So this Scotsman gets on his bike ……

It does sound much like the beginning part of a joke, but the punchline, I am almost sure involves an arse that goes numb forever and no doubt a case or two of malaria, or some other ailment.  Unfortunately I do not think of unicorns and glitter farts when I think about biking across Africa.  Cycling from across Cape Town will probably result in you losing your bike, and that is all, if you are lucky.

My brother Bruce is one year one month older than me —- so my mom didn’t exactly wait long between child two and child three, but that is another story.  For another day.

Bruce it appears is far braver than I would be ever.

Bruce has decided to get his arse on a bike and cycle from Glasgow to Cape Town, and he starts this little jaunt on the 19 November 2015.

No, unfortunately not on a dare made at a pub late at night, it’s an e-bike, and unless e stands for e-toll then I am pretty much out of this technically speaking.

The story was published in SCOTLAND NOW

Bruce-MacLeod-and-e-bike-01

The one on the right is Bruce MacLeod the one on the left is his e-bike.  I have a feeling that the bike and his nether regions are going to build a long, and lasting relationship over the next few months.

CYCLING from your workplace back home doesn’t sound like a huge challenge but it is for Scots businessman Bruce MacLeod – as his hometown is in South Africa!

The adventurer sets off on his epic 12,500-mile (20,000km) journey from Glasgow to Cape Town, SA, next week (November 19) as he attempts to smash a world record for the furthest distance travelled on an electric bicycle (e-bike) pulling a solar trailer.

If he completes the expedition, which will be split into two legs (Glasgow to Paris and Paris to Cape Town), he will set another record – and become the first person to cycle the length of Africa on en e-bike.

By doing so, he hopes to raise awareness and funds for the Purple Heart Network (www.phn.org.uk ), a climate change charity he co-founded this year to address social and environmental injustices at home and across the globe.

Father-of-two Bruce, who is of Scottish descent and was born in Cape Town, said: “When I tell people about my plan they say ‘I wouldn’t do that, why are you doing it?’

“I know I am not 22 anymore. I am a 44-year-old who has a young family, a new business and responsibilities, but this is my last hooray to craziness! It is now or never.

“I am not even a cyclist! But this challenge doesn’t require me to be, I just have to go from A to B. I am a strong person physically and I have a strong frame of mind.”

Bruce admits to having lived a life of adventure – he even applied to be a Cowboy in Montana – but he has never attempted anything so ambitious, until now.

Read more here >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

 

So that’s what my brother is up to.  Yours?

Do we lie to our kids about the Festive Season?

Isabelle had her first tooth fall out.  I (I had to correct that from we ….. yeah moving along) hyped up the entire tooth fairy thing, and she hid her tooth under her pillow as part of the very clear instructions I gave her which would help the tooth fairy find the tooth.

{yes this photograph is taken inside the vegetable aisle at Pick ‘n Pay}

Isabelle_tooth

I gave her a large envelope as well — I figured scratching around for the tooth in the dark is going to be less fun than say just feeling for an envelope.

I wrote a letter from the Tooth Fairy – I spent some time sprinkling glitter on her face and on her hand and left her to find the letter in the morning.

She was really thrilled when she woke up.

She told me she has another 5 teeth that are loose.

At which point are we lying to our kids to keep a myth going or is it all done in the spirit of magic, mystery and keeping our children’s imagination alive?

toothfairy-01

I came from a home where there was no “lying for special occasions” and very little in the way of making them special in any way.

We were sort of trapped in the in between space of having no religion, and having a sort of rough far off sort of belief system, which we did not practice, nor understand, or follow —- except it seemed to be the reason that everyone else was super happy over Xmas and Easter and we sort of stood there shuffling our feet slightly embarrassed, trying to avoid any questions around who got what and who got nothing.

I think that if you are in a religious group and you all believe the same thing, then there is a certain connection you have with the group.

Sure you might not be able to do everything you would like, but you are part of a religious group and you gain some sort of joy from that – or at the very least some sort of safety in numbers.

In our case, as kids, we were stuck in the “no man’s land” of religious beliefs.

My mom had a loose sort of belief system which seemed to exclude more than it included.  Because we were not really part of any “formal” religious group we were unable to “share our lack of Xmas, Easter and all the other celebrations with anyone.”

