child


I know, most people have read this one already. And you know me and my girls… They are my life.  But they also remind me of The Little Girl In The Blue House… Is there someone missing her? Someone talking to her each day? Is she waiting for someone? Is she okay?

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The Little Girl In The Blue House

I always walk the same way to the train station. I take the shortest route. I have too. Way too early to walk one meter further than I have to. Or one minute longer than what is needed. There is another route. Slightly longer. But all the time in the world if it is so bloody early in the morning. My normal route is an easy walk. Turn right, then a quick left and straight down to the station. A quick and easy 20 minute stroll.  And who said I don’t get enough exercise… But today I had to go the slightly longer route. Turn left, turn right and down the slightly longer walk to the station. Not by much. Just about 5 minutes added. But sometimes the longer route brings more than just a longer walk. And this morning I got more than I wanted. Another reason why I never like walking that route. A reminder. A memory.

My oldest daughter always does the “left turn” walk. Her friend from across the street walks with her to the bus stop. They pick up another friend along the way and off they go. But not this morning. The girl from across the road didn’t feel too well so she couldn’t walk with my daughter. Dad duties called. I am the backup. So off we went. On our left turn. 

We were joking as we walked. Doing our “home boy” walk down the street. Me doing funny walks and funny voices to show her how I was going to embarrass her in front of her friend who has never met me. Doing my typical dad stuff. We got to the house. I gave her a hug and a kiss and watched her walk to meet her friend. And off I went. Taking my right turn down the road. The slightly longer road.

I put my iPod on and was listening to A Fine Frenzy when I walked past the blue house. And it brought back memories of the little girl who lived there. The little girl in the blue house.

She was the first friend my oldest daughter made at her new school when we moved here. They were in the same class. Hung out together. I saw her often. At the school. Or at the park. Or just in the streets when we were walking. But she was always there when we took my daughter to school. Running to great her friend. She was scrawny just like my daughter. But she was a little bit too thin. A little bit too pale.

In summer she always had just a t-shirt on. And in winter. A very worn and tatty thin little jacket. And trust me. It gets damn cold over here in Boston in winter. I remember seeing her with her arms folded to try and keep some heat in that little body of hers. You could see she was cold. But that was all she had for winter.

Her mother was always well dresses. With the latest fashion. Clothes and accessories she bought at the mall. She looked well looked after. And warm. Not like her little girl. But we didn’t see her at school often. Or anywhere for that matter. She didn’t walk with her little girl that often.

And they stayed just down the road from the school. It looked like a pretty house from the outside. That blue house where the girl stayed.

I often took my girls to the park at the school. And we’ll see her there often. On her own. On the swings. And she’ll be so happy to see my daughters. She was always so good to my little one. Running up to her and giving her a hug and a kiss and playing with her. She was a nice little girl. That little girl from the blue house.

My daughter always told us about her friend. And how she shared her snacks at school with her because she never had snacks. So my wife put in a few extra snacks for two. Never mentioned it to the little girl. Didn’t want her to feel odd. My daughter just shared because that is how she is. It was her friend. No questions.

And one day she told us that the girl was so exited about going to visit her dad in Arkansas. Her parents were divorced. And she lived with her mother and boyfriend in the blue house. The boyfriend had a nice BMW convertible. Nice car. Pretty new. They obviously had some money. Just not always for the little girl. But she was excited. She was going to visit her dad.

And then we saw her during the holiday. When she was meant to be at her dad. It was the first time I really saw her sad. The smile wasn’t there. She spoke to my daughter in a low sad voice and I didn’t want to ask too many questions. Didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. I just wanted her to be a little girl. Playing with her friend. And having fun the way 10-year old girls are meant to have fun. So I let them talk and watched as they started playing and giggling. And the smile started coming back. She was with her friend.

The odd thing was that apart from that day I always saw her smile. A big old child smile. I never heard her complain. Not in front of me in any case. She always looked happy. But you could see that there was something missing. You just had to look carefully.

I always hug and kiss my girls. No matter where we are. When we drop them off at school. When I say goodbye in the morning. When they go to sleep at night. Or just because we feel like a hug and a kiss. Which is often. No matter where we are. And this little girl saw this. Saw how I hugged my girls. And she wanted one too.

I used to see her looking at me and my daughter when we hug. And then one day she came up to me when I took my girl to her school and asked for a hug. She was a little bit shy about asking. But I just gave my girl a hug and she looked at me with her tatty top with the long sleeves and peeked at me. “Can I get a hug please?” “Of course!” I said. I gave her a big old hug. And she hugged back. Hugging maybe a little longer and harder than what I expected. Almost as if she didn’t get a lot of hugs and would like to get hugs more often. She was only ten.

And that was how it was. Whenever she saw me she would come running up to me and give me a hug. And I’ll hug her back. And I’ll give her a smile and ask how she was doing. It became a standard thing. I never really thought much about it. I knew she wanted a hug and I gave her one. We can do with more hugs in this world. And I didn’t think that she got too many hugs elsewhere in any case.

And then one day she was just gone. Just gone. Her mother packed their bags in the middle of the night and just disappeared. Gone. Not even a goodbye. Not even a last hug. Just gone with her tatty little top. We never knew what happened to her. How she is doing or how she is feeling. Is she with her dad? Is she okay? Is she happy? Is she being a kid? Did she get a warmer jacket? Is she still smiling those big old smiles of hers? Is she getting any hugs? Or is she still playing alone in the park?

Time passed and memories started fading. We’ll mention her every now and again and just wonder.

And then we started looking at buying a house. And one of the houses that was on the market was the blue house. The blue house where the little girl stayed. So off we went to look at the house. Thinking that maybe we can buy it and make it our little house. Until we opened the front door and walked in.

My wife and myself just looked at each other when we walked in. I knew what she was thinking. It was my thoughts to.

The house stank. It was dirty. So dirty. Everything was a mess. Stuff lying on the floor everywhere. Clothes. Plates. Old food. Ashtrays overflowing. Wet spots. I have never, ever seen anything like this anywhere. And I have been to some places… It has been like this for a long, long time. Our shoes got stuck on the sticky dirt that was on the floors. All the rooms were in a mess. You couldn’t even see what color the walls or carpets were. It was brown. From dirt and cigarette smoke. I felt nauseous. Sick. The ex-boyfriend was lying in bed downstairs watching something on a big screen television. On his huge water bed. With plates and empty bottles and cigarettes lying all around him. A pig in a pigsty.

