Smile, Dad, and bite your tongue. Daughters who want to be the life of the party.

March 12, 2013

It’s party time. Every weekend, it seems. Day and night. And anywhere in between.

The girls have hit the fun stage of their young lives. The Teenager has been leading the way. Daughter Two is keen to make up for lost time.

Parties are springing up like post-monsoon weeds. Both ladies seem to be firmly on the major invite lists.

As difficult as it is for me to set aside the terror that such activity brings all Dads, I must admit that I’m happy for them. They’re finding new friends, and celebrating their youth.

Think hard, and you’ll remember doing the same thing. The excitement of a group invite, to the biggest bash in town.

There’s nothing like getting your best buds together for a kick-arse party. But with impeccable behavior, of course. We never know who might be reading.

There are a few things that seem to be different these days. One relates to attire.

It would seem that a rule was introduced recently, that forbids young women from wearing the same outfit to consecutive functions. New clothes are essential.

I hear this constantly. Forget looking into that bulging cupboard. The latest top and skirt combo is an absolute must.

The reaction to denial in such situations, borders on hysterical. It’s like they’re being deprived of oxygen.

I remember no such urgency as a young man. In the words of the great J. Cash, I would find my ‘cleanest dirty shirt’. The pile on the floor to choose from was large.

There was nothing else to wear but the favourite pair of jeans, and we were away. Not complicated, or expensive.

The other great difference I notice today is that the sexes seem to have no trouble talking to each other. The interaction appears to be very natural.

I get to see photos of the girls having fun, plastered over numerous social media sites. There is usually a muscle-bound young man lurking nearby. With a flashy smile. An easy manner. And a clean shirt.

Back in the day, it took us years to work up the courage to talk to the opposite sex. When we did, it was typical male gibber, usually related to how we fared at footy earlier that day. Looking back, it’s a miracle that any girl uttered a kind word in our direction before the age of 20.

Returning back to the world of extended credit cards, things will only get worse, of course. I’m ready for what’s ahead. So I tell myself.

As long as the girls are happy and safe, then I’ll be fine. Until the next batch of photos. It’s going to be a long decade.

Making the footy more than a game. Getting that winning feeling with ponchos, pies and the kids.

May 1, 2012

Daughter Two did a quick count of available umbrellas, and frowned.

There were two on offer. And three of us. She knew being the youngest in the flock was going to cost her dearly.

We were about to set off on a walk to watch the Brisbane Lions. A ten minute stroll, that would allow us to embrace the excitement of our fellow supporters.

Not today, however. Any pre-game buzz had been washed away, in a near cyclonic rain storm.

Normally, this would pose problems. But not on a footy night. For the true supporter, it all adds to the experience.

The girls huddled under the green umbrella, with The Teenager doing the holding. This meant two things. That Daughter Two would get saturated on one side, and that I would be continually stabbed from the other.

To make things worse, the normally placid footpath that would take us to our destination, now resembled a raging river. Both girls managed to step in every available puddle within our first 200 metres. Shoes were officially soaked.

As is their way, the soggy situation prompted much laughter. They managed to disrupt every other fan trying to find cover. The angrier those around them became, the more they giggled.

The bloke selling the thin plastic ponchos was doing a roaring trade. We added to his bulging money belt, in the forlorn hope that his flashy coloured garbage bag would somehow become a protective shield against the wild weather. It didn’t.

Soaked, but with spirits intact, we found our seats, thankfully under cover. As the girls hit their phones, to alert a breathless social media world of their whereabouts, I reflected on how cool it is for a parent to take kids to the football.

It can be any code. As long as there’s a crowd, and cheering, and a pie stand. Even in the rain.

Dad was a mad rugby league fan, but for some reason, it was rare for us to make the trip to city grounds. Too far away, and too expensive. We did our watching on tv. Not quite the same.

My first memory of attending a big game is my uncle taking me to the Sydney Cricket Ground, about 100 years ago.

Uncle Tom was a member of the SCG. Still is. To be invited to the big smoke with him was a huge thrill. I had to dress up. No doubt Mum would have made a fuss about that.

