Being a parent is tiring sometimes

Last week Thursday my son called me at work to tell me about a grade 7 school project he has, for EMS (which Google informs me stands for Economic and Management Sciences). He had to prepare a survey, and speech, like a sales pitch, for a product or service, and include a poster with fake ads, comparison to a competing product/service, show his costs, and so on. He had no idea what to do but since we have no printer at home it would require me to download some pictures and info on his pretend product, at work…

So “we” decided on the phone that he would be selling a radio controlled toy car, with USB charger for greater convenience. And sure enough, such products actually exist. It’s amusing in a way… it’s only two or three years since he grew out of such toys, and USB charging cars were never a thing a few years ago. So toy technology has already moved on since he played with toys, and will likely do so again by the time he’s a parent.

I gave him what he’d need and assumed he’d get on with it, until yesterday when he told me he’d lied to the teacher, telling her his project was done but forgotten at home. Eventually he did it last night, but I had to spoon-feed him just about everything… the title being something like “Josh’s omnidirectional, all terrain, USM chargeable vehicle”, the selling points being something like…

  • Do your kid’s toy cars get stuck on the grass or carpets?
  • Do they need to be manually retrieved from under sofas and other obstacles because of the poor controls?
  • Did you get home only to find “batteries not included”?
  • Is it a major inconvenience to replace spent batteries?
  • Can they be damaged by water?

Well, fear no more because Josh’s omnidirectional yada yada yada can travel on all surfaces, the replaceable battery pack is USB chargeable, and the powerful motor allows control forward, backward, left, right, and can turn clockwise or anticlockwise… and so on. (Not exactly what he did – this is just more or less what I gave him off the top of my head.)

Kiddo eventually finished it in the dark (because we have rolling blackouts euphemised as “load shedding” here in South Africa) after midnight. His poster looks pretty cool actually. Good job, Josh. Eventually.

But here’s the weird thing… The little bugger is almost a clone of me, his problems getting started are so similar to my own that he is virtually identical to a younger me. His inability to take his friend’s example questions (her service was a bakery) and apply them to his product, his procrastination, his endless farting around doing everything except his project, his lack of ideas, even given he had such toys and knew exactly what could be improved compared to his own ones… It was like watching a little me with all the same problems I used to have.

The only difference is, I have had years of experience to get past those starting issues, years to learn these skills, which I call bullshitting skills but whatever… It’s fucking exhausting though. I’ve taken decades to overcome my limitations, taken so long to learn these skills, and for what? I can’t just pass them on to him. He has to go through the same trials and tribulations to learn the same lessons, and then we die. It would be so much better if we could somehow inherit these things, but no – we all spend years learning the same shit as our parents, repeating the same mistakes and struggling the same struggles. All for nothing. I wish I could make it easier for him, but there’s only so much I can do.

Strange dreams

I don’t believe dreams have any meaning – they’re just noise, I think, generated by a brain that’s busy doing whatever a brain does in downtime… moving the day’s data into long term memory and that sort of thing. They can be entertaining though… At least this one entertained my son.

Three nights ago I had two quite unusual dreams. One of which, a recurring dream that repeated four times that night, was immediately forgotten. The other was more interesting…

I found myself living back in Cape Town, not far from where I spent the last few years there. I seemed to be in some kind of parallel reality, in that it was this year, but my life was some messed up combination of what it was around twenty years ago as well as now.

I found myself walking to my mother’s office (United Building Society or maybe ABSA Bank) in Lakeside. (Except she never had an office in Lakeside.) She was off that day and was spending the day with my father, doing something that I knew at the time but have since forgotten. So I would be working in her place, as the bank teller in the little one person bank. (Something I might have done twenty years ago when I was a student without a job, but which doesn’t make sense now.)

I was walking there for some reason, with my son, Josh, who is twelve, and his cousin. But in the dream, he has a male cousin around his age. It was a boy I knew well and had known for years, even though he has no such cousin in real life. (He has real cousins but none like the one in the dream.) I even knew the boy’s name, but this is one of the many details forgotten by now. Also my entire history of drug addiction didn’t happen in this reality.

As we walked, there were two annoying young men walking in front of us. They ate KFC, and one of them littered, throwing a chicken bone into a massive bush with a hollow inside it as he walked. I could see what looked like a large stray dog in the hollow, but as we got closer, I realized it was not a dog. “Isn’t that a mountain lion?” I asked nervously, and someone confirmed that it was. There are no mountain lions in Lakeside/Muizenberg – not that I know what one looks like. If I saw a lion in real life, I’d probably call it a ‘lion’ as I shat myself. I became afraid that the lion would attack, and it did begin to stalk us.

