DRIVING LESSONS


Jamie Drivingn

Yesterday we bumped into two friends we havent seen for ages.  In fact they are Jamies Grade 1 and Grade 7 teachers.  Jamie was driving the car and one looked at me and said, “I found the two most stressful parts of being a parent was choosing the matric dress and teaching my children to drive”.  And this comes from a well seasoned educator.

The story goes like this ……….

The word was out, everybody was failing their learners licence …….. by one point.

Sentences like …… moneymaking scam, and waste of time was being brandished around.  Booking the licence alone meant a full day out of school …… I kid you not.  We arrived at the traffic department at 7.00 am and Jamie was given ticket number 14 – he walked out of there at 1.00 pm ……… now this was to BOOK.

Well the day to write arrived, exactly one month after his 17th birthday, and in went a group of youngsters all looking very nervous.

Jamie being Jamie, had only done enough studing that was required in Jamieland ……. or 17 year old teen land.

All the parents waited outside (wish I had gone shopping because it took ages).

Jamie walks out ……. a sad look on his face.

“I failed by one point ……….. ”

“Phone your father ……”

“Dad I failed by one point”

At this Frans launches into one of those Dad lectures.  You know the ones …… “Son I told you to learn harder” and “I told you to learn for an extra hour” and “I hope you will take the next time seriously”.

Mid Dad lecture Jamie bursts into a HUGE grin and says “Just Kidding!!!!” and hauls out a piece of paper – HIS LEARNERS LICENCE.

I got such a fright that I tossed him the keys …. learning to drive starts NOW.

Now being who we are, we really dont allow the kids to do things before they are legally allowed to do it, no driving, drinking, going to bars etc.  So Jamie has had extremely little driving experience apart from parking the car at home – mmmmm now that I think about it thats about it (that I know of).

So off we go to grab a celebration bite to eat, and then to drive home from Humansdorp.

I get into the passenger side of my car and Jamie gets behind the wheel.

After much adjusting of the seat and steering wheel and shoofling in the seat, he looks at me ………

“Put on your safety belt”.  Good start.

AND-THEN-WE-START-JOLTING-DOWN-THE-ROAD-ONE-METER-AT-A-TIME.

“How am I doing?”, he asks as he stalls at the stop street.

“Very Good”, I say with gritted teeth after managing to peel my cheek of the windscreen.

NOTE TO SELF – Maybe the first driving lesson should be done at a deserted salt pan in Nevada …..
 or something.

So we stop round the corner of the stop street and I go through a couple of basics.  Like how to go into first gear.

Off we go.  Not so rattly the second time.

I begin to notice that my right foot is starting to tramp an imaginary brake, my right hand constantly moves towards the manual gear shift.

Then he puts the left hand indicator on for the first time and the car veers straight to the left.  I clamp my left hand on the passenger window.

He speeds up to 40 kmph.  “Slow down Jamie!!!!!!”  I yell.

“But its a 120 zone” he says.  I have to add here that Jamie has probable spent more time on wheels on the Humansdorp/St Francis Bay Road …….. Bicycle wheels, there is a difference.

We agree that 60 kmph is a good starter speed.

My body is rigid and pushing hard against the seat,  my left foot has made its way to between the dashboard and the windscreen, my right food is pumping an imaginary brake, my right hand is hovering above the gear shift and my left hand is still firmly flattened against the passenger window.

I am trying to be positive but my throat has completely sanded up and my mouth is opening and closing like a fish.  My eyes are wide and nostrils flared.

“Good driving Jamie”, I rasp.

“I know”  he replies.

A friend of ours overtakes us and toots and gives the thumbs up sign.  Jamie waves and the car veers to the right.  Me, well, I dont have any body parts left to do anything.

So there we drive the 16 kilometers home and into the driveway.

As we stop, Jamie looks at me with a huge grin on his face.

“Well that was great!!!!! and you didnt shout at me at all!!!!!”

I smile.

“Well done boy”  I croak.

…………… It took me 45 minutes to get out of the seat.  Now I have 4 years to worry about the dress.

 

HAND EXTENTIONS


Jeffreys Bay-20130112-00313

 

I have just received a broadcast from Rosie.  Now I think that a broadcast is a message that you send to all your Blackberry contacts, I know they always arrive on a blue background and rule of thumb I ignore them.

They normally go on the gist of ………….

Make So-and-So your friend pin no 12345667 and she/he is a lekker person.

or ……..

