Friday, 30 September 2016

Parenting


I realize this thing is supposed to be about immigration but...deal with it

This Parenting thing is a kak tough job let me tell you, and no less expensive either, you need to be qualified in all sorts of things, from first aid to hostage negotiation and everything in between, it’s exasperating at times. Its a never ending roller-coaster full of bodily fluids and emotional trauma. It’s hiding your chocolate at the top of the cupboard and stealthily eating it at weird times just so you don't have to share and It’s knowing how to blackmail on a mafia level. But it’s also the greatest gift I've ever received. They if trained correctly are really good at pushing lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners and taking out the trash.

Case in point, one night last week im desperately trying to dish up and so I remove all the kids plates from the cupboard and ask her, her being the little squidgy 3 year old bundle of terror, which plate she would prefer for dinner, after about 17 minutes of I don't knows and im hungry she picks a pink one. I dutifully place a pork banger on the plate and all hell breaks loose,  the said plate is now no longer good enough and she wants a bowl instead. Big inhale, after a further 6 minutes of arguing about which bowl she would prefer she makes her choice and I remove the banger from the pink plate and put it in the bowl. All hell breaks loose again!! Apparently the banger is now dirty and she wants a new one

It’s in those moments that while you are at the edge of your sanity staring into the abyss that your adulting skills are tested to their very limits. I need to physically restrain myself from pulling a Naas (South African Rugby Player), and drop kicking my moaning child out the front door and into the path of an approaching bus.

And just when you are ready to call child services to report yourself it swings completely in the opposite direction. 

A bit later C mentions to me that she has been told by my eldest daughter that my son (there is a point trust me) has downloaded an app on her phone that is basically a how to manual on how a boy should kiss a girl. I can see clear as day by the look on C's face that my reaction which entailed almost choking on my food, laughing out loud and high fiving him was wrong and that I will probably pay for it later. But, I'm absolutely proud of the little man, he is doing his homework, nothing better than being prepared. 

Don't get me wrong the missus and I aren't perfect and my 12 year old reminds us of that every day.  Just recently we overslept and were woken up by her fully dressed in her school clothes saying that we are irresponsible for not waking her on time and shaking her head and looking at us like she can’t understand how we get through the day unassisted. I'm not entirely sure either but I won’t be telling her that.

I truly wouldn't have it any other way though, because lets be honest you'll eventually get tired of the expensive clothes, overseas holidays and good wine, just be prepared to take loads of deep breaths and know how to use handy wipes.







Tuesday, 2 August 2016

August...



This blog is normally about the day to day, the adventure, an insight into our small existence here in Ireland and has been an important way of communicating with family and friends. I will with this post be going completely of the subject for the most of it. The reason for that is I have two milestones that are happening this month, they are the two that have shaped my life in the last decade more than anything else, they come from the extremes of both happiness and sadness and are in integral part of who i am today as a person, husband, father and  friend.

Firstly on the 12th of august 2006 We will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I am in utter disbelief that the time has passed so quickly, and yet I can think back and see how full these ten years have been. We have walked and sometimes stumbled, through so much together. We’ve laughed to the point of tears, we’ve cried in waves of sorrow and sadness, we’ve fought and we’ve forgiven hundreds of times. We found out that love isn't a given and that you must choose to love every day.  Love is what you do and what you feel. And luckily for us our love has only deepened, matured and strengthened over the years.


I never doubted we’d make it this far, but I’m pretty sure there were plenty of people who did. I can’t help but think maybe the longest lasting marriages, the ones that last forever, until death, are the imperfect ones,like ours, the ones where you learn each day, the ones where you have to constantly work at it. Ours is certainly not the prettiest picture of marriage but perhaps the most realistic and i  wouldn't change it for anything.

 C isn’t perfect, I'm definitely not, but I know she is perfect for me. She is perfect because she has seen me in my darkest moments and never given up on me. She has seen me at my worst, and still held my hand again the very next day. She understands and supports my dreams without fail, and manages to catch me every time I’m close to giving up. And despite all the ups and downs of marriage, I know she loves me inside and out, for who I am, not for who I appear to be.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery said "Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction"So I hope I am able to see what she sees for as long as i live.

We never really had the chance to experience the "Honeymoon period" after getting married, we were thrust face first into the second of the milestones, the 22nd of august 2006 while still on honeymoon, I lost my younger brother in an automobile accident. In an instant my life and that of my young wife were changed forever. The Grief from such a loss is brutally painful, and never goes away, I've often been told that these things happen for a reason, They don't, that phrase is said by people who feel the need to say something but have nothing of real substance to say.

