other two do not.  Lady Bella will not under any circumstances place her delicate derriere on the seat with no cushion.  She has adamantly told us that she can ONLY sit on a soft seat. 

My wife, Julia, and Bella have recently relocated to Britain; with Eden and I to follow in the next few weeks.  Upon arrival at Heathrow they had to make their way across London to Victoria station.  On the tube from Heathrow there were no issues as they were first on.  However they had to change at Hammersmith station and it being Monday morning rush hour it was a tad crowded.  Unfortunately for the poor minions catching the tube with Bella, they had not remembered to provide her with a vacant seat to sit on.  She apparently proceeded to have a right royal meltdown on the spot.  What really convinced me that there is no doubt that she was once royalty was what she said to me during a recent trip home from school.  We were driving along and she said to me in a very serious manner, “Daddy! I don’t want people to say no to me!”;  alrighty then my little princess, enough said.

Now Eden on the other hand is as relaxed and nonplussed as they come.  Like mentioned before she was the easiest baby to get to sleep, it was almost as if she was just happy to have a roof over her head.  From the moment she became mobile she was obsessed with rubbish bins.  Put her on the floor and she would head straight to the nearest one to have a look inside.  With some effort and constant direction we have now managed to encourage her to stop this behaviour.  This took us a while and now that she is two and a half we have very few incidents with the bin.  She is quite capable of going over to one and putting rubbish in without lingering over the bin for too long.  Occasionally she does have the odd relapse though.

 A few weeks ago we were all around the kitchen counter waiting for Julia to finish cooking our dinner.  I looked up from what I was doing and noticed that Eden had made her way over to our bin.  She had the lid open and was peering inside.  I asked her what she was looking for and she replied “Something to eat!” that is it my little hobo aim high.
Another thing that convinces me she was a hobo is her obsession with stones and bits of wood that with a bit of imagination could help her build a shelter.  Just this last weekend we were at the beachfront and whilst the other children were expressing interest in the seagulls and shells there is little Eden showing an immense interest in the drain culvert which has clearly been used to provide shelter to some of her previous roommates!

So good luck all you want-to-be parents as all I can say is that there is one certainty when it comes to procreation; you never know what you are going to get when you spin that copulation wheel.  The one certainty is that after that moment your life will never be boring again!

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

What it is like becoming a dad...?

 There are so many adjectives that could be used to answer this question.  The variety of adjectives will elicit a variety of emotions.  As the process of becoming a father is a never ending development there is no singular adjective that would adequately answer the above question.

When you first start out on the journey to fatherhood it is mostly fun and happiness.  This is courtesy of the easily manipulated male brain.  The path to fatherhood starts with a great deal of action for yourself and of course your member.   This is why when the talk about whether it is time to reproduce surfaces it is so easy to consent to continuing our paths to adulthood by taking the next step and becoming parents.

I remember when Julia and I started to talk about having kids.  You are never quite ready but you know that this is the next logical step to take in your journey together.  The reason why it is so easy to consent to this next step is very much due to the fact that we as humans have absolutely no idea what it is like to be a parent until we actually have our own.  No matter how many books you read you will never be adequately prepared for what is about to happen to your lives.

During the whole of Julia’s pregnancy it felt like I was just tagging along as a spectator.  As a man your involvement in the pregnancy is very limited.  You get to experience all the discomfort and aches and pains that your wife experiences through observation only.  I felt very disconnected from the little baby that was growing inside of Julia.  At times I felt a bit jealous that she had gotten a head start in the relationship with our offspring.  It is an irrational thought but I felt that Julia and the baby would have this stronger bond as she had carried the baby inside her and I would feel like an outsider trying to win the infants affections.  This is the thing; how are we as dads to know how this little creature will react to us.  They already know who their mothers are as they have been with them for ten months already before they are formally introduced to us.

Luckily for us fathers the baby will be born knowing who we are.  From the first moment they will recognise us even before they first see us.  They will do this as they will have heard us talking to them and their mothers the whole time that they have been inside.  They will have heard you yelling at the referee and if you are lucky they will even know your name from the countless occasions that your wife has yelled at you.