Write down the colour of your pants you are wearing now plus the food you last ate and make this your new bb status or name i.e. “Blue Chips”

Normally these messages are a load of toss, but this one caught my eye

“Sorry if anyone got strange messages with hearts and kissy faces my brother hacked my phone”.  Next to the message is a yellow round face with a white Minnie Mouse type of hand over the yellow round faces eyes (in add smiley terms this means “cant watch”).

Anyway …….. what here brother has done is almost a logistical impossibility.

Lets face it, how often do you see a kid without their blackberry in their hands? I swear I have tried to get hold of their berries and I cant.  We dont even use their phones as a form of discipline anymore because the actual separation becomes so traumatic that the whole thing becomes so big that it is simply not worth it!

So ……… picture the scene.  Jamie is innocently walking wherever he is walking, and, low and behold there sits his sisters Blackberry.  Now what does a 15 year old brother do ……… does he pick it up and put it safely in his sisters hands with a “look Rosie what an amazing brother I am, I found your Blackberry”?, does he just leave it exactly where it is?  NOOOOOOOOOOO, he picks it up and sends some kind of broadcast with hearts and kissy faces.

Now who does he send it to, carefully selected contacts?  All contacts? Boys only – big possiblility, or one random poor soul who is sitting and pondering why he is getting hearts and kissy faces from Rosie.

Now maybe this poor soul secretly likes Rosie, he gets this broadcast and his day is made.  Maybe he gets the broadcast and has no idea what it is all about. Maybe Rosie secretly likes him and he doesn’t know yet.  Maybe he has sent it to a friend of Rosie’s boyfriends and all hell is going to break loose when she sees that friend (or ex-friend) again.

Someone getting hold of our Blackberry is totally outside of my realm of understanding.  We simply did not do this when I was 12.  Today the kids have a level of communication that is immediate and in the wrong hands can be cruel and destructive.

Now Jamies innocent prank is cute, but my mind goes wandering to how much damage can be done by hacking into someone elses private bbm.  I am getting this sick feeling in the base of my tummy.

A kids reputation can be crushed by a few cruel words – remember other kids in their essence only believe what is fed in front of them.  Unfortunately the more scandalous the better,  they will wreak havoc with someones life and all will be forgotten by everyone the next day – except for the person picked on.

Real or imagined a broadcast can be sent from “whoevers” phone to his/ her 300 odd contacts – the 300 odd contacts will then forward the broadcast to their 300 odd contacts and so on.  Within the blink on an eye a rumor, video or photo can make it to thousands of Blackberries and read and believed by thousands of emotionally immature 12 year olds who will believe and pass on anything fed to them.

My world is rocking here, and not in a good way.

What is left for us to do?  Not much me thinks and all I can do is hope and pray that the kids that live under our roof firstly hold onto their phones and dont mislay it and if they do send out broadcasts they will be filled with hearts and kissy faces.

MDC


Sunday night in our house is MDC night ……… MDC?????????? You might ask – well it is very very easy MOM DOESNT COOK.

This has been going on for years, and every Sunday night like clockwork Jamie looks at me and asks:

“Mom whats for dinner tonight”

I reply “Wattevva”  gosh I like saying that.

“OH? ……… Why?”

“Because I don’t cook on a Sunday night” – BECAUSE I HAVENT COOKED FOR THE PAST HUNDRED YEARS ON A SUNDAY NIGHT YOU TWIT SO STOP ASKING ME!!!!!!!

Then –  a few seconds later, Rosie will come bounding down the stairs, (I don’t know why but she is always upstairs when it is cook dinner time).

“Mom whats for dinner?”

“Whatever you want”  I reply

“Oh goodie can you make us pancakes”

OK let me try again, “Whatever you want ……… TO COOK YOURSELF!”

“OH”

Every Sunday, Jamie and Rosie eat microwave eggs.  Now microwave eggs mean you take 3 eggs, beat them into a deep pudding bowl and then microwave them till they puff up to the size of a standard pillow.  They then chuck a piece of bread on either side of the egg-pillow, add tomato sauce, and chomp away.  If I ever served them microwave eggs they would crack.

Anyway, this Sunday something was different.  There was a clattering, and the thunk, thunk of knives hitting boards, the whirr of something being beaten, the sizzle of butter in the pan, the black smoke of a major fire in my kitchen.  WHAT!!!!!!!!!!! BLACK SMOKE COMMING OUT OF MY KITCHEN.

I dash out, well sort of crawl out and make my way towards the kitchen area just as Jamie is sitting down to a delicious looking omelette.

“Ummm, Jamie ……… where is all the black smoke coming from?”