As it happens in dreams, we then found ourselves outside the office, along with another woman and her child, who I seemed to know from somewhere but have also since forgotten. She ran the other way, while I took out the keys and got myself and the two children into the office, locking the door behind me. But, again as it happens in dreams, we found ourselves in this office where the front section had no roof. It was a single room, the whole front section, but the top was completely open, so the lion jumped up onto the top of the door. With one of the two large poles that had appeared in my hands, I took a swipe at it, and it jumped down.

A strange man and his worker subordinate banged on the door, so I told them to go fuck themselves. It turned out he was the owner, but I suggested he should not be sticking around while a mountain lion roamed loose. He suggested I take the day off. I thought for a moment that this might be irresponsible, but then decided to call my mother and let her know.

With my mobile phone in my hand, I tried to think what her number was. Knowing her number, I recalled that she died on 7 December 2018, and my father had died way back on February 13th 2000. Remembering these things snapped me out of the dream reality. Once lucid, I did what I always do in lucid dreams… I took to the skies. I flew away.

As usual, I couldn’t hold onto the lucid dream. As soon as I began to fly, I woke up. Bummer. I have crazy dreams every night, always detailed. This was probably one of the less crazy ones, but at least this one I remember.

Why I deconverted my son from religion.

I think I may have written about this before, but from a slightly different angle, and anyway, this was on my mind.

The other day, someone reminded me that I used to feel differently about my son’s upbringing. When I went to rehab back at the end of 2009 after helping arrange his care in the hands of others who would do a better job of parenting than I could at the time, I was happy for him to be brought up Roman Catholic, just like I was. But between then and now, my views changed drastically and the other day he caused issues when arguing with this person’s children, because he doesn’t believe in god. (Thanks to me taking him out of Sunday school in 2015 and thanks to my influence on him since then. To be clear, I don’t tell him what to think, but I do encourage him to think critically, and I don’t hold back on what I think of beliefs in gods.)

So I changed my mind. I do that. I don’t do it as often anymore, and the funny thing is, around twenty years ago I used to think I was really bad at debating, because I’d get into a debate with somebody, hear their argument, and immediately change my view, thus losing the debate. These days I consider it a strength. If I find my position is based on ignorance or that I am otherwise misinformed, I change my position. It doesn’t happen so much any more because most of my views are based either on direct evidence or on relevant authorities whom I trust.

I see it like this: In the past, my view was wrong. Now, my view may not be perfect but it’s a lot better than it used to be. There are many reasons I can be wrong. One of them is confusion. Being a meth-head for around eight years left me pretty fucking confused.

My error was that I attributed my morals, my values, incorrectly to my Catholic upbringing. I figured, incorrectly, that what was best for my son would be for him to be brought up with the same religion as myself. But I was wrong. Very fucking wrong.

  • My morals, my sense of right and wrong, were already as they are now at around the age of six years. I learned them from my parents, and later, those same values would be reinforced by my peers, first in nursery school, then school.
  • At Sunday School, I learned a bunch of Bible stories, myths, prayers, and other nonsense.
  • Christianity taught me I was born in sin. In shame. That’s the lesson of Christianity – that you are born a sinner and that you need Christ to be saved.
  • Christianity taught me a fear of suffering for all eternity based on arbitrary rules that made no sense to me, but they would keep me awake at night anyway, in my late childhood and early teens.
  • Christianity taught me that everybody who didn’t accept Christ would be punished for all eternity, even if they believed just as sincerely in some other religion, when the only difference between them and me was that they were born into a different religion. This kept me awake at night in my mid teens.
  • Christianity taught me to be guilty for my mere existence.
  • Christianity taught me to pray every night, and left me feeling guilty if I didn’t, to such an extent that I still prayed for ten years or so after I stopped believing in god, because I could not fall asleep if I didn’t do it.

To summarize, Christianity was traumatic for me. It provided zero good. I realized this when thinking more clearly after a couple of years of recovery from my addiction. And as the years have passed, I have come to see it as more and more harmful.

I’m an antitheist. I see only harm in the indoctrination of a child. If my son finds religion in his adult life, good for him, but to impose that on a child, I believe, is a grave mistake a parent can make. Religion is toxic. Brainwashing a child is flat-out wrong and the fact that most people are religious and are utterly incapable of seeing how absurd their beliefs are, and that most Christians do not even acknowledge the harm in the message of shame that comes with Christianity, are indications of just how harmful religion is.