It was really embarrassing (I will not talk for my two brothers and will only talk on behalf on my own experiences) to return to school following the Christmas Holidays and have everyone ask “What did you get for Xmas?” “What did Father Xmas bring you?”

Er.  Nothing. <shuffles feet>

penguin

Of course you did not say nothing, because that would mean you had a shite home situation and no one loved you enough to give you anything.  I would either deflect the question or mumble something imaginary item that I had received.

The same can be said for Easter and any of the holidays that ran around.

It made school a really uncomfortable place after returning from school holidays or a weekend where there was a “celebration” of some kind.

At some point I would blurt out “we don’t celebrate that..” and in the stunned silence usually reserved for just the moment where you are just about to be totally osterisized from the group some kid would go “But why?”

I would be faced with a dozen or so sets of eye balls looking at me, waiting for this pearl of wisdom to drop to explain why I did not do the things they did …… er ja about that.

The problem is I had no pearl.

We adhered to certain parts of a religion that we did not practice.  Even at a young age I could see the hypocrisy in this, and how unfair it was on us as children.

{This post is not about the choices my mother made and how those religious choices affected us — I know that is how this is sounding, but it is not that.  I have got over that and moved on.  This is about my choice to practice certain customs at home for my kids, because I want them to have them —- I have no connection in many cases to the religious behind-the-scenes belief, and in most cases I am fairly well read on the origins of many of these customs we celebrate …….}

Not being able to afford presents, eggs and all the other stuff is hard enough to digest as a child, but to stand there going “no I didn’t get anything ….. nope, we don’t celebrate Easter …… no I am not quiet sure…….” was really a traumatic experience that repeated itself over and over in my school career.

Fast forward.

I decided as an adult that my kids were going to have whimsy, and imagination and were going to get swept up in the Easter Bunny, Father Xmas and any other frivolous celebration that does the rounds.

I can stand and argue how they originate in pagan holidays and and and ………… or I can just say “pass me the glitter please” ………. I opted for the latter.

I always realise that moment when my child has “realised” that a certain fantasy creature does not exist – that the Easter Bunny is not real, that there is no Father Xmas or what ever.  You can just see it in their eyes.  They know.

But.  Here is the truly cool part.  They keep the fantasy going for the younger children in the family.

Connor is 100% past believing in any of the fantasy of holidays, but he still loves hunting for Easter Eggs on Easter Sunday.  He does not spoil it for the girls.  He hunts his eggs like a Selous Scout gone rogue!!

I think Georgia might be on to certain things, but her head is so filled with whimsy any way. I think she is going to just leave it and believe in the Tooth Fairy and Father Xmas and any other bits of fancy that comes her way.

I recall a while ago overhearing an adult comment on that fact that as parents we are lying to our kids, and how terrible that was – because these kids would be crushed when they found out that all our lies were …. well lies.

I felt a bit offended ….. for about 12 seconds …… then I thought I would rather my child live and enjoyed the fantasy of fairy dust and being in bed so that Father Xmas does not see you, than giving them the bleak truth that none of it exists.

Adulthood is a rather sober place.  You get to find out too much information then, let them have the fantasy now.

holiday_spirit

Everything is about what is real and what we see and can touch.  We have lost the magic that is found around us in everyday things.

Except of course if you are Tim Burton —- there is a man where adulthood has in no way got in the way of his imagination and whimsy.

tim_burton

A few years back Connor and I were sitting near some trees and we sat and watched a murmuration of swallows {or starlings – I am not sure}—- it was without a doubt the most fantastic thing I have ever seen.

Starlings Sturnus vulgarus flocking before roosting this shape making in the sky is known as a murmuration Gretna Green Dumfries Scotland December

Starlings Sturnus vulgarus flocking before roosting this shape making in the sky is known as a murmuration Gretna Green Dumfries Scotland December

swallows02

swallows03

It went on for about 20 minutes.  We were both sitting there pointing and going “did you see that?” — it was genuinely unbelievable.

I realise that this opens the other side of the discussion that there is enough wonder and amazement in nature ….. there is.  Nature in itself is more fantastic than anything we can come up with.

But no matter how many thousands of Starlings get together, they are not going to come “Trick or Treating…”

I love the fact that my children embrace fantasies and silly characters.  And still can sit and watch National Geographic.