“I dunno”

I quickly check the kitchen and the only evidence of fire is the smoke in the air – now I am definitely a believer in the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” saying.  Nothing.  No burnt pot, no dishtowel simmering away on the gas ring …… no nothing.

I follow the smoke and my nose lands firmly smack bang in the middle of Jamies omelette.

“Jamie did you burn your food’

“Not really ….. well maybe just a little ….. and only on the bottom”

I gingerly lift up the omelette and a little black puff of smoke bursts out.  The bottom of the omelette is like a black tekkie sole, the rest looks ok though.

“Are you enjoying that Jamie?”

“Yip!”

He is happy.

Now this got me thinking once I could breathe properly.  We are all so busy looking for perfection, for the ultimate thing or feeling that will guarantee lifelong happiness, that we sometimes forget that  maybe something flawed or not so perfect will make us just as happy – without the sukkle.  So what if your friends aren’t the “it” crowd, or if you don’t own the big house or car you dream about.  If you are happy its all that counts.  Happiness is happiness – it doesn’t worry about how big your dreams are, it bubbles up all by itself regardless of what you have or haven’t got.

Enjoy the happiness and the people and things that make you happy, and treasure them.

And it took a burnt omelette to work this out.

EXPIRY DATES


I don’t know what going on with my nearest and dearest, well to be more precise Rosie. She has suddenly started checking packaging and especially expiry dates on food.

Now back in the day food came in two varieties – fresh or vrot – the fresh food you ate and the vrot food your mom made into pot luck soup – which by the way was sooooooo delicious you always went back for seconds.

Hardish bread was toasted and really, really hard bread was made into bread and butter pudding. Bread with green stuff growing from it was ……. ummmm …… I cant really remember what happened to that bread but I am sure that something did.

I never and I mean NEVER in my growing up years between the ages of 4 and 40 examined a tin for its expiry – rule of thumb was that if a tin went WHOOSH when you opened it there may-possibly-remotely-inamillionyears be possibly-maybe something wrong with it, but then again a hungry student will and can eat just about anything without any side effects – it may or may not have something to do with the amount of alcohol that was pickling the insides of our bodies.

When we first started dating Frans and I sort of ate out a lot, eating a home cooked meal was a special thing and came to an abrupt halt when I gave him food poisoning on butternut soup (there is still a small part of me that reckons that he acted the whole thing so that I would stop cooking).

When we first had kids and until very recently we would eat what they ate – no “eat your broccoli or else!” in our house.

Now at the ripe age of 11 Rosie has turned into a food monster. She checks all food, shopping has become a seriously long process where she will pick up an item then:

a. Check the expiry date – now remember this very poorly laser printed or on boxes sort of squashed on the box date is normally in a really random and hard to find place, she then;

b. Puts the item into the trolley, or, shouts at the top of her voice MOM!!!!!! I then run – fearing the worst – tripping over shoppers, displays, random spilt items and shelf-packers to check if she is OK, I then get asked “Is this ok if it is a year before its expiry date?”. “Yes Dear”, (read – YES YOU LITTLE NON-CHILD OF MINE!), I huff, “R u sure?”, she repeats, “Yes Dear (Read – No I Just Moved My Lips A Few Seconds Ago AND Made Funny Word Noises For Fun DEAR!), and there the whole process will repeat itself many many times till we leave the store.

Now I am not sure about what the whole big deal is about and I am not sure whether or not we even had expiry dates on food back in the day. But now – since Rosie has this “thang” I haven’t really started going with the flow, but it has got me thinking. Here is an example:

You used to be able to buy Coca Cola – and that was ONLY on Fridays, special occasions and on road trips where garages would only sell Coke (and only in a stand-up fridge outside the office which you had to drink outside the office or forfeit your bottle deposit). NEVER did we worry that Coke contained Carbonated water, Sugar, Caramel, Phosphoric Acid, Flavouring and Caffeine, and that it was bottled under Authority of the Coca Cola BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA …..

We never worried about how much of your RDA allowance of anything was affected by 250 ml of the delicious treat, and we NEVER worried about how much energy, protein, glycaemic carbohydrates, total fat, total sodium and dietary fat ANYTHING contained. The expiry date did not even enter our Planetsphere.

Most of us lived to tell the tale.

In fact the words “Its something I ate” was actually code for “I drank too much last night”, “I’ve got food poisoning” was “I drank too much last night” and, “I’ve got a hangover” was “I drank too much last night”.

