Jul 31, 2009

Zen and Parenting

Despite the title of this post, I don’t actually know much about Zen except that it has something to do with Buddhism, and I’m not going to go clicking my way over to Wikipedia to become a half-arsed expert on it because I’m a time-poor parent and can’t be buggered studying anything…

Oh stuff it then, here it is if you’re interested.

Anyway, the conversation below contains my definition of Zen. It occurred as I pulled out a steaming hot tray of Aldi nuggets for the boys:

Lewis: Daddy, what are those?

Reservoir Dad: They are nuggets.

Lewis: Why?

Reservoir Dad: … (the sound of one hand clapping) …

This is what kids can do. They can pull a question down from outer space and test your logical, methodical mind in such a way that it just shuts down. Bye-bye thoughts. I challenge anyone to answer that question. Here it is. Spend some time with it…


Nirvana is the answer. With my mind quiet and my being centered I ran outside to smell a flower.

And I mean to REALLY smell a flower, without social expectation, past experience or intellectual dogma to dilute it. I found the true form of the formless, the subtle dharma gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. (Okay, I did read Wikipedia. The words above are Buddha’s, not mine. Truth is, the flower smelt just the same as they’ve always smelt – flowery. I’m not really into flowers though, so next time I reach such Nirvanic heights I might try something a little more central to my experience… smell a can of beer perhaps.)

Anyway, my advice for those who are searching for meaning, or enlightenment, or God is to give up the hours of daily meditation and have yourself some kids. They’ll ask you why, why, why over and over until the mind gives in and there is nothing left – No concern for yesterday. No worry for tomorrow. No sleep deprivation. No washing. No dirty house. No dinner time battles. No Geelong Cats injury list. And finally, no Reservoir Dad.

Bet the Dalai Lama has never experienced toddler-inspired Nirvana. Tom Cruise and his scientology crowd would have to "donate" 10 million dollars to even get close to it, and the Mormons… well let’s not discuss those crazy bastards.

Jul 22, 2009


Twenty four hours since I posted my thoughts on Buckley the puppy's media storm and the abusive emails continue to ping at my inbox. I have to admit I did expect some fireworks from the usual suspects - Buckley's manager and fanbase, and Jason Baker, director of PETA Asia-Pacific (who recently attacked legend Sam Neill over his brilliant advertisements on the health benefits of eating meat) and for that reason I made sure I kept the doors locked, the car hidden in the garage and the fur coat tucked away in the closet next to my hunting rifle and carving knife, but in all honesty I didn't expect this level of hysteria.

There have been a few emails of support. Most notably this one –

"The dog's a bloody wus. A couple of chopped ears and he's gone all poodle. Come and talk to me when he gets stabbed in the pancreas." - Chopper Reid

But most have been along these lines –

“Ears are how dogs hear and tails are how they are happy. This sick man knew what he was doing and aimed to take away Buckley's ability to communicate. How can you stick up for him?”

“I hope your animals get their ears cut off. Then you’ll see how it feels.” (This really threw me for a while. I rushed into my backyard in a panic expecting to find that someone had hurt my chickens. Several moments passed before I remembered the specifics of chicken anatomy and stopped searching the pen for their ears.)

The most hurtful response comes from my father-in-law (a known dog lover and vegan sympathiser). A while ago I posed for a photo that appeared in a Physiotherapy campaign focussing on back pain. He obviously stumbled across it and decided to teach me a lesson. This is the email and accompanying photo –

Re: Buckley. How Would You Like It?!

For the safety of myself and my family I retract my previous post and will donate $20 to Buckley’s scholarship fund. My only hope is that we don’t lose someone of Buckley’s obvious talent to more prestigious international career opportunities.

I am going to try to put this all behind me and refocus on My Backyard – The Series…

My Backyard 2 – Back from the City

In my backyard there are animals.
None of them are running.
The have large pens
but they waddle or hop
at a slow to medium pace.
Nothing hurries them.
Nothing scares them into a sprint.
Their hides are their own –
they’ve been born beyond the point of being eaten.
Some may say they’re miles from home.
But I say they’re right there,
they’re right here.
My ducks for instance –
they’re both girls.
They eat and sleep and sort through mud.
They quack and clean and sometimes mount each other,
all at a slow waddle,
all, it seems, without the slightest hint of interference.

Compare this to the millions
crying to be heard in the city.

Quack is simple –
quack means sit and wait,
quack means stay at home, the days have settled.
Quack is pre-defeat –
and means
it’s late, the race is over.

Jul 21, 2009

My Backyard (The Series) and Buckley (The Injured Dog)

Buckley the dog has been all over the media for the past week. For those that haven't heard (anyone out there?) Buckley had his ears and tail lopped off by a very disturbed and cruel individual. It's horrible, pointless suffering and it sucks. But I have to say that I'm a bit disturbed myself by the incredible amount of attention this story has received. Just look at this one report.

There have been thousands of calls, "grown men crying", money being donated etc etc. And yesterday I received an email asking me to donate to Buckley's scholarship fund...

A fricken scholarship!!

Human compassion is a good thing but, come on. Make sure the dog's injuries heal properly. Give it to a nice family so that it's fed once a day, wormed, knackered and walked regularly but let's not get carried away. I worked as a youth support worker for ten years and there were kids who suffered worse than Buckley who were shuttled from one shelter to another without ever receiving this sort of attention. Take the money away from a dog that needs little more than food and a pat and put it towards something a little more important - like a human.

That's what I reckon but I am not an animalist and just to prove it I am going to test the loyalty of my audience (Hi Mum, Hi Dr Forsythe) by posting a series of animal related writings titled "My Backyard" over the next few weeks. They have absolutely nothing to do with parenting or children (or do they Dr Forsythe?) and may lead to half of my audience bailing out on me (seeya Mum) but hey, I love ducks and chickens and I think other animals may be useful as well.

Some important information before you embark on this backyard journey with me:

  • We had rabbits. One was eaten by a dog, two escaped into foxland.
  • We had two ducks. I loved them but broke my leg when I chased them and slipped on some of their shit. So we moved them to a nice public pond. We thought it would be great for them. A week later they were captured and culled with dozens of other other similar looking ducks.
  • We still have chickens. Four of them. They give us lots of eggs.

My Backyard 1 – Us

You’d call me middle class.
You may even call me
a white middle class c*nt.
I can accept this only because
I can accept its irrelevance.

Out there, in the world,
I am a person among billions of others.
Here, in my backyard, I am a pink thing –
I have wiggly bits that lead to wigglier bits.
At the top of me is a misshapen head.
I am unusual and inappropriate.
If you don’t believe me
you only have to ask the rabbit,
the four chickens
and these ducks.