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Archive for the tag “Family”

Memories Of My Centenarian Granny

Note:  Last week, my grandmother hit another milestone.  She tied her own mother in terms of longevity.  I spoke to her for her birthday and she boasted that she is the eyes of her daughter, my aunt Ermine.  “I still does thread the needle my boy.” She related.  “I do the reading for Ermine too because her eyes not too good.”  To commemorate her birthday, I dug up this blog that I wrote when she turned 100.  Here’s hoping that Nenny lives to see many more birthdays in good health.  What a blessing!

Nenny, as my grandmother is affectionately called by her children, grandchildren and villagers alike, celebrates her 100th birthday today, June 22nd.  No one in the family is surprised.  After all, her mother, my great grandmother, lived to 103.  Up until the day that she died she was still gardening and tending to her bananas and other crops.   Nenny is healthy for the most part and walks about 3 miles to church every Sunday.

I have many treasured memories of Nenny as a kid.  Her story telling was legendary among her grandchildren.  No one could bring a story to life like Nenny and even though we requested them nightly, we would still get the chills and cower in fright as she told us a jumbie, (ghost) story about some dead person coming back to avenge their untimely death.  Our favorites were the stories told about a cunning spider called Brer Anancy who would tricked the other animals to get whatever he wanted.  They were appropriately called Nancy stories.  Every Caribbean kid fortunate enough to have a grandparent tell them these stories, loved them.  We never got tired of hearing how Brer Anancy tricked Brer fox.  Nenny would also share her growing up stories with us and we enjoyed sharing in her memories just as much as she obviously enjoyed sharing them.

Some nights, Nenny just wanted to sleep but us kids had other plans for her.  We would beg and beg until we finally learned how to trick her into telling us a story.  One of us would start re-telling one of her favorite stories and intentionally messed it up.   Nenny would get so annoyed at this that she would interrupt with ‘That not how it goes!” “It is!” We would reply. “How does it go then?” She would then correct us and before she realized it, would be deep into telling the story.  We would look at each other and smile conspiratorially.

Coupled with her penchant for telling stories and a hard worker, Nenny also possessed one of the most colorful vocabularies of anyone I know, complemented with a great set of lungs.  She could cuss  you out in any shade you prefer and it could be heard for miles.  (Apparently, this is something she inherited from her mom and maybe a secret ingredient to long life).  Her use of profanity was also well known and shyness was not one of her weaknesses.  Young, old, black, white, rich or poor, no one was exempted.  (The poor Governor). If one of us did something wrong, Nenny would verbally tear a strip off us, dropping F- bombs like it was Hiroshima all over again.   Even though she never hesitated to go ballistic on us, she would not tolerate anyone else taking the same  liberties. No way! Not her grand kids.  If Nenny called us idiots, don’t mistakenly think you could too.  Many learned that lesson the hard way.  Nenny never hesitated to put on her fighting gloves and go to war for us.

Nenny had her own quotes for everything. “Bwoy, ah way oil ah oil yo?” was often used when I was misbehaving. It simply meant, ‘Boy, what is the matter with you?’  “Play Play does bring belly” meant that too much playing could result in someone getting pregnant. “Leave me ah Jesus feet” was one she used to tell us to leave her alone.  “Yo ah a watch me like how Johnny ah watch town basket” was one I never quite figured out. I know Johnny but not exactly sure what a ‘Town Basket’ is.

I remember Nenny would accompany us to dances and fetes and wait outside until they were over then walk us home.   She would bring a flashlight to guide us through the pitch-black darkness of the 3 mile walk home.  We would never get embarrassed by her escort. Well except for this one time when my cousin took too long to leave the dance hall and Nenny asked the doorman to let her in and walked around the dance floor looking for my cousin.  She found her slow dancing and untangled her from her partner and escorted her outside.  That was Nenny.

In her 90’s, my grandmother detested clothing that made her look her age.  “Yo tink me old!” She would often say when we tried to dress her in age-appropriate clothing.  She wore high heels and dresses and enjoyed the comments from her fellow church goers on how young she looked in her stylish attire.  She would often comment, “Did you see sikkay bikkay ah wear de same frock like mine?”  (Sikkay Bikkay was her code for anyone whose name she didn’t want to say). Yes, but you wore it better, Nenny, even though she was more than half your age.

