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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