I need Doc Hudson too

emotionsIt is strange how some movies can make you think and seriously review your own situation.  These hidden and less than subtle messages hit you straight in the ticker.  They really make you ponder about life itself.

It happens rarely, probably because I mainly watch movies with less important or real-life connections. But when it happens, it occurs when you least expect it and during the less obvious movie titles.

For me it happened when watching the iTunes release of ‘Cars 3‘.  So, only a few days ago really, but might as well have walked into a glass-door as it hit me completely off-guard.

Spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen the movie, or might not even be familiar with the stories of ‘Cars‘.  Yes, it is a Pixar animated movie, with many laughs and overloaded with feel-good moments.  No spontaneous singing like most Disney movies, but a good family movie.

Nevertheless, Lightning McQueen has lost his driving mojo and seeks out the track where his great coach started his career.  There he meets Smokey, who tries to help Lightning, who really isn’t sure what he needs help with.  He’s looking for the reason he loved racing and how he gets his mojo back.

Suddenly I realised, when watching Smokey talk about how much Doc Hudson loved to train and mentor the younger Lightning McQueen.  It was as if he was talking about me and my life.

I need that father figure and mentor, to put a hand on my shoulder to tell me I’m doing a great job, or gently guide me into making a change.  These little conversations that helps me shape into becoming an even better father, husband, brother and friend.

Since my father passed away, I have had a void in my life.  Not that we were super close or hanging out daily, but just with him being there for me.  He listened, talked and guided me.  It may not have helped me getting a better career or make more money, but I became a better person.  It also motivated me to enjoy things in life.

It may sound like as if I do not enjoy life, but that is not the case.  I love my family and friends, but I need to get acknowledgement and support.  I need a mentor that will help me grow and take on the next obstacle head on, or perhaps even help guide another person through their life challenges.

Professionally, I think I have lost my way a bit, and simply needs that fatherly guidance to help me make the right decisions, and help get my confidence back. It’ll come back I know, but takes a little longer than I had hoped.

Life decisions are hard some times, and having a mentor and father figure really helps in those situations.  Job sucks at times, but it is how you deal with those situations that makes you a better and wiser person.  Look at Gandalf, he really had a tough time and yet looked positively at things 🙂

I often look to the sky, obviously imagining that God’s Kingdom is up there, smiling at my dad.  I silently whisper for his help and guidance, and often get some signs.  But, I would do anything for a hug from my dad.  I miss my Doc Hudson!

dochudson

Not like in the movies

Morning y’all – it was the morning we have all been waiting for for the past 9 weeks.  Kids are returning to school.  Mums and dads will have all the time in the World to relax, do adult stuff, sit on sofa, and smile with freshly brewed coffee while kids are off to learn the common core … which by the way sucks!  There, I said it!

Reality couldn’t be further from the imaginary story TV ads and movies will all have us believe, which shows every morning as a magical experience.  Kids come flying down the stairs singing Mary Poppins, fully dressed in latest fashion, laughing at each other, hugging and kissing us (parents) and ready to take on the day; eager to jump on the yellow big bus to school and learn stuff.

To most new parents, I hate to burst your bubble, but that shit only happens in fairy tales!

welcome-back-to-schoolOur back to school “adventure” actually started the evening before, with a quiet family post Labor Day dinner.

Obviously it was rather chaotic dinner as we also tried to go through the endless check list for each of our three kids and planning a few trips to the local Walmart.  You can always trust Walmart to have everything needed for school start. But seriously, how many pencils, glue sticks, erasers, tissues, zip lock bags does a 2nd grader need?

The conspirator in me would state that the class teacher is stockpiling supplies and selling them on eBay to support some shady activities.  I do not have evidence of such a crime 🙂

Showers, clothes laid out, school bags packed and alarm clocks set.  We were ready … not!

Sure enough, on the day of days, the kids are not eager to get out of bed.  All summer they woke before the sun even got eyes, and now they can barely walk.  It’s like a small hoard of zombies walking/crawling down the stairs, uttering simple commands “fooooood”.  All while barely opening their eyes.

Once food had been somewhat consumed, it was time to get dressed.  Suddenly the kids had to look at the weather, wind in the trees, mood rings, color matching, spider nests, migration of butterflies, just to make sure that they would send right impressions on this day, day of days.

T-10 min before the front of our house would look like Grand Central, with three buses stopping our three kids, going to three different schools.  I did consider calling the local cops to get them to direct traffic, but figured the bus company had the routine down to a fine art.