We went up the stairs to look at the real bedrooms. And we walked into the room that would have been that little girls room. It was a mess. Just a mess. No place for a little girl. Any little girl. Dirty. Filthy. Disgusting. You could see little things she must have tried to do to make it a little girl’s room. A little picture here and there. A ripped out poster. A wonky little table where she must have tried to study. Some girlie jewelery lying on the floor amongst the dirt that she must have forgotten to pack in the haste. But it was covered in a floor that ran skew. Holes in the floors and roof. And cold. And this was in winter. No heating. This was the room of the little girl with the big smile.

My wife and myself just looked at each other. We knew what each of us were thinking. We just wanted to get out. Just wanted to forget that we ever came. That we ever knew that little girl. And that she lived there. Her little room in the blue house.

We sat in the car and just stared at nothing for a while. And then she said it. “She lived in that house.” That’s all that needed to be said. We knew. The little girl in the blue house.

And walking past that house this morning reminded me of her. That little girl in the blue house. Made me think. Again. How did she do it? How did she manage? How did she remain a little girl in that house? How long can she be that girl with the big old kid smile? How long before she falls through the cracks? Is she strong enough? Where will she find the love she needs? The hugs she deserves? How is the little girl from the blue house doing?

The little girl from the blue house. I hope you remember me. I hope you remember those hugs. I just wish I hugged you a little harder and a little longer.

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Will you take the flower please?

Will you take the flower please?

I am still haunted by this picture I have stuck in my head. The picture of the bully. The bully at my oldest angel’s school.

It happened a few years ago when my oldest daughter was graduating from her school. Well, graduating is pushing it a bit. She was just moving up to middle school. But we were proud parents. And we were there for her special day.

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the birds were out to sing us a few songs. Us parents huddled around waiting for our kids. Chatting away about this and about that. Taking up our seats on our nice comfortable chairs waiting for our our kids to graduate. And someone mentioned the bully.

She was also going to graduate today. She was in my daughter’s class. The discussion? We hoped that she won’t be in the same school as our angels next year. This year was tough enough. We really didn’t want our kids facing her again next year. The pushing on the playground and the shoving in the corridors. Enough was enough. And we all hoped the bully will land up somewhere else. Far away from our kids. Somewhere where she can cause trouble on her own and not cause any more crying at home.

This girl was really a bully. A big girl who bullied everyone at school. When they played she always took the ball away from the other kids. And then pushed them. Or just ran into them for no reason. Or shouting and screaming at them. You name it and she did it. The ways bullies do it. It was a bloody nightmare. She was always frowning and being nasty. Just one horrid girl that needed one good bloody hiding if you asked me.

We were still talking about the bully when the kids and teachers came out. There’s our angel! Big wave and even bigger smile and huge kiss blown her direction! Good! She saw me! Mission accomplished! Actually, I was only just warming up with silly things to do…

And then it was time for the end of school ceremony.

We all sat down and listened to the headmistress talking about the kids and what a great year they had. Just the usual blah-blah but special to us and for our kids. This was their big moment. And we hung onto every single word she had to say. We took photos and waved even when told not to wave. Our angel was a bit embarrassed (as she always is with me around!) but she waved back. And she had this huge grin on her face. We might embarrass her every now and again but she loved it. Just loved it. We could see it in her huge big smile. She’ll roll her eyes and whisper something to her friend pointing at me – her crazy dad. And the kid will look at me and laugh. I knew my girl loved her crazy dad and mom. Because they were there waving and whistling and smiling and taking millions of photos of every single moment – when she sang and when she got her piece of paper and when she walked up and when she shook the teacher’s hand and when she breathed… Clickety click-click. We never missed a moment and made sure we had the memories captured for her kids to see one day. The day she can tell her kids, “These are the photos my mom and dad took when I graduated to middle school.” And maybe she’ll tell them about the other times we were there.

Actually, all the kids were smiling at their parents. Smiling and waving and just being crazy kids loving their crazy silly parents. But I only noticed our big angel. “Hey girl! Look here for another photo! Do it or else I’ll dance!” That always got her laughing. And maybe a bit worried that her dad will actually do it. Because she knows he will!

The bully? She wasn’t waving. She wasn’t blowing kisses. She was bloody well pushing and shoving the other kids. With her arms folded and a frown on her face each time one of the kids close to her smiled and waved. You could see her lips moving. Saying things like, “Stop it you” and “Oh puh-leeze you wimp”. But I wasn’t going to let her spoil our special day. I was just smiling and waving and doing crazy things to let my girl never forget this special day.

The school had this really cool thing they do for children who do not have a younger sibling. They are given a rose to give to their parents. A thank you from the school for trusting them to look after their precious kid. And a goodbye as the school won’t see another one of their kids coming to their school. It was a really nice touch. Kids were called up by the headmistress and given a hug and a rose. The kid will then turn around and look for their mom to give her the rose. And a big hug and a kiss. Oh the mothers cried! Their youngest one finishing school! Look how big they are getting!

And the bully got called up to come get her rose. I was thinking that the school is lucky that she is the last one from her family to come to this school. You never know how her sisters and brothers might be. And I really didn’t want out youngest one to go through the same experience with the rest of her family. I was saying thank you for small miracles…

She got her rose. And she got her hug from the headmistress. And it was a bit odd. The hug was a little longer than usual. Longer than what the other kids got. And why was her shoulders shaking like that? It’s not that cold. And then she turned around. Slowly. To face the crowd of parents. And the tears was rolling down her face. Her little face…

She scanned the sea of people in front of her. But you could see that she knew. You could see it in her eyes and through her tears. She knew there was no one there for her. No one doing crazy waves. No one taking pictures. No one to give her a big smile. Her folks weren’t there. You could see her looking for her mom. But there was no one there. She was just a little girl on her own. Not a bully. Just a little girl crying.

She looked at the sea of faces for a few seconds. Hoping. But here was nothing and no one. Just tears that never stopped.

She turned around and leaned forward to give the headmistress one more big hug. And then gave her the rose.

And then she joined the other little girls.

And she was the only one crying…

What are we doing to our children?

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From the Loose Ends files…

fartlady

I got a talking-to from the lovely suffering wife… Yes, I know… It happens often…

Who said parenting was easy? My wife will respond by rolling her eyes and say, “A parent? You’re a bloody buddy to play with not a parent!” I’ll just be nodding my head with my eyes staring at the floor and my tail between my legs. And peeping to see where the girls are to get them to pull my finger once my “discipline session” is over.

Anyway…

I got the talking-to because the teacher had issues with my poetry teachings…

Apparently, not everyone at school appreciates good poetry. The missus got called in by my youngest daughter’s teacher for “potty talk”. Bah! It’s not potty talk! It’s poetry! Don’t they know anything cultural around here?

