May 20, 2006

Delicate Balancing Act

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Today, as you well know my punkin, was spent trawling the northern suburbs looking for a house that we want to live in.

On the way, your mother and I, with your very special help, made some discoveries and came to some conclusions.

The first of which was that we cannot afford the house we want in the location we want. This was not strictly a "today" type discovery, more of your general awareness reached over the course of many years being bombarded with information about the property boom that appears to have made every single person in the world except us incredibly rich beyond their wildest dreams.

What we HAVE figured out, punkin, is that we can afford a house WHERE we want to live, or we can afford a house we want to live in, but not both at the same time.

Naturally, given that there are thousands and thousands of houses around, in thousands and thousands of locations, this means that it's probable that SOMEWHERE is the house that's exactly halfway between where we want to live and the kind of house we want to live in, and that's the one that we should buy.

But here's where it gets complicated.

It is possible, you see, to have a house actually custom made to exactly match one's requirements. This entails things, actually within our price range, like Home Theatre rooms, ensuite bathrooms and alfresco dining areas. Naturally, all of this abject luxury comes at a price, and that price is Craigieburn.

Then, there's things like easy access to convenient public transport and decent cafes and cultural events, but they come at a price too, punkin, and that price is an awful horrid poky little house.

So we're trying to find the happy medium. We're trying to draw the line on the map that says at exactly THIS point, we can afford a house that is nice enough to spend five years living in, but isn't at the end of the earth.

We haven't found it yet, punkin, but after today I think I've got a better idea of what suburb it's in....

Love you.

May 16, 2006

Parallell Lines

There are, it seems, certain similarities to be drawn between the experiences of being a teenager and being a dad. They may not at first seem apparent, but let me draw your attention to a few of them, and lets see if we can't reach an agreement.

1. Hair is sprouting in strange places.

When you're a teenager, this is a well discussed and fairly obvious side effect of the whole adolescence deal, but there's little that's mentioned about the strange and bizarre rigmarole that fathers must go through when they discover that random hairs have begun to make their presence felt in ways that are frankly embarrassing. I do not now need, punkin, nor do I ever forsee that I will need, long lustrous locks to stream from my nostrils.

2. The music is all very very bad.

On our way home in the car, punkin, your mother and I discovered one of the parent hacks that make life as an old old old person just that little bit more bearable. It seems that if one takes the CD so thoughtfully provided by your Grandma and Aunt Chris for your birthday and plays it very loudly in the car, the grizzling, complaining, grumpy baby that you previously had turns into a clapping, bouncing, laughing, dancing baby.

This is all very well and good, punkin, but your FATHER, who has incredibly discerning musical tastes, found it very difficult to discern any difference between this CD of carefully crafted to amuse the pre-kinder crowd singalong tunes, and the vast majority of the Top 40 manufactured dross that is inflicted on the music buying public.

3. I can't afford anything I want.

News just in from the Electronic Entertainment Exhibition, my wonderful son, is that the head honchos from Sony have taken some time out to demonstrate their upcoming Playstation 3 videogame console. woohoo you say. That they have, punkin, released indicative pricing information for said console, and that said console is going to retail, punkin, in Los Estados Unidos, for $US599. That is like Four Gajillion Dollars, punkin. There is no way that I can explain that as a Necessary Purchase, it's just not going to happen.

4. Nobody listens to me

OK, so this one is actually a bit of a stretch, lots of people listen to me. I think in fact, that's one of the most bestest things about growing up and growing older. People, punkin, people who would have previously dismissed you instead take the time to listen to what you have to say and carefully evaluate it before dismissing you. This is a major step, and can result in people making adventageous decisions in your favour. Like the man who, just last week, listened very carefully to what I had to say and then offered me a job. I don't want to say too much, because there's still some things to get signed, but I think that it's ok for me to say that the company is quite large and that the title of the position contains both the word "Manager" and the word "National". These, punkin, are two good words to have in your position title when you start to look for a job.

Not that I'm trying to push you, I understand that you're only 375 days old, but really, your mum and I could use the extra money if you felt like getting a paper round.

Love you.

May 14, 2006

Mothering Son's Day

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It wasn't so long ago, punkin, that I saw Mother's Day as, frankly, a bit of a lark.

Sure thing, I thought, get a lie in on a Sunday, breakfast in bed, flowers, chocolates, presents, the whole bit. And this, punkin, this for, well, for practically nothing! I mean, how hard is it to look after a kid??

The answer, punkin, is incredibly. And I think that, even if the kid doesn't know it, that the next 25 years of Mother's Days are really to say thankyou for the first couple of years of being a mum.

I don't think, before we had you, that I had any inkling of the reserves of strength and perseverance that your mum has. I don't think that I have ever seen somebody work so hard and so long at something so wonderful. To watch you grow under her gaze, to see her shepherd you ever so gently while you take your first steps, to be there when she feeds you. This, punkin is the stuff of legend. This is the reason Mother's Day exists.