Nenny is the consummate matriarch of  the family.  She is like the queen on her throne. the family revolve around her. It’s a blessing when someone lives to see 100.  It’s an even bigger blessing that in my 40’s, I still have my grandmother alive and well.  Incidentally, both my grandmothers are alive.

Nenny, thanks for all the stories and memories.  We hope that you will stick around for a few more birthdays.  Today, you will be in the presence of the Governor General and other dignitaries so please use restrain.   As you would tell us when we talked too much, ‘Piece ah yo tongue war clip!’

Happy 100th Birthday Nenny!!  Say hi to Sikkay Bikkay for me.

Nenny, (left) and her daughter

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Christmas Stressing You Out? Then You Are Doing It All Wrong.

Tis the season to be jolly but jolly is the farthest thing away from what I’m seeing on most people at Christmas. Someone obviously forgot to send them the memo.

In the commerce of things, many of us get caught up in the moment and feel that Christmas is all about shopping and buying gifts. We can’t find the right gift so we get stressed out as the day looms closer. No time to buy gifts, no time to wrap them, no time to plan the dinner…stress.

It doesn’t have to be so. Remember, we are celebrating Christ’s birthday. The best gift we can give him is probably slowing down and acknowledging him. But we are so busy we forget whose birthday it is.

While stopped at a light, I saw a man struggling to get a woman up on the median.  She was down on all fours.  Vehicles swerved to avoid her until one finally stopped. Before the light turned green, I saw him leave his vehicle. Good Samaritan.  I would have done the same but I was boxed in the middle lane but would have pulled over further ahead if I didn’t see the Samaritan.

Isn’t that sad? We are so focused on our wrongly-placed sense of doing good that we miss the real chances of doing good. Helping that woman would have been a great gift.

Take a moment to watch this video. These kids are opening shoe boxes collected during the Shoe Box Drive.  This is what Christmas is and should be all about.

So if you are stressed out about what to buy, what to cook and when to clean, stop. You are reading way too much into it. It’s the total opposite of what Christmas is supposed to be.  Yes, it IS about spending.  A lot of spending.  Spending time with family and friends. Its hard to do that when you are running around like a chicken with its neck cut off.

Check out this video of some children in Burundi opening their shoeboxes. Note the excitement! Priceless!

 

Have a Merry Christmas and for Christ sakes, slow down!

 

Don’t Apologize For Your Kids Being Kids, We Were Kids Too.

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The above picture is of a goodie back that was handed to airline passengers by a mom who was pre-apologizing for her child in-flight baby noises.  Just in case.  My wife who was flying on the plane was given one and she was taken aback that this mom felt the need to go to such lengths.

Sometimes in church, my boys get antsy from sitting on the not-too-comfortable chairs.  They start doing what kids their ages to, be kids their ages.  My first instinct is usually to tell them to behave like good kids. Well how exactly does a good kid behave? Like a robot? Or I when they are running around the house, I would start with, “Why can’t you behave like a…” Like a what? A grown up? A teenager? Time enough for that later in life.  Right now it’s all about exercising their status as kids.  Yes, I know, within reason.  The same reasons that we stayed within when we were kids. Remember those times? We were so quiet on planes and buses. Not a peep out of us.  Look at us now, frowning at other parent’s kids. “How dare she let her baby cry? Or stand? Or move? Or breathe?”

I feel for this parent who had to resort to this.  It’s not her fault and it’s not the fault of the kid.  Airline passengers have to deal with terrorists, drunk and unruly flyers, the least they could do is tolerate the temporary wailing of a newborn baby exercising its healthy lungs. If they can’t, then maybe they are the ones needing to handout goodie bags to the poor kids who have to share space with people like that.

And you know what? If my kid is disrespectful to you, I would apologize and have a ‘talk’ with him.  If my kid cries in your presence, don’t look at me for an apology, there would be none coming.  In fact, don’t even look at me because I know what you would be thinking…

But that’s just My Take, no offense.

Read related blog:

Son, hit em back!

 

If Only I Had Time

no-time-graphicLast Saturday, while making a peanut butter and jam sandwich, I washed the knife after putting it into the peanut butter, something I never do.  I did it because I did not want to get peanut butter in the jam.  It looks gross.  But it’s something I have never done, washing the knife that is.  Even though I think it is gross to have little bits of brown mixed into my bottle of jam, I just didn’t have time to clean the knife.   Saturday, I had time.  While I was applying the now-cleaned knife to the jam, I thought about all the other things I didn’t do because I didn’t have time.  Some would take less than half a minute and make my life happier but I didn’t have time.