T-1 min and now my wife has gone from understanding Sound of Music nanny style, to female version of John Wick minus the dead dog and killings … but calm and assertive, shouting directions to the kids to get their a*** in gear and run to bus stop.

I calmly walked to the curb with my son, a few minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive.  15 minutes after the scheduled time, and still no bus, it started to rain.  But, it was first day of school and delays would be expected.

A further 15 minutes and I was not too sure I could blame it on back-to-school-traffic.  After a further 5 minutes I called the bus company, not to bite their incompetence heads off, but merely to state that I was patiently waiting, only to be told that the bus driver went on a road trip and forgot to swing his bus my way.  Thankfully he was sending a spare bus.

Low and behold, the spare bus came up the road, only to drive past our house, but the driver did waive.  at T+55 min, I rang the bus company again, explained that driver waived at me and never returned.  A few screams were heard in the background, as the guy on the phone shouted at the missing driver.  Magically, the bus arrived 3 mins later.

Day 1 of back-to-school was finally kicked off, now off to work 🙂

School Lunches & Grey Hairs

Having three kids keeps you busy.  Very busy.  There’s always laundry, homework, showers, cleaning up toys and rooms.  And, then you of course have the other daily / weekly routines such as sports, friends and shopping.

It never was an easy adventure to be a parent, but it is amazing how much we can accomplish while sleep deprived. Whoever said having kids wouldn’t change you was completely disillusioned and I doubt he ever participated in the awesome responsibilities.

That brings me to my next topic – school lunches.

I bloody hate seeing all the these ridiculously perfect families on social media, who have oodles of time, and patience, to create the perfect lunch boxes.  Seriously, who have time to prepare mini sushi look-alike lunches, design cuddly sandwiches shaped like cute lions, serve small fried dish consistent of slightly fried vegetables, neatly sliced, mixed with fresh caught salmon.  Are you bloody serious!

Instagram, Facebook and other social networks are devil’s spawn.  How on earth can people find time to have these awesome creations?  I wish I could make my kids’ school lunches that fantastic, but I rarely find time to make my own.

My wife and I work 8.30 – 17.30 jobs.  We have to do the daily chores, play with our kids, do homework, and prepare the various meals.  There’s little or no energy left to spend designing next day’s lunch menu.  Kids will get the usual suspects; left-over food, peanut-butter jam, ham-cheese, chicken-cheese tortilla or other combinations.

We refuse to give them money for school lunches, as those are not healthy at all.  At least our lunches have fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, and their snacks normally consist carrots, tomatoes, or pretzels.

That said, in recent weeks we have really made an effort making the school lunches more appealing.  It is important for the kids to open their lunch boxes, without fears of being laughed at or accused of eating items that looks like they are from another planet.

My latest creation was Lego shaped egg muffins.  Not the boring Eggos like in “Stranger Things‘, but little delicous egg muffins made with spinach, ham, cheese and eggs.

lunchI found our Lego baking shape and made a few awesome Lego shaped muffins.  And I must admit, and kids were not bribed, but they loved them.  It was probably the shapes, but I also hope they tasted nice.

These suckers were created out of normal parenting hours, after 10 pm, which is normally the time we start drooling on the sofa.  Actually, that happens around 9.13pm.

It’s tough being a parent, but I would not change it for anything in the World!

We parents do need to demand better school lunches on all schools.  It is not right that kids get pizza, fries, ice cream, sodas, chips etc.  This only encourages shitty food and increases the risk of childhood obesity.  Demand better food in schools!

Jamie, help us!  We need to start the food revolution … again.

Christ back in Christmas

When we moved to the US more than five years ago, I was honestly a little surprised with a few cultural differences.  I guess that is what to be expected and all people talk about cultural shock.  It was not a shock where I went into seizure or panic crying, but more like “W-T-F?”.

I fully support political correctness, but we also have to be realistic and not overdue it.

keepchristWhen I first saw some adds for Christmas, or should I say festive holidays, I was surprised when I read “Bring Christ back in Christmas.  In my head I was like “oh no, another Christian fanatic message trying to preach about Jesus.” But as I’ve lived and worked in the US for a few years, I can start to relate to that message.

Not necessarily the religious message about Christ and waiting for his second coming.  But the fact that we cannot say Christmas any longer.  That is starting to worry me, and the political correctness has stepped over the line.

Why is it that we cannot say ‘Merry Christmas’ to our colleagues?

We are being told that we offend people who do not celebrate Christmas.  I understand that some people may be celebrating HanukkahKwanzaa, or other holidays like Diwali or Mawlid … or nothing at all.  And by using the political correct phrase “Happy Holidays” we apparently avoid discriminating or offending anybody.