You should know now, if you don't already, that your mother will be there like this for the rest of time immemorial. That she'll catch you when you're falling, or pick you up after you do. She'll back you up, time and time again, even when you're being belligerent beyond all reason. Your mum, kid, is On Your Side.

So to you, Evey,

and to Mum, Ann, Sue, Jann, Grandma, Nana & Fiona,

to Renee, to Rae, to Caz, to Kelly & Monica, to Wendy & Fiona, to Tealou & Martie, to Sarah & Neisha, and everyone else I've forgotteen because it's 8am on a Sunday,

Happy Mother's Day.

May 13, 2006

Your Journey of A Thousand Leagues, my son,

Starts Here:

Video Hosting - Upload Video - Photo Sharing

I know that I was in my mind prepared for the day when you would take your first steps. I know that I had thought to myself "it will be just like now, only a bit different". I knew that your birthday would represent a change for us, but I don't think I realised that the change would be so sudden and so large. Certainly, you're not about to sprint out the door and run a marathon, but it's nonetheless a drastic shift in the way you see the world.

I have to type fast, because one of your new favourite games is to run up and slam the lid of my laptop closed, in most cases so far narrowly avoiding my fingers, but landing a telling blow on enough occasions to make me wary of where you are while I'm punkining.

It's Saturday afternoon now, the day before Mother's Day. Soon our friends are coming over for dinner, and the house is quiet. Well, it's quiet except for you banging your toys around, but it's that joyful symphony that I've come to accept as background noise (whilst simultaneously being incredibly grateful for the 2 hour reprieve that is your afternoon nap).

We're going up the hill tomorrow to see your great grandmother, I spoke to her earlier today, asking what I should bring, she said "just you remember to bring that boy"...

She loves you, punkin,

and so do I.

May 10, 2006

Lovely Other Catastrophes

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
It's interesting, Brambling, just exactly what being an adult entails. It's interesting as you grow older and discover more and more often how difficult this job can be. I think that the thing that's most difficult, that's really struck me very hard over the last couple of days, has been that there's no let-up.

So when, as in the course of general human events, things go wrong, there's no opportunity to stop, there's no opportunity to take a breath, there's no opportunity to take stock of your strategy for dealing with it and more so, that there's never, ever, any chance to say no thanks, I'd rather not deal with that, it's outside the terms of the original agreement.

Having said all this, your party was fabulous.

Now, on with the woe is me.

It's hard to know where to start with this litany of disasterfication, but we'll try to find a point at which to jump off.

We need to preface this by saying that I'm waiting for someone to call me about something very important, but that he can't call me until someone calls him about it. So first of all the guy totally didn't call back about the thing yesterday, so I spoke to him at about 1130 and said 'i'm going into a meeting, i'll be out at two', and he was like yep ok no problem i'll call you as soon as there's news.
so i called him when i got out of the meeting at one, no answer.
two, no answer
three, no answer
four, no answer
fivethirty, i call him and say 'yeah, hi it's me, i've got a few questions for you can you give me a call, i'm pretty upset about the lack of feedback here'. no call. At around 1130am the next day I hear from him that he's had his phone on silent since midday the previous day, and so didn't realise that I'd called.
I got home and the dogs had managed to Rip Palings from the fence and get through to next door's back yard in the section that I didn't electrify because it was concreted so it didn't matter they couldn't tunnel through oh but instead they can physically pull down a hardwood fence and run into next door's yard and bark bark bark at the next door neighbour.
You were having some difficulties with the whole teething and having a cold thing, so you were working on one of those nights in which we get you home and you scream and scream and scream and scream and scream until we get you to bed but then you don't stay asleep for very long and so you wake up every couple of hours and scream some more.
Your mum and I are both sick too, and so we're dealing with all this with horrid sore throats and snotty mcsnotterson
on my way into work yesterday morning I filled up the car with petrol except apparently they didn't feel the need to actually put petrol in the petrol tank and i got something like a 50/50 mix of weak white wine and red cordial that, needless to say, made the car run a bit funny and stall in the middle of peak hour traffic on Lygon street, so i had to limp the car home and then walk to the tramstop and catch the tram and sit next to a strange smelly woman who kept muttering under her breath.
hangon what else
oh yeah and evey put the washing machine on without remembering to take the plug out of the laundry sink and flooded the laundry.

Apart from that, though,

everything's fabulous. As I sit here to write this, it's with a feeling of extreme fatigue, sure, but it's also with a feeling of pride that your mother and I managed to meet all of these great challenges, none of them incredibly huge problems in and of themselves, but when lumped together it all felt very close to being too much to cope with. It was 24 hours, punkin, of the most stressed I'd been since you arrived. Even when you were in the hospicamackal and we were very worried about you, I didn't feel so overwhelmed, I didn't fear that I would be unable to continue. I didn't once think that I couldn't cope.

