August 8, 2011

The joy of daring to dream...

There are many things in life that bring me joy; my wonderful family, the beautiful friendships I am blessed to have, and excellent health that happily continues as the years go by. There are, of course, a myriad of other things, only these are smaller and less obvious yet still capable of bringing a smile to my lips and a generous lift in my mood -- blue skies and sunshine on a crisp winters day, the sweet serenity of my house when there's only me in it, finding a pocket of time within the day that I am able to write in peace, and the reason for my post today, the heart-bursting pride and unmitigated elation I always feel swelling in my chest when the All Blacks score an emphatic win.

The All Blacks celebrate their win against Australia 30-14
and the securing of the Bledisloe Cup for another year!

While it's true that I've lived in Australia for more than half of my life and now have an Australian passport, I was born a New Zealander. As such, I still hold a very dear affection for the country of my birth, especially when it comes to what rugby team I barrack for. This is something that many an Australian will rib me about at length, usually with typical good humour although this hasn't always been the case! It's a tough one, you see. While I consider myself more or less Australian these days, there are some things that I simply can't bring myself to do, like cheer for the Wallabies when they're up against New Zealand. I have 'All Black Supporter' ingrained into my psyche, imprinted in my DNA, stencilled on my brain; I just CAN'T go there. Add to that almost-certain excommunication from my family in New Zealand, and you can see the continual dilemma I have, lol.

It's no surprise, however. All Kiwi children are taught right from birth that rugby is a small but very important part of life in New Zealand. It forms an integral part of the national identity, its citizens taking an immense pride - and with good reason - that their little nation of a mere 4.4 million are able to continually produce a team capable of being the world's best in the rugby arena. I think back over my childhood years and can recall many instances when I set the alarm for 1am to be in front of the TV with my Dad and my brother. We'd watch the All Blacks play in Europe or the UK in the wee small hours before stumbling back to bed when it was over, tired but glad we were part of the viewing audience. It was what we as a nation did; we supported our Men in Black, no matter what the hour.

It hasn't changed much since I was a kid, I'm sure. And with the Rugby World Cup being held in New Zealand this year, interest will be higher than ever. There'll still be young boys kicking a ball around their backyard dreaming of becoming an All Black like their heroes, Dan Carter or Richie McCaw. And like I did, more young girls will grow up learning the difference between a ruck and a maul, will be able to hold their own in any rugby conversation and will love the awesome spectacle of the pre-game Haka just as much as I do.

Ma'a Nonu in full cry during the Haka

God, I love the Haka. It's a beautiful thing. *g*

Kiwis are a special bunch. We take immense pride in the men who pull on that hallowed All Black jersey, because they represent a unique breed of man; tough, physical and determined; a man who will shed blood, sweat and tears on the paddock for All Black glory and will relish the challenge while he'd doing it. After watching our boys produce a magnificent display of class and skill that totally overwhelmed the Wallabies over the weekend, I know for sure this pride has been well-placed. The average age of the current All Blacks might be 29, but let me tell you, there's plenty of spring in their step. These boys know their stuff -- and they're not about to let anyone else tell them any different.

So it got me thinking - perhaps I can dare to dream. Could this year be the year that the awesome AB's will get to put the (ridiculously small) Webb Ellis World Cup silverware in the trophy cabinet? (You'd think a World Cup trophy would be a little bit more impressive, wouldn't you? Compared to the massive Bledisloe Cup, it's puny.)

David Kirk, captain of the victorious 1987 All Blacks, holding the Webb Ellis
trophy aloft. This was the last time we won a World Cup. I want to see
Richie McCaw doing the exact same thing this year!

The road to World Cup glory is a long and treacherous one, but we're heading in the right direction and with great momentum. For 24 obvious (years) reasons New Zealanders are a little reluctant to get ahead of themselves in the fear of jinxing the result, but I have to say I'm feeling good about our chances (albeit very quietly, lol.)

It's pretty hard not to get excited, though. The thought of a victorious Richie holding that cup up high is one that fills my heart to the BRIM with sheer, unadulterated joy. Go BLACKS. :o)

August 4, 2011

Time flies but my mind stays still...

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Everyone knows this oft-used cliché, right? It’s right up there on the list of most used phrases with plenty of other oldies but goodies like ‘Better late than never’ or ‘There’s no place like home’.

But I’d like to suggest we change it to something all parents can relate to: ‘Time flies when you’ve had children’. Because as it turns out, Time is like the ultimate gold medallist that returns every Games, competing in every single event and smashing every last record, bar none. Flying like the freaking wind.

And, even more impressively, Time does all of this before you’ve even realised you’ve swapped teething rings for Nintendo DS/PS3/XBox consoles. How’s that for over-achieving, hey?

I find myself reflecting over this notion today as we celebrate the birthday of the youngest member of our household. Number Three Son has just turned the amazing age of 11 which is great; it’s just that I’m having a little trouble adjusting. I can’t quite reconcile the fond memory of my gorgeous, chunky toddler of a little over a decade ago with the almost-taller-than-me but still gorgeous, lean young boy of today. Not to mention the world of intelligent potential sparkling in his eyes and an inner capacity to be anything he sets his mind to. He has grown infinitely overnight, it seems.

We’ve certainly travelled the road of highs and lows over the past eleven years. Lately, it’s been mostly highs, as we continue to be amazed and blown away by how far he has come since those early days. For those who don’t know, at two and a half, our beautiful boy was diagnosed with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder. At the time we were devastated, as you would be. No-one wants to hear the news that there’s a problem with your child. But later on, after we’d had time to adjust and get our heads around the whole thing, we realised we were actually a little relieved; at last we had a name for what we knew was different about him. For me that was crucial because it meant I finally had a place where I could start to look for help. As soon as I realised that, I knew the only way was up.

So you can understand why we’ve treasured the milestones a little more than most with him, and he keeps on ticking the boxes of achievements with an extremely satisfying regularity. Even tonight, I sat and watched him as he attended his twice-weekly karate class. For the very first time, it was he who led the class in their end of session Dojo Kun (Rules of the Dojo).  His deep voice rang out strong and clear, each word spoken perfectly and with confidence. It was brilliant and his delighted grin and big hug at the end of the class told me he knew it had been, too.

So while the chunky, Michelin-Man-style toddler has disappeared, and the taller, more athletic frame like his brothers has taken its place, all is not lost. In his world, it’s always perfectly okay to hug your mother even if you’re a newly aged 11 year-old boy.  

And that’s something that Time can’t and won’t ever change. Happy birthday, darling boy.
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