Let’s go back to my “poetry teaching” sessions with my 5-year old daughter…

As you might know by now, I bath my youngest daughter at night and put her to bed. Well, that is a pretty boring job if you stick to the “get-it-over-and-done” style of parenting. And I take my job as a parent very seriously. Very seriously… So up the stairs we go every night and in the bath she gets. Actually we do our “pictures” in the mirror first where we pull different faces – happy (Liverpool won!), sad (got to clean the cat litter) , mad (thinking Bush…), crazy (still thinking Bush…), handsome (my normal facial expression…), pretty (my Angelina look) and any other combination of faces. Only once we’ve done our acting classes in the mirror do I allow her to move into the bath. And Grand Master Teacher Angry (or  Guru African to some) comes out to play… hum… I mean… teach…

I have the curriculum well planned and sorted. We will eventually move on to Shakespeare, but for now I want us to concentrate on getting the basics right. Poetry 101… Nice easy rhymes…

So we did a few of the usual rhymes. You know…

“I’ve got a cat in my hat” and “I’ve got a yummy in my tummy” and “I’ve got a bear in my hair”. Just the usual rhymes. And then we moved on to more difficult pieces of poetry. Of course they also had to show me they take their lessons seriously and come up with their own poetry…

I really can’t help that my daughters are geniuses! It’s not my fault that they take innocent little rhymes and create their own unique take on poetry. Should I not be applauded for teaching my child the finer things in life? Should I not be rewarded for bringing the gift of literacy to my youngest daughter? Should I not be celebrated as a teacher and guru of poetry? Should I not be held up as the parent of all parents? Should I not…

And so on and so on. It ends with me claiming the Nobel Peace Prize for teaching my kids silly rhymes that ultimately and directly resulted in world peace and the end of world hunger and poverty. Oh yes, it also ended the current economic downturn worldwide. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. Now, where was I? Oh yes, the lack of appreciation…

So my youngest daughter decided to share her new found poetry gift with the rest of the class. I was so proud. My little girl sharing her passion for literature and fine arts with others. And, of course, for them to stand in awe and admire her poetic abilities. Bow down and sit at the master’s feet please. There’s a good class. Now sit still and listen. And then she let rip with some of her most creative pieces. Her own poetry in her own words…

“I have a drum in my bum.”

…and the clincher…

“I have art in my fart.”

The simple beauty of it. She makes me so proud. “Sniff.”

But noooooo… Apparently that isn’t good enough for Ms Snotty Nose teacher. Not appropriate language for a little girl. WTF? Does she not appreciate the beauty of poetry? Does she not recognize the modern version of a young Shakespeare? Damn teachers…

The curse of a genius…

Anyway, I couldn’t believe that the teacher didn’t give her a special prize for that one. Or at least push her one class ahead. Advance learning or something. Heck, I say let her teach the class literature! My little genius.

But maybe the teacher just didn’t understand her true ability. Because one of her pieces of genius poetry was in two languages… You hear me? Two languages! Bilingual baby!

“I’ve got a football in my poepol.”

Genius! Genius, I tell you!

I didn’t teach her any of this. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. She did it all on her own. Like I said, she makes me so proud. Damn teacher…

Oh, the meaning of poepol?

Hum… well… I… it’s a… the meaning is… but… No, I mean “butt”. Backside, arse, behind… You get my drift…

She mixed her languages all on her own and created this piece of beautiful poetry just for her dad. Like I said, she makes me real proud – “sniff.”

But ooooh nooooo, the teacher doesn’t recognize this piece of genius. Everyone is a critic. But maybe it was just a big misunderstanding. Because I also tell my girls to never lie. Not even in poetry.

If only the teacher asked her if she really had a drum in her bum…

My little girl would have kept a beat that will make her dad proud and her mother cry.

And maybe then the teacher would have realized that my little girl really told the truth when she said, “I have art in my fart”…

 _fartpropellant3

walk20away201920x2026_5

You know about my father and me. We didn’t get along. We didn’t talk much. We didn’t do much together. None of that “dad and son” stuff. We might not even have liked each other much. There was bad blood. Lots of it. And still I learned so much from the man. Even when he didn’t mean it and I did…

We had many arguments. Many, many arguments. Almost always about politics. He was on the side of Apartheid and I was on the other side fighting what and who he stood for. He was a bigot and I was always happy to point it out to him. And I was just as stubborn as him. I refused to budge. I refused to try and understand. I refused to give him one single little bit of ground. I refused to give him or what he stood for the benefit of doubt for even a split second. He was wrong and so was everything he stood for. No movement on bigotry. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. I was right about Apartheid being wrong. Why should I move even an inch for any form of bigotry? I still won’t. I refuse to compromise just because it might make people feel better. Or because it would be the nice thing to do. I won’t. Not with bigots.

And I do expect people to point out my own bigotry. Trust me, I have a thick skin and I am a big boy – I can handle it. It’s the only way I can ever answer The Question…

Anyway, back to me and my father…

Back when we still spoke we had almost daily fights about Apartheid and the fight against Apartheid. He called those who fought the Apartheid government terrorists – Nelson Mandela to Breyten Breytenbach and everyone from the ANC to COSATU. Yes, we fought like hell. It eventually tore us apart completely. There was a moment when I just gave up. And there was a time that I realized he just taught me the biggest lesson of all. He didn’t know it but it has driven me since…

It was just one of those days again. We were arguing like hell. I can’t even remember what triggered this one. The ANC was already unbanned. It could have been him calling Nelson Mandela racist names again. Or him bitching about anyone who was black and who didn’t agree with his warped view of the world. Actually, you didn’t have to be black to be hated by him. Even Reverand Beyers Naudé was a terrorist in his eyes.  But we were off on our usual little boat ride down the rough river of arguing.

My poor mother was just sitting there half in shock as always. Every now and again trying to calm us down. But she knew it was a losing battle. I was never going to keep quiet. Not anymore. And it gave me a chance to fight him on every issues that I ever thought he was wrong about – from Apartheid to my mother. So once I started I would never let go. And he egged me on by pushing one button after the other. We were predictable…

He was on about the Apartheid National Party giving him a job and me an education. He was shouting at me that the ANC and Nelson Mandela will always be terrorists. I was throwing it back in his face that he must live with the fact that we have won. That it is over. You lost your right to bigotry and murder. No more. We won, you lost. And, to rub it in, that if Nelson Mandela is a terrorist then so is his own son.

It shut him for a little bit. He stared at me for a moment. I could see he was ready to explode. He was about to say something. And then it came. The question. I popped the question without even thinking…

“Tell me dad, what did you do?” (“Sê my pa, what het jy gedoen?”)