This time, I did, but I was able, mainly through knowing that your mum was there to stand beside me, to fix everything that needed to be fixed (although it was your mum that installed the extended electric fence yesterday All By Herself while I was at work).

Love you,

May 04, 2006

Presentation Skills

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
One of the things, punkin, that we may not have mentioned on the whole subject of birthdays and such is that, on your birthday, you get presents.

Lots of presents.

This morning was replete with the rustles of paper and squeals of delight that showcase a successful present opening ceremony. This was, of course, only the first round of gifts that you will be receiving over the next couple of days. We're glad, then, that we've managed to introduce you early to the present unwrapping process, so that you'll be on top form when the rest of your loot arrives.

Of course, some of your fans will be coming over this evening to pay their respects, while drinking my booze, and it's possible that the other great thing about birthdays will come into play, namely cake.

Cake is one of the five OTHER food groups that they don't tell you about in your home economics class (do they even call it that anymore?), namely Cake, Pie, Chips, Beer & Chips. You may notice that there is an apparent duplication here, but this is due only to the peculiar Australianism that fails to denote the state of potato chips in their name, thus on an American version of this list we would see Cake, Pie, Fries, Beer & Chips, and on an English list, Cake, Pie, Chips, Beer & Crisps.

In any cake (heheheh), the cake presented to you tonight will be only a facsimile cake that will be used to hold the fort and to allow us to have something to nibble on while we have a glass of champagne. Your REAL birthday cake will be arriving on Sunday, and will be a work of art by the very same artisan who put together the astonishing teddybear for your mate Sam's birthday party, but I'm not at liberty to divulge its details until the big day, so you and everyone else will Just Have To Wait.

I've been thinking a lot about what I wanted to say here, on your first birthday. I've been thinking about what message I wanted to leave for you that you'd be able to read when you get older, something that will stand the test of time and make me sound suitably profound and wise.

But I couldn't think of anything like that, so you'll have to settle for this.

I love you. I'll love you forever. For the rest of my life, I'll back you up, I'll take your side, I'll be there when you need me.

I've never in my life been so sure about anything, so absolutely dedicated to one goal as now. Being a good dad is all I need to be, it's the hardest job I'm ever going to have, but it's by far the most rewarding.

Every time I see your face, hear you laugh, watch you smile, feel your breath against my neck, hold your wriggling squirming body close to mine, my heart leaps with joy and with pride.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful son.

Love you,

Dad out.

May 03, 2006


Hugging the bump
Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
For the rest of your life, kiddo, when you go to sleep on the night before your birthday, you will never be as excited as I was on the night before you were born....

Love you.

May 02, 2006

363 down.

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
I was struck today, while I waited for my bagel and idly window shopped birthday cards, by the strange nature of the annual delineation of the anniversary of one's birth.

I remember talking about this before, about the idea that this event happening in two days is not, if one is to be strict about it, your first birthday. Your first birthday (and I remember it well) was 363 days ago, and you yelled.

This coming Thursday, then, is your second birthday, but it is the one at which you will turn one.

Ok now I'm confused. Let us state, therefore, for the record, that two days from today, and barring any argument by the leap year pedants with their whole 365.25 crud, you will have been alive and existing outside the comfort of your mother's insides for one full calendar year. (That's a Gregorian calendar year of 365.2425 days, rather than a Julian year, a sidereal year, a tropical year, an anomalistic year, a draconic year or a sothic year).

I've never put up the photos of that day, mostly because you looked like a combination of frankenstein's monster and the alien chestburster thingy, but there are certainly photos here that were taken only minutes after that.

What strikes me, when I look at them, is how much you haven't changed. I'm struck by the way that you still look at me like I'm some kind of freaky alien whose main task in life is to make you giggle and feed you Okonomiyaki whenever you demand it. Certainly I'm good at both of these things, but I hope you'll learn that I'm good at other stuff too.

You've really started to enjoy walking around with your block trolley now, and we're trying to encourage you to stand and walk by yourself, but you don't yet seem to have grasped the concept that you're able to stand without it.

I distinctly remember the day that my dad, your Grandad Ian, took me to the park and taught me how to ride a bike with no training wheels. It was a red bike, one that got stolen soon after this little anecdote took place, if memory serves me. We went to the park opposite our house in Newry Street Carlton, and he firmly grasped the back of my seat.

With dad holding on, steadying me, I felt ready to ride. We did one lap of the park, me shouting with joy, not able to look over my shoulder for fear of crashing but continually yelling to my dad "are you holding on?". He kept yelling that he was, and we kept going, faster and faster. I remember it seeming like I was going faster than should have been even possible.

Something must have twigged, maybe his voice changed, or maybe I realised that he probably couldn't run that fast, but when I turned around to see him standing about 10 feet behind me, I fell right off my bike. The point being, punkin, that sometimes you surprise yourself with your own capabilities when you think that you're being supported.

Not that I'm suggesting that I'm planning on telling you that I'm holding on to you when I'm obviously not.

It wouldn't work if you knew I was going to do it.

Love you.