I think for me the most daunting moment was not when our first was born but rather the next day.  There is so much going on at that moment that you are in a bit of a stupor just trying to enjoy the moment and make sure that mom and baby are contented.  We had a home birth for our first child and thus I was very much involved in the whole process.  I was in the pool helping and then afterwards we got mom and Bella into our bed to rest.  Once that was done I was helping to clean up and empty the pool and make sure that the midwife and her doula had all their stuff.  We were very lucky to have a rather well known paediatric doctor with us as I was participating in a study on male hormone fluctuations during the birthing process.  Due to the presence of the doctor we had peace of mind with regards to the health of our little one.  Once they were all out the door I just passed out.

So the most daunting moment actually was when we woke up in the morning with this little creature in our care and I realised that we are the ones solely responsible for their survival.  I remember thinking will I know what to do, but you do not need to know what to do as our instincts are very well tuned to rearing children.  The best advice is to follow those instincts wholeheartedly.

Just know that becoming a parent is a scary thing.  But like most things in life; the scarier they are the more rewarding the experience can be.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Pain and Suffering

As parents we experience a great deal of pain and suffering at the hands of our offspring.  For moms this starts almost immediately after conception, some may even argue that it starts the moment men develop a sexual interest in them.  That however is a different subject.  Dads may also be inclined to argue that our suffering also begins around the time of conception, I am sure our better halves would have something to say about this concept.

This post however will revolve around the pain and suffering that the fruits of our loins will experience during the duration of learning to be a competent adult.  There will be all sorts of different types of pains that they will experience during the course of their cohabitation with us the parentals.
They will experience physical, emotional, psychological and fake pain.  The first and most common for young children will be the physical version.

From the moment that they are crawling they will come into contact with physical pain in a variety of degrees of severity.  As a parent these mishaps will no doubt bring you some emotional suffering on a regular basis.  As they get older you will come to realise that the more noise that they can make after the mishap, then the less severe the resulting injuries will be.

Some of the first accidents will occur when the baby has learnt to become mobile and discovers drawers.  They will garner great enjoyment from being able to open and close the drawers at will.  Unfortunately, this enjoyment will eventually be replaced by disdain at the pain that the drawer has caused them when they managed to close it on their little fingers.  The first few times this happens you will come running offering much sympathy and consolation.  This sympathy and consolation will also normally have to extend to their mothers as you point out that it wasn't such a big deal as all the little ones fingers are still intact.  As I said 'the first few times' after at least a dozen times of this scenario playing out you will wonder if your child is not the sharpest tool in the box; do not fear they will learn...eventually.

After they have learnt to walk then the pain will revolve around the head and knee area.  This is due to the fact that as soon as they have learnt to walk, they will immediately want to emulate Usain Bolt!  Unfortunately, no matter how often you try to tell them that they need to master walking first, they will not take heed of your advice  Get used to it, apparently our offspring will never take heed.  Of course once again poor mom has to witness her precious, fragile little one bounce off a variety of objects without keeping her mini-me wrapped in bubble wrap.

The emotional pain that they will experience will come later on in life and at first will be self inflicted.  This will normally revolve around your little angel turning into an evil ogre in a matter of nano seconds due to the fact that they did not get their own way.  A word of advice here; choose your battles.  Sometimes it is easier to let your toddler dunk their toast in their yoghurt than to experience the unnecessary suffering that stopping them will bring.

This self inflicted emotional suffering will for a very brief period illicit sympathy from you but this will be short lived as you see how easily they become distraught and how easily they return to being happy when things are going their way again.  You will eventually become immune to this, I am not saying that their incessant whining will not bring you suffering, but at least you will be able to muster up the courage to send them to their rooms until they can be nice.

As they get older I am sure that the emotional suffering will come from outside sources due to disappointments and more than likely love interests.  Alas, this is all par for the course to help them become emotionally self sufficient human beings and letting them experience this will help in the long run.