It shut him up. He had a puzzled look in his face. Not sure what I meant. That’s when I hit him with the meaning of my question…

“What have you ever done to make this country a better place? Where were you when they were murdering people? Where were you when all the killings were taking place? What did you do to stop all the madness? What did you do to end all the hate and bigotry dad? Where is the love and the peace and the freedom dad? Tell me dad, what have you ever done to make this world a better place? For me. For my sisters and mother. And for the kids we will one day have? Tell me dad, what did you do with your life?”

I only stopped when I saw his face change. I can’t even describe to you what he looked like. That expressions…

It was as if the life was sucked out of him. Like an animal in complete fear of his life and knowing that this is the end. That he has no more to offer. That everything is empty. That all that was left was this shell of a man standing in front of me. The look of a man knowing that everything he has ever done is meaningless and worthless in the eyes of his son. The look in his eyes was of a man knowing his life and what he stood for meant nothing to his son. Nothing. Like him. His life. Meaningless. All in a single expression.

it is difficult… I can’t really describe to you what he looked like…

But I will never forget it. That look in his eyes. It was something that made me shut up. I knew there was nothing more to say. I knew he was not my father anymore. He was… He was… Nothing…

Because his expression also told me something else. It betrayed him. It told me the answer…

Nothing…

I looked at him for a little while and said it one more time softly – almost a whisper, “Tell me dad, what have you ever done?”

His expression also betrayed something else…

It wasn’t just the question that cut him up. It wasn’t just his lack of answers that drained is soul. No. It was also my expression that sucked the life out of him. The expression of someone that felt nothing anymore. The look of someone who knew his father no more. The face of someone who knew a common love no more. The questions from someone who believed in his own blood no more. The end of the blood running through our veins. He knew that my own questions and eyes told him that we were no more…

That was what he saw… And what he heard…

And then I turned around and walked away. Leaving him there to… I don’t know… I just left him there without thinking about what I wanted from him. I didn’t want anything anymore. I didn’t need anything anymore. I got what I wanted…

I will never forget his face. I still see that expression. Daily. It drives me. That single question and that single expression drives me daily. Each and every single day. Because I never want to be asked that question. Never.

Maybe I am over sensitive to what is going on around me. Maybe I love my wife and kids a little more than what I would have if I didn’t know about that question. Maybe I get angry about bigotry and injustice and inequality more than I would have if I didn’t know about that expression. And maybe I see the beauty around me a bit clearer thanks to the face I saw that day. I don’t know. But I know this…

I never want any of my kids to ever ask me that question…

And I never want them to look at me the way I looked at my dad that day…

dont-ask

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Note: I should have added that I did make peace with my dad shortly before he died. I do understand where he came from even though I never agreed with his politics or the way he treated some people. But we did make some form of peace. Do I wish our relationship was different? I am not sure because I would not be who I am without him being who he was. I am at peace with how it all turned out – it could have been better but it could have been worse. I focus on the here and now. The question I asked him doesn’t drive me a in conscious way where I think of them daily. It is only when I think and reflect on what I do that I recognise some of the events that played a key role – and this was one of those key events.

 funnygirl2

I have been blessed with a loving sister. She cared for me and always treated me as “the special one”. I had special names for her and she had a special name for me. The two of us. Bliss. She used to play with me and make me my favorite food. Pour me a little drinkie when I needed it and dressed me in my best clothes for Sunday school. She taught me about love and caring. She loved me and looked after me. My sister… She was my angel. My special one.

And then I have this other sister. Man… You think Freddie Krueger was bad? He wakes up screaming from the bad nightmares she gave him. She used to ride the “mares” until they pass out at night. If she didn’t pass out from the alcohol consumption first. She was the kid you warn your kids about. And that you pray to God you never get. She was the kid that the bogeyman told his kids about to scare them. She was the kid that people refer to when they say “I heard this story about a kid…”. She was the reason why cats stayed indoors. She made grown men cry. She was the reason why social services was created… for parents. The Chucky movies was based her favorite toy. When people spoke about “those Fockers living down the road” they weren’t referring to a family by that name… She was the Nightmare on Our Street.

You might have seen a few comments from her over here. Just go check out anything by a certain person called Marlize in a few earlier stories. The last one – Fat Kids and Stupid Parents for instance. She made a few comments about the lovely food she used to lovingly make me. Yeah right… More like force feeding. She has the cooking skills that is equivalent to my dancing and singing skills. And you know how awesome that is. Actually, she does bake extremely excellent tarts. But then, she knows a lot about being a tart. Baking tarts is not that huge of a jump for her.

But let me tell you a few stories of my sister from hell. The kid the devil rejected as “just too much to handle”. And what I am about to write is 100% true. I kid you not.

Yes, she did make my food almost every day when I grew up. My mother and father worked so it was up to her to feed me. Feed me and food might be a bit of a stretch, but there isn’t words to say what she did and “cooked”. But let me rather say that she “made” my food and not made my food. I need the “made” to qualify her “cooking”. But wait, let me first tell you the story of me chasing her down the road with a fork…

She commented in the previous story that I chased her down the road because she made me fish fingers with syrup and cheese on it. That is a complete lie. I did not chase her down the road because she made me fish fingers with a syrup and cheese topping. Never did that. Complete bullshit.

I chased her down the road because she made me a Big Jack pie and stuck the bloody fork in it. And that was just the start of something bigger…

I had a choice of three dishes. Actually, it wasn’t a choice. She decided which of the three I would get. And these were my “choices” for most of my life until I managed to escape her claws. I could have a Big Jack pie with some All Gold tomato sauce (ketchup), fish-in-sauce or fish fingers with syrup and cheese on top.

Now Big Jack was (and I hope was and not is) a soggy and doughy pie from a box in the fridge that tasted like cardboard and never had anything inside no matter what the box said. I think the box might have tasted better if we only tried it once but my sister was too lazy to give me that. And the box most likely had a higher nutritional value as well. It was crap and my sister had a special way of making it taste even crappier. (Note to sister – Next time just follow the instructions on the box please.) I don’t think that the instructions said that is should be burnt on the outside and frozen in the middle…

Fish-in-sauce was even worse. It was a piece of “fish” (or fish by-products most likely) in a bag of sauce. Three flavors – green crap, yellow crap and brown crap. I liked the yellow crap the best. If you want to call it “like”. I have blocked most of the details from my memory and sitting here and just typing about it makes me break out in a cold sweat and the shivers. Let’s just leave it at the fact that it was pulled off the market and declared a WMD by Saddam himself. And yes, I do have a certain “glow” at night like one of those light sticks. You never recover completely from it and I still get my tetanus shots daily thanks to my one-time consumption of fish-in-sauce when I was a little boy.