I’m still sad

it hasn’t been the best Christmas and New Years for me, although I did get to spend some time with Josh. I only had five days leave, this past week, and spent much of my time either sleeping while Josh played on the Xbox, or playing on the Xbox while Josh slept. But hey, my season 19 Diablo 3 character is as close as I can ever get to finishing the whole seasonal journey, with just one conquest to go… either get 50 million gold in a single game or finish all five acts of the game in less than one hour… both of which are not possible with my character in single player mode (unless I could play for several months more and reach a higher level). But I’m playing Torment 15 difficulty which is pretty high for a new character, my “weakest” character actually, and the season is almost over. This has been a weird way to spend my annual leave.

Anyway, my sadness isn’t about Josh, it’s his sister, Aishah. I miss her. She went to Cape Town with her grandmother in October, after staying with us for seven months, while their mother was AWOL. I thought my ex would go to rehab (or treatment, whatever she needs as long as she is far away from here), but since the start of December, she’s been in Cape Town too and has her daughter back. The plan was for Aishah and her grandmother to come here for Christmas, but that didn’t happen. In fact I haven’t even spoken to her since the start of December, after three moths of hearing her tell me how excited she was to come here every day, and every day asking if I had her Christmas present.

So I’m sad. I really do love and miss the little girl. Josh doesn’t understand. I try to explain to him that just as [name redacted] loves him because she used to foster him, I love Aishah because I did take care of her for her first two years, and then the last seven months including her sixth birthday here. (He just asked me what I’m writing about and I tried to explain it again. He really doesn’t understand.)

So… yeah… this crazy sense of longing for a family that never was and my love for his sister who I wish was here… it doesn’t go away. Not even three and half months of antidepressants (so far) takes all of it away. It sucks.

I was just reminded of her actually… insomnia took me on a random spree of YouTube videos and I watched this one by a DM on how to deal with players who cheat. And quite unexpectedly it reminded me of Aishah. I taught her to play Monopoly, and she really loved the game, but I had to deal with her cheating. She used a technique that he mentions in the video, because she learned that she could drop the die a certain way, rather than rolling them, and always get a six. Also sometimes she would cheat if I didn’t watch her roll the dice. I was amazed that a six year old could come up with such clever ways of cheating – especially the dropping a die in such a way as to force a “legitimate” six. She is incredibly bright. She’s gifted, more intelligent than either myself or Josh, and I really wanted to be able to be the one to guide her to adulthood… I don’t want to spell it out exactly but there are certain privileges that she won’t get with her mother. But it isn’t meant to be I guess.

You are my sunshine (Part 2)

Part 1 is here but other than the subject, there isn’t really much of a thread connecting these two posts.

It’s weird how different life is to my expectations of what it would be. Some of my earliest memories, of times that made me who I am as a person, are memories of my father. I remember when I was a baby, he would sing to me, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey…” I didn’t know where the song came from or anything about it other than my father sang it to me. It made me happy and helped me to fall asleep, even though it is a weird sad song, if you actually think about it. (Please don’t take my sunshine away?) But my father’s voice soothed me.

My father would tuck me in every night… walking around the bed, he’d tuck the blankets in, then kiss me goodnight, and for some reason I do not understand, Jerome the toddler assumed that he, the Daddy, the protector, would be the last to go to sleep, so whenever he said goodnight, I’d respond with, “Say goodnight when Mommy’s sleeping”, meaning that he should come back and say goodnight again once my mother had fallen asleep. Both my parents found this response endearing and amusing. They even tried explaining to me that he was the first to fall asleep but I wouldn’t have it. And in winter, as he tucked me in he’d always say, “Warm as toast”. Somehow his words warmed me. Even if I was cold, his words were enough for me to feel comfortable, warm and safe.

When I grew up, all I wanted was to have a son and emulate my father. I recalled my own special memories of my Dad and somehow, in naivete, thought that I would sing “You are my sunshine” to my baby son just as he did and tuck him in just the same, and that my son would feel just what I felt. But it doesn’t work like that.

I tried to sing to him when he was a baby, but it didn’t feel right. And when I tuck him in, I can’t use my father’s words because they are his words, not mine, and it would be alien for me to say “warm as toast”.

It took me a long time to figure out, but my special memories of my Dad are my memories, my experiences, and Josh will have his own memories, his own experiences that have meaning to him, and I can not force anything. I cannot impose such things on him. All I can do is love him and cherish him, and be there for him as my Dad was for me. I wasn’t always the best father, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better over the years and I hope that Josh will remember me as fondly as I remember my Dad.

