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Crusty, frustrated and full of bluster.

Finally. After about 400 attempts I have remembered (or happened upon) my Blog password. Though my memory is showing signs of decay my persistence should be a lesson to the younger folk.

Having been a procreative dinosaur I am lucky enough to have children but unlucky enough that they are experiencing their later teenage years. They have been kind enough to share their tribulations with myself and Mrs. Jerk Dinosaur. In fact it is difficult to escape their constant derision of school, chores and life in general.

Yes. I was a teenager once but it does not mean I understand them. The mists of time may have blurred my recollection of growing up but I do not remember ever being so self-entitled as today’s generation. 

I look upon my progeny with a mixture of pride, frustration and foreboding. Before me I see two beautiful, talented and blessed individuals. When they apply themselves they are brilliant. Each has there own particular gifts and interests wholeheartedly supported by their mothers (yes – modern blended family) and I. Recently there has been little application  or commitment to anything on their part. 

Teenager 1 has all but given up on school going from an all ‘A’ to a ‘D’ student in the first part of this year. It is a constant act of diplomacy between my wife and the school to get extensions for homework and assignments all without any appreciation. Teenager 1 seems determine on achieving a Doctorate in YouTube and Gaming. She devotes endless hours to this past time. So much so there is a teenager shaped sag in the couch. Despite my encouragement and more recently criticism she refuses to see the consequences of failing school.

What would I know. I am a “crusty old dude” with no sense of how life is now. According to teenager 1 parents don’t know how to parent, teachers don’t explain things properly and school is an imposition that does nothing to prepare anyone for life.

According to both my girls, life is hard and everyone else is to blame. Honestly, I’d hate to be a teenager now. I cruised through life by being average. What ever life threw at me I managed to negotiate it and land on my feet. Average doesn’t cut it anymore. We want our children to be successful and follow their dreams. They appear to waiting for the life they want to fall in to their laps without lifting a finger. 

It is frustrating to sit idly by and watch opportunity slipping away. Procrastination rules. Teenager 2 is distracted by peers and the pressure to remain included. It seems you can only remain in the club if you are mediocre and a slave to trend. The latest hot fashion or gossip magazine is gospel. I am dumbfounded by teenager 2’s need to cake on layers of make up in practice for her weekend trip to the mall with friends. Oh, the tears and tantrums when the look is not quite right.

I don’t think mirrors existed when I was a youth. In fact I try not to look in the mirror as I go about my morning ablutions. I carefully avoid the uncapped lipsticks, foundation, hair crimpers, hair straighteners and false eyelashes. Scary. The first time I saw a false eyelash in the bathroom I thought it was a mutated spider and belted it flat with the heel of my shoe.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am worried for my daughters. I am hoping that this is a phase they are going through. It is a dog eat dog world out there. With the advent of the Internet the world is a smaller place with an employment pool that is far greater than what it once was. Where I competed with maybe one or two kids for my first weekend job, the kids of today compete against thousands of online applicants across the globe. The cream rises. Employers are seeking exceptional over average even for the local paper round.

I’ve seen my girls grow and develop into fine young women. They are exceptional in my eyes. Without putting too much pressure on them I want them to be exceptional and indispensable to any future employer. I want them to be happy

Puffer Fish

The other morning the sun was shining and the skies were clear after the previous evening’s storm. I had woken early to farewell my partner as she left for work.

After a light breakfast I pottered about the house and yard trying not to make too much noise. Alice was still sleeping off a late night chatting online to her friends. I have learned the hard way that grumpy, sleep deprived teenagers are best to be avoided.

Around 9:00 am she magically appeared on lounge, managing to eat crumpets drowned in cream with her face clued to her iPad. I had not heard her stir. I decided to poke the bear.

“Hi.”

“Good morning.”

The bear seemed in a pleasant mood.

“I’ve put your laundry on. I might need a hand later to hang it up. It’s beautiful outside.”

“It still feels cold.”

“It is colder in here than out there. I think we should take the dogs down the beach. Would you like that?”

“Maybe. Could we go to Cheap as Chips?”

“Yep. We can go on the way back from the beach.”

“Okay.”

I left Alice to eat her breakfast while I sorted out dog leads. Merckx, our 11 month old Belgian would have to stay home. I was going to take the poodles, Leo a 12 year old miniature and Chantelle a four year standard with a hippy hair-cut.

Merckx seemed to sense that he was missing out and decided to resort to a bit of tail pulling on Chantelle. Leo seemed tired so he would be staying home. I grabbed Chantelle’s lead.

“You can come along next time Mercky. You rat bag.”

Back inside there had been a change. Alice had fully woken now and was having second thoughts about the beach.

“We can’t go to Cheap as Chips if we take Chantelle. She can’t stay in the car.”

“I’ll stay with her while you go in and find what you need.”

“Ah. No. I don’t go into shops by myself.”

