Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Committed to their causes October 26, 2012

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It’s not often I wax lyrical about the men-children (it doesn’t make for the usual amusing reading) but from time to time, to be fair to my subjects, it is worth recognising their achievements and acknowledging that where there is ambition and commitment there can also be success.

Two cases in point. As many would know, one of our men-children has indeed made the decision to leave school (with our support), and head to TAFE to undertake a trade course and an apprenticeship. We were naturally delighted that he conducted himself well at the interview and was successful in gaining entry to the course of his choice. He is looking forward to next year, and to focussing on something he really wants to do, with a clear end goal in mind. He is already talking about the opportunity to work on building sites during the course and get valuable experience on the job. I admire his passion and hope it translates into dedication and success.

As we rightly pointed out however, don’t lose focus on finishing year 10 this year, because without it you can’t continue onto the course. Such is the life of parents, why is it we always seem to dampen enthusiasm! Having recently seen the drop out rates for trade apprentices I was momentarily alarmed. However something tells me our man-child will thrive at TAFE and find success in his chosen career.

Our other man-child will of course remain at school, with plans to head to university eventually. As an aside, yes you are right to realise our twin boys are very different, both in personality and aptitude at certain tasks. Hence one is happy to remain at school and most likely head into a business course, and one is off to trade school so he can work outdoors.

blistersNaturally, in remaining at school, one son is continuing rowing, something which they both excelled in last year. Of course this season, it’s a whole new level of intensity, as it’s “open squad” for Year 11 and 12 boys, and now very, very serious. So whilst we thought last year’s training schedule was demanding, this year’s is incredible. Two early mornings a week, two afternoons a week, lunchtime gym sessions 5 days a week, and a 50km row on a Saturday up the Maribyrnong River (and that’s their light training program)! As you can see, the blisters on his hands are just starting to heal, and the skin harden, as they do at the start of each season. Apparently his hands look good compared to some of his friends!

My son knows what he wants to achieve and is working hard to get it. Each seat in the skull is highly prized and sought after. He has his sights set on rowing in the “seconds” this season and hopefully sharing in the ultimate prize of a spot in the “firsts” the following one. With determination and continued development we hope he achieves his goals. But we are already proud of him!

I do take my hats off to the boys that pursue rowing at this level. The demands are enormous, physically and mentally, and totally time-consuming. It impacts their working life (you can almost forget a casual job), their social life (good news is they forego alcohol), and their school life (reduced time for homework) and eats into their holidays with camps and more personal training. In doing so, it also teaches them the importance of the commitment that is required to pursue sport at a high level, and the sacrifices elite sports people make on a regular basis.

So as we head into the end of the school year (and for one his “school” life), we watch our men-children continue to grow, like butterflies emerging from a chrysalis, having left behind their life as hungry little caterpillars. We know they will both be beautiful butterflies in due course, we just don’t know what colour they will be, and what direction they will fly in. All part of the excitement (and worry and stress for parents) of our children growing up. 🙂

I have written about their rowing before: Rowing when they first started out (Row, Row, Row you boat), and their success last year (Hats off to my rowers)

 

Not THAT sort of job…… June 29, 2012

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burgerAs you know both the boys have been “job-hunting”, in a roundabout way.  One Man-Child recently got himself into a pyramid selling scheme with promises of making millions if he recruited friends of friends to also sell said product.  He’s yet to see one cent!

The other Man-Child seemed to have more promising prospects, when he advised me that he was being offered a job by his girlfriend’s sister, in a cafe.  Excellent, it sounded great, complete with training and it was to be local when she opened a second shop.

It’s funny, and perhaps not intentional, that men-children don’t share all the information with you all the time.  Either they just don’t think it’s relevant, or they know that certain information will in fact lead you down a different path of questioning or to a different decision.

As it transpired, there were a few issues in relation to the “cafe” job.  It started with a requirement for him to sign a contract for a four year “Traineeship” as part of a Certificate 3 in Retail.  Yes he needs training, but he doesn’t need a Cert 3 in Retail over four years!  It’s a casual job!  Hmmm, just like the well-publicised case last year about Brumby’s signing up school kids to benefit from a $4,000 government grant.  I was concerned about the contract “we” were being asked to sign as guardian, moreover, I was worried as our son wants an apprenticeship eventually, and some friends in the know had warned me it could jeopardise future funding for him.

A chat to both the cafe owner and an apprenticeship officer didn’t allay my fears 100%.  The urgency to sign said contract by June 30, even though the new venue hadn’t yet opened, left me feeling a little uneasy.  A few days later, whilst I was still mulling over the contract, my son called late one night and asked if he could start his “training” early, like that evening, with his girlfriend, doing the 11pm to 5am shift on a Saturday night.  What????  As he’d been sick earlier that week, and he had rugby training the following day, the answer was a flat no!  An easy decision to make.  However I then spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, surfing the net and uncovering more detail about the cafe and putting two and two together.

