Shotgun & Smartphone

guns-and-dadsI can’t believe how time flies.  It seems like yesterday when my lovely daughter turned five and hugged my knees.  She couldn’t reach much higher at that point, but it was a full tiny bear hug.

Now she has started middle school, purple braces, small purse and conscious about her appearance.  She has to look sharp in the morning, and as a result she now spends most part of 40 minutes in the bathroom before running down the stairs and out the door to catch the school bus.

Joining the middle school also opens up the possibilities of joining a huge variety of clubs. And of course, my little girl wants to join the jazz band, and also made it to the swim team.

Unfortunately this means that she will stay after school at times, to practice with the band, and some evenings to practice with her swimming technique.  And, not to mention her staying late on Thursdays to participate in math club.

The school has, and rightfully so, a strict policy on using mobile phones during school hours.  To be honest, I think it’s brilliant and kids should not need to chat, update Facebook, play games or call each other while in school.

However, as a parent, I want to be able to reach her, and I want her to contact us if her plans changes.

So, I succumbed and hooked her iPhone up with a SIM card.  But, we also enabled AT&T Smart Limits for her new phone number, so we can monitor her account.  It gives a little more control, but I still can’t prevent her from talking to boys.  With a SIM enabled iPhone, this could quickly escalate and the only way around this is to enroll her in the local convent.

But, I’m a modern man and father, so I simply have to monitor emails closer and introduce my Remington shotgun in case a boy stands on the porch one day serenading my daughter.  Not that I mean much harm, but I will explain some basic science to him.

"You can run fast son, but my shotgun shells will run faster"

before-you-date-my-daughter-shirt-previewI can’t help being over-protective of my daughters.  If any boy wants to take her to the movies, then he has to consider the consequences if he makes her upset.  It’ll take about 3-5 years to gain my trust, and I will be chaperoning (under cover of course) the first 25 dates.  He will know true fear if I catch him doing something inappropriate.

So, dear future-son-in-law, consider your plans and your future wisely.  If you hurt my little girl in any shape or form, know this (famous Liam Neeson lines)

"I will find you and I will hurt you!"

Regards

A protective father

PS – I know how to track your activities and locations on the internet.  I have a massive garden and live in the mountains.  I believe in the 1st amendment and have recently started trap shooting – the odds are against you 🙂

Rise of Coco

coco2I swore 2 years ago that, when our male Labrador passed over the rainbow bridge, we would not replace him and that we would not get any other dog when our St Bernard dies either.

It’s a lot of responsibility to have a dog(s), and you are bound to them all the time.  They depend on you.  This restricts you from doing stuff too spontaneously, as you have to plan ahead with a dog sitting and that’ll cost you extra.

Being the head of the family, I succumbed to my family’s constant pressure and we invested in a new dog.  It takes a big man to admit defeat and I’m not a big man 🙂  I’m under the thumb just like any other dad / husband in the World.

Here’s the insane bit, as if getting a new dog wasn’t crazy enough.  We drove 3 hours to see and pick the dog from the litter, then 3 hours back.  And, bring on asylum insane, we did the same trip two weeks later to pick up the puppy.

Drumroll …. and we love her 🙂

She was really well-behaved the first evening.  It took her a little time to sniff the house, considering she lived in a breeding box (4′ x 4′) before, and now she has 2700 sq. feet to cover.

We decided to place her in a dog kennel for the night, with blankets, and she was snoring away … at least until 2am.  At that point she woke up and realized she was in a strange place, with strange smells.

It was as if she screamed “Why am I in this prison?  I did not chew the shoe!  I need my mum!  I’m innocent of whatever crimes I’ve committed.  Why this cruelty?

I woke up to the intense winning and pushed my wife out of bed.  She had promised to look after the puppy, with our now 11-year-old daughter, and she stumbled down the stairs to be with the puppy.  I could get some more sleep 🙂

To my amazement, she’s actually well-behaved.  I have to say that as she’s our dog.  But, she eats well, sleeps better and is getting a lot of exercise from chasing the St Bernard.

The 9-year-old St Bernard is shell-shocked with the arrival of this little chocolate-colored labrador, who chases her tale and bites her paws.  She’s slightly apprehensive about letting the puppy cuddle up with her, and not too sure how to play with such a small thingy.

She has already bonded with the kids, especially my son, and is chewing their shirts and socks, much to the amusement of the kids.

It’ll be fine.  It’ll take some time for the family to adjust, but we love her already.

Just one minor problem – she has already attempted to steal my corner on the family sofa!

Funeral & Rabbit Stew

I never really bonded with the rabbit my 10-year-old daughter got for her birthday.  It wasn’t anything personal, other than I didn’t have the urge to hang out with this fluffy fur ball as I suspected that if we became friends I would be the one looking after it.

rabbitThe weeks leading up to the recent (and most tragic) event was marred by a few hygiene discussions with our 10-year-old, as she was finding it extremely difficult to maintain the cage.  Straws, saw dust, rabbit food and little poo pellets were found on the floor in most rooms, and I was starting to lose patience and threatened to remove the rabbit from her room and move it to the basement or shed.

However, my dear wife insisted that by moving a rabbit to such an area would breed a vampire / Jekyll & Hyde rabbit, which may attack people.  So, this plan was quickly eliminated.

Then the other day, while I was attending a workshop, I received a frantic )and yet scary) call from my lovely wife.  She was clearly an emotional wreck, crying a lot, while trying to tell me what happened.  At first I thought our son had been in an accident, and the blood drained from my head.  Thankfully he was alright, but our “dear” rabbit had died.