Nowdays it takes you longer to read the packaging than to cook and eat Christmas Dinner. My advice, well its simple – eat, enjoy and have fun on the ride. My advice to my package reading daughter, simplify your life, Supermarkets and grocery suppliers do not go out of their way to poison as many customers as possible, relax and enjoy the fact that your supermarket will go out of their way to ensure that non-expired items are on their shelves. Actually spend as much time as possible in grocery stores chatting to new and old friends, OH! And of course buying groceries.

MANNERS MAKETH THE (WO) MAN


Our home is a really busy place and I mean a really busy place.

The kids seem to arrive and leave in packs and at any given time there seems to be at least 6 kids here. So if I do my maths correctly approximately 2 190 different permutations of children have passed my doorstep in 2010 – this is quite a few.

Over the past 12 months how many children have passed my threshold and introducted themselves to me?

ANSWER – 2

Picture a very common scene:

Jamie rocks up into the house looking like the pied piper – as he gets into the door he stops, turns around and says “does anyone want anything to eat or drink?” – firstly all his friends sort of plow into him, and then (no brainer here) they say “yes”.

Now in all honesty there is nothing wrong with this except they seem to mow all the lekker stuff in the house, chips, popcorn, coke, cooldrink, cake and donuts just seem to dissapear. I have yet to see broccoli, brown bread, water or fruit juice EVER to go.

Anyway, I am sitting in my office working and I hear next to me, “hallo my name is Stephan, pleased to meet you”.

Firstly I pick myself off the floor and set my chair up and low and behold this kid is also waiting for me to reply, first thought – WHAT DO YOU WANT AND/OR WHAT HAVE YOU BROKEN?

“Errr, hallo, um, err, I’m also pleased to meet you” – well this is a first.

Girls in the pre teen bracket take this all to a new level – a pack (they always travel in packs) of girls arrive and you go and say hallo. “Hallo!! welcome” suddenly the most interesting thing on the planet seens to be their toenails, they also seem to do this twisty thingie with their left (always left) foot, then they sort of grunt something and that is it – no movement – except for the left foot, no eye contact, no nothing.

Then Sonja arrives, firstly I have never seen anyone dressed head to to in spongebob squarepants clothes, I mean cap, t-shirt, shorts and slops. I am sitting in my office and I hear – “Hallo my name is Sonja, thank you for having us”. First thought – thank goodness Sonja and Stephan didnt arive on the same day!

Both of them thanked me for having them.

Which got me thinking about past kids and again only two come to mind, firstly (and yes I am going to name them) Ryan Christy – he must be an adult by now – he would always come up to us and say hallo and/or introduce himself and (beat this) he would shake our hands, secondly a couple of years later Doug Stewart-White literally blew us away because not only did he say hallo, shake our hands he would then look us in the eye and say “how are you?” and wait for a repy.

My crystal ball tells me these two are going to be successful at whatever they do in life.

Now, is it to difficult for us as parents to teach our children to go and say hallo to people, maybe shake their hands and definitely look them in the eye and ask how someone is.

If we teach them this small thing we can change our midgets from being normal kids to being impressive human beings.

BACON AND EGGS


Table manners are of utmost importance in our home. Every evening we set the table – and I mean SET THE TABLE, there are placemats, sideplates, knives and forks put in the correct position, serviettes, glasses and the correct condiments.

We eat our food on perfectly warmed plates at the table every night.

We believe that correct table manners are an essential skill that we can teach our children, that, should they be at a friends home, or any other situation where our child may eat, people will openly say “those Loots kids have perfect table manners”. Too often we are shocked at the lack of table manners in Adults and Children we come accross.

The children have to eat with a knife and fork, no, they cannot shovel their food into their mouths, they have to cut their food into biteable portion sizes, they then HAVE to place the food into their mouth, then, set their knive and fork down until they have finished chewing and swallowing the food in their mouth, and then, ONLY THEN, may they pick up their cutlery and continue the process.

Which now gets me to last night.

Last night was Bacon and Egg for dinner night – and boy do we LOVE “bacon and egg for dinner night” – we all get involved with the grilling, toasting, frying, scrambling, buttering and plating. On bacon and egg night we are guaranteed that every morsel on every plate will be eaten.

The order is always the same

Frans – 1 egg (flipped) – two pieces of toast (brown) – bacon

Rosie – 3 eggs (2 scrambled, 1 fried) – two pieces of toast (1 white, one brown) – bacon

Jamie – 3 eggs (all fried), two pieces of toast ( both white) – bacon

Mom – The reject eggs, one piece of toast – bacon

We plate the food and sit down. Grace is said. Then………………then……………

Jamie tucks in. He doesnt touch his knife and fork – with his hands he whopps his bacon onto a piece of toast that already has two fried eggs on it and folds (hope you read this well FOLDS) his piece of toast over the bacon and eggs on top of it, picks it up in his hands and starts chomping. Note the word chomping.