Losing a sibling and for my parents losing a child is something that cannot be fixed they can only be carried, carried silently for the most part, carried in the depths of your soul, stored where we store the things that we will never have the tools to deal with.

Over the years I have written many letters to my brother, some published for all to see, some not. I have shared things I felt needed sharing. I have spoken to him like he was with me in times of hardship, and laughed and cried with him when remembering things we experienced together as brothers. He was my first confidante, my very first best friend and my first partner in crime. He was a gentle but  restless soul always trying to better himself always reaching for new levels of self-awareness and achievement, but gentle and patient all at the same time. Many people go through their entire lives not having truly lived and loved like he did in his short time with us.

Both the death of my brother and my marriage to C will forever be intertwined, each have played an important role in the other, Marc with all the help and support he gave C, and what can only be described as the most heartfelt best man speech I've ever heard.  And in all the love, support and patience C has shown me in dealing with his loss.

In reality he may have died, but he lives on in all the people he touched along the way, he lives on in the memories we have, in the thoughts we have, in the ideals we pass on to others and in the adventures he has vicariously lived through us.The month of August will always be bitter sweet but a month that I love and loathe all the same. its these moments combined with some others that have guided us along the path we have walked. Guided us to where we are now. This adventure would would not have been possible without the strength We have drawn from these experiences.

In the end it is said that its not about the amount of years in a life but by the amount of life in the years. I hope to be lucky enough one day that Im able to say I've truly lived.






Monday, 4 July 2016

All the good things




The last few weeks have shot past in a blur of activity, not all of it good mind you, but mostly it’s been fun. As you know we were at a wedding on the big island a few weeks ago, now that was a massive Jol. The English countryside didn't stand a chance, we invaded the place like ants, temporarily of course, and when I say we I mean around 20 or 30 Saffas. All expats, but Saffas nonetheless. My mate whose wedding it was is of course a South African and therefore all the Cousins, Aunties and Ooms that go along with it were too. I even took a bottle of Klippies with for all to enjoy, although the groom decided to drink most of it on his own in the space of 20 minutes the day before the wedding. One of the big highlights was the Dinner done by a South African caterer, It was a braai with the standard fare of potato salads a few greens and lots of cold beers. Now before you judge, don’t worry it wasn't a BBQ with sausages etc.  It was a proper Saffa affair with lamb and pork chops and some chicken for the vegetarians. Great fun was had by all.

After it was all said and done we made our way back to our Pandok here on the small island, the one that's still in the EU.  As we pulled in the drive we were mobbed by three screaming children and one very tired granny, not babysitting for 5years and then taking my midget dictator, with her terrorist siblings for a few days will do that to even the heartiest of souls. Fortunately my mom is made of tougher stock and managed to recover swiftly enough to enjoy the last day we had together, before we sent her back home in time to watch England exit the EU twice in one week.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to another expat do, this one started at Nandos on Mary street in Dublin, and it was epic. I know I keep saying that but believe me if you were here you would agree without argument. Now I did not realize how much I missed Nandos until I sat down and ate my first hot wing. The best part was being able to wash it all down with a savanna, it’s the small things right!  Anyway once we had our fill we all made our way to the Woolshed for the Irish tour of SA decider, It’s a massive sports pub with two story TV,s and is supposed to be an Aussie pub of sorts but there wasn't one in sight. We did however pick up a random Kiwi but that's another story entirely. After standing hand on heart to sing our anthem along with more than 50 others scattered in little groups throughout the pub, we began to shout for our team, I'm convinced they could hear us from here. Fortunately we won the rugby because the beating I would have taken at work on Monday would have been off the hook.

 After the rugby we said goodbye to a Customer and friend Id lost this last week back in SA like only we know how. A good few Klippies and Cokes were consumed with lightning speed accompanied by some reminiscing and storytelling for good measure. I must say thanks to those that indulged with me, you know who you are and should know it meant a lot. Losing someone that's close to you is always very difficult, especially when they are young and have their whole lives ahead of them and you are several thousand km away and can’t do a thing to help. Messages and calls can in no way convey your feelings no matter how many little emoticons you send. So just before 7pm C miraculously led us directly to our bus and guided us safely home thus putting an end to a great day.