I knew it was a burger joint – no issue there – I love a good burger too.  I then discovered it’s open 24/7 over weekends and from the online reviews I found, you can imagine the clientele it attracts?  Yep, the inebriated late night dwellers in need of a feed.  A sudden realisation then dawned on me which was confirmed the next day by Man-Child – yes they actually work alone in the shop on the night shift, even if they’re 15 or 16 year old boys or girls.  Gulp.  Nope.  Not on my watch.  Sorry, my Man-Child is NOT working there.  That sealed the deal for us.  The answer was simple – no we would not sign the contract, no he would not work there.

Someone said to me the other day, I’m sure Man-Child could look after himself.  And yes, I suppose he probably could.  But as a mother, do I want to put my son at risk unnecessarily?  No I do not.  Am I being paranoid?  Probably. 🙂

When we told Man-Child about our decision, he was understandably furious.  And not surprisingly, he said, well I found a job, and so if you don’t want me to work there, then you’ll have to keep funding me.  Man-Child 1: Parent 0.

Here’s how the conversation went with the pyramid selling job: Man-Child has a job – sort of!

 

Hats off to my rowers – they’re amazing! March 2, 2012

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rowersAs most of you would know the boys selected rowing as their summer sport once given the chance.  They begin their rowing “careers” at the end of Year 7, or the start of a season.  So this is their 3rd season now.  To be honest, I haven’t seen much of their rowing, mainly due to other time commitments.  When they first start, it’s mainly training on the river outside their school, getting used to the idiosyncrasies of skulls (boats) and learning the tricks of the trade.  By Year 8/9 they progress to regattas, their first taste of competitive rowing, and by Year 9/10 it’s hit the serious end of rowing (there’s a strong parallel to academic life it has to be said).

The last time I saw the men-children row was a school only mini “regatta” with some short races to show the boys new-found skills off to their proud parents.  Then they were whisked off each week to regattas on the school bus (thankfully) and our task became the early morning taxi service.  Which was just as well, because when you’ve got Sister of a Man-Child with commitments each weekend (sadly full-time working parents have to cram it all in on a Saturday), it becomes difficult for parents to be in two places at once.

For those who don’t know, trust me the rower’s life is not an easy one.  Early morning starts (5.30am to be at school by 6), at least 3 mornings a weeks for the juniors, escalating to more than 7 training sessions a week for the seniors.    In fact the boys training regime this season seemed almost too much in my view – I really thought their coach had become quite obsessed with the boys performance and was potentially pushing them too hard.  They had no rest day, training sessions with some of them throwing up from the effort, and school holiday training regimes that made Biggest Loser camp look like a walk in the park!

Last weekend we finally got the chance to attend a regatta, as it was thankfully in Melbourne and ran into the afternoon (all other commitments with Sister of a Man-child then complete).  Sadly it was also a sweltering 38 degrees in Melbourne, but wild horses weren’t stopping me and my new digital SLR camera from being bank side to watch the boy’s row.  We knew they had actually been performing very well of course, with both boys in the 10A team, but we didn’t realise until we saw them just how good they actually are!

The first row past on the water they were just heading down to the start line for one of their races.  I threw a casual hello (yes, embarrassing mother that I am) but they didn’t even flinch.  Such was the intensity and focus on their rowing I doubt they even saw me and my father standing watching them.  We both commented on our surprise at their absolute concentration, but minutes later as we watched them row, all was revealed.  They are amazingly good.  Their coach has produced an incredibly disciplined, focussed, dedicated, and well-oiled machine of 8 young men, who together have become an unbeatable crew.  Such is their success, they are beating other crews their age by 4 boat lengths, and even beating some Year 11/12 crews.  No wonder the school are sending them to compete in the National Championships in Perth next week.

Father of a Man-Child and me (and the boy’s grandfather) have a new-found respect for the boys, and their coach.  It’s clear he knew exactly how much he could push them, and he has certainly got the results.   Of course success is certainly a brilliant motivator for all.  We were delighted to be on the river that day watching them, and thrilled and proud to have both our boys in the limelight.

It’s not every day you have twin boys rowing together, although it does happen.  The irony of them sitting one behind the other in the boat is not lost on me – no-one watching them would know that they fight and argue at home and sometimes could kill each other, yet are forced to sit so close in a boat! It’s perfect really.  And I have no doubt that looking back they will enjoy the fact they did this particular sport together.

There is one other upside of rowing, apart from keeping them fit.  It’s true what they say – the demands of rowing keep them out of trouble.  They still have a social life, but it’s definitely tempered by their training and regatta commitments.  I know for a fact they seriously curtail their drinking (yes of alcohol) during rowing season – that’s music to a mother’s ears.

I hope the boys enjoy their taste of success – the medal haul is impressive, every regatta brings home yet another, and I hope they enjoy their time together – I’m sure they will look back with fondness on their time spent rowing.

Here are my earlier reflections on the sport of rowing, which was all very foreign to me then.  Row, Row, Row your boat.