“Phew” – that was literally my reaction.  Only the rabbit had died and joined our two dogs on the other side of the rainbow bridge.  I sighed a big relief and exclaimed “is that all?”, to which my wife reacted with another minute of sobbing and tears, demanding that I came home immediately.  Not too sure what was expected of my healing abilities, but unless we visit the local “Pet Sematary” there’s no way of bringing it back.

Our youngest daughter had been carrying the little rabbit, when it decided to do a break for it and leaped off her arms, floating through the air like a gazelle and then landing on the outdoor decking tiles.

Well, let me just say, rabbits are not cats, and as such, they do not land on their legs.  The poor little warrior landed awkwardly and despite it being a fairly short drop, it was enough to unfortunately get severely injured.

My brave little 4-year-old quickly picked up the injured animal and carried it to my wife.  Only problem is, it was twitching a lot and as it was handed over it lost the fight and died in the arms of my wife.  Who obviously was very shocked and saddened by this incident.

The worst bit of the story was that our 10-year-old was still in school, and my wife had to break the news to hear.  She had developed a very close relationship with the rabbit, so this would be a blow of titans.

True enough, as my daughter was told, I received a second phone call.  This time from another upset girl, pleading that I come home.

As I finally arrived home, we made the necessary funeral arrangements.  The blanket to lie on, flower petals carefully selected, poems written and grave dug.  I even organised for a homemade tombstone.

The family gathered around the tiny hole in the flower bed, we (I) gently placed the rabbit on the blanket, while the kids started to either cry or say kind words of affection towards the little fluff ball.  The 4-year-old did request that we would wake it up so she could play with it again, to which the 10-year-old opened the flood gates of tears.

I may have attempted to add to the atmosphere by humming the tune from Lord of the Rings (Return of the King), where Aragorn sings an elvish song on the landing in Minas Tirith.  Somehow it was as emotional as Aragorn’s performance, but at least I tried something.

For dinner we had chicken, but it might have been more logical to have rabbit stew, but I don’t think that would’ve been a great choice for the family dinner.

It’s never easy to teach a life lesson, but sometime life teaches us a lesson when we least expect it.  Our kids appreciated all the time they had with the rabbit, and also realised that they are not ready to have another pet for some time … at least a week!

Guns & Kids

childsafeI’m not running into the street hailing NRA or glorifying the latest Smith & Wesson handgun, and I’m not really comfortable having guns in my house.  Although I think they would come in handy when the Zombie Apocalypse hits the East Coast shortly after the next strain of bird flu breaks out.  But that’s beside the point really.

There are many valid reasons for owning and storing guns, especially if it’s part of your employment, hobby or protecting your farm animals.  For the ordinary man like myself, owning a gun should be possible, but leave the weapons at the local shooting range.

I’m not standing on some soapbox here or going on a crusade like Pierce Morgan did, but I do think we need to take gun safety seriously.  We can’t do anything about people with ill intend or crime driven activities from obtaining these guns, and I’m not going to discuss gun safety with that group of people either!

If you, for some reason need to store your firearm within the family walls, then for God sake do it right.  Too many kids have been killed over the years by tragic accidents, where guns have been “stored” insecurely; under your pillow, in the closet, in the basement, on the wall.  Worse, many of these guns might even be loaded.

Imagine your kids playing in the house, which they tend to do, and stumble across a cool gun – another item to explore.  Watch the video below.

The point is, if you absolutely has to store the guns in your house, do it safely and out of reach of the kids.  We want kids to play in safe environments, both away and within homes.

Many of the recent gun tragedies might have been prevented if the guns weren’t easy accessible within the homes.  Guns don’t kill people, but people who doesn’t know how to handle guns do.  So, it’s our responsibility to keep them locked away securely …

… and I know this defeats the point of having a gun handy when an intruder is standing in your house threatening your family.  But, what are your suggestions to resolve that dilemma?

What has changed?

We laugh, we cry, we play, we hug, we celebrate …

Today we celebrate that you are my son and have made my life more complete.  World Down Syndrome Day 2014 is all about telling the World how a person with Down Syndrome has changed me.

My son is born with Down Syndrome, but he’s my son and  I look well beyond his so-called disability.  The importance is, he’s my son – pure and simple.

He’s special not because of his chromosome upgrade.  Not because he has Down Syndrome – those things do not define who he is!  What makes him special is the way he affects people.  He has unconditional love for people who treat him well.

My son, you are special to me – you are my son and I’m proud of everything you have achieved and will achieve.

The most important change you have introduced to my life is that you have made me a lot more aware and understanding of people with disabilities.  I treat people the way I want to be treated, no matter what level of ability; with respect and as a person.

You have helped me with that mindset.  You do not want to be treated any different from your siblings or other kids.  You can do anything you put your mind to.  You are awesome!

I’m not sure why people have to put labels on people, stating that they have limitations in their life.  It is my duty and responsibility as a father to support and help you succeed.

If I may be so bold, I think I’m doing a good job.  You are happy, you develop, you love and you enjoy life.

Go get them tiger!

ds21

Have you changed my life?  Of course you have.  Having kids changes your life.  This change has been a fantastic change, and despite not getting enough sleep at times, it has been a great adventure so far and I would not change anything.

Having a kid with a disability is not a curse.  I have no idea why people sigh in sympathy when they realise my son has Down Syndrome.  I’m not sad.  I’m proud and I love my son!