Put down your cellphone and pick up your action figure

PrintAs I sit at my new throne of creativity at a nearby coffee shop, I am greeted by a large sign at the entrance encouraging me to KEEP CALM AND DRINK WINE. As I reminisce of the days when friends were plenty, spare time was available in bucket loads, breakfasts turned to lunches and dinners were a time of great joy, good food and good wine, I catch myself in the reality of a new year. Yup, these times were only a week or two ago, but as we live in a world of uncapped internet, on tap stress and the destruction of boundaries between work and family time, It dawns on me that if I am not careful to fight for what is essential, the good will rear it’s “pretty” face and check mate the things that really matter.

A friend spoke of a study done recently that looked at the time it took to get back to the levels of stress experienced at the beginning of a holiday, once that holiday had finished. The study looked at a number of years and found that in the past, it took people approximately 8 months to arrive at those dizzy heights of stress compared to todays’ paltry 2 weeks, YES 2 WEEKS! No I don’t have the study on file, but I do have the word of a trusted psychologist and my own experience. Sadly, it doesn’t sound far-fetched does it?

As I sit and take a look at all the executively dressed coffee snobs sharing my new haunt, I wonder, where are they on the stress-o-metre and what will they sacrifice this year for the sake of the pay check?

Journey with me to last Sunday, as I lay on the operating table, quivering at the site of the surgeon’s scalpel, approaching what he believed to be my heart but what I knew to be somewhere south of my heart. He fumbled with his stethoscope, and not even paying attention the steady heart beat, declared that his patient was sick and in need of emergency treatment. As a butcher attacks a leg of lamb he attacked my chest!

Before you choke on your lunch or revisit your Banting breakfast, please note, the patient was me, the Doctor was my 5-year-old son and the treatment was the result of his latest Christmas present, thanks Granny!


We lay in hysterics as he went from person to person and performed what can only be described as a form of consultation ending in sudden, immediate and most definite death! We rolled, we giggled and we cried as the thermometer measured near nuclear temperatures, our blood pressures rivalled the deepest of seas and our prognosis’ were out of this world to say the least. What Fun!

I am so aware that the world, your job, your boss, your client, in fact almost anyone around, has little to no concern when it comes to time with your children and family. Dad’s how many of you at best fight the urge to answer that phone call during the final stages of the battle for middle earth as performed by the Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Spiderman, you and your kids? At worst we call the battle off, answer the call, never to realise that we have just crushed the imagination and self-worth of a little child. Ask yourself the question, was it worth it? I venture that it wasn’t when painted this way, but we tend to paint it differently, we rely on our kids being resilient and needing to understand that work is important. They need to learn this lesson, there is a time and a place for fun!

How far we have fallen. With the advent of all this tech, increased stress levels, global connectivity and ever productive schemes, can we honestly say, the things that have mattered most since the inception of time have benefitted? Stress levels, divorce, children with stress ulcers, abandonment, worthlessness, destruction of family values, over medication and all forms of juvenile delinquency can, I bet, all be attributed to our need for “Success”. This is not to say we should stop as Jimmy Neutron says “Keep Moving Forward”, but I have to wonder, if we yearned as much for a simpler time as we do for a better, quicker and more efficient time, would people, children and families be hurting as much as they do?

I am reminded this afternoon as children return to their classrooms in the next week and as the work machine steadily moves towards an unstoppable momentum, I will be meeting with kids, talking through challenges with them and sharing in their pain, much of which is as a result of them not ranking high enough on the parent’s list of priorities.

Dad’s, I know I can be harder on you, mainly because I am a Dad and not a Mom and so have a better point of reference, but also because I sit in my office and see mom after mom picking up the pieces of their little one, with seldom the dad in sight. So if this is not you, please forward to the appropriate person/s. But for those of you that have forgotten that provision has to include more than finances, here’s a list of areas your children may need your input, after you’ve paid for schools fees, textbooks, new uniforms and stationary.

Provision includes the following needs:

  1. Financial;
  2. Mental;
  3. Physical;
  4. Emotional; and
  5. Spiritual.

So if we are hitting home runs in the finances department, on this measure, you are only hitting a productivity rating of 20%, If I was the boss, that would be grounds for dismissal! Good thing our kids can’t dismiss us, but they can sure show us what a lack of the other 80% produces.

Don’t get me wrong, Parenting is a hard, often thankless and at times an emotionally and spiritually destroying calling, but one which we are required to place at the top of our list and regard as important and fulfilling as God does. Remember, He thought it was so important He paid the ultimate price!

So as we rocket into 2015, remember your kids, remember your family, remember what is most important and when that moment arrives, where life and death collide, I beg you to choose life, I implore you to make that most noblest of decisions to put down your cellphone and pick up your action figure. THE BATTLE AWAITS!

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