And then there was the fish fingers. Another fish-like by-product. If you take an old fish head off the rubbish dump and cook it for a few hours and then leave it for a week to cool down in the African heat outside in the middle of summer… The stuff you can scrape off the top is what fish fingers are made of… Including the flies and other “additives”. My sister tried to hide the impact of the smell and taste by smothering it with Golden Syrup and grated nameless yellow cheese. The taste of that will stay with you forever… For-effing-ever I tell you. I can taste it now. Hali-bloody-tosis! (Gotta go brush my teeth quickly…)

So those were my choices…

And then we had the fork-down-the-road scene. My sister-from-hell made me a burnt-on-the-outside-frozen-inside Big Jack. Again. For the fourth day in a row. It might have been a chicken one. Or steak and kidney. I can’t remember. And you couldn’t taste the difference either. You only knew what you ate if you opened it up. Chicken was a gooey yellow with chunky dog meat inside and steak and kidney was a gooey brown ball of crap. It all tasted the same. And on this day she emptied the full bottle of tomato sauce on the pie-like lunch. And I just had it with crap food.

(The kids at school was laughing behind my back and pointing fingers at me because I always had to go to the bathroom and smelled a bit even though I bathed every time I brushed my teeth. About six times a day. You can never get that crap out of your system..)

So I said, “No more”. Actually, it could have been in Afrikaans and something like, “Jou moer“. Translated roughly into “F-you” or “your mother”. But the message was clear. I wasn’t going to eat it. And she said, “Yes you will”. And I said, “No I won’t”. And she said, “Yes, you will”. And I said, blah… blah… blah. This went on for about 60 or so exchanges. But I think the language might have been more colourful the longer we went on with this “argument”.

Then she stuck the fork in it. In my pie! Or whatever you called that thing on my plate.

And that was it!

I said, “Now I won’t eat this effing pie!” And she said, “Yes. You. Will!” And blah… blah… blah… I think we stopped when I got up and tried to escape… I mean run away. And she started chasing me around the kitchen table.

Picture the scene…

We had this big kitchen with this big table in the middle that could fit about eight people. Nice 70’s style yellowish top table. Formica or something. And matching chairs. And cupboards everywhere. On the open half-wall was a Japanese picture my mother liked. One of those that could roll up and had the doves on the lake scene. A narrow wooden-stripped roll-up painting. Hand painted. Remember that. Now back to the “chase scene”…

So I am running around this table trying to stay away from her slapping me on my head or something and she is chasing me all the way. But I was small and nimble. No way she was going to catch me because I could take the corners quicker. She can beat me in a straight run – being older – but no way could she catch me when there were turns and twists involved.

We did about twenty or thirty laps when she started to get tired. And thank God I noticed. I realized she was slowing down and turned to look at her on the other side… and ducked just in time. The pie was about an inch away from my face when instinct kicked in and I hit the floor. I looked at the pie going past me in Matrix style slow-motion and watched as it hit the Japanese painting. Right where the two doves where flying. They were fried. KFC thank you.

The pie just stayed there for a few second but it felt like minutes. And then it slowly started to slide down the painting and eventually hit the floor. Right next to me.

I stood up slowly and kept on staring at the picture with the pie marks. And then I heard a “whoosh” sound and felt a stinging pain in my left buttock. I turned around and saw the fork stuck in my backside! She threw the fork so hard it got stuck in my arse! WTF?

I was pissed.

I pulled out the fork and shouted, “Now you are going to get it. I’m going to effing &%^@# you to pieces!”… And I charged at her. Like the Light Brigade. No, I was a Zulu impi and I had my spear. I’m gonna get me some revenge on this colonialist tyrant. Charge! For country! For freedom! For liberty! Viva La France!

(Juluka playing in the background.)

She looked at me and realized she was in deep shit. Little baby brother is about to kick some ass. She turned and ran. Out the front door.

And I was right behind her screaming and shouting.

Down the road we went. She just laying it down flat as if she was running the 100 meters sprint like Flo-Jo in the ’88 Olympics. And I’m the mad man with the fork trying to get her. Eyes blazing, screaming that I was going to take her out this time. Man, we were crazy.

We must have run about 400 meters down the road when both of started realizing how stupid this was. What must the neighbors think? I am sure I saw a few people peeping through the curtains and calling their kids and dogs inside. Again. But we just kept on running. And then we started laughing.

It was stupid. But it was fun. We stopped and just laughed and laughed. Me and my stupid weird and crazy sister. Lying in the middle of the road and laughing our asses off.

That’s the story of the fork-in-the-road incident.

But let me just give you a few other stories of my sister from hell so you can get a clearer picture of her.

She is older than me by three years so she was already well known in high school when I entered the same high school. There I sat in my first class on my first day. I had no clue that she had a “bit of a reputation” at school. The teacher introduced himself and started asking each kid to give their name where they came from. No problem. I can do that. The teacher smiled and pointed to me when it was my turn. I was chuffed to stand up and announce my name with a big smile. The teacher’s face just dropped. He kept quite for a little while and then asked, “Say that again? Are you the brother of Marlize?” “Of course!” I said with an even bigger smile. They know my sister! Great! Right…

“Come with me young man”, said the teacher and turned around to go into his little backroom. I followed. A little puzzled, but maybe he was going to ask me to help him carry some pencils or books or something. I followed him into his little backroom and saw him standing there with a cane in his hand. He looked at me and said, “Bend down”. I lifted up my school blazer and did as he said. He caned me six shots on the arse.

Why? Let me quote you using his own words – translated. “Because your sister is Marlize and just in case you turn out to be anything like her. And for what you might get up to later today”.

WTF?

Yep, that’s what happened. I was a nerd in secondary school but got my first taste of corporal punishment on my first day in high school all thanks to nothing more than being the younger brother of Marlize. Thank you sis…

I quickly learned that she was a “special needs” kid at school. Every single class had a table and chair right next to the teacher’s table. Facing away from the other kids. That was her special table and chair. In every single class. So that she couldn’t disrupt the class too much. As if that helped. Just because she couldn’t face the other kids didn’t mean she couldn’t do anything. Those ink pots had a special meaning for her…

That’s how my time in high school went. I got canned often just because of my lovely sister. She was also the only girl I know of that got canned the way boys got canned at school. On the backside. And boy did she deserve it.