The fake pain that you will be introduced to will be due to a variety of reasons.  It is up to you as the parent to be savvy enough to discern when this happens.  With ours we have noticed that fake pain rears its head when they do not wish to do something.  This normally shows itself as a tummy ailment.  You can test the waters here rather easily.  When the child informs you that their tummy is sore let them know that that is a shame as you were just about to give everyone some ice cream.  You may be surprised at the miraculous recovery that they will be able to make.

You may also find that the fake pain rears its head when you are suffering in some way or another.  Recently my beautiful wife decided that it would be a good idea to go for a jog with our two dogs.  Buddy and Holly are both under two so I said that I didn't think this would be a good idea.  Besides their age I also refer to them as Dumb and Dumber for good reason.  Anyway about forty minutes later in walks my wife with torn leggings and bloodied knees.  Apparently Holly had decided to inspect something on the opposite side of the path and Julia had tripped over her.

Bella comes through and quizzes her mother as to what happened.  Before Julia has even finished telling her tale of woe, Bella is on the floor looking very sorry for herself complaining about her sore knee.  Upon inspection we are told that it is much worse than her mothers and whenever Julia mentions her own injuries Bella reminds us about her knees.  Bella had in fact injured her knees; about a month prior and now there was only the slightest of discolourations left.  Oh but beware anyone who marginalised her suffering.

Don't get me wrong here.  They will not be responsible for all the pain and suffering that they experience.  You will also be complicit in numerous of these episodes.  This is normally courtesy of the general state of fatigue that we parents live under.  You will not be concentrating and events will run away with you and next thing you have a screaming, bleeding child in your arms.

When Eden was younger I let her three wheel buggy roll away down an incline with her strapped into it.  When it got to the bottom of the incline it promptly rolled over and Eden came away with a graze on her forehead.  I on the other hand came away with a scolding from the wife and being labelled a dick-head.  You will let them jump up and down on the bed only to see one of them suddenly disappear over the edge.  They will survive these misdemeanour's and hopefully your nerves will too.  Sometimes your will to see your child grow and succeed will result in injuries.  You may wish to see them ride their bikes with no training wheels but this doesn't mean that they are ready.  Unfortunately, you will only realise this as you watch them go careening down the hill and into your neighbour's wall.

Will all the pain and suffering that you will see and experience the most important thing to remember is that no matter how funny it looked to the naked eye do not laugh out loud.  This is especially true if you child's mother is watching or within earshot.  If you cannot contain yourself then please turn away so that your little one does not have to witness your mirth at their expense.

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Xmas on the Mud Island

As my beautiful wife is British and courtesy of her being a Maid of Honour at a friend's wedding we decided to spend three weeks in the United Kingdom for the Xmas holidays.  This seemed like a daunting task due to a number of reasons.  The first was the cost of the entire affair, air travel is not cheap!  Second was whether the sensible Brits would be able to cope with the unruly Farrell's invading their quite little villages.  Lastly, would we be arrested for not keeping our children in helmets, knee pads, goggles etc. to adhere to the many health and safety requirements to ensure your child survives being alive?

On the first count we managed to scrape pennies together with the kind help of family members.  On the second count we seem to have not disrupted the general psyche of the British public at large.  I am not so sure they get my humour, but that is a mute point as I enjoy my humour very much.  For instance I do wonder if the friendly teller in Tesco's will ever understand the following exchange.  Let me set the scene first.

I was walking around the store with little Eden sitting on my shoulders.  Shock horror she did not have a helmet, knee pads or elbow pads fitted to her person.  What she did have was a father Xmas hat on.  We finished our requisite shopping experience and headed to the tills, still with her sitting on my shoulders.  When we approached the teller she looked up and exclaimed "What a nice hat!"  I immediately responded "It's not a hat, it's a child!"  She looked at me sideways and asked me if we had a Tesco loyalty card; at least I laughed.