“Well we’ll drop Chantelle off at home after the beach and then go to Cheap as Chips.”

“I don’t need to go to the beach then.”

“What?”

“If you’re not going to the shops on this trip then I don’t need to go. It’s too cold anyway.”

“It’s not cold at all. It’s beautiful and sunny. Besides you said you were fine to come along. It will be good for you to get outside. We can spend sometime together.”

“If you asked me a couple days ago I would have probably said yes. It’s too cold for me today.”

“It was overcast and miserable two days ago. Get you gear we’re going.”

The excuses were about to flow quite quickly so I headed outside to hang some clothes. When I got back Alice had “dressed” for the beach in jeans and a hoodie as dark as her mood.

When I was her age a trip to the seaside with my dad was like Christmas. Somehow I blocked out her complaints and Chantelle and I managed to have Alice come with us without prying her out of the house with a crow bar.

The car ride was uneventful. Alice whined and I refused to let her mood get me down. I even tried a few light hearted jokes – “Should I run over pink short?” I indicated the skate boarding teenager in the middle of the road across the intersection.

“That’s a bit harsh. Though he should have his helmet on. Maybe he deserves to land on his head.”

I parked a short walk from the beach access. Chantelle was leaping and bouncing and tugging at her lead eager to get down on to the sand.

Alice was still complaining. “Why did you have to park so far away?” And, “the wind is cold. I like it not too hot or too cold.”

Down on the sand with Chantelle running free along the low tide mark I saw several surfers compete for a wave. Three stood up and rode their boards to the beach before turning around and paddling back out. That’s the life.

Alice was sullenly shuffling along behind. I am sure that when I was her age there was no place I’d rather be than the beach. I think it was the fact there was no WiFi access down near the water’s edge which upset her.

“Let’s look in the rock pools Alice. See how many sea critters we can find.”

The rock pools were crystal clear and the water was warmly lapping around our ankles.

“Look a fish” said Alice excitedly.

“Where?”

“It was a small one. I wish I brought my phone. I could have taken some photographs.”

“Is it up in the car? Here. Do you want to go and get it?”

Alice nodded and I threw her the car keys. I watched as she almost skipped away up the beach.

I turned my attention to searching the rock pools for little crabs. Some of knee deep pools had rock over hangs, little crannies and caves and sandy bottoms with gardens of swaying sea grasses and sponges. I imagined tiny mermaids swimming their sparklingly clear waters.

Chantelle charging across the rocks to the sand alerted me that Alice was back.

“You should see these rock pools. They’re beautiful. Like mansions for Square Sponge Bob Pants.” I said.

Alice laughed. “I found a dead puffer fish up the beach. I took a photo of it. It is so cool.”

“How far up the beach?”

“Near the where we walked on to the beach. I’ll show you on the way back.”

I showed Alice the little rock gardens and little sea creatures I found and Alice took photographs. Then she surprised me.

“I’m glad we came to the beach. I didn’t want to come but I’m happy you brought me. Thank you.”

I could see she was indeed happy. Relaxed and happy.

We waded and explored the rock pools some more before searching middens of small pebbles and stones for glass. Worn smooth by the ocean currents the shards of green, brown and clear glass were like little jewels gleaming in the sun.

“I would like to find some blue glass.” Alice said.

After a little more searching we headed for home. Alice was glowing and with pride she showed me the decaying puffer fish while I kept Chantelle from rolling in it.

Alice looked at me and said, “Thank you for bringing me here. I have really enjoyed it.”

I smiled. I was considering taking the puffer fish home with me. Insurance for the next time Alice felt unhappy. Of course that wouldn’t work would it? What really made her happy is that I didn’t react to her complaints and I allowed her to find the beauty in the day by herself.

What is rational?

Am I a rational thinking adult or am I in fact nothing more than a jerk dinosaur? An out of touch, unsympathetic prehistoric ignoramus?

I believe that I more resemble the former and can quite soundly formulate rational thought. Others however, say my wife and my daughter, tend to view my ideology with derision.

For example. If I have a dislike for someone, whether they be a relative or not, then I won’t contemplate being anywhere near that person for any length of time. Some how this way of thinking, which I believe to be logical, offends the wife when I refuse to attend gatherings where that person would be present.

What sort of sick and twisted person can give up most of their day to visit and socialise with those they have contempt for? Yes, I understand that for the sake of hospitality and politeness one sometimes has to square the jaw and be a diplomat in order to keep up appearances.

I would rather be honest to myself and not attend than expend unnecessary energy leading a lie.

Can I not independently exercise free thought to lead an uncomplicated and less complex life? I love to live a slow paced and simplistic existence.

For me it is quite normal and less controversial to give a nod of the head to your enemy as a common curtesy than to embrace them while secretly wanting to stuff a live crocodile in their bed. Hem.

Maybe, despite being centuries old, I still have a lot to learn.