But she did teach me a thing or two. Like how to hang out the windows of the top floor to shout and wave at her when she was down in the courtyard doing PE. Or rather, skipping PE and having a skelm smoke instead. My teachers had a few heart attacks with that one but I trusted in the builders having done their job. And it was cool to hang out the window on a hot summer day and feel the wind blow through your hair. Three stories up…

She also taught me that throwing a handful of certain chemicals in the big fish tank outside the headmaster’s office will allow just enough time for you to go in, get your daily caning and “the speech”, walk out and then run when you hit the corner – just before the fish tank explodes. I bet that was what they used to make those fish fingers…

Oh, and because of the mess they never gave you a hiding for the fish tank on the same day. That had to wait until tomorrow…

She was horrid. My sister. No idea how she passed any of her exams. To say she scrapped through would be an overstatement. A string of DNA could not fit in between her scrapping through school year after year. I know the UN has been investigating just how the hell she managed to pass since 1982 and are no closer to getting an answer. It’s also what Stephen Hawking has been studying since he wrote A Brief History of Time. I think he based his black hole theories on some of her exam results.

And she could drink… At school. She used to skip classes and go to the bar down the road and ask for a shot of everything. No, I don’t mean a shot of brandy and a shot of whiskey and a shot of tequila. I mean a shot of every brand in the bar!

And she stole my dad’s cars a few times… To go for a spin. And a few drinks. He never noticed the dents and marks left on the car. She added them slowly. One at a time. Little by little. Until it looked like those old stock cars from 1980. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

And oh, my parents once decided to send her to boarding school. Yeah, like that worked out pretty well…

She got kicked out after 2 weeks. And she was home for the weekend that fell in between those 2 weeks! I still have no idea why she got kicked out so quickly. And I don’t think I will hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from her either. Ha! My parents were so stupid that they gave her her yearly allowance for hostel as she started her first day there. She came back with… Nothing! She blew it! In two bloody weeks? I wonder if her getting kicked out and blowing her allowance had anything to do with each other? Mmm… Was there a bar close by?

Man…My sister. Here is another one.

You know the sign on the back window of the bus that says “Push out in case of emergency?” Guess what…

My dad got a call one day from the bus service complaining about my sister. Again. Why? Because she kicked out the back window. My dad just shook his head and asked in a faint little voice, “Why?” Her answer? “Because it was hot and for me that is an emergency.” She eventually wasn’t allowed on the bus either and my dad had to drive her to school each day. A 30 kilometre drive each and every day. Here is the clincher. My dad was the boss of the bus service in his role as head of the prison service where we lived. Yeah! She managed to get kicked out of something my dad was in charge of!

Or how about the time she kicked a hole in my room door because I didn’t want to let her in to beat me up?

Think of the worst thing you can think of for any kid to do just short of getting caught and going to jail. In her infinite wisdom my sister has done that and upped the ante to a level where you need bottled oxygen and a space suite just to breathe and survive the pressure. She lived in a rare space. A planet just for her. Population? One…

She made me take my first ever cigarette. I was six and she was nine. She was already a full time smoker. (Yes, you read right – 9!) And I caught her smoking with her friends in the park. What did I say? “I’m so gonna tell mom and dad!” Guess what she did?

She forced me to take one puff of a cigarette. One small little puff that made me puke my lungs out. I was still busy being sick all over the park and all I could hear was her laughing and shouting, “You can’t do anything now because I’ll tell mom and dad that you smoked as well!” Dammit. I was so stupid.

She used to rip me off as well. Trading my silver money for a gold money. She just polished her pieces of copper and “traded” it for my money that was “so worth so much less”. I could have been a millionaire by now if I didn’t trade my 50c for a 1c. Dammit. Again.

And she used to play “horsey” with me. Let me explain. She’ll come in and say, “Let’s play horsey. You are the horse and I am the cowboy. And then we’ll swap.” Guess what. We never swapped. I was always the horse and then she always had an excuse for why she could not be the horse. She fell off the horse and hurt her back. She had homework to do. Yeah right! I never got the chance to be the cowboy.

Or when we were on long trips and stuck in the back of the car. She used to tease me endlessly. She always told me that I was adopted and that my real name was Sareltjie Visser. Just a stupid common name in South Africa. And she would not stop until I cried and my parent threatened her with death.

My sister. Hell on two legs. There are so many stories I can tell you about her but some might still land her in jail. I know no one else who can touch what she has done and still remain more or less sane and stay out of jail. No one. Tell me your best story and I promise you I can tell you an even better one about my sister.

I promise you each and every single story is true. Not a single little detail is exaggerated. She was the worse of the worse. And she taught me everything I needed to know.

She taught me to always try things at least once. And never do it or taste it again if you don’t like it. I don’t like Brussels sprouts.

And she taught me the most important principle of them all…

Never back down. Never ever fucking back down. That’s what she taught me. To never back down when you know you are right. And to never back down when you see something is wrong.

Maybe that is why I am the Angry African. Still pissed after all these years.

I like my sister. She might have been a nightmare and the naughtiest kid to have walked this earth, but she is my sister. My effing crazy, mad, weird, delinquent and “special needs” sister called Marlize.

I love her very much. And I miss her very much.

She is special. She is crazy. She is full of shit. And she makes me laugh and love. She is my sister. And I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks sis. You have given me memories I will never forget. Even if I still wake up screaming at night. It was worth it. I love you.

Your proud brother who managed to survive your best shots.

Sareltjie Visser

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(Note: Sis, can you send a few tarts and some biltong this way? Oh, I mean the tarts you bake and not your friends…)

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Those REALLY regular and early readers might recall that I wrote a bit about the fat kids once – Let the fat kids play. I can hear the voices already…

“Oh come on! You can’t call the kids that! They are only kids. Shame, poor them.”

Tough. Fat became a swear word because of the pictures we see in the magazines telling us all that we would be so much better if we all look like Brad or Angelina. Or any of those thin chicks selling us the latest perfume or underwear. Okay, I don’t personally wear the underwear but… Anyway…

So tough. These kids are fat. Toughen up or shed some weight. Or just be happy with how you look. It could be worse. You could be too thin. Oh sorry, that doesn’t exist – according to the magazines that cover our delicate consciousness. But being fat is a problem.

Now we call it a “disease”. The obesity “disease”. Crap people. It isn’t a disease. HIV/Aids is a disease. Eating too much crap isn’t a disease. It’s just eating too much crap.

I know, I know. There are a few people that gain weight because of a hormone imbalance or some serious medical issue. But really… Most cases of “big boned” people are due to an imbalance between the ears. Don’t try to pull that crap on me. I am not thin. Maybe “slightly” over my ideal Barack Obama weight. But I’m still closer to Obama than Rush Limbaugh. In so many ways. I don’t eat too much crap and I don’t talk too much crap. (Stop laughing.) I know my excuse – I’m not fat, I’m just lazy. What’s your excuse?