On the third point we did not have any confrontations with law enforcement or social services over our lack of health and safety compliance.  Even though our children did run around like hooligans in public areas at times, we seemed to be deemed to have made the health and safety grade.  I did notice that my wife's sister did remove their two year old cousin from the roundabout before I spun it in a very fast and unsafe manner for my two.  After the spinning the idea is that you stop it and tell your offspring to run across the park.  This is purely for my entertainment so that I may see what happens.  If they fall in the mud then it seems that your wife's enjoyment of these moments will be less.

We learnt a few things about our children as well.  We discovered that little Eden is really not a fan of Father Xmas, to the point that she is rather keen to see daddy hurt him.  If we brought up Father Xmas in conversation the exchange between Eden and myself would go as follows.  "No like Father Christmas!"  "What must daddy do to him?"  "BOP him!"  "And then?"  "I kick him and poke him in the eye!"  So this was the usual summary of how she would like to see Father Xmas treated.  Of course she did say that we should take the presents first.  I guess Eden is a proper South African and is looking to have a career as a mugger one day, jeez we have done a good job.  Look to be honest I do think that she shows a wise head for such a young age.  I would also be nervous of an elderly man who keeps asking me to sit on his lap!

We discovered that it will freak your children out when you take them from the middle of summer to the middle of winter.  When the girls left it was 31 degrees and the sun was setting around 8 o'clock in the evenings.  They arrived to 3 or 4 degrees and a sun that set at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  The temperature wasn't so bad for them it was the darkness that they did not like.  They did get used to this and didn't complain too much.  With regard to the temperature what they were fascinated with was the temperature of the tap water.  They could not believe that it came from the tap and not the fridge.  When they first arrived Julia would notice that there was a strange quiet in the house and only the sound of running water.  She would investigate and find two children standing shivering with big grins on their face with their hands under the freezing water.

I did have the distinct pleasure of not travelling with the kids when we went to the UK.  This was courtesy of work constraints as I left three days after them.  It was very nerve racking watching their flight on the internet just counting the hours till they were out the sky but otherwise I enjoyed a peaceful few days and flight.  Julia did not share my glee at the travel arrangements but it all worked out in the end.

Not travelling with my brood did mean that we got to surprise them.  We told them that I was not coming and that they would have to survive with just seeing daddy on the computer everyday.  I really wanted to tell them but I am glad I didn't.  I arrived at Julia's Mom's and Dad's place whilst they were all out.  Caught up with Julia's folks and had a much needed shower.

What I had wanted to do was to wait for them to get back and come running up the drive with my backpack looking a bit haggard from my "long run" from South Africa.  Alas due to the early darkness I had to settle for sitting on the couch and waiting for them to come in.  The look of shock was priceless.  Eden was especially surprised; it was like she could not believe her eyes.  She came over, sat on my lap and kept touching my face, as if to make sure that I was real.

I was quite cruel to them though.  After five minutes of cuddles and smiles I told the girls that it was only a quick visit as I had to go home to feed the dogs.  My amusement was short lived when Julia reprimanded me for devastating the children as the lounge was filled with wails of discontentment.  Eden was especially devastated and would not let me out of her sight or grip until we all collapsed into bed together.

Whilst overseas Bella learnt that puddles are not the same everywhere in the world.  At home she is used to putting her gumboots on and jumping in them at will.  This is not the case in colder climes.  We would go out walking in the afternoons whilst Mommy and Eden slept.  I took her along a dirt road to the seaside on one of these occasions.  Of course there were puddles everywhere and Bella was prepared with her gumboots.  She was in for a surprise when she jumped into her first one.  Bella was shocked to find out that people would leave glass in the puddles in this strange land.  I let her experience her shock for a moment and then showed her that she had in fact stepped on a sheet of ice.  This was of great interest to her and she proceeded to smash every puddle that she came across.

All in all both parties survived the December holidays.  The United Kingdom seems to still be in one piece and the Farrell's are back safe and sound in sunny South Africa.  On a side note all the Father Christmas' on the mud island have also managed to keep their health and not get mugged by our two year old terrorist!
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