Regarding teaching addiction awareness to children

I just read an interesting article on this subject, and I urge everyone to check it out.

My own view on addiction awareness for my son is something I’ve been passionate about for quite a few years now. Granted, it is because of my own struggles with addiction, but I think it could be useful to teach all children about the dangers of addiction. Anyway, this is important to me because…

In rehab, I was told that addiction is 60% hereditary. I don’t know how factual that is, but if there is any genetic/hereditary component to addiction, then I must presume that there is a possibility my son has a predisposition to addiction. (i.e. The probability that should he choose to use a habit-forming drug at some point in his life, there is a risk that he would become addicted and have similar problems to those I’ve had, a risk greater than average.)

And… that’s enough for me. The possibility that he has a predisposition to it is enough for me to do whatever I can to ensure that won’t happen one day, and the safest way that I can imagine to deal with this, is make him aware not only of this predisposition, but also of the harmful consequences of addiction. If he knows well in advance of the dangers, I hope this will prevent him from ever taking that first hit. I have this picture in my head…. Josh at a party one day when he’s a teenager or maybe in his early twenties, and all the “cool kids” are doing cocaine. My objective is that if he finds himself in that position, he will choose not to do that first line. (And should he make the wrong choice, I hope I’m still around to help him. But him making the right choice first time is the primary objective.)

Of course, I did get some addiction awareness education in school, and it didn’t really help me. I vaguely remember some videos and stuff from back then, but I wasn’t really paying attention, and all it did was leave me curious about drugs. But I don’t recall ever knowing about the consequences of addiction, and that’s where my focus is when it comes to Josh.

Interestingly, I had a recent conversation with a counsellor and Josh, and they seemed to think my telling him everything is not such a good idea, but I will have another chance to speak to them as well as a therapist this coming Saturday, so let’s see how this goes…

And although it’s been an awful year, there is one positive thing about him having seen how unstable his mother is, since she lived with us for several months. It isn’t something I wanted, but at least he has seen how crazy people can get. Sorry M, but you taught Josh something and made an example for all the wrong reasons.

You are my sunshine (Part 1)

I’m having another horrible day in a horrible year, but maybe I can share something positive for a change. On December 15th, it was four years since my son Josh was returned fulltime to my care. Single parenting isn’t always easy, but I’m doing my best, and this kid of mine is the reason I’m still alive and kicking.

I don’t think I shared this before – actually I can’t remember, but I only received it when the social worker followed up months after foster care ended. Anyway, here is the document I received from my court date on December 15th 2015, when my son was returned to me.


There’s more to parenting than fucking biology

It’s easy to make a kid; everybody can fuck. (And to be clear I’m only considering cases where this is something you both wanted.) If you’re a guy, just stick in your penis and wriggle it around until you cum. Wham bam, thank you man! Your work here is done! If you’re a gal, let him stick it in there. Admittedly, you get the bulk of the biological work and get to blow up like a balloon and go through literal Hell for nine months, get sore feet, get weird cravings and wild mood swings, then get to stretch a tiny little hole into a not so tiny one and go through some excruciating pain to shit out the little shit, but… Hey, you signed up for this!

After that, the real work of parenting begins. And thanks to the wonders of modern bottled milk, anyone, even a new mother, can ditch the kid and the other parent, and leave them to it.

I wasn’t the best dad at the start. In fact, I was terrible. But I did my best even when I was an addict, and did a lot better the last few years, raising kiddo by myself. I think of life like having to cross an endless series of treacherous roads. At first, kiddo needs to be carried. Then he or she can crawl. Then they walk, with you holding their hand all the way, teaching them about the racing cars that will mow them down, the tanks that will squash them to bits, and the weird old men with their trucks that they pull over to slide open the door and say, “Welcome to the joy mobile where the ice cream is free and the fun never ends! Come on in.” Then one day they will be able to walk by themselves, but always with you to help them as long as you’re still alive.

Seriously, parenting is hard work, much harder than the brief bit of pleasure it took to make the child. That why messages like this make no sense:


“No, I’m still the mother of your child”. Biologically, yes. But was she ever his parent? I don’t fucking think so.

I should probably delete this horrible post.




