On Saturday 22 February 2020, my youngest son Amani turned 18 and I had planned to have a quiet dinner with my sons, including Mali at the hospital with Boris.
The Wednesday night preceeding his birthdate, Amani tells me that he’s having a BBQ for his birthday and he’s going to clean up his father’s yard. I told him I’d be there to help clean the yard on Friday.
In the same texting conversation, Amani also told me that he wanted to return to school. When I looked at the school in question, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get him enrolled. I rang him Thursday because knowing how difficult Amani’s past academic history was, I wanted to get an idea of his mindset. He told me he’d speak to me when he saw me.
Thursday night, he messaged me and told me not to worry about cleaning the yard. He’d been making plans to meet with me alot and then cancelling late at night. Stupidly, due to a lack of motivation and laziness, I always agreed.
Despite Amani’s message, Friday morning I awoke early and was chomping at the bit to get to South Melbourne to clean up Boris’s yard. I waited until 11am to leave and I’m glad that I did. I needed to buy a whippersnipper and so I cycled to Bunnings, not knowing that Bunnings now delivers. However, I quickly realised that I had cycled, not driven (I don’t have a car) and I cycled through my options of leaving my bike and taking a tram up Victoria Parade to catch the 11 to South Melbourne. Carrying the whippersnipper and taking a train to Spencer St and then walking to South Melbourne or as the picture shows, using my two bicycle chains and attaching it to my bike. The latter was Amani’s idea for securing toilet paper that I had bought in South Melbourne and cycled home to Preston. Yes, there are shops in Preston but I would’ve had to deviate an extra kilometre to purchase it (I’ve been lazy). Anyway, I was feeling really proud of myself, until I remembered an image that I had seen many years before of an elderly Asian gentleman cycling, juggling a couple of baskets with chickens and other paraphenalia. I sobered up and started my journey, taking as many backstreets to avoid Flinders St for as long as I could. Fortunately, there was little traffic and the entire trip was uneventful. I had planned to leave at 7am and I know, that if I had, I would’ve encountered the early morning drivers who, despite having the extra lanes and leaving early to avoid the main congestion, are impatient and self-absorbed. City drivers think the entire world should part like the red sea them. I know because I used to be one of them …. I think I was just impatient and self-absorbed fullstop.
I arrived in South Melbourne safely and, Amani and I started work immediately. I remembered to take the video below before we’d done too much.
I wanted to buy a rake but it would’ve been too awkward to balance it on my bike, so Amani both pulled and broomed the excess grass into piles. We worked for an hour and then he went to visit a friend at the South Melbourne market. I continued cutting vines, and pruning the rose bush and tree branches in his absence. He returned about an hour later with 4 friends entow, Neven, Boyd, Billie and Anth and, we all worked together. The boys took turns using the whippersnipper, brooming, raking and cutting. Amani borrowed a rake from a neighbour, which helped immensely. After 4 hours, realising the whippersnipper needed to be fully charged, we all parted and went our separate ways.
Saturday, the day of Amani’s birthday and I awoke early to bake a cake and wait for Mali to collect Kyle and I. A planned 8.30am pickup turned out to be an 11.30am pickup. Kyle and I were chatting and a loud car horn sounded. I reacted to it feeling that it was for me and as I was chatting with Kyle, I told him that I react everytime I hear a car horn because that’s what his father would do. Toot the horn and call out. We both laughed and I got up and went out onto the balcony to check and sure enough, there was Mali. We drove to the petrol station to fill up, collected groceries from Woolworths drive through, purchased meat and veges from the Preston market in world record time.
Fortunately at 10.30am I had messaged Amani to finish the yard without me. Thus, when Kyle, Mali and I arrived shortly before 2pm, the yard was finished. Neven and Amani had set up the BBQ, couches and, fashioned seats out of woodplanks and milk crates. There was a tarp on the ground for an inflatable pool, that would house the drinks. Stupidly, I didn’t take a picture because I was in a rush to refrigerate the food and visit Boris. However, I was both impressed and proud of what the boys had accomplished.
The intimate dinner I had envisaged turned into eating KFC at the hospital @ 3pm but hey, it’s the thought that counts!
Despite Amani telling me that he wanted me to leave the party early, I stayed. He was down and out early anyway and Kyle was enjoying himself, so I stayed until the early morning. I’m glad I did because at about 12.30am, Amani’s friends told me that he was depressed and had stated that he didn’t want to play footy anymore. The sport he’d chosen over all the sports that he excelled at and loved the most. Motivation flooded me once again and I knew that I would push my prejudice aside and help my son play AFL football. Hell must be freezing!
Essentially, Amani and I will be start at the beginning. Except, he and I both know what hard work is and let’s face it, the boy can play. Most importantly, I am no longer governed by a toxic mindset. This I know to be true because I never thought I would help Amani to play footy. We chatted today and I stated that league was the easiest sport to play (in context of all the footy sports he plays). My thought process being the stop/start nature of the sport, where players get to play the ball unimpeded when they have been tackled. He disagreed and said that the big fast kids were being selected. I guess he meant that the big powerhouses would be difficult to shut down. However, his defensive skills and tackling capabilities were second to noone and as a small scrap of a child, he learnt a craft that many of the big kids lack. Over the years, I’ve watched him do the job that all the big boys in league, rugby and footy were supposed to do. Hence, I’m not impressed by big players, as they have a distinct advantage. I asked him if Israel Folau played footy well and he said that footy was easy, so of course he did. Footy is just piggy in the middle and similar to league, where players get to play the ball unimpeded when the ball has been marked. Thus, in the context of being smashed by mini rhinos on the rugby field, it’s easy. Footy players tackle poorly but, athletically they are great. This doesn’t mean I like footy, LOL!!!!! It simply means that I’ve eradicated both my narcisist tendencies and prejudice.
I always knew it would come down to AFL or rugby union or, Boris or me. Never did I conceive the possibility that I would push for Boris’s dream but, that’s exactly what I will do.