In the years of B.C. (Before Children), there was one thing I found more mind-numbing than watching paint dry. No, it was not work – a soul-destroying endeavour but never mind-numbing. Neither was it shopping with my wife for things to clutter the house – the choices always boggled the mind so much that it never had a chance to get numb.
Guess who’s talking and what he’s talking about
No, the thing that never failed to bore me witless, that always lulled me into a comatose state, was listening to people talk about their little kids during social gatherings. It was as if the very act of becoming parents had somehow transformed these once-interesting friends and colleagues into a homogeneous species – one whose conversation skills were confined to talking about their precious offsprings. Continue reading →
I was cleaning my little shed in the backyard the other day, for no other reason than to show my two boys that: (1) this is what a man does on weekends in suburbia when there’s no sports on TV; and (2) to justify to their mommy a planned long run later in the afternoon, daddy has to be seen to be doing some quid pro quo.
Which do you prefer? Or would you rather cakes v donuts?
Since we moved to this house over 2 years ago, I have had some big plans for this little shed, a.k.a. The Men’s Land. I have a vision of it furnished with a 70-inch flatscreen SmartTV (apparently Smart means I can surf the ‘net on the thing), a bar-fridge filled with all kinds of exotic beverages (exotic = alcoholic), and a pool table which transforms into a poker one at night (with billiard pockets turning into chip holders) – all this perfectly nestled in reverse-cycle air-conditioned comfort. A true all-season sanctuary to which me and my fellow middle-aged guy friends can periodically retreat and be … well … men. Continue reading →
My elder six year-old son, L, is growing like a weed. These days, I’m frequently gob-smacked by how tall and big he is. Not only that, but L is genuinely developing into a small man.
Jack, how do you put your own kids to sleep?
He picks up dead bugs around the house, while calming his hysterical mother who always somehow finds a table to climb onto when these creepy crawlies are about. He helps me rake leaves in the backyard and never fails to demand fair compensation for services rendered. He is capable of holding a serious conversation with me about any number of topics (especially ones involving small ninja figurines), but mature beyond his age not to embarrass me when I can’t answer his probing questions or match his counter-arguments.
The transformation naturally leads me to reminisce about the days when he was small enough for me to cradle and babyish enough for me to cuddle. Unfortunately, it also brings back memories of some of worst times of parenthood, when L struggled with sleeping. You see, for the first two or so years of his life, L would wake up at least 6-8 times a night, unable to settle himself back to nap, and completely drive my wife and I to the very brink of insanity. It didn’t help that L had an eczema problem which made him scratch furiously on most nights and scream from fatigue on most days.
I have a very dear friend named Tony, someone I have been close to since the days of high school when we used to engage in purile adolescent antics and debate (or trash-talk) topics ranging from football codes to female kinds.
See that smile on his face? That, in essence, is what running is all about!
Tony now lives and works in Hong Kong. However, he and his young family come back to Australia around this time every year, visiting family and friends while revelling in the beautiful summer climate of Sydney. He has been making this annual pilgramage for the past ten or so years, and every year I unconsciously hold my breath just before I’m about to meet him.
You see, Tony has one of those bodies that gains and loses weight so easily that I never know what to expect when we are about to reunite. One year, he could be just a normal-looking guy with a slight belly that could easily be excused, given his hectic executive lifestyle. Then the next year, he would turn up looking almost as big as the little 4-cylinder vehicle he usually rents. And that was indeed the last image that Tony left me of himself back in January 2012 – a round mound of jolly pounds who would not look out of place in a Michelin Man Tyre advertisement. Continue reading →
Of course, I understand that, without this construct, gyms would go broke in no time, tobacco companies would soak in more profits and healthy-eating zealots would choke on their celery sticks.
The mythical day when all good things will start
For me, however, I simply know myself too well. Too well to be deceived into thinking that my resolve to do something will suddenly be iron-clad, just because the calendar flicks over from December to January. If there are things I should be doing but I need to draw cosmic strength from the New Year to start doing them, then I suspect they are either not particularly important, or are so important and yet so difficult (for whatever reasons) that calendar-flicking is just one of many excuses I resort to to postpone real action. Continue reading →