My birthday present last year was a card with the words “thank you for being such a crazy dad” written inside it.
Time has flashed by, was yesterday really 23 years and some weeks ago. The day the arrival of my son turned me into a father. It can only be yesterday because I can still so clearly remember the branded paper towel dispenser above the basin in the delivery room in the Park Lane clinic and the fetal heart rate monitor as I coached his mother through that first natural birth.
Two years later the TV commercial production company had to include a “car phone” in their quote so that I could be called from location in case my second son arrived while I was away and some years later my daughter was named after the heroine of a school setwork book, a name that had captivated me since then.
My little five year old boy asking me to teach him how to play cricket took me on a journey to the top levels of cricket administration and highest coaching qualification obtainable and to far too many heart in the mouth days watching runs being scored and wickets taken until he too had been identified as one of the very best, although studying an engineering degree has changed his focus.
Cold winter nights watching club rugby practices and awards for best player for two age groups simultaneously, and later shivering next to hockey astroturf were combined with soccer coaching and club and provincial administration duties.
Nursery school admin, chairman of the governing body, school trustee and so on were also part of these years.
This year I joined the board of the Johannesburg Youth Ballet the company my baby daughter dances for.
I have had my heart fill with pride at cricket centuries and five wicket hauls, at goals and tries scored. I have been devastated by unfair decisions and cruel heartbreaking selection errors. I have barely watched my daughter, the top hockey goal scorer, dance like an angel through tears of pride and wonder.
I have had my embarrassed but smiling daughter walk as far away from me as possible as I turned a shopping expedition into a musical, singing my happiness.
I wanted them each to feel what it feels to be successful, to be admired and respected. I tried to insulate them from the mass socialization which is the aim of the school system to help them question and resist and to think freely.
In this I have been successful beyond my wildest expectations and I have been a dismal and utter failure. I have in total frustration questioned every step of the path I chose not understanding the mistakes I made along the way.
One day these three perfectly imperfect men and woman will say goodbye to me. I hope that they will know by then that I have loved every moment of being their crazy dad.
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