From memory, it was Wests and Newtown playing in a semi final. Before a capacity crowd. For a country kid, it was an experience to cherish.

With a lifetime spent in and around league, I’ve been lucky enough to attend plenty of wonderful games in the years since. Origin classics, and Grand Finals. Even a Challenge Cup decider at Wembley. But there’s something extra special about joining the crowd with kids in tow.

I’ve been to games of all kinds with cousins, and nephews, and friends. Always enjoyable, especially the first time.

But when it’s your own children, well that’s something again. A rite of passage in the family relationship.

The girls have gradually developed their appreciation of big time sport. It’s taken a while. Now, they love being in the crowd.

They’re mad Titans fans, and have been to a handful of games. Sit near them in the stand at Skilled Park, and you’ll have industrial deafness before half time.

This night, we’d changed codes. Some tickets landing in our lap prompted an unexpected foray into the world of AFL. The torrential rain made things tough. But it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

What made me even happier, was how the girls appreciated the spectacle, even though they knew little about the game. That attitude will allow them to appreciate major events the world over.

We ate plenty of food. The Teenager even wolfed down a pie. Cheered the local boys. And ignored the drunken clowns a few rows back, who thought swearing as loud as they could was an amusing way to pass the time. My glare did the trick. They stumbled off towards a bar by the third quarter.

We left with a few minutes remaining. It was a thrashing, but the girls didn’t mind. We’ll give the new game another go, hopefully on a dry track. And we’ll be back to watch the struggling Titans soon.

There’s so much to occupy young minds these days. Just about all of it with a touch screen. Sometimes, we need to be reminded how enjoyable the simple stuff is. With or without a plastic poncho.

Just voted the web’s sexiest blog. Or was it the one most likely to send you to sleep? Anyway, happy 100 posts.

February 28, 2012

That sound you hear is the uncorking of cheap champers. The cracking of party poppers.

Here in the Executive Offices of the Hold All Tickets corporation, there’s a celebration underway. Our highly paid researchers and writers are letting their sometimes unwashed hair down.

This week, the little blog that usually makes little sense chalked up 100 posts. If you still need the kids to turn the computer on for you, that means I’ve churned out 100 often nonsensical stories

Yep, we’ve hit three figures. And apparently, in the high-powered blogging world, this is something of a big deal.

To mark the occasion, I thought it would be a grand idea to look back at some of our ground-breaking bits.

It all started on March 23 last year. Me, stuck on the lounge, with a dislocated ankle pointing north. Bored to within an inch of my being.

It was suggested that writing a blog would be a good idea. Who for, I’m still not quite sure. So, under the influence of a belly full of powerful yet legal pain relief, the scribbling began.

In that first piece, I promised there would be no home renovation advice, or pasta recipes. I’m happy to say I’ve been true to my word.

What started as weekly ramblings about the racing game, soon expanded to include the chaos that is my life. From one post a week, to two.

We’ve covered all the big issues since day one. From my favourite daytime television shows (Prisoner re-runs), to starting Saturdays with Hannah Montana. (If you don’t know her by now, it’s too late).

A few of you giggled at my hard-luck motoring stories (the only man to start his car with a screwdriver), while others got a kick out of the weird and wonderful friends I found on early morning walks.

Sport has featured prominently. Racing, of course. My initial piece on Black Caviar went out in that very first week. We’ve been celebrating her greatness ever since.

There was State of Origin fun. And lots of debate, on how many years it takes for a bloke to call himself a true Blue Maroon. That will be on again in a few months.

Some of my favourite pieces have involved digging back in time, to recount precious memories with Mum and Dad. It never ceases to amaze me how many of you enjoy such flashbacks. There’ll be more reminiscing, as long as my fading brain cells continue to co-operate.

It must be said, however, that the most popular segments have involved my girls. The Teenager and Daughter Two have become the stars of these pages. By doing nothing more than growing up.

You seem to enjoy my pain, trying to negotiate the rocky yet delicate path that is fatherhood. Especially as I stumble, time and again.