Do I think they are harmed and horrified when they realise that the Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny and Father Xmas is not true?

I hope not — if the other two are anything to go by, they will smile at the joy it has given them, they will smile at their younger sister and the joy it still gives her, and they will continue this pagan practice, which we have grown to love and to cherish as part of what we do as a family.

Do I think I am harming my children in some fundamental manner?

No I don’t —- but I could be wrong and some children could react quite badly when expecting the glitter of the tooth fairy, only to wake up and find their dad in his underpants and vest leaning over their bed.

Sure, I think that could be traumatic.

Is Father Xmas still alive and well in your home?

father_xmas

Telling an angry woman to calm down ….

Telling an angry woman

When grannies rock.paper.scissors it on dating sites ….

I found this thread running on Facebook.

You know the place where “if you love your sister” image pops up, and you are emotionally blackmailed into sharing a horrendously photoshopped image, just so everyone knows you love your sister/dog/cat/granny/aunt or what ever else.

That Facebook.

I found this thread last night and holy shit balls it gave me so much joy.

It is parading itself as images from a Russian dating site.

Initially the images were the only things that were funny, but as the day has progressed the comments have got downright hilarious and without a doubt this has been my favourite image of the day.

Here is the image:

 

granny_dating sites

I think I might have found my tribe.

Check the comment that ran just on this image:

151111_Lady-Sandwich-web

 

You can go and look at these comments and the others over at : https://www.facebook.com/hintmag/photos/pcb.10156191321425261/10156191308660261/?type=3&theater

Here are a few more of the images that were posted, and no, I do not understand what is going on here either – let me know which is your favourite, or don’t and log onto Russiancupid.com and send the person a message:

 

Russian-01

Russian-02

Russian-03

Russian-04

Russian-05

Russian-06

Russian-07

Russian-08

Russian-09

Russian-10

Russian-11

Russian-12

Russian-13

Russian-14

Russian-15

Russian-16

Russian-17

Russian-18

Russian-19

Russian-20

Russian-21

Russian-22

Russian-23

Russian-24

Russian-25

Russian-26

Russian-27

Russian-28

Russian-29

Russian-30

Russian-31

Russian-32

 

Divorce is a head f*ck …… and sometimes it’s about cauliflower

151109_divorce-web

Divorce is a strange animal.  I am not totally sure it is easier or less painful than dealing with the death of a partner.

At least in death you get to mourn, and then keep a rather idealised perception of your partner in your mind’s eye.  And then get on with your life.  At which ever point it is required, or you are able.

Divorce is akin to having a large plaster applied to your hairy inner thigh, and then just as you think “hey, this is okay …. I am sort of getting used to this” then someone comes along and pulls said plaster off.

Taking with it all your hair, the roots, the first few layers of skin, and basically any fucking sense of humour you thought you had left.  And then you cry, and get to watch it all grow back.  Slowly.  With some ingrown hairs just for ambiance.

Divorce is a game of constant adjustments.

You keep thinking that “okay, so we are at this stage now …. okay, sure, this is not too bad” and then some fucker comes and ask you to please part your thighs slightly so they can get at the huge fucking plaster again and pull it asunder.

The other thing about divorce is the bizarre and strange way that things, that are not meant to bother you, fucking really bother you, and you cannot explain why or how.

If you try, it just comes out in a splutter of rage, pain, torment, and sometimes a bit of embarrassed laughter because you are really not being a trooper and dealing with this like an adult.

Instead you have reverted to a 12 year old who has little in the way of vocabulary, and just wants to sit around sulking muttering “motherfucker” under their breath.

A few weeks ago Kennith chatted to me about the fact that he was thinking about dating.  I though well, we are buds now, let’s just kick that ball around, like buds.  I can do this.  {has inside talk with self ….. self says listen I don’t think you can do this …. I go, self, that was then, I am fine now……. self shakes head}

{I high fived myself in anticipation of what an adult I was being ….. it was a proud moment …… fleeting but proud}

This is me being a mature divorced FROM person.  Not the angry, resentful person who is still hurt and pained by being “dumped” by their partner after 20 years.

Any the who, so there I am being adult, and kicking the breeze and feeling jolly.

I ran into Kennith a few days later at Woolworths.  As you do.