Finally my life seems to be back on track

Just to follow-up on my recent personal posts…

Life has been shitty for me, but it seems to be coming right again. To briefly summarize all that happened since the end of last year:

  • My mother died.
  • I thought it would be a good idea to look after my ex and my son’s half sister.
  • I ended up struggling looking after both children by myself, sometimes for weeks at a time while my ex was away.
  • I got into an enormous amount of debt when I foolishly allowed her to talk me into taking out a large loan, wasting much of the money on her.
  • My car broke down and I spent some time without it.
  • In the time without my car, I got lifts from a family friend, but this angered another extended family member who doesn’t want me to have anything to do with his ex. (It’s complicated but I do not want to get caught in the middle of their disputes.)
  • Someone from my son’s school sent Child Welfare an email claiming I’m back on drugs, subjecting me to a humiliating drug test even though I’m six years clean. (It’s entirely possible that this wasn’t really sent from the school itself, but on behalf of the person who was helping me with lifts when I was without a car.)
  • My phone, which cost me R4000 and was the best phone I ever had, fell in the toilet and could not be repaired.
  • My ex accused me of something that is untrue. (Edit: I forgot someone in her family asked me not to say what that thing was.) But when she accused me, she seemed to be high.
  • She then ran off, with an absurd accusation about me, leaving me when the loan money had run out, while I have three years of excessively expensive loan repayments.
  • She returned at the end of a month, conveniently when I was paid, and I was stupid enough to let her back into the apartment.
  • Then she ran off again while I was at work. She stole a considerable amount of money, my mother’s wedding ring, my broken phone, washing powder, and the hairdryer (which was a gift from me to my mother). And I can’t prove it was her, but also my car. (I only realized the spare key was missing days later.)

Putting it like that, maybe it doesn’t seem so bad? But it omits the emotional trauma, especially my attachment to Josh’s sister, and the fact that a certain person has betrayed me so many times now, I’ve lost count. I ended up deeply depressed – this all felt like too much – and am now taking anti-depressants.

But now, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. I have a new (second-hand) car. Last Friday I received the insurance payout for the stolen car, enabling me to pay back the person who so kindly paid for the new car so long. And also, I am incredibly fortunate to have had someone who could do that for me. Not everybody is so privileged. (I’d say who it was but this person doesn’t want me to.)

So I used the excess of the insurance money to buy a new phone, similar to the one that was damaged beyond repair and then stolen. I was even able to send a little something to Josh’s sister in Cape Town – not a lot but something to help because most of her clothes are still here and her grandmother needs all the help she can get. Josh has my old phone, which he used to watch Fortnite Tik Tok videos while I drove him to school this morning. I’m getting old and don’t really get the point of those videos, but he seems to love them. He’s also doing well in his exams so far, so I allowed him to play Fortnite in his study breaks over the weekend, and he won a few games, so he is as happy as can be at the moment. Life is looking good again. It’s not great, but it’s OK. I’m seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

I must admit my confusion

I must admit, this year has been weird. But it’s not just that. I feel betrayed, but also confused.

I’m sitting here alone because my son is at this extended family thing, waiting for this video I downloaded (the latest episode of Titans season 2) to convert to x264 so I can play it on my BluRay player… pondering how things worked out the way they did.

She stole my car. Before that she stole lots of cash and stole my phone, after I treated her with nothing but kindness, caring for her and her daughter for seven months while asking for nothing in return. But how did she get like this? I don’t understand.

There was a time years ago when we were very much in love. I remember coming up here to Johannesburg for something (irrelevant to this post) about a year before Josh was born. She wasn’t supposed to… but followed me here a week later, because she couldn’t stand to be away from me. It was in the midst of our years of addiction but for that month we were clean… and we had a great time. She hung onto me almost every moment, both physically, and onto every word. We were inseparable and very much in love and I was convinced she was the love of my life.

Make no mistake; I have changed since then too. I have grown, older and smarter, grown into a better person, now with six years plus sobriety, but at heart I am the same person. When I see her face; when I hear her voice, to me she is still that girl who loved me. And for that reason, despite knowing that she changed years ago, somehow I always forget, somehow I have always been weak around her, always refusing to see what a monstrous narcissist and user she is. That’s why I gave her so many chances. That why I always gave her the benefit of doubt.

But still, there’s a part of me that can not comprehend how she changed so much. How could someone once so devoted to me become so hateful, spiteful, and selfish? How could she lie to the face of even our son? How could she not even care that he has grown to hate her?

She has accused me of so many things, making as if I was somehow the one who was wrong… she even accused me of running her down to Josh. If only she knew how many times I stood up for her over the years, how many times I defended her to Josh. And for what? He always saw through her even when I didn’t.

I really don’t want to write about her any more, so I’ll try to make this the last time. In the last two weeks, Josh has had nightmares. He dreamed that she came back and stole money from me again. It didn’t have to end this way. I tried. Oh Megan, what have you done and what have you become?