Who would have thought that the bumbling efforts to hide my two junior beauties from young, dangerous males, would give you all such guilty pleasure?

The girls themselves have put up with the madness with good grace. Yes, I know that might change anytime soon. In the meantime, I’ll continue to carefully outline our fun and games.

The wonderful thing about this blogging caper, is your feedback. Everyone has an opinion. Some positive, some negative. All welcome.

I find myself reading other blogs. Some by incredibly talented colleagues sitting a few desks away. Others by people I’ve never heard of, on topics I’ve previously had little interest in.

It seems we all have stories. I’m enjoying telling mine. Sometimes you might doze off halfway through. That’s ok. You might like the next one.

Hopefully you’ve been tickled by something along the way. Even inspired. And if it was just a nod over your Corn Flakes, that’s fine too.

Here’s to the next 100. There’ll be change around us, of course. Sadly, nothing stays the same. We’ll do our best to battle on. And keep writing.

From the entire team, thanks for your support. And tell your friends. Possibly the ones you don’t like. Who knows, if you play your cards right, there might even be a pasta recipe on the way.

Memories of getting it wrong at the school fete. If only mum had picked a different song for me..

October 25, 2011

There was a nasty incident at the Tea Cup.

One hell of a mess. That’s what happens when you go on rides with a mix of fairy floss and pineapple slushie.

It was this year’s school fete. Where kids have licence to run even wilder than usual. And parents secretly wish the committee had approved one of those terrible beer stalls. Or was that just me?

Daughter Two was breathless as she relayed the gory tale to us. Her friend had lost her lunch over a young man she’d been trying to impress. Mid-ride. The poor bloke couldn’t escape. He just sat there in the spinning yellow Cup, covered in a fair portion of the day’s meal deal.

That’s the fun of fetes. Reputations can be made with an impressive display on the scariest ride. And lost just as quickly with an ill-timed puke.

I can’t recall us having fancy rides at our school fetes. It was more about stalls, and games, and chasing girls.

There was one particular young lass who was a favourite of mine. We were great mates. In the old world, she may have been described as a Tomboy. And she could run like the wind.

Back then I had a fair turn of foot myself. Difficult to imagine now, I know. But I could gallop. Just not fast enough to catch her.

I would set off in pursuit across the school oval, and she would evade me with ease. Not too different to how my football career would pan out.

Our parents would laugh at their kids having such harmless fun. Her mum and dad thought I was a safe bet. They were right. There was no plan for what I’d actually do if I caught her.

Performances are also a major part of fete day. High-energy routines on the big stage. This year, the girls had to do dance routines. In front of boys. How embarrassing.

Even worse, it was all caught on cameras. About a thousand of them. No-one actually watches anything anymore. They just point their fancy phones, and watch later. So much easier than enjoying it on the day.

Thank God there were none around forty years ago. I endured several troubling school shows. But one stands out, for anyone unfortunate enough to experience it.

It was a concert, that all the kids were invited to participate in. Of course, very few did. But Mum, God bless her, thought it was a marvellous idea.

To make things worse, my dear mother selected the song for me. Rolling Stones? Beatles? Daddy Cool? Nope. It was a dreary track from her favourite act of the time. The Carpenters.

With any luck you’re too young to remember the brother and sister duo. The rest of you, enough of the thigh slapping.

The song was called “Close to You”. One of the sappiest tunes of the century. With the greatest respect to the late Karen Carpenter. Feel free to check it out on this YouTube link, that I may or may not have included. If it does work, I defy anyone to last more than 30 seconds.

With me at the microphone, it was way worse. Pure pain. Three minutes of vocal torture. Luckily the laughs drowned out most of my off-key screeching.

I’m not sure how I survived that episode. Maybe the audience thought they were watching the show’s comedy section.

I’ll check our video camera later, but I’m pretty sure there were no comparable efforts over the weekend.

Except for the girl who threw up. Nasty business that. She has two choices for next year. Either run fast or sing. My tip? Pick your own song.