I was shopping for cauliflower to turn into mash. I am not sure exactly what he was shopping for.  Because we are buds he told me he was on his way to a date, you know, like you tell your bud.

I was not sure at that EXACT moment whether to punch him on the shoulder like a mate and say “good on ya” or “punch him in the face” and say “I am your fucking ex wife fruit cake, why the fuck would you want to tell me you are going on a fucking date??”

Did you not read the study notes on the section “shit not to talk to about with your ex-wife at any time in the next 10 – 15 years following a divorce??”  No, you didn’t.

Let me send it to you again with the highlighted bits.

I opted instead to draw attention to the cauliflower in my trolley.  Yes, that is what a confused woman with about a million emotions does when they don’t want to punch other people in the face or the genitals.  Whilst at Woolworths.

Listen if it was Checkers, then it would have been on like Donkey Kong.  This is Woolworths, I would like to visit this store again, I am quite fond of it.

I did not ask about the date …… why?  Because again, I am the fucking ex-wife who is still trying to adjust to being the ex-wife.

You divorced me, see, that means I do not really want to know about how you are getting your jollies or potential jollies!!!

Cheese and rice —– am I the only person who thinks this way.

The last two weekends the kids were meant to be with Kennith the kids mentioned to me in passing they had not been with Kennith the one night on each of the weekends.

Again, it’s his weekend with the kids, and he can choose how to spend it or not to spend it.  I am not going to sit them through an interrogation, really I do not want to know.

I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.

I have been down this street, I know how this works.  The less I know the better.

Today they mentioned it again and I was a bit of “sorry what are you saying there kids” and then my friend mentioned that Connor was over at the house, and I was really confused.  She mentioned Kennith went to a “fight thing”, and I thought, but he usually takes Connor with him …………

Okay wait now …. wait now ………. I am feeling a slight deja vu in the Matrix and that his not good for anyone.

I remembered “oh sweet mother of mary, we are friends on Facebook again” <Kennith and I, in case this story is moving too fast and getting a slight rabid feel about it> and I thought “fuck no, please no, I really really cannot do Kennith dating….”

I don’t want to see it.  I don’t want to hear about it.

I do not want my friends stalking on my behalf.

I just can’t do this again.

It can happen out there in the wide world of “I don’t know and I don’t give a fuck” but when I do know then I do give a fuck.  I become the slightly insane person who is not sure why they are reacting this way, but they are and that is not good for anyone.  Especially me.

I sat quietly and scrolled through Facebook and there it was …….

The short answer is no I have no idea why this bothers me.

No, I am not jealous.

No, I am not waiting for Kennith to come calling and beg and plead for me to return.

No, none of that.

But his dating, it bothers me.

I get upset.  And I don’t know why.

And that is why divorce might be worse than dealing with a death.

Dead people do not post on Facebook.

Dead people do not date.

You can create a rather inaccurate but rather fond picture of the dead person, and there is fuck all that can come and fuck it up for you.

I can’t put cauliflower in my trolley and talk to Kennith about his date.

I can’t see his date.

I cannot hear about it from my kids —– I have already done this and it was pain-fucking-ful.  The chances that this might be starting again is just not on my list of  “things I feel like dealing with right now.”

I just am not there.  Yet.  Sorry Kennith, but you and I might need to break up as Facebook friends.

I just do not have the stomach for this right now.  I am not sure when I will.

It’s not me, it’s you.

just_keep_swimming

{On a side bar note, I am doing fantastically well.  Last year and part of this year was a little shall we say rough — well there were some rough patches there.  Some were not my finest hours.  Some I look back at and shake my head.

I bled a lot {metaphorically speaking not like in a menstruation way}, and I really struggled with what was in my head and how I was processing stuff.  

I had some moments there where I thought I would not survive.  I had some moments there that really tested my sanity and my ability to get out of bed and function.  

I got my shit together.  I moved on.   I learnt a lot about me.  I learnt a lot about life and how the universe works.

I am really in a happy place right now.  Life is challenging, but it is not impossible.

I am happy – and that this not a phrase I use often.  

I am still “getting over this thing called divorce” most days I am “yeah, I am so over it” and then other days I am “Listen, I need a moment here” but in general I am doing really well.

What divorce brings with it is this constant need to adjust.  

