Up the hill and down again

Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, George Mallory famously replied, “Because it’s there” (New York Times, 1923). If you’d asked me why my family decided to ascend Table Mountain last week, my answer would have been similar in its flippant tone: To prevent homicide. Having discovered a massive area of failure in my parenting, I needed to fix it, fast.

With the school holidays casting their long shadow over my tiny house, Karen had hit on a great idea; to borrow her son’s old PlayStation so that my kids would have something to do. She also managed to keep me busy, too, by forcing me to engage in endless circular debates and heated arguments about whose turn it was to crash that car, score that goal or find that hidden treasure. Three kids, one games console.

So I let them use my phone and the old spare laptop, but that seemed to make things worse. It must be the most exasperating thing for a parent, ever, to have to stop children arguing and point out to them that bickering over an activity which is supposed to be fun is completely mad!

Having gone from calm entreaty to weepy begging, I was more or less defeated, so we decided to go up Table Mountain. You can’t get further away from the TV than that. No climbing, though, but an exciting trip up the cable car- their first. After ascending what was recently named one of the world’s new seven natural wonders, my children were FINALLY in agreement: “It’s cold, Dad.”

This new trend in agreeing extended to my suggestion for some hot chocolate. For a moment, just a brief, brief moment, I felt like a good dad.

We made it down the mountain, went back home and warmed up. They seemed calmer around the games, and more willing to listen to me, too. It had taken several days of threats and cajoling, but they finally got the sharing thing right, as long as we took them outside long enough to mash up the couch potatoes.

On the way to drop them at their mom’s house, I asked them what the best thing had been about hanging out for the past few days. Not one of them said “TV games”. The mountain had been a favourite, so despite struggling to fight off frostbite as we reeled around in the clouds at the summit, they loved the experience.

I was just congratulating myself on giving them a good break, when one of them piped up: “Dad, can we come to work with you next week?”

It’s one thing to be a great parent in private or even online, but quite another in front of colleagues…

How are you managing to keep your children busy these holidays? Why not send your creative ideas to chatback@parent24.com and you could win a R250 kalahari.com voucher.

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