The weird thing I realized on Sunday is that while we've been putting ourselves out there like eager teenagers in an attempt to forge these new friendships and enjoy a bit of home comforts, we've in fact actually settled and the feeling of familiarity is there now not because it reminds us of home so much as because this is our home. And the people we've met along the way have become good friends and an important part of our lives here, whether they like it or not.

So as I said before, my dad will be joining us in a few days, much wanted care package in hand, because I am literally dying for a piece of toast with Melrose cheese spread on it. But in the meantime Ill continue to watch England eat itself alive, beer in hand from the comfort of my very soft armchair. While replying to messages from family and friends asking us whether everyone in Europe has gone mad. The only real effect Brexit has had on my life thus far has been a ton of very funny jokes and a front row seat to the mess its created.

Till next time,Garreth 


Added below are just a few of the photo's we've taken along the way over the last six months.
Myself with our Very good Friends David, Haley and Greg, ( Julie and Candice were otherwise occupied)

lovely old tree
some exploring at Malahide Castle and Gardens

Myself and Tayla

Eryn and I

My Girls

The Trants and The waterfall,

My People at Powerscourt Estate

The Family at Powerscourt

Pub Crawling

Typical madness caught on camera

Tayla and Blake

Candice and I at the Waterfall

Heather and Shauns Wedding Venue
Braai at home

Us at our Best








Friday, 10 June 2016

Brace yourselves.




Brace yourselves Julle Blixems, the Thompson's have been granted residence, Now I wont publicly admit that this is probably due to the fact that C handled the applications and not me, because let’s be honest my ability to hold a conversation in a pub after consuming a Guinness or five is very well documented, but would not have been very helpful here, we would've been denied residence to this fair place and deported faster than JZ emptied the treasury if I had even glanced in the direction of those applications.


The problem you see is that I have an uncanny ability to confuse these poor Irish k√™rels to within an inch of their lives when I use my very South African slang words. They get the same look on their faces Mr Bean did when he snorted the lemon juice, and then attempt to lean in closer thinking there might be a chance they would understand what I’d just said better, the second time round, all that does is scare the Bejaysis out of me as you can well imagine and cause C to spit whatever was in her mouth at the time all over our table, this is all extremely funny to us, but just makes the people around us think we are Broken.


One of the most wonderful things about being a Saffa is the language we use almost every day, words like Boet, Blerrie, jislaaik and the aforementioned Blixem are just some of the myriad names and expressions we have, and we use them generously. I mean the look I got the other day when I told my laaitie I was going to give him a klap, by the spectators at his Gaelic football match, was hilarious, although in fairness me angrily telling a child I was going to give him an STD probably wouldn't sit well in any civilized society. I should probably try and be more careful when C lets me out in public.


I have decided that it would be detrimental to my kids upbringing if they didn't at least get taught some of the more important slang words that I was brought up with so I’ll be doing some research in the coming weeks and come up with a few must know words and phrases, so if any of you have any suggestions please let me know. It’s really important to me that josh knows when I say Boet I'm not calling him a shoe but rather my buddy. and that when I ask him to bring me a dop ill actually get one and not get put in a home because he thinks I have early onset Alzheimer's , but that's what you get for having 11 official languages, and everybody trying to make it lekker easy to understand for everyone else.


I’ve mentioned the expat lunches that we have attended in previous posts and it’s at these you will hear some of these words bandied about without a care in the world, 30 odd rowdy Saffas together in a pub is always going to be a jol and they never disappoint, and let me tell you, the look of utter confusion on the barman's face when you shout down the length of the bar " ooi boet how’s a klippies and coke " is worth its weight in gold. It always brings a smile to my face. What’s been especially nice has been how nobody has lost their Africanism. All the expats we've met no matter how long they have been here still sound like Saffas and thats because as some clever person once said ‘Africa is not easily forsaken by her children.



So anyway like I said we have been granted residence which is great, its one moerse big weight off of our shoulders, it comes with many perks, one of which is visa free travel within the European Union. Our first trip will be across the Irish Sea to my best mates wedding. where I will be the best man, I know I know I can’t believe it either, it was while I was writing my speech that I realized I would have to change a lot of the words I was using because nobody in the UK would understand what i was saying, and they wouldnt be alone,  I'm already convinced my spellcheck thinks I'm a madman and those error reports it keeps wanting to send are secretly cries for help. So in the end I removed all the slang, AKA africanisms, and inserted words that are more internationally understood, in other words I had to dust of my dictionary and ask my 11 year old for help.

