thoughtsfromthepanda

I do my best thinking while driving. I drive a Fiat Panda.

Archive for the tag “skydiving”

Accident prone? It’s in the genes…

Dear Teacher Thea,

Just a little note to let you know that yesterday we went to a friend’s house for a braai and there was an accident involving Liam, a wooden bat and our friend’s child’s nose. The pleasant afternoon ended very abruptly in lots of blood and crying and a sudden visit to the hospital. Liam was very upset and I just wanted you to know in case he is out of sorts today.

…And so it begins. This mother of boy children braces herself and, with a mental shake, prepares for the inevitable physicality and impulsiveness that apparently comes with a boy child’s life.

As well as two boys, currently aged seven and five, our family also includes a Dobermann. A hound of the female persuasion, our darling Sasha is a big galumph. She is a klutz of the first water. There is nothing graceful about her in motion over short stretches. However, it’s a different story when she is running long-distance through the park, when the Dobermann’s heritage, which apparently includes greyhound bloodlines, then comes to the fore. At those moments, she is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, somewhere over there in the green yonder.

However, when Sasha is not running through the park, but instead through our house, she is a big galumph who skids around on our wooden floors and the occasional loose rug like a ping-pong ball forever unleashed inside a gravity-less scientific chamber. She is a soulmate to my firstborn. They were made to be mates.

Sasha doing ‘the happy dance’

Oh, but I see hard lessons ahead!

We had the hardest of hard lessons on Sunday already. My little man, as my dear friend and fellow boy-mom exclaimed upon hearing the story, is in no way a malicious child and anyone who knows him would know immediately that it was an accident (and for this kind endorsement I thank you most sincerely, dear Z). But he is an impulsive young soul and it will be a torment to him for some time to come that the ill-fated bat was launched from his hand.

He is also a very strong young man, and for his age a very big little boy. Combining my husband’s tall genes with his grandfather’s stocky tendencies, he was fitting comfortably into clothes for a nine-year-old when he had just turned seven. He has always been really big for his age – a baby giant even when he was a baby.

Little Liam – the biggest in his first ever pre-school class

Now add an impulsive, dreamy, accident-prone personality into this physical mix and you can see why I am fretting. After all, he lost his first tooth the day before his fifth birthday – root included – because he fell off a windowsill and cracked his jaw onto a chest of drawers below. (Oh, how we mourned that tooth and its premature departure for the next two and a half years…) And who does he get the impulsive dreaminess and accidental tendencies from?

Yes, indeed, that would be me.

His mother.

The same person who once briefly took up skydiving and flew into a large bluegum tree on her second jump.

I will maintain forever that the Potchefstroom fire brigade did very commendable work that weekend, although I do think that bringing along two fire engines and erecting two ladders was arguably not entirely necessary and that possibly they were just using my predicament for some unusual technical practice. I shall also not mention the ‘reserve ride’ that took place on my twelfth jump, other than to say that the reserve parachute was set to be released automatically anyway and I am quite proud that I actually pulled the cutaway myself. It was, of course, a pity about the hard landing but no bones were broken, after all, and spectacular bruises are inevitable when one’s eventual arrival back on terra firma includes three unintended forward somersaults.

Pause.

Thinks.

Note to self: we will need to steer Liam away from skydiving, rugby and possibly horses. And perhaps mountain bikes and hockey and cricket and…

Yes, I can see straight away that I have got a great strategy going here – not.

Oh dear.

I think perhaps I am not ready to be a boy-mom.

Yes, yes, I know I’ve had seven-plus years of it to date, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready yet. I think I need a little more practice.

Perhaps we can wrap Liam up in cotton wool for a couple of years and I can practise being a boy-mom on his younger brother, Matthew, who seems to have inherited his father’s more careful attitude towards life and a pre-disposition towards being soulmates with the cat – a far more precise and careful animal than the Dobermann.

My friend Vincent

Pause.

Thinks.

Note to self: that would be the same Matthew who’s had his right big toenail torn off twice already in two separate accidents – the second time on his fifth birthday. (What is it about fifth birthdays in our house?!!) And that would also be the same Matthew who hero-worships his big brother and is forever getting banged up running around after him trying to keep up, yes?