To the changing phases in each of your individual relationships. and how these put us in situations where we relate to each others.  

Sometimes those adjustments are small and you go, ah well, see that didn’t hurt.  Then there are the other ones where you do “shoo, this feels a bit uncomfortable, I am not sure whether I need an enema or a bit of a lie down, because this does not feel good.”

Maybe it is me — maybe this adjusting, adjusting and readjusting is something I do not do well.  Kennith appears to be coping like a fucking legend over there.  Good on ya mate!

Maybe in time it will be easier and I will not find it such a challenge.  But that is for another day.  Now however, the adjustments make me feel uncomfortable, and I don’t like them.

And I am going to choose to sit them out and not have to see them.}

Sh*tty Mom ….. This book ….. I must have ….. anyone read it yet?

shitty mom

Parenting …. no one tells you about when they get pubic hair ….

parenting_welcome3
Parenting is a very tense relationship.  With adjustments and readjustments and basically some shitty times, with some cool instagram photographs thrown in to keep you mildly sane.

Often you forget it is tense and you lie on the couch and go to sleep.  You will be forced awake (stuff jabbed in your eye, a child on top of you, the cat using you as a clawing post ….. kids screaming and fighting) and then you will start to rethink this entire “relationship” and why you got in to it, and how you can get out of it.

You will imagine various scenarios that usually include leaving your kids with your parents.  Or just plain leaving them on a corner somewhere.

When I say “leaving them with” I mean dropping them off in the dead of the night.  With a sticker stuck to them with instructions like “Feed this one Pronutro, check that teeth are brushed, check she is wearing panties ….. no matter how “like a princess” you dress her, she will look like a thug when you collect her from school.  No I do not know where the clothing is that fits her has gone either.”

You keep thinking you have survived or at the very least just got the hang of this parenting malarkey when your children will present a new facet you were not expecting, and ill prepared for.

Maybe I just have not read the notes on this section of parenting ….. that What to Expect when you are ….. sort of drops off in the toddler years.

Guys there is an entirely area here you should get your shit together on.  What to Expect … The Teenage Years.

parenting_welcome1

Connor is turning 14 in December.   Needless to say he has been 13 for far too many months already.

It feels like last week when he was 9 and he agreed with me most of the time.  His feet did not smell like a chemical experiment involving sulphur and he actually spent time outside of his room – he was polite, and a sweet sweet boy.

This year he has given me a clear insight in how parenting a teenage child is going to go.

Or the alternate but more apt heading “How I am failing at parenting a teen…”

It has not been pretty.   I have not come out of this process covered in glory, in any way.

It has led me to screaming, talking really loud, using pauses to prevent him answering back like “AND AND AND AND …… AND” and basically with what ever we were talking about getting so blown out of proportion that eventually I can’t even remember where I stand on an issue.  Or what we were arguing about.

I am fucking exhausted.

The problem with the exhaustion/feeling defeated is that I am waiting for every conversation to escalate into this screaming, arms waving and door slamming conclusion.

Connor and I have been fighting like maniacs for the last few months.  It feels like since last year to be honest.

If I say something is white, then he will counter it is black and then will try to convince me of his view point.

I do know that “Just fucking do what I told you to do because I am the fucking parent.  OKAY!” Is not the most winning statement one can make as the parent, but holy shit balls, sometimes (too often I am afraid) I lose my shit.  Like lost.  Like the series LOST.  That far gone.

I try and remain reasonable.  I try and remain calm.

But there is only so much backwards and forwards I can endure before I start to look for cakes to throw out the weekend.

We have had a sad shortage of cakes in our home.  I might be going with some Ultra Mel Custard in a carton soon. That one is going to not only need the strong throw, but it needs that propulsion follow through so it bursts as it hits the floor/concrete/dining table.

I am not sure I am on Custard Carton level as yet.

At one several point I thought “you know fuck this shit” and I started picturing packing up his clothing and what ever he needs to survive for the next few days.  Dropping/dumping him at Kennith’s house.

The fact that Kennith was not there at the time was a very small detail I was able and willing to overlook.

Kennith phoned shortly thereafter to ask me something totally arbitrary.  He got hit with the version of me that is screaming, sighing, spittle forming on my chin and basically at the point where I am willing to shift from a three child family to a two child family.

parenting_welcome2

I really was at the end …… the absolute end ….. the place were postcards are sent from …… end of this shit.