Soon after the wedding possibly in August over the bank holiday weekend we will take a trip up to Scotland, Back to where C comes from, or rather where her dad was born. But in the meantime I am preparing to host my mother for a few days next week and then soon after my dad,  I’ll have to be on my best behaviour, but it also means I get to see my china's and there will be some good times on the horizon, and a few more people to include into the madness that is our home and daily existence.

Ciao for now

G














Friday, 3 June 2016

A stranger in a strange land.





My previous blog posts have been about our day to day lives, like finding a house, unpacking our boxes and some of the traveling that we have done. Other than a few small mentions here and there, we've almost completely avoided the subject of what it feels like to live, like ordinary people, here. The after effects of a intercontinental migration like this are long lasting and too numerous to mention flippantly, they come in waves of happiness, sadness and frustration. And show themselves at the oddest times. This blog has been hugely responsible for dealing with these emotions as it helps connect us with all of our family and friends; it’s a tenuous and abstract way of connecting but it a connection nonetheless.


What a move like this does is not only force you to look at your partner in a different way, it forces you to look inwardly at your own self. This can be frightening at the best of times, because unlike taking a picture with your smartphone you are unable to put a filter over it. You can’t smooth over the bits you don’t like, what you see is unashamedly you. Immigration forces you to look at yourself with all your bits laid bare, its exceedingly difficult to evaluate ones inner self and to be critical of your shortcomings, its counter intuitive   but that's exactly what I've had to do, it’s been life changing in many ways. You almost instantly learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and learn to adjust your way of thinking and your actions to suit. 

Many people have said to us over the last year that those that leave to make a new life for themselves, are taking the easy way out, this is an inaccuracy of epic proportions, in fact I will put fire to the next person who has the audacity to say that to me. This is the hard way out and you only find that out once you've made the move, never before. It takes an inordinate amount of inner strength and pure iron will to leave everything you know for what you think is a better life halfway across the world, almost from the first moment, you begin second guessing yourself, simply because there is no clearly defined path to getting settled.

 Physically settling in is the easiest part,humans are very good at adjusting in the physical sense, especially the younger ones, but some of the people I've chatted to have in fifteen and twenty years not emotionally settled, this is where it gets tricky.  You are born into a circle of family and friends and you grow with them., you go to school and mature with them, so once you remove yourself from it and move you need to create a new circle in a new place. Almost always you have a culture that is vastly different to the one you are used to hence the term culture shock, the easiest way to remedy this is to look for the familiar, we have done that in spades, and the reason is that the familiarity is comforting.

 Modern technology allows us to find the comforts we need anywhere in the world, things like Facebook, where we belong to a group called South Africans In Dublin, has allowed us to meet people either in the same transition phase as ourselves or people who have done it and can offer sound advice. Even the way we live stream our old radio station through a media center brings certain amount of comfort, and Whackhead and sometimes Greg and Lucky into our everyday lives. However the feeling that there is something missing is always there in the background, you know deep down that you are a stranger, and at the same time you know that the longer you are away from your birthplace the stranger it will become.  It may sound odd but the idea of not belonging anywhere is very real. 

It’s important to remember that all this thinking and evaluating is in effect your psyches way of letting you know its adjusting to the new environment, of changing you ever so slightly so that you might fit into this new life, surrounded by new people, more easily. I’ve found myself using words that I’ve never used before so that I'm better understood, I see this in my kids too, all three of them have begun adjusting in their own ways and words slightly and their interests bending to suit their friends. We all crave acceptance and it’s to that end that we make those slight changes.

 I suppose it’s of great importance here that we as their parents don’t let them forget where it is that they come from, it’s in us, but that's because we left at an age where its ingrained in everything that we do. We identify as Africans, and specifically as South Africans. For the kids, they do not, they are too young to understand the significance of their heritage and their place in this world. Unless we show them they will never identify as Africans. Tayla especially, will never remember the time she spent there, and by the time she is old enough to know any better her passport will be a red European Union passport and not the dodgy Green Mamba we all have now.

In the end all this was explicitly introduced into our lives by our own doing, and I know for a certainty that given the opportunity to do it all again I would change not a single thing. We are all incredibly happy, it’s an awesome adventure, and I know that in the years to come when our children are settled in a stable country where there are jobs and there is a future we will have accomplished what we had set out to do in the first place. My hope for them is that when they have children they never need to consider taking the same steps we did, to guarantee them a future.


Garreth