Crap stays crap. Just don’t believe your own lies or that doctor that feeds you crap stories. Your own crappola of excuses. “Obesity is a disease.” Puh-leeze…

Who told you to stuff your face with that Big Mac or KFC Extra Crispy or donut from Dunkin’s? You ate it. Now live with it. Stop bitching. Stop telling me to not make it sound so awful. It is awful – live with it or stop it. Sorry, you won’t find any sympathy here.

You want to take McDonald’s to court? Sue Burger King for their jewels? Did they force it down your throat? Oh… They didn’t warn you about how bad it is… WTF? Are you stupid?

Stuffing your face with too much food is bad. Stuffing your face with too much crap food is even worse. It is NOT rocket science…

I know, it isn’t really the kids fault. But it sure as hell isn’t the fault of the crap-making fast food joints. Ronald doesn’t sit next to you and force the last morsel of a Big Mac down you throat. And neither did the government. So who should be “blamed”?

Hellooooo… Parents!

Or maybe I shouldn’t call you that. You aren’t parents. You are household engineers. Parenting isn’t good enough anymore. Actually, you are right. You can’t be called parents – because you are not parents. And you haven’t been parents since you had that kid in the first place.

Parenting means you have a kid (or kids) and that you are responsible for them and for how they grow up. Not someone else. Not your mom. Or uncle George the President. Or Ms Burns at the school. It’s YOU.

How can you feed your kids crap and call yourself parents? Here is a hot dog for dinner darling. And a nice oily pizza tomorrow night. How about a nice Mac ‘n Cheese from the box on Saturday? Sunday is so special when we all go to T.G.I Friday’s and eat a plate of more crap. Just after we’ve been to The Cheesecake Factory for breakfast. Don’t forget to go all “healthy” when you gulp down the Diet Pepsi to go with you thick slice of cheesecake – extra cream please. Crap parents feed kids crap food 24/7.

Crap, crap, crap.

That’s what we feed our kids and how we act as parents.

Let me brag for a minute…

Many moons ago we took our youngest daughter to Wendy’s. We were driving up in New Hampshire and decided to stop for a quick bite on our way back. It was going to be our first time at Wendy’s. The youngest one was so excited. Wendy’s! Yeah! She loved the ad with the guy and the weird hair. It must be good! She ordered her burger and fries. Big eyes and all excited – jumping up and down. “I’m gonna have a Wendy’s!” And then the food came…

“Where’s my broccolili?” What she calls broccoli. That was her first question. She didn’t touch the burger because she thought it was crap. Hum… Not her exact words but you get my drift. We haven’t been back since. She doesn’t like crap. And she doesn’t take crap. She’s an African all right.

Six days a week she gets a proper meal at dinner that includes at least two vegetables. And she LOVES broccoli. And peas. And carrots. And she eats a good breakfast. And most of the time she gets food made and packed by my lovely wife for her school lunch and snack. Yes. Home made stuff. I know… It is way out there in crunchy-hippie world for most people…

Once a week we eat crap. A pizza on a Saturday or some burgers. Guess what? Most of the time we make those hamburgers or pizzas ourselves. Hand-made patties and dough. And they help me make the food when I cook crap. It’s part of the fun. And it tastes better than the crap from the joint down the road. Oh, did I mention we spend time together doing this?

Sometimes we order out or we eat out. It is seen as a “treat” when things are crazy otherwise. Maybe Olive Garden or Uno’s where the girls can still make their own pizza. Whatever. It’s a break and not the norm.

And our kids eat what we eat.

We cook dinner for all of us and eat together – all of us. It is the highlight of my day. I get home and we sit together as a family and talk crap instead of eat crap, drive my lovely suffering wife crazy and eat our food. Together. A family. You give our kids the option of eating in front of the telly or at the table together and they choose…. The table! Even when we parents want to sit back and veg in front of the idiot-box and eat our food from a tray… They don’t want that. They insist we sit together as a family around the table. Ha! I am more popular than Spongebob Squarepants! And they are only 5 and 11… Teaching us about parenting.

And we all eat the same food.

How can parents make different food for the kids? You should eat a proper meal if you are old enough to talk. Not some crappy hot dog or a mac ‘n cheese. You are feeding them crap and then you wonder why they get fat or get sick easily. Or do you eat crap to start off with? Why all this crap?

Because it is crap! The food and you!

I am no model parent but this I know. My kids eat healthy food and enjoy eating healthy food because that is what we all eat together as a family. They make a link between broccolili and dad and mom sitting with them around the table and eating – and having fun as a family together. They see good food and think of good times. They compliment their mother (and sometimes me) on the food they have every night without anyone asking. Why? Because they actually like the food!

We already joke when the little one asks, “What are we having for dinner mom?” And you can say anything – chicken with carrots and honey, tomato bredie (stew), goggas (spaghetti bolognese) or whatever. She’ll always have the same reply… “I looove tomato bredie” Or whatever we are having.

They eat crap as well. They are kids. But we know what they need daily to keep them healthy and keep us being healthy parents.

Feed your kids crap and be surprised that they get called “fatty” at school? Who is the stupid one now?

Don’t even get me started on education. Everyone wants education to improve. A better school. A better chance for their kids. “Just get my kid a good school and education. You know a chance to make it in this world.”

Okay, but how about parenting. How about you starting to become a parent? Too many parents see the school taking over the role of the parents. Your responsibility towards your kids does not stop when the kid goes off to school. Being a parent isn’t something you hand over. You take responsibility of that. Sort your parenting out before you start bitching about education. Guess what… Education today is better than what it was 100 years ago – Parenting not.

Do you read to your kid at night? Do you help with the homework instead of ignoring them or (even worse) doing their homework with them? Do you take time to be interested in showing them the wonders of snow? Or point at the stars and the full moon? Maybe hunt for treasure in the forest or park? Turn over stones to see what is hiding? Or ask them what they’ve done at school? Or little things like coloring in with them? Or do you spend your time with them creating more crap?

Crap food. Crap education. It starts where? You guessed it…

All this crap starts with… Parenting.

Parents eat crap. Parents watch crap. Parents learn nothing. Parents do nothing. And the kids follow them down to the gallows.

Fat kids and stupid parents. They go hand in hand.

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I love Saturdays. Come on, don’t be so cynical! No, not only because it is weekend. See, Saturday is my day at the dancing with the little one.

