October 19 2012

He’s An Adult Now

My firstborn son is excited. Not about the momentous milestone of having lived eighteen years on this planet. Not about the fact that he is now officially an adult – in fact he doesn’t like the thought of being an adult (and who can blame him.) He is excited because of the presents. And the feast. There’s much more than usual of both presents and feast in honour of the momentous occasion. Momentous for the Librarian and me, at least.

Was it really eighteen years ago? I sit here with a tear in my eye and only a small part of the tear is due to the emptiness in my wallet. I still remember that day vividly.

(Cue wavy, going back in time effect.)

He was comfortable where he was – he didn’t like change even then. The powers that be declared that he was not going to budge without a little inducement. The powers that be set a date and so the Librarian and I got to the hospital on the morning of the 18th of October. He resisted the first two attempts at inducement, a pattern that would be repeated often through the years. We waited. For hours. And hours. Eventually, late into the night, I was sent on my way home to get some rest. I drove home wondering when our first child was going to make an appearance.

The bed was welcoming and I crawled into it and fell asleep almost immediately.

The bed was welcoming but I woke up and crawled out of it almost immediately. Thanks a lot little one. You could have let me sleep more than ten minutes.

I was driving back to the hospital as quickly as legally allowed. (Honestly! Although I did make the trip in record time. Wonder how I managed that.) When I got to the maternity ward the Librarian and I were whisked away to centre stage and we patiently waited for the arrival of the star. Well, I waited patiently but elsewhere there was much pushing and pain and cursing. That was the doctor. After a lot more (and I do mean a lot more) pushing and pain and cursing, from the Librarian this time, the top of the little tyke’s head made an appearance.

But that’s as far as the little tyke wanted to go. No amount of pushing and pain and cursing could make him budge. Never fear. The doctor had a solution. Let’s just say that the rest of the little tyke appeared courtesy of a medical vacuum.

What an incredible moment. This tiny little thing. My son. I had actually become a Dad.

(Cue wavy, going forward in time effect.)

So eighteen years have gone by since that day. We have watched him grow from that little bundle into the strapping young man he is today. We have endured moments of pure frustration and basked in moments of pure joy. It still takes several calls before he answers. He still doesn’t like change. And he still fills me with pride and joy.

Happy eighteenth birthday, my dear, dear son.

March 27 2009

Only Cricket Fogies Will Understand

It happened last year during one of those spring cleaning marathons that plague a man now and again. In the process of moving years of accumulated junk from one corner to another, I found it. Buried beneath a plastic Christmas tree, numerous toys and boxes full of assorted knick knacks was my old cricket bag. Moments later I was on the phone organizing a a session at the local cricket nets. A few moments after that I was racing off to the nearest sporting goods store to replace the items in my kit bag which now resembled the swamp thing – there was enough mould in that bag to guarantee the world wouldn’t run out of penicillin for several years.

So we met at the nets and, as a former opening batsmen, I had the honour of batting first. Waves of nostalgia swept over me as I padded up, strode to the crease and took guard. The bowler, much younger than most of us old timers, raced in and unleashed a thunderbolt. It was full and just inside off stump so I moved onto the front foot and played a majestic off drive.

Then I straightened up, threw the ball back to the bowler and put the middle stump back into the ground.

I obviously wasn’t the batsmen I used to be twenty five years ago.

I had to ease myself back into form. The rest of my batting stint was a master class in the defensive shot. The backward defensive shot, to be precise, because somewhere in the intervening twenty five years the cricket ball had morphed into a deadly weapon. Going forward really wasn’t an option and yet, by the end of my batting stint I felt I could outperform Geoffrey Boycott and Bill Lawry and Chris Tavare. (I think I just went too far. It takes a very special talent to out block Tavare.)

So much for my attempt to rekindle my batting prowess. Surely things would be better with the ball. I picked one out of the motley collection and paced my run-up – sixteen steps. Just like twenty five years ago. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not a complete fool so I knew I should warm up a little. With that in mind I merely jogged the sixteen steps and delivered my first ball. It sailed back over my head.

Young whippersnapper was pretty handy with the bat.

“Good…shot,” I said just a little out of breath. It was a sixteen step jog, after all.

I ran in for my next ball and bowled just that little bit faster. It sailed back over my head just that little bit higher.

“Very (gasp) good (pant, wheeze) shot (pant, pant).”

The young whippersnapper was starting to grate on my nerves. Flying Saucer Jones used to be a pretty handy bowler in the glory days. It was time to show him. I walked back to the top of my mark and summoned up all the energy I could muster. I raced in, eyes firmly on the whippersnapper’s feet. The ball was fast and furious. It swung in late and his stumps ricocheted off the back of the nets. The ball had torn through his defences.

Their were tears in my eyes. I had torn something in my bowling arm.

I obviously wasn’t the bowler I used to be twenty five years ago.

That was a year ago. In a couple of weeks we will do it again. I will dust off my cricket gear, check it for penicillin and head off to the nets.

Even if I’m not the cricketer I used to be twenty five years ago.

January 18 2009

You Just Can't Go Back

Time doesn’t have wings. That would merely enable it to fly. Time has rocket engines and streamlined fins and a nasty habit of getting faster as I grow older. Yesterday I was a young lad chasing and catching a firmly struck cricket ball. Today I’m a middle aged man and that cricket ball would streak to the fence before the command from my brain reached the muscles in my legs. Thankfully, I’m not alone. All the other lads and ladies that formed my circle of friends are in the same temporal boat. Thanks to Middle Bro’s endeavours this boat pulled up at our favourite boyhood park at 4:00pm sharp. Or 4:30. or 5:00. I did say that we are middle aged.

Not everyone made the grand reunion, of course. Tamberhorse prefers the virtual world these days; KS is difficult to track down; several live too far away or were too busy. In the end only Bredo, JC, PL and LT joined Middle Bro and me. Some of us brought our families, or a representative portion thereof. We had a remarkably good day.

It was an evening of nostalgia. The glory days got a thorough working over; I’d like to think that the glasses we used to look back weren’t rose tinted. I could clearly see the young men and women — boys and girls, really — behind the graying hair and the growing paunches. We are a couple of decades older. At least. And we look older but somehow we still looked like we did years ago. The glasses are, perhaps, a little rose tinted.

We laughed.We played. Time flew. And we went our separate ways.

It will probably be another decade before we all meet again.

You just can’t go back.