In my hurry to use the washroom, I sometimes neglect to put the toilet seat up.  I just don’t have time to put it up but then I have to find time to wipe the seat after I’m done, all because of the time I didn’t have to begin with.  How about putting things together like a toy or even a building project?  I would forsake reading the directions because you guessed it, I didn’t have time.  But after hours of doing it all wrong, I would find time to sit and open up the directions and go over it word by word.  Then I would undo all the mistakes I made which I shouldn’t.  But I never had time.

Good thing I always find time to hug my wife, kiss the kids and tell them how much I love them because one day, there won’t be any time.

My Take

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Christmas-Induced Writers’ Block

imagesAfter trying unsuccessfully to compose a few posts, I am giving up.  I just cannot concentrate when there’s so much Christmassy things in the air.  So much Christmassy things to do.  There’s just no room in my head.  I call it Christmas-induced writers’ block.

I am graciously accepting defeat and calling it a year.  And what a year it was!  Almost 1200 followers!  Thanks to all of you who by your likes and follows, motivated and inspired me.  I would like to wish everyone of you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful and prosperous New Year.  Be safe and whatever you do, do it in moderation.  Remember the reason for the season and keep Christ in Christmas.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Ever wished you were living in your parents basement?

imagesCome on! Don’t tell me you never had that thought at least once.  I have.  It’s not as if you felt like being a loser living in your parents house like a parasite.  I am talking about those times when you are neck deep in adult responsibilities.  Kids, work, mortgage, etc.  For some, you could even toss in marriage into that mix.  Some days when the boss is driving you nuts at work, you probably think, oh if only I was still living at my parents I’d tell him where he could stick his project.  But of course you are not and you really don’t want to.  At least some of us don’t.

How about when it’s hard to get up on a cold, very cold, morning?  You think about calling in sick but then realize the bills have to be paid and the family fed.  Oh man, if only I lived with mom and dad, there’s no way I’d be going in today.  It’s fun to think it as long as you don’t make it a reality.

Enjoy the weekend and remember, living with your parents to escape reality is for losers.  Just my take.

Things Are Looking A Bit Weird Around Here…

imagesIf you are a regular to my neck of the woods, you would have noticed that all of a sudden my posts suddenly increased by a couple of hundreds.  No, I didn’t stay up late into the night blogging nor did I go around re-blogging posts.  You see I have this other blog where I chronicle the adventures of being a daddy to three cute little boys and a wife to an angel.  Here. I am in the process of merging them together for a simpler blogging experience but the process is a still a work in progress. Please bear with me and feel free to check out some of my family postings.  Some of them are quite funny and cute if I must say so myself.

Fun At Fun Zone

imagesOn Wednesday, I took this Daddy Day Care thing up a notch.  I went to Fun Zone.  Fun Zone is a drop-in for parents and care givers to bring their pre-school kids.  It is ran in the basement of our church and parents sit around with other parents and engage in adult conversations while their little ones engage in little-ones activities.

Fun Zone is a great idea.  The parents enjoy the time chatting and having coffee.  (The coffee is actually good too, with different flavors to choose from).  The only downside is there are not too many dads dropping in.  As a matter of fact, I was the only dad yesterday.

At first I found it weird and chose to spend my time playing with the kids.  They made me put on angel wings and pumped gas in their toy cars.  Then they used me as a punching bag.  But it was fun and kept me away from the women and their uncomfortable women conversation.  The kids finally wore me out and reluctantly, I went and sat with the women.  I sat on the chair farthest away from the group so as not to be mistaken for one of them. That didn’t work.  Before long, I was up to my neck in girltalk.  Ok, maybe some of it wasn’t really girl talk but coming from the mouths of women, it sounded like girltalk.

I had a great time at fun zone!  I forgot that I wasn’t one of the ladies and didn’t feel out of place one bit.  They reassured me that the occasional man usually drops by.  One such man stayed upstairs while his kids played downstairs.  His lost.  If I want to be an efficient stay at home dad, then I’d better get use to hanging with the fun zone moms.  These women know their stuff.  They are in the zone!