Yes.

So no, that doesn’t seem to be a strategy either.

What to do… what to d…

Pause.

To sweep up broken coffee mug shards and mop up coffee from aforementioned coffee mug, which broke when I placed it carefully in mid-air instead of on the table while mentally proofing the early paragraphs of this blog post without looking at where I was placing said coffee mug.

Yes, it would indeed seem to be in the genes.

Case closed, and karate lessons here we come. Apparently karate helps to instill discipline, self control and an awareness of one’s body in space – what more could a boy-mom ask for!

Pause.

Thinks.

I wonder if they take Dobermanns?

(extract from) Colour me blue, not grey

I like musicians. I like the passion they have for their music. It’s the over-riding colour in their lives; the vibrancy; the soul. Most of all I like rock musicians. Their particular brand of passion strikes chords in my own soul. When I first started hanging out with the band, my horizons expanded again.

“Dig that riff!”

“Listen to that sequence!”

“If I could write a song that makes someone break out into gooseflesh the way I do every time I hear this song… I’m telling you I could die happy!”

The musos I know are essentially gentle people. Four men make up the band and eavesdropping briefly on their lives is always a treat. An evening with Aneshree, Mick and company gets me out of the grey sameness my life has been taking on lately. Three of the group sport long hair and scruffy clothes and with all of them, the preferred drink on these occasions is usually beer or whisky, with music the overriding goddess. With a superior album playing in the background, the conversation is interrupted every now and then to listen reverently to an instrumental section or a piece where the vocals seem to soar into a higher realm – gooseflesh stuff indeed. Their girlfriends – it must be said! – are sometimes left out of the conversation for large chunks of time, but they’re never far away from being appreciated with a quick caress of the hair or a lingering gentle kiss at the right moment. This I observe with a smile as I sit happily cross-legged in a chair letting the music and conversation wash over me.

I met the musos because I work with Aneshree, Mick’s fiancée. Mick is the bass player and after Aneshree and I became friends it was an easy step into the band’s inner circle. Lately, I’ve found my thoughts being interrupted by visions of Francois, the singer, but I still haven’t felt myself ready for anything new despite Aneshree’s hints about how much he likes me. The memory of my last interlude is too sharp. So in the meantime, I’m happy to read his latest lyrics and keep promising that in return, I’ll show him my paintings one day soon – but not quite yet.

“What exactly do you paint?” he asked me the last time I was there.

This is a difficult question to answer.

“Uhm… I sort of paint emotions,” I said after a long-ish pause. “If something touches me deeply I put it onto canvas. Like you with your lyrics, I suppose. So mostly you see people in my paintings – not landscapes. But they’re not coloured according to reality most of the time – my people are usually sort of blue or green depending on the mood. Anyway, I put my emotions down onto canvas through pictures of people. That’s the best way I can describe it.”

“Ah,” he said, smiling. “So just when are you going to let me see these paintings?”

This was definitely striking a still-raw memory.

“Uhm… one day” I said. “Maybe.”

He gave me a sharp look.

“What colour are you right now?” he strangely said next.

“What?”

“Come on – don’t think about it – just answer off the top of your head. What colour are you right now?”

“You are odd! All right – colour me blue then. How about you?”

“Yellow,” he said. “Happy. Is blue happy or sad for you?”

“Both,” I said with no hesitation. “Happy and sad, depending.”

He laughed.

“You really are not helping me here! That’s a very contrary answer. All right – so when is blue happy for you? And when is it sad?”

I thought for a minute and said, “I’ll tell you about the happy but not the sad,” and then launched into the story of those glorious wonderful scary moments in the sky last year.

Man that feeling

Up there, earth below you and above you only sky

Sky and parachute like a great friendly bird taking you back down to earth on your own personal flight through wonderland

When I’m not here with the musicians and their music, my life is turning grey

I miss the aeroplanes and the sky

Life is so boring without blue skies

Must get back into it I miss it so much – even the crazy fear you put up with because it’s followed by the promise of the purest ecstasy I’ve ever felt in my whole life

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