My girls love to dance and they are always off at some dance class. The older one does tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, modern, post-modern and existential. I think the last one is a bit of a rip-off. The teacher only shows up if she wants to and it is a continuous hit-and-miss as you never know if you want to go in any case. Even if you do, you pick your own time to show up anywhere you believe a dance should take place. I think Jean-Paul Sartre’sinterpretation of the Nutcracker hurts in any case…

Wait… Where am I? Oh yes, dancing and Saturdays…

I miss all the dancing sessions of my oldest daughter. Her classes are during the week when I am at work. I don’t think she would like me there in any case. Dad’s cool but also a little bit embarrassing. As you will see…

My lovely suffering wife lets me lie in a little bit on a Saturday. Just for a little while for the little one to hop into bed with me and for the two of us to play draw-on-the-back. I draw a picture on her back with my fingers and she must guess what it is – and she does the same on my back. Heck, it’s the only way I get a bit of a back tickle in our house. I don’t know whether it is the hairy back or just a girl thing, but none of the girls likes giving me a back tickle – including my lovely suffering wife (Yes, the same one that gets a back tickle almost every single night.) I’m not too picky, but I do think that my daughter is cheating. How many times can you draw a ball? A round one? And how many times can I say, “I don’t know what that is. Draw it again!”

Anyway…

We lie in for a few minutes and then it is a rush downstairs to slurp down some serial – Coco Pops! And for me to get my coffee fix. Then we race upstairs (with a giggle or two) to brush our teeth and for me to get rid of some of the coffee…

And then I dress the pretty ballerina.

That takes a while. First I rub her body with some cream so that the stockings and ballerina outfit don’t make her itchy. She’ll stop half-way through with me still trying to get her clothes on – she stops just to do a little twirl and to shout, “Look at me dad! I’m a pretty ballerina!” We are now officially running late. Again… It happens every Saturday morning. We always run late. We always have to work out an excuse for being late while rushing to at least try and make it in time.

“Hurry up you two! No time to play!” That’s my wife reminding us that it we really don’t have time for this. Especially not this morning. It’s a special day at ballet today…

My wife does the little one’s hair while I put on the rest of her clothes. The ballet tag team. I’m not good at hair but can do pants and shirts. Done! Get jackets on. Hats. Gloves. Scarves. And anything and everything else we need to face the cold outside. Then we jump in the car and rush down to ballet class – swearing softly (and sometimes loudly) at the slow driving oxygen thief on a site seeing cruise ahead of us.

I usually go on my own to the dancing with my little one. We are not allowed inside “the room” to watch in any case. So I sit outside in the hallway and read a book and listen to my iPod. I sometimes even blog from there. But not today. Today I can watch! And…

Every now and again the family can come in to watch. And our gang always goes in full force with all the troops accounted for. No one left behind. Today was going to be even better – A special holiday show just for us. The Nutcracker!

Only the little ones and a few of the older and more experienced dancers to show them the way. Always a ball. They were all there – the Nutcracker, Clara, the Mice, the Russian dancer, the Chinese dancer, the Spanish dancer and the Arabian dancer. No, I don’t mean that the class is very international – I think it is a bit of a twist of the original one. I laughed my ass off so many times that my wife had to tell me to shush a few times. And to tell me and the oldest one to keep quiet because we kept on whispering and giggling while pointing at the little one. She was just so damn cute. Our little ballerina. What fun. What a Saturday. And with any luck, it might just get even better for me today…

And then came my moment. The one I have been waiting for. I was made for moments like these. All my years of training. Just for this. Deep breathe…

“Any of the dads want to volunteer to come and do some dancing with us?”

Yeah! Wait…

Play it cool…

Don’t look to eager…

Let them beg just a little…

“Oh, come on dad!” from my kids and the teacher saying “Come now Mr H. We know you want to!”

The big African-American guy sitting next to me gave me the “look” and laughed. The look of you-are-not-really-going-to-do-this-are-you. I laughed and noticed that he never took off his Timberland boots before sitting down. Amateur…

Ha! I took my exact matching pair of Timberlands off before I even came in. I left it outside knowing that I can’t dance in them. I came prepared…

I shook my head as I got up “reluctantly”. A few laughs from the crowd – especially from that section where my gang of girls were sitting and my new boet sitting next to me. I went over to my spot and took a deep breath. Closed my eyes slightly to compose and then… First position…

Or what I thought was first position. The “proper” guy dancer looked over at me and gave me the “sorry sod” smile. He’s a nice guy. But he is about 16 and I am turning… hum… slightly older tomorrow! (Yes, 14 December is my birthday!) He was going to “lead” me through my steps. As if I needed any instructions or help…

Plié.” WTF? Oh! No. Wait… I know this one. Bendy knees!

Head straight and bendy knees. Done. Just look at that composure!

“Again!” Damn… I hardly got up from that last one…

“Again! Three times and then a jump like this!”

What? Who? Where? Hey!

Bendy knees and a jump. And again. And again!

I started losing track of the stuff we were doing. Changement de pieds could have been one. And fouetté rond de jambe en tournant must have been one. The twirling around 360 degrees. No problem… (Getting slightly tired and maybe a bit of huffing and puffing…)

Running around in circles and jumping those scissor jumps or whatever they call it. It looked like I was doing hurdles unsuccessfully. I was losing track of what the guy is shouting at me. More of the jumping in the air and bendy legs stuff. And all I heard was, “Again!” I couldn’t really hear much else from all the heavy breathing and wheezing…

Damn! I was actually enjoying it. But that young dude sure had a wicket little smile on his face. Did he like seeing pain like this? Better watch it buddy… Hope you can handle pain when I grand sas d’action or frappé him in his Nutcracker…

Me? I saw glimpses of Mikhail Baryshnikov whenever I saw a bit of myself in the mirror. So gracious… So composed… So stupid!

I love it. I love watching my wife and kids look at me making a fool of myself. Hearing the other dads (and moms and kids) laughing at the stupid guy doing the silly ridiculous attempts at ballet. I just love it and kept on doing it with a big stupid grin on my face.

I’m a pretty ballerina…

Okay. I’m not.

But boy, do I love doing it. I love it when it was done and I did a little curtsy to the parents and to my danseur. The big smile and big shiny eyes I see from my little one. The high five and giggle I get from my oldest one. The smile and you-silly-you-I-love-you look I get from my wife.

Yes…

I love being the stupid dad that always “volunteers” to go do the silly stuff. That’s me. Just call me Volunteer Dad. Anything to see those faces and feel their love. Anything. Especially when I can be silly and have a laugh as well.

Next time you see the guy doing the stupid thing in front of his family – that’s me.

You should know this by now. Remember Things To Do Before You Die? Or When Dad Came To Watch? That’s me. Stupid, silly and madly in love with my gang of girls. Anything and everything just for them. Because it is also for me.

And me dance pretty…

ballerina-plate

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