Kennith had Connor for the weekend and spoke to him —- I assume.  Connor came back and he was far better.  There was less fighting.  The respite was joyous.

He used to do me the favour of screaming at the girls for me, which I thought was rather endearing.

Then this weekend came along.  For various reasons I was feeling on edge and I just needed the shit to work, you know the stuff to get sorted, everyone to be at the right place at the right time in the right coloured underwear.

Connor was going to a birthday that I could not drop him off at.

I managed to organise my friend to drop him off.  Great.  He let me know that he was going to sleep over at another friend that night — I said fine, “take the bag that has been packed for you – take it with you to the party and then take it with you for the evening.”

There was no confusion there was only one bag.  And who had to take it.

I happen to go past the house, see the bag is there, pick it up and take it with me thinking I will drop it off at his friend’s home later.  I can’t work out why he would leave it, but this is Connor, he has left his school bag at home before.  On his way to school.

He goes to the party – and the mom drops him off at his evening sleep over place.  I am high fiving myself for a plan that seems to be working.

Then I start to get the SMS’s asking me to pack things in the bag …… that he should have with him.

The more I tell him that this is not going to happen (because I am not at home, and the bag is with me) the more the “please moms” start.  It goes on and on and I really start to develop a tick in my right hand eye.

He then escalates this to his school project and starts to ask me when this is going to be ready.

I made it clear from the outset he needed to build this project himself.  By himself, for himself.  He insisted on asking Wayne for assistance and I said no as Wayne has some other obligations and is not going to be able to do it.

He whinged and whined (no shock there) and I said that he needs to ask Wayne, and arrange it with him.  I am telling him not to, he is choosing to, and what ever happens is his problem.

Connor being Connor forgot to mention the project is due for Monday.  This is Saturday night.

He mentions it now in his messages.

I lose my shit.  Like. Shit.  Lost.

I realised I can no longer do messages, this requires a phone call.

I call Connor.  It is not a good conversation.  I am not screaming as much as talking really loud.

What we established is Connor does not have a hearing problem.

He clearly recalls that I told him NOT TO TRY TO GET Wayne to do this project.  What Connor is arguing is that I only told him ONCE!!

It appears once is not the right number.  I asked if he could give me the magic number of repeating myself over and over again …… I think he thought I was being a bit aggressive and told me I didn’t understand.

parenting_welcome4

It was just another situation that deteriorated into both of us feeling angry and hurt and not being heard by the other.

I was really angry.

The amount of planning and organising this day required was akin to the Normandy Invasion.  Then the one person you give the clear instruction of TAKE YOUR BAG THAT IS PACKED AND WAITING IN THE DINING ROOM does not, because he comes up with another plan.

The school project actually did my head in —- totally.  I was so spittle on my chin angry with him.

The problem with these things is as a third person you can offer really good advise as the person looking in, but as the one involved, you lose your sense, you lose perspective and you forget exactly how many years you get for murder.

On the drive home from school yesterday I had a little “it’s late but it is still related to Saturday because I was so freaking angry” explosion.

I drew some lines in the sand.  He still wanted to argue with me, and then I said the thing that you just don’t say to your child “SHUT UP” —- I actually said shut up to my kid.

I just wanted him to be quiet so I could tell him what I needed to tell him, instead of getting into a haggle about every point.  It was either telling him to “shut up” or me shoving a gag down his throat …..

Connor looked at me as if I had slapped him …… it wasn’t my finest hour in parenting.  I have to return the rosette best parenting award on Thursday.

parenting_welcome5

If anyone tells you the most difficult part of parenting is choosing the nursery linen, deciding on breast or formula, and working out whether co-sleeping is a good idea.  Laugh.  Laugh.  Hard.

This all.  This all fades into nothing, when you are sitting there arguing with your child, who unfortunately in some cases can argue you into circles.

I miss the days of the Waltons when no one would speak if Ma and Pa were at the table.  They would all defer to the parents say things like “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” and it all seemed like a very happy place.

I think I am ill prepared for this hormone soaked, pubic hair sprouting phase.

Please tell me this shit gets better ……. soon!

parenting_welcome6

Check out more of Brian Gordon’s comics on > http://www.fowllanguagecomics.com/comic