His eyes are closed, he is sitting a 1/2 a push away from the table, there is a yellow drip on his chin – he is in heaven.

Frans, Rosie and myself sit – our knifes and forks hovering in mid air, our mouths open.

Frans says, ” “

Rosie says, ” “

Mom says, ” “

Jamie opens his eyes and says, “WHAT?”

The other two are still speechless, “Jamie” I say “Shouldnt you use your knife and fork?” – I have just seen every parenting skill I have ever owned swallowed with that sandwich.

Now at this stage there is a very large part of me saying to myself – YOU WANT TO EAT A SANDWICH JUST LIKE THAT DONT YOU? – there is a part of myself that is just downright jealous. I can feel the texture of the bread in my hands as I fold it over the eggs. I can feel the crunchiness as I bite through the bread, into the yolk, I can feel one yellow drop landing on my chin. I also want to be in bacon and egg heaven.

Jamie finishes chewing and says “OK” as he pops the last morsel into his mouth.

From now on Bacon and Egg night – in our house – is going to be a hand held affair. Stringent rules can sometimes, and only sometimes, take the beauty away from an experience. Sometimes breaking the rules can be more fun than sticking with the norm.

NOBODY LIVES IN OUR HOUSE


“IMGOINGTOTHESHOPDOESANYONEWANTANYTHING????”
Text book reply (I can bet good money on this)
Jamie – “Bring me a chocolate”
“What kind?”
Jamie – “Anykind – something nice”
ALL CHOCOLATES ARE NICE YOU THICKIE!
Rosie – “Bring me a chocolate, please Mom”….. yip…..this one has manners.
“What kind?”
Rosie – “Anykind – something nice”
TWO THICKIES IN ONE HOUSE – THIS IS THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY!!!!
Frans – “Nothing thanks” – Rosie takes after him…….
“Are you sure you don’t want a chocolate?”
Frans – “I’m good thanks”
So off I tootle to the shop, and buy all the stuff needed to keep a household running – milk, bread, margarine, two minute noodles (yes it is full of msg’s etc etc etc but its easy and its filling), and then the crown of my trip – THE SWEETIE AISLE!
Oh what a place of sublime legal pleasure – a whole 30 meters dedicated to wine gums, bubble gum, peppermints, liquorish and the undisputed queen of the aisle – chocolate. I spend a lot of time choosing, picking up, weighing which box or packet might just hold that extra gram of pleasure. I deliberate mint and chocolate, nut and chocolate and toffee and chocolate. I look at packaging, colour and imagine the taste of each bite in my mouth – I am in heaven.

Then I spy it …….. a SPECIAL sign (read the word SPECIAL with a star around it) 4 dipped flakes for R18.00 – man this is a good offer – pleasure in a packet for R4.50. I grab my four – pay for my purchases (of course checking the till slip to see, if indeed, this wondrous offer is for real).

Off I tootle home. As I get to the driveway the kids come rushing out …….. “Mom can we help with the groceries?” WHO ARE YOU AND WHO TOOK MY KIDS – each of them rummage through the packets and take out one Flake and run back into the house – yes, they did help I suppose – leaving me to hump everything else back into the house.

So there they sit savoring their chokkie – Frans meanders in takes one look and says –

“How come everyone is eating flakes – WHERES MINE!”

“Here sweetheart I bought you one too” – Superwife in action here.
Now out of the 4 three are down the hatch – one left – MINEMINEMINE.
Hours go by, dinner, movie and finally into bed – and you know that feeling that when you pick up your book you NEED something sweetiechokkieish. And I know, I am certian that one last Flakie is sitting in the grocery cupboard. I look, nothing, I tear apart the cupboard – nothing, I search my handbag, car, washingmachine, bedside table, office –
“WHOHASTAKENMYCHOCOLATE??????????”
Dead silence.
I then start questioning myself – were there 4 in the special, have I eaten it and forgotten, did I give it to someone, did I leave it at the shop – no on all accounts.
I try a different tack …..
“WHOATETWOCHOCOLATES!!!!!!!!”
Dead silence.
For a normally very, very noisy house this is all very, very odd.
Looks like no-one the chocolate eater has moved into my house ……….. BUGGER.