I’m calling BS on that way of thinking.  Why is it that we should (and must) express our well wishes to other special holidays, but cannot share the same courtesy for Christmas?

I have friends from many different religions, and none of them seem offended when Christmas is mentioned, and they wish me a Merry Christmas.  I’m just as respectful for their holidays and will offer them my well wishes for their special days.

Some shops are even banning Christmas decorations such as Nativity scene, but will happily put up the Menorah.  I don’t see a problem showing baby Jesus in the manger, while the wise men are holding a Menorah.

For many, saying Merry Christmas may not even be a religious statement, but rather a celebration for the family, and admiration for Santa Claus.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.  This also means respect other religious holidays, without blocking out Christmas.  It does not give you the right to send a Merry Christmas card to people who do not believe in your holiday, but I may send a card to my Jewish friends wishing them Happy Hanukkah.

If this trend continues, then one day we are going to be a sanitised country, where we don’t celebrate any holidays in public.  We have to show that we are proud of being Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and other cool religions.  We have to be able to celebrate and respect our holidays – that does not mean blocking them out with saying ‘Happy Holidays’.

Listen, if the atheists would have some sort of special day, then they are welcome to celebrate it too. They seem to be busy blocking everyone else.  I guess if they don’t have a special day, then other people can’t enjoy their days.  To me that is just rude and inconsiderate.

Anyway, Merry Christmas my friends … and Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Mawlid, and enjoy all the other special holidays. Don’t hold back celebrating your special days.

Speed Dating Parent Teacher Meetings

The school year has flown by.  I can’t believe that there’s only a few months left until the summer break.  It seems as yesterday when my daughter started her middle school adventures.

In true school spirit, we have to meet the teachers every three months to really assess how our children are progressing … or not.

The first semester was awesome.  Our daughter was initially placed in AIS, much to my dismay, to assist her with math.

Academic Intervention Services are services required by New York State which provide additional instruction to students in English and/or mathematics based upon performance.

Nobody puts baby in the corner, but despite doing so, she showed them all how wrong they were.  She was was added to B honours roll in first semester – and to my absolutely delight, jumped to A honours roll in March.

She obviously has my wife’s intelligence, and good lucks.  Not too sure what genes she got from me.  Probably the rock music and playing games parts.

My wife and I went to the first parent / teacher meeting, but due to other parenting needs at the house, I went to the recent one alone while my wife looked after the kids.

speed-datingI was amazed with the new format of parent / teacher meetings.  I do not remember it being like that previously.  It was like speed dating, just with teachers.  You have a defined amount of time with one teacher, as soon as you get to the interesting parts, then you get pushed to the next teacher.

Ahead of the teacher conference, which they call it nowadays, we had to select specific times to meet key teachers.  It’s a bit like an interview for a job, where you have to speak to a series of potential colleagues to make sure you are the right person.  Except this time you talk about your child.

  • There’s an awkward moment when you look at the teacher, and they attempt to find your child based on your good looks.
  • You have exactly 6 minutes with each teacher, and spent more time introducing yourself, getting comfortable in the shitty chairs and look at a list the teacher has prepared
  • You stand in line until your name is called, hoping the parents ahead of you are not there or have few questions.
  • You rush to the next teacher on the list, running down the hallways.  I find the latter exciting as it reminds of my time in school, and teachers shouting at me “NO RUNNING” … so I ran faster today 🙂
  • You are late for the next session, you think, but realise quickly that some parent has abused the speed dating rules about timekeeping.
  • You try to do small talk, which fails as teacher is only interested in your child’s performance
  • You try to remember all the questions you had prepared in advance, but fail in every aspect and frantically text my wife before I sit down
  • The worst bit, you can hear how well the child next to you is doing … and in some cases they are not doing very well at all.  Both parents and teacher are trying to keep smiling, while delivering some scathing comments.

Keep-calmHonestly, I’m not too sure I got the full picture of my daughter’s performance.  All the teachers loved her.  Her grades are top, She’s a great friend to her class mates and she interacts with everyone.

I was proud when I heard all this, but more so when the teacher said she stands up for other kids, and defends some kids against bullies.  That’s my girl!

Next time I might dress up a bit, bring my chess clock and play some tricks on the teachers.  We gotta spice up the teacher speed dating thing a bit.

Or, perhaps I pretend to be the father of another child too, which would really confuse most teachers 🙂  It’ll be alright and we are all awesome.