Excusez-moi Madame, Have You Seen My Son?

imagesIf you are an unemployed man, raise your hand.  Um…not so fast sir.  You haven’t worked for some time and I doubt you have any intentions of working so let me rephrase that.  If you are a man who has recently lost his job, raise your hand. Hmm…Ok ok.  Don’t do that either.  You look a bit silly sitting in front of your computer with your hand in the air.  If someone should walk in on you right now they would think you have lost it. No, not your job, your mind.

Anyways, since I very rudely and abruptly lost my job when the employment carpet was unceremoniously yanked from under my feet, I have noticed that there are quite a few other dads out there who suffered the same fate.  Either that or they are lying to me as a way of expressing their sympathy I am gullible so I doubt that.  I now know at least 5 other men who have lost their jobs within weeks and months of my own departure.  Most of us have kids which makes me wonder if there is something afoot.  Are our wives up to some kind of sneaky underhanded dealings?  Are they in cahoots with our bosses?  They think we are not ‘mommy’ enough to handle stay-at-home duties? Well we will show them!

My fellow daddy-day-carers, let’s go forward in solidarity!  Let’s show our wives that we are capable of being darn good stay-at-home dads.  We will only call them when we need, I repeat, need, to know where our kids’ clothes are, what they like to eat and what are their names.  We won’t ask the obvious questions that they are probably waiting for us to ask, like ‘Honey, can you tell me who wears the red Nikes?’  Hello! We will try them on the kids until it fits someone.  Duh!

Since I was forced into my stay-at-home daddy role, I can see a difference around the home.  Mikhail is riding a bike without training wheels, the kids are eating less, which is good for weight watching.  I mean, most of it is because I keep forgetting to make meals but that’s besides the point. We are also saving on gas bills as we eat fast food more often.  Let the restaurants pay the gas bills.  Kenyan even tried coffee for the first time.  Do you think mommy would have allowed him that treat?  Of course not.

fox

About school, my two older boys are now going to a French immersion school.  It’s great except that I couldn’t keep track of the Madames at that school when it was only one kid attending, with two there’s no way I could remember! Plus they are usually weird french names.  Names like Madame Dideau, Madame Richelu and Madame Jackson.  (told you they were weird).   My wife remembers them all but she doesn’t have to worry about other stuff like who wears the red Nikes and who eats what.  I am not done.  My youngest is repeating preschool. I know, big deal eh? Well here this…He gets off at 11:30am, Kenyan at 11:00 and Mik at 3:12.  I think it’s 3:12.  Guess who has to pick them up at these staggered time?  Yep, me!  It’s piece of cake.  I mean I am sure I will show up at the wrong time and at the wrong school but as long as I say ‘Excusez-moi madame but where is my kid?’ I should be ok.

So if you start seeing kids walking around with Nikes too big for their feet while holding a cup of coffee and waiting for their daddy who is either running late or waiting at the wrong school/bus stop, don’t worry about it.  They are from the new day care in  your area most likely ran by an unemployed dad.  The kids will be fine, no worries. Fellas, let’s show our wives how we do things. Raise your…actually never mind.

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You Know You Have Done A Good Job When…

2013-07-27 16.00.37While driving home last Friday with 3 year-old Kenyan, we were stopped at a traffic light when a fire truck screamed by.  A couple of seconds later, another truck also went by.  My son, with genuine concern in his voice said,  “Two of them!  I hope whoever is in an accident or a fire is safe.”  Then he added, “I’ll say a prayer for them.”  I glanced back and his eyes were indeed closed.  And that’s when I felt a deep feeling of pride.  I had done a good job!

The next day, as I sat at the end of my driveway playing traffic watch to Mikhail and his friends from the block as they cycled up and down the street, I couldn’t miss the big smile on Mikhail’s face as he rode past me.  I kept telling him to keep his eyes on the road.  “Daddy, you taught me well!” He said on one of his ride pasts.  He had recently started riding without training wheels, very reluctantly at first.  My proud eyes followed him as he rode, and I thought, “I really did a good job.”

“Thank you, Daddy!” Treyton yelled at me as I climbed the stairs after making them their first meal of the day.  “For what?” I asked.  “For making us breakfast.  It never fails to catch me off guard.  He thanks me for everything, as does his brothers.  For allowing them to stay up that extra ten minutes, for making them a meal, for taking them to the splash park.  Nothing gets missed.  “You are welcome, boys!”  I yelled back as the other two chimed in with their own thanks.  Yep, I done good!

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